Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Frugal Gardening 101- Humble Beginnings

Finally, something blooming!


I posted back in March about our garden aspirations for this year. Since then, we've had a few obstacles come up. Our first batch of seeds did fantastic, but our cats decided the little seedlings looked delicious and ate the tops of all but one. Sigh. So, we started over.

Then as April rolled around, the old adage about April showers really proved to be true. We had several weeks of nonstop rain and cloudy days. The ground couldn't be tilled, and is just today being done. Although I can't really complain about storms and rain, compared to the devastation the folks down south are dealing with.

So, today we're tilling the ground and getting started planting the cool weather crops. Potatoes, onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach, kale, carrots, turnips, radishes, peas and cabbage will be planted over the next few days. We have 6 varieties of tomatoes, jalapenos and bell peppers, and eggplant growing in our basement under a grow light.

Here they are, and check out our super professional setup:


There on the left is the lone tomato plant that survived the Kitty Massacre of 2011, all of the others are still pretty young. Hopefully they will be ready to go outside at the end of this month.



If you see the spot in the back, that was a shed we tore down to expand our garden. The plot up front is last year's garden, which will we use as well. The new garden will go from the back of the fence, up to the tree.


A local guy we know has a huge tiller and will come do the yard for about $20, which is much cheaper than renting or buying a tiller. He's coming today, and I'm super excited! Then we can finally get some things in the ground. Hopefully in the next few weeks we'll be dining on fresh from the garden lettuce, spinach, kale and radishes!


This post is linked to Frugal Gardening 101 at The Finer Things in Life

Stepping Into The Coupon World

For years I've marveled at the coupon divas who could get such great stuff for so little. I've considered trying coupons, but it always seemed so confusing and overwhelming. Plus, we're trying to get away from processed foods. This is what I've told myself every time I considered diving in. This past Sunday, we were getting gas and I ran in to pay. The Sunday papers were staring at me, and I impulsively bought one. We've got a 3 month totally unpaid maternity leave coming up, so stocking up on some essentials seemed like a good idea. Here's what I've found so far:

Target:

Pantene Mousse & Hair Gel- $3.50/each
$3/Two Coupon From Sunday Paper
= 2/$4
Gillette Mach 3 Razors- on sale for $6.74
B1G1 Coupon From Paper
=$6.74/2

Kroger:

Ivory Body Wash- On Sale $10/10
$1/1 Manufacturer Coupon
=Free! I was pretty excited about this one.

CVS:

I finally signed up for an Extra Care Bucks card, and found a promotion that would give me a bunch of ECB's to start off with.

Maalox & Benefiber- Buy $20 in Maalox, Prevacid, Benefiber and get 10 ECB
Dawn- On Sale for .99
.25 Manufacturer Coupon
= .74
Dawn Plus- On Sale .99
.50 Manufacturer Coupon
=.49

So I wound up with 2 super cheap Dawn dish soaps, and $10 in ECB to use on my next purchase. My goal is to buy things that earn ECB's WITH my ECB's and hopefully get them for free or nearly so.

Walmart:

Glade Spring Collection Candle- On Sale $2.50
Up to 3.99 Free Manufacturer Coupon
= FREE! Love that.
Air Wick Air Freshener- On Sale .97
B1G1 Manufacturer Coupon x2
= .48/each
Gillette Mach 3 Razors On Sale $6.50
B1G1 Manufacturer Coupon
=6.50/2 ( My husband flies through razors so this was a GREAT deal)

Cub Foods:

Equaline Bandages- .69 with in-store coupon

Duncan Hines Brownie Mix- On Sale w/in-store coupon .77
.50/1 Manufacturer Coupon
=.27

Crest ProClinical Toothpaste- On Sale $3.06
$2/1 Manufacturer Coupon
= $1.06

Kashi Cereal- On Sale 2/$4
$1/1 Manufacturer Coupon x2
=$1 ea

LOVE this one. Kashi is some of my favorite cereal but is always pricey.

Not Pictured:
Ocean Spray Juice- On Sale 2/$4
Buy 2 and get 4pk Ocean Spray Sparkling Juice FREE

I did this deal, but they were out of the sparking juice, so the hubby is going back today to get that. However, as I was searching for them, I found coupons for $1/1 and they are also on sale for 2/$4. So we will get our free 4 pack, plus another for $1. THEN I noticed as I checked out that a store coupon printed for $1 off my next shopping trip. So we'll get two four packs for free! Pretty sweet.


This week has been pretty fun, I think I may be hooked! Last night I finally got our printer up and running ( so I can print coupons, of course :) and think I'll keep going with this. One thing I quickly realized is the need for a binder and a system. Fumbling through a pile of coupons at the store is no fun. What do you think? Do you coupon? Or is it just too confusing/too much work?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Menu Plan Monday



While I didn't stick to any specific plan last week, I did cook at home, so that's a definite win. But this week I'm going to get back on the organization bandwagon!

Monday- Lasagna, Broccoli, Garlic bread ( I'll be at work so hubby will heat up)
Tuesday- Crockpot Chicken Tacos
Wednesday- Chicken Rice Casserole, Broccoli
Thursday- Pecan Crusted Catfish, Rice pilaf,Salad
Friday-Pizza
Saturday-Steaks on the grill, Baked Potato, Salad
Sunday- Mothers Day dinner with family

One night this week I'll also be making a super easy recipe for fruit cobbler that I found in one of the cookbooks I received as a wedding gift. It took virtually no time to prep and was really yummy! Even my chocoholic husband enjoyed it ( with a scoop of ice cream on top, of course)

Our blender is on the verge of dying, so I'm on the hunt for a new, high-quality replacement. Apparently all of our green smoothie-making puts a blender through quite the torture test. Any suggestions? We want to keep going with these because both of us have seen noticeable benefits in our energy levels and overall health!


This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing Junkie

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Naptime


Sooooo........apparently keeping up on menu plans and blogging aren't on the agenda for this week. There is SO MUCH to do around here. I'm quite honestly overwhelmed. Every day I make a new list of what we need to do inside the house, outside of the house, and before the baby comes.

1. Paint Evie's new room and nursery
2. Find& purchase big girl bed
3. Find & purchase ( through the classifieds, consignment shops or Craigslist) a crib for my parents, a glider for me, and a swing for the baby
4. Pull weeds & plant new flowers
5. Plant garden ( if it ever.dries.up.)
6. Organize the garage
7. Find curtains and blinds for 4 different rooms ( yes, its kind of like living in a fish bowl. apologies to the neighbors.)
8. Finally hang the pictures and prints on the walls ( our walls have been totally bare since we moved back in, um, September?)
9. Organize and separate clothing to donate ( working on it)
10. Install ceiling fan in our room, pedestal sink and ceiling tiles in the downstairs bath

..And about 50 other things. Ahh!

Today I was off work, so the munchkin and I grocery shopped and went for my appointment with the midwife. After that, I was beat. Beyond exhausted. I forgot that this happens in the 3rd trimester? So what did I do? Work furiously through her nap and get TONS done?

Nope. I napped too. And it was glorious.

So today, that Works For Me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Real Food

Photo Credit

Several years ago, I picked up The Omnivore's Dilemma out of curiosity. Little did I know how shocked and dismayed I would be after learning the real history of food here in America. I implemented a few changes in my diet, filed away the rest of the information, and moved on.

Last year I finally decided to really attempt to change our diets, and little by little, have worked in new changes. It really is a struggle though. Where we live ( central Illinois) is dominated by large chain supermarkets, with a small health food store here and there. While I enjoy visiting them, the prices are totally cost prohibitive to us at this point.

So what can we do, as a family on a budget? The answer, for us has been to pick and choose. We can't go and buy everything 100% organic, but we can purchase differently. It has kind of been a transition to 'whole foods' more than anything. I started purchasing whole wheat flour and baking our own bread. Ideally we'd buy wheat berries and grind our own, but I've yet to find a decent grain mill that isn't outrageously expensive. Ideas, anyone?

We switched from margarine to olive oil and butter. I've heard many people singing the praises of coconut oil, but I'll admit I don't know much about it. No white tortillas, or pretty much white anything. We stopped purchasing white, refined sugar and have instead opted for Turbinado sugar and honey. I try to avoid artificial flavors and colors, but I'm not perfect on that yet. I haven't cut out all white flour, because some recipes really need some to come out correctly, so I've at least switched to unbleached in that department.

Call me naive, but I never realized how bad lunch meats really are, and I love a good turkey sandwich. We found one brand that has no artificial preservatives, nitrates being the main offender. Its a bit more expensive so we don't buy it as often, which is probably a good thing.

Beyond more conscientious shopping, we've simply quit eating out as often and cook at home. Sounds simple, but it helps enormously. When I make the meal, I can choose what goes into it. Most restaurant food is insanely unhealthy. Have you ever looked at the nutrition information from Chilis? I think I cried. My favorite 'salad' had more fat and calories than some of their fried stuff! So depressing. We still have an occasional meal out, but have really come to love cooking at home. Not to mention the savings! Even with buying healthier food, making it yourself is so much cheaper than a restaurant!

Its definitely a slow progression. We still buy supermarket meat, although in quantities not nearly as big as before. This year we'll be purchasing part of a local, grassfed cow, and part of a local hog. The farm from which we get our CSA sells chickens, so I'd like to get a few of those as well. On Craigslist yesterday I found a local guy selling an upright deep freeze and I think we're going to snag it up! That means I can freeze/can/preserve what we grow and actually have space for it. I don't really know what I'm doing, but there are so many great resources online that walk your through, step by step.

What do you think? Have you made any steps ( no matter how small) to move toward a more 'real' foods diet?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why I...Don't Have Cable

Why I...



1. Money.
When we had Comcast, it was running us approx. $100 a month . More than we can afford to pay at this stage in the game. That's over $1,200 a year just to have the box in the house. What debt could I have paid off or what amount could I have saved in all of those years? Yikes.

2. Time.
TV was taking over our lives, even if we didn't really notice it. I could get sucked into TLC or HGTV for hours a day, and my husband would stay up super late just to catch a re-run of some show that really didn't matter.

3. Reading
I'm an avid reader, or so I used to be. But more often than not I'd just flip on the TV and stare at it mindlessly for a few hours. Between working and caring for a baby, laying on the couch and zoning out seemed easier.

4. My Daughter
At 20 months, my toddler still has no idea about kids shows. She doesn't know who Barney is or watch the Backyardigans. She loves to read and will spend the day outside getting muddy, playing with babies, or pretending to cook like Mommy.

5. Being Careful of What We See
I realize that one has full control over what is viewed, and can turn it off at any time. I'm one of those people who loves crime shows, and Criminal Minds is my absolute favorite. I can watch episode after episode. But one thing my husband pointed out is that I wind up being fearful afterward. I become more paranoid about locking doors and windows ( not necessarily a bad thing), and worried about a boogeyman around every corner ( bad thing). What is the saying? What you put in, you get out? Deliberately putting things in my head that lead to a spirit of fear can't be positive or edifying. At least in my scaredy-cat case :) Not that I won't ever watch Criminal Minds again, I've just benefited from not having it available 24/7.

Lest you think I'm being legalistic, know that I understand the day will come that Evie WILL want to watch movies and shows for kids, and that's okay. I just love the idea that she is learning how to play and learn and imagine without needing TV. And sometimes, not having cable has its downsides. Last weekend we went to a drive-in with some friends and their son. We saw Hop. Well, I use the term ' we' loosely. *I* spent the movie chasing a toddler around, and around, and around. Occasionally she would glance at the screen and say ' bunny' or ' chickie', but that's it. She wasn't having it. Her attention span for watching even a kids movie isn't there.

We've saved a lot of money by not having a cable bill to pay, and if I really MUST watch the new episode of Law & Order, I can use the digital box and pick up a local channel. But one of the neatest things I've noticed is how our family time has changed. My husband, instead of sitting in the recliner and falling asleep, now works on projects around the house. I'm back into reading. We go on more walks as a family. I cook more and spend time researching recipes. We spent 3 hours the other night plotting out our garden, never switching the TV on.

I love technology and don't think TV is bad, but this has been a really good choice for our family.

** Side note, I am truly thankful you can find most TV episodes online, because occasionally there is a show I'm just dying to check out. Extreme Couponing? Yesss.**


Check out Vanderbilt Wife for more stories of those participating in this really fascinating series!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

T-I-R-E-D

Whew. Apparently I've forgotten how wiped out pregnancy can make you! I've been working a ton, and working weird hours. I had a day off today, and after a midwife appointment, grocery trip and a few other errands..I'm exhausted! So much for Menu Plan Monday, but here's Menu Plan Wednesday?

Wednesday: tortilla-crusted cod fish tacos, homemade pico de gallo, spanish rice, salad

Thursday: grilled chipotle pork chops, roasted red potatoes, broccoli

Friday: homemade pizza, salad

Saturday: lasagna, garlic bread, salad

Sunday: TBA- probably dinner with family


On a side note, do any of you shop at club stores? Do you find them to be a good value or a waste of money? My mom has a Sam's Club membership, and I went with her today. I found some excellent deals on bulk walnuts, almonds, oats, yeast, frozen fruit, cheese, etc. But the whole experience left me a bit overwhelmed. I could tell many of the items weren't really a ' good deal', they were just uber big sizes. I so wish we had a Costco around here, but Sam's is it :(

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Faith Like a Child

Last night, I overheard my husband reading our 19 month old daughter her bedtime story. As the book finished up and he closed it, she responded with an enthusiastic ' Amen!.' I definitely felt my heart melting.

But it really got me thinking about the search we've been on for the last few years. We haven't really had what I'd call a church 'home' since we've been married. Part of this has been because we've both had major problems with what I'd call 'traditional' church and its structure. We're more fans of a simple church model, with less emphasis on the regular church trappings. Things like 5-6 pastors, youth groups, a big building, lots of employees, nurseries where your child has to have a computerized name tag to keep track of him/her, even the landscaping companies hired to care for the church grounds. Not that these things are wrong per se, but we've more affinity with a smaller, closely knit, New-Testament style gathering. Ultimately where we probably belong is a house church, but neither of us feel we're ready or qualified to start something like that right now.

That being said, we live in the heart of Illinois, in a white collar town literally brimming with large churches and their equally large budgets. We spent a few years at one church, but it didn't feel right, so we kept looking. And looking. Finally, a few months ago I stumbled upon a small gathering of families, and it seemed promising. We've been attending and slowly getting to know people. There is no nursery or kids church, so that has been an interesting challenge. Toddlers generally don't like to sit still for an hour or more, but we're making progress. A lot of the families home school, and we haven't for sure decided what to do with school for our kids. But the people are very loving, and the teaching and emphasis on raising Godly families is spot on. When the women there learned we were expecting our 2nd ( while having virtually just met us), they were thrilled and already talking about a baby shower! Crazy. There are virtually no 'programs', but occasional men or women's breakfasts, a couples Bible study, etc. Something I love- the pastor has a full time job outside of the church. He is paid no salary. They have no building. Tithes and offerings can be spent however they choose in the community, which I think is fantastic.

I'm cautiously hopeful that maybe we've found our home for now. Tomorrow night we are having dinner with the pastor and his family, to get to know one another better and talk over some issues. Community is so essential in the life of a believer, and we've been sorely lacking it for several years. Much of the time I feel as though I'm fumbling around in the dark when it comes to being a wife and mother, so the prospect being able to look to older, more experienced women is super exciting. So if you're the praying kind, maybe say a little pray that our dinner goes well and we'd be willing to go ahead and dive in?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Menu Plan Monday



Last week's menu plan went pretty well, and we mostly stuck to it. It really is nice to have a little bit of organization . Its especially nice to know ahead of time what I can use up, so I'm not running to the store for a last minute item. Although I did run to the store because I forgot skewers for the kebabs..oops. But I'm improving! I did big grocery shopping last Thursday so we're set for a while, and have some leftovers. The main thing I'm doing is trying to incorporate more leafy greens ( a goal we're constantly working on), as well as adding more beans to our diet. My husband is quite the carnivore, but he's expressed interest in eating more fish and even going meatless on some meals. I figure it will cut down on the amount of fat we eat, and will help the grocery budget. A win-win.


Monday:

Black bean/corn quesadillas on whole wheat tortillas, grilled veggies ( we had some left over from this weekend), Mexican rice

Tuesday:

Tilapia with Honey-Tangerine Sauce ( From Jessie @ Vanderbilt Wife), wild rice, spinach salad

Wednesday:

Crock Pot Chicken & Potatoes, Salad ( I will be working 3-11:30pm, so I'll make up ahead for hubby & daughter)
Thursday:

Dinner with the pastor & his wife of the new church we've been attending. His wife insisted I not bring anything- sweet!

Friday
:

White Bean, Tomato and Spinach Pasta ( from Candi @ Family, Stamping & FOOD! ), toasted homemade ( via bread machine) garlic bread
Saturday:

Homemade pizza- turkey sausage, whatever veggies we have leftover from previous meals, cheese, olives. Yum!

Sunday
:

Marinated grilled pork tenderloin, green rice bake, spinach salad, crusty bread


I will post the recipe for the green rice bake sometime soon. My mom has made it for years, and it has always been a favorite of mine. I've been experimenting with my newly purchased bread machine and I hope to have some pictures up soon of my endeavors. For whatever reason, I've been completely slacking with photos since last Fall. I blamed all day sickness at first, but now I'm just being lazy.

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bread Machine Success

This winter I decided that I really wanted to try making my own bread. Not having a clue what to do, I started with pizza dough. Then I moved to dinner rolls, and those were a relative success. But what I really wanted was a bread machine to make some 'real' bread. You know, the kind you slice and use to make sandwiches. I wasn't about to spend the $$$ on a brand new machine, and decided I'd wait until garage sale season rolled around. I went to my first sale yesterday morning, and what was the first thing I saw? A really nice bread machine, and for 5 bucks! I snagged it up and today tried some Cinnamon bread. It was good, but I wanted a white/wheat blend for slicing. So I next tried this recipe, and it was awesome! Light and fluffy and really yummy. Here's the recipe for anyone who might be interested:

Best Bread Machine Bread

Ingredients
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package bread machine yeast
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Directions

Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan of the bread machine. Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes. Add the oil, flour and salt to the yeast. Select Basic or White Bread setting, and press Start.


I swapped one cup of whole wheat flour for one of bread flour. Next time I might up it to 2 and see if we still like it. It really was that simple, and I *really* had no idea what I was doing!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Marinade For Veggies/Chicken

As soon as there is a *hint* of warmth in the air, we bring out the grill. With high's only in the 40's all this week, it certainly doesn't feel like Spring, but that won't stop us. We grill lots of things, but my personal favorite is veggies. In fact, when we started eating healthier, grilling was the only way I could get my husband to eat lots of vegetables! Most of the time I just chop and toss with a little olive oil, pepper and maybe garlic, but lately I've been trying marinades. This is what I'm using for our Chicken and Veggie Kebabs later this week.

2 TBS Red Wine Vinegar
2 TBS Lemon Juice
3 TBS Olive Oil
1 TBS Fresh Basil, chopped ( or dried)
1 TBS Fresh Parsley, chopped ( or dried)
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Veggies
2 cups zucchini, sliced
2 cups mushrooms, halved
2 cups sweet onion, quartered and pulled into chunks 2-3 layers thick
Chicken breast or Tenders, cut into roughly 1 inch chunks

** Lots of other veggies can be used. We like potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, red/yellow/orange/green peppers, etc *

Directions- Mix together marinade ingredients, and pour over veggies arranged in a shallow pan. Refrigerate 2-4 hours ( or longer! Sometimes I leave it overnight)

Arrange veggies/chicken on skewers, and grill for approx. 15-20 minutes depending on how hot your grill is.

Menu Plan Monday

This week, I'm actually going to be home more than I'm at work, so I'm going to attempt a 'real' menu plan. Sadly,when I work a lot of nights, like I have been lately, it ends up being a free for all. Earlier in the week I'm going to be trying to use up what we have in the freezer/pantry, and go grocery shopping on Thursday or Friday.

Breakfasts: Green Smoothies, Scrambled Eggs, Baked Oatmeal, Fruit, Yogurt
Lunch: Grilled Cheese on wheat, Vegetable Soup, Turkey Sandwiches, Veggie sticks

Dinner:
Monday: Crock Pot Beef roast, Steamed Broccoli, One Hour Dinner Rolls
Tuesday: Lasagna, Spinach salad, leftover rolls
Wednesday: Chicken Stir Fry, Brown Rice
Thursday: White Bean Chicken Chili, rolls
Friday: Pork Tenderloin on grill, Grilled Veggies, Roasted Red Potatoes
Saturday-Chicken/Veggie Kebabs on grill, Rice Pilaf, Spinach Salad
Sunday- Dinner with family

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I should've Been Born Italian

At least most of the time I think so. I swoon over olives and pesto, and live for a good pasta dish. When we were in St.Louis this weekend we visited 'The Hill', which is their Italian neighborhood. It is lovely, with lots of small family restaurants and businesses. Even their fire hydrants are painted green, white and red like the Italian flag.





While we walked around and geared up for lunch, we stopped in at this Italian grocery store. It was amazing! Here's what I came out with:

1/2 lb Black Sicilian Olives
1/2 lb Large Green Olives
Balsamic Vinegar
Artichoke hearts
Bay Leaves
Cinnamon sticks
1 lb fresh mozzarella
2 bottles of wine ( 2 for $7! )
3 quarts Extra Virgin Olive Oil ( $15.99, insane! A small bottle around here is $10)

I could have brought home much more but I stopped myself. After lunch at Adriana's- a small place with killer sandwiches, we were stuffed and ready to head home. Oh how I wish we had ethnic grocery stores at home; they beat Walmart any day.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring, Gardens, and CSA's





Pictured Above: Lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, radishes




This little guy is a brandywine tomato



After last summer's ' just throw something in the ground and hope it grows' attempt at gardening, this year we are trying to plan ahead and plant according to *ahem* schedule. In our defense, we didn't close on our house until the end of May, so we were running against the clock. Even so, we had an overabundance of green beans, tomatoes, zucchini and herbs.

This year, we're starting lots of seeds indoors and planting the cooler weather seeds early. The 'early' crops include lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, peas, kale, etc. We're also tearing down a dilapidated shed in the back yard to make room for a bigger garden that is more out of the way of foot traffic.

Here's a little run down of what we're growing:

Tomatoes- 6 varieties: brandywine, heirloom mix, cherry, tinkerbell, beefy boy,ildi
Lettuce- 3 varieties
Spinach- curly and baby
Kale
Green Onions
Turnips
Radishes
Beets
Carrots
Peas - sugar snap and snow peas
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Zucchini- green and yellow
Bush beans- purple, yellow and green
Peppers- rainbow sweet, jalapeno, sweet pickle peppers
Cucumbers- slicing and pickling
Eggplant
Winter squash mix
Herbs- basil, oregano, cilantro,summer savory, lavender,chives
Red potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Strawberries
Blackberries

...I'm not really sure if this is everything, but its what I can think of off the top of my head. Crazy? Maybe. But why not? We have the yard space and its a fun, cheap hobby that gets our whole family outside. I received a canner when we got married, and haven't used it yet. Hopefully this summer that will change. We need to buy a deep freeze as well. I'm hoping we can freeze/can a decent amount of produce.

We also signed up for a CSA share! I'm so excited Dearing Country Farms is a local farm not too far from our house. They have lots of produce, chickens, eggs and sell beef as well. Each week for 22 weeks we will pick up a basket of whatever produce is ready. That way, I figure even if our garden flops, we'll still have some fresh local produce :)

Can you tell I'm ready for spring?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's here!


Back in December, I participated in the Today Show's Jill's Steals And Deals. For those who don't know, every once in a while during the morning show Jill has 5-6 products that the company has offered at a huge discount. You go to their website and order with a Today Show code, and you get that item, usually 50-75% ( or more) off.

I never call in to things like this, but I saw a Christine Price bag that I thought was just beautiful. I don't buy luxury handbags- in fact mine usually come from the clearance rack from Target. This bag was normally $329, a price I never would or could pay. But it was $50! Fifty dollars! For a genuine leather, designer handbag that celebrities walk around with. Holy moly.

Soo...I ordered it, and told the hubby it could be a Christmas present. He agreed, and I waited. And waited. Weeks, months went by, and I finally received an email that the bag was shipped and should be here -no later- than February 18th. Well, that didn't happen but today folks, UPS showed up at my front door with this:


I guess my $9 bag that is coming apart can finally be tossed now. This bag can hold diapers, sippy cups, my wallet and planner, all with room to spare. Now watch me fill it up so it weighs approximately 75 lbs.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Doula!

Doula? Um...what's that?

This is the reaction I have been getting over the past few weeks as I've told family & friends of our decision to hire a doula for this labor/delivery. As I explain what she will do, they seem to understand...sort of. Nevertheless, I am excited because I think having a labor support person could be a fantastic asset. With my last birth, I was on pit and constant EFM, which made it very difficult to move around.

This time around, my midwife told me that if I did need constant monitoring, I could use a telemetry monitor and have more mobility. I hope I won't, but just in case its nice to know. My blood pressure didn't rise until 29 weeks last time around, so I have no idea if that will happen again. But either way, I think having that person there to support me will help me have the most natural birth I can.

I can't believe I'm halfway there, time is flying. I've got so much to do- we're moving my daughter to a different room and a big girl bed, so I need to get the room decorated. We're also debating whether to attempt potty training before the baby. I've heard opinions both ways. The munchkin is 19 months and I wouldn't try just yet, but I was thinking closer to summer. Any advice?

Healthy+ Frugal?

In our household, we've been on a question for the past several years to eat healthier. It started with throwing out margarine in favor of olive oil, and has gone from there. We're also on a budget, so going completely organic isn't an option at this point. However, I've just placed my order with Park seed company and we're planning on tripling our garden from last summer. So hopefully by August I'll be up to my eyeballs in canning and freezing!

As my pregnancy has progressed, I've gotten past the all day/all night sickness portion, but I still have some issues. As with my daughter, I simply can't eat much, or it comes back up. I've been cooking a lot lately with spinach and kale, because we need to get more dark leafy greens into our diet. But something about the texture of kale makes it hard for me to keep down. So..here is my solution!

1 handful spinach
1-2 large kale leaves, spine removed
Frozen fruit- strawberries/raspberries/blueberries/tropical blend/ fresh banana/whatever we have on hand
Lowfat vanilla yogurt
Dash orange juice
1 tbsp coconut milk powder
1 tsp flax seed

Smoothies! I never knew I could hide so much good stuff in a tasty drink. Its also much easier for me to keep down.

So its not all ( or even mostly) organic..but I figure it's a start. With our gardening efforts coming up, I'm hoping that will cut down our grocery budget while allowing us to eat produce we know was grown without nasty chemicals.