Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Meal Planning: improvising when your plan doesn't work

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, meal planning goes awry. It happened to me last week, and it inspired this post.  It's always good to have some easy, tasty meals in your pocket for times like these.
Last week in our meal plan I had breaded chicken, it's super yummy, next time I make it I'll take some pics and do a post.  It's basically chicken breasts coated in breadcrumbs and seasonings and pan fried.  When I went to make it last week I ran into one problem right away, turns out, we were out of bread crumbs. Well, crap, off to pinterest I go, I have a few standby recipes for regular chicken breasts, but I thought I'd try some of the chick-fil-a taste-a-like bites I saw on there.  I get all my ingredients out and ready to go, and of course, another snag.  Turns out the package of chicken breasts from Costco I defrosted are really chicken thighs.  Damn those 3-packs from Costco that only label the MIDDLE pack, why the EFF can't you label all 3 so I know wtf I have in the freezer?  
So now I have to think quickly.  I want to make something I know Z will eat, and something easy because at this point I'm not in the mood to do a lot of prep work.  
I turn to my easy bbq baked chicken recipe.  Defrost a package of boneless chicken thighs and put them in a 9x13 baking dish.  Sprinkle some garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, mustard powder, salt and pepper on them.  Use your favorite bbq sauce, I like the Trader Joe's all natural one, and paint it on top of the thighs.  Get a bottle of beer, I use a darker malty beer like an oktoberfest, or a winter lager, any brown ale/lager will do.  Pour 3/4 of the beer into the pan, this will make your chicken taste divine and will keep it moist.  Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Then NOM.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Kid Craft

You gots to respect the TURKEY people.  I can't believe how early we saw Christmas stuff in the stores, I think it was after Labor Day.  I love the Christmas season but that is just effing ridiculous.  In all honestly, Thanksgiving is far from my favorite holiday.  I'm not a fan of most of the food, and the day itself doesn't contain memories of anything fun and exciting for me as a kid.  But nevertheless it *is* the holiday between Halloween and Christmas and it deserves respect as such. 
Since Z has been in the mood to do crafty things on his full days home with me I knew I was going to have to come up with something for him to do.  He's VERY interested in all the holidays and things coming on the calendar lately.  And he says he "LOVES turkey", so I went with a turkey craft. This one is all mine, inspired from a variety of posts on Pinterest, but I came up with this one on my own.
This, as usual, is super easy, and kid friendly.  I used 2 toilet paper rolls, one whole one, for the body, and one I cut in half for the head.  I had him paint them brown completely, mostly to keep him busy.  
Then I took some rectangles of craft foam, I got these at the dollar store, you could use construction paper instead, whatever you have around the house.  I traced Z's hands on the rectangles, we used orange, red, yellow, and green.  We both cut out the hands (Z wanted to do it all himself and then after one hand declared it "too much work" and asked for help).  By the time we got the hands cut out, I used 8 rectangles because Z's hands are kind of big, the paint was dry.
Z glued the hands on the back of the "body", kind of spread out to look like the turkey feathers.  Then we used our jar of googly eye balls and glued a couple of those and a beak I cut out of yellow card stock to the "head".  I saved a small strip of red craft foam to be the waddle of the turkey. And Z insisted that the turkey also have feet, so I used the yellow card stock and free hand cut out some feet.
 As soon as the glue was dry on those pieces we glued them together to complete the turkey.  Super cute Thanksgiving decoration!  Z is very proud of himself, and I am too, he did a great job!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Getting healthy clean floors

I am by no means a neat freak.  You should see my bedroom, it's a disaster area. But I do like to keep the "common" areas of the house clean and presentable.  It makes me twitchy when the rest of the house gets too far out of sorts.  Especially, the floors.  ESPECIALLY since Gavin is mobile and shoves EVERYTHING into his mouth.  And by mobile I mean he rolls, literally rolls like a barrel all over the floors.  So if our floors are overdue for a cleaning, it shows, all over my baby boy. GROSS, *cue eye twitching*.
The bottom floor of our house is what I would consider "common area".  It's big, and 95% ceramic tile. So, out of necessity with a side of laziness, I vacuum the tile, and the area rugs that we have in the living room and playroom.  Recently we decided to get a new vacuum because I was getting increasingly annoyed with our old one, it wasn't picking up dog hair on the area rugs, who knows what it was missing on the tile.  The last straw was when B broke a wine glass on the tile and tried to use the vacuum to pick up the small pieces of glass, FAIL, it missed a ton. So we took the plunge and got a refurb Dyson.  

They are super pricey, I will fully admit that.  But that damn vacuum was one of the best investments we've made in a long time.  The HORROR I felt looking at the full canister after vacuuming my "clean" floors.  That thing sold me right away.  Not a sponsored post, more a PSA for people who need clean floors.  It picks up dog hair, and incredible amounts of dust/dirt.  Technically it's also an investment in our health, hmmm I wonder if we could HSA it? ;).  Zach has asthma, and the rest of us including him, have terrible allergies, so a vacuum that gets the yuck out is worth it on every level.
Ok so now that the suck-up-able dirt is gone from the floors I needed something better than the mop and bucket to do the welded on dirt.  I had been using the standard method with vinegar and some lavender oil, and I *thought* that was doing an ok job.  Until one day after some serious walker use from Mr. G thang, I noticed his little feet were BLACK.  Like he had been running around outside black.  I was so completely disgusted I turned to Amazon immediately for something better.  We have, in the past, had a Shark steam mop.  It seemed good at the time, however it was kind of clunky and it broke within an a year, so I knew I didn't want that.  There are some fancy pants expensive options out there, but all the reviews indicated they would go the way of the Shark too.  So, I decided on a cheap option, for under $50 I have a steam mop that is working quite nicely.  Similar to the Dyson experience, I was horrified, although this time not as surprised to see how black the mop pad was after I did 1/3 of my floor.  Now after a month usage or so, it only gets that black after doing the entire floor :/. What can I say, 2 little boys, a dog and a hubs, our floors get D-I-R-T-Y.  So benefits to the steam mop: you just use water, so no chemicals; nothing to buy again, just water; can use to sanitize sections of the floor; picks up dirt waaaaay better because it's so hot.  Completely worth $50, even if I have to spend it every year.

*All links are affiliate links, mostly so I could get a picture to use without any issues.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Inspirational Movie - Little Red Wagon

I recently had the opportunity to watch a screener for an incredibly inspirational movie.  It's called "Little Red Wagon" and here's a short synopsis:

LITTLE RED WAGON is based on the inspirational true story of eight-year-old Zach Bonner on his quest to change the world with nothing more than his beat-up red wagon and a blazing spirit of philanthropy. When Zach sets out to help homeless children in America in the wake of Hurricane Charley, by walking from his house in Tampa, Florida to the White House, he must overcome bureaucrats and blisters, and capture the hearts of his fractured family and the entire nation.

I was very interested in watching this since I'm from Florida and my family lives in the Tampa area.  I remember when Charley was approaching and they were right in the path.  Thankfully as the movie shows, the storm veered, but it still had a huge impact on those it hit head-on.  That impact was the inspiration for Zach (in the movie, not my kiddo ;)).  
The movie sends such a great message.  Anybody, at any age, can make a difference.  It's a great movie to watch with your kids, it teaches them compassion for others, and the true spirit of philanthropy.  And it's a real story that touches on the trials and tribulations that doing a work of this magnitude imposes on a family.  Truly a feel-good type movie :).
If you're looking for a great family movie that also teaches your kids a little something about caring for their fellow man, please check it out!
Locally Little Red Wagon opens in theaters this Friday, Nov 2 at the Harkins Superstition Springs in Mesa.  Check your listings for when it might play in your area!