Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hearty Winter #Paleo Soup

Winter months seem to drag when it is mid February and the temps are in the negatives.  When I am stuck in the house I tend to eat and eat some more.  Staying sane and eating well this time of year prove to be a real challenge for me, so I have to create foods that mimic the filling unhealthy recipes that I love.

My favorite part about cooking is being able to be creative with what I have at home.  Soups are one of those recipes that are easy and versatile.  This Paleo soup is also nicknamed garbage soup because you literally just dump what you have in a pot and cook it, there is also no science to how much of each item goes in, it is all a matter of your taste. Root vegetables always work great in soups, and this one includes radishes which lose their bitterness when cooked. Here are the ingredients that I used for this version.  Please keep in mind that I make a very large pot so feel free to cut this recipe in half. Also, everything on the ingredient list besides the coconut oil was purchased at Aldi for a fraction of what you would pay anywhere else.

3 Chicken breast (Other meats that work are turkey, ham, pork....basically anything)
A bag of carrots (not baby carrots)
1 Lb of radishes
1 Head of cauliflower
1 Sweet onion
Handful of green onion
32 oz. (or slightly more if you like a less chunky soup) of organic free range chicken broth.
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
Salt, pepper, seasonings of your own choosing (I used Turmeric)

Usually when I cook soup I try to use up meats that I have cooked before and have left over, however this time I bought chicken specifically for this soup.  My preferred method of cooking the chicken is in a small crock pot for 6 hours on low so that it is easy to shred or pull apart.  You can always boil the chicken then cut into cubes, or pan fry it and chop it up if you need it faster.  I just feel like the shredded chicken goes really well with all the thick veggies and is worth the extra time.

I use an organic chicken broth as the base of my soup but this recipe can easily be changed into a vegetarian version by omitting the meat and using a veggie broth instead.

This soup is so easy to make, you will literally be making a big pot every Sunday to have something quick to warm up for the rest of the week.  I like to take it for lunch because it is really filling and super healthy.  

I chop up the carrots, cauliflower and radishes and bring them to a  boil in the chicken broth.  If you have never tried cooked radishes, you must!  The bitter flavor goes away and they change color to a very pale pink.  In the soup they take the place of potatoes because frankly, who needs those extra carbs!  

Once they come to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and add seasoning.  I use salt, pepper, and turmeric.  I also add a tablespoon of coconut oil.  While the veggies are cooking, chop up a sweet onion and saute it in a pan, then add to the soup.  I also like to add some green onion, for the color and the extra flavor.  Now you can add your shredded chicken and let the whole thing cook until the veggies are tender.  You do not want to over cook them so they turn to mush, so check your soup once in a while.

Once the soup is done you can serve it with some shredded Parmesan cheese on top, it is absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Save Money, Rent Your Textbooks

College is not cheap, matter of fact it's down right expensive.  After you pay tuition costs, lab fees and so on, the last thing you want is to fork out MORE money for textbooks.  Even used books can run you hundreds of dollars.  Some people may not know that there is a pretty awesome alternative to buying textbooks...renting them.  There are so many perks to renting books and CampusBookRentals.com is your one stop shop for all your college textbook needs.  They offer 40 to 90% off of bookstore prices, you can highlight in their books, they have flexible renting periods and shipping is always free both ways.

CampusBookRentals.com also gives back.  For every book you rent from them a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Operation Smile.  Operation smile is a medical charity that helps children all over the world born with facial deformities by performing safe and effective cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries.  Not only that, they also deliver post operative and ongoing medical therapies to children in low and middle income countries. 


Still not convinced renting textbooks is for you? Well how about having all your books delivered without having to leave your dorm room, or living room. You can get all the books you need for next semester with just a few clicks of the mouse. Additionally, you will not have to search the bookstore aimlessly trying to find what you need, since CampusBookRentals.com has the largest selection of textbooks in the country. Once you have ordered your books they will be shipped to your doorstep for free. 

So join the many college students that have already started renting their textbooks, and also help a charitable organization. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

New and Exciting Chicago-Made TV show for kids: Moochie Kalala Detectives Club

Do beluga whales really sing? Do dinosaurs and people live together? According to the grandpa (played by Tim Kazurinsky) on Chicagoland’s new show, “Moochie Kalala Detectives Club,” they sure do. The new TV show, which first airs 11 a.m. on Jan. 18, on WTTW Kids, Channel 11, sends kids on a fact-finding mission at Chicago’s top museums and cultural attractions to uncover the truth from real scientists.

With every story comes a new adventure. The first episode will follow the “science detective” kids as they head off to the Adler Planetarium to investigate the truth behind grandpa’s story about a water-guarding dragon on Mars. The kids learn grandpa was off his rocker on some facts – but right about others - with help from the Adler’s Astrophysicist & Planetary Scientist Mark Hammergren. Each of the six episodes stars one of Chicago’s most famous museums and attractions, and its scientist, zoologist or architect.

Not only does “Moochie Kalala Detectives Club” encourage kids to discover science with help from Chicago’s top museums and scientists, it also inspires exploration through partnerships with local schools. The show’s producer, Chicago’s own Dreaming Tree Films, selected six local teachers and their students to appear during the last few minutes of the show leading kids through fun, hands-on experiments! Dreaming Tree Films will also host “Moochie Kalala Detectives Club”-themed, in-school science events at numerous schools across Chicagoland this spring, and is delivering 1,000 complimentary DVDs to local public schools.

In each episode, the kids meet Chicagoland’s real celebrities, the brilliant scientists of the city’s nationally applauded cultural institutions.
  • Episode 1 features the Adler Planetarium with Astrophysicist Mark Hammergren, PhD
  • Episode 2 features Museum of Science and Industry with Physicist Dr. Olivia Castellini, PhD 
  • Episode 3 features Lincoln Park Zoo with Primatologist Dr. Steve Ross, PhD
  • Episode 4 features The Field Museum with Paleontologist Bill Simpson 
  • Episode 5 features Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House with Historical Architect Royce Yeater
  • Episode 6 features Shedd Aquarium with Marine Mammals Trainer Elizabeth Davis
Chicagoland families can also continue the adventure and scientific discoveries following each show by visiting MoochieKalala.com for easy, at-home science experiments and downloadable content, detective badges and resources for parents, teachers and schools.  
Teachers can request to receive complimentary “Moochie Kalala Detectives Club” DVDs and science activities for use in their classrooms.  To request a copy, go to MoochieKalala.com/educators.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Calling Lego Fans ages 5 to 10 in Chicago Area!

Every LEGO® Master Model Builder needs a space to create, and LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago is asking LEGO fans to design an extra special workshop for Chicago’s Master Model Builder. The Center has launched the Creative Crew contest, inviting children ages 5 to 10 to show or tell what their ideal LEGO workshop would look like and have a chance to serve on the Creative Crew for one year. The crew will be comprised of 15 lucky winners and offers perks such as invitations to meetings with Master Model Builder, David Howard, VIP access to LEGOLAND Discover Center Chicago events and a family pass to the Center.

15 lucky winners will be selected to serve on the Creative Crew for one year. Each winner will receive:

Invitations to exclusive quarterly meetings with Master Model Builder, David Howard

VIP access to special LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago events

A family Annual Pass to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago

Creative Crew T-shirt and prize pack

The contest is open to children ages 5 to 10. To enter, show or tell us what your ideal LEGO® workshop would look like. Entries will be accepted in the form of drawings or creative writing (200 words or less). Winners will be judged on creativity and will be chosen by LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago’s Master Model Builder, David Howard.

Entries can be emailed to contest@legolanddiscoverycenter.com or mailed to Creative Crew, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, 601 N Martingale Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60173. Entries must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 8, 2015.

The winning entries will be displayed at the Grand Opening of the new Master Model Builder Workshop at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago this spring.

For more details or to enter the contest, visit www.LEGOLANDDiscoveryCenter.com/Chicago

Friday, January 2, 2015

Recycled Candles

After Christmas I always feel like I have to purge my home.  I start cleaning out closets and cabinets so frantically that I usually just make a bigger mess then when I started.  I cleaned some closets out that we don't use often and I found tons of almost used up candles...you know the ones in jars that are too far gone to use but you just can't bring yourself to throw them away. 

I decided to turn those old candles into brand new candles.  It's a super easy project, all you need is old candles, empty jars, a can from canned veggies or fruit and wicks.  You can either purchase wicks at a craft store for super cheap or you can do what I did, melt down one of those tall tapered candles and use the wick from that.

To melt the candles you have two options.  If the candles are in a jar, set the jar into a medium sauce pan with some water.  Bring the water to a boil and within minutes the wax will be melting.  If the candles are small or not in a glass jar, place them inside a clean can (veggie or fruit can) and set in a pot of boiling water.  This is called the double boiler method.  

Like I mentioned earlier, I used the wick from an old tapered candle.  You can wrap the end around a popsicle stick or pencil and suspend it into a clean glass jar.

Pour the melted wax into the jar.  If you are layering colors, let each layer cool completely before pouring the next one. 

And that's it.  Super easy project that allows you to recycle those candle left overs into brand new, beautiful candles.

#Candle #DIY #Crafts #Recycle

My Trip to Poland {Part 1}

I can't believe it is already January and I am just now posting about my amazing trip back in October. I will blame it on the fact that I work two jobs (no longer stay at home) an with the Holiday season it just got too crazy.  So, wow, where to begin...it was a whirlwind, two week trip back to the country I moved from exactly 25 years to the day.  Yes, the day we landed in Poland was the 25th anniversary of our departure back in 1989.  Most of my family still lives in Poland and I have seen a few uncles and my grandparents a couple of times over the years when they came to visit us here, but this was the first time back for any of us (and first time period for my 11 year old daughter).  Aside from a birthday flight in a little private plane a few years back, my daughter has never flown anywhere so this was an adventure for her in itself.  It is a 9 hour flight which did not seem too bad on the way there since we were flying through the night,

She was pretty nervous, and I have to admit I was a bit too, but the flight went smoothly and we landed in Warsaw (Warszawa) early afternoon the next day.  My mom's brother and his wife greeted us at the airport and our adventure began.  It had been so long since we had been there, none of us really knew what to expect.  We had a lot of family to visit in the two weeks that we were there so we were on a pretty tight schedule but we did include some time to sight see.  

We stayed with my uncle just until the next afternoon (we were coming back to his house at the end of the trip) and we really enjoyed his house with his own private woods where we went mushroom picking.

After the mushroom hunt, we went in to town to do some walking around.  Mlawa is my mother's hometown but honestly I didn't remember it well.  My grandmother lived in a little village near Mlawa, and I have many memories of that area, but not much of the bigger town.

My memories were that of an 8 year old, silly things like buying children's magazines and notebooks in these little kiosks.  I was really excited that they still exist.  

It was also really fun to see an old Fiat like the ones that were around when I was little.  Most of the cars there are pretty modern but once in a while you would run across one of these little (and I mean LITTLE) gems!  We had to exchange our money while there because at the airport you don't get as much for your dollars.  In Poland they use Zloty.  It was a bit confusing trying to figure out how much I was spending on things but how the money worked was that it was almost three Zloty for one dollar.

We walked around the town for quite a while, attempted to get our cell phones to work (to no avail) and got some ice cream.  We then visited my grandmother's grave.  She passed about two years after we moved to the U.S. 

I also got to see the church where my parents got married.  The town of Mlawa was small but charming and my daughter really hit it off with her cousin who, even though 11 years older than her, was about the same size and looked quite a bit like her.

I think they both favor my mom a little, maybe its the chin?  I don't know but I can totally see the resemblance.  It was really nice to see my aunt and uncle, and my cousin...it had been 13 years since I saw them last.  When you grow up so far from your entire extended family you think that when you see them it will be like seeing strangers but this was quite the opposite, everywhere we went we were greeted warmly and it felt like the years just melted away.  

We left that afternoon and drove north to my hometown Pieniezno.  I really could not wait to see it, I dreamed of the day when I could go back and it was finally happening.....  {to be continued }

#Poland #Travel #Europe

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Capture Family Memories with a New Canon From Best Buy @BestBuy #CanonatBestBuy #HintingSeason @CanonUSAimaging

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free

I am one of those moms that takes tons and tons of pictures.  I want my family memories to last a lifetime and I know that Canon is the brand that will give me the quality I am looking for.  I love my Canon Rebel and the pictures that it takes, plus it is very user friendly.  Best Buy is the ultimate destination for the latest cameras to capture your holiday memories. The Canon EOS Rebel T5i is one of the best-selling DSLRs. This camera makes advanced photography easy and fun, and gives you exceptional image quality, along with a host of features to enhance your creative expression.
This camera allows you to: 

• Capture Hollywood caliber full HD video
• Continuous autofocus while taking HD video
• Features an 18.0-megapixel CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 5 image processor to ensure vivid, crystal- clear images.
• The 3" vari-angle touch screen simplifies navigation.

Right now you can save $150 on the Canon EOS Rebel T5i at Best Buy*. Visit Best Buy to learn more.

*offer valid 12/7-12/20

Best Buy is Your One Stop Shop this Holiday Season @BestBuy #HintingSeason

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free

We are just days away from Christmas and Holiday shopping is still going strong.  Now that my kids are a little older, they no longer want toys under the tree, they want all the cool techie treasures and Best Buy has everything I need all in one place.

With Expert Service and Unbeatable Price these top gifts are on my list this Holiday and here's why they should be on yours:

XBox One

If you have a gamer on your list (this is totally my son)  XBox One is exactly what they want for Christmas.  Xbox One was built by gamers, for gamers. With the best exclusive titles (Halo, Sunset Overdrive), the biggest blockbusters (Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty) the hottest sports franchises (Madden 15, FIFA 15, NBA 2K15) and top family titles (Fantasia: Music Evolved, Just Dance 15, Skylanders) Xbox One takes gaming to a whole new level. In addition to being a great gaming console, Xbox one connects consumers unlike any other device. Xbox One enables access to the latest TV shows and movies through your favorite apps. With @Xbox  One all of your media is at your fingertips when you want it.

JBL Speakers and Earbuds

My daughter is all about music and with JBL I know I'm giving her the best quality sound.  JBL has several products that she has on her list. 

JBL Charge 2- Between the twin passive radiators for deep bass, the massive 6000mAh battery and the hands-free conference speakerphone the key benefit is the Bluetooth Social Mode which allows up to three different users to take their turns to play their own playlists on a single speaker.

JBL Flip 2- Aside from the dual performance-tuned JBL drivers and a built-in bass port, the key benefit of the JBL Flip 2 is the SoundClear echo and noise cancellation combined with the state-of the art microphone system to pick up calls on the speaker.

JBL Reflect Earbud headphones- Sweat proof ergonomic design. With a 5 hour rechargeable battery and a reach of about 40 feet, the JBL Reflect BT’s key benefit is the design of the ergonomic eartips along with the built-in magnets which keep your buds on standby without loose cables.


For mu husband, who's work requires him to drive quite a bit, a new Garmin would be the perfect gift.  Feauting bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling, traffic and weather updates, lane assist, lifetime traffic and map updates and Voice Recognition Technology.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dyson Young Engineers' Holiday Challenge @JDF

Dyson, the brand that brought us the most amazing vacuums, has a charitable foundation that’s committed to encouraging design and engineering education at a young age and it's called the James Dyson Foundation. James Dyson started the Foundation in 2002 to encourage young people to think differently, make mistakes and invent.

For the first time, they are running a fun little contest in time for Holidays, and the brief is simple: construct the most ambitious gingerbread house possible. There’s no limit on materials. Creativity is key. And Dyson engineers are building too, providing tips along the way. Follow along on Twitter.

Rules: One winner will be selected and their photo featured on the James Dyson Foundation’s website. Dyson engineers will judge the entries. The winner will be selected based on overall design and creativity. The contest is open now and ends on December 22, 2014 at 12:01am EST. Official rules can be found here.

Entry: Entering the contest is simple. Post a photo of your gingerbread house build to Facebook or Twitter, tagging the James Dyson Foundation (@JDF) and using hashtags #JDFgingerbuild and #contest.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Avoid the January Hangover #FinancialPeace #CleverGirls @CapitalOne360

Black Friday is a tradition for many Americans, in fact now stores are offering deals days before the actual Friday after Thanksgiving.  With all the great deals, it's easy to lose sight of the goals we have set to help us achieve financial peace of mind. So many of us get caught up in the season that before we know it we are faced with the dreaded January hangover.  To avoid this, you have to plan ahead and stick to your plan.  Here are some tips on how to not overspend this Holiday season:

Make a list of people you are buying for and give yourself a budget for each person.  Remember bigger is not always better, it's the thoughtful gifts that really matter.

Bake, cook a meal, or make some of the gifts that you plan on giving.  There are so many ideas on the internet that the possibilities are endless.

Consider giving the gift of time.  Its the memories you make with your loved ones and not the gifts that you give that will go on being remembered.

Opt out of things like office Secret Santas or Grab Bag gifts.  In reality, those may be fun but they usually end up being useless items for which the cost adds up.

Use coupons, discount codes and shop around for better deals.  Check various stores and retailers online before making a purchase.

Set aside money into a separate account throughout the year so that come Holiday Season, you don't have to worry.

This holiday, to encourage consumers to stay on track with their finances, Capital One 360 is decking the halls with deals you can bank on, including new account bonuses, referral bonuses and closing cost credits. Once the Thanksgiving celebrations are done, be sure to add Capital One 360's Black Friday Sale to your shopping list. Visit HERE to give yourself the lasting gift of financial peace of mind by taking advantage of Capital One 360's deals on banking, brokerage and mortgage products.

In addition to taking advantage of deals on banking, brokerage and mortgage products yourself, you can give your friends and family the gift of financial peace of mind by encouraging them to take advantage of the deals and refer them to the sale. If they sign up, you may be eligible for a $40 referral bonus.

Capital One 360 Checking and 360 Savings are fee-free and earn interest. Capital One 360 offers remote deposit capture with Capital One 360's CheckMate tool and make savings a snap with the Automatic Savings Plan.

So don't get caught up in all the shopping that you forget about your financial future.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.