Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Week Plan Wednesday

Wednesday- Pork chops, baked potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, corn scallop.

Thursday- Pasta & chopped broccoli in garlic butter sauce.

Friday- Calzones with sauteed peppers and onions and mozzarella cheese.  Salad with my house dressing (because Grandma brought half a head of lettuce that needs to be eaten ASAP).

Saturday- Probably eating out.  The littles and I picking up The Cousin from Milwaukee in the afternoon.  If we're home in time for dinner, it will be scrambled eggs, homemade bread, and fresh veggies.

Sunday- Chili and Cornbread business meeting at church.  I'll make 2 batches of vegetarian black bean chili (one for Grandma, Grandpa, and the littles; one for the business meeting) and possibly cornbread, too. 

Monday through the next 2 weeks Grandma and The Cousin will be in town.  Then Uncle Hat and Uncle Erudite will join us the week leading up to the 16th.  So the possibility exists that I will not plan any meals, and the probability is great that I will not post anything even if I do plan.  However, I'll try to get you our advent calendar before Saturday, so you can borrow any great ideas.  Until then, enjoy your December!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Week Plan Wednesday

Boy my computer is not cooperating.....

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Wednesday- Baked potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, fennel-celery salad with lemon vinaigrette.

Thursday- HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  My contribution to the meal is a roasted pineapple, cranberry, and cilantro salad; cornbread; and acorn squash with roasted garlic.

Friday- Homemade chicken noodle soup with lots of veggies.  Bread. 

Saturday- Sweet and sour cabbage, any leftovers from Thanksgiving or grilled chicken and egg noodles if there aren’t any.

Sunday- Feta cheese strata or quiche.

Monday- Pasta with broccoli pesto. 

Tuesday- Roasted cauliflower, rice with herbs, frozen peas.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Where the Heck Have I Been?

Happy Thanksgiving!  Sorry for the no-show last week.  I have apparently been having too much fun to fulfill my responsibilities.   It all started with the Tuesday trip to both the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium with Auntie A.  Then I went out to the theater on comp tickets two nights in a row.  Then, well, the weekend.  And by Monday, why bother planning when the new week starts on Wednesday? 

First, the aquarium and planetarium both had a free day.  We decided to hit the aquarium around opening and see how it went.  The special exhibits at the Shedd are more than half of the floor plan, so if you're planning an actual paid for trip, spring for a pass that covers at least the wild reef and the polar play zone.  However, we spent around two and a half hours on just the general admission stuff. 

There are a wide variety of aquariums with a dizzying array of inhabitants, but there aren't a ton of "exhibits."  The information on each tank more often than not is limited to a picture of each species with its scientific name and common name.  With my littles at age 3.5 and 15 months, that wasn't a big deal.  They ran back and forth and back and forth and watched the fish in each aquarium for as long as they were interested.  My older child (who will henceforth be known as The Gibbon) played some I-spy type games with me and Auntie A.  If you go with kids who are readers, or if you want to plan a longer visit, I'm sure the experience would be enriched by the addition of a smart phone to look up more information on the most interesting species and a drawing pad to sketch habitats or creatures.

I actually hadn't ever been to the Adler Planetarium myself, so when the littles were still coping after the aquarium, it made good sense to me to scope it out, even if just for reconnaissance.  We'd already paid for parking, so could be the harm, right?

The majority of the planetarium is really directed towards elementary school kids and older.  To really understand any of the exhibits, kids need a bare minimum of reading ability.  However, in the Planet Explorers section, The Gibbon enjoyed pressing buttons on the video games he didn't understand.  And my younger child (who will henceforth be known as The Sparrow) enjoyed carrying around the painted foam "rocks" and wearing an "astronaut" backpack that set her terribly off balance, as it was basically the same dimensions as her.  Actually, The Sparrow LOVED carrying around the rocks and hollered like she was being murdered when we tried to take the backpack off of her.  So, success for the day.

As for theater, on Wednesday I went to Sister Act at the Auditorium Theater in the city with a friend whose husband is working the show.  The production was fantastic, and the stage musical is quite different from the movie.  The underlying message of the showgirl-turned-nun show was made very explicit through dialogue, and it's not one that I particularly agree with.  So not only did I have a blast (Yay giant disco Mary!), but I also came away with some interesting food for thought.

Then (well, actually a couple of weeks ago) the male lead in Singing in the Rain at Drury Lane hurt himself.  With the understudy playing lead, Thursday's press night was rescheduled, and the press tickets got comped to a friend of a friend of mine.  The Hubby was tired, so I brought a girlfriend who hasn't been to see a live musical since high school, and we had a fantastic night of it!  I feel so steeped in culture, tell you what. 

I promise menus tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Week Plan Wednesday

Wednesday- Aunty A's Homemade-From-Scratch Lasagna and Meatballs.  A side of her famous Lettuceless Salad.

Thursday- Roasted green beans with garlic and bacon.  Baked potatoes.  Acorn squash.   Raw green beans for good measure.

Friday- Beef & broccoli stir fry over brown rice.  Raw spinach as a side dish for The Munchkin.  Yay.

Saturday- Spinach and Mushroom Frittata.  Fresh fennel salad.

Sunday- Baked Zucchini (using grandma's master mix).  Roasted chicken with potatoes.  Mashed rutabaga. 

Monday- Juicy Lucy burgers with cheddar cheese (cuz I'm not a fan of American). 

Tuesday- Cream of broccoli soup.  Bread.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Week Plan Wednesday

Wow, we've got a lot of candy.  Just saying.

On a related note, let me tell you about my silly problem.  The Munchkin has been turning up his nose at cooked vegetables for about 3 weeks now.  Before that, he was an eager eater.  I've been reading a blog called It's Not About Nutrition for a while now, so I've got a bunch of techniques for dealing with this sudden selectiveness.  My most important tool has been "taste and describe."  He has to put every item served for a meal in his mouth and chew it (although not swallow), and then he has to give me 3-6 words describing it.  Taste, texture, similarities to other foods, smell, whatever.  Just taste and describe.  He doesn't have to eat anything he doesn't want to eat.

The problem, though, is when the main thing for a meal is a cooked vegetable dish, he has been tasting dinner, and then being "done."  Now, I don't have a problem with him being hungry before the next meal, but I DO have a problem with him whining all afternoon because he elected not to eat any of the beet soup I served for lunch.  Especially when that's happening more days than not.

Ready for my solution?  Cut tomorrow's vegetables today or save extra veggies from the main dish and serve them raw as a side dish.  Seriously!  He still eats raw vegetables, and he goes along with "taste and describe."  Why did I think this was such a big problem?  Still, hopefully he outgrows this weird phase sooner rather than later.

This week I'm cooking out of "The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors" by Jeff Smith.  If you spot a copy in your local secondhand store, pick it up.  It's good reading and some lovely recipes.

Wednesday- Hungarian Cabbage Rolls.  Bread.  Sliced cabbage (see above).

Thursday- Grandma is bringing dinner.  It will be a surprise!

Friday- Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas.  Sauteed green beans and raw green beans (what a great side dish(es)!)

Saturday- Irish Colcannon.  Raw beets (in advance of Monday, so probably I won't prep all of them).

Sunday- Next Phase dinner.  Noodle Pudding.  The Munchkin keeps asking what noodle pudding is, as it features prominently in one of his books.  I have no idea what to serve with this, and as Next Phase is potluck style, that'll be just fine. 

Monday- Lithuanian Cold Beet Soup with Hot Potato Garnish. 

Tuesday- Youth group.  Bread, as that's all they eat anyway.  Cambodian Sweet and Sour Soup.  Sliced peppers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Week Plan Wednesday

Wednesday- Roasted potatoes.  Spaghetti squash with chopping board cilantro and pepita pesto.  We had some friends over for dinner.  They're odd to cook for, as Mom doesn't really enjoy any vegetables but she loves meat, and Daughter #1 is a "vegetarian" who tries her best not to eat vegetables.  Also, The Munchkin has been refusing all foods "mushy" for about 2 weeks, which means pretty much everything around here except sandwiches and frozen peas (still frozen, because they're mushy when they thaw).  Everyone enjoyed the potatoes.  I enjoyed the squash.

Thursday- Sauteed Italian vegetables over whole wheat pasta.  Pumpkin swirl brownies. 

Friday- Crock pot stew with pork and all of the pretty, pretty root veggies I couldn't resist at the grocery store.

Saturday- Caramelized Fennel and Onion Pizza.  Roasted cauliflower.  Sliced peppers.

Sunday- Going out for dinner.

Monday- Moroccan Chicken with Eggplant & Tomatoes.  I may do chick peas instead of chicken, depending how full the freezer is and whatnot.  Brown Rice.

Tuesday- Cream of potato soup.  Bread.  Grated Carrot Salad (you know, the one from every 1970's church potluck with the raisins in it).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Week Plan Wednesday (or, you know, whenever)

I realized this morning that I completely neglected to do a meal plan yesterday.  And as I missed last week, I knew I had to do one this week or risk a concerned message from one of my loyal readers.  My excuse for last week is that I was at the American Music Therapy Association's National conference.  It was a fantastic weekend of reconnecting with friends in the field, networking, learning, and secretly taking a mini vacation from my charming family.  It was a lot of fun and gave me some great ideas to percolate in my head.

The Baby was awfully confused by my repeated and prolonged absences, resulting in her taking forever to fall asleep every night since the end of the conference.  However, after she finally dozes off, she's putting in a 3-4 hour stretch.  So I guess that's worth it?


Wednesday- Baked potatoes topped with homemade chili and cheese.  Cauliflower, raw at the request of The Munchkin and The SIL.

Thursday- Greek Islands Risotto.  Because The Hubby has a cold, I went with strong flavors: onion, garlic, tomato paste, oregano, smoked paprika, lemon, olives, and feta.  Good, although I used two lemons, and I'd go for just one next time.

Friday- Cream of Broccoli soup.  Bread.

Saturday- Eggplant Parmesan, Pasta with red sauce.

Sunday- Roasted beets, roasted potatoes, fried eggs.

Monday- green beans, veggie fried rice, cilantro and green onion salad.

Tuesday- Youth group night!  Cauliflower gratin (which the students most likely will not eat).  Bread (which they will).  Peas (because The Munchkin loves them so).  Wine (but only after the students leave).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Totally Not Jewish Sukkot

Happy Sukkot!  Which you probably don't celebrate, because even most Jews don't make a big deal out of this Jewish holiday.  However, Sukkot is definitely my favorite holiday, so I'm going to fill you in on it!  As you know, I am totally an expert on things and stuff, so you can totally trust me, despite the fact that I have never actually talked to anyone Jewish about Sukkot.  I did read a lot of websites and probably 5 or 6 books, though. 

First, the pilgrims probably based the first Thanksgiving on the holiday of Sukkot, so that's historically interesting.  A better place to start eh discussion, though, is with Passover.  I know a lot of churches are celebrating Passover these days, and the same way that Passover is analogous to Christ's death, Sukkot is analogous to His birth.  When Paul talks about Christ coming to "dwell" with us, he uses the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for "dwelling," the noun form of which is the word sukkah.  A physical place for dwelling.  Christ came, Paul tells us, to sukkah with us. 

Why do I think you should get in on the Sukkot celebrating thing?  First, you may be well enough aware that Christmas and its various trappings are rooted in paganism, so celebrating a nice traditional Christmas doesn't do much to explain the continuity of God's story over generations of human history.  Now, I'm not suggesting that you get rid of all of the fun of Christmas.  We love our holidays around here, no matter where they grew from.  But if you are interested in the arc of God's story over the course of history, Sukkot helps tell the narrative in a way Christmas doesn't.

Aside from the relevance to everyone interested in Christ as the Messiah, Sukkot is a good time.  Imagine all the good parts of Christmas, without the pressure of gifts or expectations.  Imagine a holiday that lasts a week, so you can celebrate with your mom's side today, your dad's side tomorrow, his parents the next day,  just your kids the day after that, and your friends on the weekend.  Nobody's feelings are hurt!  Also, remember that nobody expects you to be celebrating anyway, so they won't be offended if you skip them.

So how do you get started?  Build a sukkahThen decorate it!  Think of it as your Christmas tree, only you picnic and camp inside of it. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Week Plan Wednesday

Wednesday- Eggplant Parmesan.  Rice.  I'm not going to lie, the rice is just because I already had the oven on and I wanted it to go with yesterday's amazing (and amazingly spicy) curry.  The naan got devoured, though.

Thursday- Green beans and mushrooms sauteed with garlic and white wine.  Bread, if I've got enough yeast to manage it.  Would you believe neither of the two grocery stores I went to on Wednesday morning had yeast? 

Friday-  White bean and dark green soup.  Sounds snazzy!  I'll mashup a few Tuscan white bean soup recipes and use 50-50 kale and spinach.  Make ahead corn bread for tomorrow. 

Saturday-  Our annual Sukkot party!  I was going to do turkey, but apparently you can't find them until 2 weeks before Thanksgiving.  SO!  Tequila-Lime roast chicken, pan gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with chili in adobo, jalapeno cornbread stuffing,

Sunday- Leftovers.  In sandwich form.  Yum.

Monday- Stir fry with broccoli.  Rice. 

Tuesday- Youth group night.  Chicken noodle soup.  And, yes, bread.  I never tire of soup and bread.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Week Plan Wednesday

Wednesday- Homemade whole wheat pizza, broccoli florets, & baked acorn squash.  That's another weird menu, sorry.  I felt I needed two veggies, and since the oven was already on...  Sometimes these things happen.

Thursday- Soup au Pistou, which is kind of like chicken soup with roughly chopped pesto mixed in.  It's French.  It's tasty. 

Friday- Penne with tomato, tune, and Lemon.  From a book called New Light Cooking published in 1998 by the Canadian Medical Association!  Thanks, Value Village!

Saturday- Cheese fondue.  Lots of veggies and leftover bread from Tuesday to dip in it.

Sunday- Quiche for the 70's themed lunch after church.
Miso soup with carrots, mushrooms, chicken, and brown rice vermicelli. 

Monday- Spinach and mushroom calzones.

Tuesday- Potato and Cauliflower curry.  Bread, although maybe I'll try for some naan.  Did I tell you a friend of mine found me a cheap-as-free pizza stone?  So happy! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

How much of a Hippie are You?

Based on a conversation with a good friend this afternoon, we're going to scientifically* calculate how much of a hippie you are.  Give yourself one point for every beginner behavior, two points for every intermediate behavior, and five point for every advanced behavior in which you regularly engage.  Post your total in comments, and let's see who wins.**

Since it's just me compiling this list, I'm probably missing important things.  I've intentionally left out stereotypical "hippie" indicators that are not useful (for example, tie dye).  Also, as neither "free love" nor drug use is particularly counter-cultural anymore, those don't make my list..  But you tell me, what other hippie behaviors should I add?

*this is totally unscientific, but you knew that already.
**is a high score or a low score the winner?  A bit hard to tell, that one.
EDITED to add a few good suggestions from reader PatienceRose.

Beginner Hippie Behaviors
Composting (give yourself 1extra point if you live in an apartment)
Wearing no or minimal makeup
Not shaving
Baking your own bread
Substituting local honey for sugar
Shopping at thrift stores or garage sales
Installing rain barrels
Using cloth napkins
Breastfeeding (give yourself 1 extra point if you breastfed any given baby past their first birthday and 2 extra points if you nursed past a second birthday)
Line drying clothes
Walking, biking, or using public transit (give yourself 2 extra points if you don't own any motor vehicles)

Intermediate Hippie Behaviors
Participating in Community Supported Agriculture or shopping primerally at farmer's markets
Joining any kind of Co-Op
Buying ethically raised meat
Eating vegetarian or avoiding processed foods
Removing most or all of your lawn
Garbage picking or dumpster diving
Using a menstrual cup or reusable pad
Using cloth diapers
Sleeping in a family bed
Avoiding chemicals on your body (commercial soap, lotion, deodorant, etc.  Give yourself an extra 2 points if you have eliminated these chemicals.)
Avoiding chemicals in your home (commercial cleaning products, dryer sheets, air fresheners, etc. Give yourself an extra 2 points if you have eliminated these chemicals.)
Eliminating your television
Canning or otherwise preserving your own food

Advanced Hippie Behaviors
Living in a commune
Living in a home smaller than 400 square feet (give yourself an extra point if you have children living there with you)
Growing all your own produce
Raising livestock or poultry
Raising bees
Participating in an established token or barter economy (give yourself an extra 5 points if you established it)
Eating vegan, eliminating processed foods, or subscribing to another diet that requires a detailed explanation of what you can and cannot eat (paleo, raw food, etc.)
Planting beneficial plants on property that doesn't belong to you (a.k.a. guerrilla gardening)
Harvesting or recycling your gray water
Using cloth toilet paper
Living "off the grid"
Solar cooking
Eliminating your fridge

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Week Plan Wednesday

Wednesday- Roasted potato and sweet potato wedges.  Cherry tomatoes.  Amazing roasted cauliflower.  Remember the recipe: smear a cauliflower with mayonnaise and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, bake until soft and nicely browned.  This time I broke the cauliflower into florets first.  Holy cats!  I literally ate half of a cauliflower standing over the stove waiting for The Hubby to walk home from the train.  The only reason there was any left by the time he got home was The Munchkin's insistence that Daddy DOES like cauliflower and I SHOULD save some for him.  Yum!

Thursday- Chicken chili verde in the crock pot.  Corn bread.

Friday- I intended to make burgers last Friday, but ended up making pizza instead.  Not entirely sure how that happened, but c'est la vie.  We'll do burgers and coleslaw today.

Saturday- We're going to a barbecue for dinner.  I'll bring something dessert-ish, but I'm not sure what

Sunday- Soup and Pie business meeting at church!  Doesn't your church do themed food business meetings?  They should.  It's a super tradition.  I'll make cream of broccoli soup. 

Monday- Spicy green beans.  Pan seared chicken.  Rice pilaf.

Tuesday- Vegetable stew with north African flavors.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

We Plan Wednesday

Wednesday- Pasta with chopping board parsley pesto (basically, chop the ingredients all together on a cutting board instead of processing in a machine), garden tomatoes.

Thursday- Sesame green beans, fried rice.

Friday- Burgers, a huge salad, s'mores.

Saturday- Pasta salad using the leftovers from Wednesday and with a  whole bunch o' fresh veggies.

Sunday- Leftover everything!!  So awesome!

Monday- Pasta with homemade roasted vegetable and tomato sauce.

Tuesday- Coriander and orange red lentil soup.  Garlic buns.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Experiments in Parenting

Back in February or so I noticed that I was saying "no" all the time.  I had a newly turned 3 year old and my undemanding newborn had become a more involved 6 month old.  I felt I couldn't turn around without having more demands on me than I could possibly meet.  I also felt sick of saying no, like I wasn't parenting as well as I could, so I tried a little experiment.  For one week, I endeavored to erase the word "no" from my vocabulary.  Some of the time, it was just semantic wrangling: "Mom, let's go to the park."  "We don't have time to go to the park today."  But other times, being conscious of saying "no" encouraged me to say "yes" more often: "Mom, do you want to play play-do?" "Let me pour a cup of coffee first, and then I do."

Spending a week consciously saying "yes" as often as possible made me more aware of the times I could say yes.  Maybe I'm over-thinking things, but I feel like that little one week experiment has made me a more positive parent for the last six months.  On the heals of that feeling, I have recently been challenged to undertake a new experiement.

I'm reading and enjoying Teacher Tom's blog.  I've only been doing so for a month, so I'm reserving judgment about whether I like it or not.  Often the shine will wear off a new blog in 3 or 4 months, so ask me around Thanksgiving if I'm still reading.  I disagree with a few of his basic precepts: for example, I don't think people are innately good, and while I agree that teaching children how to be citizens of a democracy is an important thing, I don't think it's the important thing.  However, he's a deep thinker and an articulate writer, so even where I disagree with him (sometimes fundamentally), I can get something our of his writing.  So this post struck me.

Teacher Tom is basically calling parents out for using commands as our go-to way of communicating with our kids.  So I started on experiment on Monday: I will not use commands when speaking to my kids.  Instead, I will make factual statements.  "Don't hit your sister" will become "It hurts The Baby when you hit her."  "Pick up your toys" will become "There are a lot of toys on the floor." 

Tell you what, it's really, really hard!  I give orders all the stinking time!  I have to stop and rephrase my sentence no less than half the time.  "Mom, will you read me a book?"  "Sure, bring a book to me.... I mean, uh... what book should we read?"  As The Munchkin dumps rice all over the floor, "Don't d.....  I mean.... it makes a really big mess when you do that."

My trump card is that I can make true statements about myself, too: "I really don't want to clean up that mess."  "If your drums wake the baby up, I will feel frustrated."  But even with that, I'm still stumbling over myself. 

A big part of the reason is that the command is often shorter than a factual statement.  "Don't complain about the food" vs. "It hurts my feelings when you say the food is gross."  "Stop!" vs. "It's not safe for you to run there!" 

I don't know how I'm going to make it until Sunday.  My brain is already too close to exploding.  Which means I should probably do another week of this.  What do you think, do you want to give it a try?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Week's Plan Wednesdays

It still alliterates, but it works better with the rest of my life.  I've got the car on Wednesdays, and as reader Patience Rose suggested, I can check all of my grocery store fliers online Wednesday at breakfast if they haven't arrived in the mail by then.  So I'm meal planning and grocery shopping on Wednesdays now.  Yay, my days are full of adventure and thrills!  Are you ready for this week?

Wednesday- Pasta and roasted eggplant with homemade mushroom tomato sauce.

Thursday- Broccoli and bacon over baked potatoes.

Friday- Fried green beans and onions over rice.

Saturday- Cheesy tomato pasta for lunch.  Burgers and coleslaw for dinner.

Sunday- Next Phase (20 & 30 somethings group at church) dinner.  Bring a watermelon to share.

Monday- Peppers and eggs.  I'm trying a new bread recipe.

Tuesday- Black bean soup with cilantro lime rice.  Bread.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

I'm good at timely blog posting! 

Monday- Stir fry with cabbage and green peppers.  Pan fried tofu.  Brown rice.

Tuesday- Tabouleh and salmon patties.

Wednesday- Crock pot white bean and carrot soup.  Garden tomatoes.

Thursday- Everything in strips to dip.  Chicken strips, potato wedges, raw green pepper slices.  At least dill yogurt dressing and ketchup to dip in.  Maybe something else, too, if the mood strikes me.

Friday- Homemade pizza.  Salad.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Roasted red pepper risotto, broccoli salad with lemon vinaigrette.  An extra garlic clove in everything tonight.  Mama wants some garlic.

Tuesday- Pan roasted beets and potatoes.  Fried eggs.  Celery and onion salad.  Muskmelon.  Big slices of cheap, huge muskmelon.

Wednesday- Pasta with red sauce. Carrots, possibly a carrot salad, but more likely just carrot sticks.

Thursday- Red lentil soup with sauteed onions and peppers.

Friday- Tacos.  Yay tacos!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Meal Plan Monday and Not St. Louis

I'm on vacation this week, sort of.  I got an invitation to go to St. Louis for a couple of days with a friend of mine.  It would have been the two of us ladies and four children between us.  I wasn't sure if it was a good idea: her youngest is 2 years older than The Munchkin, and they are both high energy boys.  I was worried that my kids would be tired and cranky before the end of day 1, that they wouldn't sleep at night because of said crankyness, and I would end up sitting in the hotel with them for most of day 2.  But a zoo!  And a museum!  And hanging out with a girlfriend!  It sounded like such fun! 

And then I remembered that I had volunteered to lead Bible study one night in the middle of the trip.  And then my friend's mother said she really wanted to go.  So the decision was made: I stayed home.

But after that conversation, I really wanted to do something fun.  So on Monday I planned a trip to the city.  And today we executed it!  I drove down to the near north-side, just me and the littles with a doublewide stroller and a couple bags of necessities.  We visited a farmer's market (including impromptu lesson on fiddle anatomy),  the Museum of Contemporary Art, a playground, and Millennium Park.

The Munchkin enjoyed the interactive art exhibits- which made me wish more of them were interactive- the Crown Fountain, and the big foam blocks at the Family Fun Fest.  The Baby enjoyed the Crown Fountain and the pigeons.  I was exhausted by the end of the day, and The Baby had a hard time going to bed after such excitement.  But I'm SO glad we did it.  And I hope my friend is having fun in St. Louis with her mom.

Monday- Eggplant parmigiana, spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce, salad.

Tuesday- Hot dogs.  And nothing else.  I know, right? 

Wednesday- Soba noodles, steamed carrots, and raw cucumbers with peanut sauce.

Thursday- Broccoli and potatoes with bacon.

Friday- Green and red bell pepper stir fry.  Over brown rice.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Today I Bought a Bikini

This is totally not a joke post.  I seriously bought a bikini today.  For myself.  To wear.  At the pool. 

I went to the splash park with the littles today.  And getting dressed for the excursion, I put on my one and only swimsuit.  The one I purchased 6 months after the birth of The Munchkin.  It's an old lady suit.  Not going to lie.  A big, ugly, full coverage, with a skirt, tankini. 
Fashion No-No.  Unless you're 80.  Then, by all means.
When I was pregnant the first time, I gained 60 pounds.  And somewhere in my head, I decided that whatever my body was like 6 months after giving birth, it was never going back.  Nobody told me 9 months on, 9 months off, which is what happened.  And, being a North American woman, I have always been insecure about my body anyway.  So shopping for a swimsuit that summer, I bought "coverage." 

Today, putting on all that coverage for a trip to the splash park with my adorable littles, I felt old.  I turned 29 this year, and that's made me feel old to start with.  But dressing up in what essentially amounts to a Lycra burqa, I felt old and frumpy. 
Totally hot.
 So I decided, I'm never going to be younger than I am now, and I'm never going to be thinner than I am now, and I'm never going to be prettier than I am now.  So NOW is the time to wear a bikini.  Ok, 10 years ago is the time to wear a bikini.  But I'm going to make up for lost time.

As per the genius suggestion of Modg and the fabulous ladies at Ain't No Mom Jeans, I'm going to rock my bikini with a white tank top.  It's so I look like the sporty, cool girl at the pool, and also so I don't cook like a lobster.  Or blind people with my white, white skin. Sorry, sorry.  This was supposed to be a "go me!" post, not a "pity my poor self-image" post.  I like my pasty white, post-childbearing, almost 30-year-old body.  Yes I do.  Or at least I'm going to fake it.

Also, The Hubby thinks this is the world's greatest idea.  Listening to 100 versions of the "Guy/Girl Talk"  notwithstanding, he's been cheering for the bikini since we got married.  So I've got that going for me.  Now all I need is the perfect pair of sandals and a breastfeeding friendly maxidress, and I'll be all set for this summer.  Go me.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Meal Plan Monday and My Grocery Spreadsheet

So The Hubby has switched his work schedule, and I now have the car on Wednesday instead of Thursday.  Why does that matter?  Let's discuss!

Probably 75% of my weekly food budget goes towards fresh produce.  However, with two littles, I am not interested in running to 3 or 4 grocery stores to pick up all of the best produce deals.  So, because we live in an area with intense grocery store competition, I've gotten into the habit of making a 10 minute spreadsheet with the weekly sales fliers.  I go through the fliers from the 3 or 4 stores I find typically run the best sales and jot down what produce they have on sale, and for what price.  The result looks a bit like this, only it's usually written on the back of an envelope which The Baby conveniently rescued from the recycling bin for me:

Store A Store B Store C
green peppers 59 c/lb
69 c/lb
red peppers 59c/lb

onions 33 c/lb 30 c/lb
plums 10 c/each

nectarines 79 c/lb 69c/lb

89 c/lb
cabbage 20 c/lb
50 c/each

Based on this imaginary scenario, I would decide to shop at Store A this week.  Yes, it's slightly more expensive for the nectarines and onions, but I'm only buying a few pounds of each, so for less than $2, it's not worth driving to another store.  We'll make do without peaches and cauliflower, because they're not on sale at Store A.  After deciding on A, I'll look to see what other staples for our cupboard they have on sale, and make a note to buy those (Penne at 79 cents a pound?  Deal!). 

Because A, B, and C also have different specialties, I'll also plan to buy whatever we like to buy from each place on a week when we're there.  (For example, A has a cheap deli and B does bulk dried fruit, so this week I'll buy extra cheese, and maybe next week we'll get some dates and raisins.)

Back to The Hubby... The best prices on produce are not at our local grocery store.  While it is possible for me to stroller to the closest place and back with both littles and a load of groceries, I'd pay at least a $30 premium on my produce each week for the privilege.  And as we HAVE a car, that's not a sensible trade-off.  But the sales run Wednesday through Tuesday, and the fliers come on Wednesday in the mail sometime between 11 and 1. 

So do I attempt shopping in the afternoon after naps and risk running out of time?  Or do I wake up The Baby early if it looks like she's sleeping longer?  Or do I try shopping on weekends again?  Or on the one evening a week when we don't have regularly scheduled plans?  Or do I just pick a store Wednesday morning and get what they have for a good price, even if it means picking wrong and only buying 2 or 3 things?  Or do I try another great plan that you, faithful reader, will suggest to solve my terrible first world problem?

Monday- Stir Fry with the thousand carrot and celery sticks leftover from The Baby's birthday party. 

Tuesday- Green salad with lemon vinaigrette.  Pasta with cilantro pesto.

Wednesday- Carrot soup with garlic cheese toast.

Thursday- Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage and egg "pancake).

Friday-  Risotto with zucchini, green pepper, and garden tomatoes.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Carrot slices, tomato salad, egg salad sandwiches on homemade bread.

Tuesday- Fried Rice.  Asian cabbage slaw.

Wednesday- Indian spiced pan-fried potatoes.   Salad with lettuce, cilantro, and garbanzo beans in cumin vinaigrette.

Thursday- Broccoli and pasta in garlic butter sauce, also maybe chicken.

Friday- White bean soup in the crock pot.  Bread and butter.  Tomatoes in olive oil and lemon juice.

Saturday we're having a birthday party for The Baby (who will soon need a new moniker on my blog: feel free to make suggestions).  It is cleverly scheduled from three to five PM, a time when no sensible person could possibly want a meal.  So I'm making cake, punch, a tray of veggies with dip, and coffee (or maybe coffee punch!) and calling it a day.  And we're playing stupid "Initial" themed games.  Get it?  Initial themed first birthday party?  I amuse myself!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Things Other People Love!

Who wants to read a blog post that consists entirely of me complaining about things other people love? 

The house we bought last spring is older, but the folks who lived here before us updated the kitchen.  Who doesn't love granite counter tops and ceramic tile floors?  ME!!  First off, we keep breaking dishes.  I've broken more bowls from my hand-me-down corelle ware in the year and a half of living here that during the 15 years I used them in my mom's kitchen.  Every time a dish drops, it shatters into a million pieces.  And I've got The Munchkin living with me, so you can bet dishes go dropping. 

Second, ceramic tile is no fun to stand on.  And I both like cooking and like feeding my small people home cooked food, so I do me some standing in the kitchen. 

Third, and this is what's really on my mind tonight, my granite is black with brownish streaks in it.  That in itself isn't too bad, but our cute little village is infested with ants.  And wouldn't you know?  Occasionally (multiple times every day) during the spring and summer, there are ants in my kitchen.  Do you know how disturbing it is when you're, for example, pouring yourself a glass of wine after spending 2 hours trying to get your teething baby to actually go to sleep all the way, and what you thought was just another piece of the counter top RUNS AWAY??    Bah! 

Also, speaking of lovely things, we've got this charming antique clock.  It belonged to The Hubby's father, and I am generally a fan of things with family history.  So I put it up in my dining room, where it looked darling sitting next to the one plant I haven't killed yet.  I enjoyed it for a few months that way, but then The Hubby, whom I love, got the stupid thing working.  Every time it chimes, I freak out!  As in, "Who the $#)(%$^*#$ is ringing the doorbell!?!?  They're going to WAKE UP THE BABY!!!"  Every time.  And it chimes every thirty minutes.  Like clockwork!  This has been going on for a week.  I'm about to loose my cotton picking mind!

Ok, I'm done.  You tell me something everyone else loves that YOU hate.  Go on.  I won't judge.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Homemade pizza.  Broccoli salad.  Apothic red wine. Table moved out to the front lawn.  Vase of daises and hydrangeas from the neighbor's garden.  Charming and fun right up until The Baby gets stung by a bee, right on the eyebrow.  That idea didn't pan out so well.

Tuesday- Pulled pork sandwiches with quick-pickled carrot slaw.  Roasted cauliflower. 

Wednesday- Fresh fruit salad.  Green pepper and pork frittata.  For whatever reason, The Hubby will not eat quiche.  But he's more than happy to have frittata.  Isn't that just semantics?  Not that I'm complaining.  I'll totally take it.  But still, I feel like that's a little strange.

Thursday- White bean chili.  Cold cucumber slices.  Is that a weird meal?  Probably.  We're eating it anyway.

Friday- Black beans and cilantro lime rice.  Tomato salad.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Lasagna, bread, guilt over too few vegetables, fresh peaches for dessert.

Tuesday- Green bean and chicken stir fry over rice.

Wednesday- Red beans and rice in the crock pot.  Sliced green peppers.

Thursday- Japanese noodle soup, with miso and sea weed!  Salad with avocado dressing.

Friday- Cauliflower soup with garlic croutons. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hey! We're Alive!

Guess whose power was knocked out by the big storm on Sunday?  I'll tell you!  A hundred and something degree heat and no fans, let alone air conditioning!  The Baby's teething!  And both The Hubby and The Munchkin were sick!  And we were camping in the basement!!  Double triple awesome week! 

The electric company, after days of messages that said "We'll let you know as soon as we can about your power, sorry," told us on Tuesday morning that we'd have power by midnight on the 4th, and we actually got power on Tuesday at dinner time.  So even though they left me and the kids melting to death for 3 days, I was HAPPY with them.  Look!  They got our power back on EARLY!  D'oh. 

This week we're eating random combinations of things that melted in the freezer during our improvised camping experience.  We'll get back to planning after a grocery shopping trip over the weekend.

In the meantime, if you're looking for a hilarious baby gift for the breastfeeding mama in your life, here it is!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Quinoa and peas with tomato sauce, topped with a fried egg.  I'm sort of in love with topping everything with fried eggs these days.  I'm also making bread in the breadmachine as I type.  I prefer the crust and shape of oven baking, but when it's hot, I would rather not run the oven.  The plan is to make myself a solar cooker this summer.  But I haven't done that yet. 

Tuesday- Panfried potatoes with garlic and oregano.  Polish sausage.  Coleslaw, the kind with a vinegar dressing instead of mayonnaise, which is apparently called carolina slaw.

Wednesday- Can one make a vegetarian lasagna in the crock pot?  I'm sure going to try!  We'll see how it goes!

Thursday- Matt and Margie for dinner.  The forecast says the high will be pushing 100, so that means burgers and salad.  No cooking inside.

Friday- Chicken salad sandwiches.  Carrot sticks.  General grumbling about the heat.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

So Satisfying!

Today in church the missionary who was speaking announced a game.  He needed 13 volunteers, people who weren't already holding papers.  But everyone was holding papers.  Except me and the Munchkin, who were out in the hallway where the wiggly Munchkin and yowly Baby wouldn't distract everyone.  A game, however, sounded great.  The Munchkin would hold a sign.  I would hold a sign.  What next?

Actually, it was more like an "exercise" than a "game."  As in, listen to a sentence about what the schedule said, and then listen to a paragraph about what really happened, and then move up or down one place in line depending on whether your assigned character would be more or less happy after that event.  Not a bad premise, but not terribly well exicuted.

And the longer things went on, the less inclined the Munchkin was to stand in his place and hold his sign.  And the longer things went on, the more the Baby fussed and yapped and generally made baby noises of one sort or another.  So I'm looking apologetically at my congregation, because while they are all good people, they don't adore my kids like I do.  Or rather, many of them don't think I reign in my kids quite well enough.  Too many baby noises upset them.  Stomping feet in the balcony prompt unkind comments.  And I've had quite enough criticism this week already.  Thanks!

I'm trying to (quietly! quietly!) corral the Munchkin as he sits and stands and flaps his sign and attempts to wander about and whispers loudly about inconsequential things.  I'm juggling the Baby, so as to maybe calm her down.  Not happy on my back, maybe my front?  Are you crying yourself to sleep?  Please hush!  Please kids!

Finally, the game is over.  I can retreat to the back hallway again.  I'm embarrassed.  I'm not looking forward to the chit chat after church.  And after the service ends, one of the older ladies approaches me.  Oh no, I think, but it becomes immediately clear that this conversation isn't what I was expecting.  She effuses: The Munchkin is charming, and he behaved so well!  The Baby is too cute!  What a beautiful job I did juggling her to try and keep her happy!  I'm a good mom!  My kids are great kids! 

I was flabbergasted.  Dumbfounded.  Struck speechless.  Thank you, dear dear woman.  You made my month!  Sometimes, a little affirmation does the heart good. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Red pepper and mushroom risotto. Focaccia (Incidentally, this may well be the worst batch of bread I've ever made.  But it's edible, so it will be eaten).  Pan fried Italian sausages.

Tuesday-Asian coleslaw. Garlic lime talapia.

Wednesday- Pot smashed potatoes with garlic and lemon.  Sauteed Zucchini with oregano.  Chicken with garlic and onions.

Thursday- Rotini with white beans in home made tomato sauce.

Friday- Kebabs with meatballs and various summer veggies.  I do each skewer with one thing on it (meatballs only, say, or just green peppers), because otherwise your mushrooms are charred by the time your peppers are cooked, or you're serving raw peppers with cooked mushrooms.  You could re-thread everything in prettier order after cooking, but we take the skewers out to serve anyway.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day & A Recipe (of sorts)

We bought a house early last year with an almost-but-not-quite dead cherry tree in the back yard.  It produced an abundance of spring blossoms but no fruit last summer, and we decided it's sad, diseased self had to go.  Plans were made, a chainsaw was borrowed, and on Mother's Day of this year, we set out to put it out of its misery.  At which point I noticed that it was LOADED with fruit. 

Now, I have a neighbor who felt no compunction about ripping out his weed-choked lilacs two weeks before they were in full bloom, but I could not justify killing off that dying tree right before its cherries ripened.  So it sat for a few more weeks.  Wednesday I picked a few cherries, and they were ripe and lovely.  But dying is dying, so we cut down the cherry tree, and I harvested its lovely swan song sour cherries.

I wanted to take some pictures of the summer sun shining through beautiful carmine cherries nestled among emerald leaves, but I couldn't find my camera.  Which is probably just as well.  It's a cheap little point-and-click, so it wouldn't do justice to the effect.  And then I'd get frustrated, and you'd end up being subjected to lousy pictures anyway.  Someday I shall invest in a DSLR.  But not today, friends, not today.

Also, we figured out why the tree was dying!  Carpenter ants had eaten a big tunnel straight up through the trunk, and presumably down into the roots as well.  At least it wasn't some contagious fungus or something, because we've got both a bing cherry in the backyard and some nanking cherries in the front, and we would hate to have all of those die.

On to the recipe, which isn't really a recipe, it's more like a technique.  Or not even really a technique.  Realistically, it's an idea about food.  But isn't that better than a mere recipe?  (No.)

Cherry Bounce

Pit a bucket full of sour cherries from your poor chopped off tree. Literally, an ice cream bucket is good.  Otherwise, use a plastic bowl.  Or some glass canning jars. 
Cover the cherries with vodka.  You could use something else, but it will end up mostly tasting like cherries, and vodka is cheap.
Pour in some sugar.  It's easier to add more than to take some out, but the sugar helps as a preservative (due to cell osmosis!  I learned something in science class!), so don't be too skimpy.  Maybe a 1/4 cup per cup of cherries would do the trick.  But if you like your booze sweet, go crazy.
Stir everything together and stick it in the fridge.
Stir every day or two for a week or so, and then stuff it all the way back so that it can sit happily while you go on about your life. 
When you discover the cherries again in a month or two, they will be amazing.  The liquid is still mostly vodka, so don't feed it to small children or eat an entire jar by yourself.  Mix your cherry bounce with soda (7up or coke sound great) or pour it over dessert (vanilla ice cream or chocolate cake sound amazing).
Enjoy until you run out in the dead of winter.  Think about June when you can get your hands on some sour cherries again.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Curried carrot soup. Bread. Yogurt-Cucumber salad.

Tuesday- Burgers.  Green beans, lightly cooked in olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper.

Wednesday- Homemade pizza (we might try this on the grill).  Marinated bell peppers.

Thursday- Jamaican Me Crazy Beef Penne. (Brown and drain ground beef.  In the pan drippings, brown an onion, 1-2 bell peppers, and a whole lot of garlic.  Add tomatoes, carrots, worchtershire sauce, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and vinegar.  Dump generous servings over cooked penne and serve with hot sauce.  Lots and lots of hot sauce.)

Friday- Garlic-lime chicken.  Cranberry salsa.  Salad.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- The boys ate burgers with the neighbors across the street while I went to a fitness class.  I haven't worked out like that since high school.  Holy cats, I'm going to be sore tomorrow.

Tuesday- The last youth group night of the school year.  Tacos, because The Hubby loves them so and has requested.  But I'm not making my own tortillas for that big a crowd.  Thank you, El Milagro.

Wednesday- Pasta in lemon cream sauce with sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and chicken.  Bread, if I use up the last of the loaf making sandwiches.  Vegetables?  Do we have any vegetables?

Thursday- I'll have a clearer idea after grocery shopping today, but we're having people over, so dinner should be somewhat nice, right?  How about homemade pizza and a big chopped salad.  That sounds seasonal!  Maybe some kind of fruit and whipped cream based dessert.

Friday- Italian sausage and peppers.  Bread, either fresh today or from Wednesday.  Does this meal need a side dish?

Not Recanting

A girlfriend called me up today and in the course of our conversation, she called me out on my last post.  She asked if I really am advocating talking about all the moms we disagree with behind their backs.  And the short answer is, no, not exactly.  I'm not really taking a pro-gossip stance here.  Remember, in a perfect world we'd all peacefully and graciously agree to disagree and refrain from even thinking anything mean about other moms' parenting decisions.  However, realistically, never ever commenting on parenting you disagree with pretty much takes a graduate degree in if-you-can't-say-anything-nice-don't-say-anything-at-all.  So, that being said, I accept that moms will disagree with each other less than amicably on some points.  Fair enough.  But how about, instead of yelling at each other about those points, or making nasty comments under our breath when we know the other mom is in earshot, we just don't say anything at all, at least until we get home from the party.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mama Manifesto

In a perfect world, we would all acknowledge that there is no one "right" way to parent a child.  We would all admit that every parenting philosophy out there is an attempt to answer the same question: How do I raise a reasonably happy, reasonably healthy, reasonably well adjusted child given the fact that all resources are limited?  In a perfect world we could all admit that we have limits to our money, time, and patience.  We could agree that every mom has to make her own decisions, based on what makes sense for her and her family at that moment in time.  In a perfect world we could even confess that we don't know everything, and we are biased by our own experiences.

In that world, every mother would be able to agree to disagree and would be able to make her decisions without being defensive.  Because the truth is, any child raised by a loving mother who makes the best decisions she can with the knowledge and resources that she has available can turn out reasonably happy, reasonably healthy, and reasonably well adjusted.  Yes, every philosophy has its flaws.  And, yes, every parent will make mistakes. But, NO, that doesn't mean that we should fight over what's best or who's better.  In a perfect world, mamas of every stripe would support each other in acknowledging the struggles and triumphs and joys of motherhood.

I'll admit, though, our world is far from perfect.  So I'll settle for something slightly less ambitious.  How about this: Go ahead and criticize the way I parent, but please do it behind my back.

I am already fairly well aware of the mean and snippy things you are going to say (who does that? that's disgusting!), and none of those comments is going to change my mind.  I'm also sure that you've heard all of my responses before (lots of people, including me. no, it's not!), and none of them is going to change your mind.  So let's just save ourselves the headache.  How about we tolerate each other quietly, and then complain to our husbands later tonight.  I'm pretty sure they'll be a more sympathetic audience.  Deal?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

The Hubby and I went to a wedding yesterday.  The kids had a sitter, and we had a blast hanging out, just the two of us.  However, that did mean that the kids were up until 10 pm.  And because it was hot, neither of them really took a nap Sunday.  And today was even hotter.  So they were crabby.  So we were crabby.  Yesterday was really a lot of fun.  Was today worth it?  Hard to say.  Will we do it again in the future?  Probably.  The accounting counts for fairly little three months after the last exhausted disaster of a day.  Sometimes you just need a night out.  Seriously.

Monday- Coleslaw and a veggie tray for the Memorial Day BBQ.

Tuesday- Youth group night.  Burgers, coleslaw, grilled potatoes. 

Wednesday- Pasta with roasted red pepper cream sauce.  (I will not use a recipe or measure.  Sauteed onions and garlic plus a jar of roasted red peppers plus heavy cream plus parmesan.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Substituted "a jar of anything that's tasty on its own and possibly vaguely Italian" for the red peppers, and you've got yourself a pantry staple winner.  Yes, heavy cream counts as a pantry staple in this house.  If there's no coffee or no cream to go in it, that's an emergency on par with our toilet breaking while we're away at a Memorial Day BBQ and pouring gallons of water down our laundry chute.  Boo Monday.

Thursday-Lentils and rice with Indian spice.

Friday- Tacos.  The Hubby loves him some tacos.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- I didn't actually make the new potatoes with green beans last week, so I'll do that today.

Tuesday- youth group night.  Pasta with pumpkin cream sauce.  Salad.

Wednesday- Chicken stir fry with cabbage and mushrooms.  Over brown rice.

Thursday- Linda for dinner!  As a guest, not the main dish.  It's supposed to be hot, so a big chef's salad seems in order.  Lots of chopped veggies topped with cubes of roast beef and cheese.  Lemon-garlic dressing, the house favorite.  Bread would be good, although I don't want to further heat up the house, and I have gone without buying bread since December (yay me!), so we'll see.  Maybe I'll make a batch yesterday.  Or use the breadmaker.

Friday- Dinner out with The Hubby's Aunt and Uncle.  I'll make pasta with sauce from a jar for the kiddos.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

I keep thinking of topics on which I should blog, and then not getting to it.  Clearly this is not a big enough priority in my life.  C'est la vie.

Monday- bread, mushroom risotto, peas, fried eggs.  I tried the covered pot risotto technique.  It didn't turn out.  It was rice with stuf in it, but not the creamy delight of risotto.  Did I do it wrong, or is it just not as effective as advertised?

Tuesday- Youth group night.  More bread, marinated cucumber salad, Santa Fe Pasta Salad (Toss your cooked, cooled pasta with already cooked or canned black beans, cumin, olive oil, diced onion, diced green pepper, minced garlic, fresh or frozen corn, chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, and a ton of fresh lime juice.  You can also add hot pepper sauce, if you like, but I'm not going to.  Taste and adjust until you feel happy.)

Wednesday- Crock pot beef roast with, you know, the vegetables that go with a beef roast.  Also maybe salad?  I've got one in the freezer.  A roast, that is, not a salad.  And it's getting to be beyond the acceptable season for roasting.

Thursday- So I need to start doing the grocery shopping on Thursday, as Thursday is the only day I have the car, and with 2 little kids, multiple stroller-based runs to the market each week are simply frustrating (out of milk and it's raining?  Well that's just too bad, isn't it?).  But that means I'll have to change the meal plan routine.  Not that this routine is working particularly well, but changing the date for menu planning means I should change around the whole weekly chore schedule.  I need structure, clearly.  Let me get back to you on that when my daughter isn't trying to eat left-under risotto from the dining room floor.

Friday- Green beans and new potatoes.  (This recipe doesn't look too bad, but I know right now I'll be using bacon instead of the salt pork.  Other modifications are probable.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Boo!!! My latest meal plan deleted itself.  Now I've got to remember what I wanted to cook...

Monday- Split pea soup.

Tuesday- Dilly green beans with tomatoes and polish sausage.  Over rice.

Wednesday- Lentils with fried onions.  Coconut rice.  Bread!  We've had no bread since Friday.  This is getting ridiculous.

Thursday- Black bean quesidillas with Super Cilantro Guacamole.

Friday- Grilled chicken.  Marinated vegetables.  German potato salad.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Today I melted the plastic handle of a pot while cooking with two burners on my stove.  Nothing like the smell of acrid evil to brighten up dinner prep!

Monday- Eggplant with Indian spices.  Over macaroni.  Because I started too late to make brown rice, and I was out of white rice.  Don't judge me!

Tuesday- Youth group night.  Baked potato bar.  Carrots.  Something dessert-related, maybe?  Cookies?  Jelly beans?

Wednesday- Black Bean Cassoulet.  (This recipe is from a 1970's potluck cookbook.  It's kind of hilarious..... "Originally from France, where it's made with white beans and duck, cassoulet travels to the American Southwest! Now it boasts black beans, pork, and bold seasonings!"  So, basically, this has nothing to do with cassoulet?  Except it's a casserole?  And they've both got beans.  Ok, deal.)

Thursday- Hamburgers on the grill.  Salad.  So cliche, but it's time for grilling, my friends.

Friday- Egg and chorizo tortillas.  Mmmmmmmm...  Green bean salad (marinated with white wine vinegar, some herbs, mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper).  Just a quick rant: I refuse to write EVOO, even though it's faster than writing out "olive oil."  "EVOO" is a catch phrase, and I will not be sucked into it. Darn you Rachel Ray and your trendy thing that everyone does!

Hey!  This is what we're doing right now.  Instead of dates.  Or eating out.  Or anything!  We're paying a baby sitter slave wages every week to watch our kids while we talk about money.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Veggie Lasagna and bread.

Tuesday- Youth group night.  Spicy chicken and rice casserole.  Have I already given you this recipe?  Already cooked chicken, sauteed onions, carrots, celery, brown rice, a can of pickled jalapenos including the "juice," and enough boiling water to make the correct amount when combined with the jalapeno "juice."  Put it all in a casserole dish big enough to hold it.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or an hour, until the rice is done.  Top with cheese.  Pop back in the oven until melty and bubbly.  I try not to cook with prepared foods, and in fact believe that when prepared foods are involved, it's not really cooking.  But this is so tasty!  If you wanted to use your own homemade pickled jalapenos, that would solve everything.  I'll get right on that for the next time...

Wednesday- Pasta with kalamata olives.  This recipe looks good, if I can scrounge up half a lemon before Wednesday. 

Thursday- Cauliflower and chick pea curry, coconut rice.  After reading this story.  I love you, NPR (Radio for smart people!(TM)  Honestly, who came up with the idea of a weekly comedy quiz show about the news?  Honestly!)

Friday- Baked Potato Nachos.  I wanted to say pizza, but sadly, my pizza stone broke.  It lasted for 8 years, but still!  I want to make pizza, and it just isn't the same without the crispness a properly heated pizza stone imparts.  Woe is me!  At least until I find forty bucks and a pampered chef salesperson.  (Is there a "First World Problems" hash tag?  There should be.  (I clearly do not understand twitting...))

I feel like there are too many parenthases in this post.  I'll remove some.
Still too many.   I removed 4 sets, though.  Umm...  Sorry.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Meal Plan Monday and a Garden Update

We got our plants on Friday!  This weekend the Hubby and I installed 2 Saskatoon bushes (to hide the compost bin and provide delicious berries in a few years) and 2 Red Haven peach trees.  I'm excited!  The pecan tree is still in a bucket, because it rained cats and dogs on Sunday, starting right about the time we tried to start putting the plants in.  Oh, and also we went on a date Sunday night, and it seemed like a good idea for the dirty ones to shower before we hit the theater.  Amazing date night!

On to what's cooking:
Monday- Cabbage stir-fry with udon noodles.  Pan fried tofu?

Tuesday- Black bean and chorizo soup.  Bread.

Wednesday- Pork Tacos.

Thursday- Butter chicken (with a spice mix from the Indian grocery store), salad, rice

Friday- Twice baked potatoes, roasted cauliflower

Monday, April 9, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Ham and potato casserole.  Baked sweet potatoes.  Bread.  Cherry tomatoes.

Tuesday- Bean soup with greens, made with the ham bone.  Bread, if I get the house cleaned in time.  i tell you, having my parents in town for 4 days is a great time.  But by the time they leave, my living room is a disaster.

Wednesday- Chana Masalla.  You know, spicy chickpea curry as a detox from the ham.

Thursday- Pasta with broccoli and spicy sausage.  Because one day without a dead pig is enough.

Friday- Veggie fried rice, loaded with veggies.

What are you eating this week?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

A girlfriend called me on Saturday and told me she assumed things were crazy here, as I have not posted menus in a few weeks.  And my phone subsequently died 2 minutes into the conversation.  Communication fail.  But then my husband bought me a new wireless router Saturday night, so I can get on the laptop again!  It's just so much harder to post a menu from the desktop.  Mostly because it leaves my back to the room, so the littles can destroy things while I type.

Don't I sound cranky?  I'm not really.  Not mostly.  Onward and upward! 

Monday- Risotto cakes topped with fried eggs. Broccoli salad. Fresh bread.
Last week I made the beet risotto from this book.  I LOVE the book, and have lent it to a half a dozen friends.  And the risotto was gorgeous: a beautiful carmine color, flecked through with bright bits of just-cooked greens.  However, I found it somewhat lacking.  The flavor was overly sweet, and a bit one-note for my taste.  Also, the texture ended up less creamy than a typical risotto.  But I used a lot of beets, and made a big batch, so I have lots of not-so-exciting leftover beet risotto.  I shall try to reincarnate it with more Parmesan and heavily salt-and-peppered olive oil fried eggs.  If it's still not delicious, I'll give up. 

Tuesday- Youth group night.  Per student request, we will have split pea soup again.

Wednesday- Stir fried cabbage with Chinese pork roast, served over rice. 

Thursday- Spaghetti and meatballs.  I'll be using the frozen meatballs I made last week.  Maybe a salad, but also possibly not.

Friday- Good Friday.  There's a service, and it's not at our church, so we need something grab-and-go for The Hubby.  Coleslaw and roast pork wraps. 
No, it's totally not the same thing as Wednesday.  Then the cabbage was cooked and the pork had a shiny ginger based glaze on it.  Today the cabbage is raw in a creamy dill flavored sauce and the pork is simply seasoned with wine and herbs.   Ok, I slow cooked one pork roast (white wine, bay leaves, whole peppercorns, salt, garlic, and onions), and this is the third incarnation.  The first was pork tacos with cilantro pesto and red peppers.  International pig!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Rattatoullie

Tuesday- Youth group night.  Parsnip, carrot, and ginger soup.  Curried rice.  Salad.

Wednesday- Greek Chicken over brown rice. More salad.  My Mom's Greek chicken recipe involves baking chicken with some quantity of olives, tomatoes, lemon, onions, and oregano, and then adding feta cheese after it's all cooked.

Thursday- Dinner at a friend's.  I'll bring dessert.

Friday- Beet soup, broccoli salad, and bread.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Homemade raviolli, courtesy of Grandma. Red sauce and peas.

Tuesday- Youth Group night.  Chicken and veggie soup.

Wednesday- Soup Supper at a church.  This is a Lent tradition: we crash a soup supper at a different church as many Wednesdays as possible.  We've done it since The Munchkin was born.  It's a good chance to meet people.  And it's amusing to see the reactions of different congregations.

Thursday- Vegetarian lasagna.  I'm kinda on a lasagna kick... I'm sorry for having essentially the same thing the 4th week in a row.  It's just so good!  I can't help it. 

Friday- Mushroom and chicken risotto. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Pepper beef over rice.  Coleslaw, at The Munchkin's request.

Tuesday- Split pea and ham soup.  Bread.

Wednesday- Eggplant lasagna. 

Thursday- Wilted spinach salad with Dijon dressing.  Chicken fingers.  Pan fried potatoes.

Friday- Pizza and broccoli salad.

The nice thing about only having one child with food preferences is that I can make him foods he requests at quite regular intervals.  It also helps that he mostly asks for vegetables.  Lucky me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent With Little Children

The Munchkin is three this year, and The Baby is, of course, a baby.  But I feel like three is old enough to start doing something meaningful for Lent.  Last year I felt like two was old enough to start doing something for Lent, but I was overwhelmed enough with school and work and pregnancy tiredness that we didn't actually get "something" off the ground.

The Hubby and I have historically given something up.  Memorable years include the year we gave up buying things and going to retail stores (we cheated by using a gas card, but I still had to get to work).  And the year we gave up meat (funny enough, that was the year our pastor served bacon during the Easter Sunday service).  But since having kids, I've done less dramatic things, like last year when I gave up Facebook before 9:00 pm.  Don't laugh!  It was a sacrifice for me.  We also occasionally take something on.  Last year instead of checking facebook, I did the divine hours.

This year, as a family, we're giving up TV and videos.  Including YouTube.  While The Munchkin doesn't watch much TV, he loves YouTube, and probably twice a week we watch a few videos after breakfast.  And The Hubby and I spend a good number of evenings on Hulu.  We've also taken on a memory verse.  Just one, but that's enough for The Munchkin.

I'm working on figuring out how to rotate a picture with this program... Forgive me.

Here's our tactile, visual Lenten calendar.  The Munchkin painted construction paper, and we punched out the flowers together.  We have one flower for each day of Lent.  Each night at dinner, The Munchkin will take one flower off of the window and put it in the jar.  Then The Hubby will lead a responsive reading of the memory verse: 1 John 4:10.

What are you doing for Lent this year?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Boo!  Deleted post.

So I made a meal plan last week, but I did it on a slip of paper.  And then I lost the slip of paper.  So the only thing that totally got made off of the meal plan was a kick butt veggie lasagna, with good wine and dessert even, for a Friday Valentine's Day meal with my beautiful family.  This is why I need to blog about my meal plans: it's so much harder to lose a blog. 

Monday- We were supposed to have company, but then that got canceled after dinner was already going.  Salad w/lemon garlic dressing, pea risotto, salmon burgers.  Delicious.

Tuesday- Crock pot black bean chili and bread.

Wednesday- Pork roast (in the crock pot if I get it washed before lunch time).  Sauteed onions and green peppers.  Homemade tortillas.  Guacamole, cheese, sour cream, salsa.  (This seems ambitious for how crabby the baby has been lately.  She's cut 2 teeth in the last week, and as a result has been miserable and sleepless.  If Wednesday is a meltdown of a day the way Monday was, we may just have waffles and sliced bananas for dinner instead.)

Thursday- Beet soup.  Bread.  Or maybe I'll do bread tomorrow instead.  My son has been asking for beet soup for a week.  Who am I to say no?

Friday- Rescheduled company for dinner.  Mustard chicken, roasted garlic potatoes, acorn squash.  Thy might bring salad.  If they don't, I'll probably microwave some peas.

Meal Plan Monday

I made a meal plan last week on a slip of paper, and then I promptly lost it.  I tried to recreate the darn thing all week long from memory, but heaven knows that didn't go too well.  This is why I need this space...  To keep my head on straight!  I did, however, make a fantastic vegetarian lasagna and served it as part of a romantic dinner with wine and even berry pie for dessert.  It was Valentine's Day on Friday.

Monday- Wilsons for dinner.  Risotto, salad, salmon cakes. Banana cake with dark chocolate sauce.

Tuesday- Black bean chili and bread.

Wednesday- Crock pot pulled pork, roasted peppers and onions.  Home made tortillas.  Guacamole, cheese, sour cream, salsa.

Thursday- Beet soup

Friday- Baked chicken and potatoes.  And broccoli salad.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Peppers and Eggs on homemade buns.

Tuesday- Youth Group Night.  Spaghetti with homemade red sauce.  Some students are bringing cupcakes for dessert.  Hooray!

Wednesday- Thai vermicelli salad with marinated chicken.

Thursday- Bean soup.  Broccoli salad.  Toast.  (It would be fresh bread, but I accidentally made a triple batch instead of a double batch of dough on Monday.)

Friday- Homemade pizza night!  Woo hoo!  Salad.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Crock pot roast beef with onions, potatoes, and carrots.  Frozen peas.

Tuesday- Youth Group Night.  Stir fried vegetables and chick pea curry with rice.

Wednesday- Baked potato fries topped with leftover beef, guacamole, cheese, and cilantro-green onion salad.

Thursday- Mushroom and red pepper risotto.  Bread today or tomorrow.

Friday- Pasta with fried onions and herbs.  Salad.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012 Homemaking goal- Periodic tasks

Holy cats there are a lot of things I'm supposed to do to keep my house clean!  I referenced Martha Stewart's website, and she says I should wash my baseboards every month.  Wash my baseboards!  Monthly!  That's hilarious.

But seriously now, since I have one day a week scheduled for periodic tasks, I made a list of periodic tasks.  I've arranged them roughly in order of how frequently they should be done.  As in, I know I'm not going to change my sheets every week the way Martha recommends, but I aspire to change them twice a month.  But cleaning out the gutters only needs to be done twice a year, but could be done once a season.  And steam cleaning the carpet can be an annual thing, especially if I'm staying on top of the vacuuming.  So the goal is...

Hopefully more than once a month:
Change sheets
Sweep and mop basement

Once a month-ish:
Run "clean" cycle on washing machine
Clean light switch plates
Wash insides of windows

Probably once a quarter:
Wash blankets and quilts
Clean couches
Clean inside of fridge
Clean inside of freezer
Remove lint from dryer hose
Vacuum refridgerator coils
Wipe baseboards, moldings, and trim
Clean ceiling fans
Clean out gutters

Once a year or so:
Wash windows
Wash Screens
Steam clean carpets
Wash walls
Reseal stone surfaces
Reseal grout
Repaint or touch up painted surfaces

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Planning My Garden

I want to plant at least 2 new edible plants on my property every year until we are entirely self-sufficient or my kids move away from home, whichever comes first.  Perennials are best, as I'm not such a good gardener.  Last year we did three rhubarb plants and three nanking cherries.  One of each died.  I told you, I'm not such a good gardener.

  This year it looks like we're planting a hardy pecan, two dwarf bush apricots, and two saskatoons.  The munchkin also wants a basil plant of his own, and Hubby will probably request tomatoes.  And we're going to try to find a neighbor who wants a pecan so they can cross pollinate.

Are you gardening his year?  What are you planting?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- Casserole with Chinese eggplant, rice, cheese, and red wine tomato sauce.  Sauteed broccoli, if the baby cooperates at dinner time.  Frozen peas if she doesn't.

Tuesday- Youth Group night.  Spiral cut ham,  acorn squash, baked potatoes, and Fantastic Cauliflower (wash a whole head of cauliflower, coat it with a thin layer of mayonnaise, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, bake until soft).  Hams were on super sale for after Christmas.  I'll admit it.

Wednesday-  Pasta with pumpkin and lentils, inspired by leftover pumpkin, which led to this blog post, which led to a riff on this recipe.  Definitely extra sharp cheddar instead of feta, though.

Thursday- Fried rice with some of that leftover ham (or chicken from the freezer).  Broccoli salad with lemon dressing (I prefer my broccoli chopped smaller than bite sized, but do what you will.  I recommend either making a few hours in advance or steaming the broccoli for 15 seconds in the microwave so that it doesn't taste raw.  Crush one clove of garlic with a generous amount of salt.  Mix with half a lemon worth of lemon juice and some zest from said lemon.  Add about the same amount of olive oil as you have lemon juice.  Grind in a bunch of pepper.  Dip the broccoli in the dressing to taste it and adjust until you like it.  Mix everything all together.  You can add some dried cranberries and lightly toasted almonds or sunflower seeds to fancy it up.  I am seriously addicted.)

Friday- Ham and bean soup and bread.  (I actually ended up making risotto instead of soup last Friday.  And the munchkin really wants bean soup.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 Homemaking goal- The weekly plan

I'm trying it out or the rest of the month, but my preliminary thoughts are:

Monday- Clean the kitchen and write the week's meal plan.  This includes wiping down the fronts of the cabinets and surface cleaning the appliances.  I'll clean the shelves in the fridge periodicly, but not weekly.

Tuesday- Clean both bathrooms.

Wednesday- Mop and vacuum the main floor.  Vacuum upstairs at least every other week.

Thursday- Catch up on Laundry.

Friday- One to Three periodic tasks.  I'll post those later.

Weekend- Grocery shop.

I know there are more tasks that would be ideal to do every week.  But that would be getting too ambitious.  For now, this is enough.  And it'll keep the house presentably clean.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Monday- leftover chicken; whole wheat vermicelli; and salad of carrots, peppers, and cilantro with nuoc cham.

Tuesday- Youth group night.  Chicken noodle soup.  Bread.

Wednesday- Baked ham, squash, and garlic-rosemary potatoes.  Frozen peas.

Thursday- Casserole with cheese sauce over leftover ham and potatoes.  Assorted veggies

Friday-  Black Bean soup with Chipotle chilis.  Bread.  Carrot sticks.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Homemaking goal- The daily plan

There are certain tasks which will need to be done in my home every day if I want to stay on top of the mess.  For example, there's no way to vacuum in a livingroom with toys all over the floor.  And if I have to start from a giant disaster cleaning up toys, I won't get to the actual vacuuming part.  So if the daily routine keeps the house tolerably clean and tidy, I'll be able to get the more involved cleaning tasks done more often.

As I cook almost every day and I definitly feed my family at home every day, I need to wash dishes daily.  I also cloth diaper and clothe 2 messy kiddos, so our family produces a bare minimum of 7 loads of laundry a week.  The munchkin is  a messy eater (big surprise), so I have to sweep up bread crumbs and Cheerios every day.  And of course, the toys, coats, books, and general accumulated personal items that say "There are people living here!" all need to be dealt with.  I think everyone should be responsible for their own personals, though.  So the munchkin can pick up his own toys, and everyone can hang up their own coats, and whoever used that blanket can fold it and put it away, and it should all be done before bedtime.

Our general clutter collectors are the kitchen counter, the dining room table, and Hubby's desk, so those need to be cleaned off constantly.  As clutter tends to breed, one envelope left on the counter soon has 5 baby reciepts, and those reciepts produce a dish full of screws and 15 coupons within a day, and then the coupons have a litter of pop cans, and it just spirals out of control.  So I need to clean off the table, counter, and desk both morning and evening. 

As the desk is mostly Hubby's stuff, and I don't feel comfortable just dealing with it, I have created a "Things to Do" file in the filing cabinet.  Hubby's papers that I don't know exactly where to put them will be filed for his perusal.  Hopefully that don't result in major problems.  We'll see.

So with that too much information!!!

The morning routine (while preparing and immediately after breakfast):
Empty the dishwasher and dish drainer.
Sort dirty laundry.  Wash and dry one load before noon.
Clean off the kitchen counters, dining room table, and desk.

The evening routine (beginning immediately after dinner):
Sweep and spot clean the kitchen and dining room floors.
Load dishwasher and wash dishes.
Fold and put away laundry.
Enter reciepts into our budget program.
Clean off the kitchen counters, dining room table, and desk.
Pick up personals.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Resolutions 2012

I prefer to think of them as New Year's goals.  And I prefer that they be SMART.  Yay acronym!  SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time delineated.  OK, so attainable and realistic are pretty much the same thing, but SMAT isn't nearly as catchy, and SMRT reminds me too much of the Simpsons. 

Because it's rewarding for me to be able to say "Yes, I completed this goal" and check it off of my list, I do better at actually completing my resolutions when they are SMART.   So without further ado, here they are:

1. HOME- Create a house cleaning plan and follow it at least 25 days a month so everything gets cleaned on a semi-regular basis.

2. HUSBAND- Go on at least two blogable "dates" per month February through November.

3. CHILDREN- Take my kids to a museum, conservatory, or zoo at least 6 times.

4. EXTENDED FAMILY- Make all of the non-food 2012 Christmas gifts before November 30th.

5. CAREER- Find contact hours or private practice clients to fill at least 8 hours a month by July 1st.

6. EDUCATION- Finish my last class and thesis to graduate from my masters program.

7. PHYSICAL- Learn a 15 minute workout routine I can do while wearing the baby in a wrap by the end of January.  Do it at least once a day, 5 days a week thereafter.

8. SPIRITUAL- Read the Divine Hours prayers with my children in the morning 5 days a week more weeks than not.

9. SOCIAL- Host at least 4 parties with over 12 guests.