Gingerly Made: June 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NC Zoo

Yesterday Caitlin and I went to the zoo in Asheboro. A friend I grew up with was in town with her little boy and so we decided to take them out to see the animals. The zoo was a good two hour drive away, but so worth it. I think that's the furthest I've taken Caitlin by myself too.

We packed a picnic lunch and ate there. Isn't it just awesome that the NC Zoo will let you do that! Personally I love this zoo. It gives the plains animals plains to roam in. You may not always see them because they are a little further out, but I think the zoo has done an excellent job of putting lookouts where you can see the animals most of the time.

Besides seeing all the animals, Caitlin really enjoyed 'riding' the various animal statues throughout the park and the carousel in the middle. She also took a ride on the back of my pants if you are wondering what's going on in that picture on the bottom right. She decided to hang off my shorts. Thankfully I grabbed hold of them before she put her full weight on. Phew.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quinoa Tabbouleh

I have found another absolutely de-licious recipe and I just HAD to share it with you. Most people like eating cold food in the summer, but I struggle with this because most cold foods have mayonnaise in them; potato salad, cole slaw, etc. So, we tend to eat regular salad instead, but honestly, after a while I get a little worn out on the same old salad. Plus I don't do dressings, again, lots of mayo. The only dressing I've ever found that I really like was Vietnamese and very fresh.

Anyway, I ran across a recipe for tabbouleh (or ta-bou-li), a middle eastern salad and even though I have tried tabbouleh before and didn't really care for it, knew this one would be more suited to my tastes. First, there was no mint and lots of veggies. I personally find mint in my food a bit overpowering. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm a bit of a picky eater. Second, it uses quinoa instead of bulgur as the grain. If you haven't heard of quinoa (ken-wah) yet, it's supposed to be a really great grain to put into your diet. It's gluten free and packed with protein. Oh, and you can easily find it in your grocery store's organic/health food section.

So, here is the link for Quinoa Tabbouleh. If you are in the mood for a fresh, cool, healthy side dish, try this out. I seriously doubt you'll be disappointed.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

All You Grocery Challenge 2011 - Week 1

This past week was an interesting start to the All You Grocery Challenge contest for me because we had Vacation Bible School at our church in the evenings. Part of VBS for us is serving dinner for the kids, but getting a free meal every night would not work with this contest. Knowing that was coming up and that much free food doesn't really mesh with the contest, I selected two nights for us to eat away from home and the rest to cook at home. I hope that's acceptable. It's certainly not a regular week for us. You can see how we ate further down. You'll notice a lot of squash because we've been getting a lot from our garden.

Here's a picture of the groceries I picked up at Kroger and then later at Harris Teeter.

I was originally going to shop at multiple stores to get the best prices, but I ended up finding everything I wanted for this week at the same price if not lower at Kroger by getting store brand. I went later to Harris Teeter because they were starting their Super Doubles week, and I wanted to get a few items that were free or extremely cheap and invest in my stock pile.

(Oh, and a word about Harris Teeter. Please make sure you double check the cart behind your cashier since they unload it at the register. I got to the car and realized the cashier had missed two of my coupons. They were still in the cart. So, I went back and asked if they could correct it. I was told they were not supposed to do that, but they would do it this time for me. I appreciate their willingness to go back and give me those coupons, but definitely don't want to make that mistake again in case they are less willing next time.)

Bojangles: $10.85
Kroger: $68.38 - $12.75(sales & coupons) = $55.63
Harris Teeter: $26.02 - $20.26 (sales & coupons) = $5.76
Total for the week: $72.24

(Father's Day)
Sourdough Waffles
Eggs over easy
Orange Juice

Bojangles ($10.85)
Cook out at Eric's Dad's
(We provided hamburgers, half the corn, burger toppings, squash)
MondayL/O Waffles
Sandwiches with Homemade Bread
VBS - (free meal)
TuesdayCerealLeftover Chicken CasseroleBBQ Chicken
Quinoa Tabbouleh
Fried Squash from our garden
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Chicken Parmesan w/

Thursday Scrambled Eggs
Homemade Pizza
Zucchini 'Crab' Cakes
L/O Quinoa Tabbouleh
Wild Rice
FridayCerealL/O Tacos &
L/O Yellow Rice
VBS (free meal)
SaturdayCerealL/O BBQ Chicken
L/O Wild Rice
Fried Fish
Mac N Cheese
L/O Tabbouleh

See how I did in Week 2 and Week 3.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Squash Wilt

I am so disappointed in our poor squash this year. It's not their fault really, but we had to pull up two of four squash plants and our only zucchini. It's the first time we've ever encountered squash wilt. At first we thought it was a watering problem because the tips of the leaves were turning yellow and a little brown in places.

After doing some research, hubs found out that it was squash wilt. In fact in progressed so far as to look like this. And there is no cure. It's a bacteria carried around on cucumber beetles that infects the plants. The only thing you can do is pull it up and hope the other plants didn't get infected. Thankfully we still have two plants that seem to be healthy and our cucumber which is planted in a different raised bed seems fine as well.

Have any of you ever had this problem before? What can you do to prevent it next year? I'll have to do some research on that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fruit Slushie Mix

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was making a fruit slushie mix for the first time and I'd share it with you after I had a chance to try it out. Well, I've tried it a couple of times now and it's good. Caitlin seems to like it too.

I wanted to try this recipe as an alternative to popsicles during the hot weather. Caitlin is loving popsicles, but it's just colored sugar water. At least with this slushie she is getting some real fruit with her cold treat.

Fruit Slushie Mix
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 46oz can pineapple juice
1 can frozen orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 Mashed bananas (optional)

Combine sugar and water in sauce pan on the stove and heat until sugar dissolves in water. Add pineapple, orange, and lemon juices. If you want to add bananas, you can. I only had 3 bananas and I think that was perfect even though the recipe says 6. Pour mix into ice cube trays and freeze. After they are frozen, you can put them in ziplock bags.

When you are ready for your slushie, fill up your cup with slushie ice cubes and pour gingerale over top. (I had to try this a couple of times to get the right amount of gingerale. At first I completely covered the cubes and it was a punch drink more than slushie. The second time I didn't add enough. But the beautiful thing about not adding enough is that you can add a little more until you get the consistency you want.) In about 10 or 15 minutes, you can use a fork to mix up what's left of the cubes into a nice slushie texture. Eat with a spoon or straw.

After looking at the recipe, if you're thinking it sounds an awful lot like punch, you're right. It tastes like it too. But, I like punch.

Monday, June 20, 2011

All You Grocery Challenge 2011

The All You Grocery Challenge 2011 started yesterday, on Father's Day. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, this is an annual contest about keeping your food on budget, healthy, and creative. Last year, I did not get signed up in time to compete, but tried my hand at it anyway. It was interesting and fun. You can read about it here. Personally I really like this challenge because it makes you really pay attention to what you are spending. I was successful some weeks last year, but not all. This year I'm hoping to really improve upon my performance.

The guidelines are that you can spend $25 per person in your household per week. So for us, a family of three, we are on a $75 budget. This gets really interesting when you calculate eating out in this $75 budget as well.

I will post each week, what I spent, where, and my menu. If you are also competing in this challenge, please let me know. I would love to follow your progress! And if you didn't get signed up in time for this year's contest, do what I did last year and just try it out for yourself. Then you'll know what to expect next year when the contest comes around again. Just whatever you do, have fun with it!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!

While I don't normally blog on Sundays, I wanted to just say Happy Father's Day. I am personally so grateful for the wonderful father I have and the wonderful father my daughter has. Yesterday we went to my parents house and spent some time with my dad. And today we had a great breakfast for my husband this morning; a special treat since I don't normally cook a hot breakfast, and gave him his bought and made gifts. Next we are going to go out to eat with his dad for dinner. Sounds busy, but it's really been a nice weekend and I know Caitlin has really enjoyed showering her Daddy, Pappy, and Grandpa with love. I hope you had a great one too!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The State of Our Garden

The last I posted about our garden, we had one less raised bed and starter plants. We now have another 4 foot by 16 foot bed that we have planted green beans and one cucumber plant in and a full and flourishing garden.

Besides the beans and cucumber, we have planted corn, tomatoes, sweet basil, okra, sweet peppers, jalepenos, summer squash, zucchini, rosemary, and sage. We also have new blackberry bushes and Eric is planting lavender in our front yard.

We had two near garden disasters. Bunnies came first. Those sweet, furry, little animals are no longer in my mind. They are a menace; garden eating vermin. Ok, so maybe they are still cute. But I don't want them anywhere near my veggies. They completely ate our blackberry bushes to the ground and ate all of our squash, zucchini, and four of six tomato plants. Thankfully the blackberries are super hardy and came back with vigor. It was early enough that we reseeded the squash and zucchini, and we copped out and bought some more tomatoes. It seems that now the garden plants are larger and maybe not as sweet, the bunnies are leaving it alone. Phew.

Then a freak hail storm seriously could have ruined it all. Many leaves were either shredded or had holes in it, but mostly it hurt our corn. After the storm half of the corn was toppled over and most of the leaves were shredded. So, we did what we could, put down stakes, propped the corn up, and said a little prayer. I think it will be ok. The corn is now standing on it's own - we took the stakes out - and we can even see a few ears developing. (Please forgive some of these photos. I didn't realize that my lens was smudged.)

Our sweet basil is already growing tremendously. We are cutting leaves off regularly. I really need to make some more pesto, but have been a bit slow and lazy in doing it. We've started getting some squash, jalapenos, and a couple of okra pods. I can't wait for our tomatoes and sweet peppers to start coming off. I can already taste the spaghetti sauce and pico de gallo! How is your gardening doing? Are you harvesting yet or just waiting expectantly? Here are a few more pics of the things growing in our garden. Notice the beautiful okra flowers!

Monday, June 13, 2011

One Mom's Monday

Disclaimer: Obviously since this post went out at 9:00 am, this post is not about today. It was actually last Monday, but I wanted to share with you one crazy day in this mom's crazy life. Does it sound a little bit familiar to you??

At the end of a day, have you ever wondered what you actually did that day? I know I have. It often feels as if I didn't get anything accomplished. I cook and clean all day just to cook and clean and again the next. Or, it feels that I've been so busy with the house that I didn't give enough time to Caitlin. So, I decided to chronicle one of my days to see what actually happened. It's Monday so that means it's busier than the rest my week, but that's ok. I just want to see how it goes. I know many of you moms out there have similar days. And while the days can be long and sometimes repetitive, I sure do love it! Don't you?

6:00 am
  • Wake up to crying/screaming child. (I'm not sure why she's doing this. Could it be nightmares, hunger, this bladder infection she's dealing with, or a little bit of all three?)
  • Set her on potty, she goes. Yeah!
  • Eat cheerios in kitchen with Caitlin - it's Eric's turn to sleep in
  • Put clothes I washed last night in dryer and new load in the washer while Caitlin finishes her Cheerios.
  • Take fruit slush mix out of ice cube trays and put in baggies back in freezer. Fill empty trays with more mix to freeze. (I'll share this with you after I've had a chance to try it out properly)
6:30 am
  • Put Curious George on for Caitlin (go ahead, I know, too much tv is bad)
  • Clean up cereal mess
  • Unload dishwasher from last night and load again with dirty dishes.
  • Wipe down all the counters before ants have an excuse to come into the house.
7:00 am
  • Time for Eric to get up. Play piano to wake him. Caitlin runs up stairs to wake him.
  • He gets in shower. I put Caitlin back on potty. She won't go.
  • Empty trash in bathrooms.
  • Sit down and send an email to my mom and a friend.
7:30 am
  • Get dressed and teeth brushed
  • Eric helps dress Caitlin. He puts her back on potty. She still won't go.
  • I throw the rest of dirty laundry over banister.
  • Caitlin and I go downstairs. She helps me sort laundry.
  • Start a new load in washer and dryer.
  • Eric goes to work.
8:00 am
  • Caitlin gets time out for throwing a book at me.
  • Get ready to go to the grocery store.
  • Remember I need to water garden before it gets hot so go water garden instead. Caitlin plays on her playground while I'm doing that.
8:30 am
  • Finally go to grocery store.
9:30 am
  • Back with groceries. Put them away.
  • Start another load of laundry.
  • Caitlin has peed in her pull up by now. Change it.
  • Grab some watermelon for snack and
10:00 am
  • head outside to play for a little while.
11:30 am
  • Go inside to start on lunch
  • Check Caitlin's pull up - it's dry but she refuses to sit on the potty. I make her go diaperless hoping she'll use the potty when she needs to.
  • She goes upstairs and gets her own diaper.
  • Talk to a friend while I make sandwiches.
12:00 pm
  • Lunch
12:30 pm
  • Hubs home for lunch. Aren't we so lucky that he can come home for lunch most days?
  • Start another load of laundry
  • Attempt to start folding all this mess.
  • Start dishwasher
1:00 pm
  • Naptime; glorious naptime! And yes, I laid down for a while too.
3:00 pm
  • Caitlin is up from her nap.
  • I try to play the piano for a few minutes but Caitlin insists on snuggling
3:30 pm
  • We watch Barney together
4:00 pm
  • Time to start dinner
  • Caitlin helps me a little and colors a little
  • I package up hamburger meat I bought in bulk today
5:30 pm
  • Hubs is home
  • We eat in a hurry
6:00 pm
  • Head out to pick up a twin bed I found on craigslist
  • Stop by Target to get twin bed set (Hopefully this will help with some of Caitlin's sleep issues and get her out of our bed)
7:30 pm
  • Home again
  • I give Caitlin a bath while Eric assembles her new bed
8:00 pm
  • Caitlin's bed time. She's excited about her new bed, but it takes her a while to get to sleep even with mommy snuggling
9:00 pm
  • Quiet time before bed
10:30 pm
  • Bed

So, at the end of the day, I haven't folded very many clothes and still have two loads of laundry to wash. The kitchen is a mess from dinner. We were in such a hurry to meet the guy from craigslist that I didn't get everything cleaned up. Now the ants have invaded and I have to fight that battle. That is what I would normally notice and feel terrible that I didn't get anything done today. But, looking back on this log of my day, I did get things done around the house and I spent a lot of good time with my daughter.

Why is it that we put so much guilt on ourselves for not getting absolutely everything done in one day? That we haven't been perfect? Or is that just me? Do any of you struggle with those ridiculous feelings and if so, how do you slap yourself back into reality? This log of daily activities has been very helpful for me.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Strawberry Time

I took Caitlin strawberry picking for the first time a while back. Would you believe I have never been able to get her to eat one before? So, I thought going to the farm and picking them would be lots of fun and maybe entice her to try one. Nope. She put them near her mouth like she's going to eat one and totally fake me out.

Anyway, we must have gone at the peak because it took me no time to pick over 30 pounds of berries. There's one of the six flats missing in the photo. I had no idea that I had gotten that much, but that's ok. Now I have plenty to freeze for later, make jam with now, and eat a few fresh.

I've frozen 18 quart bags and made 24 8oz jars of jam and 3 4oz jars of jam. We're going to have enough jam and frozen strawberries to last until next year. Yeah! I mean that's half the point of canning and freezing foods in season anyway right. Plus there's something more satisfying about eating something you've, if not grown, at least picked and preserved yourself.

Have any of you started preserving any of your own or local produce yet? I can't wait now to start reaping from our garden and preserving all of it's delicious bounty.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I'm Back

Hey Everyone! I am so sorry for being absent so long. My wonderful but lousy excuse is that hubs and I are expecting baby number two! For several weeks I could barely find the energy to get out of bed, but of course with a toddler, had to. Thankfully I haven't had any nausea, but the fatigue was enough for me. I am finally feeling back (somewhat) to my normal self. My energy has returned anyway. I feel terrible about it because I know women who have had a much more difficult time than I. But really, even now, I've noticed a lack of interest in things that I normally love. Sitting down to read or work on a craft project is totally out. I blame it on the hormones.

We are now at 18 weeks and just had our anatomy ultrasound. It's a girl! We're so excited and looking forward to the adventure that another child brings. I plan to continue writing although, probably not every day. Gestating takes work you know. So, I want to thank you for sticking with me through my period of absenteeism and I can't wait to hear about the things you've been doing over the past month.
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