Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dinner has fallen off the Wagon

So I know you are all wondering how meal planning is going this week.... hah. Not well.

Saturday I made squash soup & faker eggplant parmesian & baked beets.... so I have great lunches for this week but....

I was out-of-town for work on Sunday and Monday.... so Monday night ended up being a "Daddy Special" evening.... pasta & white sauce from a jar with chicken nuggets & corn. Tuesday was only marginally better.... grilled cheese & bacon sandwiches.....

Elle called me while I was cooking to ask me how to make a volcano in the toilet* and she said, "Holy heart attack on a plate." She had French dips that night... need that recipe.

Wednesday I had big plans but had to work late so it was a Daddy night again.... Hamburger Helper. Note to self: Get more HH & egg noodles for emergencies.

Now it is Thursday and I don't have a plan at all. I think it will be refried beans & cheese on torts for everyone.... and maybe pancakes tomorrow night and a hope that I get it together for next week!

*Baking soda & vinegar.... what? How do YOU clean your toilet?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I do love me some Apartment Therapy

I will admit I don't actually KNOW anyone who LIVES in an APARTMENT but....

Has anyone done apartment therapy's "The Cure" before? Anyone want to commit to doing it when they run it in the spring? I think you have to buy the book but it looks kinda fun in a this-will-be-less-painful-when-it-is-over kind of way. I know "they" will all make fun of me and my house but I'm ok with that... as long as I get a few things accomplished.

Ok... I'll admit.... I saw "The Landing Strip" and thought I was going to have to get out lather or tweezers but I'm off the porno page and onto the decor page now.

And ya'll KNOW my house needs HALP.... actually, do you think I could get Maxwell to just adopt me as a pet project?

Ah, the challenges of a "wanna-be-modern-retro" girl combining life forces with a "hunter" guy.

I mean.... I can look at the "European" mount elk skull as appealing in a Georgia O'Keeffe sort of way.... nice shape and contrast with the wall.... but there are some things I just can't overlook.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dinner: Weekend Edition

Sunday I made beans… I love beans. Cheap, easy…. What’s not to love?? Now, this would be an excellent weeknight meal EXCEPT… my slow cooker is HOT. Really hot. And I’m afraid it will boil dry if I leave it on all day…. Even on low. So we made them on Sunday.

There are a lot of methods to making beans and I rarely use the same one twice.

I don’t usually bother to soak my beans overnight. These were pintos from my aunt’s farm…. But they are old so I wasn’t sure how they would cook up… turns out they were fine.

First, rinse the beans well. Gritty beans are not good. You can quote me on that. Toss ‘em in the slow cooker with lots of water and let ‘er rip… hee-hee. I threw in a chopped up onion and a couple of chopped jalapeno peppers as well. Near the end I tossed in a couple strips of cooked bacon to entice the wee ones to eat the beans… my kids love bacon… like little treasures in the bean field.

Then I got crazy and made corn bread in my cast iron skillet. I have no perfect recipe… I just use what is on the back of the corn bread bag…. Usually turns out ok.

We also made tortillas. Super easy especially when you have a rolling pin master like Hot at the wheel… my tortillas tend to be the fluffy thick kind… his are thin and more traditional…. He has more patience.

So we piled on cheese, beans, sour cream & homemade green tomatillo salsa and had dinner as a family. Oh… that reminds me to give you the tomatillo salsa recipe…. It is from here and works really well with my handy dandy new stick blender. We eat it on everything…. Tuff will eat it with a spoon if you let her…. And, of course, I let her….

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mission Next

Ok, so we did socks.... and it was a bit of a disappointment for me.... my sock drawer was fairly tame... I did trash a couple pairs of formerly-black trouser socks and add those to the list of things I want for Christmas.....

Let's finish up with unmentionables, shall we?

I have one big drawer in a two drawer dresser that is all about socks, undies & bras. Socks on the right side, bras on the left and undies (in a box) in the middle.
I realized something a few months after Tuff was born.... my panties were in sad shape, and, bonus, breast feeding meant I wouldn't be, ahem, potentially messing them up monthly... if you know what I mean..... So I did a major panty-raid then... but that's been years ago... let's see what we can get rid of today, shall we?

So after Tuff was born I hit a great 10 for 25 sale at Vickie's Secret and restocked. Yes, 10 for 25. Who-hoo. Then I tossed all those stretched out undies that served me so well during pregnancy and the messy weeks after. Today I only got rid of 4 pairs.... one worn out, two uncomfortable and one ugly.

I prefer a combo of thong, bikini & boy short panties... not all at once, of course. Is that too much information? And I really like the thin jockey boy-cuts at Macy's... but I only have one pair and they were a freebie giveaway this spring.

Here's a view of a selection of my (clean) undies:

I'm not wearing any of those panties today. Darn, I love that little girl. And she's so good at dressing herself!

And then there are bras. I have two I wear for work on a regular basis and two that are backups and uncomfortable as hell but will do in a pinch... I should replace those. I usually wear some sort of workout tank with a build in bra on weekends. I also have a fake-Spanx tank top and two slips in my panty drawer.

So, yes, I have two functional bras... what of it? How many of the many, many bras in your drawer do you actual wear regularly? Oh.

Ok, in the name of full disclosure..... I also have a plastic box in the closet with some "special" unmentionables... when I am 96 and die my kids will howl when they clean THAT box out. But, while the kids are little, those sweetie little things really only see the light of day for holidays... like Valentine's and birthdays and Christmas Eve. And I just heard both my brother and my father fall over dead. Sorry guys.

It's much easier to report the unmentionables of Hot Stuff.... he doesn't wear any. Unless he's on a fire... then it is one added layer of protection before he burns the boys. Uh, and he likes boxer briefs... I've tried getting him the dark colored ones to hide the soot but I never get the right kind so he's on his own now. And I just heard my husband fall over dead.

Sweet wears mostly tighty-whiteys with super heros on them... although he has started showing a preference for the boxer-briefs..... He hasn't outgrown his undies as fast as the rest of his clothes so he actually has some that fit... there were a few days in there when he was "out" of size 2-3 but I hadn't shopped for bigger that were, um, a little soprano around our house.

Tuff likes pink panties. And she really likes them to have princesses on them or tinkerbell... I do what I can. And pink pullups for bed time. Not diapers. Not leftover spiderman pullups from her brother. Pink. Pullup. Ah... two. And I confess we just got a stash of hand-me-down princess panties from her cousin and I have no problem letting her wear them. Is that bad parenting?

Ok, go to your undie drawer. Release the worn, the frayed, the uncomfortable and the ugly. Go.


So Elle is back at her de-cluttering mission. We discussed it last week and decided she’d pick the first topic and she went for…. Socks.

This is funny to me since most of the athletic socks I own she gave me…. I just have a hard time finding good socks so when I see her wearing some I like I tell her… and then she buys them for me… it works.

So… socks.

I have a good stash of athletic socks… my favorites being low-cut ones that have some clever designs on them… from Sam’s Club or Costco I think…. Have to ask Elle. I trashed a bunch of them last January in the great closet clean out and I hate to sound hokey but I feel so light and free now.

I confess a love of Smart Wool…. For work and play. Pricey but oh-so-worth it. I tend to wear jeans and black tops in the winter and nothing says fun like a pair of striped smart wools peeking out over my Dansko’s. Plus, it entertains me during the legislative session. I also have on hand several pairs of thin, plain black trouser socks… and two pairs in a slightly dressier finish that I can wear with my heeled, closed-toed mules on days I need to power dress. Oh… I also have a pair of those toes-only socks to wear with above mentioned mules for summer power dressing.

I also confess to being a seasonal sock person. I have a pair of Valentine’s Day socks & a pair of Easter socks and 3 pairs of Christmas socks…. All tasteful… I assure you.

I think that covers my sock collection. I didn’t count but if Elle wants a tally I would say I have 8 pairs of athletic socks, 3 pairs of SW hiking socks, probably a dozen or more pairs of dress socks, 5 pairs of seasonal socks and two pairs of ski socks. I also have 2 pairs of heavy-weight black tights and one pair of really cool grey textured tights. And I’m wearing a pair of smart wool socks in an autumn stripe today.

Have you ever noticed when you are in a meeting and people are seated you really notice their socks… especially if the seating is theater-style. I have an idol and he always has on the nicest and blackest socks I’ve ever seen…. He also wears very nice suits and always has a fine pen in his pocket and a soft-spoken way that inspires confidence and awe…. But it all starts with the socks.

My sweet hubby wears Smart Wool…. And he prefers the over-the-calf heavy-weight ones…. At $22 each. Indeed… the value of his sock drawer is more than my computer. But he knows what he likes and there is a value in that, right? He also has a random selection of white crew athletic socks that are replaced on a regular basis because life is too short to wear threadbare socks.

Sweet is hard on socks. Wow. His socks are purchased in 3 or 6 packs from Ross. Shorties for summer and crew for winter. 2 pairs of Smart Wool for sledding.
I don’t like Hanes…. They don’t fit right and don’t stay up on him. I do like Puma. And whatever the ones he has now…. I just got new ones and tossed all the grungy ones from this summer…. WHERE did he learn to go out on the porch in his socks? Oh.

He does have a couple pairs with spiderman on them…. Cute, but I’m not paying extra for them… I think they are from the dollar store.

Tuff loves socks. Pink socks. Her two favorites are hot pink ones with frogs on the side and pink/white striped ones with kitties on them. She also has a few pairs with ruffly edges and some with fire engines. I just got her a 6-pack of plain white bobby socks… not the cutest thing ever but they sure are easy in the morning.

And tights. Tuff just discovered tights. Thanks to a very generous hand-me-down bag she has lots of cutie-pie Children’s Place tights.

And a note on baby socks. Put them in a lingerie bag in the wash…. They won’t go down the drain, they are easy to sort & match and you won’t have an embarrassing situation involving a baby sock static-clinging to an awkward place inside your clothing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

More bread recipes

Ok. I love my basic bread dough recipe. But check out this one from Mommymommyland.

I love that girl.... and I'm making more bread tonight.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's Cooking???

So I have this theory. I have this theory that if I make up a list of 10-15 weeknight meals for each season then I will have less anxiety when, on occasion, my kids eat hot dogs & nuggets & mac-n-cheese for dinner.... with no veggies.

So that's how it started.

Then I enlisted the help of my sister and my brother.

My brother was very little help. When I asked him to list his 5 favorite meals he said, "spaghetti, tacos, pizza, leftover spaghetti, anything my boss is buying...."

My sister, however, is becoming Doris Domestic and she had lots of great ideas.

My plan is to make these things fit into my grocery budget, include leftovers for work lunches and make "two-fers" as often as possible.

So, here, I present the first of our Fall Season menus.

Day 1: Porcupine Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes.

My mom makes porcupine meatballs all the time... turns out she makes them in the pressure cooker. I needed the pressure cooker for the potatoes (and my sister, gasp, doesn't OWN a pressure cooker) so, if you want a recipe, google it.

My recipe is, basically, this:
2 lbs burger (I used elk)
one packet onion soup mix (seasoning base for all redneck meals)
some water
2/3 c rice, uncooked

Make meatballs and brown them in an electric skillet. Then add 2 15oz cans of tomato sauce, maybe some Italian seasoning, more water (a cup or two??) and simmer for a while. 40 minutes maybe?

Scrub some potatoes, cut up and put in pressure cooker with water. Bring to shht-shht and cook for 6-7 minutes. Cool and drain. Mash with handy-dandy stick blender, milk, salt & pepper. If you want to get fancy add some cream cheese or that seasoned cheese.... I rarely get fancy.

Serve with veggie of choice from the freezer or call the tomato sauce a veggie.

Ok, I got a little fancy and made homemade rolls for day 2. I make the dough in the breadmaker and then cook the rolls in the oven.

1 c warm water
2 tsp yeast
1 egg
4 TBS butter
4 TBS dry milk
4 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
4 c flour

Day 2: Meatball Sandwiches

Rolls. Reheated meat balls. Mozzarella cheese slices (from last weekend's faker eggplant Parmesan and tomorrow night's homemade pizza.)

Broil until warm and bubbly. Serve with a side of veggies (corn for the kids, leftover squash for me) and apple slices. My kids were not crazy about the sandwiches so next time I think I'd take some of the leftovers for lunch and let them have warm chicken nugget sandwiches...what? We're about simple.

Note: My sister made the meatballs the night before I did and used beef and they were good. But our burger is pretty lean... you might have to drain off the fat after you brown the meatballs if you use normal burger.

Tonight's menu is chicken tender salads.... I have some greens I need to use up. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

So I was reading Oprah the other day.....

So I was reading Oprah the other day..... and there was a big article about pink stuff for cancer... ice cream scoops and nail polish and whatnot (I love saying "whatnot" because it makes my urban friends cringe.... they also don't like "jiffy" for some reason....).

So I'm thinkin'....

WHY can't they do a set of markers in shades of pink?

Do you hear me Oprah?

I'd buy 15 sets for all the little princess-obsessed rugrats in my life.... it is a sure fire money maker.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Corn Huskers

Every moment is a teaching moment. (That's what my mom says... here she is in action.)

We love mud

Monday, October 06, 2008

Trash Day

Caroline commented on the last post about budgeting garbage.

Love it.

We have to haul our garbage to town to the "transfer station." I think we could have curbside but I don't want to pay for it and I would have to haul in the recycling anyway.

We keep three big plastic garbage cans in the garage. Ew, I know. But in the fall the bears get in them if they aren't in the garage. I have no idea how often we go to the dump... twice a month? Every three weeks?

So Hot worked all of August. 100 hour weeks... no, not 100 hour pay periods... 100 hour weeks. This is fantastic for our budget but it gets a little old for the day-to-day household things. For example, Sweet doesn't like to go to bed without daddy-books.... Goodnight Moon and Guess How Much I Love You... complete with charade-like action are their favorites. Nothing cuter than a 2-year-old plopping her fuzzy-jammie clad self on the couch and declaring, "I wait." when told Daddy isn't going to be home for bedtime....

So the kids and I figured out a new dump-plan.... I condensed the garbage into bags, piled them in the back of the Subie, grabbed the kids & the dump pass... and dropped it all off on the way to daycare in the mornings. I saved a trip to town on the weekend AND driving the gas-hog-air-conditioning-is-out pickup AND avoided the weekend crowds. All while taking care of my main goal which was making sure Hot didn't feel like he was dropping the ball on household stuff because of fires. I don't think he had a clue we were being all yuppie-hippie taking the Subaru to the dump until he saw the dump pass in the visor.... and then he was slightly horrified but mostly impressed.... I could tell....