Monday, March 28, 2011

Mailbox Monday, March 28, 2011

Want to find some fun new blogs to read? Need to pass the hours while you wait to have your baby (Oh, wait, that's me!!)






Welcome to Mailbox Monday!!  
A blog hop to boost your subscriber count!

Here’s how to join in the fun:
  • Add your blog link to the linky
  • Subscribe by email to the two hostesses. They will return the favor.
  • Visit the other blogs on the list and subscribe by email to the ones that interest you. Leave them a comment with your blog link so they know you are subscribing from Mailbox Monday. Don’t forget to confirm your subscription!
Everyone is welcome to participate.  Each week a new linky will be generated so make sure you stop by on Monday’s to add your blog.

Your blog *must* have a place for people to e-mail subscribe.
We will be subscribing to everyone’s blog who participates.  If there isn’t an e-mail subscribe option, your link will be removed from the linky.

The Mailbox Monday Blog of the Week is Frugalopolis which takes the #3 spot on the linky. Next week, we will choose from this week’s participants for the Blog of the Week.

Help us spread the word about Mailbox Monday! Write a post for your blog and add the blog hop code.
Let’s have fun and meet (and read via e-mail) some new blogs!





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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Post-Partum Freezer Meals: The Results!

As I wrote a few weeks back, I purposed to make a big load of freezer meals to make it easier on myself (and my family) get back into a normal rhythm after our new baby arrives (any day now!) Planning TWO months of meals in advance was a big task (though Plan to Eat made it much simpler - I just dragged and dropped and it automatically created my shopping list!) - but if planning was a big task, shopping for and actually preparing those meals was a much bigger task.

By the Numbers:
Photo courtesy of elizabethatkinson.com
Grocery carts used: 4 1/2
Hours in grocery store: 3 1/2
Total meals: 36 dinners (plus 8 breakfasts and 18 loaves of bread)
Hours spent in kitchen during post-partum freezer frolic: approx. 22 (spread over 9 days)
Cans of veggies and veggies: 79
Pounds of meat: approx. 75
Pounds of fresh produce: 52
Pounds of pasta: 36
Pounds of cheese: 30
Eggs: 78

How did you shop for that much food?
At the grocery store, my eldest son (we named him Carter, and it's appropriate - he is my number one cart-pusher!) and I took two carts and traveled through the grocery store in all the dry goods aisles…they were FULL by the time we hit the refrigerated section. We then went to the check-out, paid, and loaded the van. We had a quick snack and drink and (for me!) a potty break, then headed back in with two more carts. We then started where we'd left off before, going through the refrigerated, frozen and dairy sections, meat, then finally, the bakery and produce. I always shop these two sections last so my bread and tomatoes don't get squishy.
At the end, Carter was pushing the heaviest cart for his very-pregnant-Momma, and I was pushing one light cart and pulling a heavier one. It was a LOT of food.

How did you store all that food at home?
Once we got home, my husband and sons brought the food into the house and my eldest daughter and I began to divvy it up by type - all the canned goods and dry goods were put back in their bags and transported to the basement pantry closet, and the rest was stuffed - rather unartfully - into fridges and freezers. I actually began preparing meals that very afternoon because there simply wasn't room in the fridge or freezer for all the meat. Once I began preparing freezer meals, our purchases fit much better!

How did you organize your cooking?

Here's how I did it: First, I divided all my planned freezer meals by type -- pasta meals, ground-beef meals, chicken meals and the like -- and focused on only one type each day. I cut ALL my onions and peppers on the first day - I figured I might as well get one good cry out of the way instead of dragging it out over a week. :)
I purchased gallon Ziploc freezer bags for all my crock-pot meals and soups, and aluminum pans for all my casseroles. I also bought crock-pot liners for the day I actually prepare those meals to be served. Now, I'm fairly crunchy and not usually one to buy a lot of disposable prep-ware like that, but I simply don't OWN enough Tupperware containers or 9 x 13 pans to store up more than 36 meals, plus it will add a HUGE measure of convenience to postpartum meal preparation, which will sometimes be done by persons other than myself (like my wonderful husband and helpful mother!)

Photo courtesy of southernliving.com
I froze my casseroles with cutting boards between them so the contents wouldn't be smooshed and overflow. Once they were very solidly frozen (usually overnight), I then removed the cutting boards and moved them to the chest freezer to make more room in the refrigerator freezer. Crock-pot meals were stored in air-tight gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bags. (Make sure and squeeze ALL the air out and let them cool a bit before you freeze them if they're very hot.) Also make sure that if your freezer has wire racks, that you place something solid - like a cutting board or cookie sheet - on the bottom of the stack of meals-being-frozen. Otherwise, the bag will sink between the wires, making the pile unstable and the bottom-most bag difficult to pry out of the freezer!

For casseroles AND for crock-pot meals, I made sure to write the name of the meal and how to cook it on the pan/bag so that if someone else prepares it, they won't have to search through my recipe book to figure out the details. Simplify, simplify!

Wasn't this project a lot of work?

Yes. :)

Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat. I've had lots of friends (who have many children and who are very wise) tell me that I won't need to do this amount of work in future pregnancies because my eldest children will be able to cook. Or, that they don't need to pre-prepare meals because they handle the time after the delivery very well. And I don't doubt that both statements are absolutely true. For me, this kind of post-partum prep work is not because my children aren't helpful, nor because I can't "handle" the postpartum period, but because I want the transition period for each new child to be as stable and seamless as possible. My husband and I welcome every little blessing that our Heavenly Father sends us, but we don't intend to let them throw our home into chaos and disarray for very long. We like to keep our family schedule to the best of our ability through the whole process, resuming our chores almost immediately and our homeschooling duties within a week or two, all the while teaching our children that newborn babies don't control the home, but are an added blessing to it.
For our home, having a month (or more) of meals prepared in advance means that the time I'm spending nursing and cuddling our new little lamb won't put dinner on the table an hour late. Instead of thirty minutes of prep-work in the kitchen each evening, I only have to grab a nutritious meal from the freezer in the morning, let it thaw all day in a cold oven (which I set on time-bake, so I don't even forget to turn it on in time if I'm busy changing little bottoms…or taking a power nap with baby!) Or, take a crock-pot bag out of the freezer the night before, dump in into the crock-pot in the morning, turn it on low, and enjoy at dinner time. Too easy!

By the time my freezer stash is gone, our lives are pretty much adjusted to our newest little family member, and I'm happy to be back in the kitchen again.



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Greens for a Green-kind-of-Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Aside from our annual crock-pot full of corned beef and cabbage, I had intended on serving up a little ice cream with green sprinkles for my children's dessert tonight. Unfortunately, we're battling colds here so we're going to skip the dairy for a few days. (I'm thinking I'll do a little green jell-o in it's place...an inexpensive but very rare dessert around here.)

Then I came across this delicious-looking mint chocolate chip ice cream recipe -- and because it comes from Jessica Seinfeld's Double Delicious, you know the green color's not from a little bottle of food coloring. Nope, Jessica is the queen of sneaking powerful nutrition into your kiddo's favorite dishes through hidden veggie pure├ęs.

Photo courtesy of lilsugar.com
Check out the secret ingredient in this tasty treat: Spinach!


Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
From Jessica Seinfeld's Double Delicious
  Ingredients
1/2 cup spinach puree
1/4 teaspoon pure mint extract
3 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions
1. Place the spinach puree and mint extract in a mini-chopper and puree until very smooth.
2. In a medium bowl, stir the spinach mixture, yogurt, confectioners' sugar and chocolate chips. Freeze in an airtight container at least 2 hours until solid.

Serves 12

Once we're cleared for dairy, I'm going to try to modify this recipe for my Kitchen-Aid ice cream maker, and I'll let you know how it goes!


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DIY Baby Shoes

Photo courtesy of prudentbaby.com

More from the "month of the baby": I love the look of Robeez, but not necessarily the cost. So I was excited to find this wonderful tutorial from Prudent Baby that shows how to sew Robeez-esque baby slippers out of old jeans. Too easy and just too cute!

Now get to sewing!


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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shhh! Free Quiet Book Tutorial

Do you have a loud household? Not louder than mine, I bet. Sometimes I really believe that, despite my training and (attempted) consistency, my children only come with one decibel level -- and it's somewhere in the neighborhood of "standing next to a jet engine while it's warming up".

Photo courtesy of http://madebyheidi.blogspot.com
With a new baby making her appearance any day now (come on, baby, come on!), I just fell in love with this crafty do-it-yourself quiet book idea by Heidi from Sew.Craft.Create.
It comes with a tutorial and a great printable pattern. Too much fun!

What a great way to spring-clean your stash and restore a little (emphasis on little!) peace and quiet in your home!


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Monday, March 14, 2011

Mailbox Monday, March 14, 2011




Welcome to Mailbox Monday!!  A blog hop to boost your subscriber count!

Here’s how to join in the fun:
  • Add your blog link to the linky
  • Subscribe by email to the two hostesses. They will return the favor.
  • Visit the other blogs on the list and subscribe by email to the ones that interest you. Leave them a comment with your blog link so they know you are subscribing from Mailbox Monday. Don’t forget to confirm your subscription!
Everyone is welcome to participate.  Each week a new linky will be generated so make sure you stop by on Monday’s to add your blog.

Your blog *must* have a place for people to e-mail subscribe.
We will be subscribing to everyone’s blog who participates.  If there isn’t an e-mail subscribe option, your link will be removed from the linky.

The Mailbox Monday Blog of the Week is Shining to Save which takes the #3 spot on the linky. Next week, we will choose from this week’s participants for the Blog of the Week.

Help us spread the word about Mailbox Monday! Write a post for your blog and add the blog hop code.
Let’s have fun and meet (and read via e-mail) some new blogs!



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Monday, March 7, 2011

Mailbox Monday, March 7, 2011




Welcome to Mailbox Monday!!  A blog hop to boost your subscriber count!

Here’s how to join in the fun:
  • Add your blog link to the linky
  • Subscribe by email to the two hostesses. They will return the favor.
  • Visit the other blogs on the list and subscribe by email to the ones that interest you. Leave them a comment with your blog link so they know you are subscribing from Mailbox Monday. Don’t forget to confirm your subscription!
Everyone is welcome to participate.  Each week a new linky will be generated so make sure you stop by on Monday’s to add your blog.

Your blog *must* have a place for people to e-mail subscribe.
We will be subscribing to everyone’s blog who participates.  If there isn’t an e-mail subscribe option, your link will be removed from the linky.

The Mailbox Monday Blog of the Week is Musings of a Modern Mom which takes the #3 spot on the linky. Next week, we will choose from this week’s participants for the Blog of the Week.

Help us spread the word about Mailbox Monday! Write a post for your blog and add the blog hop code.
Let’s have fun and meet (and read via e-mail) some new blogs!



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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Repurposed Onsies And T-Shirts

I have baby projects on the brain, and since I'm making great headway in the kitchen with my Post-Partum Freezer Meal Frolic, I decided to sit down and peruse a few of my old favorite -- and new favorite -- sites.

Photo courtesy of themotherhuddle.com

A friend linked me to this GREAT tutorial for repurposing onsies and T-Shirts into super-simple no-sew (or very little sew) bibs, over at The Mother Huddle.
Because what mom doesn't have old, stained onesies or need more bibs?!


Can't wait to have a tiny baby to try this on!
Okay, now back to work!

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