Archive for June, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

monday – menus and more

from-the-kitchen1

Yet another week of staple based foods.  I’m looking forward to having some more fresh fruit in the house, but until then the un-perishables will have to make do.  Let’s see what we’ll be eating…

Monday:  pesto pasta with shrimp (didn’t have this last week, can’t even remember why)

Tuesday:  pork sirloin chops in tomatoes and capers

Wednesday:  pizza

Thursday:  chicken in orange sauce

Friday:  fried rice

Saturday:  a nice big salad (hoping to be on a regular schedule and home to eat produce)

Sunday:  crepes (both savory: unknown and sweet: Nutella)

If you haven’t tried Nutella I dare you to.  And then tell me it didn’t change your life.  I introduced the husband to crepes and Nutella a few years ago.  It changed his life.  I think it’s part of why he was so happy to honeymoon in Paris.  To walk down the street carrying a hot, fresh crepe slathered with the dark, rich, hazelnut goodness that is Nutella…now that is living.

felix

Our budget was $80, we spent…

Sprouts Farmers Market – $43.24 (savings = $0.10)

Trader Joe’s – $22.13

Target – $14.71

Farmer’s Market – $4.50

A grand total of $84.58.  It’s either the Nutella or the Farmer’s Market that put us over.  Either splurge was totally worth it so I’m not even going to question it.

eating out

We had a great meal out last week.  We will probably have a few more in the upcoming weeks, considering the influx of visitors we have coming and the likelihood that I will not be completely thrilled with cooking every day, what with a toddler running around and (hopefully soon) a newborn draining my last ounces of energy.  (Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait.  Seriously.)

We do try to limit our eating out to less than once a week though, more like 2-3 times a month.  With what looks to be our future dining out adventures how do I take this bump in stride?

Restaurant.com

I can’t recommend it enough.  $25 gift certificates for only $10.  A few weeks ago we bought several certificates to some of our local restaurants (they are all independently owned) and have used two with visiting guests.  Both experiences were great.  No hassle.  The staff was always accommodating and never questioned our using the certificates.  There are, of course, some restrictions depending on the price of purchase and the establishment but nothing that would make it anything less than a great idea.

And what’s better than a great idea at 80% off?  Quite often  the site offers their certificates at a discount.  As much as 80%.  That’s getting $25 worth of food for only $2.  All while supporting local establishments.  There’s a win-win I’ll put my money on.

Go.  Eat.  Save.

Update:  A reader brought an error to my attention.  My math is sleep deprived too.  If the gift certificates are offered at 80% off it’s a mere $2 for $25 worth of food.  Don’t forget to read the conditions ($35 minimum purchase, Sun-Thurs or such things), but what a steal.

Restaurant.com is offering a current promotion (supposedly ending tonight 6/30/09) for 70% of purchase price plus a $10 gift certificate.  Use code RECIPE during checkout.  Grab the family or some friends and go support a neighborhood eatery.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

friday forum

No picture.  Means no food waste.  At least this week.

I’ll take it.

With an extra mouth to feed (my brother is in for a visit) we have had a pretty easy time eating everything up the last few days.  Plus, I intentionally created a very perishable-free menu this week.  I did buy a few vegetables and some fruit for the next week so hopefully we will actually be around to get it all eaten.  I’ve already sent berries to live in the freezer.  At 69¢ a pound for strawberries I was almost wishing I knew how to make preserves.  But I have lots for smoothies, sauces and such.

Week one of this no food waste streak.  I’m going to be really optimistic and reach for the entire month of July.

Does a bigger goal make us work harder or just more likely to not succeed?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

a look back to see our future?

make do

I love the sentiment of this poster.  It’s the mantra of many Compactors and frugalistas.  In fact I love this poster.  The color just screams creative to me.  It’s a hand pulled print on recycled card stock by Bold&Noble available at their Etsy shop.

Does handmade by an artist fit within your Compact confines?  Or does the quote itself (a reference from a much earlier wartime motto) contain the answer?

Simplicity - Nick Dewar

Then there’s this one.  How great is that?  This piece is from the Dec/Jan issue of ReadyMade:

The magazine asked five designers to use The Great Depression’s populist poster art as inspiration for depicting our current economic and cultural times.  Link to the posters online to download PDFs for free.

This is what Nick Dewar had to say about his Simplicity piece:

“I hope that America is entering a post-’greed is good’ period.  I can’t think of a single step that would change the nature of our society more than everyone abandoning their automobiles and cycling instead.  There would be less dependence on oil, obesity levels would drop dramatically, and reflective bike clips would replace fancy ladies’ purses as the current must-have fashion accessory.”  {see more of Nick’s work at nickdewar.com}

Free, cool and funny.  I’ll take two.

Monday, June 22, 2009

monday – menus and more

from-the-kitchen1

Let’s see what we’ll be eating this week…

Monday:  eggs in spicy tomato sauce

Tuesday:  pesto pasta with shrimp

Wednesday:  pizza

Thursday:  chicken strips, carrots

Friday:  spaghetti

Saturday:  pulled pork sandwiches

Sunday:  wholewheat pancakes (finally got in the whole wheat buttermilk pancakes last week – yummmm!)

This week’s menu is a lot of pantry items and I’m not planning a lot of fresh fruit and veg.  That’s intentional, I’m not punishing my family.  It’s that we don’t know from one day to the next if we will be at home the next week or so.  I need foods that can keep if they don’t get made.  No nice summer salads this week.  Oh well, at least the weekly pizza is going well.

felix

Our budget was $80, we spent…

Sprouts Farmers Market – $29.63 (savings = $0.10)

Costco – $49.64

Trader Joe’s – $5.50

Vons – $1.17 (savings = $2.80)

Walgreens – $1.16 (savings = $5.60)

A grand total of $87.10.  Not bad considering most of what we bought were bulk items that will last from a few weeks to many months.  Stocking up really can save big bucks when done right.  Thanks to all the coupon experts out there that have made it so easy for me to save money.

felix

It still surprises me how much I enjoy being in the kitchen.  Sometimes.  When it works, it really works.  I have gotten so used to cooking now that it’s not a stretch for me to make from scratch something I don’t have in the cupboard.

Father’s Day dinner was steak, shrimp and a side of pasta.  No veg but the husband was thrilled – all his favorites on one plate.  To top it off I decided to have some ice cream with his wonderful oatmeal chocolate chip cookies crumbled on top.  (Don’t worry, someday I promise to post that recipe so you can all judge for yourself.)

Somehow that didn’t seem like enough though.  I needed chocolate syrup.  I didn’t have any chocolate syrup, haven’t bought it in forever.  No worries, I’ll make some.

What?  Make some?  Make something that can be purchased in a bottle for convenience?

Why that’s just crazy talk.

Yup.  I’m crazy.  Cuckoo.  There I was, in the kitchen after dinner making chocolate syrup.

It took about 5 minutes.  And then we had sundaes.  And they were really good.  You can do it too.  Go ahead, try it.  Chocolate syrup in the fridge whenever you want it?  Life is good.

Here’s the recipe from Cooking Cache.

1 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon vanilla

Combine all of the ingredients, except the vanilla, in a medium saucepan. Mix well.  Cook over medium heat until boiling.  Continue cooking until thick.  Once cool, add vanilla.

(according to Cooking Chache – Cost Analysis: (30 ounces) Store bought: $1.89 Homemade: 90¢)

The real challenge is in waiting until the chocolate is cool to add the vanilla.  I couldn’t.  I needed to eat it right away.  And it was good.  I know I said that already.  But I’m still surprised by the little things in life.

felix

One last food item and I’m out of here.  Some of you may remember my Life to Leftovers conundrum that Jonathan Bloom of Wasted Food helped me out with.  Or I should say his readers helped, much to our mutual delight.

Now I have a similar challenge for you.  I just put about 2 cups of (unpitted) cherries and a handful of grapes in the freezer as they were probably hours away from being past there delicate prime.  The grapes, I know, can be eaten as a frozen treat but what else can they do?  And how about those cherries?  I don’t make pies and I don’t can (yet).

What’s a girl to do?

Friday, June 19, 2009

friday forum – take 2

090619

I was feeling so bad about not having a picture to go with my food waste earlier I just had to get this one in.

Apparently, this onion was hiding under the corn I made for dinner.

I’m not a big onion fan so it’s not a huge surprise to me to find half a moldy onion in the crisper.  It seems like I use a lot more garlic and onion in the winter than the summer.  I guess I’ll have to remember that and buy fewer, smaller onions in the future.

Back to your regularly scheduled lives, I just wanted to let you know about the onion.  Have a great weekend.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

friday forum

No picture.  You’d think that means I didn’t have any food waste.

But you’d be wrong.

All having no picture means is that I didn’t get one of the food the husband pointed out smelled a little (okay, a lot) funny before it got tossed.  Good thing he noticed before he gave it to Toddler L.  I can’t say I would have.  I’ve been a little preoccupied.  But I’ll get to that later.

Where was I?  Oh, yeah…  Food waste.  What was it?  Pasta.  Plain, boring, no sauce pasta.  I had made a batch last week for Toddler L.  It’s one of the few things he will almost always eat.  Right out of the fridge.  Cold.  Dry.  Takes after his father.

Unfortunately, Toddler L wasn’t feeling much like pasta this past week.  I could have used it for an adult meal but I kept holding onto it thinking it was for the kid.

Now it’s for the dump.

Not a lot of dollars down the drain on this one but still unfortunate all the same.  Mostly because it was one of those interestingly shaped pastas that hold the sauce so nicely.  Oh, well.  The good news is that Toddler L wasn’t eating pasta because he was eating my homemade pizza.  That means he ate a vegetable.  Ha!  And he didn’t even know it.  I’ll tell him when he’s twelve.

felix

So what has me so preoccupied that I don’t even know I have bad food in the fridge or what my son is eating?

IMG_6542

Pretty exciting huh?

That’s one of the “thank you” bags I made for the labor and delivery nurses that will be in my life sometime in the very near future.  We had such great nurses with Toddler L and I think it’s in part due to the goodies we handed over on our arrival.  No, not really.  They were great, but just because they were.  This is just our way of acknowledging it.

The bags toppers were made on the computer, printed on paper and stapled to the clear bags.  I did the labels the same way but printed them onto label paper we had in the closet. The husband made some of his awesome oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (they’re sitting in the freezer waiting for the moment we head out), they will go in the smaller white bags.  Everything goes in the big white bags and off we go.  Like Little Red Robin Hood with her basket of goodies.

I’ve been creative.  I’m happy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DIY – Father’s Day Tie

I promised some creativity, and it’s time to deliver.

I love a good tie.  It’s such a great opportunity to show some flair and style, I almost wish it was more de rigueur for women to wear ties.  (But then I wouldn’t have an excuse to steal from the husband’s closet when I need a fun belt.)

fathers-day-ties-back-425

It’s Father’s Day on Sunday.  What’s a more obvious Father’s Day gift than a tie?  But what’s obvious about making that tie yourself?

fathers-day-ties-426

The Purl Bee has created an entire DIY tutorial on how to make a simple tie.  The instructions are clear and there are lots of pictures to follow along.  I think this is such a great project and I think it’s pretty do-able, even for the basic, beginner sewer like me.  I had the best of intentions to actually make one of these ties in the past couple of weeks (and show you all the step-by-steps of course) but I just didn’t get to it.  Somehow having things ready for the impending arrival of a helpless, needy, very small human being has taken over most of my time and thoughts.

And now that I’ve posted this project for all of you I probably won’t.  At least not for Father’s Day.  The husband actually reads my blog so I can’t talk about him or any surprises without losing my edge.  (I’ll take the readership and find my surprises elsewhere, so don’t stop reading Babe.)

This is basically an exercise in ironing more than sewing.  A majority of the sewing is by hand so a quiet evening on the couch should net one great accessory.  The list of materials is pretty basic too:

  • 3/4-yard cotton fabric for tie front
  • 1/4-yard white or alternate cotton fabric for tie interior
  • 1 1/2-yards heavyweight sew-in interfacing
  • 1 yard light weight fusible interfacing
  • 100% cotton thread to match the front fabric
  • One Father’s Day Tie pattern,available free here, printed out and assembled.

Think you’re up for the challenge?  If you decide to try this out please let me know.  I would love to showcase your efforts and achievements.  And I will post some pictures when I get around to whatever number this ends up being on the project list.  I think that list grows faster than any other around here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

monday – menus and more

from-the-kitchen1

Where do these weekends go?  I have such big plans and then before I even know it, it’s Monday morning.  I’m really trying to get some of the great posts I have planned written and up.  At least I think they’ll be great.  I guess you’ll just have to wait and decide for yourself.  I will have Friday’s hint fully realized shortly, after all, it’s obviously a tie to Father’s Day coming up.  (sorry just thought of that one as I was writing and couldn’t delete it!)

Before we get there though, I know you are all dying to know what the menu is for the week.  Let’s see what we’ll be eating…

Monday:  beans and cornbread (in true calimama fashion I don’t follow this recipe exactly but it’s pretty darn close, and easy, and good…)

Tuesday:  tacos

Wednesday:  pizza

Thursday:  WOHO (wife on her own)

Friday:  cheeseburger stuffed potatoes, salad

Saturday:  london broil, veg TBD

Sunday:  buttermilk pancakes (every week the pancakes seem to get bumped, but I’m determined to keep trying)

Once I finally got the whole pizza stone issue resolved I was anxious to test my skills.  The final decision (with me as judge and jury of course), my skills need a great deal of refinement.  But the pizza I made last week was really quite good.  So good in fact, before we even finished eating I had decided to make it a weekly tradition of dough wrangling.  The kneading part was a little bit of a challenge (okay, yes, I might have mentioned to the husband that we weren’t having pizza that night much less any other while I was fighting with it doing it), but once I got things under control it all went quite smoothly.

I’m a huge fan of plain, cheese pizza but this homemade thing has me thinking about toppings I would never try in a restaurant.  Unfortunately, my childhood favorite of ham and pineapple (I don’t know why but this is very popular in Canada) will not be a staple as the husband doesn’t like ham.  Ahh well, I like the pineapple part best anyway.  I can work with that.

What are some of your favorite pizza combos?

felix

Each week I look for ways to stay within our budget.  Sometimes I even consider re-evaluating what that budget is or what it covers.  I think I think too much.  I’m not leaving nearly enough time for day dreaming about living in the French countryside or how I would spend a million dollars.  I mean isn’t that what you do with your mental free time?

I’m going to take another look at this budget issue but for now I’m keeping it as is.  Our budget was $80, we spent…

Sprouts Farmers Market – $29.83 (savings = $0.15)

Ralphs – $34.40 (savings = $41.59…seriously?!)

Trader Joe’s – $19.30 (savings = $4.04)

Bakery Outlet – $9.87 (savings = $4.18)

A grand total of $93.40.  Over budget, but considering I saved over half as much as I spent I feel pretty good about it.  The bakery was for three bags of flour and we got two boxes of English Muffins free.  I can’t believe how much flour I’m going through and the outlet has the best price for times like this when I’m not catching a sale.  And as the husband has an English Muffin pretty much every single day with breakfast the freebies were a major bonus.

With my new flour I did make English Muffin bread which turned out excellently (according to the English Muffin expert), so I hope to be making that more and buying muffins less.

If anyone who actually knew me read this blog they would be convinced aliens had taken over my body.  Cooking, staying home with a kid all day, baking bread?  What happened to the girl with the plan?  The daily double latte?  The high heels and manicures?

Mr. Dylan, you were right.  The times, they are a-changin’.

Friday, June 12, 2009

friday forum

090511

Food Waste.  Not too much but I’m yearning for the old days when I had nothing to photograph.

Technically, this pasta could probably be eaten.  I packed it for Toddler L when we went out to dinner one night.  Of course, he didn’t eat it.  When we got home I forgot it in the diaper bag, so it went unrefrigerated until sometime the next day.  Probably fine, but for a few bow ties – not worth the worry.

Better luck next week.

felix

This is going to be a very short forum today.  I’ve spent way too much time finding great project ideas and free downloads.  I will be sharing some of them with you.  Hopefully soon.

Until then forum amongst yourselves.

BTW, if you have great free downloads or DIY project ideas (of the creative bent) you want to share let me know.  All credit goes directly to you.  I may just add it to my personal projects-to-be-done-one-day file.

I’ll just leave you with this hint of things to come…

fathers-day-tie-425

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

karma, pizza and online shopping

I’m not a fan of online shopping.  I know it’s a great way to get deals, but it’s also a great way for me to get really frustrated.

Two days ago I was really frustrated.  Luckily, yesterday, karma was on my side and my world spun right again.  Tonight’s dinner is pizza.  Or at least I thought it was going to be, then I thought it might not be, now I think it’s back on.  I’m really quite excited by the idea because the husband (okay, yes, and I) loves pizza and to be able to make it at home seemed like a real treat.

(Karma?  Pizza?  What in the world does this have to do with online shopping?  Wait, I’m getting there.)

Last week I started my eBay search for a used pizza stone.  Good gracious, almost immediately I found one.  And the bidding time was almost up.  And it seemed really quite cheap.  So I jumped in.  I was going to get my pizza stone and still be out of the house in time to do all my errands.  After a brief bidding war the stone was mine.  I was feeling pretty good because even with shipping I paid less than what a stone would have cost me at Crate and Barrel.  (The only store I could buy new from as I had a gift card.  My rules, remember?)  In fact, I had just bought a pizza stone and peel with my gift card and was going to head right back to return the stone now that I’d found a Compact solution to my pizza problems.

Long story longer, my newly acquired, used, stone arrived.

Unfortunately it was not at all what I thought I was getting.  It was as advertised.  (Not like the time I ordered a used book from Amazon and got the correct title by the wrong author.)  It just wasn’t what I wanted.

I got caught up in the bidding excitement and overpaid for an item that I hadn’t done enough research on to be buying without supervision.

Local thrift store to the rescue.

IMG_6432

The large, perfectly flat, pizza stone in the above picture was purchased for $5 (with stand) at a favorite thrifty up the street.  The much smaller, lipped, baking stone was overpaid for and required shipping.  (Sorry, it’s too embarrassing to tell you what I did end up paying.)

Can you see why I was less than thrilled with my initial score purchase?  As the seller did not specifically list this as a pizza stone, merely described it as perfect for baking and making pizza, I cannot fault her.  So for now I will hang on to it.  To remind me of the cost of acting in haste.

Yet somehow, I’ll still be making pizza tonight.  A nice, big pizza.

felix

I really think we’re having pizza tonight because of a decision I made yesterday morning before even going to the thrift store.  I decided to tackle another creative endeavor.  When I let the creative juices flow I am usually in such a great mood.  How could the day not go well from there on?

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Here are the wooden bead bracelets I made for the husband and myself.  (Typically husband won’t touch anything jewelry related.  He won’t even wear a watch.  Good thing his wedding ring is such a symbol of love and devotion – no restriction there.)

Wood = Earth.  It’s amazing the sense of calm afforded by connecting with the elements of nature.  I almost feel ready to take on childbirth.  Well, maybe not quite yet, I have to re-arrange the nursery one more time.