Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Things

I swear we are all still alive and well!  This fall, I think I get a big fat 'F' for blogging, it's shameful.  But it's just been busy and *flying* by!

Saturday we took the kids to Cornbelly's.  It's a HUGE fall themed outdoor activities-a-plenty fun place for kids at Thanksgiving Point, about half an hour south of us.  It's a little overpriced, and it's outside....which is the point and that's wonderful...but outside also means a chance of inclement weather and messy.  Meh.  BUT, it's taking advantage of outdoors-y fall stuff, so that's good, right?

Owen soooooo did not want anything to do with that Chick-fil-a cow.  He was writhing in terror and squeeling like...well, NOT a boy.  Poor buddy.  And Marin was slightly overwhelmed, keeping a tight hold on daddy's hand.
 The kids found a little Country Store and Marin was in her element.  Gathering fruit and vegetables and other various items in her little shopping basket and ringing them up on the vintage cash register.  She's more like her mother than I realize sometimes.

 A picture on the grand horse.
 And Owen, too.
 Marin sitting pretty in the carriage...and Owen falling out of it, whoops!
 On the time swing!
 A little wobbly!
 The bouncy houses were wet (since it was sprinkling), and Marin was totally bummed that the slides weren't fast.

 Pumpkins!  We'll be doing our pumpkin picking in New York with grandma and grandpa, next week!!
 Look at this cutey girl, she is just s sweetheart.  She really has the cutest smile and her squeaky voice IS cute (even though I hear it every day).  Love my sweet girl.
We leave for NY next Thursday!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Fresh 20-Review

Ok, so I don't have super cute pictures for you in this post, but I do have something I think you might like, especially if you've ever stressed about what to make for dinner every night WHILE on a budget.  This is a review for a menu planning service called The Fresh 20. 

So first, let me preface with how this whole thing got started.  I got married and I loved to cook.  I loved to cook delicious meals with great ingredients from varying culture ingredient sets.  And then the children came...as did a budget, and the stressing began.  The stressing over what to make for us and the kids that was good, healthy, tasty, relatively easy to make and didn't require a hundred ingredients, 2 hours at the grocery store and 200 dollars every week.  

Let me first state that I know my way around the kitchen, but with two kids (moms with more-kudos!), my entire day is....punctuated.  Even dinner time.  I can't prep and make dinner without having to referee, change a diaper, run to comfort a crying baby, etc.  So, while it's not a problem being in the kitchen to cook a 2 hour meal, it's just not do-able!  And let's talk budget.  I have a set amount that I can spend every week, plus a little extra here and there to fill in the staples now and then.  I can't afford to buy separate ingredients for 5 different meals...it's wasteful or your food goes bad before you can use it (which is wasteful)!  And not only that, I would spend HOURS in the grocery store just trying to find everything; not do-able with kids.  SO, to combat this, I would spend so much time trying to find meals that had coordinated ingredients to save myself some money, and it would take HOURS, and was absolutely exhausting!  I would hate prepping for grocery shopping because it took forever!  

My sweet husband picked up on this, and got me a gift.  He prefaced with "This is kind of a vacuum cleaner type of gift, but I hope you appreciate it...".  This of course made me nervous, and when he showed me what he got, I'll admit, I was less than thrilled.  It sounded like there was a hidden trick that was going to make my life more complicated, but I told myself that my hubby bought me a gift, so I need to at least give it a shot.

And I am sooooo grateful I did! 

 The Fresh 20 is a meal planning service that gives you a full year of week by week meals for about 50 dollars.  Kristoffer bought the service as a Groupon for half off, so he spent 25 dollars.  The idea behind the name 'The Fresh 20', is that you are only purchasing 20 different ingredients each week for your meals.  They do have a section for pantry staples, but they really are staples that you don't need to buy each week.

Let me tell you what you get. 
*You can choose from three different meal programs: 1.Classic 2.Vegetarian 3. Gluten Free. (we chose the classic)
*Each Friday the website publishes the next week's menu plan, so you have Friday and Saturday to shop and even do some of the prep-work if you choose to do that.  This is what it looks like after Kris prints it off for me: (sorry the pictures are a little grainy)

Front page with the date for the week, what each day's menu will be, and what prep work you can do if you choose.
 The next page is my favorite part...the shopping list.  That's right, your shopping list is all prepped and organized and ready for you to grab on the way out the door. It tells you what you'll need, how much, for which recipes, an estimated cost for each ingredient AND an estimated final cost that usually between 72-78 dollars.  I've been doing this for four weeks, and they actually overshoot the cost estimate, but I shop at Winco (great prices), so that's good news for me!
 Then you have 5 menus, each on a different page.  They each take between 20 minutes to TOPS, an hour to make.  They each use those coordinated ingredients so you use just about every scrap of what you buy, but you don't feel like you're eating the same thing every day.
 Aaaand at the very end, they give you nutritional facts for each meal with calories, protein, cholesterol, fat, etc.  It's just cool to have, ya know?

So let me run through my Pro's and Con's list:


*This is a virtually brainless way to get your family fed each week.  It really is blindingly easy.  No stressing.  I like that.

*The recipes are very delicious.  They encourage me to use new ingredients that I may not have chosen on my own, and it get's more veggies on the table, which I am LOVING.  The kids are adjusting, but I am totally fine with this.  I want to be the kind of mom that encourages their kids to try and eat new foods.  Obviously some recipes are not amazing, but it just comes down to our individual preferences at that point I think.

*I am using all of my ingredients pretty much every week.  There may be one or two items I don't use up completely, but it's usually things like half a small head of lettuce (50 cents), not an entire bag of baby carrots or 5 yams or something like that.

*The meals take between 20 minutes to an hour (tops) to prepare.  This is a good thing when you have crying kids.  

*The recipes are portioned for a family of four.  Since two little kids don't eat a TON, we usually have a little leftover, which is fine, Kris or I will take the rest to work.  So I like that I don't have a TON of leftovers that may or may not get eaten if I freeze them.  Besides, some leftovers don't even refrigerate well, so this keeps me cooking ~small~.


*The meals are chosen for you, even if you don't like them.  We aren't really a picky family, so we're open for pretty much everything, fish, veggies, new ideas...it's all good.  But if you're a picky family, this might be something to consider.

*Some of the meals require some 'pinch-hitting'.  What I mean by this is that it could use a little kitchen know-how, and if you don't know your way around the kitchen, you might get a meal that's not meeting your standards and be less than impressed.  Like thickening a cream sauce using some butter and flour.  If you didn't know how to do it, you would think the sauce would have been pretty thin.

*Some of your fresh ingredients may have a hard time making it a whole week to meal #5.  I've noticed this twice in the 20 meals I've made, particularly if the last meal is or includes a salad.  This can be adjusted by rearranging meals, but it's also something to consider.

Overall Review

My overall review in this LONG blog post is a big huge LIKE.  I highly recommend this service to anyone looking to improve the quality of their meals, include more fresh veggies, include more fish or meatless meals, stress less about grocery shopping, save money and throw away less food.  I was super skeptical at first, but I am totally sold.  And for 2 dollars a month, 50 cents a week, I get great, fresh, delicious, healthy meals, a shopping list,  and more time to do waaaay more important things.

You can check out the website at www.thefresh20.com

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Runnin' On

September has been the busiest month this year for us, I think!  Wow, and we have cruised on into October, which is just nuts to me.  I really have just settled into September!  But, here we are and the weather has adjusted to fall without waiting for me.  It really has been lovely.  In fact, I bought a Fall candle from Bath and Body works called Creamy Pumpkin, and I LOVE it.  It s the perfect blend of fall to me; not too sweet, not too outdoors-y, not too floral.  Mmmmm.

But, moving on!  I'm still training for my 5k on Thanksgiving.  It's been really great for me.  I work best with a goal in mind, and it's been nice to get back into running again.  Kristoffer suggested I run at the park around their walk/bike track, and two laps is about 3 miles; so I've been doing that, and it's been a great training tool.  The park trail has some hills and valleys, and it's quite a bit different than the treadmill, for sure!  I've been doing pretty well, just trying to keep my pace, and running on the hills certainly makes running on a flat surface a LOT easier!  I'll run about twice a week and do the three-ish miles each time in about 40 minutes (which is not great, but I'm going for stamina here!).  So I'm making progress, and progress is good.

If I haven't already mentioned, our family will be headed to NY this month!  We are super excited!!  The kids and I fly out together and will be there for about 2 weeks, and Kristoffer will fly out the day after and be there for a week.  I am so so SO happy that my hubby will be coming with us...well, not WITH us on the flight (*sigh*), but I'll take what I can get.  I haven't mentioned anything about this, but this year has been tough for my parents as my dad has been facing some rather challenging health issues.  It's moments like this when it's really tough to be far away from my parents and family.  I am so grateful to be able to go home for little while.  To just be there.  My sister will be there the week before and I will *just* miss her, so my parents have a few weeks full of fun and busy, busy kids!!  Hopefully they will up for it!  We have all sorts of fun things to do, visiting my grandma and family, going to pick pumpkins, carve the pumpkins, maybe go to a cider mill/donut shop, take my dad to the Bass Pro Shops, take my mom for lunch in Skaneatlas, go trick-or-treating, plan an anniversary dinner for my parents (36 years....I think?), visit my two old ward families in Greene and Cortland.  I am super excited!!

My children are sweet and wonderful and growing.  I cannot believe how much they are growing.  Marin is loving pre-school and is learning so much.  She sounds out her words to figure out what letter they start with.  She continues with the most intriguing questions and will come home with cute little ditties that she has learned in school like "Poi-SON, NO NO NO!".  She is also deceptive and has discovered lying.  You can imagine how thrilled I am about this.  She tests my patience every day, and requires a LOT of mental energy and focus.  I tend to bite my cheeks when I get frustrated, and last week, I almost bite right through them, they were pretty swollen, ha!  BUT, through all of that, I love my sweet daughter and know that she was chosen to be my girl, and I was chosen to be her mama.  I need to remember that we both have something to learn from each other!

Owen is blossoming in the language department.  He is able to mimic so many words and it is the CUTEST thing. Some his new words are 'cheese', 'banana', 'monkey', 'done', 'more', 'pumpkin', 'truck', 'car', 'froggy', 'friends', and more!  He really likes big sister's pink sparkly shoes she wore for our family photo shoot, and likes to pull them out and wear them around the house.  I think he has been going through a growth spurt since he has been eating double and taking three hour naps!  He takes so much physical energy during the day, phew!

And my Kristoffer is just wonderful.  I still love my great hubby after over 6 years of marriage.  He makes me smile and wants the wold for me.  He supports me in my goals and still thinks I'm the most beautiful woman in the world.  He works so hard for our little family and sacrifices a lot to do the right thing.  He loves our children and plays with them and is the incredible dad that every kid needs.  I still consider myself one lucky gal to have this guy for more than life, I get to keep him for FOREVER!