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Lunch Hacks for Lazy People Like Me

In order to achieve some balance in my life, I want eat a little better. I mean who doesn’t right. It is a new year after all. However, this doesn’t only apply to the kinds of food I’m eating, but also eating at regular intervals. 

Since I started working from home, I have to admit, I got into a really bad habit of eating lunch 2 out of 5 working days a week. This means that after a breakfast of coffee and maybe a bagel or a banana, I am waiting until dinner to eat and by then I’m famished from all the things that I accomplished that day.On the days that I was eating lunch, I was grabbing anything that was within my reach (ie donuts). This is not healthy, balanced, or a good example to set for my kids. 

Part of my struggle with lunch, is I am the only one home all day and I’m working through lunch, taking my lunch break to go for a walk, or take care of another responsibility. I am trying to maximize the time I have while the kids are at school, so that when they are home, we can enjoy each other and not spend it doing other things. 

Also, truth be told, I’m super lazy. To me it seems like a lot of effort to break out a bunch of stuff, dirty some dishes, heat something up, and put it all back again for one person. I know that is like the epitome of laziness, but I know I cannot be the only one who feels this way. Right? I hope. I mean, if that were the case, fast food restaurants and convenience foods would not be in business.

So, I made a list of Lunchtime Food Hacks for Lazy People Like Me that I think will help me get out of this skipping lunch rut.

1.) Make lunch when you make the kids lunches in the morning. Pack up a lunch for yourself too. Even though you may not be leaving the house, it is nice to just be able to grab pre-washed fruits and veggies and some cut up cheese right out of the fridge. 

 

2.) Make lunches a week at a time. If you go on Pinterest, this is a hot trend right now. Take a few minutes on Sunday night to wash and cut up veggies, fruits, make a pasta salad, or pre-measure things in a container to grab and go.

3.) Pack up dinner leftovers in smaller containers. When you’re putting away leftovers after dinner, put lunch sized portions in smaller containers or even mason jars to reheat the next day.

4.) When prepping dinner, prep lunch too. Sometimes when I’m making fajitas or stir fry, I cut up additional veggies and then put them in a container to grab and go the next day. I already have the cutting board and knife and all the food out, I might as well chop away to save time later.

5.) Keep foods on hand that don’t need any prep. Clementines, apples, bananas, and greek yogurt are some of my favorite whole foods that take no time prep. They are already grab and go!

6.) Keep small sized containers, snack size resealable bags, mason jars, and other food storage solutions on hand.

7.) Double up recipes. This is one of my favorite tricks to do for meals like chilis or soups. I serve some for dinner, and then freeze the rest in smaller containers to thaw and eat for lunch.

This hacks have already helped me keep some balance in my life. I’m eating lunch again!

What are some of your favorite lunchtime hacks?

Reading List for 2017

Brian and I had a date night the other night. In between an amazing dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant and seeing LA LA Land (which is amazing by the way and a must see), we had some time to kill and ran into Barnes & Noble to look around at books. 

My taste in books is not nearly as eclectic as my taste in food and music. I typically stick with funny books, however in keeping with my word of the year, I thought it might be time to switch things up a bit. Needless to say I wanted to read ALL THE THINGS! So I took lots of photos of what I think I would like to read in 2017 and created my own #2017readingchallenge

When I’m in a bookstore or the library, I just take photos of the books I want to read and then I keep them on my phone so when I am in the reading mood or am looking for something I want to read I have book selections right at my finger tips. 

Here is my reading list for 2017 (thus far).

Books I should have Read Already

 

Books I thought I would like because of Gilmore Girls.

 

 

Books because I like funny books

 

 

 

 

 

Books because I read The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and liked it.

A book because sometimes learning is necessary.

 

Self help. Kidding… another funny book.

Finally, a book I need to read because I love all things Harry Potter and cannot believe I haven’t read this one yet either!

I purchased Ireland by Frank Delaney and am starting with that because I do have a love of books relating to Ireland and this is not a funny book either. 

Time to snuggle up and start reading!

What will you be reading in 2017?

Nine Times A Day: A Priorities Story

About 4 years ago, Brian came home a little later than to be expected from work. The kids who hadn’t seen their Dad all day were thrilled as he walked in the door. They ran to him in their footie jammies with their damp hair from being just newly bathed and hugged and kissed him.

Meanwhile, I was cleaning the kitchen after having made the fifth meal of the day, a supper of chicken, rice, and a vegetable. I had a warm plate in the oven for my dear husband. Brian watched me sweeping rice up from the floor. For any of you who have had little kids and had to sweep up rice from the floor, it is the worst. THE WORST.

My husband said to my oldest who was just 4 at the time, “Is Mama ok?”

He asked because as I was sweeping that sticky uncooperative rice from my kitchen floor, I was tearing up. Of course, he was the only one who noticed my silent welling of tears, because when you have three kids who are 4, 3, and 2, they don’t notice such things when Dad walks in the door. He sent the kids upstairs and told them to read books until we came up, and sort of tip toed toward me and said, “Sooooo, how was your day?”

I replied curtly, “Well, this is the 9th time today I’ve swept the floor.”

He responded still unsure of my current mood, “Ummm, and this is bad right?”

“YES! This is bad! I cannot keep up with anything!”

He said, “Keep up with what’s important, Erin. How about, tomorrow, just sweep once at the end of the day. Or how about not at all. It really doesn’t matter, just feed the kids from the floor. That is where it all ends up.”

His comments at the time made me laugh, and made me feel a lot better. Thank goodness for Brian making me laugh. When he said, “Keep up with what’s important.” I didn’t really know what that meant at the time.

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I was very much caught up with life with three kids so close together, who were all home with me. Let me tell you, it was utter chaos for so long.

Every day for many years was like sweeping the floor Nine Times times a day.

Sweep up a mess. Someone drops cheerios. Sweep up that mess. Someone drops blueberries. Sweep up that mess. Someone drops noodles.

You get the picture.

It was hard to keep up with these babies and toddlers.

As soon as I would think I was done with a stage, or with a pile of laundry, or cooking a homemade pureed baby food meal (how stupid I was), or a size of clothes from Rubbermaid tub, or bottles, I would be delivering another baby, or potty training someone else, or pulling another tub of hand me downs out from the basement, doing laundry or cooking or cleaning or SWEEPING THE FLOOR FOR THE 9th TIME THAT DAY!

At the time, I thought I was keeping up with what was important.

Last week it happened. My youngest started full day Kindergarten.

I’m home alone, you guys.

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And I’ve kind of noticed a trend. I have a bit more time in the day to myself, but…

Today as I write this, I look around and I have a To Do List a mile long. There are dishes on my counter. I have laundry piled up (clean to be folded and unclean to be washed). I have soccer uniforms that need ordering. A doctor’s appointment to make. Not to mention, now the kids get older there is a whole host of issues and homework and stages and fun(?) that I need to keep up with. Also, we’ve added my full time career to the mix. Not to mention, I probably still should sweep the floor, but I haven’t touched it yet today.

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There were days when I had three little ones crawling/scooting/toddling around and I would be sweeping that floor for the 9th Time That Day and I dreamed of the light at the end of the tunnel. The day all three of my kids were in school all day and I would have all this time to get things done and focus on our home. I would say things like, “I cannot wait until the kids are in school all day and I can clean all day and make our home lovely for them.” or “I cannot wait until the kids go to school so I can focus on making the perfect snacks and when they get home we can blissfully play board games and read stories around the fire place like a magazine.” or “I will never have to sweep the floor 9 Times A Day again.”

I’ve learned a little bit over these last few years. The dishes and the laundry and the Legos and sweeping the floor 9 times a day really doesn’t matter. I have the rest of my life to clean. I wish I could go back and say to myself 4 years ago crying silently as I swept that sticky rice from the floor, “Erin, put down the broom and smell your kids baby shampoo scented heads and snuggle their footie jammied pudgey bodies.”

I’ve lived a little and learned a lot.

This is what I know now:

The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t that the mess is gone. The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a pretty house. The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a perfectly laid out snack after school. The light at the end of the tunnel is being ok with the messy kitchen floor. It is not caring about the trivial. Brian was right those years ago, I needed to keep up with what’s important. (That’s right, Brian, you were right.)

I literally have seen the light. I know what’s important. Sweeping the floor 9 Times A Day is not Important.

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So, tonight when the kids get home (from soccer and various other things) we will gather around the dining room table (after moving aside my laptop and take home folders) I will put together a dinner (from the slow cooker) and we will eat and talk and clean up together and maybe play a game of cards. Brian and I will do some laundry after the kids go to bed (the bare necessities), then we will quickly order soccer uniforms (before heading to bed ourselves) and perhaps I can sweep the floor one time (tomorrow)… if there’s time after I snuggle my kids.

Kitchen Refresh: Countertop Installation

I’m sure you all remember¬†my warning awhile back about being sure to say no to crack (especially in your countertops). The countertops were installed awhile ago, however, because our kitchen is easily the most used room in the house and we also installed a backsplash, a new microwave, a cabinet, did a little painting, and I made some curtains the kitchen was a mess. Then, I immediately started using my new kitchen for cooking and baking out of sheer excitement. Thus, the actual writing about my kitchen got put on the back burner (no pun intended).

I decided to write about the kitchen in stages though as to not overwhelm, otherwise it would be the longest post in the history of the blogosphere, so today we are just starting out with the countertops.

So, here they are!¬†Don’t they look fabulous!?

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When we finally decided on granite, the installers came out and did a precise measure of our space to let us know exactly how much countertop we would need and to also assist us with what kind of sink would fit best into our base cabinet. We decided on a granite composite sink.

This was my third choice. I wanted a farmhouse sink, but that wouldn’t fit our cabinets (sad), then I wanted a Kohler ceramic sink and that was on a 12 week backorder (I cried), so I did a little research, and this Blanco Granite Composite seemed like a good option. It was large and deep and white. So far I like it.

Once all that drama was done, a schematic drawing of the kitchen was made.

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Next, were given the all clear to pick out two slabs of granite at a granite distributer. We had decided on a color and kind when we purchased our countertops, but since granite is a natural stone taken from the earth there is often many variances. Therefore, the fabricator often will let you pick a specific slab that appeals to you.

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PRO TIP: You can sign off and allow your fabricator to pick out your slab(s) too, but we thought it might be fun to do it ourself AND also see a granite warehouse. Just remember that the slab you see is going to be slightly darker in your home after sealing and will be cut to fit your space.

This was my favorite part of the process. Look at all that natural stone!

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Even though our granite is called River White, we picked a slab that had a lot of gray running through it with a lot of variances. We liked that natural and rustic feel.

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After we picked our slabs, it was a few weeks before the countertops were cut and installed. To prep the kitchen I just had to make sure that everything was off the current counters and remove the drawers.

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The installers removed our old countertops.

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The installers also made sure to shim any areas that were not level due to the house settling too.

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Then carefully installed the new granite countertops.

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We did have to have one awkward area that had a seam, but it is perfectly sealed, and that process was awesome to watch. You can’t even tell where it is now.

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Finally, the sink was installed. PRO TIP: Make sure that the sink you pick out is on site and removed from the box and checked for cracks or imperfections before your installation date. This gives you time to get is exchanged in time for installation day.

When everything was installed, the countertops were sealed and the sink was caulked. PRO TIP: Wait about 24 hours before hooking up the faucet, plumbing, and using your countertops. This gives everything time to dry and settle up. There will be a lot of dust and a slight film on the countertops. When ready for use wipe everything down with a mild soap and water.

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Next up: Backsplash installation.

 

Just Keep Going

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. You must be 21+ years old to try Poise Impressa Bladder Supports. #MySizePoise #CollectiveBias

Many of my readers know that I gave birth to my three kids in a span of 33 months. When I look back to when my kids were babies, that time was a blur of nursing, changing diapers, laundry, and mom and tot classes.

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I did have one solace after each my children was born, however, and that was exercise. Whether it be walking, running, or even doing a quick YouTube workout in the living room before everyone woke up; it really seemed to help with those baby blues and keep me motivated.

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Among the plethora of other changes my body had gone through, I did notice after the birth of my second child, and a particularly long walk where I ended up ruining a favorite pair of yoga pants, that it was time to shorten my workouts.¬†I couldn’t help having to hit a locker room or bathroom to change my yoga pants during my exercise routines. I guess when you have three kids that close together, you just keep going. In more ways than one.

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Now, that the kids are older and have headed off to school, the actual time I have to workout is increasing, but out of fear, I had found places where I could exercise that have bathrooms nearby for when I felt I might leak. I would workout on the treadmill closest to the locker rooms at the gym, or I  would walk on a loop close to home.

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Then, I heard of Poise Impressa. On my weekly trip to Target I decided to check it out, and found it in the feminine hygiene aisle. Poise Impressa is not meant to absorb leaks, but meant to prevent them all together.

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I started¬†out by using the sizing kit, and learned which is the right size for me. I found out the size is not about how much you leak or how much you weigh. It’s about the best internal fit for you. Poise Impressa is inserted like a tampon. ¬†A woman can start with Size 1, and if she¬†still leaks, move to size 2, then size 3 if necessary. Poise Impressa Bladder Supports are right for you if you leak urine when you laugh, cough, dance, sneeze, or if you are like me, when you exercise. If you leak urine when you have a sudden need or rush to urinate, Poise Impressa Bladder Supports are NOT for you. Try Poise liners and pads for Urge Urinary Incontinence. If you have SUI like me, however, you might want to try Poise Impressa.

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Finally, I don’t have worry about changing my pants midway through workouts or shortening my time on the trail . My leaks have been prevented, and me and my yoga pants couldn’t be happier.

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Now, I can just keep going. This time it’s not to the ladies¬†room or locker room to change.

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If you have shortened your workouts, or if reading about me ruining my yoga pants made you laugh so hard you ruined yours, check out the Poise Impressa sizing kit at Target and see what is the right size for you. When you find the size that is right for you, join the Poise Impressa Reward program for a $25 Promo Code for a Cloud9Living.com experience by submitting a testimonial of your experience with Poise Impressa.

Then, you will be able to keep going too.

 

 

What is With the #TealPumpkin?

In addition to potting some mums that were on sale at Home Depot and hanging the last of my fall decor, it was time for us to put out our Teal Pumpkin. This is a tradition my family and I began last year (you can read about it here), with some inspiration from the awesome people at FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education).

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For those that regularly follow, Home Everyday, you know all about my kids food allergies. But did you know (according to FARE).

  • About 15 million people in the United States have food allergies.
  • About 1 in 13 kids in the United States as a moderate to severe food allergy. (that’s about 2 per classroom)
  • Every 3 minutes a person is sent to the Emergency Room due to an allergic reaction.
  • A reaction can be mild or extremely severe and even fatal. This life threatening reaction is known as anaphylaxis.
  • Many allergies are not outgrown over time, peanuts, tree nuts, finned fish, and shellfish allergies often tend to be life long allergies causing severe reactions.
  • A food allergy can develop at any time.
  • According to the CDC, between the years of 1997 and 2011 food allergies in children increased by 50%

While my kids have food allergies, they are just like any other kids. They go to school, play sports, go to events, and restaurants. All of these activities just require a little extra care and planning. For the most part, the people we associate with are extremely helpful and accommodating. Also, while my kids have been educated from very early on to read packages to look for possible allergens, ask a trusted adult what is in a dish before eating it, come find me at a party, or when in doubt refrain from eating a treat, they are also still children who are learning how to deal with their allergies.

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This is why Halloween, for a Mom of allergy kids, is extremely stressful. While my kids are planning out the final details of their costumes, I am wondering how to navigate a through a day that is so centered on candy. Who will we donate our candy to after Halloween? Can I call every candy manufacturer between now and Halloween and find out what candies ARE safe? Should we go trick or treating or a just have a Halloween party instead?

When I found out about the #TealPumpkinProject through FARE, I was so excited to participate. This campaign was designed not only to bring awareness to food allergies, but also allow children who have food allergies to participate a little more fully in the Halloween traditions that we are so used to.

When you knock on the door or ring the doorbell of a house with a Teal Pumpkin (teal is the color of FARE) this tells the trick or treater that this house is offering glow sticks, stickers, pencils, bubbles, or some other Halloween trinket other than food. For the kids with food allergies, this is so exciting! My kids have always trick or treated in the past, and we would often donate our candy or share with family and friends after the holiday was over. Now, the kids have a small memento or trinket they can play with from their night of trick or treating with friends.

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This year, I have a jar of candy for those that can have candy, and a jar filled with Halloween stickers and glow sticks.

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And of course, I have my Teal Pumpkin in front of my door, again, this year. For not only my kids, but for all kids to have a happier healthier Halloween.

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For more information about the #TealPumpkinProject, visit the FARE website. You can find ideas for non food treats, free printables, and all kinds of awesome information!

Thirsty Thursday: A Teabox Review

This post has been compensated with product from Teabox, however all opinions are my own.

I love tea. I will drink it pretty much in any form, and I have written about it several times here on Thirsty Thursday (like here, here, here, and here). So, when Teabox reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to try out some different types of tea that would be delivered right to my house, I of course said YES!

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Teabox is a wonderful online tea store offering a wide variety of teas. From black tea, to white tea, blends to basics, it has everything for a tea lover such as myself. Teabox even carries all the accessories you will need to make the perfect cup of tea every time.

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My personal favorite part of Teabox, however, is the ability to subscribe to Teabox. That’s right! You can take a short quiz about your likes, and 24 hours later a Teabox is made that will cater to your tastes and a new one is sent every month.

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The starter kit, which I received, even comes with a spoon and muslin tea bags for making hot cup of tea right away.

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In my first shipment, I received The White Tea Sample Set which included a Summer Assam Oolong, A Spring Darjeeling, and a Darjeeling Ruby.

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On the package is all the instructions for brewing the tea, including how much tea to use in your muslin bag,

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water temperature,

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and steep time.

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So far, I love the Assam Oolong. While light it has plenty of flavor, and is even a little sweet.

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Here is a short time lapse video I made to show how easy it is to make your own tea using Teabox.

In the past, when I wanted a custom or fancy cup of tea for a treat, I would go to our nearby teahouse or a restaurant about a half hour away that brews artisan tea.  However, I am not going to lie, sometimes walking to the teahouse or driving a half hour away on a cold day, would not be my favorite task.

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Now, with Teabox, I have my own fancy tea right in my own home. If I want, I can have some delivered each month.

 

 

 

 

In The Moment Monday

A few weeks ago, I lamented about my lack of preparation for the upcoming school year. Last week we started school, and it all got done. Well, mostly got done. It might have had a few hiccups. I might not have had perfectly styled Bento Boxes for lunches, I might have been missing a 3 ring binder, I might not have blown out my hair for first day of school pictures.

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Guess who cares?

No one.

George did get up a little early because he was excited and nervous, and helped me pack up everyone’s school supplies. Having the extra alone time with him in the morning was good for both of us, I think.

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Russell came home the first week with a PBIS recognition for respect. What a sweet kid!

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Caroline is loving walking to the bus stop each day to pick the boys up.

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Would I love to make a Phineas and Ferb Bento Box surprise for the boys? Yes. Would I love to have an afternoon tea party for Caroline and her friends after school? Sure. I’ll put those things on my to do list.

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First, I am going to enjoy the fact that we survived the first week.

When It’s Gone, It’s Gone: Scott Naturals Tube Free Toilet Paper

This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser the opinions, information, and stories, are my own.   #CollectiveBias #ScottTubeFree

I used to think the most used room in the house was the kitchen. Now, I would say it is the bathroom. As the kids get older want more independence regarding their own self care and maintenance, the morning routines are getting longer. Teeth brushed, faces washed, and combing hair is taking up more of the morning.

With school starting soon, and all of us needing to get out of the house in a jiffy, we don’t have time for extra steps.¬†Scott 4

I know with all of us trying to get into the bathroom at the same, it might be a good idea to help make some basic bathroom tasks a bit simpler, quicker, and more user friendly for small people.  Which is why I organized with some items I snagged at Target. I organized their tooth care items in a small drawer using a desk organizer, added this handy under cabinet drawer set for hair care items and extra hand soaps, and moved the washcloths and towels to a place that was easier for them to reach.

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Finally, I have decided to use Scott Naturals Tube Free Toilet Paper.

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I was able to find it at Target with everything else on my list.

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Not only has Scott created the perfect roll of toilet tissue that eliminates the need for extra waste (who doesn’t want to be kinder to our planet?), but Scott has also eliminated an entire step of having to get rid of the cardboard tube on the roll after each use, which makes my little ones lives a little easier. You can see how there is nothing left in the video below!

When it’s gone, it’s gone! #ScottTubeFree #ad @Target

A video posted by Erin Skibinski (@eskibs) on

No paper tube, no extra waste, and no extra steps. When it’s gone, it’s gone. And let me tell you with three little ones, it is often gone.

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Want to try Scott Naturals Tube Free Toilet Paper for yourself? There THIS GREAT OFFER for $2 off a 4 Pack or Larger at your local Target stores. This is almost 50% savings on the 4 pack size! Also, you can look RIGHT HERE to see all of the Scott line of products offered at Target.

What are some quick bathroom organization tricks you have for getting ready for the school year? What ways will you streamline¬†your morning routine? If you’re looking for ways to make things easier and save some money too, don’t forget about THIS GREAT OFFER from Scott Naturals Tube Free Toilet Paper.

 

 

 

 

Pretzel Bread French Toast: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, (and Dessert) OH MY!

I love breakfast foods. So does Brian. So do the kids. We could eat them any time of day, and a lot of times when we are a little indecisive about what to have for dinner, most of the time we pick Breakfast for dinner. Also known as brinner.

We have been grilling a lot this summer. Also, my kids have discovered the joy of putting anything grilled on a pretzel roll. I found a brand that is allergy friendly for them, and now I always have them in the house. So, we have kind of forgotten about our old stand by, brinner. Until recently.

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I was kind of getting sick of grilling, and wanted to bring our old friend back for a special dinner brinner.

I made pretzel bread french toast, and it was delicious.

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You could have this delicious treat any time of day, and you could even serve it up with a vanilla glaze instead of syrup for dessert and call it bread pudding. That is how good it is!

Pretzel Bread French Toast
Ingredients
  • 1 large pretzel loaf or 6 small pretzel rolls cut into cubes
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and arrange bread cubes in dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla.
  3. Pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and making sure to coat all the bread. You may have stir it a bit.
  4. Cover the baking dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.
  5. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Bake the French toast for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup.

 

What is your favorite go to dinner? Is it brinner? Do you have a favorite recipe that you always have ingredients for on hand?

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