Friday, October 19, 2012

Five on Friday: Going Home

There are five things I love about going home to Bowling Green. Okay, there are actually more than five things, but these are the ones that came to me this morning.

1. My mom makes breakfast. Real breakfast. Sausage, eggs, and toast; an omelet; or sausage gravy with biscuits. You get the idea.

2. I get to hang out with my sister and her two kids. Cara is a great mom with a huge heart. She works as a massage therapist, goes to school full time, and still makes time for her little ones. Carter Ray is smart, fun, athletic, and capable of being more mature than many adults, yet still able to truly be a kid. His current passion is playing guitar, but he is also excellent on the skateboard, pogo stick, and with a fishing pole. Tae is a firecracker. She is into everything. The world was made for exploring, right? She never gives her parents a minute to rest. She loved taking Alex's pacifier away and giving it back to him a million times. He's a bigger boy now, and I can tell that Tae and Alex are going to get into plenty of mischief together as they grow older.

3. Time slows down. I've checked the clock, and it appears to work just like it does everywhere else in the world. However, everything just moves at a different pace.

4. Sharing beer and pizza with my mom while watching a Cardinals game. This experience is even better when they win.

5. It's home. There are Amish buggies, trucks jacked sky-high using lift kits, and a 24-hour Walmart where you are sure to run into at least one person you know no matter when you go. 

P.S. Sorry the pictures are so wonky! I need to do a tutorial on how to layout pictures in this app. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The ABCs of Mommyhood: L

L is for the way you look at me

O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you adore . . . .
-Nat King Cole

Though Nat was singing about romantic love, I assure you that I get a million different looks from my little guy every day that shows he loves his mama. I attempt to capture these with my iPhone. I really need to learn how to take better pictures, but there is no way an iPhone is fast enough to capture my Alex. Luckily, I've chosen a pretty cute subject, so I think that most of you will forgive me for not having better skills.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Living on a Budget: Week One

A couple notes about my calculations:
1. I am not counting the cost of things like olive oil, butter, flour, milk, salt and pepper, garlic or other similar items in the recipe calculations. Of course they cost money. I have them in my kitchen already, and I'm too lazy to do the math to figure out how much 1 tablespoon of flour costs.  I'll just count it when I have to buy new replacement items.
2. My husband doesn't really eat breakfast or lunch each day. He has a glass of chocolate milk in the morning, then he devours whatever I make for dinner. I make a lot at dinner. I do send him to work with snacks; I'll count those in bulk as I buy them.
3. I won't be able to remember every snack I consumed. I'll include fruit and other miscellaneous things at the end in a miscellaneous post.

Monday (10/1)
Breakfast: Fage yogurt - $1 (I am so addicted to this stuff.)
Lunch: Leftover enchiladas from Sunday.- Free
Dinner: Lemony Garlic Pasta with Chicken and Salad - $4.62

I modified this recipe for the pasta. --I ditched the walnuts and used angel hair instead of a "shapes" pasta. I also roasted the chicken separately rather than cooking in the same pot.
I roasted a whole chicken in the crockpot. This is scary. And messy. I didn't take pictures; I never would have gotten the grease off my phone. I used the carcass to make chicken broth for a later recipe. Carcass is a gross word. I used this website as a guide.
Salad: Lettuce, Tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil
Brownies from a box for dessert

The cost break down:
1/2 box of angel hair pasta: $.50 [on sale = $1/box]
1 cup parmesan: in my fridge
1 broccoli crown: $.40 [on sale - $.88/lb]
Chicken: $1.80 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Chicken Broth: in my fridge
Lemon:  $.33 [on sale - 3 for $1]
Lettuce: $.44 [on sale - $.88/head]
Tomato: $.15 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Brownie mix: $1 [on sale for $1/box]

Grand total for the day:$5.62

Tuesday (10/2)

Breakfast: Fage Yogurt - $1
Lunch:  Lemony Garlic Chicken. Leftovers. Free! Brownie. Leftovers. Free!
Dinner: Roast chicken, Mac 'n cheese, and Salad - $4.16

I used the roast chicken from yesterday. I significantly modified this mac 'n cheese recipe: I didn't use milk because I had heavy cream that I needed to use; so I used a cup of heavy cream and a cup of water. I also used about 1/3 of a brick of cream cheese that I had. And, who has powdered mustard? I just used a healthy squirt of regular yellow mustard. I also did not buy paprika.

Elbow macaroni: $.50 [on sale - $1/box]
Cheddar: $.83 [on sale - $5/8cup bag]
Heavy cream: in my fridge
Chicken: $1.80 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Lettuce: $.44 [on sale - $.88/head]
Tomato: $.15 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Cucumber: $.44 [on sale - $.88/cucumber]

Grand total for the day: $5.16

Wednesday (10/3)
Breakfast: I forgot breakfast. Oops! I did go to Starbucks, but that comes out of my fun money not the family budget. I also had a brownie. Who needs a diet? Free!
Lunch: Lemony Garlic Chicken. Leftovers. Free!
Dinner: BLTs with Macaroni and Cheese and Corn on the Cob - $6.57

Bacon: $3.99 [on sale - $3.99/pkg]
Bread: $.66 [on sale - $1.75/pkg]
Lettuce:$.44 [on sale - $.88/head]
Tomato: $.60 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Avocado: $.50 [on sale - 2/$1]
Mac 'n cheese: Free!
Corn on the Cob: $.38 [on sale - $.19/ear]

Grand total for the day: $6.57

Thursday (10/4)
Breakfast: Safeway brand Greek yogurt (yuck!): $.89
Lunch: Mac 'n cheese: Free! Hot dog: $.23
Chili with Cornbread: $7.31

Chili beans:  $2 [on sale - 10/$10 can]
Ground beef: $1.49 [on sale = $1.49/1lb]
Tomatoes: $1.66 [on sale - $.99/lb]
Green pepper: $.50 [on sale - 2/$1]
Red pepper: $.50 [on sale - 2/$1]
Bacon: Free!
Onion: $.20 [on sale - 3lbs/$1]
Spices: On my shelves
Sour cream: In my fridge
Cheddar: $.63 [on sale - $5/8cup bag]
Cornmeal: $.33

Grand total for the day: $8.43

Friday (10/5) - Monday (10/8): I went to Missouri, so very little food was made at home. 

Other miscellaneous things we ate as snacks:
Grapes: $5.17
Clif Bars: $10
Almonds: $3.05
Bananas: $.63
Apples: $1.79
Pears: $2.09
Raspberries: $3.98

Grand total for miscellaneous: $26.71

Total for this post: $52.49

Friday, October 5, 2012

Five on Friday: Things I Hate About Traveling Alone with an Infant

1. Trying to nurse on the plane while the people around me act really awkward. Uncomfortable! Of course it doesn't help that Alex tries to pull an acrobat routine while nursing. Attempt to use a cover, you say? You are freaking hilarious.
2. Trying to change Alex's diaper in the airplane bathroom. There is a changing table, but what a joke. Then, it turns out that Alex had not pooped, someone near me just had bad gas. Jerks!
3. Lugging so much crap around the airport and trying to shove it all under my seat--because with a baby, the overhead bin is pretty useless. I need the toy NOW!!!
4. Alex has to be good for sooo long. He is generally a good kid, and he was a rock star today. He cried for a total of three minutes from the time we left until we made it to my parents' house eight hours later. But, that's a long time for an active little boy to be good.
5. People who do not move when they are sitting in the aisle seat for their neighbor in the window seat who has to use the bathroom to change their presumably stinky kid (see #2 above). I am not a large person, and it's uncomfortable enough with just me. But, it is impossible to suck it in enough to squeeze me and a baby through without something hitting you in the face. I would feel sorry (but still think you deserved it) if Alex kicked you in the face.

Whiny-ness aside, I was quite thrilled to make it to my destination. Expect a happier post next Friday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Living on a Budget

Budget? What's that? Oh's that pesky tool intended to improve financial health.
I've been trying to get in the habit of living on an actual budget. But, it's rather difficult.  I have a serious problem distinguishing between what I want and what I need. Maybe my blog readers can help keep me accountable?

I have an especially difficult time when it comes to our food budget.  I buy too much produce that we can't eat in time. I'm terrible at using leftovers. I always need some fancy ingredient which drives up the cost of our grocery bill. I need a solution! I turned to the internet to discover how other people do it. Based on my in-depth research, it sounds like I need to do a few different things:

1) Plan my meals
2) Make meals based on what's on sale (especially meat and produce)
3) Use everything!
4) Coupon
5) Simplify the menu
6) Pay with cash

My well-(over)stocked freezer

However, most of these things come with some difficulty. Planning my meals, using the sales to make my menu decisions, and couponing requires a lot of time. Simplifying the menu is difficult because there are so many delightfully inspiring things in my cookbooks and on Pinterest. Use everything...leftovers never taste as good, who needs two cups of heavy cream, and I really thought we'd use three heads of lettuce. Pay with cash, but the closest ATM for our bank is 15 minutes away. Ugh. There, now you know my excuses.

Maybe a little refrigerator organization would help me to use everything in the fridge. Hmm.
Right. Time to get past the excuses. Just do it. (Thank you Nike for a life motto!) Since you, my lovely readers, are keeping me accountable, I thought I'd tell you my plan. I created 35 days of dinner menus. (I'll send you my extensive excel spreadsheet if you're interested.) About 1/3 of the items are meatless meals - meat is flippin' expensive. There are a variety of meat dishes too: chicken, ground beef, pork, fish, sausage and a few pricier meats, like steak, shrimp, and salmon. Each week, I will pick six or seven menu items based on what's on sale. I'll also stock up on meat that I can freeze for later in the month if there is a good deal ($.99/# chicken!). And, I've started attempting to use coupons to buy staples (pasta, rice, flour, sugar, beans, etc) and treats (ice cream, oreos, brownie mixes, etc).

This week, we're having:
  • Lemony Broccoli Pasta with Chicken and a Salad
  • Roast Chicken, Mac 'n Cheese, and Salad
  • BLTs with Mac 'n Cheese (leftovers!!), and Salad
  • Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Pepper with Salad
  • Chicken Quesadillas with Black Beans and Rice
  • Chili with Cornbread
  • Bean Burgers with Guacamole and Broccoli
The Lemony Broccoli Pasta, Mac 'n Cheese, and Chili should all make enough leftovers to keep me eating at lunch times. I'll post menus, pics and prices next week.