7.23.2015

Antiques! Hastings & Red Wing

If you've ever heard of Red Wing Shoes (Um, Ryan Gosling has a pair, along with David Beckham), that's where I went - to Red Wing, Minnesota with my mom and sisters. We also stopped in Hastings and then went to Treasure Island Resort And Casino. If you're not from Minnesota you might be surprised to hear that all casinos in Minnesota are run by Indian Communities - Treasure Island is run by the Prairie Island Indian Community - the Mdewakanton community. Gaming is how most of the communities make money to support themselves. If you've never heard of reservations or communities - google some in your area and learn their histories. I feel like we don't have enough of that subject in schools so kids have no idea why the Native American history is so important and so unknown.

In any case, antiquing was pretty awesome. I found some really neat "treasures" I guess you could say.

I've tried really hard to stop buying plastic - but with a 3 year old that LOVES princess stuff and dolls and cars and toys... I'm finding it really hard to find Disney princess items that are NOT plastic. So I've just resolved to stop buying plastic in other areas. I don't get plastic bags to get produce, instead I use flip and tumble Set of 5 Reusable Produce Bags. They're AWESOME. And I've also become one of THOSE people that just flat out refuses plastic bags. So I have to find weird ways around not buying plastic or hauling things home. It can get interesting especially when you're shoving your groceries in your purse and making your 3 year old carry whatever she can too.

One of the ways to stop buying plastic IS toys - I've been buying used doll toys - so I bought an antique doll bed that rocks, and one other fun thing I did so The Monkey can have a tea party - I bought her tiny antique espresso cups and a little creamer. All three items are made of heavy glass, so if dropped they shouldn't break (but they're WAY better than the Fisher Price plastic pink crap that has holes in it right now - I'll list that stuff on the local garage sale site).



Red Wing Pottery. If you haven't been to their back room yet, you have to see what they've got! This was a 2nd, which means it's flawed though I haven't actually found a flaw yet. 

A cute little print. I have no clue where I'm going to put it but it was super cheap. I'm thinking I might put it in our dining room.

The little cradle with crochet blankets that The Monkey uses for her dolls.

Biking - What I Do In My Spare Time

Since I bought a bike last year, I've decided that I really like biking. When I bike with The Monkey, I can't talk to her so we get to enjoy each other in peace and quiet (and if you know children, then you know it's really hard to get them to shut up. Seriously.). I get to haul the WeeHoo tagalong behind my bike and we can ride up to 15 miles around the city together (thank goodness for all the biking fanatics in Minneapolis, we're one of the top cities for bikers and the trails are AMAZING!!).

In general, we take the Greenway to Lake Calhoun, stop at the little park, have a snack, continue to Lake Harriet and bike around that, back to Lake Calhoun, then back to the Greenway and home. So far her favorite part is the park at Lake Harriet - it's really tall, made to be all-inclusive (the top part is wide enough for wheelchairs), the slides are fantastically fast. She just really enjoys being there. My goal this next week is to add to my loop - add in another 2 miles with Lake of the Isles. So by the time September hits, we can bike south, possibly to Minnehaha Falls and back. I'm not quite sure if we'll get there this year. But I do know that she LOVES biking, so I'm hoping this continues and we can take some biking adventures/vacations.

My goal is to make a loop - start from home, go east to the Mississippi, south to highway 62 & Cedar Lake, then take the Minnehaha Creek trail back to Lake Harriet and home. I have no idea how many miles that is but I do know it's about half of what I did last week (which is around 18 - 20 miles). Eventually I'd like to do the Cannon Valley Trail - from Cannon Falls to Red Wing (and then back again). I'm not sure if I'll have to do that one alone or not. We shall see how Bimmer Man feels about that - I think it'd be a long day for The Monkey, so taking her might have to wait until next year.

But I really like biking. I like it so much that I ended up buying a second bike (not a comfort bike like I have - that one is really for going around the cities at a comfortable pace and I like that bike for hauling The Monkey). It's a lot lighter and now I can pretty much fly. It's awesome.

If you haven't biked in a long time, go for it. If you live in the Twin Cities, you have plenty of options for trails and you'll be so happy you decided to ride again. Biking is awesome!

7.16.2015

Homemade Chex Mix

A few weeks ago I realized that I'm addicted to Chex Mix. 

I decided that it would be a GREAT idea to make my own instead of buying it.

BUT LET ME TELL YOU.

There are quite a few bloggers that will tell you that making Chex Mix at home is cheaper - in my opinion, it's not. Each box of Chex is close to $3.49 (you need at least two different kinds), plus a bag of pretzels at $3.89, a bag of bagel chips at $4.29, and a can of nuts - generally over $5.

A bag of Chex Mix is under $3 which lasts for 5 days. That's fine... but I can't eat all the Chex Mix that I can make at home in a week, it does take me at least two weeks to eat it (WITHOUT ANY OTHER SNACK OPTIONS, seriously.. this was "snack" every day for two weeks and by the end I really needed a break from Chex Mix). I digress. I still love Chex Mix. 

I tried two different recipes. I totally fucked up the first one - but I followed the directions. What did I do? I followed the directions - the recipe that I found (I won't even link to it because, quite frankly, I wouldn't want to be THAT person) had TWO sticks of butter for the regular recipe. TWO STICKS OF BUTTER. When it comes out of the oven you're supposed to let it "dry" on paper towels but I prefer to use newspaper because I try NOT to use paper towels if I don't have to (non-consumerism consumerism of the newspaper). The recipe with TWO STICKS of butter was disgusting. The amount of butter grease that dripped off the mix was AWFUL. It soaked through over 10 layers of newspaper. That's way too much butter for me. The recipe had also decreased the amount of cereal - which meant there was barely anything to soak up the butter anyway. It was so awful that I had to throw it in the organic waste container. Imagine just eating salted butter. Yeah... that's not exactly the best snack unless you're like 12 years old and can burn off the butter calories in an hour anyway.

So I went back to the original recipe on the box.

And I couldn't stop eating it. 


So I took a picture of the box to share the recipe with you.

Because I'm lazy like that. 


And see... now that you read the recipe... the original recipe calls for 6 tablespoons of butter which isn't even a whole stick - I used a recipe that called for two STICKS of butter. YUCK (or maybe YUM to some, but not this lady!). Oh, I am so mad that I wasted two sticks of organic unsalted butter. I swear, if I could go back in time and tell myself NOT to make something... 

SO. THERE YOU GO.

Stick to the original recipe when it comes to certain foods. Like Chex Mix.

Ear Plugs & Antiques

I'm the youngest of four kids.

Which is exactly why my two sisters are putting me in a hotel room with my mother.

That snores.

LOUDLY.

AS IN, I'M NOT SURE I COULD HEAR A TORNADO she snores so loud. The Monkey even complained about it when she slept over (but immediately asked to sleep over again, so she couldn't have thought it was that bad).

But I think it's bad.

So my sisters stuck me in the hotel room with our mother.

Because they're older than me, they can do that.

And I'm okay with that.

BECAUSE I BOUGHT EAR PLUGS.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

I'm going to get an awesome night's sleep. I'm hoping that my mother's muffled snoring sounds similar to The Monkey's sound machine.

And we get to go antiquing! YAY!!

7.14.2015

Tuesday's Frugal Mission

Mer.

Frugality.

Frugal.

CHEAP.

Frugal doesn't necessarily mean cheap. Frugal means thinking about where you're spending your money, what you're spending your money on, and actively making a choice on how you're spending money.

Some days I'm great at being frugal. Others... not so much. OY. I think it's like that for a lot of people.

In any case, today I had a BRILLIANT idea. I saw these awesome curtain rod strings at Ikea and thought - I NEED THOSE FOR MY BACK PORCH.

And then I remembered that I bought the same curtain rod strings - in fact I bought them to string up in the dining room to hold The Monkey's art work but I never got around to it (and I've determined I really like the painting we have in the dining room anyway so I bought magnet clips for the fridge). I thought I might have donated the string or maybe sold it in the last yard sale that we had but no, I didn't do anything with it. Instead the curtain rod string thingy was just hanging out in a basket in the closet.

I even have leftover home decor fabric from when I made curtains for The Monkey's room when I was pregnant. SCORE.

All I need are 4 extra corner holder thingys from Ikea and some type of hanger clips and I'm all set to hang up some curtains - instead of using the tension rods which keep falling on The Monkey when she's playing back there (it's sort of funny. I mean you suddenly hear something snap and then a 3 year old screaming "GHOST! IT'S A GHOST! I CAN'T SEE!!!").

So the total cost for these curtains AFTER finding what I already have in my house will be under $10. WOO HOO!!!

My NEXT frugal mission after Ikea and the curtain rod string thingy is to go to the library.

I reserved 5 books - two are urban homesteading books which are all about turning your yard into a vegetable garden and basically making the most out of a 1/4 acre of land. Here in the city we have like an 1/8 of an acre - but with the tree coming down in the back, I can start to take advantage of all the sunlight we're going to get next year and plan out more vegetables and determine how to PRESERVE what I grow. That's the tough part - you can only eat so much while it's fresh so knowing how to preserve homegrown food is really a good thing to know. I'd like to do lasagna gardening in our front flower beds for vegetables and move all the flowers into the actual yard - but make some sort of patio for chairs and a table (yes, we hang out in the front yard here in Minnesota, sometimes even in the garage!). First I need to read HOW to do some of this shit and determine how much sun the front gets to know if I can actually move some flowers and how bad chicken wire will look from the street. Maybe I should start looking at what grows best for vines... Meh, whatever... I have lots of months to think about gardening and to write down which flowers did the best this year.

Three books are just for funzies - one stupid Nora Roberts book (the last in a trilogy which will take me two or three days to read); another last-of-a-trilogy book in the Grave Mercy series which won't take me long at all; and the 4th book in the Logan McRae series by Stuart MacBride (if you can't tell it's a book set in Scotland by a Scottish author).

And the last frugal thing that I do today:

Make lunch with leftovers from dinner - some type of veggie wrap or quesadilla with the grilled veggies from last night.

Cook dinner with the last of our CSA veggies from last Thursday. Tonight = roasted veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, beets, turnips) with rice pilaf.

If you notice, there's no meat listed above. Basically we get enough veggies where I don't really need to cook meat with a meal. There's no way we can eat everything if I include meat. We become partial vegetarians in the summer with the amount of vegetables we receive with our CSA and with what I supplement from the co-op or Cub or Target or Byerly's. That doesn't mean we don't have meat - in the freezer there's pork chops, chicken, ground beef, fish, and shrimp. I have meat so when we do need some protein I can just pull it out of the freezer instead of running to the grocery store or wherever to get meat. It's a cheap way to eat meat - I buy when it's all on sale (and I don't buy the cheap stuff, I buy organic free range chicken, organic grass fed beef, organic fed pork, etc...) and then I toss it into bags with marinade in portions for 1 or 2 people.

So.. I think that's all we're up to today.

Happy Tuesday!!!

7.06.2015

Free Things I Love To Do In The Summer

Kids are freaking expensive, and places where you usually bring your kids for entertainment can be REALLY expensive - hence why we've never been to Underwater World (See here for ticket prices) or Valley Fair or to the rides at the Mall of America or even to the Minnesota Zoo without someone that has a membership. 

Am I denying my child a fun childhood? NO.

I'm being a smart parent that likes to save money.

So we do other things instead.

Saint Louis Park offers free concerts in the park on Wednesday nights.

I did end up buying a pool pass for each of us, however, we've used it 5 times in a week so that's already paid for itself. 

The local neighborhood park is always entertaining.

We bike to Lake Calhoun and stop at the parks around the lake, bring a snack/lunch/drinks and people watch. 

The LIBRARY. OMG. It's the best. I swear, I come home with two new books to read and The Monkey comes home with BAGS full of books. Do they all get read? Not every week but we sure do have fun picking out books - her current favorites are the Fancy Nancy series and all books by Mo Willems (if you haven't heard of Knuffle Bunny, you need to get on that shit, best kids' book series ever!). 

We also just bought a new tag-along bike trailer so The Monkey can sit and pedal along (it's called a WeeHoo). It doesn't have the storage like the full-on bike trailer but it sure is easier to ride and a heck of a lot more fun. Bimmer Man can get up to 17 miles per hour (probably even faster if we were really biking) and I was going along at 13 mile per hour around Lake Calhoun - one guy was happy enough to give us our speed and an enthusiastic thumbs up to The Monkey for being an awesome "biker."

LEGOS. Our basement looks like The Lego Movie. 'Nough said.

Gardening in our yard. The Monkey is happy with a shovel, a bucket, a rake, and a garden hose. Dirty? Yes. Memorable? Yep. I'm starting to teach her how to identify plants. So far she knows a few herbs, lilies, tomato plants, and butterfly bush. And yes, she's only 3.

Cooking/Baking. She helps dump all the ingredients into the bread machine to make bread. She smashes eggs (please note, I didn't write "crack" eggs), stirs what needs to be stirred, scoops cookie dough onto cookie sheets, and is a pretty great "helper" in the kitchen. 

Splashpad. It's free for residents. Generally The Monkey only lasts 15 - 25 minutes anyway, so we don't go as often. Andplusalso because it's free it gets busy and the older kids can be a little nuts. Some parents don't actually watch their kids and the older kids ruin the fun of the younger kids. 

CLEANING. Put your kid to work. I give The Monkey a cloth and a squirt bottle of water and I just say... "Have fun cleaning! You said you were bored!" It doesn't last long... but I also haven't heard "I'm bored!" in quite a few weeks.

Sooo... there's my list of ideas of things to do that are free (or mostly free if you already have the supplies). Summer is a ton of fun and I really like to make sure that we're enjoying the great days outside when we can. I LOVE summer... and I LOVE to enjoy these days while we can - because in the middle of winter I really do miss the 90 degree days of the summer!

7.05.2015

CSA Week 3

WE HAVE SO MUCH LETTUCE.

Seriously, I can only eat so many salads before I HATE lettuce.

Ok, I'll never actually hate salads but still, so much lettuce since it's the season for it now.

We've got two heads of lettuce, some crazy strong lettuce leaves which I think will be great for lettuce wraps (I'm thinking turkey, cheese, maybe some cream cheese, but plain for The Monkey to eat too!).

We also received peas (which were gone in 24 hours...), dill, green onions, broccoli (I blanched and froze immediately!), and vitamin greens (I have NO idea what these things are... they just look like arugula so I'm sure they'd be fine in green smoothies but I don't like green smoothies, so maybe I'll do pesto this afternoon with them for some variety).

I think with the two heads of lettuce I'll be eating salads until Wednesday for lunch AND dinner - see - this is why we're basically vegetarians in the summer. I get too many veggies to even think about buying meat!

But I'll need some variety. I've never made a creamy salad dressing before, so that's on my list of things to do today to use up the dill - unless I make fish - in that case what I do is mix together 1 tsp of dill + 1 tsp of Old Bay seasoning along with a little salt and use that to season fish for the grill. And that's for two pieces of fish - if you have more fish to cook, mix up more dill and Old Bay.

Blah. I think that's all that's on my list of things to make this week with the CSA veggies:

Salads
Possibly creamy salad dressing
Pesto
Grilled fish with some dill

Things That Small Children Say

Me to The Monkey: Have you seen my chapstick?

The Monkey: Yes

Me: Where is it?

The Monkey: Outside

Me: Um. Ok.

I have to think for a minute. Did I bring my Burt's Bees outside? I don't think so...

Me to The Monkey: Where is it outside?

By this time my lips are DRY. I mean like when you go somewhere and suddenly realize YOU HAVE NO BURTS BEES OR ANYTHING LIKE IT in your purse and you have to go to the nearest store to find some lip balm for your dry lips. BLERG.

The Monkey: Well, I threw it outside.

Me: WHAT?!? That's my Burt's Bees!

The Monkey: I know.

Me: Why did you do that?

The Monkey: Because birds have dry lips too.

6.26.2015

Back Porch Curtains

Our back porch is a freaking mess.

Sort of.

It's always been HOT in the summer and COLD in the winter because it's not insulated, it's just attached to the house by nails and glue (just a guess from what we've found that previous owners have done) and there's french doors from the dining room into the porch. Andplusalso, the porch sits on posts, it's not sitting on the ground and there's no basement beneath it to even keep it partially heated or partially cooled depending on the season. Basically, it's an extra room for 2 - 3 weeks out of each year.

I put up white curtains to keep the sun out in the late afternoon when it's the hottest - so far it's working to a certain extent but I'd like to get some insulated curtains back there so at least if the Monkey wants to play back there in the summer, I'm not letting all the cold air conditioning out into the world.

My parents used to tell me, "I'M NOT PAYING TO HEAT/COOL THE WORLD!!!"

Quite frankly, neither am I.

I need the 63 inch curtains so I can let SOME natural light in towards the top of the windows and not have the curtains touching the floor. One of my pet peeves is when curtains touch the floor. Have you ever vacuumed up curtains??? It fucking sucks. Literally. The next thing you know you're fumbling for the off switch on the vacuum while screaming "GOD FUCKING DAMMIT!!! JUST DON'T RIP OFF MY WALLS!!! YOU SHIT VACUUM! WHY DID I HAVE TO BUY THE SUPER POWER FUCKING VACUUM!?!"

So yeah, long curtains are out. In an ideal world I'd get shutters, but I don't think we'd be able to afford them. If we knock out the back of the house, then it would just be a waste of money anyway.

A quick google search also lets me know that my options are incredibly limited AND expensive.

I guess I'm going to have to live with the white ones for awhile. Whatevs... at least we have SOMETHING up so you don't fry yourself every time you go back there.

A girl can dream about insulated curtains.

CSA Box - Week 2

This year I opted for a different CSA other than Driftless Organics (which btw... was a GREAT CSA and still is! I just wanted to try a different one).

I decided to go with Turnip Rock Farm because it has a closer pick-up site to our house. We can bike there!

For week 2 we got:

  • bok choi
  • salad mix
  • green onions
  • garlic scapes
  • radishes
  • arugula
  • broccoli
  • herb pot - basil & parsley
  • Scarlet Queen Red Turnips
  • Napa Cabbage
  • Head Lettuce

So I've got a major list of recipes that I want to try - last night I already made turkey lettuce wraps with radishes, garlic scapes, green onions, two turnips, with the head lettuce being the "lettuce wrap" part. The sauce part is 1/4 cup hoisin sauce, 1/4 cup soy sauce, a pinch of dried ginger, and 1 tbsp of sesame oil. Mix it all and dump it into the pan you've browned your meat and softened your veggies in. I really don't have much more of a recipe because I switch it up almost every time depending on the veggies in the fridge - I could use carrots instead of turnips, white or red onions instead of green onions, etc... 

BUT more recipes I want to try:

Napa cabbage - stuffed cabbage wraps
Turnips & radishes - roasted with some sort of lemon vinaigrette
Arugula - I have no clue yet, arugula isn't exactly my favorite but I WILL eat it on pizza so that might be what I'll end up putting in on - and my pieces only because I know Bimmer Man doesn't like it and the Monkey won't like it because it's too peppery - otherwise it will end up in the compost bin. 
Bok Choi - some type of stir fry - probably with chicken
Broccoli - I LOVE it steamed, so we'll do a stir fry with one head (along with the bok choi) and then I'll make an easy meal with the other head (sauteed or grilled chicken with rice and steamed broccoli)

Bimmer Man also complained that I didn't sign up for Turnip Rock's cheese share.

I'm quite regretting that decision as well and I'm pretty sure I've learned my lesson - next year I'll sign up for the full share (AGAIN) along with the cheese share and possibly the egg share.