Category Archives: motherhood

Lucille!!!

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Those of you who follow my Instagram account, know that this past weekend I was gifted with my very FIRST slow cooker.  I have decided to name it Lucille, a moniker I have to a favorite pen I had in 8th grade. Actually, I named the pen after the Little Richard song ‘Lucille’,after I watched the Little Richard biopic,starring a favorite of mine, Leon 😍😍😍. But, I digress.

I CAN’T WAIT to make my first slow cooker meal and so I got Pinterest and found quite a few I want to try. But one that stuck out to me was actually one I had seen done by my favorite television chef, Ree Drummond AKA The Pioneer Woman. It also just so happened that my mother mentioned that she had a taste for homemade lasagna,and then I got the slow cooker,all in the same week. Talk about fate,huh? Without further ado, here is the recipe for slow cooker lasagna. Enjoy!

   

Ingredients

Meat Mixture:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced 
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes 
  • One 6-ounce can tomato paste 
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
Cheese Mixture:
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan 
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano 
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 large eggs, beaten 
Lasagna:
  • Nonstick cooking spray, for spraying the slow cooker
  • 15 uncooked lasagna noodles 
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

ADD CHECKED ITEMS TO GROCERY LIST

Directions

For the meat mixture: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, sausage and garlic and cook until brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, basil, parsley, oregano, salt and some pepper and stir. Set aside.

For the cheese mixture: In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, Romano, basil, parsley, salt, pepper and eggs and stir together well.

For the lasagna: Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.

Spoon in one-quarter of the meat mixture on the bottom and top with 5 lasagna noodles, broken to fit. Add a third of the cheese mixture, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat this layering twice, starting with the meat mixture and ending with the mozzarella, for 3 layers total.

For the fourth layer, top with the remaining meat mixture and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Turn off the heat and allow the lasagna to sit 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Show: The Pioneer Woman

Episode: Hay There!

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My Fall Favorites

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What is your favorite Halloween candy?



Hmm… I love anything except candy corn.

 

What is one of the worst “treats” you ever received in your candy bag? 

See number 1.

 

What was one of your favorite costumes you wore when you were a kid?

Darn, I wish I had a picture of it. I got my first costume when I was 11 years old and it was a teeny bopper outfit. Complete with poodle on skirt and saddle shoes! I was too embarrassed to tell my classmates what it was because I felt like they would call me a nerd. My teacher explained my costume and everyone complimented the poodle on my skirt.

 

 

How about your favorite costume as an adult?

As adult I’ve only ever been SEXY Snow White

 

What scares you most on Halloween? Spiders? Zombies? Axe murderers? Eyeballs in a jar… 

This is Pumpkinhead and he scares the shit out of me! Bleh…


 

So then, what is your favorite scary movie??

Invasion of the Body Snatchers(1978)

The Fly (198?) It was gross and I loved it! Plus…Jeff Goldblum naked!!!

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

What is you favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal?

Hmm… well this year it will be celebrating my daughter’s first decade on Thanksgiving Day!

 What is your favorite piece of clothing or accessory to wear in the Fall?

Scarves are my favorite thing to wear.  And the best part is,I make my own!

 

What is your favorite pie?  If you do not like pie I will forgive you but then what is your favorite Fall dessert?

Lately, it’s a pumpkin pie cheesecake that I found in my local supermarket

The cheesecake is underneath the bagel covered in pumpkin spice cream cheese as seen on my 

bookstagram

 

Do you live where there are four seasons? If so, where is your favorite place to see the fall colors?

There is beautiful foliage on the walk to my daughter’s school. As soon as it’s in full effect, I will post pictures!

 

This is the above mentioned area pre Fall foliage

What is your favorite fall tradition?

Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Every year I try to catch a picture of the Spongebob balloon as he floats by because he’s one of my favorite cartoon characters. It’s become my own quirky tradition!

 

Is there anything else special about the Fall to you?

 Some close relatives of mine that have passed away have birthdays in November so I like to remember them by picking leaves of different colors,saying a prayer,and watching the leaves float away out to sea. I also have a two nieces with birthdays and a couple of friends with birthdays as well! So I guess I’m celebrating all through November!!!

Time and Balance

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I notice I use my time best when I’ve done my morning routine to completion.  This past week, I’ve been bullshitting and not doing it. What’s my excuse? Aside from a couple famioly hiccups this weeks,I’ve been truly tired. Like almost-miss-my-Allstar-by-Smashmouth-custom-morning-alarm tired.

I enjoy spending time to myself before I have any other roles to take on at 6:30am. I take my silent walk around the block. I get to admire my dreary little piece of NYC. I get to have witty musings and observations about life and motherhood when I take my walks. During my meditation I visualize the life I’m headed to. That in turn inspired me to read,which inspires me to come up with new content. Full circle,y’all!

With that being said, I don’t feel all that guilty about missing my routine sometimes. I don’t always want to be alone with myself. Sometimes I wan to jist stay busy in my other roles. Nothing wrong with trying to find a balance. Isn’t that what life is? 

Namaste…ish

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Just wanted to drop in and update you guys on my morning routine. Full disclosure: I have stopped and started this routine 2 times already. Third time’s the charm,they say. This go round I’ve stuck with it for almost a week. That’s a record for me because I drop out of self care things within a couple of days. This is different.  Why, you ask?

About two months ago, an ex of mine and so were catching up and he said “You haven’t changed at all in the said years I’ve known you. Don’t you want to try something different?” He was referring to my hair and clothing style,such earned him an onslaught of words that would make a sailor blush. However,he did implant in my mind that there  are  changes I’d like to make to my life style and well being and the way I approach it. Enter The Miracle Morning(TMM). I figure that a change in me will start when from when I wake up in the morning.

TMM follows a formula created by the author of the book called Life S.A.V.E.R.S. They are the steps you take during the routine. You can switch the order around if you want but here is what the routine consists of:

Silence. You can take a silent walk(sans phone), meditate,oeay,do breathing exercises,etc. Whatever you choose,do it in silence. This gives you a chance to get dome mental clarity,focus on the goals ahead if you, and it’s strss relieving.

Affirmations. Oprah does affirmations. That’s good enough for me.

A few of my affirmations. I have night time ones as well.

Visualization. Vision boards help to keep you motivated on where your trying to go and what you’re trying to do. You can choose to have a physical one where you can see it every day or an online one. Here is mine.

Exercise. This one is my least favorite   I HATE working out but I do love yoga.  I have a serious internal battle every day to get it together and hit the mat. Once I do, I feel better. This is my favorite workout (cuz it’s easy)

Reading. Obvi, this one is my favorite.  It’s suggested that you read something motivational or self help related. After I’m done with TMM,  I’ll be reading Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. 

Scribing. This is a journaling exercise. I use the journaling to summarize my thoughts and feelings about what I’ve learned during my MM that morning. I jot down how I’ve improved that day,changes I want to make,and one thing I’m grateful for that morning. 

I feel a lot more energized,motivated,and positive since starting TMM. Im moving forward career wise because I have the confidence in my abilities now. I’d say that’s a big win!

School of Not-So -Hard Knocks

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Here in NYC, the children have started school. My luscious Amani is a proud, but cautious, fourth grader. The air is changing and I’ve had to dig up her jacket for our walks to school in the morning. Everything is changing. Including me.

For those of you who have stuck it out and been following me here, I recently started a morning routine suggested by a friend called The Miracle Morning.  I have started it and failed…twice. Today was my third attempt and it went well. I’m going to stick with it this time. I am so stoked. But on my journey of self care, I’ve gotten sucked into another self help type book called 
“>Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic For A Simpler,More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist. 
It’s a mouthful,right? It was recommended by the swme friend who recommended Miracle Morning.I could always use a little guidance when it comes to self care.
But that’s not all I’ve gotten up to to keep myself busy. I was thinking of doing more visual type things here and in an effort to get some really good practice, I’ve started a Periscope account. And I’ve joined a FB group called PeriGirls. They are a group of fabulous women who come from all walks of life and have come together to lift each other up via social media. We do Pass The Cast, PeriokeDaily Assignments, and Saturday Express. It’s so much fun,we learn alot from each other,and it’s  easy to sign up. Oh, and everything has a theme. I’m way more comfortable recording myself so you’ll be seeing me alot more. 

To make myself feel more useful around my house until I’ve found decent outside work again, I’ve joined a Facebook group called FEEL GOOD MAMA ESSENTIALS and right now it’s  holding a Back to School Camp For Moms which helps moms make the most of their household chores and manage time better. I’ll be a regular June Cleaver in no time.

Last but not least, there is my bookstagram. I have a library card with no over due fees that Im ready burn like a Black card. I am obsessed with books but as of late I’m finding it hard to finish them. I posted a Victorian Reading Challenge that I fully intended to keep up with but…Im going to have to move that to next year. I have some great books I’m actually reading on there as well as some bookish podcasts I’ve discovered.  If you’re REALLY my peoples you’ll follow me at concreterosereads

What’s new or changing in September for you? Are you making any personal changes? Let me know what’s good in the comments!!!

Weekly Wrap Up: 8/6-8/13

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Hey, there!!! Thanks for stopping in for my first EVER weekly round up!!! I read so may articles, watch a lot of videos,and look at beautiful images every day for research. I’ve come across some stuff I think you guys might like so every Sunday at 10pm EST, I’m going to share my favorites from around the web. Enjoy!!!
Amani will be going back to school in a little less than a month’s time and I want to start making her lunch myself so I looked around for some ways I can make things easier. Here’s what I dug up:

Tasty Junior- Hacks To Make Packing Lunches Easier 

Mama Kat- 7 Steps To Lunchbox Joy!

The Pioneer Woman- How To Prep Veggies for The Week

The Young Mommy Life- 6 Tips To Wean Your Kids off Sugar

I recently started an Instagram account featuring my favorite things,books! I follow MANY bookstagram accounts and here are a few of my fave images this week:

The Roaming Reader

Concrete Rose Reads

Blue Eyes Biblio

Book Briefs

I seemed to have turned into a podcast junkie. I have a ton of favorites but here are the ones that stuck in my head:

The Arkham Sessions- The Pyschology of Batman: The Animated Series at SAN Diego Comic Con

The NoSleep Podcast-Season 9,episode 14

PRINCE: Dig If You Will The Podcast- Baby,He’s A Star:A Snapshot of Fandom

My Miracle Morning

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I’m not usually one for self help books. In fact, I think they’re mostly a load of crap. I can count on less than five fingers how many I’ve actually read cover to cover. They just aren’t my thing. 

However,  I stumbled upon a Facebook page called Ditch the Diet,Find JOY in fitness and LIVE A F*UCK YES LIFE which is run by Amanda Katherine Loy . I listened to a live feed she did where she discussed her new book club pick, The Miracle Morning: THE NOT-SO OBVIOUS SECRET GUARANTEED TO TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE BEFORE 8AM. She talks about how the book has helped her get some self care done before she starts her own day. THAT peaked my interest.
As a SAHM, I always have felt like I had no reason for self care because I’m home all day. I only have one child and she doesn’t stir up a fuss so why do I need time for self care? The answer: because not taking care of myself mentally or emotionally has taken away my motivation and confidence. I’m taking an exam for a job soon and although I’ve been studying, I have already defeated myself about it in my head.

I don’t like that feeling so I figured that I have  to change something. During the school year,from the time I wake up I’m rushing to get my daughter out of the door. I snap at her when its5not necessary and I really don’t like that. I started wondering if there isnt a way for me to start the day off right before I engage with anyone. And then I found The Miracle Morning.

I just got my hands on my copy Tuesday evening but I did attempt it (using Amanda’s guidelines) that morning and yesterday as well. Mentally, I feel better but physically,not so much. From what I understand if the Life S.A.V.E.R.S method used,there is an exercise component to the Miracle Morning. That’s an issue for me because I can’t afford a gym membership…AT ALL.So to compensate I will be doing yoga via YouTube. I haven’t done yoga since high school so twisting my body around feels awkward and unnatural. But I’m going to stick with it.

Selecting a journal and writing my affirmations

My goal is to become a happier,calmer,more energized and driven woman by the time Amani goes back to school next month. I do have things I need to take care of career wise and personally and my hope is that the Miracle Morning will help. Have any of you tried the Miracle Morning? Did it help? If you haven’t tried it, do you have a solid morning routine?

Tales of A Fourth Grader…

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Amani will be going to 4th grade come September.  I am very proud of her accomplishment because 3rd grade was her first year having to take the state exams for reading and math. I knew she had some areas she struggled in and I just prayed everything would work out. And it did. Not only will she be going to 4th grade,she got this as a memento of the third grade:

Most Likely to Excel in Life

Not to mention the two medals she won on Field Day. How could I not be proud?

When I was in 4th grade, I had a strict teacher,Mrs.Rios. I remember she wore this monochromatic pink lipstick that would slide into the corners of her mouth. She had a thick Spanish accent and even thicker black hair. She always had this uninterested scowl on her face but she knew everything that went on in class 401. I was a good student  but my Math suffered and it made me hate Math. I would always let my mind wander during our multiplication drills and I paid for it by having to write the table 1-12 twenty five times each. 

I also kept a juny desk in fourth grade. Every week, Mrs.Rios made me clean out all the junk in front of the entire class. It embarrassed me the first couple of times,which was probably the intent, but then it just became routine. She eventually gave up and let me clean out my desk in my normal spot.  She wasn’t my favorite teacher because she tried to break my hard headed nature. Even now, I still resent her. Here’s to Amani having a better experience!

Out of Sight…Out of the Loop

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When Bubba started 1st graded we got two surprises: the first was that the 1st grade teacher that we were acquainted with was NOT going to be Bubba’s teacher (she already had an idea of Bubba’s academic struggles and I was comfortable in the knowledge that she was going to do her best to help Bubba out) and the second was that Bubba was so nervous about being in first grade, she cried on the first day of school and begged me to take her home. On that  day, I knew my baby girl was really going to need me for moral and academic support. And I had made myself a lot of promises to be on that PTA Board and attend all the school meetings and fundraisers, and volunteer all of my free time so that Bubba would know that I took her education seriously. I figured Bubba’s teacher was going to do her part, so I had to do mine.

Only a few months into the year, I started questioning Bubba’s teacher’s (Mrs. T) dedication to the educational well being of my daughter. The first red flag was when my mom went to go pick up Bubba in my absence ( I was at work) , Mrs. T almost didn’t release Bubba into my mother’s care because she said she had never seen my mom before. WTF?! My mom and myself are the only ones who pick this child up from school and at that point, Mom had picked her up plenty of times as well as introduced herself as Bubba’s grandmother. It pissed me off, but I let it go. The second red flag was on Bubba’s school picture day,which required her to be in uniform , I sent her to school looking like the quintessential school girl. I asked her how it went and she said her class didn’t take pictures. I asked Mrs. T about it and she said her classwas never called down to the auditorium. I informed Mrs, G ( who is in charge of scheduling events for the school) and she was totally unaware that Mrs. T’s class didn’t take pictures and said she would have to reschedule them to take it. I was furious because I couldn’t understand why Mrs T, who was fully aware that the entire school was taking class pictures, did not simply call down to Mrs. G and tell her that 208 had yet to take their pictures. Now, I wouldn’t know when the photographers would be back and Bubba won’t be ready. She could be absent, or not looking photo ready.Aside from those incidents and a few others, in general I just didn’t feel a real connection with Mrs. T. Bubba was indifferent to her and that worried me a little because she was so in love with Mrs. S, her kindergarten teacher.

The vibes I got from Mrs. T were frustrating and they prompted me to slack off a little with Bubba. The unwritten partnership between myself and the teacher just seemed one sided and I was done breaking my back with no reciprocation. Unfortunately, Bubba was the one paying for my frustrations with Mrs T. Last week, I finally had an opportunity to sit down with Mrs. T for an impromptu parent/teacher conference. She said that Bubba was very wise for her age, insightful, and is full of great ideas. She was very respectful to her teachers and peers and was a very delightful student. Of course I grinned ear to ear when hearing those things. Mrs T was simply confirming what I already knew but of course I could never tire of hearing good things about Bubba.Then the bottom fell out.

Mrs, T presented me with Bubba’s report card and her grades in Math and reading were atrocious. Her schools’s grading system uses the numbers 1 through 4, with 1 being below standard and 4 being above standard. Bubba’s report card contained mostly 1s and 2s and I was just so crestfallen, I held my head down like I was in front of the principal’s office. Mrs. T explained that Bubba had improved in Reading and Math since the school year started her grades were bad because of her poor attendance. I immediately wanted to kick my own ass when I heard that. Mrs. T explained that because Bubba had poor attendance, she misses new topics and the reviews for those topics. When its time to be tested, she is lost and usually fails. Mrs. T said it upsets her that Bubba fails the quizzes because she is sure that had she been in school when the material was being taught, she would have aced them.

I thought about Bubba’s recent week long absence from school due to ringworm and then I thought about her week long absence a few weeks before that. She’s been absent at least one week each month. In my mind the reasons for her absences made sense to me but in reality I knew they wouldn’t fly with Mrs. T. So, I just sat at the tiny little desk that usually made me feel ten feet tall and started feeling about a foot tall.Bubba had been absent when she exhibited any sign of a cold, or if her usual sleep schedule was off and she went to bed at 4am when she had to be up at 6:45am, when I was so exhausted from work and just didn’t have the strength to get myself out of bed at that unGodly hour, or simply because my mom and Bubba would gang upon me and beg me to let her stay home.

The tables had turned and the teacher that I thought was so nonchalant and lazy had now become the hero and me the villain. How did I let this happen? Me…who is always freakishly worried about being on time? Me…who had just been fired from her job for attendance issues? I felt like the worst mom ever and I wanted to cry. The final nail in the coffin was when Mrs. T revealed to me that Scholastic had published an actual book of the class’ original stories written by the students. Bubba had written a first draft but was absent from school so another student had to edit and rewrite it for the book, so Bubba’s original story was written in the book in another student’s handwriting. I had also learned that Bubba missed the week when the children started learning how to write a personal narrative. I would have loved to have seen my baby being a writer like her mom and I was so proud of her for becoming a published author. I still haven’t done that!

I vowed right then and there that Bubba would never miss another day of school until the end of the school year. I don’t know how I let my personal (almost personal?) gripes against mrs. T make me lose sight of what was most important: Bubba. Bubba now has a “promotion in doubt’ and she will only stand a chance of going to second grade if she misses absolutely NO more school until June.I learned a lesson in all this: Mrs. T was not an incompetent moron like I thought but rather a person who had to take time away from the entire class to give extra help to Bubba because of my irresponsible behavior. That caused her to sometimes miss the broader details. I apologized profusely to Bubba but she didn’t seem to understand why. If Bubba doesn’t get promoted it will break her heart and I will be the one who did it.Way to go, mom…

School is Back in Session

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So school has been back I’m session for three weeks now and I think Bubba has adjusted well to 1st grade. On her first day, she cried when she realized her teacher was not who she wanted it to be. I assured her that Mrs.T was just as good as Miss J.would have been. She wasn’t convinced until I picked her up from school. She said Mrs. T was the best teacher and she was sweet and nice, etc…I was just happy that I wouldn’t have to live the nightmare of a child who cries every time I drop her off.
At this time last year, my family was mourning the loss of my biological mother and I wasn unable to give Bubba the attention she really needed in those first few weeks. Now that our family has healed a little,Im in a better place to be the cherrleader Bubba needs. My work hours have gone to evening hours so that for thr most part I can drop off and pick her up from school. However,I have missed Meet the Teacher night and a PTA meeting. They are held on the evenings and I cant call out for awhile so…you know.
I know the school year isnt going to be perfect but I will tweak it a little so I feel a like Im in control. Only the Lord really knows…
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Bubba on the first day of school. She’s gotten so big!
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Little Miss Thang

HOW IS THE SCHOOL YEAR LOOKING SO FAR FOR YOUR CHILDREN?