Make your own baby food?

So even as a beta mom (you can check out that blog here), I make my own baby food. Now I can see you thinking “ain’t nobody got time for that”. HAHA. But really, I do it because for me it’s convenient. We eat fairly balanced in my home, so the majority of time I just puree up leftovers for baby. However, there are some days I put a few extra minutes into it and make a stash. That’s what I did last night / tonight.

20151009_171303

Last shopping trip I picked up a bag of frozen peas and some frozen blue berries, and I had some sweet potatoes in the pantry already. So after work I tossed peas in a pot, peeled the sweet potatoes first and then cut them into chunks, putting them in a pot to cook too. While this was happening I had the blue berries thawing on the counter.

Once the peas were cooked I tossed them into my ninja blender and pureed them.  Personally I love the Ninja, it blends everything, we even grind coffee in it. I tried milling flour to see if it would work, and it seems like if you wanted to listen to it, it could, but I really don’t have time or patience for that.

I bought these ice cube trays off Amazon (someday I may tell you about my love affair with Amazon and their two day shipping), they work great for baby food! I love that the are so easy to manipulate and get the cubes out. And if you choose, they make pretty ice cubes too, haha.

I also love to use these reusable pouches. I can use them for both baby food, and apple sauces for my older son too.

71DRWaklwpL._SX522_

Sorry I get side tracked easily, back to my point. I add baby formula to my puree to make it smoother, plus my kids drop weight fast once they start eating solids, so I love the idea of adding the extra calories and nutrients. You can use breast milk or water too. Once the puree is the thickness I like, I spoon it into the tray to freeze overnight. Then puree the blueberries, same basic process.

At this point, I shove the sweet potatoes in the fridge to deal with the following day, as I have enough to do as is. Plus, the next day I can put the peas and blue berry cubes into freezer bags and freeze the pureed sweet potatoes.

Personally, when I do baby food I leave the texture in it, you could strain out the skin from the peas, or puree the sweet potatoes super smooth, but I learned with my first son that if its always perfect, its hard to get him to eat the not perfect. Tip: buy store bought food every now and then. I took my first son back with me to South Dakota for my Grandfather’s funeral when he was still eating only purees, and he refused to eat store bought. I’d never tried it before and he refused. He wound up eating apple sauce the whole time. As if it wasn’t stressful enough I had a baby refusing to eat. I suggest Beech-nut brad, it seems the most similar to home made.

Thinking about it now though, there is a good savings when you take the extra couple minutes to make your own food. I figure the bag of peas cost me $0.99 at Winco, and I made about 15 cubes and a baby food jar, so I would say that would equal out to about 6 baby food jars and a savings of about $2 ( $0.60 x 5 jars – cost of peas). Not too bad.

Plus, living in a farming community we get a lot of opportunities to get free  fresh produce.

20151009_163639

Advertisements

A Working Mom is NOT the Minority!

said-no-working-mom-ever--300x210

I’m a working mom, and though at times I don’t want to be, I’m proud to be a working mom. But today my frustration is directly related to the “don’t want to be” part. It seems to me that those who have school age children are of the same mind: schools act as though everyone has a stay at home parent!

working-moms

Now my son is 5, will start kindergarten this fall, and I am already pulling my hair out in frustration. Let me start by describing my community:

We are a farm based community, and as such, the population is low and greatly made up of people that fall into the migrant worker category. Our town has exactly one preschool, technically it is a migrant council head start, and as such has very limited openings with very specific restrictions, of which we don’t qualify. And that’s okay, but on top of this there is not a single licensed daycare provider in this town (facility or home based-nothing!).

With this being the case, children either attend preschool in a neighboring town (20 miles away), don’t go to pre-school, or are accepted to the migrant council head start. I chose to homeschool for preschool, and from what I can tell my son is good to go, but I am concerned that he has not sat through a real school setting, just Sunday school, and I’m not sure that counts. Anyway, our school offers what they call “Kinder Camp”. It’s a program offered (next week actually) that allows the kids to experience ½ day kindergarten and the teachers get to evaluate and decide how to split up classes. I’m very excited about this especially since for many of these kids English is their 2nd language, and with not having a preschool, the kids are all over the board.

When I registered my son for kindergarten I was told this camp would take place, and I would receive information on it when it came closer. Not how long it was, full day vs 1/2 day, or anything of usefulness. Actually the school didn’t really even post anything on kindergarten registration at all, I had to ask about it, and a friend mentioned a flyer was sent home with her kids. Anyway, I finally get a postcard in the mail Saturday (the 7th!) saying the mandatory orientation for kinder camp would be at 8:30am on the 16th. That’s all the info on this post card by the way! So I call, turns out it’s a 2 week program, from 8:30-12:30 M-F. WTF! Let’s not make it easy or give notice!

7c1e100bfbee6690c043b3d08b8f1833

I work in town for a pretty flexible company, and that’s even hard for me to swing. Reminder, there is no daycare in town! So I was all excited because I’ve been taking my son to Moses Lake (roughly 15 mile commute) to daycare, but found a high school girl to watch my son once she gets out of school, and then once he starts school she can watch him in the afternoons too. This is great, my girl can’t drive. So for my son to attend, not only do I need to arrange on 1 week notice to have the morning off (I got lucky and my department is just going to shut down for a few hrs so I can attend), I have to figure out transportation too. Luckily my work was okay with me shifting my schedule 30 minutes for 2 weeks, but how many others can do that? Oh and as it turns out, when school starts, the 1st two days for the kindergarten kids will be ½ days, but not for anyone else (new vacation day request – 2 days for school, yeah me).

The more I get into this the more grateful I am for the job I have (4 weeks’ vacation, holidays off, and about 2 weeks off at Xmas); most jobs are not that flexible. What about other parents? Why do schools act like you are the minority for working? I’m a mom who doesn’t work from home, I bust my booty to be a good mom, help provide for my family, and yet I get a guilt trip for working. WTF! If you are able to stay home that is awesome, and many “stay-at-home moms” are working no doubt about it, but that job is still the less common job. Yet somehow in my immediate circle I am actually the only “work-away-from-home” mom. Not sure how that happened, but some days I am incredibly jealous and have to remind myself of the benefits I have from my work.

So for those in a similar position remember the pluses:

* life enriched by co-workers and other connections (adult conversation & new friends)

* spending flexibility (though it may not be much for some, it’s more than nothing)

* Child social interaction (for me this is the only real kid time my son gets)

* Savings/retirement

* Good medical insurance

* Vacation and holiday time allow extra at home time for the big things (sorry this isn’t relevant for my friends in LE, EMS, ect).

no-time-as-a-working-mom

 

So anyway:

Dear Warden School District & multiple others,

Thanks for reminding me of all the great stuff I can’t do with my kid.

Sincerely,
#pissedoffworkingmom

Weekend herbal garden build

Weekend herbal garden build:

water

In the past several years I’ve become more and more interested in herbs. I didn’t have much exposure as a kid so my cooking with herbs has been a hit and miss trial process. My dad used to make stew and just dump a little of all the spices in…. it was awful! But over the years (despite dad’s teachings) I’ve gotten to be okay in the cooking department. I’ve kept this mainly under wraps. I’ve never minded being the wife that can’t cook. When working funky shifts it really came in handy, so I just played it up. I must have done a good job too, because when I finally made a true home cooked meal for my in-laws they were shocked and kept telling me “no, really, it’s actually good”. It was quite funny, ha-ha. Now my schedule has calmed down a lot, so I don’t mind playing the good wife role.

Anyway, back on topic. This is the first time I’ve ever had an herb garden, so I’m really not sure how this will turn out. I like using natural remedies whenever possible. Which may sound contradictive to some given I work for “the evil” Monsanto, ha-ha. No worries, I won’t go into pro GMO or anything. Anyway, I wanted to have herbs for food, basic remedies, and tea (because, I like tea).  After searching on-line I was having a hard time choosing which herbs, and finding one source for all. And honestly some were a bit extreme and reminded me of the time my dad took me to a gun show and we realized after we got in that it was not like the ones at our local fairgrounds, but more like a pro-Hitler gun club. Anyone remember the movie Rat Race and the Barbie museum? Yea, kinda like that, but I digress. So I found a set on Amazon that looked good, plus I’m a Prime member so I got free 2 day shipping. Can’t go wrong with that.

Here’s a pic:

seed

This can also be found at http://www.mypatriotsupply.com

Hubby built me a raised bed and we hit up some yard sales and freebees for planting pots. Some herbs help with fly control so I needed some that can move around as I need, and some herbs are an invasive species and will run wild if you let it. And honestly I’m not sure which they are for sure, so I may have to replant some if I guessed wrong.

On the raised bed I filled the bottom with these huge rocks that someone actually trucked in for “beauty”. Honestly this amazes me because this rock is so prevalent around most of Grant County you actually see rock walls made of it on people’s property.  So given my built in hatred for this rock style, I used some to take up space at the bottom of my raised bed.

rock-fill

I also used a couple small old stumps I didn’t know what to do with. Once the bottom was filled about 8 inches deep I (and by I, I mean, Hubby) filled it with dirt until it was about 6 inches from the top. Next we put in garden potting soil.

dirt-fill

I added a few scrap pieces of wood to divide up the bed so that I could keep track of things a bit better. Then I laid out my seed packets to decide how to set it up. For now I wrote on popsicle sticks what is planted in each spot (I found a couple cute ideas on pinterest I may switch them out for later). I tried to have the tallest on the North side so that it won’t give too much shade.

layout

finished

Here is what I planted:

Food –

Sage

Oregano

Thyme

Parsley

Cilantro

Basil

 

Tea- (some double for medicinal)

Wild Bergamot

Anise Hyssop

Chamomile

Lemon Balm

Lemon Mint

Peppermint

 

Medicinal-

Catnip

Hyssop

Culver’s Root

Nettle

 

 

 

Planting is fun for all! Love my little helper.

fun

My house smells like a Strawberry Shortcake Doll

My house smells like a Strawberry Shortcake Doll

DSC_0028

Spring is here! One of my favorite parts about spring besides the lack of freezing temperatures is foods. All the best snacks start coming back out. Our strawberries aren’t out yet, but someone’s are so we stopped by a fruit stand and bought a flat of strawberries. They taste amazing. Plus strawberries make a great snack option since our house is working to be more diabetes friendly.

Now I will admit I am horrible. I’m trying, but I’m basically the diabetes equivalent to a chain smoking wife with a husband with lung cancer. Luckily, or somewhat anyway, hubby doesn’t like the same junk food I do. I’m a candy eater; he goes for chips and baked goods. I don’t like chips, and the only baked goods I really go for are chocolate chip cookies or cake batter. There is a good chance my son will also have this struggle, so I really see the value in ditching my sugar (though I usually just take it to work). It’s really hard. But I digress, I’m trying.

DSC_0040

Anyway, we bought the flat of strawberries and I’ve been cutting them up and dehydrating them. We use an Excalibur food dehydrator, but there are many options. I like ours because its square and you can remove trays for taller foods. Dried strawberries make a great snack option for hubby to take to work, and I can also add them to oatmeal or yogurt, or mix up a trail mix for the “snack shelf” for our son to grab.

DSC_0041

When dehydrating strawberries or any other heavily water based food I make sure to cut them a bit think, usually about ½ inch slices.

DSC_0027

I take the end pieces or berries that seem a bit small for drying and I place them in a bowl (cleaned and trimmed as needed). After I’m done putting the berries I want on the drying trays the other slices get put into food saver bags and thrown in the freezer for later. Frozen berries work great in the summer as a replacement to ice cream or popsicles; they’re our son’s favorite warm weather snack. We also make homemade ice cream for home BBQ gatherings, and they work great as a topper once thawed.

DSC_0029

I’ve had a helper with the food prep, though I think it was mainly so he could steel fresh berries.

DSC_0033

After we cleaned up our mess, my son  volunteered to give scraps to the chickens. He likes all the squawking from the chickens when you bring treats.

DSC_0032 DSC_0037

Diabetic note:

Some fruits contain a very high amount of carbohydrates that can cause high blood sugar levels in diabetics. The 30 grams of carbohydrates found in a banana, the 50 grams found in a mango and the 52 grams found in a 16-ounce serving of orange juice can be too much for some people with diabetes. Checking your blood sugar levels after eating is the best way to determine whether the foods and fruits you eat allow you to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Strawberries and most other berries tend to contain less carbohydrates per serving and constitute excellent fruit options for all diabetics. – more information at: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/can-diabetics-eat-strawberries-1678.html

 

Up-cycled craft room

Up-cycled craft room

B4&After_edited-2

When we moved in back in May the plan was that this winter we (meaning I) would go room by room painting and designing/decorating. Now that winter is basically over I’ve actually started. As I mentioned in a past post, I chose to start with my office. The previous owners used this room as a small bedroom. I suspect it was last pained in the 90s as a baby’s nursery and never really updated. It was this awful two tone Pepto-Bismol pink (pictures don’t do it justice in the ugliness). Plus someone had filled in nail holes as if they planned to paint then never did anything else. The room really just looked dirty and pink. They even painted the light fixture.

DSC_0543

I started by pulling everything I could from the room. The desk was too big to remove unless I took it apart, so I opted to leave it in the room and paint it there given it was 10 degrees outside. The desk was a cheap find ($40) from craigslist a couple years ago for a temporary office for our landscaping business. I have not been able to decide on a desk for this room so until I do I opted to paint the desk to give it a facelift. Laminate is not a cooperative material to repaint, so I ended up using 2 coats of primer we already had, then 2 coats of black paint & primer designed for multiple surface types.  This I also had on hand from when I painted our dining room table.

Next I took on the floors. These floors are rough. They are original to the home, but it looks like the previous owners pulled the carpet and stopped at that. They have not been sanded or treated at all. Plus the boards have shrunk over the years, and it looks like there have been spills that the wood soaked up and left stains. I’m still not sure what I want to do with the floors, so I’ve started by washing them and treating them with wood oil. I used a few coats, the wood is so dried out it absorbs the oil like a sponge.

DSC_0524

Next I chose my paint pallet. I love teal so that’s where I started. I also chose a midgrade paint primer mix.  The first time I painted a room I was in early grade school and was painting apartments at the retirement home my grandma ran, and for whatever reason I love painting. I’m not a messy person when I paint, so I tend to tape off the edges and go. This time I purchased a paint sheet to cover the desk and few items stacked on top so I can set tools and a wet washrag on it without worry.

CAM00404

Once the room was taped off I started with the main colors. I had to use two coats of the teal for proper coverage. I then let it dry for a few hours before working on the trim. I’m not a patient person so I opted out for letting it fully dry and re-taping before starting the trim. I used a medium size art paint brush for the trim portion against the wall, a larger brush for the main trim, and then for the flat portion on the chair rail I used a small roller.

CAM00405

The final step was style and functionality. I chose not to bring back in the tall file cabinets. I had 2 short drawer sets from an old desk removed from my work office. These were already black, so that was an added plus. I also found a weird 80s wall shelf that was in a closet when we moved in. I ditched the heart shape portion and turned it into a table top shelf and added a rod for my ribbon spools. Then I found the different things that really symbolize me. I pulled my 1st SLR from its storage hideout and put it up for display. I also hung my favorite historical picture, and one of my own prints. I hung my 1st public art show award, and my sons T-ball pictures from last year. I left one wall open, and plan to pick up a large frame at Ikea and have one of my black and white prints enlarged for display. The closet has great storage, but it’s not pretty so I’ll be keeping the door closed.

DSC_0537 DSC_0540 DSC_0541

Overall I love my new space. The room update only cost me $180.00. Purchased supplies included: paint, rollers, tape, painters sheet, and a new light fixture.

Snack Packs

Snack Packs

This last year has brought many changes for our family.  One major adjustment our family is still working on is diet. This is more of a struggle for me than the rest of my family. Having always struggled with my weight in the opposite direction of most, I’ve always been able to eat anything I wanted, plus regularly drinking breakfast shakes to add calories. Now I know this sounds ridiculous to many, I’ve heard it all. My mother actually always told me growing up to “just wait, when your metabolism slows down you’ll be as big as a house”. Thanks mom. But really this is something I struggled with to an extreme growing up. In fact, as a sophomore in high school I was 5’8” and 86 lbs. So, yeah, that’s awkward. I remember my gym teacher actually calling my dad to say I had an eating disorder and to watch me for at least 30 minutes before and after meals.  I was goofy looking. Now, after aging a bit, having a kid, and slowing down, I’m a bit more average.  I’ll be 30 next year, and though I’m still thin, I notice that if I eat junky I feel junky. Plus, this last year hubby was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and this means that our son may have a higher risk of diabetes as well.

With these factors in mind I’ve been working on doing better with having healthy snacks readily available. The catch is eating like crap is cheap, eating healthy can be more expensive. So with this in mind I’ve been working on diabetic and kid friendly snacks.

DSC_0517

Snack grab bags:

Sunday is my prep day, so I sit down with a box of sandwich bags and make pre-packed snacks. I keep a Tupperware container in the fridge with pre-made baby carrot snack packs. We could probably save more by cutting up carrots, but convenience wins out on this.  Popcorn is another great snack that works great for the kiddo, but is also a great sugar free snack for hubby.

DSC_0513  DSC_0514

Here are a few of my go-to snacks:

Carrots

Popcorn

Sliced bell peppers (not so much for kiddo)

Dried fruit – bananas, apples, pears, whatever’s on sale

For those looking to meal plan for diabetes, or to make better food choices in general, here are some great tidbits I’ve found in my searching.

fruit  seafood  vegies

These charts were found on the FDA website: http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/labelingnutrition/ucm063367.htm#.UvqJetD-ecA.gmail

You can download them here:

vegetable nutritious facts

sea food nutritious facts

fruit nutritious facts

I also found a site that lets you enter your recipes and it will give you nutritious facts on what you enter.

http://nutritiondata.self.com/mynd/myrecipes/welcome?returnto=/mynd/myrecipes

If you have any kid friendly diabetic meals I’d love to hear about them.

My Latest Cold Weather Task

Step 2 for organization:

My next step of organization for the year is to take on the family budget. I know we do okay, our income covers our spending, but we don’t always save as much at the end of the month as we could. In the past we did the “Envelope” method for budgeting.  This worked okay when we lived in a town with multiple stores. But now we run into a few problems with it.

The envelopes don’t work so great when the closest grocery store (5 miles away) is a mom and pop shop, that you really should check the expiration dates before purchasing. When we go to the store on a quick trip it’s 16 to 20 miles away, you really don’t want to turn around for cash.

It’s a bit of a pain to go to the bank whether it’s once a month or each pay period. Nobody likes the person that takes 10 minutes in the drive thru, so you really need to go in. Now I’ll admit I find it entertaining when the gal at the bank looks at you like you’re going to have the biggest yard sale ever.

It’s also not the safest way to go. You end up either walking around with a larger than normal sum of cash, or leaving that cash in your car.

And don’t get me started on shopping somewhere like target or Walmart. You end up spending a half hour afterward trying to balance back out the cash in your envelopes because you didn’t want to look like the stripper pulling out a bunch of ones and fives from each envelope, since items fell into multiple categories.

The point is I’m trying a new plan. I’m keeping a tally sheet to help stay on track, and I’m hoping that the visual of writing down the spending will make me more conscious of our spending.

DSC_0182

If you’re interested, you can get a copy here: expence tracking