We Eat/She Eats and Motivation Monday

So here we go… a day late, two PiYo workouts in the books, and the fridge is full of healthy snacks for the first week of clean eating.  I’ve decided to go totally cold-turkey on the sugar this week to try and reset my system and kill those cravings.

Grilled Pork Loin
Roasted Cauliflower
Green Beans*
Wild Rice

Inspiralized Mexican Sweet Potato and Chicken Casserole

We’ll be making this red enchilada sauce since we can’t get the dried peppers locally.

Grilled Chicken
Roasted Asparagus
Baked Sweet Potato with Cinnamon & Nutmeg

Inspiralized Zucchini Noodles with Tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts
(using chicken instead of shrimp)

Lean Grass Fed Beef Burgers with Cheddar
Over Salad with Bals. Vinegar (instead of a roll)

Amelia is eating pretty much exactly what we do every night, though she often chases her meal with a slice of bread and always gets a serving of whole milk yogurt for dessert.  We’re on day three of complete weaning, so now that that form of nutrition is absent from her diet, I’m working hard to ensure she’s getting all of the nutrients she needs.


Preparing for the Summer

Well… it’s been a long time.  I’d like to start with a list of excused (work, a very mobile toddler, the longest winter ever…), but instead, I want to dive back in and get back to the habit of writing here weekly (if not daily).  There are a lot of fun changes happening at home right now, and with school letting out for the summer, I’m excited to have a place to share them.

Yesterday afternoon, sixteen baby chicks arrived in the mail from Murray McMurray Hatchery — Amelia is in LOVE with them, already calling them “Guiness Babies!” (Guiness = Chicken in Tiny Toddler-Speak).  Funniest thing ever.  We’re about a week and a half out on summer vacation and the whirlwind of summer projects: swim lessons, new garage being built, the garden, hatching chicks at school… the list goes on and on.

What am I looking forward to the most, though?  I’ve been chatting with Marion at Marionberry Fitness, and she’s graciously allowed me to join her June Challenge Group for busy women.  I ordered PiYo in an effort to continue to strengthen my back and get over that injury from last year, and we spent about an hour in the produce section of the grocery store yesterday, preparing to go clean, diet-wise.  A trip to the chiropractor today will hopefully have me ready for Monday morning.  Though I don’t think I’m going to post the before photos (ugh), I am looking forward to revamping our We Eats/She Eats with a focus on tiny toddler lunches and dinners, and I’m still hoping to launch the felt food tutorials that I was assembling earlier this year.

Thanks for checking back in!   

Meal Planning Monday

Is there anything better than a long weekend?  Maybe one when it’s snowing and blowing so hard that you can be thankful no one has to leave the house.  I’m writing this from our dining room table as Amelia finishes up her pancake, and Jason has left to start plowing out the yard.  My coffee’s still hot, and it’s nice to have a few moments to reflect on what we’re going to be cooking up this week.  Best part?  We’re on February Break, so I actually have time to do some cooking and freezing during the week, in preparation for our next long haul at work.

Yesterday, I made a big pot of beef stew, heavy on the veggies and barley.  The new trick I’ve been using has been to buy and chop up a pot roast, which makes for much more tender stew meat and a dish Amelia loves eating.  I had enough leftovers for a meal later this week, as well as a few lunches for my favorite girl since Mama’s going back to salads at lunch in an effort to tone up a bit more before spring.

Today, I have two of our organic, free range chickens in water on the stove, simmering down into stock.  Half will become Chicken Vegetable Soup, while the other becomes a large pot of Italian Wedding Soup (another of Amelia’s favorites).

Italian Wedding Soup, Leftover Homemade Ciabatta Bread, Parmesan Cheese

Homemade Chicken Stew with Bread or Dumplings

Eating Well’s Picnic Chicken, Green Beans*, Mashed Potatoes

Leftover Beef Stew, Fresh Homemade Bread

Homemade Pesto Pizza with Pesto fresh from our AeroGarden (Grilled Cheese, Fruits & Veggies for Ama)

So yes, it’s definitely a little heavy on the soups and stews, but when your daily high hasn’t cracked above zero in two weeks, a bowl of something warm and delicious is just what you need at the end of a long day.

In other news, I’m looking forward to starting a new series called Felting Fridays to follow my adventures building Ama’s Toddler Kitchen (we have a design we’re going to work on this spring).  Meanwhile, I spent my weekend buying more than 8 yards of craft felt, so I can start experimenting and sharing my successes (and failures) with you.

Hope you have a great week!  Try anything great in the kitchen recently?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Living in the Moment

I’ve spent the last few months trying to live more in the present, to take more photographs (semi successful); to try to cherish those exhausted minutes between dinner and bedtime when Jason is playing Les Paul tunes from his iPhone while he bathes Ama, and I rush to pack the daycare bag for tomorrow and finish up dishes, so we can settle in for our evening nursing session before bed; to realize that this stage of semi-small will be as fleeting as the days when she was so-small.  But it’s hard.  We both work full time, and I spend about two hours a day with Ama in the car commuting; work isn’t always as fulfilling as I’d like; and, God knows, some nights my tentative grasp on patience and sanity feel like they’re just about to slip through my fingers, particularly when the bedtime meltdowns occasionally visit us.

But we’re so lucky.  We’re healthy and happy.  We have a roof over our heads and plenty of heat during this very cold winter, and spring will eventually come.  I find myself saying that a lot lately, as I glance out over the bleakest of February horizons.  As a family, we’ve planned a little day trip this weekend (if the weather cooperates) to drive north to visit a fabric store, so I can start working on Ama’s Easter basket project — a bushel of felt fruit because she’s starting to get interested in the kitchen (feel free to pop over to my Pinterest site to take a look at some inspiration).  We’re hoping to build her a kitchen set this spring — something solid and sustainable that will add to our home, rather than just being another chunk of plastic.

We’re doing a low-key Valentine’s Day this year.  A late dinner in after Amelia goes to bed with Champagne (TTC round two starts next month…) and a movie.  I bought Jason a book he doesn’t know he’s been wanting yet, and we picked up a stuffed Jelly Cat for Amelia, as well as a Carl book.  I should admit that she already found her Jelly Cat when it arrived and I left the box on the floor, opened.  I went to tuck our bags away and heard her meowing, only to turn around and find her half-way up to her chest in the box.  She’s slept with him every night this week, and he’s the perfect little nighttime companion – soft and cuddly, but not so large that we worry about him in her crib.  When I asked her what she wanted to call him, her response was “Meow Meeeow!”, so we’re tentatively calling him Mr. Meow, and she appears very excited about that.

I hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day with those you care about!

Meal Planning Monday & The Daycare Lunchbox

It feels strange to be reemerging from the last few weeks.  Work has been busy, the weather has been terrible, and life has been hectic.  We’re in the process of trying to conceive #2, and I think we can finally throw in the towel on the first month.  This is, I will admit, a disappointment after getting pregnant with Amelia so quickly and so easily, but it does mean that we’re almost ready to start trying again, and, hopefully, with more luck this time.

Only one thing has really been saving our evening dinner ritual lately, and that’s been the fact that I cook on the weekends and either freeze or refrigerate an extra portion or two for evening meals.  We’ve also all started to move towards packing lunches rather than buying or taking advantage of those provided for us, which makes for a slightly crazier morning for this Mom.

So what’s on the menu for this week?  I made  Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls yesterday afternoon, and I think the extra 1/2 t. of cayenne pepper I added this time really gave them the kick they need to serve well later in the week, too.  I also tried to focus our grocery shopping a bit more on a few healthier options, as I try to tweak our diets towards a few more fruits & veggies.

Frozen Spaghetti and Meatballs (homemade) with Orzo
Green Beans*

Leftover Chicken Burrito Bowls with Veggie Chunks & Cabot Cheddar

Beef or Chicken Stir Fry

Homemade, Frozen Lasagna; Salad; Garlic Toast

Homemade Pizza

At this point, Amelia is eating all of her meals with us.  What’s going in the daycare lunchbox this week?

Leftover Burrito Bowls (her favorite meal right now)
Leftover Lasagna
Makings for a Grilled Cheese (HFCSF bread), Organic Cheddar
Organic Yogurt & Milk
Avocados & Bananas

Meal Planning Monday & Packing the Daycare Lunchbox

Back to work this morning, which means a return to much more careful meal planning.  For the next two weeks, my schedule’s a little crazy, which has us arriving at home at dinner time.  To prepare for this, I made big batches of Veggie Chili, Lasagna, Chicken Soup and Spaghetti and Meatballs last week, filling our freezer with easy and delicious homemade “freezer” meals that can be popped out in the morning for easy dinners with side salads or veggies I froze from the garden over the summer (we’re now out of carrots and almost out of onions, but we still have a lot of peas and green beans).

Amelia is almost fifteen months, so I thought it might be nice to add a few lines each week on what we send to daycare for lunches.  Though we still nurse at home, she’s made the transition to whole, organic milk during the day.  Beyond that, though, even though our daycare provides lunches, we do still pack the majority of her lunches to keep her on a healthy, almost 100% organic diet (though she LOVES Pepperidge Farm Baby Goldfish).  At daycare, she gets a morning snack, lunch, and an afternoon snack, and I typically pack enough food for lunches and light snacks, and our provider fills in with some of the snack foods the other children get that are age appropriate.  For us, it’s a nice balance between guiding her diet and letting her feel like a regular kid.

Meal Planning:
Unless otherwise stated, she’s eating exactly what we’re eating, only in smaller bites.
*From Our Garden/Chickens

Homemade Lasagna, Salad, Green Beans* (Ama will eat everything but the salad and get a side of banana).

Veggie Chili, Chopped Vegetables (Peppers & Cukes), Cabot Cheddar Cheese, Homemade Maple Cornbread (leftover from Sunday)

Oven BBQ Chicken*, Orzo, Green Beans* or Organic Maple Braised Carrots (we’ll see how pressed for time we are)

Chicken Soup with Dumplings (Amelia will get a slice of bread instead of the dumplings)

Friday: Date Night at Home (our new attempt at getting some time together)
Ama Eats: Grilled Cheese, Chopped Veggies, Apple Slices
Mom & Date Eat Later: Grilled Organic Rib-Eye, Garlic Roasted Potatoes*, Green Beans*, Nice Bottle of Wine

And in the Daycare Lunchbox:
1/2 Gallon Organic Whole Milk, 2 Avocados, 2 Bananas, 1 Apple,  2 Servings of Veggie Chili (Monday & Tuesday), 2 Servings of Lasagna (Wednesday & Thursday), Grilled Cheese Ingredients for Friday (cheddar cheese & bread without HFCS), Organic Yogurt

Return from the Holidays

Hello, again!  It’s certainly been a while.  Between grading finals and a lot of travel, I’ve found it hard to scrape together the time to blog and spent a lot of time wondering if, in fact, blogging is what I want to be doing.  But after several weeks and a lot of soul searching, I’ve realized that this project is important to me.  A place to build a community, to explore my interests and hopefully reach out to other folks in similar (perhaps, very rural) situations.

So what does the New Year have in store for Rural Homework?  We’re going to slowly move away from We Eat/She Eats to just meal planning because Amelia is eating pretty much everything (within reason) that we’re eating these days.  Instead, I’ll just be talking about meal planning, starting with a post about freezer meals because my schedule for the next few weeks is especially tough, and I’ve been cooking up a storm in hopes of surviving it.  I’m also hoping to start a series reflecting on mothering a toddler.  We’ve been going through a lot of changes here as we contemplate weaning (yes, we’re still nursing) and navigating cloth diapering a toddler (almost 15 months in, cloth is still great but a week and a half in Honest disposables was a nice break from all. that. laundry.), and we’re slowly starting to contemplate whether #2 might be somewhere more in the immediate future rather than the distant.  So… lots of changes, particularly as I now spend more of my days chasing a running child than a crawling one.

We’re also actively planning our 2015 garden, using Territorial Seed‘s new catalog that arrived in the mail like a ray of sunshine amid a very, very cold week (yesterday’s high was still well below zero).

That’s the news from the north.  Hope to see you back soon!