Favorite Finds – My School Car Tags Solution

Car tags y’all. This was me last year picking up four kids from the same school.

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All aboard this hot mess express. ::choo choo::

The school prints them on this perfect little paper that has a place to tear out the hole so it can hang from your rearview mirror. It’s so precious. Somewhere out there, there are moms, dads, grandmas, aunts, nannies picking up just one kid from a school.  That mom is not me.

I have tried all sorts of solutions for hanging 2-4 car tags in my windshield.  First I tried a hanger with clips.  It worked, but that hanger was bulky and always in my way in the car.  The next thing I tried was what you see above which consisted of hanging one of the tags the traditional way and using binder clips and suction cups to attach the rest to the first.  Its just…a lot.  Too many pieces.  Too much set up.

This year I was determined to find a better solution.  I think I have! It’s early in the school year, so I guess it could still be a bust, but it’s promising y’all.  Small, simple, adaptable.  Some days I will be picking up 3 kids. Some days only 2.  Plus you never know when a friend will need an occasional favor, and I have huge flippin’ car y’all.  The more the merrier.

So, without further ado, here they are. I was just thinking I wish there was a suction cup with a clip.

::Pulls up Amazon.com::
::Searches “suction cup with clip”::
::Boom::

Amazon is a magical place. It knows my hearts desires.  It has already gathered all the things of my dreams before I even imagine them.  It knows me.  Of course, you may have already been aware of such a product’s existence and may have seen it in an average store (think Target, WalMart). But I hadn’t, and finding these felt serendipitous.

Look 👀! It is a thing of beauty. I laminated my boys tags together with an empty spot in the middle. Then my nephews is laminated on its own. When I pick him up I can just slip his in the middle and it all hangs on the one clip. For any unforeseen extra kids I’ll just have to carry an extra clip but that’s easy enough 💁🏻‍♀️.

Y’all. This makes me happy. Gone are the days of willy nilly car tag placement.  Gone are the days of fumbling with a complicated hanging system as the teacher with the walkie talkie stares at you exhaustedly. The future is here and it is bright. Hallelujah! Amen! (Too enthusiastic?…Nah.)

Whole 30 Zucchini Lasagna Boats

My mother-in-law and I are doing a Whole 30 right now. Every so often we come up with something SO DELICIOUS it has to be shared. Last night’s dinner was one of those meals.

This was inspired by our finding Kite Hill’s Cashew Ricotta and then discovering it was Whole 30 complaint! 🙌🏻 ::cue praise band::

So, we went home and started brainstorming how we could stuff it in our faces and this… is what we came up with:

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Whole 30 Zucchini Lasagna Boats 🤤

I started by preheating my oven to 400 °F. You don’t want to forget that preheat. Nothing slows down dinner like realizing the oven’s not on. Then I mixed the ricotta with an egg and some dried parsley and set it aside.

I then browned some Hot Italian sausage from a local butcher shop that is just down the street from our house.  We love buying meat there!  They make their own sausages in house and most of them do not have any sugar added (which is very important to us Whole 3o peeps) like most you find in the grocery store.  I salted the meat a bit as I mashed it.  I love using my Farberware meat masher.  I was skeptical of another kitchen tool.  I mean come on.  We can’t have a specialized tool for everything.  However, I am able to break up ground meat (especially pork which I feel like clumps up so fast) with this guy.  He’s here to stay.

We added a compliant brand of store bought marinara and called the sauce done.  The spiciness of the hot Italian sausage put it on another level.  So good!!  The trick to serving a sauce with spicy sausage to our kids is that we didn’t! 😁 W30 meals are like gold around here. We want the leftovers for lunches and I am not giving it to my kids if I’m sure they’ll waste it. They eat a lot of the W30 dinners I make but for this one, the cashew ricotta is pricey and I just can’t watch 4 kids waste it. So, we got them a good old frozen lasagna. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Sue me.

Anywhooooo… The next step is slicing the zucchinis in half and scoop the seeds and some of the flesh to make a little “boat”. You want to make enough room for your filling but not take it all the way down to the skin. Think 1/4 – 1/3 of an inch.

Then assembly begins. Split the ricotta mixture between the zucchini boats. Place them in an oiled pan with a lip. I used a large sheet pan but I think a nice 9×13 dish would be perfect.

Next spoon the tomato sauce on top of each boat. You could probably just dump it and spread it around. This only effects presentation I would assume.

The final step is the cashew cream drizzle. Y’all this meal is probably high calorie. I’m not going to officially calculate the nutritional info, but let’s consider… Cashew ricotta ✔️. Pork sausage ✔️. Cashew cream ✔️. It probably shouldn’t be on the weekly rotation. The cashew cream I adapted from a recipe I found online over at Food52. They give a basic recipe that you can make sweet (with honey or maple syrup) or savory (with lemon juice and salt). Obviously we went savory and then added some nutritional yeast for a “cheesy” effect. It makes a pretty big batch of cream so I wouldn’t add the nutritional yeast as your making it. You’ll only need about 1/2 cup for this dish. The cashew cream consistency can be adjusted by how much water you add. I was going for not watery but fluid enough to drizzle off a spoon.

Lastly I dusted the whole pan with some Italian seasoning and a little pink Himalayan sea salt. It goes In the oven for 30 minutes. That’s it y’all. It was very satisfying. We will definitely make it again.

 

Whole 30 Zucchini Boats

  • Ingredients
  • 1 8oz tub Kite Hill Cashew Ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp dried Parsley (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • 1 lb Hot Italian Sausage (must be sugar free to be W30)
  • 1 jar of W30 compliant marinara
  • 4-6 zucchinis depending on size
  • 1/2 cup savory cashew cream
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • olive oil for pans
  • salt and pepper  to taste as you go

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 °F.
  2. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, and parsley until fulled blended and set aside.
  3. Brown sausage most of the way (it’s going in the oven too) in a pan over medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil.  Salt the pork and break up as you go using  meat masher. Add marinara and allow to sit over low/medium heat.
  4. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh down to 1/4″ – 1/3″.
  5. Lightly oil a 9×13 pan. Fill boats with ricotta mixture (just split evenly between zucchini) and place in pan.
  6. Spoon marinara sauce over the boats.
  7. Mix nutritional yeast with prepared cashew cream.  Once thoroughly mixed, drizzle over boats.  Dust top of whole dish with salt and Italian seasoning
  8. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

 

We found this to be best right out of the oven.  You know how zucchini can mush up after a while.  But, you better believe we ate every single bit of those leftovers.  This of course works with regular ricotta.  And if you’re eating dairy, I highly recommend topping the whole thing with mozzarella and parmesan instead of the cashew cream.  If you do that be sure to cover it with foil for the first 25 minutes in the oven so the cheese doesn’t burn.  I hope if you try this, you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Favorite Finds – My Perfect Summer Hat

Every so often I stumble on a product that love and use over and over and over. Sometimes it’s through the referral of a blogger or influencer. Sometimes (like in this instance) it’s from endlessly browsing the internet in search of something I’ve been needing (or just wanting). This summer I wanted a cute hat with a wide brim and UPF protection that didn’t cost $1M!

I’m here to tell you that I found it. It was perfect for any outdoor activity and since it wasn’t so expensive, I wasn’t scared to wear it to the beach, lake, or anywhere.

You can click the image below to find it on Amazon!!

Genuine product referrals are one of my favorite things on social media. I have had many compliments and so many of my friends also own this hat now. We love it. So, I thought you might too.

Freezer Sandwiches

I posted on Instagram about my kids’ lunch hack of freezer sandwiches.  I originally got the idea from pins on Pinterest for DIY Uncrustables.  In case you don’t know what those are because you live under a rock (or most likely just don’t have young kids), they are frozen  little peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that have been cut into a circle shape and sealed around the edges (and consequently don’t have any crust).  They are very convenient for busy days and hungry kids.  They only take an hour to thaw at room temp.  They’re a wonderfully convenient product.  However, you don’t get to control the quality of ingredients and you are paying a premium on what is normally an cheap sandwich.

Some genius ladies have discovered you can make your regular PB&J’s at home (to your own degree of nutrition or cost or whatever), seal them with a sandwich cutter (similar to this one but I have seen them at the grocery store on the bread aisle for much cheaper) and it works exactly the same way.  Boom!  I love the internet and all the knowledge we can share. They are a staple in our house.

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After two or three batches of these crust-less sandwiches, I noticed how much waste I was making with the trimmings.  I hate to waste food….and time.  Cutting the sandwiches was an extra step.  One loaf of bread makes 10 sandwiches and that’s 10 actions I realized I could eliminate.  So, from then on, no more cutting the crusts.  The sandwich not being sealed did not effect the outcome.  The only thing different was my kids complaining. LOL.  But, it’s a harsh world out there and this is just one of the many gentle ways I can teach them about disappointment. 😉

The process is simple, make your sandwiches like normal. Bag them in sandwich baggies and then put the individual bagged sandwiches in a gallon sized freezer bag. Then…freeze. I would plan to use them within a month. With 4 kids this is not a problem in my house.

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Here’s a SUPER SECRET TIP I’ve discovered. This trick works for meat sandwiches too. 🤭 My oldest started parting ways with PB&J this past Summer. So, I did a trial Turkey and Mayo Freezer Sandwich. It WORKED!! Also Ham and Cheese works. My only side note is that the meats sometimes need a tad bit longer to thaw. So if we set them in the fridge the night before, they are perfect by lunch.

A few people have asked me how much time does it really save me? Doesn’t it take the same amount of time to make a sandwich whether you’ve made one or ten? Well, kind of, but not really. Factually speaking, if I get all the ingredients out one time and make 10 sandwiches, I’ve saved multiple trips to pantry and fridge. So…there’s that. But, also it is 10,000 times easier to do chores when my precious monkeys are not around (like in the morning before school). I am like a super efficient super woman when I’m not interrupted 1,000,000 times. So, I make 10-20 sandwiches at a time after they go to bed and I save so much time and stress and chore time while the kids are awake. 🙌🏻 Halleluyer!

Do you have any hacks for keeping life with kids easier? I love tip sharing!

The Simplest Things

Recently we celebrated the new year.  Resolution time! Goal-setting season! My husband is very achievement driven.  He likes to set goals and then evaluate himself regularly to track his progress.  I am not really like that at all.  I tend to be concerned with the tasks at hander than looking to the future.  Just whatever needs to get done to get us to the next thing.  I don’t think one way is better than the other.  They just each serve a different purpose.  Perhaps it is good we have each other to cover all our bases.  Being married to Matt, he likes for us to sit down together and plan for the year  Usually it is not a problem.  I can think of a few practical things I’d like to work toward. This year however, I was coming up blank.  I attribute it to a hectic season of life that just has my brain on overload. I felt scattered and overwhelmed.  I don’t have time to think about the future!!  Look at my to do list RIGHT NOW! Have you ever had so much to do and so many things to tend to that things were falling by the wayside and it just felt insurmountable?  I’m assuming this is some type of anxiety? That’s where I was.  With everything that has to be done, I felt problems mounting, but I just feel tired and spent at the end of every day.  I feel short tempered and stressed.  On top of the to-dos and emotions, my body is still not fully recovered from having four babies and I just don’t feel like I have time or energy to give to repairing it. Basically there are a million things I’d like to accomplish, but my plate feels full with the daily right now.

In a conversation I had recently, I was complaining about my post partum body and all it’s struggles. The details are TMI, but I have to share in order to share how I arrived at my revelation. Now, if you’re a man or a PYT who is untouched by or unaware of the harsh realities of childbirth reading this, I’m sorry.  This is just a fact of life for many women. Anyway, my friend asked, “Well have you tried doing Kegel exercises?” Well….no…. Gah! This would literally be the first path of treatment any professional would give me. I was spiraling out of control in my mind about it and then she just goes and smacks me in the face with some truth.  Are you doing the most basic thing they tell you to do when you have this problem?

Sorry for the graphic example, but that conversation is what brought me to this place. It got me thinking, what other of the “simplest things” am I not doing that would improve my daily life.  What obvious answers to my problems have I been ignoring and writing off as “probably won’t work”? After much thought (one car line worth of thought), I’ve decided to focus on these three simplest things as my 2019 goals and just leave it at that for now.

  1. Kegels. Because…childbirth.  Again, I am sorry about the TMI.
  2. Drink Water.  I have a whole litany of struggles that I have spent many hours pondering how to fix them  Considered spending lots of money on creams, vitamins, therapies, whatever. All of these things (dry skin and hair, oily skin and hair… yes at the same time, fatigue, inability to focus to name a few) can be made worse if you are dehydrated. So, I’ve committed to aim for a gallon of water every day. I’ve set some rules for myself to help me accomplish this. My first rule is I have to drink a cup of water (or celery juice…I can share more on that later) in the morning before I get to have coffee. My second rule involves my super sexy “vintage” Clemson cup that is 32oz.  If I want a second cup of coffee, I have to fill that cup and finish it before I can have more coffee.  The same applies for lunch, dinner, or a glass of wine.  Before I consume the thing I am wanting, I have to down that water. Sometimes that looks like me chugging it, but it gets done.  And you know what? My skin is nice and smooth and hydrated and not greasy.  I have more energy.  I am not fatigued at 3pm.  It has also helped lose about 5 pounds!  BOOM! It’s almost too easy. Cheers! img_651828129
  3. Pray/Read Scripture. This is the single most important thing I can do to improve any part of my life.  The anxiety I was feeling, my lack of patience and joy in the every day moments, numbness to the blessings of my life.  I don’t know if you’ve ever felt that way, but life just gets busy and I get caught up in the mundane and the to-dos. I forget about the magnitude of the abundance God has given me. A home, a beautiful family, friends, love, forgiveness, salvation.  They just become common place in the every day moments and I forget to be thankful and give praise.  Also, these blessings are all tangled up with hard things too.  With family and friends you often hurt each other.  Owning a home brings lots of responsibilities and costly maintenance.  Opening yourself up to love and forgiveness also opens your heart to hurt and disappointment.  When I don’t check in with God daily, I tend to focus on all the hard parts and get bogged down in negativity.  I’m stressed, I’m emotionally drained, I am just weary.  But, prayer and reading God’s word turns my heart in the right small things direction for the day.  I am reminded that these hard things are all blessings too.  I am filled with his love and a positive perspective. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galations 5:22-26).  So, spending time every day with the single most important being EVER is my last “simplest thing”.  Whenever I make a habit of it, my days are noticeably calmer.  More focused and less chaotic.  Why would I ever not make it a priority?

So, those are my goals.  They are simple and small.  However, these simplest things are foundational for the biggest things.  And you know what?  I think that the devil is at work in that.  If he can keep us from the most basic things for a healthy mind, body, and spirit, we are easier to tear down.  Especially when he can distract us from daily time with our Father.  I’d love to hear any simple things that you sometimes let fall by the way side, but know make all the difference in your life.

Also, I wanted to share one of our favorite songs about the fruit of the Spirit.  I literally do not recite them without singing this tune. LOL