Renn Faire Privateer Gone Mom.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

14 Ways Pregnant Women are like Toddlers

Is that so, you say?  Oh yes, I say.

Macaroni and cheese with a side of pb&j and apple juice for lunch, please!  Don't be stingy with the ketchup!

Chances are good they might not make it to the toilet in time.

If they can't find their red shirt and have to wear their yellow shirt instead, you will hear about it ALL. DAY.

They outgrow their clothes every 2-3 months.

Also, those clothes are optional.

They throw a fit if they can't have dessert after they eat half a pizza for dinner.

They either sleep like the dead or don't sleep at all.

Whatever it is you're making for breakfast, they don't want it.

You can hear them walking stomping through rooms from any location in the house.

They need help getting dressed and tying their shoes.

They make unreasonable demands in the middle of the night.

They're magnets for unsolicited advice and judgement.

They have the attention span of a goldfish. 

They cry about EVERYTHING.

I know this, because I am one!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Handmade Gifts: The Captain's Football Scarf!

As I mentioned in my 3 Cowls post, everyone's gifts last year were late.  After taking a break from the Captain's gift to knit Gabby the Garden Monster, I finally finished his scarf!

I had SO much fun doing this.  It was a bit intimidating, being my first attempt at following a chart pattern, and it took 3 tries before I finally figured out which way to hold the yarn while slipping stitches (even though it says how in the directions!), but once I got the hang of it, it went very smoothly.

In the beginning.
It did take a while though, because it takes 9 repeats of the chart.  I hope to incorporate some footballs into some other projects using Verdigris Knits's free pattern. 

All wrapped up and cozy.
Finished in time to watch the Seahawks in the playoffs!
I think this is my favorite knitting project so far.  It's also inspired me to try my hand at making a charted pattern, but I won't have time for that until I finish the rest of the late Christmas presents!

Monday, January 14, 2013

When Tragedy Strikes, Knit a Monster

Like many who turn to blogging for comfort, the day of the Sandy Hook shooting I wrote this postThen, in my grief and search for comfort (because what parent didn't need comfort after imagining those horrors) some friends helped me find Knitters for Newtown and  600 Monsters Strong.

The Captain asked me to put his Christmas present on hold so that I could make a Monster for a child affected by gun violence and I'm SO HAPPY to share her with you today.

This is Gabby the Garden Monster.
She's from Rebecca Danger's Big Book of Knitted Monsters.  My initial hope, like all the knitters in the 600 Monsters group, was that she would go to a child or family in Newtown, but the cause has gained so much momentum that it's expanded to include ANY child affected by gun violence. 

It feels like such a small gesture, compared to the terror these little ones go through, but I can't just do nothing.

I'm waiting on my 2 skeins of yarn from the Knitters for Newtown group, which hit their goal of raising $10,000 for families in Newtown.

I'm proud to be part of this movement.  When I have idle needles I plan on making more, to keep the flow of love and hugs going for children who need it.  I invite you to join me, whether you knit, crochet, sew, or have $5 you can donate towards causes like this.

Be the change you want to see in the world my friends.  You could very well change a child's life for the better.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Primal breakfast with link to Lemon Raspberry Pancake recipe!

I felt the need for berries this morning!
Technically, this is our second breakfast.  The kids do nothing but nag for food as soon as they get out of bed, so we usually give them a banana first thing and this morning they wanted apples as well.  

I think that's one of the big things I really feel like I'm doing right as a parent.  My kids LOVE fruit.  There was a long time Cabin Girl would choose fruit over sweets.  And when it's 'special' fruit, like berries we don't have often, they go NUTS.

So this morning I made these Grain Free Lemon Raspberry pancakes from The Urban Poser and topped them with 'Mom Jam' (the Captain's Mom always makes copious amounts of absolutely scrumptious raspberry jam; it does have a small amount of sugar, but since we aren't eating it on toast or sandwiches every day, I'm okay with it).  I cooked up some uncured pepper bacon and served everyone a small dish of Greek yogurt, topped with more berries.

Definitely nourishing.  Tons of protein, good fats, and the pancakes taste like little fried lemon curd cakes, so the kids think they're getting a treat first thing in the morning.

Cabin Boy #2 seems to be coming down with something, so for lunch I'll be taking some of the chicken I cooked up for the freezer and simmering it in bone broth with some onions and carrots.

After we watch the Seahawks beat the Falcons, OF COURSE.

Friday, January 11, 2013

3 Cowls

This holiday season the Captain and I discussed doing homemade gifts for everyone.  Which roughly translated to me making gifts for everyone.  Which translated into, everyone's presents are going to be late, late, LATE, including Captain's.  

There were 3 gifts I DID finish on time though!
Mom's a Ravenclaw, but her heart belongs to Gryffindor.

Mom wanted a cowl that wasn't tight against her neck, but I know how cold she can get, so I made hers long enough to double up.  It's a simple pattern I came up with on the fly, done in the round, knit 6 rows in the main color, purl 4 rows in the contrast color, repeat until your desired width, ending and binding off with the main color.

Dad works outside a LOT.  Every day he has a project or two going on, so he wanted something snug.

He's a hunter, so I went with a color that would match his camo.
This was just a basic knit 2 purl 2 in the round pattern.  Super stretchy, squishy soft, and warm.

My mom's sister, who the kids call Gabby, is pretty trendy and loves the color purple almost as much as I do, so when I saw a skein of scrumptious purple Chenille yarn at the store, I had to get it.  AND, it included this free pattern!

She still hasn't sent me her picture, so she doesn't get to be immortalized on my blog for MILLIONS to see.  Hah.
I almost kept it.  But that would have been rude.

I still have a giant bag of yarn waiting to be made into lovelies for family and friends, so I'm off to knit!!

What great things did you make as gifts? 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Popularity Virus

It's happened. 

Cabin Girl told me this morning that one of her 'friends' at school (N) has been telling their classmates that she thinks CG is ugly.

Put her in front of a camera and there will be no shortage of ham.
People... well, people are mean.  Everyone has unkind thoughts, whether they're bidden or not.  But little girls?  I'm relearning that little girls are CRUEL. 

I'd finally forgotten that in the 2nd grade there were countless nights that I cried to my mom about not having any friends.  I'd forgotten that because of my super rosy cheeks people made fun of my red face.  I'd forgotten that I was one of the chubby girls.  That my rough skin denoted the nickname 'Chicken Skin.'  'Amazon.'  The weird girl.  The goober. 

But CG, she's none of those.  She's rail thin (seriously, some days it worries me), her hair is gorgeous, her eyes are Captain's beautiful hazel eyes, her nose is perfect.  But she's also hilarious.  She's smart, sharp as a tack.  A ballerina to her little 6 year old soul.  Energetic, ready for anything, creative, and she CARES, you guys.  She cares so much it's annoying!  She loves fashion, music, and dancing.  Butterflies, ponies, and rainbows.  She's my firstborn; a leader.  She is the epitome of all that is girly but loves parking it on the couch to watch football and each chips with her daddy.

So what is it then?  Does N have someone at home teaching her that people like CG are not to be loved, but hated?  Envied?  Where else does this need to put others down come from? 

This morning brought us a new thing to worry about.  How do I keep my daughter from becoming Miss Popularity?  When she is surrounded by peers who insist that what she looks like and behaving daringly is what's important, how can I keep her sweet, and honest, and kind?  How can I keep that taint from seeping into her?

After her statement this morning we sat on her bed.  I brushed her hair and we talked about the things we love about each other and ourselves, inside and out.  And I explained to her that what her peers think don't matter; not in the end.  The people who made fun of me or didn't like me?  I'm not friends with them anymore, if I ever was, so what they think doesn't matter.  What this N girl thinks, it doesn't matter.  Because every day, when she gets out of school, she has two brothers and a mommy who love every part of her just the way she is waiting for her.  Her daddy will come home from work and give her a kiss because he loves her just the way she is, too.  She does and will have true friends that like her for the person she is, not the person she looks like.  And she has family, so much family, that wouldn't want her to change for the world.

But I'm afraid now.

There's no room for innocence anymore guys, and it terrifies me.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Back Into Freezer Cooking: Paleo Style: Part 2- Shopping Costs and Cooking with Eggplant Lasagna Tutorial

I'm hoping to make this an infinitely numbered series as I progress in my Paleo freezer cooking adventures.

I took Cabin Girl shopping with me to give the Captain a break.  Hah.  Like being left with 3 and 1 1/2 year old boys is a break.  I have shopping rules for her; Use 1 finger to touch, no touching food, pointing out everything you like or wish you could have is like nagging me, no asking for things, etc.  She did good for the most part, though towards the end we were both ready to be home.  A 6 year old can only follow so many rules, you know?

We ended up buying more than what we needed solely for freezer cooking, but the extra stuff was on our list (gotta have milk, ya know?).  To figure out how much I spent on freezer meal stuff, I highlighted and totaled the ingredients on the receipts:

Yep, we shop at Grocery Outlet and WinCo.  Their canned and packaged foods are by far the cheapest in our area.  We get our produce, meat, and dairy from a local grocer though. 

Total, we spent $69.10 on a projected 15 meals for our family of 5, not including the cost of the organic, grassfed beef (which was a Christmas gift from my parents) in our freezer.  That's less than $1 per person, per meal.  Likely $1.50 per person once meat costs are factored in.  Are you sold on freezer cooking yet?

After getting everything home and unloaded I mapped out my plan of attack:

Tons planned for the first day, then I'll be making more stuff to slowly add to the freezer throughout the next week.

Our flurry of a cooking day went like this...

Throw ground beef, beef broth (homemade), chopped celery, onions, and peppers, 2 cans of Rotel diced tomatoes with chilis, 1 can of tomato paste, and loads of seasonings into a crockpot on low.

Put a whole, frozen chicken in an oven safe dish.  Slather in oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and whatever else 'billows yer sail'.  Cover with foil and stick in an oven preheated to 375 degrees.

Brown 2-3 pounds of seasoned ground meat (I used half beef and half turkey, because it had been in my freezer for a while) with a diced onion in a giant soup pot.  Add 2 giant cans of tomato sauce and 3 cans of stewed tomatoes with oregano and basil and bring to a simmer.  Add spices and some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.  Let it simmer a bit.

Gently cook some thinly sliced eggplant in butter:

Pancake griddles are good for lots of things!
Layer it in a freezer friendly baking dish with some of the simmering marinara, fresh baby spinach, and generous amounts of grated cheese:

A Romano snow is the only kind I like.
  Repeat until you run out of eggplant.  Pretend to be savvy and make a horrible attempt at a pretty drizzle of marinara:

Don't be jelly of my mad culinary skills.

Let it cool before putting the lid on and freezing it!  Let it thaw in the fridge the night before you want to eat it then bake it (I'm gonna say 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour should suffice).


Make 2 pans of Crazy Cabbage, sans cheese.  Don't forget to cover them with foil... like I did.  They're a bit brown and dry, but still smelled amazing coming out of the oven.  Let them cool, put a lid on them, put them in the freezer.  Again, let it thaw in the fridge overnight, cook a bit in the oven then top with cheese.  I'll be adding some homemade bone broth to it to moisten it up since, you know, I'm awesome.

Make Egg Muffins and Coconut Flour Pancakes (which, ironically, my pancake griddle stopped working for). 

Check chicken.  If it appears to be done take off the foil to let the skin crisp for about 15-30 minutes.  Once it's done, out of the oven, and relatively cool, divvy it up into ziplocks.  DON'T THROW AWAY THE CARCASS!  Either put it in a ziplock to freeze for another day, or wait for your crockpot to be available to make bone broth.

Leave the chili until it's been in the crockpot for a good 6 hours, then divvy into freezer and microwave safe glass dishes.

Take a picture of your achievement!

I also sliced up a bunch of browned bananas I got on the cheap and put them in the dehydrator with some applesauce to make banana chips and fruit leather.  Between that and my crockpot full of bone broth, this morning was pretty eventful, too!

Back into Freezer Cooking: Paleo Style: Part 1- Find What Works and Plan It!

I'm hoping to make this an infinitely numbered series as I progress in my Paleo freezer cooking adventures.

This year we're focusing on becoming a more financially aware and responsible family.  Part of that, for me, means getting back into freezer cooking to stretch our monthly food budget.  It also means lots and lots of receipts and being on top of tracking where our money is going.  None of the worksheets I found online really impressed me, so I made my own:

Totally awesome and professional, right?
Anyway, it's a work in progress.  Hopefully along with the freezer cooking series I can update our financial plan progress as well.

Now, to the meat of this post.  I started with Pinterest (duh).  Freezer cooking is old hat to me, but, since we've been eliminating grains, sugars, and starches as much as possible, we got away from it for a long time and I needed a refresher.  I found Mark's Daily Apple, Robb Wolf, and Life as a Plate to be the most helpful.  Poke around, they have great stuff!

Keeping what we have stocked in our freezer and what I know my family will eat in mind, I added recipes I'd like to try to a list as I followed various links through the interwebs, including the main ingredients for each dish:

Are you in awe yet?
From that list, I chose a few meals that had similar ingredients (i.e. crazy cabbage, beanless chili, and meaty marinara all share ground meat, canned tomatoes, and bell peppers while roast chicken, bone broth, stew, and pot roast need carrots, celery, onions, and various other root veggies).

From there it's checking your spice supply, seeing where the best deals on meat and produce are for the week, and making your shopping list!
Check back to see what I bought, spent, and cooked in Part 2!