For Busy Moms – What To Eat For Lunch

Hey there readers!  Today I am excited to share with you one of my dearest friends and college roommate – Jenna Braddock, from Fresh Food Perspectives.  This girl is AMAZING.  I loved getting to live with her during our FSU days and see what God was doing in her heart as she pursued a calling in nutrition.  She taught me so much about living for Jesus, eating healthy and caring for my body.  I asked if she would write a post for Happy Home Fairy featuring ideas about what busy moms can eat for lunch because, I don’t know about you, but this is the meal that I tend to have NO CLUE what to do with and usually end up eating yogurt and chocolate chips – which isn’t exactly fuel for finishing the laundry and having tickle fights with my boys.  I know you will love her wisdom and fresh ideas about food. :-)

What can busy moms eat for lunch?? Great, easy ideas!Lunch time.  Oh, lunch time.

In my house it usually happens like this:

We’ve been out all morning (at the gym, playground, grocery store, Costco, etc.) and because we don’t live near ANYTHING – except a Starbucks – we are literally out for the entire morning.

When we walk in the door, hopefully a little before noon, my baby is cranky, I’m starving, and my toddler is saying he is hungry– every. ten. seconds.  I’m trying to put away bags or food, entertain baby until I can feed him, figure out what we are going to eat, and pray for patience to answer my toddler’s non-stop food requests.

It’s not always pretty.

For a while, I just focused on feeding my boys and getting them down for their nap.  I figured that I’d feed myself after all that chaos was over.  But by the time I did end up eating (around 1:30pm), I was either too tired to care (and then just picked at something dumb) or I’d be ravenous and attack chips or chocolate before a thought of a vegetable even crossed my mind.  Neither of these paths left me feeling good in any way.  And it certainly didn’t set me up to have a productive nap time – which is crucial for my work life.  Most of the time, I’d end up needing a nap myself (which I 100% support, but don’t always want to feel like I need one).

After one too many afternoons of this, I realized that in order to be the mom I need to be for my family, my lunch needed to be just as important as my boys’ lunch.

Since then, things have changed a little around here at lunch time.

One, I try to plan ahead.

In fact, I do this for my sitter when she is here during lunch time so that it will be smooth and easy for her.  So why don’t I do that for myself?  Hmm.

Two, I now take a few extra minutes to prepare my lunch as well and then we all sit down together.

Usually I will serve my toddler and I the same thing.  I don’t necessarily eat his lunch, he eats my lunch (it’s semantics but I think it’s an important point).  Sometimes they come in slightly different versions – his is a “deconstructed” version of mine – but this makes it easier and enforces the idea that we all just eat food (as opposed to kids eat ‘kid food’ and adults eat ‘adult food’).

Here are a few ideas of the lunches I eat that make me feel energized and are fairly simple to prepare.  Cooking quinoa or prepping veggies on the weekend makes these meals happen a lot more easily during the week.

  1. Deli meat and cheese roll ups with a slice of avocado inside; broccoli and hummus.

  2. 1 cup Plain Greek yogurt with chopped cucumber, fresh dill, cumin, and raisins mixed in. Whole grain crackers on the side.

  3. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (natural PB and all-natural jelly) on whole wheat bread, carrot sticks and fresh berries on the side.

  4. Quinoa and black bean bowl with salsa, cheese, avocado.

  5. Salad with grilled chicken (leftover from dinner), fresh strawberries, chips and guacamole.

  6. Frozen veggie burger (lately, it’s this brand) with slice of cheese or sliced avocado, carrots and hummus, and blueberries.

What I look for in a lunch is a source of protein, at least one fruit or veggie, and something “happy” (e.g. a favorite healthy food like avocado, hummus, PB, black beans, whole grain chips, or sparkling water like La Croix).  Anything too high in carbs makes me feel sleepy and I need to have energy to get stuff done during nap time.  Including a “happy” food helps me not go back to the pantry several times during the afternoon to find something for my hankering.  It’s also a good idea to try to include many colors in your meal – especially something green.

So ladies, please take the time to care for yourself at lunch.  You may need a few different strategies to help you pull off lunches, depending on the schedule for your day.  Crazy days may need a short and sweet plan.  Less involved days may allow you to put in a little more time.

Either way, a little planning goes a long way!

What are your favorite go-to lunches?

- Jenna

________________________________________________

Jenna Braddock, MSH, RD, CSSD, LD/N is a registered dietitian and a mom to two boys. When not chasing down her sons or watching her husband coach football, she enjoys helping people have a positive relationship with food and reach their goals. As a nutrition expert she works as a healthy living speaker, nutrition counselor, blogger, recipe developer and media spokesperson. You can follow her fresh perspective and healthy recipes on her blog at www.FreshFoodPerspectives.com or on Twitter and Instagram as @JBraddockRD.

5 Fun Photos To Take At The Beach

fun photos to take at the beach - such easy and adorable ideas

 Are you planning a trip to the beach this summer?

If so, then you MUST give one of these hilarious and super easy photo ideas a try.

fun photos to take at the beach 3Bury one child in the sand and then have another child bend over him for this funny headless kid illusion (via HERE).

6014187274_f5e5412fcd_oHave everyone bend over and draw a face in the sand where there shadow falls (via HERE).

fun photos to take at the beach 1Build a snowman and get your Christmas card photo taken care of in advance (via HERE).

fun photos to take at the beach 2

Having a family reunion soon?

Hit the dollar store for a billion beach balls and snap a photo of everyone playing with them (via the amazing Kristen Duke Photography).

fun photos to take at the beach 5And finally, this one (via HERE) is my fave.

Grab a beach bucket and head a short distance away from your subjects.

Hold the bucket in front of the camera, have your subjects act afraid, and SNAP.

It will get a ton of ‘likes’ on Facebook and Instagram – no doubt.

**But ‘likes’ don’t matter, right? **

;-)

It’s all in making that fun memory with your Happy Home.

Happy Fun Photo At the Beach-ing! :-)

*Check out fun and easy photo ideas using chalk HERE!*

Your Greatest Success (Is Not In a Selfie)

your greatest success

The other day I posted a photo of myself on Instagram and then found myself checking my phone every few minutes to see who liked it.

After about an hour, I decided that it didn’t get as many likes as I had hoped, so I took it down – a little ashamed and a little embarrassed.

Then I went on to obsess about what my next social media share would be and how to redeem that deleted fail.

Am I 13 years old???? :-)

No, but I am one who tends to struggle with being a people pleaser.

This part of my personality can be a great blessing because it helps me think about how I can love and serve people better.

But it can also become a curse if all I focus on is how to make people happy.

That’s why social media stuff can be dangerous for pleasers.  Sometimes we care too much.

Sometimes we get a little too focused on promoting ourselves because we like being ‘liked.’

Then our identity gets all tied up in what the people say.

We are often left with the thought - if the likes were not enough then I must not be enough.

And we feel like we have failed.

Ah, friends.

What if real success is something completely different than what our social media-driven world has to offer?

What if our greatest successes were the things that NO ONE on the planet could see in an Instagram or Facebook feed?

Consider Abraham…  Do you think Abraham would have stopped to post a selfie before almost sacrificing his son, Isaac, on top of Mount Moriah?

No…  His act was one of quiet obedience.  He didn’t share it with anyone but His Father.

And God credited that humble act as one of Abraham’s greatest successes.

What about Mary?  Do you suppose she would have snapped a shot of the opening of the cave before entering it to birth the Savior and hashtagged the photo #heregoesnothing?

No…  She quietly submitted to the Lord’s leading and entered that cave alone.  Only God, her husband, and some animals saw that precious choice.

Now think of your own successes – the quiet ones.  The ones that never pop up on a mobile device.

Like when you chose not to yell at your kids today.

God saw that as a great success.

Like when you got up early to read your Bible and pray.

God saw that as a great success.

Like when you sat with your child and built some Legos instead of checked email.

God saw that as a great success.

Like when you chose not to wear the sexy shoes to church.

God saw that as a great success.

Like when you decided to praise Him instead of be anxious.

God saw that as a great success.

Like when you didn’t click that link to an inappropriate website or read that questionable book.

God saw that as a great success.

Like when you chose contentment while standing in a room with laundry piles, stained carpets, and unidentifiable odor.

God saw that as a great success.

Like when you made the effort to go to church even though it would interrupt the baby’s schedule.

God saw that as a great success.

Like when you didn’t nag your husband but complimented him instead.

God saw that as a great success.

Like when you decided that you would not compare yourself to that other woman.

God saw that as a great success.

Like how you took extra moments at bed time to read a Bible story and pray with your child.

God saw that as a great success.

Like when you chose love instead of bitterness or anger or gossip.

God saw that as a great success.

God saw it.

Not your here today, gone tomorrow ‘friends.’

As we grow in the Lord our focus should become less about how to make ourselves ‘liked’ more.

Less about needing the approval of the planet to feel successful and good about ourselves.

As we grow in the Lord our focus becomes more about the quiet little things that only God sees because He is the one we want to make happy.

Lately I have been rehearsing this verse from Psalm 86:12 over and over in my heart,

“I will glorify YOUR name forever.”

Not my name.

Jesus’ name.

Jesus, who never posted about all his miracles.  Jesus, who didn’t take a selfie with the woman at the well.  Jesus, who didn’t throw his arm around the resurrected Lazarus for a quick pic.

Jesus, who was often trying to GET AWAY from the crowds.

Jesus, who after feeding thousands of people with just 5 loaves of bread and a few fish, quietly slipped off to pray instead of sticking around to hear how many people ‘liked’ his meal.

Because Jesus was more interested in hearing his Father’s voice of loving assurance, “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased,” than being affirmed by the voices of the people (the same people who would inevitably be hungry again in a few hours).

Are selfies bad?  Is Facebook wrong?

No, we just have to be aware of our motives before making a post.

Then we remember to find our worth and value in Jesus, who didn’t just ‘like’ us, but LOVED us enough to die in our place so that we would never have to feel like failures again.

And that, sweet readers, is really and truly the only success that matters.

- Julie :-)

“Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.”

Lyrics from Be Thou My Vision

Summer Service Ideas – FREE Printable

While your kids are draping themselves over chairs complaining that there’s nothing to do, gently encourage their little hearts to go and be a blessing to someone.

Here are a few ways we like to serve in the hot months of summer…summer serve ideas at happy home fairy.jpg

Our favorite is to bring cold water bottles to the garbage men – I learned that one from my sweet dad!

Click HERE for your FREE Summer Service Printable

Happy Summer Service-ing! :-)

How To Make A Number 5 Cake

how to make a number 5 cake at happyhomefairy.com.jpg

The Happy Buddy turned 5 on the 3rd of July and I really wanted to make him a special birthday cake to celebrate.

I almost gave up and called the Publix bakery after looking on Pinterest and seeing so many intricate, difficult, you-might-need-a-culinary-arts-degree-to-make-it cakes.

But then I saw a few Number 5 cakes and knew I could pull it off without having to buy fondant or 300 special frosting tips.

This cake is SO easy.

Here is a photo tutorial of what I did -

how to make a number 5 cakehow to make a number 5 cake 1how to make a number 5 cake 2how to make a number 5 cake 3how to make a number 5 cake 4how to make a number 5 cake 5how to make a number 5 cake 6how to make a number 5 cake 7how to make a number 5 cake 8

At this point I decided to decorate the cake with M&Ms.

About 10 minutes in to the color sorting and meticulous placing, I regretted this decision immensely.

how to make a number 5 cake 9But I persevered and the finished product was so cute I forgot about the 27 times my hand cramped up.

:-)

Happy How to Make a Number 5 Cake-ing!

*Quick Tip – For crumb-free icing, I recommend freezing your cakes first.  Go HERE for a simple step-by-step guide.*

A Whole Hand

birthday boy 14Dear Happy Buddy,

Your birthday this year made me a bit of a basket case.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how quickly you grew up – how you are now this big, giant 5-year-old.

After Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes in the morning, I took you and your little brother to the free water play day at the place you have been taking swim lessons.

I sat in a chair and watched you happily race around the small water tables and sprinklers, while I also anxiously checked the clock on my phone every 30 seconds.

Finally, 10:10 arrived.

The time you were born.

I called you to me.

You were much more interested in pushing a plastic toy wheelbarrow that had your brother in it, but I managed to lure you over with a pretzel.

When you got close enough, I pulled you in, cupped your big boy face in my hands and whispered,

“You’re officially a whole hand.  I am so thankful God made you.  You are precious to me.  Happy Birthday.”

And then you ran off smiling, looking at the 5 fingers on your hand in wonder, and my eyes filled up with tears that I’m sure all the moms at free play water day thought were a bad reaction to the 900 gallons of chlorine in the room.

You truly are so special, Happy Buddy.

You are my firstborn.  You made me a mommy.

And while I have loved every year of getting to fulfill that role in your life and watch you grow, this year has been especially fun.

Like I love that you are obsessed with front-loading washing machines and pretend to do laundry where ever we go.

birthday boy 5I love that you are so creative when choosing your apparel for the day.

I love that it takes you 1400 hours to eat a baby carrot.

I love that you always want to match pajamas with your brother.

birthday boy 12I love that you make up songs while we’re driving.

I love that you like to pull a chair up to the kitchen counter to help me cook.

I love that you always remember to buy the grocery store checker their favorite candy.

birthday boy 7I love that you like wearing your swim goggles in the bath tub.

I love that you have 1,000 reasons why you can’t go to bed yet.

I love that you wake up at 5 am every day (I could do without this one, though, just in case you feel like learning how to sleep in).

birthday boy 11I love that you are always asking me to LOOK or WATCH THIS at all the things you make or create or are doing.

I love that you think putting the water bill in the special mailbox at City Hall is a highlight in your day.

I love that you are an amazing listener.

I love that you are getting better about brushing your teeth.

birthday boy 4I love that you imitate whatever is going on around you – if Daddy is grilling, you pretend to grill.  If our kitchen has mold in it, you pretend your kitchen has mold in it.  If you’re watching the World Cup, you turn our living room into a soccer field.  You have an incredible imagination.

I love that you never forget to do Jesus Kisses every night before bed.

birthday boy 2I love that you have such a sweet tooth.

I love that you named my car Frank.

I love that you will play your drum set like a wild man – completely naked except for a super hero cape.

birthday boy 1I love that you enjoy learning new things – like how to use the leaf blower with Pop-Pop or how to bowl with Mommy.

I love that you leave your tinkle in the potty every morning because you are afraid the flushing sound will wake Mommy and Daddy up.

I love that when someone says or does something kind for you you tell them that “it opened your heart.”

I love that you think about God and ask me questions about Him.

birthday boy 6I love that you like to take out every toy you own and set them up all over every square inch of our house.

I love that you are completely captivated by clocks and timers.

I love that the other day I took your hand in mine and said, “When you are a teenager will you still let me hold your hand?” and you responded, “YES!” and then thought about it for a second and said slyly, “Well… maybe.”

I love that every morning the bathroom looks like you had a wrestling match with your toothpaste and the toothpaste won.

birthday boy 8I love that you occasionally steal my phone and record ridiculous, epically long videos of yourself making goofy faces, running around, and acting like you belong in a loony bin.

I love that when I pray over you at night I sense that one day you will be a great leader.

I love it when you smile at me.

I love it that you enjoy watching Tinker Bell movies.

I love that you applaud my attempts to sing “Let It Go” in the kitchen while trying to convince you and your brother that vegetables are delicious.

birthday boy 17I love that you tried to climb up the entertainment center the other day and almost broke your leg.

I love that you could care less about Disney parks but could spend hours riding the Monorail.

I love that you don’t cry anymore when I have to clip your fingernails or pour water over your head in the bath.

I love that when you have to go to the bathroom you force your brother to go as well.

birthday boy 10I love that you tell your speech therapist that she smells nice and that you compliment ladies if their toes are painted.

I love that you liked it when I wore that silly magnetic nose ring I bought at a souvenir shop on the beach.

I love that when I ask you for forgiveness you respond immediately with, “Always, Mommy.”

I love that you recently discovered the box I keep of all your old artwork and went around the house hanging up each piece on any available surface.

I love that you cannot leave the house without 15 things in tow.

I love that I caught you with your arms raised in worship while we were driving to church last week.

birthday boy 3Happy Buddy, I love that you are YOU.

This list is just a tiny version of a much longer one that is in my heart – a list that I ponder over and over throughout the days as I watch your hand fill up with years.

I can’t wait to see what the Lord has for you as He adds more hands to your life.

And oh, how I pray that you will continue to use those hands to serve God and bless others every single day along the way.

I am so proud to be your mama.

Happy Birthday. :-)

Love,

Mommy

“So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in your name.” Psalm 63:4

Last-Minute 4th of July Crafts

easy crafts for the 4th of july! love this list!I have been busy pinning lots of fun 4th of July crafts, but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten with this upcoming holiday.

We haven’t been doing much crafting lately because our house is in a bit of disarray due to water damage which led to mold which led to the ripping out of the entire left side of our kitchen.

We’re waiting on insurance to come through for us to see if we can afford to replace the cabinets and walls, so in the mean time I am getting plenty of comfort from this verse from Psalm 16:5,

“You, Lord, are all I have and you give me all I need.  My future is in your hands.”

:-)

For those of you who have homes in tact and are looking for a few simple ways to celebrate our nation’s birthday, here are my top easiest and cutest picks from Pinterest…4th of july 3Without our cabinets, we have been using a lot of plastic utensils to keep from running back and forth to the utensil drawer (currently located in the living room). :-)

So these Fork Fireworks from A Thrifty Mom are perfect.

4th of july 5The traditional Popsicle Stick American Flag from Crunchy Frugalista is always fun to make.

4th of july 4I absolutely LOVE this 3-ingredient Star-Spangled Slime from I Can Teach My Child.

4th of july 6Here is an easy Tape-Resist American Flag from Loving My Nest.

4th of july 2Another firework craft – this time painting with toilet paper rolls – from Frogs, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails.

windsockThese Patriotic Windsocks from Preschool Alphabet are adorable and a snap to assemble (brilliant use of a plastic sheet protector).

firework ringsFantastic Fun and Learning has these super simple and stylish Pipe Cleaner Firework Rings.

4th of july 1And, finally, print out this fabulous ‘Don’t Eat Uncle Sam’ game board from My Sister’s Suitcase and play it after grilling out on the 4th.

I will pray that you have fun with your families this weekend celebrating the blessings of our freedom – both in this country and the unfailing freedom that comes from knowing Jesus.

The Happy Buddy is turning 5 tomorrow and we got him a few new toys to free him from constantly pretend playing that the little play kitchen in his bedroom has mold (brown construction paper bits) in its cabinets.

:-)

Happy Last-Minute 4th of July Craft-ing!

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free, indeed.” John 8:36 (ESV)