Showing posts with label life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label life. Show all posts


NYC & Kids

As you likely know there are a million things to do in New York City.  If you are bored, it's by choice. However, sometimes finding things that are child-friendly can be somewhat of a challenge...a 5-year old is only going to last so long in the Met!

Before we even moved here I found a website that is FANTASTIC for ideas with kids, Mommy Poppins.  It highlights all the "kid's days" at the museums, hundreds of restaurants are listed and more.  It's truly awesome.  I've shared it with MANY other Mom's!

Right now Mommy Poppins is having a big holiday giveaway...

Today's prize is a big box from Toys R Us!  Can you imagine the child's face when they open this?!!

Check it out:


A Week (or so) of e-mealz

I reported here that I recently subscribed to a meal planning program called "e-mealz".  I had no idea if this was going to be worth my dollar, but being fairly desperate for help in the kitchen and a Cyber Monday deal, it was worth a risk.

I decided to keep track of what I spent and how our first meals turned out.

First, a disclaimer.

I am a NON-COOK.  Seriously.  We had nothing in our house for basics - no garlic salt, no brown sugar, no vinegar, etc.  I do not cook box-meals, but I also cook very simply....on the rare occasion I actually cook.  So our first week of groceries were more expensive and we live in New York City where coupons are challenged by the cashier and groceries are expensive.  I also bought EVERYTHING on the list (aside from the one meal we knew we wouldn't make due to personal taste).  Even the $8 chopped pecans. It was not easy for my frugal self to buy those!  I also buy some things organic.

Dollars Spent:
Key Food: $63.82
Berry Fresh: $51.05
Total: $114.87

I hated going to 2 grocery stores.  But that's life here.  One grocery store NEVER has all I need.  Even before e-mealz.

We had the ingredients to make 7 meals.  That's $16.41 a meal, with some leftovers and extra ingredients for future use (brown sugar, salad dressings, $8 pecans, etc.)

So how did it go?


Kudos to the e-mealz writers.  Most of these recipes are easy enough for a non-cook to follow.  I do not LIKE to cook either, and most didn't leave me twitching and annoyed in the kitchen.

The first night I made Lemon Chicken & Broccoli with brown rice.
I followed the recipe exactly.

The result: We (2 adults, 1 4-year old) all ate happily and had leftovers.  This recipe had quite a few little ingredients; a tablespoon of that, a bit of I did start to get annoyed and twitchy by the end.  I just wanted to be d-o-n-e already, but then at the dinner table my 4-year old declared the chicken "the best ever!" and even asked for more BROCCOLI.  I'd say we had some success here!  It was worth the twitching I did while making the meal.  I don't think it will make it as a normal recipe in my life, but it's fine for once in a while.

Next up, Apple-Pecan Pork Chops.  Using some of those $8 pecans.  To be served with rice pilaf and broccoli.  We did brown rice and asparagus.

The result: We (3 adults, my sister-in-law was added to the crowd, 1-4 year old) porked out and had a weeeeee bit of pork chop for leftovers that ended up in the garbage eventually.  Upon first look my husband said, "Oooh, fancy!" and it's true.  I felt like a cook this night!  I even shared the picture on Facebook and e-mealz's Facebook as well.  I was totally impressed with myself.  This was DELICIOUS and more importantly in my world....easy!  So easy!!!  No twitching tonight!

I was feeling confident in my sudden cooking skills, so I decided to walk on the wild side and try the Molasses Pork Tenderloin the next night...but I adjusted the recipe.

Dum, dum, dummmmmm!

I decided to put the meat and seasonings in the crockpot and let it cook all day.  I have had success with my crockpot in the past, so I was fairly confident. The pork was to be served with parsley potatoes and balsamic green beans.  I followed the potatoes recipe exactly, and only changed out fresh green beans for frozen ones (and a smaller quantity).

As expected, the pork tenderloin was easily shredded with a fork, so it ended up looking like this:

Does that look nasty?
Because it WAS!

The potatoes were awesome.  The rest was a giant failure.  I don't believe this is the recipe's fault.  I didn't follow directions by using the crockpot and the pork ended up overcooked as well.  I also bought white cooking wine instead of the white vinegar that was called for.  I have NO clue if this changed the taste, but it might have.  For the green beans, of which my child gagged on, I used about half the amount of green beans but failed to half the vinegar and other ingredients that flavored them.

Epic Fail.

We ended up with pizza that night!

I didn't let my one failure stop me.  Next up was Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup.  I have made chicken noodle soup before, this had to be easy, right?!  The soup was to be served with a basic side salad of spinach and other goodness.  The only thing I changed in the soup recipe was, instead of canned peas and carrots, I used frozen.  I also didn't measure the pepper or garlic salt.  I'm kind of a rebel sometimes.  And lazy.  I didn't want to wash the 1/2 teaspoon.  A couple shakes had to be good, right?

The result: Yumm-o!  My husband really enjoyed the flavor of it all - I think it was the unmeasured garlic salt personally.  As you can see by the pic there isn't much fluid.  The recipe called for 3 cups of chicken broth and 1 of cream of chicken soup.  I think I might add 4 cups of broth next time.  Regardless it was delicious and we had leftovers after 2 adults and 1 child eagerly ate on it.  Getting a child to eat vegetables that taste that good is easy too.

Next we have the Easy Oven Southwest Chicken.  "Easy" in the title says it all.  This was SIMPLE.  Throw everything in a pan and cook.  Momma likes.  To be served with a side salad.

The result: This was good!  The entire thing was soupier than I preferred, so I used a slotted spoon to pull out the goodness then opted to throw it all on my salad with a bit of corn tortilla on the side.  Making a sort of southwest salad.  My husband really enjoy this one.  He suggested it go into our "regular rotation".  I am more than fine with that, it's seriously easy.  Plus, 3 adults (sister-in-law is back) and my son all ate on it with a bit of leftovers.  Another winner.  I think I'll drain at least one can of the beans next time though.

Next we have Garlic Meatloaf, to be served with warm potato salad.  I was skeptic of the warm potato salad, but the meatloaf sounded awesome.  My husband cooked this one, he followed the recipe except we used turkey bacon in the potato salad instead of normal bacon.  We also made a vegetable.  I'm a big veggie eater, and a potato, while yummy, is not a vegetable.  Hubby steamed some carrots and cauliflower.

The result: HECK YES!  Holy deliciousness!  3 adults and the 4-year old all gobbled this down.  We DEVOURED that warm potato salad.  It was freakin' awesome.  We all ate and ate.  This is a "Portion Controlled" meal, but it certainly was not followed that night.  I couldn't stop myself!  We had a bit of meatloaf left over for a future delicious lunch.  This was my favorite of the week!

Now, as I said in the beginning, I had bought ingredients for 7 meals; however, we only ended up making 6 due to eating some of the ingredients for lunches!  However, we still had enough on hand to easily put together more meals for the rest of the days before we went grocery shopping again.  One of the meals was to be a ham and cheese scramble.  We adapted this a bit to just be ham and eggs (with zucchini shredded in) and sausage links.  I didn't take a picture - it was a basic, but good meal.  We also had pasta ingredients on hand, so we made a simple pasta one night that was not on the schedule.

Overall this has been fantastic.  Way better than I EVER thought it could be.  It's glorious to not have to think about what will be for dinner, or what to buy at the grocery store.  Myself, my husband, or my sister-in-law can easily look at the chart and make dinner, knowing we have all the ingredients on hand.  And I can cook.  That in and of itself is pretty amazing.

One drawback.  We will miss our friendly waitstaff at the local diner!  We actually saved enough in our budget this week to buy the very expensive ink for our laser printer!

Another week has begun.  I went grocery shopping yesterday and only spent $63.69 for 6 meals, that's $10.62 a meal for a family of 2 (sometimes 3) adults and 1 child.  I'm looking forward to another week of goodness!


Meal Planning

The other day I joined, which is essentially a meal planning service.  You sign up for a certain number of months and each week they will give you a PDF with 7 meals and the grocery list you need to make them all.  The recipes are easy, including "quick meals" and crockpot meals.  They have a portion control (Weight Watchers) menu, gluten free, and more.  On Cyber Monday they had a 30% off code, for 3 months it came to less than $15 so I took the plunge.  I have no idea how it will all go, but for $15, it's worth a shot.

I printed out the menu from last week (Thanksgiving, so it was a shorter menu) and this week and hit the grocery store today with Henry.  I'm not gonna lie, it was a little crazy.  But when is grocery shopping with a 4-year old NOT crazy?  Trying to find Minced Garlic while Henry is asking me to untangle his guy from the cart was not my finest moment.  I have NO clue how he got that thing wrapped around like he did.

I was a bit nervous about what the total was going to come to, as groceries in NYC are pricey, but was PLEASANTLY surprised.  I'll post more on what the total is after I pick up the rest of the meat from the butcher and a few other things from another store.  I'm really excited about this new endeavor.  We have the meal plan stuck to our tack board so Joe, Katie or I can easily cook.  No more of the "What's for dinner?" or blankly staring in the cabinet and ordering pizza!  Now we can look at the list and choose something knowing we have everything on hand.  YAY!

I'll post more about this as time goes on...I'm very curious to see how it will work for our family.


Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade & the American Museum of Natural History

On Wednesday afternoon I surprised Henry with something...

We were going to...


And instead we went and saw:

The giant Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons are blown up on 77th and 81st Streets in Manhattan, the streets that surround the American Museum of Natural History, so we went to the museum in the same trip!

The beautiful origami tree was up

We walked through the human science exhibits, which Henry took a strong interest in.  He was fascinated with the human bones.

After a few missed calls and lots of walking around, we eventually met up with Henry's buddy Jack to see the dinosaur bones.

Joe was also off work by this time and joined us.  We naturally found ourselves in the space exhibits, we all really enjoy this part of the museum!

The next day, of course, was Thanksgiving.  Joe went into Manhattan pretty early to try and snag us a decent spot for the parade and he succeeded!  We had a nice spot in Central Park where we could SIT (*key with a 4 year old!), see the balloons and much of the happenings on the ground as well.  And it wasn't too horribly packed!  All in all, it was a very good spot.  Here are a few highlights.

It was very neat to see these giants float down the street!  After the parade we made our way back to Queens, got lunch at a local restaurant and had an enjoyable lazy afternoon.  Dinner rolled around and we ate random leftovers and peanut butter sandwiches and scurried out the door to go see The Muppets in the movie theater...which was FANTASTIC!!

All in all, it was a non-traditional Thanksgiving.  Not one bit of turkey was had, but we were together, and we enjoyed it...and that is what matters most!


Happy Belated!

Okay folks! I missed Easter on here AND Mother's Day.  Ugh.  What a blogger I am, huh?!?!

Anyway, I'm wishing you all a belated Easter and Mother's Day!  I hope you had a wonderful day celebrating both days!

On Easter, we had beautiful weather here, but the previous days had been rainy. Our church is held in a elementary school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and we had an Easter egg hunt planned, unfortunately, Central Park was very muddy from the rain, so we ended up holding it in the gym. The kids didn't care one bit - there was candy and fun involved!

All the young kids ready to find those eggs!

Henry found 14!

This was his first egg hunt, so he was sooooo excited to find out what could be inside!

"It's candy!"

Henry's egg race team

My Pastor getting in on the fun

The "bunny hop" race

The older kids did a tug-of-war, then the adults. Joe is back in this group-his team had a strategy and beat the pants right off the other team!!!

That afternoon we just hung out in Central Park and soaked in the sun. On Facebook I shared a few "Spring has Sprung" pictures that I took on Easter, but thought I'd share them here too.

Park Ave

Park Ave

As we passed by this home I spotted the yellow flowers in front (above picture) and stopped to look at them, then I looked up at this beautiful brownstone! Stunning! The woman happened to be in the bottom window and it was open, so I complimented her on her hard work! Love, love, love it!

I love these trees! They are all over in Central Park.

The Mall in Central Park

Sheep Meadow in Central Park

Another of the Sheep Meadow

Later we went to Magnolia for a sweet treat and I thought the sign in the window was cute, "Nothing says "I Care" more than cupcakes"

On Mother's Day we went to church, then to brunch at one of my favorite spots, The Barking Dog, then again-just hung out in Central Park. It's our warm-weather Sunday routine...and I love it!! Sadly, I didn't take ONE picture of Henry and together! We did make s'mores over the gas stove that night, so this is my one Mother's Day picture:

At least it's a good one, right???




Tonight we went to a local diner for dinner.

I ordered coffee to drink. Decaff coffee.

It's 2:23 am.

That wasn't decaff. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop