Saturday, February 28, 2009

So Maybe I'm Not Technically Mormon...

But I think we all know I live the LDS lifestyle (okay except for the whole religious thing, my 2 cups of coffee, occasional glass of sangria... oh... and the swearing).

Well, the other day a reader emailed me suggesting I look into the closest LDS Cannery. With the ever growing rate of my bread baking, muffin making, and pizza dough production... I'm going through about 30 pounds of flour a month... this reader thought I might benefit from buying wheat in bulk and grinding myself.

Being well versed in LDS doctrine I knew about the food storage requirements... BUT... I did not know about the LDS Canneries. I spent all night researching them. Most of the *real* information I could find was not from the LDS Church (although I read all of that) but from crazy survivalists (and I am NOT surprised). It seems that up until Y2K non-members could shop at the Canneries and buy bulk items but that during the time leading up to Y2K non-members cleaned out the Canneries and now non-members are not permitted to shop there without an LDS escort.

Do any of you know anything about this? I really don't want to embarrass myself. The form asks for a member name & ward info... not that I would do this or anything... but do they need to see your temple card?... or... if you happened to know a members name & ward info... would that suffice? (of course I wouldn't do this... I'm just asking... like do they check a picture ID.... I WOULD NEVER DO THIS).

Also does anyone have a flour mill attachment that they use on their Kitchen Aid mixer? Like THIS one? Whether I can get the LDS bulk wheat or not I'm kind of curious about grinding my own fresh flour.

Friday, February 27, 2009

That Was A Close One

Kid was getting pretty slap happy at bedtime tonight. She was doing her typical over the top impersonation of Baby.

Kid is a BIG fan of exaggerating Baby's newly developing speech turning what is cute coming out of a two year old's mouth into the screeching annoying antics of a retarded robot.

It is not one bit funny to anybody but Kid... for whom it is hilarious.

I smiled and faked my way through a good couple of minutes of her shenanigans but after awhile my patience wore thin.

Fed up I said...


Mr F raised his eyebrows.

I stretched out the "u" as long as I could frantically trying to stop the words as they left my mouth.

"... shhy!" I finished.

I looked up at Mr F, our eyes met, and we began laughing hysterically.

Adventure Preparedness

Spring is here (kind of) and with it comes the unpredictability this season is known for. What does that mean? Well, it means that you never know when you are going to find yourself with beautiful weather beaconing you to enjoy it. Having two kids in tow means that a little bit of forethought can go a long way toward making spontaneous adventures a reality instead of a disaster.

In that light I give you the snack preparedness kit:

Included in a large tupperware container are peanuts, raisins, pretzels, and fig newtons. I have everything sealed in an plastic bag. I also have extra snack size baggies for doling out individual portions (cause handing over a big bag of snacks is a guaranteed spill waiting to happen and then you are out a good months worth of snacks!). I also have a big, empty, plastic water bottle. I endeavor to fill our individual Sigg bottles to bring in the car everyday before I pick up Kid from school... just in case an adventure awaits... but sometimes I forget. With this extra bottle always in the car I can fill it up at any water fountain or sink I come across.

I have a car storage cube that it all fits in, in my trunk, and I also have a roll of paper towels, a box of individual wipes (they don't dry out), and a picnic blanket (that folds and zips into a handled tote... it's awesome) that I always have in the car. I cannot tell you how many times having those things around have SAVED THE DAY!!!

Other things I keep in the car at all times:
a pair of socks for each kid (indoor playstructures demand this... it's good to be prepared)
a few diapers, wipes, and gallon sized plastic bag... for storing the emergency dirty diaper
a light hooded sweatshirt or windbreaker for each kid & me
a roll of toilet paper (um... not all park facilities have TP... you can thank me later)
baseball hats/sun hats for the kids

All this stuff easily fits together with the snack bin in one of those small car storage cubes (you can get 2 for $9.99 at Target).

When we get to school and a friend asks us to join them at the park or the pool or the museum we can ALWAYS say YES.
And that means that we never have to miss out on stuff like this:

It also means we never have to fork over big bucks to Mc Donald's or a snack stand because we are starving and melting down and need to eat RIGHT NOW. It really only takes a couple minutes to put this together and it will save you both money (& calories!) later on... I promise.

The key to making this work is to use these things when they're really needed. I keep the bin in the trunk. If the snacks were out where the kids could see them/get to them they would be gone within a week of help-yourself-snacking on the way back from school. If I know we are going somewhere I pack snacks for that day and keep the reserves for unexpected outings.

In the summer I keep a tote bag filled with:
beach towels, some suits, small floaty for Baby, noodle for Kid, and sand toys

In the winter I keep a pillowcase filled with:
one wool blanket, a flashlight, and a couple of chocolate bars (hey you never know!!!)
(In Michigan when it is really cold I also had -20 sleeping bag in the trunk)
I am a full believer in being prepared so as to ensure you'll NEVER need it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oh I'm Really Glad I Didn't Have To Miss Out On This...

Today was my first post injury workout. It's been quite awhile since I made my nightly trip down to the basement (and through it and out to the freezing garage... but I digress). We've all gotten into the rhythm of my constant presence.

Well it appears that while I was occupied the shit hit the fan.

Don't worry Kid documented it all for us in a pictorial blow by blow...
(You might want to turn you laptop... or your head)
Kid sets the stage with this cover image of Mr F yelling at an unhappy Kid.

Here's where it all begins. Kid is attempting to kick Mr F (see the stick figure lying perpendicular ... yeah that's her kicking). Mr F gets mad at Kid (note the word bubble with "NO")... which of course pisses Kid off.

From right to left (er... bottom to top)... Kid becomes frustrated and hits herself in the legs (yes even I needed that picture explained to me). Then she locks Baby out of her room. That's Baby standing by a closed door.

Kid closes the book not too subtly.

I don't know where she gets it... this need to document the ways in which she has been wronged. Certainly not from me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Looks Can Be Deceiving

She looks cute enough but, I swear to you, she single handedly puts the terror in terrible twos.

She's the kid who you see standing up in the cart screaming "No" at the top of her lungs while her mother desperately tries to quiet her in whatever method necessary. (Yes I'm that mom who seems to not understand how to set limits.... oh I understand... I also know when to pick my battles) I recently even overheard Kid telling Baby "don't worry as soon as we get in the store Mommy will get you a cook cook."

Yes she's the kid who (for no apparent reason) throws things... from the cart... from the table at a restaurant (oh who am I kidding the only place I am even willing to take her anymore is the playplace at Mc Donalds and I don't know if that consitutes a restaurant... but she did throw both her toy, Kid's toy, and her food on the floor by a neighboring table last time). And not just throw things cause she's mad or frustrated... SHE DOES IT FOR NO REASON... she's just into it. Sadly the other patrons don't seem to enjoy it as much as she does. And I love having to get up from my seat every 25 seconds to clean up her mess. I absolutely love it.

We stopped going out to eat with her even before our strict budget since the last time we went to a remotely nice restaurant she had me in tears by the time we were half way through. Mostly from the stress of trying to not ruin everyone else's meal in the restaurant. I spent the whole time trying to entertain her so she wasn't *loud*, trying to eat food with one hand... that had long since gone cold, it just wasn't worth paying for food under those circumstances.

I can't take her grocery shopping anymore because trying to get in and out under her grace period of 12 minutes is like being put in a pressure cooker. It's just too much stress. (How bad can it be? Um well I think I told you about the time she got herself caught under the cart right?... that's not counting the 1000 times she takes off her shoes and throws them hither and yon, grabs aka knocks jars off shelves, bites into food, yells ... the freaking works) I now shop on weekends without her. I try not to go to Target much anyway but when I do I have to take her in her stroller with the 5 point harness. Cart belts are a freaking joke. In the 5 point harness she can easily get out of 2 of the points. You should see what she can reach on the shelves of a well stocked aisle when her shoulders aren't pinned down.... she's like Houdini.

I love that little maniac. I do. But she is so stereotypically two that somedays I feel wiped out before I even get started.

This is how I found her the other night. I thought Mr F had her. He thought she was with me. She pushed her chair across the kitchen and started helping herself to the chocolate cake. Fortunately her knife skills are very good.

I feel guilty about letting her watch TV. I really don't think little kids should. Really. But I have to turn it on in order to survive the day. It's the only thing that stops her for a couple of minutes. Ever since the day I got out of the shower and found her with this...
(with the cap OFF!!!), I started turning on her shows while I take a shower. It's not a joke. I cannot leave her on her own for even a couple of minutes.

It is an absolute miracle that she hasn't been to the ER for a broken bone, knife wound, or poisoning. A miracle.

The upside? Things are never dull. And I have an all new appreciation for how intelligent small children are. You have never met a more masterful problem solver. I swear. The government should hire her for something covert.

Wishful Thinking

I have enjoyed every minute of my niece's visit. But the thought that I'd have the opportunity to "get stuff done" was horribly misguided. I haven't been able to grab more than a minute away for myself... let alone do our taxes.

Our house has never looked worse more played in...

(Oh and that big stack of folded blankets?!... that is an improvement.)

Walking around the house has been like walking through a field of land mines for a woman with a broken butt. Seriously. It's been a real hazard. I almost wiped out yesterday on some foam fort pillars.

What was I thinking... get stuff done ?!... what a joke. I was deluded I must admit.

Three kids has been a joy though. I like the way it feels around the dinner table. It just feels right. I told Mr F that I do want three kids after all.

He told me to get back to him after I'm watching the baby in the Fall.

Kill joy.

Oh and there is that little hiccup involving his sterilization...

Ah well.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This Week The Plan

I'm definitely struggling with time management while managing 3 kids of vastly different ages, interests, and eating requirements. I also don't want to take too much time away from my niece's visit. We've had tons of fun (and spent way more money than I would have liked).

I'm still researching finance stuff up the wazoo. I'm learning a lot and feeling like I'm almost ready to put some new things in place. Stay tuned on that front as I will surely pass along anything I decide to do.

I'm freaking excited today because we got our new National Geographic in the mail. It's feature story is on saving energy at home. This is one of the big things I've been wanting to tackle. Our electric and heating bills have been through the roof since we moved down here and we need to find ways (and implement them) to cut our bills. Pronto.

My Tivo died (yeah the one that is less than 6 months old) so my workouts got sidetracked last week. We've got the replacement and I'm hoping to start up once my niece goes home tomorrow. I really need to get back in shape. The whole situation is killing me... physically, emotionally, the whole nine yards.

Okay... on to the plan...


Sunday - Scallion & Ginger Shrimp w/ Noodles

Monday - Spaghetti & Meatballs w/ green beans

Tuesday - Black Bean & Turkey Tacos w/ avocado

Wednesday - Salmon Noodle Casserole w/ sauteed mushrooms, salad

Thursday - Cornflake Crusted Tilapia, broccoli in garlic oil

Friday - Pizza, salad, SANGRIA

Saturday - Quesadillas w/ rice & beans

Sunday - Penne w/ Turkey Meat Sauce & green beans

That's it for now. It's really hard for me to get anything done until we get back in our regular (non hosting) routine.

I'll leave you with this....

That's me attempting to make kettle corn... note the eye protection. We were chanting "horrible, horrible, horrible burns" the entire time after reading the warnings that went along with the recipe. The whole experience was traumatizing and better left to carnival professionals.

Monday, February 23, 2009

You're All Lucky...

I don't have 3 kids all the time.

If I did this blog would be a thing of the past.

Help Wanted

I'll be back with my weekly plan tonight. But while you all wait (how can you stand it?!!) I'm giving a Paczki Day shout out.

Tomorrow is Paczki Day and I will be without paczki... which will of course be UNACCEPTABLE.

Does anyone out there have a recipe?

I MUST have paczki.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pizza! Pizza!

Pizza Dough
(this recipe makes 2 pizzas!!!)
2 c water
3 t sugar
2 t salt
3 T olive oil
2.5 c whole wheat flour
2.5 c all purpose flour
1.5 t baking powder
3/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
2 1/4 t yeast

I make this dough in my bread machine. I add the ingredients in the order they are listed and set it to the dough cycle. This makes a double batch of dough which is enough for 2 full sheet pans (12x16) with fairly thick crust (Pizza Hut) or I can make 4 thin crust. You could probably make 4 thick crust in a 9 x 13 or round pizza pan. I divide the dough into two balls and put one in a freezer safe tupperware (spray it with non stick spray first) and put it in the freezer. The other ball of dough I leave to rise in a greased bowl on the counter, it will take about an hour to double in size. The frozen dough will thaw in the fridge in a day. I put it in the fridge in the morning and I put it on the counter to double before dinner on the night I plan to use it. It is DEFINITELY worth doubling the dough for ease of prep the second pizza day.

To make this dough by hand: dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm (100-120 degree) water. Once it is dissolve pour it in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of flour, olive oil, baking powder & spices. Mix together. Add flour a cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the and starts to form a sticky ball. Let rest in bowl for 7 minutes. Then turn onto lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, using as little flour as needed to keep from sticking. Divide dough in two balls and proceed as above. (You can also make this in a mixer with a dough hook for the kneading... start off with a paddle for the mixing).

This is how the dough should look when it is kneaded (either by machine or by hand):

This is how I divide it up. One is for the freezer and one is for that night's pizza:

This is what the dough looks like once it has doubled in bulk:

Now this is how I make my pizzas:

Turn your oven on to 400.

Flour a surface big enough to roll out your dough.

I turn my risen dough onto the lightly floured surface.

I lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and punch it down.

I use a big rolling pin to make a rectangle. You can easily just push it into shape with your hands you don't need a rolling pin.

I oil my sheet with 2 T olive oil. This makes a HUGE flavor boost and crust lusciousness you can't achieve without it and the little bit of oil is worth the calories.

I pick my dough up stretching it with my knuckles to get the pizza to the size of my pan (not complicated... if you rip your dough just pinch it together). This is a generous portion of dough so getting it to size is not hard.

I place my dough in the pan and brush the edge of my crust with olive oil. I just dip my pastry brush (use your fingers) in the oil from the bottom of the pan.

I then take 2-3 T of tomato paste and use my fingers to spread it around the pizza (not the crust).
Then I sprinkle the entire pizza lightly with coarse salt (Kosher or Sea Salt)... make sure you get the crust! Trust me. This extra layer of tomato flavor really enhances the pizza and the salt makes your crust like bread sticks.

Pop your pizza in the oven for 5 minutes.
This cooks the tomato paste in and gets the dough a head start. (It's how the pizza guys do it too). When you top your pizza you'll only have to cook it until your toppings are done instead of taking 20 minutes your pizza will be ready in 5-10 minutes. This extra pre-bake is worth it.

Spread on about 1/2 c of tomato sauce right on top of the baked on tomato paste.

Top your pizza with about 2 cups of cheese.

Go crazy with your toppings.

Lower your oven to 375 and bake your pizza until your cheese is melted.


Want to know how long all this takes?
To make the dough 5-25 minutes (depending on how you make it).
The dough rises for one hour.
To make the pizza takes 15 minutes hands on prep time and 10-15 hands off.
So once you have your dough you've got pizza on the table in less than 30 minutes!


I took the kids to the new hands on museum Moneyville exhibit yesterday.

And it was AWESOME!!!

This is a traveling exhibit so check into your local science museum and see if it is coming your way.

There were so many fun and informative activities (for me, too!!) and they were all so relevant for the current financial times.

Like this one...

Behold the budget scale. The kids had to balance out the preset money bag with household living expenses. I was so impressed that both girls immediately put on housing, food, education, clothing... and both assessed that extras like eating out and vacations weren't worth it. It was kind of funny that when they had to balance the budget after adding toys that Kid wanted to keep toys and get rid of clothing and my 12 year old niece favored the opposite strategy. Kid is a nudist after all... and six.

The exhibit had several investment games... which could really make you feel like an idiot for not having started investing sooner... but also gave me some serious hope about how to focus our efforts and a determination to give our kids a head start as soon as we're able. Nothing like seeing that investing $1000 a year for 10 years and then letting it ride for the next 40 could earn you $1,800,000.00. The sooner the better people.

For the teen in your crowd they had a fun (and addictive) computer game that allows you to pick your career and lifestyle and then deal with all the unexpected expenses that come your way. It was an eye opener to my niece that no matter what she tried to do she was immediately out of cash and having to charge these expenses. (this game is heavily swayed toward causing debt... but it made a good point). You can play it online HERE. Good God now that I've found it online I've been playing it all morning. What I like about it is that it isn't just about meeting your character's financial goals... it's the whole picture... you have to meet their life goals too... and it quickly becomes difficult to balance them both. Just like in real life.

I can't stress enough how fantastic this exhibit is. There were things for older and younger kids... but it was something even a teenager could get a lot out of (hell, I got a lot out of it). We might even go back today so Mr F can see it.
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