5 Favorites (vol. 7) – FOOD

Here are my favorite foods this week!  Don’t forget to link up with Hallie!

1. Muffins.  In general, these are my favorite breakfast foods because 1) they taste good with coffee 2) they are easy to make 3) I can put my kids in their high chairs with a muffin and enjoy my own breakfast!  This recipe is a favorite of mine, but I’ve actually adapted it into something I like better and the kids LOVE it!  This is what I substitute in the recipe:

Instead of:

2 cups whole wheat flour – 3 cups blended oats
1/2 c canola oil – 1/2 coconut oil
2 eggs – 1 banana
1/2 c honey – 1/2 c maple syrup

Try her version and my version.  I’m sure you’ll love both!

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2. Coffee!  I am actually not sure how I could function without my coffee in the morning…Because my darling husband bought me a Keurig for my birthday last year, I’ve been working hard to get cheap or free k-cups.  I honestly love these Melitta K-Cups because a) they are free and b) they actually taste good!  I’m not a terribly picky coffee drinker – except I hate it when it’s weak.

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($70 worth of k-cups for FREE)

3. Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.  The noodles aren’t added to this yet, but it’s a delicious, easy and cheap meal.  After we have a roast chicken I just simmer the bones for an hour with salt, pepper and a bay leaf, then add chopped carrots and celery and boil for half an hour.  Mmmm my house smells amazing!

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4. Grapes.  Probably one of my most favorite fruits, except when I get a bad bunch.  They are simply so delicious when they are cold, crisp and firm.  I love biting into it and having the juices burst in my mouth.  So.  Good.  Red ones are my favorite.

5. Chocolate.  Seriously anything chocolate will do.  I honestly eat a tiny little bit of chocolate every, single day.

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My First Organic Shop…and a few other things too!

The kids and I made it to the grocery store before 8am this morning!  We searched the organic produce section at Superstore, and I have to be honest, the selection was not too great.  I was looking for organic yams, organic celery and organic tomatoes.  Well, I found the tomatoes, but nothing else.  I really needed celery so I had to make that sacrifice and just get it – switching is a slow process and involves learning what stores carry what products.

There were a few other things on our list, and I was beyond excited to find them on 50% off clearance!  This cost me $20.87!  My receipt  says I saved $25.62!

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Seriously.  I even got organic salad for 50% off!  I only had coupons for the Oikos BUT that in the end I spent $0.94 TOTAL on 3 packages of 4x100g greek yogurt!  That makes me very happy.

To summarize my first shopping experience:

1. When first starting off buying organic shop around and learn what stores carry what products.  Superstore carries a lot of organic dry goods but not a lot of organic produce.

2. When you coupon for other products, there is room in the budget for organic!  Saving money on the cheese, yogurt and pasta really helps!  Eventually we will buy those products from the organic section, and save money by couponing on personal hygiene products, cleaning products, etc.

 

WHY We are Doing the Big Switch

I have a feeling some people will ask why we’re switching, and I think some may feel almost defensive towards my responses.  Family’s should do what they are comfortable with and what they can afford, and that’s exactly the philosophy that we’re taking, so these are some of my reasons for the switch.

1. Good, Better, Best!  While non-organic is ‘good’, I am starting to see how organic can be better and even best!  It just seems reasonable to that animals raised without antibiotics, are grassfed and able to SEE THE LIGHT is better.  If there are fruits and vegetables grown without the use of pesticides and other chemicals, why wouldn’t you want that?  For us, going this route is the best for our family.

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Source

2. GMOs. Wow.  I don’t want to do the research on these things because the more I read, the more freaked out I become.  More than 60 countries around the world (including including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union) have either serious restrictions or outright bans on GMOs.  I don’t want GMOs in my family simply because I prefer food the way it was originally created and there is no evidence that GMOs are safe.  For more information on GMOs, click here.

3. Health.  I do think that eating foods grown naturally, in non-chemical environments does have an impact on health.  It just seems logical and if these foods are available to us, why NOT take advantage of them and enjoy them if you can afford it.

 

I am still knee deep in my research and feel like I am just at the beginning, and as I continue to inform myself, I am sure my list will continue to grow.

 

Just a Mom

A few months ago I was talking with my sister-in-law about her upcoming teaching career.  I was so excited for her and the beginning of this new stage in her life, but as she continued to think aloud, some of her words cut me.

“I want to have a really solid career before I become just a mom.” 

Instantly I felt very devalued for the role I play in society.  I spoke up and told her that there is nothing wrong with being ‘just a mom’ and wondered what she thought was so negative about being a mother.  Maybe she just didn’t think about her word choice.

Only a couple weeks later, I stopped by my old place of work.  Their board meeting was just finishing up and one member asked me: “So how does it feel to now be just a mom?” 

While I knew she had wonderful intentions, her choice of words stung but probably from because of the conversation with my sister-in-law.  “I’m not ‘just’ a mom you know.”  But I had nothing to follow up with.

Moms are the rock of society.  We can either make or break society because we raise the little ones who make this society.  From a simple little kiss on an owie, to a cuddle at 2am when there was a bad dream, to changing 8 poopy diapers in a day (that’s a true story): we are the ones who make the difference that no one sees, but the difference that society needs.

This article was a great encouragement to those of us who have those days where we feel like there is nothing special to us being ‘just a mom’.  At the end of the day, I’m happy to say that I am ‘just a mom’.

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The Big (and Slow) Switch

The last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about switching our family to organic food!  After doing a lot of reading and talking with some people who’ve made this life-style change, I feel strongly that this switch is important for our family.  We won’t be able to do this switch cold turkey, but slowly and surely, adding one change at a time.

Organic costs more than non-organic and is difficult to find coupons for, but that being said, it doesn’t mean you can’t still be frugal and within a lower grocery budget.  Mrs. January provides some pretty good suggestions on how to save money when buying organic and Wellness Mama shares how to eat healthy on a budget.

To summarize my plans for the big (and slow) switch, this is what we’re planning to start off with:

1. We will slowly change all of our produce to organic.  Eating in season will help us save money here as well as shopping the sales: if organic bananas are on sale one week and organic apples are not, then we will be eating bananas that week!

2. During the summer we will shop at the Farmer’s Market.  While not all items at the FM are organic, most are, but even if not, I feel like it’s healthier to eat food that has been grown locally and hasn’t travelled from somewhere in our country.

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3. During the winter we will shop The Organic Box I love this idea, and while it seems expensive, after looking at what I’ve spent on non-organic produce in a month (sometimes $20/week!) this seems a reasonable price for organic delivered to your door!  I also LOVE the idea of adding on extras like organic milk and eggs!  Once we’re in our new house we will start off with the couples box to see how much we get (don’t want to waste!) and go from there.

organicbox-logoSource

4. Buying parts of an animal.  We have done this in the past by buying chickens from friends.  Now we’re looking into buying 1/8 of a cow at $3/lb.  This might have to be a slower switch than produce, because buying a section of an animal costs a bit more and we may need to wait until next year so we have money saved up.

5. Using coupons for whatever is available for organic items!  Today I found a coupon for organic herbs at Save-on-Foods!  They are out there, but few and far between.  Dairyland has stackable coupons for organic milk (I have a $3 stack so can get a 2L for $1.99 or $0.99 if it’s on sale! and certain organic brands will send you coupons if you request them!

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So this is how we’re going to start the Big (and Slow) Switch.  Our goal is to stay within our $450/month grocery budget and maybe even SLOWLY begin to reduce that as well – this month we managed to spend only $305 on groceries!  If you have any tips on saving when buying organic, please let me know!

The Cabin Overnight Trip

So I feel very proud of my recent accomplishment: I drove two hours, alone with my two babies!!!  Shut the front door!  I was very nervous, but made sure we left at nap time, had lots of snacks, music – my ears, oh my ears!  There is such a thing as too much Raffi! – and toys.  When going out on such a venture, one must always be prepared with a good ol’ Timmies.  How very unblogger of me to not take a picture of my coffee cup.

The kids and I were ready to go by 9am.

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After a quick stop at Walmart – for a cd other than Raffi – we were on our way.  I had a couple new toys/books for Chloe in case she got really bored.  Within 10 minutes of giving her this:

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She did this:

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And said this: “I broke it.”  Le sigh…

Anyways, we got to the cabin/lake at lunch time.  After a quick bite to eat, we all headed down to the lake.  Despite the it being windy and slightly cooler than average July temperature, the kids loved it.

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I took Ben home for a nap and just sat in the sun until everyone else came back about an hour later.  That was the most relaxing time I had during the time we were there (and that’s ok).

The lady who we’re renting the cabin from, left these Valentine hearts so I dug through the bowl to find this one and sent the picture to Ryan.  I’m a wuss.  I don’t like being away from him even for one night!

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My mom, my kids and younger siblings spent the afternoon blowing bubbles outside, while us older ones (older brother, dad, 15 and 13 year old brothers), played a competitive game of Scrabble.  See why I ALWAYS lose?  I have crummy letters like these:

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The night was killer: the three of us shared a room.  Chloe is the worst bed hog EVER.  She either had to have her face so close to mine that our noses were touching and her breath was tickling my face OR she had to sleep upside-down with her feet in my face, huddled so close to me that I literally had only an inch of space from the edge of my mattress.  The offspring took turns waking up, but thankfully they were easy to put back to sleep and I didn’t have to go get help from my mom.  But to summarize the night, I saw every single hour and finally got up at 6.  Thank goodness they are so cute.

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Today was cold, but we had fun at the park and another game of Scrabble.

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All in all, it was a really good trip and I know my parents loved having us out.  Next year will be easier because Ben will be 2 and Chloe will be 3!