Archive | January, 2011

Throwing Routine To The Wind

I never knew how much my husband plays a part in keeping daily routines on track until he’s gone.  He is so Type-A personality that any deviation from our evening schedule sends his head twirling.  So, with OCD-husband and son gone on a trip to Arizona for two days, the girls and I are left to fend for ourselves.  I decided to throw routine to the wind and take this day to explore a bit on what it would be like to just let the day guide us.

It started early in the day with so many things for me to do that I didn’t know where to begin. Household chores, errands, planning; it was one of those times that, even though I had enough work to keep me busy all day, I just couldn’t seem to focus to accomplish one thing.

So, I did the logical thing.  I packed up my girls and we headed off for an afternoon at Town Square, to play in the park, shop and have lunch.  It’s amazing at how much that type of logic works!  The weather was so beautiful and the surroundings so upbeat and fun, by the time we returned home a couple hours later, I was so rejuvenated and focused, I got everything done that I needed to do in about an hour.  Not to mention that I scored a couple of bras from Victoria’s Secret semi-annual sale for next to nothing (now, I never would have made that sale if I had planned to.)

With only one thing left to do, I sat down at my computer to work for about an hour.  This is not too long to leave my girls on autopilot in the house, still in earshot.  As I sat working, never in a thousand years could I conceive of the destruction that was taking place not more than 20 feet from me.  Yes, I expected to do a little picking up, perhaps some wiping up when I was finished.  But, have you ever seen one of those movies, where the house is overly trashed by the kids in order to get across some comedic point?  Well, that was my house.  I’m talking, glitter in every shade, scraps of who-knows-what, wrappers, tiaras, food, uncapped markers and kid makeup….everywhere.  If I was watching this on the big screen I would be laughing.  But, it wasn’t a movie, it was my house.

After baths and damage control on our home the best I could, we girls decided to have a “camp out” (not my idea, of course).  If my husband were here, this idea would be met with groans and complaints.  But he’s not here, so the girls and I- sleeping bags, popcorn, juice boxes and pajamas are camped out on my living room floor watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

I’ll be happy to have my routine, and husband, back tomorrow night; but for now, I’m enjoying the moment.

Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend
Comments { 0 }

Nature’s Cold Remedy: Supercharged Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

There may not be a cure for the common cold, but I can’t deny the healing effects of homemade chicken noodle soup.  Other natural immune boosters include shiitake mushrooms; so, during cold and flu season, I like to supercharge my soup.  If you’re thinking that making homemade chicken noodle soup is difficult, think again.  Try my supercharged recipe:

Toni’s Supercharged Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Nature’s Cold Remedy: Supercharged Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Nature’s Cold Remedy: Supercharged Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup


  • chicken breasts- 1 1/2 lbs (2 trimmed breasts), diced into 1-inch cubes
  • poultry seasoning (a good poultry seasoning will include herbs like rosemary and thyme, like Lawry’s Perfect Blend)- 3 tablespoons
  • chicken broth- 1 quart
  • white onion- 1/2, minced
  • carrots- 2, peeled and diced
  • celery- 2 leafy stalked, diced including leafy part
  • shiitake mushrooms- 8 oz. (1 small package), diced
  • egg noodles- 2 cups uncooked
  • olive oil- 2 tablespoons


  1. In large soup pan or dutch oven; heat olive oil over medium-high heat
  2. Add chicken, and while seasoning with poultry seasoning, saute until just cooked (not thoroughly)
  3. Add broth
  4. Add onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms
  5. Bring to boil over medium-high heat
  6. Once boiling, cover and let simmer until vegetables are tender, approximately 15 minutes
  7. Once vegetables are tender, raise heat to medium-high and bring to boil
  8. Add noodles and boil until tender, approximately 4 minutes

Natural vs. ….well, Not

Ingredients are the tell-all when it comes to how nutritious something is.  Even without the mushrooms, this soup is so packed full of natural vitamins; I can’t even think about reaching for the canned condensed stuff.  Let’s see how they stand up side-by-side with this sampling of ingredients:

Homemade                                    Condensed

  • Chicken                               mechanically separated chicken
  • Onion                                   onion powder
  • Carrots                                monosodium glutamate
  • Celery                                  soy protein
  • Shiitake Mushrooms      yeast extract
  • Egg Noodles                     sodium phosphates


If you want to include this recipe into your menu planning, my Classic Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup is also part of The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System!

Be well!

Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend

Comments { 1 }

How To Make An Ocean Diorama

Ocean Diorama School Project

Ocean Diorama School Project

Ocean Diorama School Project


  1. shoe box
  2. blue paint (tempura paint is best)
  3. sand (aquarium supplies from pet store)
  4. plastic sea plants (aquarium supplies from pet store)

    ocean diorama supplies

    Ocean Diorama Supplies

  5. shells (Michael’s or pet store)
  6. glue (Elmer’s glue)
  7. plastic sea animals (Michael’s)
  8. sponge sea animals (Michael’s)
  9. jewelry fishing line string (Michael’s)
  10. metallic floral “picks” (Michael’s floral department)



  1. Paint inside of shoe box blue
  2. With box sitting on side length-wise, glue plastic sea plants to the bottom
  3. coat bottom generously and imperfectly with glue, then pour sand over the top to form ocean floor (can repeat this step)
  4. glue shells and bottom-dwelling plastic animals to the top of sand
  5. glue metallic floral picks to the back to create “waves”
  6. punch small holes in the top of box and thread strings of different lengths and dimensions through holes securing at the top with a knot, then tie foam sea animals to the bottom

How to make an Ocean Diorama for school project


Crafty Organization

Perhaps I love school projects a bit more than what is deemed normal.  Yes, I tend to go overboard, but for me it’s where creativity, fun and time well-spent with my kids meets education.

My oldest daughter will live to be 100 and never forget the edible Galapagos Island we made for her anthropology class.

This week’s mission: Ocean Diorama.  Yes!

My biggest challenge in doing these types of projects is letting my girls completely takeover.  After all, that is the point, and it is their project, not mine.  So when creative differences arise, it’s my duty to allow their drive take over.

As always, being organized is super helpful.  I’m sharing my Craft Supply Labels with friends of the The Organized Cook. Download, print and label some basic plastic storage containers with these colorful, fun labels and make craft projects a lot easier to manage.

Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend
Comments { 1 }

Helping Hands

My love for cooking has rubbed off on my girls (ages 4 and 6); they are my sous chefs.  The only thing is that the more they help me, the more independent they want to be in the kitchen.

I’ve always included them in cooking and baking since they were about two years old.  It’s easy to find things for them to do: stirring, pouring, spreading, etc.  Before they were out of diapers they both knew how to crack an egg.  So, I’m always looking for new ways for them to help.  And, when it used to be more of a drain on my time to include them, it’s now turned into a time saver for me.

Now, when I make Italian, Cassidy insists on making her “famous salad”.  If any of you are worried about how I could possibly let my six-year old slice a tomato or chop a carrot safely, in order to meet her demands to do this task independently, I found “kid friendly” knives from Gerber that actually work for her…. a bit messy, but they work. 

Share in the experience of family meal preparation by letting children help.  Small hands are perfect for tearing lettuce for salads, rolling meatballs and setting the table with napkins and flatware.  Older children can help by peeling vegetables, mixing marinades and assembling garlic breads or pizzas.  Not only is this a good way to spend time with your kids, it’s also a great learning experience for children.

Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend
Comments { 0 }