Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blending In

I have greatly enjoyed making my own baby food for my little one. Crazy that we are coming up on a year since I started doing this. The best methods for me have been using a blender or food processor after I have cooked a food to make it soft. Well, best and cheapest as I already had these appliances. I began thinking before the holidays, though, that a small hand blender would be great. I could cook something in a pot (some apples or a soup or other food) and then just stick my hand blender right in and blend up the food. Less mess, less cleanup, more convenient...all the things I like! So I asked for one for Christmas from a relative and it has been great! I think it might actually work better than my blender ever did. And it doesn't take up much cabinet space. And it does the job quickly. And there is not much to clean up when it is done. I think I could go on and on about how great it has been, but hopefully you get the point. I tried to get an "action" shot while it is doing it's job.

This is what works for me. For more great tips and ideas on what working for others, head on over to We Are THAT Family.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - January 25

Really working hard to get back on track with meal planning. Not just for the week, but for a month at a time. And it helps tremendously! And I've overestimated enough meals this week-thus pushing meals back to the following week- that I already have my first week of February planned based on overture! Nice! Here are some of the main foods we will be enjoying this week.

Cheese Quesadillas
Blueberry Pancakes
Whole Wheat Waffles
Spinach Tortellini Soup
Easy Crock-pot Tater Soup
Chili Cheese Biscuit Pies 
Autumn Sausage Casserole 
My son has been much better the past couple of days at trying new foods, so I am excited to see how this week and some of the recipes go over with him.
For more great menus and meal ideas, head on over to Orgjunkie.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Time to Evaluate!

I just wrote this post a few weeks ago, less than a month, but I feel a need to evaluate where I am with my efficiency. Why? Because I need to inspire myself. Inspire myself to evaluate why I chose this word for my year and how I am doing with living by it.
I am trying to live by this word in all areas of my life. There are various areas of my life that are easier to evaluate than others. Ultimately, though, I feel I am falling short thus far. Again, this is not for pity, not necessarily for encouragement, but really to inspire myself back to why I chose the word and create more change.
I think I have fallen short mainly because I make excuses.
I am pregnant.
I am tired.
I'll do it tomorrow.
I don't want to wake my son from his nap.
I'll get to it.
I'll do it on my day off.
And on, and on, and on...
Today is a good example of falling short.
I did run a few errands, get some grocery shopping done, spend time with my son, make a soup for my son to stock the freezer with...and this seems good. But I also spend time, way too much time, being lazy around the house for no good reason...
There is stuff sitting in my upstairs hallway that needs to be stored in the attic...
There are dishes that need to be done...
There are things to work on for prepping to have baby #2 soon...
There are three books that I have started but read none of today...
There is an exercise bike begging to be used...
There is clutter...lots and lots of clutter...
There is dust on the furniture, dirt on the floor, grime in the name it, we have it...and yet, I sat, surfing the internet and watching TV and being lazy...
I do not look back on today proud of my efficiency. Instead I look back on today and realize that I am not living up to my word. I realize that I need evaluation today, and I will probably need it again tomorrow, and next week, and next month...I realize that I need to post this word in more places in my house so that I am reminded of my goal more often...I realize that I need to be an example in my house...I realize that if I don't learn to live by this word with one kid I am never gonna make it with two...
And so, here I once again hold up my glass of sparkling apple cider and say "Here's to being more efficient in the new year!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

WFMW - Recipe Collection

I have struggled for a long time on the best way to keep track of recipes. I have magazine clippings, cooking books, internet sites, recipes on my computer, etc, etc... I LOVE making new recipes, so I am always saving recipes that I just might to use one day. But then when meal planning time comes along, I am just trying to be efficient and quick in finding recipes and making a list. But quick and efficient does not go along with finding all sorts of recipes in different locations all over my house and computer.
In steps Evernote. My husband (and quite a few other people I know) has used this for some time now to take notes, but it has taken me a while to actually learn about it and decide whether I wanted to take time to try it out. I finally decided YES. But not so much for taking notes. At least not yet. But for now, recipes is my thing.
1. It's free.
2. It's simple.
3. It's practical.
4. It's efficient.
I haven't tried out everything it has to offer yet, but I have been able to quickly go through recipe files on my computer, clip them (including any pictures I had in the document), transfer to Evernote, add tags, add a URL source, and watch it work. I can also clip info straight off a website and do the same thing. I can quickly add all my recipes to Evernote, and then I will be able to search quicker then ever before...I can look up a specific ingredient, look up what my tags are, quickly look at pictures...whatever works for the mood I am in. And quickly. My next step is taking all my clippings and scanning them, or finding them on line and adding them into my new collection.
It works for me, and even if it is not for recipes, I hope it can work for you too. Check out this site for more great ideas!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meal Planning Conflicts

I mentioned here how I seem to have a habit of planning too many meals for what we actually end up eating in a week. Even in a regular week I thought maybe I had planned too much for this week, and the funny thing is that it is already Thursday and we have only had two of the recipes I planned for, the Apple and Sausage Pie and the Blueberry Snack Cake.
Random things happen that we don't get to all the meals.
Sometimes it is that there are more leftovers from a meal than I planned for and we eat the leftovers before preparing extra meals.
Sometimes one of us will get a craving (I am pregnant, and my husband gets pregnant cravings too!) and we will fill that craving and save the planned meal for another time.
Sometimes other plans come up for a meal that we hadn't planned on, like getting invited to a friend's house.
So, this week.
I got some cheap, and oh so good, avocados from the store and we made some guacamole. Honestly, this sometimes becomes a meal for us, and it did. For two nights this week. That, along with some bread with dipping oil that my husband was craving.
Then last night we made the pie and it was really good. So good, that since we were short on prep time tonight, we decided to eat the leftovers for dinner.
It was simple, and good. And what's really exciting is that, as picky as our son has become about trying new foods, he tried all the ingredients in this. Before it was all put together, but I was excited still. He tried the crust and liked it. He tried the apples after they were cooked in onion and garlic, and liked them. He tried the sausage, and like it. He tried the feta cheese and liked it. Success on many fronts with this meal! I recommend it!
I also made the Blueberry Snack Cake for breakfast this morning and it was a hit as well. So much so that I forgot to get a picture of that one.
Lots of meals yet to try. All ingredients already purchased. We are invited to a friend's for dinner this Saturday. I think we might have some meals for next week.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - January 11

Seems like I have a habit of planning for more food in a week than we actually get to. Or we have other random meals and don't fully get around to what was planned...either way, I still have all the ingredients and plan to make the tomato soup with some grilled cheese sandwiches Monday. It's still cold and I'm looking forward to this.
My review from last week: when making a soup with mostly milk, be sure and stir like the recipe calls for...I'm still trying to scrape the burntness off the bottom of my pan! And what a bummer how a little burning on the bottom makes the whole batch taste burnt, or as my husband graciously called it "smokey!" Even though my husband and my 1 year old turned their noses up at first glance of the vegetable soup, they both enjoyed it when they actually tried it! Success!

So, for this week:
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup (out of the freezer)
Hearty Tomato Soup
Artichoke Chicken
Apple and Sausage Pie
Apple Chicken Quesadilla
Blueberry Snack Cake

Okay, so that looks like a lot of food again, but I don't have to buy too many ingredients to make it all happen, and there's a good possibility that at least one of these meals will carry over to next week. It's all good.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Jan 4

I am excited to start the New Year off right with healthy meals and great recipes!

We had plenty to eat last week and never got to the Creamy Corn Chowder, so that is first on my list to make this week. Actually, it is freezing here and I am thinking of making all soups this week because that is what sounds really good when the weather gets cold.

So, Creamy Corn Chowder, Hearty Tomato Soup, and Vegetable Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Rosemary to use up some extra sweet potatoes I have from when they were so cheap over the holidays.

These three soups, as well as other foods we have on hand for breakfast and lunches should easily get us through the week.

What's on your menu this week? For other great ideas head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Word for 2010!

I was recently reading one of my favorite blogs. Why is it one of my faves? She has a big family (and I think that is fun), she is very creative, she is very real, I love her photography, etc...

So I was reading this post of hers, and I was inspired...the premise is to not make a bunch of (or even a few) New Year's resolutions, but instead to choose one word that would sink into every part of my life, becoming my focus for 2010.

I started thinking about this on my own and came up with what I thought I wanted my word to be. But on a longer drive today, I brought the idea up to my husband and asked him what word he would choose. As he was contemplating, I began rethinking my word, wanting to possibly change it to another...

When he was done thinking he asked what my word was and I explained my original word and why I wanted it, but also explained my new word and why I was thinking of changing it...and he laughed. Not because of my words, but because through his thought process he had come up with those very two words, but then ultimately decided on a third word that he felt encompassed the first two words more fully. I laughed too. And I was very excited that we were on the same page with what we want 2010 to look like, and excited that we could have a "family word" and spur each other on.

Sorry if you are in utter suspense now and overly excited to know our "word."

Our first two that we separately came up with were 'simplicity' and 'discipline'. How could we live with more simplicity, how could we simplify our lives, our home, our everyday occurrences and daily routines? How could we be more disciplined in the things we do, in eating better and exercising more regularly, in our relationship with God, in keeping our home in order?

These are all good things, but the third and final word that we decided upon we believe will encompass all of this and more: efficiency. How can we be more efficient with our time, our resources, our bodies? Can we become more efficient because we are simplifying, and can we become more efficient as we learn to be more disciplined? I think so. We think so. So this is our word for 2010, and I feel the need to write it here so that it is in writing somewhere for sure!

Efficiency. Achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort.