Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Playtime & Item Recommendations: 0-7 Months

Who doesn't love playtime?  I certainly love watching Kenzie play.  In the beginning she slept a lot on my lap or in her custom Wrap by Charmaine while I worked.  We did not have a baby shower with friends and family so far away and we did not purchase toys ahead of time.  We are trying to approach it with a minimalist attitude.  Plus, we did not want a lot of clutter and plastic items everywhere.  We figured we would buy what we felt we could use when the time came.  We are also trying to do attachment parenting, co-sleeping, and baby wearing.

We did not want a playpen.  We did not want to just be able to stick her somewhere  We did not want a swing.  We read about her potentially needing the swinging/vibration motion to sleep.  We did need somewhere to put her safely for bathroom breaks, heat up food, etc.  We remembered seeing the nuna at Ready Set Baby (RSB), so we Googled the reviews and mentioned to Kenzie's Uncle Theth that we were considering it.  Then her Uncle Theth buried himself in research and decided it was a good buy, so bought it for her before we could!  We picked it up at RSB on our next trip in.  It is sort of a swing.  It is not motorized.  You gently push it and it glides back and forth for up to 2 minutes.  That's a positive in my book as I have to keep pushing it, which means paying attention to her, for it to keep gliding.  Most swings are rated for up to 35 pounds.  The nuna is rated for up to 130 pounds!  Every baby is different and we worried that Kenzie wouldn't like a swing.  With the nuna, even if she didn't like it now, she might a week, month, or year from now.  Heck, I can sit in it, haha.  Photo below Kenzie on 4/07/14.  Yes, she would fall asleep with her jazz hands sticking out.



Kenzie first started out doing tummy time on a yoga mat or our living room rug.  Photo below Kenzie on 4/17/14.



We were gifted with a Luv U Zoo musical mirror activity gym from hubby's youngest brother.  This was great!  Kenzie really hated tummy time for quite a while.  This gift allowed me to lay her down for short periods when she was not in the nuna mood.  She loved looking at herself in the mirror and favored the purple rhino.  She learned pretty quick to grab the orange thing under the mirror for it to play music.  She would coo-sing right back at it.  She also learned pretty quick to attack the rhino and it would come off.  At almost 7 months, we still have this on the living room floor as she'll sit in the middle while pulling on the mat or its tags to chew on.  Photo below Kenzie on 5/12/14.



I work from home at any break I get between taking care of everyone.  Trying to work from the old, slow, small laptop just isn't effective sometimes.  It makes work tasks take significantly longer than at my desktop with dual monitors; however, with Kenzie falling asleep on me while/after nursing I spend a lot of time using it.  When she's awake she needs my attention, so finding more ways for her to entertain herself (which largely comes just with her aging) so I can work from my desktop or when work needs something right away is important.  At a moment of weakness I complained to hubby and he went to Wal-Mart and bought an exersaucer.  His selection was very limited, so if you want one I'd say check more places or online.  I wanted a walker for her because she just wants to be mobile, like I had, but they are banned in Canada.  I also had a Jolly Jumper and we tossed around that idea, but it is only useable from when she can sit up on her own to when she can walk (or is it stand?).  There are a lot of safety concerns with it.  For us, it is our dog potentially running by and knocking her into the door frame.  He is good with her when it comes to her pulling and climbing on him, but as soon as something sparks his interest he will barrel her over.  The exersaucer hubby bought is for 3 stages.  It comes with a playmat like we already have for stage 1, stage 2 is the round exersaucer, and stage 3 you can change it to where it's like a table playstation.  I don't know that I would recommend one from our experience so far.  I regret the expensive, big hunk of plastic purchase, but again every baby is different and what value do you put on 5 minutes of freedom?  There is an overwhelming amount of objects on it and many make noises if you put batteries in them.  We decided to remove most of them so she would only have one noise maker and maybe one other removable object.  We would periodically rotate out the objects in an attempt at keeping her interested.  If we caught her in the right mood, she would maybe play in it 5-10 minutes.  Otherwise, she would get rather upset.  Kenzie is pulling herself up to stand using everything right now, so we are going to change it to the table playstation and see how that goes.  In its current setup for stage 2 it rotates when you touch it so it is not good to have around for her to pull up on.  We will see if it is more solid in stage 3 and I will try to remember to update this later.  Photo below Kenzie on 8/01/14 right after hubby put it together and before we removed some of the objects.



We had hardwood in our former rental and have hardwood in our new house.  We bought a foam play mat to replace the yoga mat for tummy and playtime.  As Kenzie got more mobile, she would pull up the connectors that sort of resemble Micky Mouse ears.  She loves to chew on them.  Maybe meeting Micky Mouse right now would not be a good idea ... ?  The older she gets the more of the mat she pulls up.  Somedays, if I don't put the pieces back periodically, she disassembles half the mat!  We like to call her Ragnarok the 3rd (1st being the original, 2nd being our cat Rocco).  We also bought a couple long mirrors.  Her bedroom and my office are not setup right now, but they will go in those rooms later.  Right now, the living room is our playroom and my office.   The mirror is up against our entertainment unit and her play mat.  A mirror is definitely a must have.  She has enjoyed watching herself and everyone in it since we bought it.  If you don't have carpet, a play mat is recommended to help cushion head bonking (although you can only control that for a limited time).  They are good registry items and if you don't get them, buy them early, imho.  Kenzie below on 8/24/14 playing with her mat.  You can see her mirror is in desperate need of cleaning ...



Photo below Kenzie on 10/02/14 after destroying part of the mat.  Who me?



Kenzie started doing the military crawl on 8/16/14.  This has opened up a whole new world for her and ways for her to entertain herself.  We are still trying to keep the toys to a minimum.  At least to keep the toys she has available to her to a minimum and rotate them out.  The fewer choices she has, the less overwhelmed she gets and rotating helps her always have something new to discover.  She will play with the new items longer.  I have placed items around the living room at her level.  Her play area is always evolving as she gets older and as we get more settled in to our new house.  I need to reduce the items for her to discover.  We have been adding new ones, but not removing old ones so that we can rotate them.  The following photos are on 9/26/14.  In the photo below, you see hard to destroy books on the lower shelf of the entertainment unit to the right, more objects on the opposite side, a basket with 4 soft blocks that crinkle when squeezed or jingle when shook and a large wooden spoon.



In the photo below, the item I want to point out is the half exercise ball.  It is very hard to move so it is great for her to stand up on.  She really loves this.  She tries to climb on it and rolls off or will just stand there and smack it with her hands.  We make sure to have it on a plush rug or foam mat so if she does take a spill she won't hurt herself as much.



The exercise balls of course were not intended for her, but you will find that many household items you have will offer a lot of entertainment and save you the expense of buying specialty toys.  Kenzie plays with leather belts, silicone spatulas, the door stops (she loves the boing oing oing sound it makes when she flicks it), tags (I now see why people make baby blankets with "tags"), etc.  Find items with different textures and materials, but always consider the safety of it.  We are proofing the house as we go.  What might not be a problem one day, like the sockets, could be the next day.  Babies pull on everything, climb on everything, and put everything (EVERYTHING) in their mouth, so cleanliness, no clutter, and bolting items down (TV, bookshelves, dressers, etc) is important.

Some other items we've purchased or received:

  • Sophie the giraffe - recommend - Great as a toy and teether and apparently there's a bunch of other products I wish I had known about.  We bought the teether around 6.5 months, but would recommend it at the start as it's smaller for your baby's wee hands.  Kenzie didn't really start playing with big Sophie until later as it was hard for her to hold and chew on.  The only thing I don't like about Sophie is the squeaker.  We don't squeak it and neither does Kenzie, thankfully, as the dog goes bonkers.  Also, the hole for the squeaker means water easily gets inside.  You'll want to cover the hole and try really hard not to get water inside.  If you do, do what you can to get it out as it will get gross.
  • Long, baby safe teething necklace - recommend - Kenzie rarely sits still even while breastfeeding. This gives her something besides your hair or boob to pinch, pull, and chew on.  They are stylish and would make a good gift for grandma or other caregivers.  You always have a toy on hand when you go out.  I like to give her something to play with while diaper changing especially when it is poop to help keep her hands out of it.  There are many suppliers out there and even on Etsy.  Munchables was recommended on a post I saw on Facebook.  Chewbeads are carried at RSB.  I haven't purchased one yet as I'm contemplating making my own.  What I'm currently wearing (solid rose quartz heart shaped pendant on a long rope which was a gift from my Mom) is what made me realize how nice an actual teething necklace would be.  
  • "Diaper" bag - recommend - we live about 45 minutes from the city, so when we go to the city we want to make sure we have plenty of supplies.  We always take 1-2 changes of clothes and way more diapers than we ever need.  Plus a toy or two, wipes, lotion, water bottle.  We don't carry it in to most stores with us, but like to have an abundance of supplies if needed.  You never know when a blowout will occur or baby just has to pee every 5 minutes.  Bags come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and prices. We got, I think, a big one and I made sure hubby wouldn't be embarrassed to carry it since I usually carry Kenzie and he helps by carrying the bag when we need it.
  • Moby-style wrap - recommend - We purchased an actual Moby wrap and a locally made wrap that is like the Moby.  I like both, but I'd probably go with just the one locally made.  I liked that it was more stretchy.  The Moby I'd frequently tie it on too tightly.  Also, I looked on YouTube about front carrying her facing outwards.  I know it's not designed for that or recommended, but for short periods and my own sanity I needed to do it.  Kenzie decided very early on that she wanted to be able to see everything.  She wanted to be held, but didn't want to be snuggled up to you.  Once she was big enough for the Ergo we switched to that.
  • Ergobaby-style carrier - recommend - We received the original Ergobaby as a gift without the newborn insert.  I solely use this one now and mostly in the back carry which allows Kenzie to see a lot more.  It is also helpful when she's being fussy or just wants to be held.  I can still cook with her in the back carry.  She sometimes falls asleep in it so we attach the hood so her head doesn't loll about.  Then there's a 50/50 chance I can lay back in bed and take it off and she'll stay asleep for a bit.  It's funny seeing her sprawled out asleep.  YouTube has suggestions on rigging it to work for a newborn if you don't have the insert.  We intended to buy the babyTrekker had we not received this as a gift.  I would recommend you do your research and get one that safely allows forward facing in the front carry.  You want to be mindful of carriers that don't support the hips which can cause hip dysplasia.  The babyTrekker does and Ergobaby now has the 360 which does.  We didn't have the means to buy and try out other carriers.  Thankfully, the ones we got worked well enough.  Many people recommend a Mei Tei-style carrier.  I don't know if this would replace the Moby or Ergo or just be in addition to the arsenal of baby products you have.
  • Nursing pillow - recommend - We bought the original Boppy which is floppy.  It worked for us especially as Kenzie got bigger, but a more structured one would have been nice particularly in the beginning while you're recovering and learning to breastfeed.  Hubby would use it, too, to cuddle with Kenzie.
  • Walking Wings - don't recommend - At least for us, so far it hasn't been helpful.  Kenzie just fixates on the straps and trying to chew/play with them instead of standing/walking.  It also seems to cut off circulation in her arms.  We try to put it on snugly so it doesn't ride up to her armpits, but we also don't want to suffocate her.  It seemed like a great idea particularly helping prevent the back aches from bending over, but it just didn't work for us.
  • Baltic amber jewelry - recommend - Friends and strangers swear by it.  I can't say 100% as I don't want to take it off to test it.  Kenzie has been wearing the necklace 24/7 since maybe a couple weeks old?  I wear a matching one in case it helps my headaches any and because I like to be matchy patchy with her while she's young and has no choice, haha.  She has, overall, been very calm and even tempered aside from never sitting still.  She is a very happy baby.  When she's upset she needs something: diaper change, cuddles, boob, sleep.
  • PeaPod Plus - undecided - We bought this instead of a playpen.  We have found it not useful so far and haven't regretted not having a playpen.  The PeaPod at least is still good for a couple years, so maybe it will get some use out of it later.
That's about all I can think of at this time.  I'm sure there are plenty of items others recommend, so please ask away if you want to know why we don't have certain items or have questions on what we did obtain. :)  Oh and none of the links are affiliate links nor did I receive anything for recommending these items.  It is all just based off my personal experience with purchases/gifts.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Shout Out to Ready, Set, Baby!

If you are in Canada and are in the Saskatoon area (or visiting, or driving through), I highly recommend stopping by Ready, Set, Baby! (RSB) in Martensville.

It is run by 3 lovely, caring, helpful, intelligent women.  They have an array of baby and mom supplies and offer numerous classes.

We have been frequenting their shop for at least a year now.  We stop by at least once a month when we are in town.  There are comfortable recliners for Mom while breastfeeding or Dad or Grandpa to relax on.

Hubby and I took the prenatal crash course in January 2014.  The classes are small, informative, and the instructor is amazing.

You can make a gift registry there if you visit the store.  Online shopping from their website is in the works, so maybe an online gift registry will be available later.  If you have friends and family outside of the Saskatoon area, it is still very easy to purchase items off the registry.  Just give them the number for a phone order.  Tell RSB a price range and they can name items from the registry if you don't have a specific item in mind.  RSB can mail the receipt to the purchaser or give the receipt to the recipient to keep in the rare case it needs to be returned or exchanged.

Go. Utilize them. Make friends. You won't be sorry.


Facebook, website, 360 tour, Google+Google maps

Sunday, June 15, 2014

PIZZA! Gluten/Grain Free

Who doesn't LOVE pizza?!  I think having an easy, super tasty pizza recipe is a must.  This. Is. It.  We tried a cauliflower crust, a crust with flax seed, and a couple other recipes before stumbling across this one by The Domestic Man.  We loved this one so much we haven't tried any others.  The first time we made it we followed the recipe.  We have made it almost weekly since then and have adapted it bit.  We have made it for non-primal friends and family and it has been a hit every time.  Here is our version of it:

Ingredients for the crust which makes 2 pizzas:

  • 1.5 cups tapioca flour/starch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup full fat greek yogurt (we have also tried and liked it with full fat canned coconut milk and raw milk)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (we grate our own as usually the already grated has other ingredients like cellulose)
  • Seasonings - we use salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano (my husband doesn't measure just adds what looks good, but the original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, & pinch of white pepper)
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 500F
  • Loosely mix the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with a spatula 
  • Heat in a small sauce pan the water, yogurt, and butter and frequently stir until it just barely starts to bubble
  • Add the heated water/yogurt/butter mix to the dry ingredients and mix as best you can with a spatula
  • Add the beaten egg and mix as best you can with a spatula
  • Using your hands, divide the mixture in half and form into balls.  We've noticed the dough comes out a little different every time we make it.  If the mix is too sticky, add some more flour. If the mix is too wet, you can either add more flour or give it some time to sit and absorb before deciding to add more flour.  If the mix is too dry, add a little water.  
  • Pat out the two dough balls on two separate cast iron pans into your desired pizza crust shape.  We use a 10 inch round skillet and pat it out to the edges as well as a 12 inch square griddle and pat it out round and fairly thin.  We like having the variety of crust thickness.
  • Place both pans in the oven, on separate shelves, and put them (as best you can) on opposite sides of the oven so one isn't directly under the other.
  • Bake until the crust just barely starts to brown.  We don't have an exact time, so just keep an eye on it.  The original recipe says 6 minutes. It might bubble up and that's OK.
  • Remove from the oven, but leave it on.  Add your desired sauces and toppings.  We usually do a very light layer of pizza sauce, then thinly sliced tomatoes, then diced sweet onions, and topped with shredded mozza cheese.  We've also used pepperoni (when in the states with access to Applegate Farms' pepperoni), pineapple, plain ground beef, and taco spiced ground beef.
  • Return to the oven and bake until your cheese is at your desired doneness.  For us it's until it's melted and just slightly starts to brown.  Just don't bake it too long or your crust will get too hard/crunchy.
  • Remove from the oven, transfer pizza to a cutting board, slice, and enjoy.  Be careful to let it cool a little so you don't char your taste-buds!






Friday, November 1, 2013

First trimester experiences ... yep, we're pregnant!

WE ARE PREGNANT!  WOOHOO!  We've been talking about it for a couple years and kept delaying, so we decided once we moved and settled in we would likely start working on a baby.  Our 5th year anniversary is February 14th and our present will be the baby!  We're due February 19th.  :)

The first trimester:
Around the date my period should start, I started having PMS.  I get this dull ache in the stomach plus periodic, horrible, sometimes bend over sharp pain that lasts 5-30 seconds.  I usually get this for 1-2 days then 1-2 days of calm before the actual period starts.  Well, this lasted for 5 days, so on the 6th we bought 2 pregnancy tests.  I took one that day around noon using the pee-on-stick method which looked positive.  I took another the next morning around 4:30 am using the pee in a cup then dip the stick in method which also looked positive.  It was Sunday and Father's Day, so we announced it to our parents.

After learning we were pregnant, some of my other symptoms made sense.  The week prior to the PMS, I noticed crazy mood swings, particularly in the morning like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed each day.  I'd wake up and feel down or grumpy.  This lasted about a week then the cramps started.  I also broke out on my face with acne worse than the normal period acne.  Another thing I noticed was not being able to make it to the next meal.  I would get hungry about halfway between like the pre-paleo days.

The PMS continued.  I could only sleep on my back.  Sitting was very uncomfortable and would trigger cramping.  After a couple days of this, I was feeling concerned.  My Mom had an ectopic pregnancy before, so this was in the front of my mind.  We went to a walk-in clinic to confirm the pregnancy and to see about the cramping part of the PMS.  They confirmed I'm pregnant, but did diddly about the cramping.  The doctor walks in with the urine test results going "I know what's wrong!" and looking at me like I should know.  He finally says it's because I'm not eating well and I'm burning ketones.  His solution was for me to eat more carbs/sugar.  /facepalm

The PMS continued for weeks.  I felt very tired and had a hard time concentrating.  We called the midwives to request their services.  Apparently, it's hard to get in with them.  While waiting to find out if I was selected we got in with an OBGYN.  We saw her for the first time at 7 weeks and she had us get an ultrasound because of my concern about the cramping.  The dull ache and low/mild cramps are normal during the first trimester, but sharp cramps should be looked in to.  The ultrasound showed everything looked OK, but I did have a tiny bleed spot.  She said it should just absorb into me, but if I notice any bleeding to contact her.  I had no bleeding and the next ultrasound at 20 weeks showed no bleed spot.

Pre-paleo I would wake up in the night a lot with horrible poop cramps.  This started happening again around the 2nd or 3rd week of the pregnancy.  It calmed down and went away after a week or two.

I was very motivated to eat well for I think the first half of the first trimester.  I was drinking bone broth, eating salmon, organ meats, avocados, etc.  I was trying to get in each day as much nutrient dense foods as I could per the recommendations of Wellness Mama, The Primal Parent, and The Better Baby Book by Dave & Lana Asprey.  Well, that came to a halt about half way through the first trimester as the extreme nausea started.  The OBGYN prescribed some medicine that had B6 in it, but we didn't fill it.  What got me through the nausea phase was: eating small meals throughout the day so I didn't get hungry as getting hungry made it SO much worse, sucking on ginger chews, and nibbling on slices of mozzarella cheese.  I only vomited one day during the first trimester.  It was a stressful day and we were running around town early in the morning trying to find a notary to notarize the papers to sell our house in the states.  I think between the stress, the car ride (I got motion sickness a lot before being pregnant. Being pregnant just upped the nausea level.), and being pregnant my stomach just could not take it.  Luckily I was carrying around the little doggy poop bags, so I managed to contain it in that and not all over my husband's car.

I didn't just have morning sickness.  I had all day sickness.  It would come and go in severity throughout the day.  Fun, eh?  It didn't help that we lived in an apartment.  Our neighbors below us would cook the most horrible smelling things (boil bamboo???) and it would drift up into our unit.  Our neighbor next to us smokes cigarettes and pot.  Every time he would go on his balcony, he would start hacking up a lung and would smoke.  I would have to run and close the windows and balcony door multiple times as it would come inside.  I already had a sensitive nose prior to being pregnant, but the pregnancy nose?  Ugh.  The nausea lasted a little into the second trimester as it slowly died away.  I do still get nauseous sometimes, but I believe it's mostly from anxiety and car rides.

Sitting hurt and still does.  Sometimes I can sit Indian style and recline a bit and manage to be OK for a while, at least until I stand up then my tummy aches a bit.  We set up my desk as a standing one again.  I used to have it this way before moving.  Standing was much better, but then my ribs right below my right breast started hurting.  Some days it hurts all the way around the side and to my back.  My shins also start hurting.  Haven't figured out how to solve this dilemma yet.  I have a cushioned bar seat to sit on, but my tummy protests right away.  I end up standing back up and dealing with the aches until I attempt to sit again.  Rinse and repeat.

Sleep?  Good luck with that.  Stomach was uncomfortable and would give me a horrible crick in the neck.  I've read to sleep on your left side.  I couldn't sleep on my right any more as something would hurt a lot: belly, knees, hips, ribs.  I mostly slept on my left for a while, but then the pain in the knees, hips, or ribs started and would start earlier and earlier so I was miserable all night.  I used all our spare pillows to put around me and between the legs, but it didn't help.  I ended up pulling out the wedge pillow and moving to the couch.  Yep, I sleep on the couch with my dog at my feet and/or my cat on my lap (he'd prefer to be on my chest or belly).  I miss my husband a lot.  Sometimes, when I wake up in the morning and there's just an hour to a couple hours left before we have to get up, I'll move to the bedroom and sleep on my side just to be near him.  Sleep is very important, so do what you can to find a comfortable or at least tolerable position and don't be afraid to try the couch!

Cravings?  Nothing really crazy like you hear about and nothing I just HAVE to have right away.  I craved sushi, so we went to a sushi place and I only had the California roll since it didn't have raw fish.  I was satisfied after that.  I craved ribs next.  We ate SO much ribs over the next week between Tony Roma's and the Saskatoon Rib Fest.  I still have no desire to eat ribs again.  I craved cheesecake, but it's not gluten free.  We ended up finding out about a gluten free dessert place and I was able to get my cheesecake fix there.  A gluten free restaurant opened in town.  We went there on my birthday and they happened to have apple pie as the special that day.  O M G it was amazing and gluten free!!

Aversions?  Red meat, particularly steaks, which is usually my favorite started tasting really weird and gross.  We ended up not eating it much for a while.  We cooked our first a week or so ago and it didn't taste so bad, so I think we're going to try another this week.  Hamburger is hit or miss.  I think the miss is mostly when we go out to eat with friends and family and just go with a bunless burger, most of the places use the same premade patty that is just absolutely disgusting.  Eggs fried in butter.  We have this for breakfast every morning, but I had to start cooking mine separately in coconut oil (husband can't stand eggs in coconut oil) as the smell would just kill me.  The worst has been the thought of eating salmon.  Just the thought makes my stomach churn and makes me feel like vomiting.

Sounds like a lot of complaining, eh?  I have not once regretted being pregnant.  The symptoms bite big time, but although my body feels like crap most days, my mind and spirit are happy and very much looking forward to meeting the baby!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Food/Product Recommendations

As I was writing the stew recipe, I thought I'd link some of the places we've tried and liked their products:
  • For those of you in the states, our favorite online grass-fed companies are: US Wellness Meats and White Oak Pastures.  I highly recommend liking them on Facebook and getting on their mailing lists.
  •  US Wellness Meats has a great newsletter with recipes, articles, what's been restocked, and what's on sale.  We've tried and enjoyed their ground beef, liverwurst, beef snack stick ends, pemmican, sugar free garlic hot dogs, polish pork sausages, and I'm sure others I can't think of right now.  I am sad that I no longer can eat their liverwurst.  I ate a pound a week by slicing it up evenly and having some with my eggs each morning.  I will have to find a new, good source or have hubby learn to make it for me. :)
  • White Oak Pastures periodically has sales.  We've tried and enjoyed their ground beef, beef stir fry, beef stew, NY strip steak, whole chickens, and chicken feet (to add to your broth!).
  • For those of you in the states and in the Auburn, AL area, we highly recommend buying local and going with Randle Farms.  They are great people with great products.  When we could get the meat delivered in Montgomery, AL, we purchased eggs and LOTS of ground beef then later participated in a meat share.
  • For those of you in Canada and in the Regina/Saskatoon, SK area the only company we've tried so far is Cool Springs Ranch.  They deliver once a month to Regina and to Saskatoon.  Make sure you check their calendar for when the "online store" opens and closes for your delivery location.  We've tried and enjoyed the rib-eye steaks, ground beef, stew beef, liver and eggs.  We've ordered more of a variety for our next pickup on May 25th.  Will update later on those products.
***More to be added later!

Please note: I am an affiliate of US Wellness Meats so I do earn a small commission if you purchase by visiting the website through my link.  I only recommend the companies/products I've tried and honestly like.

Beef Stew - Crockpot

My husband likes beef stew.  He's usually the one that makes it as I'm not a huge fan.  I figured I'd give it a go this time.  Here's what I remember doing:

  • 2 lbs grass-fed beef stew meat
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced to your liking (not a fan of carrots, so I prefer thinly sliced)
  • 2 large sweet onions, diced
  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced to your desired thickness
  • 1 jar of mild organic salsa (check ingredients for sneaky bad stuff). Hubby made it last time with medium salsa.  That's what we add to our scramletes.  It made the stew way too spicy for me.  Hubby likes spice, but agreed that mild would probably be better for the stew.
  • We forgot to thaw the meat ahead of time.  It didn't get moved to the fridge from the freezer until the night prior, so it was still solid as a rock the next morning.  I stuck it in the crockpot as-is.
  • Dumped the salsa over the beef.
  • Set the crockpot on high.
  • Chopped up the onions and potatoes and added them.  Forgot about the carrots.  They went in about 3 hours later.
  • Started gathering everything and adding the ingredients as they were ready to the crockpot around 1:30 pm with it set to high.  Carrots went in around 4:30.  I think I turned it to low around 5:30.  Then remembered it was still cooking at 8:30 so shut it off.  I work from home now, so I was able to stir it periodically.
  • We netted 6 2 cup pyrex bowls full of stew.  BTW, we love our 2 cup pyrex bowls.  They are the perfect serving size for lunch.  Once cooled enough, they go in the fridge over night.  In the morning, I put a 3 in the freezer and the other 3 remained in the fridge for hubby's lunch for the rest of this week.
  • You can add more of these veggies or other veggies so you yield more.
  • My attempt was a huge success! Got a text from hubby after his lunch "lunch was tasty. yooz a good cook."  LOL :)  I hope you enjoy it, too!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Canada, eh?

Wow, we've been on quite a ride for the past year and a half!  I do hope to one day start posting again, about anything and everything.  Here's an update:
  • My hubby got an awesome job offer late summer/early fall of 2011.  The only thing was, it was in Canada!  That's home for my husband.  We talked and talked about it.  Wrote many pros/cons lists.  Then decided to go for it.  Ultimately, we want to start a family soon and we felt that with our lifestyle and ideals, starting it in Canada would be best for us.  He signed the contract, we started my Canadian permanent resident process, and he moved.
  • My husband is the love of my life, my best friend, my soulmate.  Living apart from him was extremely hard.  Thank goodness for technology!
  • Well, the job ended up not working out after only a month.  He stayed up there a bit longer to see if anything else was available and to help his parents out around their home renovation.
  • After a couple months, hubby came home and started looking for a job around here again.  Man, the job market really bites!  It was tough living off just my salary.  I did not make enough to cover all of our expenses, but thankfully I have an awesome Daddy who helped us out when he could.
  • After another couple of months, we talked about moving to Canada again.  We had received the last piece of information pending to submit our application right before hubby was laid off.  We misread the application rules and thought that if hubby didn't make a certain amount of money, he couldn't sponsor me, so we didn't mail the application.  I started re-reading everything and realized that since we don't have kids the income restriction DID NOT APPLY! /facepalm
  • So, we decided to send in our application which they received on May 2, 2012.  The estimated processing time was 11 months, so we figured it would be sometime in summer 2013 that our application would be approved and we'd move.
  • Hubby went back to Canada to help his brother out with some things and to help his parents out some more with their ongoing home renovation.  It helped us, too, as they covered his living expenses.
  • Hubby came home mid-November for a 2-month visit so we could spend the upcoming holidays together.  He prepared our house to be put on the market while here and on December 10, 2012 I received my Confirmation of Permanent Residence! WAY earlier than expected!  It helped that we had been married and living together over 3 years at the time of application and had no kids.  Ours was apparently a pretty straightforward and easy application.  My husband attributes it to my "mad paperwork skillz".
  • He returned to Canada mid-January 2013 which meant we didn't get to spend our 4-year anniversary together; however, hubby had an interview on February 1st that lasted almost 3 hours!  We were pumped!  Who would spend that much time talking to someone they weren't seriously considering to hire?!  His next interview was on February 11th that took another couple hours AND they offered him the job!!  He started on February 25th. 
  • We picked a date to move.  As, I'm a tax accountant we wanted it to be after April 15th so I didn't leave my work in a bind and also we wanted it to be after the snow was finished.  Hubby flies in April 19th and we drive out April 21st!  Just a week away.  Omg, my stomach just did some flips.
  • Man, over a year with only one income.  I don't know how others do it and with even less income.  It was hard, but I think it was a blessing for us.  It really forced us to scrutinize our expenses.  It made us have to stick to a budget.  We cut out a lot of frills like a Smartphone, cable, turbo internet, online gaming with monthly fees, no vacations, etc.  We didn't buy each other presents for all the holidays.  Spending time with each other and family was the best gift.  
  • Now that we're back to 2-incomes, we still have our budget.  Yes, I will still be working after we move.  I am very thankful my company is keeping me on.  I've been their tax accountant for over 7 years now.  I will be able to remote in and have access to everything I need to continue to handle my responsibilities for them.  
  • After we dig out of the hole we're in, we have plans to continue to live within one income.  You never know when we might be at only one income again.  We have goals like saving up to buy some property and building a small house, saving for vacations, saving for retirement, etc.  Our plan is that the 2nd income will go strictly towards savings for our goals/dreams.
  • So, you can see it's been a crazy time for us.  I can't wait to see my husband again.  I look forward to this next chapter in our life.  Now if only I can get my Daddy to move closer to Canada ...