Christmas Toys and Food Waste

Since we just came back from an almost week and a half trip, we didn’t have much to throw away.

Score
Except, of course, for one serving of leftover beef stew that I made approximately two weeks ago.
Gross
With that in the trash, our fridge looks pretty bare.
I ran to the store yesterday morning to grab milk, bananas, and something green. To my delight, I found our local Food Lion was having a sale on collard greens. They were $0.25/bunch. Now, I may not be a native southerner, but I can cook any green in some olive oil and garlic and call it tasty.
Seriously.

FoodWasteFriday

Since the Beardly One is back at work already, I have been tackling the task of putting our clothes, toys, and other luggage away from our trip. I’ve done approximately 5,000 loads of laundry, and I am worried there may be no room left for the children once we put all of their new toys away.
Fear not, some old ones will just
have to be donated. 😉
The girls have been great about occupying themselves. Madeline was enjoying one of my favorite toys that she got: some classic wooden blocks.
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I just loved watching her carefully place blocks on top and adjust each one so it wouldn’t fall over. She’s my budding architect, for sure.

Simple Wrapping

IMG_20131220_214748I am not one of those super crafty people you find out there in the blogosphere.

You know those moms that make their kids’ clothes and sew little dolls for their daughters and build tree houses for their sons?

I am so not one of them.

We color, we do play-doh, and I’m pretty sure Madeline’s skills are nearing my own far too quickly.

So of course when it comes time to wrap Christmas gifts I used to get very nervous.  My wrapping and decorating never tend to look as nice as that of other people.  We have some very crafty and naturally gifted “stylists” in the family, and I used to feel my gifts paled in comparison.

Until I discovered the real secret for myself:

Simplicity

This is my second year where I buy one kind of wrapping paper in a solid color, and I buy one adornment for the gifts.

Last year I wrapped gifts in brown paper and twine (a very country look), and this year I bought red paper and some lace ribbon.  The look is simple, but I think very pretty.

Certainly not over the top.

I’ll admit the lace ribbon was a bit pricey (about $1/yd), but I made up for it in wrapping paper.  One roll of my paper (which more than wrapped all my gifts this year) was $0.99 at IKEA.

Pretty and a good bargain.  Who can beat that?

 

The Wrapping is Half the Gift

There are some days that you really need a little comic relief.  Sometimes life gets you down and you feel you are overwhelmed with too much to do.  Those are the days that God sends me a little giggle somewhere.

Today, we received one of Clara’s birthday presents from my sister in the mail.  I opened the box during naptime, admired the gift, and quickly put it into the spare bedroom in hiding.

I did, though, take the box it came in and put it near the trashcan in the kitchen.  When the girls woke up they found the box.  Hilarity ensued.

(Note:  I should have taken pictures to share, but I was so wrapped up in the ridiculousness of it all I forgot.)

First, Madeline climbed into the box, telling me repeatedly, “Mommy, I climb in.”

Then I asked her if she wanted to do a puppet show with her finger puppets.

Thrilled, she leaped out of the box and toppled onto the (carpeted) floor giggling.  She returned with puppets.

Our animal finger puppets talked to each other with the usual obvious names (Mr. Mouse, Mr. Frog, etc.)

Clara chewed on some puppets to join in the fun.

Then Madeline and I decided it was time to put Bean in the box.

After several failed attempts to shut the box on her not-so-enthused sister, Madeline climbed in with Clara.

Now two babies in a box, my girls sat smiling at each other and giggling.

A good 20 minutes after they had woken up from their nap, my girls had amused themselves with a cardboard box.

Awesome.

Needless to say, today I am thankful for those toys that you didn’t know could be toys.

Food Waste and Thankfulness

Today I was lucky to find only three small chunks of pineapple, tucked into the back of my refrigerator, in a large pyrex that needed to be thrown away. Why was there three bite-sized pieces of pineapple left in that container? I haven’t the slightest. Three bites. Ugg.
With that gone, I have more room for my ever-growing collection of pureed pumpkin, which is up to about 5 gallons at the moment, with another gallon-sized bag of chunks left to bake and puree.
**Please do not judge how long this process takes. Turning pumpkin into pumpkin puree is labor intensive, and sometimes I just need a break!

FoodWasteFriday

Finally, I wanted to share what I am thankful for today: my (mostly) free education. Because Beard is employed by a local university that offers free education to any of his dependents, I am able to work on my Masters in Teaching without adding anything to our debt. We do, however have to pay a small fee (less than $200 per semester) for online fees, but that is small potatoes compared to how much a private college education can cost. That being said, I sometimes tend to complain and moan about my husband’s job because his hours are so strange, but if it wasn’t for this job, I wouldn’t be able to be in this course.
Why Masters in Teaching? First, because I already hold a bachelors degree, and I thought it would be silly to make a lateral move rather than a step up. Second, I intend to homeschool our children. Hopefully. If I find the patience for it. Learning how to teach and educational theory would be very helpful for this.
And if my girls end up going to a school outside the home, being a crazy physics teacher is a pretty awesome fall back plan if I do say so myself.

Hand Me Down Kitchen Tools

Yesterday my Beard and I were busy on a date night, which obviously took precedence over blogging, so I will share my “Thankful November” post from yesterday and today:

Sometimes I get frustrated that I do not get nice new things.  It seems every time I turn around someone is getting some new boots, a new coffee maker, a new car, a new house; you name it.  And we have old things.  Boots from Goodwill, an old Keurig (with a cracked, then repaired reservoir), one 2008 car and one 1997 car with 300,000+ miles, and a house built in the mid 1970’s.  Nothing we own is really new.

Well, except our girls, but we don’t own them.  And they’re getting pretty old anyway.  😉

But as I was working on pureeing my giant pumpkin yesterday (which is almost done) I realized I have been using a 25+ year old food processor.  I use the exact food processor my mom used to puree my baby food.  How cool is that?

But that’s not my only hand me down kitchen tool.  I also have:

a 30+ year old Foley Mill from my husband’s grandma

a 40+ year old hand mixer from my aunt

and some 20+ year old pots and pans from my dad.

All of these kitchen tools tell a story.  They are tools used to feed families for years (or at least symbolically).  They are a small part of the food history of our family.  And so, although our kitchen tools may not be brand new, they are mine, and most of them used to be someone else’s.  But they certainly all work.

 

For today, I am thankful for the ability to nurse my babies.  The last week has been tough with Clara.  She still isn’t one to “sleep through the night”, and she is nearing her first birthday very quickly.  She likes a midnight snack sometimes, or she gets hungry very early in the morning.  It has been difficult to get enough sleep, and so I had tricked myself into thinking she would sleep better if I wasn’t offering her breastmilk.

That may be true.

But.

I have to stop and remember that not all women can breastfeed their babies, especially for as long as I have.  And although it is taxing on my time, on my body, and on my emotions, nursing has been a wonderful experience for me with both girls.  It forms a bond that I don’t think anything else could foster between mother and child.  And so, even though I had tossed around the idea of weaning Clara early in the interest of sleep, I think I’ll hang in there just a little while longer.

After all, she and I are both reaping loads of benefits from this nursing relationship.

75 Pounds

That, friends, is the weight of the pumpkin our family won from a local orchard.  75.5 lbs to be exact.

My husband and I both tend to have scientific minds, and can be good estimates of weights, lengths, etc.  So I really shouldn’t be surprised that we won this giant pumpkin.

But somehow getting the phone call to pick up our prize, that by the way weighs more than both of our children combine, made this whole scenario very real.

I will have to upload a picture or two that we have taken with the pumpkin, but not until I can give you all the comparison I have in mind.

You see, a lot of people asked what I would do with a 75.5 pound pumpkin.  What would I do with it?

Bake it.  Duh.

And make a ton of pumpkin puree.

I am about 1/4 of the way through the pumpkin and will have to continue my puree project tomorrow.

But for today I wanted to share that I am thankful for free food, in any shape or form.  Free pumpkin is wonderful, and so are the free sweet potatoes we received from friends who had a bumper crop this year.

We are eating a lot of orange foods around here.  At least my babies will have great eye sight with all of that beta carotene. 😉

 

And for yesterday:  I was thankful for my church.  We invited a neighbor to our church yesterday, and he had been nervous about being judged or looked upon differently for somethings in his past.  I love that my husband and I could honestly and whole-heartedly say that he would not be judged in our church.  And that our worship music is awesome, by the way.