Saturday, March 21, 2009

Woman to Woman

I'm not going to go into much detail in this post, but I do have a product to recommend.

It will only be useful to women of child-bearing years, so the rest of you need not waste your time. I stumbled across it on a message board one day, and am glad that I took a chance and tried it, even though I hadn't known there was an alternative to tampons until then.

The Diva Cup

It works so much better for me and I've always wondered why it's not more widely known. So I'm trying to spread the word without offering up too much information. :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Healthy Eats

I've got granola in the oven right now, and am wondering why it has been so long since I made it. I think for some reason I imagines it was more time consuming than it really is; the toughest thing is scraping the honey out of the measuring cup. (I use butter, but some recipes call for oil instead and a good tip is to measure the oil first and then your honey slides right out.)

That got me thinking about some healthier takes on regular foods. I think the two most successful recipes that I got from this book are recipes for burgers and pancakes.

Cheesy Black Bean Burgers

15 oz. black beans (1 can or 1 1/2 c.)
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1 c. shredded cheddar
1/3 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Drain and rinse beans; mash until mostly smooth. Mix in remaining ingredients and shape into 8 patties.

But it's flexible. I don't ever have seasoned bread crumbs, but I do have stale bread in the freezer (I never measure though). And seasonings are usually Mrs. Dash, Original is what I think I have on hand. So good, and my husband has never guessed that there's beans in them.

Hearty Cornmeal Apple Pancakes

2 eggs
1 3/4 c. milk
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. cornmeal
1/3 c. wheat germ
1/3 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 c. pecans (opt)
1/4 c. mini chocolate chips (opt)

Whisk together eggs and milk. Whisk together dry ingredients; combine with egg mixture and stir until blended. Add apple. Pour onto skillet (1/4 c. = 4" cakes) and top with optional ingredients. Flip when bottom is golden and top is bubbly.

I made this without any of the optional ingredients and they were a hit. And a little more nutrition than our usual bisquick or hungry jack version.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why Real Moms Childproof Their Homes

Real moms don't childproof the house for the child's safety; real moms do it to save a tiny bit of energy for the end of the day.

We went with Doug's mom to visit his grandpa, along with the three nieces, and had a mini birthday party for him. We got there around 7:00 and only stayed for an hour, but it felt like 3 hours. It was a small room, lots of knick knacks and breakable stuff, so was constantly chasing him, distracting him, walking up and down the hallway with him, and by the time we got home I was ready to collapse. I think I could have run for an hour and been less tired (maybe a little more out of breath, though).

So I am thankful for doors I can close and the freedom to move everything out of his reach at home. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Menu Madness

I've been trying to find a plan that works for me when it comes to meal planning and making menus and grocery lists. It usually comes down to empty cupboards, creative meal creation (which, I must say, I am quite good at), and finally sitting down for over an hour creating a menu plan for the next two weeks, then procrastinating since this would often happen on Monday and the grocery sale flier comes on Tuesday evenings. And I know I made this waaaaay too much work as of late, since I've been falling into the habit of needing to have new meal ideas, for no other reason than my own boredom.

My current plan, which I have great hope for, was actually inspired by my dad, I believe. I was talking to Mom one time and expressing frustrations (see previous paragraph), and she mentioned that Dad had told her to make a menu for two weeks and just keep repeating it. I suggested some alterations, and a few weeks ago it dawned on me that I should try this method.

So I sat down and set up a six-week meal plan that we'll repeat about 4 times, or for the next 6 months. I only plan one meal a day, since lunches and Sunday evenings are leftovers or 'help yourself" meals. I also left one day a week empty to allow me to try out one new meal or for a night we won't be home. (This also saves Doug from suffering three new 'trial' meals in a row) And some of my meals allow for variation, such as my general "Soup" meal. I set up a column for the main dish, side dish, and vegetables, but not all meals have something in each category, since I don't think I need an extra vegetable to go with our pork and cabbage sandwiches.

I formatted the tables with each day of the week, more to keep track of whether we're home for Sunday dinner than anything. On the back of each week's menu, I have a grocery list divided out by section (produce, canned, meat, dairy...) which I copy over (two weeks at a time) and add what's needed for the extra meal.

So every other Monday (payday) I'll do our main grocery shopping, and the next Monday I'll go and get the produce needed for that week, along with milk, eggs, bread, etc.

I had great ambitions for doing once a month cooking, or some variation of that. Well, I'm not sure it's for me. I have been collecting chicken and recipes to do a bunch of chicken meals, but that's more to get some handy meals back in the freezer.

What has been working for me is doing food prep the day I go to the grocery store. I buy ground beef and ground turkey and combine the two, since ground turkey is about half the price but I just didn't like the taste of it when I substituted it for beef. The half and half mixture works fine for me though. So while my hands are dirty, I'll usually divide it back up and make any meals I can (meatloaf, burgers) and put the remaining pounds to be browned in bags, then all goes in the freezer. Same with chicken - I'll clean it (I HAVE to cut all the visible fat off), then slice it in half (the fresh chicken breasts from the deli are quite thick) and flash freeze on a cookie sheet, or cut it up for a "dump" recipe - I cut this week's into strips, and dumped the mixture for teriyaki marinade in it so it can marinate while thawing.

Hopefully this meal rotation works as well as I hope it does. It may need to have some kinks worked out as I go, but this is better than having to start from scratch every other week.

Now, if only I could figure out how to organize my recipes. Recipe software sounds good for many reasons, but not being able to spread them out on the floor around me while planning might be a problem, although it would be nice to search your recipes when you have 1/4# of pork sausage to use up.

Life, Continued

Yesterday was the Big Day. After work I kept busy by running errands, getting groceries, and doing some food prep for the week. I thought I was fine, but by the time it was time for the meeting my stomach was turning and I had a tension headache that would not go away (not sure if I slept wrong or if it was nerves, but the muscles in my neck HURT).

Rob started the meeting off with some general thanks and appreciation, then drew out "and the new owners are..." and the guys piped up with "sitting right here" and looked at Doug and I. So yeah, try as hard as you want to but you can never keep the rumors away. In a way it was a good thing they had heard rumors so the announcement wasn't a shock, but it would have been nice if they had even hinted that they knew to relieve some of the pressure from us.

We've been having some meetings today to get the ball rolling for the transition so word will spread fast now. But it's official!

Doug and I will own the lumberyard as of April 1, and it will become Hubers Lumber and Home Center, Inc.