Weekends Are Not for Healthy Cooking

I am trying so hard to be healthy.  We try to cook most of our meals at home and have more vegetables than carbs or meats.  I've tried to almost completely eliminate processed foods and refined sugars.  But seriously, on the weekend, I just can't do it.  Especially today, I worked (on a holiday no less) and everyone was eating junk all day.  The nurses ordered Chinese food for lunch, then another group ate Chinese food for dinner, then I went to start an IV in a patient's room and their family was eating Chinese.  Yeah right was I going to come home and fix some healthy raw veggie meal.  I came home and said "forget our budget and the food in the fridge, I want Chinese food even if we go broke buying it."  So much for those two apples, homemade granola bar and veggie soup I ate.  I just negated it all with some General Tso's Chicken.

And this is how I became overweight.  How do we get past this way of thinking?  How do we look forward to a nice big bowl of salad?  How can I get past those comfort foods and squelch the cravings and desires inside?  What makes us think that the weekend is for not caring about anything, jobs, diets, worries, chores?  I think we all just need some days of rest.  When we are too extreme we overdo it and need to give ourselves a break.  Tomorrow, it's back to the veggies for me. No more slacking, both in the home and with my diet.   I can do this and I WILL...... at least until my next weekend off.....


It All Goes Back to Childhood

Since Mimi has been here being her amazing self, Munchkie's Daddy and I went out on a date last night.  We have learned that it's essential to spend time together, just the two of us.  Sometimes it's hard to meld schedules  and get a babysitter, but last night it all came together.  A friend gave a few restaurant suggestions and so we tried a place we had never been.  We checked out the menu online and decided it fit both of our desires.

Everything was great, we drove there, and as soon as we approached the restaurant I could see through the window the linen table cloths, the black and white dressed waiters and waitresses and the man pouring water with the while linen cloth on his arm.  This is when I immediately began to panic.  I didn't really associate it as panic at first, I just knew that I felt incredibly uncomfortable.  We walked in and I immediately started to look around, see what others were wearing, eating, drinking, how they were eating, I mentally compared myself to them and took notes.  I literally cowered in my seat feeling uncomfortable and overwhelmed.  When the waitress came for drinks, I could hardly order, begging Munchkie's Daddy with my eyes to help me, save me - just over the drinks.  As I was sitting there trying to enjoy this limited time I had to enjoy a nice night out, I realized what was going on inside me.

A few days ago someone told me, everything goes back to your childhood.  They said, you may not realize how or why until much later, or sometimes never, but it all goes back to childhood.  I sat there and this person's comments came to mind.  Over my childhood whenever we went to a nice restaurant, such as this one, it was with my grandparents.  Each time we went out to dinner with them I could sense the anxiety and stress in my own mother and this was passed to me, even as a small child.  Any time we went out with them I would be so anxious that I would not be able to enjoy anything.  Each experience out for dinner made me feel so much pressure, I had to behave perfectly, use my utensils perfectly, order perfectly (no chicken fingers and fries for us), eat perfectly, and then still listen to my grandparent's critique of everything and everyone. I learned to immediately begin to assess the situation when I walked through the door.  Now any time I go into a "nice" restaurant I feel the pressure of being perfect with my grandparents.  I hope that now that I realize the source of the stomach turning and hand shaking so I can sit and completely enjoy a meal with whomever I am eating with.  I don't have to worry about being judged, ridiculed, sarcastic hurtful comments headed my way, or reprimanded for not using the correct utensil.  I can actually comfortably sit, enjoy good company and good food.  Too bad it took me almost the whole meal to sort through how my childhood has impacted my dining out experiences.  Desert was amazing......


Moms are great!

I'm finally off of work for a few days after working several days in a row.  Mimi (my mom) came on Tuesday which was night 4 out of 5.  What an amazing person Mimi is.  The first morning (after getting home at 2am) I heard Munchkie cry and jumped out of bed to grab her before she woke Mimi up (it's a slumber party in Munchkie's room).  I found Mimi was already up and changing Munchkie's diaper. She doesn't stop there.  My laundry was folded, and she apologized for not knowing where the cleaning supplies were.  Munchkie's Daddy always says, "you know you think you're doing good until Mimi comes, and then you realize what doing good really is."  It's like you can let out this big sigh and know that for just a few days, there's someone taking care of you.

Besides entertaining Munchkie, encouraging learning, cleaning around the house and whipping the dogs into shape, Mimi also babysits Munchkie so we can go out on a much needed date.  I think the last time that Munchkie's Daddy and I went out just the two of us was our anniversary.  In May.  Needless to say we are very excited, and appreciative of this opportunity to spend some quality time together.

Mother are really the most amazing thing ever, besides giving you life, they keep your life together.  I can only hope and pray that I can be a fraction of the amazing person Mimi is.


There is nothing like a cool crisp pickle!

I had heard before that you could do this on Food Network. I think you just pick your favorite pickle and use the juice. Sounds yummy! I think I might try it.

Homemade Mothering: Pickles for a Picnic: "Chicago has enjoyed a very pleasant and mild October. Today was no exception. With sunny skies and the temperature in the 70s, it was a pe..."


Blue Scrub Syndrome

It all started last night when I put my blue (hospital issued) scrub top on.  Munchkie was happily playing in the living room, looked up, saw the blue scrub top, immediately burst out in tears, ran to me and clung to my legs.  She knows what the blue scrubs mean.  Mommy's headed into work.  It's really a sad time for all involved, but especially difficult for Munchkie.  When they came to pick me up from work this morning Munchkie was so happy to see me, I can see her huge smile as soon as they entered the circle drive. 

However all that changed when we got home.  She is so whiny, clinging, and does whatever she can to get your attention.  It's heartbreaking to see how my working affects her.  It definitely doesn't make it easy to go to work.  Which is probably why I need to leave in 27 minutes and I'm sitting here with her on my lap instead of getting ready for work.  Once she sees me getting ready and wearing those blue scrubs it will be all over.  So for now I'm going to procrastinate and enjoy a few minutes of clinginess.

This morning despite her crying and clinging to me I made a batch of granola bars.  A nurse last night at work ask me if I had a recipe for granola bars and thanks to Katie at KitchenStewardship I found one that seemed to be perfect.  I thought what a great idea!  I recently bought some granola like bars for Munchkie's Daddy to eat before work in the mornings and Munchkie loves to eat them as well.  I would much rather have them both eating something that I know exactly what it's composed of instead of fillers and unpronounceable ingredients.  I also found a great recipe calculator and did some tweaking to bring Katie's recipe to down to around 120 calories.  I'm going to take some into work tonight, although Munchkie's Daddy felt they were slightly too dry.  I cut down on a lot of the honey and I think I cut too much out.  He still ate it.......

Here is the recipe I used, but go to the link for Katie's recipe to see the original recipe.

1 cup quick oats
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3 cups puffed rice cereal
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp maple sugar

  1. Spray a 9x13in pan with baking spray and preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine butter, honey, applesauce and water.
  3. Add the flour, then oatmeal, then puffed rice cereal.
  4. Add all the other ingredients.
  5. Press firmly (jam it in with your hands, a spoon just doesn't cut it) into the pan
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into bars.
  8. Allow bars to cool completely before taking them out of the pan and serving/storing.
  9. Makes about 20 bars the size of Quaker chewy granola bars.
Doesn't this break your heart?  One little tear rolling out of her sad eyes.


Back To Work Yummies!

I usually try to make something to bring to work on my weekends.  I always have such a hard time with the fact that I'm at work the rest of the world is enjoying their days off, so I do what I can to make it better.  Since I've been off, I had planned out what I was going to make and take tonight.  Here are the two recipes with pictures.  I made one super healthy and one the opposite of healthy.  Hopefully they both turn out delicious!

Healthy Sweet Potato-Apple Casserole

3 ½ pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 medium)
4 apples peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup raw honey
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cinnamon plus some for sprinkling
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/3 cup pecans (optional)
Dash of lemon juice

1.       Bake sweet potatoes for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.
2.       Once potatoes are baked, remove from oven and turn oven down to 350 degrees.
3.       Mist an 8-in baking dish with cooking spray.
4.        Allow potatoes to cool slightly and then remove skins.  The skins should peel right off.
5.       Put potatoes into mixing bowl and then add the honey, applesauce, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, ½ teaspoon salt, and brown sugar.
6.       Mix together until smooth.
7.       Place half of sweet potato mixture into baking dish and smooth out.
8.       Layer the sliced apples on top of the sweet potatoes, sprinkle with cinnamon and lemon juice.
9.       Smooth remaining sweet potato on top of apples.
10.   Sprinkle cinnamon and pecans on top.
11.   Bake for 40-45 minutes or until hot and beginning to brown around the edges.

New England Style Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
½ cup soft butter
½ cup coconut oil
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 generous teaspoons Vietnamese cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
15 ounces canned pumpkin
1 cup All-Purpose flour
1 cup White Whole Wheat flour
¼ cup quick oats

¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
2/3 cup maple sugar ground into a fine powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1.       Preheat oven to 375 degrees and either grease two baking sheets or cover with parchment paper.
2.       Beat together the butter, oil, sugar, molasses, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. 
3.       Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and then beat in the eggs until fluffy.
4.       Stir in the pumpkin.
5.       Add the flour and oatmeal one at a time, mixing in between each.
6.        Use a spoon or scoop to and make mounds of batter, leaving approximately 2 inches between cookies.
7.       Bake for 14-18 minutes.
8.       Remove from oven when a slight indentation remains when a cookie is gently pressed in the middle.
9.       Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes and then move to wire rack to cool completely.
1.       Whisk together all of the ingredients for the filling until fluffy.
2.       Spread cookie with filling and then top with another cookie.


So Long Vacation

Today is my last official day of vacation.  It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up.  I am so sad to leave my carefree time with Munchkie to get back into our routine of work, sleep, babysitter, busy days off.  Obviously Munchkie has no idea that I'm going back to work tomorrow night so she was surprisingly indulgent in my constant request for hugs and kisses, even volunteering them without request.

I started the day (when we came home from taking Munchkie's Daddy to work) with some scrambled eggs which Munchkie "helped" me make.  We actually didn't make too much of a mess either!  We also read close to a thousand books together after coloring.  Each book finished with an enthusiastic "more? more?"  As many times as she was saying more, I was saying "give Mommy a kiss!" 

During naptime the, oh-shoot-my-vacation-ends-and-I-didn't-get-anything-done part of me kicked in. Unfortunately I only was able to do dishes and laundry until I heard "Moooooooommyyyyyyyy!"  Bummer!  So much for those sewing projects, organizational projects and crafts I had planned.

Since Munchkie thinks that every fish is "Dorty" (Elmo's goldfish Dorothy), there has been some talk of bringing a fish into our home.  I decided today was the perfect day.  Secretly, I just wanted her delight to keep me going until the next vacation.  As soon as we turned into the parking lot of the pet store Munchkie immediately started kicking her legs and saying "Dorty!  Dorty!"  (shocking because we had been over a month ago and walked from another store).  We parked Munchkie in front of the goldfish and began picking out a tank.  The selected one went into the cart and by this time Munchkie had  apparently had her Dorothy fix, asking "Kitty?" Are you serious?  I'm not even kidding when I say it was over a month ago that we went to this pet store and she remembered everything!  Even pointing in the direction of the cats for adoption.  The time came to involve a fish expert and I said "We need a goldfish along with everything it needs.  Here's the tank we picked out."  We soon learned that our measly one gallon tank would only keep that 13 cent goldfish alive for days.  Well no wonder those carnival goldfish die so fast!  The lady told us that unless we wanted to get a 10 gallon tank (ummm, no way!) a beta was our only option.  We held a beta up and I said "Munchkie look at this!"

To which she replied "Hi Dorty!" SOLD!  We excitedly paid for our fish and I warded off the bop (pacifier) the whole way home with, "Look!  Look!  Who's this?" 

I think that overall I was waaaaaay more excited about this adventure than Munchkie was, but we got home and immediately set up the tank.  I followed all the directions, holding Munchkie the whole time so she could see what I was doing.  Dorothy then went to her (his actually, the males were prettier) designated spot, just beyond a toddler's reach. 

I know that today's experiences meant a lot more to me than it did to Munchkie.  I'm learning that as a parent, sometimes you do something you say is for your kids when in actuality it is for you.  I really needed a night of excitement, anticipation and pure joy to be left with happy memories.  Not that I didn't have a wonderful vacation, because I sincerely loved every minute with Munchkie.  The last day of vacation is always so depressing, and I was able to distract myself and ignore the sinking feeling that tomorrow, everything will be back to everyday life. 


Dance Party!

I love it when we have spontaneous dance parties in the living room.  We love the music options with our satellite dish and for most of the day we have music playing on our TV.  Munchkie loves to dance and so when we put on a music style that is good for dancing we end up having whole family dance parties.  So fun!  Munchkie has some moves!

From there Munchkie's Daddy went upstairs and got out his electric guitar.  He was playing and Munchkie was dancing all around.  She was jumping around and swinging those hips like a dancing pro!
Then Munchkie's Daddy showed her how to use the pick so she could make music too.  She was so excited she could hardly sit still to play the guitar.

Then once we were finished playing guitar, we went back downstairs.  While Munchkie's Daddy was getting a bath ready Munchkie and I were waltzing.  She was laughing hysterically which of course made me laugh as well.
This is what makes being a mom amazing.  These incredible moments where you can forget all of your worries to just play and laugh.  To see your child dancing around and wanting to hug and kiss you totally makes your night.  It's incredible to see how much she is growing and changing each day.  Who cares what happened today, I have an amazing family and we know how to have fun!

A dose of self esteem

I had to go into work today for my annual review.  Ugh.  I hate these things.  To make matters worse, instead of someone else reviewing me I had to review myself.  I had tried to work on this this several times while I was working, but never finished and so I went in this morning to complete my self review.  I tossed and turned in bed last night, waking up several times and was literally sick to my stomach when I woke up.

My whole life I've been taught to act humbly and put others first.  When you do a self evaluation you can't be humble or self-deprecating.   Well I guess you can, but you won't get a raise.  It was so difficult to type out why I should be rated highly and what I have done to deserve high numbers.  It seemed too close to bragging, and that goes against every grain of my being.  It took me a couple hours to complete it and I still felt uncomfortable and squirmy-in-my-seat when I was finished. 

I think that you need to sit back and evaluate your self esteem before you go into something like this.  Yes, there is a place and time for humbleness, but you also should be proud of your accomplishments and achievements.  This is something that I need to learn.  I can be proud of what I've done and I do deserve that recognition (because you sure don't get recognition for your accomplishments as a mother). That was my lesson for today. 


I love love love Fall!

I never would say that fall was my favorite season, in fact, I would say winter was my favorite season.  I always loved the beautiful snowflakes, sweaters and hot cocoa.  However, since our move to the east coast, I am in love with fall.  I just cannot get over the incredible colors.  Each fall makes me love it even more.  The colors are so brillant and so incredible that it almost takes my breath away.  I love each drive even if it's a simple trip because the leaves, mums and pumpkins make my heart warm. 

I decided to get into the mood and braved the crawl space yesterday to dig out our fall decorations.  Munchkie oooh over each item I pulled out and got so excited to help me decorate.  She loves the squirrel, scarecrows and variety of pumpkins.  I caught her several times climbing up on our dining room chairs to get the "umpkies" from the centerpiece.  

I am going to have to watch her closer with the leaves that I strategically placed over a bookshelf.  Those actually are within an 18 month old's reach.  I decided to brave the 18 month old's curious fingers and be festive so I will have to take it all in stride and not get upset when things get "rearranged."

Then today we went to get our pumpkins and I loved watching Munchkie run up and down the pumpkins.  She was so excited to see all of the "Umpkies" that she couldn't stop running.  She was filled with awe and excitement over each pumpkin, hale bale and scarecrow.   The colors, the chilly air, and the laughter sealed the deal I really do love fall.


Lazy Days

I love days off.  Love them!  I have vacation this week which makes my days off even better.  I usually only take a day or two off and then cram all my days of work together so I can go somewhere.  Then I am exhausted for the trip, come home, work a bunch of days and then basically collapse.  This week is the first time that I'm taking almost a whole week off, and doing nothing but hanging out with Munchkie.

Today is basically our first day of nothing vacation, we took our friends to the airport yesterday from our weekend of fun.  So far we have stayed in our pajamas, made scrambled eggs, colored and then watched a few minutes of Elmo's World before Munchkie headed upstairs to naptime.   Let me tell you how fabulous it is to spend worry free time with Munchkie.  Maybe tomorrow I will start getting stuff done around the house, but for today, I'm going to enjoy every precious minute with Munchkie.  You know what, I don't think I'll do anything tomorrow either, except maybe go do something fun with Munchkie.  This is my Munchkie vacation, not my cleaning vacation.

Chilling on the couch in our pjs


I'm No Damsel

A few weeks ago I heard something that I can't stop thinking about.  It had to do with females being the weaker sex which I usually get very fired up about.  I like to think that we are completely equal and can do things just as well as men.  The verse in the Bible that says for wives to be submissive to their husbands gets taken out of context so often and this is what starts the fire in me.  Some people think that this means women should have no voice, do whatever the male sex tells them and basically be human doormats.  I tend to disagree with this.

Over the last few years we have had some role reversals in our house and it's caused a little bit of conflict.  It's very hard for me to be the primary breadwinner, wife and mother. At the same time it's hard for Munchkie's Daddy to stay home, taking care of Munchkie, doing dinner and picking up some cleaning/laundry. I'm learning that maybe there is something about this difference between males and females.  I don't think that it means we as females have to be damsels in distress, but we are created differently.  Somewhere recently this is what someone told me, and it makes a lot of sense.  They asked me what I do when I walk alone at night in a parking lot.  I of course answered that I look all around me and try to be aware of my surroundings.  Then they asked Munchkie's Daddy what he does when he walks alone at night in a parking lot.  He answered, nothing, he just walks to his car.  I found this pretty interesting.  No matter how hard we try to be strong and self sufficient we are still vulnerable.  The person who told us this example said that women are the weaker sex, we cannot change this, but it doesn't mean we have to be a doormat.  It just means that we live our lives differently and experience situations differently.

As the vulnerable and weaker sex I realize that I really do want someone to take care of me and protect me.  I guess if I was to add to the example, I would want to have my husband walk with me in the parking lot.  If he walked with me, I would still look around me, but not feel my heart racing because there is someone there to protect me and fight with me.  This is what it means to me to be the weaker sex.  I now understand that I am not necessarily a damsel in distress by being a vulnerable female, but I am a female who doesn't like to feel the pressure of holding the family together on my shoulders.  
Yes, I can be the breadwinner, wife and mother, but I will still check behind me in a parking lot.  It doesn't make me a weak person, it just makes me a female.


Friends are friends forever.......

I haven't been able to do much except work, sleep, repeat the last several days.  Ugh!  However, it was for a great cause!  MY FRIENDS ARE COMING!  I get so excited when people come to visit, and these friends are forever friends.  Munty and I jokingly called each other husband and wife while in nursing school because we spent more time with each other than anybody else, including our boyfriends.  I am so excited to pick them up from the airport that I am not even tired and really need to get at least a couple hours of sleep after working last night.  Here are a few pictures from my past that I went looking for this morning and they bring up all kinds of memories!  I can't wait for a great weekend followed by a week of vacation from work!

This is Munty and I freshman year of college headed to our very first nursing clinical.

Munty and I at our nursing "capping."  Yes we had to wear actual nurses' hats.

Munty and I a few weeks ago when we went to Illinois.  Oh how our lives have changed since that first day of clinical!


Ten Reasons I love 10/10/10

10. Munchkie's Daddy made fresh pesto bread and the smell throughout our house is divine.
 9.  Beautiful swans floating on the river outside my window.

8.  Juicy, crisp, fresh apples.

7.   The bright sun is shining creating a gorgeous day.

6.  Munchkie took an almost 4 hour nap and this is how I found her in her crib. So cute!
  5.  The leaves outside our windows are changing and brilliant colors remind me that God has a color palate that we can't even imagine.

4.  My new necklace came and I finished making some complimentary jewelry.  I LOVE them!

3.  I don't have to go into work tonight!  Which means....

2.  I got to go to church this morning and enjoy an amazing service.
Photo courtesy of Calvary Evangelical Free Church
  1.  And the top reason I love 10/10/10 is because of my wonderful, loving and fun family.  I am so excited that I get to spend the day with them!


Fifth times a charm!

I have successfully made yogurt twice now.  It only took five tries to get it to the thickness I wanted.  Liquidy yogurt just isn't my thing.  I had been buying organic milk at the grocery store, the regular milk that I buy for us to drink/use.  It is ultra pasteurized and can last for weeks in the fridge.  Isn't that odd?  I guess with the ultra pasteurization every possible thing that could be in the milk is killed and so the result is that it is very difficult to make yogurt.  I first tried to make skim milk yogurt, well that was just straight liquid with a few thick chunks in it, no good at all!  Then I tried whole milk and it was slightly better, but once I strained it there would be a tablespoon or so of thicker yogurt, so that was used for smoothies too.  On my fourth attempt I found a store that sold raw milk and thought I would try that.  It turned out beautifully!  I followed Katie of Kitchen Stewardship's recipe for the most part and Munchkie's Daddy's Aunt (who had been making yogurt for years) so I can't claim that I came up with this myself. There are some things I'm going to change for next time to both make it a little easier on myself and create a taste I would enjoy better.  So here goes!

Items needed-

  • Jars (to hold however much milk you are using, Munchkie's Daddy's Aunt puts her milk right into a pot, stirring constantly)
  • Large Pot
  • Washcloth (to place in bottom of pot to prevent jars from rattling/breaking while boiling)
  • Candy Thermometer (there are ways to do without this, but I failed miserably when I tried, so I got a thermometer)
  • Milk
  • Small container of yogurt for a culture (once you make your yogurt, you can use your own for future cultures)
  • Cooler (Munchkie's Daddy's Aunt told me that she uses her oven)
  • Towels

1.  The first thing to do is to sterilize your glass jars and lids.  I usually do this in the dishwasher and then let them dry completely before I begin my yogurt making.  If they aren't sterilized, you will culture whatever bacteria is in the jars along with your yogurt cultures.  What a petri dish of bacteria you will end up with!

2.  I set out the yogurt culture I am going to use to bring it to room temperature while I do everything else.  I prefer Greek yogurt, so this is what I used, even though there are not the 4-5 recommended cultures.  

3.  I evenly distribute the milk (half a gallon) between 5 canning jars.  I place a wash cloth in the bottom of my pot and put a few inches of water into the pot.  I then place the jars into the pot.  Now don't laugh at my thermometer set up.  I had to figure out a way to keep the thermometer in a jar.  I also put a spoon in the water to sterilize it so I can use it for distributing the yogurt cultures and stirring later.

4.  I bring the temperature of the milk up to 185 degrees and keep it there for a few (5 or so) minutes.  Now the reason why I'm not so concerned with the raw milk is because I am now pasteurizing the milk myself, but it's not ULTRA pasteurized.

5.  Once the milk is up to temperature I put a few inches of cold water in my sink and put a few ice packs in.  I don't have one of those nifty tools to pull hot canning jars out of pots, so I have found that if I quickly put the lid on I can grab the lid to transfer to the sink, or can use a pot holder, without loosing my sterilization, to transfer to the sink.  I'm sure those tools are not so expensive.  I should look into it maybe.

6.  You need the milk to come down to a temperature of 90-110 degrees, preferably right around 100 degrees.  When I put the milk in the cold water, it brings the temperature down pretty quickly and I had a lot of problems before missing that mark.  It would get too cold too fast.  I use the thermometer to stir the milk in each jar to accurately get the temperature.  I have to keep a pretty close eye on this.  Once the milk is around 105-110 degrees I take them out of the cold water and set them on the counter.  (I am going to change this next time.  I am going to just leave them out on the counter and let the milk come down to the right temp on it's own.  I have missed my mark too many times and need to learn patience. With it on the counter it will not be as difficult to obtain the correct temperature because it will cool slower.)

7.  While the milk is cooling I fill my pot at least half way with water and then bring the water to a boil again.  This will be used to incubate the yogurt and I've found if I don't do this, the temperature isn't warm enough for long enough.

8.  Once the milk is on the counter I add my yogurt culture.  My jars are pint jars and so I believe you are supposed to use about a tablespoon.  Munchkie's Daddy's Aunt said that she used a small carton per half gallon.  I use this spoon and about this much per jar.  As you can see, it's more than a tablespoon, but less than two tablespoons.  I'm pretty exact as you can see (kidding!).  I gently stir each jar to mix, but making sure not to kill the cultures.

9.  Once the jars are mixed and the lids on they go into the cooler.  This is my set up.  Pot of water on one side, jars on the other.  I put a towel in between the pot and the jars because I don't want the jars to get too warm.

10.  Then I cover the jars with a towel.  Close the lid and let incubate 4-24 hours.  Here is another change I will make for next time.  I usually do this after dinner and let incubate overnight.  However, the longer you incubate the more "plain" and tangy the yogurt will taste.  I think I will not incubate any more than 6 hours because it was pretty tangy this time. If you do like it tangy, or want something more like sour cream, and decide to incubate longer you will probably need to add more boiling water to your pot after about 4 hours or so.

11.  Once you are finished incubating, put into the freezer for about an hour.  Somehow this helps with the consistency.

12.  Transfer to fridge and enjoy!  This is why mine looks like when finished.
I like my yogurt thicker, so I strain it through cheese cloth again to get as much whey out as I can.  Then I eat it with some melted raw honey and ground flax seeds or granola.  Mmmmmmm! 

It seems pretty thick, but with Greek yogurt, once you stir it, it thins out a lot.  The containers usually say not to stir.
When you strain it you can use the whey in place of water for baking or cooking.  You can squeeze even more whey out and make cream cheese, or work with it more to make other cheeses.  I have not tried any of these options out.


Rough Morning

This morning Munchkie and I drove Munchkie's Daddy to work and then we drove to take her to the babysitter's.  When I turned right to go into the driveway and Munchkie saw the house she started crying, screaming "NO! NO! NO!", waving her hands no, and kicking her legs.  Just by driving into the driveway.  Then I parked the car and got out and she held onto her car-seat straps and said "Please? Please?  No! No! No!" but I had to take her out of the car-seat.  I pulled her out and she wrapped her legs around me, held me in a death grip and laid her head on my shoulder.

We stood in the driveway and cried together.

After several minutes of trying to compose myself I grabbed Munchkie's bags and walked up to the front door.  We pressed the doorbell while a lady was smoking on the front step and the poisonous second hand smoke was wafting over us.

I stood there and told Ana "Remember all your favorite Elmo toys?  Your Elmo music book is upstairs.  Do you want to play with all of your Elmo toys?"
She replied "Yes!"
I said "Ok, then we have to go upstairs so you can play."

We pressed the doorbell again.  Nothing.

Then we walked back to the car so I could check with Munchkie's Daddy that they were expecting us.  Munchkie started crying then and said "Elmo! Elmo!"  So I was hopeful that maybe once she saw the Elmo toys that it would be smooth sailing.

Finally on the third ring we were let upstairs.  At first when Munchkie saw the babysitter she smiled and waved, then when the babysitter held her arms out for Munchkie she turned and clung to me.  I took her inside, put her bags down and set up her sound machine.  The whole time she was crying.  I said give mommy a kiss, kissed her through her tears and wide open mouth begging me "Please Please" then walked out.  I could hear her crying as I walked down all three flights of stairs. 

I frantically got in my car and lost it just as the door closed.  I sat there and cried.

I thought that I had it together so I began to drive away.  I cried as I drove.

How can I sleep to prepare for work tonight?  Is it really worth it?  Nobody said it was easy.  But nobody said it would be THIS hard to be a working mom.


Converse Wearing Mom

Today I was at Target and I looked around to the other moms who were there with their kids.  I saw their cute Coach shoes, trendy clothes and perfectly styled hair.  Then I looked at myself, my hair pulled back, pink sweatshirt, jeans and purple Converse shoes, however I did wash my face before leaving the house.

How do these moms do it?  How do they keep themselves put together? I looked at my friends' moms growing up and they seemed to be that trendy, stylish mom and I always wanted to be that mom.  I thought my mom was so old fashioned with her thousands of turtlenecks, jumpers and seasonal sweaters.  Now I've become a 2010 version of her.  Hoodies and Tshirts.  Ugh!

What am I doing wrong?  How can I be put together and stylish on a tight budget?  Is that the key?  No budget?  Do they not sleep?  Is there a perfect mommy pill that I never knew about?

I guess for now I'll work on wearing something besides a tshirt and pray that Munchkie won't care what I look like when she gets older.  Haha!


Full Freezer = Happy Munchkie's Mama!

I said before that I would talk about those processed-convient-chemical-ladden-frozen meals.  I think you can catch my thoughts from my description.  I am not saying anything about the people who make and eat them, I'm saying that the people who create them are to blame.  Let me give a quick synopsis of our food eating married lives.

First we got married six days after graduating from college and were thrown into grown up living, married life, first time real jobs and keeping up a home.   At first we were basically just surviving, eating fast food, take out, with an occasional frozen meal thrown in.  We both enjoyed cooking, however it was time consuming, we both hated dishes and expensive to decide to make a recipe and then buy everything that you needed for that recipe.  When we discovered that you could buy frozen fulled prepped meals (both of our moms are mostly homemade from scratch) in the store.  This our bridge to homemade cooking.  We were able to get into the routine of figuring out what to eat and then have the patience to cook it ourselves.  We found ourselves cooking at home more often because it was zero prep, quick, not very many dishes to clean (however we still felt sluggish and uck a lot).  Once we started doing this, we began branching out and making more meals from home.  This slow progression from fast food to homemade brings us to today (we find when we are eating a lot of organic food, fruits and vegetables and eliminating preservatives and chemicals we have so much more energy and overall feel better).

There is nothing more convenient than pulling out a frozen meal that is prepped and cook it up in minutes.  However most frozen meals are so full of chemicals, preservatives, and other not so good for you things.  The other night at work another nurse was showing me a Lean Cuisine frozen meal that said it was preservative free.  When I asked what was in it, on the ingredient list, she couldn't pronounce most of the huge list of ingredients.  For this reason I was so excited when I saw a friend's blog about freezer dinners  that I had to get the book right away.  When you make it yourself, you know what the ingredients actually are.  Due to my recent purchase of many pounds of meat and a weekend off, I have spent my entire weekend creating freezer meals and now I have about 70 options for frozen meals in my freezer.  That will last us a long time!

Now this is how a working mom has homemade meals for her family without relying on chemicals and preservatives.  I may not be able to provide a fresh homemade meal every night for my family, but I can make sure we have healthy options in the freezer.

Look at all I have made this weekend!  I had to create an inventory document because I don't know how else to know what we have buried in that bottomless hole of a deep freezer.  If anyone has an organization system for their deep freeze please let me know!

 It took a lot of pots to make all of the soups, which is why it took so many days.

 Munchkie's Daddy had made this tomato sauce a little while back, but I took inventory of it this weekend.

Spaghetti squash to go with the tomato sauce.  I have no idea how well this freezes, I guess we'll find out.

Chicken with Peanut Sauce frozen in rolls with a ziploc bag of peanut sauce in the middle.  I have plans to make a stir fry with some frozen peppers and onions and serve over rice with that peanut sauce.

Dijon Pork Loin Roast, we had to cut it up into portions for our family.  I think this will be served with some mashed cauliflower and salad.

Orange Teriyaki Chicken.  Going to be another stir fry.

Lentil Soup, a family recipe that took me a long time to try, but is now a winter staple.

Sausage, Kale and Bean Soup which is very yummy!

Chicken and Rice Soup, hopefully this is good, I didn't have a recipe, just kind of threw stuff into a pot.

Creamy (Creamless) Zucchini and Potato Soup which I haven't tried yet, but hopefully is good!

My full freezers make me very happy!