Thursday, January 6, 2011

The best things in life are free

 It's funny how often this rings true when kids are involved. They love the big box a gift came in. They'll happily visit the park and just run amok on the playground. In short, they're just happy to be happy (boy howdy can we all take a lesson from their playbook or what?)

   This week has been a cold one, not so cold you can't play outside for a little while (once you're all bundled up) but cold enough to freeze the water puddles and make a nice place to "ice skate" I remember many a winter day "ice skating" on the big frozen puddles that were around our farm. I say "ice skating" because there were no ice skates, just ice and slippery soles on your boots. We did have a pair of ice skates here or there, but the slippery boots were just as fun. And as a child you're sure you look *almost" as good as Dorothy Hamill did when she skated. (yes I know I just gave away my age)

   So Little Man and Baby Girl have been having just as much fun on our very own puddles the last couple of days. They've used sticks and leaves to play hockey. They've spun *gracefully* in circles (ok so maybe more like whirling out of control tops on a freshly Pledged wooden floor). They probably spent as much time on their fannies as they did their feet, but that's ok. As for me, I've loved watching them "skate". It brings back memories from my childhood and makes me stop and smile for a minute. 
                               This picture is a little blurry, but I love the big belly laugh
                                                                                              Little Man is having

                                                                           Just "skating" along
    So in this time of everyone's house looking like Toys 'R Us threw up all over the place (or maybe that's just my house that looks like that after Christmas) it's been nice to be reminded of the simple pleasures in life. They're free and they're precious and as adults, we need to soak them up when we can.  I hope you cold weather moms are able to get out there, find a puddle and pretend you're Katerina Witt, if only for a short time, with your kiddos .

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The self check out lane

  It's not rocket science folks, just follow the instructions and you'll be just fine! I really do try to keep a sense of humor about my job, but some nights the idiots are out to get me! I think there should be a basic list of rules you need to read before you walk over to a self check out area.
  • Do not try to operate this machine if you're drunk. Even though it's funny to watch you stumble over the pushing of the screen and the trying to open the plastic bag (that in it's self is hard enough when you're sober) you're only going to get mad at the attendant when we tell you to follow what the machine is saying. Oh and we have to do this with a straight face because you're drunk and we're easily amused!
  • The machine works on a scale. The bar code has a weight attached to it. If you're going to try to scan 1 item and put two in the bag an alarm will sound and we will loudly tell you to only put in the bag what you've already scanned. We're sure you're not trying to steal.
  •  If you're not going to listen to the machine and you're not going to listen to the attendant when we try to explain, then just keep moving along, none of us need the aggravation.
  • Please realize the machine can't hear you when you talk back to it. Although it amuses me and makes my night go faster, so by all means, please carry on your conversation. 
 To all the people who zip through the self check out with breeze good for you! I'll smile and really mean it when I tell you to have a nice evening.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Menu planning made easier

  Or at least that's what I'm hoping for. In order to help the food budget, I menu plan from the local grocery ads. I "cherry pick" from the two higher end stores (meaning I only buy what is on sale, not my basics) and then do the rest of the shopping at the cheapest store out of the three local stores (all within 5 miles of my house). This usually works out, but I still seem to miss a couple things I'll need for my menu. Which means I need to run out (or have Hubby stop on the way home) to get the missed item.

     Well I think I've come up with a better way to menu plan and make sure I've got everything I need for that weeks menu. I took 3X5 cards (that I already had on hand for the twins for school) and wrote one meal on each card. I then wrote every item I need to make that meal (not the actual recipe, just the ingredients). I color coded them for each meat with a pen, so black is beef, green is chicken, blue is pork and red is other (seafood or the recipe doesn't call for meat).  So for my stuffed shells recipe it looks like this
                         Stuffed Shells 
                     ground beef
                     pasta shells
                     shredded mozzarella cheese
                    bread crumbs
                    parmigiana cheese

 So now when stuffed shells is added to the rotation I look in the pantry to see what ingredients I already have on hand and what I need to buy gets written down on my grocery list. I will let everyone know how well this plan works out for me. I'm hoping I will be much more organized now.

   My other tip for shopping the grocery store is go on-line for the store you shop. Most stores allow you to view their ad on line and you can click on the things you want in the ad to create a list. Then you can follow the tabs to add the other items not on sale to your grocery list. When you print it out, most stores organize the list by isle. So you only go down the isles you need and you know exactly what isle everything is in. So when you're in isle 9 you know you're going to get your pasta, sauce, rice and beans. Make sure to take a pen to cross the items off as you go. If you're shopping with a little helper, have them help you with the isle number or how many of the item you are looking for.