Money Woes Lead to Money, Whoa! – The Results

A week has passed. Here’s a breakdown of how the ‘no-spend, no-shop’ week went:

Monday

Spent entire $30 budget (plus $0.76 on yogurt, raspberries, milk, eggs, shortening and sugar). Hmmmm. This is not awesome. Will have to make it last and make it work. I know I can do it. Best I stay in the house as much as possible.

Ran all errands first thing in the morning. Returned an online shopping purchase that was not suitable (free, paid-for returns = zero cost to me), picked up above-noted bits and pieces and delivered something to one of the children’s schools. Then home again and stayed put.

While at home, I dug out the glue gun and repaired the kids’ bathroom hand mirror that had fallen apart months ago and as been sitting collecting dust, waiting for me to fix. Done! Made beef stew in the pressure cooker while the vegetarian chilli cooked in the slow cooker, both made with ingredients entirely on hand (no spending!).

Worked in my office, paying bills, updating various projects and compiling various items to sell and items to donate.

In the evening, I had to attend a parents’ meeting for one of the kids sports teams, so a trip to Sutton was necessary (darn!).

Overall, Monday was a win.

Tuesday

Did not drive anywhere = no gas used (yay!).

Hung the laundry to dry from the night before.

Made tacos for dinner, using tortillas from the freezer rather making fresh (preventing freezer burn = no waste = yay!).

Sold two items on Varagesale (budget booster!).

Purchased a few Christmas presents online, budgeted for and free shipping.

The weather cleared up in the afternoon, so I went for a walk. A half-hour out of the house and in the open air was good for my soul (no monetary savings, but great gains for my mental health!).

Hanging laundry and weeping willows. Same, but different.

Wednesday

Followed the menu plan, used the slow cooker and added rice for my non-potato eater. All lunches were made at home (x6).

Volunteered at one of the kids’ schools, so had to use the car. While out, also picked up much needed UV light bulb for the water treatment system. This was a budgeted for purchase.

Logged onto the library website to confirm due dates for our borrowed items to ensure no overdue fees will be incurred.

Thursday

This is always a high car-usage day. Tutoring, soccer, yoga (Miss M, not I), so my limited use of the vehicle was blown to bits today. I did however make everyone lunch and dinner, (well, I provided leftovers, since our fridge was over-flowing with them so it seemed less than thrifty to prepare yet another meal when we were so well situated for a ‘choose your own adventure’ meal night).

As always, I didn’t use the clothes dryer and hung the clothes to dry (or hanged? I don’t know, I didn’t kill them, I just dried them. Sigh. Whatever).

Overall, spending is at a all-time (ok, recent) low although I am BEYOND annoyed that the  printer ink that I ordered last week (before this spending freeze) has been held hostage by Canada Post for the entire week now. And before you ask, I did send (maybe a snarky) Tweet to CP requesting my inks release. This was my follow-up Tweet:

Annnnnnnd, no replies. Go figure. No answer to go with my no ink situation.

Friday

Jumped in the minivan to attend the Remembrance Day assembly at one of my smalls’ schools. So glad that I could be there, but it chokes me up every single time. I guess that’s a good thing, proves my heart has not yet turned completely to stone.

Did NOT follow the meal plan today (although I pulled everything out of the freezer in time to do so). Mr. KB came home WAY early from work (fire in one of the adjoining offices – all was fine, no worries) and suggested (or perhaps just said) “pizza?” And I jumped on that like it was the last train to Clarksville and said “I’ll order!” Frugal challenge FAIL. But oh so delicious in my belly, nom nom, so = WIN?

Saturday

Back on track(ish). Made dinner (used Friday night’s plan) WIN!

But…

Also headed out afterwards to pick up eggs, Diet Pepsi (stop judging me), and butter – damn you Shoppers Drug Mart and your “One Day Only” sales. Either I spent on Saturday, or spent almost $7.00 more buying the exact same items on Monday. So, I justified the heck out of it and spent the money. Still though, used two free product coupons, so the total was under $19.00. I have decided to call it a ‘winnish’ and just give myself permission to live my life.

Used the minivan twice today, once to Mass and once for my rogue shopping trip. Could have combined the trips into one (heading to SDM after church), but the children were acting particularly punchy and kicky, so decided it was probably best to feed them sooner rather than later (4:00pm Mass means we’re close to dinner time when we get home). Survival of the small people = WIN Cost of that survival = Extra trip out in vehicle.

Sunday

Mr. KB came up with the awesome idea of taking the kids up to Orillia to walk the boardwalk and explore. It was chilly but such a nice day to be out. Then he treated us to lunch (so I didn’t hurt the budget – yay!).

My smalls failing at being small but winning at being strong, smart and caring humans. 4/5 of my ❤️

After that, it was home to work around the house and bake some goodies for the week’s lunch prep. Also, made dinner using up the rest of our chicken and potato leftovers, along with some frozen veggies with a side of baking powder biscuits, we had a pseudo-chicken pot pie.

Conclusion

While I did manage to reduce our weekly shopping greatly, I did exceed my $30 goal. That said, between not needing to gas up the minivan and not spending $200 on groceries, I feel really good about how much I was able to help our budget. This week, I will need to replenish some of our fresh food options, since we are starting to run perilously low on apples (since the kids tend to go through approximately 24 pounds of them a week, including core weight, lol). I will also continue to use what we have on-hand, in the freezer and find creative ways to ensure that our food waste continues to be as low as possible.

While not using the clothes dryer is a bit of a pain, I know that I will see the savings on our next hydro bill from not running it six times a week (although always during off-peak times, it still really adds up).

Next, I think I may try to cut back on the dishwasher to every other night and wash the dishes by hand on the ‘off’ night. I know that it will save a ton of water and an hour of running the dishwasher and hot water heater (the ‘normal’ cycle takes an hour in this ancient machine). Bottom line, there is still work for me to do in order to tweak and boost and stretch the budget. 💁🏼‍♀️

~A.

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.

 

Money Woes Lead to Money, Whoa!

Yes, I’m exaggerating. I don’t have actual money ‘woes’ (bills are paid, everyone is well-fed, clothed, entertained and the future is being saved for) but I did notice that some of my budget categories are climbing a lot faster than I can juggle the money around make them all happy again. So, in the grande scheme of woes, this is a small one, I’ll admit, but it causes me stress so I’m pumping the brakes and saying “whoa!” to the spending.

Of course, right before Christmas is a wonderful time to stop spending, that I realize, but with climbing food prices, gas prices and growing children, I think it’s time to revisit my days of yore when needs and wants were very clearly defined and gratification was delayed in the name of frugality.

This week is now a “no shopping/out of pocket spending” week. There are regular bills that need to be paid and I have allowed $30 for fresh produce and milk (if we run out), but nothing else. All meals will be prepared at home using what I have on-hand and I have already worked out the menu for the week (posted below). Between the gas savings and the grocery/household purchase savings, I think that we should (conservatively) save around $250 just by staying out of the grocery store, taking fewer trips in the minivan and using up some of the stockpile in the freezer.

I have also implemented a few other cost-savings strategies. I have set up our drying rack, so the clothes dryer has already been dormant all week (save for once, yesterday, when I did use it to dry a comforter cover that is too large for the rack). Our dryer is 21 years-old, so you know it’s a hydro hog. I also decided a while back, to stop spending the big bucks are ready-to-eat baby carrots and bought a few big bags of regular carrots (at a fraction of the price). Peeled and chopped, the kids will eat them in their school lunches just as happily as they ate the pricier ones. Taking advantage of all of the various berry sales, price matching (and coupling them with Driscoll’s coupons) has also helped to procure fresh produce for far less.

I admit to having hit the ‘Easy Button’ for dinner a little too often in the past couple of months, but I’ve tossed that button out the window now and have a solid plan in place (the plan mostly involves me not being a lazy numpty and making ALL of our meals, pretty sophisticated plan, yes?).

Dinner Menu Plan (including vegetarian options)

Sunday – Pasta with vodka sauce and garlic bread
Monday – Beef stew and vegetarian chili
Tuesday – Tacos and taco salad w/o meat
Wednesday – Chicken, potatoes,  peas and corn
Thursday – Tuna casserole
Friday – Burgers (choice of beef or black bean patties), fries and veggies
Saturday – Pizza and panzerotti night
Sunday – Spaghetti with garlic bread

Lunches are always homemade, various sandwiches, bagels, cereals, salads or last night’s leftovers. Yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables and applesauce (and whatever Halloween candy the kids have managed to hold on to – lol!) are included for snacks.

So, this week started yesterday (Sunday) and will end next Sunday. I’ll post the update on Monday (even if I fail miserably) and I will be sure to include the other cost-cutting measures that I remember or figure out to try throughout the week and whether or not any of these measures resulted in any savings (real or imagined).

~A.

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.

 

 

Deep Dish Rhubarb Pie Recipe

Despite my best efforts, I lose a majority of scraps of paper that I commit very important information on. This has led me to ditching random scraps and jotting everything down in notebooks. Since this recipe still only exists in scrap paper form, I’m adding it here so that I can’t possibly lose it. I’ve hung onto the printed off email for 11 years now but my lucky streak could end at any moment. I know my limitations.

This recipe was emailed to my husband by his mum, at his request, when we first got married. I’ve pretty much used it ever since. We have some amazing rhubarb plants that provide us with lots of organic rhubarb year after year with zero effort or cost to us. They are givers and we are grateful receivers. I use the rhubarb to make pie, bread, and an altered version to apple cripple top. It’s all good, all the time.

Farmer Miranda with the rhubarb harvest, August 2017

Deep Dish Rhubarb Single Crust Pie

Preheat oven to 400F

Prepare filling and then the pastry.

Filling
9-11 cups 1-inch sliced rhubarb
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 grated orange peel
8 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Pastry
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold shortening (can use part butter, part shortening, if preferred)
4-5 Tbsp very cold water

Washed stalks then chopped and ready for pie.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all pie filling ingredients well. Transfer into a deep dish (When I don’t draw a blank and screw it up, I use a 5-qt cast iron dutch oven, without the lid).

Roll out your pastry large enough to lay on top of the rhubarb flat to the sides of the pan and up slightly over the top edge of the pan. Crimp to hold the pastry to the lip of the pan as the rhubarb cooks down. Using a sharp knife, slice a few vents into the pastry.

Bake at 400F for 40-60 minutes (depending on how “done” you like your pastry.

Enjoy!

Notes: Combine all pastry ingredients (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer) until a dough forms. Having chunks of butter or shortening in the dough is perfectly fine and in some cases preferable, as it will help to create a bit of ‘flake’ in your crust. Roll out about 1-inch larger than the circumstance of the pan you are using so that it will sink with the filling as it bakes.

For a regular pie, reduce your filling ingredients to:
3 cups rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
3 Tbsp flour
dash of salt

For a double crust pie, double your pastry ingredients and use a traditional pie plate.

 

Are you in on the craze of the season? Just stop. Please.

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Are you in on this Hatchimal craze?

I’m not. My kids are not. And if they were, I’m afraid that they would be sorely disappointed. Because Christmas is NOT about getting the latest fad or the most expensive doodad. It’s about sharing time with your family, giving gifts that hold true value to the recipient, not just over-advertised, over-hyped and over-priced poorly made and likely soon-to-be recalled pieces of garbage.

Sound harsh? Yup. I probably am. But I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle to raise good humans, people who care more about other people and the world we live in than they do STUFF.

A lot of people pay lip service to raising kids with manners, a lot of people complain about the quality of education their children are receiving, a lot of people are so worried about keeping their children HAPPY, that they are not actually doing anything to prepare their children for reality.

The reality that people are not ALWAYS happy. That not everybody is going to give you what you want. That sometimes people say NO and you need to accept that and move forward, not throw a fit or fall apart. The reality is that you really can’t always get what you want, but, if you try sometimes, you just might find, you’ll get what you need.

And yes, I realize that I am quoting The Rolling Stones to try to get my point across, but hey, they had it right. So why fight it?

Fussy eater making you crazy? Try these and watch the magic happen.

Generally speaking, I won the kid lottery when it comes to eating. For the most part, my kids eat what I make and don’t complain too much. Notice the ‘too’ in that sentence. I mean, sure, Deacon may gag and dry heave at those chunks of tomato in the gorgeous sauce I serve with spaghetti and meatloaf may have the power to turn his sunny mood positively foul and Paxton may burst into tears if his food is so much as kissed by ketchup, but overall, they’re all good and will power through whatever I’m serving.

But, I am also well aware that not all parents are so lucky. So many, no, too many parents have a daily battle on their hand with a picky eater and by the sounds of it, kids today are taking being picky to Olympian heights.

And I’m a helper. And a bit of a foodie. But also kind of an asshole. So I took it upon myself to seek out alternatives that make WHATEVER you are serving suddenly become the best thing ever.

Without further ado, may I suggest:

1. Forget Roadkill cuisine. Try this instead.

Not just any possum in a can. Oh no. This is CREAMED possum in a delectable COON FAT gravy and delicately garnished with sweet potatoes. Yummy.

Not just any possum in a can. Oh no. This is CREAMED possum in a delectable COON FAT gravy and delicately garnished with sweet potatoes. Yummy.

2. He can count by twos and tie his shoes…

Not feeling the possum? Looking for lighter fare on a chilly fall evening? Well, step on over and grab your bowl of Ready-to-Serve REAL TURTLE SOUP. Mmmmm. Franklin. Double Yum!

Not feeling for possum tonight? Or maybe looking for lighter fare on a chilly fall evening? Well, step on up and grab your bowl of Ready-to-Serve REAL TURTLE SOUP. Mmmmm. Franklin. Double Yum!

3. Pasta with an identity crisis with a side of Oh God.

No? Resistant to the possum AND the turtle. Well, fine then. How about a wonderful plate of Tenderoni?

No again? Resistant to the possum AND the turtle? Well, fine then. How about a wonderful plate of Tenderoni and liverwurst? The kids will devour it, everybody loves it and hell, it saves work, worry, time and money. It’s a miracle in a box, really.

4. Chiquita’s outfit isn’t the only thing that’s slammin’ here.

The perfect storm is this. Right here. You've got your fruits, protein, and dairy groups all present and accounted for. That they look like little displaced penises will only make mealtime more jovial.

The perfect storm is this. Right here. Ham Banana Rolls. They give the ham top billing, but really, we all know that the bananas are the star of this show. You’ll be serving your little humans a full serving of fruit, protein, and dairy all in one convenient roll. For good measure, the Chiquita Banana sweetens the deal by adding some prepared mustard to the meal. That the end result looks like little displaced penises will only make mealtime more jovial. I mean, kids love bananas and anything to do with bums and burps. Really, this is a meal primed for hours of dining hilarity.

5. Only if I can follow it up with kidney pie and haggis, please.

I don't know about your house. But around here, we can't get enough of that organ soup. Mmmm. Mmmm. Good. Now, the Libby's isn't quite as good as the Campbell's, but in a pinch, the kids will suck this back like you've just passed them an ice cold beer on a hot summer day. Except, you wouldn't do that. Because that would be wrong. And we all know that. We also know that there is not a kid around who would touch this soup with his brother's mouth.

I don’t know what is a popular go-to meal at your house. But around here, we can’t get enough of animal organ soup. Mmmm, mmmm, sumptuous. Now, the Libby’s isn’t quite as good as the Campbell’s, but in a pinch, the kids will suck this one back like  an icy beer on a hot summer day. Except, we wouldn’t let them do that. Because that would be wrong. And we all know that. And while we’re busy be honest, we also all know that there is not a kid around who would touch this soup with her brother’s mouth and her sister’s stomach.

6. Bodacious breasts and a meal? Oh yes, please!

Now, this one wouldn't normally make any list I would make in relation to kids, except that right at the end of the product description, it saves itself from omission by adding these two little words: "Or Food."

Now, this one wouldn’t normally make any list I would make in relation to kids, except that right at the end of the product description, it saves itself from omission by adding these two little words: “Or Food.” So, I suppose that this is really just an all-around superfood. See, Mom rubs this cream on her chest to irritate the fuck out of her boobs, causing them to swell. This makes Dad happy (which once her boobs hurt, Mom could care less about and actually makes her feel quite stabby, thus leading her to suggest that Dad feck off and go rub some on himself – whether he accepts the challenge will vary from family to family). But the children? Well, the children, sweet and innocent that they are, still must eat. Having used the cream once and suffered the painful, swollen side effects, Mom decides to take Sears up on their claim and feeds it to the family for dinner, possibly spread on Ritz. Because after all, it is “Bust Cream or Food.” Nothing like a plate of trauma pie for dinner.

7. Potatoes? Yes. Fudge? Hell, Yes. This? Oh no.

Ah, feck it. Just bake them a potato (don't worry if they hate potatoes, we have a plan) then crack open your jar of Potato Fudge and drop a big 'ol spoonful all over it.

Ah, feck it. Just bake them a potato (don’t worry if they hate potatoes, we have a plan) then crack open your jar of Potato Fudge and drop a big ‘ol “swirl” all over it. Is it good for them? Who knows. Kraft brought out both chocolate or butterscotch flavours, and in true Kraft fashion, even provide you with a few recipes to choose from. Fudge Nugglets anyone?

8. Enough people enjoyed this enough that it needed to be canned and marketed?

Still crying because your delicious Lasagna casserole is yucky? NO PROBLEM! Just crank open a can of new and improved Buzzard Gizzards (in a cream sauce, of course), and watch the tears fade away. They won't be able to gobble this up fast enough!

Are they still crying because your delicious Lasagna casserole is icky? NO PROBLEM! Just crank open a can of new and improved Buzzard Gizzards (in a cream sauce, of course), and watch their tears fade away. They won’t be able to gobble this up fast enough!

9. Ugh. Oh, and for the record, fish don’t have fingers.

Fish sticks are yucky and make you hide under your chair? Gotcha covered, small human. Sit on up here and dig into your delicious SPAM Sticks. Because nothing says yummy like tinned meat fried up nice and rectangular.

Fish sticks are yucky and make you hide under your chair? Gotcha covered, small human. Sit on up here and dig into your delicious SPAM Sticks. Because nothing says yummy like tinned meat fried up nice and rectangular.

10. Time to lube up those arteries and veins, kids! Have at it!

You know what? Just forget it. Picky eaters are just more determined, have longer stamina and know our weak points. Just throw it all aside and let 'em eat butter. Lots and lots of butter. Because 'butter is slippery' just like these little con artists crying into their broccoli are slippery. They have no idea how good they have it with the meals you're offering up.

Yes. This. Finally. This should solve just about everything. Quit pushing all of those fruits, veggies and whole grains and just let ’em eat butter. Lots and lots of butter. Because ‘butter is slippery.’ Much like these little con artists who crying into their broccoli that they are ‘full and can’t eat anymore’ only to turn around five minutes later and ask for a cookie because they’re “sooooo hungry!”

So, go ahead. Offer up a few of these bad boys and watch your kids beg for your ‘noodle surprise casserole’ or extra cauliflower. Because once they understand that possum and liver soup are on deck, it makes what’s in front of them so much better!

#ParentingWins

They love me because I feed them. Meh. I’ll take it.

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. I was spoiled with breakfast in bed (adventures in the kitchen for Mr. K.B. and the smalls – so yeah, it turns out, waffle irons don’t live forever ????), countless precious and priceless home and school made gifts and cards, and even a much-needed and appreciated visit from my own mother. (Quick aside: Happy Mother’s Day, Mum! I’m sorry I was such a ????head when I was a teenager. It was definitely not you. It was me.)

And as the day came to a close, and I put my four youngest babes to bed, I decided to revisit some of my gifts and proclamations of love from the day. To my surprise, there was a common theme throughout, which, put simply was: “I love you because you feed me.”

My Golden Ticket from Deacon ????????

My Golden Ticket from Deacon ????????

So very, very Deacon ????

So very, very Deacon ????

I guess I have set the bar pretty low if, by merely feeding them, I have achieved “best mommy in the hole galixey” status.

One of the few times when I could care less about spelling ????

One of the few times when spelling does not count ????

Were they grasping for something nice to say or does the sum total of my mothering skills amount to short-order cook? Hmmmm. Could be worse, I say.

Mason design me my own Pokemon card. You'll notice that I'm still serving up the grub. Even fictional me feeds the children.

Mason designed me my own Pokemon card. You’ll notice that I’m still serving up the grub. Even fictional me feeds the children.????????

And just in case anyone forgot about the importance of food...

And just in case anyone forgot about the importance of food…

I tend to (over) credit myself with wearing many, many different hats during the course of any given day in order to meet the needs of my family. As it turns out, I can shelve the various hats or just trade them for a hair net.

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Paxton appreciates that I feed him healthy food. ???????? Poor kid. Have him brainwashed entirely, I suppose. ????

Paxton appreciates that I feed him ‘helthy food’. ???????? My poor Pax. Have him brainwashed entirely, I suppose. ????

And last but not least, from Declan, who for the first time in my recollection, did not mention food. Not even once. ???? I hope he's not coming down with something. ????

And last but not least, from Declan, who for the first time in my recollection, did not mention food. Not even once. ????
Geez. I hope he’s not coming down with something. ????

So. This is my life. It may not be glamorous. It may not be jet-setting. It may not be the envy of those around me. But goddamn it, there is food and plenty of it (everyday even. Just ask my kids).

It’s time to change my relationship with food. Ugh.

Coming out of a three-day long headache, I was met with the realization that I have some changes to make and for once, they are not to my personality. No. It’s time to come up with a fitness/diet/don’t-be-such-a-slug plan so that I never again have to endure the embarrassment and pain of hearing one of my kids tell me that I look like I ‘have a baby in there’ while patting my un-pregnant stomach (which, for the record, is big but does not protrude or hang down, is NOWHERE near my lady garden or knees and is still not bigger than my boobs. TMI? I don’t care. It needed to be cleared up in order to proceed).

Aside from sparing myself from the mortifying truth of looking pregnant while not actually being pregnant, I do actually want to live for a very, very long time (I’m a glutton for punishment, go figure). And it would seem that I have children who, like it or not, need me and will continue to need me well into adulthood. Not because I’m planning to raise them to be incompetent nincompoops but rather that despite what my teenage-self thought, we always need our parents around. Even when they drive us crazy. Even when we want to throttle them. Even when we move away and don’t see them every day. We need them and we need to know that they are okay. So, it’s my job to live as healthy a life as possible so that my kids know that I’m okay and will be there for them — whether to drive them crazy or help them out of a jam.

It was this line of thinking that lead me to figure out that what I need to do is break up with  my shitty eating habits and find a new way to relate to food that will not end up killing me as soon. And that lead me to think that my best bet may be to start eating the way I feed my smalls. Which lead to thinking that the very best idea would probably be to just eat exactly what I feed one of them in a day. Since none of them drink pop (and I’ve been known to hurt a Diet Pepsi or two during the course of a day), they all eat breakfast every morning, the majority of their snacks are fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and popcorn, I would,  by my estimation, lose weight (way fewer calories) and I would be healthier (by default even as they eat very little to no sugar, sweets or over-processed food on a normal day).

But can I do that? Could this be a real thing that I could do? I mean, has the answer to feeling better, looking better, having more energy and managing my weight been right here the whole time and I’ve been too blinded by fads, popular advice and other people’s opinions to see it? ????

I feed my smalls a very healthy diet (my eldest son is making his own food choices and those are outside of my control – ugh)????. As a family, we do sometimes order pizza. We do sometimes eat fast food. But the majority of the time, my kids eat real food, prepared by me using ingredients that I carefully choose. Their school lunches are not packaged in a factory or found in the frozen food aisle and almost never contain ingredients that I cannot pronounce. Their dinners almost always are 80% vegetables, and yes, they eat meat, but not in obnoxious, artery clogging amounts.

So, then question becomes, why has it not occurred to me to feed myself this well?

I suppose that I hide behind being an adult (and yes, I am using that term very loosely. The chronological definition really). I hide behind the excuse that my body is already “contaminated” from years of sugar, sweeteners, fat and chemicals. I hide behind the science that shows that detox diets just do not work. I hide away from the truth that I use food to self-sooth and manage my emotions. I use food to mask my feelings, to help me to feel happy when I can, confirm for myself that I’m no good when I need to and  entertain me when I’m bored. ????

I use food for everything except what it’s meant for, which is to keep me alive and my brain and body functioning and strong. Like my kids are and I hope continue to be. So, I’m going to take the next few days to wrap my head around this, iron out the kinks, figure out the rules and get myself mentally prepared to eat like a seven-year-old with a  killer metabolism and a strong attachment to raw fruit and vegetables.

Who knows? May could end up being the month I finally shed my ????slug exterior and interior and graduate into something closer to an ant ????. Those things are stupid strong and able to do all kinds of smart shit. And if being an ant is out of reach, I’ll settle for finalizing my

But just in case I fail to metamorphosize, I’m keeping Pizzaville on speed dial. ????????

#SlugNoMore #WhatIfWeAllAteWhatWeFeedOurKids #WouldWeEatBetterOrWorse? #RaisingHealthyHumans #EatLocal #EatReal

Giving up organic milk

I have wavered back and forth on the organic milk issue for years. For the most part, I did not buy organic milk because the cost is more than twice that of regular milk. But in the last few months of 2015, I switched the family over to a more organic based diet and that included organic milk. And wowzers! Did my grocery budget scream in pain. With four growing children and two grown men in the house, the milk consumption, at times, is unreal and as we rolled into 2016 with the increasing food prices, I have had to re-evaluate my choices somewhat.

Yesterday afternoon, I was speaking with a friend, who feeds her young family more organically than I, and she said that she has never bothered with organic milk in Canada because regulations in Ontario dictate that our dairy farmers are not permitted to give our bodicious Ontarian bovines hormones or antibiotics. If medications are necessary then the cow in question is removed from the production line for a period of time until an ‘all clear’ sample is obtained. Hmmmmm. This makes a difference in my assessment of the situation (and may make a BIG difference to my grocery budget).

So much of the information we receive is American, where they have different laws and food safety standards. Here in Ontario, there is a wealth of information available on the Dairy Farmers of Ontario website. Links to provincial regulations, standards and farming-related issues are published for all to read.

A few things to keep in mind, when deciding if you’re going to purchase regular or organic milk (at least in Ontario), are:

1. Milk is the most heavily safety-tested food in the Canadian food supply system. Ontario dairy farms are inspected regularly under Dairy Farmers of Ontario Raw Milk Quality Program to ensure that Ontario milk meets provincial standards. Inspectors ensure that all surfaces and equipment are clean and that milk is cooled efficiently. Inspectors also look for Grade A management practices such as good cow housing, sufficient pasture area and exclusion of milk from cows that are being treated for illness with drugs or antibiotics. (DFofON website)

and:

Other jurisdictions permit the use of synthetic hormones to meet market needs [which is not allowed under Canadian regulations]. Instead, Ontario’s dairy system meets the highest safety and quality standards in the world, while ensuring farmers can reinvest in safety to produce efficient, high-quality dairy products that other dairy systems simply do not provide. (DFofON website)

and finally:

In dairy farming, medication is only used if it is required to treat a specific illness. When dairy animals become ill, the problem is diagnosed and, with the help of a veterinarian, a treatment program is established. Her milk is discarded since it is illegal to sell or offer for sale any milk that contains antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals, and she is milked separately from the rest of the herd until she has complied with strict withdrawal periods for her specific medication.

In Canada, there is a stringent dairy inspection program in place to test milk. Samples are taken at each farm for quality and composition. As well, each truckload is tested for antibiotics at the dairy. Any milk that does not pass the test is discarded immediately and any producer whose milk is found to contain antibiotics faces heavy financial penalties. (Facts and Figures on the DFofON website)

So, right now (and this could change tomorrow because – over thinking issues and then changing my mind is my speciality) I am going to return to buying regular Ontario produced milk, bypass the organic milk option and expense and not purchase (the much less expensive) milk next time we grocery shop in the U.S.

Just a little love note my Paxton gave me last year. Seeming a fitting addition to this post ????

Just a little love note my Paxton gave me last year. Seems a fitting addition to this post ????

Have I been doing it wrong or are they doing it wrong? My world is upside down now. How do you do it? No, not that it.

One of the things that I enjoy about going over the border to the US is that it gives me the opportunity to tour through American grocery stores and snag amazing deals and products that I just cannot get here in Canada. I love going to Aldi whenever I’m in the US. I would love going to Whole Foods and Trader Joe, but I haven’t found those in Buffalo, yet. (I’m sure the stores are there, but our GPS is woefully out-of-date.) But back to Aldi, I find that their prices are generally great and it has rare to find a product that is not as good, if not better than the pricier, brand name equivalent. But there have been exceptions. This newest one is the most disturbing one so far though. Because it awakens in me all kinds of insecurities and conspiracy theories that I spend quality waking hours fighting to deny. Thanks, America.

The problem: I may have been doing raisins wrong for all of these years. How is that even possible? Am I getting mind-fucked by Corporate America (Like I really need them toying with my already fragile mind, right?)? I present the photographic evidence:

image

image 1st image: Southern Grove, Aldi’s brand, purchased in the USA. 2nd image: Sun-Maid Raisins, purchased at Costco in Canada.

And why, if both of these companies are claiming to sell California raisins, why do the Sun-Maid ones taste so much better? Why does the Aldi packaging go on and on about no added sugar? And why the need to announce “100% real fruit” in its own text bubble on a canister of raisins? What else would a package of ‘California Raisins’ contain? Just stating that on the packaging makes me think there’s all kinds of stuff in that canister other than raisins. But the really real question, and the heart of my despair is this: Just WHO, exactly, is refrigerating raisins?!? Are people doing this? Is this a thing? Have I been haphazardly storing our raisins in the cupboard, just begging for disaster? Who do I believe? Aldi, a European-owned chain in the USA or Sun-Maid, an US owned company who imports their product into Canada, so must meet Canadian standards. I’m telling you, I am in utter anguish.

And this, my friends, this is an excellent example of why I do better hiding under my desk with a bar of chocolate, a bag of chips, a good book and my iPad. The outside world and I just can’t seem to get in sync. Under my desk, I can selectively avoid these types of life-altering disasters.

 

Don’t forget to come and hang out with me on FacebookInstagram or Twitter. Some thoughts or moments make it to all four sites, others only exist on the site I post them on, so make sure you’re not missing out on anything (rants, updates, cute moments and homicidal-like rages), like or follow along on those sites too. ????
~A

Whole Wheat and Honey Sandwich Bread – Recipe

This past holiday season, I rediscovered my passion for baking bread and NOT spending money on chemical-laden, mass-produced, over-priced bread at the grocery store. So, in a nutshell, I rediscovered my intense carb-addition and my frugal grooviness at the same time, and I found them both at Wal-Mart. That place really does have everything. Um, or maybe not.

Anyway, I have not taken step-by-step pictures of this recipe, but it’s pretty straight forward and forgiving (I mean, it forgives me constantly), so we should be good to go with just the recipe, straight up. I’ll do my best to answer any questions that come up though, just leave your question in the comments. ???? I will tell you that I do all of my mixing and most of my kneading using my KitchenAid stand mixer and dough hook. I’m just a wimp that way. Also, I do not have a record of where I first found this recipe, but I’ve changed it a bit here and there over time to make it work better for me.

Now get into my tummy before I switch back to a raw foods diet again. Nom, nom, nom.

Now get into my tummy before I switch back to a raw foods diet again. Nom, nom, nom.

Whole Wheat and Honey Sandwich Bread (makes 2 scrumptious loaves)

Ingredients:

2 1/3 cups of warm water (110 – 115F)
4 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled (can substitute coconut or other oil for the butter)
4 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp yeast (or two of those little packages of yeast, which makes 1Tbsp + 1/2tsp)
2 1/2 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste, but do leave some salt in the recipe, the yeast needs it)
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (give or take).

Directions:

  1. Combine one cup of the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, yeast and salt into the bowl of a mixer.
  2. Add warm water, honey and butter/oil. Mix on low-speed until combined. The on medium speed for about three minutes.
  3. Add the remaining two cups of whole wheat flour and the all-purpose flour (a cup at a time) and mix, using your dough hook attachment, until the dough is no longer sticky – when it comes away from the sides of the bowl cleanly, you’re good. Knead in the mixer until smooth and elastic – about five minutes or so.
  4. Take out the dough hook and cover the dough, in the bowl with a damp tea towel. Let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes (an hour if your house, like mine, is chilly).
  5. Punch the dough down, divide it in half and roll each half out into a rectangular shape. Roll each half of the dough up and place in a well-greased 9×5 inch bread pan. Rolling the dough will give your bread a nicer crumb, better structure and make your loaves look purty.
  6. Cover the loaves with a damp tea towel (again) and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes (or 45 minutes in a chilly place), or until doubled.
  7. Bake in your preheated (because you read ahead – aha!) oven (350F) for 30 minutes. Since tapping the bottom of loaves baking in a bread pan is cumbersome and dare I say it, impossible, you could use an instant read thermometer into the long side of the loaves. Fully baked bread should be 205F. Turn out of the pans and cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve!
Freshly sliced bread. This is only half a loaf though, since the other half was quickly and savagely consumed.

Freshly sliced bread. This is only half a loaf though, since the other half was quickly and savagely consumed.

P.S. My spellcheck is acting up again. I’m not entirely sure why, but it wants you to use a ‘doe hook’ to mix your bread. But I said, “No way, screw you, Spellcheck. We are NOT using a ‘doe hook’ on this blog. Not today!” So now I’m not sure if my spellcheck is a carb hater or an animal hater, but either way, it looks like I will need to remain vigilant about monitoring any and all changes and dropping the hammer liberally on the pro-offered suggestions. Never trust your spellcheck. I’m fairly certain it’s just out to get you and will mess up everything you type. Probably on purpose.

~A.