Top 10 Road Trip Essentials

Top 10 Road Trip EssentialsSummer’s coming and for many of you that means it’s time for a family road trip.  Don’t be afraid.  Road trips don’t have to mean fighting, whining and cruddy food.  I’ve compiled my top 10 road trip essentials to make your trip more fun for everyone.

With most of our family in California and us in Texas road trips are a common occurrence.  We fly a lot but have done more than our share of driving cross country.  We’ve driven just as a couple, with a kid, with a dog, and with extended family.  Most of our road trips are about getting somewhere.  We don’t often stop to see sites along the way but even if your family makes frequent stops my road trip essentials will make your trip more pleasant.

  1. Pack twice as many snacks as you think you need.  There is no such thing as too many snacks when you are traveling.  The last thing you want to do is have to buy snacks from a gas station. Pop some popcorn before you leave home and keep it in big ziplock bags. Other good snacks are a bag of apples, a bunch of bananas, granola bars, lara bars, nuts,  and applesauce pouches
  2. Water.  Even though you are only sitting it’s easy to get dehydrated. Bring reusable water bottles and store bought bottled water. You may have to pee more often but everyone will feel better.  Which brings us to number 3.
  3. Pee every time you stop for gas.  No “I don’t have to go” allowed.  If you stop the car everyone need to try and pee. This will stop most of the unplanned potty breaks and kids peeing on the side of the road.  I realize this means you will have to take your kids in a convenience store but be strong and buy nothing.
  4. Electronics with headphones. Even if your family loves to talk at some point everyone needs some alone time.  This is where the electronics come in.  Personally, I get car sick if I read or look down at something but Little Man loves to play on his Kindle or daddy’s iPad on road trips.  Don’t start with the electronics out if you are going on a long trip.  Spend some time enjoying the ride then when arguments or boredom strike bust out the electronics.  Remember your car charger!
  5. Podcasts or audio books.  Since I can’t look down in the car as a passenger or am often driving podcasts and audio books are my entertainment.  When you are in the middle of nowhere with no radio reception or you’ve heard the same song 20 times in and hour you’ll thank me. You can even get an audio book the whole family will enjoy.
  6. Plastic grocery bags for trash.  Keep several of these.  There will be trash and you don’t want it on the floor of your car.
  7. An easily accessible change of clothes for everyone.  You never know what’s going to happen and you don’t want to be unpacking your trunk or roof when your kid is covered in who knows what.
  8. Toys for the kids- I let my son take a small backpack with whatever toys he wants.
  9. Dramamine.  I get motion sick, so as the passenger I take this before I even leave.  You never know then the ride might become too much and someone’s stomach starts to turn.  Better safe than sorry.
  10. Pillows and blankets. Sleeping in the car is a lot easier when you can lean our head on a pillow.  Blankets are good for staying warm , keeping the sun off you during the day, and covering our head so the night lights aren’t so distraction.

What are your road trip essentials?

Weigh in Wednesday 4/9

Weigh in Wednesday: reach your goals with Lisa Branam

Welcome to Weigh in Wednesday where we help one another reach our goals in health, work and family.  We all have struggles, successes and failures along the way. You don’t need to do this alone.

Let’s do this! Start by making some goals and join me for Weigh in Wednesday. Short term goals need to be tangible. Feel better or be healthy are too vague. Be specific. Your short term goals should help you reach your long term goal. These can be changed and modified.

                       Short Term Mini Goal                                Long Term Goal
Health Clean eating and run 3 times a week          Wear a size 6 again
Work Post 3 times a week                                  Grow my blog into business
Family 30 minutes a day outdoors                 Spend more focused time w/ family

So, how are things going?:

  • Health: I adjusted my short term goals a bit.  Due to a scheduling conflict I’m not going to be able to do the half marathon with my girlfriends in November.  I actually ran this week.  The hubby and I went to a local park with trails and a steep hill.  It was way more fun than running on the treadmill but much harder due to the steep hill.
  • Family: With this beautiful weather it hasn’t been hard to get outside.

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Weigh in Wednesday 4/2

Weigh in Wednesday: reach your goals with Lisa Branam

Welcome to Weigh in Wednesday! Each Wednesday we get together an reevaluate our goals.  It’s a little check in and out time to motivate and help one another. Feel free to jump in at any time.  It’s never too late to reach your goals.

Let’s do this! Start by making some goals and join me for Weigh in Wednesday. Short term goals need to be tangible. Feel better or be healthy are too vague. Be specific. Your short term goals should help you reach your long term goal. These can be changed and modified.

                                Short Term Mini Goal                                                            Long Term Goal
Health Keep up Whole30 & training schedule for 1/2 marathon              Wear a size 6 again
Work Post 3 times a week                                                                     Grow my blog into business
Family 30 minutes a day outdoors                                             Spend more focused time w/ family

So, how are things going?:

  • Health: I have not been keeping up with whole3o, mostly on the sugar aspect, but I have been keeping things Paleo for the most part.  The occasional cheese is my weakness.
  • Work: I haven’t had much going on here but I ‘ve been a busy bee over at my other site Schertz Family Fun.
  • Family: With this beautiful weather it hasn’t been hard to get outside.

Continue the conversation by following me on Facebook and Twitter.

How are you doing reaching your goals? Leave a comment or link up.
Have a post about reaching your goals? Link up with us.

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Weigh in Wednesday 3/26

Weigh in Wednesday: reach your goals with Lisa BranamI know its been a few weeks but welcome back to Weigh in Wednesday!  I’m sure you can guess from my missed weeks how well, or not, I’ve done.  Hopefully you’ve done better than me with your goals the last few weeks

Let’s do this! Start by making some goals and join me for Weigh in Wednesday. Short term goals need to be tangible. Feel better or be healthy are too vague. Be specific. Your short term goals should help you reach your long term goal. These can be changed and modified.

                        Short Term Mini                            Goal Long Term Goal
Health Keep up Whole30 & training schedule for 1/2 marathon Wear a size 6 again
Work Post 3 times a week                      Grow my blog into business
Family 30 minutes a day outdoors     Spend more focused time w/ family

So, how are things going?:

  • Health: I’ve only run a few times in the last 2 weeks.  In fact my missed runs had out me way back on my training.  The 2 miles I did last week killed me, when a few weeks before they were easy.  I guess I learned what happens when you stop working out.  Back on the horse, or actually pavement.
  • Work: I think it’s obvious from my lack of Weigh in Wednesday posts that I haven’t been keeping up my schedule.
  • Family: On the plus side while I’ve been ignoring my blog and health I have been spending lots of focused time with my family.  Yay for a win!

Continue the conversation by following me on Facebook and Twitter.

How are you doing reaching your goals? Leave a comment or link up.
Have a post about reaching your goals? Link up with us.

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Simple Salsa Recipe

Simple Salsa RecipeDon’t you just love salsa?  From chips and salsa to scrambled eggs with salsa I can’t get enough of this spicy condiment.

While doing Whole30 and reading labels like crazy I realized that many commercial salsas have sugar in them, or even high fructose corn syrup, along with a myriad of other ingredients to preserve freshness that probably aren’t too good for you.  This is totally ridiculous and completely unnecessary. Luckily I have a simple salsa recipe that will have you ditching even the best store bought salsa.

If you are looking for a new salad dressing recipe mix this simple salsa with some homemade ranch to crate an amazing salsa ranch dressing. You’ll thank me later.

Simple Salsa Recipe

10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Jalapeno
  • ½ Onion
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • ½ Bunch Cilantro
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • Juice of 1-2 Limes

What to Do

  1. Deseed the Jalapeno and taste a small piece. This will help you secede how hot the Jalapeno is and how hot your salsa is going to be. Remember you can always add more jalapeno to make your salsa spicier but you can’t make it less spicy.
  2. Add half the jalapeno (unless your jalapeno is super mild or your family loves spicy then feel free to add more) and onion to the food processor. Pulse until you have diced pieces.
  3. Quarter the tomatoes and add them to the food processor along with the cilantro. Pulse until well blended. This is salsa not pico de gallo. It should fairly smooth.
  4. Add salt and lime juice. Pulse a few times to combine.
  5. Enjoy right away or wait at least an hour for the flavors to really meld.

Notes

Store in a recycled jar or other airtight container.

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I keep my salsa in canning jars or old spaghetti jars to make it easy to pour and store in the fridge.  If you can stand the wait this salsa is better after it was sat for a couple of hours.

If you eat tortilla chips don’t forget to make some perfect baked tortilla chips.  You’ll thank me later.Simple Homemade Salsa

Perfect Baked Tortilla Chips

Perfect Baked Tortilla ChipsI’ve made baked tortilla chips several times; sometimes because I was trying to eat healthier and sometimes because I really wanted tortilla chips and only had tortillas at home.  Every time they were just okay, a semi-suitable substitution but not something I’d bring to a party or share with friends .  If you’ve ever made baked tortilla chips you probably had some that were hard as a rock and some that were sort of chewy with very few actually being any good.

This time I tried something different, a little oil.  It made all the difference.  My baked tortilla chips when from blah to as good as fried chips. I realize this takes away some of the good-for-you-ness of baked chips but if you use coconut oil or some other healthy oil it will be alright.

Bakes tortilla chipsUsing about 1 tablespoon of oil, I used coconut oil, and a pastry brush lightly coat each side of 8 corn tortillas with oil.

baked tortilla chips recipeThen simply cut the corn tortillas into 6 pieces.  Layer the tortilla chips on a baking sheet making sure none of them are touching.  After 12 minutes turn the chips over and rotate them if your oven cooks uneven like mine.Cook another 3-5 minutes.   Let cool and enjoy.

Perfect Baked Chips

5 minutes

Cook Time: 17 minutes

Yield: 48 chips

Ingredients

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1Tbs Oil (I recommend coconut oil)
  • Salt
  • Pastry brush
  • Optional: juice from ½ a Lime

What to Do

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour oil into a small bowl. Mix in lime if you are using it.
  3. Using a pastry brush lightly coat each side of the corn tortillas with oil, staking them as you go.
  4. Cut the corn tortillas into 6 pieces.
  5. Layer the tortilla chips on a baking sheet making sure none are touching.
  6. Bake12 minutes. Turn the chips over and rotate them if your oven cooks uneven like mine.
  7. Bake another 3-5 minutes.
  8. Salt while still warm
  9. Let cool and enjoy.
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Don’t forget to make some homemade simple salsa or shrimp salsa.Homemade Chips and Salsa

You’re Awesome

You're Awesome- Every mom need to here this once in a whileA few weeks ago Little Man and I went grocery shopping.  Since I spent more time than I anticipated chatting with a friend, shock I know, we were in a hurry to get what I needed to make chili for our small group. To save time we went to a smaller, and more expensive, market near my friends house. Now this isn’t a store I normally shop at, mostly since it sort of feels like I walked into a supermarket in 1985 but with 2025 grocery prices.  We’re talking signs written on orange poster board with magic marker for sale items that still cost twice as much as they do at HEB (our local chain grocery store).

Before we walked in the store Little Man and I discussed that we were in a hurry and only getting stuff to make chili for group.  Little Man isn’t really a fan of chili but he is a fan of small group since it means friends are coming over to our house, so he agreed to hurry.

We walk in the store and before I could find the first item on my list Little Man was asking for something.  He wanted some cheese and fruit packaged in a Mickey shaped container. I told him it was too much and we were only getting stuff for chili.  Of course Little Man had to know exactly how much it was.  For some reason whenever I tell Little Man that something is too much he immediately wants to know how much it is.  Even weirder is that when I tell him how much the item is, no matter what I say for the price, he is generally fine with it and puts the item away. Oh it’s $50 or oh it’s 50 cents means nothing to him.

So he puts the Mickey fruit down and I get my bell peppers.  As I’m picking out some squash Little Man spies the cookies.  Off he runs to check them out.  “Mommy can we buy these cookies for group?” Of course I told him no were are only buying stuff for chili.  He put the cookies down and asked about a different package.  I gave him the same response.

We headed over to the meat section and Little Man started scouting out other items that he “needed” like cereal, circus peanuts, cheese, lunchables, and mints.  For each one we went through the same scenario.

“Mommy can I get____?” “No, it’s too much and we are only getting stuff for chili.”  “Well how much is it?” “It’s ___ dollars.” “Oh”  All this is going on as I’m trying to figure out why on earth a grocery store in 2014 wouldn’t sell ground turkey.

I finally settled on some over price ground beef and headed to the checkout lanes. Of course Little Man noticed the doughnut case strategically place near checkout.  He asked me “Mommy can I have a doughnut if I’m really good?” At this point he’d asked me for at least 20 items in the 10 minutes we’d been in the store. I calmly told him no, we are only buying stuff for chili and you aren’t being good. It didn’t stop there.  As the cashier rang up my purchases and I payed Little Man proceeded to ask me for several types of candy that the store so nicely decided to display in the checkout lane. I’m sure at this point you can guess what I told him.

In the middle of this checkout chaos is when it happened.  A random lady who had been shopping in the store walked by me on her way out and told me “you’re awesome.”  I smiled at her, laughed my laugh, then out the door she went.  It was simple, It was quick, and it made all the difference.  I’m not sure how much of my shopping ordeal that lady heard but what I do know it that she helped me make it through.

Sometimes when we are in the middle of what can seem like a never ending battle we forget.  We forget that what we are doing matters.  That being firm, though your child isn’t fully behaving is worth it.  That I am an awesome mom, and you are too.

Share this with a mom friend to brighten her day and don’t forget to let your mom friends, or stranger, know they aren’t alone. We are all in this together and you know what? You’re awesome!

 

**I almost didn’t publish this post because it made me start singing everything is awesome!  Oh, now you’re singing it too?  Sorry. Sort of. Okay, not really.  Everything is awesome…

 

Weigh in Wednesday- 3/5

Weigh in Wednesday: reach your goals with Lisa BranamMarch already!  I don’t know about you but I have some great weeks, some good weeks and some bad weeks.  The last few weeks I decided to test out my sensitivity to gluten/ wheat and it turns out it really does make me feel like crud.  I kept holding out home, thinking maybe.  So wheat free it is.

Let’s do this! Start by making some goals and join me for Weigh in Wednesday. Short term goals need to be tangible. Feel better or be healthy are too vague. Be specific. Your short term goals should help you reach your long term goal. These can be changed and modified.

             Short Term Mini                                                            Goal Long Term Goal
Health Keep up Whole30 & training schedule for 1/2 marathon   Wear a size 6 again
Work Post 3 times a week                                              Grow my blog into business
Family 30 minutes a day outdoors                        Spend more focused time w/ family

So, how are things going?:

  • Health: I ran today for the first time in weeks.  Go me! Since I ran I finally had the chance to check out the Zombies, Run app I downloaded a few weeks ago and lets  just say it makes running way less boring.  I have not been keeping up Whole30 but for the most part I’ve been going wheat/ gluten free.
  • Work: Schertz Family Fun got the first update with new features and a new layout.  It looks great!  I haven’t fully decided what the redesign of this site will be so if you have any input about things you love or things you want to change let me know.
  • Family: Teas weather has been bipolar lately so the days the weather is nice we’ve been getting outside as much as we can.

Continue the conversation by following me on Facebook and Twitter.

How are you doing reaching your goals? Leave a comment or link up.
Have a post about reaching your goals? Link up with us.

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Weigh in Wednesday 2/26

Weigh in Wednesday: reach your goals with Lisa BranamDon’t you just love Wednesdays? I sure do.  Mostly because it’s my time to think back and reflect on my goals.  This week I actually have a new goal that I’m not quite ready to share since I haven’t quite worked out how I’m going to achieve it yet. I’ll give you a hint, it involves seeing and hearing me.

Now is the time! Make some goals and join me for Weigh in Wddnesday. Short term goals need to be tangible. Feel better or be healthy are too vague. Be specific. Your short term goals should help you reach your long term goal. These can be changed and modified.

                      Short Term Mini Goal                                               Long Term Goal
Health Keep up Whole30 & training schedule for 1/2 marathon    Wear a size 6 again
Work Post 3 times a week                                               Grow my blog into business
Family 30 minutes a day outdoors                        Spend more focused time w/ family

So, how are things going?:

  • Health: Truth time.  I haven’t run in two weeks.  Why?  honestly I don’t have a good reason.  The weathers been wonderful and since I’m not eating gluten I feel good.  I think I’ve just gotten out of the habit. So today’s the day I kick my butt in gear and start running again.  I’ll let you know how it goes, that is if i don’t pass out.
  • Work: Between all my blogs I seem to be getting my 3 posts done. I’ve also realized my blogs need a little updating and revamping.  Be on the lookout for some spring cleaning coming to A Little Slice of Life.
  • Family: This week we went to a sneak peak of Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch‘s new Tower area where visitors will be able to feed giraffes. I can’t wait to tell you all about it soon on Schertz Family Fun. Since it was beautiful out we also went to the zoo this week.  Let’s just say that we are doing good spending time outside this week.  Too bad I didn’t send any of that time running!

Continue the conversation by following me on Facebook and Twitter.

How are you doing reaching your goals? Leave a comment or link up.
Have a post about reaching your goals? Link up with us.

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Homemade Lara Bars

Homemade Lara Bars- My family loves theseWhile doing Whole30 I needed to find a portable meal or snack replacement for when I’m out longer than expected.  I used to carry kids Clif Zbars with me but they don’t fit into Whole30 (though they are really good if you can have grains).  I read online that several types of lara bars were Whole30 friendly so I thought I’d check them out.  I’ll admit that I wasn’t hoping for much.  I tried a lara bar once before, who knows what flavor, and it was disgusting.  I actually spit it out.  I figured that it was worth a shot to try again since eating out when your are pretty much only eating meat, veggies, fruit, and nuts can be a pain in the arse.

It turns out I really like the Cashew cookie lara bar.  If anything it was a bit too sweet for me. My recipe is slightly less sweet. Of course you probably know by now that I’m cheap and $1 or more a bar was just too much for me.  I figured since the only ingredients were cashew and dates that they couldn’t be too hard to make.  It turns out I was right.  These homemade lara bars come together in minutes and don’t require cooking or refrigeration.  I carry one in my purse for those I need food now moments.Homemade Lara bar ingredients

So the first time I made these I kept hearing this loud popping noise in my food processor.  I figured the cashews were harder than I thought and didn’t think much of it. When I ate the first one I nearly broke my tooth on something hard.  It turns out I left the pit in the dates!  Don’t so this!  Your lara bars will be inedible and you make break your food processor. Removing the pits is easy.  Simply cut the date open and the pit will peel right out. easy peasy.Pit a dateNow all you have to do it throw the dates and cashews in the food processor and pulse until you have a course mixture.Homemade lara bars in the food prosessorNow press them on wax paper and cut into bars.  That’s it.

Homemade Lara Bars

15 minutes

Yield: 8 Bars

Homemade Lara Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw Cashews
  • 3 dates
  • Optional add-ins: ¼ cup Shredded Coconut, ¼ cup Dried Cherries, or ½ tbs Cocoa Powder

What to Do

  1. Get out your food processor, spatula, wax paper, storage container or sandwich bag and rolling pin. You can juts press the bars down if you don’t have a rolling pin.
  2. Cut the pit out of the dates.
  3. Toss all the ingredients in the food processor and pulse until the cashews are the size of course sand.
  4. Dump the coconut date mixture onto a sheet of wax paper. Using your hands form the mixture into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick
  5. Cover with max paper and use your rolling pin to flatten the bars. You want to really press them so they don’t fall apart.
  6. Cut bars into 8 rectangles. Wrap bars individually in wax paper. Store in an airtight container or plastic bag.
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