Saturday, August 29, 2009

Delicious, Real Food!

Snapped a picture of all the food I bought Thursday on our trip to the Farmer's Market and Publix to re-fill our refrigerator. I felt so...GOOD, knowing that our family will be eating all this nourishing food. I'm really working to fill our pantry and fridge with whole foods as much as possible - though, certainly, we buy our fair share of ketchup, the occasional bag of chips or cookies, and canned or staple items. I try to get those at the Commissary once a month, as it's a good hour trip there.

This just looks good, doesn't it? :) I think we'll have a bowl of peaches for breakfast...Happy weekend-ing!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cole at 9 months

Ah, how the time flies! I conceived Cole around the time that Graeme was 9 months (random fact, I know) - why that stands out, for me, is how fast pregnancy goes, and infancy...before I know it, Cole will be Graeme's age! I can't even remember Graeme being as small as Cole is now.

Four words to describe Cole at 9 months: sweet, snuggly, busy, and determined.

Truly, Cole is the sweetest little baby I've ever known. I realize I'm quite prejudiced, but I think I can say that neutrally, because it's true!

While I look forward to seeing Cole's personality develop (talk, walk, all that fun stuff), I will miss Cole as a baby. He is just such an enjoyable baby to be around.

Snuggly! Oh my, Cole is affectionate! Lately, when Mark gets home, Cole will crawl as fast as his little legs will carry him to pull himself up on Mark's boots to get a welcome snuggle. :-)

Busy. Cole is usually on to the next thing before I can keep track of where he's been.

Determined. This boy gets his sights set on something and there is no stopping him or dissuading him from his purpose. He is Mr. Destructo - he likes to dump everything, destroy it, conquer it, throw it over, and move on LOL!

However, once he's ready to sleep, he'll snuggle up (no going to sleep without rocking for this boy!) and be gone in a few minutes.

Favorite vocalizations: tongue roll, "da-da", na-na
Favorite place to be: with Momma, but Daddy takes a close second :)
What makes you laugh: Graeme's antics (especially when he chases you or makes funny noises with you), tickles in your neck, arms and tummy, Daddy playing "boy play" with you
Favorite food: Momma milk, avocado, oatmeal, banana (just started solids a month or so ago)

We love you, Cole!

Home Management Notebook, Part 1

Yesterday, I decided it was time to create my own Home Management Notebook. A fancy term for a notebook full of lists, charts, paper, and graphs to assist me in managing my home. This is not a task that comes naturally to me. I am the "free spirit", not the "nerd" of the house (aka Dave Ramsey)....If I were completely on my own, I'd be perfectly happy with clutter, piles, stacks, a full sink, etc. I count it progress that I'm willing to make such a dreadful confession ;-)

So here's my notebook:

I found a picture on Flickr's "Creative Commons" that I liked, printed it out, then put my text in.

Resources I used were:
2. (you can sign up for a free week-long trial!)
3. Flickr's Creative Commons

The idea for the "Home Management Notebook" came from SimpleMom. She describes her notebook here, and you can download (for free) all of the sheets used here.

In my notebook:
1. The Daily Docket - simple a daily planner. I may not use it everyday, honestly, but for busier days/weeks, it would sure be helpful - at the least, I love SimpleMom's idea of making 3 "Most Important Things" on your list of 10 to-dos for the day. In other words, if *only* those three things happen, you'll consider the day a success. What a relief for a perfectionist like me!

2. Master Chore Chart - can't decide whether to use SimpleMoms, or the one I downloaded from ListPlanIt's Home Management section.

3. Grocery List and Monthly Meal Plan, as well as several menu charts from ListPlanIt. I chose one that lists menus by day of the week (which I'll use for breakfast), and another that is a "master list" of meals in different categories (meat, vegetarian, pasta, soups, etc)...Once I fill that up, I can easily scan it for menu ideas, pick a few new recipes that I want to try, and have my menu for 2 weeks done in a snap.

4. Financial Worksheets (budget for each half of the month, Christmas gift planning chart, Home Improvement Savings List to save for all the things we'd eventually like to have in the house) - all of these were from ListPLanIt.

5. Growth Charts and Notes about activities/memories I want to keep for the children. Since I'm terrible at scrapbooking, I figure at least if I have a place to jot down little things that they do or how big they are, maybe I'll have them all in one place for someday when I have nothing to do and want to create a little memory book (ha ha).

I call it "Part 1" because I'll have to update how it works. Or, to be honest, whether I end up using all of the stuff inside, and what I add to it over time. What I like about this is that it is a visual, tangible thing that I can carry around with me. I'm very tactile, so having something to look at, thumb through, write in, and create is rewarding in itself. .

Finally, a video of Graeme from this morning. We were working in the garage during Cole's naptime, and Graeme was "helping" Mark fix the Volvo (nope, still not working!).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Video of Cole at the beach

We had a marvelous visit with my sister this past week. On Saturday, we spent the whole afternoon at the beach! I'll post some more pictures later today, but for now, here's a video of Cole. He's got a great pincer grasp and is loving his new discovery of Toasty-Os :-) He'll be nine months in a few days, so I'll have a little post about him up.

(Forgive me for forgetting - again- to turn the camera horizontal...I'll try to remember next time!)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fun Friday Favorite

Just for fun, I thought I'd share one of our favorite books. Maybe we could make this a tradition on Fridays...we'll see how good I am at keeping it up, though ;-)

"There's a House Inside my Mommy" by Giles Andreae is a book about a little boy whose Mommy is pregnant. Here's the review I wrote on Amazon:

This is the sweetest book about expecting a new sibling. My 2 year old son loves it, and as another reviewer said, loves the pictures that he can name all the items. The descriptions the little boy uses to explain parts of pregnancy were cute, and easy-to-understand for my son. It's just a charming book! We have two boys, so the genders worked perfectly for us. I like how it makes a story out of doesn't focus on how the boy feels about the new child, and there's no obvious "moral" like many of the new-sibling books I've come across. It portrays the father, mother, little boy and coming baby with respect and tenderness.

Some of my favorite quotes...
The house must have a kitchen
So he doesn't get too thin,
And I think the food my mommy eats
Can find its way to him.

He seems to want such funny things
But Mommy's very kind,
So she eats all sorts of crazy stuff
And doesn't seem to mind.

Best definition of pregnancy cravings I've ever heard!! ;-)

Sometimes Mommy feels so sick
I don't know what to do,
But if I had a house in me
I'd feel all yucky too.

Isn't that adorable? This was a random thrift store find, but we're so glad to own a copy now! It's hard to find a book about pregnancy that is simply wholesome, not "politically correct" or too moral-ish - this one is a gem, that's for sure.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Earth's Best/Garden of Eatin' Deal

I guess the theme today is deals! Here's a link for a redemption form - if you purchase $15 in Earth's Best snacks, Garden of Eatin', MaraNatha peanut butter, Healthy Valley cereals/snack foods, you will receive a $5 Barnes 'N Noble gift card...purchase $25 worth, and you get $10 gift card. Pretty good deal, if you would use this stuff. I love the Garden of Eatin' corn chips (made with organic corn) and the Earth's Best snacks are pretty good - depends on if you get them on sale or not.

Here's the link:


Awesome Sale at Children's Place!

Children's Place is holding their seasonal "Monster Sale" where all sale items are an additional 50% off (price is reflected in the online price). But then I did a search for coupon codes and came up with one for an addt'l 15% off your purchase! That code is "family79".

I got 7 shorts (including some of those adjustable waist ones, which my skinny-minny oldest son needs!) and 10 polo shirts (don't you love Children's Place polo shirts?!) for $63 bucks (plus $5 flat rate shipping and $5 tax). Now THAT is a great deal. I shoulda got more LOL! This will be the foundational pieces for next summer for my boys.

Go quick, a lot of the nice stuff is on "low inventory"!

Monday, August 3, 2009

5 Dangerous Things You Should Let your Kids Do

My sister-in-law, Laura, posted a few months ago about something that made me really think about how often I say "Be Careful" to my oldest son. Additionally, my dear husband often has to instruct me about what to expect with my boys - the first time he told me he wants our older boys (like 8+) to know how to use a firearm, I loudly (okay, shockingly and insistently) objected! So the more I think on this topic, the more humble I become in realizing how important, indeed, vital it is that our children (boys AND girls) become confident using even "dangerous" items, because it is inherent in the human make-up to rule over the laws of this universe - to discover them, figure them out and then utilize them.

Take, for example, all forms of transportation - the inventors had to know all sides of the laws of motion (including the effects of falling down and, say, breaking an arm ACK!) in order to create the objects we use today, whether the skateboard or the automobile.

Granted, when I watched Graeme, my two year old, climbing up the park ladder for the first time (you know, those ones with the big holes that go up high and he could FALL OFF AND BREAK HIS LEG!), I was hovering like a mother chicken and telling him to be careful. Sigh. Hopefully I can get over that, step back, and rest in the confidence that my children know their own limits and are capable of such things. Gradually, I am.

At least I was cheering him on! :-)

Tweaking my Menu Planning: Part 2

The second part of my menu-plan tweaking is switching to a two-week rotation (shopping and planning) instead of weekly.

Honestly, it's happening naturally, so I figure I ought to "get the clue" and go with the flow!

1. We go through staples in about a two-week time-frame (cream, butter, milk, flour, juice, eggs). All of these items keep for at least two weeks.

2. We're switching to using all-cash as a budget method (Dave Ramsey), and Mark gets paid on the 15 and 31 of the month, so it would fit perfectly to go ahead and alot all of the money at the beginning of each pay check.

3. I'm locating local sources for eggs, milk and produce, and if I end up driving to purchase those, it would obviously be wise to limit the trips, so I'm thinking every 2 weeks would work well.

4. If I enforce this for myself and the family, it would encourage both careful planning and frugality. For example, if there are yet 3 days until the next grocery trip, we must make-do with what we have, as opposed to an extra trip to get the things for what we *want*, not necessarily what we need.

Do any of you shop/plan by a 2 week schedule?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tweaking my Menu Planning

I'm sitting here finishing up my grocery list for shopping this afternoon while the boys take naps ("bap" as Graeme says).

I've come up with something that has been working for me for a few months now, so I think it's been tested enough to share it. I often have great ideas that don't pan out after giving them a good testing for a few weeks, but this one seems to be a "keeper".
We've been married for almost 5 years, and I've never gotten into a real groove when it comes to menu planning. It's probably because I get bored easily, and I always think the grass is greener - always trying a new thing!

So this plan gives me some flexibility, but here's what I love about it: It gives me a place to start. Procrastination is one of my top-three flaws, I'd say, and so many times I'll sit down to make my grocery list/menu plan and feel lost, alone, and afraid! (Sounds exaggerated, but not by much!)

Here it is: planning by category
Monday - salad (change to soup in the winter)
Tuesday - stir-fry
Wednesday - spaghetti, lasagna or pizza
Thursday - fish
Friday - fun/family (grill-out, hot dogs, have people over...)
Saturday - sandwiches (easy, flexible in case we're low on groceries)
Sunday lunch - crockpot/roast
Sunday dinner - breakfast

Then I have a list of breakfasts and lunches to work off of on a regular basis. This makes stocking my pantry/cupboards simple.

pasta salad/rice salad/green salad (throw in leftover meats if desired)
tuna sandwhiches
mac n cheese

pancakes/waffles/french toast (great for using up that almost-stale bread!)

There are a couple things that I do weekly/semi-weekly:
Pot of beans to soak Sunday evening - this gives us beans for lunches, snacks, dips or whatever
Roast a chicken on Monday - sometimes use the chicken for a chicken or pasta salad that evening, to use in lunches or my Tues. stir fry, and then I make chicken broth for the week. Read more about the health benefits of broth here.
Baking - Once a month, I'm using this recipe for homemade bread. I'd like to bake a weekly batch of muffins/bagels or whatever, as well as a weekly batch of rolls (potato rolls, french bread, eventually I'm going to experiment with sourdough).

So that's what a week in my kitchen is looking like, and I'm feeling very comfortable with this type of planning. Especially since we are really cutting back on processed/commercial foods, trying to eat locally and healthfully, and working to pay off our debt (Dave Ramsey anyone??!!), careful planning is not a luxury, it's a necessity! The few weeks of our move were crazy, and we were amazed at 1) how expensive it is to eat out, 2) how much we noticed feeling draggy and just tired of eating-out-food, and 3) how generally hard it is to find healthy food at mid-range restaurants and fast food. It's wonderful to get back to real food made by my own hands in my own kitchen! :-)

A question - what do you all do on the weekends to keep meals simple? Do you have a standard Sunday dish you prepare every week?

Soap-Nuts Liquid Giveaway!

Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking is giving away 20 samples of a new liquid soap-nut detergent. Read all about it in her review here, and learn about soap nuts in her post here. I'm hoping to win, as I've been wanting to try soap nuts out! Go enter!