Monday, November 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Ever since I started using our picture-frame-turned-dry-erase-calendar to plan our meals, life has been so much easier! Well...not really, but it is a lot easier to say "look at the board" when my husband asks what's for dinner. And it's definitely less stressful to plan ahead for crazy days by cooking extra a day or two before. Plus, with my post-partum memory (or lack thereof), I love getting it all figured out in a moment of clarity.

In addition to putting the contents of our meal, I also write the total prep-and-cooking time required, to avoid realizing at 4:30 that the meat had to be thawed the day before. We're still perfecting our system, but for now, red marker means actual cooking, purple means leftovers/easy/eat out, and black means activity/event.

I plan lunches too, simply because I don't want any leftovers to go to waste in the back of the fridge. If it's on the board, we eat it. My week really should start on Thursday, since we grocery shop every Wednesday, but oh well. One of these days I'm going to start planning two weeks at a time, just so I can fill in the entire darn thing (yes, I'm a C like that). Most of my recipes are saved on Delicious, which is the most awesome bookmarking site ever.

L ~ leftover (LO) Tuna & White Bean Salad with Pita Chips (this time made with pinto & navy mix and double tuna; best with garbanzos and single tuna) WIC-friendly!
D ~ crockpot (CP) Chicken & Brown Rice Casserole with canned green veggies (needs extra seasoning, like garlic powder and more salt; I used a large onion FAIL and should've left the lid off a little at the end so the rice would be less mushy FAIL; this was, however, my first time using foil in my 6qt crock to make a 4qt recipe WIN)
L ~ Clean Out the Fridge (ended up being baby spinach and LO turkey grilled cheese with LO acorn squash)
D ~ LO Chicken & Brown Rice Casserole with LO sweet potatoes
L ~ ???
D ~ wheat spaghetti with frozen veggies in the sauce and frozen meatballs (LO from my Open House) with baby spinach salad and LO wheat rolls
L ~ $7 McDonald's Day!
D ~ Papa Murphy's Pizza Day!
L ~ Asbury College Cafeteria with Aunt Amie
D ~ Spaghetti Frittata (made with LO spaghetti and meatballs) with baby spinach salad
FRIDAY (pancake day!)
L ~ LO pizza
D ~ earned dinner with Steamrollers Club
L ~ ???
D ~ scrambled eggs with bacon, fruit, and mini bagels
SUNDAY (sausage with LO pancake day!)
L ~ eat at in-laws
D ~ super-easy CP barbecue chicken with canned green veggies and boxed mashed potatoes

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Say "No" to Wrap Rage

Dreading the thought of opening yet another adult-proof clamshell case this Christmas?
Tired of the 8,062 twisty ties that secure every new toy?

Whether you're opening toys or electronics, Amazon's Frustration-Free Packaging is here to save you the hassle...and save you money!

Amazon will eliminate all the excess packaging waste (yay! environmental!), re-pack your item in a plain cardboard box (2005 National Toy Hall of Fame inductee), and ship it to you, ready to assemble immediately Christmas morning! The BEST part is that it also costs LESS to get a toy that way. Double bonus! Be sure to click on the link above to watch a super-cute video about FFP...and to shop!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Secondhand Scores ~ Leather & Links

After making a bunch of post-"Customer Appreciation Open House" deliveries, I stopped in to the Salvation Army Thrift Store to see if they still had the large clock I saw the last time I was there. It was big and wooden and ripe for "rescue," but we didn't need a clock — much less a big one. Two days after spotting that clock the first time, Caspian stepped on our living room clock and smashed the glass (he was fine). Anyway, the clock wasn't there, but this was:

A 3-piece canister set shaped like a rustic fairy tale castle! Even the turrets lift off separately. $5.99, people. DH's response when I texted him this cell phone picture? "Cool. Too bad we don't need canisters..." Sigh. God gave me a voice of reason for a reason, I guess.

Before I left, I scooted over to the cloth napkin section to see if the bag o' napkins we tried to buy last time had been labeled with a price sticker, and therefore rendered buyable. No such luck...but on the way to the cloth napkin section, I passed the handbag section! Woo-hoo! I actually found a good-sized tote (not too big), in a color I like (red), with the pockets I need (lots, plus dividers), out of a sturdy material (leather)! It even has little metal feet on the bottom to keep it out of the ick. It's missing one strap, but the way the strap attaches allows it to be used as a one-strap shoulder bag (and it passed the one-handed-shoulder-lift test). The three interior cell phone-type pockets have all had their bottoms busted out, but that's an easy fix (I assume) — other than that, no stains, no rips, no marks. It still has the detachable coin purse, too. Technically, it's a Samsonite laptop tote, so one of the divided sections is padded. I'm planning to put a pin or a flower or something on the extraneous buckle.

Wait, OMGosh, seriously?!? I just looked it up online and this is it! MSRP $129.99, retail $99.99, KatrinkaJane special...$2.99!!! SCORE!

Well, that just totally made my day just now. Back to shopping, though. On the way home, the kids were both asleep when we passed our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which happens to be linked to the local Vendor's Mall. I ♥ flea markets — not the ones that try to resell a bunch of outdated-but-technically-NIP leftover hardware store and novelty dream catchers (you know the ones), but the ones heaped with used goodies. It's like a treasure hunt! STOP. FOCUS. Okay, so the boys were both asleep, so I left DH in the car and stopped in to see if I could find a clock. I was also looking for another big picture frame to hang empty on the wall for posting Caspian's rotating stock of artwork. Shockingly, I got distracted by books, jewelry, and office supplies. Fortunately for me, they are perpetually on my shopping list. heehee Here's what I ended up taking home with some more of my leftover birthday money (not the stuff in the back; this table is also my MK gift-wrapping station):

one of the few Berenstain Bears books not already in our collection: $0.25
set of 3 paper trays, which I desperately needed for my desk: $1.50
old-school Oscar the Grouch puzzle, perfect for Caspian's age: $0.25
chunky 17"x17" carved-wood frame: $1.00
totally on-trend chain necklace: $4.99
TOTAL: $7.99, plus tax

1. Keep an eye out for respected brands (Samsonite caught my eye).
2. Watch for high-quality materials (genuine leather will stay usable for years).
3. Check out specialty secondhand stores (like ReStores), which may offer random items at great prices.

Is it silly that I'm still giddy over my leather bag...?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Roadkill Rescue ~ Halloween 2009

Yeah, yeah. I keep crashing Beckie's parties with technicalities (and yes, I am still working on that darn lazy susan that started it all). Honestly and truly, I have an actual "Roadkill Rescue" in my living room that is this ===> <=== close to being finished, but we haven't had a chance yet, with my annual Customer Appreciation Open House a couple weeks ago. So, here's my entry for this shindig: a Halloween costume. Yes, most of it was free and "rescued" from various friends' "Do you want this, before I throw it away?" piles.

Our big conundrum this year was "What kind of costume can we do if the baby's in the Moby Wrap?" I have to be honest — my very first immediate thought was the alien-emerging-from-the-stomach scene. But let's be practical, shall we? The baby's head would be sticking out much too high to pass for a real gastrointestinal alien. So we went with my second brainstorm...
  1. Take one "free" baby (don't get me started) and one free Moby Wrap (thanks, mom & dad!).
  2. Add a free "MKmen" ball cap, borrowed coveralls (thanks, Deb!), and borrowed work gloves (thanks, FIL!).
  3. Add a smokin'-hot daddy (thanks, God!).
  4. Take a sheet of free blue craft foam and spray it with paid-for grey primer. Greatly appreciate the splatter effect. Pretend it was a result of your mad spray painting skillz.

  5. Wear out a grey Sharpie trying to draw lines on top of the primed craft foam (see my little scribble sheet, where I tried to get the Sharpie juice flowing again?). In case you're wondering, the blue patch in the lower-right corner is where the clothespin held the craft foam, so I could spray it without getting my hands dirty (this was Halloween night, and the grass was wet). BTW, don't try denying that you want my leopard-print mouse (thanks, Duncan!).
  6. E-6000 two free orange balloons together, then decorate with a dark orange Sharpie. (Yes, I have a drawer just for "Fine" Sharpies...AND it's labeled with a label-maker label. Hate me.)

  7. Shell out real money for a used bathmat at Goodwill, add a free baby hat (which technically did come out of a garbage bag), lots of staples, and some more free craft foam, Sharpied brown and artfully cut up.

  8. Add four large safety pins and a free green onesie, then step back and revel in your homemade "Oscar the Grouch and his trashman, Bruno" costume! Roadkill Rescue Bonus: the costume is even trash-themed!
When we went trunk-or-treating at a friend's church, the baby was turned facing inward and the coveralls were zipped up over him. His hat was so heavy, it actually kept tilting down to cover his head and neck...which was great, considering how cold and windy it turned out to be! I was so close to putting little eyeballs on the hat, too, but wanted the baby to be the face. My husband wasn't committed enough to the costume to let me give him a fake nose and eyebrows. Psh.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday ~ Fancy-Schmancy Art

We love Saxton Freymann's carved food illustrations and thought his mini wall calendar would be perfect art to hang in the kitchen.

We finally found these cheap frames from IKEA to fit the square calendar pages (only a little trimming was required). The great part is that there are mini wall calendars available for just about every subject imaginable, from kittens to Impressionist art. What an easy and inexpensive way to get great art into your home! For larger prints, just scoop up a regular-sized calendar — they can even be secondhand!

I'd just like to point out how much you should appreciate my "keeping it real" with ya'll and showing my human side and all that. No staging here, folks — that's pure, unadulterated everyday mess you're seeing! :) Don't say I never gave you anything special.

This post originally appeared on my family blog and is reprinted with permission.

Monday, November 2, 2009

More Library Craft Pics

Here are those pics I promised of the Scrabble tile pendants we made at the library. My cutouts are from "Mod Floral Pink" scrapbook paper by Vera Bradley. Once I realized that the bails would be glued on (and thus, render the pendants non-reversible), I used blank tiles for my second and third pendants. 'Cause I'm anal like that.

What a horrid photo. You can tell I'm not my husband.

You can see where I tried to add more Aleene's Paper Glaze after I realized it hadn't reached the bottom. I didn't bother with a close-up of the third tile, which became a disaster after I leaned over it carefully, checking for bubbles to pop, and dropped the straight pin flat in the middle of the semi-congealed Paper Glaze. Yeah, you can't fix something like that. At least when I wear it as a pendant, no one will be close enough to notice. (Or as I tell my clients, "If someone is that close, they don't care what it looks like.")

Here's the one "lettered" tile I used. Did you happen to notice my Lego-decimated manicure? Yes, I thought you might've.

This post originally appeared on my family blog and is reprinted with permission.

Library Craft, Etc.

Even though we're already using cloth diapers and wipes, we're looking for more ways to save money (and inadvertently go green in the process — bonus). I started using a crystal deodorant yesterday, and we're going to stop using disposable paper towels and napkins in favor of more dishtowels and cloth napkins (16 for $2.97 at Salvation Army). I really, really want to try soap nuts, too.

If you have a baby, you need to get Magic Stick, period. Go. Buy it. Wow. No, I'm serious — go.

I found this site recently, which has a LOT of printables (including coloring books). Yay!

As promised, here are the library crafts we made on Saturday. The pop can pull-tab bracelets are made just like these, only with fabric strips (folded like binding tape) instead of leather. One lady there made it long enough for a belt, and another did a headband with a flower! I think I might try spray painting the tabs and using ribbon instead of fabric, next time. My mom made hers like the ones on that site, with all the tabs "facing" the same direction; I did one-up-one-down instead, and it made a scalloped edge (cool). We sewed snaps on as closures and covered the snap top with a button. Trés chic, non?

The other craft was cutting out (Vera Bradley) scrapbook paper pieces, ModPodging them onto Scrabble tiles, and supergluing silver Aanraku bails on the back to make pendants. We also topped them with Aleene's Paper Glaze, to give them a snazzy "glass" finish. The bails covered up part of the back, so I used blank tiles for mine. I must get Paper Glaze! Wow. No pics yet, because the glaze is still milky-translucent.

This post originally appeared on my family blog and is reprinted with permission.