Archive for August, 2010

Second Trimester Blues and So Much To Do

Monday, August 30th, 2010

I am 5 days shy of officially starting my 3rd trimester.  It feels like I have already been pregnant forever and yet I can’t believe the 3rd trimester is here already.  As I promised my hubby, I have been slowing things down.  Being sick for 2 weeks straight probably helped with that.  Of course, slowing things down means less time to do the things that always need to be done – laundry, cleaning, dishes, shopping, cooking, taking care of Oliver, yardwork, etc… Not to mention the things we have to do to prepare for the new baby!  Either anxiety or massive nesting instincts are setting in.  So much to do, so little time.

To add to that, we are still trying to figure out how another person will impact our finances.  Living frugally has enabled us to live off one income so far.  Every day I scan my brain to think of ways to save, save, save money when our daughter arrives.  I have a running list of what we did with Oliver, what we can do without this time, and what we can recycle that we already have.  Our goal is to spend as little money on “stuff” and to buy as little as possible.  In that spirit, any gifts should be diapers/wipes and baby girl clothes (having it our way, she will be wearing all of Oliver’s hand me downs!).  Otherwise, I am praying that we don’t “need” anything else.

Starting next week, the pregnancy is all downhill.  We will begin the official countdown.  We will start planning labor, delivery, and childcare.  We will start setting up the newborn station and making room for relatives.  We’ll start pulling down the infant items from the attic and begin the long process of cleaning and sanitizing everything from car seats, blankets, and clothes to rugs, play mats, and bottles.  We will have baby on the brain.

This blog will take a turn for the “baby”.  In fact, I am already working on a series of articles about what we consider to be the bare bones requirements for bringing home a baby versus nice to have things.  I am breaking the posts up by categories and might compile the end result into one long list.  This will help me stay organized, stay focused on cost-savings, and might even help some new mommies to be out there.

The farther along I go with the pregnancy the more tired I get taking care of Oliver. He is at the age (15 months) where his mental and physical development is growing by leaps and bounds every single day.  He can learn at least one or two new vocabulary words every day and is one big absorbent sponge.  He wants to learn how everything works and how to do things for himself.  He wants to start running and climbing and using all his muscles.  I have made a commitment to the family that for as long as I am able I will:

1) Take him to the park 3 times a week so he can run, climb, play, and explore.

2) Setup one playdate a week so he can interact with other children. (Thank goodness one of my friends is also a stay at home mom of a toddler!)

3) Take him to the Marbles kids museum once a week so he can run, climb, play, and explore.

I’ll keep you posted how things are going.  I have a few posts that I want to get out that are non-baby related.  In particular, we have a cast iron skillet that is dying to get cleaned, but is waiting on me and my camera to document some great tips on how to clean and season at the same time.  :-)

Gardening: Harvesting and Storing Basil/Herbs

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I let the herbs in my garden grow wild for the past month and just hauled in a huge harvest today.  In Thai basil alone, I have made back the cost of starting this year’s garden.  Today’s harvest netted me 18 servings of basil.  Including what I have already picked this year, I probably have 30 servings.  Paying anywhere from $2.50 – $5 a pop in a store, my basil is worth anywhere from $75 – $150.  This is all from one single basil plant and there are a couple more harvests to go before the frost kills the plant.  I’ve also been harvesting and drying rosemary, oregano, and sage to refill my spice bottles.  In fact, I have enough to fill 5 – 10 spice bottles of each!

To store my herbs for future use I either dry them or freeze them.  To dry them I simply wash the cuttings, cluster them in small bouquets, tie the stems together with twine and hang upside down until nice and crispy.  I then strip off the dried leaves and package how I want (whole, crushed, powdered, etc…) .

Some herbs I like to use for stir frying and don’t want them all dried out.  The following technique is how I store fresh leaves for future use, yet maintain the color and integrity of the leaf.

1) Harvest your herbs. 

2) Wash herbs in cool water the same day to prevent wilting and browning.

3) Strip the leaves off the stalk.  I like to pinch the ends of my basil off and keep those intact.  I then strip the rest of the leaves from the stalk.

4) Package the herbs in ziploc bags in single serving sizes.  Single serving meaning enough to make your entire meal from.

5) Add some water to each bag.  The goal is not to fill the bag with water, but to ensure the leaves will be enclosed with water when you seal the bag.  The water will freeze, thus preserving your leaf.  Leaves not exposed to water will turn brown/black and be gross when you thaw them out to use.

6) Flatten the bag, press the air out, and seal.  It is hard to tell in this photo, but there is only water in the bag – no air.  Stack your baggies and freeze them.  When you are ready to use, just thaw the bag out, drain the water and you have the second best thing to fresh herbs to cook with.

What are your tips and techniques for storing herbs and spices?

Frugal Tip of the Day:  If you have a favorite herb that you continually buy, it IS worth it to grow your own.  Herbs are easy to grow and are great container plants.  All my basil came from one single plant, the same for my rosemary and oregano.  You will save quite a bit of money by preserving your own herbs, rather than buying those little spice bottles at 5 bucks a pop.

Finger Painting Fun

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I broke out the art supplies today so my little boy could make a birthday card for his daddy.  We had new fingerpaints and brush paints that we bought for 50% off at a back to school sale.  It was worth spending the money rather than use my personal art supplies due to the non-toxicity of the Crayola formulas.  I think he ate more than he got on the paper! 

He had a blast and was thrilled that he got to jump into the tub afterwards to play in the water.  Double score for him!

Frugal Tip of the Day:  Shop for your toddlers stuff when the big kids stuff goes on sale.  I couldn’t believe the bargains they had!  If you don’t wait for the sales at least use a 40% off coupon from Michaels or AC Moore.  You can usually find them online and can print them at home.  I hate to buy things brand new, but the Crayola products are worth it for the ease with which they clean up and also so I don’t have to worry when he inevitably puts everything in his mouth.

Don’t eat the eggs!

Friday, August 20th, 2010

I have been sick, sick, sick for a week now.  I spent last Saturday curled around the toilet throwing up all night.  I was suffering from some form of food poisoning and was sick every 40 minutes on the dot.  I was worried that the food poisoning combined with the constant vomiting would hurt the baby as she was kicking up a storm inside. After the 4th go round, we started packing up to go to the emergency room and my hubby mentioned paging my OBGYN.  At 12:30am, my OB said that there was no need to go to the hospital and that the baby was well protected.  He called in a prescription to my 24 hour pharmacy (i heart CVS) to help with the vomiting.  After 2 more trips to the bathroom, we finally got the medicine in me and within minutes I was finally able to sleep (at 4am). 

Needless to say, that little incident has screwed up our entire week.  The house is an utter disaster, the kitchen is a wreck, the laundry is piled up, and poor Oliver has been housebound while I’ve been recovering.  I had a couple more nights of vomiting, but I think those were due to being generally screwed up and not eating.  My little girl had a couple of well placed kicks to my stomach a few times and up everything came again.  I’ve lost 4 pounds in the last 6 days.  Being sick and being 26 weeks pregnant totally sucks.  The last thing I remember eating before I felt bad was a scrambled egg and sausage concoction that my hubby made for brunch on Saturday.  We were worried about the whole salmonella outbreak that’s been going around, but our eggs weren’t packaged at the contaminated plants.  Regardless, they are all in the trash now.

Today was the first day I actually had full meals and felt better.  To make up for being a slug of a mother, I took my LO (little one) out today for some fun.  Now I’m pooped and am wondering if we did too much too soon?  sigh…  This whole parenting thing is tough.

We got up extra early this morning and I took him to a local splash park at the pool.  He loves, loves, loves water and had a great time.  Of course, the one day we decide to try it out it’s 75 degrees and cloudy!!! We’ve been dying from heat here and today is the day it happens to be cool??? another sigh…

His favorite spot was the broken fountain which just gurgled. 

The splash park was pretty cool.  The concrete floor was concave to allow the water to pool up to about 2 or 3 inches.  Each corner had it’s own water feature ranging from sprinklers, to fountains, to water cannons, etc… On a warmer day (HOT day) this would have been much more fun.  As it were, we were the only people there.

Wow, I was tired.  I didn’t get much sleep this week and still didn’t feel too good, but I felt bad for Oliver being trapped in the house.  He had a blast until his fingers and toes went numb from hypothermia…

After a seriously long nap, we went downtown to Marbles so he could run out his excess energy.  His favorite stop this trip?  The post office where he “drove” the truck for at least 20 minutes delivering mail. 

He loves wheels and anything that he can spin/turn.  Bigger kids kept trying to push him out of the way, but he held that steering wheel TIGHT and just glared up at them.  Don’t try to get between him and his wheels!

My plan somewhat worked.  I am now back to being exhausted, but my LO is soundly and deeply asleep right now.  I wore his little butt out and he loved every minute of it. 

Tomorrow, I tackle the mountain of dishes in the kitchen and track down those foul smells from the fridge.  What a week…

August Already!

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Wow, that 2 week break went by fast!  During our time off we put 1,700 miles on our van making a round-trip to Florida to visit the grandparents.  We went to Cocoa first and then to Fort Walton Beach before heading back home.  Somewhere in the middle, I attended my 20 year high school reunion and passed my 6 month pregnancy mark. 

When we got home, it took us one full week to recover!  I think Oliver and I slept for 2 or 3 days straight and I am still doing laundry to catch up.  We probably won’t be making that trip again until the next baby is at least a one year old and can semi-manage the travel.  It will be interesting doing it again with 2 children!  Either way, it is all worth it to have the little ones visit the grandparents.

We left our house at 8pm to head down to Florida.  We had 10 hours driving time ahead of us and were hoping that our little one would sleep most of the way.  We had to stop every 2 hours so we could stretch out.  Oliver helped us drive the 12-2am shift.

It took us 10 hours to get to Cocoa, 7 hours to get to Fort Walton, and 13 hours to get back home.  Oliver didn’t fall apart until the very last hour of our trip.  We were so proud of how well he did.  A few snacks and a battery operated night light and we were good to go.

Oliver got to experience the Atlantic Ocean down at Cocoa Beach and the Gulf of Mexico in Fort Walton.  He LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the water.  Upon seeing the beach for the first time, he had a big grin and was waving his arms excitedly.  My hubby finally can share his love of water sports with someone!

One of the perks of having kids is getting to enjoy the wonder and amazement of life through your child’s eyes. 

This post is a short one.  We have big changes happening right now.  We are about to enter the home stretch of the pregnancy.  Only 3 1/2 months to go!

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