Category Archives: family

meal planning with Pinterest

Before heading into the work week, I have learned it is crucial to plan out some dinners and do a big grocery shop. This saves us a ton of time, money, and frustration. I really hate the late evening, “What should we have for dinner?” conversation, and inevitably if we waited until just before dinner to make a plan and go to the store we would end up eating out 3 nights a week.

Since Pinterest came into my life, picking recipes I’ve found online to work into the weekly dinner schedule is so much easier. I used to have this terribly awkward system of bookmark folders for different types of recipes. It just didn’t work. Now I just jump back and forth to different food boards I have organized on Pinterest and wait for something to catch my eye. Currently I only have a handful of food boards. I have them broken down by meal (breakfast,lunch,dinner) or season, and have boards for things I tend to collect a lot of recipes for like eggs or tofu. As the boards grow I tend to re-organize into more specific boards. For example, I’m starting to see the need for a soup board.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t normally make a new recipe every single day. I aim to make at least one new thing each week. I generally plan between 3 and 5 meals at a time, and I try to make sure at least one of those is something simple and “semi-homemade” like veggie burgers or tacos. I also try to include a more homemade dinner that is an old favorite I know well, like my vegan chipotle corn chowder or one of our favorite chili recipes. I fill in the rest of the week with new or old recipes from Pinterest and cookbooks, and leave room for going out or making something on a whim before planning the next 3-5 dinners.


Part of this week’s dinner schedule. Click to view a PDF.

This week I threw together our meal plan in record time and all 5 of the scheduled dinners were from my Pinterest boards. I thought I’d share. I think we’re going to eat well this week, and it took less than 10 minutes to get it all together and another 10-15 minutes to compile a grocery list. Since we are a family of three, I always try to make dinners that make enough portions to have 1-2 meals worth of leftovers and that is what we take for lunch most days.

Feel free to borrow my dinner schedule template via Google docs!

xoxo Krista

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the ice storm

As I stepped outside Thursday the 19th I remember thinking it was like I had walked through a teleportation device and landed in Alaska or Antarctica. I had already been waking at 3:15am for a couple days to get up in time to walk to work in the snow. If it weren’t for the inhumane hour, I would always walk to work. So long as I have my trusty snow boots, I quite enjoy walking in the snow. There is something serene about the undisturbed snowscape before the rest of the world has gotten up and trampled all over it. This particular morning the giant mounds of snow looked different than I’d ever seen before, almost glacier-like. There had been a bit of rain that created a slick layer of ice atop everything.


our bird bath

As I reached about 1/4 the way to work, I started hearing loud cracks from the tree tops. The trees were weighed down with snow that had turned to ice. Branches were falling around me. I remember thinking, “This is not good.” And then as I got just over half-way to work, I realized my face was bare. I had forgotten my glasses on the worst possible day. Within an hour of arriving at the 911 center, things were chaotic. Power lines and trees were falling all over our little county, and we had to switch to full-on emergency mode, with fire departments staffing emergency centers and all of us at dispatch working in overdrive to keep up with the calls for help.


This tree fell in our parking lot while I was at work.

I survived the rough day at work without my glasses, though the walk home was tough. At 4am I can walk in the street, but by 3pm I had some rough terrain over plow snow on the main road with traffic next to me. I’m happy to report I only fell once in thigh-deep snow. Levi and Jess were getting a little cabin fever and decided to meet up with me and we would all go get an early dinner. We had $3 in cash, so we planned to walk downtown and bus back up the hill. Throughout our fun trip downtown, I told them stories of my day and warned Levi that our power would very likely go out. Being hooked on his new Skyrim game, he was not hearing it despite all the downed power lines and dark traffic lights he had seen downtown. It turned to night as we were walking home from the bus stop, and much of the east side was in the dark. Miraculously, our power was still on when we turned the corner to our street. Levi fired up his X-Box and Jess and I turned on the TV and thanked our lucky stars for about 45 minutes before our power finally went out and stayed out for five very long days.


Jess snapped this with her phone as they quickly adapted their route to meet me


A damp Levi as we order dinner

We always talk about preparing for such emergencies, but we have accomplished very little in putting together that emergency kit. Some ways we were prepared:

  • lots of clean, warm clothes to layer on
  • plenty of blankets to keep us all warm at night (the house dropped to the 40’s, so we’re talking a lot of blankets)
  • boots, water proof hooded jackets, scarves, gloves, umbrellas, and hats
  • a functional flashlight for each of us that we were able to get to in the dark
  • lots and lots of card and board games

Ways we failed:

  • not having propane for our camp stove (though I didn’t want to create dishes anyway since we are on septic with an electric pump)
  • not being able to locate our shoe box full of candles
  • never buying those fancy hand-crank lanterns or LED lights we talked about
  • not having a stash of cash, although thankfully we didn’t need it
  • not realizing we could use the snow to refrigerate our dairy in time, although thinking of it in time to save the beer

Memories:

  • standing in a line out the door at the coffee shop when the power went out and everyone moaned, followed by it turning right back on and everyone cheering
  • getting sick of take-out and packaged food by day two
  • lounging in the furniture section at Fred Meyer, enjoying the free WI-FI and keeping an eye on our cell phones as they charged in the lamp aisle
  • writing thank you letters in our heads to the inventor of baby wipes
  • stocking up on those LED lights and clicking them on and off as we went from room to room
  • walking to Big Tom’s for veggie burgers and tater tots and celebrating with the owner as he told us they had already broken their all time sales record since 1969
  • craving a warm breakfast and toasting Pop-Tarts with the creme brulee torch
  • working as a family to dig my car out of the snow as well as a car width path in our long driveway (followed by two days of Jello arms)
  • a slumber party with some of our favorite friends when the first of our three houses had power restored
  • warming up and killing time at the movies (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)
  • lots and lots of cuddling


the famous Artesian well continues to flow


Levi entertains a little girl while we all wait for the bus


the most fun card game award goes to Back to the Future


An almost 6 foot 2 inch Levi is tiny next to that monkey puzzle tree


everything is covered in icicles


seriously, everything


Capitol City

We are truly lucky that all we had were big inconveniences. I’m so glad we took care of all our pressing tree work last year. We still managed to have trees from both of our neighbor’s yards fall into ours. Thankfully they narrowly missed our house and cars. One tree landed less than an inch from my car, no exaggeration. None of our electronics were fried, and some people were without power twice as long as us. Now we just need to take this as motivation to prepare for a true disaster and actually put together that emergency kit.

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blackout

Last Thursday night I had a really good blog post running through my head as I uploaded some photos, and then the power went out. After five extra long days, we are finally back in business. I hope to have time to share some stories as soon as we catch up on rest, laundry, and dishes. And clean the refrigerator. And remember how to cook.

xoxo Krista

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So long, 2011!

First of all, thank you to everyone who posted sweet things on our last post. Despite a rough week, it still seems like this has been an incredible year. If 2010 was great, 2011 was spectacular. Life is pretty sweet, and I have high hopes for it to continue to get better.

We accomplished some things this year. It feels good to make a list:

  • We finally added that flock of chickens we had been talking about for years.
  • With a lot of help from a friend and some good plans, I built the chicken coop of our dreams.
  • We ate for $5/person/day for an entire month, and started buying mostly organic food once we realized we can afford it.
  • Jess read her goal of 110 books. I know, she is crazy and amazing. Also, she suffers from insomnia.
  • I lost and kept off 40 pounds (no, those extra holiday pounds don’t count).
  • Slowly but surely we redecorated our bedroom. We might even share it with you soon.
  • We both became better gardeners, and expanded our garden into our first community plot.
  • I learned to can, and Jess practically became a canning guru.
  • We took an epic nine day family road trip and didn’t even come close to getting sick of each other.
  • I turned 35, and learned that it isn’t actually the kiss of death. In fact, I kind of think things are just starting to get good.
  • Jess got a second hive of bees, lost them twice, and learned a lot in the process.
  • I interviewed for and earned a promotion at work.
  • I put a lot of energy into cooking and photography, and saw real progress.
  • We blogged more, and gained some readers. Hello, and thank you so much!

Things that were popular in our house in 2011: The Hunger Games series, breakfast pizza for dinner, The Killing, paneer, baby chicks, porcini mushrooms, canning parties, quinoa (finally, I learned to love it), gay celebrity memoirs, Hitchcock films, baked oatmeal, and Little House on the Prairie.

Hopes for 2012: I never say this, but I think I’m going to read more in 2012. I know Jess and Levi both will, since they always do AND I gave them both Kindles for Christmas. We will be adding some new critters to the family. You can go ahead and guess what sort of critters, but I won’t confirm or deny anything. Maybe 2012 will be the year we get better at exercising on a regular basis, and better yet if it comes in the form of manual labor in the yard and house. We made a conscious decision to slow down on the house projects in 2011, but now it is time to move forward. Bonus points for all house/yard projects that improve organization. We have a lot on our plates, and decided against a month-long project for January. I have a handful of projects in mind that we hope to get started ASAP, so stay tuned!

Some photo highlights of our year:


January: a blur of cooking, photographing food, and adding up receipts.


February: One of many day trips to Portland.


March: Levi holds up the light fixture I assembled. Also pictured, our “new” bedroom lockers.


April: Alcatraz, one of many highlights of our road trip. Sadly, I lost my photos of about half of our trip when my computer hard drive croaked and they hadn’t been uploaded yet.


May: baby chick invasion!


June: We got a jar of honey from the backyard. We made homemade honey ice cream to celebrate.


July: the chickens moved outside! So many wonderful things happened in July, but this was probably my favorite picture of all year.


I tried to limit it to one photo from each month, but Mount St. Helens was special. Give me a break, July is the summer, two of our three birthdays, and our wedding anniversary. Things happen.


August: the Hoh Rainforest


September: Seattle adventures for my 35th birthday


October: Adventures in Astoria, OR


November: baked oatmeal, still going strong. In this instance, my gingerbread baked oatmeal.


December: a picnic in the park

What a year! Thanks for reading along with our adventures. It is so great to chronicle our journey here. We’re wishing you the happiest new year ever, full of laughter, love, good health, adventures, really excellent gardening weather and plenty of baked oatmeals.

xoxo,
Krista, Jess & our brood

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oat straw tea and ginger pie

Once in a great while an opportunity arises to see Harold & Maude on the big screen, and every single time I can’t make it. So this week I took a few hours off work so I could finally see one of my all-time favorites at our local theater.

There are too many wonderful things about this movie to list, like Harold’s devious face after another fantastic mock suicide.

Harold drives an old hearse and Maude lives in a rail car house. I think I’d rather have a rail car guest house parked outside, but this 1957 side loader hearse I found on Craigslist is pretty great. The hearse pictured above is a 1959 Cadillac.

Next time we watch the movie, I hope we have time to make a day of it. First, we need some of Maude’s oat straw tea.


Photo via Featherheart Trading Co.

Thanks to the miracle of Etsy, you can buy an organic Harold & Maude oat straw tea with cardamom and cinnamon. You don’t really hear about oat straw tea, but apparently it has all kinds of health benefits.


Photo via Serious Eats

Next we need some of Maude’s ginger pie. This is also not a pie you really hear about. You could try this ginger custard pumpkin pie. For a true ginger pie, Matthew Rowley’s recipe was cooked up when he discovered it isn’t so easy to just dig up a ginger pie recipe when Harold & Maude makes you hungry for one.

While I’m baking I can pull out the old Cat Stevens records. Or maybe I can buy his Gold album on mp3 so I can belt out the Harold & Maude anthem If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out.

True story: in high school I had an English teacher who was also a football and wrestling coach. He was a gigantically tall man who wore those 90s Zubaz intensely patterned pants. He made us watch Vision Quest and other movies about coaches and sports teams. And we had to do a presentation where we each showed a movie to the class. I made my class watch Harold & Maude.

I did manage to resist the urge to buy these Harold & Maude finger puppets from the Cake Spy store in Seattle. These inspire all kinds of Harold & Maude crafts that could happen. I’m thinking Harold paper dolls with different outfits, like a hari kari Harold with a necktie, mat, and tantō. Now if only I had time to set aside an entire day. Someday this will happen!

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eggnog popcorn balls & a Hitchcock double feature

We run around in search of family fun an awful lot. Recently I’ve been thinking about the concept of cheap family dates. Last weekend we ran to Seattle for an exhibit on Horror Film at EMP. We had a ton of fun, but when you’re spending $15 a pop, buying gas, and eating out, suddenly family fun is really expensive.


Rear Window

The three of us have developed a sudden obsession with Alfred Hitchcock. Jess and I got to see Rear Window on the big screen in Portland. It was thrilling to applaud the Hitchcock cameo with a crowd. Randomly, the next week our local theater was showing Dial M for Murder in 3D, complete with a vintage piece of equipment to synchronize two projectors. We let Levi stay up late on a school night and didn’t regret it. Hitchcock films are so suspenseful and clever, and his artful shots at times take your breath away.

I realized we practically have a library of Hitchcock available on Netflix streaming, and even more titles for rent from Amazon. I decided a stay-at-home family date was in order. If we were going to have a proper double feature, we would need popcorn. The stars were aligning perfectly because I’ve been waiting since last year to try this recipe for eggnog popcorn balls.

These do not contain actual eggnog, or even eggs. They do contain a lot of nutmeg and taste delightfully like holiday nog. I made a double batch, and luckily Levi wandered into the kitchen in that way he does once in a blue moon, asking, “What ya making?” followed by, “Can I help?” We had to butter our hands every other time we formed a popcorn ball. It was a sticky mess, but so worth it.

These things are killer. You should make them. And you could even pop your popcorn in the microwave in a brown paper bag like I did yesterday. Despite the sugary mess, the recipe was pretty easy.

So, which Hitchcock films did we pick?

North by Northwest. Perhaps Cary Grant will be our next obsession. And we have always wanted to see Mount Rushmore.

The second was a no-brainer. Psycho, of course.

What have you been doing lately for family fun? Bonus points if you are successfully entertaining teenagers.

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We’re still here

Jess snapped this photo while I drove us to Tacoma General Hospital to visit my grandma. Isn’t Jess cute in that ridiculous hat? We drove Grandpa home and made him a giant pot of corn chowder to keep him fed for awhile. At home we have a bunch of roasted squash that will hopefully fill our fridge with soup, too. Soup is so perfect this time of year.

Life can feel so hectic sometimes. Adding in overtime hours and holidays has got me behind. Time to catch up and enjoy it!

xoxo Krista

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Turkey Day for vegetarians

When Levi was little, we had a Thanksgiving tradition. In honor of Turkey Day, we would adopt a turkey from Farm Sanctuary. We didn’t bring home an actual turkey. In exchange for a donation you get a picture of the turkey in the mail. It’s just a clever fundraiser for a good organization. Farm Sanctuary rescues animals and shelters them at its farms in California and New York. They also educate and advocate for animal welfare.

Somehow we fell out of the habit of our annual adoption/donation, and then the other day I mentioned it to Jess. It turns out her aunt used to “adopt a turkey” in her honor every year, too. So we decided this would be a good year to start the tradition again.

This is Payton, our Adopt-a-Turkey of choice. RIDICULOUS.

Speaking of little vegetarians, a great book to read with them is Dav Pilkey’s ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving.

Set to the familiar Christmas poem, it’s a story about a group of kids who go on a field trip to a turkey farm. They become so enamored with the turkeys they are horrified to realize their fate as Thanksgiving dinner. They decide to try to save the turkeys, and well… I won’t spoil the ending.

The rest of our traditions are pretty standard: gorging ourselves on delicious food, suffering from carb overload, and spending time with friends and family. I can’t wait to eat some mashed potatoes and gravy, the cheddar and jalapeño stuffing we loved so much last year, and some pecan pie!

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Levi, Lenora, and the Blue Hubbard

I didn’t exactly plan on showing you several shots of the same squash, but somehow I just really enjoyed this series of Levi & our biggest Blue Hubbard. Most of our squashes are just cute little things, so this guy looks like a monstrosity. Apparently these suckers can be up to 40 pounds. Ours is a modest 13-pounder.

Leave it to Lenora to steal the show.

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Halloween in Astoria

We just got home from an incredible weekend away in Astoria, Oregon. I swear, everytime we go there I fall in love with that place a little more. One of the highlights was Talking Tombstones, an event put on for the last 8 years by the Clatsop County Historical Society. We showed up at the Astoria Pioneer Cemetery near Coxcomb Hill to check it out.

First we met the ghost of Susan Pitkin. She cried real tears as she told the tragic tale of becoming the town recluse after two of her sons drowned in the Columbia River.

The stories didn’t get any happier as we met Lillian Hendrickson, who talked of being the first woman to work at the cannery only to be shot to death at age 17 by a guy she turned down.

Laura Ferrell sat next to her family plot and talked of the booming 1870s in Astoria, losing her first husband to an accidental shooting, three marriages, fifteen pregnancies, and thirteen kids.

I had no idea that cable TV was invented in Astoria, but the ghost of Ed Parsons and his wife, Grace, showed us how he put an antenna on the top of the Astoria Hotel and ran coaxial cable to his home. Soon after he had to set up the first cable TV system to keep all his neighbors out of his living room.

Henry Sidlinger seemed like a happy fella and talked of being a tinsmith, but he still holds a grudge against the newspaper for making it sounds like he had been hiding his past and ended his own life.

A young Emma Burke died alongside her father by a fallen tree.

The last three ghosts’ stories managed to tie together. There was Gabriel Franchère, who came to Astoria with John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company.

Donald McTavish also worked in the fur trade, and brought the first European woman to Oregon, Jane Barnes. He complained of his remains and tombstone being moved too many times, though apparently the tombstone ended up in a museum downtown.

Jane Barnes became known as the “First Lady of Astoria”. Though she was brought by McTavish for companionship, she ended up on the arm of another sometime during the 13 month journey. Eventually both men died on another boat when it capsized.

We kept our distance from the other spirit we saw lurking around.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

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