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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Weekly Goals January 25-31

The two middle kids have been best buddies lately.  Matthew was "reading" Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to Hannah one morning before breakfast.

Last Week's Goals:
  • Finish my shadow box project. Sigh. Not yet. But I think this is going to be my Iron Craft project so then I have to do it.
  • Read at least 4 chapters of Brick by Brick. Nope. I'm planning to read a bunch tonight while my boys watch the Royal Rumble (wrestling - not my fave).
  • Do yoga 4 times. Done! I had to force myself to do it, but I never regret it afterwards.
  • Figure out two new snack ideas.  The first one I tried was a gluten-free version of Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins (using all oat flour), which worked awesome, and they were gone within 2 days!

    We also tried Quinoa Oatmeal Protein Bars, which were kind of bland and not sweet on their own.  I melted some peanut butter and chocolate chips on top and then they were delicious! But I'm pretty sure that kind of defeats the purpose...

    I also gave the kids carrot sticks and ranch, something we hadn't tried for awhile, and the boys thought it was awesome! Hannah not so much. I've been writing snacks on our white board each night for the next day, trying to do one fruit/veggie snack and one grain based snack, and that's working really well.  It helps me not scramble to find something at the last minute but still not have to add another step to my menu planning.
This Week's Goals:
  • Put Elizabeth on the birthday board.
  • Do Iron Craft Challenge #2 project.
  • Finish reading Brick by Brick. That way I can post my review in my monthly wrap-up and request a new book from Blogging for Books.
  • Figure out yummy homemade Superbowl snack-y dinner. Go Seahawks!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

#MinsGame Update 3

I'm still going strong with the MinsGame, although it's definitely been getting harder to find things twenty-some at a time.  It's good motivation to keep decluttering though!  You can see more in update #1 and update #2.  Here's what we got rid of this week:
Day 18: More kids books, plus expired medicines and extra medicine cups.
Day 19: A few books I'm done with (I'm thinking of trying out Paperback Swap, but I haven't had a chance to look into it yet), breastmilk storage bags that are extra, package of straws and sandwich bags we don't use, and a bunch of bathroom items, most of which were in the cupboard when we moved here.
Day 20: Random items from the junk drawer of "house stuff" that was in the kitchen, which is now organized with only the useful things in it, and more pens. Before I started this challenge, I saw several people posting pens as some of their items and I confess, I thought that was a cop-out post.  But seriously.  There's a ton of them, and some days you need something you can grab easily to get rid of to keep up with the challenge.
Day 21: All the papers to the right of the cereal box came from cleaning out the craft cupboard.
Days 22 and 23: 45 little boy clothing items that are too small.  We are on our last batch of hand me down clothes from friends and family, and we have been spoiled having way too many clothes.  It makes buying new ones hard!

Friday, January 23, 2015

What's in the Garbage?

Who wants to talk about garbage?  I don't see any hands raised. Hopefully you'll stick with me anyways.

Garbage pick-up at our new place is a little different than what I've been used to.  Instead of paying a set fee to a sanitation company, we pay $2 per big yellow bag (with a 50 pound limit), and set those out on the curb each week.  I like this, because it means that those who create less waste pay less, while those who have a lot of garbage pay more. (Plus we don't have to buy any regular garbage bags!)

But...it can also add up quickly if we're not careful.  When we first got here, we were filling up 1-1/2 to 2 bags per week.  We knew right away we wanted to get that down to 1 bag a week, if not less.  In order to lessen our garbage, first we need to know what's in the garbage?

After keeping a closer eye on our garbage for the past few weeks, here's what's inside:
  • Diapers.  Easily our biggest offender, with Elizabeth and Hannah still in diapers, and Matthew in overnights.
  • Food scraps.  The kids scrape their plates after dinner (Hannah is going through an "I hate carrots" phase), the veggie scraps after I've made broth, crumbs from plates, etc. plus the occasional yucky leftovers, although I'm trying really hard to catch those things before they go bad.
  • Food packaging that can't be recycled.  Meat packages are the biggest offender here, although there are some other things.
  • Plastics, mail, receipts etc. that can't be recycled.
  • Broken toys, random junk I find as I declutter.
We do recycle plastic, glass, and cans, so that helps.  We also have a member who takes all of our cardboard/paper recycling for his burn pile, so that helps too.  But still, the garbage adds up quickly.  

Our biggest focus, then, is going to be reducing the garbage from our top two offenders: diapers and food scraps.  Stay tuned for an update in a few weeks to see how we're doing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Iron Craft Challenge #1: 4th Anniversary

Time for the first Iron Craft challenge of the year!  Last year I did 14 challenges, so my goal this year is to do at least that many.  The first theme is the 4th anniversary present ideas: fruit, flowers, and appliances.  Now's the time to paint polka dots on your washer and dryer!  I didn't do that...

Instead, I went for a project that used up some of my stash and also replenished something that we had almost used up: thank you notes.

So about two kids ago, I decided making cards could be fun.  Maybe it's because I found this huge stack of various sizes of envelopes on clearance for $0.50.  Maybe it's because my sister makes awesome cards.  (Way better than mine.)  Maybe Pinterest is to blame.  At any rate, I've had a pile of cardstock and a drawer full of envelopes for two years? Three years? A long time.

Since we just got done with thank you notes for Christmas, we only have a few left.  Perfect timing!  So to Pinterest I went, to my long-neglected Cards board.  Inspiration found.

I got as far as cutting half the card bases and the baby woke up, so I finished cutting the rest while holding her.  There was also Lego sorting by Jonah, Matthew was playing with our old license plates, and I think Hannah was throwing things around the room.

Crafting with four kids is not for the faint of heart.  So that was as far as I got initially.

Then I played with the stamps and kind of figured out where I wanted to go with things.  This first one is not perfectly aligned because I was still testing different ideas, but I came up with something I liked.
So then I started stamping them all/  First the blue, then the red and the lines.
And then I had to take another break, because kids.  They like to eat or something.
I finally finished making flowers and gluing them on yesterday while watching Downton Abbey and drinking coffee.  Luckily, it only took me a few minutes, because that was the amount of time that all 4 kids were napping/having quiet time in their rooms.  And then Elizabeth woke up and wanted a bottle.
Still, they got done, and they're ready for the next time we need a thank you note.  And I'm really happy with how they turned out!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Weekly Goals: January 18-24

A lot of this past week focused on food.  The boys played "kitchen", mixing together all sorts of random ingredients from the pantry.  This kept them occupied for an hour!
I baked a loaf of imitation Starbucks Lemon Cake, which was delicious and gone within two days.
I spent one morning doing all of the food prep for the next two weeks.  I do this twice a month, and it makes the rest of the meal prep really simple.  Most times I don't finish it all in one morning, but the kids were super well behaved that day!
And finally, we found a new yummy sandwich bread recipe! Jonah told me, "Mommy, now you don't ever have to buy bread again!" so I think it's a hit.

Last Week's Goals:
  • Start working on my shadow box project. I think if I don't make time for this next week it might be time to let this one go.
  • Do Iron Craft Challenge #1 project.  Almost done!  Look for a post on Tuesday.
  • Start reading Brick by Brick.  I read the introduction and the first chapter.
  • Do yoga 4 times.  I did yoga 2 times.
This Week's Goals:
  • Finish my shadow box project.
  • Read at least 4 more chapters of Brick by Brick.
  • Do yoga 4 times.  I'm really hoping that if I keep setting this goal I'll eventually hit it.
  • Figure out 2 new snack ideas.  We've been defaulting to fruit, "Mom's lazy trail mix" aka whatever random bits I throw together in a bowl, and cookies.  I need some new good easy things.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

#MinsGame Update 2

Round 2 of the MinsGame (read my first post here if you don't know what that means...)
Day 10: Winter hats and mittens, which keep multiplying, a ripped ninja costume, and a small reusable bag.
Day 11: A few bigger kitchen items, a pile of pictures to be mailed back to our old church, and several things to finish cleaning out a drawer.
Day 12: 12 undies that no longer fit right post-babies.
Day 13: I kept the 13 gift wrapping items on the right and got rid of the pile on the left.  I always try to involve the number of the day somehow, but sometimes I get rid of extra things.
Day 14: More pens.
Day 15: Shirts and my nursing cape.  I also turned my hangers around to see what I actually wear, so I'm sure I'll have more to add to this pile.
Days 16 and 17: Kids books we don't love or have doubles of, two kitchen spoons, and old coffee.  I had a few bags last year from couponing, and then kept getting and using kcups instead, and all of a sudden this coffee was best by last April.

I'm almost through the "easy" stuff, which means the next two weeks might be a little harder.  I know we have tons of stuff we could get rid of but sometimes in the moment of finding x number of things I draw a blank.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Menu Plan January 16-31


Last week's Crockpot Orange Chicken was probably my favorite meal of the entire meal plan.  We liked it so much we're having it again this time around!  We're still doing the 100 Days of Real Food mini pledges, and I have to say, I was anticipating Week 3 being one of the more challenging ones.  But my husband pointed out that if we cooked one of the half chickens we got from a church member, we could spread that meat over our 3-4 meals, and just eat vegetarian for the rest of the time.  Problem solved!

To start out with, we're still on Week 2: Real beverages, with only honey or maple syrup as sweeteners.  I've discovered that coffee with whole milk and a spoonful of honey is pretty good, which is saying a lot, considering I used to be a sugar and fat-free vanilla creamer girl.

Friday, January 16
Breakfast: Leftover Southwest Frittata
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Stuffed Peppers

Saturday, January 17
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Frozen Blueberries and Peaches
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Macaroni and Cheese (the kids chose this one, and even though it's not real food at all, I like them to be a part of the meal plan too)
Dinner: Black Bean Taco Salads

Week 3 Challenge: Meat.  Only local, only eat it 3-4 times in the entire week.  Make it not the star of the meal.  The starred meals will be made using chicken cooked in the crockpot at the beginning of the week.

Sunday, January 18
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Black Bean Taco Salads
Dinner: Creamy Mushroom Barley Soup

Monday, January 19
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Mexi Rice and Bean Bowl
Dinner: Chicken Pepper Bake*

Tuesday, January 20
Breakfast: Baked Blueberry Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover Rice and Bean Bowls
Dinner: Homemade Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Wednesday, January 21
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Veggie Pizza (Red Peppers, Spinach, Black Olives, and Mushrooms) on this crust
Dinner: Black Bean Fajita Casserole

Thursday, January 22
Breakfast: Squash Hash (no bacon) and Eggs
Lunch: Pumpkin Chicken Chili*
Dinner: Leftover Black Bean Fajita Casserole

Friday, January 23
Breakfast: Leftover Squash Hash and Eggs
Lunch: Leftover Pumpkin Chicken Chili
Dinner: Mushroom and Spinach Pasta

Saturday, January 24
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Frozen Blueberries and Pears
Lunch: Chicken Apple Peanut Butter Wraps*, Sweet Potato Fries
Dinner: Chicken and Pinto Bean Tacos*, Homemade Tortillas

Week 5 Challenge: No fast food and no deep fried foods.

Sunday, January 25
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Chicken and Pinto Bean Tacos
Dinner: Ham and Bean Soup

Monday, January 26
Breakfast: Eggs and Sweet Potatoes
Lunch: Chicken Salads
Dinner: Leftover Ham and Bean Soup

Tuesday, January 27
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Baked Potatoes with Ham, Broccoli, and Cheese
Dinner: Leftover Chicken Salads

Wednesday, January 28
Breakfast: Chocolate Chip Monkey Muffins
Lunch: Out to eat at local diner (eating healthy options, so I don't consider that fast food)
Dinner: Mini Meat Loaves, Mashed Potatoes

Thursday, January 29
Breakfast: Leftover Monkey Muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Crockpot Orange Chicken (doubled) and Rice

Friday, January 30
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Black Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries
Dinner: Leftover Orange Chicken and Rice

Saturday, January 31
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Frozen Blueberries and Peaches
Lunch: Italian Sausage with Peppers, Onions, and Mushrooms over Rice
Dinner: Pancakes, Baked Apples

Sunday, February 1 (because we won't be shopping until Monday)
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Italian Sausage
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas, Homemade Tortillas