Baking Hacks for Busy Moms

I am a self-proclaimed home baker. I love baking so much, and I find it to be one of the things that relaxes me and makes me happy. The methodical methods and the end results are so rewarding. But I know how time consuming it is, so over the years, I have found a bunch of easy hacks that same time and money and still result in beautiful end products.

cookie hack

Cookie Hacks:

Cake mix cookies are super easy and quick. Take one cake mix, add 1/2 cup of oil or melted butter, 2 eggs, and a tablespoon of flour. Mix this all together, then scoop out drops of this and you now have cookies! I like to use cake mixes that have pudding in them because this makes super moist and chewy cookies. You can even mix two kinds of cake mix together to come up with fun flavors.

If you are a nutella fan, I have a super simple and delicious nutella cookies recipe. It is literally just 1 cup of nutella, 1 cup of flour, and 1 egg. Mix all together, then bake at 350 for 8 minutes. These are delicious and chewy and hold that nutella flavor. These are my go-to when I need a quick baked good to take somewhere.

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Things no one told me about early family living

Just as I was surprised about postpartum recovery, I was surprised about what life is like when you have kids. Particularly, little kids that cannot feed, dress or go to the bathroom on their own. When I bring these parts up to my mommy friends, they say “of course that’s our life now!” But why didn’t anyone warn me? I guess it’s because you’re just constantly in survival mode, and whatever else gets tossed your way is just a part of your chaotic life. I thought it would be interesting to think of some things I realized about this crazy world of parenthood in the early years.

  • Food and eating and anything related to that… sucks

It’s one thing to feed yourself whenever you feel hungry, but to plan meals and go shopping and cook for your family has just about become the most dreaded part of the day. And it’s terrible because there are THREE meals a day! The hours between breakfast and lunch could not seem any closer. (Lunch already?!) The hubs and I already had pretty poor eating habits because I’m super picky and he doesn’t eat on a consistent timeline. So I had to try really hard to make Baby Pencil’s meals consistent and healthy. I was also so into preparing the baby’s food that I would completely forget about my own. That was one thing I had to remember to do: feed self!

  • Everyone gets sick, a lot

We had an especially rough winter, and all 4 adults and 3 kids (my sister’s family and mine live together) got very sick over the holidays. It started with one and kept transferring over to the next person. Several times, someone got sick right after getting better. We ended up investing in face masks and separating the kids for days at a time. My poor nephew, who was only a few weeks old, caught a respiratory virus and had to stay at the hospital for 5 days! Needless to say, we didn’t have a merry Christmas this year! When I talk to parents of 3+ children, they don’t seem to freak out as much when one kid gets sick. They still go to the movies and out for dinner. Basically, if you wait for 100% of your family to be healthy, you will never go out at all. It’s just a part of life that someone is sick, so you just gotta do what you gotta do!

Our holiday card this year… when everyone got sick for an entire month!

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Setting Up Self-Serve Stations

Before A was born, I decided to set up a snack drawer for M in our fridge. She had just learned how to open the fridge door and rather than lock her out, I wanted to work with it, knowing that she would eventually outsmart any childproofing attempts. I had heard from experienced mama friends that their older kids always wanted a snack or something to do right when the new baby was nursing or otherwise making mama incapable of helping, and so my goal was to get M to a more independent stage with snacks, before the baby came along.

I dug through the kitchen and found an unused bin, the kind you’d use for washing dishes if you were camping or somewhere else without running water. It fit into the bottom shelf of the fridge easily. I filled it with the snacks we already had for M, and when she came home from school, introduced her to the concept. It was an immediate hit! She spent that entire night opening the fridge and helping herself to snacks. I had to resist the urge to crack down on her self-serving because I knew it would eventually lose its novelty, and I didn’t want to scare her off of using it.


When we ran out of snacks I took her along on the grocery trip and let her pick out her own items (within reason). This picture is fairly standard for the drawer; there’s usually string cheese, and we don’t often have jello or yogurt that isn’t in a tube. The grapes were left over from breakfast so I stashed them in there because they were already washed. I know it’s a lot of packaging, and it’s certainly not waste-free, but for now it’s the right balance between convenience and best intentions. Maybe as both kids get older and I get more time, we can switch to refillable pouches and tubes!

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Things I Said I Would Never Do Before Having a Kid

I’m four-plus years into this parenting gig, and I feel like I’ve settled into a nice groove. No, I don’t get as much time to myself or enjoy as much disposable income as I would like, but that’s life with a kid. And yes, I could definitely do without the daily power struggles and battles (getting dressed, brushing teeth, sitting at the table to eat…why are simple things so hard?). However, sometime during Little Cotton Candy’s fourth year, something clicked for me and I feel settled and content with our life, and like I’ve finally learned a few things.

The number one thing I’ve learned from the past few years of being a mom? That everything I thought about parenting before having a kid was stupid. Does that sound like an exaggeration? Maybe slightly. But seriously, here are some of the things I thought I’d never do before having a kid (and yep, I’m eating my words—with a pink plastic spoon).


Little Cotton Candy: How am I supposed to say no to this face?

1) Make my kid a separate dinner when he refuses to eat what we’re eating. I have talked about this before, but Little Cotton Candy is picky AF. We’ve always offered him a wide variety of foods and tried not to stigmatize anything, but his eating habits just are what they are. He doesn’t enjoy trying new things, and of the new things he does try, he doesn’t like most of them. I can’t tell you how often I have sung the Daniel Tiger song, “You gotta try new food ’cause it might taste go-ood!” Nine times out of ten it does not work.

2) Feed my baby formula. Okay, so I never said “never,” but I did have high hopes about nursing exclusively for at least a year, and things didn’t work out the way I’d envisioned. Luckily, formula was a lifesaver for us, and Little Cotton Candy thrived on it. No regrets here.

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Everyday Baby Items

It’s easy to take the everyday things for granted and forgot how much you appreciate them. It’s amazing the things they come up with these days – from technology to mom-made gear. We’re pretty lucky to be living in this day and age.

There are definitely items I’ve used since Petit Macaron was born, and some that have phased out as he’s grown older. Here’s a list of things we use daily with our 13-month old son:


1) ZoLi BOT Straw Sippy Cup

You may recall an earlier post where I shared how I got my baby to start using the sippy cup. I mentioned two sippy cups, but we ended up using the ZoLi BOT Straw Sippy Cup most often. It just seemed to be the one Petit Macaron preferred. As you can guess, we use this many times in the day since I give him something to drink with each meal and in-between meals as well. Got to keep hydrated!

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Link Roundup – February 20, 2017

We’re taking President’s Day off, but we have a ton of interesting parenting links to share with you from around the web from this past week!


Why it’s important to read aloud with your kids, and how to make it count via Washington Post

DeVos Spars With Teachers, Trump On Autism And More Education Stories Of The Week via NPR

Former D.C. schools chief takes on DeVos: ‘Sorry lady … this is so amateur and unprofessional’ via Washington Post


10 Unexpected Reasons Couples Have Trouble Getting Pregnant via Health

Science Confirms You Are a Different Person After Giving Birth via Parent.co

Doctors May Now Be Able To Predict Autism Before Age One via Huffington Post

Baby in a Box? Free Cardboard Bassinets Encourage Safe Sleeping via New York Times

Potty-Training Practices Around the World via Mom.me

The Latest Baby Gear Recalls via Fit Pregnancy

Spanish 64-year-old gives birth to healthy twins in Burgos via BBC

How Likely Is It Really to Have Twins? via Health


Men, please stop giving my infant daughter creepy compliments via The Week

Harvard Psychologists Reveal: Parents Who Raise ‘Good’ Kids Do These 5 Things via Curious Mind Magazine

How a Parent’s Affection Shapes a Child’s Happiness for Life via Parent.co

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Making Progress – Early Intervention Update at 2 Years Old

My little guy just had his six month EI meeting to review his progress. Overall, he’s moving forward and closing the developmental gap, but he’s not quite there yet. Some areas he’s really taking off, other areas he needs some more work.

Fine Motor:  This is the area he improved the most. Before he had very little hand strength, and couldn’t even grasp a crayon! Now he can hold a crayon and scribble like a champ. He uses both hands together to manipulate toys. He has enough hand strength to swing from the bars at gymnastics. None of that was possible six months ago. He and I worked so hard on this during the Fall and Winter, and he’s finally catching up!

Look at those scribbles!
Look at those scribbles!

Sensory: Sensory drives me nuts. One day he sits perfectly still and enjoys an activity like play-doh. The next day the same activity sends him screaming. It’s difficult at this age to know if he’s just being a typical two-year-old, or if he has sensory issues. At gymnastics class, he definitely responds differently than the rest of the kiddos the same age. They love to jump in the foam pit and get hand stamps at the end of class. He doesn’t, and often bolts for the door. I try to remember he had developmental delays and is still catching up. Hopefully, in time, he’ll work through this.

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