Weekend Things

>> Friday, October 31, 2014

Here’s a look into my refrigerator.


Last week I did a gigantic purge of any spoiled foods or hidden leftovers that had gone bad, and it made a big difference. When I can see all the food we have, I tend to use it all much more effectively. So, the goal from now on is to avoid trips to the store until absolutely necessary. Last week we skipped shopping entirely aside from some milk for Ada and fruit. I’ll write about how that went soon.

Otherwise, I’m breaking my anti-plastics in the kitchen by using some old clear snap containers to hold prepped foods, because I made a lot of them this week. I’d love to get a set of glass containers -- like this 18-piece set by GlassLock -- to replace the plastic and allow reheating directly. Next week, I’ll give you guys a look into my freezer and how it’s organized. Having an upright freezer has been such an amazing help, and I love that in our new house I can have it right outside the kitchen door in our garage.

Read these:


#1: Best of luck to anyone running New York this weekend. Here are some celebrities who are joining you!

#2: I’ve become absolutely fascinated with post-mortem photography this week.

#3: All Things Considered: To Make Bread, Watch the Dough, Not the Recipe

#4: As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, here are some new ways (aside from the self-exam) to screen yourself at home.

#5: We’ve been watching Burning Love on Hulu Plus this week and just started watching old episodes of The State again. What I wouldn’t give to live just one week back in the MTV-soaked 1990s!

#6: A few deals!
#7: Speaking of crock pots, this Vegan Slow Cooking for Two cookbook certainly piqued my interest.

#8: Check out these Disney Princesses with Realistic Waistlines.


Lately on Writing Chapter Three


// Why I’ve Stopped Reading Most Mommy Blogs
// VLOG: How To Untangle Doll Hair + Make Smoothie Cubes
// Our Last-Minute Faerie for Halloween + Wegmans Trick-or-Treating
// More about TTC -- Begin Again + Our Weekend

Elsewhere

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Psssst: Check out previous editions of Weekend Things!

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How To Bloom Where You’re Planted

>> Wednesday, October 29, 2014

This whole idea of blooming where I’m planted seemed to resonate with many of you. Obviously, I didn’t invent this amazing concept or phrase. Yet, I’ve slowly made it mine, at least in my own definition of its meaning. It’s my new mantra as I guide my life in a new, exciting direction. Sometimes all we need are a few words to spark something, to find motivation.


Truth: We can’t all live the lives we imagine in our heads. It’s just not possible. Yet, I’m sure most of us have hopes and dreams that aren’t already realized. And maybe, for whatever reason, they won’t be for years to come. So, it’s a good exercise for our sanity’s sake to grasp onto whatever parts of whatever it is while living our current existence. But how can you do it? Well, I have a few suggestions. These aren’t expert tips, mind you. Instead, they’re things I’ve been trying in my own life that I thought were worth sharing.


// Stop Stewing


I’ve always had trouble with being a more negative person, and I can be bad at covering it up. Thing is, keeping my mind down in the dumps wasn’t getting me anywhere. I was stagnant. I’d complain or worry or whatever else, and I’d go absolutely nowhere. Then I started to look at life form another perspective. It certainly wasn’t natural at first, in fact -- it took some, well, forcing. Slowly, instead of looking at everything around me as “the stuff I’m stuck with” or “things I want to escape” -- I found beauty and opportunity with what I already have. It’s an ongoing battle in my brain, but it’s one worth starting if you tend to be more glass half empty like me. Negativity closes a lot of doors before they have the chance to even open.

// Open Your Eyes


With this emerging mindset, I’ve been able to look around within the community -- at the people, places, and things -- in an entirely new way. Instead of getting all upset and retreating into myself on, say, a gloomy weekend in the suburbs (with an eye-roll because I was growing so annoyed with strip mall window shopping as our main go-to activity), I sought out the kinds of people and activities that fill me up. Maybe I couldn’t live the exact life I imagined in my head, but I could surely find the best life that’s available to me where we’re currently rooted. Saying yes to new activities and invitations led to even more new activities and invitations -- and stuff that I didn’t even know was going on in our area. It was like I unlocked something inside myself that literally unlocked the world around me.

// Make a List


I’ve made a list of the things I want in my life that I don’t think I can have in my current digs. And I use “digs” loosely to mean location, stage of life, income, etc. For me, a lot of this stuff has revolved around being more closely connected with the natural world, taking charge of our resources and household happenings (homesteading), and making more meaningful relationships with people who live in our immediate area. Along with a short bucket list of sorts. Of course, my list is much more specific, but those are the broad categories. If you want to try this exercise, make your list short, specific, and somewhat attainable. But add a shoot-the-moon type item on there, too. I’ll get to that in a minute.

// Visualize


It sounds silly, but I've used Pinterest to aid my journey. I’m a visual person and very much research oriented. So, along with reading books that fuel my interests, I like making inspiration boards with links, photos, and etc. for anything and everything I’m interested in learning + achieving + seeing as part of my life. This way, I have this digital resource I can consult when I have a free moment -- however short and fleeting. It also provides a sort of escape into my happy place if I’m feeling frustrated. I have a private board for those activities I’ve completed or have more personal attachment to. I keep copious notes here, too.

// Tame Distractions


I’m guilty of being a big time waster. I like watching TV or reading online or otherwise procrastinating. I took a week to track how much time I was spending on mindless and nonproductive things, and it astounded me. I’ve taken measures to be more disconnected from notorious time-wasters like Instagram, Facebook, and apps. Especially anything that pull me into that whole culture of comparison frame of mind. And I’m working on finding a better balance between being SUPER productive/working on all my freelance stuff and laying in front of the TV in a tired heap. I know I do a lot of stuff, so I need some leisure time, but I could do a lot more reading or enrich my life in other ways (I used to knit/sew/craft more, I used to read more books, I used to volunteer) besides just idling there under a blanket.

// Dream Big


Blooming where you’re planted doesn’t mean that your entire life has to be an exercise in compromise. If you really want something. Like, really really want it -- expend the effort to make it happen. Identify one big goal and make action toward it -- in baby steps. I’m still working on this part, but I’m one of those people who gets a lot of happiness from planning and preparing for things. If I don’t grasp that ultimate goal, so be it. At least I’ll get close and gain a lot in the trying stage.

+     +     +     +     +

I’ll be sharing more bits and pieces of my own self help journey as I see fit, and I’d love to know what you guys are engaged in as well. Mostly, turning 30 gave me things new mode for approaching my life. I’m in control of a lot more of it than I used to give myself credit for. It’s empowering and overwhelming at times. In short:

Image source.

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Foods I Prepped Ahead This Week

>> Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This is a case of why don’t I do this more often? Prepping foods for the week on the weekend makes perfect sense, but it’s also somewhat time consuming. However, whenever I expend the extra effort, I’m so happy I did. I thought I’d share a few of the foods I made ahead for our week (and to stock our freezer with) because it feels amazing to have hot food on the table with no mess to clean up.

The key with making foods ahead of time is making them simple. I use the slow cooker a lot, which I’ve written about extensively in the past. I also favor foods that need to rise, soak, or otherwise require little attention from me.

Here’s some of what I made this weekend.


BAGELS


So, I wrote about my bagel-making process yesterday. No, it’s not the most automatic thing, but if you can crank out a few batches at once, you’ll have quick grab-and-go bagels in your freezer for a fraction of the price you’d get them at the store or bakery. I made two batches to add to our upright freezer this weekend. Nom.


WHEAT BERRIES


I started cooking wheat berries in our slow cooker a couple months ago because it’s so darned easy. Just toss in 3 cups of wheat berries with 7.5 cups of water. Cook on high for 5 hours, stirring every now and again. This makes 3 quart-sized bags. I keep one in the fridge and freeze the other two (after they’ve cooled completely) for making quick salads and sides. You can even toss them in veggie burgers.


SMOOTHIE CUBES


I’m going to write more about smoothie cubes on Writing Chapter Three  since they’re usually for Ada. I basically blend up whatever fruit we have on hand at the end of the week (this time it was bananas, blueberries, and strawberries) with whatever yogurt is still left in the tub and/or milk (almond, cow’s, etc.). I also added some frozen broccoli to this mix. Blend. Then I freeze the smoothie into cubes and pop out a few to thaw for quick weekday drinking.


HUMMUS


Friday night I usually throw dry beans into containers to soak so I can cook them on Saturday or Sunday (sometimes I let them soak two days -- I just chance the water to keep it fresh). This time around I soaked some garbanzos, cooked them, and then made a garlic hummus -- using tahini and water for moisture -- with a nice dose of smoked paprika.


VEGGIE BURGERS


The other container of beans was a mixed bag of white, black, and pinto. I think I soaked three cups in all, which yielded much more. I then made 2 large batches of my Bulk Veggie Burgers recipe. After shaping them into patties, I just put them on a cookie sheet, freeze, and then place in freezer bags. Once you get the hang of this recipe, it’s easy to toss in whatever you have on hand. This time around, I used some salsa, a little leftover cheese, carrots, onions, oats, sunflower kernels, and spices.


STEEL CUT OATS


Love this slow cooker recipe for pumpkin pie oats -- and I make it often. Just put 2 cups of steel cut oats in with 6 cups of water and 3 cups of milk (we used cashew milk for fun this time). Then add a can of pumpkin puree or the same amount (around 1.5 cups) of applesauce. Some cinnamon and spice and maybe some vanilla extract if you have it. Then cook on low for around 8 hours or until oats have absorbed the moisture and are soft. Store in your fridge and enjoy for the whole week with different toppings!

What are your favorite food prep recipes?


// MORE PREP TIPS


Stock up on frozen veggies 
Buy greens and actually USE them 
Create simple, go-to meals
Learn to love alternatives
Prep, Make, and Store
Add In: Convenience to your advantage
Eliminate Food Waste
20 Ideas for Make-Ahead Meals

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