“I’m hunnngryyy!”


Another topic that was put to me was meal prep. This is a topic that I feel comfortable sharing because of the sheer laziness that made me meal prep. Also, I don’t know if we’ll be “outside” by Summer so it means we have to continue this excessive cooking that none of us were born to do… My kids are now doing better with the mixed food but when lockdown started, they were very much for the deconstructed meals. It took some time but I finally figured out snacks and meals that kept me out of the kitchen for very long periods. It also took a lot of frustration. While restaurants were still open for takeout I was getting annoyed that the food had always tasted better fresh – in the restaurant, and I was getting its distant cousin when it was delivered. So I had to think about what I could keep in my freezer that would make easy meals for the kids and for adults. I had to think of what wouldn’t add to the quarantine weight that was beginning to pile on as well.

Now, I think, the key to getting through all of the cooking is to have tools that make it easy! My go-tos are:

  • Stasher bags – Less plastic waste by not throwing out endless ziploc bags.
  • Air Fryer – 20mins wings that I don’t have to babysit? HELLO!
  • Grill pan – that chicken for the salad would be done right quick in this!
  • Rice cooker – “kthxbai” rice… put it in and leave it until you’re ready to eat!
  • Containers – A good container to store leftovers is important when you will be storing more food than you usually do.
A sliver of my stasher bag collection. Dishwasher and freezer friendly?! GIMME!

We’re meat eaters, so buying poultry/meat in bulk when I did a grocery shop meant that I’d “plan” a menu for the week, purchase whatever meat I needed and then once it came, it was going to be cleaned and seasoned before it was frozen so that it was ready for the pan once defrosted. The kids LOVE my greek seasoned tenders. After a lime and salt bath, the tenders are placed in a Stasher bag and dressed in olive oil, pepper, salt, ground garlic and greek seasoning. I’d do enough for more than one meal. So once defrosted, I’d have enough for lunch and dinner but the sides would be different. I found boneless chicken thighs were also very fast to cook (no bones!) and having Sweet Italian sausage for pastas and rice was very good to have on hand.

LUNCH: Stir fried brown rice with sausage and roasted corn and carrots

Let me break this one down a minute. Brown rice: I cook brown rice in a big batch in the rice cooker and keep it in the fridge for different meals. It could be stir fried (like above), I can bake some chicken and steam/grill some vegetables for the side or it’ll just be in a bowl for my rice loving daughter. Sausage: this meal was a shocker, laziness made me do it and it was so good! I bought the sausage to use with pasta, sliced like this or removed from the casing to have a more ground meat consistency. Corn: I LOVE fresh roasted corn. Ever since I learned to roast it by just broiling it in the oven and turning it until each side is a little brown, I can’t do corn from the tin. If there’s extra, I always keep it in the fridge to throw in salads or other meals. It’s about the versatility of the groceries you’re buying, and getting sick of the same thing all the time will have you experimenting and trying new things. Don’t be afraid to try it! My rule of thumb is to add something that has a flavor I can’t resist to pull me into the meal.

Grilled boneless thighs with a warm salad (roasted squash and corn, spinach and farro drizzled in olive oil, salt and pepper. (I may have added lemon but I can’t remember!)

When I do “adult” meals like this, I tend to give my kids the same protein and then they’ll have one fruit/veg and rice or pasta with it. Speaking of kids, please stock up on those mini pizzas, nuggets, frozen mac & cheese dishes that they like. They’re eating every 5 seconds and you don’t need to be in the kitchen cooking a whole meal every time. Also, let’s be honest, they waste so much food. It’s better to have options that you know they’ll eat and not waste and would hopefully keep them full an extra 5 minutes. Whether you have a heavy lunch and a light dinner or a light lunch and heavy dinner, you deserve a break for either one of those. Just chuck some baby carrots or orange slices on the side and you’re good to go. Also, farro is a great grain to cook with. Again, I cook a batch if it’s in my meal pan and just put it in the fridge for salads – cold or warm!

Air fried chicken wings for lunch? YES!

The air fryer has been a blessing. I told the BFF I was considering it and she surprised me with one and once I figured it out, my husband had to beg me for a break from it lol. But he didn’t turn down wings! Baking wings before needed at least an hour in the oven, but this amazing machine had them done in 20mins for lunch. I just turn them half way and they’re ready when you hear the ding! The kids love the wings and tenders from it too! I’ve used it to reheat as well and I’m so happy to have it. Just take out you pre-seasoned wings in the stasher bag 😉 in the morning and they’ll be ready by the time you’re done putting together your sides.

Taking a break from the lunch/dinner options, let me pop into the breakfast realm for a minute. As easy as cereal is, we know it’s not always our preferred option. Or maybe it is for your family and that’s ok. Some days we prefer a heartier option when we know it’s going to get a bit busy. One of my freezer go-tos is a waffle. I either use my regular waffle recipe and add protein powder to it, make them, wrap individually, freeze and reheat in the toaster over or use the Kodiak Cakes protein waffle mix for a faster option. Any extras are frozen individually also. Another favorite is when I freeze the extras from Sunday morning scones and those are used for breakfast or a light dinner! If it freezes well, always try to have a few extras to freeze for an easy last minute meal whenever you need one. Breakfast for dinner is a thing right?!

Speaking of freezing, you better be freezing the rest of whatever casserole-type dish you made! Shepherd’s pie or lasagne… it may be one or two portions left, but if you or your partner or kid is sniffing around for an extra meal, warm it up! A toaster oven is great to have as well. I’m not a microwave person, I love my toaster over to make it hot and like I just cooked it. Yeah! I’m one of those people who would be starving and wait 20mins for my food to reheat in the toaster oven before I reheat in the microwave. Try it, you won’t want your microwave unless you have to melt butter.

Before I get to a sample menu, if you’re in the US, don’t be afraid to sign up for a meal service. Whether it’s Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, it helps to give you a break from your usual suspects and also it may teach you a thing or two to help make cooking faster or give you a new staple.

Here’s a sample meal plan for a week that I saved to my phone. I normally write it out so I can scribble changes as the week goes along but I think I mostly stuck to this one.

 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
Breakfastegg frittata & toast (kids: bread)protein pancakeseggs (kids: muffins) egg fritatta 
      
Lunchwings, cauliflower rice/corn/coleslaw stirfry
kids: wings & mac & cheese
baked sweet potato, sautéed spinach grilled tenders
kids: tenders and rice
stir-fried rice & chicken
grilled potatoes & pork
Kids: pork and pasta
 
 Snack: animal crackers cheese & crackers/fruit popcorn cheese & crackers/fruit  
Dinnersaladoven fried tenders & salad/veglamb & veg(order) 

I hope you note a few things: Friday is blank, on purpose. Don’t stress yourself out on the last day of the week, order from where for every meal if you can, you cooked most of the week anyway. “Order” was placed on Thursday so it wasn’t last minute rush from being blank and could be ordered in advance. My kids do not eat eggs so I have to do something with the homemade bread for them. That’s a note for me to also make bread lol. Muffins are either from scratch or a box, depends on what we’re in the mood for/ have time to bake. We’re not being picky! I’m vague with the salads because I let my mood determine what kind of salad it would be. If the kids have tuckered me out it will be the simplest salad I can put together. If I’ve got a pep in my step, it may have more love in it lol. I see meal plans as a guide and nothing to take to heart if it isn’t done as planned.

If there’s anything, you want me to do a separate post or be more specific on don’t hesitate to drop a comment below!

x

Skin to Skin (Pt. 1)


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

For 2021, I’m really going to try to force myself to push for 1 post a month. I went as far as asking on my instagram (@realhousewifeofkirkland) for ideas on posts so I’m not just staring at the screen and wondering what to type… I was graced with lots of topics and naturally, I’m going to start with the easiest! I was asked to doing a comparison of my skin care routine in Barbados vs Washington.

When I first started to write this, I thought it was going to be easy… mention all the skin care products I used while in Barbados and what I use in Washington (state). But after a trip to the dermatologist, I realized that would be a disservice to you and you should get the full picture on managing your skin in two very different climates. Also, because I’m packing so much into this post, I’m going to break it into two parts. This post will focus on Barbados, and when I return to WA I will post part two, so you can see how I manage the transition.

At the end of last year, we packed up the family and came to Barbados for a “break”. In packing, my skin care gave me just as much stress as thinking of what to pack for clothes and shoes. But I went to basics and considered the climate and my basic needs and what was most important for me to have. So let’s start!

BARBADOS

Barbados is WARM. Warmth = lighter and fewer products.

Day

  • Cleanser (Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser) – perfect for any skin type, skin feels refreshed by not dry after washing.
  • Toner (Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner) – Light and a really good second cleanser.
  • Toner #2 (Kiehl’s Since 1851 Ultra Facial Toner) – This is my go-to in WA, so it’ll be in pt. 2. I forgot I threw a travel sized bottle in my bag and I’m glad I did. This is a little too thick for Barbados but I haven’t been able to find a good substitute for my skin, so I’ve been using this after my Indie Lee ran out.
  • Serum (Summer Fridays CC Me Serum) – I used this product first, til the LAST drop and I ADORE it. My skin is up in arms now that I’ve run out.
  • Serum #2 (Sunday Riley C.E.O Rapid Flash Brightening Serum) – I still miss my CC Me but my skin is getting it’s Vitamin C. I brought this because I received it in a FabFitFun box (or some box) and figured now would be a good time to try it. Not sure I’d purchase, but I should probably try it in WA to see if I get a different response. It’s a bit greasy for here.
  • Sunscreen (Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30) – the lightest, multifunction sunscreen that doesn’t leave my black skin with a white film over it. I’d also brought Supergoop’s Glow Screen which is tinted, but it caused a white tint on my skin. I loved the dewy effect, so I started to mix a little with the City Serum to get the best of both worlds and that worked. This La Roche-Posay sunscreen has also been in my rotation on lazy days.

Nothing more for me. During the day when you sweat and just feel hot, the last thing I want is for my skin to feel like it’s just got this extra layer caked on top. I do not wear makeup. I fill in my eyebrows and lip balm and that’s it! I believe in dumping my money into good skin care products so I do not have to wear makeup daily. I also HATE removing it!

Who wants to wear makeup in this heat?!? A fresh face can’t be beat!

Night

  • Cleanser (same as above) – I managed to get the huge bottle from Nordstrom’s anniversary sale and you use very little, so there’s still quite a bit after 3 months. And if/when I run out, I packed a travel size just in case I need more.
  • Toner (Ren Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic) – I bought this here to supplement my toner at night. I had to use it every other night at first to get my skin used to the acids. Now I use it every night just fine. But I do not use it during the day, nighttime only for my sensitive skin!
  • Eye cream (Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask) – This is another product I received in a box and I figured I’d give it a try here. I love it, and when it’s gone, I’ll purchase it.
  • Serum (The Ordinary “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%) – Another box item! I like this multifunction product at night. I also think The Ordinary has amazing products for an excellent price.
  • Night Moisturizer (Summer Fridays Jeg Lag Mask / Farmacy Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer) OK! So I sleep in AC. Depending on how my skin felt for the day, I decide on which product to use. If I think I need more TLC, I grab my Jet Lag mask, otherwise, Honey Drop.
  • Night Cream (REN Glow Daily Vitamin C Gel Cream) This came in a little set with the toner and I quite like it. Enough that I would purchase a full size bottle. I use it at night as my 1 stop shop after toner if I’m being lazy.

I don’t want to call myself lazy, but I can be… So I opt for products that are multifunctional to help me get ready faster and pack in as much on my skin without actually putting a lot of product on my skin. It definitely works for my mom routine as well!

Edit: PACK EVERYTHING. My trip to the dermatologist taught me that I should’ve gotten prescription meds for my eczema that rarely acts up. Normally I’d use my son’s prescription cream, it would clear up and we’d be ok. But for this extended trip (read: extended time in the sun/hot climate) I needed something stronger. This was for my arms. The dermatologist explained that sometimes you need to use steroids for a week to two weeks to help clear any flare ups. Something else happened. My chest started to flare up. Flare up how? I started to get little bumps like it was breaking out. I started using the REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic at night and during the day I added a little sunscreen to protect this area that I never really considered to be part of my facial routine. It started to clear up and become a little happier and that made me feel better.

Basically, your body is exposed to more trying to wear less in the heat. Use your [facial] skin care routine on other parts of your body if you have to calm it a little, or simply do more for your skin besides wash it and lather it with cream/sunscreen. Also, exfoliate more, I’ve been using these gloves daily (available in iMart in Barbados). I never considered all of this stuff because they were never an issue before. But we’ve been here for 3+ months now and the longest I’ve been here since I left in 2009 is for 5 weeks after my daughter was born, so my body isn’t used to this.

I learned about some spots on my face at the trip to the dermatologist. I used to have very clear skin, and over the last 5-7 years, I noticed “dark spots” that weren’t moving even when other spots were going away with brighteners, etc. One dermatologist in WA noted they were something like “freckles” nothing for me to worry about, but I couldn’t settle for that. I thought, and she said, wearing sunscreen will help to minimize future growth. She was so sure they were nothing to worry about, that not much was said on them and they were basically brushed off. Well, one of my reasons for seeing a dermatologist here, was because she was of the same race and I hoped she’d offer more insight. The little brown spots are called pigmented papillomas (not as bad as what you see when you google it) and it’s my hormones that caused them, not the sun. This made sense. It was around the time I was pregnant with my son that I noticed it more. They’re small and tiny right now, but as I get on in my years, and they happen to grow bigger, I can have them lasered off and all will be well. I’m saying this to say, it’s important to go to doctors who listen to your concerns and also know about your skin. Our skin and body compositions do not fall under the “norm” so always get that follow up to help set your mind at ease if you have any concerns.

Until next time,

(I promise to have more pics next time! It just wasn’t going to happen for this post 😦 )

Stay safe!

x

Parenting


 

*I am not  an expert. I’m sharing what I am still learning along the way because I’m still new to this parenting thing too.*

I’m sharing what I’ve learnt so far and what I consider to be important and beneficial. I wanted to say more because I loved the conversation but I was dealing with two excited little people getting ready for bed.

If there’s one thing I’ve realized is a constant for other parents my age, it’s that we are not our parents. I’m not saying that in a negative way either! We’ve all had different upbringings but there are a lot of experiences that we have to in common when it comes to how our parents raised us. 

Expectations.

As I said above, throw them out of the window because you’ll be setting yourself up for soooo much disappointment. I wanted to breastfeed my son, my milk wasn’t coming in and as a first time parent, with only my husband to help, my focus was making sure he was being fed and we weren’t running ourselves ragged in the nursing/feeding/pumping cycle. Having a healthy thriving baby was more important than stressing about something that was only making me miserable and not enjoy him. But that milk came in for my daughter when I had no plans of nursing her! That was a lot for me because I was not used to the attachment that came with breastfeeding. And she was adamant about breastfeeding as she didn’t really like the bottle! I’m still coping with her strong personality 😅. If things don’t work out, don’t be hard on yourself, do whatever is best for you and your family. I’m not saying don’t try! If you try and you don’t feel like it’s something you want to continue with, don’t be hard on yourself. I don’t just mean breastfeeding either, I mean everything. Definitely don’t rush potty training either, it’s  better for your kid to be ready with that! Kids just require you to go with the flow while trying to hold on to whatever expectations you have had that you’d like some variation of it to come into fruition.

Something else to consider… You and your partner are two different people who met in your older years. You don’t know what they were like as a child (hearing stories is different to experiencing it) and you don’t know who your child will favor. Seeing your partners traits in your little person is going to have you rethinking how to parent a mini version of your partner/spouse.

A partnership.

If you’re going into parenting in a relationship, please have discussions about how you want to parent with your partner. Now I’m not saying you will agree on everything! You won’t. But it’s important to discuss how you handle things. I let my husband know I don’t want to quarrel about the kids in front of the kids. We keep it neutral or move to another room and make decisions or hash out whatever the issue is. We also call each other out when we don’t think a situation is being handled in a manner that benefits everyone. Kids are a riot. And after a long day, we don’t always feel proud of how we handled a situation, but accountability helps. I often try to wait until the kids have gone to bed to release all of my steam and to discuss how to handle similar situations in the future. Again, this is a partnership. I’m not saying to draft something up for reference but take note of what you want/expect from each other. Just like how communication is important in your relationship, communication between each other about your kids is important. Do not expect things from your partner without discussion because you will pay dearly for that lack of communication. Discuss who will take a night shift – my husband is a night owl and with our son who was bottle fed, he took over so I got some rest. The same didn’t happen with our daughter as I breastfed her but he helped in other ways. If you normally do pickup but you can’t and you mentioned that you can’t that day, send reminders, the average person doesn’t remember something that isn’t in their normal routine, BUT, don’t nag. You don’t want your partner to resent your parenting style and find you overbearing and clock out when you need them most.

Communicate. Talk. Repeat.

Support systems.

When people mention support system, I think the automatic thought is support system = family. It’s not. I’ve been blessed to experience two different types of support systems.

Family. Growing up, my sister and I spent a lot of time with our grandparents. From sleeping over when our parents went out, to having our grandfathers pick us up from school, grandmothers feeding us and looking after us after school while our parents worked. I have some of the fondest memories of those times. And as an adult and parent, I realize how important they were. Living in a different country away from our family, I miss it as well. It’s amazing whenever we go home to visit to have our parents participate in the way my grandparents did but I don’t have the luxury of having them here with me. One of the reasons I am a stay at home mom is because we don’t have that family support and the nature of my husbands job and how he works. So I’ve found a different kind of support – friend who are family.

Chosen family. We can’t choose our family but we can choose our friends. When you find friends who are like family, it makes raising your kids in this scary world a lot easier. The thing about support systems is what can be covered under a support system. You have your mom friends, who help you on the journey and you bounce things off of each other to make sure you’re not the only one going totally  insane. You have friends who you can add as your emergency contact because you know they have your back and are also trustworthy. They treat your kids as their own and vice versa. You have the friends that bring you meals/order meals to you when you’ve just had a baby, or come over and wash dishes/do laundry/tidy the house or even send a cleaner your way just to ease your load a little. All of this support matters. Also, a person or group that you can declare a no-judgement zone with.

Parents.

As my friend mentioned above, she wanted to honor her parents’ recommendations. Well, that’s just what they are – recommendations. Someone you trust recommends a restaurant to you but when you see the menu and realize it’s not a place you’d enjoy as much as them, you say thank you and then make your own decision on where to eat. It’s kind of the same here. You know what’s best for your kid(s) and you. You have to consider how you want your child to be raised, what is different about you now than when you were kid and what you want for your child going forward. There’s more to consider – a different environment, different cultures (you and your partner), different upbringings… the list goes on. But this is your family now and while recommendations from family/friends are always great to receive, never feel obligated to do it because of who said it to you, and trust your gut. Some advice can bring you peace. Like when my mother recommended adding rice cereal to my son’s last bottle to help him stay full longer and not wake as often to feed. He was about 9 months+ and a hefty kid that loved to eat. He was still waking every 2-3 hrs and after I added the cereal to his “last” bottle for the night, he was sleeping in much longer stretches and so were we. Then on the other spectrum, she also suggested the standard discipline we grew up with when he misbehaved sometimes, but I wanted to change that narrative. Again, you do what you know is best for your family in your situation.

Love.

Love is the underlying reason for everything in parenting. You do everything out of love, even when it pains you to see how your child responds. Shots, punishment, limiting snacks, you name it. Your guidance is grounded in love. Parenting is one of the biggest and most extreme emotional rollercoasters you will ever experience in life. You will question every decision you make, you will have many sleepless nights before they’re teenagers. You will love them so much that you cuss them (in your head) about how they left your bodying what you went through to have them, but turn around and have 2 more babies lol. No matter who or what your child grows up to be, that love will always be there. Never forget it, and never stop using it to guide them. Tough love is a real thing, and it sometimes hurts you more than it hurts them.

Never stop loving.

x