Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Eve

A quiet New Years Eve here.  I was up until 2 AM because there was an explosion in the Bronx that rattled our house. Insanity.

My husband took our middle one to work for a bit and then ran to Whole Foods to pick up dinner.  We grilled steaks, asparagus, baked clams and made a salad.  Soon the kids will get a little treat of sparkling apple cider and dessert.  And that's all folks.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore - Dream - Discover"
- Mark Twain

Wishing everyone a great 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

New Years Resolution

Tomorrow is New Years Eve and if you are interested in making a New Years Resolution that will stick check out these tips from Webmd. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Java Log & Movie Night

Ten days of vacation down - how the heck did that happen? Three more left.

The big boy asked for Daddy's famous spaghetti and meatballs so I ran out to Whole Foods for the ingredients.

Now enjoying a Java Log and one final viewing of the Polar Express this season.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Easy Chicken Parm

My husband has his high school reunion tonight, so it's just me the kids. 

I have a special request from my big boy for chicken parm, so that is what is on the menu for tonight.  Serving it with a side of mixed vegetables and that's it.

4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
seasoned bread crumbs
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices mozzarella cheese, or more
1 jar (16 oz) spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese

Whisk together the egg and milk. Dip the chicken breasts in milk and egg mixture and then in bread crumbs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
Brown the chicken in the hot oil on both sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. 

 Set chicken in a baking dish
Slice 8 pieces of mozzarella cheese and put two on each chicken breast.
 Pour 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce over all. 
 Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little more mozzarella and bake at 350° for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

The oven is beeping now, so it's ready!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bowties with Shrimp and Peas

My oldest was better during the day and the kids played with their new toys. However, he is feeling warm again now so back on the fever reducer and cancelled our plans for tomorrow. 

I took down the tree so the house is clean in prep for the new year and played with the kids and that was about it.  My oldest loves shrimp (I am not a huge fan), so made him a special dinner in hopes it would get his appetite up.  It was really easy to make and good.

1 lb bow tie pasta (farfalle)
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup sliced white mushroom
2 cups frozen peas (10 oz)
3/4 lb cooked shrimp
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
grated parmesan cheese, for garnish & serving

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package directions.
Drain pasta; return to pot.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add onion & mushrooms; cook, stirring, until light brown, about 10 minutes. Then add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
Add peas and half-and-half; season with salt, black pepper & red pepper flakes, if using.
Simmer until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add shrimp to sauce; cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.
Toss sauce with pasta & a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Serve with grated Parmesan.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Easy Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

12 bananas about to turn brown = 4 loaves of banana chocolate chip bread in my freezer.

No after school snack baking for 4 weeks!

I adapted the recipe from Rachael Ray - cut down on the sugar and used applesauce instead of oil.
Took about 20 minutes to get them all in the oven - so fast and super easy.
Easy Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 bananas mashed
1/4 cup applesauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup chocolate chips
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F .
Grease and flour a 8 1/2-inch x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
Mix in the applesauce, bananas and eggs.
Stir in the chocolate chips (do not overmix) and pour into the prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60-80 minutes.
Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely, right side up.

The rest of the day was spent folding 5,000 pounds of laundry and catering to my oldest who didn't move from the couch except for one trip to the bathroom.  Today made me appreciate and miss his usual off the charts energy. Hoping he's back to his old self tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

Last night was nice.  When my sister-in-law and I took the kids out for their walk it was snowing like crazy. Some neighbor heard us singing Jingle Bells and their young son came running out saying "want to see my fingers? I went to the hospital!!" at the same time my husband and brother shot off fireworks.  Between the crazy snow, this random kid and the fireworks it was a memorable walk this year!

This morning started out smooth enough. Well, as smooth as anything happens in this house. Excitement over Zoomer the dog for the big boys and a stroller for the baby's "baby" was off the charts.

Thirteen years ago I mentioned to my husband about a magazine cover I liked that I wanted to get framed. He finally found it!

After presents we had a nice breakfast of an egg casserole and strawberries/bananas shaped like a candy cane.

Should have suspected something was wrong when my oldest only ate a few strawberries.  I thought he was just excited to get back to playing, but a later on while at his Nana's house he started to feel warm, complained about his stomach and then fell asleep.

Poor kid woke up to having a matchbox car thrown at his face by the baby which prompted a terrible bloody nose and throw up. I yelled for my husband to help who raced up and broke a step in the process.

We wound up taking them home early so couldn't do our traditional Christmas Day celebration with the grandparent...so sad! :(

Hope everyone else had a good day filled with great memories! We'll reschedule a re-do with my inlaws as soon as everyone is healthy so we can make some more 2013 holiday memories!

My Christmas tree fruit salad...that no one got to eat!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve!

My favorite day of the year! 

The one memory I want to capture from this afternoon was when "Santa Claus is coming to Town" by Springsteen came on the radio.  I started dancing and was yelling and jumping telling the kids it's Santa's radio and he is getting everyone ready for the big night.  At the end when you hear the "ho, ho, ho" I said that was the real Santa. They were dancing with me and FLIPPING out. My husband was looking at us like we were insane, but it was so cute and a memory I will treasure always!

Earlier in the day I went to have my hair blown out which made getting ready just now a pleasure.  Zoomer dogs are charged and ready to go.  The car is packed and we'll soon head up to my parents for Christmas Eve dinner and presents.

We have a tradition of taking a walk with the kids after dinner (we did this when I was a kid too).  When you see the brightest star that means Santa has come (if it rains when the living room curtains open and the tree lights go on in the house it meant Santa had arrived) and we would go racing in.  My parents are usually at the back door waving to the night sky to say goodbye to Santa. 

I miss him every time! ;)

Wishing you all a wonderful evening.

Love this beautiful photo.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas To Us!

Santa brought strep for all!

Thankfully no major symptoms for anyone - except I am super tired.

I was supposed to make pork, mango kebabs on the grill, but wasn't up to it.  I didn't want to waste the food so slice the pork, red pepper and mango and sauteed in a pan and poured over what it should have been basted with - 1/4 cup honey, 2 tbs soy sauce and 2 tbs lemon juice.  I did a special treat (aka non-organic) on the side of Christmas-shaped pasta.

We just watched A Christmas Story - so cute because my oldest said it is his favorite movie -- it is up there on my top 5 too for sure.

Speaking of movies.  I haven't watched a normal, non-kid show in years.  Used to love to watch movies too, but it is impossible since my oldest is glued to my hip.  

However, tonight I am in the mood to watch one - debating between When Harry Met Sally (another from my top 5!) or Love Actually.  I never saw Love Actually, but apparently more than half of my Facebook population is watching it so I'll take that as my sign of what needs to go on the TV!

Night all!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Cookies

Had a fantastic day!

One of my BFFs came up to spend time with the kids and make cookies with them.   We made:

The kids had so much fun rolling them into balls, making a thumb imprint and then filling with jam.

Something different - a bit involved to make, but fun.

Had to have something chocolate!

After we straightened up I put some chicken in the oven for my husband and kids and my friend and I headed out for dinner and drinks to the Yard House.  Nothing fancy, but always a good place to hang out.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Appetizers

My husband and his Dad took the kids to a Santa event.  The kids had fun and were given some cool toys - remote control car and a Hot Wheels set for the tub - fun.

We have a holiday dinner with some friends tonight.  I am in charge of appetizers.  Bringing a few things including this Pinterest find:

You can find the recipe here.  Looks quick and easy to put together...I hope I am right!!

Hope everyone has a nice evening!

Friday, December 20, 2013

There's an App for That: Organizing Gift Receipts

First night of vacation and it's a late one!  Up baking cupcakes for a get together with our college buds tomorrow evening.  Not only am I excited to hang out with my girls, the icing on the cake is my kids just adore their kids and they are so excited to see them.

The cupcakes I am making are snowman cupcakes - if they come out as cute as they look on Pinterest I will post a picture.

Don't hold your breath.

Today's Get It Done Tip is to help organize gift receipts.  Piikki app allows you to e-mail scanned receipts to recipients so they can make returns.

The additional benefit for using this App with all of your receipts is you will no longer have paper receipts tumbling around your pocketbook or house.

Happy Friday!

PS - Last night's Asian Pot Roast was awesome!!!  Give it a try!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Buying A Gift They'll Love + Slow Cooker Asian Pot Roast

Stumped on what to buy someone on your holiday gift list? Try out this great Get It Done Tip.

If you need to buy a present for someone whose taste you're unsure of check out amazon.com/gp/gift-central/organizer.  This site suggests gifts based on your friends facebook posts. 

It's a little freaky and big brother-ish, I know!  But still pretty cool! 

Last night's slow cooker dinner of Garden Vegetable Sauce with Chickpeas was good.

Tonight we have my oldest's Christmas concert where he has the lead role so I will leave work early.  So not only will it be a short day, but it's also my last day in the office since vacation starts tomorrow through  January 2nd - woohoo!

I have Asian Pot Roast in the slow cooker from All You Magazine. Put the roast and mushrooms (I had extra from a different recipe so cleaned and froze them) right into the slow cooker frozen solid.

Looks good. Will make a side of rice and mixed vegetables to go with it. 

Asian Pot Roast
10 oz white mushrooms sliced (I used shiitake)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tbs chopped fresh ginger
6 cloves garlic, halved
1/4 cup soy sauce
2-lb eye of round roast, trimmed of fat
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp canola oil
3 tbs cornstarch
2 tbs rice vinegar
Scallions, thinly sliced
 Asian Pot Roast
Combine mushrooms, broth, soy sauce, ginger and garlic in slow cooker.
Pat roast dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Warm oil in large skillet over medium high heat.
Brown beef on all sides, about 8 minutes total (I didn't have time so skipped this).
Transfer to slow cooker; turn to coat with soy sauce mixture.
Cover and cook on low until tender - 6 to 8 hours.
Transfer roast to cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
Whisk cornstarch and 1/2 cup liquid from slow cooker and return to cooker, whisking until sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes.
Whisk in rice vinegar.
If sauce is too think which in 1 or 2 additional tbs of broth.
Slice meat and serve with sauce, topped with scallions.

My sister-in-law is a lifesaver and coming over to watch the baby tonight so me, my husband and middle one can head to the concert and actually watch it.

One side note from last night I have to put down here so I don't forget it. My oldest is a riot.  He was pretending to be Santa so put the baby on his lap and asked him what he wanted for Christmas.  The baby pointed at me and said "mommy". To which the oldest quipped "Ok, I'll get you a mommy doll. It comes with work and yells".  Oh, my dear sweet child. LOL!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Organized Gift Giving + Amazing Chicken Burgers

Today's Get It Done Tip comes from my dear Aunt.  She mentioned to me how she knows someone who buys a different color ribbon for each of her children and then wraps their gifts using "their ribbon".    For example -- Johnny has blue ribbon on his package and Sally has green.
No gift tags, no mix ups of who should get what and allows her to see with a glance how many gifts each child has so they all get the same amount.

Similar to this, when I was in college, I used to wrap my boss' children's gifts for Christmas. She has two daughters and she would buy several rolls of 2 types of wrapping paper -- so Kid A had all her gifts in red and Kid B had all her gifts in green. 
At 19 years old I thought this was genius (and still do), but for some reason have yet to implement it!  
Another idea my Aunt mentioned is after the holiday is over, her friend has her children cut out images from the Christmas cards they receive -- so a sled, Santa, a Snowman, etc. On the back of the cut outs they write "to" and "from" and use them as tags for gifts the next year.  
These people don't fool around with their Christmas ideas. Impressive.
I also want to share a recipe my Aunt made earlier this week which she shared with me.  We like to exchange recipes and she has some good ones.  She said these Chicken Burgers from "oursavorylife.com" are a quick weeknight meal that are incredible.
I'm not one for burgers - think I made them once in my life - but these look extra special - love the herbs in them, so will definitely give this a try!


1 lbs ground chicken or ground turkey
1 TBS fresh, chopped dill
3 chives, chopped
Juice of one lemon

2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
½ tsp paprika or chili powder
⅛ tsp salt
                                                                                   1 TBS coconut oil         

patties for ground chicken burgers
Place the ground meat in a bowl and add all the ingredients.
Combine with your hands.
Mold the mixture into 4 patties and set them on wax paper.
Heat a fry pan and add your oil. Place as many patties in the pan as can fit.
Cook on one side for 6 minutes and cook on the second side for 4-5 minutes.

She served them with sweet potato fries from the oven and a big salad. 

Thanks Aunt G for sharing these tips! xo

Off to start the day -- have my middle one's Christmas party where they'll do a little song or two - and then head into the city.  Have a good recipe in the slow cooker and will report back on how it is tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A New Way to Mail Cards

How FUN is this Get It Done Tip?! 

I know some people are still trying to get out their holiday cards.  I have my own system for keeping track of addresses, which I'll mention in another post.  However, if you need to collect a lot of addresses from scratch check out www.postable.com.

Postable.com lets you send an email to all of your contacts to collect their address so you have them organized in one place.  Postable also lets you send out personalized holiday, birthday, thank you and every day cards.  You write it, they'll print it, stamp and mail it.  No more squeezing in a trip to the card store if you are short on time.

Check out this cute video link showing how it works.


It's a snowy day here in NY.   My husband took off so my parents didn't have to come down in this crummy weather.   I am working from home and have oodles to do, so off I go!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Message from Santa

Nine more days left to use Santa as bribery; work it ladies.   

Get It Done Tip: My husband discovered Portable North Pole two years ago and we've been having fun with it each year since. 

Portable North Pole lets your child get a personalized video message from Santa.  You can upload pictures and personalize the message with what is on the wish list, special moments throughout the past year, etc.  It is TOO CUTE and the kids just love it.  My husband is putting this year's together so we should be able to "air it" to the kids this week.

A friend also just emailed me today that she uses this site to have Santa call her son.  From what I am reading the first call is free and additional calls are at a cost.  I never tried this service so can't vouch for it, but putting it out there in case anyone wants to investigate further.

We have my father-in-law's birthday dinner today, so I'll head out of work a little early. 

Thursday is my last day in the office until January 2nd so lots to do at work so I can leave with peace of mind.

A special Ho, Ho, Ho to an old friend who reconnected with me on facebook yesterday. ;)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Dinner - Beef Brisket

Had a nice quiet day capped off with a delicious dinner.

Grammy's Beef Brisket
Gooseberry Patch Christmas Kitchen

4-lb flat-cut beef brisket (mine was a little less and it made enough for leftovers)
2 t. salt (didn't use)
1/2 t. pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
3 onions, thickly sliced
1 c. hot water
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. cold water

Place brisket flat-side up in an ungreased roasting pan.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic; add onions.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for one hour, or until onions turn lightly golden.
Add hot water to pan; cover pan tightly with aluminum foil.
Reduce oven to 300 degrees (whoops - just realized I didn't do this!) and continue baking for an additional 2 hours.
I added carrots and potatoes at this point to complete the meal.
Remove brisket and onions to a warm serving platter. 
To make gravy, combine cornstarch and cold water; stir into juices in roasting pan.
Place pan on burner on top of stove until gravy thickens, stirring constantly.
I served this with a salad - delicious.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

What a nice day it's been.  My husband took the big boys out for a walk in the snow so I could wrap all the presents (so happy that is done!).  

At some point they decided to hop a train to have lunch in the city.

So that happened.
Santa Con

We just finished dinner - grilled chicken cordon bleu, carrots and a salad.  Now we have the fire going and are getting ready to watch Emmet Ottor's Jug-Band Christmas.  Goodnight!

Friday, December 13, 2013

More Holiday Travel Tips

It's Friday!!  I have my company holiday party tonight - can't wait!!

Today's holiday Get It Done Tip is for those who have family and friends flying in from out of town and you need reminders about their flight info.

Try a free 30-day trial of the app Tripit.  TripIt allows you to forward itineraries from your email inbox and the app automatically puts it on your calendar.  

Not only does organize travel it gives you real-time flight alerts and notifications, helps you snag the best seats, find flights, track points.  

One stop shopping to keep you organized and help you keep you sanity!

*at the moment the complimentary subscription is for 30 days
Today my husband took my oldest to have his top tooth pulled (the new one was growing over it).  Glad that is done!

Have a great weekend!  We're excited for some snow tomorrow!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Cards

Last night I was chatting with my oldest and he told me "the teacher said something about you today".  I said "oh yeah, what?".  He thought and said I only remember the first part of what she said.  I said "ok, what was it??".  He said I only remember that she said "Your mother". I cracked up!

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season.  If you still need to get those cards out but can't find the time to buy them, much less write them all out and get them to the post office? Get It Done Tip: Write your cards whenever you have time with Ink Cards app.  Select a card design, upload a photo and personalize. Your cards are printed and mailed using addresses on your phone or that you enter.  The app is free for Android, iOS and iPad.

I plan to give this a try for the next birthday card I need to mail - fun!

I prepared the main part of tonight's dinner last night.  I have been on a Riesling kick, but opened a bottle that was too dry for my taste.  As I always say, I hate to waste, so am going to use it for cooking.
Tonight's dinner was supposed to be a chicken piccatta, but instead I changed it to chicken in Riesling to start to use up the wine.  Just saute the chicken until brown on both sides. Remove chicken from pan and pour wine in and bring to a boil to cook off alcohol. Reduce heat and put chicken back in and cook until chicken is cooked through.  If you flour your chicken before sauteing it'll help thicken the sauce.  You can do this with any wine.

I plan to serve this alongside roasted asparagus and salad - quick and easy weeknight meal.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Travel Tip + Cooking Light Chicken Casserole

Holiday Get It Done Tip: Are you a "Type A" booking a plane ticket for a relative's holiday gathering this year? Check out www.seatguru.com and enter your flight details to find out info on each seat - does it recline? does it have a TV? does it have a window? Hopefully you'll find one that has all of the above to make the flight bearable for you and your child!

 Tonight's dinner is a chicken casserole from Cooking Light.  I prepped it last night so all we have to do tonight is heat it up and make a salad.  I snuck a bite to taste test and it was good! 

Cooking Light Chicken Casserole
 1 cup chopped onion
1 (8-ounce) bone-in chicken breast half, skinned (I used 2 chicken breasts and cut them into chunks)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 (8-ounce) zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 (8-ounce) yellow squash, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 cups cooked long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (I left this out)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt (I left this out)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon pepper; add chicken, meaty side down, to pan.
Cook 6 minutes or until browned; turn chicken over.
Add broth to pan.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is done.
Remove chicken from pan, reserving broth in pan.
Let chicken stand 10 minutes.
Remove chicken from bones; shred.
Discard bones.
Place chicken in a large bowl.
Bring broth to a boil; cook, uncovered, until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 10 minutes).
Add broth mixture to chicken.
Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add squash to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently.
Add squash mixture, rice, and minced rosemary to the chicken mixture, and toss gently to combine.
Place flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth; bring to a boil.
Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk.
Remove from heat; let stand 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup cheese; stir with a whisk until smooth.
Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, milk mixture, and salt to chicken mixture; stir to combine.
Spoon chicken mixture into a broiler-safe 8-inch ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over rice mixture; bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Remove casserole from oven.
Preheat broiler.
Broil casserole 5 minutes or until golden.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Gift App + The Ultimate Lentil Soup

It's snowing!  I have a luncheon I want to attend in the city and thereafter will head back home and finish the day off from there.

My Dad is a saint and will sleep over to ensure he doesn't have a problem commuting so we can get to work tomorrow.  I had to reshuffle my meal plan so I had enough food since he'll be with us for dinner tonight.

I try a new recipe practically every day.  That's not to say I don't try a million different variations of the same dish -- we must have had at least 48 versions of meatloaf over the past couple of years.  But in the rare instance I find perfection in a dish I won't look further. 

This soup falls into the perfection category - add some fresh bread and a salad and you have the perfect winter weather meal.  It's from America's Test Kitchen's book "Slow Cooker Revolution" - which I think is the best slow cooker book out on the market.

Ultimate Lentil Soup
2 onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups vegetable broth
4 ounces bacon (I didn't add - not a bacon fan)
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
12 ounces portabello caps, gills removed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 bay leaves
8 ounces Swiss chard, stemmed and leaves sliced 1/2-inch thick
  Microwave onions, garlic, oil, tomato paste, porcini mushrooms, and thyme in a bowl, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes (I threw it all in without cooking). Transfer to slow cooker.
 Stir chicken broth, vegetable broth, bacon, carrots, portobello mushrooms, lentils, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Cover and cook until lentils are tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.
Stir in chard, cover, and cook on high until chard is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Discard bacon and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with additional olive oil.

I am not a lentil soup lover, but my husband and oldest absolutely love it. We'll see how the little kids do today with it. I think my middle one ate it last time I served it.  

My Get It Done Tips over the next few days leading up to Christmas are going to focus on cool ideas to help you save time and your sanity during the holiday season.  Today's tip is an app called mGifts. This app lets you keep a running tally or gift ideas,  what you have already purchased and total spent.  The app also lets you view your list by store so you can keep your shopping trips organized and efficient.  Fab!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cutting Down on Virtual Clutter

It's a cold, slushy, wet day here in NY.   Glad I have a big pot of soup already made for my family to enjoy for dinner.

During my morning commute I was reading All You magazine and came across an article they wrote about how to feel more balanced and productive at work and home and specifically talked about cutting down on virtual clutter.

I often hear people say they "don't have time", yet they have time to go on Facebook to update their post and like/comment on others.  Get It Done Tip: Social media, while fun, can be a huge time suck.  Cut down on the time spent by aiming to check once in the morning, once mid-afternoon and, if you have time, once in the evening. 

Why is this a good idea?  All You wrote that nixing preventable distractions like refreshing your social media channels again, keeps you on task.  Research shows it takes 25 minutes to refocus your attention after interruption. 

The article also goes on to say that email is another source of distraction (I let it be!), but they recommend again checking just twice - mid-morning and mid-afternoon.  If you're worried about leaving people hanging create and out-of-office notification that says you check your emails twice daily and will reply as soon as possible.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Home Alone Pranksters

When I got home from the party last night I walked to the back door of our house and saw in clear view a red light inside-- I looked closer and saw the video camera was pointed at the back door and was recording me.  So I stopped to look closer before I opened the door and when I looked up I saw right inside the door the bottom of a red bucket.

My husband and my oldest are just so amusing.  They apparently watched the movie Home Alone and then my oldest wanted to set up booby traps for when I got home and my husband helped him set up this contraption!

So when  I would walk in the bucket would tip and I would get hit with water -- not a lot was in it -- but still - really?!

The kids were asleep since it was midnight, but my husband just HAD to carry through and tape it anyway. However, he saw I a had a bunch of bags in my hand (went to Target before the party) and was worried if I would be mad if something in the bags got wet or my pocketbook.  So he then stopped me from coming in and asked me to hand over my bags before coming in.  I told him I knew what was going on, but he asked me to still go through with it for my son's sake.  

So like an idiot I did!  Although I didn't get wet -- I opened the door and the bucket tipped behind me and spilled on the floor.  

They are lunatics.

In addition to this, my husband is apparently out of ideas for the Elf on the Shelf so decided to duct tape him to the ceiling.  I was too tired to deal with it last night so left it.  Of course the kids ran down to find him and he had fallen to the floor.  They saw Elf on the Shelf the movie so know if they touch the elf he loses his magic.  So apparently they picked him up with tongs and put him on the table.

The rest of the day was less dramatic - we went to piano and I got the house in order.  My husband and I helped the kids make a gingerbread house too.  It's sort of sad looking and one (or all) of the kids are already sneaking the candy off since it's starting to look a little barren!

In the afternoon I headed to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law's new place to help them unpack for a few hours.

Before I left I marinated a whole chicken with a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, fresh ginger and cut out the back bone so all my husband had to do was grill it flat.  He also roasted potato wedges and made a big spinach salad.  So I walked in and dinner was ready.

Oriental Style Roast Chicken
I shredded the leftover chicken and tossed it in a pot with chicken broth, a leek, parsnips, carrots, celery, onion, fresh dill and parsley. Tomorrow all we'll have to do is heat it up.

It has been snowing for the past couple of hours.  Looking forward to getting under the covers to go to sleep -- goodnight!