Sep 14, 2014

I've Moved!

Just in case you need to find me and you are sad you can't...

I've moved to a new home!

Come see me... now!

Sep 12, 2014

Friday Happies

I love Fridays.


Here it is for today folks...

...and keep 'em on. All weekend long!

Happy Friday!


Sep 11, 2014

Le Chicken Salad

Because I had leftover chicken.

Because my clan is not great about leftover chicken.

Because I cannot bear to throw anything out.

May I present...

Chicken Salad

What you need:
 - chicken (I use leftover grilled chicken, rotisserie... but feel free to make it fresh too!)
 - celery stalks, finely diced
 - red onion, finely diced
 - cashews, roughly chopped
 - low fat mayo
 - paprika
 - garlic salt

What you do:

I realize I have not given any measurements above. The reason is, as I have said in recipes before, this is about what you like and how much you want to put in. Got enough chicken to feed a small army? Make enough for a few days for a family. Only a little? You got lunch for one :)

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl.

Don't be like me. LARGE bowl, so you can actually mix without things escaping!

And then you know what you can do with this?...


Happy Eating!


Sep 10, 2014

Busy Hands: Ice Play

It's been hot.

Reeeally hot man.

The kids have been cranky.

Reeeally super-@*&! cranky.

What's a mother to do?...


What you need:
 - ice
 - a good blender or some other gadget that will shave your ice to snow consistency
 - food coloring

What you do:

Shave ice. Dump in bucket. Add food coloring. Let play. Sit back and enjoy...

This activity started at the table in a big plastic container, it then evolved into a build-your-own-snowball-then-eat-it-or-throw-it-around event.
Whatevs... they were happy, entertained and cooling off.

A simple sensory play idea that they thought was the bee's knees... lol!

I know the boy looks sad, but that's only because I wouldn't let him dump the entire thing in the pool... wah wah...

Happy Creating!

P.S: don't forget to save some of that ice for a margarita :)

Please leave me a comment, I would love your feedback. Thanks!

Sep 9, 2014

Resolutions. Anytime. #2

Here I am again... resolving...

When I looked through my list today to pick one of the items to blog about, I wanted to write about them all!
They all seem so relevant on a daily basis and I wanted to shout them all from the rooftop. I also realized just then that that is exactly what I shouldn't do. This is something I have struggled with for years... no, not shouting (ok, yes... shouting), but what I mean is I have always tried to do it all. At once. Everything. Clean, cook, educate, discipline, work, eat right, be nice... ugh...
Inevitably, nothing worked out and I would bitch and moan and nag and cry about it. Why? Because you cannot fly 42 kites at once.

Well, at least I can't.

If you or someone you know can... then please come by my house. I will bake you a cake! :)

So, today I chose not to write about how to manage it all, but instead, how to pick ONE kite and smile while flying it high...

Resolution #2: STOP COMPLAINING!

This is me.

I am the complaints department.

And I hate it.

I hear it coming out of my mouth and before I can stop it, I have whined about yet another nothing.

Then I realized that this gal had figured it out...

She was getting shit done and smiling about it aaaand looked good doing it... bonus! Because when it comes down to it, shit does have to get done and sometimes (more often than not) you have to do it. End of story. So, why not just accept what's on your list, spare yourself the sob stories, tiny violins and lame excuses and just DO IT!

I know this may sound like tough love and maybe it is. But I learnt that all the amount of crying about a task on your to-do list won't make it go away (and what a waste of your time and energy). I also learnt that while I was stuck in my own sorry universe complaining, I was dragging the people I love around me into it to. That just wasn't fair.

Fact: There are dishes in the sink.
Fact: The dishes need to be cleaned.
Fact: I can get it done and NOT nag anyone else about it and it hasn't taken more than 10 minutes out of my day.
Fact: Everyone is happy and I haven't given my left arm or kidney for it.
Fact: There are now clean plates to eat off of.

That is just one small example. I am not saying to become the maid in your household, my kids and husband do their share too. So, if there is something I have to do... I do it. And I figure adding a smile to it would make the job go a little smoother. For me.

My list of things to do never goes away and it never will. Acceptance of this is a choice and once I chose to take it on with a smile, life became just a little more pleasant. Amazeballs.

I am still trying to figure out how this lady does it... perhaps I need a bird or bunny to sing with me. Maybe a squirrel in the rafters and a deer to help with laundry?... I dunno.

But until then, I choose to suck it up and smile, even when I don't like what's on my list. And just stop complaining about it. Cause... why?!
Not a bad lesson for my kids to grasp as well.

Sep 8, 2014



Let me explain...

One stinkin' pound!
That's a one pound weigh gain from last week.
I was so hoping to finally land a zero between my numbers, but alas, two decadent restaurant visits this weekend put an abrupt stop to that. It was also about 685 degrees out this weekend, which made a bicycle ride seem like voluntary torture.

No matter, this is but a small bump. This is not an excuse for a binge or a delve into emotional eating beside the fridge. Just need to try even harder this week.

My mantra this week...

ZERO! in... finally aiming to get a '0' in between my numbers on the scale.

More goals for this week?...
 - lay off the carbs
 - 2 days of weight training
 - 2 days of kickboxing/cardio
 - one bicycle ride
 - lean proteins
 - much vegetable and fruit
 - an ocean of water (minus the sodium)
  -  and a partridge in a pear treeeeee

Crossing my fingers for a productive week!

Happy Monday!

Sep 5, 2014

Happy Friday... Again

School started.

Week is over.

Housecleaning done.

Rest beginning.

Workouts complete.

Weekend is coming.


... is there any better reason than this?!

Happy Friday!

Sep 4, 2014

Fish... just fish

I do not like seafood.

That is all.


...seriously though, I am not a fan of seafood in general but I will eat fish once in a while. I know how healthy it is for you, yes, I heard that one already. I just can't always handle that fish smell or taste. So... I do what anyone else would do... I bring on the spices!

This is far too easy to make to be called a recipe :)

Fish in the Oven

What you need:
 - fish! I used sole, but I think this would work well with any fish.
 - Canola oil (or whatever oil you have and prefer)
 - salt
 - pepper
 - thyme
 - paprika
 - garlic powder
 - fried basil

What you do:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Wash the fish and make sure there are no bones in it please... you don't want to gag on this deliciousness!
Pat the fish dry and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with the rest of the ingredients. I don't use exact measurements here, and neither should you (ok, other than the salt.. easy on that... you can always add more!). This recipe lends itself well to whatever rings your bell as far as flavor. You like more herbs, add 'em. Less paprika... no problemo.
Then turn the fish over and do it all over again.

Pop in the oven for 20 minutes or so. I have an antiquated tiny oven so it does it thing quite quickly. They are ready when they look somewhat like this or when you can flake a piece away easily with a fork.

Some people like to add some fresh lemon juice before it hits the oven. Do it!
Some like to add lemon juice before eating. Do it!
Either way, the lemon juice it optional, but it does go hand in hand with fish :)

This was so tasty... really! I would have left it in the oven even a little longer. I like it more browned and a little crispy on the edges. Serve this with some mashed potatoes and peas.... please.

Happy Eating!

Sep 3, 2014

Home, Sweet (organized chaos), Home... the (not) TV unit

Last year when we decided I would leave work and stay home to care for my mom and kids, one thing became immediately apparent...

Order was needed.

Some kind of system to find stuff and put stuff where stuff belonged after stuff was being looked for and stuff was not found. Another thing also became achingly apparent... we had a lot of... shi.. I mean, stuff!

There were homework supplies on the kitchen table. Fast food (yeah, yeah, we go there!) toys in the sofa and randomly surprising us throughout the house. Paper and crayons were wherever we last used them. Play dough in a grocery bag in the kitchen. And my checkbook and papers wherever there was a spare corner.

I would have taken a before photo, but 1) we have been using this for a while now, so that would have been forever ago and 2)I would have had to take a photo of every corner of the house, between pillows, under chairs and places where spiders want to be left alone.

So, here then, is one of the many areas I simplified and organized to help not only hide the mess but also try to make sense of it and bring things together that were often used in a common, neat area.

What you see here is an old TV stand. It was brown and sticky colored... yep... sticky colored! It had two rickety glass doors on it that were barely hanging on their hinges and also a couple of screws loose.

Don't we all!? ... I don't judge here... :)

Anyway, we used it at first for the TV sure, cause that is what we bought it for. Later it held my son's toys in his room and when he outgrew the little toys we used it as a side table in the living room to hold board games. Until our daughter was born and decided it would be a whole lotta fun to dump all the pieces of all the board games on the floor. At the same time.

Fast forward to some sanding down and a lousy paint job on mama's part and I re-purposed this old thing into something (still not quiet attractive) kinda useful!

Each shelf holds three Ikea baskets. The top one has one for me and one each for the kids (dad has his own area for his stuff... also, dad doesn't need something the size of a basket to hide his mess). No need for an insider view here. There are checkbooks, a calculator and a couple of binders in mine. My son has school folders, forms and toys he gets from parties, friends, etc. that don't really belong with anything else. He also keeps his empty wallet in here. No need to put it anywhere safe. It is, after all.. always empty. Maya's basket holds the same kind of crud, minus the school work.

I actually love their baskets, cause any time I find something lying around the house I don't even need to ask where it goes, I just pick it up and toss it in their basket. They know where to look if they can't find something. It's the single Hotwheel car on the floor, the pair of sunglasses, the one lost My Little Pony, the three Lego blocks or the homework from under the table. I don't really care... it all goes in the baskets.

Next shelf is...

scrap paper and coloring books with a box of crayons and a box of colored pencils.

All. The. Stickers. (and tattoos)

and the play dough.

Then on the bottom shelf...

all the other kinds of colors. No, not the paint... I'm not that stupid.
It's metallic markers, dry erase markers, high lighters, twisty crayons, regular markers, Wondercolor pens, erasable window markers, oil pastels and dot markers.

all the glue. all the scissors.

And lastly, it's the other random supplies. 
Colored tissue paper squares, for, you know... spreading around the room like confetti (according to Maya) and tape... glorious tape, which in this house is like crack for my kids... HOURS of entertainment with tape. Tape the fort together, tape sticks together, tape on our bodies, on the wall, let's put some under the table... you get my drift.

Up top...

My day planner, a kid-made can that I use for highlighters, pens and pencils, an empty decorative box 
(shh... it's actually where I put the slinky when I don't want the kids to ruin yet another one, or where I hide a toy they are fighting over and I don't want them to find... *insert evil mama laugh here*).
And my favorite sign in the entire house...

Yes, I cleaned up the table for the photo. It doesn't always look so... clean.
No, I cannot lend you my monkeys!

Happy Organizing!

How do you keep it together?
(the house I mean... not you... we all know none of us are really keeping it together)

Sep 2, 2014

Busy Hands: Tie-Dye

It's just not summer without tie-dye!

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I was completely in love with anything tie-dye. I owned tie-dye pants and skirts, t-shirts, bandanas and I even had a huge tie-dye cloth that I used as wall art in my room. It was my thang!

Who am I to withhold such infatuation with tie-dye from my children?

And so we found ourselves here...


What you need:
 - any basic tie-dye kit (we got ours from Michaels)
 - t-shirts, shorts, bandanas... anything you want to go tie-dye crazy on!
         (and make sure they are pre-shrunk)
 - elastic bands
 - plastic bags

What you do:

First, you excuse the orientation of some of my photos. Something went a little wacko here that I couldn't reslove :(

Then, you get your t-shirts (or whatever you are working with) and run it under some water. Wring it out thoroughly so it's less wet and more damp. If you do this step, you ensure that your colors blend together nicely.

Now you are ready for the elastics. We did three different designs... I labeled each with a letter below. When you scroll down further you can see the corresponding design that we ended up with.
First up, the princesses t-shirt...

t-shirt A

This one we tied randomly in little clumps. Just pick a spot as big or small as you want the design to be, make a little ball out of it between your fingers and tie an elastic around it.

t-shirt B

This one belonged to the boy. We picked a 'focal point' on the shirt. This can be anywhere. We happened to start ours in the middle as we hadn't done this before and he wanted to play it safe for the first time. Once we tied the first elastic, we just kept going down the rest of the shirt, bunching it up as we went. The spacing here also plays a part when the design is complete. You can see the end result below...

t-shirt C

This one was mine. I basically lay the t-shirt out flat and picked a spot for my 'focal point' or where I wanted the design to 'grow' from. I chose just above the heart for this one. I then used a plain old fork, placed it on the shirt and began to twist. As if to swivel spaghetti on to a fork. 
yep... it always has to be food related... better yet... pasta related!  :)
The shirt just kept wrapping around itself until finally it was more or less of a disc shape. That's when I attacked it with elastic bands to hold it all together.

OK, so now comes the fun part... COLOR!!!

We placed the t-shirts on a wire shelf inside of a big plastic bin. Some sources say to lay paper towels out all over the table so it doesn't make a mess... Mama 'aint got time for that shit! This was far less time-consuming and wasteful, and there was no work to prep the area. Bonus!

I chose purple, yellow and pink and just went at it. I don't think you can really make too much of a mess here on the shirt unless you use too many colors and lay them on top of each other. Yeah... don't do that...

I had to turn mine over to make sure both sides had color. You don't want to over-saturate the cloth to the point that it's dripping out the other side. It's also a good idea to leave some white spots... it makes the final design look great!

This is shirt A. My little girl's shirt. I think this one was my favorite...

Mr. Big Guy did his by himself obviously. Duh!

Once the paint is on the clothes, wrap each one up in a plain old plastic grocery bag. You want them to stay wet and not dry up. We did these around the late afternoon one day and left them until the following day at around 11am.

Now that they have 'marinated' for a while (at least 6-8 hours so the colors with stay), it's time to rinse them out. No pics here, since my hands were in the water!
For the first rinse, I left the elastics in and just ran it under the water, squeezing the dye out until the water ran somewhat clear. The I used scissors to carefully cut the elastics off (carefully... holes and tie-dye may be too much for one shirt to handle!) and rinsed the shirts out again, this time getting most of the dye to rinse clean. Admire your designs, they look awesome! Then the last step is to throw them in the laundry for a quick spin with just a tiny bit of detergent (no fabric softener either) and dry.

Here they are...

shirt A

shirt B

shirt C

In retrospect, I may have left the color to sit even longer than we did and in some cases we could have used more color. But all in all, I really love each of these and it was so much fun to do together. OK, the kids didn't wash the shirts out, but it was still a great activity we did this summer!

Tie it... you'll dye for it!
har har
I had to. Sorry ;)

Happy Creating!

Sep 1, 2014


It was weigh in day for me today and I was incredibly nervous this morning to step on the scale given the outcome of last weeks weigh in of 216! (that's a 5lb gain for everyone counting!)

This is what I saw this morning...

No... not just the pudgy little toes... the number!
And to be honest, I had to weigh myself a couple more times. Just to make sure there was no error.
Yes, I am incredibly proud and elated ,but I also know that this was no happy accident. I worked for this. Very, very hard. I did my best to clean up my food and I dug deep to motivate myself to work out. I had a lousy week a couple of weeks ago and realized no one would pick me up out of my rut but me. No amount of sweet-talkin' or sugar-coatin' was gonna get me in gear. I even posted this on Instagram...

I did get myself unstuck. I did. I also knew this morning before stepping on the scale that no matter what the number would be it would not deter me. I would keep on keepin' on with the clean eats and the exercising. That was my choice.
Many of my food choices for the past week can be seen on Instagram (@back2happymom). And as for my work outs... those included kickboxing, HIIT, weights at home, doing housework, not sitting down, sweating in this California heat wave and bicycle rides like this...

This week I am duct-taping myself to the wagon with no grandiose expectations but to make the best choices I can with my food and to move my arse as much as possible.
Mission accomplished for Monday already... I did my weight training at home today. Tomorrow will be kickboxing and house cleaning... someone please send help!

There isn't much change I think from the last time I took a full body photo, but I am now at a 65lb weight loss from when I was at my heaviest.
A refresher...


...and now.

Happy Monday!
Happy Labor Day!!

Please feel free to leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you :)