Fortnight in Review – 2/19/18

Oops, things got away from me last week and I missed doing a Week in Review post, so I’ll just pretend that a Fortnight in Review is the next best thing and I’ll try to cover two weeks at once.

What I ate: It was the best of weeks, it was the worst of weeks. Not entirely, but it sounded good to say that. First, I was up 1.4 lbs at my WW meeting weigh-in. Next week, I was down…the same 1.4 lbs. Net zero. Trying not to let the stalemate get me down, and I’m focusing on really tracking everything…it’s too easy to take a few bites of the girls’ leftovers, a cracker here, a cookie there, but it all adds up, and I need to pay better attention. Successful new recipes this week including chicken broccoli noodle casserole and a chicken burrito bowl. I was especially proud of the (ridiculously easy) homemade pickled onions!

 

A few favorites in the dinner rotation came through again as well: fried “rice,” and sausage tortellini soup. Miriam announced that “this is the best rice in the wide world!” So of course I didn’t give away my secret…that it’s a mix of rice and riced cauliflower! Hide the veggies wherever you can.

 

The homestead: Last weekend we had a spot of glorious sunshine and a chance to build the other two garden beds. I love how they look so far and can’t wait to fill them with dirt and then veggies!

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Other goings-on: The girls had a successful dentist visit! They were so psyched, thanks to the Berenstain Bears, who have a book about everything. Daphne volunteered to go first, and was really into it until about halfway through the cleaning when she got a little bothered by the vibrating toothbrush. Miriam’s favorite part were the sunglasses and she did great for the whole thing, they even did x-rays on her. Always one to dress for an occasion, Miriam wore all white “like a tooth” in honor of the appointment. No cavities and no braces yet! All in all, a successful day.

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What I read: I finished three books over the past two weeks. Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, and True Grit by Charles Portis. I really enjoyed all of them but Exit West blew me away. Easily the best book I’ve read all year. I regret that I put it off for so long because I expected it to be magical realism, which is not my thing. Now I’m reading Ice Ghosts, In Farleigh Field, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. I’m also in a terrible pickle of having several of my library holds come available at once.

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Week in Review – 1/29/18

January, the Monday of months… – F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s still January. It’s still raining. It’s Monday today. All things considered, I’m just keeping on keeping on.

What the girls are doing: Daphne is continuing to potty train herself. She wears Pull-Ups but 80% of the time she announces when she has to go pee, then takes herself off to the potty on goes. Just pee so far, but that’s fine. She even went in a public bathroom stall, which is a pretty huge victory when you’re literally small enough to fall in. I’m so grateful she has her big sister to copy, and who cheers her on, which takes some of the pressure off this Lazy Mom.

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Miriam is over her virus-of-the-month (cough and fever) and back to Irish dance and Ballet/tap classes. She is super excited about getting to perform in March for Irish dance, probably because it means even more costumes in her life.

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She has learned to take photos on my phone, so captured some lovely portraits of me while I was planning my garden.

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The first raised bed kit arrived and Matt put it together quite quickly during a brief break in the rain. Miriam helped of course. I’m getting really excited about the garden plan for this spring and summer, next is ordering seeds and soil!

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We all had terrible cabin fever from the past two (three, four?) weekends of being housebound due to potty training then illness, so we made an effort to get out this weekend. That effort was IKEA, which, even in the best of times, is epic. But, we did it. Got some needed bedding and a craft cart, ate some meatballs, and can now go back to avoiding it for the next two years.

What am I eating: My kale salads for work were kind of disappointing this week, as my kale shrunk! I learned this “trick” to massage the kale with a bit of kosher salt to soften it and make it less bitter, but apparently this shrinks the kale over time as well. This jar was filled to the brim when I packed it. Still tasty though. IMG_4195.jpg

Meal plan for this week, the WW Smart Points are in red:

IMG_4230.jpgHas anyone seen my Wednesday magnet? It’s driving me crazy and I can’t find the replacement anywhere. Also, I didn’t realize how dirty my white board is.

Week in Review – 1/8 to 1/14

This was our first full week back in the routine since Christmas hols…and as wonderful as having time off is, I was so relieved to be back in routine. Grocery shopping, meal planning, making lunches help me stay on track with eating. I made a couple of new recipes, pasta e ceci and Spanish chickpeas with spinach.

Must have been the week of chickpeas around here. I’m finding with the WW Freestyle plan that I’m eating a lot more beans and lentils, but feeling a lot more full and satisfied.

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It’s not the most photogenic of foods, but I made ful mesdames for breakfast, and to reheat for work breakfasts through the week. It’s a traditional Egyptian street food, and became one of my favorite savory breakfasts when I lived in Saudi Arabia. It’s basically just fava beans, garlic, cumin, and tahini. On WW Freestyle, this serving is only 2 SP because the egg and fat free Greek yogurt are zero!

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What are the girls eating? Sometimes, they devour a bowl of poke for lunch. Other days I think they are simply fueled by sunshine and butterfly tears. I try to focus on how much over a week versus per day.

Even though spring feels ages away in the midst of these dark wet January days, I’m starting to plan ahead for my vegetable garden. I’m enjoying perusing the colorful seed catalogs and making charts and spreadsheets of my garden layouts, and Matt has been clearing the back forty. And by back forty, I mean the front flower beds.

We have started potty training Daphne, so there’s that. It’s a bit more challenging than potty training Miriam simply because I’m a lazier and a more distracted mom this time around. Poor second kid. She does great at home with no pants on, but as soon as we put a Pull-up or panties on her, she kind of loses the motivation. Plus, she is the oldest in her daycare class, so only a couple of her little friends even try to sit on the potties at school. Miriam was one of the younger kids in her class at that age, so she was motivated by watching most of her little friends learn to use the potty at the same time. She’ll get there eventually I guess. She won’t wear diapers to college.

We did our first kindergarten tour this week, so that was weird. Miriam will go to our neighborhood public school, but I wanted to tour another closer school that happens to be closer to our just in case I wanted try to get into that one instead. I can already tell that dealing with SPS and *other parents* is not going to be a fun ride for this introvert misanthropist, so I’m working really hard on just putting on a calm happy face and i”m going to fake it ’til I make it. New mantra for 2018: Choose happy.

I’m six books in to my 50-book Goodreads challenge for the year! I always have an audiobook for the car and Kindle ebook going, and I have to admit I’m having more fun researching and making my reading lists based on the other challenges I’m considering. I love seeing what other people are reading. It seems to be much better for my overall state of mind and mental health to be spending my free time reading rather than scrolling through random annoying Facebook groups. Go figure.

What’s for dinner?

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Miri is must be the midst of a growth spurt, because she’s been insatiable at meals lately. This is her dinner plate: avocado, cheese, baked tofu, blueberries, strawberries, and pasta. She ate about 90% of it, the rest going to the dogs, which is par for the course. For lunch today she had most of a mango, spinach ravioli, kiwi, and cheese. For breakfast she had banana, oatmeal, berries, and yogurt…then later stole bits of egg and toast from my breakfast sandwich. In addition to all of this,  she continues to nurse four times a day and chug her water bottle like Rocky. So far, I haven’t found a food that she doesn’t like, she even loved the curried chickpea and spinach dish I made last week. Lentil soup and hummus on pita are also big hits. I’m sure as she becomes a toddler she’ll go through her picky phases, but for now, if she won’t choke on it, it goes on her plate.

In other news, she has perfected an ear-drum-shredding shriek…I’m also really hoping this is a phase too. We’re trying to ignore it and not react so she isn’t rewarded for doing it, although it’s kind of hard to not either laugh or wince when she does it.

I finally discovered a baby version of a dog park last week, and it was awesome. It’s just an enclosed baby/toddler play area at the mall, with a bunch of weird foamy structures. However, Miri could crawl and climb to her heart’s content without finding danger or getting hurt, so I could relax and let her go crazy. She didn’t even look back for me…

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Get in ma belleh: thoughts on feeding your human

I’m sure at one time, or in some little corners of the world, feeding your baby is very simple. It should be…it’s essentially this: have food, give to baby, done. But here in 21st century first-world Pacific Northwest, it is, as most baby-rearing  topics, fraught with controversy and complexity. I am not proud to admit that I spent hours researching when to start solids, what to feed, and how to feed solids. And as with all things babyish…the “method” you choose and the way you do it is totally personal and should just be whatever works for your family. I’m not going to judge, and anyone who does has entirely too much time on their hands. Okay, I might judge a little bit…but mostly because people do weird things and I like making fun of them. But I digress.

We decided to start trying out solids around 4.5 months. At that point it was just little tastes of things. Some of my reasoning behind starting then is because that’s about the age when an infant’s iron stores from birth start to be depleted, and iron isn’t supplied by breast milk alone. I thought I’d start introducing some solids slowly so by the time Miri was six months she’d be taking small amounts of fruits and veggies for additional nutrients. I also decided to start with purees. Apparently, that’s controversial too. The latest baby-feeding trend is called “Baby-led Weaning.” This is slightly misleading, since you’re not “weaning” your baby off breast milk or formula, just introducing solids. The more I read about BLW the more turned off I got, it struck me as rather cult-like, with an all-or-nothing attitude. You can’t really start BLW till baby is at least six months old, and for the first weeks to months baby may not actually ingest anything. Plus, it seems really messy. And that is unacceptable to me. Seriously…I’ve been grossed out by pictures of babies with food on their faces for decades. Stop it already people.

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This photo for demonstration purposes only. It will be the only public photo I will subject you to of my baby with food on her face. I am fully accepting of the fact that this is only cute to her parents, and it is not fair to subject anyone else to this.

So I read a fairly neutral book about picking and choosing bits of pureed feeding and BLW, it made a lot of sense to me, so that’s what I’m doing. Translated: I’m just going to feed my baby food.

I was gifted a Beaba Babycook so I wanted to take advantage of it. Turns out all you do is: dice food, steam food, puree food. Then, give to baby or freeze. Easy peasy. But since I’d spent so much time reading and researching and stressing over this, the least I can do is document the process for you.

Step One: Get some food. Miri’s first food was a sweet potato, but here I’m documenting the pear.

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Step Two: Peel and dice the pear into little chunks, put into steamer basked. Put water into steamer opening on top of Babycook, turn knob to “steam.”

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Step Three: The little orange light shuts off automatically when it’s done steaming. Now you have soft delicious pear chunks! Empty the steamer basket into the pitcher. I added some of the water from steaming but you don’t have to, it depends on how soupy you want your puree. Then turn knob to “blend.”

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Step Four: Pour puree into an ice-cube tray or a tray specially made for this. This is an Oxo Tot Baby Freezer Tray. I like that it has a cover so the food doesn’t absorb any weird smells from your freezer. Like if you have venison dog food in your freezer. 2014-01-15 19.44.36

I let it freeze overnight, then pop the little cubes into freezer bags and label them. The portions end up being about one tablespoon which is convenient, right now that’s about a serving for Miri.

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Defrost a cube in the fridge overnight, et voila, gourmet baby meal!

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Miri is a big fan of my “cooking!”

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Pre-cooking

The meatballs are baking in the oven and the steel-cut oats are soaking on the stove top. The Moroccan chicken is simmering in the slow cooker and I just tucked the tuna noodle casserole into their aluminum-foil beds and put them in the freezer for a long sleep. No, I’m not recreating Old Country Buffet in the kitchen, this is my variant on the Once a Month Cooking that I’ve been trying out for a couple of months. September’s OAMC was kind of a bust…I don’t think I made enough recipes, and a couple of the recipes just didn’t freeze or reheat well (freezing Asian cole slaw? I should have known better). Since I was sick last week and we’re going to Hawaii for a week at the end of October, I wasn’t really feeling up to the commitment of a $300 grocery shop and a 10-hr day in the kitchen. So, I threw the Moroccan chicken in the slow cooker, mixed up a couple of tuna casseroles (baked one for dinner tonight, froze the other), baked some buffalo meatballs in the oven (to be served with tomato sauce and spaghetti squash later this week), and now there’s a pot of steel-cut oats soaking overnight. About 4 hours in the kitchen total, but we’ve got dinner for the week. Matt’s grumbling about the pile of dishes in the sink but I reminded him that he’ll be grateful later this week since there’ll be minimal clean-up after each of these pre-cooked meals. We’re such early dinner-eaters that by the time I get home around 5:30, I don’t have the time to cook a meal from scratch. Last week was a dismal failure of planning, as evidenced by a stop at the grocery store on the way home 3 out of 5 evenings. Hopefully I did a better job planning and prepping this week!

OAMC results

So last weekend I cooked, all weekend long, as part of my first experiment in OAMC (Once a Month Cooking. The interwebs have an acronym for everything). I followed the meal plan from Once a Month Mom, the Whole Foods menu. I eliminated a couple of dishes from the menu for time and cost. I liked that the menu, recipes, and shopping list are provided on Excel spreadsheets. You can just plug in the number of people you are cooking for and it does the math for you. I tried to download the files and open them in Excel, but the formatting was wonky. Turns out (at least on a Mac) you need to keep the files in Google docs and just save a copy to your files. I did my grocery shopping the night before, spending just under $300. A bit of sticker shock, but I tried reminding myself that I usually spend about $150/week on groceries and in the long run this plan is supposed to reduce overall grocery costs. Friday night I chopped all the veggies, then Saturday I cooked. And cooked. And cooked. I started around 10am and finished up around 5pm. I filled the freezer with 5 main dishes, two sides, and a dozen muffins. I also made about a dozen crepes but didn’t freeze those as it was obvious they wouldn’t last long in the fridge at the rate we were eating them. I like the idea of making breakfast foods in a batch but next time would probably stick with pancakes or waffles; the crepes were kind of a pain to flip. So far we’ve eaten the BBQ Buffalo chicken and the polenta gratin, both were delicious. As long as I can remember to take the dishes out of the freezer the night before, I think this is going to be pretty convenient and stress-reducing.