Sunday, March 27, 2011

Garden Start

Best Blogger Tips
I had some luck last year starting basil from seed, so I thought I'd give it another try.  Since we will have flower bed space (HOPEFULLY!) in a month or so, and even a space to put a little garden or raised garden containers, I decided to start tomatoes, basil, and an assortment of other vegetables.  I'm not very good with starting seeds, because many turned out to be duds - but a few little fighters have made it so far!

On the left is the one lonely tomato that made it in the first planting - this picture was taken March 17th:
On the right is the same plant today, March 27th.  It developed it's first true leaves and was transplanted. Hopefully the information I read about burying much of the stem under the dirt to promote root development was correct!  And yes, it's planted in a Fruity Pebbles single serve cereal cup (that Walgreens paid me to take - I love coupons!  That's for another time though.)

 On the left are the baby basil plants on March 17th:
On the right are the basil today, March 27th, starting to show their first set of true leaves.  

I also tried to grow broccoli, which is going to be interesting.  The packet said they could be started indoors, so we'll see how they transplant.  Here's how they look right now:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Menu Planning

Best Blogger Tips
Cooking has always been a challenge for me.  I really don't like to do it!  Since I'm home, it's my responsibility, but it's one I'd gladly get rid of!  I have been on a quest this past week to develop a system where I have to cook as little as possible but still provide homemade, healthy meals for our family.  This is the first week of the new system, so it's in test run phase, but it's working very well!

the 2-week make ahead plan
The basic idea of this plan is that it provides a self-sustaining system where, with the exception of Sundays, I only have to cook 3 times in two weeks.  Meal planning is done in 2-week blocks.  Monday - Saturday of each week is accounted for, which means there are 12 total meals in the rotation. 

Here's how it works:

Before you start, you need EIGHTEEN meals in the freezer.  That is really the worst part of the whole plan, because cooking that much is quite a big commitment.  However, once you're done with that, it is easy to maintain.  I found 12 recipes that we like, and I did the following:

Meals 1, 2, 3 = none made
Meals 4, 5, 6 = 1 each made and frozen
Meals 7, 8, 9 = 2 each made and frozen
Meals 10, 11, 12 = 3 each made and frozen

Weeks 1 & 2:
I put the odd meals on week 1 and the even meals on week 2.  This way the cook days get separated, and the meals are only repeated once in a two week period.  Aside from my 3 cooking days, everything else is being taken from the freezer:

Week 1                                                        Week 2
M: #9                                                           M: #4
T: #5                                                            T: #6
W: #3 (cook 4, eat 1 freeze 3)                      W: #2 (cook 4, eat 1 freeze 3)
Th: #11                                                        Th: #8
F: #1 (cook 4, eat 1 freeze 3)                       F: #12
Sa: #7                                                          Sa: #10

At the end of week 2, my meal count will look like this:

Meals 1, 2, 3 = 3 each made and frozen
Meals 4, 5, 6 = 0 in the freezer (will be made during weeks 3 & 4)
Meals 7, 8, 9 = 1 each in the freezer
Meals 10, 11, 12 = 2 each in the freezer

During the 2-week period, 9 meals come out of the freezer and 9 meals go in.  When a meal comes up as a 0 and needs to be cooked, I can change the recipe and switch it up.

Here is a chart of an entire 8-week cycle.  I left the meals in order, but you could move them around.

Week 1:          Week 2:         Week 3:          Week 4:        Week 5:         Week 6:
M: 1 (cook)    M: 2 (cook)    M: 1                M: 2              M: 1               M:2
T: 3 (cook)     T: 4                 T: 3                 T: 4 (cook)    T: 3                 T: 4
W: 5               W: 6               W: 5 (cook)    W: 6 (cook)   W: 5               W: 6
Th: 7               Th: 8               Th: 7               Th: 8             Th: 7 (cook)  Th: 8 (cook)
F: 9                 F: 10               F: 9                 F: 10            F: 9 (cook)     F: 10
Sa: 11             Sa: 12            Sa: 11             Sa: 12          Sa: 11           Sa: 12

Week 7:           Week 8:                         I move my cook days around (as you can see in my first example.)
M: 1                 M: 2                               If you don't care when you cook you can just follow this schedule.
T: 3                  T: 4                                I just make sure I keep the odds in the same week and the evens in
W: 5                 W: 6                              the other week so we don't have a repeater too close together.
Th: 7                 Th: 8
F: 9                   F: 10 (cook)
Sa: 11 (cook)   Sa: 12 (cook)

Here's our current meal schedule:

1: Baked Penne and Chicken with Mushrooms
2: Chicken Jilly (my SIL Jillian's chicken chili recipe!)
3: Bagged Stouffer's Meal*
4. Spaghetti Pie
5. Cream Cheese Chicken and Noodles
6. Burritos
7. Creamy Corn and Red Bell Pepper Soup
8. Manicotti
9. Beef and Barley Soup
10. Chicken and Rice Casserole
11. Beef Pot Pie
12. Beef Tamale Pie
*(this is a stand in.  another stand in could be your husband grilling, etc, so you really don't have to cook this night, you just know that once every 2 weeks there needs to be something else ready.  Or this could be a super easy meal prep night, like salmon as Katie was suggesting.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Random Things

Best Blogger Tips
I just finished my 4th quarter!  I have 5 left.  Things are always crazy at the end of the quarter, and I'm glad to have a break coming up!

Elijah started eating a new food, thanks to Kathy who brought this book over:
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!
It must have made a huge impression.  I'm taking recommendations on other books where foods are featured, perhaps this will become a trend. 

Sophia is right in the middle of potty training.  We've had a few 100% successful days, and a few so-so days.  She's very excited to get her big girl panties, but I haven't given them to her yet.  She is also very motivated by M&M's.  Here's how much I paid her for her first poop in the potty:
She call's this "A BIG M&M!!!" 

Isaac is starting to use words very intentionally, finally.  He is using "up," "more," and "thank you" on a consistent basis.  He also very recently became OBSESSED with dogs.  He stands at the window and watches for them. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kids Say Funny Things

Best Blogger Tips
Sophia: Knock Knock
Me: Who's there?
Sophia: Applesauce!
Me: Applesauce who?
Sophia: Applesauce bulldozer!!!!!  hahahahaha 

Sophia: Let me take your thermometer.
Me:  My temperature?
Sophia: Yes, your temperature. 
(she pretends to stick a toy thermometer in my ear)
Me: What did it say?
Sophia: five five five!
Me: Wow, that's hot.  You better check my other ear.
(she puts it in my other ear)
Me: What did it say this time?
Sophia: TWO! 

Eli: When I grow up I'm going to come here and sleep over with my kids.  Don't worry Mommy, I'll bring them beds.  Then when they are asleep we will watch Battlestar Galactica! 

Eli: Mommy, if I pack up toys and help pack them when we go to the moving in house, you said you'd buy me The King!  (Cars character)
Me: Yes, that's right.  You have to be a good helper.
Eli: OK, I'll get rid of a lot of my toys so The King can fit. 
The King is the size of a Match Box car.  I wonder how far I can get with this idea?