Operation Veggie Camouflage

As a kid, I remember loving a big glass of 2% milk and flooding my cereal bowl with it.  At some point, my mom decided to make the switch to skim milk.  Ick!  It tasted like water! None of us wanted to change.

Imagine our surprise when a week later my mom announced that we were all drinking skim milk and none of us had realized it.  What?!  How did that happen?! My mom shared that she had been slowly adding skim milk to our 2% milk until that was all we were drinking.  What can I say…she’s one smart lady!

I learned early in my marriage that if my husband knew there was a vegetable in the meal or something he didn’t like, he wouldn’t eat it.  I once made a meatloaf and he had four helpings before I happened to mention it contained stuffing (which he hates).  I’m dead serious…the man refused another bite.  He had FOUR helpings before he found out.  So imagine the reaction when he found out his favorite soup had split peas in it. I soon banned him from the kitchen while I was cooking dinner and began figuring out ways to hide the veggies.

This was pre-paleo days, so veggies were a sporadic part of our diet at best.  When we started Whole30, my kids [and husband] were not a fan of all the new vegetables on their plates.  So once again, I started stepping up my mom ninja skills, channeling my mom’s tactic and began figuring out more ways to get veggies into our meal without altering the taste.

Veggie Camouflage // EverydaySmallThings.comHere are 5 Everyday Small Things I’ve discovered to increase veggies in a meal:

1. Add shredded/pureed carrots to taco meat.

2. Add diced mushrooms into hamburgers or meatloaf.

3. In a blender, blend together any veggies you have with eggs.  Scramble. Top with cheese if that is a part of your diet.  I typically have peppers, squash, mushrooms and/or carrots on hand.

4. Add chopped spinach to meat sauces.

5. Add broccoli, carrots and/or spinach to a fruit smoothie.

6.  Make zucchini or pumpkin pancakes or muffins.

Need more ideas? Check out The Sneaky Chef!

I feel like it’s worth mentioning that if asked, I never lie and say there aren’t vegetables in the meal.  It’s important to me that my kids learn to at least try foods they don’t necessarily enjoy.  If my husband asks, I typically say “You don’t want to know.” which satisfies his curiosity.  However I am rarely asked because they blend right in and honestly, my family has become greater veggie lovers with our diet change.  My kids have no idea that carrots don’t normally end up in taco meat 😉

Does your family enjoy vegetables?  Do you have any ways that you increase veggie or fruits in a meal without a family uprising?  Share your tips in the comments below!


DIY :: $38 Painted Curtains

DIY Painted Curtains :: EverydaySmallThings.comOne of my favorite features about our house is our large windows.  For the first 5 years of our marriage, we lived in a wonderful basement apartment.  But we missed windows.  We had one escape window and three glass block “windows”.  Needless to say, we rarely saw daylight when we were home.  So I absolutely love windows now.  Windows are good for the soul.  However, covering up said windows can become quite costly.  I fell in love with these curtains from West Elm, but the $100+ price tag was way beyond my budget.  So I began scouring DIY curtains on Pinterest and loved these curtains but had no interest in sewing and the fabric was still more than I wanted to spend.  I soon discovered this tutorial on painting curtains.  But that still meant I had to buy large white curtains which was more than I was willing to spend (especially if I ended up hating them).

Enter in my painted queen size bed sheets that have turned out ridiculously amazing (in my humble opinion).  That’s right, bed sheets!  I love how they turned out!  And I only paid $38 out of pocket for this project, paint and all.

-2 Flat Bed Sheets (Measure your window to determine which size best fits your area) – $12 each at Walmart
– Plastic or drop cloths (already had on hand)
– Paint (I used just under 1 quart regular wall paint) -$10
– painters tape (already had on hand)
– Textile Medium (makes curtains washable once paint is dried and ironed) – $4 after 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby

Begin your project by measuring your window and figuring out what size of bed sheet you need.  Queen sheets worked out perfectly for me.  Painting such large sheets proved a little daunting.  All the tutorials I had found had people laying them out on the floor or garage and I just didn’t have that kind of space.

Painting Curtains :: EverydaySmallThings.comSo I decided to nail them to the wall.  It worked out perfectly!  It was easy to see and my curtains weren’t moving on me.  Make sure to put plastic underneath your curtains no matter where you paint them.  It definitely seeps through.

I liked the look of the West Elm curtains with smaller stripes and I wasn’t sure I’d like the large stripes in my living room.  So I happened to grab a post card sitting on my table and used the length of that as my guide.  I put little marks all down each side and then my husband and I would attach each end of tape at the same time so it would be even.

Painting Curtains :: EverydaySmallThings.comI mixed up my paint and textile medium and began rolling two coats (the color is called Mac and Cheese…appetizing isn’t it?).  I pulled the tape off while it was wet and let it dry overnight.  I had some sticking to the plastic on the back but I just peeled it right off.

I then used curtain clips to hang them up (make sure to buy the correct size as you may end up sorely disappointed that you have to wait until morning to return to the store and get the correct size…not that I know anything about that).

In all honesty, this project took me about 4 days.  Two days on each panel.  Mostly because I wasn’t about to paint these while my children were awake, so my working time was limited.

Painted Curtains :: EverydaySmallThings.comI’ve had them up for 1 1/2 years and they still look great. (Side note…I’ve raised the curtain rod so now they just hit barely hit the floor)  I get lots of questions about the back.  It looks a little weird up close because of the bleeding, but when you’re outside looking in, you don’t even notice.  Most of the time, people don’t even realize they are painted and are even more surprised when they find out they are bed sheets.

So, there you have it!  Cheap, easy (a little labor intensive), washable, awesome curtains for $38.

Painted Curtains :: EverydaySmallThings.com


Fire Escape Plan :: You Should Have One

FireEscapeI never understood the importance of having, implementing and practicing a fire escape plan with your children until recently.  I run a home daycare and one requirement is a monthly fire escape plan practice.  I have to admit that inwardly I rolled my eyes and dragged my feet as my thought was, “If a fire were to start I would be in the same room as the kids and obviously they would try to escape it.”  So I halfheartedly came up with a meeting place thinking that was the most important piece.  I talked to the kids about if a fire happened we were to get outside and meet at our front tree.  However, I knew that we needed to actually practice it.

Gathering the children together near the front door, I talked through what we were going to do and told them when the fire alarm sounded we were to quickly exit the front door and meet at the front tree.  I pushed the button just to give them an idea of what sound we were listening for.  Everyone covered their ears and started giggling.

“Ok guys, this is going to be the real practice!  When the fire alarm sound happens, let’s go out the front door!”  I pressed the button and my 5 year old daughter led the pack out to the tree.  I began counting all of my heads and came up with one missing.  Surely not!  We were steps away from the door, where could they have gone?  So I look again and realize my three year old son is missing.  I glance around the yard thinking maybe he thought it would be funny to go elsewhere.  Nope, nowhere in sight.

I head inside calling “Landon!” Nothing.  I begin checking the rest of the house when I catch a glimpse of two little feet sticking out behind our big rocking chair in the basement.  There was my little guy, face down on the floor covering his ears.

My son had been afraid of the loud noise of the alarm and his first instinct, despite the fact that I was standing right next to him, was to run to the basement and hide behind a chair.

I could only imagine how this scenario could have ended horrifically if this had been the real thing.

If you’re anything like me, the idea of a fire escape plan has flitted through your mind as something that would be great to do if you had the time.  In my own head, I had hastily evaluated exits but never a strategy and I most certainly hadn’t communicated anything to my kids.

So how does one even begin?

Fire Escape Plan :: Everyday Small Things
Who needs fancy drawing skills?!

Here are 5 everyday small things you could do to prepare for a fire escape.
1. Make a simple drawing of your house and draw out a route.  Include your kids in this process!

2. Choose an outdoor meeting place (i.e. neighbor’s house, tree, mailbox, etc.) a safe distance in front of your house where everyone can meet.  Remember to include this location on your escape plan.

3. Talk through what the fire alarm sound means and what you should do if you hear it.

4. Practice. Practice. Practice.  With the alarm.  Every few months, press the alarm without telling your kids so they can practice how to process the situation.  One daycare provider shared that she cut out large pictures of fire and puts them in different exits so the kids have to practice going different directions if one way is blocked.

5. Once a year, do a practice drill during the night.  NFPA suggests preparing children by telling them that a practice alarm will be happening when they sleep as this helps them master the drill and not fear it.  Did you know that children tend to sleep through a fire alarm?  Check out this video.  Eye opening!

Fire Escape Plan :: Everyday Small ThingsEarlier this week, our dishwasher lost all power which made it a sad day in our household.  The electrician came to check it out and he found a corroded wire in the back that had completely melted the cap and could have caused more damage.  Seriously scary!  Just another reminder that you never know what could happen and being prepared is important.

Do you have an emergency plan in place?  Comment below sharing what your family does.

My Alter Ego: Ninja Mom

I tiptoed ever so quietly. Putting my big toe down gently, I knew the floor could squeak with any sudden movements and my light-sleeping son would wake up. I leaned up against the wall, hoping it would somehow aid me in my mission. And suddenly I caught a glimpse of my target…Landon’s blanket (or Night-Night as we call it).

This thing was nasty. I could practically feel the ickiness from the doorway. It had been snuggled and dragged all over the place. I had tried, to no avail, to wash Night-Night earlier that day. His grip just got tighter and tighter every time I asked. This was one of those “Choose Your Battle” moments and it wasn’t worth it.

I looked down at my sleeping boy, Night-Night was finally within my reach. I tested the waters with a small cough to see if he would wake up. Nope, he was out. Carefully, I extracted it from his arms and began my tiptoe journey back. Success! I threw that sucker in the washing machine.

When it was finally clean, I tiptoed back in and snuggled Night-Night back into his arms. I have to admit, I was incredibly proud of myself and began bragging about it to my husband. “I had some pretty stealthy moves up there! I felt like a ninja!” To which he just shook his head and laughed at my dramatic flair.

Cunning Mom Ninja Skills || EverydaySmallThings.orgThat got me thinking. There are a ton of things I do around the house and for my family that make life easier or healthier or just all-around better and they have no idea it even happens. I’m not talking about how clean laundry mysteriously shows up in their rooms (Let’s be honest, it rarely makes it into their drawers. I’m doing good just getting a load of laundry done.)

I’m talking about the cunning moves or hacks we employ, such as washing Night-Night while they’re sleeping or sneaking veggies into their food. I thought it would be fun to share some of our mad ninja skills so that we can learn from one another. I’ll be sharing some of mine over the next few weeks and I’d love to hear from you! You might be doing something that would be an awesome skill to utilize on my own secret missions. 😉

Planning Meals :: Whole30 Edition

Planning Whole30 Meals | EverydaySmallThings.comNothing is worse than deciding to start a new healthy eating plan, and then 5:30 pm rolls around and you start looking through your pantry thinking “What am I going to cook for dinner!?”  Pizza delivery never sounded so good.

Planning ahead can be the best tool you utilize to be successful and budget friendly during Whole30.  

This is how I approach meal planning.

On Sunday afternoons, I sit down with my Whole 30 Meal Planning Printables.  You can download them here:

I begin looking through my favorite Whole30 Resources.  I not only have to feed my family of 4, I also have a home daycare in which I have to buy and prepare food for.  So this is my thought process I typically go through…

  • I begin with a meat or main dish (i.e. soup)
  • Choose vegetables that will compliment the meat or dish prepared (quick tip: frozen veggies are much more budget friendly)
  • Add fruit on occasion
  • Snacks aren’t really allowed on Whole30, but I always find it good to have bananas or nuts around for those moments I just need something.  Also, I allow my kids to have a snack or two during the day.

Whole30 is a complete mind shift.  As you are planning out your meals, I would not suggest recreating your favorite recipes.  It will not be the same and you will be disappointed.  Try new recipes!  Try new flavors!  It’s amazing how much more flavor food has when you create it yourself and season it on your own. (So taste your food as you cook it!)

As you begin to shop, read labels.  READ LABELS!  Did I mention reading labels?  You will be amazed at what products have sugar in them.  I have had the hardest time finding tomato sauce made without sugar and haven’t quite mastered making my own.

Shopping for Whole30 can certainly be an overwhelming experience.  But if you walk in prepared with a list of ingredients, you don’t have to think too much in the store.  My first shopping trip, I was prepared with a list but I was still the lady in the aisle crying over this change and questioning my sanity and how I was going to feed my family (I can be a little dramatic).  But it soon became second hand.

Change is hard.  Few people embrace it with excitement.  But if you go in prepared or at least with tools under your belt, change can be navigated more easily.

So what are you planning for dinner?  Have you ever planned ahead what your family will eat?


“Where Do I Find Recipes?” Roundup

Where do I find Recipes? Roundup | EverydaySmallThings.omMeal Planning is key for a successful Whole30 (let’s be honest… my life in general).  Not doing Whole30 or eat Paleo regularly?  You can still use these websites as springboards.  Can you tolerate rice?  Add rice!  Can’t part from dairy?  Add cheese!  (Side note, cheese is the one thing I did not want to give up and thought for sure I would go back to after our first Whole30.  I was surprised to find I don’t miss it at all!)

Here are some of my favorite links for Whole30/Paleo Recipe Websites:

Nom Nom Paleo
Once A Month Meals – Whole30 Roundup
The Clothes Make the Girl
Against All Grain

You can find more on my Paleo Recipe Websites board on Pinterest:

You can find more on my board Paleo Recipe Websites on Pinterest.

Clean Eating?  My absolute favorite website is thegraciouspantry.com.

Have any other favorite recipe websites?  Comment below!

Tried and True Whole30 Recipes

Tried & True Whole30 Recipes | EverydaySmallThings.comSo, you’ve decided to do a Whole30…what now? One of the hardest parts of Whole30 is getting into a new mindset of food and preparation.  It can be overwhelming looking at new ingredients and recipes.  And let’s be honest, I’ve never done as many dishes as I do on Whole30.  Which recipes are truly worth the effort and time?  Here is a round up of the McClane Family Favorites:

Bacon Burgers – Nom Nom Paleo


Breakfast Sausage – Healthy Living How To


Sweet Potato Chili – Tastes of Lizzy T *Note: We only used 1 Tb of Chili Powder


Paleo Meatloaf with Mushrooms – Paleo Leap


Low Carb Chicken Chili – He and She Eat Clean – ***Note: omit brown sugar for Whole30


Sweet and Savory Pot Roast – The Clothes Makes the Girl


Orange Chicken – Health-Bent


Cauliflower Fried Rice – Family Fresh Meals

You can also check out more Whole30 Recipes we’ve tried on my Pinterest board.  


Follow Anne McClane’s board Whole30 Compliant Recipes on Pinterest.

How about you?  What are your favorite Whole30 recipes? Comment below!

Whole30 Health Journey

Our Whole30 Journey | EverydaySmallThings.comFor those who personally know us, it’s no surprise when I share that we have been on a health journey this past year that began with a Whole30 challenge in March 2014.  For those unfamiliar, for 30 days we removed all processed foods, sugars, dairy, grains and legumes.  Basically, we ate meat, vegetables, some fruit and spices (no, sugar is not a spice).  For 30 days.  I’ve never washed so many dishes!  We actually ended up going something like 67 days before adding anything in.  This picture was before and after our first Whole30.  We were both 10 pounds lighter and felt so much better!

Before | After Whole30
Before | After Whole30

Desperate Times Call for Drastic Measures
That’s how that saying goes, right?  No?  Well, it’s exactly what happened for us.  I have struggled with weight issues since I was a freshman in high school…actually, let’s be honest, it was food issues.  Food has been an emotional bandaid I’ve used for a long time.

So why Whole30?  Fall 2013, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She is the latest in a long line of women in my family who’ve had cancer.  In all probability, from where I sit, it’s a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ I have to personally fight this battle.  In all of our research, we started seeing how much food plays a role in cancers and other health issues (here’s just one of the fascinating articles).  So I began thinking of changing up some of my habits.  Then, last January, Matt said to me “I just feel like I need to do something drastic.”  Matt had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes during our first year of marriage, so it has felt like we’ve been on a healthy roller coaster for the last 7 years.

I happened to see a friend post about Whole30 and my curiosity was piqued.  So,  I started researching it and read the book, “It Starts With Food.” (affiliate link)  This book is fascinating and really shares the science behind what food does to our bodies.  It was all I needed to be hooked!  So I approached Matt about it and I was honestly surprised when he agreed.  So there was no turning back now.  Ha!

I dug in and started researching Whole30 recipes and began planning out our first week.  It didn’t seem too difficult on paper.  But in full disclosure, the actual shopping sent me into shock.  I was the woman crying in the aisle, questioning my sanity and how I was going to feed my family for the next 30 days.  Do you have any idea how many things have sugar in it?!  If you don’t, start looking at your labels.  Seriously.  Eye opening!  And depressing if you’re me on your first Whole30 shopping trip.

I experienced quite the sticker shock when I checked out.  Whole foods are not cheaper, especially if you don’t know standard pricing or which produce products are budget friendly.  I definitely spend more in a month at the grocery store.  However, we don’t drink Starbucks anymore (and that was a daily addiction) and we eat out far less.  So it’s probably a wash when it’s all said and done.

Those 30 days were difficult!  I experienced flu like symptoms on days 16 and 17.  16 and 17!  Talk about dismay!  I was more than halfway through and STILL feeling horrible.  But by day 18 and 19 I felt awesome!  I was sleeping so well, I began weaning off my sleep meds.

Whole30 Before & After | EverydaySmallThings.comOverall, we made it 67 days and these were some of the awesome (mostly non-scale) benefits I experienced:

  • Lost 10 lbs in first 30 days (as of today I’ve lost 30)
  • Psoriasis / dandruff – gone!
  • Awesome sleep / Lowered sleep meds
  • Digestive Issues – gone!
  • Mood swings stabilized
  • Toe infection (that I’ve had off and on since jr high) – gone!
  • Migraines – gone!

We began reintroducing foods and my body really did not handle anything very well, especially dairy!  I began to notice that chocolate gave me anxiety attacks.  Bread makes my psoriasis return.  And dairy upsets my stomach.  Honestly, I don’t miss dairy at all.  I didn’t miss bread until I started making homemade loaves last month for my daycare kids and ate a bite…then a few slices.  Man is it good!

Ultimately, I appreciate the knowledge more than anything.  I make a conscious choice to eat something, knowing what the consequences will be.  We make much more informed eating decisions now and have chosen to stick as close to Paleo (meats, veggies, fruits, honey and maple syrup) as we can.  There are times (like the last month) that we don’t do a great job, but we definitely feel the effects and know exactly why we don’t feel well.

All in all, I am very grateful for our Whole30 journey!

Fresh Start

public-domain-images-free-high-resolution-quality-photos-unsplash-0138I’ve decided to give the blog new life…a fresh start.  Which may or may not be influenced by the fact that I didn’t renew my website hosting in time and lost all of my old posts.  (*tears*)

But this has given me an opportunity to think through if I want to keep this up.  What’s the purpose?

I’ve thought a lot about honing into my passions, which has changed over the years.  Motherhood, DIY Projects, Faith and Health are some of the forefront topics I’ll be blogging about.  Thank you for joining me and I hope we can learn from one another as we journey together!

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