Monthly Archives: April 2008

A Little Update

On Monday I let you all know that we were spending very little on groceries this week ($11.50; I meant for $10.00 but I was not so good at estimating how much some of the produce weighed) so that we could donate the rest. There were so many responses I wanted to give you all a little update.  First, the Cornish Hens; eh.  I don’t know what I was expecting but they not too exciting and far too much work to cut up and eat.  The turkey is in the oven right now, so I hope that goes well.

We decided Sunday that we would embark on this little adventure, however, didn’t consult our calendars beforehand.  I forgot that I was hosting book club Tuesday night, and found out that A.P. is supposed to bring a snack to preschool on Friday.  Both of these events would have resulted in an extra $20.00 easily but I kept with what I had around the house and the guests were generous in bringing food and drink to supplement my eclectic offering of hummus (a LOT of hummus; my blender actually started smoking), oatmeal cookies, and popcorn.  So generous, in fact, that some of the left behind treats will be recycled for the preschool snack. 

I had the extreme honor of attending the Kids Food Basket “Feast For Kids” last week and  that along with this tiny little exercise is making me realize even more how fortunate we are.  We didn’t do “Tasty Tuesday” either so that the $10 or so we spend on lunch can be put with our grocery money.  If you feel like you want to take a similar action and give something up so you can give something away, please leave a comment or send me an email.  I’d love to hear some good news from real people!

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Menu Plan Monday

We’re going to do things a little differently at our house this week.  Usually, we look at what we have, look at what we want to make, buy what we need, and also stock up on good deals.  This week, we are going to look at what we have, and make that work.  We’ll only buy the essentials (milk, maybe some a few veggies) this week.  This is hard because there are some good deals I really want to take advantage of.

The GRACE Hunger Walk, which raises money to fight hunger is this weekend, and my husband and I have decided to donate our weekly grocery budget.  It’s not that significant of an amount in the grand scheme of things, but the meaning is important to us and is a good reminder that no one who has as much food as we do should EVER say, “There’s nothing to eat!”.   

If you plan on popping by this week, just be forewarned; it could get a little interesting by Sunday 🙂

SUNDAY

Pizza Hot Dish.  I made a batch last week and there was too much so I froze half of it; the recipe I used is here.  We also had salad with home made croutons (using bread ‘scraps’). I also used some turkey pepperoni so it was really pizza-y.  For desert we had watermelon.

MONDAY

Cornish Hens.  I got these really cheap a while ago and still don’t know how to cook them. I’ll give this recipe a try.  We’ll also have brown rice and mixed veggies I cut up and steamed for a different meal, but didn’t use so I froze.  For desert we’ll have more watermelon.

TUESDAY

Another previously frozen meal from last week; Brunswick Stew.  This is a total cheater recipe; just one tub of Lloyds Chicken BBQ and one of Pulled Pork.  I added some corn I had frozen last summer and 2 cans of lima beans.  Anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line is throwing wads of paper at the computer right now 🙂  We will also have carrots and celery cut up, and dip.  For desert we are having popcicles made of yogurt, rasberries, honey and bananas just blended together.  It is a re-working of a failed fruit dip I tried to make this weekend.

WEDNESDAY

I am making a turkey.  I bought one very cheap around Easter and I don’t really know how to make it but I am just going to follow the directions.  It has one of those pop up timers, and everything.  I think this is my final frontier of domesticity.  We’ll also have applesauce, and peas.

THURSDAY

This is the biggest potential for failure.  I am going to try and make french bread; using the dough cycle in my bread maker and finishing it in the oven.  In continuing with my bad imitation of Southern Cuisine, I will call this, “I Swear I’m Not Mocking Mufaletta“.  I’m going to use that french bread (once baked) and cut it in half, then pour olive oil on it.  Once that sinks in, I will put some leftover green olive bruschetta and layer some turkey-ham lunchmeat and swiss cheese, then put the top half of the bread back on and bake it until the cheese melts.  We’ll also have a pretty beefy salad with hard boiled eggs and garbanzo beans.  Since we are having some young friends (2 and 4) over for dinner, we’ll have rootbeer floats for desert.

FRIDAY

I will give home made hamburger buns another try.  The last attempt ended up like bagels someone forgot to punch the middles out of and I went to  Great Harvest instead.

I’ll make black bean burgers, and also have hummus and carrots.  For desert we’ll have Apple-Oatmeal Bars.

SATURDAY

I’ll leave the Southerners alone and start messing with the Vietnamese now.  We’ll have Turkey Pho, and a salad with Carmelized Walnuts.  For desert we’ll have Apple Oat Bars if there are any leftover; and if not, we shouldn’t have eaten them all anyway 🙂

For more Menu Plan Monday, head over to Laura’s blog.

 

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Hit It And Hold

About two years ago, we were taking a walk down to the Middle Eastern Deli.  It’s on the corner of Eastern and Burton; not a terrible neighborhood but you still kind of want to keep your eyes open.  A man came up to us and looked a little sketchy so we just nodded and kept walking.  It turns out he was just trying to get signatures on a petition for a referendum vote; I forget now exactly what the issue was but it was something about the single business tax.  

We ended up having quite a chat with this man. We got onto the subject of keeping up with “The Issues”.  There are so many!  I think that nearly everyone wants the world to be a better place; whatever that means to them.  It gets overwhelming and frustrating to maintain a grasp on what needs to be done to make this world better.  What do you tackle? Children’s issues? Poverty? The environment? Job creation? Taxes?  And do you work on a local, state, national, or international level? 

This man, who we thought was going to ask us for spare change, instead gave us some very meaningful advice that helped us make a change in our lives.  He said, “I think if we all just kind of pick one or two things that we care about the most, and just, like, hit it and hold; things will get better.  Just hit it and hold, man”.

I thought this was profound.  Since that time, I have really tried to narrow down my key issues.  It has not been easy.  I want to do it all.  I want to be involved in everything, and volunteer here and donate there and march and protest and support and proclaim.  It forced me to respect other people who are working on other issues and accept nothing less than respect from them in return.  This man was absolutely correct; we are better off focusing the majority of our energy on a few things, than a tiny bit of our energy on many things.  This means letting many things go, but knowing that other folks are working just as hard on those other issues and as a whole – all working hard on a few things, it comes together as an improvement.

Feel free to leave a comment with what you have decided to hit and hold, or if you have a different viewpoint.  If you have been reading a while, you know that my key issues are hunger and early childhood.  This doesn’t mean I don’t care about other things; of course I do.  It just means that I am able to dig in deep, learn as much as I can, and try and be the most help in improving them. What are yours?

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Cyclone Saturday

As we were leaving preschool yesterday, A.P. asked if we could do a cyclone experiment.  He was specific in his request for materials; two plastic bottles, a pitcher of water, a funnel, and yellow tape.  This sounded pretty harmless. As it turns out, he got the idea from Blues Clues.  Not having cable, our exposure to this show is sadly minimal.  The kids have memorized the episodes we have on video.

We gathered our supplies and set out to make some cyclones.  He insisted the blue tape would not work, because Steve used yellow tape.  I assured him it would be fine.  I was wrong.

Water went everywhere and I would call it a tsunami rather than a cyclone.  We cleaned up and told Daddy about it when he got home. He laughed at my blue tape.  He said we should have used yellow tape. Apparently, the males in our species are issued some sort of secret adhesives manual at birth.  Did any of you know about this? 

So here are the directions.  It really is a cool experiment provided you have the right materials.  I figure that our initial failure, then success makes it an experiment rather than a project.  Aren’t I just the Scientific Method Mommy today?

You will need:

  • Two plastic bottles (two litre)
  • Funnel
  • Pitcher of water
  • Tape – any kind will do.  Just kiddingYellow tape.

Take the caps off of the bottles.  Using the funnel, pour the water into one bottle until it is about 3/4 full.  Place the empty bottle on top of the 3/4 full one, spouts together.  Tape the bottles together.  Flip them so the full one is on top, swirling in a circular motion until the water forms a funnel and drains into the other bottle.  Repeat ad infinitum.

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I Was Walking In The Park One Day…

I think the weather is perfect right now.  Even the slight mugginess is good, although my husband is in disagreement.  If he isn’t actually the person who invented the phrase, “It’s different; it’s a dry heat” he has certainly earned rights of imminent domain by now. He rambles on about how it can be 104 in Phoenix (where he grew up) and “you hardly feel it.”  Whatever.  I’ve been in Phoenix in July, when it is 104 and I am not exaggerating when I say that I was literally felt my skin cooking.  I looked like a giant beef jerky after about a week of being there. That was a fantastic trip. I almost got bit by a rattlesnake and fell into a jumping cactus and my hands got skewered together from the barbs and I still have scars to prove it. 

OK where was I? Oh, right. In Grand Rapids, Michigan where there are no rattlesnakes or jumping cacti (except at Meijer Gardens.  Even though it is only about 5 inches high and in a little pot I scoot by it real quick), it is seldom 104 and if it is, we have the good sense to stay inside. 

For now, though, we should be spending lots and lots of time outside.  As much as possible considering we’ve been cooped up entirely too long.  There are some really nice trails around here and I would encourage you to leave a comment with your own favorite place to take a stroll. 

Here are just a few to get started with:

Plaster Creek.  This trail has recently been expanded and now goes from Division just north of 28th St. to Ken-O-Sha park.  It’s just under 3 miles one way.  I like to walk it, but this is one my husband likes to take the kids on in the bike trailer but I am too lazy to ride my bike 6 whole miles. *Edit:  please see comment from Elaine below for more accurate info.

 

Riverside Park.  The trail here is cool in my opinion because it is so close to the city, but still very natural-feeling.  You can access it off of Monroe Avenue NE.

Paul Henry/Thornapple Trail.This trail starts right by Bowen Station Park on 44th just east of Kalamazoo.  Apparently it will eventually go all the way to Vermontville, in case you find yourself in need of a really, really long walk. Or if you need to get to Vermontville and couldn’t even find it on a map to drive by car; here is your trail.  It’s paved until 52nd street and there are lots of mulberry trees and rasberry bushes and later, wild strawberries along the way.  If that doesn’t fill you up, there is a McDonald’s next to Bowen Station.

Kent Trails.  This is the mac-daddy of all urban trails; 15 miles long from Byron Center at 84th Street (make sure you fuel up or cool down with some ice cream from Houseman’s!) or Douglas Walker Park (where I had my rehearsal dinner catered by my Dad and Uncle Bob – it ROCKED) all the way to John Ball Park or Johnson Park depending on which way you go.

There are some nice un-paved places to stomp around too, but let’s let the ground dry out a bit first.  I’ll do another post later in the season about where you can wear your hiking boots instead of tennis shoes.

 

 

 

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Choices, choices!

Isn’t it nice to be back in the season of making choices about what to do on the weekend rather than trying to desparately just to fill it?  There are a lot of things going on this weekend.  If you just can’t get enough Earth Day, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park is having an Earth Day Celebration.  If you prefer to celebrate by shopping, Macy’s is giving away reusable bags.  Check out Big Binder’s Calendar for more details, and more fun events!

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