Tomorrow, Saturday, March 27th, at 8:30 pm, it's Earth Hour. Set your timer! Turn off the lights, laptop, and television. If you have kiddos, tuck them in tightly to bed and snuggle with your honey by candlelight. Once they're down, pour a glass of vino, read poetry aloud, or trade foot rubs with your beloved. If that's not your flavor of romance, play a board game by candlelight or go for a walk and enjoy dusk! Or if you're flying solo (or choosing to fly solo!), draw a hot bath, light a candle and enjoy your latest fictional novel up to your neck in bubbles. No matter what you do, do it with the lights out and as many energy-draining appliances in their OFF position. It's only one hour...you can do it!
By working together for one hour, we can make a difference in this world's energy usage, and make a difference for what we leave our children by example and by lifestyle.
A few years ago when Monkey was born, I saw a pair of Baby Legs on a friend's baby and thought they were so cute! It was even better when I discovered they had Baby Legs for boys. But at $15 a pair back then, it was more of an item for a wish list than a shopping list. The one pair I did get Monkey, we wore out! They were great on his little legs when he crawled on our hardwoods. They make diaper changing a breeze and they are also a must for "shot days" at their well-check visits. You don't have to worry about pulling pants back on over their sore little legs.
Because I'm always looking for a bargain I found Baby Legs on sale BOGO on their website for a limited time.
But when a friend reminded me that I could make my own, I got even more excited! Women's knee high socks, with a little "tweaking" can make perfect faux Baby Legs. (Pack of three women's knee highs for $6 this weekend at Target.)
You can hem the bottoms or leave them to curl naturally like I do. Does anybody else just want to nibble on baby toes like me? Yum!
What an adorable model! :-) This boy so has me wrapped around that chubby baby toe.
Cauliflower is one of those quiet little vegetables that folks either love or hate. I'm not a fan personally, as the texture of it raw reminds me of eating rubber fish gravel with Ranch dressing. Cooked, it's always mushy. Not a fan of mushy veggies. But I've always wanted to like cauliflower. It's inexpensive, it's pretty, it's PACKED with nutrients!
While surfing the net a few weeks ago, I saw a picture of roasted cauliflower with garlic. It looked beautiful and since I love roasted garlic, it sounded yummy to boot! I decided to tweak it a bit and make it mine, cooked according to my tastes.
Took it to a Thanksgiving dinner last week and again last night to a Christmas party. Both times it was a huge hit with friends and family. It's easy. And better yet, you can prepare it in advance and then just pop it in the oven 45 minutes before you leave. If you got a chance to try this dish, let me know what you thought...
Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower
2 heads of cauliflower, dice into 1" chunks 1/3 c. olive oil 1/3 c. canola oil 1 1/2 T. diced garlic 1 T. Herbs de Provence (The original recipe called for chopped rosemary, but I wanted a little more flavor. It does make a difference!) 1 t. salt 1 t. ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Put diced cauliflower into a large plastic Ziploc. Mix oils, spices, garlic and herbs together. Pour oil mixture into Ziploc bag, closing tightly. Toss cauliflower in oil mixture until well coated. Place into large baking dish and bake uncovered at 400 for 20 minutes. Toss again. Continue baking for another 20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender to personal liking.
I've always been a bit of a brand snob. But the last few years, I've really tried to keep an open mind about generic items. I try a few things here and there. Some not so good choices, some you cannot even tell it's generic. What really got me reconsidering my brand loyalty was when the salmonella peanut butter scare happened a few years ago. Peter Pan (my personal favorite) was recalled from the same plant as the Wal-Mart brand. It made me realize that many times it's just a matter of appealing mass marketing. I was paying dollars more per jar of PB than I needed to. Since then, I'm more willing to at least try generics once in awhile.
Here are a few products that I've tried lately and my thoughts on them:
Target Brand Eye Make-up Remover: I am a Clinique girl. My mom was growing up and I think it's just one of those things that stuck with me. One of the things I really love in their product line is their Take The Day Off Makeup Remover. Velvety soft, non-greasy, cleans in just three or four sweeps. Works great on waterproof mascara and stubborn lipstick. I've happily spent $17.50 a bottle on this stuff. So I begrudgingly tried the Up & Up brand of Eye Make-up Remover and was VERY surprised! I seriously, literally could not tell the difference. Considering the Up & Up brand is only about $3.50, I'm actually going to make a change. It's also got me wondering what else in their skin-care line is worth trying.
Target Brand Dishwashing Detergent Gel: Cascade lemon-scent gel is another one of those products that has my name loyalty. No more. The Up & Up brand is really no different. I see no streaks, smells great, and cleans thoroughly. Sorry Cascade!
Target Brand Toilet Paper: I'm not a fan. I considered starting this with a funny one-liner about how it's "crap", but I'll refrain. I've always been a Cottonelle girl and this huge pack of Up & Up Toilet Paper I purchased last week reminds me why. Cottonelle is soft, the double-ply is matched up, and it's soft. Hee. Up & Up TP is neither of those things. I hate scratchy TP! And when the sheets don't match up and I tear off a half sheet of one side of the ply, it's annoying to me. Maybe I'm just picky, but the $1 or so more for my name brand TP is worth it. This is the last time I make this purchase.
Target Brand Paper Towels: I love me some Viva Papertowels! They seriously feel like little washcloths to me. So it was with a begrudging heart that I tried the Target Brand Paper Towels. They aren't nearly as soft, but they do come in select-a-size and are pretty absorbent. I will purchase these when the budget's tight for the week. But if I have the extra dollar or so, I will probably splurge on my Viva.
Target (Market Place) brand Steam-in-a-bag foods: I've tried asparagus, broccoli, and white rice. At $1.99 a bag, these are a real winner in my opinion! For those nights you need a good hot meal fast, this is the perfect answer. A few days ago, I had a whole chicken cooking in the crockpot, steamed a bag of rice, another bag of asparagus and we had a great meal in under 10 minutes of coming home. Seriously. Just doesn't get better than that on a time and money budget! These are a regular occurrence on my grocery list nowadays.
I have a few other items I'm trying out, but still not sure where I stand on them, so I'll write about those at a later time.
Not that I have tons of readers here anymore, but for the two of you that do read, thank you so much for your patience the last several months. Having a baby will get you a teensy-bit behind schedule. :-)
But what is inspiring me to post today is this lovely new friend I met yesterday...
Gluten-free and dairy-free for a cookie dough ice cream? I HAD to introduce myself to this new product. It had been years since anything cookie dough was tummy friendly for me.
Wow. I'm quoting myself from the first bite. Seriously, this stuff was really yummy!
It's a vanilla based ice cream with big flakes of a dark chocolate and big round clumps of gluten-free cookie dough. I was impressed. Word of warning...this is NOT soy-free. So I react a little bit to that, but there are some things I'm just willing to suffer for. This is one of them.
I LUUUUURVE my crockpot! There is just something about dumping a bunch of ingredients into a pot, letting it stew all day, and then coming home to a house full of yummy smells and dinner is already to go. How much better can it get?
Well, let me tell ya, it CAN get better!
What I DON'T love about crockpot cooking is the cleaning of the crockpot. I'm stepping out on a limb here and exposing my underbelly...there have been times where my crockpot has sat in the sink for a few days unwashed, while a science experiment takes place, because I am SO averse to cleaning the messy, encrusted, whatever that stewed all day long.
This is where I introduce my new friend...
Reynolds makes crockpot liners. They are big plastic bags that you use to line your crockpot, even the big ones like mine, and put all your ingredients into the liner. When dinner is done, you simply remove the liner and you still have your clean crockpot.
I know...doesn't seem real, huh?
But it is. And it is a beautiful thing! No, the plastic did not melt on me, although there was a tiny leak and I had to wipe out the bottom of the crockpot with a cleaning sponge. But other than that, it was easy-peasy, like nothing else. The box comes with 4 liners, all for a low price of around $2 at Tar-jay.
I see myself using my crockpot MUCH more often, as I have the energy of sloth in hibernation right now.
Since my little posting sabbatical, I've been learning a few things about myself and my son.
About my son:
We started removing gluten from his diet several weeks ago. Things have been going very well! One of the symptoms he struggled with was a strange eczema around his mouth that would just not go away. The other symptom was completely behavioral: screaming tantrums, easily frustrated, cried for no apparent reason. Since eliminating gluten from Monkey's diet, he has been doing MUCH, MUCH better! We don't have an official diagnosis and are planning on official testing soon. But the results at this point speak for themselves. A Happy Monkey = a Happy Momma!
Just like a gluten-free/dairy-free/soy-free diet, a gestational diabetes diet has a learning curve. Learning to eat foods that didn't make my sugar soar was a bit of challenge. I was in unchartered territory. So far, I've learned that the easiest way for me to approach food without the GD symptoms (severe fatigue, nausea, confusion), was to focus on meat and fresh veggies with the occasional carb thrown in. Being petite, something as small as a gala apple for a snack would just send me over the edge. My body is not even tolerating natural sugars well. I have also learned not to eat carbs alone. I have to eat it with a protein or a dense carb. So if I do eat half of that gala apple, I eat a handful of almonds with it. I have also learned that I can still have my high sugar carbs, just not in the same amounts as before. And if I eat dessert immediately after dinner, my body handles the sugars MUCH better.
All of that to say that I'm figuring things out slowly and N and I have made adjustments in the weekly food budget to accomodate both Monkey's and my needs. We have tentatively made the weekly budget $100 instead of the $75 we've become used to. With the exception of the first week, I've come under by $5 or $10, so we might tweak this more later. But this amount accomodates all the additional proteins that make up the main portion of my diet today. Meat at every meal?! N is a very happy man! No more weird vegetarian stuff. LOL! The budget also accomodates the snacks that we send with Monkey to school. They have been kind enough to work with us on the meals by providing him alternatives for fish stick day or chicken nugget day. I am supplementing this with a few items they can cook when they don't have an alternative. I can't say how grateful I am for that!
All in all, we are starting to find a little more comfort in the process, which is nice. I'm not the queen of flexibility, so I'm happy that I'm finding myself just taking the changes in stride. And I'm happy to see my little Monkey feeling so much better. I think that's the best part!
Thanks for joining us here! We're excited to see what might come of this little experiment. And it is an experiment. No real parameters or end date in sight, we hope this to be a fluid experience. This is not meant to be some deep existential blog. We'll save those for a face-to-face over a complex glass of cabernet and some yummy, stinky cheese or fresh breads. Call us for a date! :-)
This is basically to journal our experience in being more disciplined with all the myriads of blessings God has given our household. The initial plan is to explore what we are doing with what God provides financially, find the strengths and weaknesses, and find ways to improve what we're doing. We do believe stewardship is a discipline and we know that the stronger that gets, the strong our relationship with God becomes.
We will end this by stating that we are not experts by any stretch of the imagination. We are just journaling what we're learning, in research, education and experience. If we can encourage you to do the same, wonderful! We also hope to gain insight into your lives with your sharing this journey with us. We look forward to a positive practical and spiritual exchange!
I'm finding it terribly ironic that the graphic that I chose to have in the header of this blog is a wheat field. A wheat field! I'm gluten-intolerant. I have no doubt that when I chose this, God was in Heaven giggling at me. Or at the very least, shaking His head.