I’ve gotten up my first tutorial: step by step instructions to make a simple snack bag/lunchbag. This bag is purposely kept unstructured so that it can be crammed into backpacks/sports bags/etc. We use ours every single day.
I’ll admit it. I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day. My kids valentine’s came from the dollar store. I did attempt to make heart shaped pancakes with red m & m’s in for them for breakfast, but the hearts were kind of lame. Two out of three kids correctly identified the shape they were meant to be, and no, the 3 year old was not the one who got it wrong. And I kind of only did it because I was having visions of all the kidlets discussing what everyone’s overachieving moms did for Valentine’s Day, and my kids only being able to say “my mom cut up a bunch of strawberries because cream cheese, utensils, and paper goods were already claimed off the party request list.” My husband is beyond thrilled at my Valentine’s day grinchiness, or at least he was once he realized when I said I didn’t want anything for Valentine’s Day, I really meant it. So the kids are off to school with their 7 million valentine’s and red outfits and healthy holiday breakfast snacks (no junk food allowed. I’m not complaining. Most of the school’s around here have said no food celebrations, period, so I’m just grateful they still have parties. Because realistically, what’s a party without food? Could you imagine being invited over for cocktails and there is not. one. speck. of food out? It would be weird, right?). It was a stressful morning but the holiday is, effectively, done for me. Well, we’ll open a bottle of wine after the kids crash but honestly, a glass or two of wine after the kids are in bed is not all that momentous in this household.
The funny thing about my loathing for Valentine’s Day and hearts and the color pink is that I’m all about love. I hammer home the importance of showing compassion more than any other lesson I try to teach my kids, and I try darn hard to set a good example of demonstrating kindness. But somehow my vision of love and Valentine’s Day feel jarringly out of synch. So, let’s talk about something I really, really love: homemade laundry detergent. Or laundry sauce as we like to call it.
I discovered the recipe here at budget101.com and it is just about the best thing ever. It works so well. It smells so good. It is SO CHEAP. I am always looking for ways to reduce the mass produced junk that comes in this house and while this admittedly does rely on mass produced ingredients, I am still pretty thrilled with it. I will never buy regular laundry detergent again. I only wish I knew about it back when we were cloth diapering! So, make yourself up some laundry sauce and feel the love. (A romantic, I am not.)
While on the subject of Valentine’s Day, did you know it is also National Donor Day? Are you registered as an organ donor? Have you communicated with your loved ones that you would like your children to be donors should the unthinkable happen? I have been a donor as long as I’ve had a driver’s license, but a friend of our’s son is a donor recipient. Knowing that family has made the importance of organ donation so much more personal, and frankly, made me much more certain that I would donate my children’s organs should I ever be faced with such a terrible decision. Our friend’s donor would have died no matter what, but thanks to that family’s love for others during a time of tragedy, my friend’s son is still a vibrant, loving 6 year old.
Our weekends are generally busy, our Mondays are pretty hectic, and our Fridays always seem to wind up busy. Our Tuesdays and Thursdays are absolutely ridiculous with lessons/practices/etc. But Wednesdays…Wednesdays are wonderful. For whatever reason, pretty much everyone we know has some commitment on Wednesday afternoons. Our family, on the other hand, has two kids in school. That’s it. No preschool. No sports. No lessons. And since the rest of our little world is committed, no whining when after school we hang out at the playground until it gets cold (which doesn’t take long this time of year) and then go home.
The kids are typically as happy to have an afternoon off as I am, which means they relax and I can catch up on laundry, maybe stock the freezer with some new snacks (Kid 2 and I made blueberry muffins today), and make dinner at the time we are going to eat it. This, my friends, is huge. One income and three busy kids pretty much remove eating out from the budget, so I am usually making our dinner in the morning or at lunch time, and then frantically throwing it reheated on plates 5 minutes after we walk in the door in the evenings. But on Wednesday we eat hot, healthy food in a civilized manner…well, if civilized is equated to eating seated at the table without coats on. And while our meals are reasonably healthy even on the rushed days, it makes my heart happy to serve up a really good, well rounded, freshly cooked meal to the kids. Even if they only eat 3 bites of it.
Today’s dinner? Marinated steak over bok choy with chopped walnuts, hot pepper and this awesome honey-garlic sauce for me, and the same steak with homemade bread and raw veggies for the kids. Delicious. (Not pictured are the sweet potatoes fries, which were burning, forgotten, in the oven at the time of this photo. Oh well. Most of them were salvageable.) Forgive Kid 3′s manners. Honestly, he’s the pickiest eater of the bunch and I was just grateful he was eating.
Tomorrow we’ll be back to rushing in at 5:30 after swim team for Kid 1 and looking at plates of Trader Joe’s chicken nuggets, room temperature rice, and some quickly sliced fruit, but it’s okay. We had our Wednesday.
Today I found myself with an unexpected hour. I was going to use it to sew something for myself– a very cool, drapey top from Burda that I cut out 6 months ago to sew up from frabirc that I bought specifically for myself a year ago. And then someone stopped by unexpectedly to get some files from my past life as a Web Designer, and before I knew it my hour was 20 minutes. Not enough time to do much beyond get setup, so I let the idea go. And so my sewing seems to go these days. I’ve been on a mission to complete all UFO’s as that seems to be doable, and I am making progress there, but even that is slow. I’ve come to realize that part of the problem is we haven’t had a good snow day in nearly two years. I need a blizzard to come up and clear my schedule, please!
In the meantime might be time to revisit knitting…I’ll be stranded at the pool for an hour and 45 minutes this afternoon while the offspring have swimming lessons and I do love hand-knit socks….
And just so that this doesn’t come across as complainy, the little guy was in school for 3 1/2 hours this morning. If I’d really wanted to, I could have sewn. But instead I did a wonderful, snowy trail run with the dog in my favorite woods. I need fresh air and vitamin D to get through the winter with my sanity intact, and Mt. Washington already looms large. The sewing machine’s not going anywhere.
I admit it. I am ridiculously picky about soup. I do not like my soup to have chunks. I do not like it to be slimy. I prefer that it not be a scary color. It cannot under any circumstances have even a trace of zucchini. Yet I firmly believe in the body’s ability to heal itself, and that it is important to support that ability by eating the right things. And when you’re feeling lousy, well…you want soup.
In the past week, all three of my kids have had strep. Two of them now have an absolutely horrible, activity-stopping, keep-you-up-all-night cough. A good running buddy, whom I ran with both Saturday and Sunday morning, came down with the flu Sunday night. And I? I am feeling pretty cruddy. Obviously it’s time for some drastic measures before I throw in the towel and drag myself into the doctor’s for a strep culture. And probably catch the flu from the waiting room.
It is time for my (almost) never fail feel better soup.
2c chicken stock (homemade if possible)
3 cloves garlic, more if you can stand it
1 inch cubed ginger
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 c quinoa
1/4 tsp pepper
Simmer about 15 minutes until everything is good and soft. Remove from heat and add 3 tbsp lemon juice. If you are like me, blend it up until it’s nice and smooth. I usually eat half right away and put half away, because when you’re feeling rotten who wants to cook more than they half to? Lots of immune boosting goodness, enough substance to feel like a meal but not so much that it overwhelms a flagging appetite. Ah…feel better soup.
It is admittedly a
gross healthy color, but given all it’s other virtues, I will overlook that. Shown here with butternut squash fries, another one of my favorite staples. Thinly slice butternut squash, coat with oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, broil.