Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hopefully It Tastes Good: Pickled Eggplant

Last night I canned pickled basil-garlic eggplant cubes from The Joy of Pickling book.  I have absolutely no idea what it's going to taste like since I've never had pickled eggplant, but I figured I would try it out.  I don't know how this recipe will taste since you need to wait a week before you eat them. 

It wasn't from a small-batch canning book, but it ended up being smaller rather than larger.  It only took two eggplant and made 5 half-pint jars.  It was supposed to make 6 jars, but that last one wasn't full enough and the others needed more, so I used that less-full jar to get the others filled to the top. 
Blanching the eggplant cubes in vinegar. 

The recipe was really quick, I was done in less than an hour.  It took me about 15 minutes to pull out the jars and lids, find all the rest of my canning equipment like the jar lifter and funnel, and set up my cooking equipment.  I made one substitution, the recipe called for white wine vinegar, which I didn't have because when I originally skimmed the recipe, I thought it said regular white vinegar.  The flavor will be a bit more plain, but that might be ok. 

I tried a new trick for canning this time.  Usually it's recommended to use a rack in your water bath to protect the jars from bouncing around as they boil, but I don't have a rack so I added a silicone potholder to the bottom of the pot.  I don't actually like the silicone potholders to lift things since they seem slippery and I don't feel like I have a good grip on stuff, so this was a good way to use it.  The only other way I use them is occasionally as trivets, but even then I'm not fond of them since they're not very thick and I'm afraid the hot dishes are still too close to the table/counter and will cause damage. 
Blanched eggplant cubes mixed with garlic and basil.

I'm glad I'm comfortable with canning now, I understand the process and I know what I'm doing.  I think my first time canning took a few hours because I had to read and re-read the instructions several times to ensure I wasn't going to make a mistake.  Now I'm a lot more confident and it flows really well.
Steamy canning process.
I especially like that it wasn't a big batch so I could put it in a few small jars and wouldn't end up having to open a huge jar of pickles and then take forever to eat it. 
Sonny D and Husband Jeff sharing a carrot from our garden.
While I was cooking this up after dinner, Sonny D and Husband Jeff were out around the neighborhood having fun.  Their route back home took them through the back yard and they picked  a carrot in our garden.  (the only one big enough to eat!)

One garden thing I need to remember for next year is to definitely put plants into tomato cages or tie them up to a trellis for support.  So many of our plants are drooped over on the ground and all our good food is going to waste while the animals eat them.  And the Asian beetles completely ravaged all my basil.  Last year we had an amazing bumper crop of basil, this year it looks like I will barely have enough left to make a decent batch of pesto after I harvested a bit for this recipe. 
The final product. 
My next pickling adventure is spicy pickled jalapeƱos. Those should be fun. 

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of August 25

We went on a family vacation last weekend to New Orleans.  It was hot and awesome.  It was also Sonny D's week off between summer camp and the fall semester at his preschool.  Since we had been away for a few days, for Me & D night we went to Trader Joe's to buy groceries.  I had brought only 3 reusable bags and told myself I could only buy that much, but I still ended up with more stuff than bags.

Our weekend was really busy.  On Saturday we went our for brunch with our friends at Willalby's Cafe (excellent!), to a car show, and then to a four-year-old's birthday party.  I was so stuffed from our breakfast that I only had a little bit of their fabulous creamy buffalo chicken dip... ok, maybe a lot, it was so good!  Then on Sunday we hit the farmers' market, then Ride the Drive, and then Curdfest.  It felt like we were running all over but it all turned out great. 

I spent a lot of money at the farmers' market this week, I think around $33.  We bought morning snacks for Sonny D and I (spring roll, orange-carrot juice, and kettle corn), veggies for the week, and veggies to can.  I'm going to make pickled eggplant cubes and pickled jalapenos.  Luckily the weather this week is going to cool down so I won't feel guilty filling the house with loads of steam from the canning process.  

This Week

Our friends Brian and Kristen had a baby last week and we haven't been able to meet there new little guy Will yet, so it would be nice to see if we can stop by sometime this week.  Monday or Thursday might be the only options since we've got just enough going on otherwise to keep us pretty busy.

I'm also going to try to cut Sonny D's hair this week.  I was thinking Wednesday night before his bath, but maybe I'll wait until after Saturday's big birthday party so my fresh, not-quite-professional haircut isn't caught on film for perpetuity.  I do a decent job cutting his hair, but sometimes I would prefer people didn't look too close since it could definitely be better. 
  • Monday - egg and cheese sandwiches on toast, purple beans from the farmers' market, salads, and maybe zucchini fritters if we have good zucchini out in the garden.  Haven't looked out there recently to even know how it's doing. 
  • Tuesday - Possibly Italian zucchini boats (stuffed with seasoned ground beef), Trader Joe's sweet potato tater tots, and salads.  I also was thinking about making chocolate zucchini bread but I've also got Zumba class so I might need to wait on the bread. 
  • Wednesday - stuffed buns (filled with bacon, white beans, caramelized onions, and cheese), Trader Joe's spanakopita (spinach pie), and trying delicata squash I found at the farmers' market.  Planning to do some canning because the high for the day is in the low 70s.  
  • Thursday - I declared that we were going to have a nacho night, so we'll load up tortilla chips with taco meat, black olives, avocado, salsa, cheese, beans, etc.  I'll do some more canning if I didn't get everything done on Wednesday. 
  • Friday - We're having a family dinner since Husband Jeff's brother Scott and wife Stacy and kids are in town. We were talking about going out to a restaurant but we might be grilling instead.
  • Saturday - If I can manage, I'm going to head to Zumba class in the morning.  Later in the day Husband Jeff's entire family is coming over to our house for Scott's 40th birthday party.  We're ordering shredded pork from That BBQ Joint and we're going to make or buy the rest of the food.  I think we're getting a cake from Coldstone Creamery but I'm worried about how we'll get it home without it melting everywhere since the nearest location is kind of far away from our house. 
  • Sunday - We'll head to the farmers' market like every Sunday.  I love it!  Maybe I'll buy more things to can/preserve.  Labor Day weekend is the Taste of Madison, which is my favorite "food holiday", so we'll head downtown for that.  I love being able to sample a variety of tasty things.  I'm sure we won't need any sort of dinner after all of the chowing we'll do there. 
  • Monday - Since it's a holiday weekend, I'm including Monday here.  The only thing I've planned is that we'll have a bag of Trader Joe's frozen rigatoni alla Siciliana. We'll probably have tons of leftovers from Saturday's birthday party, so we'll also be eating that. 

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Our Trip to New Orleans

On Wednesday we returned from our first real family vacation in New Orleans.  We stayed 4 nights. Here are some random thoughts about it. 

Loved our hotel location, we stayed at a Country Inn & Suites on the edge of the French Quarter.  I also loved that the hotel had a free breakfast buffet, we wandered downstairs every morning around 6:30 and everything was ready.  We were definitely spoiled by that. The only thing I didn't like was the hotel pillows, they were only about two-thirds the size of a standard pillow and too soft, so your head wasn't supported.  Husband Jeff's only complaint about the hotel was the coffee, it wasn't good at all. 

On Monday morning my standard weekday morning 5:45 a.m. wake-up alarm on my phone went off because I forgot to turn it off. Disappointing. 

Sonny D was great on the airplane, patient and ok with all of the rules.  We had a portable DVD player and he watched movies on that and played on the iPad. 

It's hard to convince a 3.5 year old to go to the bathroom before we leave the hotel or restaurant to walk around the city.  On one occasion we asked him to go potty but he wouldn't do it, then 20 minutes later as we're walking around he says he has to go potty.  Uggg.  That's stressful since you have no idea if that means he'll be ok until you find a decent bathroom or if he needs to go NOW.

Around Town
Husband Jeff and I loved the architecture, the ironworks, the balconies, the shotgun houses, gas lamps, and old buildings.  

I was really glad we got unlimited passes for bus/streetcars. Nice to hop on and off and not worry about having the right money. Plus it was a much better deal, a single ride is $1.25 and the unlimited pass is $3 per day.  So if you want to ride more than two times in a day, the pass is a better deal. We ended up riding the streetcars all over the place, sometimes just for entertainment. I was surprised how many locals rode the streetcars (figured it was only tourists on there) and so many of them used cash rather than having a pass. 

I use Google Maps to create maps of things to see and restaurants to eat at, but I think I'll switch back to Bing for travel maps.  Google Maps doesn't easily produce a helpful printed map, everything looks the same with no distinction between them.  And the "My Saved Places" is not an option in the Google Maps app for the iPhone, so I had to use mobile website version, which occasionally had trouble loading.

It was really hot and humid.  It was common to see men with sweat rags while out walking around the city. We borrowed a washcloth from the hotel to use as a sweat rag and bought folding fans at the flea market to cool ourselves.

I've decided that we need to get a small backpack to carry all the random things we want while out wandering around - maps, camera, phone, snacks, bottle of water, fans, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and a sweater for going in the air-conditioned buildings.

We all loved the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, it was pretty spendy ($23 for adults) but it was so cool! We even had an opportunity to pet some stingrays, Sonny D and I were too scared but Jeff did it.

We got to do everything we wanted for activities, things to do, things to see, and even things to eat. Husband Jeff loved the open container laws, you can walk around with an alcoholic beverage in your hand, so he did that most evenings after dinner.

Before any trip I head to Target and buy things like beef jerky, goldfish crackers, granola bars, etc. to snack on for our journey because I don't like having to figure out things like that while we're on the road.  Plus I'm cheap, I hate being forced to pay exorbitant prices for a piddly amount of junky food like candy bars because you have no other options.  This time I packed too many snacks. I should have known better because this is a city that is focused on eating so we were rarely hungry between meals.  But it was nice to have healthier things to eat to get us to the next meal, kid snack times, etc. And definitely helpful for the plane ride down because the drinks service was delayed due to slightly turbulent weather.  

We had to stop at Cafe Du Monde for cafe au laits and beignets.  Sonny D requested (and got) his own decaf coffee and drank most of it.  He also ate his completely powdered-sugar-covered beignet without making a mess. 

One day we went to Central Grocery for lunch, the home of the muffaletta sandwich.  I'm glad we did it.  The sandwich is huge, we each ate only one quarter of it. 

We also had po-boy sandwiches, crawfish etouffee, local redfish, snowballs (like a snow cone but much better), barbeque shrimp (no BBQ sauce or grilling involved, and the heads are still attached), gumbo, and many other things. 

Mosquitoes. One evening I was sitting by the pool while Sonny D and Husband Jeff splashed around and I was completely bitten up by mosquitoes.  We also tried eating outside in a neighborhood but I was getting so bit up that we had to move inside. 

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

You Put Your Scraps In It

Last weekend I went to Goodwill and bought the most perfect container!  It is a container to sit on our kitchen counter and hold fruit and veggie scraps that will eventually be dumped into our compost bin out in our back yard.  The previous container was a large plastic pitcher and it usually took two hands to open it, which was no good when you were holding a handful of eggshells or something gross that you didn't want to set down on the counter.  So I was on the lookout for a container that you could easily open with one hand and spied this awesome Rubbermaid canister thing.  I have no idea what it was originally, so I'm guessing it's a canister, like what you might put your flour or sugar into.   
New compost container!
This new container sits next to the coffee maker and has been a total dream, easily opening by pressing down the plunger and pulling up, all with one hand.  And it's nice and wide, which is great to hold all the rinds when you're cutting up a melon or pineapple.  Or if you're just lazy like me and rarely empty it. 

Oh, and another feature I really appreciate is that it's not clear.  Previously we had an awesome and big canister container that you could open with one hand, but it had a clear body, so once things got gross in there (as raw food scraps are wont to do), you could see that yuckiness through the sides.  Ugg.  With this container, all that messy-gross is "behind closed doors". 

All these great features in a single compost container?  That rocks my world.  And it only cost $3 at Goodwill?  Even more fabulous!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of August 18

I was glad this last week was nice and quiet after the somewhat-busy week prior.  Nothing too hectic before, but quiet is always good.

I noticed later that we ate primarily vegetarian dinners last week, we only had fish one night.  And we kept up our new tradition of eating in the dining room at Sonny D's request.  And I snuck some veggies in on Sonny D by making cheesy garden tots, which was shredded zucchini mixed with shredded cheese, an egg, and spices and then baked in a mini muffin pan.  I think he ate 6 that night! 
Cheesy garden tots

Sonny D and Husband Jeff were out walking to a construction site a few blocks away.  Sonny D doesn't like to walk and would prefer you carry him or ride on your shoulders.  Jeff was trying to convince him to walk on his own. 
Jeff: "It's not too far."
Sonny D: "It's not three far either."

This Week

Sonny D doesn't have preschool this week since it's the week between "summer camp" and "fall semester".  Those are somewhat sarcastic quotes there, seems silly to refer to it by those traditional school terms when it's only a touch more advanced than a standard daycare.  He'll get to spend time with his grandparents instead, so that's nice.

We've been pretty good about eating foods from the freezer, but we still have a ways to go before I'll be satisfied.  I found a second bag of cooked brown rice.... after already using up one.  So there are still a lot of things we need to eat. 
  • Monday - dinner out
  • Tuesday - dinner out
  • Wednesday - pasta with red sauce or maybe pancakes (from the freezer!) 
  • Thursday -  Finishing off the two partial packages of brats and sausages that I discovered in the freezer plus whatever bag of frozen veggies we can find. 
  • Friday - Persian turkey kofta kebabs, rice (maybe with frozen peas mixed in), and yet another bag of frozen veggies. 
  • Saturday - I think we have breakfast plans with friends, but I'm not sure, probably should check on that.  In the afternoon we are going to a four-year-old's birthday party, which will probably be loaded with lots of excellent food so we probably won't need dinner that night. 
  • Sunday - In the morning our standard visit to the nearby farmer's market, hopefully to get delicious spring rolls!  Then midday is the always fun Ride The Drive event where they close down some streets and people ride their bikes all over.  This time it will be on the east side in a new location, so it'll be neat to experience the beautiful quietness of a car-free space.  Then in the afternoon there is a thing in the ballpark near our house called Curdfest, it'll have a bouncy house, petting zoo, music, other entertainment like games, and of course fresh and fried cheese curds. 

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Warby Parker Glasses Update

After asking friends and blog readers to chime in with their votes for the best Warby Parker frames, it came down to the Linwood and Wilkie frames as the two top vote-getters.

Here's a refresher of the options. 
Click for a larger image.
I like both of the frames but I've also got some more frames that I like so I'm going to request another box with more frame options.  I'll show those once I get them and maybe we'll do another vote if I need help. 

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Help Me Pick Out Cute Glasses (That Don't Cost An Arm And A Leg!)

Last Monday I read about Warby Parker on the Yes And Yes blog post, How to be a Grown Ass Woman: Health + Personal Care in reference to cheap glasses.  I think I'm behind on this since Warby Parker has been around for a while but I had never heard of them.  Warby Parker sells discounted trendy prescription eyeglasses (frames AND thin polycarbonate lenses with anti-scratch and anti-reflective coating) for $95. They also offer prescription and non-prescription sunglasses for $95. Here's my experience figuring everything out.  If you want, you can skip to the bottom to see the pictures of the frames and tell me which one(s) you like best.  Thanks!

Research (Google Search!)

I've been thinking about getting new glasses for a while and have saved some 50% off JC Penney ads from the Sunday paper to remind me to go check out what they've got.  I was there about six months ago and found only one pair I even cared about but didn't totally love.

I thought Warby Parker sounded neat but wasn't sure what to really think of it since this was the first time I remember hearing about it.  I did some more research and found that they sound like a great company.  They own the manufacturing plant that makes the glasses and so they can sell you glasses for much cheaper.  Most glasses are really expensive because they're all made by one big company, Luxottica, and they can charge as much as they want since it's essentially a monopoly.  And any other companies left over charge the same amount, because they can.  Warby Parker is also nice because for each pair of glasses you buy, they help people in developing countries get new glasses as well.  It's particularly cool because they let those people select their own glasses, so they can get something really stylish, rather than old donated ones. 

I was impressed by Warby Parker and figured it was probably a pretty decent way to get glasses since my vision insurance only covers glasses or contacts every other year, not both.  I wear contacts every single day, so that's was I always get with the allotment.  But I could really use some new glasses.  I did some calling around and found that I've had my current 2 pairs of glasses (purchased on the cheap at Sears 4 years ago!), I figured it was time to get some new ones.  Plus my prescription had changed enough to warrant something new.  With my vision insurance I can buy things out-of-network and get reimbursed.  It's confusing, but it looks like I could be eligible for getting back $30 on the price of the lenses. 

I've got a stronger prescription, officially referred to in the eye care biz as "Coke-bottles", so I'll have to spring an extra $30 for the thinner high-index lenses, but that is still a TOTAL steal.  And my vision plan reimbursement of $30 is great since that at least covers the cost of the thinner lenses. 

Picking Out Some Options

My Tiny Noggin

I searched through the frames that work well for narrow or medium face widths and that interested me. They have very few for narrow faces but a lot for medium faces.  They have a nice filter so you can search by material, color, shape, and width. 

Available For Try-On

I then narrowed it down even further based on the ones that were available for home try-on. There's no way I 'm going to buy glasses that I can't try on first. Of course they have a great 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy so you could easily buy them and return them if you don't want them, but I'm so picky that there's no way that I could deal with the hassle of all of that.

So after looking through the options and narrowing it down to the ones available for home try-on, I had a short list of 6 possible frames that I liked best.  Since you can only get 5 sample pairs to try on at home, I removed the most generic choice in an attempt to stretch my style to something a little newer and fashionable/trendy (In the last few years I've been trying to branch out to new/different/interesting choices).

They have a virtual try-on, either using one of their models or you can upload your own picture. I loved being able to upload my own photo since it was a little closer to seeing what they might look like on you.  I also loved that they showed most of the glasses on a model with a rotatable view since they might look great by themselves, but appear totally different on a person's face. 

Requesting The Contenders

I entered my details to create an account and gave them my credit card number as a deposit for the glasses they'll send to my house. I really liked that in addition to the style, I could also pick the color of the frames, so they won't be all heavy black or weird green or whatever. You get 5 days to try on the sample frames they send.  If you don't like any that you selected, you can send them back and get another set of five frames . 

I received a cute shipping notice on Friday and was excited that I would be getting them on Monday, but there was an awesome surprise in Saturday's post, the Warby Parker home try-on box!
Tell me which one you like best! (click for a larger image)
Click on the image to see it larger and please email me to let me know which one(s) are your favorite! I've got a couple I'm leaning towards but I've also found a second set of four frames I really like and might get a second try-on box sent to me after I ship these back. 

How To Order

Once you've figured out which one you want, you go online and order them with your prescription information from your eye doctor.  The only thing is when it comes to ordering glasses, you need your pupillary distance, which is a measurement of the distance between your eyeballs so you get the 'sweet spot' of the lenses right in the middle.  For some reason most eye doctors in the US don't measure it during your eye exam (in Canada it's mandatory).  It's only needed when you order glasses and the optical department usually measures that at the time when you select your glasses. You can go to most optical departments to have it measured or Warby Parker has a neat app to measure your pupillary distance. How handy is that?!

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of August 11

Last Week 

We went to dinner with Jeff's new boss Derek and his wife Sonja.  They were really nice and we had a good time chatting with them and eating great food at Louisianne's. Husband Jeff had the crawfish etouffee and I had the catfish Louisianne with a mustard cream sauce that was so mustardy and good!

The next night I went to dinner with my new friend Heather from Zumba class.  It was another great night out chatting, this time enjoying some sushi.  I was impressed that about 1 year ago they moved to Madison from Oregon state in about three weeks when her husband received a call that he had gotten a job at the university here.  Wow!  And they didn't rent a moving truck at all, they put everything they had into a single PODS container and then drove here in their car(s).

I sneaked shredded zucchini into pancakes for dinner.  Turned out great!  I love making pancakes on my electric skillet.  Now that we have the new banquette, Sonny D says he loves eating in the dining room and seems to want to eat there for every meal.  I like the dining room too, but I would prefer that we still eat breakfast in the kitchen every day since it seems like we spend a lot of time getting up to make coffee, grab more cereal or oatmeal, throw bread in the toaster oven, retrieve forgotten vitamins, etc.

We had lunch with my step-brother and his wife at Nora's II on Saturday.  We were kind of hoping for a fun adventure at a roadside tavern, but it was pretty quiet and uneventful.  The only scandal was that they wouldn't let us order breakfast at 11:30 even though they said it was offered until noon.  The excitement for the day was Sonny D, Husband Jeff, and my step-brother all working together to win a little stuffed dog from one of those claw games.  Apparently my step-brother is a pro at them.  I suggested that Sonny D name the dog Nora in honor of the restaurant where he got her and he seems to like it. 

Throughout the week we cleaned out some more things from our office, mainly books from the bookshelf (and the bookshelf itself!), but a few other things as well.  On Sunday we attempted to take a load of books to Half-Price Books, but they insist you stay at the store with your books while they're getting priced.  I was trying to get several chores done before we had to head home for a nap and didn't want to stick around, so we'll do that another day.  But we did manage to drop off a few bags of things at Goodwill and I went inside to shop and found us a larger kitchen steamer and a new compost bin for the kitchen countertop.  It feels so good to clean things out and pare down.  For fall I'm planning to take out all of my clothes from the closet, dresser, and underbed container and assess everything, getting rid of the extras, anything I don't love, etc.  

I'm also making a tiny bit of progress in my home decorating.  I put a coat of golden metallic glaze on a piece of furniture (was my toybox growing up but now it holds blankets and we sit on it to put on our shoes).  I also came up with a redesign for our entryway closet, my plan has a high hanging rod for long coats, a lower hanging rod, and one side wall set up with storage for shoes.  I don't know if my design will work, but I'll sketch it up and see what's possible.

This Week

Yay!  A quiet week, should be nice.  I'm hoping to do more random organizing and cleaning out around the house.  For food I'm still trying to get rid of things from the freezer since it's so full.  Plus that's where all my glass Pyrex containers are! 
  • Monday - pasta with red sauce and eggplant and garlic bread.  I might roast the eggplant and puree it to go in with the red sauce.
  • Tuesday - scrambled egg tacos with sesame green beans.  I've got Zumba and I'm trying to convince the guys to go swimming while I'm class.
  • Wednesday - oven-fried fish with garden tots (made from zucchini!)
  • Thursday - cheese ravioli with cream sauce (hoping to hide more zucchini here) and frozen Trader Joe's spanakopita.
  • Friday - fried rice (carrot, zucchini, peas, and egg) along with frozen egg rolls and pot stickers.
  • Saturday - no Core Fusion class because it was cancelled.  
  • Sunday - Northside farmers' market visit.  

Wanna Chat?

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I'm Crafty: Made A Puzzle Holder

We're attempting to sort through the stuff in our house and get rid of a lot of things that we don't need, use, want, or have the space for.  We definitely need to cull our possessions down, we have too much stuff.  But it is so hard to get rid of things that you think you'll want later.  Like I love cookbooks even though I mainly use online recipe resources.  A few months ago I went through all of my cookbooks and got rid of the ones I didn't want, but there are still quite a few in the "keep" pile and I feel like I can't remove any more.  Maybe that's one of my few indulgences since I love food so much and I'll just keep all of the ones I've got right now.  

But anyway, on to this awesome idea and how it connects with getting rid of stuff.  Sonny D has some big wooden puzzles that have thick pieces, which makes them difficult to stack on top of each other because they end up in a tippy pile.  I pulled out all the pieces and put them in a bag separate from the puzzle bases, but it seems like he doesn't use them at all then since he has to locate and dig out all the pieces from the bag.  So I was looking for a solution to deal with this little problem.  I've asked Husband Jeff to make a custom puzzle rack, but he has so many other projects and this wasn't at the top of his list. 

So after cleaning out our office a bit and getting rid of a bunch of old magazines, we had a few extra cardboard magazine files with no purpose.  I saw an idea on Pinterest of taping together shipping boxes to make a puzzle holder (I typically search on Pinterest to see if I can find solutions to my random problems), so I followed suit.  
Inspiration: Priority Mail boxes taped together.
I pulled out the clear packing tape and strapped all of the magazine files together. I didn't do a pretty job, but I don't really care since I just want something to hold the puzzles together and didn't care what it looked like. 
My Version: 5 magazine files, taped together
After wrapping all three of the closed sides with tape, I pulled out the puzzles and put them in the slots.  Perfect!  Now I need to track down all of the puzzle pieces and put them together and then we've got a complete, organized puzzle holder! 
With puzzles added.
If I eventually feel like jazzing it up, I can add some sticky shelf paper (Contact paper) to cover the layers of tape. I picked up a small roll of shelf paper at the dollar store with the intention of using it to make cute labels for my Tupperware storage in the cupboards and pantry, but I like my masking tape labels for right now.

Wanna Chat?

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of August 4

We tried to go to a new splash park on the east side of the city but it's not open yet (opens Friday).  So we headed up the road to a nearby town's splash park, only to find out that Sonny D didn't want to get wet.  We played on the little playground instead. 

My Thursday Zumba class is cancelled and I'm trying to find a replacement exercise class.  I think I should start weight lifting, so I'm trying to figure out the best way to do that.  I know that I won't be motivated enough to plan it all out myself, so I want a personal trainer to tell me exactly what to do.  There are a couple gyms nearby and a quickie 24-hour fitness place, but the cheapest and closest option is the nearby community rec center.  The best deal would be to pay the $200 membership fee for unlimited visits for a year and then at least $200 for the personal trainer sessions.  The personal trainer is actually a mom from our Korean adoption group, maybe we can work something out

We took Sonny D to his second baseball game of the season.  I don't think he cares about baseball much, but he certainly liked the home team mascot, Maynard Mallard.  He would look around and demand, "Where da duck?" It was pretty cool when Maynard came over for a high-five and pretended to drink all of Sonny D's cup of water.

For Me & D night we picked up a package of Ivory soap and put a bar in the microwave, which creates a huge fluffy mound of soap.  Sonny D likes to play with it in the bathtub, which is a great way to spend a lot of time. 

On Sunday we ate dinner in the dining room at our new banquette that Husband Jeff built. It was lovely!  Now we need to get the paint for the rest of the dining room and put up the window treatments and then the dining room should be finished. 
New banquette, painted and ready to use.

This Week

  • Monday - We're going to have salads, leftover sesame green beans, veggies with hummus, etc.  This is a repeat of what we had on Sunday night, a random selection of veggies from the farmers' market and the garden. 
  • Tuesday - It's the National Night Out event and for us that means there will be police vehicles and equipment at the nearby park, so Husband Jeff and Sonny D will check that out while I'm at Zumba class.  For dinner I'm aiming for quick and easy, so hot dogs, pesto pasta, and roma beans.
  • Wednesday - Husband Jeff and I are going out to dinner with his new boss and his wife at Louisianne's.  This will be a good lead-in to our trip to New Orleans since they serve Cajun/Creole food.
  • Thursday - I've got a girl-date with Heather from my Zumba class, we're going for sushi at Takumi.  She's really nice and we seem to hit it off pretty well so I asked her to join me for sushi.  I thought it would be cool to hang out with her to see if we can be friends. I was kind of nervous about it, how do you make friends with a random person that you only see at exercise class? 
  • Friday - I think I'm going to go with pasta with red sauce and garlic bread.  I might use jarred sauce or get motivated to try Marcella Hazan's amazing-looking tomato sauce with onion and butter.  I picked up a fancy can of imported tomatoes so I can make this any time, but of course since we're just getting into tomato season here so I should use fresh tomatoes.  Hopefully it's so simple and beautiful that I can convince my guys to eat tomatoes.  This is also Me & D night, maybe we'll go with another bath playing with loads of fluffy Ivory soap. 
  • Saturday - I've got Core Fusion class in the morning and then we're meeting my step-brother and his wife for brunch at a tavern called Nora's II out in the middle of nowhere (it happens to be between both of our houses).  I've always wanted to go there and I've heard good stuff and not-so-great reviews about this place, I figure it'll be an adventure no matter what. Would be nice to see if we can make it to that new splash park sometime this weekend.  Dinner might be soup and sandwiches, or maybe I'll actually remember to defrost some meat ahead of time! 
  • Sunday -We'll walk up to the nearby northside farmers' market for our Sunday morning ritual.  I'm also trying to convince some friends to meet up with us for dinner at one of the two Mexican restaurants between our two houses.  

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!