I'm an engineer, I'm a mom. I'm an engineered mama.
Author: Engineered Mama
I'm an engineer. I'm a mom. I find myself discussing everything from motherhood and housework to image registration MATLAB algorithms at work... yeah... all of that in one day makes for an interesting (to me anyways) life. I finally decided to write it all down and share my biased insight on all things mom, all things wife, and all things engineer. So, you could say I'm an engineered mom.
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
I would love to hear from you!
Taco Tuesday is a weekly occurrence, so there needs to be some variety, right? Sure… variety is the spice of life (yes, pun intended). With grocery costs skyrocketing lately I grabbed the alternative to ground beef for our Taco night staple-turkey! It’s more cost effective, tastes great, and I’m sure our arteries will thank us later. This recipe isn’t short on flavor, but is lighter on fat! Customize these tacos however you’d like! I’ll make a list of what we usually top ours with, but get creative! There are also links to Copycat Chipotle guacamole and corn salsa, homemade white queso, and Copycat Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno dip. I know you could drink that stuff with a straw… we all could…
2 lbs ground turkey (or 1 lb if this recipe is only for a few people or you don’t like leftovers)
1 packet taco seasoning (or make your own using this recipe!)
1 packet ranch seasoning
taco shells or tortillas
shredded cheese of choice
cilantro, finely chopped
black olives, sliced
corn salsa (check out my Copycat Chipotle recipe here!)
guacamole (more copycat recipes-check out my Chipotle version here!)
I’ve tried some great haircare in the past, but nothing has compared to Verb. I guess I have what would be considered “curly” hair. It’s more or less wavy, but if I twist it while wet, it will curl and I can wash and wear with no styling, so I’ll call it a hair win. I’ll tell you what I love about Verb products, give a review of each of the products I’ve tried, where I purchase them and the purchase options available, and provide you with some super low maintenance hair tips. I mean, what mom has time to style her hair? Mom buns get old after a while, guys, let me tell you…
Verb Ghost Shampoo and Conditioner
My love of Verb products all started with my mom (shoutout to all of the amazing moms who know what their daughters want when their daughters don’t even know themselves… you know who you are!). She bought me a Verb Ghost set for Mother’s Day a few year’s ago. I had never herd of Verb and thought “Ooooh-new hair products, niiiiice!”. Little did I know how much I would love these hair products. If you’re not sure what type of hair you have, Ghost products are for you. I have wavy, soft, thick hair, but these products are great for any hair type. They clean hair well and my roots don’t get oily too quickly, but it also doesn’t dry my hair out with regular use. My hair stays soft and shiny and styles very easily. Ghost is great for color treated hair and helps your color last without being too harsh. If you’re not sure where to begin, Ghost products are for you!
Verb Curl Shampoo and Conditioner
After Verb products became much easier to purchase (Ulta and direct from Verb’s website), I decided to try their curl shampoo and conditioner. I’m definitely a believer after using these. My hair seems to maintain curl or wave much better than any regular shampoo, doesn’t get oily, and the roots don’t just lay flat after shampooing, but maintain some volume (win, win!). If you have curly or wavy hair, you’ll love the curl shampoo and conditioner.
Verb Ghost Oil
Yes, it’s an oil… don’t be afraid of it-it’s weightless! Since I have wavy/curly hair I use it after finger combing my damp, microfiber towel dried hair so it doesn’t become frizzy after air drying or styling. A little goes a long way. It’s not sticky and doesn’t make my hair look greasy. I make sure to concentrate on my hair several inches from my scalp to make sure I get some extra non-hair washing days in (yeah… I said DAYS… I’m a mom… give me a shampoo break pass, ok?). If you want to eliminate fly aways or give your hair a smoother look before styling it with curing or straight irons, you’ll love Ghost Oil.
Verb Ghost Mask
I’ve never understood the point of hair masks. My hair usually stays soft, I don’t tend to get many split ends because I never use heat on my hair (not because I’m afraid, but because it’s a time suck due to my thick, THICK hair), and it’s not colored. Verb had a sale on their website for different sets and the set that had curl shampoo and conditioner with Ghost Oil came with a Ghost Hair Mask, so I figured I might as well try it. It is a GAME CHANGER! I never thought I needed a hair mask, but this mask is super easy, super quick, and super effective. Use it once a week after shampooing your hair for 5 minutes, rinse, and voila! Soft, manageable hair!
Where to Find Verb Products
Verb products were a little difficult to find for a while and could only be purchased in some salons or on Amazon from an authorized salon. Now their products are easy to purchase directly from their website and yes, they have sales… GREAT SALES! I like to purchase their package sales because they tend to create packages with products you’ll actually use. Shocker, I know! If you’d like to try several of their products I suggest waiting for one of their sales and purchasing direction from them. They also have great sales on larger bottles of Verb products. So, you get the advantage of a discount due to a bulk product AND a great sale on top of that (usually around 20% when they have their large product sales).
If you prefer to walk into a store and purchase Verb products, Ulta has a great selection. They don’t typically have sales on any of their Verb products, but you can purchase for pickup online and walk into the store and take your products home that same day. You can also have them shipped if you’re like me and the thought of walking into a store is too much to bare any longer. Bonus? ULTA POINTS, GUYS… ULTA POINTS. Ulta also usually has a $3.50 coupon or some type of promotion going on with samples, so there’s always that.
Effortless Hair Styling Tips
Like I said earlier, I have wavy/curly hair that is soft, but SUPER thick. I have found the most effortless way (besides the mom bun piled on top of my head) is to let my hair air dry, but frizz, guys… frizz. Here is my process for frizz-free waves/curls:
Shampoo and condition hair as normal.
Use a hair mask once a week to help lock in moisture and shine.
Finger comb wet hair to remove any knots, then towel dry briefly with a microfiber hair wrap like this one from Amazon. Don’t have one or want to purchase one? Use an old t-shirt!
After briefly drying with a microfiber towel or t-shirt, twist some strands of hair to encourage curl. Apply a small amount of Ghost Oil on all hair, concentrating mostly on the ends and scrunching to encourage curl/wave.
Let hair air dry.
Let me know what your favorite Verb products are so I can try some new ones!
Alright, this post isn’t ENTIRELY about alocasia pollys losing leaves, but more about their general care and things I find fascinating about them. I bought my alocasia polly from Amazon… yes, Amazon! The convenience always gets me and the price was fair for the convenience ($18.99 for a 4″ pot and $31.99 for a 6″ pot). I’ve purchased several plants from the Rooted company on Amazon and the plants have always arrived in excellent condition and have thrived since they arrived carefully packaged on my doorstep. In fact, most of them have had new leaf shoots or leaves ready to unfurl when they’ve arrived.
Ok, anyways… back to alocasia polly care. Since I’ve never had an alocasia polly, I had to do a little research. They can trick you into thinking they’re dying, but I promise they’re not! Here are a few care tips and some things you might find fascinating about your alocasia polly:
These guys are a little strange when it comes to water. They store all of their water in their large stem or base. This means you should only water your alocasia polly when it is completely dry. They store all of their water in their stem and use the water from their stem, so they don’t like to have constantly moist soil. Water them when they’re completely dry only, usually every two weeks.
Alocasia polly leaves tend to burn, so they don’t care for bright, direct light. While they love being in a well lit room, they thrive out of direct light. If your alocasia polly’s leaves are starting to become crispy, it might be in too much direct light.
Alocasia polly’s leaves unfurl similar to a monstera. It’s one of the reasons I LOVE this plant! I love watching them sprout new leaves and unfurl.
Alocasia polly don’t have many leaves at one time. If your alocasia polly begins dropping leaves, don’t panic! It could be growing a new leaf or it could be going into its dormant winter stage.
Alocasia polly go dormant in the winter. Some alocasia pollys lose all of their leaves in the winter months. Water them less than you typically would and don’t feed them with fertilizer as much.
I’ve learned so much about alocasia polly and it’s definitely one of my new favorite plants. Remember-indirect light, water only when its soil is COMPLETELY dry, and it’s not dead, it’s just dormant! If you want to learn a little more about this variety, check out some more info from Plant Care for Beginners!
I’m copying all the things lately and there has been no shortage of Chipotle duplications in this house. Corn salsa is one of those sides that’s a hit with kids and adults in our house. You can keep it sweet or turn up the heat and make it a little spicy. Either way, it pairs great with some copycat Chipotle Guacamole, stovetop queso, or Copycat Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno dip, so check out those recipes while you’re at it!
1 can sweet corn, drained well
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 jalapeno, finely diced (more or less to taste)
juice of 1/2 lime
salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour to help flavors combine.
Happy Monstera Monday! I’ve always loved monsteras, but figured they had to be extremely difficult to care for because of their size and beautiful split leaves. Man, was I wrong! When monsteras became the “it” plant everyone had to have, I figured I’d wait to see what the hype was about. Now that they’re EVERYWHERE, I’ve added two to my indoor jungle and they have not disappointed! I’ll give a brief history of my monsteras and if you really couldn’t care less about my plants, but want some care info and fun facts about monsteras, scroll on down to the care section.
When Target rolled out their Hilton Carter live plant collection I couldn’t wait to see what plants they would be carrying, but I knew they would have monsteras. I mean, come on… it’s Target! They have all the trendy things… heck, they MAKE all the things trendy! Well, thanks to work and kids and cooking and cleaning and you know, all the things, it took me forever to even get to our Target to see what they had in stock. Of course, by the time I was able to run into the store they only had one pathetic, broken monstera left. In hindsight, I should’ve scooped that one up while I had the chance.
Fast forward a week or so and I took a quick trip to Home Depot to pick something up. Since I can’t pass up a good plant, I always browse their little corner plant section-by the way… never pass up their indoor plant section! They have all the trendy plants for a great price! Anyways… sitting there right in the middle was one lonely monstera. He was little, but he was perfect! Since I bought him he’s been repotted and aside from a bit of overwatering while in his tiny pot, he’s thriving and getting new leaves!
I had to run to another local Target for something our Target didn’t have and they FINALLY restocked their live plants. I grabbed that monstera and put it in my cart so fast! This one has done so well and loves its sunny spot at the end of our bed. At this point I don’t even know how many new leaves “Monty” has at this point. Oh yeah… that’s his name… Monty the Monstera. By the way, the small one is now named Monty Jr. We get mad creative with names in this house, folks (that was sarcasm if you didn’t catch it… subtle…). Now that you’ve been introduced to the Montys, I’ll add some information that I’ve found very helpful.
Monsteras are rather forgiving plants. Light, water, pot size, and soil type don’t need to all be perfect for them to thrive.
Light: They love light, so find them a sunny spot.
Water: Water them when approximately the first 2 inches of soil is dry. Make sure not to over water them or their leaves might yellow on the edges. Make sure their pot has drainage holes to make sure they drain properly.
Pot Size: They don’t seem to become root bound very easily. They don’t need to have a huge pot to be happy, but if you see roots coming out of the drainage holes, repot that sucker! Their leaves and stems seem so large that sometimes it seems like they need much larger pots than they actually do.
Climbing: Monsteras naturally find things to climb in the jungle. If your monstera starts to lean or flatten out, you may need to find something to support it or allow it to climb. Amazon has great moss poles that are cheap, sturdy, and do the trick.
Dripping: Sometimes monstera leaves drip. No, your monstera isn’t crying-it is getting rid of excess water or moisture.
Unfurling Leaves: I had NO idea how monstera leaves grew. It’s the craziest looking thing I’ve ever seen! They appear as a shoot and unfurl over a few days. When you see new shoots, be patient! It takes several days for them to unfurl, then they’ll be a light green color for some time.
Aerial roots: This one is bizarre… roots that aren’t, well, in the dirt. There will be roots that don’t root into the dirt, but kind of hang in the air. This is for stabilization and these roots reach for water in the jungle. You can stick these roots back into the dirt or leave the be. Either way will be fine for your monstera. If you plan to propagate your monstera, these aerial roots are great! I’ll create a new post on that sometime soon!
I love Earl Grey tea, lavender, and lattes. Put them together and… HEAVEN in a cup. I’ve been desperately searching for a recipe to make one of these bad boys at home for some time and I finally found one. This recipe is pretty flexible (especially if you have a Keurig K-Cafe or another machine that makes lattes and cappuccinos fairly easily). This recipe is also excellent over ice. Froth the milk while it’s cold and serve over ice to enjoy a great summer beverage. This recipe was adapted from a recipe from Oh, How Civilized.
8-10 oz Earl Grey tea, brewed to package instructions (I use Twinings k-cups in my Keurig, but any brewed Earl Grey will work great!)
3/4 cup milk (I use 2%, but any non-sweetened variety of milk will work well)
1/2 – 1 tsp culinary grade dried lavender, additional for garnish (I buy mine on Amazon)
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Brew Earl Grey tea to package instructions over a tea strainer with the desired amount of dried lavender. 8-10 oz seem to work great for this recipe.
Once tea and lavender have steeped at least 5 minutes, remove the tea strainer containing the dried lavender and discard.
Stir brown sugar and vanilla extract into the lavender tea until well blended.
Steam or heat milk. Use a milk frother, french press, or any other chosen method to steam and froth the milk. If you have a K-Cafe like I do, fill the frothing cup to “Cappuccino” and use the cappuccino setting.
Pour steamed milk into the tea mixture and spoon the frothed milk onto the top of the tea. Sprinkle with lavender garnish.
Pip, pip! Cheerio! Lift your pinky, pretend you’re a Brit, and enjoy!
I love brussels sprouts, but I needed a new way to cook them. I was stuck in a rut of boiling them with butter and salt. The old stand-by is fine, but I needed more flavor and this recipe delivered! It’s a little misleading, since a cast iron skillet is used to first sauté or brown the brussels sprouts, then they’re roasted later, but I promise it’s worth the effort! I have adapted this recipe from one I found from NY Times Cooking.
1 pint brussels sprouts (approximately 1 lb)
4-6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (this will vary as you sauté the brussels sprouts-enough to coat the bottom of the cast iron skillet should be sufficient)
5 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (or desired amount to taste)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Trim the bottom of the brussels sprouts and cut each sprout in half lengthwise and remove any outer pieces that may be old or have fallen off.
Add a small amount of olive oil to the bottom of a cast iron skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add sprouts in a single layer in the pan cut side down. Add garlic and salt and pepper to taste. If the oil is absorbed during cooking, add more oil to the pain. Cook until the sprouts become a golden brown on the bottom.
Place the pan in the oven and bake 10-20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid burning. Bake until the sprouts are fork tender and browned to your liking.
Remove the pan from the oven and add balsamic vinegar and stir the sprouts well. Sprinkle the desired amount of parmesan cheese on top of the sprouts. Place the pan back into the oven for 5 minutes or until the parmesan is slightly melted.
Remove the pan from the oven and stir the sprout and parmesan cheese mixture well. Serve immediately.
“Chicken Parm, you taste so gooooooood!” Yes, I know you just sang that in your head in Peyton Manning’s voice. I love chicken parmesan and somehow always feel like it has to be this complex, multi-step process to actually make it at home. I have good news… IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE! The most complicated part of this recipe is boiling the spaghetti, so you’ve got this! This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found from The Lazy Dish.
1 lb (1 box) thin spaghetti noodles
2 (24 oz) jars of marinara or pasta sauce (I prefer tomato basil for extra flavor, but any variety will do!)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan (shredded will also work)
8 frozen chicken patties
seasoning to taste (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9″x13″ baking dish.
Cook and drain spaghetti noodles according to package directions. Mix with 3/4 of the tomato sauce (1 1/2 jars) and 2 cups of shredded mozzarella. Add salt, pepper, or Italian seasoning if desired (optional).
Add the pasta, sauce, and cheese mixture to the casserole dish and top with 8 frozen chicken patties.
Top the chicken with the remaining sauce and spread it evenly to cover all of the contents of the casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle the top with 1 cup (or more) of shredded mozzarella and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese.
Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown and the chicken is thoroughly heated and cooked.
I’ve never been a huge fan of sweet breakfast foods. I’m more of a bacon and egg or omelet person, but… here I am. Eating overnight oats ever. dang. morning. For real, though. I love that I can put a bunch in the fridge then customize them every morning however I’d like with nuts, chocolate chips, fruit, anything really (now don’t get crazy… I love cheese as much as the next person, but don’t be putting any in your oatmeal, people…). I think I love overnight oats more than typical oats because they don’t seem to turn to mush like normal oatmeal does. They still have a firmness to them and you can flavor them with sounds good when you roll out of bed in the morning. You can also eat them cold or nuke them for 45 seconds to a minute if you’re not feeling the cold variety.
I adapted this recipe from one I came across from Eating Bird Food. My version isn’t altered much, just makes them a little more simple.
I also found some awesome overnight oat jars that seal and are water tight and dishwasher safe. They’re great to prepare several at a time and keep in the fridge for when they’re needed. Amazon, never fails!
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup milk (I use 2%, but any unsweetened milk works great!)
1/4 cup lowfat plain yogurt
1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
1 Tbsp honey (more or less to taste)
1 tsp cocoa powder (optional… if you’re feeling chocolatey)
nuts (pecans, walnuts, almond slivers… any kind will do!)
peanut/nut butter (almond butter works great!)
fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries are all great options)
Mix all ingredients except toppings well. Store in refrigerator overnight for up to 5 days. The longer the oats sit in the refrigerator, the softer they’ll become.
One Thanksgiving I wanted to find a something different for desert. After searching a while I just wasn’t happy with any of the pie recipes I was finding. I wanted something… different, but not too out there. I came across these little ramekin pecan pies and they were just different enough to be a great Thanksgiving desert. Bonus: you don’t have to make the crust yourself! They didn’t disappoint! The only problem I found with the recipe from Tablespoon.com was that it didn’t yield quite as many as the recipe called for. This could be because my ramekins happen to be a little deeper than most ramekins. This recipe yields approximately 9-12 ramekin pies. Enjoy!
2 packages Pillsbury™ Refrigerated Pie Crust (4 crusts)
1 1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup dark corn syrup
6 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons bourbon
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 eggs lightly beaten
4 egg whites lightly beaten
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grab 12 ramekins and lightly coat the insides with cooking spray.
Roll out the Pillsbury™ pie crusts. Using a large cookie cutter (or any large round glass/cup) cut out circles and place each crust inside each ramekin. If there is crust leftover, you can add it to the edges for a rustic look. Place the ramekins with crust in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Combine all remaining ingredients, except for pecan halves, in a large bowl. Whisk until nicely combined.
Pour the pie filling into each ramekin.
Top each with 3 pecan halves.
Bake mini pies for 35 minutes, or until the center is set.