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Showing posts from 2014

Quick & Dirty: Make gift-giving easier with color-coded wrapping paper

The rule in our house has always been, "Those who don't believe in Santa don't receive gifts for Christmas." So it stands that at 30 & 33, my brother and I have never uttered words that might indicate Mr. Claus might possibly be imaginary, and certainly not in front of our mother. Magic, bringing gifts for parents to wrap (those overworked elves, you know), possibly non-corporeal, maybe even formerly-a-person but currently just an idea. But not real? NEVER.

Sometime when I was in middle school and my brother was in high school, my mom had a kind of genius idea. Instead of taking the time to write tags on gifts for us from Santa, she grabbed (what I'm assuming is like 12 rolls) some wrapping paper that clearly related to each of our interests. In our case, it was the Tazmanian Devil & Winnie the Pooh. We each got a couple gifts from our parents and some years even each other, but all Santa gifts to a person were in their own wrapping paper with no tags. I …

Cost/Benefit Analysis: Un-Paper Towels

Sometimes I look at things people post online and I marvel at how many people seem to have more money than sense.

Multi-layered, snap-together to make a roll, "unpaper towels" are the impetus for this particular rant. They seem to be an expansion of the cloth menstrual pads stores, more than anything, and presumably therefore made to appeal to the same demographic. But, there are better ways to accomplish a lot of goals sometimes, and this is one of those times. I love that people want to reduce their paper usage and their contribution to landfills. That's great!

The ones I'm seeing about typically use a single-sided terrycloth on one side, and quilting cotton on the other. I've seen a few with interfacing or batting in the middle to increase absorbency. They have snaps on each corner so that you can snap them together in a row and roll them up to be stored on the paper towel holder. Presumably, this is to help the household adjust to the new method, because they…

Moving Again

I can't say I'm ENJOYING moving as often as we have been, but I will say that it's been informative. This time thankfully we have officially 6 weeks to move. We get our keys to the new place Dec 20, sadly have to pay double rent for January (and let me tell you how stressful THAT is), but by all rights have access to our current apartment through January 31st.

We still intend to finish moving in a timely manner and cleaning up our "old" place so that wall repairs & carpet cleaning can happen to rent it out as soon as February 1st. But at least we can wait until the Christmas Crush is through at Mr. Moon's work to worry about packing & moving in earnest. It also has the benefit of giving us time to snag boxes from food & liquor deliveries at his work and local businesses. No paying for boxes this time! And since we're not paying for boxes, a) I feel less inclined to keep them sitting around awaiting our next move; and b) I got to splurge a bit …

Menu: Dec 15-21

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We spent more on groceries last week than I think I have ever spent at once. Our refrigerator is full to bursting and I've no excuses for myself. We weren't even shopping while hungry! On the up side, quite a bit of it was just dry staples that happened to run out at the same time as we had money and good deals, so most of it wasn't perishable. However, it was and is important that we properly store it all so that we CAN use it, DO use it, and DON'T go out shopping for oh, the rest of the month except for milk & coffee cream & maybe some fresh veggies such as they are.

I'm quite proud of us though: We managed to make a menu for this week that doesn't require a single purchase, utilizes some prepped leftovers, gets us out of a rut, brings back some old favorites, tests a new recipe, AND utilizes our new rice cooker to make it more than s ingle-use item. To top it off, as I write this, we've already prepped what we can for the week, and it's a lot…

Home Remedies: DIY Pain lotion

A lot of my life is spent with sore muscles. Pain relievers only help so much, and depending on the pill & the person they can rip your digestive tract to shreds.

It was Jillee's Pain Cream recipe that started this. I decided to go ahead and make my own version, to see how it works. Of course, I did a little research myself, and I wanted this cream to do a few different things. One thing I saw was about having some essential oils that cover the smell of the eucalyptus, so it's not so overpowering. Well, I'm here to tell you, that's hogwash--covering the scent also decreases the efficacy a bit. However, if the ones you add to it have purpose, it might be worth a little dilution.

Without further ado, my pain lotion recipe.

Ingredients:

1 three-ounce travel bottle of your preferred lotion. I use a coconut-oil-based lotion. 10 drops peppermint EO10 drops eucalyptus EO10 drops lavender EO5 drops clary sage EO3-5 drops cinnamon EO5 drops rosemary EOOkay but before we go an…

Menu: Dec 8-14

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What's on the menu?

Breakfasts: Bagels & cream cheese, bagel sandwiches, english muffins w/ peanut butter & honey.

Lunches: Leftover chinese food, turkey sandwiches, grilled cheese & tomato soup.

Snacks: .

Dinners:
Monday: Spaghetti & Meatballs Marinara [simple, beef, pasta, Italian; leftovers]
Using the leftover meatballs from my party on Friday!

Tuesday: Buffalo Chicken Wings & Garlic Broccoli [chicken, freezer]

Wednesday: Mushroom Stroganof [pasta, vegetarian]
Using the leftover mushroom gravy from my party, and adding sour cream.

Thursday: French Onion Soup [soup, vegetarian, ]

Friday: Pickle Plate [simple, snack]
We have plans with friends at a brewery an hour away, helping with wedding planning; the likelihood of us wanting a full dinner when we get home are pretty slim. But at least we have a snack plan in case we want it!

Saturday: Thai Curry Chicken & Rice Soup [chicken, rice, crockpot, soup, spicy]
I'm craving a version of this I can't get anymore, …

Managing expectations: Living with adult ADD, disability, and limited space

Mr. Moon is the first to admit that he's scatterbrained and unfocused. And he'll be the first to tell you that if he doesn't have a list, it doesn't get done. However, making lists isn't exactly his strong suit. Thankfully, he married a woman who lives by her love of lists & structure. The hard part is struggling with falling into stuffy old gender roles. Ultimately though, we have to do what's best for each of us and our partnership, utilizing our strengths and working around our weaknesses, even if they're the ones we learned through a society that taught them to us based on our perceived genders. Recognizing where they came from doesn't negate their existence and the reality is that I'm both a lot more organized than him, and have a lot more time to BE organized.

With the wedding out of the way and staring down the moving target of daily parenthood, we had a long discussion about priorities and what we want the rest of our lives to look like.…

Menu: Nov 17-23

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What's on the menu?

Breakfasts: Bagels & cream cheese; breakfast sandwiches

Lunches: Chinese/Indian leftovers; chicken pasta salad; burritos

Snacks: .

Dinners:
Monday: Curry (using leftover pumpkin-squash soup, paneer, and tofu; ginger honey rice in the rice cooker).  [vegetarian; leftovers; curry; rice]

Tuesday: Nachos (we're actually going out with friends hours before our usual dinner time, so we planned something that will entice us to eat at home, but won't be wasteful if we decide not to. [beef]

Wednesday: Stromboli (capers, banana peppers, pepperoni, ricotta) [vegetarian; Italian]

Thursday: I... have no idea. [ ]

Friday: Creamy Penne Bake (with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, artichoke jalapeƱo dip that's too salty to eat straight, chicken) [chicken, pasta]

Saturday: Out [ ]

Sunday: No clue. Gonna wing it. Ooh, maybe chicken wings. [ ]

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What's on your menu this week? Need planning ideas? I'll be linking up at orgjunkie.com, if you need other ideas…

Recipe: Loaded baked potato soup

Okay let's be entirely clear here, this is one of those "this is what *I* did" moments that you aren't expected to follow this recipe. But it was fun, so let's go through it!

First, we chopped the bacon into roughly half-inch chunks. Like, over a pound of bacon. Go for it. Turned on the dutch oven and rendered the fat out; once it was about half cooked, it was obvious it wasn't going to brown in the puddle of lard going on so I scooped out the bacon & put it in the cast iron pan that most needed some more seasoning, topped that bacon with black pepper, and finished frying it up.

We only had a half an onion in the house, so Mr. Moon chopped that up and we got it sweating in the dutch oven with the rendered bacon grease. A whole onion would have been nicer, but you take what you can get.

Then it was time for roughly 3 lbs of potatoes. Peels on. Now, I had Mr. Moon cut these up SMALL. Like, small dice, 1/4 inch squares. I SHOULD have in this case had him sta…

Menu: Nov 10-16

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Mr. Moon has a busy week ahead, only one day off work and it's for a metal concert. I had to pull him back from saying we'd just eat out at least three different days this week, not just because our budget is a little uncertain at the moment, but also because we did agree to reduce those temptations a bit and get back to good, home cooking now that our wedding is over and done with. Still, with my health, there's no way we will ever get away from convenience foods completely, and since we have been selective about which ones we keep around for just these occasions we might as well utilize them.


What's on the menu?

Breakfasts: .

Lunches: .

Snacks: .

Dinners:
Monday: Chicken & Rice [chicken, rice, leftovers, fast]
We just got a new rice cooker, and wanted to try one of the recipes in it. Originally this was going to be a rice cooker meal, but the fact is that we have leftover rice we decided not to use today. So I think instead it's going to turn into a skillet meal w…

Recipe: Sausage Stuffing

This is a recipe I cobbled together back when I was low-carb. While I'm certain I used a number of recipes as inspiration, as I always do, I always seem to throw specific recipes out the window in favor of making my own, and I so rarely measure unless proportions matter. Much of the time, this results in having no idea what I did or being completely unable to recreate the genius. This is not one of those times!

What you need:

2 lbs bulk sausage of choice: I like a good sage sausage, or a breakfast sausage, but even a spicy hot version has some appeal. 2 stalks celery1 large yellow onionFresh, hearty herbs: Sage, rosemary, thyme, stuff like that. Avoid softer herbs like basil & oregano, even parsley I think doesn't hold up. 1 butternut squash1-2 applesa handful of nuts: walnuts, almonds, mixed nuts, hazelnuts, all good. seasonings to taste What to Do: Peel the butternut squash and dice it (1/2 inch cubes). You can rinse the strings off the seeds & throw them in as nuts if…

Tricks for managing blood sugar crashes & low appetite

Content warning: Brief mentions of ED and I don't mean the penile kind. Some discussion of Feels and their relation to food choices, with some coping mechanisms that work for me.

Everyone can suffer through blood sugar crashes, and there are some doctors who believe that our modern society's abuse of our pancreas is the number one reason for diabetes that shows up later in life. Whatever your opinion on this topic is somewhat immaterial for the purposes of this conversation. However, if you are dealing with a diagnosed medical issue and not simply bad habits, do ensure you speak to your doctor before taking the advice of random people on the internet.

My blood sugar crashes are due to so many issues you could write a book. Eating disorder, chronic nausea, lack of appetite, chronic dehydration, medication side effects, and sheer bad habits, just to name a few. What this looks like in my daily life seems simple: I wait too long to eat. Now, as you may have already gathered, I d…

Harvest Sangria: The wine-lover's answer to grape allergy

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Given my grape allergy, you can imagine I miss out on a lot of delicious things. Chicken Marsala. Boeuf Bourguinon. Cinnamon raisin buns. Sangria. I do alright with most things, but every once in a while I feel a little deprived. Especially on the Sangria.

Now, every place I've worked that made sangria used vodka in it, but my brother (whom I do trust as an expert in the field of alcohol's history) informs me that sangria is intended to be a low-alcohol version of wine, hence juicing it down. So, this is more of an exploration of sangria than a true recipe, but we're going to go for it. The important thing to note is, make the flavors work together. This recipe was intended to be a seasonal-foods recipe, hence the name. In effect, this is basically a party punch.


Things You Need:

Wine! You can use grape wines, obviously, but here we're using mead/honey wine. Because I had a 3/4 bottle of mead that I couldn't drink straight. Make the wine about 50% of your total volu…

Menu: Oct 27-Nov 2

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What's on the menu?

Breakfasts: English muffins, apples & peanut butter.

Lunches: Pita Pizzas, Quesadilla, Chippy Dippy.

Snacks: .

Dinners:
Monday: Chicken wings & mac [ ]

Tuesday: Lasagna [ ]

Wednesday: Hamburger gravy - mashers if we get to them [ ]

Thursday: Dinner out for a friend's Birthday [ ]

Friday: Happy Halloween! Chili & hot dogs [ ]

Saturday: Sesame Noodle Bowl [ ]

Sunday:  Cheesesteaks [ ]

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What's on your menu this week? Need planning ideas? I'll be linking up at orgjunkie.com, if you need other ideas!

Back in the swing of things!

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Whew! Our first week back from weddings & vacation, and we're heading right back into the swing of things. We do much better when there's a bit of routine, a bit of organization to our lives, so we're right back to our checklists & menu planning.

One thing that concerns me is the new(ish) system we're trying. We have had this sheet for a couple months now, and it got us through the crunch of final wedding planning, but frankly we were ignoring most of our chores by that point and we weren't menu planning at all for most of this year. This system allowed for that, so I'm not sure it's sustainable long-term. But we're going to try it. Because having the things that are the same every day written out for each day made it harder to see what was different about "today."



We're cracking down on chores timing. 20 minutes for the "weekly" chores, and no more (not including laundry, of course). Whatever gets done in that time gets …

Home Remedies: Dandruff

I would number this, but I've been struggling with Dandruff for as long as I can remember and could not possibly tell you what attempt number this is to get rid of it or to find a routine that keeps it manageable.

The internet seems to think there are two kinds of scalp maladies: dry skin and dandruff. The internet also seems to think that you can't get fluffy clouds of tiny white specks if you have dandruff (characterized by thick or large chunks of white or yellow gunk) but to that I say Bah Humbug. Because I clearly get both, and there is no way this is "just dry skin."

You can Google dandruff if you really want more science. I'm not reinventing the wheel here, and you're going to get a much better education on the topic if you do. What I'm worried about is the fact that my dandruff has gotten so bad over the last two to three years. So bad that I'm scratching incessantly some days. So bad that it's in my ears, and I will obsessively pick until…

Hot to: Freezing & reheating frozen food

This actually started out as a comment on OffBeat Home's 7 ways to eat healthier food on a budget.
There we were discussing make-ahead soups, freezing & reheating for work lunches. Someone asked how you'd freeze them, in individual containers or larger ones. This is my response:

While certainly not private, that's a surprisingly personal question. How you choose to do it will have a lot to do with your budget, values, and routines.

For space and best quality as far as freezer-burn goes, the best bet is going to be ziplock bags. Get the good kind with a double lock (NOT the ones with the zip-tabs), fill with the amount of *cooled* soup you want (one serving, two, four, whatever) up to about 3/4 of the bag while it's sitting on its bottom, and zip, getting as much air out as possible. Lay in a stack in the freezer and it takes up the least amount of space. However, this means thawing in the fridge overnight before transferring to a dish for transporting & reheati…

Family is...

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I'm proud to announce the birth of my nibling! Of course for his personal privacy we will not be posting his name, but in honor of his chubby cheeks, let's call him...

Gus Gus. 
This is my bio-brother's first kid, but the bestie I adopted as a sister about 18 years ago has three already so I'm old hat at the Aunt thing: Arrive at nap time with noisy toys, chat with Mom until the screaming hurts my ears, run away and let the parents pick up the pieces. That's about it, right?

I'm unsurprised at how homesick this has made me. One of my biggest fears with moving far away from my hometown has been proven to be valid. It took me so long to do so because I knew it would mean missing major milestones in my families' lives, and every time it's happened so far has felt like a kick in the stomach for me.

On the up side, technology has been progressing such that I now have multiple ways of video chatting with my family members back home. I've Skyped with my si…

Sesame Kaleslaw

We had a BBQ today, and our hostess has a gluten allergy. So while shopping this week, we kept our eyes peeled for inspiration on what to bring. And inspired, we most certainly were!

This could easily be called coleslaw as it had cabbage in it, but I definitely wanted to steer the idea away from your standard coleslaw recipe right from the start. Anyway, while we were shopping at the local restaurant supply store, I saw a giant bag of slaw-cut greens. Kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli stems, both red and green cabbage. It was beautiful! And I wanted it in my mouth right then. We used some of the bag earlier in the week for stir fry noodles. And then we mixed up a nice big bowl of slaw this morning.

Salad: 
Mix of slaw greens
Scallions, sliced large & on the bias (I'll save you the googling, that's a diagonal cut)
Sesame seeds, either black or white
Nuts would be amazing, as would crispy noodles (but we didn't have any, and it didn't NEED them)
Dressing, below

Dressing…

Riding the roller coaster of life's joys and sorrows

The last few months have been one of life's most ambivalent times. You know the ones, where good things are happening and you think you should be feeling guilty being happy when others or even ourselves are hurting over the pain and loss that life brings us. Navigating grief while planning a wedding has been on our minds a lot. We know that Mr. Moon's father's absence in our wedding celebrations will be notable, and trying to find ways to grieve and honor him in such a joyous occasion hasn't been easy. It's not even a situation to which we've found a solution that feel right, yet.

But this entire endeavor I think has been good for me. Despite my lack of mental health care at the moment (which is a long story and a rant for another day), I've found myself navigating a lot of intense emotions and stressful situations with more grace and self-love than I really expected to experience. Mr. Moon and I have our spats for sure, but those even haven't been as i…

Arts & Crafts: Fixing a Pair of Sandals From Ouch to Ahh!

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I bought these sandals. I needed something that would do for the summer that's that sort of mid-range dress-casual style, that would sort of "go with everything." I rarely wear white so that's right out, but black doesn't always work either. Then I saw these super cuties on sale at Payless and I had a coupon so I bought them.

Problem is, when they came in (did I mention I do most of my shopping online?) they were... ok but not quite right. You see, it's the laces.
As you can see, I tried a couple (dozen) different ways of lacing them. Each and every one caused painful pressure points from the round laces on the tops of my feet in minutes. No matter how I laced them, the ends were so long that the bows and tails would flop around and tickle my feet like I had bugs crawling all over them. Payless, if you can hear me: THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!
I knew I had to do something. They sat in their box in the bottom of the closet for more weeks than I'm ready to admit, wh…

Home Remedies: Busting Head Lice

Alright after the flea post I did promise a post about getting rid of head lice without risking pesticide poisoning. Let me first explain why this is so important to me. [Click through at the "Read More" because I cut it for the bug-squick.]

Home Remedies: Using Salt for Fleas (and other natural remedies)

Once upon a time, I didn't have a cat.

[Cut for the bug squick, click through for more:]

Organizing: Daily checklists

We have been using outdated checklists since we moved into our new place, just because everything has been so dysfunctional in our lives. I think there is a point at which routine & organizing is impossible, and then a point at which routine & organizing will help you get the rest of the way to where you want to be. There's definitely a tipping point, just as there is with menu planning. I think we've finally hit that tipping point.

Finally today I've got our checklists updated and ready to be printed. One of the nice things about living in a place before updating the lists is that we can see what's been missed and make sure to get it on the list. So that's helpful. Bright side, right?

I have to tell you though, don't skip getting the shopping list white board up on the wall as soon as you move in. Forgetting that rice vinegar was on the list for over a month was torture when I kept re-discovering for three whole weeks that I was out. Or the day we forg…

Sad news

As I started this blog originally when moving down to live with and care for Mr. Moon's parents, even though I've avoided detailing his struggle with cancer it seems only right that I should post the sad news we received yesterday. Mr. Moon's father has passed on.

It certainly wasn't sudden, but there were sudden drastic declines in health along the way, almost like a flight of stairs. His children, wife, friends and family had lots of time with him before the final days were clearly upon us, and then those closest to him were given the chance to stop in and say their goodbyes. For Mr. Moon and I, our friends have been fantastically supportive, and for that we will always be grateful. It is a comfort to know that he was not in much pain until the very end, and that modern medical care was able to ease that pain for the most part so he never suffered. Not all terminally ill patients are afforded such an easy transition, and everyone who loved him is not taking that fact…

The Latest Dirt: Micro greens and herbs making their way to the sun!

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The garden is really making progress! I'm pretty excited about it.

One of these is kale, the other is mustard greens. These and the lettuce below, I'm not sure at what point I start thinning and eating micro/baby greens.


It took a while, but the dill decided to come out to play! Plus a volunteer oregano there at the bottom left corner.

Marigolds! I'm pretty excited for these. When I was planting I was really disappointed in my lack of nasturtiums this year, but I've got more pots now! Hanging ones even. I don't think we get warm enough or enough sunlight around here for tomatoes, so maybe I will use my hanging pots for nasturtiums.

The scallions are so much happier outside in dirt with some sun than they were on my counter with no sun in a glass of water that we rarely remembered to change. However, they grow more slowly out here which makes me a little sad.

 My lavender did decide to grow back! Maybe I will cut off the silly stump now.

I wasn't sure if the cil…

Recipe: Cheeseburger Cobbler

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A family-of-friends on Facebook posted that one of them had brought forth a family recipe and it was amazing. This family recipe such as it was came with some vague instructions (not unlike my own "recipes"), and I added it to my mental list of Things To Try At Some Point.

Of course, being me, I didn't need much more than the vague instructions to fly off in my own direction. And thus, this casserole was born. (I'm adjusting directions for better flavor than what I did, don't be alarmed that the layers are in a different order than the pics; you still get the idea.)
Ingredients: 3/4 lb or more ground beef1 onion, dicedseasonings to taste1/2 lb mushrooms, quartered (optional)1/2 green pepper, diced (unpictured, optional)Pickle chips, or relishketchupmustardCheese of your choice, separated (pictured: muenster sliced, cheddar shredded)Raw biscuit dough, enough to feed 2 biscuits to everyone (canned is fine, as is Jiffy mix)garlic bread seasoning, or granulated garlic…

Furniture renovations for the win

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I'm pretty good about using things as I need them and not just using, say, a nightstand when I need a nightstand. Thinking outside the box, as it were. When I was growing up, I had a loft bed, and the top of my tall dresser was my nightstand. I've used file cabinets, actual nightstands, upside down trash cans, stools, chairs, and most recently: a small bookshelf.

Bookshelves are great for nightstands. They don't come too far forward, so you aren't trying to scoot around them getting into bed. They have lots of storage space for the room they take up, and if you want things on them to be hidden you can put them in decorative boxes/baskets.

The problem with my bookshelf was, it had to be placed in such a way as to either block the outlet from being usable at all, or else pulled 3-4 inches away from the wall to allow the plugs some room. Of course, pulling it away from the wall presents other problems, namely earrings and pill bottles getting dropped behind it. Not helpfu…