Monday, September 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday Sept 20

I've temporarily sworn off Facebook and Twitter with the idea of increasing my productivity. I think it's working, but I can cut my internet apron strings completely. I find myself wasting time in other places, like blogs!

Since I had to take some time tonight to write our meal plan anyway, I thought I would share it here. I was inspired by the blogger at OrgJunkie. She lists her meals every week and encourages others to do the same. She provides pretty banners and everything. Whee!

I only have a few days planned. My parents are visiting next weekend and I'm not sure if I'll have time to cook. Plus, I'm that hostess--the one who usually ends up going out to eat several times over the course of the visit and never has enough bread to make toast for breakfast. For shame. We're not really toast eaters.

I was looking for recipes that were quick, easy, and nutritious. I wanted at least one crockpot recipe that would, I hope, last two nights in a row, since I have La Leche League on Tuesday night and a consignment sale pre-sale another night. We're always on a budget, and this week the only meat we have to work with is ground beef because that's what we have left from our CSA.

Monday: Taco Salad
Tuesday/Weds: Crockpot Quinoa Casserole
Thurs: Black Bean Salad with Jicama
Fri: Chili (from my America's Test Kitchen Cookbook, which I love because all the recipes have been tested a bunch of times and are basically fool-proof, and I find the depth of flavor in the seasoning to be very yummy)

Jason made the taco salad on Sunday night, so it should be all set to eat for dinner Monday. I should probably pick up the ingredients for corn bread to serve with the chili. I'm also planning to make applesauce and banana bread this week, the banana bread for my church's upcoming centennial celebration.

I enjoy cooking, but I'm not an experimental cook. It's just not my thing. But I do get a kick out of cookbooks and food blogs, and while there's never enough time to make everything yummy in this world, I get to make a lot of it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The beginning of something beautiful

I mentioned the Dekalb Library in a recent post. Because I've been using it so much, I thought I would give it a little more love. There is a branch just a few blocks away from Nora's new preschool, and I have been going there often to use their wifi and check out books. Right now I am reading The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live. Tonight's dinner came from Joy of Cooking: All About Vegetarian. (I am trying out a new program where I link to Amazon in the blog and if you click over and buy, I get credit. But really, if you want to look at those books you could go to the library, like I've been doing!)

I have always been a library girl. I have fond memories of the Pensacola branch libraries that stretch back to when I was about Nora's age. My mom and grandmother took me to storytime at the tiny little Northeast Pensacola branch, which was then located in Belvedere Plaza, approximately where Firehouse Subs is located now. When I got a little older, my mom would sometimes drop me off at the Cordova branch (pre-Tryon) to browse while she did her shopping. One time she forgot to pick me up. Oops! When I was older, rebellious teenaged me went to the community college library to escape whatever was bothering me. I liked to look up literary criticism of my favorite contemporary novels and I liked to read decades-old magazines via microfiche. When I think about this now, I think, "See, even before widespread access to the internet, a dork will find a way."

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month. My library system held a contest for locals to design new library cards. Here are the winners. Aren't they cute?

In honor of NLCSUM (I don't know if they're really using that acronym) and because she's four and it's about time, I took Nora to get her own library card. We were in downtown Decatur for the Decatur Book Festival and Nora was sporting pajamas, which she wore in the Llama Llama Red Pajama parade earlier that morning.

If you live in DeKalb County, you can get one of the fancy new cards, too. It only costs $1 for the upgrade.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One Man's Trash

I've never been much of a thrift store shopper. Over the years I've had several friends who have made thrifting into an enjoyable and sometimes even profitable hobby. I find myself in thrift stores once or twice a year, and one of two things usually happens. Either I'm all over the store, marveling at the bargains and buying up things I think I might use one day (which then take up residence in my small house indefinitely until I donate those items back to Goodwill or another charity) or I get overwhelmed by all the random stuff, convince myself I don't need anything, and buy nothing.

The thing is, thrift stores could be a great resource for my family if I just shop carefully. Buying things I don't need is a problem for me everywhere I shop. It's probably even more harmful at a place like Target where everything is full price. So I have started a list of things that I specifically want to look for at thrift stores. For example, I'd really like a hanging fruit basket. That's the kind of thing I would probably buy on an impulse for Target or Amazon Prime (which is horribly enabling of impulse shopping and designed to be that way, I'm sure). But right now I have some extra time in the mornings because I live too far away from Nora's school to go home. I'm going to look for that fruit basket at Good Will, Last Chance Thrift store, etc. I bet one will turn up soon enough!

In the meantime, I did make one impulse purchase at GoodWill that I think will turn out to be a great one. I found a Kitchenaid stand mixer for $17! I saw it sitting on the shelf and my heart skipped a beat. This model runs $250-$300 in stores. As I plugged it in to make sure it worked, other shoppers crowded around, poised to buy the mixer if I decided to pass it up. It works, but I'm pretty sure the motor needs servicing. I figure even if it needs a rather expensive repair, it will be a great bargain because they cost so much full price. I have been frustrated with my stand mixer for a while and fantasizing about a Kitchenaid, but I wasn't planning on getting one because we didn't gave the money and even if we did, I'm not sure I bake enough to justify the purchase. I'm pretty thrilled with this purchase, and now the hunt is on to find accessories. Mama needs a (inexpensive) dough hook. I'd say this mixer is, as they say, a thrift score.