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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sending your kids off to college.....It's a THING!

Yep!  I'm back.  After several years away I think it may be time to revive this little blog of mine.  We'll see how long it keeps my interest but right now I've got things to say, ideas to share, recipes to create.

The biggest change in the past three years..... MY DAUGHTER LEFT ME!!!  Okay, so she left for college.  I know, I know, it's the natural order, it's what's supposed to happen, would I want her living in my basement for the rest of her life?  Of course it's the natural order and of course I want her to spread her wings and fly but THIS IS A THING PEOPLE!  And no matter how much you prepare, I think for most of us moms, and many dads, it stings a bit.  So here are my tips for surviving.

1.  Prepare, if it's your thing.  I'm a planner so leading up to the big event it made me feel in control to plan, to make packing lists, to make hotel reservations (for move in day, for parent's weekend, etc.), to think about getting extra copies of the insurance cards and HSA cards.  Planning was my coping mechanism.  So if you are a planner, plan.  If you're not, there's probably a Walmart in whatever town she is moving to and you can buy 99% of what you need there.  My dad used to say, "If Walmart doesn't have it, you don't need it"....but that's another post for another day.

2.  Allow yourself to grieve.  Yes, there is grief in this momentous and mostly joyous occasion.  Whether your kiddo is going to the state school 30 minutes down the road or 5 hours away to the next state or a plane ride across the country, this is going to drastically change your relationship, your household and yourself.  So take your time, cry your eyes out, feel sorry for yourself.  Then pull up your big girl panties and get on with life.

3.  Allow your kiddo time to adjust.  Your son or daughter is going through so many huge adjustments.  Moving out of the house.  Moving out of town/city/state.  Having a roommate - maybe for the first time ever.  Having to manage their time.  Having a lot of down time during the day.  Having too much to do at night.  Having to make all new friends.  Having to choose what to do for the rest of their lives.  Some kids are going to seamlessly move into this new phase.  Some are going to need time to adjust and will call in panic mode once a week (or more) until they figure it out.  I have faith that 99% of them will figure it out.  And if they don't, they can come home and try another plan.  They aren't marrying this school.  It isn't a life time commitment.  If they figure out after a semester that it isn't for them, they can change their mind.  That's the beautiful thing about being young - you have your whole life ahead of you!

4.  It's ok to help out.  So many people told me I need to let my daughter figure things out for herself and I agree with that, to a point.  I've raised some pretty independent young women but this is a huge adjustment period (see # 3 above) and if my daughter is in panic mode about 3 tests on the same day, a parking ticket, how to get all her pomping hours in and having no clothes to wear to the date party on Saturday, I will choose to help her out.  I can't study or pomp for her but I'm in a city with stores and she is in a small town with significantly fewer options.  I can ship her a couple of dresses from Forever 21 that she can wear to a date party.  It's a small thing but it let's her know we are still a team.  I can't do it all for her, nor would I want to, and this time next year she'll panic less, but right now, I'm going to send the damned dresses!

5.  Don't read about it.  If you son or daughter just left for college or is leaving in a week or two, don't watch movies about kids leaving home, don't watch tv shows about it, don't read articles about it.  I know come next August Facebook will be flooded with them.  JUST DON'T DO IT!  You'll be a blubbering mess....again.  Fall TV just started up and 2 of my shows are dealing with daughters who just left for college.  I'm so glad I'm 8 weeks past that or I'd be a blubbering mess each episode.  So until you are OK, just don't do it.

That's it.  My sage advice for how to send your kid off to college.  I'm sure in 4 years I'll have new/different advice based on my experiences with my second kid but the only thing I can count on is that it will most likely be completely different.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Creamy Italian French Bread Pizza

The grocery shopping freeze continues......  today I had a half package of sliced pepperoni, a frozen loaf of Italian bread, cream cheese, onions, pizza sauce and shredded co-jack cheese with.  I have to say what came out of this fridge/freezer clean out was amazing!!!!! 

1 loaf Italian bread
1 - 8 oz. package low fat cream cheese
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
1/2 jar pizza sauce (could also use spaghetti sauce in a pinch)
2 onions, sliced
1 bag shredded cheddar, co-jack or mozzarella cheese

Saute sliced onions in medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, slice loaf in half length-wise and gently scoop out the filling.  Toast the hollowed loaf until golden brown.

Microwave cream cheese for 30 seconds, mix with Ranch dressing.  Spread cream cheese mixture over the bread, top with the sauce.  Divide the onions in half and put half on each side, next layer pepperoni and then top with shredded cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

My kids LOVED this!!!  I will definitely be making this again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mexican Pasta Casserole

As I mentioned yesterday I'm on a grocery freeze at my house until after we get back from vacation.  We are going to work through our pantry and our freezer for the next couple of weeks and then when we get back from vacation we'll stock back up again and know everything is fresh and new.

Yesterday I was working with this:

Ground beef, egg-free noodles, black beans, corn, rotel, salsa, 1/2 a block of Velveeta, a kind of sad but still usable red pepper......

1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 - 1 red onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
3/4 cup taco sauce or salsa
1/2 cup water
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 can rotel tomatoes
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
6 oz. pasta
8 oz. Velveeta, cut into small cubes

Saute pepper and onion in olive oil over medium-high heat.  When translucent add ground beef and cook until browned.  Add taco seasoning, rotel tomatoes, salsa/taco sauce and water.  Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer.  Drain and rinse beans and corn and add them to skillet. 

In the meantime, boil noodles according to package directions.  Drain and while still hot add Velveeta, sour cream and eggs and mix to combine.  Pour this mixture into 9x13 casserole dish.

Top this with the meat mixture and then top with shredded cheddar cheese (I used cheddar-jack slices because I had them :-)  Bake at 375 for about 20-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling at the edges.  I garnished mine with black olives and sliced green onions but you could also put any other taco stuff on top like jalepeno peppers or diced tomatoes.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sorry for the absence.....

So I know I've been MIA lately.  I have had many of you email or ask me in passing "What happened to Toolbox for Moms?"  The truth is I have just been overwhelmed with my new job (you know, the one that actually pays me :-) but I'm recommitting myself to blogging.  I can't promise to blog every day but I'll strive for a few a week.  Hopefully that will keep you checking back or hopefully you have signed up to "follow" me.  And if you really love what I have to say PIN IT or pass it along to your friends! 

Tonight I'm making an experimental dinner -- some sort of Mexican pasta thing with ground beef.  I really don't know what its going to be yet but if it turns out well I'll post it tomorrow.  The thing is we are leaving on vacation soon and I am challenging myself to buy very few groceries before we go.  I am going to work through the freezer and pantry for dinners and just buy milk, a little fresh fruit.....we'll see how creative I can get.  Hence tonight's meal, I've got black beans, ground beef, egg noodles......let's see where that takes us.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Easy Dinner Idea -- BBQ Chicken Pizza

Sometimes you want to make dinner for your family but you don't have much time or the right groceries in the house.  So this is a recipe you can make super quick with just 5 ingredients from the grocery store! 

What to buy?  A rotisserie chicken, a bottle of bbq sauce, red onion, shredded mozzarella cheese, pizza crust. 

I used Sweet Baby Ray's bbq sauce and Mama Mary's pizza crust -- these are pre-made, in the aisle near pizza and spaghetti sauce - I like the thin and crispy variety.

Here's how easy it is to put it together.  Take the meat off the chicken, for one pizza you'll only need about half the chicken.  Toss the chicken in some bbq sauce.  Spread sauce on the crust, top with chicken.  Slice red onion very thin and place on top of chicken.  Top with cheese and bake according to your crust directions.  The Mama Mary's crust are baked at 425 for 8-10 minutes.  

That's it!  Delicious BBQ Chicken Pizza! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Crock Pot Country Ribs

Price Chopper had boneless Country Pork ribs on sale a few weeks ago.  I had no idea what I was going to do with them but I bought them anyway and put them in my freezer.  (I'm a sucker for cheap meat!)  Decided to cook them in the crock pot.  They turned out really great so I'm sure next time they are on sale I'll buy them again.

3-4 lbs. boneless country pork ribs
1 - 16 oz. bottle bbq sauce (I used KC Masterpiece)
3 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. garlic powder
1 large yellow onion, sliced.

Salt and pepper all side of the pork and lay in the bottom of slow cooker.  Top with sliced onions and pour sauce mixture over the top.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What to do with the 1/2 bottle of wine????

Okay, so I know many of my friends would never have a problem of what to do with an extra half bottle of wine but the reality is, while I love wine my husband doesn't.  So unless I want to drink an entire bottle by myself or drink 1 glass each night for 3 or 4 nights in a row, I often find myself with a portion of a bottle left over.  I've solved this dilemma by freezing it!  Frozen wine can be thawed and used for cooking later.  I have all these little 1/2 cup (4 oz.) Rubbermaid containers that came with a combo pack I bought.  They aren't good for much but they are great for this.  Divvy up your wine into 4 oz. servings, pop on the lids and freeze.  Next time you need some red wine for red sauce or white wine for risotto, just take it out of the freezer and you are good to go!