7.22.2014

Tried Green Beans, Still Hate 'Em

I hate green beans. My dad grew them in his garden every year. 5, 6, 7 rows of plain green garden beans.

They were so stringy. And tough. Or squeaky. 

I hate loathe squeaky green beans. Those make me shiver.

And unfortunately today I let The Monkey in on my big secret.

There are certain green beans that I hate and when I made dinner tonight I pulled a bean out of the steamer to see if it was done, I spit it out. I had planted, on accident, the kind of beans that you need to pull the tough strings off both sides before you cook them. You know, the ones that you snap and then peel the stupid strings off of the edges? THE ONLY KIND MY DAD PLANTED.

YUCK.

They were thrown into the compost pile.

Next year I will research my beans. Because I do like green beans... but just not the ones I planted. 

I'm positive my dad is laughing in his grave right now. He actually tried dehydrating them (yes, seriously, DEHYDRATING BEANS) to see if I would like them better. No, I didn't like them better.

And at the end of the day I still had to weed those damn beans.

Lesson was learned, so I'm crossing green beans off of my to-grow list until I can search Burpee's website and find something that I might like. 

Freezer Meal Planning For 2

Ugh. After the end of a long day I really, really hate to open the fridge and think "Oh shit, I didn't defrost anything." Even with freezer meals, I still do that every once in awhile (and it's worse when Bimmer Man is home - he just says, what are you thinking for dinner? And what I want to reply is: GO LOOK IN THE FRIDGE AND MAKE DINNER WITH WHATEVER YOU FIND but then I remember that he can't cook, it really can feel like the 50's sometimes in our house... Oy).

But my other problem with freezer meals is that most recipes and items that I've found are really for families of 4+. That's not us at all. I really only cook for 1 1/2 (me and The Monkey). The other problem that I have is the crockpot - we just don't eat too many leftovers from crockpot meals other than beef stew. So when I came across this post and this post, I instantly did a fist pump and ran to Costco for chicken and pork.

Costco sells chicken in bulk (obviously) in packets of 2 boneless, skinless breasts and there are 6 packets stuck together. I bought two of those with making 12 meals total for chicken and then I bought a package of 8 boneless pork chops with plans for 4 pork meals.

So I was going to marinade 2 chicken breasts together in one freezer bag, basically halving whatever recipes I could possibly find that a 2 year old might like.

These are all recipes for defrosting from the freezer and making the meat on the stove or the grill - I make chicken funny as I've learned in the past few weeks - when I saute chicken I put the cover on the pan so it doesn't all splatter all over my kitchen. I hate cleaning. It works for me and I think it turns out juicier that way (maybe I cook it 7-9 minutes on each side). You will not find a crockpot recipe below!

I ended up making two of each from the Dump Chicken post -

Lemon Garlic
Garlic Dijon
Spicy Sweet Glaze (I omitted the "spice" keeping in mind my 2 year old)

From the Freezer Meals Prep post I also made two of each -

Greek Chicken
Sesame Chicken
Margarita Chicken
Oh So Easy Pork Chops
Marinated Pork Chops


The only recipe that my 2 year old didn't like was the Margarita Chicken. Everything else has been delicious and the leftovers were absolutely eaten the next day!

The next time I do freezer meals, I'll make only one margarita chicken and find another recipe - I don't think I'll have to do this again until August. There's enough variety here for us that I can make a meal of something beef and the next day I'll want chicken again!

7.21.2014

Bee Squad!!!

Yesterday I had the fantastic experience of going back to the University of Minnesota and taking a short class (ok, it was a Bee Safari) taught by the U of M Bee Squad.

I had no idea that there are so many different types of bees. And some look like flies with shiny green bodies. Pretty cool, right???

Here's a few photos that I took of a bumble bee.




In general I'm a little afraid of insects that can sting, so when the Bee Squad members started giving out containers for us to CATCH bees... well, let's just say that I took a few steps back and let everyone else catch the bees!

It was so interesting to look at all the different types of bees and all the flowers and weeds that they love to get pollen and nectar from. I had a blast!

The only thing that I didn't like was that it didn't seem like there was enough time to talk about the flowers and weeds that bees like. I did learn that the plants they liked last year aren't the same as this year. Part of the problem with my yard is that we have a lot of shade so it's hard to grow full sun plants. I'd love to have some echinacea but it has died and not thrived in my yard - I'm thinking it might be the soil type, I may have to take a sample and send it in to a lab to see what I need to do or what I need to add to compost to make it better.

In the photos the flower is a purple bee balm - I have hot pink bee balm but I think next year I'm going to get some purple bee balm to have some variety for bees for next year.

Overall, I had a great experience with the U of M Bee Squad and if they offer another class, I will definitely take it!

7.14.2014

Christmas in July Sale

Yes, yes please!!!

This summer I've been working on stocking up for a sale in November, but now I've realized that I think I have TOO MUCH stock if I'm going to share a table. I like being able to put everything out that I have at sales and now I have too many women's scarves, baby hats, etc...

At the sale in November I want to sell more cat beds (with a portion of those sales going to Pet Project Rescue) and have more men's items in stock. At the Winter Market there were several men that stopped by my table looking at wrist warmers (the women's wrist warmers are just a tad too small for most men), looking for warm wool hats, and plain gray or black scarves.

I have to tweak my stock a bit for this upcoming sale in November.

I need to move stock in my Etsy shop so I'm discounting prices with a special coupon code.

Everyone likes a bargain, everyone likes a coupon!

Get 30% off your purchase with this coupon code:  XMAS2014

And here's the link to my Etsy shop.

You'll find the following items in my shop (this is just a sampling...) -







7.08.2014

Makin' Cat Beds....

I'm making these cat bed thingys for charity. Well, they're for Pet Project Rescue's Kitten Shower fundraiser later this month. All of them are from my scrap yarn bag - but I'm out of chunky yarn so for the next 2 beds I'm going to have to double strand yarn and crochet like that. I can use up my scrap yarn faster and the beds can be just a little bit more stiff and the sides can be raised a little more. 

Since I don't have a cat, I've just been "winging" the pattern. Super simple evenly increasing rounds using a chunky yarn with a double crochet for 8-10 rows to make the base. Then do a row of single crochet in FRONT LOOP ONLY of RS, then go in rounds in the single crochet to make the sides. Simple, but killing my wrists because of the chunky yarn. I'll have to take a break when I'm finished with these. 






6.30.2014

This Bee Problem Has Me Worried

Bees are dying at an alarming rate. So much so that humans will die of starvation before global warming.

Did that get your attention?

I hope so.

Our local paper is doing a 4 part series on the bee problems that we're facing. Bees are dying like crazy from pesticides and also from a lack of food supply. Here in Minnesota farming is not what it used to be. One bee farmer even calls Minnesota the "Bee Killing Fields." Farmers used to have fields with all different crops and do crop rotations and now because it's all corn and soy, there's just nothing left for pollinators.

Corporate greed? Money, money, money? Our capitalist society seriously has me worried about our future.

In urban areas we go to the grocery store and see it fully stocked with food (from God knows where at this point...) and we can't actually SEE where our food is coming from.

But again, that's just for the people the buy fresh produce - so many people rely on convenience foods to feed their families (Kraft macaroni & cheese, skillet meals, canned foods, candy, pop, etc...). In just decades corporations saw a niche for convenience foods and filled it - with disgusting preservatives, loaded with sodium and artificial flavorings and artificial preservatives.

What happened to families to rely on processed foods?

Busy schedules? Finances?

I don't know.

But at this point I do know this - something needs to be done. Something needs to happen to save the bees.

And I don't know what to do.

I know that I can help by planting native plants like bee balm, native lilies, butterfly weed, and milkweed. I know that I can help by buying organic food. I know that I can help by growing as much food as I can for my family. And I know that I can help by not using pesticides in my yard.

Are those enough changes to make a difference?

No, it's not. I can't change a whole country's worth of bee population in my 1/8 of an acre yard.

More people need to help. More people need to stop using pesticides on their lawns. More people need to buy more organic produce. More people need to be educated about pollinators. More people need to plant more native plants in their yards.

But how do you change people's minds when they can't actually see what's happening?

Maybe grocery stores can pull pollinated produce from their shelves for awhile to make an impact.

I think there needs to be a "Save the Bees" something-or-another campaign. With a mind blowing explanation of what will happen to our food supply without bees.

6.28.2014

Crochet Shawlette

Time. All I need is time. Just for crochet. Time doesn't come easy for me. I wish there were two more hours in my day (in which The Monkey was napping!!) so that I could have enough time to finish items and list them on Etsy. Last week I was able to list quite a few things and get a list of items to make going - more men's items and also, cat beds/baskets/bowls for charity for Pet Project Rescue's Kitten Shower later in July. The cat items will be for sale there, all proceeds will go to PPR.

This shawlette was easy to make, didn't take up too much time and I had two skeins of yarn that were just begging me to make something with them. This is the free pattern from Lionbrand yarns - it's the South Bay Shawlette. It's the perfect size for wrapping up warmly in the summer nights! I can't wait for someone to buy it and enjoy it - I may have to make one for myself!





Where Has June Gone???

OMG. Summer... it's totally slipping away... day by day...

I have no idea where the time has gone.

The Monkey has Tumble Tots class (which is in the big kids gymnasium and she gets to walk on the balance beam, fly off the vaults, jump on the HUGE trampolines, swing on the uneven bars... holy buckets, my child really is a monkey!!). We've done play dates every week, we've seen new babies, we clean, go grocery shopping and garden like mad.

I'm thinking the rest of the summer is about to fly right by and we're going to miss something super exciting! But maybe not. Maybe we just need a few lazy days at home.

Last week we went to Colorado to visit Bimmer Man's family and that was so much fun. The Monkey did well on the flight there but the flight home was a disaster. Delayed flight + nap time = a complete and utter disaster (this time we had the SCREAMING child, ouch, sorry fellow passengers!!!).

I learned a lesson with a screaming child - to those that don't have children and you're on an airplane with a screaming child - instead of groaning and moaning and complaining - turn around and ask the parents if there's anything that you can do. While we're frantically trying to calm our child, you might be able to fill up a sippy cup of water from the flight attendant or grab books out of the carry on above us or even make funny faces at the child to distract them and calm them down. For some reason, kids are so distracted by strangers making funny faces. Actually, don't ask, just do. Parents want a peaceful flight just as much as you do - not only does that make traveling with a toddler so much easier for us, but it makes traveling next to a toddler so much easier for you too. Quite frankly, we borrowed a carseat which I think was pretty uncomfortable for The Monkey and that was really the problem (our carseats are incredibly heavy but SO COMFORTABLE). She couldn't get comfy to sleep and would only sleep 40 minutes on a 1 1/2 hour flight.

Lesson learned, lesson learned. It takes a village to raise a child, right???

Anyway, here's some photos from our trip!

















6.03.2014

Get Rid Of It All

I would like to become a Minimalist.

But unfortunately I don't think that's going to happen. But maybe it will.

Two weekends ago I had a garage sale and it felt so great to get rid of so much stuff. We made enough money for some groceries, a dinner out, etc... even though I priced EVERYTHING to go (think 25 cents on everything but the kitchen sink...).

And then I came back in the house and thought, "Omg, I could have gotten rid of more stuff!!" It's really just finding time to go through closets and storage boxes and determine if I'm going to use things again. Every Christmas I get rid of more and more ornaments and decorations because I HATE taking them all down. So we have the tree with few ornaments, a candle holder, stockings, and a small tree for the dining room table. I don't do anything else.

And I got rid of three clothes racks full of clothes that don't fit, I don't wear, or aren't in style. That felt great.

But I still feel like I can get rid of more.

I will purge again later this year. It feels too great not to do it!