Hand-Me-Down Love

The title of this blog post makes me think of a sappy pop song.  But I like it.

A few weeks ago my parents brought down a wonderful bag of treasures–little girl hand-me-down clothes.  This little rainbow dress is my absolute favorite.  And guess what…the sweet miss wearing the dress turned 8 months old on Monday.  EIGHT months.  Oh my.

At 8 months, our Charlotte is suddenly growing and changing so fast.  In the last few weeks, she cut a third tooth, started waving, started signing “more” at meal times, and really took off with her “army crawl.”  She can pull herself up to a standing position, and I’ve caught her trying to let go!  Hang on, baby girl!  She waves her hands to music, and she has become much more involved in our weekly Musikgarten classes.  She loves the attention of her brothers, and she has become quite the Daddy’s girl all of a sudden.  When Daddy gets home, she reaches for him right away.  She always has a big smile for him, but she isn’t too sure about his beard.

Charlotte is now eating bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, prunes, yogurt, Cheerios, carrots, pears, and oatmeal.  I think that’s her menu!  Nursing is still her favorite food and her favorite activity.

In just a few days, my best friend is welcoming a sweet baby girl of her own.  I keep thinking of her and the joy they will share together as mother & daugher and as a growing family of four.  These “baby days” are so, so special.  Now, I’m getting as sappy as the title of this post (wink).

(Thank you, Molly, for the great hand-me-downs.  I’m in love!)

Project: Food Budget (Week 21)

Well, this week has been a mess.  On Monday, we skipped our usual grocery trip in favor of a wonderful bike ride and picnic with friends.  Can’t beat that!  I didn’t make a meal plan on Sunday because I knew I would not be shopping on Monday.  So…I thought we would shop on Tuesday.  I never got to meal planning on Monday, and  Tuesday morning slipped away from me.  I only had enough time to grab items for our Pancake Supper.

On Wednesday, I had the most excrutiatingly strained neck and a headache.  Ouch…big time.  I did not feel like going to the grocery store, or anywhere really.  I limped my way to an exercise class that actually helped my neck quite a bit.  Luckily, we have dinner at church on Wednesday, or else we would have had toast for dinner.

It is now Thursday.  I have no groceries and no meal plan.  Our car broke down, so I have no vehicle to go anywhere.  To top it off, I have a sick child at home.  Even if I had a car, we would be curled up here with kiddie movies, lots of construction paper, new crayons (the best!), ginger snaps, and tea.  Not half bad.  The groceries will happen when hubby gets home, and I’m just going to care for my little man and not worry about grown-up matters like menus, shopping lists, and budgets.

Hoping for a more thorough report next week…

Shrove Tuesday

I didn’t even know what Shrove Tuesday was until we joined a church seven years ago that acknowledges the day with a pancake supper.  Now I can’t imagine missing it!  The church uses Shrove Tuesday (a.k.a. Mardi Gras) as a wonderful tool for teaching children (and adults!) about Lent and how we prepare to experience the resurrection of Christ at Easter.  Being far away from the annual supper and “pancake fling” (such fun!), we decided to have our own Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper in our new home.

The following link does a nice job explaining Shrove Tuesday:  http://www.faithclipart.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/origins_of_shrove_tuesday.html.  In our version of the celebration, we enjoyed pancakes, sausage, little doughnuts, strawberries, and iced tea.  We played with Mardi Gras beads.  We talked about the different ways that people acknowledge Lent, and we decided as a family to continue our Lenten tree tradition and add some acts of charity this year.  I find Lent to be a particularly exciting time for teaching children about our faith.  It’s bursting with potential lessons!

 

 

Project: Food Budget (Week 20)

Twenty weeks of food budgeting.  This journey hasn’t been without bumps in the road, but I feel good about the progress we’ve made.  This week was on the high side.  With a $100 goal and a $150 cap, I spent $10 at the Farmers Market, $83 on grocery day, and $33 on a return trip to the store.  So…(doing math in my head)…$126 for the week.  We have some ingrdients left from last week, and I am very excited to use a beautiful head of organic cabbage from the Farmers Market.  This week’s menu looks like this:

Monday: Barbecue Chicken in the Crock Pot with Cornbread and Green Beans

Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan over Spaghetti with Salad and Bread (co-cooked with my Valentine)

Wednesday: Pork Chops, Brown Rice, and Mixed Veggies

Thursdsay: Left Overs!

Friday: Cabbage Rolls (My first time to make them!)

Saturday: Mulligatawny Soup

Sunday: Roast, Carrots, and Potatoes in the Crock Pot

While I’m here, let me tell you about Mulligatawny.  Oh yum.  This is my favorite soup to make.  No contest.  My mom and my mom-in-law both make some great soups that I love to eat, but in my kitchen, Mulligatawny is number one.  I did a quick Google search to check my spelling of this delicious Indian-inspired soup, and I found lots of different recipes.  The one from Emeril Lagasse looks pretty amazing, but I love my recipe that doesn’t use a lot of unusual ingredients.

When Cory and I were dating, our poetry teacher and friend recommended The Joy of Cooking cookbook for its whole wheat bread recipe.  We loved making the bread, and my Grandma Sunny purchased the cookbook for me shortly after our first bread-baking.  (We ended up making tiny loaves of that bread for our wedding favors!)  Immediately after our August 2001 wedding, we moved to Massachusetts to begin our graduate studies.  When the chill of a New England autumn began, I started searching for a soup recipe, something different.  I opened The Joy and found near the Oxtail Soup (a recipe I know that you will all want to whip up) a listing for Mulligatawny.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to try it.

As is common in many Indian dishes, the soup uses curry powder.  Well, I was afraid of curry in any form.  I thought it would hot and strange.  It looked and smelled…different.  I am not an adventurous eater or cook, so for years we had Mulligatawny without curry powder.  You could fairly say that we were not really making Mulligatawny, but the soup was delicious.  With the familiar flavors of chicken, carrots, and celery combined with the surprising sweetness of apples, this soup was perfect.

Thankfully, a few years ago, my slightly more adventurous husband encouraged me to use the curry powder.  And you know what?  We love it.  Not only did the seasoning add a beautiful color, the soup took on a richness and depth of flavor that I didn’t even know was missing.  The flavor was subtle enough to not scare me away but important enough to never be ignored again.  I can’t wait until Saturday!

(If the name sounds familiar, there is a Mulligatawny reference in the “Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld.)

 

 

Love Abounds

Happy Valentine’s Day, just a bit late.  I want to share photographs of our Valentine treats, but I can’t find the thingy to charge my camera battery.  Instead, I’ll offer you some of the images of our recent visit with my parents.  They stayed for a whole, glorious week.  We were able to fit in lots of good food, playground time, stories, bike rides, church, and walks.  We enjoyed the beautiful weather, teased about the snow back home, and just had a wonderful time hanging out together.

(Mom took the picture above.)

(I believe Dad took this one.)

I came across this quote by Rudy Giuliani.  He said, “What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”  This past week showed us just that.  The cookies weren’t the most important part, but they sure were good!

Project: Food Budget (Week 19)

It’s been an exciting week here! We’ve had fun with our company, and company means good food.  With generous help from our guests, our grocery budget came to only $72.  We had dinner out on Monday evening for a total of $22 (love .”Kids Eat Free” night), and hubby & I just returned for our first date since Charlotte was born.  We went to Chili’s for the “2 for 20″ menu.  Fajitas…yum.  The meal came to $24.  Total for the week:  $118.  Not bad!

A note about our date:  Cory and I haven’t been without a child nearby since June.  I treasured the time to sit, talk, laugh, and eat with my husband.  The elbow room was heavenly.  But…oh my…I was so happy and relieved to return home.  Turns out, the little lady fell asleep minutes after we left, and she didn’t wake up until we had been home for about half an hour.    Maybe we’ll do it again some time!

Mindset for Moms

I was so excited to find the blog www.steadymom.com just a few weeks ago, and I was delighted to learn of the author’s new e-book, Mindset for Moms.  The blog encourages moms to embrace motherhood with intention, passion, and professionalism.  That appeals to me deeply because I want to give my mothering the attention and respect that I would give to a money-generating career.  Afterall, this is what I was created to do at this special time in my life.  I can’t wait to dive into this book.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

(Hurry!  You can get your own from copy of this e-book today only!)

Project: Food Budget (Week 18)

Oops…a bit late.  We’re over budget this week, but it is for a very good reason.  We’re getting company!  This week’s grocery shopping included food for Saturday snacks, a nice lunch on Sunday, and Super Bowl food.  For us, Super Bowl equals homemade calzones.  Yes!  Can’t wait.

So…the not-so-good numbers.  We have a weekly budget of $150, but I’ve set the personal goal of $100.  Groceries came to $145, and we spent $11 at church.  Then, I ran back to the store for Thursday night’s fish and bananas.  That was about $15.  Total: $171.

The menu this week was kind of fun.  On Monday, we had some leftovers from the weekend.  Tuesday was beef stir fry with an orange sauce.  Wednesday we ate at church.  Thursday was catfish, mac n’ cheese, and mixed veggies.  Friday is Sloppy Joe Pizza (because my mom made me hungry for it).  Saturday will be spaghetti and salad.  Sunday’s lunch will be the creamy chicken tacos that I’ve mentioned before and calzones in the evening.