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Author: Oscoey

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 3

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 3

For Meal Planning this week I pulled a bunch of forgotten items out of the pantry once again. We have a lot in there and honestly I could probably do this clean out for another month or two with only some grocery shopping for fresh […]

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 2

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 2

Meal planning this week was mostly about eating leftovers and using fresh produce that needed to be eaten. We did our last major grocery run on 1/02/22 so after a couple of weeks some of our produce was looking like it would go bad. I […]

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 1

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 1

Whew. Another week of meal planning under our belt. We used up a lot of things this week from our pantry, fridge and freezer. We still have so many leftovers that we won’t really need to cook for the next few days but we are having sausage burgers tonight as a break. I did not have a chance to clean out another shelf from the pantry this weekend but it is ok. I ended up going to the grocery store last Sunday to do a major stockup since we were almost out of some basics and I wanted to avoid the store for the next few weeks. Omicron is weighing heavily on our minds this month and we are limiting our exposure as much as possible. That means no seeing friends, no going to the store and we are debating sending kids to school this week. Our school has done a fabulous job at preventing the spread of Covid at the school but there is always that worry in the back of your mind that maybe this time it will spread. Most of the school was tested last week and a lot of the kids were negative. Those that were positive are staying home this week so I am hoping that will keep things contained.

 

What I wanted to eat through this week.

Last weekend I went through the pantry and pulled some items I wanted to eat through this week. Below is a list of what we had:

  1. Snack items: Croutons, S’mores Goldfish, lentil crackers (3 servings), chocolate graham crackers, veggie Straws (maybe a couple of cups) and Peanuts – honey roasted and regular
  2. Meal type items: Banza Mac and Cheese (3 packets left), 2 cans corn, 1 can carrots, oatmeal
  3. Dried Fruit: freeze dried Raspberries and strawberries, apple chips, dried cranberries
  4. Junk: M & M ‘s and a single giant marshmallow
  5. Fridge/freezer items: 1 Bagel, fancy chocolate, spinach bites (2 servings), veggie broth, chicken breast, ham, milk, chocolate milk and egg nog.
Items left from last week.

I wanted to take tons of pictures and videos this week of how we were using up our items but honestly I only got pictures of most of the meals. Above is what we have left from what I wanted to eat through this week and it is kind of misleading because we did eat quite a bit but there are still small amounts left in these containers. I may put them all into smaller containers today and then show what is left next weekend but my kids immediately lose interest if I move them to smaller containers and they have been snacking out of the bags all week.

 

What’s left:

  1. Snack items: Croutons, lentil crackers (1 serving), veggie straws (maybe a cup) and Peanuts – regular
  2. Meal type items: Banza Mac and Cheese (2 packets left), oatmeal (not gf)
  3. Dried Fruit: freeze dried Raspberries and strawberries, apple chips, dried cranberries
  4. Junk: All eaten of course!
  5. Fridge/freezer items: fancy chocolate, spinach bites (1 serving), ham (1/2 gone)

Overall I would say we did pretty well. We should eat through the spinach bites, lentil crackers, veggie straws, peanuts and more of the dried fruit this week. The croutons were a hard sell and I can’t eat them as well as the freeze dried strawberries and raspberries. Most of us are not fans of the Banza mac and cheese so I may just donate it since it doesn’t expire until March of this year. My Buy Nothing group supports a local senior center and the Banza may end up in the donation bag this month. We have other mac and cheese that the rest of us like so I am not worried about running out any time soon.

Soup ingredients.

One of my favorite ways to use things up is to make veggie soup. I made a batch last weekend and we ate about half of it throughout the week and froze the rest. The broth I used is some I made in the fall with garden scraps. When I was blanching my greens to freeze I put all of the ribs from the kale, beets and chard into a pot with some onion and carrots and made a bunch of broth to freeze. This batch had a lot of beets in it so it was super sweet. I have been pairing it with a can of tomatoes to pare down the sweetness and this batch of soup was delicious! I will probably pull out some of the soup in the freezer for meals not this week but next week. I like to eat my freezer meals within a couple of months of freezing so we are constantly rotating and to reduce the possibility of finding it in the freezer years later.

Veggie soup
Veggie soup for lunch.

We ate the soup for dinner and a few lunches with crackers and a little bit of sour cream. I only used one can of the corn in the soup but it was still a little bit sweet from the beets.

corn and peas
Steamed corn and peas for lunch.

Using up our other can of corn for lunch. We are without a microwave and my son does not like corn so I put his peas in a ramekin to steam along with the corn and it worked really well! Don’t do this unless your ramekin is oven safe though. Plastic would not be a good choice.

Mac and cheese chicken corn and peaches
Using up the Banza, corn and chicken for lunch.

Our kids were home last week so a lot of what we ate for lunch was cooked and not their usual sandwiches for lunch. We ate the Banza mac and cheese for lunch with the corn and I added some of the cooked chicken breast as well. The adults in our house usually don’t eat a lot of meat so this week was a bit much for me with all of the ham and the chicken breast. I had to cut way back on my meat consumption as the week went on. I wanted to point out that I cooked one standard chicken breast and it lasted for several meals for just me. Nobody else wanted to eat it. We don’t eat a lot of chicken breast at our house so my kids weren’t really into it and my husband is more vegetarian than me so he left it for me to eat. I will say however that it was really nice to have a little bit of protein readily available to throw on my meals when I needed it. I may cook one a week more regularly since I struggle to get my protein in.

Oatmeal
Oatmeal for breakfast.

Another meal we ate a lot of was oatmeal. I discovered I could cook a large pot and reheat the rest when I needed to on the stove in just a few minutes. This was super handy since I was missing my microwaved bowl in the mornings. I bought a 25lb bag of gluten-free oats from Bob’s Red Mill a couple of months ago and we have been working through it. I really want to make one of the oatmeal bakes we love but it takes a dozen eggs and I am not sure that the ones we bought at Costco last weekend will last the month if I use that many all at once. For reference, we go through one to two dozen a week since eggs are a huge source of protein for us. It is slightly silly of me though, because there is nothing stopping us from getting another five dozen from Costco when we are close to running out but I want to avoid the store as long as possible.

ham, mashed potatoes and green beans
Ham, mashed potatoes and green beans.

One meal that lasted for several days was the ham we baked on New Year’s Eve. We ate about half of it last week and will try to finish the rest this week. I did put the bone in the freezer to make broth at some point in time but I am not ready yet and I want to eat through some of what we have before I make more. We ate it with mashed potatoes and green beans or some other vegetable. It was delicious!

Feta and tomato pasta
Feta and tomato pasta.

One meal we ate this week that has become a staple in our house is feta and tomato pasta. You basically put a bunch of tomatoes, garlic, some feta and olive oil in the oven and then stir it in with cooked pasta. It is super easy to make gluten-free and most of us love to eat it! The pasta lasts a couple of days in the fridge so it is perfect for lunches.

feta pasta
Feta and tomato pasta.

We pared our pasta with green beans and some steamed Kielbasa. Our selective eater will not eat pasta so they were given the Kielbasa, rice and seaweed so they could eat their “sushi” along with us. I always snag a little bit of seaweed when the kids eat it since it is so healthy and a great source of Iodine.

broccoli cheese bake
Broccoli cheese bake.

Wow. We ate a lot of pasta last week now that I am looking back. This week I will try to make more roasted vegetables and see what else I can come up with since one of our kids doesn’t like pasta. This broccoli cheese bake my husband made was delicious! We ate it for dinner last night and I already have it on the meal planner for tomorrow night. We are skipping a night with it tonight to avoid burnout. I am a huge fan of casseroles and I am loving that we are eating them more often.

Pantry cleanout items
Pantry cleanout items for this week.

I gathered some of the items we want to use up this week. Yesterday instead of going through another pantry shelf I went through under our bathroom sink and oh man did I throw a lot out. We had tons of stuff that expired two years ago and opened items we weren’t using up that were just old. I don’t think I have really gone through that cabinet in at least three years. I did find this dish soap that I bought for bubbles when my youngest was about two that is still good. I filled our soap dispenser by the sink with it and we will use it up as we go. I also discovered one of the pears we bought last week went bad so I am going to try and make fruit leather this afternoon. I make it with pears and whatever berries I have in the fridge and my kids love it. It is super easy to make too!

Items to use up this week:

  1. Fresh produce: pears, butternut squash, blackberries, broccoli, rainbow carrots
  2. Snack items: Croutons, lentil crackers (1 serving), veggie straws (maybe a cup) and Peanuts – regular, One bars, fruit cups
  3. Meal type items: oatmeal (not gf), pancake mix
  4. Dried Fruit: freeze dried Raspberries and strawberries, apple chips, dried cranberries
  5. Junk: Crumb cake mix, Halloween candy…ug
  6. Fridge/freezer items: Baked Alaska (freezer), fancy chocolate, spinach bites, ham, cheesy broccoli bake, tomato sauce
Meal planning
This week’s meal plan.

We started to write out this week’s meal plan as a family at dinner last night. I will probably add more in on Tuesday when I know where we are at with leftovers. The kids don’t like to commit to lunches and breakfast until usually the night before so I usually fill those in as we go. Since the adults are all working from home we usually try to eat leftovers for lunch or something fast like soup. Muffins have been requested and if I have time today I will make some of those as well. A batch usually lasts a day or two and I know you can make a bunch and freeze them but I just don’t know if gluten-free flour will hold up in the freezer as well as regular. I am almost out of my one to one Bob’s Red Mill flour and I probably only have enough for one batch of muffins right now. I did order more and hopefully it will come in the next week or two but who knows with all of the road closures around us. We do have ingredients to make our own gluten-free flour mixture so I am not super worried about running out but I like to have the pre-mixed kind on hand since it is easy.

 

How are you reducing your food waste? Does meal planning work for you?

 

Links:

Bob’s Red Mill

Feta Tomato Bake

 

Meal Planning: A New Start

Meal Planning: A New Start

This past year I realized we have fallen down a hole of eating not so healthy foods more often then we should. We totally fell off the bandwagon of both eating well and keeping our grocery costs down. The pandemic has really split our routine […]

Gardening Update 11.07.21

Gardening Update 11.07.21

A lot happened in the garden since my last post in July which can be found here. We had a large crop of green tomatoes, lots of greens, successfully grew two nice sized pumpkins and many other vegetables. We continued to battle pests throughout the […]

Stitching Update 07.20.21

Stitching Update 07.20.21

Cross-stitching is something I picked up many years ago when I was having some health issues and forced to rest for periods of time. If you know me, I hate sitting around watching TV and I love to keep my mind/body busy so when I heard I would have to rest for a couple of hours every afternoon I decided to spend my time doing something that I could measure the progress on. I love the feeling of accomplishment with working on a project, pulling back and seeing just how far I have gotten while I was focusing on a small area. My first few projects were small but then I discovered the Heaven and Earth Designs website and fell in love with their massive projects that did not include any of the dreaded backstitch. I quickly downloaded a free pattern, bought my 90 colors of thread and started in on it. I did not make it very far on that first pattern but I did work on my technique and I am reusing the thread for other projects. I may finish it eventually but for now I am focusing on all of my other projects that have been started since then.

 

QS Literate Dragon by Randal Spangler
QS Literate Dragon by Randal Spangler

One of my favorite HAED (Heaven and Earth Designs) artists is Randal Spangler. I have several patterns and officially have two in the works. The first and biggest one I started was Computer Wizard several years ago. I posted my progress in my last stitching post update and honestly I haven’t worked on it since then but at some point I hope to finish it. My current WIP (work in progress) is QS Literate Dragon which I started in 2015. I picked it up again this year and I have been making slow progress. This one is a Quick Stitch (QS) so it is much smaller than other projects. I think I was hoping to finish it in a calendar year but that clearly didn’t pan out. My goal is to make significant progress this year. I was aiming to finish the first page this month while I was on leave. I am about half way done with it and my leave should be ending next week so I don’t think I will make that cut off. I need to use the magnifying light to work on this one since the stiches are so small and I can’t work on it for more than an hour at a time before my eyes get tired. I will keep posting progress on my Instagram page (oscoeyzamph) and with further stitching updates.

Protip: write your start date on the back of the first page of your HAED so you can track how long it takes to complete. 

 

Alphabet blocks
Alphabet blocks

Another project I have been trying to finish this year is my Alphabet Block project I started for my soon to be eight year old’s birth. That’s right, I started this when I was pregnant with her and although I have made significant progress in the last year I am not finished with it yet. I might start working on this again soon but I am in a groove with the Literate Dragon piece and I don’t want to stop and lose my mojo. This one is a kit from Dimensions and honestly I am not a fan of kits. They don’t usually provide you with enough thread or fabric and it is not as high of quality as the DMC you by in a store. This kit is ok and I am hoping to have enough but I have been burned in the past. This project also requires a bunch of backstitching and even if I finish all of the regular crosses it will take be forever to finish the backstitch. Once I finish this one I will probably have to start another one for my son and hopefully he will want something much simpler to stitch.

 

cat in pot
Kitty Flower Pot project.

Another project I have been working hard on is this Kitty in a Flower Pot freebie from a cross-stitch magazine. My daughter picked this one out of several freebies I have and I am almost finished with it. I just have a little bit of backstitch to do around the pot and add French knot eyes for the bird and the cat and I will be done. Maybe I will get this one done this month. I loathe backstitch (I really do) and I don’t have much motivation to finish it but honestly I just need to finish it. If I do finish it I will put together the card kit it came with and mail it to my daughter as a surprise. She has been watching my progress and she loves mail so it will be a fun surprise for her to have. I may also make her a bookmark for her birthday but I am not sure how I will hide that from her so I have to think about that. She is very observant and it is tricky to hide much from her.

 

Free patterns
Freebie pattern collection.

Speaking of freebie patterns, I have quite a few of them that I need to work through. The ones pictured above are not all of them even. I know I have more in my large bin of cross-stitch items stashed in my closet. I didn’t dig through that for the picture but these six are more than enough to work on this year. The fox and hedgehog ones look more complicated than I like to complete so I may just give them away but the others look fun. One of the hard parts of starting a hobby is accumulating more projects/components than you can ever use. I haven’t bought any supplies for cross-stitching in many years besides replacing my lost seam ripper last week and I probably could get away with just completing what I have for the next decade aside from filling in a few thread colors as I run out. I unfortunately discovered when I got my new laptop last May that I lost most of the HAED patterns I downloaded over the years at some point during one of the many old laptop repairs. I do have a couple that I printed out but I may need to replace the others if I have time to stitch them. Lesson learned though. Save your files to the cloud and print a copy of your patterns for backup just in case.

 

Amulet and Emmeline
Amulet and Emmeline

One of the charts that I have been very excited for and fortunately printed out was Amulet and Emmeline by Lesley Anne Ivory. I love the quilt pattern and it looks fun to stitch. One of my favorite parts of working on HAED is seeing a wall of symbols in the pattern, working on it for a while and then when you step back the design pops out at you and looks amazing. If you have ever worked on an HAED you may know what I am talking about. There are so many colors with these patterns and they are so spread out that you can be working for hours on one stich here and there all over the page and it seems like a jumbled mess until suddenly everything falls into place and you can clearly see an eye or a significant part of the pattern. This quilt piece seems like one where that magic will happen quite a few times and I am excited to start it. I have bought thread for it although it has been so long I forget if I bought all of it and I need to start kitting it up. I am hoping to start this one after I finish the Literate Dragon piece. I want to finish my WIP and start getting them framed on the wall. Maybe, if I focus and spend a few nights a week on the Literate Dragon, I will be able to finish it by the end of 2021 and have a clean start for 2022.

 

Cat Butt
Cat Butt piece.

The last piece I thought I would show progress on is my Cat Butt one that I started a while ago for Mother’s Day. I have made progress on it since my last update but clearly I haven’t finished it. I really need to finish this one and my work on it again after I finish my Kitty in a Pot project and wrap it up for my mom for Christmas along with her other present. This pattern is from Etsy and is by Freudian Stitch who is one of my favorite pattern makers. I love browsing Etsy for patterns. They are usually simpler than HAED and don’t have the dreaded backstitch. I also love supporting artists that are making a living from their craft! One thing to be careful of is copy cats though. Pattern makers have an issue with people copying their patterns and selling them as their own. It is a huge issue for most crafters and one way we can help prevent it is to never post pictures of patterns.

 

I am excited to keep working on my projects. See links below for where to find the ones I am working on and a bonus project at the bottom that I feel like embodies the heart of the FI movement. The debt quote from hardcorestitchcorps was one of the very first cross-stitch patterns I completed and I love it!

 

Who are your favorite artists and what are you working on right now?

 

Links:

Heaven and Earth Designs

 

Cat Butt Pattern

 

Zoo Alphabet Birth Record

 

Stitching Update May 17, 2017

 

My favorite FIRE motivation quote

Gardening Update 07.08.21

Gardening Update 07.08.21

The last few weeks have been rough on everyone’s gardens in the Seattle area. There has been no rain and we had a massive heat wave a bit ago with temperatures well over 100 degrees which is super unusual for this area. I watered like […]

Gardening Update 06.20.21

Gardening Update 06.20.21

Hello and welcome to the first gardening update of 2021! This year my goal was to expand our vegetable garden and add in more pollinator friendly plants. My usual spring garden supply budget was much larger than usual because we ended up needing a large […]

Covid – 10 Months and Counting

Covid – 10 Months and Counting

We are about 10 months into dealing with Covid and things don’t seem to be letting up any time soon. I was looking back over pictures from the year today and I was struck by how sudden everything was last Feb/March when everything shut down. I have pictures from my office from mid-February and then by the second week of March everyone in our house was home and we were adjusting to the chaos. This virus took us by storm and the last year has been extremely difficult all around.

 

Early local purchase of split peas and lentils.

 

The first few months of Covid for us were all about adjusting to spending LOTS of time together and figuring out how to do work and school at home in a relatively small space. We were all crammed into our living room which is decent sized but with four people on computers in meetings all day it got really loud and difficult to concentrate. We also just happened to be at a natural low point with our groceries towards the end of February and were slightly scrambling to find some much needed items. We tend to eat down our pantry every February and were out of everything, including staples such as soap, TP, paper towels, laundry detergent, rice, flour and beans. We ended up waiting until large bags of our favorite local legumes went on sale and did without for some of the fresher items like tofu for a while. We are mostly vegetarian in our house so the meat shortages didn’t really affect us much.

 

Walking on local trails.

 

The hardest part for me was adjusting to working with two loud children at home every day and our oldest moving back home at the same time. My kids are loud and the youngest is still pretty high needs as far as attention goes but he did get way better about playing by himself last spring. We have saved  ton of money on daycare costs this year and had almost no summer camps lined up so I made the executive decision to spend a little bit of that savings every month on activities to keep the kids busy. I bought a lot of lego sets, art supplies, coloring books, dig kits and other items to keep them busy on their own. We also tried Outschool this summer with mixed success. I used it mostly for social interaction so that the kids were used to taking instruction from other people and focusing similarly to the classroom.

 

Bouncy castle.

 

Staying active while at home has been a challenge for us. We don’t have a back yard that is great for the kids to be out on their own in and our street is pretty busy so they aren’t allowed out there by themselves either. We have been walking our trails nearly every day and bike riding has become a thing in our house with one child learning this summer. Luckily our oldest daughter has time a couple of days a week to take the kids on longer bike rides and that has helped tremendously. Mr. Oscoey and I do not own bikes which I know is probably unheard of in the personal finance realm but neither of us been super into it although I am seeing a need for us to get at least one so that we can go on long rides with the kids. We also splurged and bought a bouncy house which has been a lifesaver! It takes five minutes to set up and about 10-15 to take down (which is mostly time waiting for it to deflate) and wears out the kids fabulously. I bought a bouncy house just small enough to fit in our living room so we have even had lots of opportunities to bounce as the weather has gotten colder. It is pretty loud but I am able to work with it running and since it is pretty contained I could sit inside and work with an eye outside to the kids while they were bouncing this summer which was helpful.

 

Shadow Lake Bog

 

We have tried over the past year to find Covid safe activities in our area but honestly we are pretty cautious and it has been hard. We went to Shadow Lake Bog which was nice but the hike was way shorter than we thought and it ended up being too easy for the kids. We did learn a lot about the bog and saw some amazing things but it was not the rigorous hike I was hoping for. The way they had it set up was you could reserve one of two parts of the bog and then hike it for an hour. We reserved the smaller side and it was about a mile round trip which is how far we walk most days in our neighborhood so for our kids it was not very challenging. The drive out there was almost not worth the hour we had the bog reserved for. I would recommend it for smaller kids or for people that live closer and aren’t spending 45 minutes in the car to get there. I would however love to go back when they have opened up their nature center and we would be able to see both sides of the bog on the same day. There was tons of nature that we don’t see every day and it was really cool to see.

 

Tea time.

 

Now that the weather is colder we have been trying to find indoor activities to keep our minds busy. The kids have been doing lots of art, Legos, pretend play, book writing and robot making on their own so I decided to try doing a cooking activity with the kids on the weekend. The first few weeks we baked brownies and made desserts but those don’t take up a lot of time and the weekends were starting to get long so a few weeks ago we tried out making a formal tea for lunch. It was a massive amount of fun! We didn’t dress up but we did get out the good china and practiced our manners at the table and the kids loved it. Everyone helped make fancy veggie bowls, fruit, sandwiches, salami “UFOs” and dessert. We cut our sandwiches into shapes and came up with interesting combinations which most of us tried.

 

We had a lot of fun with our tea time and I am already thinking of some ideas for the future. We will probably do some more smaller teas but in a couple of weeks I want to do another larger one. The kids and I have been talking about what we will make and thinking about new sandwich combinations. I found some gluten-free digestive biscuits and once they come in the mail we are going to try making the Queen’s favorite dessert which is a chocolate cake made from them. I am sure at some point we will get tired of it but for now, finding something to look forward to and plan for is super important for everyone’s mental health. The days have been blurring together and I realized we were just sitting around all weekend. Doing tea for lunch on Sunday gave the kids purpose for the day and a sense of schedule that we really needed so we will continue to do them every week or two until we tire of them.

 

Mushrooms out at Whidbey.

 

Although we have not been out there nearly enough, we are incredibly lucky to have woods to visit on family property out on Whidbey Island. It is great to go out there and walk around in the woods without having to worry about Covid. For the most part we have been maskless except now that cases are skyrocketing in the Seattle area we are wearing our masks to protect my Dad. We have one kid in person at school and we really don’t want to pass anything on to him. We have been super cautious and barely seen any of our friends and family but for us it is worth it if everyone stays healthy.

 

We spend our time out on Whidbey walking in the woods while my dad shows the kids around. He has found several hiding spots for the kids to play in and has great plans to add cabins to the raw land. Hopefully by next year there will be power and water and we will be able to stay longer than a couple of hours but for now our kids get overtired and antsy after a couple of hours so we head home. Our last trip was about a week ago and it was getting a little bit too cold out to be comfortable so we may not be back for a few months. We saw a bunch of mushrooms this time out which was pretty neat to see.

 

Glow stick dance party!

 

Covid has definitely made the last year way worse than we ever anticipated but I am incredibly grateful that those around us have been staying safe and we have not lost anyone close to us yet. Just in the past couple of weeks we have been hearing of friends who have been in contact with others that have had it but so far nobody in our inner circle has gotten sick. I am certain however that is because we most likely all had it back in January/February when we all got this horrible sickness that fits Covid symptoms before it was even reported in the U.S.. We are continuing to find ways to keep ourselves entertained at home relatively cheaply and I am hoping that by next spring we will have a little bit more freedom.

 

Stay safe everyone.

Gardening Update 09.05.2020

Gardening Update 09.05.2020

As the nights get cooler and the days shorter our summer 2020 garden is winding down for fall. This summer our vegetable garden stepped up a notch and I planted way more than previous years. We also had a huge pest problem with rodents, ants, […]