Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Mayhem Mother's Traveling Tips

The holiday season is upon us, which means full fridges, full tables, and full stomachs of food. Don't get me wrong, that is my favorite part about the holidays. My not-so-favorite-part? (Besides the tight-fitting pants and planning a Christmas budget?) Traveling. No, let me rephrase: traveling with kids.

You all know, because you've been there! Traveling with kids is hard. Period. Our kids are ticking time bombs, just waiting to go off at any point at on the travel itinerary, and so are you. You are already around your kids 24/7, but when you're home, you at least have the safety of a closet in which you can hide and binge on any leftover Halloween candy or a spoonful of peanut butter. There is no such thing as a "safe place" for a mom when traveling. You are stuck in the car or an airplane with all of them, and you are expected to keep them happy, well-behaved and quiet. It is no wonder we moms look at vacations and scoff. Vacation shmacation.

I get it, ladies! I married a man who travels for work. He is my hero and provider in the form of a dome-builder, and we are lucky enough to be able to travel with him and stay together. His jobs last anywhere from 6-weeks to 4-months, and jobs could be anywhere in the United States. Sounds hectic, right? Now, factor in three kids 3 and under. Such chaos. Life is constantly changing, and while it can be stressful at times, we try hard to make traveling fun! In all this, I have really started to pick up tips and tricks to make traveling with little kids WAY easier, and I hope that through this series of travel tips, you can find one or two things that may help you when traveling this holiday season!

Tip 1:  Stack it wide, not high

There should be a book written on the art of packing a suitcase. I always freeze up for a moment when I have an empty suitcase in front of me and a stack of belongings that must fit inside. It is like an intricate puzzle to see which item combination allows the suitcase to close. There are so many ways to pack clothes, between stacking them high, rolling clothes into small bundles, vacuum packing your clothes, and more intricate folding methods that should be placed on the same plane as the art of ancient paper folding. While I have only tried three of these methods, I have found that when my goal is to take more clothing and keep it more organized, this is my tried and true: Stack it wide, not high. 

Stacking clothes high is how I used to pack clothes. It seems the most logical way to play suitcase Tetris. You have clothes in folded squares that you need to place into a large rectangular suitcase. The picture below was when we lived in Oklahoma for three months and were packing to come home earlier this year. When stacked high, I could fit about 23 shirts in my suitcase. That is quite a few outfits, and if you are only going on a short-term vacation, this method may be perfect for you! 

HOWEVER, this method may not be for you, if you like to have options! Don't listen to your husbands ladies; we dress depending on how we feel for the day. The same shirt can make you feel confident one day and overweight and drab the next day. You need yourself looking and feeling confident, because you are about to be a mama bear on the road! When you put it that way, I'm sure your husband will agree ;)

This is the same suitcase with the same 23 shirts, and I was able to fit about 6 MORE SHIRTS into my suitcase when stacked against the width of the suitcase. 29 SHIRTS. Not bad for only a third of the suitcase, eh? Not only does this method allow you to pack more, but you are able to see all of your outfits for easy access. No more digging around in those stacked high clothing piles, because we all know what could happen when you take a Jenga block from the bottom of the tower. Say farewell to any form of organization.

Because I had saved space on height, I could also place three pairs of shoes on top of the clothes and close the suitcase EASILY.  I'm sure there are better, more correct terms for this process, but I call this form of packing the "Magic Suitcase Stuffing Trick." 

Airplane travlers, be forewarned: Be careful when flying on an airplane though. Those extra clothes, even if compacted, still can push you over the 50 pound limit for a checked bag. *Me raising my hand guiltily...*

Tip 2: Hotels have cribs. No wait; I don't think you heard me right. Hotels. Have. Cribs! 

With three little ones, it was daunting to carry everyone, our hotel travel bag, AND two pack-and-plays! Did you know that most hotels have a few generic portable cribs (it could be a crib on wheels or a pack-and-play) that they keep for guests? Take advantage of this moms.

We recently went on a mini-vacation to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and we made sure to book a hotel that offered this service. We booked our room and asked to have a portable crib there before we arrived at the hotel, and opened our door to this little beauty. Hotel staff will even deliver a crib right to your room if you've forgotten to plan ahead.

This crib came with bedding and even additional baby blankets to keep your little one warm through the night.  Not all hotels have this service, we have found, so make sure to check with your hotel before you book your room. Bottom line? This service may save you a trip back to the car to get more things. (*cue husband fist pump*)

Hopefully you found these two tips helpful! I have up to 30 more small tips, and am hoping to post a few each week; however, I am definitely no expert, so please share any of your own traveling tips in the comments below!

Don't forget to get packed, get traveling, and get a little mayhem going on!



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pot Pie baby!!!!

Do you know those days when everything just goes as planned, and your kids are so well behaved and you just love them so much you want to just kiss their cute, adorable, clean, well dressed little persons? And your hubby comes home and his day was the BEST and he didn't bring any of it home? Yeah, me neither...I'm not sure I've really ever seen that scenario. Dinner time at our house is absolute MAYHEM. Kids are getting hungry, the house is cluttered with toys, the baby is smelling food, so she thinks she needs to eat RIGHT NOW....and that weird mommy guilt that says you should have hot dinner on the table by the time hubby is home is working overtime. Yeah, thats more like it. I feel so much better admitting that...this blog is a NO JUDGMENT blog....I think....which is why I love pot pie.....

Pot pie, lets talk about it! This recipe is so super easy, and so super good. (and so super clean, eh hem!) I used to make pot pie, but it was just with frozen mixed veggies and usually a boxed pancake know what I'm talking about. But after cooking and baking and being in control of ingredients became such a HUGE part of my life, I can't go back. I just can't. 

A homemade pot pie mixture: It has basic ingredients such as veggies, flour, chicken stock or broth, chicken and spices, so its nothing to be scared of...I promise. The recipe I use, is pretty fail proof. I even left out one step tonight because I was in a  hurry and there was no difference on the quality of the food. The only thing that may give you a bit of a fright is the fact that you have to make a roux. A roux is used to help thicken maybe you've been making roux for lots of recipes and didn't even know! Usually its made from something being sautéed in butter or oil, then you add in flour to coat the mixture. In this pot pie recipe, its used by sautéing veggies (onion, carrots, celery) in butter till tender...add the flour and coat all veggies. Once its coated, you cook it for a min or two then add broth. After boiling the broth it will thicken. This is your base that only gets thicker from there after baked. Cooking with a roux makes me feel like such a grown up...

Here is the goal folks: a beautiful individual pot pie: 

I'm not a huge fan of pretty fluted edges...either because I can't do them, or I really do love a "rustic" look about pies and pie crusts. I'll let you decide. 

Individual Pot Pies

4 Tbs butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced (I used carrot sticks and just eyeballed how much I wanted)
1-2 celery stalks, diced*
1/4 cup flour
3.5 C chicken broth (more if your mixture becomes too thick)
2 C shredded or chopped cooked chicken (flavored with salt and pepper)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp thyme (dried)
1/4 C half and half (I use cream)
Pie crust (I make mine from scratch, but you can use a refrigerated pie crust as well)
1 large egg

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring until they are softening. 3-5 min. (maybe longer. I usually cook for about 8 min.) Sprinkle in the flour and mix in to cover the veggies. Cook the flour coated veggies for about 2 min. Add in chicken broth and stir to combine. Let it start to bubble and thicken 3-5 min. 

Stir in the cooked chicken, turmeric and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Add the half and half or cream, then stir the mixture and let it bubble and thicken. This will take about 5-7 min. If it seems overly thick, stir in a bit more broth. Remove from heat and set aside. 
Roll out the pie crusts slightly and cut out 8 dough circles just a bit larger that the pie pans.** Press dough circle into each pie pan, making sure the dough comes almost to the top of each pan. 

Fill the pies with the chicken mixture. 

Lay a second piece of dough over the top of each pie. Press the dough so that the edges meet, then use a fork to seal the edges. Mix the egg with 2 tsp water and brush all over the tops of the pies. Cut small vents in the surface of the crust. Place pies on a cookie sheet and put in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 25-30 min until the crust is a deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling. 

In my home, since I have an infant, I have to be one step of the game. I usually prep most of my food around 1-2PM so that when 4 rolls around, I'm ready to just throw things in pans and cook. Much luck on the recipe. I hope you make it and love it!!

Don't forget to get crafty, get cooking, and get a little mayhem going on!!



*You can use any veggies you like. I've used beans, peas, carrots, onions, celery, corn. Our fave mixture is Peas, Carrots, Onions, Celery. 

**You don't have to do individual. We like individual because the kids LOVE eating "small" things. I'm sure we will be talking about that more on this blog. If you want to just make one large pie, use a pie pan, and just don't cut the crust. 

Monday, October 24, 2016


I'm a pretty frugal mother, but sometimes I need a meal that ISN'T a casserole or a crock pot fixin. Sometimes I like me a good steak. Although I cannot afford to eat a "good steak" all the time, I like to get a small NY strip and eat it as a salad. I haven't found the perfect combinations of flavors yet, but trust me when I tell you...i'm working on it. (insert evil laugh emoji here)

My husband is a fit guy and he needs to be, that dreaded heart disease runs in his family! boo
So when he mentions that his pants are fitting a tad tighter than he's used to, this mountain mama gets busy...gets busy getting her clean foods back into rotation. Quinoa, salads, high protein, low carb meals. I've been taking a break from the prep work and time clean eating takes to enjoy what could possibly be my last baby smell. (its much better than new car smell.) but I digress, cleaner eating is important to not only stay healthy, but to keep your energies high for the mayhem that will can ensue in the moments you least expect. 

Tonight, I present: Steak salad

Even though I'm working on my photog skills, you have to admit, you'd eat this... well, maybe not, but you could!! Its so easy and not a ton of prep work.  I used a rub consisting of chili powder, cumin and smoked paprika, along with salt and pepper of course. This wasn't my favorite so far, but go get yourself a teriyaki marinade and marinade a steak in that....then add the ingredients of your favorite salad and voila! Dinner!

Here is me, rubbing the rub on the steak....that sounds weird. 

After rubbing both sides with the rub, I baked them in the oven at 450 degrees for 7 min on each side. It came out with just a bit of pink in the middle and nice and juice after letting it rest out of the oven. 

But the real winner of dinner tonight, was the killer crinkle cut fries I baked. I picked up a bag of frozen crinkle cut fries at the store, then baked them (about 1.5 lbs) as per the directions on the package. Once they are out, take 1 tbs of dried parsley, 2 tbs melted butter, and a clove of garlic. Mix those together then toss on the fries and serve to all the happy children who reside in your home...including your husband. My take on cleaner eating is 80% of your plate should be clean, and 20% can be fries not as clean. I had a large salad with several pieces of good clean steak, and a handful of fries that made my tummy super happy. 

I hope you can get your hands on a good steak salad soon....if not, make your own!

Don't forget to get crafty, get cooking, and get a little mayhem going on!!



PS--If you think clean eating is eating cake while cleaning, bless your heart. haha Let me know if you'd like to hear more about clean eating in upcoming blog posts. (its how I lost ALL my baby weight after having irish twins...all while nursing and no exercise. yeah, its that cool.)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Halloween without as much candy...doable??

Hello from the Mountain Mothers and Mayhem!! This post is hopefully more mothers than mayhem, but hey, we are just getting started...anything could happen here!

Tomorrow starts the one week countdown till so much candy overtakes our cupboard, I have to keep it closed with a broom handle  Halloween!! Yay, for some, but not yay for all the candy. I'm not opposed to candy, I love a little sweetness here and there, but for some reason, when Halloween rolls around, I find myself trying to figure out how many days I let my kids eat this stuff, before I start throwing it out. I'm such a party pooper...I know. Luckily, for all those OTHER party pooper moms like me, I have a quick and easy project that might just help out with the candy dilemma. Introducing,

How cute is this??? I volunteer at my daughters class every other week reading to her and her classmates...and since Halloween is coming up and I'm totally vying to be the favorite mom, I HAD to make this healthy USEFUL reading time favor. Now, since I'm trying to be more frugal with our family money, I had to give up on something....did you notice what it was? Probably, cause you're super smart like that...but I didn't use Halloween pencils. They are regular everyday pencils. Here is the cost breakdown: 30 pencils ($3.00),  1 bag of pretzels ($2.50), clear baggies ($1.00), ribbon (free, cause I already had it). TOTAL: $6.50. Had I purchased the Halloween specific pencils, yeah, they would have all matched, and the ribbon would have matched, but I would have spent $13-$15 JUST ON PENCILS. So frugal mom came out since it wasn't a required thing. I still say they are pretty cute, and the kids won't care they are not Halloween specific. 

Good luck this week my friends, get crafty, get cooking, get a little mayhem going on!



(original idea taken from : HERE)