Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WFMW- Pre Cook Your Dinner

When I was a work outside the home mom, I very frequently made dinner the night before. Whatever we were cooking would get made after my son was tucked into bed. My husband would finish preparing dinner (or just heat it up) when he got home the following evening. I generally stuck to things like casseroles or skillet meals that didn't suffer from the delay in cooking. The crock pot was also a huge help- if I made something in the crock pot, he didn't even have to cook anything- it was there ready for him.

I thought that this practice was a thing of the past when I became a SAHM. After all, I would have all day to cook delicious, healthy, maybe even gourmet meals for my little family! HA! After the first dinner disaster that left the kitchen messy, me annoyed that things didn't work so well and the baby cranky because he didn't get enough attention, I realized that I was not done with my practice of pre-cooking my meals! I no longer make things the night before, but as soon as the little man is in his bed for his afternoon nap, I am chopping, measuring and mixing whatever I need for dinner that night. Here are some of my pre-cooking tips:

  • Put water for pasta on the stove. I don't cook the pasta in the afternoon, but I will prepare the pot so all I have to do it turn the water on to boil and throw in the pasta. This seems like such a small thing, but when you have a baby literally climbing up your legs, every little bit helps!
  • For casseroles like chicken pot pie or lasagna, I will get everything assembled up to the point it goes into the oven, then let it hang out in the fridge for the afternoon. I add a few minutes to the cooking time since it's starting out cold.
  • It's amazing how easy cooking even a complicated dish becomes when everything is measured, chopped and ready to go! If I am chopping onion for a dish, I chop the entire thing even if I don't need it all. The leftovers go in the fridge for another night.
  • Potatoes for mashed potatoes can be peeled and diced, then placed in a pot of cold water for a few hours. When you are ready to cook them, just turn on the burner and go.
  • Peel, chop or otherwise prepare your vegetables ahead of time, then just steam or roast them right before dinner.
  • When I make something in the crockpot, I try to make a double batch and freeze the other half. When it comes time to reheat, it goes from the freezer back into the crock pot on low for the afternoon. It's ready for dinner whenever we are.
How do you make dinnertime easier at your house?

As always, for more great Works for Me Wendnesday tips, visit We Are That Family!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Grilled Potato Slices with Salt and Vinegar

I got a free subscription to Martha Stewart Living a while back. I like to look at the pretty pictures, but that's generally as far as I get with Martha. We are just not on the same page with housekeeping, cooking, gardening, any of it. I don't have the time or energy to devote to following her advice. But then I saw this recipe... Grilled Potato Slices with Salt and Vinegar. Seemed easy enough- slice fingerling potatoes, parboil in vinegar and finish cooking on the grill. I LOVE salt and vinegar potato chips and this cooking method seemed to be something I could handle, so I tried it.

I boiled the potatoes in vinegar and the whole house smelled for DAYS. The potatoes were so vinegary that they were barely edible. Many of them fell through the grate of the grill and they didn't cook in the time Martha promised! I was disappointed, but not ready to give up... I thought maybe if I diluted the vinegar and roasted the potatoes instead of trying to do them on the grill, we might get somewhere. So I tried again for Father's Day... Here is my version:

1 lb red bliss potatoes, cut in quarters or eighths
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
generous pinch salt

Bring potatoes, vinegar and salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan (liquid should cover potatoes). Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer potatoes until just fork tender, about 10 minutes. Let potatoes cook in vinegar for 20 minutes or so. Drain well, and gently toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil and pepper.

Place potatoes on cookie sheet and roast in 400 degree oven for 25 minutes or so until golden brown and yummy.

So this time, I didn't think that the potatoes had enough vinegar flavor, but my husband still thought they had too much. They seemed to have more flavor when they were hot, but less flavor when they cooled down. Does this make any sense? Any ideas on how I could actually make this recipe work?? Thanks!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Letting Go...

This is the post that I read first thing this morning. (HUGE thanks to Missy at It's Almost Naptime for her Wednesday Link Love, among other things!) So this is the post that I read almost first thing this morning, after walking by my dirty dishes multiplying in the sink and clean towels in the basket waiting to be folded. It brought tears to my eyes. This made me remember why I blog and why I read blogs. And after reading this, I closed my computer and played with my precious little boy, who is not always going to be little and willing to giggle at his goofy mama. Did this blog post somehow transform our day into perfection with birds singing outside? Nope, but it reminded me to appreciate every minute of this opportunity to be with my son because someday, I will regret not spending the time with him. And someday, I might HAVE to go back to work and I won't get to spend all day with him, playing and laughing. I don't think that I'll ever regret leaving the dirty dishes and a towel does not have to be folded to dry off your behind! ;-) So go read the post already. Really.

And along the same theme, since I require beatings over the head to get a point, Tips for surviving (and thriving!) in the baby/toddler phase. This post is more practical than the one above, but it's really been resonating with me since I read it yesterday. "Accept that you can't do it all." WOW. Simple, but true. For Jennifer and her husband, keeping the kitchen dishes clean is important, but letting the clean laundry pile up is okay. Great way to look at housework... what's the priority? Where do I need to focus my energy today?

So today was about letting go of the millions of small things that distract me from the little man. Letting go of the dishes, letting go of the idea that I have to be this super woman who takes care of the child, cleans the house and cooks the meals. And in letting go, I'm able to accomplish so much more.

By the way, this post is not really where I want it to be, but it's late and I want to go watch Burn Notice with my wonderful husband who still doesn't understand this whole blog thing. So I'm going to just post it and let go of the idea that it needs to be more perfect. Hopefully you'll get some of what I am trying to say.

Congratulations Stephanie!

One of my favorite bloggers is Stephanie O'Dea over at A Year of Slow Cooking. She has saved my dinner many a time! She just posted the details of the book that came from the blog. It's at Amazon. Can I just tell you how incredibly cool I think that is for her???

By the way, I made 20 to 40 Clove Garlic Chicken tonight for dinner. Three cloves into peeling the garlic, I remembered that I had a jar of marinated garlic in my pantry and decided to use that instead, so I did- somewhere between 20 and 30 cloves. The chicken was a great texture- so tender that it just came right off the bone. Unfortunately, it was a bit mild in flavor, almost bland. I added salt, which helped. I am thinking that maybe the marinated garlic is more mild in flavor than the fresh cloves, so that's why it was a bit bland? I will absolutely try this again with fresh cloves!

If you are an Albertson's shopper, they have split bone in chicken breast for $0.98 per lb, making this a VERY budget friendly meal! I used between 2 and 3 lbs and it fed both my husband and I plus leftovers for one more meal.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Badger!

Meet Badger. Our first baby who has, unfortunately, taken a back seat to the new baby. Today is his birthday. This fact was brought to my attention about 4 pm today by my wonderful husband, who still knows the date. I have to concentrate to remember the day of the week!

Badger is 6 today. We went for a lovely Birthday Walk together, just him and me. It was nice. He is a greyhound, rescued. I've had him since he was almost 2. I got him as a foster dog on Mother's Day and had him even since, except for about 3 weeks when he was adopted by another family, but returned. I never thought that I would get to keep him since my husband, who was just my boyfriend at the time, was not a dog person. But then, my then boyfriend, now husband, offered to pay Badger's adoption fee for me for Christmas. I decided then that both the man and the dog were keepers and here we are, nearly three years and a baby later!

Happy Birthday Mr. Badger. I promise to put it on the calendar for next year! I love you buddy!

WFMW- Free-Cycle Envelopes

Do you pay your bills on-line? I do- I absolutely LOVE Bank of America's on-line bill pay service. I can see who I've paid when on one convenient screen and I don't have to pay for stamps, which seem to keep going up in price! I also receive a lot of my bills electronically, which cuts down on the amount of paper I have coming into the house. Less paper to keep track of and file means less clutter, and I'm all about that!

I don't receive all of my bills electronically though, and the ones that I do receive on paper generally include a self addressed envelope for me to send my payment back. I used to just throw these away since I didn't need them for mailing in my payment. Now, though, I use them for other things-

Shopping lists- coupons, ECB or RR and loyalty cards all go inside. My list of stuff to buy goes right on the outside of the envelope. It's an easy way to keep track and look like I have things together at the register.

**edited 8/17/09- turns out this is NOT a good idea... see this post for details.**
Envelopes to mail stuff to other people- I use these free envelopes to mail rebate forms or even printable coupons to my grandma who doesn't have a computer. (Love ya grams!) I have some old blank address labels (also free-cycled) that I just stick right on top of the little window or pre-printed address on the envelope.
**edited 8/17/09- turns out this is NOT a good idea... see this post for details.**

Coupon Storage- I know that there are some people out there who are fans of keeping the coupon inserts whole and just clipping what they need, but they took up too much space for me. I also found that I was missing coupons for stuff that I used all the time since I wasn't clipping them and the coupon blogs generally just list coupons for free or nearly free stuff. I still organize most of the coupons by insert type and date, I just go through and clip everything and stick them in an envelope labeled with the date and insert type. That way, I can just go through and pull out what I need for a shopping trip and I also have a working knowledge of the coupons that are out there.

What else could we be doing with these free envelopes??

As always, you can visit We Are THAT Family for more great WFMW ideas!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pulled Pork

It's BBQ Season! With Kraft giving away their sauce, I decided that it was time to do a pork roast and stock the freezer with some pulled pork for the next few months. Here's how I did it... (one day, I might be one of those cool bloggers who takes photos of the process every step of the way!)

I bought a 10.31 lb picnic roast at Target. I got $3 off, making the whole thing about $8. You'd be hard pressed to find a more economical meat!

My brother-in-law has a great rub recipe that I used for the pork. It's based on a ratio, so you can just make however much you need. The recipe is 8-3-1-1:
  • 8 parts brown sugar (1/2 cup = 8 tbsp)
  • 3 parts salt (He uses Kosher, I used Sea)
  • 1 part chili powder
  • 1 part whatever you want (He uses garlic powder, onion powder and poultry seasoning. I used a little smoked paprika and Italian seasoning.)
I used 1 cup Brown Sugar, 6 Tbsp salt (3/8 of a cup), 2 Tbsp chili powder, a little less than 1 Tbsp smoked paprika and a little more than 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning. Combine everything in a bowl and mix well. If you have leftovers, store in an air tight container for the next time you do something on the grill. I still have about 1 cup of the rub left.

Rub the roast down with your brown sugar rub. I like this recipe because you get to use your hands a lot- the sugar and salt feel great on your hands. Wrap the rubbed roast tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight (12-24 hours).

Normally, I like to cook the pork in a crock pot, but this guy was bigger than the butt roasts I usually buy, so he had to go in the oven! I put him in a large roasting pan and added about 1 cup of water. My grandmother suggested apple juice and my brother in law uses chicken stock, but I didn't have either. I covered the pan tightly with foil- a roasting pan with a lid would be even better. I cooked in a 325- 350 degree oven for three and a half hours. Since the pork is fairly fatty, you don't need to worry about basting it, according to my grandmother. I put mine in a left it and it was plenty moist.

When the pork is done cooking, the real fun begins! You can either let the pork cool to a reasonable temperature or just start pulling it apart while it's still hot and do a little dance around the kitchen while you fan your burnt fingers, your choice! Pull the meat off the bone, separating as much of the fat out as possible. You can use two forks to shred the meat, or just pull it apart with your hands. Divide the meat into meal sized portions and freeze in plastic containers or bags. I have 4 portions of pulled pork from the one roast. I froze it without adding BBQ Sauce this time, but I have frozen it with in the past and that worked too.

When it comes time to heat up the pork, I just pull it out of the freezer and dump it into the crock pot set on low. Add the BBQ sauce, and you are good to go. I love dishes like this that are pretty much ready whenever you are. I will serve on hamburger buns or toasted white bread with coleslaw, baked beans, corn, roasted potatoes, whatever summery sides I have on hand.

Getting out of the house

One of the things that saves me as a new SAHM is the ability to get out and about with my little guy. He's only 9 months old (and was 6 months when I started staying home), so it's a little different than getting out with an older child. The park, for example, is still fun, but a different experience than with a 3 year old. Here are my top picks for getting out of the house:

  • Join a playgroup. I found one with kids T's age that meets once per week. Check out Meetup or Craig's List for possible groups to join. I ultimately joined my local Mom's Club- they have chapters world wide, so you may be able to find one in your neck of the woods too. Pay attention to what the club asks of you before joining- you want them to screen you pretty carefully before giving out too much information. The playgroup that I joined would only let me visit their group when they were meeting in a public location- never in a member's home. Another group mandated that I provide a photo, complete a questionaire about myself and provide a phone number for verification purposes. If they are careful about screening you, you know that your information is safe with them.

  • Go to the Park. The first time I took T to the park, it was out of sheer desperation. I HAD to get out of the house. I wasn't sure if there would be anything there that he would enjoy, but I figured we had nothing to loose. He had no interest in swinging in the baby swings, but loved standing on my lap while we swung (swang??) in the big swings. I also took him down the slide and walked him around the big kid play equipment. It was great for us both to get some fresh air and get out of the house!

  • Play at the Mall- no shopping allowed! I'm kind of surprised that I can handle this one, but one of my favorite places to take T is the mall play area. We are in HOT HOT HOT Florida, so any place that he can play that is air conditioned is a huge hit! There are five malls within a resonable drive of the house and they all have play areas- nothing too exciting, but padded floors that are easy on little feet and climbing toys! My little guy loves to walk around and I can help him do this in the play area. He loves to watch the bigger kids and I'm careful to make sure that they don't run him over. This is a great way to meet other moms too! The biggest thing here is to make sure that you don't blow your budget by going to the mall. I know where each of the play areas is located and make sure that I park nearest to them as possible so that I don't wander through the mall. I find it difficult to shop with T in tow, so this one is okay for me.

  • Read at the Library. Another air conditioned place to play! The library not far from our house is pretty new. When they designed the kids' area, the put in a huge place for little ones to play with a train table, soft cushions and even a grocery store complete with register and carts. It's the perfect place to hang out! They also offer a story time for little ones under 18 months. They keep it short, play some music and completely understand when the attendees show more interest in eating the carpet than paying attention! If your library doesn't offer something like this, take it upon yourself to see if they'll let you lead your own. Post signs and soon you'll have your own story time to attend! Also, there are several libraries in our area, all with their own story times, so we have Mondays and Tuesdays covered with different libraries and could probably add some other days too!

  • Splash at the community pool. I am amazed how much my little guy enjoys getting in the pool. He is completely fearless and will put his own face in the water and comes up laughing! If you can find a swimming class for the little ones, this can be a great way to meet other moms. If not, just hanging out at the local pool is a great way to beat the heat and tire out your kiddos.

What are your favorite outings with your little ones?

(This post was something I've been wanting to write for a bit, but also inspired by Simple Mom who blogged yesterday about 7 Ways to Find Motivation at Home. Great article- check it out!)

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Outcome of the BIG Interview

After worrying and wondering and being all conflicted, the interview was a bust. When I got there, the interviewer was finishing up with another candidate and a lot of the employees were leaving for the day. A 6 pm interview worked well for my schedule, but it might not have been the best time of day to interview. It seemed like the interviewer was more interested in getting out of the office than really seeing what I was all about. I got the sense that either they already had another candidate that they liked better or he already really liked me and didn't need to hear much from me to know that he wanted to make me an offer.

It does not really matter because I don't think that I would really want the job. It's outside sales, which is fine, but the money is not great, nor are the hours. I know that if I wanted to take a job, it would mean finding suitable child care and going to battle with my husband. If I am going to go through that, the position and the pay would have to be pretty compelling.

The good part about the whole experience, though, was that I got to shower all by myself! I didn't have to rush or worry that anyone was crying or waiting for me. It was wonderful! I got to blow dry my hair and put on makeup! I wore a suit and fantastic shoes!

I wish that I would have planned things in order to make better use of my time after the nanny got there but before I had to leave the house. I got showered and dressed, got dinner ready for everyone since I would be gone during dinner time, and left just as my husband was walking in. By this point, I only had about 45 extra minutes or so, not really enough time to do much. I stopped by McDonalds for a Diet Coke- huge treat- since I am still nursing, I try to limit my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per morning, but this was a special occasion and I needed the kick! I drove almost all the way to the interview, then stopped at a Dollar Tree and Marshalls. I heard that the Dollar Tree had some swim diapers and $1 is a much better deal than the $15 I paid on eBay. This particular store had none, unfortunately. Marshalls had nothing that I needed either, thought there was an adorable pair of black patent leather mary janes with a great round toe for only $10!!!! With my recent shopping transgressions, I resisted and ultimately left with nothing. Too bad the shopping was more interesting than the actual interview.

All in all, it was a great experience- I proved to myself that my brain has not entirely rotted away. If and when I need to, assisted by a Diet Coke, I can discuss my career and skill set in a professional manner. I can be something other than a mom if I want to be, and for now, I think that's enough. It also proved just how rejuvenating a few hours away from the house and baby can be. I am going to try to make sure that I have that time to myself at least every other week going forward. I don't have to go have an expensive spa treatment or anything, but I do need that time to myself. Committing to that feels very indulgent to me, but I'm going with it. I truly think that it will make me a better mom and wife in the long run.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wearing your Baby!

I've been wanting a ring sling or wrap carrier for my little boy for a while now. I wanted one when he was first born, but my husband wanted to be able to use it too and was more comfortable with a front carrier. I like that, but it seems a little uncomfortable for the baby. We recently moved him from his base plus carrier car seat to a rear facing one that's permanently in the car. This means that for places without carts like the post office or the fruit stand, I'm carrying him. This is not a problem until I try to carry him and a package or him and 10 pounds of potatoes! Since I've been shopping WAY to much recently, I decided that my ring sling purchase was going to have to wait. I wasn't sure if he would even like it or if he would still fit in one and I didn't want to waste money on something that we would not use. My best chance of getting one would be to win a contests, like this one for a Sleepy Wrap at Blessed with Full Hands. These seem to come up from time to time, so I keep entering and crossing my fingers.

Until, that is, Hobo Mama blogged about the Sleepy Wrap give away. Somehow, I got linked back to a series she did a while ago about Babywearing the Heavy Baby. And then I found this post about a new-sew way to make your own ring sling. I bought 2" rings at Lowes for under $4 and decided to give it a try.

The directions call for a piece of fabric 25-35" wide and 80-90" long. My mom had just given me a set of queen sheets that I was going to repurpose for this project, but I didn't want to ruin a perfectly good set of sheets if this was not going to work. I searched the house for something that I could use but not have to cut and I found a flat twin sheet folded in half the long way. I threaded it through my rings and in about 10 minutes, I had a ring sling perfect for the assisted hip carry- perfect for whenever I didn't want to put Tyler in a cart or stroller but needed some assistance! He is also not one to want to sit and be held, so I have a feeling the sling will be getting some use around the house too. Here it is:

(That's me and T and our bed-sheet ring sling! I blurred out his face because my husband does not want his picture on the Internet and I have to respect that!)

I think that I'll go ahead and invest in a length of fabric for the sling. There is some extra bulk with the current version since I folded the sheet in half before threading in through the rings. A dedicated piece of fabric will also keep my husband from teasing me about hauling our child around in our dirty linens! :-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


This is how our morning went... I had an errand to run across town, so I strapped Tyler into his car seat about 9 am hoping that he would sleep in the car during his “normal” nap time. I do not remember the last time that he slept during his “normal” nap time, but I'm trying. So we are listening to his music, dancing along in the car and he does not fall asleep. We get to said destination, do what we need to do and get back in the car. I am still hoping that he will fall asleep. I packed my laptop in preparation for having to hang out in the car for a little while, so we're all good. We pull up to the last major stop light before home and he's getting really fussy. I try to appease him with my keys, but no good, still crying. I glance at the clock, realize that most of his nap time is gone and it's about time for him to nurse again. I tell him that we'll be home in a few. I secretly hope that if I get him in the house and nurse him right away, he'll fall asleep and I can put him down for a few minutes, even though this is against Dr. Ferber's teaching (more to come on that)... our house is on the end of a LONG street, so we're half way to home when he gets quiet. Literally four doors down from home and NOW he falls asleep. Seriously??

So I do what any mother whose child has not napped in two days... I pull into the driveway, throw the car in reverse and keep driving! If I stop now, he'll wake up because he's not asleep enough. I crank the air up to high to make the car as cool as possible and look for a shady spot to park. A shady spot with internet connection would be ideal, but alas, I'm willing to type now, post later! So now I'm sitting under a tree in the parking lot of an abandoned Kmart, with a Tow Truck Driver parked the next row over. I wonder if he (or she) is blogging too? It just feels good to get some things out and in black and white on the page! A lot has been going on here in the past few days- I really need Blogger to come up with a way for me to post telepathically, because I have all of these things floating around in my head that need out and no time to actually sit down and type them.

The biggest thing right now... I have a job interview tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about this. Mostly I am HUGELY excited. Excited because someone actually values my skill set enough to want to talk to me about a job. Excited because even though the interview is not until 6 pm and my husband will likely be home LONG before then, he would not commit to being home by then (God forbid he have to alter his life to make sure our child is cared for!), so I get to hire a babysitter! She has a 4 hour minimum, so she will be coming to my house two hours BEFORE I have to leave for said interview and staying until at least 7 pm when my husband is sure to be home and ready to take care of Tyler. For an hour. Before he goes to bed. But I digress... The thought of having TWO hours PLUS drive time PLUS interview time whereby someone else is temporarily responsible for my child is enough to make me giddy!!!!!! Honestly, I'm a little excited about the job too. I don't want to talk too much about it since it's JUST an interview- I didn't even have to go through a phone interview first, so I'm really walking in there blind, but still! I am trying to take one thing at a time and I don't want to get any hopes up.

So now to the mixed feelings part... I feel a little like a poser mom... there were other people who got laid off at the same time that I did. They all said that they were going to “do the stay at home mom thing” too. When they ultimately found jobs, my first thought was something snarky along the lines of, “Couldn't hack it as a stay at home mom, huh?” or “Just using that stay at home thing as an excuse in case you couldn't get a job, huh?” I immediately remind myself not to judge- I don't know their entire situation or that might be me one day, but the first gut reaction- not a nice one. So now here I am, with an interview- just an interview- and I am jumping up and down and squealing like a little girl, ready to run back to work at the first opportunity. I feel like I haven't really given this stay at home thing enough of a shot. Going back to work now feels like a bit of a failure, like I couldn't hack it- couldn't figure out how to raise my own kid and take care of my own house.

I think about putting Tyler in day care- trying to decide who to trust with our precious little boy and my stomach seizes up. What kind of mom willingly chooses to hand her child over to virtual strangers if she does not absolutely positively have to? When I worked before, my husband was only working every other week, so we had a woman come to our home to keep Tyler for the weeks my husband worked. Because we were only paying her every other week, it was cost effective. At this point, though, he's back working every week and she is not available every week, nor cost effective. If we are going to pay her every week, my earnings pretty much go right to her. Daycare is more affordable, but also new territory for us and something that my husband does not really want to do. I don't particularly want to put him in daycare, BUT... (see below for the BUT, a.k.a. The Rationalization.)

So my rationalization- our financial situation is perilous at best. My husband is self employed with a business that's not quite 3 years old. It's doing very well, but in this economy, with these credit restrictions, things are tight. We have been living off my severance package- he's yet to draw a paycheck from the business. His business picks up in the Spring and Summer, so he wanted the opportunity to see how much he could grow the business this season and see where things were. He's done a great job with marketing and picked up a lot of accounts, but I just don't know how he can go to pulling nothing from the business to pulling everything we need to cover expenses from the business. Also, we have health insurance through the end of July, but then will have to start paying quite a lot for it. Bottom line is that I like to know exactly how my bills are going to be paid. I like to know that there is going to be a pretty regular stream of money coming in and I don't know that right now. I supposed that even if I had a job, I wouldn't know that since they were so quick to end my last job, but at least I had an idea and some warning. Things are much more unstable with my husband's business, as they would be with any small business.

So that's where I am- conflicted, feeling guilty for being so excited at the prospect of leaving my child every day, and gearing up for a possible battle with my husband, who does not want to entertain the idea of me going back to work. I never thought that this would be my life. I'm really having a hard time reconciling where I am with where I thought I would be and the parent that I am versus the parent that I thought I would be. Any ideas? Suggestions? Criticisms? I'll take them all right now... just trying to figure out what's right.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday!

Happy Monday! Even though I no longer work outside the home, we still know it's Monday around here. Dad goes back to work after the weekend and the Little Bear and I get back into our week day routine, unstructured as it is! I was so organized this week that I had my meals planned out on Saturday- if I could only remember to post them then, we might have something here.

By the way, Tyler came up with his own meal plan this morning- he decided a bug would be an excellent Monday morning breakfast. No one tell my husband, okay?? I assume that the little guy crawled in sometime last night and was discovered by my little Fear Factor contestant this morning. That will teach me to be slow with the oatmeal! Please tell me this has happened to other moms out there, okay??

So- for the actual non-bug meals this week:

Monday: Chicken with Peanut Curry Sauce- except I don't think that I bought limes, so we will be enjoying without limes

Tuesday: Spiced Pot Roast in the Crock Pot- this is what you get when Pot Roast is on sale for $1.97 per lb! I will cook the entire thing, then freeze half for another meal.

Wednesday: Chicken on the Grill- hubby requested this one! Since so many salad dressings have been available free or almost free lately, we will probably use that as a marinade, or maybe this

Thursday: The last of the Swedish Meatballs from my wonderful mother-in-law will be making their appearance.

Friday: Chicken Alfredo based on this recipe from the Crock Pot Lady! Yummy!!!!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

WFMW- "MOM, I'm BORED" Summer Edition

We are THAT Family hosts WFMW today with the theme of combating boredom now that school's out for the summer. Since my guy is little, school doesn't really apply and I'm usually the one who is BORED, but here's a tip anyway. And it can be modified for all ages- outdoor water fun.

Here's what I did for my 8 month old- I took an old comforter and spread it on our back patio. I didn't want him crawling around on the rough pavers and scraping his little knees. I brought out a BIG mixing bowl full of water and several smaller cups, a sieve and a few cups. Then I let him go to town splashing, dumping, drinking, whatever he wanted. He splashes in the bath of course, but this gave him a little more control over the water since he wasn't immersed in it.

As he gets bigger, here are some of the other things I can see him doing with this idea:
  • Using different colored water to learn what makes secondary colors
  • Conducting "scientific experiments" about what floats and what sinks
  • Filling glasses with different amounts of water and then listening to the different sounds they make.
As I'm typing this to post, I feel like it's a pretty lame idea, but I can remember how much fun I had as a little girl "painting" my grandparent's wood deck with water. The wood changed color when it was wet, so I could spend a good amount of time out there with water and a paint brush! My little guy also enjoyed actually being allowed to dump water everywhere today, so maybe your kids will too.

Simple is at it again...

We all know that I have enough shoes now to last a while, but in case you want in on the Simple Shoe Clearance Action, they are clearing out some more styles- Men and Women for as low as $9.90! These were originally priced $50 and up. When you buy through Cashbaq, you'll get a 7% rebate. Plus, if you are a new Cashbaq member, you get $5 just for signing up.

Here's how the math could work:

Shoes: $9.90
Shipping: FREE!
Cashbaq bonus for signing up: $5
Rebate on shoes: $0.69
Final Price for shoes: $4.21 DELIVERED to your door! Can't beat that one guys!

Happy Shopping!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday- Meet Larry

Meet Larry. Larry is a fully cooked smoked young turkey and he is the center of this week's menu. Larry is named after a guy that I used to work with and um, Larry Byrd. I'm not that big a basketball fan, but it just seems to fit. Larry (the turkey, not Larry the basketball player) was purchased from Aldi's about two weeks ago. I've really been trying to do better with our grocery budget. Melissa feeds her family of 7 on less than what I spend on our family of 2-3. The baby doesn't eat much, but he does need other things like diapers and special teething biscuits. If he'd ever take a nap, I might be able to figure out how to make those myself. In any case, I've really been trying to make our budget shrink, and one of the big things I know will help is cutting the cost of the meat that we buy. I already shop what's on sale, but the other day when I was at Target I saw some butt roasts marked $4 off. I already had two dinners worth of pulled pork in the freezer, so I passed, but it got me thinking about looking for discounted meat. As far as I can tell, my beloved Publix doesn't do this- I've never seen anything marked down because of being close to it's sell by date. I resolved to keep my eyes open when shopping Super Target from now on, though.

So back to Larry- I was in Aldi's, where I buy a lot of my produce since it's inexpensive and supposed to be more local. There was a handwritten sign saying Turkey- $6 off. This caught my eye of course, and I went over and checked on Larry, who was frozen solid. Of course, he had no tag, no price, I just knew he was $6 off. I kept walking, not sure what I would do with a whole turkey and not sure if I would be getting a good deal or not. And then I walked by again. I pulled him out of the freezer case and checked for a price again. Nothing. I decided to take him up front and just see what they would tell me. The cashier had to go ask the manager, but ultimately they decided Larry could be mine for only $8. This seems pretty good for a whole turkey- I paid about $12 for the smallest breast I could find at Easter- so Larry came home with us that day and has been hanging out in our freezer ever since. I know that I will get at least 3 meals from him this week, plus sandwiches for lunches. I am not sure if we will be able to stretch him further since we are not big dark meat fans. Also, I am not sure if I can refreeze the meat since it's already been frozen. Help on that one would be appreciated!

So here's the plan for the week:
  • Monday: Roasted Turkey, Stuffing, Fresh Green Beans and Cranberry Sauce
  • Tuesday: Skillet Dinner (green peppers, onions, ground beef, tomatoes, black beans and rice, all cooked together) with corn bread
  • Wednesday: Turkey Pot Pie, loosely based on this recipe- I think that I am going to try making simple drop biscuits for the top- the puff pastry is not doing it for us!
  • Thursday: Garlic Beef Stroganoff from the CrockPot
  • Friday: Turkey Enchiladas
  • Saturday: Burgers on the grill
So that's the plan. Any other recommendations, ideas or suggestions for dealing with Larry would be much appreciated!