Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Back to School Lunch Box Ideas

I've been doing research on what to pack in my son's lunch box. Why? Up to this point, my husband had taken care of school lunches. But now, since we'll have two households, I don't think I can count on him to take care of that anymore!

I wanted to find fun, yummy and fairly healthy foods for my son. Things that I'd pack myself for lunch. Since I've been to a ton of different websites and compiled a list for my own convenience, I thought I'd share the ideas with others.

Main Dishes
  1. Sandwiches - PB&J, PB&Banana with Honey, Various meats & cheeses, egg salad, chicken salad. Liven up the sandwiches by using pita bread, mini bagels, tortillas, English muffins, dinner rolls, regular sized bagels with cream cheese, or use cookie cutters to make sandwiches into neat shapes
  2. Macaroni & cheese (try to slip in some steamed broccoli or another veggie they'd like)
  3. Potstickers with dipping sauce on the side
  4. Cold tofu with a soy, sesame oil and green onion dipping sauce (serve w/edamame)
  5. Cold noodle salads (sesame noodles with chicken)
  6. Pig in a blanket (a hot dog baked in a crescent roll/biscuit coating)
  7. Hot soup in a thermos
  8. Cubed cheeses with cubed ham, crackers, olives, pickles, and artichoke hearts (think: party tray)
  9. Try chicken salad in an apple "cup" - cut the top 1/3 of the apple off and removed interior flesh, fill with chicken salad and replace the top
Side Dishes
  1. Carrot sticks and other veggies with ranch dip in a container
  2. Low-fat crisps/chips (smaller snack size bags)
  3. Rice cakes or oat cakes
  4. Baked pita chips (easy to do at home, using pita bread)
  5. Pasta salad
  6. Potato salad
  7. Rice pudding
  8. Banana or zucchini bread, also try carrot pineapple muffins
  9. Dried fruit (apricots, raisins, etc.)
  10. Fruit salad, fruit cocktail (remember to buy those with light syrup or juice)
  11. Fresh fruit (apples, bananas, citrus, pears, pineapple, melon, cherries, grapes, peaches, nectarines, kiwi, mangoes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)...make fruit more interesting by placing it on bamboo skewers
  12. Granola / trail mix (Wild Oats' website has recipe for trail mix)
  13. Applesauce cup
  14. Olives / pickles
  15. String cheese
  16. Yogurt
  17. Reduced fat, hard cheese
Drinks
  1. Water
  2. Water with a Country Time lemonade pack mixed in (low sugar and it's real sugar, not HFCS)
  3. Sparkling water flavored with fruit
  4. 1% milk (regular or chocolate)
  5. Juice box (check to make sure it's 100% juice...freeze the juice box and it'll thaw by lunch)
General Tips
  1. Use low-fat cheese on sandwiches. Though cheese provides calcium, it's the second leading source of artery-clogging saturated fat in kids' diets.
  2. Switch from ham, bologna, salami, pastrami or corned beef to low-fat alternatives. You can still buy the ham and bologna...just look for a lower-fat, lower-sodium variety.
  3. Include at least one serving of fruit in each lunch.
  4. Use whole grain breads instead of white breads (beware of 'enriched flour'...it means it was ground so fine that it lost all it's nutrients and they've been added back in; however, your body doesn't absorb the added nutrients the same way it would in their natural forms).
  5. Limit cookies, snack cakes, doughnuts, brownies, and other sweet baked goods. These are big sources of saturated fats.
  6. Pack baked snacks instead of fried snacks - even if they use Olean (it can cause cramping & diarrhea...cha cha cha).
  7. If you send juice, use 100% juice.
  8. Avoid Lunchables.
If you have any ideas to add to mine, leave me a comment...I can certainly use any good suggestions! Also, if you haven't checked it out, Google 'laptop lunches' to see the American version of the Japanese bento box.

Monday, August 13, 2007

So, what would you do?

I have been hurriedly searching for a place to live the last few weeks. I've been searching online, in newspapers, and by word of mouth. And after about a month, I don't really have much to show for my efforts.

My problem? Well, it's a few things.

First, I have a small budget that I'd like to stick to, simply because I don't feel like throwing away most of my paycheck each month to someplace that isn't going to give me much return in the way of a long term investment.

Second, I will have a 7 year old boy half of each week and that cramps some folks' style.

Last, I have certain standards that I won't compromise on. I won't live with a creepy 45 year old man who's interested in the fact that I'll be recently divorced. I won't live with partying 21 year old kids. Or people who have older kids that may prematurely educate my son about some of the more delicate intricacies of the relationships between men and women.

So, right now, I feel that I'm faced with two choices.

The first...dum - dum - dummm - is a mobile home in a small trailer park not too far from here. Or as my friend Ben would call it, "wheel estate." I would have one small room to myself, the living room and a small kitchen. The owners keep the other room and are in town about 3-4 weeks per year. Otherwise, it's all mine. Yup. And, in case you're wondering, the trailer park is just like you'd imagine a trailer park being. Inexpensive cars...lots of them...The only other thing is I am not sure if trailers get more bugs than regular apartments...I hate spiders...or if they're more/less expensive in regards to utilities. It's also an older place, but has new carpet and paint. And a swamp cooler. That's right, no A/C.

The second is a room and shared living space in an apartment just across from mine. The benefits of this place is that it's really close to my son's school. I'd be in a regular apartment, so I know what to expect, and I'd still live close to my neighbors that I'm friends with. Very close. But I would also have company. I guess that can be good or bad, depending on how well we get along long-term. Also, my current place also has an exercise room. The bad part, I'd be sharing with a 24 year old bachelor. But, he's the geeky, non-partying type...so maybe?

Each would probably cost about the same.

So, what would you do?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Got a job!

Since I'm not starting until the 20th, I'm not going to say too much about it except that I'm really happy!

I think that the people are going to be great to work with and that it will be a fun place to work. I feel like my coworkers will be very supportive of me and allow me to grow.

Yay!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Crazy Week, Anyone?

When Monday rolled around, I thought that it was just me. I was feeling a little down in the dumps but figured that it was the result of a few small things that were bothering me. Nothing important, but just made me feel "blah."

So, I thought, I need to call a friend and get cheered up by hearing about someone else's good week. So far, this is what my friends have been going through this week.

1. One friend has mono, stress at work, stress with friends and stress from their ex.

2.
One friend got a flat tire on Tuesday and was laid off on Wednesday. They also still haven't found a new place to live and their lease expires tomorrow.

3.
Another friend was feeling so blue that she left work early. Twice. One day, she left at 12:30pm. (Oh the lucky ones who get to work at a family business!)

4.
The first friend I'd called had been dumped at 6am that morning. I called them at 8:30am. No chance they were going to cheer me up.

5.
A family member moved from one state to another and a bunch of her stuff was broken due to poor packaging by the friend she'd hired.

6.
My poor son got scratched in a freak cat-accident at a neighbor's house.

7.
My poor, poor son got debris in his eye while playing with sticks and stuff outside and had to undergo the terrible treatment of an eye washing by evil Nurse Mom.

Whew, am I ready for Friday!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Guess what I learned to do?

I learned to change the oil in my car! Yay!

I know that it seems silly that I should be so excited about changing my oil (and believe me, I was SO excited), but it was an accomplishment to me.

I think that every girl should know how to change their own oil in their car. Thank goodness for my neighbor Ben, who showed me how and made sure to emphasize what I should and should not do. Basically, it's pretty easy as long as you remember those things.

I've also learned (but I'm still practicing) how to whistle when you put two fingers in your mouth. Another of my neighbors, Christine, taught me how to do that. And every time I successfully whistle, I start laughing like mad. I can't help it, I'm just SO tickled to be able to do something that I didn't think that I'd ever be able to do.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Drew Carey Career Aptitiude Test

Just for kicks, I completed the online Drew Carey Career Aptitude test. Here are my results.

Drew Carey Career Aptitude Test on tbs.com

Monday, June 25, 2007

How to Raise Intelligent, Healthy, Happy Kids

Doesn't that sound like the handbook you should've been handed when your child was born?

Instead of having one essential manual to raising children, there are about 100,000 "authorities" on the subject, including our parents, siblings, friends and even complete strangers.

Your boss knows just the trick to make your child sleep through the night (and NO, it didn't work). Your mother-in-law is sure that you're breastfeeding your child too often. And, by the way, won't that rot their teeth? And while we're talking about health, your own mother thinks that the baby is overweight and that it's a permanent condition.

Child-rearing is one of the most individual experiences I've ever known. While certain books were helpful (What to Expect When You're Expecting), many were either overkill or simply wrong. And good intentions aside, I almost felt like everyone's suggestions were somehow compensation for not doing something right when they raised their own kids (who are often times akin to demon-spawn).

So all that being said, here are the few things that I think may apply to everyone:

1. Time goes faster than you think. I know that sounds simple. But the faster you can start relishing every day, week and month instead of looking forward to the next part in your child's life, the better. I wish the last eight years had gone slower. I hope that time slows down even now.

2. Good manners are a must. Start coaching before he can speak. And keep reinforcing all during his youth. Otherwise, he will annoy his teachers, friends and friends' parents. It's MUCH harder to learn good manners when you're older, help him out by starting now.

3. Nutrition will affect how he learns. Have a good, balanced diet including plenty of vegetables. Sneak them in casseroles if you have to, and try your best to help your child experiment with food more. Again, it's a life-long habit.

4. Don't try to be a best friend. Be a Parent. They'll have lots of other friends, but only two parents. Kids need discipline (I said 'discipline', not 'punishment'), and it makes their lives easier to know what's expected of them. Kids whose parents are lax on discipline have a difficult time at school and making friends.

5. Spend quality time with your kids. This does NOT include watching TV. The most important part of quality time is talking and really listening. Most of the time when my son goes into another long-winded story about some new Storm Trooper ship he's created my mind immediately wants to wander. But, it's important to him, ergo, it's important to me.

6. Don't let him chicken out of experiences when it's safe. My son tries to convince me to let him skip his swim lessons. I can't blame him for trying. :) But I know that it's safe and that it's just the fear of the water that makes him hate it. But ultimately, he's way better off if I stick to my guns and insist he try it. He was also trying to refuse taking his training wheels off his bike. That was about 1 week ago. He rides his bike with more comfort than me now! Sans training wheels.

Well, that's about all I know. Good luck to anyone raising their own.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Thursday, June 07, 2007

2nd Grade Already!!

That's right.

I'm the proud mother of a child headed into second grade this fall. Eek!

When we were young kids, most of us wished to be older. Now, of course, most of us wish we could be younger!

But mostly, now I just wish to be aware enough to enjoy each moment with my son...because lord knows that I haven't figured out the secret to slowing down time.

This year has flown by. I was lucky enough to be at home with my son this year, so I got to meet and interact with all of the children and parents from his class. It was an awesome experience.

I've met people from Finland, Burma, England, New Orleans, Cascadia (California), along with a few locals as well. And they pretty much were friendly, nice people no matter where they were from.

We went shopping together, went for coffee together, had birthday parties together, shared food and recipes, went for walks and hikes together, and volunteered at many school events.

I think that I'll really miss being at home now that I've had such an amazing year with these wonderful people.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Dating after marriage

What a strange new territory. I never really thought about dating again until recently. After going to court and turning in the proper paperwork to get my divorce moving, it starts to seem more like a real possibility.

The problem? The last time I dated, I thought this: dating sucks.

Sure, it's fun, having those first excited feelings when you meet someone new, but after a few go-rounds with some...*a-hem*...losers, the appeal of dating now seems even less thrilling than when I was younger and could still qualify as somebody's "trophy wife."

These days, I'm nobody's "trophy" (of course referring strictly to looks). I'm a mom and I'm almost 30. And, I look about right for those circumstances, perhaps better than some. But it's not my looks (or theirs) that concerns me.

I think about how long it really takes to get to know someone. And to trust them. I have a difficult enough time just making good friends, let alone trying to find someone good enough to share my life and my bed with.

I guess I can try to forget about dating and focus on trying to fulfill all of my dreams for myself. And maybe if Mr. Right happens along at the right moment, I'll notice him. In the meanwhile, I think I need to make sure to avoid all the Mr. Wrongs that apparently think that physical attraction is the main basis for all good relationships.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Annoyed.

Okay, since I'm going through a divorce, there are many things that I get annoyed at, as you might imagine.

I get annoyed at the thought of all the stuff that's been bothering me for years, the things that led me to get divorced and the fact that my husband still doesn't get it. He doesn't understand that while trust issues are at the heart of many of our problems, the other "little things" are probably worse.

How would you feel if:

You were sick enough to call in to work and stay home, but your spouse didn't ask you how you felt, if you wanted a drink or some medicine from the store, or left your child at home for you to care for them while you're sleeping...because you're SICK?!

You agree to become the partner that works while your spouse stays at home to raise the child for a while...and they promise that they'll do this job well (you explain that they need to do all the stuff you do) and then, they never dust, vacuum once every couple of weeks, usually didn't make dinner and also didn't bother doing a good job folding your laundry. Not to mention that they took plenty of time to go have coffee with friends at the Starbucks all the time.

Whenever your family or friends came over, all of sudden your spouse becomes Mr. Congeniality. Offering to get everyone drinks, food, being in general charming, friendly and smiling, while during the rest of your life, he's nothing like that.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Green tea as a diet aid?

I like to drink green tea, but I usually don't drink it in large quantities. But after reading a post on Craigslist, I decided to try out consuming more to see if I "got the burn!"

So, I drank one more very large cup than I usually would (probably around 5-6 cups total) and I can't believe how hot I got! It woke me up last night and I had to open my sliding door for air.

Also, this morning, I started with one cup of green tea and it warmed me up so much I was the only parent dropping my kid off at school who wasn't cold.

I was guessing that it must have increased my metabolism, but I wanted to know more after experiencing such immediate results. So, I googled green tea and weight loss and found this article...it was a study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/70/6/1040

It showed that green tea consumption (not just caffeine, but green tea) increased the body's natural energy expenditure during the day and promotes fat oxidation.

Awesome!

So, I'm going to keep it up and see how much of a difference I see in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gotta shed a few pounds

I've decided that I need to get back into the swing of things and lose a few pounds. Or, more specifically, inches.

I'd like to trim my tummy down and lose a little overall so that my arms, thighs, butt is slimmer in general.

So, I've been reading different things about how to lose weight. Of course, there are as many diets out there as there are dieters, so it's a hard thing to figure out exactly what to do. I've decided, that in addition to bicycling 3x week, I need to start walking on the other days, at least 30 minutes of hard walking. I also want to start some tummy exercises, but I find the ones I've tried too challenging for a beginner, so I'm going to try some dance-exercise stuff to strengthen up before trying the harder stuff.

But the hardest part will be the diet. I know that I should be eating loads of fruits and veggies...but when I'm choosing between an extra helping of broccoli and another serving of pasta with cheese, broccoli loses! I think that I need to find more exciting ways to prepare fruits and veggies. I also need to find more ways to make them convenient, so that it's easier to eat a banana than reheat my rich chicken leftovers from the night before.

I also need to start incorporating some of those key snacking staples...nuts, water, green tea, high fiber granola, peanut butter, cheese, etc., in healthy portions.

I should weigh/measure myself now and track my loss. Maybe that's what I'll do today!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What makes a good job?

I've heard people say that you should work doing something that you would do even if you weren't getting paid.

Since there are few jobs that pay you to eat or shop, and even fewer that pay well, I've decided that the above advice is nice in theory but may lack in feasibility.

When you decide to look for your next job, what are the criteria that come to mind? How does one determine whether a job is good, bad or simply mediocre? Of course, this is all subjective, so everyone's answer will be different.

Money
Like it or not, money is essential if you don't have a trust fund from a rich dead uncle. But obviously, money is not important enough to override things like a bad working environment or inability to advance.

People
Your boss, coworkers, and customers will probably be a huge make-or-break point at your new job. The only way to avoid working with jerks altogether is to take a position as an enbalmist...and no, I'm not interested!

Location
I hate commuting. You may love it. That could make the same job a dream job or a nightmare, depending on who's interested.

Perks
A casual dress code is a dream of mine. It makes me feel elated. Lunch on the boss/office is nice too. But jeans....oooh, I'd be in heaven. Time off to take care of personal things as necessary is also a must-have.

Room to Advance
Unless you've found the "it" job, chances are good that you'd like the ability to move up or learn a different position. I've interviewed for great jobs that had no possibility of advancement. They're also known as 'dead-end jobs.'

Appreciation
There's no substitute to having an appreciative boss and coworkers. And it's even worse if other bosses do a good job at recognizing excellence in their subordinates and your boss doesn't. You'd think that they'd teach all bosses this at boss school, but unfortunately, some of the best supervisors fall short of being great because of this.

As soon as I find my dream job at the end of summer, I'll let you know!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Today is the first day of the rest of your life...

So. If you had the chance to take back control of your life, what would you do? If you could start pursuing your own interests without having them conflict with a partner or spouse...would you start to dream bigger dreams?

Since I'm going to be divorced this year, I've started to think about what I want.

And I realized, it has been a very long time since I've thought about what I want.

Travel. Financial security. Simple furnishings in a simple home. Food...different kinds at home than I've been able to make before and trying new stuff at new restaurants. Maybe new love (but definitely on my own terms).

But mostly, I think I'd like the first four.

If you got to start dreaming anew, what would you dream of?

Friday, April 20, 2007

April 20, 2007

Today was an uneventful, yet busy, day.

My son was off from school for a professional development day, so we planned on goofing off.

We started our morning with cinnamon sugar cake doughnuts at the Marketplace Bakery. A couple of my old people were there and we enjoyed stories of camping in the snow as youngsters and some bridge talk. When I say bridge, I mean the type that goes over the water or a chasm. I never knew it but there are some that cantilever to the sides versus drawing up to allow passing boats by.

After some playing back at home, we headed over to the Jamba Juice and redeemed a coupon they'd mailed to us. We enjoyed a pomegranate smoothie and then checked out the bocce ball sets at the Sports Authority. I thought one set might be okay, but it cost $79.99, and I thought, hell, I better be sure it's okay! So we went over to Dick's at the mall and looked at their sets. They had a nice resin set but the case was busted on the bottom. And for $79.99, regardless of the 10% discount, that was no deal. Bocce balls weigh a ton and you must have a carrying case.

On the way back home, we stopped at the Target and found a nice compromise. An inexpensive set that was slightly smaller and had a simple carrying case. Since we're completely new to the sport, the $27.00 sale price was perfect.

By 5:00pm, we were in the park at the bocce courts. The weather stayed slightly warm and we played without jackets, enjoying the simple thrills that the game offered.

Dinner at home was a new recipe: basil cream chicken. It was dee-lish!

Looking forward to a relaxing weekend. I hope, I hope!

Monday, April 16, 2007

An Old Friend

My good friend that I think of often.

Mikko Robert Keskinen Davies

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My "Old People"

I moved to Colorado last summer. I didn't really know too much about the area, but thanks in large part to the friendly locals, we've been learning more and more.

Once, on a visit to a local bakery in our small old town area, I joined a group of older folks sitting at a lone table in the hall. I was welcome to join them, and have been ever since. Most of them grew up here and have been sharing the most amusing stories with me. After I visit with them, I find my mind wandering to what new stories they told me.

This is the best way to get history, if you can. Straight from the mouths of the elderly themselves who lived it as teenagers.

Some of the most amusing stories are those that tell of medicinal remedies long gone (thank goodness!). Others tell of life as teenagers in small towns and all the trouble they got in. They all remember who the town doctor was and who the sheriff was. They can tell you who owned the local homes that are now being renovated by eager new purchasers. They can tell you that the real estate office down the street used to be the mortuary. And they can tell you stories about the folks that now grace the pages of the newspaper obituary section.

If you haven't met your local old people, hurry up, before they're just an entry in the newspaper and their history is lost.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ammonia, Bleach and Baking Soda. Oh My!

I feel like I've been breathing bleach, ammonia and baking soda for the last few days! I've been helping a friend move and clean her apartments for four of the last five days. Whew! It makes you want to never move again! Or clean again, for that matter.

Unfortunately, that won't be the case for us! We feel like it's only a matter of time before our new management at our apartments discovers that we are paying month-to-month and tries to stick us with a new lease...at $250 more a month! That's what we've been hearing from our neighbors, so we are bracing ourselves for a move in our not-too-distant future.

We are also anticipating some other large changes in our personal lives, namely that my husband and I have decided to get divorced.

It's for a lot of reasons. And it's something that we've been building towards practically from the start of our relationship. I think that the biggest thing is that I got married too young. I didn't really know who I was and by the time I knew, I realized that I had a lot of issues with my husband. He's a good person and a good father, so I don't want anyone to think that he's a bad guy. We just didn't end up being a good fit, is all.

It's been a little rough trying to figure out what to do and when in the whole divorce process, but I think that so far it's going ok.

And I'm looking forward to living alone for the first time in my life. Well, except for when my son is with me and of course, I'll have a cat. So, somewhat alone, but still it will be a big change.

So, I think it will be a good change ultimately. So no need to tell me you're sorry for me. (Which, I don't think that people can help!) Caryl, nice to hear from you again, what's new in your neck of the woods?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Restaurant Review: Jim's Hamburger Haven

I think that I can finally relax. I found a good hamburger in Colorado.

Don't laugh, it's not funny. In fact, it's been a very sad, long search for a burger worth mentioning.

But at last, after a good recommendation (which are just as rare in CO as a good burger), we ventured out to Jim's Hamburger Haven in Arvada, CO on Sunday morning.

Based on the online reviews I'd read, I ordered the small, double meat with cheese, everything on it, with a side of onion rings and a vanilla shake. Next time, I think I'll order a large double meat with extra cheese and a side of fries and a coke.

I think that the key (besides a fresh, hot, really prepared when you order it burger) lies in the seasonings. The burger uses good beef and the smell hits you when you open the door.

The restaurant itself is reminiscent of times gone by, with small framed photos of classic cars hung on several walls. The employees are young, friendly and efficient...an awesome combination.

The onion rings were crisp and tasty, but after going so long without a good burger, I could've simply skipped the rings and eaten two burgers. But still, they are pretty darn good. Especially for a breaded onion ring.

The prices are very reasonable and the kids' meals are served in cool classic car cardboard boxes.

I heartily recommend a trip to this small, hometown burger stand. It's worth it.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Couple of household tips:

Use a small amount of white vinegar in your rinse cycle to soften clothes.

When the weather is going to drop below freezing, spread a little bit of silicone on the rubber part of your car door to avoid having your door freeze shut.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Menu for the week

OK, I got into gear and here's my menu for the week:

Monday: Italian sausage meatball subs and green salad

Tuesday: Corn chowder soup with homemade foccacia

Wednesday: Pesto shrimp pasta

Thursday: Homemade macaroni and cheese & side of steamed broccoli

Friday: Store bought submarine sandwich & green salad (or leftovers)

Trying to dream of a dream job

I've been asked what my dream job would be. And honestly, I feel sad to say that I do not know.

I'm not sure if everyone knows what their dream job is because it's easy to figure out, or if everyone else somehow has had the opportunity to witness a friend with the dream job or what.

I like change, getting to try different things. I like art, color and creativity. I like doing things with my hands and dislike having to work on my computer too much. I love to eat, love to taste new flavors and even love to read about food. I have a soft spot in my heart for all things made by craftsmen. Handmade objects, made better than a machine ever could, made with care and passion...that is the stuff of the American dream.

But a dream job... alas, I come up empty.

I have considered trying to get a job with an interior design firm, thinking that perhaps I'd be inspired to major in design. I have considered working for a caterer, learning the ropes in case I'd ever one day take the leap into the unknown world of owning my own business.

If anyone has any suggestions that you think might fit, let me know! Until then, the quest continues...

Oh, and one other thing...I would like to earn a decent living!! (Oh dream jobs can be a let-down that way!)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Warm days and restless thoughts...

Must...get...motivated! (Imagine captain Kirk saying it.)

Ok, so I haven't been hitting my 2xweek workout resolution that well so far this year. But, I have been trying to add different things in, like yoga, bicycle riding and walking.

The warm weather we had today (we were in the fifties...it was so awesome, no jacket required) made me feel so antsy, I had to move. But, since I'm broke and not currently working, I settled on staying in and doing laundry.

I also working on piecing together some fabric that I cut out yesterday for a couple of quilt blocks. Quilting is one of my on-again-off-again hobbies that I enjoy obsessing over. I pieced together two blocks, and they are quite pretty. Now, I need more fabric!

I ran down tonight and picked up some free tickets for a hockey game from a liquor store that emails me specials. I was excited to get them because we haven't yet seen our local team, the Rocky Mountain Rage, play.

Hi Cyndi! Thanks for the welcome back! Hope all is well with you!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Menu for the week

Monday:
Slow cooker Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes and corn

Tuesday:
Slow cooker enchiladas with refried beans and Mexican rice

Wednesday:
Hmmm...we'll see. I'm thinking of a local Korean restaurant or I might just stick to the plan.
Italian sausage soup with salad

Thursday:
Pork chops with sauerkraut and kielbasa in the slow cooker (I think this is Polish) with mashed potatoes and apple sauce

Friday:
Ham and potato soup and salad

Monday, January 29, 2007

Creating a weekly food plan

As a wife and a mother, cooking a balanced, on-time meal everyday has been a challenge. So, I started to analyze what I could do to make my problem disappear. And in the process, I am eliminating wasteful over shopping and making tastier meals.

My secret? I create a weekly dinner plan. I start by thumbing through my recipes or searching for new ones online. Then, I go into the Excel spreadsheet I created (I know that sounds...well, anal, but you have to believe that it makes everything easier) and input information.

My spreadsheet has 3 basic sections.

There are columns for Monday - Friday and space in each to type in the planned main dish and side dishes. Under that there is a shopping list section. This only includes the items that I need to purchase, after I've gone through and checked my pantry for items that I might already have on hand. This stops me from buying another pack of ranch mix when I've already got one. And the last section has a place for notes for each day. I might type in food reminders or make notes about library books being due. It helps minimize my need to have additional planners.

I always try to be sure and include at least 2 days of dinners using my crock pot. No rushing on those days! After my son is off to school, I come home, get the meal assembled and forget about it.

I find that using a meal planner helps me make sure I'm including enough vegetables and getting enough variety in our diet. It has also helped me save money and time.

Once I've input the information into the spreadsheet, I print it off and go shopping. Then, I hang the plan on the refrigerator door. I put all of the recipe cards that I'll be using for the week on my counter and I'm set.

As Martha would say: Meal planners. They're a good thing.