Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy 3-Month Birthday Gabe!

It's hard to believe it's been 3 months already! Gabe has learned so much in these short months. He:
  • coos and "talks" a ton!
  • smiles almost all the time.
  • rolls over from his tummy to his back (for two months now!)
  • sleeps well, up to 11 hours at night.
  • goes 3 to 3.5 hours between feedings.
  • weighs 15+ pounds and wears 3-6 month clothes.
  • watches the mobile and lights in the swing.
  • can grab the hanging animals in his bouncy seat to create lights and sounds!
Gabe is a joy and a delight! He is so laid back. He is a wonderful baby, a treasure, and a gift! We love you so much, Gabey Baby!

So the day begins...

This is how it went...child #1 woke up crying/screaming at 4:30. J had been getting up the last few nights at this time to console child #1, but since J had to get up to go to work today, I went in to console child #1. Once quiet, I went to the bathroom on my way back to bed. Child #1 was no longer consoled. Changed child #1's diaper. However, child #1's discontentment woke child #2. Warned child #1 to be quiet and lay down and went to console child #2 before he woke J up. Child #2 refused to be consoled without eating. Began to feed child #2 when child #1 decided it was time to get up for the day. Firm warning to child #1 to get back into bed. Child #1 cries loudly in protest. Child #2 didn't eat complete meal, he just wanted to be held at 5:30 a.m.!!!! Child #1 was out of bed again. Reminded child #1 it wasn't time to get up yet, get back in bed. Changed child #2 and put him back to bed with a few whimpers. Gave child #1 a stern warning to stay in bed and rest quietly. Dragged my feet back to bed only to hear J's alarm clock going off at 5:45. Dear sweet husband let me stay in bed and made his own lunch. Said children let me sleep a little while before they both demanded breakfast. I attempted to reheat some coffee, but it boiled over in the microwave. Child #2 is currently sleeping, while child #1 plays with his books. T minus 2 hours until family naptime begins!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Aromatic Cooking and Baking

Today is my normal cooking and baking day. However, with the volumes I've been producing lately with my pumpkin excitement and surplus of tomatoes, I'm running low on my grocery budget and freezer space! I can hardly find anything in the freezer without something falling out!

So, in lieu of a whole day in the kitchen, I'm trying a new recipe for dinner. It's an attempt to be frugal, use up some ingredients from the back of the pantry, and still make up for not cooking and baking all day. It's called Everyday Cassoulet (a bean and sausage casserole) from my Betty Crocker cookbook. It called for dried or fresh thyme, which is actually where I got the idea for this post.

I've been growing a number of fresh herbs in my garden this summer. I'm not a fancy chef, so I knew very little about spices and herbs. I really only used seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder, unless a recipe called for something else. In fact, I had to leave all of the little tags that came with the starter plants in the herb pot, so I would know what was what. Slowly over the summer, as my recipes called for them, I would learn about that particular herb (i.e. how/when to cut it, dry it, use it, etc.). I'm far from an expert, but using the fresh stuff, as opposed to the dried spices, has really expanded my knowledge and recognition of them. The stuff in my pantry is so old, it hardly has any smell or flavor. The fresh herbs are SO aromatic and add so much flavor to the dishes I use them in.

When I made all of that tomato paste, I had a bunch of extra herbs that cut and washed just sitting on the counter in separate bowls. Over the last few weeks, they've dried, and it's been so handy to have them almost ready to use. It's an inspiration to pick some more and wash it up, just to have it ready. Plus, as the fall settles in, less and less will grow. Next summer, I may not grow as much variety, but grow more of the stuff I use most. (I have plenty of sage if there's anyone interested!)

On the baking side of things, today I had a tasty spice cookie made by my friend, Darla. It looked like a snickerdoodle, so I was surprised when I tasted the nutmeg in it! I was equally surprised with myself that I could tell that nutmeg was the spice used! I think I recognized it, because I had ground some fresh nutmeg with Aunt Barb one time. Thanks Aunt Barb for encouraging my culinary desire, and providing ample learning opportunities!

You can help me learn more, too!! What are your favorite spices/herbs to cook with? What do you use them in? I look forward to hearing from you, and maybe trying some of your recipes!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Computer Issues

It's been an interested week around here without our laptop. It crashed last week, and I was petrified we'd lost everything on it...all of our 2009 pictures (including everything we have of Gabe), all of our freshly modified budget, and numerous other important documents.

My dad picked it up and took it to his IT guys. After some diagnostic tests, they found that the cooling mechanism (he compared it to the radiator of a car) was filthy...which explains why it would frequently overheat and shut itself off. They also found that some of the sectors on the hard drive were bad. However, we learned today it's been fixed and "working perfectly." I have no idea how much that will run. My dad took care of it, and said we'd sort it out later. He's even going to pick it up for us tomorrow. Thanks, DAD!!!

I'm so grateful we didn't lose everything. I think we'll be getting an external hard drive soon to back up everything, just in case. I'm also thankful that J had a desktop we could hook up to use in the mean time. I'll be glad to get this beast out of the living room and bring the baby swing back. I'll, hopefully, be able to start posting pictures again once we get the laptop back.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Great new/cheap/tasty recipe idea

I actually started this post on 9/9/09. My computer froze before I finished it, and then promptly shut itself off. We couldn't get it back on, and my dad took it in to the shop. We got word today that it's been fixed (no idea how much that'll set us back, though). Hopefully more posts to follow more frequently...and with pictures!

I'm really trying to be frugal with what groceries we buy, so this week, I'm trying to use lots of things we have at home already to make meals. Lunch today was a HUGE success.

I decided we'd have quesadillas. Here's how we usually make them....

1. Open package of tortillas.
2. Put one tortilla on a plate.
3. Open shredded cheese.
4. Put shredded cheese on half of the prepared tortilla.
5. Fold tortilla in half.
6. Spray tortilla with spray butter.
7. Sprinkle tortilla with parmesan cheese.
8. Nuke plate with tortilla for 45 seconds.
9. Eat quesadilla.

BORING! Simple, but very boring. I had a little inspiration to dress these up a bit, so I ran with it. Here's the new, creative, frugal way to make quesadillas with stuff we already had on hand.

First of all, we had no shredded cheese. We had a block of cheese, so I grated it myself. We had some black beans in the freezer that I had previously cooked. We had some leftover corn from dinner last night, and we only had one frozen chicken breast (what can you do with one frozen chicken breast that will feed a whole family???). So here's what I did:

1. Boil the chicken breast (I didn't even thaw it out) until there's no pink inside.
2. Shred the chicken using a fork to hold it in place and another fork to shred it.
3. Put corn, black beans (drained), and shredded chicken in a large skillet to heat them up. Season as desired (we used seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder). Move the mixture to a bowl.
4. Brush one side of a tortilla with olive oil. Put the oil side down in the skillet.
5. Top with a thin layer of cheese.
6. Add a thin layer of the chicken mixture.
7. Add another thin layer of cheese.
8. Top with another tortilla, and brush the top of the tortilla with olive oil.
9. Cook on medium heat until the bottom tortilla is browned (it will shrink).
10. Flip the whole concoction over to finish cooking. Quesedilla is finished when the bottom tortilla is browned and shrinks to about the same size as the top one.
11. Cut into triangles with a pizza cutter.
12. Serve with sour cream and whatever random fruits/vegetables you have. We had applesauce and carrot sticks.

I didn't have to buy a single thing to make this, AND everyone liked it. I should get some bonus points or something, because it was healthy!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tired Mommy

I'm reading through a series of books written by Gary Ezzo. I re-read Preparation for Parenting (On Becoming Baby Wise), when Gabe was born. We incorporated the principles within the first week of his birth and never looked back. We were so grateful to get more sleep when he started sleeping 9-10 hours around 9 weeks of age.

Then I read through Preparation for the Toddler Years (5 months - 15 months), albeit a little late for Adon. Most of it was already in practice, but we learned a few new things. For example, we now require eye contact and have cracked down on first time obedience.

Now, I'm reading On Becoming Toddler Wise. So far, my favorite quote is, "There is no question that a toddler's mom is a tired mom, and for good reason. The emotional and physical energy needed to supervise an energy-packed tot can take down the most physically fit mom. If your toddler happens to be a boy, add... fifty percent more energy. Never so beautiful does this child look to his weary mom as he does when he closes his eyes in sleep." Oh, so true! I can only imagine how it will be when they are both mobile! I'm looking forward to this new stage of toddlerhood with Adon and all of the adventures and fatigue that come with it.