Monthly Archives: November 2011

What is it about the end of a project?

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It is the last day of a National Blog Posting month where I posted each day, and I am throwing something up with my iPhone as I lay in bed, getting ready to turn the light off. I have more to say on this later, but I am glad I did this. I don’t know that I will keep up with every day posting, but I will keep the writing time in my day–some of it will probably go to other things, though. Thanks to all who came along for the ride this month! I hope to keep seeing you, here or elsewhere on the ‘net!

Good Habits and Routines (Or, the Importance of Family Dinners)

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Lately, my family has developed a terrible habit. More nights than not, we sit in front of the TV to eat our dinner. Interestingly, we still seem to see the dining room table as the default eating place in many ways–we often eat breakfast or lunch at the table–but dinner has gotten much more TV-oriented than I would like.On the one hand, this is not totally terrible. I mean,  know the many benefits of family meals; according to a study published in the June issue of Pediatrics, summarized in the article linked above, “teens who eat at least 5 meals a week with their families are 35 percent less likely to engage in disordered eating” and with just 3 shared meals per week they “were also 12 percent less likely to be overweight…[and] 4 percent more likely to eat healthy foods and have healthy eating habits than those who didn’t share three meals with their families.” But we eat five meals per week at the table between breakfasts, weekend lunches and the occasional dinner, so I am not too worried about missing those benefits.

On the other hand eating dinner at the table provides another set of benefits. Of course, we watch less TV when we don’t turn it on until after dinner, but there is so much more to it.

  • We talk more. We talk about upcoming school activities, inviting friends over, and family events. The kids like to play word games or 20 questions, too, which is also fun.
  • The dining room is cleaner. The table needs to be ready for those meals, and even though we are using the table more, it is easier to keep clean. If we don’t eat at the table for a few days, stuff seems to collect there–mail, school papers, an unfinished game, piles of books, all kinds of stuff. When we eat at the table every night, it gets cleared off every evening, and it is easy to clear after dinner, too.
  • Kitchen cleanup gets done more quickly. We aren’t sucked into a tv show, we just head into the kitchen and clean things up quickly.
  • We plan ahead for the next day. We make lunches while we put the leftovers away.We make sure homework is done and backpacks are packed. Then our mornings are better, which means the whole next day is better for everyone.

I have managed to get a good menu planning routine down this past month or so, which has really helped us to eat more healthy foods, but I think we need to get back to the table at dinner and save dinner in front of the TV for pizza nights only. Too many other things seem to be riding on this one habit.

Menu, Week of 11/27

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I went shopping on Black Friday with my mom and aunt, then I had to take my car in on Saturday to get the brakes fixed. They were making some grinding noises, but not every time I used the brakes, so I thought I might be getting in there before it became a huge issue, but that turned out not to be the case. $429 later, I am making a menu plan that relies heavily on what is in my pantry/freezer/garden. Yes, garden–there are still kale, broccoli, radishes and a few other greens available out there, plus some tomatoes and tomatilloes we picked two weeks ago when putting the garden to rest for the year. There are Brussels sprouts, too, but they are still growing, and may not be ready this week. Something gnawed at my plants all spring, summer and early fall, but they appear to be growing now. Hooray for cold tolerant veggies!

Sunday: Pepperoni pizza with chickpea flour crust
I know, no veggies to speak of. We were tired.

Monday: Turkey and rice soup made with the turkey carcass, fried green tomatoes, crustless chocolate pecan pie
I am working from home today, so the turkey has been boiling away all morning, and my house smells like T-day again. I will freeze some, because I am making a huge pot of stock–we had nearly 20 pound bird–and then make the soup with rice and whatever veggies we have in the fridge. We pulled a lot of tomatoes off of the tomato plants two weeks ago before we pulled them for the year; lots of them have turned red, but some are still stubbornly green, so I will fry them up since my mother is coming over. She and I are the only ones who like the fried green tomatoes. The pie is leftover from Saturday night.

Tuesday: Tomato and Crab soup, goat cheese and pecan Nut Thins
I do have some red tomatoes to use up, and this soup looks very interesting. I don’t like to go all out cooking when the kids are at their dad’s house, though, so cheese and crackers on the side is enough to round out this meal.

Wednesday: Black beans and rice, canned pineapple
I put a lot of veggies in my black beans and rice, so I don’t think I need extras on the side. I may put some Italian sausage in the mix to add some bulk, too.

Thursday: Pork and Tomatillo Stew, cornbread
All the crockpot recipe that require you to add things in the middle of the day usually really bother me, because what is convenient about that? Aren’t crockpots supposed to be for days when you are gone all day? However, I work from home on Thursdays, so this will be fine. I have some tomatillos from the garden still that need to be used up, so there may be more than a pound in this…good for the freezer, right? I bought a gluten-free flour mix I will use in this.

The kids will be at their dad’s for the weekend, so I am not sure what I will have. Maybe tuna salad, although my mayo is looking pretty old. Maybe leftovers. I should be able to get through the week not buying much more than some egg, juice, bananas and soy milk.

I think I will make another turkey and kale frittata tomorrow night for quick breakfasts. We also have cereal, oatmeal and plenty of lunch snacks.

What will you be having this week?

This post will be linked up to Orgjunkie.com for Menu Plan Monday.

I made a hat!

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I used this pattern, and it didn’t turn out too badly. I wouldn’t say it turned out well, exactly, either. The bump in the back is actually my daughter’s bun, but the bump on top is from something I did. Also, I didn’t do the last few rows at the end to make the curled up brim, because I thought I might be able to give this to my son, and I thought the lack of a curled brim would make it less “girly,” which is important to nine year old boys.

Despite a few problems, I am pleased with this, mostly because it went quickly and I was able to crochet loosely, which is something I have been struggling with a bit. In my practice, I have had to rip out entire rows because I couldn’t work the hook into the row at all. This is nice and loose, and pretty regular. I think I can take the lessons I learned in this first attempt and make several hats by Christmas time for presents. Hooray!

A Second Thanksgiving Meal

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This year, we are having far less people over for our after-Thanksgiving feast than we normally do. I didn’t plan ahead as far as I generally do, and people are out of town or sick, so it is a small group, but I am still excited! This meal will use up some of the leftovers from the big day in (I hope) interesting ways, plus a couple new things. Also, I am not going quite as crazy on the number of dishes.

Turkey and kale frittata–I still have kale growing in the garden, so that will be good. I may slice up one of my late tomatoes that we picked while they were still green a couple of weeks ago for the top; they are nice and red now.
Pumpkin risotto
Cranberry sauce
Crustless chocolate pecan pie

The frittata and pie are new recipes, but I am sure they will be fine. The cranberry sauce is leftover from Thursday, and I made the risotto a couple of weeks ago, so that should be good. Really, the only thing I am worried about is the pie–I am using maple syrup instead of corn syrup, because that is what I have, and after spending over $400 getting the brakes on my van fixed this morning, I can’t bear to spend any more money. I am hoping the eggs will keep it together even though the maple syrup is thinner than corn syrup. I am also going to make up some Blue Moon cocktails to start the meal, so the adults at least should be in good spirits for the meal!

I did go shopping today….

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…and I am very tired. We didn’t get up until 5:20, so it wasn’t as bad as I feared, but it was plenty early. My mom and aunt went to Target at midnight last night, but the line was so long they turned around and came back without even going in. They did watch the line for a bit, thinking they would get out of the car when they could walk in out of the cold quickly, but after half an hour the line wasn’t inside yet, so they gave up. And after that, my mom got what she wanted anyway–we went to a different Target at noon today, and they had put the item on a shelf in a weird spot, so they had a lot left despite the amazing deal (I can’t say what it is, because my kids read here sometimes…). Also, we started out at Kmart, but left without buying anything because the lines were insane. We just didn’t have the energy to wait in line for 30 – 45 minutes. Those were the only long lines we saw, though–everywhere else we went, we were no more than third in any line.

I didn’t spend as much as I have some years. I think I need new brake pads for my car, and I know I need to suck it up and go to the dentist already–I have a highly prominent broken tooth I have been avoiding getting fixed because I *really* hate the dentist, and also I am terrified about the cost. My dental insurance is changing, though, so that I will not have a limit for what they cover in the PPO if you go to an in-network dentist, so I am hoping that will help to cover a larger part of the work I need done. It may not actually give me more courage, but at least it removes one obstacle. Now, if I could just get rod of the need to buy Christmas presents and fix my car and eat every day, I’d be good on the rest.

As for what I bought, a significant part of it was craft supplies for the kids’ crafting party, along with a few decorations for outside my house. I got a wreath, a door hanger for the wreath and a few oversize ornaments for the tree in my front yard. I have some outdoor lights around here somewhere, too, so I may try to get those hung tomorrow. The craft supplies were fun to get. We now have craft sticks and pipe cleaners, lots of different buttons and some ribbon, magnets and fabric mesh and even some sparkly glitter glue. When I showed my son the supplies, he said, “Oh, I love glitter glue!” I said, “Doesn’t everyone?”

I also did a lot more cross-stitching today, finishing my first color, and getting nearly halfway through a second, but I don’t have a picture and I am too tired to take one now, so that will have to wait for another time. Good night, all! I hope your Black Friday experiences were peaceful and enjoyable, whether out shopping or at home.