I love cooking. I really do, but after a long day at work, taking care of my toddler, dog and household, sometimes working out, running errands and/or [insert a billion other things that take over my life] it’s hard to make myself cook. I get tempted, and too often give in, to grabbing take out or something easy. Now if someone who loves cooking is feeling that, certainly those of you on the edge probably give in too.
That being said, I have figured out a few things that actually help me to make better decisions and make food at home, often healthy meals and very often fast and easy!
1. Do bulk cutting ahead of time. I’ve started to make it a habit to buy a 10-pack or so of chicken breast and chop it all up on the weekend, store in little freezer bags (1 breast per bag), and put in my freezer. I have found between the ick factor and the inconvenience of needing to wash a knife and cutting board, that is one of the biggest holdbacks from making myself cook. Plus having little baggies of chicken breast allows me to grab just what I need for my recipe and without any mess.
2. Cut up foods over time. When I am already cooking with fresh produce, I chop up a little extra and store it in te freezer. Sort of the same concept as above, but this time it’s just when I have extra or if something is about to go bad. For instance if I am cooking with half an onion or half a zucchini, I’ll cut up the whole thing, use half for what I’m making and toss the other half in a freezer bag. Then when it’s time for dinner I can just open them up and bake, sauté or whatever.
3. Double up slow cooker recipes. When you’re lazy, slow cooker meals are your friend! There’s nothing better than walking into your house after a busy day to discover your house smells amazing and dinner is ready. Yes! So when I prep a slow cooker meal, I’ll chop up double, add half in my crock pot, half in a freezer bag. I’ll hold off on liquid ingredients and such, but all the veggies and sometimes even mean depending on the recipe can go in ready for an extra lazy day when you’re in need.
4. Grab healthy premade meals. I try to stay away from foods that have a crazy amount of preservatives and all that, but having a few easy to throw together meals will really help you stay in. One of my favorites is the frozen bag of teriyaki chicken from Trader Joe’s. One bag comes with two packets of sauce so you can split it up or make it all. I just make it all and add in some frozen stir fry veggies and then take the leftovers for work the next day. Voila!
5. Grab pre-prepared produce. Okay, I’ll be honest, I’m kind of cheap in this realm because I hate paying for someone else to cut up my produce when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself and paying half the price. It bugs. But here’s the thing, if instead I decide I’m too lazy to actually follow through I have rotten produce, wasted money, aaaand even more waste goes to me eating out. Nobody wins with that. I have learned there are a few staples I like to have so I actually eat what I buy. For instance, I love grabbing pre-made chopped salads that come with the toppings and dressing. I split those in two, sometimes add lunchmeat or chicken on top, and my hubby and I will each take one to work. Or I’ll grab broccoli slaw for an easy side salad. Fruits I try to mostly stick with ones I can eat without too much work cutting like strawberries, grapes and bananas. I’ll still grab plenty of others, but having a few easy, go-to meals allows me to hit my goals of saving money and eating healthy.
What foods help you stay in?Read More
Happy Monday everyone! It’s the start of a new week and I’m already asking, “is it Friday, yet?” Isn’t that why Mondays are the worst? Um, yes. Well hopefully I can make your Monday a little bit better!
First off, I added these adorable designs to my Angie’s Nest Etsy shop. Didn’t know I had a shop? I sell artwork, wall prints, and most recently I have started selling my vinyl designs you can iron on to make cute graphic tees, sweatshirts, bags, blankets, and plenty more.
What I love most about this? Well I am very particular about the way my shirts fit, so I’m always hesitant to buy certain cute styles without trying them on first — especially when I’m going to be paying all this money just for the saying/design I want only to have it fit funky. Plus if you and a group of friends want matching shirts (like my Fab5 friends and I make for race shirts all the time — see examples here) this is a great way to make sure you can all look and feel great in shirts you love.
Head on over to my Etsy shop to see more options. AND I’m also doing a loop giveaway with 10 other shops! You can enter to win two custom vinyl designs of your choice from me and 10 other amazing prizes from others! Just head on over to my Instagram @angiesnest to enter, look for the pic below, and get all the other deets!Read More
Hello! With my Etsy shop and lots of personal experience ironing on adhesive vinyl, I wanted to share some of my top tips for success for ironing on designs to fabric.
1. Select a fabric item that can be ironed at high heat settings (cotton and cotton blends work great). For women’s shirts in particular, be careful not to select a shirt that is particularly tight across your chest if that’s where you’ll be applying your vinyl, as it will stretch and skew the design. If you are ironing on a shirt, try it on in advance so you can see where you want to place your design. Generally across the chest, just above the armpits is a good placement, but depending on the length of the design and neckline of your shirt, you may want to move it.
2. Remove design from wax paper and masking tape. Leave clear plastic protective backing on. This is heat safe for ironing and the design will peel away easily when finished.
3. Position the design onto the surface of fabric with the design facing up and smooth adhesive side down. Design should no longer appear reversed. Use a ruler to ensure it’s straight (or if you’re daring you can eyeball it). After it is placed, I find a straight edge of the fabric and make sure it looks parallel.
4. Place cloth over design and apply firm pressure with a heated iron for about 45-60 seconds. Flip and iron directly on back without removing plastic transfer sheet (without fabric on back). Leaving the clear film on, I then turn it inside out, flipping from the side without the transfer on it. Iron directly on the back so that only the fabric layer of your article is in between the iron and adhesive. Flip back out and slightly check the edges to make sure it has adhered.
5. Slowly peel away clear plastic sheet, ensuring design is completely transferred. While I am slowly pulling away, I push down on intricate parts of the design as I am pulling off the sticker backing so it doesn’t pull. If it is not full adhered, replace plastic sheet and iron again. Once the sheet is off, I usually do one more pass through with the iron just to make sure it is completely secured.
Pro tip: Wash inside out on cold and low heat to protect the design.Read More
First of all, I can’t believe my baby is two!! I swear the second year went faster than his first. Ahhh! Now that I’m done sobbing, I just planned the easiest and one of the most fun parties ever for his second birthday. We spent his actual birthday in Disneyworld, so between coming back from a week away and spending plenty of money along the way, I needed something simple. Now you know I LOVE to host parties with lots of custom, DIY details, but honestly with everything going on and a more limited budget than I was planning initially, I decided I needed to simplify. I learned some good tips along the way, so I thought I would share!!
Go Off Site
This may seem counter intuitive since many think it would be easier to have a party at home. Picking an off site location can often simplify your party because you don’t have to clean, come up with tons of activities, do as much (if anything) to decorate, and then clean again. Sometimes the price tag of various activity places can be prohibitive if that’s a factor, but from as cheap as local parks to expensive as amusement parks, going for off site entertainment can make coordinating a fun kids party simpler. For me, I was able to get fun and inexpensive. I picked Discovery Gateway which is a children’s museum we have a membership to so we were free. We chose a Sunday since admission was cheaper and since it was my son’s second birthday, most of his little friends are under 2, and therefore were free so we just covered the adults. Look for discounted admission and free admission for kids and it may not be as expensive as you’d think!
Choose Snack Time
When setting your time, you may consider naptime as a factor, but otherwise select a time that generally doesn’t align with a full meal. Breakfast, lunch or dinner for a whole group is a lot more to manage off site, where if you pick a time like 11am or 3pm, you can serve snacks and cake and call it good. We picked 3pm since it steered clear of most naptimes and was a perfect time to just eat cupcakes and drinks before we played! Easy Birthday
Depending on the cost of your location and scope of activities, you could skip favors all together. To be honest, most parties I go to, people forget to take favors altogether, so if you’re going to do something, pick something good and hand it out at the beginning. For me I wanted to have favors just since they are fun for the kids, and of course I could count on Target’s dollar section for these adorable pop up books! I grabbed some cello bags and a few other goodies the kids would have fun with (glow bracelets 15/$1, noise makers 12/$1, and a pack of fruit snacks).
Order A Special Treat
Now I do love to bake, but ordering out you cake or cupcakes is a great way to simplify your to do list. My dear friend Haley of White Barn Bakery makes scrumptious cupcakes, and since I wasn’t doing any other food really so I was definitely in budget, it was absolutely worth paying to have them made.
Having just been through becoming a new mom myself last year, I wanted to bring her a little something to make the transition easier. I just had one, so I can only imagine two! I remember lots of people brought us delicious, homemade meals (for which I was so grateful), but I found myself in the middle of the day and even the middle of the night ravenously hungry and holding a newborn. The problem with this is many of those yummy meals in the fridge can’t be made and/or eaten one handed between what feels like the 800th nursing sesh of the day, diaper changes, naps, and cuddles. And if it can’t be eaten easily, it doesn’t get eaten! I remember my mom brought me a bag full of clementines (which I love!) and they sat on my counter uneaten because I needed another hand to peel them. Sad!
So for this new mama, I decided to put together a box of healthy, easy to eat foods that she can snack on when her hands are full. I picked stuff with plenty of protein and nutrients since those are so important for nursing, especially in those early days while establishing supply and healing from delivery.
Here are a few ideas:
Frozen burritos (I ate a lot of those myself!)
It’s a nice way to change it up since so many people bring meals, and something that’s definitely appreciated! It was a hit.Read More
My baby is one! Where did the time go? I’m sure this is what every mother says, but it’s amazing how much he has changed this first year. It has simultaneously been the longest and shortest year of my life. Becoming a mother has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences I’ve gone through and I’m so blessed to be Zachary’s mommy.
Enough of the mushy stuff now. Because I wanted to celebrate this sweet boy’s first year in a fun way, I decided on the theme “1 year old in a flash!” I have taken (and shared) at least one photo of him every day of his first year so I thought incorporating those photos would be fun for everyone to see.
I created a slideshow of my Flickr feed under his hashtag #zacharygram using my Apple TV an had it playing throughout the party on the big screen.
What’s a party without a photo booth?! I used crate paper to create a colorful background that looked great in photos. Easy and cheap! Just added in the props and instant entertainment.
I made these cameras that matched the ones I designed on the invites to label the food.
I cut out some poster board, printed a bunch of my favorite photos from Costco, and glued them on to show off more of his first year pics. Again, super cute, easy, and cheap. I like! And Zach loved looking at the photos and pointed saying “Zach!” over and over. Too cute.
I made some banners easy peasy by cutting out some scrapbook paper (that I have entirely too much of) and lacing it on. I love the impact the rainbow colors have to give it that classic birthday feel. And I’m sure I’ll use these again for other parties. Good for the stash.
Finally I outsourced the cake to Nate’s sweet cousin who baked up a surprise three layer cake with photos. I made the little topper with mini photos hanging by making a 5×7 collage using picmonkey.com with some white space around. Then just cut them out, punched holes and laced them on some twine with decorative straws as stakes. Then she also made a personal sized cupcake for him to smash.
Then, surprise, my mom invited her musician friend to come play some songs for us! Zach loved it since he loves listening to Daddy play guitar too. He spouted off some songs, including the one year old blues, happy birthday, and Old Macdonald.
And then we sang happy birthday, watched Zach not cake smash his cake since apparently my child doesn’t like cake OR frosting, and I welled up with tears a bit. It’s an emotional roller coaster this first birthday stuff! Does this look like a bewildered face of a mom? Because yes, it in fact is. But it was a wonderful day with all of our loved ones.Read More