One thing that I didn’t do before I got married was meal planning. I just got whatever spoke to me at the grocery store and hoped that my creativity in the kitchen would figure out how to make it edible. Usually this involved buying random things that I had never heard of before just to see what I could do with them. I felt kind of like I was on Chopped.
Basically everything that I ate tasted very similar. I have lots of different types of cookbooks from middle eastern, to soup only, to Julia Child, usually I didn’t look at the cookbooks before I went to the store so I would have one thing for ten different recipes, but nothing that really worked as a whole.
I did try to make an effort to learn what flavors and spices were prominently used in different cultures, but as you know I was never good at the whole following through thing. But then marriage happened. All of a sudden I had to please someone else’s taste buds, not just my own. My typical throw everything into a pot and hope that it doesn’t come out tasting like soap (because somehow this has happened to me before…salsa fixes everything) wasn’t going to work.
Planning out meals can still be very difficult for me and so I try to make things last over a few days. Like right now I have a bunch of chicken legs and thighs in the crockpot with veggie ends and water. Some of the meat is for dinner tonight, the rest will go to a different meal, and then the broth, (broth deserves it’s very own post) the broth will be saved for soups later on down the line.
Fun fact: My crockpot full of bones and water makes 9 cups of delicious yummy broth.
These are the steps that I take when I am trying to plan out what we are going to eat for the week. I am still trying to figure out if planning for the whole month, or week by week is more cost effective.
Check on what is on sale.
The first thing that I always do is check on what is going to be on add at the supermarket. I have an app on my phone that lets me search the different items for things that I actually buy, usually produce and meat. Sometimes I venture into the dairy section, but rarely.
2. Use gained knowledge to search for recipes that will fit what is on sale.
My most common internet search is probably: Healthy, cheap dinner ideas. I find that produce almost always gives me the most bang for my buck, so I usually try to find recipes that are high in veggies rather than cheese or pasta, or frozen items. I also try to plan variety, some meatless dishes, some chicken or pork, and some fish.
3. Make a list of what I need.
Then comes the shopping list. I break mine down into veggies, fruit, meat, grocery and bulk. I don’t like having to search through and make sure I have everything before I leave the store, by breaking the list into different categories I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.
My meal planning sheet
My grocery list
Because I spent almost a year working at a grocery store after I graduated from college, I
feel like I may have a leg up as far as finding better deals…maybe. I know there are some people who go to multiple stores to get the best deals on their whole list, or use coupons for everything, and they save a ton of money. I don’t usually go to two different stores, unless my husband tags along, and I only use coupons if I happen to come across one for something that we use, which doesn’t happen all that often. Instead I look for anything with a “Manager’s Special” sticker on it, especially in the meat department, this usually means that the meats date is coming up, but I always put the meat in the freezer until I am ready to use it, so this isn’t an issue for me. I also only buy apples if they are under $1 a pound. Basically I don’t buy anything unless it’s on sale. This is a philosophy that expands to more than just food shopping!
Sometimes I don’t schedule meals on a few days, either because I know we will be away or because I can’t think of anything that satisfies my meal criteria. I usually end up regretting this because then we are stuck without anything to cook and end up eating out instead. Which is mucho expensive.
Goal: become good enough at cooking to create my own recipes and write a cookbook.
Fermented foods have always been fascinating to me. It all started with some fermented lemonade, fizzy and tangy. Do I remember exactly how it was made? Nope. The one thing that I do remember was that it was pretty easy to make. I think I was the only one in the family who actually liked it plain though.
I just love that tang that comes along with fermenting. It makes my jaw tingle, that is how I know if I am eating something delicious…I feel it in my jaw. But I have to admit there is just something a little weird about eating, or drinking, something that has just been sitting out on the counter for several days, it’s growing bacteria (beneficial bacteria, that helps with digestion), and maybe it’s starting to smell a little weird. But it’s the taste that really counts here, and as whatever you’re making sits on the counter doing its weird little fermentation dance, it’s building up some serious flavors that aren’t for the faint of heart.
Now all fermented foods are not created equal. I try very hard to forget an encounter with a kombucha drink that left me sick sick sick, during my eight hour deli shift. Blah.
This week we had some left over cabbage in our fridge. See Exhibit A.
This poor sad bit of cabbage was begging to be made into something triple flavorful. So I added some carrot, cucumber, and green onion. Loosely following a few recipes that I found online I made the seasoning for Kimchi. A palmful of crushed red pepper, a half inch of ginger and around 2 cloves of garlic both grated. No fish sauce? No problem. I just added some water.
You have to massage the cabbage with salt first.
Then you have to press it down with heavy weights.
I mixed it together without gloves, I don’t have any cuts on my hands so I didn’t have to worry too much about them stinging. I washed my hands right after I packed the kimchi into it’s jar so I could avoid stinky hands.
Ben has sworn that he won’t try it… so I will be attempting to sneak it into everything we eat for the next week. From what I can tell so far, this seems to be a pretty mild batch, so there is hope!
We moved into our apartment in April and I finally feel like maybe it’s starting to look like a home. Still no couch, and we still have a twin bed taking up a large portion of wall in the front room, but we have art up on the walls, and the kitchen is freshly organized as of today.
I have a whole Pinterest board totally devoted to apartment decorating. Ideas on how to put up removable wall treatments, or how to make tons of space out of our itty bitty space. Seeing the reality when you are expecting so much perfection can be disappointing. I want everything to look cute, bright, and tidy, but currently our dresser doesn’t fit all of our clothes, and our closet is bursting at the seams with stuff other than clothes. It’s a work in progress, and as we continue to live here we’ll have new ideas about our organizing. I am thinking that simplifying and possibly another trip to the Salvation Army might be in order.
Currently our “living room” is very bare, we have a table with one regular chair and one folding chair and a coffee table with a tv on it. No couch, no comfy place to sit.
Yesterday we had to drop some items off at the Salvation Army, and of course we had to get more stuff to fill the hole that our old stuff left.
What we got: an arm chair – $10, that’s all. Pretty good, if you ask me.
Comfy, but slightly dirty the chair either needed a good amount of lovin’. Because it was the weekend and we were feeling crafty we set out to reupholster the whole chair. We didn’t realize when we started how long it would take. But at the end we felt quite accomplished and proud of our work.
We began by working backwards and taking off the fabric in the order that it had been put on. Not to hard right? Except that to get it off we had to remove hundreds maybe thousands of staples from the chair. Somebody had gone staple happy. Three hours later we were ready to move on to putting new fabric on the chair.
In the beginning there was this gross grey fabric.
The different layers that we had to take off the chair.
Just one pile of many.
We made a trip to the store to buy our own staples, staple gun and the fabric (7 yards total!). I had 50% off at Jo-Ann Fabrics. Booyah!
Getting artsy with the stapler.
Getting artsy with the stapler.
Then came the task of re-covering the whole chair. If you want to build yourself a stronger marriage — reupholster a chair together. It takes a whole lot of talking, crying, listening and trying to make sure you don’t staple each other. There comes a point when you’re just too tired, frustrated and scraped up to fold another piece of fabric, hammer another nail, or staple another staple. Take on this sort of project with someone you’re thinking of marrying and by the time you are done, you will know what kind of person they are, deep, deep, down inside.
I am really pleased with how our chair turned out. There were moments when we wanted to toss the whole thing out, but we powered through and now we have a nice new chair. Now we just need a second one! We might hold off on that for a little while though. 🙂
This weekend, my husband Ben and I were tourists of our own city of San Diego! With temperatures getting up into the high nineties and low hundreds we wanted to make sure that we were out of our apartment for as much of the day as possible.
Our weekend started (kind of) on Wednesday. Ben’s aunt was in town and we met her family for dinner. We went to the Chicken Pie Shop, a place that has been around for decades. They sell the most delicious chicken pot pies! Almost all of us ordered one, flakey crusts all around with creamy and thick mashed potatoes and gravy. Very reminiscent of Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, so I had no complaints.
On Friday we went to a Padres game, courtesy of Ben’s work. They played a video that Ben made up on the jumbotron! We had peanuts and cracker jacks, hot dogs and hamburgers, basically everything typical of a ball game. Unfortunately the Padres didn’t win, it was a close and exciting game though, so we still had a good time eating food and hanging out with the people Ben works with.
Saturday, one of the hottest days so far this summer! We started out at a coffee shop close to home. With some iced drinks in hand, and a paper and pencil, we both went to work. Ben drew and I worked on developing new ideas for Etsy.
Iced coffee and frozen lemonade
Next up was Old Town San Diego. The “birthplace” of California. On our way into town we passed a cemetery, there were many spaniards, irish, and native people who were buried there. We also passed gravemarkers in the sidewalk just outside the cemetery wall, these people were buried a while before the wall was built and were only found in 1993 with the help of ground a penetrating imaging device, sort of like an x-ray.
Once we made it to town we enjoyed our time walking around and seeing all of the historical artifacts, artwork and artists that were scattered around the park. There was also a small farmer’s market and it was neat to be able to see some local artisans.
It was mexican for dinner. Pozole for me and tacos for Ben.
We finished the weekend with a day at the beach, after which we decided that we definitely need to move closer to the beach. Lastly a handmade, right in front of you, ice cream sandwich! So good, and a perfect treat to beat the heat this weekend!
I have never been one to follow through. While I haven’t started any crafting projects at our new house, my parent’s house is filled with the remnants of crafts in various phases of completion. A bag of drawing pencils, several sketchbooks that are maybe half full, woodworking projects that are half done, and ukulele that I kind of know how to play, the list goes on.
Maybe I haven’t found something that I am passionate enough about to devote the time it takes to become really good. I want to be great from the start, but let’s be honest, how often do you find something that you are really good at and super passionate about from the beginning? I would say probably not very often. There are things that pique your interest, but when it comes to putting in the work to get really great – the task can seem more daunting than climbing Mount Everest.
My New Year’s Resolution on this the 16th of June: Get better at getting better at things.
Obviously it isn’t actually the start of a new year, or of a new month or new week even, but if I don’t start today then I may never start. And it is never a bad time to start bettering yourself!
Now for the how – in the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey (Yes, I know there is also one for adults, but I haven’t read it… and what he says in here also applies to adults too…and it’s more fun to read, probably.) he talks about seven habits that can help you achieve your goals. I’d just like to focus on one of them: Habit 1 – Be Proactive, you are in charge of your own life. You have to grab the bull by the horns! This is s0 inspiring to me, because sometimes I can forget that I am the one running (or not running) my life.
This is my first draft of steps to help me to achieve my goals. (If you would like a fun way to try these steps out I have a goal worksheet on my Etsy store.)
Step one- decide what your goals are
Step two- make a checklist of things that must be done to achieve that goal
Step three- do the steps
And that’s it!
Making it through that last part is the hardest. I am often overwhelmed by the task in front of me and so I do nothing instead of tackling it a little bit at a time. A great example of this was planning my wedding – which could take up a whole other post – but this is where you have to be fearless and fierce! Get an accountability partner! Have your mom, sister, brother, friend hold you accountable, post on Facebook and have the internet hold you accountable, think of a reward for yourself for when you complete each task. Personally I like a combo of all of the above, my husband helps me stay accountable and there is ice cream in my freezer that is waiting for me to eat it up.
Just my initial thoughts on goals, I would love to know what any of you think about goals or how you achieve the difficult things that you set out to do!
It’s kind of funny how necessity can be the best teacher… or the best motivator.
Currently I have an editing position at a company that I love, however only having enough work for 4-6 hours gives me a paycheck that’s less than satisfactory. Hence necessity – in need of some extra cash I tried to figure out a way to bring in some extra money that didn’t involve going back to the deli.
My ideal job = getting to choose my own hours, sometimes I have the flexibility to work from home and the ability to be creative. When I dream of my perfect job I picture a sort of creative energy that flows from me into whatever work I am doing. In my imagination it looks like a blue cloud type thing.
This is when Klassic Kathleen’s was born. It takes a lot of courage to put artwork out there. I am dreading the day that someone buys one of my hand-drawn cards and isn’t satisfied with the product. This is where the learning comes in – learning how to run my own business, learning how to be proud and confident in the work that I produce, and learning how to be okay if others don’t appreciate it.
Through their art, the creative lays down their soul, making themselves vulnerable to the criticisms of others. This is an area where I am still growing and learning, but I hope that as I continue to create I can more easily share with others that which I make.