Archive for July, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

friday forum

“Aren’t you going to take a picture of that?”

That’s what the husband said as I was tossing out 6 pieces of my new favorite molasses bread*.  They had started to grow mold while I was busy eating a loaf of white bread.  Apparently I can’t leave bread alone for a minute, much less days without it getting into trouble.  I really kind of knew that, which is why I was so thoroughly disgusted as I opened the garbage bin.  I will be slicing and freezing my bread as soon as I make it from now on.

If you haven’t guessed yet, the answer was “no”.

I also did not take a picture of the plum I tried to eat but refrained.  I was cutting off a small piece of the skin because the plum labeling sticker would not let go and I didn’t want to eat sticker glue.  As I cut into the plum I saw that it was strangely discolored and “off” throughout the inside.  So my week started with plums that were picked too soon and turning to mush on the outside while the inside was not yet ripe and finished with a plum that appeared to be rotting from the inside out.  I did eat the plums at the beginning of the week mind you.

I’m a little more worried about what won’t get photographed next Friday.  We are headed to Michigan for a family wedding.  Lots of eating in restaurants and sleeping in a hotel that probably won’t have a mini-fridge.  As this is the land of large size portions I see some food waste in my future.  As much as I’d like to avoid it I’m not sure how much I can control.  I wonder what the waiter will say if I order a quarter of a chicken-fried-steak** because I don’t want to throw the rest away?

If you haven’t guessed yet, the answer is “no”.

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shoplocal-bag

The Las Vegas Weekly put together a great article on the new “local” movement.  Or should I say the new local-washing movement.

“With more consumers buying from their own neighborhoods, corporations are getting in on the local action.”

What?  You didn’t know that Hellman’s and Frito-Lay are actually just your typical local companies?  Check out the story here, and see what else the big corps are hoping you’ll buy.

* Just a note, I do really like this bread machine recipe but I bake it in the oven not the bread machine.  Great flavor and a better crust.

** Don’t believe everything you read.  I’m not planning to have chicken-fried-steak next week.  Or any week for that matter.  This was a test.  Only a test.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

the ultimate basic oatmeal chocolate chip cookie

There is just something so right about a cookie that blends the ultimate sweet – chocolate – with the ultimate healthy – oatmeal.   Okay, that may not be the ultimate healthy but it’s definitely leaning that direction.  I’m not really big on moderation, so a cookie that is so sweet I can eat just one is wasted on me.  And although oatmeal raisin cookies are a favorite, they can leave me feeling like my sweet tooth has not been satisfied.

These are my all-time favorite cookies.  And considering I’ve only been eating them for about two years that’s saying something.  The fact that the husband makes them has nothing to do with them being my favorite.  It does have something to do with him being my favorite though.  But I think he knows that.  The recipe originally came from my MIL so the husband is well familiar with this cookie.  So why haven’t I been eating them longer than two years?  That’s a good question.  I guess his desire to bake wasn’t as developed during the first several years of our relationship.  I’m glad he’s made amends with that part of himself.  I love the fact that the husband makes these so much that I actually offer them up to friends for fundraising events and such just so he has to make them.  And they’re darn good.  But I think I mentioned that.

Come on, let’s make some cookies.  You know you want to.  (Printable recipe at the end.)

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IMPORTANT NOTE: the picture does not reflect the ingredients list - we were making a half batch this day

The lovely ingredients for today’s adventure:  flour, baking soda, salt, butter, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, walnuts (optional – I’m a no nuts kinda cookie girl), milk, vanilla extract, rolled oats, chocolate chips.

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Set your oven rack to the 3/4 high position.  Or somewhere about the second from the top position.

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In a small bowl combine 1 1/3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  You could use just a pinch of salt but the husband is very accurate in his baking and insists on an even measure.

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This mixing bowl set has small, medium and large bowls, we use the largest bowl for this step.  You could use something smaller, this just works for us.  (I use the term us very loosely, you can see the husband’s hands doing the actual mixing, I’m just the gal taking pictures and sharing the story.)  Into the large bowl goes 2 sticks of softened butter, 1 1/4 cups of packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

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Beat this together until mixed but not overly so, more beating to come.

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Set the beater to the side and crack in 2 eggs.  (I like to do this one handed – it’s an old trick I love to show off, but this is husband’s cooking so crack, split, whatever, just be sure to dig out the broken shell bits.)  Then add 2 tablespoons milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  I insist of the real deal, no imitation or I won’t guarantee these to be the best cookies ever.  This is non-negotiable.  Not really, but I’d like to think you care enough for the very best.

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Now beat all of this together.

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Take your small bowl of flour mixture and add it to the butter, sugar, egg, milk mixture in 1/2 cup portions.  Or whatever works for you, just don’t dump it all in at once.  Mix well after each addition but don’t beat the heck out of it or the flour will defy you and I won’t guarantee these to be the worlds best cookies.

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Now you’re done with the mixer, feel free to lick the blades, husband always does.

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Gently stir in 2 1/2 cups uncooked oats, 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts.  (If nuts are your thing.  I don’t recommend it because I don’t think those are the worlds best cookies.  But it’s really up to you.)  (And let’s pretend the blurry picture is because husband is stirring so darn fast and not that I was shaking the camera or anything like that.)

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Using two spoons (or one tablespoon and your finger, or one cookie scoop) drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet.

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Place the cookie sheet in the preheated 375 degree oven.  If you’re like me and want perfect cookies that are neither too chewy or too crispy bake for 9 minutes.  But that’s in our oven.  Yours may be different and require some testing.  General guidelines though would be 9-10 minutes for chewy and 12-13 minutes for crispy.

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This is what the cookies look like straight out of the oven.

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Let them stand for one minute and then using a very thin spatula remove them to a rack to cool.  This is the most difficult part.  Not eating them immediately.

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If you’re only using one cookie sheet like we do, let it sit for 5 minutes to cool then repeat the drop, bake and wait process several more times.

This should yield about 4 dozen cookies.  It depends on your spoons.

Store the cookies in an airtight container and see if you can keep them around long enough to even hint at getting stale.  Ours last about 3 days.  I do usually freeze (or give away) half the batch immediately otherwise I would have to worry about our chocolate intake.

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Click the link for a sweet (and photo free) recipe card to print.  PRINTABLE COOKIE RECIPE

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

monday – menus and more

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Okay, I know it’s Tuesday.  But I like order and systems.  Chaos makes my head hurt.  It makes my eyes go all twitchy.  Menus go up on Mondays.  I’m sure it must still be Monday somewhere.  Even if that’s only in my head.  Bear with me while I get through this.  I’m sure things will be back to normal next week.  (yeah, you can stop laughing now.)  Let’s see what we’re eating…

Monday:  stir fry

Tuesday:  chicken parmesan sandwiches (actually monterey jack, but who’s checking?), mashed cauliflower

Wednesday:  pepperoni pizza

Thursday:  something from the pantry, sauteed carrots  (some days are just harder than others)

Friday:  london broil, green beans (didn’t get to this last week either)

Saturday:  beef stroganoff

Sunday:  french toast

felix

Our budget was $80, we spent…

Vons – $25.81 (savings = $25.69)

Target – $3.60 (savings = $2.49)

Trader Joe’s – $11.49

Sprouts – $30.33 (savings = $0.05)

Cost Plus – $9.46

Smart & Final – $21.03

Okay, so I actually thought we were on budget, then I realized I was missing a receipt.  At $101.72 I should feel pretty good about the 27% savings of $28.23 but it really just shows that we aren’t really taking this budget thing to heart.  Too many “want” items that put us over the edge.  More fruit than was really needed (is there really such a thing?), canned soda and bottled specialty root beer, English Heinz beans… all makes for a delightful fridge but not exactly being our most frugal.

felix

On the topic of eating well.  I was introduced to Cari, Adam and Emily this week.  I encourage you to make an introduction.  They all seem to be lovely people with some interesting things to say about food.  And how much to spend for it.  I feel a true kinship with Cari because she is trying to feed her family well without sacrificing things like organic vegetables, eggs and dairy.  She is also making the bread her family eats and grows many of her own vegetables.  I know, I don’t actually do the growing thing, but I still relate to her thinking.  And I would at least consider trying it if we didn’t live in a small apartment on the second floor with a balcony that works really well for storage but not potted plants.  I don’t anticipate I would be successful but I would consider trying.  That’s something right?

I’m also considering a hiatus from my $80/week grocery budget to try $50/week food challenge.  Now that’s $50 per week per adult (plus an additional $25 dollars/week for Toddler L).  Sounds like a lot huh?  But considering we buy organic eggs and dairy and produce when we can, it goes fast.  Also, that $50/week is for all food.  So that’s groceries, restaurants, snacks when out and about, the whole enchilada.  Sounds a bit tougher now, huh?  Not that we eat out that much, definitely less than once a week, but a single meal out can be half that budget.  I am thinking we’ll be rolling over our savings for the times we do go out to make up the difference.  So really, the budget could be considered $200/month/adult (unless it’s those weird months that have an extra week and then it throws everything off, like pregnancy, which is considered 9 months but it’s 40 weeks so really wouldn’t you say that’s 10 months because most people consider one month to be 4 weeks).  Conscious stream writing is really just one long run-on sentence isn’t it?!  At least when it’s my conscious stream.

For a while now (certainly since seeing Food, Inc.), I’ve been re-evaluating what our family eats.  We are really cutting back on meat so that we can stay within a budget but still be good stewards to our health and environment.  We are going to try only buying organic meat, which means not buying it very often.  I would also like to buy mostly local produce from the farmers market instead of the grocery store specials.  It may not be organic but at least it’s helping our community and not being transported from other continents, countries or states.  We have made huge strides in eliminating the processed food we eat but I’d like to keep working on that.  The husband loves him some granola bars, I’m going to try making those and see if they will meet his satisfaction.  Also, I’m a real 1970’s kid in that I love mac n’ cheese from a box (the one with the cheese sauce mind you, not the powdered crap).  I am going to try to kick that habit and bring in the homemade.  We all have to make sacrifices.

Which would you choose, $80/week for all grocery including paper goods and toiletry or $50/week/adult for everything you put in your mouth?

Friday, July 24, 2009

friday forum

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As Toddler L would say “yu-cky…garbage…yu-cky”.  And unfortunately, that’s what all this food was.  I knew it was coming.  I’ve been saying it for weeks.  The onions were just waiting to get noticed.  The avocado, well that was just unfortunate.  I bought two because the husband is a big fan.  I like them, but not enough to remember that I have to do something with them.  This was my pudding.  It proofed.  And the bread, well that was croutons that didn’t happen.  I was able to cut off about a third of the peach and eat the rest.  Which is good considering it was quite large, organic and cost $1.50 at the farmer’s market.  Not a good week but at least I made sure all the chocolate chip cookies got eaten before they went stale.

Why does it matter if I throw away a couple of onions and a scrap of bread?  Well, as Jonathan Bloom of Wasted Food put it:

Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food we produce for consumption. That comes at an annual cost of more than $100 billion. At the same time, food prices and the number of Americans without enough to eat continues to rise.

Will the food I throw out in my kitchen have any bearing on whether someone else has anything to eat?  No.  But by being aware of what food I waste hopefully I will also consider the waste that is happening at a grander scale.  And if my talking about it makes someone else aware then double chocolate chips for everyone.

And be sure to thank The Frugal Girl for challenging her readers to expose their dirty laundry moldy food.  All in the name of sharing eyeballs, I write for public humiliation and blogroll status.  I’m all about status.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

how was your day?

Pug

Sometimes things just work out.  I wasn’t expecting it but today was one of those days.  Okay, Toddler L has a fever.  That wasn’t expected or hoped for.  But other things were better.

If you’ve been here before you probably know I am an AB5MD convert.  (That’s Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for those of you who aren’t so hip to be squared.)  Although I love having the bread machine and make all the bread we eat (okay, maybe not ALL, I can’t be responsible for the husband’s addiction to Thomas English Muffins), I have truly fallen for the ease with which one can have divine, crusty, almost-quasi-nearly-Old World French loaves on the table with dinner.  And such a cute little loaf for when it’s just the two of you.  (Okay, it’s never just the two of us anymore, but the other mouths don’t eat dinner with us so I’m discounting them for the sake of this discussion.)

All digressions aside, I have been doing a regular and somewhat extensive search for a used copy of the AB5MD book in the thrift stores and online.  No luck.  Apparently I am not the only one.  I am currently 573 of 623 on the wait list at Paperback Swap.  Some time ago (think months) I put a request in at the library.  Finally, it’s waiting to be picked up.

But that’s not the best part.  I haven’t made it to the library yet and now I don’t have to.  A package arrived today.  As we have a new baby that’s not completely unexpected.  But that this package contained adult books was.  No, not those kind of adult books.  What do you take me for?  One book doesn’t have any pictures or nursery rhymes and the other one has recipes that don’t include home-made play dough or bubbles.  My in-laws gifted us a copy of the first Artisan Bread book.  How cool is that?  They know all about the Compact and my newest obsession and I guess they took pity on me.  Whatever the reason, I couldn’t be happier.  I feel like a 16 year old boy who just got handed the keys to the car.  I can’t wait to dive in and see what it can do.  And I hope that’s the only time I ever feel like a 16 year old boy.  That’s kinda weird.

I think everyone should be part of the Compact.  It makes getting gifts even better.

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I did have another Compact revelation this week.  I have mentioned before about my frustrations with Freecycle.  I know it is a staple of the true Compact lifestyle.  The concept of getting used items from others when they are done with them and putting your own items into circulation is what keeps the Compact a viable entity.  I wanted to be part of the circle.  I had even collected a bag of miscellaneous items to post on the local site.  Unfortunately I never prioritized to get the posts actually written.  (I know, they only need to be one sentence each.)  After Baby S arrived I really needed to make some space in our room so the bag ended up going to Goodwill.  Still the used goods bandwagon so not a terrible loss but I wouldn’t be getting my “shop now” card from Freecycle.

When our air mattress developed yet another slow leak I refused to take it out of the living room until I had posted it on Freecycle.  I didn’t think I’d actually get any takers for an air mattress that had 3 patches and needed yet another but I hated the idea of sending all that vinyl to the landfill.

I spent over two hours corresponding with 7 or 8 interested parties and coordinating pick-up with the lucky taker.  If I had actually posted all the items I had previously collected I couldn’t have possibly handled the response time based on what I got for an air mattress that leaves you on the hard floor by morning.  I’m not cut out for Freecycle.  I accept it.

Before I get comments about how the system works let me say again, I’m okay not being a Freecycler.  Really.  I am much happier about the 2 hours I spent making my own envelopes out of pages from old magazines.  And then printing the prettiest little address labels for them.  I even made my own stickers to seal them up with.  (I’m not bragging, really, just remembering fondly.)  That’s time well spent to me.  And it’s all part of the Compact.   Take what works and build a life to be enjoyed.  That’s what I say.

Monday, July 20, 2009

monday – menus and more

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This week looks to be almost normal.  At least when it comes to menu planning and me being in the kitchen.  We have no visitors and no plans for drop-off dinners (although they are always welcome!), so I think it’s up to me.  Let’s see what we’ll be eating…

Monday:  baked spinach and pasta frittata

Tuesday:  shrimp with roasted corn

Wednesday:  pizza (toppings TBD)

Thursday:  boxed Indian (Why boxed Indian food?  Because that’s what the husband bought when I sent him to the store by himself.)

Friday:  chicken parmesan sandwiches

Saturday:  london broil

Sunday:  french toast

felix

Our budget was $80, we spent…

I don’t want to know.

I’m not even going to tabulate what was spent last week at the grocery store.  Seriously.  What with having house guests and the husband going almost every day to some store to pick up some thing, I never did have a true shopping list and I don’t want to know what we spent.  I certainly don’t know what we got so why should I know what it cost?  This week will be back on track for shopping too.  I hope.

felix

Yesterday was National Ice Cream Day.  July is National Ice Cream Month.  Which is good because I wasn’t able to eat all of the ice cream yesterday.  Now I still have some time to indulge in healthy dairy snacks.  Come on, let a girl dream.  Thanks Mr. Reagan.

Friday, July 17, 2009

take a flying leap

Typically I write about how participating in the Compact has affected my life.  And how much money I spend on groceries and what food I throw away at the end of every week.  And if I’m really lucky maybe something creative that might fit into a Compact lifestyle.

This post is about none of those things.  In fact, this post really doesn’t belong here at all.  But this is the only forum I’ve got.

Not interested in traveling with infants or small children?  Don’t read any further.

Don’t worry, I won’t be offended.  In fact, I probably won’t even know.

For everyone else, here’s the download…

A while back I was attending a breastfeeding support group for Toddler L.  (At the time he was Baby L.  Now he’s all growed up.)  We talked about a lot of things besides feeding really small human beings.  Travel, specifically flying, came up again and again.  As we traveled more than anyone I know from the time Baby L was 5 weeks old I started to gather some pretty good tips.  These are them.  (Plus some I found just to make the list better.  I’m all about being better.)

Packing/Before you leave…

◊  A backpack diaper bag can really free up your hands for kids, strollers, extra baggage, car seats and all those other things you are now responsible for.

◊  Extra diapers. If you typically need 3 diapers for a 7 hour period make sure your diaper bag has 6.  It was pretty much a guarantee that Baby L would have a blow-out as soon as we got on a plane.  Even if I had just changed his diaper before we left the terminal.

◊  As Baby L became Toddler L we found the blow-outs less frequent so it was more about lasting the duration.  Over-night diapers can be more absorbent and therefore helpful for long flights.  (Especially when changing tables are nowhere to be found.)

◊  A really good blow-out can require a complete outfit change.  Extra baggies to store those dirty clothes are a must.  I always have a roll of Nature babycare diaper bags for the diapers and the clothes.  I love that they are small yet big enough for a little outfit and they are biodegradable.

◊  If you are using a convertible carseat I recommend the backpack style carrier.  I have traveled alone with Toddler L and this allows me to push him in the stroller, carry the carseat on my back and still have another hand to pull a wheeled bag.  It’s not elegant but it works well and gets the job done so I have everything I need.  (Unload the carseat and the luggage at check-in, then travel light with kid and umbrella stroller through the airport.)

◊  Another option is the Sit-N-Stroll Baby Carrier.  This gizmo is your carseat and stroller in one.  Personally I’m not a fan because it puts the child close to the ground and it makes for a bulky stroller.  But if you can borrow one it might be worth trying out for yourself.

◊  If you decide to purchase a ticket for your infant or toddler under two make sure to ask about child fares.

◊  Airport security loves the quart size Ziplock bag.  So do I.  Grab several, put one diaper, a couple of wipes and a disposable changing pad in each one.  These are your individual diaper bags.  You can take one of these with you for diaper changes and leave the big bag back at the seat.  Use the ziploc for the dirty diaper and the bathroom won’t smell like a diaper pail.  The disposable changing pads are not really environmentally friendly but they are a comfort (especially to new moms just getting the hang of everything) when working in tight spaces with lots of potential ick factor.

◊  When making your reservations try for the “free” seat.  When my husband and I travel with a lap held child we book the window and aisle seat if the rows are three seats across.  This allows us the chance of having that middle seat stay open.  Often times a great check-in agent will child block that seat so it is reserved unless the plane is booked.  This is no guarantee and it won’t happen on a full flight but it’s worth asking.  If the middle seat does get booked by some unknowing flier they will probably be more than happy to take the aisle seat instead of sitting between you.

◊  If bulkhead seats are available to you definitely consider taking them for the extra room.  Just remember that the arms don’t raise up which can be more difficult with sleeping infants and toddlers.

At the airport…

◊  Sling your baby.  If at all possible wear your child through the airport.  It leaves your hands free and makes getting through security so much easier.  A baby in a carrier or stroller needs to be removed to get through the screening process.  Typically (but not always), babies in a sling can be worn throughout.  I’ve never been asked to take my son out of his Moby or Baby Bjorn.  With your hands free from child restraint/carrying you can fold the stroller, place it wheels side up on the conveyor belt, put the infant carrier upside down on the belt and worry about your shoes and jackets and computers, and liquids and…

◊  Consider removing any decorative covers on infant carriers.  The rollers on the conveyor belts are dirty and if it is going to be gate checked it will be placed in the cargo hold with hundreds of suitcases and who knows what.

◊  And don’t forget, infant and childrens’ shoes need to be removed at security as well.  Yes, even those soft little shoes that are only two inches long.  You never know what could be hiding in there.

◊  Take your milk with you.  Anything that would be considered a liquid/gel (diaper cream, breastmilk, juice, medicine, baby food) can typically be taken through security in larger than 3-4 oz quantities.  As long as security understands it is for the child they will let it go through.  It’s helpful to tell them up front it’s in your bag so they know to expect it.  At least this is my experience.

◊  When making your reservations consider requesting assistance at security.  This can be noted as a special need on your booking and may be helpful if you are a novice traveler or traveling with multiple kids on your own.  An extra pair of hands, a golf cart or even a wheelchair can help make the process run smoothly.  Take any help offered!

◊  You may want to consider a child leash if you have a toddler that is prone to solo adventures.  Crowded airports are no place to lose track of a little one.

◊  Traveling is thirsty work.  Airplanes are notoriously dry and if your breastfeeding or not you and the kids need to stay hydrated.  That doesn’t mean you have to pay top dollar for bottled water at the airport.  Take empty bottles through security and fill them when you get into the terminal.  The water fountains are usually quite good and any restaurants that have serve-your-own fountain drinks will have a water tab as well.

◊  Changing diapers can be a challenge.  On a plane it is a downright pain in the butt.  Take a few minutes just before your plane boards and change diapers in the airport.  This doesn’t guarantee you won’t end up in the minuscule airplane bathroom with one too many people (or better yet, on the floor of the galley), but it may limit how many times it happens.

◊  The infant carseat/carrier can be used without the base in any car or airplane seat.  Directions for safe installation with and without the base are typically written on the side of the carrier.  If they’re not there look in the manual or online.  Leave the base at home and travel with the carrier and a Snap n’ Go stroller for the most flexibility and safety.  Infants under two can ride in taxis and shuttle vans without a carseat.  Just remember, even though it’s legal it’s not the safest choice.

◊  If you are gate checking a stroller or carseat ask for a tag at the counter when you get to the gate.  If you wait until boarding the plane it will hold up the line.  Don’t expect early boarding for families with children.  Many airlines have eliminated this nicety as their priority passengers are actually the frequent business travelers who want to get on first themselves.

On the plane…

◊  Fresh breastmilk (not frozen) can be put in the baby’s eyes, nose and ears to help fight the germs flying with you on airplanes.  Unless you have really good aim I’d recommend using an eye dropper!

◊  One of my all time favorite tips came from a mom who was traveling with an infant from LA to JFK.  She got on the plane, stood up and announced “I’m traveling with a small child, I have a box of earplugs, raise your hand if you’d like some!”  You’d be surprised how many takers she had!  Not only was she traveling with a sense of humor (a must when traveling, much less with kids), she nipped the crabby seatmates in the bud.

◊  If your baby uses a pacifier make sure you have a pacifier clip to keep it off the floor.  My toddler may be crawling all over the floor at our feet but I really don’t want the baby’s pacifier to land there.

◊  Have your individual diaper change baggies handy.  Airplane toilets are ridiculously small, I don’t think an adult, a child and a diaper bag would even fit.  Also, stick a pack of wipes in the seat pocket for clean-ups.  Just remember to take them with you when you leave.  Now that Toddler L is older I have replaced the disposable changing pads with a washable one, but I still have a mini diaper pouch with just the essentials that I grab for changes.

◊  If your child is drinking regular milk and you want a bottle for take off and landing ask the attendant when you are boarding for milk. I have never had a problem getting milk when I ask at boarding, later the crew is dealing with bigger issues than saying hello and less able to help.

◊  A laser pointer can be a great distraction to young ones when flickered on the seat back in front of you.

◊  Ask the flight attendants where the changing tables are.  This gives them the opportunity to offer help as well as let you know the options if no changing tables are available.  You’d be amazed how many planes were built without changing tables.  Some airlines will let you change a diaper in the seat, some won’t.  Some times the best place is going to be the galley (kitchen) floor.  Nice to have the disposable changing pads when that’s your option.

◊  If you book a seat for a child they must be properly restrained for take-off and landing.  The FAA allows infant carriers, car seats, the Sit-N-Stroll and the Cares harness.  The harness attaches to the airplane seat adjusting the seat belt to restrain the upper body as well as the lap.

◊  If you have a window seat you can take a blanket and pin it to your seat and the seat in front of you for a privacy screen.

At your destination…

◊  If you are away for an extended period of time consider hiring a nanny at your destination.  I haven’t done this so don’t have many resources but if you have a nanny at home you could use the same methods to find one for your trip.  Ask friends, family, a hotel concierge or online local resources.

◊  Buy diapers after you arrive, saving valuable suitcase space for make-up and shoes.  Or baby clothes if that’s your thing.

◊  Check out local Craigslist and other used goods sources for swings, strollers, pack n’ plays, etc at your destination if you will be there for any period of time.  Some things aren’t easy to travel with but sure make for a happier baby traveler.

◊  If you are renting a car while traveling plan to take your own carseat.  It can be more difficult to travel with but it is worth the effort for the comfort of knowing what you’ve got.  Based on personal experience you just never know the quality of what a rental car agency will provide.  Just because the carseat is considered safe doesn’t mean it’s clean or in good repair.

Resources/References/Websites I found for you…

Babies Travel Light – have what you need sent to your destination be it hotel or Grandma’s house

Baby Equipment Rental Agencies – need to rent while away, here are some international resources

FAA Brochure – Childproof Your Flight

If you have tips of your own please feel free to add them in the Comments.

Safe and happy travels.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

friday forum

Today’s topics of discussion are so disparate that I am going to split them into separate posts.

First up is the weekly food waste.  Kristen, over at The Frugal Girl, has challenged her readers to be more aware of the food they throw out.  By facing the issue head on and even publishing the findings (public humiliation is a great motivator of change), we can all help reduce food waste.  These Friday postings are my findings.  Or non-findings as the case may be.

This week I have no findings.  Again, I haven’t done a thorough search for what may be lurking.  Having house guests throws off my whole game.  My weekly standards usually get all shot to hell.  Shopping doesn’t happen in an orderly fashion.  Eating is not always as home-made.  And regular kitchen maintenance is at a bare minimum.  Or non-existent.  This week it’s been non-existent.  So I blindly assume I have no food waste to bear witness to.  I hope I’m not wrong.

Over the next week or two, as things calm down (post baby delivery and house guests) I will probably have some things to show you but I’m taking a free pass on most of it because of the aforementioned activities.

Bear with me as life returns to normal.

Yeah, okay that was a joke.

felix

If you are traveling with infants or young children this summer check out today’s other post.  It really has nothing to do with the Compact but I’m putting it here anyway.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

refuse re-use

A little must share.  Okay, not so little but a definite must share.  ReadyMade Magazine (a great mag and site for all you DIYers) has a a great article about how to beat the summer heat.

dumpster pool

Pool Party!

If you have access to an industrial dumpster (or 3) and a really big trash bag this could be a fun weekend project.  Personally, I have nowhere to keep my dumpster so I’m keeping my eyes out for any installations by Macro-Sea that pop up in my neighborhood.  If you’re in Brooklyn be sure to check out the test site and grab your towel.

Monday, July 13, 2009

monday – menus and more

from-the-kitchen1

I’m still trying to get back on track after having Baby S last week.  I had to wing it with the groceries and I really don’t have a menu planned.  We are lucky to have friends wanting to drop off food, what a wonderful tradition!  Plus, my in-laws will be here for several days to meet their newest grandson.  I know we will be out at least one of those nights.  It’s hard to guess what will be happening the other days.  Let’s see how close we come to this…

Monday:  dinner being dropped-off by a friend (I don’t know what we’re having but I don’t have to cook so who cares?)

Tuesday:  bibimbap (or at least a variation of it)

Wednesday:  pizza (toppings TBD)

Thursday:  eating out

Friday:  WOHO

Saturday:  dinner drop-off?

Sunday:  crepes

felix

Our budget was $80, we spent…

Sprouts Farmers Market – $19.45

Trader Joe’s – $32.92

Bakery Outlet – $14.05

It’s nice to be under budget at only $66.42, but I’m not really sure what we bought with that.  After getting home from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon it was up to the husband to do the weekly shopping.  I didn’t even have a good list for him, poor guy.  I knew we had friends dropping off some meals and I didn’t know how much cooking I would feel like doing anyway.  My direction as he headed out the door to Trader Joe’s?  “Just buy some of the things we would have bought before.”  Before being before I started doing so much cooking from scratch.  Apparently he’s been really missing the (tasty, but pre-packaged) Indian dinners we often had.  We could be having them 4 or 5 nights this week.  Good thing there’s some other food in the cupboard for variety.  Truly though, what a guy.  We could have been eating frozen pizza or take-out for the week.  I can work with what I’ve got.

felix

That’s it.  Two boys are sleeping, I think I’ll join them.