Thursday, June 17, 2010

Behind on Messages

Every now and then I find that I am behind the times. Usually, this is in reference to messages: email, voicemail, snail mail.

Then there is the every present problem with Private Messages and Blog Comments. I really do need some sort of automatic notification that lets me know I have new messages. Some of my online fora have this feature, but enough do not that I find myself a day late and a dollar short.

Case in point:

My previous blog about doll-making

I just today, 2 years later, noticed that I had comments from several people inquiring about purchasing similar dolls. Had I known that, i would have replied. I might not have been able to provide the dolls they needed, as I was about to enter my "I'm pregnant and turning my sewing studio into a nursery" phase, but I could have at least replied.

I feel like a putz when I realize I've done something like that. Of course, with blogger, there's no way to leave the commenting visitors messages in reply other than to post an additional message to them on the blog entry itself and here.

So, here's the message to you all:

Yes, I can make more. My studio is set up once more.

Yes, I'm willing to make more. Yes, I can customize.

And, last but not least, I will be updating my settings to notify me of all comments so that I can reply in time.

Cook Ahead, round 2

Last weekend I embarked upon round 2 of the cook-ahead lifestyle. This time, I invited my next door neighbor over to share the joy.

Really, truly, I do not say that sarcastically. We did share the joy. For $66 each and 3 hours of work (including diaper changes, napping babies, answering phones, and playing with the kids) we each came away with 8 meals for our freezers. And by "meals" I mean recipes because each recipe will provide 2-4 meals for our family of four.

So if we assume that each recipe feeds our family twice, then we got 16 meals out of $66. that's $4 per meal or $1 per serving. I can smile about that one!

We cooked this round from the Once a Month Cooking: More Family Favorites again. However, instead of simply using her pre-planned cycles, I picked the recipes that I thought we would be most likely to eat. It worked out just fine.

I also invested in The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmey: A Month of Meals Made Easy. It arrived after we had finished our cooking but after perusing it quickly, I'm pleased with the investment. Not only is it chock full of workbook-style pages for making your planning process easier, but it comes with free membership to a website FULL of additional recipes and fora. Yay!

Even better, we've been informed that we're inheriting a stand-alone freezer! It is scheduled to arrive on Saturday. We couldn't be happier about it! Maybe for round 3, we'll tackle 30 recipes and each have a full month's worth of dinners in the freezer...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Recognizing Defeat

I had a brilliant stroke of luck today. It's the first day of Vacation Bible School, so A is away for the morning. M, bless her heart, decided to take her nap 30 minutes early, so I had a full hour of ME time! yay!

I decided to get a jump on a doll order I have in. Drat it, the stuffing is buried in a box in the garage. Well, I can get that out! So, I go to take a look. Nope. It's buried under a lot of HEAVY items. I'll have to wait for C to come home to help.

Next, I decided to work on some charity sewing. One of the parenting forums I belong to has a group of ladies who are sewing up cloth menstrual pads for young ladies in African orphanages. I volunteered to send in a few since they're so easy to sew and cheap since you can use small scraps from other projects.

WRONG! The serger needle broke. I replaced it. It broke again. I replaced it again. Oh no, now one of the other threads needs rethreading. For those of you with no experience with sergers, let's just say that rethreading the bottom threads can require a PhD and a 20 page instructional manual as well as good eye-sight, a pair of tweezers, and an allen wrench. Oh, but it gets even better. It serged for 6 inches and then came unthreaded again. Sigh.

I fixed the serger, finished the pad I was sewing and called it quits. Some days, I'm just not meant to sew.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cook Ahead and Freeze in Experiement

May 19th. That was the day I began this experiment. Today is June 10th. That's three weeks, for those of you without a calendar in front of you.

Three weeks ago, I cooked what was supposed to be 14 days worth of meals. As of today, I have 4 more meals/recipes in my freezer yet to be thawed and eaten. That's another full week! I have found that even when the recipe says it serves 4, we get up to 8-10 servings out of it. That's an awful lot of food, guys!

What I have learned so far:

I like cooking ahead. I like thawing out my meal and just tossing it in the oven as I play with the girls.

I like a lot of the recipes from the book More Once a Month Cooking. BUT most of them do not include enough vegetables. Most are not complete meals. HOWEVER, knowing that and accepting that, I find it's still quite restful to only have to deal with the side dishes each night.

I like having fewer dishes to wash after dinner each night.

I like having lots of leftovers for lunch. However, I do not like eating one recipe for 5 dinners in a row. I kid you not, I ate Chicken Scampi for 5 nights in a row. Thankfully, the girls loved it so they were happy to have their request for it granted, FIVE nights in a row. I finally tossed the last two servings. I couldn't do it any more.

Note to self, cut recipes in half or package each meal divided, to be thawed on two different nights.

Don't Pay

"Don't pay for what you're not using." This has become my new mantra. I repeat it to myself every time I find myself being wasteful. The idea came from The Penniless Parent blog. I enjoy reading her blog and like that she's frugal to the extremes. She's much more frugal than I am... maybe more frugal than I want to be, but still, I like to read her posts.

The post she wrote about wasting utilities got me to start thinking about wasting and how wasting is bad not just for the environment, but also the wallet. Then that thought morphed into other things I could be wasting.

Commonly wasted:

  • time
  • energy
  • electricity
  • water
  • food

These are all fairly straight forward areas for wasting. But what else is there that I'm wasting? My mind has come up with an awful lot of ideas over the past few weeks.

What am I paying for/buying that I don't really need? Buying things I don't need is definitely wasting. I understand money wasting when applied to things like latte, junk food, fad clothing, 100 pairs of shoes. I understand that buying in excess equals wasting money. But what about things that I buy and consider "needs" that aren't really needs? What can I do without? What am I paying for that I don't really need?

Paper products:
  • Do I need paper towels and napkins? What I'm wiping up is usually spilled food of some sort. That's not so gross I can't throw it in the washer. Plus, I have a ton of old cloth towels.
  • Do I need toilet paper for wiping pee-only potty bits? No, that's not really gross. Think about it. Urine is aseptic. The flora on your skin are on your skin everywhere so what goes onto the cloth toilet wipes? Aseptic fluid, skin cells, and flora. It's no different than washing your own underwear now, is it?
  • Do I need paper pantyliners for non-period days? There are some pretty easy patterns out there for sewing my own and I am very happy with the results.
What about Penniless Parent's idea of electricity:
  • Do I really need to turn on the light to change a diaper? I can change a diaper in the dark at 3am. Why do I turn the light on at 3pm to change the baby?
  • Do I need the stairway light on when I can see all the way to the bottom without it?
  • If it costs me $1 every time I run the drier, as Penniless Parent claims, then I'm costing myself $1 any time I don't get the laundry out of the drier before it wrinkles. That's wasting.

Here's where it gets a little hinky. Space and potential profit. It's possible to be wasting both space, with unwanted crap, and potential profit at the same time.
  • Do my children play with all of their toys? No. Is it costing me money to hang onto them? No. BUT... I could be earning money from the things we no longer use if I would stop hanging onto them and sold them. See? I'm wasting money by not making money because I don't want to sell something I don't use.
  • Do I really need skinny jeans and fat jeans? Do I need to hang onto the pants I wore before having two children? I'm unlikely to fit into them before they go out of style. I am wasting closet space on them.
What else is there that I could stop paying for without changing my lifestyle?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Toddler's Prayer

Dear God,

I wish that you and me could every day play and see dinosaurs and monkeys in the jungle. Mmmm... It's a good place to be, with me!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Princess Pants

A now has two pairs of Princess Pants to wear under her sundresses. She went from refusing to wear her sundresses because she couldn't stand the cotton knit bloomers I made her wear under them to refusing to wear shorts because she NEEDS to wear her dresses and princess pants.

Sigh. Yay!

A even got to sew one pair herself. Well, okay, she really didn't do all the sewing herself, but she got to be in charge of the speed pedal for the serger and she also got to pick out the button that now decorates the front. She really got into it. We have plans to make a pair out of white cotton flannel for the wintertime since her mama accidentally threw her wool knit pair into the washer this spring. Fisherman's wool really felts up. A lot. Oops. They were a size 2T-6x. They are a size 12-18 mos now.

On a good note, M now has a pair of felted wool bloomers for under her dresses this winter!