Thursday, September 30, 2010


So, I ordered a menstrual cup and it came just in the nick of time for my period this time around. It seemed fine. The instructions were simple, the process worked easily, everything should have been good.

Except that it sucked. The first day it leaked a bit, but I think that's my fault. It also kept jarring loose every time I sat down because it would jam the stem into the cup and move the cup out of it's niche. UGH.

So I shortened the stem a bit--not too much--to see if that would help. It did and it didn't.

It helped the leaking, but then it hurt ALL THE TIME. Almost every time I sat down it stabbed me. Ick.

So I started reading forums, trying to find some relief. And last night, I found it! I tested turning the cup inside out to see if having no stem would stop the discomfort. I left it in like that all night and the rest of the day and now, my experience matches all the rave reviews I was reading! I don't know if I just have a short vagina or a low cervix or what, but no stem was the way to go. Now that I know it's much more comfortable like this, I have some hope.

I'm thinking about returning it though, because I accidentally ordered latex and I meant to order silicone. At least I know it actually is a feasible option for me. I just have to use it without the stem. Which is weird because on the mfr. website, it said, under no circumstances, were you supposed to cut all of the stem off. But it's SO MUCH more comfy! I can hardly feel I'm wearing it! And taking it out is a cinch so the main function of the stem seems unnecessary for me.

What do you think? Should I return this one and try a different brand? should I void my return policy by chopping off the whole stem and run with it? Have any of you used a menstrual cup and have any advice on how to keep the stem from poking so hard?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Childhood: The Wonderful Maze

Since Fall is rapidly overtaking Summer, I thought I would post a glimpse into a Fall long past.

When I was little the church of about 350 people we used to go would hold a "Hallelujah Hay-down" for all of the kids, in lieu of an "evil" Halloween Party. You got to dress up, eat lots of candy, play games, get your face painted--all on Halloween. There was all kinds of stuff to do.

Cost of Admission: one bag of candy. But you got a bag of mixed candy when you left, so it was really pretty much free.

There was a hayride, which was awesome for a six year-old. There was a campfire (keep in mind, this is a city church. Looking back as an adult, I can't imagine how much red tape they had to go through to get approved for all this crap). At the campfire you got to listen to silly stories (not scary) and drink hot cocoa. The entire experience was great.

But the best part, the best part was the maze. Every year they cleared out all of the chairs in the main sanctuary to build THE BOX MAZE. They took refrigerator-sized boxes and taped them together to form this awesome maze that filled the center of the sanctuary. From a six year-old on the outside, it looked nigh magical. It looked like you really could get lost in there. And from a six year-old mindset, if you got lost, you might not ever be found. Like that toy you lost outside last summer and still couldn't find.

The first year we went, I was too young to be allowed in the maze, though. I was really sad. All my brothers got to go in and play, but not me. "I can take care of myself!" I tried to say, but no one listens to a six year-old. So after I went outside and had some hot chocolate, I came back in and went to the little kid maze. Before you get too excited for me, it looked like this.


That was it. It had exactly one corner, one turn. And one side was a lot longer than the other. It was totally lame. I went back to the main sanctuary and watched all the big kids going through the box maze.

I walked around to the different stations watching people get their faces painted or whatever. I remember thinking all night about whether or not I wanted to get my face painted. I remember thinking it was really really important for me to decide if it was ok. Finally, towards the end of the night I decided I wanted to get my face painted, but when I went back to where the face-painter had been, she had left!

There were 2 things I really wanted to do. One of them, I was kept from because of my size, the other, myself. You would think I would have learned something from that night, apart from that eating too much candy is makes your mouth happy but your tummy sad. But I've always felt "cheated" out of things, and I've always been cautious. I've agonized over whether to wear the purple or the red. I've lied awake at night deciding what to say to that one person who always stopped by my locker between 2nd and 3rd period. I've tormented myself over volunteering for something simple like handing out papers.

Even today, I am like that, at least a little bit. I am not very spontaneous, unless it is within boundaries I have already thoroughly explored and deemed safe. I sometimes agonize over small things like spending $2 more for a whatever-it-was that I really liked, versus the other whatever-it-was that I didn't like as much.

My cautious nature has often kept me from telling someone how much they really mean to me, and that's the thing that makes me saddest. I've written so many notes to people pouring out how much I appreciate and love them, only to fold them up, put them in a handmade envelope, and throw them away for irrational fear.

I think today, writing this, I have decided to try to be freer with compliments, more open with laughter. I don't want to go through the rest of my life, never telling people how much they mean to me because of my own silly insecurities.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Groceries Update

This was... probably a week ago, but I bought about $20 of misc veggies. This puts me at a total of about $222 for the month. This week I am bound and determined to use up a bunch of stuff from our freezer / pantry, but (sadness:) it's been hard because we have been so exhausted this week.

I've used almost all of them up, too, which is good because--I saw all of the beautiful fresh veggies and I went a tad overboard. :)

But they were SO good.

I used up the last box-kit of tuna helper!!! that leaves only 2 "helper" kits left to use up and then I will be ALL DONE with them for forever. I already have a great-tasting homemade version of tuna helper, and am working on, but haven't tried yet, a homemade version of hamburger helper. I am so sick of "insta-food" that really isn't food at all.

I still haven't gotten my organic milk yet! The store I went to that said they had it didn't. So I called a different store and they said they have it, but I haven't had time yet to go get some. Even if I don't manage to get their till October, I will still be buying my first organic milk from this month's budget, because I have some left and that is specifically what I was saving it for!

More Happiness
I also want to buy some organic yogurt so that I can have a "starter" to make my own yogurt. That way, so long as i keep a little aside each time, we can have cheap(er) organic yogurt without the huge sticker price!

Ok, ok, enough ramblings about organic this and grocery that--off to finish my PowerPoint for my presentation tomorrow. Ick. I hate boring meetings--especially when I'm the one leading them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Daydreaming of Spring... Already!

How sad is that?

It's scarcely Fall, my favorite season, mind you, and I'm already pining for Spring. To be honest, I think it's because I'm so excited to garden this Spring. Reading everyone's wonderful Fall posts about their harvests has made me even more aware of my burning wish to have a garden. I've already gotten my pots for my balcony garden. I've priced out my dirt. I've been reading about compost bins and different veggies.

One of the things I want to do with this garden is keep track of how much I'm spending, and the kind of yield I'm getting. I want to know, am I really saving money, and is it enough to be worth the countless hours I will be sinking into it. I am hoping to be able to increase our veggie consumption, while spending a lot less to do it. If possible, I want to grow organic seeds, without the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

So far, these are the things I'm thinking about growing.

Bell Peppers
Hot Peppers
Pumpkins (just for fun / ambitiously, pumpkin pie?)
Garlic (just for fun?)
Herbs? Like maybe basil

We eat a lot of broccoli, so I definitely want to grow that. I dearly love spinach, but it's kind of pricey ($3 / package). We eat a LOT of carrots. I use tomatoes in all kinds of stuff. I want to grow a lot and can them, but I don't know if I'll be able to find a cheap pressure canner or not. Bell peppers--we chop these up and freeze them and we use a LOT of them. We both love a good kick to our sauces / pastas / soups, so hot peppers would be a natural extension of that.

I'm also trying to grow several trees, mostly for the heck of it, but also eventually I would like to have my own fruit trees for some things. these seeds I am using now I got from inside the fruit I bought at Walmart, so I realize these are not high quality and, to be honest, the seedlings are struggling right now, but it's mostly for learning so that later, if I buy organic fruit seeds, I will know how to take good care of them. Plus, if a few of these seeds actually make it past the pathetic stage they are in now, maybe they will eventually produce good fruit? Ok, so I'm dreaming... Anyway.

I've been pricing out organic seeds and it's really not that much more expensive than non-organic. A small package of organic spinach seeds is about $4 online, compared to I think a package at Walmart is about $1.20. For either package of spinach seeds tho, I am getting enough spinach for the entire year (freezing, canning, eating fresh). So, while it is about 3x more expensive, compared to $3 for one medium-sized package of spinach, both are really good deals. Why not invest pennies more per pound and get a much better product?

What do you think? do you have any advice for my container gardening? What veggies would you recommend? Do you know of any places to find a cheap pressure canner?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Me, Grumpy

This week sucked.

Everything about this week sucked. Work sucked. School sucked. Being at home sucked. I didn't like cooking as much as I normally do this week. Everything was just irritating.

The only cool thing that happened was that I found a guy on Craigslist selling large plastic flower pots for $0.25 apiece. So I bought 40.

The downside they were all really stuck together (hurt my fingers) and a lot of them had really... questionable dirt in them. So I was reading online and it said to rinse them out with bleach water so you don't spread diseases (Read: an annoying amount of work). I want to finish before hubby gets home from hanging out with his friends, but I just don't know if I can do it.

I'm also supposed to finish putting together a report for work by Monday--fun times.

And it's Saturday night so my weekend is almost over and I've hated every minute of it (almost). There's nothing worse (ok, obviously, a hyperbole in progress) than a bad weekend to finish off a bad week!

I just have so much pent-up anger from this week / weekend that I can't even think straight.

Good night. I hope you all had a better week than I did. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and I will have something positive to say about life.

Food Waste Friday

My Food Waste

Technically, if I had actually gotten time to post this on Friday, it would have been a no-waste week. But since I didn't, today I discovered that a whole bag of the cheap-o battered fish fillet things had gotten really badly freezer burned. Ick.

So I wasted a $2 bag of "fish," if you can call it that.

Other than that, nothing yet!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Food I Made Recently

tonight, my hubby taught me how to toss a pizza dough. It was great fun. Now our pizza in the oven, tempting me with all the tasty things we put it on it.

As part of my mission to consume a little bit less meat a little bit less often, this is a veggie pizza. Filled with mushrooms, red onion, spinach, tomato, and olives. I wanted more veg, he wanted less, so I figured it was a good enough medium.

Last night I made a salad. I loved it. Hubby wasn't crazy about it, but that's ok. It was a plateful of romaine, with pear tomatoes (think cherry only pear-shaped, yellow, and tastier), mushrooms, red onion, topped with some feta cheese and 4-ish ounces of salmon baked with butter and pepper, with a dressing I made of avocado, balsamic vinegar, lemon, olive oil, and a bit of jalapeno pepper all pureed together in the blender.

All of the different flavors were so good together--I wasn't upset at all that we had leftovers. Hubby liked it ok, but I learned something about him in the process that will hopefully make it easier for me to cook for him. He only really can taste aftertastes. So, all of the different levels of flavor that I get from a dish, he would complain about how it only tasted like one thing--now it makes sense! He is only going to taste the predominant aftertaste. Onion, a very strong aftertaste. Lemon can have a strong aftertaste. He loved the feta--because of the aftertaste.

So that's what I've been up to in the kitchen lately, besides trying to sprout my own seeds--speaking of which, I found someone close to where hubby works that is selling a bunch of plastic flower pots for dirt cheap (haha, get it.) which means I can afford my newest hobby. I can get 25 large pots for just $5. We are going tomorrow after class and before his evening shift to get some. Then hopefully this weekend I'll be able to swing by Home Depot and buy a couple bags of dirt at $1.24 / 40 lbs. I'm excited!

This also bodes well for my gardening endeavors coming in the spring.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What I do when I'm Bored

I have no reason to be bored. At all. I've been running around like crazy since school started (first time I've been in classes in 2.5 years). but for some reason, that just isn't enough to keep me occupied (ha! I'm insane), so I've started saving seeds from my fruits and learning how to make them germinate.

So far, I have 3 granny-smith apple seeds and 2 lemon seeds that have all sprouted and just got moved to their dirt homes just within the past day or two. Also, I'm trying to grow an avocado pit. I have more seeds still incubating including more lemon seeds and some other type of apple that I forget. I also "seasoned" 3 honeylocust seeds, but I don't know if it worked or not. As soon as I seasoned them, the instructions I found online said to plant them right away. So I put 3 in one pot and I am waiting to see if any take root. Ugh, suspense.

I am going to need more dirt and more pots I think.

PS, speaking of seeds, if you are looking to grow awesome tomatoes, check out this website! It's so much fun.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Step 1: Organic Milk

This is sort of the start of a spontaneous series I just thought of--recording my journey to buying higher quality food. This makes more sense to me than rambling for pages on each grocery budget.

Next time I go to the store, I am going to buy organic milk. I've done a lot of reading and I've decided, yes, organic milk really is better for you. You can read some stuff here and here. I found one hilariously poorly written / designed website bashing organic milk here.

Basically, it doesn't have any growth hormones, pesticides, or any other nasty stuff, and the cows are treated well and given (thanks to the new guideline which you can read about here) or here, a required 120 days in pasture in season.

Now that I decided to go organic for milk, I had to pick a brand. I read around, but I feel really daunted by trying to find a local farmer to buy from. Although I really shouldn't because the Cincinnati area has a lot of small farmers.

I read about Horizon, Organic Valley, and several others. these were the main two I was deciding between.

After I thought I had decided, I thought it was time to look for dirt. So I started searching for things like "organic milk deception" and "top organic brands" to make sure I was finding everything there was to find. One of the most helpful sites I found was here.

After doing my research, I've concluded that I will be buying from Organic Valley. They are basically a ginormous co-op of hundreds(?) of small-time, local farmers. Local milk from local farms goes to local stores--I love it. The only thing I could find negative about Organic Valley, was that they recently banned "raw" milk on their farms. No conspiracies, no hiding behind the regulations or skirting the issues, just making business decisions as businesses sometimes do. Plus, Horizon's website is so irritating to navigate.

Organic Valley has a helpful store locator which I've used so I now am fully equipped to buy milk I feel good about. Also, they have coupons!

I did just buy a gallon of non-organic milk tho, so I'm going to use that up before I buy organic, I don't want to waste it. I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Food Waste Friday

My Food Waste
So far this week, I've only wasted a handful of grapes that I didn't get to in time. I do have a lot of leftovers tho. I'll be using some up this weekend and some for lunches next week, at least that's the plan.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Huzzah! Just this month we got our auto-transfer set up from our checking to our savings. This will really help my peace of mind as we continue on our journey to financial freedom. We've been living frugally and not spending excess, but we haven't been doing what we've said we would do with the excess. It's just sort of been sitting there (eek, I hated writing that).

So, this month, we set up our auto-transfer. This is to help us save for our next car and to save for Christmas (LOTS of cooking and traveling and some gifts. Extra expenses in general we are trying to plan for). For now, those are our only two savings goals. We already have $650 saved up for our next car.

I also just paid my first big chunk towards my awful student loan debt. We are $1,400 less in the hole than we were an hour ago--yes!

Now, it won't be quite so sporadic. We have it on the calendar that every month, we are going to sit down and pay as much as possible from our checking towards our loans. We have a rule that we will never dip below $200 in our checking to pay the debt. Every month, we will probably go down to $200-300 (our electric bill falls at the same time as our scheduled loan payoff, so we leave room for that as well) and use the rest to pay off debt.

I am feeling more positive about paying down our loans now that we have a set schedule to do it on. I am excited to start to see the balance due continue to drop every month! I am hoping to be paying $500-700 per month toward debt. Just a few months ago, we were paying $450 just in minimums, but with paying off a few smaller loans and putting our school loans in deferment (which, even though it didn't lower the interest rate, somehow lowered how much was going towards interest... weird), we will be able to put more and more towards the principle.

I'm beat, and my hubby just got home from work, so it's time to get off the computer!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Childhood: Learning to Read

Every Wednesday I'm going to (try to) post a memory from my childhood. As I mentioned before, the reason for this is because I really don't remember all that much, and I'm hoping that by actively thinking about it every week, I'll start to put the pieces together.

When I was about two or three we moved out from the city into the country and one of the results of that move was that mom began to home school us. For my two oldest brothers who had already been in school some time, I imagine it was hard to go from hours surrounded by people your age 5 days a week, knowing the kids on your street, and other sorts of public school-ish things. But for my third brother and I, it wasn't really any different than what we had already been doing our whole lives--learning from mom.

I remember dying to know how to read. I wanted to know what was in all those books. I remember asking mom a lot about when she would teach me. It wasn't more than one or two years after we moved that the time finally came for her to teach my third brother how to read. I was so ready to learn, I couldn't wait.

Imagine mom, 5'10", sitting in her 70's green swivel chair turned away from her desk, leaning over with I think it was a Leap Frog reading book. My third brother, always tall for his age, was kneeling in front of her and off to the side a little bit, trying to make sense of the ink on the page. She held the pages out with one hand on the binding, and with the other traced the magic first words that so many kids learn to read, "See Spot run." He's dyslexic, so he's always had problems putting the letters in the right order.

They were both so focused, both telling me to wait my turn, but I didn't want to. I wanted to learn everything. So I crept behind my brother, and stood on my very tippy toes, balancing with a hand on a bookshelf beside me, following mom's finger with my eyes as she explained the words. I could read along with her!

She started to ask my brother to read the words out loud to her and I got so excited that I could read them I just couldn't wait for him to figure it out, so I started to "help" him.

That didn't go over too well.

But I was so excited to learn that I didn't care that my brother yelled at me or that I had to keep silent the rest of the time we were learning. I just remembered eagerly standing on my tippy toes, soaking up every variation of "See Spot run" with the eagerness of a puppy around new people.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What's for Dinner?

Sweet Potatoes! Two weekends ago we visited Tom's grandparents and they gave us 3 hefty sweet potatoes from their farm. Tom isn't crazy about them and I can be picky about them sometimes.

On the ride home I was thinking about making the sweet potatoes with apples and then I thought, Mary, you're crazy. So I did a little reading online, and flipped through my favorite cookbook, Joy of Cooking, and lo! Sweet potatoes and apples. My crazy intuition was right about something--nifty.

So last time we were at the store I picked up the granny smith apples the recipe called for and the lemon. I tasted really good, but I think I added a bit too much brown sugar. It was a sweet / tart combination that also had cinnamon and lemon. Sweet potatoes are ALWAYS better the next day tho, so I am still excited to see how they taste after they rest in the fridge a day or two.

Tom wasn't crazy about it, so I guess I'll be eating a lot of sweet potatoes for lunch over the next 2 weeks. Which I liked it, but not that much. I might have to freeze some of it so I don't burn out on it.

I also have some other leftovers that I need to use soon--or freeze. This whole, striving for no waste is really cool, but sometimes it makes my brain hurt trying to come up with ways to use it all.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Additional Groceries

Here's how much I've spent on grocery items since my big monthly grocery post.

Walgreens - $3.29
Kroger - $6.38
Walgreen's - $3.99
Aldi - $7.25
Aldi - $30.84
Walmart - $16.10

Sub Total - $67.85
Monthly Total - $202.91 (out of $250)

This is over a two week period, so it's not quite as bad as it looks, organization-wise. Also, I've been sick, so some of those $5 trips were for things like orange juice and chocolate.

Then this weekend we went to Aldi's and Walmart. We stocked up on some things that were on sale, my newly cherished applesauce and large cans of crushed tomatoes. On a completely random side note, Aldi canned tomatoes have less sodium per serving than Walmart's tomatoes (serving size was the same). Hurray.

Sadly, I haven't made a few of the purchases I am still wanting to, and I know that will put us close to our limit this month, but hubby wasn't feeling good so I didn't feel like dragging him all across town. I've also decided I'm going to try to craigslist or freecycle one of the items on my list instead of buying new.

Improvements to My Food this Trip:
  • I made no improvements to my groceries this time around. Sad. Although, I did talk to my hubby about some of the changes I'm wanting to make. He's pretty passive--I don't really think he cares too much so long as the food tastes good and we stay within / close to our budget.
  • Improvements coming soon are: Replacing current milk / eggs with organic products from sustainable and / or local farms, replacing poultry, beef, and then pork products with organic sustainable, etc products. I've already been cutting down on our meat consumption in general to prepare for this. I'm going to try and do it in the order above for most consumed to least consumed.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Green Pepper Soup

One, hyphenated word: Om-nom.

It turned out better than I expected.

10-12 cups of water
3 mild Italian sausage links, cut into tiny pieces
2-3 cups chopped green peppers
1 can of corn, drained and rinsed (ick, sodium)
1 cup chopped asparagus
1/2 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (take 2 cups of broth (try not to get too many veggies) and blend with the sun-dried tomatoes till you have a pinkish slurry)
1/3 cup chopped red peppers
1/2 white onion; 1/2 red onion
Bay leaves (1.5 tbsp), garlic powder (1.5 tbsp), basil (1 tbsp), cayenne pepper (1-2 tsp)

Slice sausage links into small coins, cook in bottom of large pot
Break up into smaller pieces as you go
Add onions, stir / cook for a minute or two
Add the water
Add veggies as you chop them
Blend sun-dried tomatoes and add the slurry
Then add spices
add the corn
Let it cook for a while

This was random inspiration (read: too. many. peppers.) that turned into a "clean out the freezer" session. The sun-dried tomatoes? They've been languishing in the back of my fridge for a while now, they weren't bad, just neglected, so in they went! The asparagus? My husband hates it plain (sad day), but he won't even hardly know it's in the soup.
I was going to add pasta, but I didn't feel like it. I still might, but it's amazing even without it. I might do brown rice instead, although wild would be better. My favorite thing about this recipe? The way the cayenne and the seasoning from the Italian sausage and tomatoes blend together to form tasty awesomeness.

What do you think? What should I serve with it? French Bread?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Food Waste Friday

My Food Waste
Arrgh, I just remembered, I wasted about 1/2 cup of ww pasta from my fridge. I was all excited to use it up and when I got it out it was all slimy. Eeeww.

Even still, Hurray! I almost wasted several more things, but I either ate them up real quick, or stuck them in the freezer for later. I am really proud of myself for this week because I was sick and miserable and I still worked really hard not to waste anything--and I did really well!!

Later I will post how my Green Pepper Soup turns out. Since my hubby fell asleep after a frustrating day at work, I decided I would try to get some cooking done now so that this week won't be as hectic. I'm also making whole wheat tortillas--YUM.

Also, today we celebrated my first bigger paycheck by going out to eat at Olive Garden--it was so much fun to go on a date!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Debunk the Junk: Home Bakes

Every so often I'm going to post about "Debunk the Junk." The idea of these posts will be to illustrate how I am replacing a particular modern food item with something much healthier and usually tastier.

For dinner tonight I made a real Home Bake. I didn't use a box kit, I made it from scratch. I now, truly appreciate why Home Bakes exist: convenience. I've been sick for a few days so I was moving slow. All told it took me a little over an hour to prep dinner, plus 25 minutes of cooking time. I think mostly that was because I was sick and not really thinking that clearly. I've outlined a more streamlined process below.

Even though I'm congested up to my eyeballs, it still tasted pretty good. My hubby also really enjoyed it. Plus it was a lot more filling than the store version, lower sodium content, and no preservatives. Usually, for an 8x8 pan of Home Bake, we eat 3/4 of the 8x8 pan. Tonight, we only ate about 1/3 of the 8x8 pan. I think partially it's because my version filled the pan all the way to the brim, but I think less processed food is just more filling.

1 large or 2 medium potatoes
1/4 to 1/2 a med/large onion
3-5 cups misc. veggies (I didn't measure, sorry!)
1/2 to 1 cup chopped, cooked chicken (leftovers or...)
1 to 1.5 cups chicken stock / broth
1.75 to 2 cups milk
1.25 cups flour (I use ww, but you can use whichever)
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp baking powder
misc spices, according to your preference

First, chop and put the potatoes on to boil. I left the skin on for a more homey feel (plus I like the skin), but you can peel it if you don't like it.
Then take 2 tbsp butter and melt in a pot. Once melted, add 2 tbsp flour stir constantly for 3 minutes.
Then, slowly add 1 cup of milk. Make sure not to add it too fast, it will turn lumpy if you do.
Once the milk is well combined, add the chicken broth (and some chicken fat if you want), garlic powder, pepper, a little salt, a little parsley, bay leaves, or oregano; add what you like. Cover and turn to low or simmer.
Preheat oven to 350.
begin chopping your veggies in order of longest cooking time to shortest: carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, peas, corn.
As you chop a veggie, add it to the white sauce.
Add the chicken last.
By the time you are done chopping veggies, the potatoes should be done.
Drain, dump into a bowl on top of 2 tbsp butter and let the butter melt.
At this time, make the biscuit topping: 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup oil, 2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 cup milk. Mix. Set aside. (It should be sticky, but not too liquidy)
Mash the potatoes, adding a bit of milk and any spices you want. I added garlic powder, a bit of salt, some parsley.
Spread the mashed potatoes in the bottom of the 8x8 pan. (I had about a 1 inch layer of potato)
Next, pour the veggie / sauce mix over the potatoes. (this almost filled the pan to the top)
Spread the biscuit dough over top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Total Prep Time was 50 minutes, plus Bake Time = 1 hr, 15 minutes.

Make sure you stir the butter & flour mixture at the beginning constantly and for the whole 3 minutes, otherwise it will taste like flour or char.
I made the mistake of not adding the veggies to the sauce as I chopped them so then had to spend time microwaving the veggies separately before mixing them into the sauce.
You can add just about any kind of veggie you want and I think it would be fine. I actually ran out of room before I added the corn, but I didn't miss it. I bet some kind of bean would be good in it, too.
It might be an easier meal to do once you have some leftovers built up: having some mashed potatoes on hand alone would reduce the time by 10 minutes.
I had a hard time telling if my biscuits were done or burning because I used ww flour, but it turned out great!
When it starts to bubble at the edges you know it's almost time to enjoy!

What do you think? Do you know a faster way to do it? Do you like this recipe? What would you put in it?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Food Waste Friday

My Food Waste
A singles-serve cup of applesauce (hfcs)
6 cups of flour (bleached)
1/2 a tostada and 1/2 a pepsi (curse you, oh windy day)

Sometimes my food waste will be higher as I purge some ingredients from our food. I generally try to use it all up, anyway, but I didn't quite hit the mark this time. And the tostada and pepsi wasn't my fault. I do have some other leftovers that I need to use in the next day or two, but overall, I don't think I did too bad.

My Childhood

A little bit about me: My. Memory. Sucks. I don't remember hardly anything from my childhood before 10, but even after 10 I don't remember beyond a few special memories before high school. And even high school, is sort of a blur.

So one thing I thought I'd start doing, is chronicling the things I do remember from childhood. I'm hoping that the more I think about it, the more I'll remember. I think it's important to be able to acknowledge where we came from and to be able to remember the events that have shaped us into the people we are today. Sometimes I feel sort of cheated that I can only remember vague glimpses of my childhood. Other times, I wish I could forget entirely.

One thing I know about my childhood: it was bittersweet. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to focus on remembering the good only, or the good and the bad. Both have shaped me, impacted who I am today, but is pain really worth remembering? Should I really be spending energy on trying to remember the skeletons in the closet, or should I focus on the rainbows and sunshine?

Is the sunshine as bright without memory of the shadow? Is the joy as sweet without remembrance of the pain?

My first story will be one of my very earliest memories. It is more like a picture that I remember than a story. the picture is of our old house in Cincinnati. I am only 3 maybe. I am standing on the rust-colored carpet of the staircase with my 3 older brothers, straining to be tall enough to watch. We are flying paper airplanes off of the staircase into the living room. Dad is making the airplanes for us and watching from his chair while we crash our planes into everything. One gets stuck on the mantle. Everyone is happy.

The biggest thing I remember about this is that everyone is happy. No one is yelling; no one is fighting. Dad is amiably playing along, helping us retrieve our airplanes when they get stuck or just making a new one to replace it.

The strangest thing about this memory is why I remember it. I couldn't tell you. Was it the first time I saw a paper airplane? Maybe. Was there something else going on in life that caused this memory to be preserved? Why do I remember this picture so vividly? The thick shaggy carpet beneath my feet. The weird vases on the mantle that our planes kept crashing into. The gold-colored lamp in the corner. the wing-back chair dad was sitting in. The shape of the cutout that divided the staircase from the living room. I remember it very clearly, especially considering how little I remember in general about my life.

What do you think? Do you think I should strive to remember the Joy and the Pain, or just the Joy? What would you do?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Finding the Good in Today

Today was another abysmal day with respect to work and school, but once again, I am trying to focus on the good so I don't go crazy. Making myself acknowledge all the things going right in my life really helps me keep life in perspective.

Things I am Grateful For
  • I have a job for which i get paid. In this economy I realize not everyone is that lucky.
  • A perk for being in my job is free tuition for me and my husband. This is a HUGE perk, even if I have to jump through 5,000 hoops every semester to get it. 5,000 hoops = cheaper than $5,000.
  • I got to eat tasty food 3 times today.
  • Even though I am not, my boss is ok with the progress I am making on my projects. He's been trying extra hard lately to be affirming I think.
  • I have a hubby who loves me and tries really hard to take care of me. And he does a good job. (yay!)
  • I have friends coming into town tomorrow night!
  • I get to go see some awesome fireworks on Sunday FOR FREE!
  • I get to work from home tomorrow which will hopefully way lower my stress levels and help me to kick this project I'm stuck on.
  • I met with my unofficial small group for the second time today and it was a pleasantly surprising experience.
  • I got to talk to my mom and it was fun.

Yup, life is good. Life is good.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

This is me NOT posting about work

I am so very angry from work today. But instead of getting myself all worked up AGAIN from it, I'm going to talk about the delicious dinner I made. I'm beginning to realize that I truly enjoy cooking. It's how I unwind from a crappy day; It's what I do for fun when I'm bored; It's also what I do when I need to feel productive on a lazy Saturday afternoon. It's kind of like a cure-all (or a drug, not sure, haha).

First of all, you know a recipe is good when you can leave out a bunch of stuff, realize after eating half of it, and then realize you don't really care, because it's still so, so good.

I borrowed a Meatless Meals idea from Budget Confessions, called Black Bean Tostadas. After tonight, I think it should be renamed to "Impossible-to-Screw-Up Deliciousness," although maybe that's a bit wordy. I left out the onion, and the lime.

I must have been even more tired than I thought I was when I got home from work, I rarely just blatantly fail at following a recipe. I'll change it on purpose, but not usually on accident.

Anyway, I have enough leftover for our lunch tomorrow, so I went ahead and added the onion and lime so I can get a proper feel for what this tastes like. But regardless, know that if you don't have all of the ingredients on hand, you totally can still make this. And if you haven't tried it yet, you should. Like now.