1/27/15

The fancy blender club


I love working in the kitchen, and I love browsing online for new recipes and ideas. For years now I've been seeing smoothies and ice creams made with fancy (expensive!) blenders. My thirty-dollar blender could barely get through a smoothie, and I usually had to shake and prod it to get it to finish. There were usually chunks left at the end, and the finished product was accompanied by a disturbing smell coming from the base of the poor overworked blender.

I wondered for years whether getting an expensive blender would be worth it. Everyone who has one seems to rave about it, but really, it's just a blender, right? I didn't get it. I only used my blender once or twice a month.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I finally took the plunge and bought a Vitamix at the end of last year, hoping that I would not be suffering buyer's remorse the day after. The first week I had it, I had a ton of fun playing around with recipes and trying techniques from the cookbook that came with it.

But now, four weeks later, guess what? I'm still using it daily. We have smoothies nearly every day now, I make puréed soups more often just because it's so easy, and we enjoy making healthy ice cream–like desserts from frozen fruit.

Was it worth it? I paid $329 for a reconditioned blender. I did some research and tried to choose a blender that people were happy with, that would last a long time, and that comes with a warranty.

So far I am happy. I have a hard time putting a price tag on whether it was worth it. But I now use my blender 1–2 times daily instead of 1–2 times monthly. My family is eating (drinking, I guess) more fruits and vegetables, especially at breakfasttime. I have one more resource in my arsenal of kitchen tools (or toys, depending how you look at it), and I can do more things in the kitchen now. I love that it just works.

I'm happy.



What sort of blender do you have? Are you happy with it? Do you think it's worth paying hundreds of dollars for a blender?

1/26/15

Brown basmati rice

 

Saturday, we visited an international market and enjoyed some Ethiopian food, which I've always wanted to try since I attempted to make some for a school project when I was about fourteen. It was amazing.

While I was there I picked up a bag of brown basmati rice and another of teff flour. Is it sad that I geek out about different varieties of whole grains?

This morning I cooked up a triple batch of the rice for the freezer and for dinner tonight. While I was at it, I made a batch of multi-grain bread and a triple batch of stir-fry sauce to keep in the fridge for quick dinners. I also prepped the veggies that were in the fridge and did lots of dishes. Dinners shouldn't be too hard this week after my morning in the kitchen.

Thank you for sleeping, Baby.


1/23/15

Update


Monday: Forgot the kids didn't have school. Did not do my housework session, but did do 15 minutes of gospel study.

Tuesday: Had a tummyache, but did my 45 minutes of housework anyway, plus a bit extra. I'm glad I did: I wasn't behind the rest of the day like I usually am. Also did my study. Hooray!

Wednesday: Had my visiting teachers over so didn't have my full time to work, but tidied up beforehand and I was still ahead from my work the day before. I'm glad now that I set such a small goal, because it's teaching me how much so little work time can pay off.

Thursday: Check and check.

Friday: In progress. :)

Overall, I'm glad I set this small goal to work 45 minutes each morning and study 15 minutes some time during the day. It's amazing how much I can get done in 45 minutes, and it's good to have an ending time on my housework so I can move on to take care of other things. (Although obviously I do more throughout the day, later!) I'm still not caught up yet, but things are moving in the right direction now.

With the study, I'm glad to have done it. I do want to try to get a more consistent time for it. A bonus to my seemingly small goal: I'm nearly done with one of the books I wanted to finish this month (from my ridiculous gigantic list).

1/19/15

Winter blahs


We've been experiencing a lovely condition here called an inversion. If you're lucky enough to never have experienced one, it means that cold air is trapped in our valley (along with lots of fog and pollution), and it's pretty much miserable. I miss the sun.

I've found myself with very little motivation to do—well, anything, really. But I need to do stuff. So here are some goals for this week, which I'm posting here in hopes that it will keep me more accountable.
  • Work for 45 minutes every morning while Baby takes his nap.
  • Do at least 15 minutes of scripture / gospel study each day.
These goals feel pathetically small when I write them down, but I know I can't handle more right now. You should see the ridiculous list of goals I made for January. Why do I think I can do so much with a new baby in the greyest part of the year?

1/13/15

Sad baby


I keep trying to get happy pictures of my baby, but often the sad ones turn out to be favorites.

1/8/15

Baby products that work for us

 

I thought I would write a quick post on baby products that are working for us this time around. It has been five years since I've had a baby and a lot of the products have changed. I'm slowly figuring things out again.

Things we love
  • Huggies One and Done Cucumber and Green Tea Wipes. After smelling these, I can never go back to anything else, even though I usually prefer unscented products. Also, they are very substantial and clean up messes very well. I used to use Target wipes, but they have changed and are disappointingly thin and dry.
  • Target store brand disposable diapers. We have used these in the past and I still like them. Bonus: they seem to be slightly bigger now than they were five years ago, which is great because I have a giant baby. I also like Luvs: they're the cheapest of the name brands and they work great.
  • Gerber Good Start Gentle Formula. We are nursing and bottle feeding about half and half, which I'm kind of sad about, but I'm glad I've found a formula that agrees with Baby. He was very gassy on Similac Sensitive, then I read this amazing article that helped me pick what we're on now, and we haven't looked back.
  • Enfamil Slow Flow Nipples. We first used these in the hospital and eventually switched all our nipples over to them because Baby likes them best. He coughs and sputters less with these, and he just seems to prefer them over silicone nipples. You can re-use these, even though they appear to be disposable.
  • Gerber Cloth Diapers. We use them for burp cloths. They work so much better than flannel, or worse, quilting cotton. 
  • Carter's Sleep Sacks. I got three of these at Wal-Mart for about $8 apiece, much cheaper than a Halo Sleep Sack, which was going for $20–$30. Baby loves wearing them to bed. Downside: he'll probably grow out of them soon.
  • Cotton pajamas and other one-piece outfits. These are so nice and fast for dressing Baby in during the day, for keeping him warm enough but not so warm he falls asleep. I prefer zippers to snaps, as they're faster.
  • Swaddling blankets. Baby loves being swaddled. It puts him to sleep. It calms him down when he's upset. I use flannel blankets that are cut to a square the full width of the fabric, so a bit less than 45" after they're sewn. I need every inch I can get with this big guy.
  • Nuk Pacifiers. This is something I didn't have to figure out again: I have preferred these for all my babies because they stay in their mouths better. 
  • Amazon.com Subscribe and Save. I've never been interested in this before, but I can get formula 20% off if I subscribe to 5+ things per month. That's a lot of money to save! I also enjoy getting toilet paper and tissues this way, because they're bulky and a pain to buy in bulk at the store (they fill up my whole cart!). If I don't have enough items, I find a cheap filler (shampoo, barbecue sauce) so I can have enough items to get the 20% off. I check my order every month before it ships to make sure we are getting things we can use and not too much of anything. You can also get diapers this way, but you only get 5% off on them. 


Things I haven't figured out yet: lotion for my baby's dry skin/eczema (I've been using Burt's Bees but it hasn't really been helping) and a magical solution to cradle cap. Any suggestions? Any other baby products you would recommend?

1/5/15

A perfect break


We had such a nice Christmas break. Things had been terribly busy and stressful with work and school and illness and Christmas busy-ness. And then all of a sudden we were all well, and we were all home, and we didn't have any obligations for two whole weeks. We spent ridiculous amounts of time reading and playing Minecraft (everyone else: it makes me feel dizzy) and eating treats and talking to family and sitting in front of the gas fire.

None of us really wanted to go back to real life today, but we survived the morning and I think we'll do fine.

Baby is doing well. He is growing into his twelve month–sized clothes! It feels strange to put him in clothes at 2.5 months that Red Chief wore when he was crawling. I have a constant knot in my left shoulder from holding him, too. I wear him sometimes in a wrap carrier which helps my shoulder, but baby doesn't love it, and neither does my back.

I am hoping we can ease ourselves into more predictable naptimes in the next month or two. Nights are going well; he's usually up twice, or sometimes once. And he is so happy, unless we miss our afternoon cuddles. I feel so lucky to have him.

Trying on Baby's new mittens on Christmas

About 2.5 months old

I got a fancy new stand mixer for Christmas. I had been saving up for one because my trusty mixer of ten years was showing signs of dying. The new one is bigger and much quieter, and so fun to use.

I used the money I had been saving for a new mixer to buy a fancy high-powered blender. (I am so spoiled.) I have been making almond milk, and we have had smoothies every morning. I made an ice cream-like concoction from frozen peaches, and I even made a batch of soup that was heated by the blender's friction! There's a bit of a learning curve, but I'm definitely enjoying my new toy.

If any of you have smoothie or blender recipes you like, I hope you will share!

12/22/14

12/19/14

Two hard weeks

 

First my husband was in Japan for a week, then he had to work evenings the next week (working with people in Japan is inconvenient!).

I must say, having my husband out of the country for a week was a great way to force myself to get back to doing normal things again.

We survived it, and now we're looking forward to slowing down for Christmas.