Monday, January 31, 2011

January Goal Review

This is my first monthly goal review. I think I did ok, considering some other unexpected issues crop up that I've had to deal with this month. And some expected ones, like school and work. Oops.

Eating better: Start my own kombucha.
I did this! My first gallon is brewing on top of my fridge as I type. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get a chance to bottle it so it can carbonate.

Eating better: Take cod liver oil daily.
Um, I've been taking it every day, but DH won't touch it, the silly man (but I love him, so it's ok). I think it really has helped with my (self-diagnosed so probably wrong) SADness.

Work on getting my license.
Umm.. yeah. We've set a time to go driving twice now, but each time it doesn't happen. Basically we schedule a time and then we either fight or sleep in until we don't have time to do a lesson plus all the normal weekend stuff like groceries. It's actually pretty pathetic. I'm determined to change this!

Finances: Review budget for this year with Husband.
We finally had our budget committee meeting yesterday! I think we've got an ok plan for the year, but I think one or two of our spending categories is slightly unrealistic. We shall see.

Finances / Personal: Work on something crafty.
Um, I did a little bit of this, but honestly I just haven't had the energy to maintain this. I feel like I can barely keep up with the dishes (don't look in my sink right now) let alone make time for fun stuff. I need to, though.

House: Get a Realtor.
Ok, we haven't done this. Boo. But, we are (shhh) going to hopefully look at a house this week. So... we are working on our Annual Goal of getting a house, even if we haven't gotten a realtor yet. If this house isn't worth our time, we will definitely work on getting a realtor in February.

Finances / Eating Better: Finalize plans for balcony garden / order necessary stuff.
I have my seeds but still no dirt. Sigh. I really need to get moving on this. My plans are set, and I have my seeds, the only thing I'm missing is dirt. Maybe I can do that this weekend. (not hopeful)

Personal: Sell / donate unused items.
You know what... yeah I still have all that crap in my closet. I think this goal is going to get recycled for February. Time flies, sometimes. Is it true that it only gets faster the older you get?

Personal: Resume working a bit each day to improve my posture.
I've sort of halfway, maybe kind of done this. I really need to get hardcore about it.

In general, I'm really struggling lately with motivation and energy to do the things I want. This is bad. I want to start my seedlings for my patio garden soon. I want to clear out the closet full of crap I don't want, without taking a total loss. I want to take my pile of recyclables out of my apartment to the nearest recycling center, but there the pile sits in the middle of my living room floor. Plus more in the kitchen. I want to be awesome and blog every day, but I can't even do basic chores on a regular basis.

Overall, I haven't done that bad. I accomplished in whole, two goals, and made progress on the other seven. On the other hand, only accomplishing a 2/7 ratio is pretty pathetic. That's not even one third. But it's not a bad start to the year. Certainly not the worst I've ever had. :)

My biggest problem is organizing my days! I want to be structured and work on my crafty projects on Sunday morning before church, for example, but I never can get to it. I think I'm having a crisis of priorities. Too much daily crap in the way of my "goals," but so much of what I center myself around has to do with all the "daily crap." Bah, contradicting feelings.

How do you manage your goals against everyday life? How do you make time in the chaos known as life to do what you really want to do?

Monday Life Awareness

Well, it's a fact, I am crabby on Mondays. The weekend always goes too fast and I'm left staring at my phone asking why it is telling me to get up and go to work. Well, this prompted me to start focusing on being aware of all the good in my life. So every Monday, I'll be posting something that I am thankful for. Hopefully this will get me in the habit of being grateful even when I am cranky and hopefully will counteract the acute "case of the Mondays" I seem to contract every week.

Today I am thankful to have the opportunity to help those less fortunate. My husband and I are up extra early because we are going with our small group to go serve breakfast at one of the homeless shelters in our city. So even though it's very early and I am a bit sleepier than usual, I am glad of the reason (for once). There are a couple of reasons why I am excited about today.

For one, it's been a while since I've volunteered anywhere. I enjoy helping people, but I haven't done that in a while. I believe it is right to help people and even though this is a pretty small act, it is still one that needs to be done. The shelter we are working with said they pretty much never get volunteers to serve breakfast on Monday mornings, so we are filling a need.

For another thing, a good dose of perspective does the heart good. Sometimes I get caught up in the material things, forgetting what I'm called to do as a Christian. So I'm thinking about what it would be like to be homeless out in this snowy winter we've all had and it makes me extra grateful for my cramped cozy one bedroom apartment.

Finally, I am excited about today because of the opportunity to grow with people. Sometimes I feel like I have trouble connecting with my small group because I am shy in a "sit and talk" setting. Hopefully this will give us the opportunity to bond a little bit. Or at least it will give us a shared memory, which still helps with the whole friendship thing.

Alright, I didn't have as much time as I wanted to write this entry, but I have to leave soon!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hi! Bye!

Phew, it's been a busy week!

No time for a childhood memories post today, just a quick question for any of you out there:

I really want to cook liver next week as part of my menu plan. But I have no idea how and I've never done it before. I just found very a reasonably priced source for bulk(ish) chicken livers at the farmer's market which are hormone / antibiotic free and I want to start using this healthy resource soon!

SO.... what does one do with liver?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday Trimmings

I'm starting to like this catch-all post I started doing on Tuesdays. It's a nice way to write about all the random crap I've been up to without have to try and be organized about it. haha.


My jars came yesterday! So last night I started my first batch of kombucha. I'm so excited I can hardly wait. Once we started drinking it a while ago, we realized it was too expensive to keep buying, but because of the health benefits (and because it's downright tasty!), we decided it was worthwhile to invest in making our own. My SCOBY is doing really well (yay) so I'm optimistic that this will be a success.

So far, I've spent
$2 on generic green tea
$3.50 on a bottle of starter kombucha
and $25.98 on two 1-gallon glass jars.

I'm starting off with making just one gallon to see how it goes and to see how fast we drink it.

1 gallon filtered water -- $15 / 100 = $0.15 ($15 is how much each filter costs)
4 tea bags -- $2 / 40 * 10 = $0.50
1 cup of sugar -- $2 / 12 = $0.18 (aprox)

So total cost for one gallon of kombucha, will be less than $1.00. Compared to a 16oz bottle for $3.50, I'd say that's quite a deal. Especially since it takes eight 16oz bottle to equal one gallon. 8 * $3.50 = $28.

Which means with my first gallon, I will just about break even with my start up costs.

After that, it's all gravy (erm, kombucha!).


In other news, my fermented orange marmalade is done! It's pretty good, but not at all like what normal marmalade is like. It's kind of watery and not syrupy. It's vaguely sweet and orange-y at first, and then it's slightly salty, and then it's pretty bitter. But for some reason I think I really like it, even though it's definitely really bitter. The rinds have softened up so they're much more chew-able now, which is good.

I'm thinking about adding either maple syrup or more sugar to sweeten it up so my DH will also eat it. I think if I can balance the bitter / slightly salty flavor with a bit more sweetness, it will help him enjoy it. I want him to eat it because it's good for him, but let's be honest, if he doesn't eat it, I won't be that sad--more for me!

And, contrary to my belief, adding whey did not ruin it. I thought for sure, once I added the whey, that it would be awful and just taste like whey and nastiness, but I can't taste the whey at all! How cool is that? (you saw this coming) Whey cool.


Oh, and I had another dinner success last night. Wild-caught salmon fried in a skillet with butter, topped with homemade BBQ sauce and served with green beans covered with butter. Yum! DH really enjoyed it and so did I.


Other than adding more fermented foods to our diet, I'm sucking at my goals. I still have 6 days to get them done, so I might eek by, but... yeah, not holding my breath at this point. Aand, school is kicking my butt. And I don't really like work that much... And I don't even want to think about my grocery bill lately.

...But I made kombucha! and I guess for now, that's enough.

What about you? How are you doing with your New Year's goals?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Life Awareness

Well, it's a fact, I am crabby on Mondays. The weekend always goes too fast and I'm left staring at my phone asking why it is telling me to get up and go to work. Well, this prompted me to start focusing on being aware of all the good in my life. So every Monday, I'll be posting something that I am thankful for. Hopefully this will get me in the habit of being grateful even when I am cranky and hopefully will counteract the acute "case of the Mondays" I seem to contract every week.

Today I am thankful for my education. As a child I was always the "why" and the "how" child.

Why do people say mean things?
How do we know how far away the stars are?
How does the tv work?
Why... How... Why...

My parents must have had a ton of patience!

But I am thankful for my knowledge and training. The biggest thing my parents taught me (besides everything) was how to investigate. I was introduced at an early age to finding out things for myself in books and from people. And when the internet began coming out in full force, I was taught how to find information there as well. It might sound silly, but when I was young I considered myself a whiz at search engines (and sometimes, I still do). I was almost always able to find what I wanted, be it a driver for some obscure video card or facts for a research paper.

Last night while I was making dinner, I was pondering how to make a good veggie side dish my DH would eat. This isn't as daunting as it used to be because he's been a very good sport about trying new things and his palate is certainly expanding as well. And yet, I was up against a fierce opponent: spinach. DH isn't a fan (and by that I mean he made faces / would barely eat it the first 10 times I served it in any form), and I adore the stuff (I eat it plain from the container when I first get up, or as a quick snack when I get home from work. or.. when I'm bored, or watching tv... or--you get the idea). Also, I had never cooked spinach before except in eggs or casseroles, so I was completely unsure of how to prepare it.

So I used my longtime skill of foraging for information and I Googled (PS, I love that Google is now a verb) around for a bit. I found the general consensus to making tasty spinach was to use onions / garlic, and butter. Lots of butter. Armed with this new knowledge, I made some darn tasty spinach! (if you're curious, I also added freshly ground salt and pepper). I wound up taking the butter and onions from the bottom of the pan I had used to roast the chicken and adding that to the spinach and it was soo good! It also had some chicken fat which added a bit more flavor. For the garlic I just used a bit of garlic powder (such a great thing to have on hand).

And I've used enough parenthesis for about 17 blog posts, so I think I'll stop (maybe not, though), but that's what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful that instead of feeling helpless on how to make nutritious food that DH will also *want* to eat, I can use the simplest gift bestowed to me by my parents so long ago.

Thanks mom and dad!

Also, I'm really glad dinner wasn't a bust. I hate when that happens.

Also, I'm really glad the farmer's market is finally selling veggies again! The prices there are so much kinder to my pocket book than Whole Foods.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I got bored with the look of my blog. It's more fun now. Plus I think I talk about food more than anything so I think it's fitting. But I'll probably change it again in six months, so don't get too comfortable with it.

What do you think?

Not a Kid / Man Safe Post

The Communists have overstayed their welcome.

By that I mean I am on the period from hell.

I started having weird issues like spotting halfway through my period several months ago, but I chalked it up to variation within the normal bounds of.. normalness. But then this month at the halfway mark, instead of just spotting, I got my full period... and this is going on day 12 or 13. Seriously!? Unfair.

So, after much deliberation, talking with DH, and a doctor's trip (they were less than zero help), I decided to go off the pill. That was four or five days ago and I am really feeling the hormonal shift. Tonight I completely spazzed about 6th grade level homework for my microeconomics class. Graphing a chart in excel is apparently too much for me right now.

I've just been a mess. I want to kill things. I've been the less-than-endearing wife for the past hour or two, including the ever-awesome whiny-ness that comes with PMSing. Or, MSing, since it's during and not before. I don't know.

But seriously, I want to kill things. And I'm so worked up from this laymen (notice how that sounds like LAME if you say if fast... hmm) assignment that I don't even think I can go to bed. Maybe I need a bubble bath. I knew these first 3-4 weeks would be rough while my body learns to do what it's supposed to be doing, but I didn't expect to completely lose control like this without realizing what was wrong.

Also, did I mention that I've been on my period for 12 days? I know it'll stop in a few days, according to my little handy chart (and if it doesn't, to the doc I go, ugh), but I'm still really pissed about it.

I want ice cream.


In all seriousness, I really need to chill. Now that I realize it's stupid hormones, I need to use the ol' noggin to make myself calm the hell down. But it's hard. I feel like I'm being reasonable, but I know that my feelings are just lying to get attention, lol. So I am trying to suck it up so I can be pleasant (or at least tolerable) to be around. The good news is that at least I finished my homework so hopefully I can talk myself down from the hormonal rampage I was about to start.

Maybe I should start yoga, haha.

PS, I'm not really looking for medical advice, although if you are just dying to share, go ahead (minus the dying part), I just needed to vent about how much this sucks. I know every woman has had shitty periods and I am not special. Oh, and commiseration is always welcome. :)

PPS, And, my bread, which I formed and put in the pan umm... 6 hrs ago, still has not risen more than a cursory centimeter. Silly me, I used honey instead of sugar in sourdough--duh! Honey is antibacterial, what'd I think was gonna' happen? Poor li'l sourdough beasties, I'm surprised it's risen at all.

PPPS, "I am a leaf on the wind." If you don't get it, Google it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Food Waste Friday

My Food Waste
Yay, another zero-waste week for me! I haven't thrown out any food yet.

The only thing I might be throwing out soon, if I don't make myself eat it, is the very last little bit of some leftover squash casserole from about 2 weeks ago. It was good, but it was a little too spicy for me (Note to self: go easy on the habanero next time!).

I think I have few other odds and ends to use up as well, but I'll be getting to those today / tomorrow. I have a bit of sourdough pancake batter in the fridge I'll probably use for breakfast, and some black bean something or other that I'll probably take to lunch today.

What about you? How are you doing with your food waste?

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Last night (and this morning!) I enjoyed the first taste of my second batch of sauerkraut. It was delicious!

It's not quite what my last batch was, but I figure that's partially my own fault, since I am woefully lacking in my patience for measuring things when I cook. Keeps it interesting, right? Right? ...Ok, maybe not.

Anyway, I left this batch out on the counter for longer and I think I like it more than I liked my last batch when I first tried it, so I call this a win. Which is good because I have nearly six pounds of it!

It's actually a really frugal food, too. And I know we are all looking for ways to save a few bucks, right? The cabbage (all six pounds) cost a whopping $2.50. I used several tablespoons of caraway seeds which I don't have a price for because it was part of a "starter" spice kit from three years ago. We'll say $0.25. The filtered water... negligible. And the kosher salt (iodized salt messes it up apparently) which I used probably 1/4 1/3 a cup probably came to $0.50 or less. So I got almost six pounds of sauerkraut for $3.25. Good luck beating that price buying pre-made sauerkraut.

The other nice thing about homemade v. store bought in this case is that my sauerkraut hasn't been heated at all, so it still has all the beneficial bacteria to help digestion. Trust me, most days, I need all the digestive help I can get, lol. (Sorry if that was tmi).

I know it's not as easy as buying a jar of it, but all told it doesn't really take that long to do, especially if you have any kind of food processor, I imagine. I chopped all of mine and got it set up on the counter in probably about one hour. After that it takes very little maintenance while it "sauers" for a week or 10 days. You really just have to keep an eye on the water level. Plus, an hour of my time equals sauerkraut for probably 4 months.

Tonight I am planning on starting some fermented orange marmalade type shtuff and I am soo excited.

I love fermented foods!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Childhood: Where Are My Shoes?

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.

As a kid, I was awful at keeping track of my shoes. Every Sunday morning (the only time I was actually required to wear them usually) was a stressful period of running around checking under furniture and digging through piles of clothes trying to find my shoes. My dad especially was impatient and would freak out if we weren't ready "on time" (Although somehow, we always got to church waayy early, but whatever). Well, as I got older, I kept better track of my shoes, but one time I decided I would "pay it forward."

One day my oldest brother came for a visit. He had moved out a few months before and I was very upset with him. I was still too young to really understand that when you get to a certain age you move out and start your own life. You think I would have been really excited about getting to see him, but I was still mad at him for leaving. So I did the only thing I could think of: I hid his shoes.

After a while when he was done visiting he was getting ready to leave, but he couldn't find his shoes. He kept searching but couldn't find them. He was starting to get pretty frustrated, but I was just glad that my plan was working. At some point, my ten-year-old silliness gave away that I had hidden his shoes and he demanded I return them. Of course I refused.

Eventually I had to go get them and I was sad that my plan had failed. He drove off in his piece-of-crap convertible and I went back to my room and sulked because I missed him.


I don't really know why I felt like writing about that particular event, but there you have it. I also realize that these are probably really boring stories, but this blog is for me so at a certain point, I don't really care if I people read it / like it or not (although I do love getting comments!).

Did you have any older siblings you tried to sabotage?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Trimmings

Well, today is another sort of "catch-all" day for what I've been thinking "I should post about that," but haven't made time for.

One of those things is a quick update on my goals.

My SCOBY is growing nicely and should be ready to start culturing its first batch of kombucha by the weekend! I'm so excited. If this works I'll be saving us a lot of money. As soon we tried it we became hooked, but at $3.50 per 16oz bottle, it's been one of my budget-busters for several weeks.

I've been taking my cod liver oil daily, but DH still won't touch the stuff. Silly man.

We finally, last night, decided that my scheduled driving lesson time is going to be after church on Sunday afternoons. Yippee! First lesson is this weekend.

We haven't talked about our budget yet because our budget meeting was cancelled due to respectively crappy days had by both committee members. Boo. We're rescheduling and will still get it done within January.

I have completely failed at getting anything crafty done. Of my lofty goal I set for this month, I have accomplished about 4%. Yay me.

We have not gotten a realtor yet. I think I'm going to start asking around to see if I can find a friend of a friend or at least someone who one of my friends used and had a good experience with. Also, I saw a house I *loved* online but when I called about they said it was already under contract. Sad.

I did finalize my plans for my balcony garden this weekend! And my seeds came on Friday. I still need a few basic gardening supplies like bone meal and probably clippers and gloves, but my plan is ready. Oh, I also still need dirt. Detail, details.

I have sold 2 books on Amazon so far, and hopefully tonight after work I can post the rest of the stuff I'm going sell on Craigslist and hopefully I will get some of this crap out of here. I am still determined to get rid of all of this crap on February 1st regardless so, I really need to get moving if I want to make a few bucks instead of just pitching it.

I have started on my posture, but not full-on yet. I'm more aware of it now that I've listed it as one of the things I'd like to resume, but I haven't resumed my mini goals with it. Maybe that will be for tomorrow as well.

Also, I've been toying with the idea of posting my meal plans to help keep me on track. For those of you who post your meal plans, do you think it's a useful reminder or is it just a nuisance?

I've also been thinking I need to get back to posting about my groceries. Like I said I've been awful lately and kind of ashamed at the amount I've been spending (hence the lack of grocery posts). I've been kind of putting it off until we have our budget meeting to figure out where we actually should be with groceries.

PS, our Christmas tree is still up. This needs to happen by the end of January. Seriously.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Life Awareness

Well, it's a fact, I am crabby on Mondays. The weekend always goes too fast and I'm left staring at my phone asking why it is telling me to get up and go to work. Well, this prompted me to start focusing on being aware of all the good in my life. So every Monday, I'll be posting something that I am thankful for. Hopefully this will get me in the habit of being grateful even when I am cranky and hopefully will counteract the acute "case of the Mondays" I seem to contract every week.

Edit: So, I scheduled this for yesterday and then it didn't post! silly thing.

So, I feel particularly crabby. I didn't do hardly any of the stuff I was trying to accomplish this weekend. Boo. But, that's not what this post is about.

Today I am thankful for the aprons I got for Christmas. They have been a very useful gift. I asked my mom for one and she got me a full length blue one which is great for making bread because otherwise flower goes everywhere. But then at DH's family's Christmas, one of his aunts made me 3 pretty half-aprons. They are fun and good for everyday cooking.

All of them have been great because, as you probably know by now, I am a very messy cook. I practically have to change clothes after I make something, especially bread or chili. Now, I don't have to! I just take off the apron and voila! I'm not covered in food. :)

This is a fairly simple thing, but it's really made a difference in how I feel when I cook. I do love to cook, but I was getting frustrated because I was always getting covered in batter from the edge of the bowl or splashes of chili (like what happened tonight when I didn't wear an apron, ugh), or whatever food I was preparing. Now I can keep my hands a lot cleaner, too, because I can wipe them on the apron mid-task instead of trying to find a towel.

Yay, aprons.

Also, blueberries. I bought some on sale yesterday and they are very tasty.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Food Waste Friday

Hello there!

My Food Waste
Nothing! yay...

I do have some romaine that is rapidly losing its luster, though. And I also some squash leftovers that I'm not too enamoured with. I'm thinking of trying to make jalapeno bread with it, since it's already a spicy dish, I think it could work, but I'm a bit nervous. Also, I already have 2 loaves of bread in the fridge, so maybe I'll freeze it for another day.

What about you? How was your food waste this week?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Debunk the Junk: Chicken Noodle Soup

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.

This soup is really good and it's good for you. Of course, some of the stuff I did in prep for the soup is not necessary for the final product (making your own broth), but I think it makes it better (or at least more satisfying in the esteem sense, not the "I'm full" sense). This recipe isn't too hard to make. It takes a long time, but not much hands-on time. Not any more than many other meals.

Because canned soup has a ridiculous sodium content (and it's not even good salt), funky preservatives, most kinds have minimal veggies (and chicken for that matter), and the noodles are pasty slimy white things.

Make chicken stock from a small chicken (aka, a fryer). Mine was 3.5 lbs.
Chop a bunch of veggies; add a can of tomatoes and / or corn.
Add pasta and chicken last.
Salt & pepper to taste.

3.5 lbs fryer
15oz can of tomatoes and / or corn (I just used tomatoes)
4 or 5 carrots, 1 large onion, 6 celery stalks (could also add mushrooms)
salt & pepper


Make Stock
Boil whole fryer for an hour or two--until the meat is done.
Carefully remove fryer and pick all the meat off.
Chop up bones, cartilage, and skin and return to pot.
Add a couple tablespoons of vinegar.
Simmer overnight or all day (or both). The longer you simmer it the more nutrients and flavor you will get out of the bones.
Carefully strain shtuff out of broth (shtuff, not fat. keep the fat).

Putting it Together
Don't skimp on veggies! It gives so much rich flavor to the soup... yum (and it's good for you).
Pick vegetables that you like and chop to a size that you like. Celery, onions, carrots, and mushrooms are a pretty standard combo.
Give the veggies time to cook.
Salt & pepper to taste. I made about 5 quarts and I used about 1.5 tbsp of salt (I think). You can always add more so be careful.
Add the chicken the same time as the pasta. Overcooked chicken is nasty, so don't do it. Don't be that guy.

Let it cook till whenever.
It's really good with bread generously spread with butter.

I loved this soup! It's so comforting and filling and it tastes really good.
When simmering the bones, notice, "simmer," not "rolling boil." it should just barely be bubbling in the center of the pot. You don't want to wake up to a house fire.
When I took the fryer out of the pot, it completely disintegrated and splashed up all over the stove. I stuck a spoon into it's cavity and lifted up. I suggest getting a couple spatulas and going underneath the fryer and doing it that way.
Don't skimp on veggies! (I mean it).
For a fun twist, try making your own pasta, it's a blast and it tastes great.
You could also use rice or diced potatoes instead of pasta (or nothing).
You can feed the shtuff from straining the broth to cats, but be careful not to give it to dogs.
You can make the broth just from the bones and not the whole fryer, but you might need to save up bones from a few chickens or if you had a large chicken and not a fryer you would probably have enough.
This soup can be as brothy or hearty as you like. If you have the flu, a simple broth might be just the thing to settle your stomach. If you're craving some soup to get the chill off your bones, make a hearty, veggie filled soup with chunkier veggies / meat.

What do you think? Do think this recipe takes too long? What's your favorite soup recipe?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Childhood: Blanket Forts

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.

Hahahahaha, I fail miserably at blogging, but I'm working on it. I realize my last childhood post was forever ago. So here's to getting back to it in the new year.

So, when we were kids, we loved making strongholds of any kind. In the winter we made snow forts in the yard. At other times, we dumped all of our "builder" toys out together and would make a ridiculous amalgamation of tinker toys, lincon logs, waffles, k'nex, and even my doll house / kitchen set. It was pretty impressive.

Our summer forts, though, were the best. We made blanket forts. Since we didn't need the blankets on the bed anymore, what better way to utilize this resource than to make forts? Exactly, you can't think of one. We would strategically arrange all of the dressers in our room to make the structural framework for our awesome castle. Most of the time, blankets got tucked into dresser drawers or books got piled on the corners to stabilize the "roof" of our stronghold.

In our zeal, nothing was sacred. I think we even tacked a few blankets up by tucking the corners into the drop ceiling tiles for effect. We used the mantel to create a taller room in our blanket fort and the dressers to create the tunnels in between rooms. There was of course room made for the toy box treasure chest in one room.

Well one time we had run out of building materials to secure the roof of one of our corridors. We started hunting around and found this cool bronze plaque (probably 10-15 lbs). Perfect! We hefted it up on top of the 4.5 foot dresser and tucked the blanket underneath. Our fort was complete!

We began playing in our new fort and doing our usual nonsense when somehow we either pulled on the blanket or kicked into the dresser. Down the plaque came on my head. Ow. Fortunately, I'm rather thick-headed, so no permanent damage done. I still actually remember this happening (I guess that's a good sign), especially the part where we were banned from making forts because it was apparently a potentially amnesia / death inducing activity.

Honestly parents are no fun sometimes. :)

Sometimes it was a castle, sometimes (often) it was a spaceship (Our stuffed animals would play the part of the ship's crew). And the best part was that it could be both at the same time, because it's make-believe. Regardless, we always had a blast. I loved making forts because we all got to participate and since I was the smallest, I always fit better in our forts.

Good times.

What about you, did you ever make blanket forts?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday Trimmings

Well, I have no particular agenda today, so I thought I'd give you random updates about what I have been cooking and scheming. I don't really know where else this stuff would go, hence the "trimmings." Lame, I know. Deal with it.

I've actually started a number of cooking projects lately. :)

Sometime in the last week or so I turned almost 6 lbs of cabbage into sauerkraut. It's "sauering" on my counter as I write this. I love love love sauerkraut now, which is crazy because I used to think it terrible. The first time I made sauerkraut, I wasn't that crazy about it, so it languished in the back of my fridge for months until December when I pulled it out again and tried it and "yum" was the only word-sounding noise I could get out in between mouthfuls. So I now I am making a big batch and I am excited. I'm also a lot less paranoid about leaving food out on the counter this time around. (Eating fermented food cures you of some paranoia, apparently).

I also bought a bottle of kombucha and started growing my own SCOBY so I can make my own. If you don't know, kombucha is basically a superfood. It's filled with good bacteria for digestion (like yogurt) along with all kind of other stuff for energy, etc. It's really good for your liver. It's slightly carbonated and my husband says it tastes like beer (what? he's weird). Read more about this good stuff, here. Or you can google it and come up with hundreds of other sites. Unfortunately it takes like 3 weeks to grow a SCOBY so it will be at least that long before I can make my own. *Sad*

Just this weekend I made a huge pot of homemade chicken noodle soup with real bone broth that I left to simmer overnight on Saturday. The soup is delicious and hopefully just what the doctor ordered to help us sickies get over the rest of this annoying cold... Hmm, I should post a recipe.

A week or two ago I made pasta which turned out better than ever before. This is ironic since 2 things happened differently: for one, I set out to follow the directions, for two, life got in the way and I left it abandoned in the "resting" stage for about 6 times as long as the directions say to. Haha, I love irony. Seriously, best pasta I've made. So much flavor and it kept its shape really well even when being cooked extensively in soup. I'll be making more soon, I bet.

This weekend I made 2 casseroles and froze them for those "menu plan, menu shman." nights. It's a recipe I adapted from my mom--who knows where she got it. It's basically an egg and bread casserole, but with yummy things like mushrooms, cheese, and onions (and for me, spinach). I love it. I had a hard time not chowing on the filling when I was layering the casserole because it tastes sooo good. It turned out really well this time. (another recipe? ... Hmm)

This weekend I also made another loaf of sourdough bread, as well as quasi-sourdough sweet potato "quick-bread." It tastes amazing. This all started because I had half a sweet potato from like, 3 months ago that I put in the freezer with the intention of "getting around to it." Ha! Success.

Finally, this weekend, I made a half-batch of yogurt--Much more manageable. I'm doing it this way from now on. I also used the whisk attachment on my blender to mix in my yogurt starter and it was convenient. Good trick for next time.

^Most of the above things fall into my "continue eating better" annual goal DH and I set a week or two ago. A "sub-goal" beneath that was to eat more fermented foods--both sauerkraut and kombucha fall into that category, yeah! We noticed a huge difference in our digestion and general well-being when I bought several bottles of it from the store and were drinking it everyday. At a little over $3 per 16oz bottle though, it's definitely not in the budget. This was also one of my January goals. So far I think breaking down goals into "baby steps" to do each month is going to be great. Sauerkraut is great for you and it's also got good bacteria for digestion. It's also stupidly high in vitamin C, yay. And yogurt, well, that's another healthy food, especially since it's just milk, bacteria, and a little sugar.

Ah well, I was going to post about other stuff, but it looks like I've got more than enough random stuff to talk about just with food so I'll save the others for another day...

(This post wound up being much more focused and much longer than I was expecting...)

What about you? What cooking have you done?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Life Awareness

Well, it's a fact, I am crabby on Mondays. The weekend always goes too fast and I'm left staring at my phone asking why it is telling me to get up and go to work. Well, this prompted me to start focusing on being aware of all the good in my life. So every Monday, I'll be posting something that I am thankful for. Hopefully this will get me in the habit of being grateful even when I am cranky and hopefully will counteract the acute "case of the Mondays" I seem to contract every week.

Today I am thankful for my husband. He's been pretty sick the past week or so (he is never sick for more than a day so this is crazy), but has still been trying to help around the apartment, since I've been sick, too. I love him! He humors my insanity, like supporting me in my decision to try and grow a garden on our small balcony and taking our increased grocery spending in stride while we adjust to better foods. He puts up with me when I want to leave the tree up "one more week," because I love looking at it All. The. Time. Pretty much he's the best.

The end. (See, I feel better already)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January Goals

Hello again. I know I posted about goals just a few days ago, but I also wanted to take a few minutes and talk about my personal goals for this new month. I got the idea for monthly goals from Cate at her blog. Each month I hope to be able to link my monthly goals to a particular yearly goal. I hope you'll join me in my journey to improve myself and my life one baby step at a time.

For January my goals are...
Eating Better: Start brewing my own kombucha. All I need is a bottle of "starter" tea, a box of green tea, and a gallon glass jar.
Eating Better: Take cod liver oil daily I already have it. I just need to get husband interested in taking it every day.
License: Set a weekly driving lesson time for me. I have lofty ideas of having my license before summer--can it be done?
Finances: Review budget for this year with Husband. This won't be too bad. My biggest problem is I'm still spending too much on food.
Finances / Personal: Work on something crafty. I've already started this! But I have a long way to go to reach my secret goal on this one (hey, you never know when a crafty project will turn into a birthday / Christmas present later on).
House: Get a Realtor. Hopefully this won't be too hard to do.
Finances / Eating Better: Finalize plans for balcony garden / order necessary stuff. I'm mostly set on my garden. I need to find (free) dirt, and I need to order my seeds. My goal is to spend around $50 for all the seeds I need.
Personal: Sell / donate unused items. I have a collection of stuff I keep meaning to get rid of. Anything I haven't sold or donated by the end of the month is getting unceremoniously thrown in the dumpster. :)
Personal: Resume working a bit each day to improve my posture. I feel like this won't be too bad. I already started a little bit yesterday.

Ok, I know this sounds like a lot, but I really fell behind at the end of the year..(hmm, September? Is that really the "end" of the year? Well, you know what I mean).

Food Waste.. Sunday

Argh, not again. I am several days late again, phooey.

I wasted a serving of a casserole I made a few weeks ago. I think it was still (technically) good, but I couldn't stomach it for some reason and I didn't feel right serving it to DH 500 times. It's hard to eat a casserole by yourself, even if it's just and 8x8 (all the way filled to the top).

I have applesauce in the fridge right now that has a bit of mold in the corner. I really need to deal with. I was going to make granola this weekend, but with all the other cooking I did, I didn't do the granola. I guess I should scoop the mold out if I really am going to use it.

I also wasted a failed smoothie. How can you ruin a smoothie? Put broccoli in it, yuck. I've added spinach and other veggies before, but apparently broccoli is a no-go. Its flavor is too strong. I hated dumping it down the drain. I'll have to be more careful next time.

So, overall, a pretty bad week. But I think I'm on track for this week to be better. :)

Here's hoping.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Well, I am currently battling a cold. I just took some nyquil, not thinking that I've also had most of a beer already tonight... Do not try this at home, kids. Actually, don't try this anywhere except maybe home, and only when you're not leaving home at all for the rest of the night. The drums in the music I'm listening to are definitely throbbing against all the congestion in my head. Drugs? Who needs drugs? I apologize in advance for the ludicrity of this post (yes, that is a word).

Um, apart from that, here's what I have going on in the way of goals for 2011. First off, my husband loves me, a lot. He hates doing "resolutions," but put up with setting "loose planning goals" for this year just for me. Yes I am very loved.

Our goals as a family include the following:
Continue eating better
Plan out / start the journey of weight loss for Hubby
Me to get my license!!!!!!
Move into a house?
Finance stuff
Personal Goals -- Me only

Each of these goals breaks down into different bits and pieces, which I feel is better than just leaving them as nebulous "eat better" goals. I want some meat to my goals, haha.

To continue eating better, I want to
eat more fermented foods for digestive / general health
reduce our white flour / white sugar intake
cut out soda completely
eat breakfast everyday
take cod liver oil (a supplement) every day

Still working on this.
I read an interesting thing which was 6 weeks of normal diet alternated with 2 weeks of weight loss diet. I liked the idea of it because it's not so much about crazy, dangerous dieting as it is for gradual, healthy weightloss. More to come as I learn more.

for this I intend to start practicing once a week (weather permitting).
Hopefully I can take my test in March by the latest.

This is sort of a dreaming goal and I realize that. I haven't told my family because I think they'll think I'm nuts. But we're slowly building our down payment...
If we don't move into a house by the end of December 31st, I'm really not going to flip a lid. But I do want to try.
Sub goals include getting a realtor, identifying "needs" and "wants" and reaffirming our price range. Also we want to find a reliable inspector.

We want to (obviously) finish our house down payment.
Finish our Car replacement fund. We are 1/3 to 1/2 way there.
Work on reducing food expenses.
Make more homemade Christmas gifts to reduce Christmas spending

Personal Goals
Ok this will change all the time, but for now this includes doing more crafty things and getting rid of extraneous things.