Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reading, Writing and...That Other One

My daughter is almost five and is not only reading, but eager to do so! She happily chooses books to read with and to me and I couldn't be happier. Reading has always been a passion of mine and something that I always hoped to instill in my children. Books can expand your horizons, take you on adventures and allow you to escape when your mind needs a break from reality. So reading has always been in my bones. And writing? Well, writing has been a friend as well. Short stories in high school, papers in college and everything in-between, I've always welcomed new writing assignments. My daughter also takes after me in that area. At just five, she's already written her own books and short stories and I couldn't me more proud. Now, here's where it gets tricky. That last one...the whole math thing. I never got it. I struggled through math my whole educational life, re-taking classes and spending many frustrating hours working on formulas and problems. Now that I have my own children, I hope to be able to teach them from my experiences and encourage them to be perhaps a bit more well-rounded. No one ever said you can't be a good writer and a mathematician! So as my daughter embarks on kindergarten, I'll be embarking on a journey of my own..brushing up on those math skills! Maybe my kids will need me and maybe not, but I'll be ready either way!
How do your kids take after you?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Main Squeeze

We have orange trees growing near our house and this morning, when I came downstairs bleary-eyed my daughter announced she wanted to make orange juice. And that it was daddy's idea. Shame on him putting ideas in her head! But I had to follow through on his promise so a-gathering we went. In the rain. Bowl in hand, we plucked several too-small and not quite ripe oranges off the tree and headed inside. Juicer in hand, we meticulously squeezed each drop into a cup and my kids couldn't have been happier. They each slurped up the orange goodness. As for Mommy?? I got some brownie points. Definitely worth it!
What do you do for your kids that is more trouble than it's worth??? 

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Price of Peace

Entering my second month of my third pregnancy has left me feeling a little more tired than I normally do so today for just ten minutes, I let me kiddos play in my make-up so I could rest. Ten minutes...no big deal, right?? Wrong! A few of my products ended up ruined and of course, the kids were covered in lipstick, eye shadow, powder...all of it!!! This escapade left my son's jammies ruined and stained and they both needed a good scrubbing. I must admit though, the few minutes of quiet were well worth the trade-off. I'm going to have to start getting creative and coming up with more ways, short of TV, that will allow me to rest and put my feet up while the little ones are occupied.
What do you do to keep your kiddos outta your hair when you need a breather???

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Extreme Couponing: The Results

So I had this idea that I would make a big shopping trip, coupons in hand and save hundreds like the folks on Extreme Couponing. This was not the case. Not only did my grocery store no longer double coupons, but half the time, the store brand was cheaper than the brand I had a coupon for! So, what was I doing wrong? Well, I didn't spend six hours the day of my shopping trip scouring ads, pouring over my computer and dumpster diving for extra circulars. I simply cut the coupons I thought I might need and headed out. Although    it was a bit of a bust, I have been more conscious to check out store websites and sales and take advantage of any coupons available and plan accordingly. So with a little tweaking, I can save money. But an extreme couponer, I am not.
How do you save???

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Extreme Couponing, Beebe Style

I am ashamed to admit it, but I recently became hooked on the show "Extreme Couponing". It documents the lives of men and women who save extreme amounts at the supermarket check stand. And when I say extreme, I mean it. Shopper after shopper left with paying mere dollars after their original amount tallied up to over a thousand!! I became so curious that I decided I would give it a whirl, Beebe style. First, I had realistic expectations:
- I wasn't going to hoard Sunday papers or go on goose-chases for coupon inserts. Whatever I could easily find in my one paper and online is what I'd work with that week.
- I would not attempt a "stockpile", using my weekly budget to clean out shelves of products that I may not use at all, even if they are free.
- I would plan my menu based on sales and use coupons to supplement.
- I would always shop at whatever store doubles coupons and lucky for me, Vons does and I shop there anyway!
Sounds easy and I think I'm off to a good start today! I'll let you know how I did!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Baked Mac N' Cheese

Recently, I was gifted a 14 oz. bag of "horsin' around" pasta, a fun assortment of horseshoes and horses and I was excited to use it, knowing my kids would be happy to eat it. Macaroni and cheese is a big thing around here. From Kraft to Annie's, we've tried them all. But nothing is like a fresh batch out of the oven. My kids have even come to appreciate when Mommy makes it and no longer complain it tastes "home-madey", as if that were disdainful. So I think after a few rough tries, I have perfected the humble macaroni. First, you gotta learn to make a roux. I know, I avoided this like the plague for a while, fearing I wouldn't be able to get it right, opting for heavy cream and too much cheese just hoping it would thicken. What I ended up with?? A too-rich dish that often ended up greasy. So the last few times, I've taken simple recipes, adapted them to our taste and perfected the once-intimidating roux. It's actually very easy to master. A few tablespoons of butter and flour are all it takes! The key is, you've got to let the butter melt in the pan almost all the way first before adding the flour then keep the heat low enough to avoid scorching but high enough that it will "cook" the flour taste out. So, practice first. It really does make perfect. Once you got that down, add milk (about one cup per cup of pasta..) and bring to a slow boil while whisking. Once your sauce has thickened a bit, take if off the heat and add your cheese of choice. Stronger cheeses work better in this dish as their flavors will come through better. Think sharp cheddar or Swiss and Parmesan. Once you have your macaroni and sauce thoroughly combined pour in a dish and top with more cheese and/or breadcrumbs. The topping is as important as the macaroni itself. Who doesn't love a crispy, crunchy topping with more gooey cheese waiting underneath??? So don't be afraid of the roux. Try this at home and you'll see why you don't have to rely on a box to make your kiddo's favorite lunch!Get crackin'.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
12 oz. macaroni or short-cut pasta
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups milk
1 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
Cook macaroni according to directions on package and set aside. Meanwhile, in large pot, melt butter and slowly add flour, whisking to combine. Once cooked, add milk and bring to soft boil. Take off heat and stir in shredded cheese. Once melted, add salt and pepper and macaroni. Pour into 9X13 pan OR two 9X5 loaf pans. (The 9X13 dish will be big so plan for leftovers or make in two batches and freeze one...) Then top with Parmesan. Bake under broiler until Parmesan is brown and crusty. Enjoy!

The roux...


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New You???

With the new year in full swing, there tends to be a lot of pressure to "change", "improve", and "become a better you" so...are you biting?? My thinking is usually the same that goes for rules, resolutions are meant to be broken! But maybe the reason we break them so easily is because we weren't that passionate about the resolution in the first place. Vowing to diet and exercise more make the top ten list year after year but...what if you hate to work out and looooove junk food?? I'm not talking about myself, of course. Cough, cough. I just wonder if we went about our resolutions differently then maybe they'd be easier to keep. Sure, there's nothing wrong with eating better and getting into shape for your health, but when it becomes a chore, something you dread, then it's not going to work. Baby steps, however, are a good start. Instead of "lose fifty pounds", a better goal might be "cut out processed foods" or if you're like me and of the wound-up variety, instead of having unrealistic expectations of your little ones, your household and yourself, vow to ease up. I'm going to work on slowing down, being in the moment and just enjoy being home with my kids. So, here's my short list...what's on yours???
1. Buy less processed foods and make more homemade
2. Be more patient with my kids and stay in the moment
3. Get organized!
4. LOSE. THE. GUILT. I've set such high expectations for myself as a mother that I'm constantly second-guessing my decisions, feeling bad for: being impatient, not spending enough quality time with my kids and for not being "good enough" on a daily basis. Maybe I didn't read enough with Jovie or sit on the floor with Logan and play cars but dang it, I'm going to do my best and let it go! My kids won't die from too much TV, a bag of chips or from staying with a sitter once in a while.
Ok, glad I got that off my chest...Happy New Year!!!