Mama’s Seven Little Life Hacks

So, from what I can tell in my little sunny corner of Florida, the country is covered in snow! How are you, fair northern readers? If you ever see me moving into your neighborhood, please adopt me and explain the secrets of snow-living, because it terrifies this gal! Like, where do you even buy a snow shovel? And how do you know if your kids are warm? Does a credit card really scrape ice off a windshield?

It’s a complete mystery.

Speaking of life-hack secrets, I’ve accumulated a list full for your reading pleasure. I even inquired of my doting husband for his input, so, coffee lovers, keep an eye out, as his pick is for you.

Brownie Batter Hummus
For the month of January, I’ve been doing this strict “New Year, New You!” diet, which involves no gluten, no sugar, no dairy, very little fruit, no caffeine, no alcohol, etc. Therefore, Mama needs some new snack options (pretty puh-leeeeze!) But this snack may carry over into my “real life.”

hummusDelighted By Brownie Batter Hummus is available at my local grocery store, and, frankly, it’s delicious. I’ve been eating it with strawberries, blueberries, and almonds, and my kids ate some with pretzels. It’s sweet without being too sweet. It does have a smidge of “organic cane sugar,” but, good gracious, if I’m going to cheat on this diet, I’m OK with it being on a chickpea-based dessert hummus! I also purchased the snickerdoodle version, but I haven’t opened that garbanzo-bean wonder yet.

Caron & Doucet Cast Iron Oil
My, my! Aren’t I sophisticated with something so domestic on my list? As I mentioned, I received a perfectly seasoned cast-iron skillet for Christmas. I also received a cast-iron care kit from my sis-in-law, including this oil. I’ve used my skillet twice (hello, lovely steak dinners!). After I rinse my pan and scrape it with this metal cleaner, I let it dry, add a few drops of oil, and spread with a paper towel. It smells like coconut, leaves a shine, and makes me feel like I know what I’m doing.

Parsnip Fries
Once George decided he liked parsnips and about three other vegetables (nothing green, of course!), I started buying parsnips on the regular. They’re basically white carrots with a sharper flavor. For an easy side, peel them, cut them thinly lengthwise, and spread on a baking sheet. Then toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cumin. Bake on 400 degrees for, say, 15-20 minutes. Every so often, use a spatula to shake everything around so they brown evenly.

marie kondoMarie Kondo’s infamous book
OK, disclaimer here. Marie Kondo and I approach life from very different corners. I don’t believe holding my clothes imparts energy, and I will always tuck one sock into the other when putting them haphazardly into my sock drawer. However, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is transforming my view on my stuff. I clearly have too much of it, and I do feel better when I sort and discard. Bring. It. On.

Horchata
My favorite Mexican restaurant recently opened a more geographically appealing location, so, of course, I’ve eaten there twice in the first four days of their grand opening. Our favorite item thus far? Horchata. (I did cheat the diet and take a swig.) George thinks its official name is “sugar milk.” But at $3.50 per cup, I thought I’d try my hand at a homemade version. I gave this recipe a shot. I need a much finer sieve, as it came out gritty, but the flavor was pretty spot-on.

spot itSpot It! Card Game
I came across this game at a local board game shop (who knew those even existed?!), and I knew it needed to be in George’s Christmas stocking. It’s basically a stack of cards with a bunch of pictures on each card. Every single card has one picture that matches a picture on every single other card. Does that make sense? Your main goal is to figure out which picture matches the fastest. It came in handy on hour six of our Christmas road trip home.

Black Rifle Coffee
Here ya go, coffee people. My husband, who is a coffee snob with his French press, whole beans, and distaste of cream and sugar, loves this stuff. Black Rifle Coffee Company is a veteran-owned company with a sassy, good heart. Personally, I really dislike the taste of coffee, so I’ll take the Husband’s word for it.

Got any products or shortcuts to share? I’m all ears!

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