Thursday, June 30, 2011

30 Day Challenge- Day 30!

We've made it the entire month! We each drank 1 sugary drink with dinner to celebrate. I got 2 Arizona Mucho Mango and Jon got 2 Cokes. After an entire month without I really didn't want a pop, I have a feeling it would have tasted gross and made me feel gross as well. Tomorrow we'll likely devour the chocolate we got, it's still in the freezer and will probably stay there until at least noon. I don't think it would be a good idea to have it for breakfast no matter how badly Jon wants to! I also got a single bag of super buttery microwave popcorn that I don't plan on sharing. Jon got a bottle of chocolate syrup to add to his iced coffees.

Today's groceries were for the next 11 days worth of meals. That came to a total of $53.47 even with extras such as a box of cereal that was a good price, granola bars for $1 and an over 1kg tray of slightly overripe peaches for $1. I'll probably slice those up and bag and freeze them for smoothies. We got all but 2 things that were on the list so we'll have to go back out for those as well as more fruits and veggies. That's close to an entire week's grocery allowance. Pretty good. Lunch tomorrow is canned ravioli and dinner is chicken wings and veggie sticks.

This morning the laundry got done, the floors got cleaned and the dishes from last night were washed as well as today's dishes were washed tonight so tomorrow we're taking an "off" day. Probably just play a video game and snack. I still plan on working on some more projects and decluttering my makeup, jewelry and some clothes. Jon is launching another sample library for sale but he's getting the rest of that set up tonight. Speaking of decluttering, Alice is no longer interested in her expensive jumperoo now that she's mobile so we've listed that on Craigslist. It's been sitting in the corner of our living room taking up space and collecting dust so it's time for it to go. It's in perfect condition and was fairly pricey so we think we can get a good amount for it. We got rid of a lot of outgrown baby stuff this month.

So here's the rundown on how we did this month:

The good

  • We spent just a little over $200 on groceries, $202.80 according to receipts but I know we're missing a couple dollar store purchases so lets say maybe $210. We still cut our grocery bill in half.
  • Decluttering is an ongoing process but we're doing quite good. Clothes and baby stuff went to consignment shops, large items and baby gear was sold on Craigslist which took care of some of our credit card bill and half of this month's groceries.
  • We're staying on top of cleaning. The more often it's done the easier the cleaning job is, no more spending 10 minutes scrubbing the tub because I haven't been arsed to do it in 3 weeks. Just a spray with cleaner and it only takes a quick wipe and rinse. Same goes with letting the dishes pile up, it's easier when there is only a day's worth to do, stuff isn't dried on and there's enough room in the dish rack.
  • We bought a $12 laundry drying rack and it paid for itself in 2 weeks, I can only do 1 load of laundry at a time now because that's all the rack will hold but it saves up the $2 per load on the dryer and it's good incentive to keep up on the washing. This saves $8 per week which comes out to $416 a year
  • I've been baking bread and bagels so we don't have to buy any and that's working out pretty well, sometimes I do cookies and other treats too
  • Meal planning is done for an entire month, we're pretty good at not eating much ore than a portion size lately too
The bad
  • Going to bed before 11 has not been happening. Alice will not go to sleep. How do people get their babies to sleep at like 7 or 8? Seriously, I want to know, how the hell do you do it? The other night she was awake until almost 2am despite us actually getting up early that day.
  • Getting up by 7 is happening rarely because of the aforementioned "baby being a wild animal until the wee hours of the morning" and we're exhausted in the morning. It's a vicious cycle.
  • We haven't been exercising every day, hell we haven't even been leaving the apartment every day. We need to at least go around the block even if the weather is a bit gross. 
  • I really need to get my Etsy shop up and running. I'm making very slow progress on my projects, I want to make things each day but eating and cleaning have been taking priority over crafting when Alice finally goes down for a nap.
So our goals for the next month are:

  1. We need to stick to the schedule we set for ourselves June 1st, planning out what we want to do each day and how long it will take and actually getting each thing done
  2. Make 6 Etsy worthy items each weekday. I want to have a bit of money coming in
  3. Both of us are carrying around extra "baby" fat from preggo eating. It needs to go. We need to exercise
  4. Drink more water. Several times a day we both find ourselves thinking "Damn, I'm thirsty!" Gotta keep refilling that water bottle
  5. Sort out the lunch situation. We eat breakfast and dinner but sometimes nothing in between. This sucks, skipping a meal makes you feel crappy and cranky and less likely to get things done.
That's all I can think of for now, it's late and I have to sneak back into bed before Alice wakes up. I actually got her into bed just after 11!

    30 Day Challenge - Day 29 Almost there...

    We're nearly done. We've been pretty good about sticking to our rules and budget and we've been very successful with clearing clutter.
    Let's recap the rules of the 30 day challenge.
    • $200 grocery budget
      • No problem, went slightly over but still $200 LESS that usual
    • no pop, slurpees or juice
      • Done. July 1st I'm having a fucking Coke.
    • no junk food
      • Done. we've been tempted by chocolate bars several times but didn't give in. We have some in the freezer for July 1st.
    • no icecream
      • Done
    • no takeout or restaurant meals
      • Done. We had 1 meal out and was paid for by my Dad. Doesn't count!
    • no Starbucks
      • I was forced to one time, that resulted in 2 more free Venti Frappuccinos from survey receipts
    • Get up earlier
      • Mostly yes, some effort was made. Needs improvement
    • Get to bed earlier
      • Fail. Alice is a wild animal at night and we've been unsuccessful at getting her to sleep at all, nevermind alone or in her own bed or at a decent time. The struggle continues
    • Exercise everyday
      • Fail. We had a few good walks but we definitely have not been going out every day or any kind of exercising at home.
    • Document the progress
      • Yes even if it means staying up late. We skipped one day because there was absolutely nothing of interest to report. Blogger has been a frustrating platform to work in with multiple authors. It's down right now so I can't even post this when I wanted to.
    Getting back to clutter, it's just about July and we haven't used our air conditioner yet, we had been using it already this time last year, but we didn't have as many fans and it's not as hot this year. I'm very tempted to try to sell the AC immediately. Selling it would pay for a month of groceries and cell phones or internet, well $250 is the minimum I'd expect for it. If I wait, we won't need it and no one will want it. If I sell now, it will be hot as hell for the rest of the summer. We learned a lot about dealing with the heat last summer so we're much more prepared so I think we can handle it.

    Tomorrow is the last day of the month and because I have a meeting, Holly is going to get a head start on the groceries for next month. 

    For over a week we've had the meal plan for July filled in. We have the grocery list for the next 11 meals written. Our freezer is full of useful meat and vegetables and homemade sauces and berries. Holly has been kicking ass with baking regularly which saves us money and there's less waste.

    For July, we're going to continue the challenge and stick with the $200 budget and try to spend even less. I'll write som more on this tomorrow. There are 31 days in July so we're having a cheat day to celebrate what we've accomplished this past month.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    What do you really need in your diaper bag?

    Before we had Alice we read a LOT of books on birthing and babies and we were made to think that the diaper bag was a super important thing. The truth is it's not.
    Yes sometimes you need a lot of gear but day to day quick outings to the park or grocery store don't require hauling around a huge bag of blankets, diapers, bottles and other paraphernalia. We see a lot of mothers pushing strollers with huge bags.

    It took us a good 6 months to figure out we were bringing too much with us. We wanted to be prepared for everything but seriously, a trip to the grocery store does not require 10 diapers, 100 wipes and a change of clothes.

    Our first bag was called the TARDIS (it was bigger on the inside), and fully loaded was probably 5kg!
    Inventory of the TARDIS:
    • 5 diapers
    • 20 disposable wipes
    • garbage bag
    • change pad
    • 1 onesie
    • 1 pair pants
    • 1 hat
    • 1 pr socks
    • 1 shirt
    • 1 sweater
    • 1 large blanket
    • 2 receiving blankets
    • 2 pacifiers
    • 2 sets of  nursing pads
    • bottle of water
    • extra shirt for mom
    • 2 toys
    • 1 bib
    • baggie of granola or cereal
    Seriously overkill. I'm sure that on some days we had even more than that.

    The reality is, we're never away from home or a car (which will store the extras) for longer than a couple hours. On most trips out none of that stuff was getting used. Sometimes Alice would need to be fed and sometimes changed, and that was only on the trips longer than a couple hours. Everything else is superfluous.

    Now we bring:
    • 2 diapers
    • 10 disposable wipes
    • Changepad
    • 2 receiving blankets
    The change pad we have folds out and stores all the other items. It has a velcro strap to attach to the stroller. That's seriously all you need. We always bring a bottle of water for ourselves, sometimes a small one for Alice too or we share. Alice has a couple toys attached to the stroller also. If we plan on going to the park we'll bring a blanket to sit on and a snack.

    We also recently went from a 50lb travel system to a 15lb light-weight stroller. This was an awesome change, pushing a heavy stroller with a bunch of gear and a kid that keeps getting bigger and heavier is not my idea of fun. This new stroller (A Jeep Cherokee btw) takes no effort now, it still seems to be durable and best of all I can open and fold it with one hand. Going around the mall with the old stroller and having to wait ages for the elevators which were always filled with what appeared to be perfectly able-bodied but lazy tweens is very trying. Now I just take Alice out, fold the stroller with my free hand and go up the escalator.

    What's in YOUR diaper bag?

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    30 Day Challenge - Day 28

    Did you see? We posted a recipe today. We've got an article ready for tomorrow morning.

    This morning Alice woke us around 7. Holly put another no-knead bread in the oven and we got started on house cleaning. Garbage, dishes, floors, and bathroom all done before noon.

    For lunch I tried to make some fried chow mein style noodles but it didn't turn out as expected. I think I know what to do next time though. Holly had some brand of super spicy noodles.

    In the afternoon I did another taping of my podcast and Holly made hair clips and headbands to possibly sell, but mostly just to figure out the techniques and what can be done.

    For dinner we shared a Salmon steak with a noodle sidedish and steamed green beans. We watched Masterchef and some version of Law and Order.
    Alice actually slept through dinner but is terrorizing us now that we're trying to get things done before bed.

    Easy Homemade Bagels

    This recipe is easy and fairly fast for a yeast/bread recipe, especially if you happen to have a mixer since it does all the kneading for you!

    4 cups flour
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons instant yeast
    1 tablespoon oil (I use olive)
    1 3/4 cup warm water

    Get all of the dry ingredients into the mixer and start it up on the lowest speed. Slowly drizzle in the oil and warm water. Let mix for about 5 minutes, it should make a nice elastic ball that shouldn't be sticky or crumbly.

    Drop it onto your work table, pat it into an even shape and cut into 8. I'm doing 6 regular sized bagels and 4 mini ones to freeze for Alice to chomp on. Toss the pieces back into the mixing bowl and let them rest with a towel over the top for 15 minutes.

    Now it's time to shape your bagels. Roll each piece of dough into a rope, overlap the ends and tuck and pinch. You can give each one a squish to even it out a bit so you don't have one side of the bagel that's all misshapen. It will get easier the more bagels you do. You don't really have to be gentle with this dough.

    Once all the bagels are assembled let them sit another 15 minutes. Get a big pot of water on to boil and set your oven to 400.
    Now you're going to boil your bagels. It seems weird but you're pretty much mostly cooking them this way and then finishing them off in the oven. If you have a big enough pot you should be able to do 4 at a time. Boil them 30 seconds per side and then plop them back onto their baking sheet with a slotted spoon. Pop them into the oven for 15-20 minutes, they should be just starting to turn a bit golden. You don't want them to brown or they will be too dry and hard.

    There you go! Tasty bagels. Sometimes I like to substitute 1/2 cup of the regular flour with whole wheat flour, I'm sure you could add oats or flax seed or whatever else you like. If you want toppings such as poppy or sesame seeds just do an eggwash and sprinkle them on.

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    30 Day Challenge - Day 26

    What happened today? Not a whole lot.
    I went downtown for my meetup event. Granville St. was closed for the Latincouver event. Granville still looks pretty bad after the riot earlier this month.
    The meetup went well except for low attendance. That's disappointing because I spent all day yesterday preparing for this event and only 4 people came. I know this can be a good source of income but it can be frustrating.
    On the way home I saw public urination. We have real classy ladies in this part of town.

    We sold our icecream maker that didn't fit in our freezer today for $20. So in total I made $40 and spent $21 on bus tickets.

    The mail strike has been forced to end. Mail delivery resumes Tuesday.

    While I was out Alice cried the whole time so nothing got accomplished at home.

    Dinner was stuffed giant shell pasta and it was good.

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 25

    Today was uneventful. It was raining off and on throughout the day, since we have nothing left in the grocery budget we didn't want to go out anyway.
    Holly made bagels (recipe coming next week) and simple syrup.
    Most of my day was spent preparing for the group lesson I'm doing tomorrow. This took longer than expected and I don't think I'm quite ready for it.
    Dinner was baked chicken legs with baked potatoes and broccoli.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    30 Day Challenge - Day 24

    First thing this morning we sold the outgrown baby bathtub for $15. A couple days ago we sold the outgrown bouncer, along with the luggage sold earlier in the week we now have $85 extra income this week. Getting rid of these large occasional use items is great in itself. This money will be saved for our grocery budget next month.

    Speaking of grocery budget, it's all gone. We spent the last of it today. We have just enough to get another carton of cream. $196.04 spent total. Last week I thought we'd have more than enough, and now we may have to cheat.

    1 can White Beans $0.99
    1 small zucchini $0.25
    3 lemons $1.00
    1 pack Chinese noodles
    Ground beef $2.17
    Chicken legs $2.37
    Wild Salmon $3.42
    Eye Of Round Steak $2.05
    Oyster Sauce $2.29
    Cooking wine $1.49
    Sesame Oil $2.79
    1 can Tomato paste $0.79
    1 can Diced tomatoes $1.49
    1 can tomato sauce $1.49
    fresh Green beans $2.97
    Broccoli crowns $2.91
    Russet  Potatoes $1.19
    1 package Linguine (500g) $0.99
    454g block Mozzarella Cheese $5.49
    Cooking Onion $0.24
    Total = $38.07

    Dinner was Minestrone and buttermilk biscuits.
    The Minestrone recipe was adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
    The biscuits were from Momtastic. These turned out awesome, you should try it.

    I did some late-night googling and figured out why Holly was having so much trouble with the sewing machine. 1 simple thing, the way the bobbin was loaded, made all the difference. She's been fighting with it for over a month. Tonight she made a pair of sleep shorts for Alice and a lady bug fridge magnet, without any cursing or screaming. Big improvement. Hopefully more projects will be done tomorrow.

    Meal plan for the rest of the month:

    Whining is the Worst Sound Ever

    There you have it, science confirms it!

    Whining is the most annoying sound ever!

    That right there is why I haven't been able to get much done other than the basic housekeeping and cooking the past week. Any time I try to start a project, bake something, write a blog post I have to listen to this terrible "Eh, eh, eh, eh, errrrrrrrrr, eh, eh, eh, eh, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee." It increases in frequency and volume as the day goes on and continues even if you happen to be holding the culprit.

    Lady dude is teething pretty badly right now so she's miserable which means that we're miserable along with her. She doesn't want to play with any of her toys for more than a couple minutes and she just fidgets and moans while being held.

    Hopefully this doesn't last for much longer because it's driving us nuts! We're both behind on a lot of stuff that needs to be done.

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    30 Day Challenge - Day 23

    It's criminal how much time and energy taking care of a baby takes. Not only do I feel like I got nothing done, I actually got nothing done. I'm exaggerating but it was definitely not a very productive day.

    At 8:30 I did not want to get out of bed, that is already an hour and a half past when the alarm went off. Not a good start.

    Holly went to Dressew again for sewing supplies while I stayed home with Alice. This time she went with a better list and better idea of what is needed. $59 spent there, which will (hopefully) be made back easily once she gets building some products.
    Alice was pretty good while Holly was away but I still couldn't do anything because she needs constant attention or supervision. She just wants to climb and pull on things and yell when I'm recording.

    I guest hosted on a friend's podcast today and watched the movie 'Paul'. I did some rough editing on some recorded sounds but I think some will need to be redone.

    Dinner tonight was Sweet & Sour pork stirfry on rice. H is not allowed to make this anymore.

    We're definitely slacking in the blog writing besides the daily updates. The blog doesn't make us any money so its hard to justify devoting much time to it at this point. We have a huge list of topics and many things started but finishing posts takes time and a clear head. It's impossible to concentrate with a baby whining or crying.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 22

    I spent pretty much all day making a stroller bag. Why all day? That's how long it takes to get a sewing project done with baby interruptions, other chores and food breaks! I had also never done this type of project before so it was trial and error and slow going, not to mention my machine is having thread tension problems. Sigh. So the end product is a bit sloppy but it's only for me so it's good enough. Not too bad looking really. I'll try making another one sometime soon and then maybe another after that. Practice makes perfect.

    I also put away yesterday's dishes, washed tonight's dishes while dinner was in the oven and out away the dry laundry.

    Jon did work, then podcast editing and then walked 1.5hrs to get crickets for our frog.

    Jon forgot to total up the groceries after yesterday's additions. We've now spent $157.97 with a week to go still. I think we'll still come in under $200 but not as far as we originally thought. We've gotten a bit loose with the grocery list as we get closer to the end of the month and have been picking up healthy but unnecessary items. We'll have to address this next month by expanding the grocery list a bit, we find ourselves short on lunch stuff at least once a week and end up shopping hungry. We may also plan out lunches so we're not browsing the cupboard and blahing at everything in it.

    Shepherds pie for dinner:

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    30 Day Challenge - Day 21

    We started out the day by making a short list of what we wanted to do and when. Making an agenda with estimated times is a good idea. As usual, it didn't work out exactly as planned, some things took longer than expected but we got everything done on the list.

    We got some coupons in the mail for free Chocolate Cheerios, which were only good for today. So we went out and of course we couldn't find a store within walking distance that sold them.
    While we were out we got a few more groceries:
    Vanilla Almond Milk  2L $2.74 with a coupon
    Vanilla Yogurt $3.49
    Red potatoes $1.46
    1 peach $0.68
    1 granny smith apple $0.42
    BBQ pork $3.84
    Total = $13.09
    The peach, apple and bbq pork was our lunch while we were out. We were starving. The pork was very disappointing.

    We reposted all the Craigslist ads today and we're getting some inquiries. Already made $50 tonight selling our old luggage.

    Dinner was Chicken Quesadillas.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 20

    This morning we got up fairly early, around 8 when the construction across the street woke us. Despite getting up early it doesn't seem like we got a lot accomplished. The day went by quick.

    Holly baked another loaf of bread which we had half of for lunch and half for dinner. She also cleaned the bathroom.
    iced coffees and smoothies were made. I recorded an episode of The Home Recording show in the afternoon. Dishes were done while dinner was prepared.
    Baby bath, then dinner while watching Army Of Darkness.

    Food tonight was pulled pork sandwiches and roasted potatoes. The sauce we used for the pork was very close to the stovetop rib recipe from last week.

    After dinner I samples slinky noises which sound just like sci-fi laser blasts when done right. Fun!

    Alice keeps us from getting much more than that accomplished. The majority of the day was spent keeping her from breaking my stuff, eating dirt on the floor, or from hurting herself. She succeeded in all three today. Sigh.

    We still suck at time management. We have a to do list but that's not enough. Tomorrow may be a busy day, we should probably shut off the internet for a while during the day to keep us focused, I know it has become a major distraction for me and even if I just avoid Twitter for an afternoon I get more done.

    Apple Berry Pie

    I baked Jon an apple berry pie for Daddy's Day using the other half of my pie dough that I put in the freezer after making the chicken pie. I just took it out in the morning to thaw in the fridge and it was ready to use by 5pm.

    It's super easy to make a pie. I usually do an apple pie but I decided to add berries to it this time for something a bit different.

    30 Day Challenge- Day 19

    Today I washed and hung up laundry, washed dishes, baked a pie and got another loaf of No-Knead Bread started for the pulled pork sandwiches tomorrow.

    No groceries today but Jon took a trip to the bank, then dollar store to pick up some stuff he wanted to use to make noises for another sample set. He got us a 4 pack of Reeses peanut butter cups but it went right into the freezer for our July 1st treat. He stopped by Starbucks and used our other free drink coupon on a Venti java chip frappucino, there was still half left for me when he got home! Yay!

    The studio intern Monte came out today to help with some sound capture in the basement, then the boys went out to visit a studio.

    Dinner was chicken fried rice. Jon was late getting home from the studio so we had to reheat it to eat together and it wasn't as good as it should have been. The Apple Berry pie turned out well, could have used just a little more corn starch though to help with the wetness of the frozen berries.

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 18

    We got up early and had a busy day. At once point I was working on 5 things simultaneously in the kitchen.

    I had to run out and pick up the few grocery items that we didn't get from Walmart the other day.

    Groceries today:
    • Chicken breast-$4.28
    • 1L of 18% Cream-$3.89
    • 1 white onion-$0.53
    • Grapes-$2.77
    • Cheddar cheese-$6.99
    • Apples-$2.33
    • Pork roast-$2.03
    • Pork roast-$2.25

    $25.07 worth of groceries today, making our total so far $144.88. Only 12 more days to go and we probably have enough groceries to do us until the 24th. I think we're going to come in under budget!

    The highpoint of my day was seeing this sign in front of our building:

    The lowpoint of my day was a few minutes later when a crow tried to attack me on the way to get groceries! What a weird day.

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Make Your Own Reusable Baby Wipes

    I had a large square of flannelet that I got for 25 cents from the scrap bin when I went to Dressew. It was a good size at about 12x13 inches but not good enough fabric to make into a headband like my other scraps. It's been sitting there for about 2 weeks because I didn't know what to use it for.

    I finally decided that I would make some cloth wipes for Alice's cute little bum. We usually use a washcloth in a recycled refillable wipes container full of water for pee diapers but they are terrycloth and a bit rough. This flannelet is nice and soft and it made 6 wipes. It was really easy to do, I didn't even bother measuring anything.

    I just folded my fabric in half and ironed it and then folded that into 3 and ironed it again. When I unfolded it I just cut along the lines. You can round off the corners if you like but I didn't bother, I might next time because then I won't have to stop and lift the foot on the sewing machine to turn the wipes when I stitch them.

    You can just leave them like this if you like but they will fray around the edges when they go through the washer. You can use pinking shears on all of them or you can sew the edges. I don't have pinking shears so I sewed the edges using a zigzag stitch. I sewed them upside down because I like the look of the bottom of the stitch better.

    Then I ironed them again (top picture) just so they would be a neat little stack. There we go, 6 reusable wipes for just 25 cents!

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 17

    Hhmm, today was a pretty unremarkable day. We didn't go outside and it feels like we didn't really do anything, not sure how this happened but I guess it's okay every once in a while. I did do laundry, make 3 headbands which might be good enough to sell, and cooked dinner but that was it. It seems like the whole day just flew by. [ <- 'cause you slept till 10 dude - Jon]

    I hope to get a few more projects done tomorrow, I have 2 yards of a really nice fabric that I finally found a purpose for so I would like to get started on that. I may post a tutorial tomorrow instead of a recipe.

    Jon has a couple of articles that will be published in Canadian Musician Magazine in the next couple issues. That should be a  good way to promote his professional adventures.
    Jon spent the afternoon recording and editing and prepping a bunch of new audio samples to sell.

    The mail strike going on now is delaying some cheques. It's very weird not getting mail for a whole week, not even flyers.

    We used some of the no kneed bread for Grilled Cheese sandwiches. Worked well, the bread had a nice crunch to it. It would have been better with some stronger cheese, the medium cheddar was over powered by the bread flavor. Old cheddar would be a great combo, or maybe some salami slices in with the Medium cheddar. It was a filling lunch.

    No Knead Bread

    This is the easiest loaf of bread I've ever made, I think that maybe even Jon could make it if he had to. But it took FOREVER from start to finish, 22 hours and 45 minutes to be exact. The time didn't bother me but Jon was like "OMG, where's the bread, I want it now!" Haha, silly men and their food.

    I didn't document the whole process, I'll just link you to Steamy Kitchen's tutorial because she does a much better job of explaining it than I will.

    I did make a couple of changes so I'll note that here:

    • I just used regular all-purpose flour and the loaf turned out just fine
    • I used half a teaspoon of yeast
    • I don't have a nice Le Creuset pot so I just used my big metal roasting pan with a piece of parchment paper on the bottom
    • Because I used the metal pan I reduced the lidless baking time to 10 minutes instead of 15 because the loaf was getting pretty dark
    • I wrote the time that I started the bread on the plastic wrap so I wouldn't forget
    • I went the entire 20 hours with my dough because I have all the windows open at night and it gets nice and cool, not optimal bread-rising conditions

    So here's the entire timeline for my loaf:

    • About 2 minutes to get the ingredients out and mix up the dough and cover and label it
    • 20 hours for the dough to sit out on the counter
    • About 3 minutes to scrape the dough out of the bowl, tuck and roll it and transfer it to a floured towel in a tall bowl
    • 30 minutes baked with the lid on my roasting pan
    • 10 minutes baked uncovered

    We were into the loaf within 15 minutes of it being out of the oven, it was so good. We ended up eating about half of it right away even though we had just eaten dinner. We'll probably have the rest today, maybe make grilled cheese or something.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 16

    Let's start with the good news.
    A couple weeks ago we received notification that Holly's Maternity benefits have ended. This was way earlier than expected and just didn't make sense. We refused to accept it and I got Holly to submit an appeal.
    A Service Canada agent called this morning to get more information. About an hour later we found out the case was skipping the appeal process and was approved for more benefits. The error was on their end and because we actually spoke up we'll get 12 more weeks of benefits. This will really help our family.

    If you're on EI or Maternity/Parental benefits and you think they've made an error, speak up! File an appeal, there's nothing to lose, if it is their mistake or you can convince them of some other reason, you can get additional benefits.

    Here is the meal plan for the next week, not sure how it ended up being just chicken and pork.

    We did the majority of our grocery shopping at Walmart this week. We went for diapers which were on sale, and had coupons for and found that the prices for groceries were as good or better than our usual places. We don't go to Walmart often because its inconvenient to get to but we had a ride today.
    Here's the groceries:
    Dempsters mini tortillas - $3.18 (and 0.75 coupon)
    2 lbs bag of organic carrots - $1.27
    1L 2% Milk - $2.07
    2L Vanilla Soy - $4.27
    5 red potatoes - $2.12
    2 oranges - $1.09
    3 broccoli crowns - $1.96
    2 900g bags of pasta - $1.50 each
    French's Mustard - $2.17
    1 can flaked Turkey - $1.97
    1 can Black Beans - $0.97
    1 can Cream Of Chicken Soup - $0.77
    Total = $24.09
    The only thing extra we purchased was the mustard, which we were low on and it will last nearly a year. It's also cheaper here than anywhere we've seen.
    We were tempted to buy another big box of tea, but that's $9 out of our budget and we're not out yet. It can wait.
    There were a few things we couldn't get today on our list: pork roasts, shallots, cheese, and chicken breast. These items were either not available or were more expensive than usual. These things will be picked up Friday.
    Total for the month is:  $119.81

    The No Knead Bread was completed tonight (it takes 22hrs to make) and turned out great. We might use it for grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch tomorrow or we may eat it all with butter. Recipe coming soon.

    Almost Instant Oatmeal

    It's the same price to buy an 8 ( or 10, I forget how many) box of instant oatmeal packets as it is to buy an entire bag of quick oats, which is $3.99 where we live. They don't even make the only flavor I like anymore, cinnamon sugar, in it's own package. You have to buy the multi-flavor box which contains 2 of the cinnamon packets and the rest are all gross flavors. So I took matters into my own hands after seeing this post on Halfassedkitchen.

    You can make this up each morning or you make up a bunch of baggies to take with you to school or the office. All you need is half a cup of quick oats and whatever you want to add. You can also make hot granola cereal the same way.

    So easy:

    • 1/2 cup quick oats (or granola)
    • Whatever add ins you like (I'm using 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar)
    • 1 cup water

    Cover and microwave for 2 minutes. Sometimes this happens so I put a plate underneath but this time it didn't stand a chance. I just scraped it up and put it back in the bowl.

    Now let it sit for a minute so the rest of the water can soak up and then you can add a splash of milk and it's ready to eat.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 15

    Very busy cleaning day today so there was no recipe post. A bunch of stupid people set downtown Vancouver on fire tonight because their team lost. Embarrassing.

    Today I did all of this:

    • Emptied, wiped out and reorganized the fridge and freezer
    • Cleaned and organized the kitchen cupboards and drawers
    • Swept the floor
    • Scrubbed Alice's baby tub so we can Craigslist it
    • Cooked and picked apart a chicken breast for dinners this week
    • Thinned my basil and pinched off the flowers, it got pureed with garlic and put into cubes in the freezer so it can easily be added into sauces
    • Made a pizza roll
    • I have no-knead bread on the counter, it gets to sit for at least 12 hours so we'll see how that turns out
    • Put away dishes
    • Alice is teething or having a growth spurt or something and wants to eat every single hour so that takes a lot of time and energy
    Jon managed to:

    • Watch Alice and take her to the park to play so I could get the cupboards done
    • Wash dishes
    • Helped with dinner
    • Got a bit of work done
    • Cleaned up the toys scattered everywhere

    We also got the meal plan done up for about half of July so far, we'll finish it up tomorrow probably. We need to get groceries tomorrow and family is coming over so it's looking like another busy day.
     Some photos:
    Pizza Roll (its a rolled up pizza) sauce on the side. It didn't rise nicely like last time but still tasted great.

    The start of a "No Knead Bread" - recipe here

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 14

    We're 2 weeks in now and still surviving. We added another $7.28 to our grocery total bringing it up to $95.72. We were really craving something sweet so we picked up a big tub of vanilla yogurt and a bag of granola. We have a giant bag of frozen fruit in the freezer so we're set for parfaits all week.

    We also went to Value Village and spent about $45 but that comes out of the extra $100 we give ourselves for clothes and other things that we need.

    We didn't do much until later today,  just dishes, putting away the dry laundry and vacuuming.

    Jon launched his sample store and did a bit of work. I prepared a couple of sewing projects but I can't finish them until I buy more elastic. I'm saving a Dressew trip for next week since I just went a week ago.

    I think that's it for today, off to bed.

    Quick Stovetop Ribs

    This is a quick recipe as far as ribs go, it takes about an hour and a half with prep and cooking time and only uses 1 pot. Usually you have to slow cook ribs nearly all day or boil and then barbecue them for them to be tender. I don't have the time to do that, I also don't have a barbecue or slowcooker AND I don't want the oven going all day.

    I kind of just made this recipe up last night, I had never cooked ribs before even though I've eaten them tons of times!

    Here's what I did.

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 13

    We had to run out to get some cream and pizza sauce today adding $5.87 to our grocery total. We've now spent $88.44 almost 2 weeks into the month. The freezer stash is dwindling and the fridge looks pretty sparse in the day or 2 before the weekly shopping trip. We don't need groceries until Thursday so it may be just be condiments and iced tea just like when we first moved out on our own!

    I made some "quick" ribs in sauce for dinner tonight using the aforementioned condiments. I'll post that tomorrow probably. They were awesome, juicy and tender. We had baked potatoes and carrots with them.

    I did another load of laundry today and did dishes. Jon fixed my tomato plants again. They are out of control! They are giant and twisted and even though they are right in the window they lean really badly. I think it's because I fertilized them with coffee as per the suggestion of the internet.

    Wednesday was previously going to be a giant sandwich for dinner but that's a bit of a pricy meal so we switched it for a pizza roll to use up bits of stuff we have in the fridge. I already have the pizza dough in the freezer.

    Iced coffee

    In the summer when its already hot and sticky when you roll out of bed, an iced coffee is just what you need to get you going without altering your morning routine too much. Iced Coffee is refreshing and still packs a kick like a super strong cup of coffee. Pioneer Woman posted her Perfect Iced Coffee recipe today but it's pretty complicated. This is how we've been doing iced coffee for the past couple months.

    This takes a little more preparation than our iced tea recipe and costs more but not as much as one from a coffee shop or convenience store. McDonalds has iced coffee for $1 right now and that would be a cheaper option.

    Whole milk, Vanilla Soy or cream
    Simple Syrup

    Start by brewing some double strength coffee. We use a coffee press and use 10 scoops of fresh ground coffee and fill the pot with boiled water. If you use a coffee maker just double the usual amount of grounds.
    Let it steep all day and cool completely before pouring it into a carafe or pitcher and keep it in the fridge.

    To make a glass of iced coffee: fill a glass with ice and add a few tablespoons of simple syrup. Add 1/3 to 1/2 the glass of the chilled coffee base. Fill the rest of the glass with Milk/Soy/Cream. Add chocolate syrup if you have it.
    Stir and enjoy.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 12

    We didn't bother posting a recipe or article today, it's Sunday and we had other things to do. Alice is quite mobile now it's a pretty good incentive to keep on top of the cleaning. Anything she finds on the floor goes in her mouth and she likes to go into the kitchen and open cabinets and pick up bits of stuff and into the bathroom to touch the toilet and try to get into the garbage. Gross!

    Yesterday I cleaned the entire bathroom and the pet houses got a quick poop-scoop so I had far less to do today. I got 1 load of laundry done, washed a lot of dishes, made a couple of sewing templates and made Alice a pair of pants using a cheap pillowcase. I bought a few $1 pillowcases from the dollar store a while ago to practice some sewing on so I wouldn't make mistakes and waste good fabric. They turned out pretty good so I think I'll make a couple of adjustments and try one more pair before I make some out of the lightweight fleece with piggies and hearts that I bought.

    Jon got a bit of work in, took out the trash and went out to dig some slugs and worms for our teeny snake. Work is really slow at the moment for some reason.

    Dinner was simple, spaghetti and garlic bread.

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    30 Day Challenge - Day 11

    What happened today? Not too much. We didn't go out, we didn't spend any money, nothing broke and no one got hurt. A couple days ago Alice was testing how strong her skull is by bonking it six separate times! No one getting hurt today is an improvement.

    I started the day by making a list of 30 things in and around the apartment I can record as sample libraries. Then posted 5 Craigslist ads for services I offer locally. Then promoted one of my services in 3 places on the web. Research and blog posts were written before Holly and Alice were out of bed.
    In the early afternoon I did some of my sample recording and editing. Before bed I may work some more on this. If you're here for recipes and budgeting tips I'm sure this is boring stuff.

    Holly made some biscuits for lunch that were good but didn't rise right and the dough was hard to work with, so we won't be posting that recipe.
    Dinner was chicken stir-fry on rice, which is something we eat a lot but tonight was better than usual in taste and appearance. Guess who forgot to take a photo...

    Oatmeal Cookies all week

    This is my go to oatmeal cookie recipe, you can add anything you like to it and it's quick and easy.  Sometimes I like it with chocolate chips, sometimes with walnuts and dried cranberries, and sometimes just oatmeal.

    Today I'm making it with cinnamon, dried cranberries and walnuts.

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 10

    No spending at all today, just cleaning and organizing and writing out some ideas that we have. I want to go to Value Village soooooo badly but we don't need anything right now, we really don't need anything until the weather gets cool

    Today I accomplished a lot of small items:

    • ironing, folding and putting away my pile of fabric
    • baked cookies
    • put away dishes
    • vacummed
    • changed sheets
    • put away laundry and drying rack
    • wrangled my gnarly, twisting tomato plants into submission
    • dinner
    • three 1 hour long Alice naps ( this one is incredible!)
    • repost Gothauctions ads
    • post 2 Craigslist ads

    Jon got some work in today, washed dishes, cleaned and organized his workspace and did a lot of brainstorming and prep for upcoming projects.

    Here is how dinner turned out. Very tasty, and not overly filling because we cut the portion size down from what we normally would eat.

    Ten foods in your kitchen that contain gruesome poisons

    There is an interesting list posted on io9 today on the toxins and chemicals found in food.
    I'll summarize the list here and you can read the full article on io9.
    1. Potatoes
    2. Cashews
    3. Rhubarb
    4. Egg whites
    5. Whole wheat and rye bread
    6. Kidney beans
    7. Almonds, cherries, apples, apricots, and many other seeds
    8. Mushrooms
    9. Every green thing you've ever eaten
    10. Castor Beans

    I'm not really sure what to take away from this list, but it was interesting. These foods are both nutritious and deadly. Hmmm, what do you think?

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    30 Day Challenge- Day 9

    Here is the meal plan for the next 7 days.

    Groceries today came to $44.58, we didn't pick up sandwich stuff because we're not having it for an entire week. I might scrap that idea and come up with something else using what we have because giant sandwich night usually costs quite a bit and we're just under the weekly grocery allowance.

    We spent $15.66 at the butcher on pork cutlets, pork ribs, chicken and 2 pounds of margarine.  Got some flax seed, granola and walnuts in bulk for $3.54

    At Donald's Market for $25.38
    Organic Vanilla Soy 1.89L
    Half and Half cream 1L
    Tomato Sauce
    Crown Broccoli
    Mozzarella cheese
    4 Nectarines
    1 White Onion
    2 Russet Potatoes
    1 orange pepper
    4 Ambrosia Apples
    2 jumbo carrots
    1 package discount vine tomatoes

    Last week we only spent $37.99, so far our running total is at $82.57, less than half of our allowance of $200. Will we come in under budget? I'm really surprised that we've been doing so well.

    The only extra spending was my trip to the fabric store and Jon's Starbucks meeting where he only spent about $3 and got a code for a free drink for completing a survey. We used it this morning on a Venti Java Chip  Frappucino that we shared since we ran out of cream for our morning drinks. We were lucky enough to get yet another code for a free drink. We'll probably use it next week when we go out for groceries.

    Also got laundry done and posted a Craigslist ad. I keep receiving Similac coupons so I just keep giving them away to someone who needs them.

    Pork cutlet sandwiches for dinner tonight. Buns were leftover from the burgers Tuesday. No waste!