Growing Boy

Growing Boy

what Stephen Small ate today:

a peanut butter sandwich
2 bananas
a small bowl of yogurt with blueberries
a “homemade” lunchable — crackers with ham and cheese
2 chicken nuggets
a serving of butter beans
2 cups of whole milk

a
these pictures are blurry, but i love them

The kid is eating us out of house and home.

so handsome in a collared shirt

And he’s growing like a weed!

7 Layer Salad, Sewing, & Table Food

Good Monday morning!

First things first. Here’s my recipe for 7 layer salad. My mom took this to dinner parties in the 80’s. She said back then it was all the rage. And I think it’s about time we bring it back (with a few modifications I made, of course.) I love the presentation and all of it’s delicious qualities. I recently made it for a family gathering….

First…you need a glass bowl (mine is rather large). You could use a smaller one and adjust proportions.

Ingredients:

1 head green leaf lettuce
1 bag matchstick carrots
1 medium red onion
1 cart cherry or grape tomatoes
1 bag green peas (the frozen kind…thawed)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
6 strips bacon cooked and diced into homemade bacon bits
green onions diced
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar

Combine mayo and sugar for dressing and set aside. I was wary of this combination at first, but it worked quite nicely.

Next…you simply layer up lettuce, carrots, red onion, cherry tomatoes, peas, grated sharp cheddar cheese, and mayo dressing.

Finally top with some extra cheese, diced green onions, and delicious bacon!

I promise you will win friends and influence people if you make this salad.

In other culinary news, I have a few things to note about my chocolate cake and sweet potato fries. Thank you friends for all your feedback!

*The cake does best when slightly (and I mean slightly) undercooked. You want to be able to stick a knife in it and come out clean, but you want it to be very very moist. It will cook a little on its own for a few minutes when removed from the oven. Also, mine was quite delicate when I removed it from the pans…I had to handle with the utter most care. This is what you want for optimum moisture.

*About sweet potatoes. Raw sweet potatoes can be hard as rocks…I had a friend text me in the midst of her dicing difficulties. I told her you need a strong man and a sharp knife. Really you just need a sharp knife. But it never hurts to have a strong man around. Also, I sharpen my knife just before dicing.

In non-culinary events….

I took up sewing again. I just completed a fun project and on a sunny day I’ll take pictures and post them. I made it using all these fabrics. And no it is not a quilt. That would be my wildest dream come true. I love a quilt. But unfortunately, I’m not that advanced.

And lastly, for those of you interested in the riveting topic of infant feeding (and I know there are plenty of ya)…My little man has moved up to the wonderful world of table foods.

If you see us on the street you can guarantee I’ve got one of these on me…


Honey Nut Cheerios…

He’s also eating oatmeal (aka porridge), bananas, baked sweet potatoes, peas, banana bread, turkey, ground beef, and goldfish. I do put a little sugar in his oatmeal. I know some people might think that’s unhealthy….but I don’t want no boy of mine eatin’ bland porridge. Now read that last line line in your sassiest mammy voice…ha.

On that note, I’m outta here.

Gotta go feed my growin boy.

Somehow We Manage

Somehow We Manage

I’m so excited (and a little nervous) to introduce you to my next blogging endeavor –
Somehow We Manage As for Spoonful, it’s been a great run, but it’s time. I will eventually print it all out and turn this blog into coffee table books for my grandchildren. Thank you, dear readers, for being with me all these years. Please join me on my new site.
I’m starting fresh and with more purpose and direction. Read all about it here.

 Joseph, Queen Esther, and Gabriel
(Stephen, my niece Millie, and Laurie)
10-31-13

George

George

George Edwin
9 lbs 10 oz
12/21/12
He’s perfect.
Thanks to all of you who were praying for us. We are doing great!

DIY Eye Make-up Remover

So, I hate buying eye make up remover. It’s expensive, and in my opinion – an un-fun purchase. But I sorta need it. I have sensitive eyes, and I dislike going to bed with any eye make-up left on (even though I don’t wear very much). Soap and water just don’t get the job done, and I’m not fan of getting mascara all over my towels.

Enter DIY eye make-up remover. Whoop whoop! It is so much cheaper than store bought. But the the best part is IT WORKS. I’ve been using my homemade stuff for about two weeks and I’m thrilled with it.

Also, when your 2 year old pours out 1/2 of your first batch there is minimal harm done because it’s cheap.

recipe adapted from this post:
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoon of baby soap or shampoo
(tear free)
1/8 teaspoon baby oil
Measure, mix ingredients and pour into a recycled bottle.

Decorating

Decorating

Despite my serious lack of talent and funds, I love to decorate! I enjoy making a space look nic(er).

Unfortunately, I learn the hard way through many mistakes and decorating disasters. This is why I have nearly forbid myself to spend money decorating these days. I’m okay with rearranging, re-purposing, and using materials I already have i.e. paint, fabric. But as far as the spending and buying new stuff to decorate with, I’m grounded. Maybe forever.

I find that I thrive on limitations. And I’m usually happier with the finished product because 1) I had to pull all my creative energies together to make it happen and 2) there is little to no money lost if I hate it.

A few things I’ve been working on lately… I rearranged kids rooms in preparation for the oldest two children to share a room come December. I painted our kitchen with paint I had leftover from painting our bathroom. I re-purposed a children’s table to use a bedside table. I painted it blue (and I did spend a little money for the paint). Pictured below is a window valance I made from an old maternity top. I paid $2.79 for the tension rod to hang it with. I know your thinking bless her heart…she thinks she’s decorating, she made a curtain out of a maternity top — ha. Remember I’m not claiming to be a talented designer. I just enjoy decorating, especially when I can make the most of what I’ve got. And this curtain makes me laugh (hard). And when I laugh I’m happy. Captain Steve was very enthusiastic and supportive of the curtain. He said it looked very Betty Draper. And I said “that’s exactly what I was going for!” I consider it a win.

The blog that sort of inspired me to not spend but work on the projects I already have the materials for is Small Notebook. She writes often on this subject.

I enjoy not running a hundred errands looking for the perfect this or that. I enjoy not throwing away $40 here, $50 there. In my maturity I have learned that I’d much rather spend that money on something quality like a nice lamp or a custom frame. In maturity I’ve learned patience in decorating and that your house is always a work in progress.

Pinterest has really helped me find my personal style. I pin what I like and discover the common themes. I would say my style is casual, rustic, colorful, and eclectic. I’m also drawn to all things vintage. My all time favorite look is white walls with pops of color.

I find that I’m gaining more confidence as a “decorator”. And the reason is – after observing dozens of rooms I find that there is so much out there I don’t like. There are homes decked to the nines and I care nothing for them. We are all different. Of course my style is not going to appeal to everyone and vice versa.  This fact gives me freedom – freedom to be tacky in the eyes of others.

I like decor to be personal. I like the look to be born of the individual who lives in the space. Of course a little help and validation is nice. But the end product should reflect and represent the home dweller.

Artwork by my talented college roommate and given to me as a birthday gift yeas ago.
New kitchen color – grey that looks purple-ish (not on purpose).

I think decor should also be practical. Once when dealing with the challenge of a tricky room and a weird window layout, a decorator friend suggested I hang a drape on the wall to give the appearance of symmetrical windows. Heavens to Betsey No! I would never create a faux window.

I don’t like flowery decor just for the sake of decor. I like a room to be real, even with its problems.

Lastly, the most valuable truth I’ve learned about decorating is – when you’re down about a space, when you feel a certain room needs work but it’s not a reality for you to go spend $500 on a new ____. GET RID OF TEN THINGS, big or small. Less is more. Sometimes it’s not about bringing things in but getting stuff out.

My Method to Meal Planning – and a Sample Menu and Grocery List

Let’s continue this conversation…about grocery shopping and meal planning! I loved your questions and comments! Just to set things straight I need to clarify that I really don’t love the entire process. Some weeks I just dont feel like planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. Some seasons of life are harder than others. But the way I see it is I’m going to either work on the front end when meals are planned in advance, or I’m going to work on the back end when I’m stressed and dragging my kids into 5 o’clock traffic to find food.

I do enjoy the creativity it takes to make a plan come together…. and the fantastic home cooked food.

****

My first and most important step is to pour a drink. Coffee, cup o’ tea, diet coke, big ice water. Why not make this event festive?

Then I attempt to get into the right mindset. Meal planning is quite a task. You have to have your thinking cap on. I give myself a pep talk every time. I tell myself just do it. Like Nike.

Then I begin. I make mental notes of all the food I have in my pantry and freezer. And with those items in mind I make a list of possible meals I could make with the ingredients and leftovers I already have in the house, especially fresh produce I need to use up.

{sample meal plan and grocery list}

 

Inevitably, someone doodles on my list.

Next, I get a shiny, new piece of notebook paper and I write down the the dates and days of the week (from Sunday to Sunday) in the top left hand corner. I immediately make a note of any evening plans we might have that week that involve dinner i.e. church, supper club, dinner out, work, Stephen out of town, me working, etc.

Next, I fill in evenings with meals I can make from leftover ingredients or stuff out of my freezer and pantry. Then I schedule the remaining days with “new” meals, the meals that I will have to go to the store for in order to prepare.

After I have listed all of our dinner plans, I write to the side any food or dish I have to prepare to take to a …. party, church function, tail gate, etc. Example: Thursday I took dinner to friends with a new baby. Sunday I was responsible for sending a dessert with Stephen for a church lunch (that I did not attend b/c of work). And Monday was Stephen Small’s turn to take a snack to his preschool class.

Once I have established all my dinners and food responsibilities, I make my grocery list at the bottom of the page. I go through each meal one by one and write down the needed ingredients. Then I add items for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and replacing kitchen staples. Many true meal planners plan every single breakfast, lunch, and snack. I just plan my dinners. Breakfasts, lunches, and snacks are pretty basic around here. I shop at 2 different stores, so I make a Publix list and a Costco list.

That’s it.

I never execute the plan perfectly. And that’s okay! It is important to me to be flexible. But having a plan at least gets proper ingredients in my house and is better than the alternative (no plan). I still have lots of mishaps in my planning, but more often than not the plan pulls through!

Hope this inspires. Keep your questions coming.

P.S. I always write my plans and lists in pencil. So I can easily make changes 🙂

Grocery Shopping, Meal Planning – Working on a New Game Plan

I’m at a grocery crossroads. For many reasons. 1- My family has grown and my kids are eating more. 2- I’ve been trying to prepare healthier foods, lean meats and lots of produce, fewer sweets. I was doing this for while but then pregnancy. Boom. Nausea. Pass the Cheese Its. Which leads me to …. 3- I was so nauseated for the first three months of this pregnancy, and I completely got out of the habit of meal planning. It has thrown me all out of whack. 4- I joined Costco. And I love it. There are lots of great savings, but shopping at two places (Costco and Publix) is tricky and I have yet to master it.

All of these changes have me desperately needing a new game plan.

I used to meal plan/grocery shop for two weeks at a time. It worked well for a season of life with a newborn. And it was also great for winter foods – soups, stews, and casseroles that freeze so nicely. But I find the two week method challenging in the warmer months when we try to take advantage of fresh produce.

So I’m working toward getting back in a good grove. My game plan is still very much in progress. One pattern I have noticed is that I over buy and overestimate how much food we actually eat, in general and per meal. A little food can go a long way when carefully planned. So I’ve decided to scale back on the quantity of food and buy some higher quality items instead – good coffee, fancy dark chocolate, fish, better cheese, pricier produce we love and eat like mangos, avocados, raspberries, red and yellow bell peppers.

Sources that are greatly influential in this new chapter of my grocery and cooking life are….
Small Notebook (Great food budgeting advice)
Good Cheap Eats (Very detailed methods for grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning out your pantry and freezer. Inspiring.)
100 Days of Real Food (Very informative about real food and avoiding processed food. Lots of good tips.)

Also, I just ordered Why French Kids Eat Everything. I hope to get my kids to eat the meals I laboriously prepare and stop begging me for snacks all.day.long.

My goal this week has been to put off going to the store and eat what we have. Sunday afternoon I sat down and wrote out a very detailed meal plan and shopping list. Then I thought Wait, we have so much food already. What am I doing? So the past three nights we have been eating from the freezer, pantry, and leftovers. And I know I could get two more meals out of stocked items. I’m amazed at how much food we have when I thought we were out. I did go to the store for some lunch stuff – turkey and cheese for sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, etc. But I probably bought a third less of the amount of food I was originally planning on buying. Less food wasted and money saved!

Yesterday my goal was to make some breakfast and snack foods from ingredients I had on hand. I made homemade granola and a double batch of chocolate chip banana bread muffins, which of course Stephen Small helped me make. He is a total stud in the kitchen. It was such a good feeling to use the 7 frozen overripe bananas I had in my freezer.

My long term goals are to—
1- Scale back on quantity and cure myself of my food hoarding syndrome
2- Buy more quality (the cost will hopefully be off-set by decreasing quantity)
3- Continue to slowly implement a healthier diet. Because I really love healthy food.
4- Eat through our deep freezer and defrost it by the end of the summer. I want to clean it before I start stocking up the freezer and preparing for the new baby (due in December – whoop, whoop!).
5- Aim for once a week grocery shopping. My motto is “Make a list, stick to the list, make plan, stick to the plan.”
6- Get better at staying within the budget and aim for a surplus ($$) at the end of the month to stock up on sale items and deals. My goal this month is to have a minimum of $100 remaining at the end of July to spend on meat at Costco.

So have I completely freaked some of you out?!

I am a tried and true grocery NERD. Can you tell? I could go on grocery retreats, host seminars, have meetings, etc. I have so much to learn.

What are your grocery/food goals?

Christmas Craft : Popsicle Stick Tree Ornament

Stephen Small and I made these popsicle stick tree ornaments the other day. We loved it. I did all the glue gunning and he placed the buttons.

My goal was to make a craft out of supplies we already had — no purchasing.

The inspiration came from here.

We painted the sticks with green finger paint then I cut them down and made the trees. All the buttons are from years of collecting extra ones that come with clothes.

To secure the twine I glued it between two popsicle sticks.

I used a glue gun, but maybe Elmer’s would work. Or super glue. I don’t know for sure — my glue knowledge is limited.

They are hanging happily on my kitchen window.

Crafts are good. Crafts are healthy. Crafts are good clean fun.

December is off to a good start.

Words of Wisdom

Take them or leave them….these are my words of wisdom.

Learn to take your coffee black.
Learn to love eggs and dried beans.
Say no.
Wear lipstick.
Get a hair cut and keep a hair cut.
Always have a good book on hand.
Exercise.
Budget and stick to it.
Have a land line (especially if you have young children).
When in doubt…bring sausage balls.*

 

*The last one, I must give full credit to my cousin, Bibba. She came up with this bit of life advice when she once had to decide what to take to a tailgate. She settled on sausage balls. People devoured them. So when in doubt of what to bring to a shower, a party, a tailgate, or Sunday school….just go with sausage balls. People will LOVE you for them.

What are your words of wisdom?