Ladies, if you are like me you may think your days of entertaining at home are over. You may think you’ll never be able to properly make home cooked meals for your family again. A few weeks ago I got myself a slow cooker and my life has changed. While Max is napping or after he’s going to sleep I just chop up the veggies and then when I’m ready I quickly sear whatever meat I’m using toss everything into the cooker and depending on the recipe and the settings I choose in a couple of hours dinner is ready! I make huge batches so I can freeze portions for future meals and now, I feel like I can feel stress free when inviting friends over for dinner. Sure, it may not be gourmet, but winter is coming and who doesn’t want a hearty stew?!?! This thing is amazing and if you don’t have one and you miss proper home cooked meals I highly recommend it. This week I will be using my slow cooker to make beef stew: beef cubes seared, tossed is the cooker with beef stock, a can of pureed tomatoes, chopped up onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, 2 bayleafs, salt, pepper, paprika, oregano and then just leave it to cook baby! I make a batch of rice and my husband and toddler can not get enough!
I am on a constant quest to reclaim our living room. With a toddler this seems an impossible task. There are toys everywhere in the brightest colors imaginable and we always laugh that our living room is actually Max’s playroom, we’re just living in it… So this is my mission – find chic storage that fits a grown up decor where we can hide his toys when visitors come… Here are some of my top storage ottomans and trunk finds (although stay tuned – this is an ongoing mission).
One of the most daunting things about being a parent is going to a restaurant. What used to be such a joy and a night off from cooking is now overwhelming – just the thought of your child throwing food, causing a scene and the disapproving looks from others around is enough to keep you homebound until they are at least 6. I don’t believe it has to be this way – and I think enjoying a dinner out with my family is one of my favorite things. Here are some of my tips as well as the accessories that have made eating out such a pleasure for me and my family.
1) Make yourself a regular chose 3 or 4 of your favorite restaurants and be loyal! Be sweet and charming with all the staff – making sure to be excited to see everyone and asking after them and their families so that yours is the face they most want to see walking through their door.
2) Go early, like 6ish so that your little one doesn’t get overly tired, the restaurant won’t be full (so you won’t have to wait for a table or for food too long) also, you can get your babe home by bed time (perhaps they might even start to nod off on the ride home).
3) Bring snacks and put your child’s order in first so that he’s entertained (eating is an activity)and not getting hangry (huger always leads to anger).
4) Bring some toys. Nothing too loud or electronic but a little car, rattle, a doll – something that can keep little one entertained and not bored.
5) Engage with them. Yes, you want to have an adult conversation, but don’t forget to include your child – talk to them about what they’re playing with, what they’re eating, ask them if they want water and have them engage with the waiters and staff. They want to be feel included, even if they’re not necessarily understanding or speaking yet.
6) Tip well. Always tip at least 20% at least and if the baby is acting up a bit – add a bit extra.
7) Be gracious and apologetic to those around you when your baby acts up a bit.
8) If it’s nice out – outdoor dining is always the best option. The open air helps dull the noise if they’re being loud and if they get a bit fussy allows one of you to take them for a bit of a stroll.
9) Be considerate to staff. When your child throws food all over the floor do your best to clean up after them. This goes a long way and illustrates mutual respect.
10) See below for my favorite eating out accessories – from the place mat that provides a clean surface for little one to eat off of (and rolls up neatly to fit in your purse) to the straw sippy cup (good for avoiding spillage) – these are my must haves: