Make This! Marie’s Easy Slow Cooker Pot Roast

AllRecipes.com is my favorite place to go for recipes because it has such vast array of them. It also has reviews from real people, which helps me know if it’s suited for my, uh, limited cooking skills.

I love crock pot recipes because you do a little bit of work in the morning, and by dinner time it’s good to go. Add that to the fact that roasts were on sale at Giant last week, and I had dinner plus a few day’s worth of leftovers.

This is my go-to recipe when I make pot roast. This is a good, basic, reliable pot roast recipe. It also lends itself well to fancying it up in the way you like. I added mushrooms the last time I made this, and I really want to get a good red wine so I can add a splash or two the next time.  If you look in the comments, you’ll see some other suggestions for customizing your roast!

Link: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/maries-easy-slow-cooker-pot-roast/detail.aspx

Before: Make This! The Neely’s Sauteed Spinach Recipe


Unsolicited Parenting Advice: Rest Hard

Gratuitous cute baby picture

I firmly believe that you can’t work hard unless you rest hard, too.

This last few months have been full of transition for me. First I transitioned back to Maryland from living in the U.S.V.I., then I transitioned to living with my parents (we’d rented out our house to Johns Hopkins students while we were gone and they hadn’t moved out yet), then to job searcher, then back into our own home, then to stay at home mom, then, then then.

And I have it pretty easy.

But there have still been rough patches. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said a million times before, but I’m going to say it again in case there is one person out there for whom today is the day that it sinks in: PARENTING IS HARD. ADULTHOOD IS HARD. YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

When I’m not taking care of myself, I suffer and our household suffers. I am irritable and make stupid decisions. I snap at my husband and my kids. I look sloppy and everything around me gets sloppy. Ironically, I always think that by cutting corners in taking care of myself, I’m saving myself time. Nope. It takes longer because I veer off into insecurity and indecision. Or I get distracted because I need to have a fight with my husband for some reason or another.

When you are well rested, you can prioritize your time better and make smarter decisions.

Before I came to this realization, I’d always feel like if was stopping, I was slacking. So, I’d be with the kids, put them down for their naps and then immediately find another task to do. In my mind, I was only being productive if I was working. If I took a break, I felt guilty. But – now I find that the best thing I can do for my sanity is know what tasks I need to do, do them, and then take a break.

For example, I spend my mornings giving the kids breakfast, cleaning up the house, writing, and taking the kids out for some excercise. Then we come home and have lunch. After lunch is nap time. When they are asleep, I have more work to do – cleaning up dishes, getting dinner started, laundry, whatever – but I won’t do it until I’ve rested by either napping with them or taking some time to do something I’d like to do. I know that once the kids are up, there is a plethora of work awaiting me.

Granted, not everyone has the exact schedule as mine. A working parent’s schedule is going to look a little different – but I’ve also found that we can do pretty much anything if we try. Look at your schedule and find spots where you can take a break.


Make This! Neely’s Sauteed Spinach Recipe

I am not a that adventurous when it comes to food. I’m trying to change this, so when I’m at the grocery store, I’ll sometimes pick up a random food item and figure out what to do with it later.

One day I did that with two big bags of spinach. I’ve had spinach plenty of times in salads, but never cooked. I bought it and went to Chef Google. This was the recipe I found: The Neely’s Sauteed Spinach Recipe.

I usually avoid recipes from the Food Network, because they tend to go a little beyond the realm of my cooking skills. However, this one was easy and so good. It also fancied up the basic pork chops we had for dinner that day.

Try it! It’ll make you strong like Popeye!


Mah Babies

We went to a Fall Festival this weekend. Because those are the kinds of things one does when one reproduces. The face painting was the best part. Also, there were homemade apple cider doughnuts.

It was here, if you’re in Maryland and so inclined.


The One About Natural Hair – Part 1

Once I had my son back in 2008, I knew I had no inclination to be sitting in anybody’s hair shop any more. I’d actually been toying with the idea of going natural – i.e. giving up the relaxer – since high school, but didn’t know how to go about it. Relaxing your hair is kind of a vicious cycle. Once you start, it’s hard to stop – especially if you don’t know any better.

After an unfortunate incident involving leaky boobs and a five hour hair salon visit, I went online started doing some research.

Dude.

I had no idea there was such a wealth of information in the computer! First I discovered Afrobella, then Curly Nikki, then, I think, various YouTube people. If you have kinky/curly hair and are not on the internet, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life.

I read and read and scoured message boards and watched videos. My husband thought I was crazy. I learned all about high-end products and fancy hair equipment, but I knew that none of that stuff was an option for me. I wanted my transition from straight to curly to be simple and as inexpensive as possible.

First, I figured out that I was not using heat. I am no hair expert and didn’t want to end up burning all my hair off. Also, I knew that was only delaying what I needed to do, which was learning all about this foreign matter growing out of my head.

I came up with a plan. I’d attempt my own variation of Curly Nikki’s twist n curl and that would be my go-to style. At night, I would wash (or co-wash*) then flat twist my damp hair and put rollers on the ends. I’d wake up with dry, curly/wavy hair. In the event that my hair looked a hot mess, I’d pull my hair back into a bun or pony tail. I knew that I’d do this for about a year and then I’d cut off all the straight parts and have a head full of natural hair.

And I did. It’s been interesting. It’s been mostly successful. It’s been…a process.

Later this week, I’ll have another post outlining products that I love and that are pretty inexpensive. Then I’ll talk about ways to save time while caring for your hair. Because that’s what is the most important thing — natural hair is fragile and needs LOTS of TLC.

For now, I’m leaving you with a list of links with good information about natural hair 🙂

Alice in Nappyland

Natural Selection Blog

Naptural85’s YouTube Channel

Mane and Chic

Long Hair Care Forum

*Co-wash = Conditioner Wash – washing with no shampoo, just conditioner


Unsolicited Parenting Advice: Sally Hanson Insta-Dry Fast Dry Nail Color

I’m putting this nail polish in the parenting category because the reason why I love it directly relates to my children. I can put it on and keep it moving.

I never wear anything but clear polish on my finger nails because I’m always washing something or wiping somebody, but I love having color on my toes. I don’t have the spare time or cash to get regular pedis *weeps softly* but this gives me a pop of color to keep me feeling like I at least put in an effort.

It actually does dry very quickly. Also, the color goes on thick so you only need one coat and it doesn’t run and bleed all over the rest of your foot.

The color I have is Rapid Red, but here’s a complete list of the shades.

***It should probably be obvious, but in case it’s not – no one is paying me to endorse this product.


We don’t do ‘girl toys’ and ‘boy toys’ around here

who you lookin' at?

That kinda talk is a no-no in my house. If a boy wants to push a bear in a stroller, who are we to judge? What about you? Do you keep your pinks and blues strictly segregated?


Makeup! Squee! Girly Stuff!

I’ve been playing around with makeup lately. Even before I had kids, I was never a big makeup girl. But, lately, I’ve been making more of an effort to, uh, look like I’m making an effort. I got all crazy on a trip to Target and got myself some lip stain, eyeliner, bronzer and even some eyeshadows (oooh! fancy!).

My rules for makeup purchases are pretty colors and the best possible quality for very little money. I like simple little pops of pretty color. Today was grey and rainy, so I put some color on my lips via my Maybelline ColorSensational lipstain in Cranberry Crush with Yes to Carrots C Me Shine lipgloss in Red Hot (Yes to Carrots’ lip gloss is awesome, by the way). I also wore a teeny bit of gold shadow on my eyes and a little mascara.

I’m not even gonna try to go all makeup blogger on you. There are plenty of people out there doing that way better than I could. But I’d love to hear your ideas about simple ways to play with makeup so that I don’t feel sad and raggedy.


Unsolicited Parenting Advice: Target Diapers

 We don’t do the brightly colored Dora the Explorer or Mickey Mouse or Sesame Street thing when it comes to diapers around here. Not because I’m above commercialization or bright colors or whatever, but because I love, love, love my Target diapers.

They are, in my experience, the perfect mix of affordability and reliable functionality. The thing with less expensive diapers, is that they can be pretty crappy. They can leak or be made with shady materials that can lead to diaper rash. When we lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands, diapers were expensive. Like, $30 expensive. So, we always tried to buy the cheapest, random brands, to less than stellar results.

When we moved back to Maryland, I was so happy to live in close proximity to a Target again. They always seem to be the best bargain on the giant Target wall of diapers, and more importantly, they work. We’ve never had issues with random, mysterious leaks or blowouts with these babies.

***It should probably be obvious, but in case it’s not – no one is paying me to endorse this product.


My Easy and Yummy Chicken and Rice Soup Recipe

It took me about 30 years on earth before I realized how easy soup was to make at home. When we lived in St. Thomas, I liked to always have some soup made in the fridge because it made a quick and easy snack. You see, in St. Thomas, there are fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and KFC, but there is absolutely nothing fast about them. It really was easier to just cook at home.

Anyway, this recipe is a bastardization of a number of the Pioneer Woman‘s chicken soups. She has a bunch of recipes for chicken soups – some with noodles, some with rice – and I think I pretty much took a little of what I liked here and there.

You’ll need:

*chicken thighs (anywhere from 4-6)

chicken broth (I use two 32 oz packages)

carrots, onions, garlic and celery to your taste

salt, pepper, ground cayenne pepper, thyme and tumeric** to your taste. And if you don’t do spicy, don’t think you have to do the cayenne. I just think chicken soup can be kind of bland, and it gives it a little bit of a kick.

flour (about a cup and a half)

What you do:

rinse chicken thighs, pat dry and liberally salt and pepper

put two pats of butter and a little bit of olive oil in a pan (I find the butter adds flavor and color while the oil helps the butter spread evenly around the pan). Heat pan on medium high heat

once the pan is hot, dredge the thighs in the flour (make sure to shake off the excess) and put in in the pan. Cook until just the outsides are nice and brown. Take the chicken out and put on the side.

Slice up the carrots, onions, garlic and celery. Dump them in a pot with the chicken broth and heat to a boil. Oh, and add a bit of all the sesasonings. Don’t feel like you need to put a lot in – you can always taste later and add more then.

Once the broth and veggies are boiling, add the chicken thighs. Bring to a second boil, then put the top on the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes or whenever the chicken is done.

Check to make sure the chicken is done. Once it is, remove from the pot, let it cool down a little, then roughly chop it up and put it back in the pot.

Oh! I almost forgot! In a separate pot, make some rice. I usually make two cups of water and one cup of rice. When the rice is done, add it to the pot. I do this slowly because if you add too much rice, it absorbs all the fluid then you have another dish entirely.

Done! Serve with some yummy bread and a salad 🙂

*Really, you can use any part of the chicken  – I’ve even used breasts – but I like thighs the best because they always seem to be on sale and they add a lot of flavor.

**I use just a leeeetle bit of the thyme and tumeric – like a pinch of each – they pack a big punch.