Category Archives: family

Monday Meal Planning

As a follow up to my post about meal planning with Pinterest, I thought I would occasionally share our weekly dinner schedule. Using a little bit of Pinterest, some old favorites, and including less complicated dinners to throw together (this week: tacos), meal planning is really getting easier.

This is what’s on the menu this week:

Click here to view the full PDF.

MONDAY: shahi paneer & peas

TUESDAY: kale, cannelinni, & veggie sausage soup (adapting a Rachael Ray recipe so we can use up an abundance of kale from the garden)

WEDNESDAY: tempeh tacos (corn tortillas, tempeh, shredded cabbage & carrot, mole, crema – or maybe avocado and pico)

(Photo via Serious Eats)
THURSDAY: lentil coconut soup with a side of sliced mango

FRIDAY: kale, onion, & cheddar frittata with smoothies (perhaps our own recipe for avocado banana smoothies)

SATURDAY: BBQ tofu sandwiches with caramelized onion & cabbage with a side of carrot sticks

SUNDAY: date night dinner out!

Click here to borrow our dinner schedule template.

Comment and share what’s on your menu this week!



Filed under family, food

jar lunch: deconstructed sushi

I want to introduce a new feature on the blog: the Jar Lunch! It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

I am pleased to introduce the first jar lunch; it was so much fun to make. Meet deconstructed sushi in a jar:

Might as well take advantage of the mason jar’s glass with some colorful layers. Levi is currently obsessed with all things Japan. He has been considering taking Japanese in addition to German. We sometimes splurge on the brown rice sushi from Trader Joe’s, so I figured I ought to start making something at home. The beauty of this lunch is you don’t have to achieve perfect sushi rice and you don’t have to roll it. You still get all the delicious flavors of an avocado roll. It’s perfect with a side of baked tofu.

deconstructed sushi in a jar

ingredients per wide mouth pint jar:

3/4 cup cooked short grain brown rice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar*
1 teaspoon sugar
1-2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 sheet nori, cut into 1″ X 1/4″ pieces
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup cucumber matchsticks
1/2 an avocado, diced
lime juice
pickled ginger, to taste
wasabi paste, to taste

Heat the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. While your brown rice is still warm, pour the vinegar-sugar mixture and soy sauce over it and toss to combine. Let cool to room temperature. Adding the soy sauce to the rice saves you from having to lug soy sauce to school or work.

*If you use seasoned rice vinegar, omit the sugar and heat.

You can use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut up your nori.

I used heaping 1/4 cups of carrot per lunch, and used two medium carrots to pack six lunches. When you prep all your veggies, place the diced avocado in a bowl and toss with just enough lime juice to lightly coat in order to prevent browning.

I watched youTube videos to figure out how to cut cucumber matchsticks, and it was surprisingly easy to use the same method. One large cucumber was enough to pack six jar lunches.

Once your ingredients are ready, simply add one layer at a time and use a spoon to level and pat down each layer. If you smudge the sides of the jar, wipe the inside with a dry cloth. I used half the sheet of nori on the bottom and half on top, and finished with ginger and wasabi to taste.

You can easily move the ginger & wasabi to your lid when you eat to add as needed. For even less mess, you can cut a larger piece of nori to hold your wasabi at the very top of the jar. Or just stir the whole thing together, if that’s your cup o’ tea.



Filed under family, recipes

2012 Homies

We’ve missed you, faithful readers! Sorry for the unannounced blog hiatus. A few people were worried by our silence and I feel bad about that. I have been out of town for work and while I was gone Jess and Levi were under the weather. We are still here!

We are super excited to have our little blog nominated for Apartment Therapy’s 2012 Homies in the Healthy Cooking Blog category. We don’t expect to win, but if you enjoy our blog please head over there, we’d love to have your vote! Even if you don’t go to vote, the Homies are a great chance to find wonderful blogs you might not have on your list yet. You do need an account to vote, but I can’t think of a better site for it.

And for those of you who were missing the chicken updates, I have a special moment between Levi & Lenora for you.

xo Krista

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Filed under chickens, 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


Filed under family, food

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


  • 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.


Filed under family, winter


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


Filed under family

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.

Krista, Jess & our brood


Filed under family, traditions