Monthly Archives: March 2012

Vegetables For Beginners?

I don’t eat my vegetables.

We did eat some when I was growing up. Most suppers included one of The Big Three: corn, peas, or green beans. I’m not much of a bean fan and my husband doesn’t care for peas, so that makes our Big Three now The Big One — and corn is arguably a starch rather than a vegetable. (And the same veggie every day makes us tired of corn, understandably.)

Which leaves with The Big Zero.

Sometimes we’ll have spinach salads. Sometimes I buy a bag of baby carrots — but both get boring fast. Other caveat: Husband doesn’t like peppers, and I don’t consider them a loss from our cuisine.

But within the next four to five months, we’ll have another solid food consumer in our home. We’ll start her on veggies — and then not eat them ourselves.

I don’t want my daughter to grow up like her mother. I want her to know what kale is. I don’t want her to regard stir-fry veggies as filler to round out the meat bits. For me, I want to be healthier and have a more diverse cuisine.

But I don’t believe I like vegetables. A lot of it might be lack of experience.

I’ve done a little reading about veggie-eating tips, but nothing sounds super-promising to me. Maybe if some of you would like to share your favorite veggie recipes, that would inspire me.

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Filed under Feeding Babies, Green Living, Personal, Recipes

Recipes Du Jour: Carnitas and Cookies

Thanks to Devi and Jacki for their references to these recipes! We just had the carnitas for dinner and will try (ha) to make the cookies last the week.

Smitten Kitchen shared this recipe for Carnitas from another blog. (P.S., thanks also to Devi for introducing me to Smitten Kitchen! I think I’ve browsed through 144 pages of her recipes now, bookmarking relentlessly…) The carnitas were pretty good — we’ve never had them before. I think I cut my meat up too small, but they still tasted great and were easy to make. If pork butt wasn’t so pricey (I’m cheap about buying meat — only bought a 2-pound piece here), it might well become a regular thing here.

Jacki shared this recipe for No Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies yesterday from Stephanie Cooks. (I should check out that blog some more.) They use oil instead. I think they taste pretty good, though you can tell something is very slightly different. They’re good enough that my husband doesn’t seem to know anything’s different, or at least hasn’t said so. I was a little disappointed to find the recipe barely made two dozen cookies — my own fault for not thinking about it in advance. Side note, I didn’t use the full amount of chocolate chips. It seemed pretty packed full of them with 1.5 cups.

Last night I tried to make the crusty sandwich bread from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day master recipe dough (see earlier posts for those links). It didn’t get very tall, but then it also didn’t survive until a sandwich meal, either. 🙂

I’m really on a new recipe kick lately. It must be because making time to cook is fairly difficult this week!

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‘Sell By’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Throw Out By’

It’s a pretty regular occurrence in my fridge that there’s a bag of spinach or carton of eggs that’s not used up by its “sell by” date.  I remember being told that it was okay to use eggs after that date, but … is it really? What about the spinach?

I never really did find out about the spinach — which is especially irksome as it’s the title photo of the following article — but did learn some more about how long things keep.

(I learned it from a Google search.) Here is a Business Week slideshow and article.)

  • “Sell By” is a date for sellers and selling, though it helps you gauge an item’s age.
  • If your fridge is cold enough, milk can last 2-5 days beyond sell-by.
  • Meat should be used or frozen within two days of when you brought it home, regardless of the sell-by date, because most of us don’t keep our fridges cold enough.
  • Ground meats should only stay in the freezer for three months. (Wow!)
  • This article suggests cereal should be used within six months of purchase. I know the boxes are dated generally a year out, though…
  • Eggs can be used 3-5 WEEKS beyond sell-by. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re super-fresh.

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Filed under Cleaning Up, Green Living, Home Maintenance

Cleaning: Let’s Just Say We Did?

I’m not the cleanest of people.

(Or maybe that’s an understatement, former roommates of mine might tell you.)

But in the not-so-distant future our tiny human will become mobile and grabby, and my ways will need to change lest I want to make daily trips to the E.R. I’m frequently pledging to get my act together like most messy people do, anyway.

I have an inkling that I might need to make a cleaning schedule: this room on Mondays, that chore on Tuesdays, etc. But what chores are really worth doing, and how often? If they’re not overtly filthy, how often should you really bother to clean a window?  Vacuum? Dust? What else is there?

Thoughts?

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Filed under Cleaning Up, Home Maintenance

To “Work” Or Not To Work?

My mom was a “stay-at-home-mom,” so it’s really hard for me to imagine handing my child over to someone else for 40 hours a week. It feels like someone else would be raising my child. And even if it were a close relative, something just doesn’t feel totally settled about it in my gut. Probably most moms feel that way.

Before my baby arrived almost two months ago now(!), I was not working. A contract job I was at ended a few months before she was due, and it didn’t seem like the best time in life to job hunt after that.

Now the standard “maternity leave” time is ending, so it’s time to more seriously consider whether to “work” or not to “work”?

I use the quotation marks because being a stay-at-home-mom — or homemaker, to refer to this lovely blog title — isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card from working. Watching children 24/7 requires special patience. Then there’s cleaning, laundry (washing, folding, and putting away thereof), meal-planning, grocery shopping, cooking, general penny-pinching, household maintenance…

We could really stand to be a two-income family again. But as we crunch the numbers of buying care for our new tiny human, the income we have left after paying a sitter leaves us wondering: Is it worth it? Would my time be better spent at home, trying to save us money? There are intangibles like my sanity to consider, but I’m still on the line.

  • Certainly, if the number of tiny humans we own increases, affording day care will pretty much be out of the question.
  • Someday we will be out of tiny humans, though, and I’ll want to have my skills sharp.
  • I could try to find what home-based work I can.
  • How realistic is that? — that I’ll find/create any, and that I’ll be able to manage it.
  • I have a bachelor’s degree, and am still paying for it. Shouldn’t I be using it?

Etc., etc.

For some moms, they love to work, and that’s that. I enjoy certain jobs, but I am a homebody. Other moms work solely for the health insurance. Like them all, I want what’s best for my family, but I’m not sure what that is.

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Filed under Personal, Saving Money

Upcoming Experiments

Special thanks to Natalie for her comment last week about making her own dishwasher detergent. It’s inspired me to try and do the same, and possibly a few other DIY projects.

First up, I’m going to try and make cloth diaper wipes. Some people I’ve mentioned this to seem turned off by it, but it’s not going to cost me much to give it a shot. I spent $5.50 on some flannel yesterday; I plan to cut it up, arrange rectangles wrong sides together, and surge the edges. Might as well make a few burp rags while I’m doing that.

Then, I’m going to try my hand at homemade dishwasher detergent. I haven’t settled on any particular recipe yet. Does anyone have suggestions to share?

(Side note: In the comments of the blog Natalie pointed me to, I found this link to a blog by a dishwasher repairman. He had some great points about how dishwashers work and mentioned one natural additive, LemiShine. I bought some and am going to try it out. He also mentioned that liquid detergents are bad for your dishwasher.)

If that’s not a total disaster, I’d like to try laundry detergent as well. Again, any suggestions?

And if neither of those are disasters (and knowing me, that could be a big if!), DIY stain remover and diaper detergent are next on the list. I’ve also read this week about DIY cheese and DIY shampoo, but I think those are out of my league.

All of these, of course, are baby willing…

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Filed under Saving Money

Coupons Hate Me

It is possible to waste — yes, waste — an entire afternoon trying to print coupons.

About a week ago, I found this great, long list of grocery coupons. It would be fantastic to save a bunch on groceries, especially as a one-income family at present. I’ve watched some of the “Extreme Couponing” episodes and been inspired by people who basically get their 17 carts-full for free — and though I am not interested in multiple-cart or multiple-transaction orders or a stockpile of hoarding proportions, I’d like to build a small pantry up. Small as in parts of a cupboard currently full of other junk.

So Sunday, I ran out to my parents’ house to print off some coupons — our printer was out of order. But when I went to start printing off my selected coupons, I found you have to download a program from most coupon sites. Decided I didn’t want to download a program onto my parents’ computer — not crazy about downloading one onto any computer!

I started putting some elbow grease into fixing our printer and, to make a long story slightly shorter, I tried twice unsuccessfully to install the printer software onto my computer and finally managed to get my husband’s to print a simple document.

Home printers are aggravating enough.

Coupon suppliers make printing coupons so complicated that you’ll probably never use their product. (You’ll have been a hit on their site and viewed the ads, which is where they make their real money.) I tried several times to download the coupon printing program onto my husband’s computer — each time it said cheerfully, “Your coupons are waiting on your printer.” Ha. I wish.

Why is it so difficult to display the coupon right on the site, so you can just print the page you’re looking at and be done with it? I just want to save 35 cents on a can of soup and $1 on two other things I might not have bought otherwise. At most, I thought I had contrived a way to use several coupons and get 10 Yoplait yogurts for half price — only if I bought 10.

For now I will have to appease myself with the thought of using my $5-off-your-bill coupon at Cub next week.

P.S. If the baby cooperates, my goal within the next week is to compare the prices of things I regularly buy at Cub to their prices next door at Target, when available. I know cereal is considerably cheaper — what other surprises are there, and how much could I save by shopping at more than one store each week? I know my mom has split her shopping up for as long as I can remember.

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