27 June 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Last week I made egg rolls and fried rice for the first time.  They tasted OK, but were lacking in flavor.  While I don't normally experiment in the kitchen (I tend to follow recipes to the letter), I may tweak my recipes in the future.  I'll post any success if I do :)

That being said, my first kitchen experiment is going to be to invent (or reinvent) some sort of fruit egg roll as a dessert.  I don't want our extra egg roll wrappers to go bad.  But enough of my rambling; here is our dinner menu for the week:

Monday: Pasta and Salad (spinach, blue cheese, balsamic vinagrette)
Tuesday: Spinach Quesadillas and Refried Beans
Wednesday: Hamburgers with Blue Cheese and Spinach
Thursday: Almond Chicken, Broccoli, Mac & Cheese

You'll notice that spinach is the predominant vegetable on our menu.  That's because we didn't manage to make it to any farmer's market last week and our next chance isn't until Wednesday.  So, we're trying to minimize our grocery list (and avoid spoilage) by only buying a box of (sort of) fresh baby spinach and some frozen broccoli.

Check out the rest of Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing JunkieWhat is your family eating this week?

24 June 2011

Love List II

This is going to be short and sweet so that I don't miss the bus to campus.  This week I'm thankful for:
  1. Matching undergarments and aquamarine jewelry.  They make me feel pretty even when I'm wearing yoga pants and an old t-shirt.
  2. A brother-in-law who lives closer than 8 hours away.  We enjoyed your visit, David!
  3. A daughter who can hear!  There's a lot of background on this, but the short and sweet history is that we thought she couldn't hear due to some birth trauma.
What are you thankful for this week?

21 June 2011

Anything Does Not Mean Everything

"You can be anything you want to be."

"You can do anything if you just put your mind to it."

These phrases became my mantra during high school and college.  They were the source of my motivation.  If anyone suggested I couldn't do something, it only made me work harder to prove them wrong.  But everything changed when I started graduate school; the "magic" of those two phrases was lost.  Now they are discouraging instead of encouraging and it's taken me a long time to figure out why.  Somehow anything got replaced with everything.  It doesn't take long to feel like a failure when you stretch yourself too far, try to be the perfect everything. 

"You can't have your cake and eat it, too."

The message is slowly sinking in. I may have to give up some of my real food, crunchy mama, From Scratch ideals -- at least for this season of my life.

I work part-time, go to school full-time, and have a daughter who isn't even 3 months old yet.  On top of that, I expect myself to make perfectly nutritional meals (From Scratch), be fit and stylish, have a Martha Stewart home, and run a successful blog, among other things.  When I can't do it, I beat myself up about it and then try even harder to do the impossible.  This incessant guilt cycle is the root of my depression and it has to stop.  I'm working hard to break the cycle and create balance in my life, but it isn't easy.

One of my post-baby gifts was a sack of Seventh Generation products: laundry detergent, diapers and wipes, and disinfecting wipes.  I love using the disinfecting wipes primarily for wiping down kitchen counters.  I have to admit that they are much more efficient -- and I have to admit, easier -- than my usual old washcloth and vinegar/water spray routine.  I resisted using them at first because they're disposable.  I cringe every time I throw one away, quickly imagining how long it's going to sit in a landfill before it decomposes, telling myself what a bad environmental steward I am (how could someone studying Environmental Engineering do such a thing?!).   Still, I might buy more when I run out.  I have found something that makes cleaning fast, easy, and (dare I say?) enjoyable, which helps create some balance in my life.  Isn't it better (for me and my family) to have a clean and sanitary kitchen at the expense of a few disposable disinfecting wipes than to not clean the kitchen at all?

And maybe in a different season of my life, I can think about how to make them From Scratch.

20 June 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Once again, my menu is based around the items we bought at the Farmer's Market: purple kale, zucchini, snap beans, and cabbage.  I'm hoping it won't be too much longer until I can use produce from my own garden :)

Monday: Pizza, Salad
Tuesday: Fish, Macaroni and Cheese, Zucchini
Wednesday: Egg Rolls, Fried Rice
Thursday: BBQ Chicken, Snap Peas
Friday: Quesadillas

I'm using all the kale to make kale chips for snacking on.  It's so easy and they are pretty darn tasty!  Just strip the leaves off the stems, rip into bite-sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil and salt, and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Yum!

Check out the rest of Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing JunkieWhat is your family eating this week?

18 June 2011

Love List I

In general, I feel like I complain too much and don't focus on the things I am thankful for in my life.  So, I'm joining Bonzai Aphrodite in creating a love list each week:
  1. Getting up early to read journal articles.  Getting things accomplished before Adelaide wakes up.  God has blessed me with a child that likes to sleep in with her daddy, which means I've been able to get in 2-3 hours of PhD work before she wakes up and I don't miss spending any time with her.
  2. Walking with friends in the Botanical Gardens.  Just what I needed several times this week.  Thanks guys!
  3. Sleeping on my stomach.  I was a dedicated stomach sleeper before I was pregnant and it was hard learning to sleep on my side.  Now I'm thankful that it's once again comfortable enough to do so.
What's on your love list?

14 June 2011

Cloth Diapering While Traveling

Two weeks ago, our little family of three took our first week-long trip away from home since Adelaide was born.  Every year, my grandparents rent a beach house off the coast of North Carolina and my dad's whole side of the family gets together for a week-long reunion of sorts.

The last time we took a trip, it was only over a weekend and we decided to switch to disposables since it was our first time away from home with Adelaide.  This time, I was determined to use my cloth diapers, especially since I knew the beach house had a washer and drier.
My diaper packing list:
Things went as well as I could have hoped, but there are a few things I want to keep in mind for next time:
  1. We need a different pail liner/wet bag for traveling.  The Blueberry pail liners we brought only have drawstring closures and didn't do a good job of containing the diaper stink problems we are having.  We'll be looking for one with a zippered closure and loop to hang on a doorknob.
  2. I need to figure out if there's a way to avoid bringing dirty diapers with us.  I'm not sure that's possible unless we use disposables the day before we leave, which I don't want to do.
  3. Be prepared for different washing conditions than we're used to at home.  The house we stayed in had extremely hard water, which meant that it took nearly all day to wash a load of diapers.
Has anyone else here traveled with cloth diapers?  Any suggestions for this new mama?

13 June 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I'm so glad that summer is here.  Want to know why?  Because that means the farmer's markets have returned!  I'm lucky enough to have three local markets on three consecutive days (Wed-Fri).  I could also go to a market on Saturday morning if I wanted to drive a little further.  And I can't forget what I'm growing in my garden, though nothing is ready to pick yet.

The broccoli and carrots came from the local student organic farm.  We've already eaten the broccoli (note this menu plan starts at the end of last week) and it was amazing!  I'm sure the carrots will be equally tasty.  I'm planning on using the carrot fronds in my first ever green smoothie this week.  I hope I like it!

B - Baked Oatmeal
L - PBJ Sandwiches
D - Ranch Chicken, Rice, Steamed Broccoli

B - Baked Oatmeal
L - BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Cheez-Its
D - Out

B - Cereal
L - Leftovers
D - Pasta Bake, Salad

B - Green Smoothie
L - Tuna Sandwich, Pretzels
D - Black Beans & Rice, Steamed Carrots

B - Green Smoothie
L - Leftovers
D - Cream Cheese Chicken, Steamed Carrots

B - Yogurt
L - Leftovers
D - Sloppy Joes, Salad

B - Cereal
L - Leftovers
D - Franks & Rice, Corn

Check out the rest of Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing Junkie! What is your family eating this week?

10 June 2011

Cloth Diapering Problems

Before Adelaide was born, Spencer and I decided we were going to use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones.  I had a good time putting her "stash" together, composed mainly of prefolds, covers, and pocket diapers.  I even made my own cloth diaper detergent and thought I had a good washing routine.

But now, we've run into our first cloth diapering issue -- diaper stink!  I've since switched to Rockin' Green Classic Rock detergent and tried soaking them, but things aren't much better.  So I've searched the web hoping find a solution to my problem, but of course there are many different options out there!  Here is what I plan on trying until something (hopefully) works:
  1. Cold rinse followed by two wash cyles (hot wash, cold rinse, cold rinse) with detergent.
  2. Normal wash cycle with detergent followed by hot wash without detergent and double cold rinse.
  3. Wash my washing machine: add 1 cup vinegar to machine and run hot wash and rinse cycle.
  4. Strip diapers.
Any other suggestions or modifications to my plan?  I'm not at risk of getting rid of my whole stash or anything, but I would like to walk past the diaper pail without holding my breath :)