Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bubble Wrap Run

We are all about simple, free and low-tech fun around here! With the afternoon rains and/or heat lately, I've had to get creative to keep everyone productively busy when they can't go outside.

One can only watch so much Blue's Clues and Bob the Builder. (Or as Toddler Girl says, "Bubble Bill!" )

Toddler Girl(3) spotted a wad of bubble wrap in the office one day and asked to play with it. We taped it on the floor in the hallway so she could run up and down to her heart's content.

Toddler Boy(2) is a bit more tentative with bubble wrap so he hung around and watched for a while. He never did want to really run up and down on it but eventually drove the truck on it and seemed to prefer it that way.

To complete the theme, we also watched the Bubble Rap!
 What do you do when it's too hot or rainy to go outside?:-)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How I Plan My Weekly Menus and This Week's Menu Plan

It's been a while since I posted my weekly menu plans here. But I still plan each week! For me, it's key to using the food we have wisely and minimizing last minute restaurant visits because I have nothing planned.

There are many different methods and menu planning calendars out there. What works best for me right now is to make lists of meals on a piece of notebook paper. Nothing fancy--anyone can do this!

I make a list of breakfast, lunch, supper and snack ideas based on what I have on hand. I usually list 6-7 supper ideas--sometimes we don't use them all. Whichever meals we don't end up using get put on the next week's list.

We eat mostly eggs for breakfast and then I'll add a 1 or 2  other ideas to my breakfast list to keep it interesting. I will often make a more extravagant breakfast on Saturday mornings if we have time.

Lunches are based mainly on leftovers and some other quick and easy ideas in case we don't have leftovers.

When I make my menu plans, I plan almost exclusively from what I have on hand in my pantry, fridge and freezer. I don't grocery shop every week so I try to keep the basics for our meals stocked up to give me a good amount of cooking options!

Sometimes my meals don't make the most sense and may not seem to always go together. We don't really care about that--I do try to balance the meals with appropriate amounts of protein, carbs and vegetables. I've learned to just use what we have for the most part and skip making that extra trip to the store! We haven't gone hungry yet!

My menu ideas are pretty simple. It doesn't have to be complicated! In fact, over thinking this  and trying to come up with a bunch of blog-worthy meals can be overwhelming and stressful. What do we eat and what do we have on hand? When I answer those questions and not worrying about it being fancy or "right", my menu plan comes together in minutes instead of a long drawn-out task. It's ok to have peanut butter sandwiches or cheese toast on the menu! Sometimes I don't know what to make specifically but I know I have a pound of ground beef. So I'll just write "something with ground beef" on the meal plan. We often have Pasta Night on Friday. This week, I wasn't sure what I wanted to make so I just left it at Pasta Night. I'll come up with something by Friday night! At least I have an idea of what we're going to have. Sunday nights are usually leftover nights.

I keep a variety of bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer. My grocery store puts these on sale every 4-6 weeks for $1 a bag. I stock up and buy 10-15 at a time when they are this price since we eat a lot of veggies. If I don't have fresh veggies, I just choose one of those to go with our meal. Cheap and easy!

This summer, I've been keeping fresh veggies cleaned, chopped and ready to eat in the fridge. We pull these out to go with almost every weekday lunch.

I've found this way of meal planning really helps to make use of fresh food I have and prevents waste.  I plan some meals for specific days and then just use the others as we want to. I cross the meals off as we use them.

We like to have an afternoon snack so I plan for those on my list--usually fruit!

My menu plan for this week:

  • Leftovers
  • Picnic lunch--rice salad, salmon, cheese/rice crackers, hard-boiled eggs and fruit (Sunday)
  • Egg salad, rice cakes, veggies
  • Cheese toast (sprouted wheat bread), tomato soup, veggies
  • Egg drop soup, cheese and rice crackers, veggies
  • Rice salad, hard-boiled eggs, veggies
  • Eat out (2x)
  • Chicken gravy** on rice, zucchini chips
  • Spicy Dijon chicken**, mashed butternut squash, veggie
  • Pork carnitas rice bowls** with cheese, sour cream, black olives, chopped tomato and sliced green onions
  • Tilapia, sweet potatoes, veggie
  • Pasta Night
  • Pineapple popsicles
  • Nuts and raisins
  • Berry smoothies
  • Canned peaches
  • Leftover pancakes with peanut butter, canteloupe and blueberries
  • Berry popsicles( made from leftover smoothies!)

  *My birthday is this weekend so there is a little more eating out on the menu because of that! My husband will take me to dinner one night and his parents are coming for an overnight stay and want to to take me out for breakfast to celebrate!

**Previously frozen foods.

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More Pillowcase Bags

I finally got around to making up some of these easy tote bags made from pillowcases!

I'm a sucker for vintage linens or any linens I think are pretty so I had accumulated a small stack from yard sales and thrift stores. What I love most about these bags is that there is no waste or scraps leftover. The whole pillowcase is used and there's very minimal cutting! A good project for beginners or for trimming down your stash.

I had some spare time one night while waiting for dinner to finish cooking so I sat down and whipped up a pillowcase bag.

It turned out so cute and was so easy--much cuter than this one--so the next day I sewed up three more during nap time.

One was a king-sized pillowcase--it made a more squarish bag. The regular pillowcases make a more rectangle-shaped bag. 

I plan to keep two of these for myself and put the other two aside in my gift stash!

I've already used mine for groceries, library books and the pool and they worked great!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Saturday Morning Breakfast

 A leisurely Saturday morning breakfast!

Have a  wonderful weekend!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Poison Ivy Relief

I must've come in contact with poison ivy and/or sumac while working in the yard last week. I wore gloves but not long sleeves--my arms are very itchy and rashy. 

I began googling and researching poison ivy after my mom suggested that's what it sounded like. As I read the symptoms of poison ivy/sumac/oak, I realized that it completely described my mystery rash last fall for which I eventually needed steroids to get rid of. So this may be the second time I've gotten poison ivy in under a year.

Awareness is huge--I now recognize that we have poison ivy and sumac on our property and can take care to prevent coming in contact with it in the future. I've washed my shoes, gloves and gardening tools since the oil from the plants that causes the rash can stay on these things a long time. I don't want to keep coming in contact with this stuff!

But in the meantime, it itches. Really bad. What's a girl to do?

I've been using calamine lotion and aloe vera gel. These do help to relieve the itching but what has helped the most so far is baking soda and apple cider vinegar!

  • Mix small amount of baking soda and water into a paste and apply to rash.
  • Let dry. It will be dry in a couple of minutes and will start to flake off.
  • Rinse off baking soda mixture with cool water and carefully pat dry with towel. Vigorous rubbing can intensify the itch.
  • Spray or pour apple cider vinegar over rash. This will burn but only for a minute or two. (Since the rash is on my arms, I let them drip dry over the sink for a minute.)
With this method, I usually have no itching for about 1.5 hours and then only tolerable itching up to 2.5 hours. Sweet relief!  The rash seems to be starting to dry up too!

I'd rather not use stronger creams and medications unless absolutely necessary, although if I get desperate enough, I have no trouble resorting to those. But I'm glad this natural inexpensive method is working for me right now.

Do you have any poison ivy remedies to share?