This Mommy Runs on Caffeine

This Mommy Runs on Caffeine

March 23, 2011

Kitchen Adventures: Dried Beans (18 Bean Soup Recipe)

On a recent trip to the dollar store (why do they call it that- I can never get out for under $20 Dollar$!), I purchased a few bags of dried beans and put them in my pantry- just in case. Monday was the case- either fueled by torrential downpour here in sunny CA or I wanted to dust off the crock pot.... the plan was to make chili, but I decided to experiment.  I actually read the instructions on the bag (imagine!) and was instantly transported to when I was little and my mom used to make a huge pot of beans or chili. I remember helping her 'sort' out the beans looking for any non-edible items that might have made its way into the mix (ie: a little pebble) and then washing the beans. So nostalgic. And a challenge: I've never cooked with dried beans before, just the canned variety. It was not an instantaneous process for dinner on the table in 30 minutes, but it was very simple and versatile. And wait until you see the cost! I concocted up a delish recipe that I wanted to pass along to you!

1 Bag (dried) 18 Bean Mix- sort through the beans and place into a colander and wash with hot water
1 Bag navy beans (I used white)
 1 package of ground turkey- browned with onions, garlic, salt and pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 bouillon cubes- your preferred flavor
2 pressed garlic cloves\
1 Can Green Chilies (mild)
Seasonings to taste: (I'm a 'dasher' meaning that I use a dash of this, and that while I cook)
I used: Salt, pepper, dried onion (I'm not a fan of the onion), 2 garlic cloves, Worcester sauce, balsamic vinegar, Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute and parsley

Soak the beans in about 8 cups of water overnight. Drain and rinse and put into the crock pot with 6 cups of water, the turkey and the rest of the ingredients. Turn on desired setting and wait for dinner! Serve with desired toppings such as cheese, sour cream and with a loaf of crusty french bread! Since I was making "noondles" (noodles) for Miss K, I also added some to a serving- yumm!

This recipe feeds an army- we had dinner for two nights, I'm taking for lunch one more day and I froze a large bag of the soup as well. I also added some sauteed beet greens to mine tonight and it was yummy (but that's for another post!) Another benefit- the cost of the entire crock pot including the bread was under $8- budget gourmet! I hope that you enjoy this recipe!

March 20, 2011

It's Sunday- COUPONS are here!

Oh, I do get excited about more things than this, but it's always so fun to linger over the Sunday paper, ads and coupon inserts ("inserts") with a LATTE and a rerun of Law & Order or CSI on! If only that were every Sunday- in most cases the ads are piled on the counter and the paper goes out to recycle! And perhaps I might have already previewed all of the above on the net, but regardless a girl can dream.....
What happens to those coupons once I've pursued them? The get filled in my SaveALatte$ Bin for a rainy day. Seriously, I'm not an extreme couponer, but I love to save a buck so I had to find an easy way to organize my priceless coupons. It wasn't by clipping and filing a huge binder full- I tried that route and as portable as it was, it was just a nightmare for me to keep up to date. I got a few kudos on trips with those but the thumb calluses from the scissors and hours that it took just wasn't worth the time/ money effort for my family. If it works for you- awesome; it just didn't for me. You could go the envelope route; or the binder route or a hybrid of the two, but so far, what I've done is a "no clip" system and have filed them in a very large plastic storage file/crate organized by date and source. I also print out a quick list of what (supposedly! as each insert varies with coupons and savings) is in each folder and staple it on. It's very low maintenance and user friendly. Not so much portable, but if in doubt, then I'll throw the whole thing in my trunk if I feel like a shopping trip will be unusually fruitful.
    So what to do now? When I get ready to go shopping to one of my favorite stores (CVS/Walgreens/Target/Safeway) then I'll pull up one of my favorite on-line sources to tell me what's the best of savings for that store. If you think that I do this all on my own, then you are super crazy! I certainly don't have the time to complete all of the 'match-ups' (that's what you get when there is an item on sale with a particular valid coupon) so I just let my favorite sites do that for me. There are tons of them out there including hundreds of fellow mom-blogs. I am quite particular to a few because they work for my $avings $tyle:  (The store is self explanatory!)  (I love this site because I can actually pull up a printable list to take with me- and I use this for CVS and Walgreens) (Safeway is my favorite Northern California grocery store)
I then build my list and refer to their match-ups and then clip them out of my files or in many cases even "printable" coupons. Those coupons then go into a "portable" file (a blue poly expandable envelope) to take to the store along with my list. (I also store any 'clipped' coupons in this little file.) The list helps me to stay on track to save time and money. Note that the list is made based upon what I need for that particular week's meal ideas and what needs to be restocked. If there is a score of a deal on something that we regularly use, like pasta or cereal, then I'll stock up but my goal isn't to purchase enough stock for a fall-out shelter, just what we'll consume. Then off we go to the store to save! I really should track how much I save over the course of the year, but just knowing that by combining the store deals with coupons, I'm keeping more money in my pocket for my Lattes is priceless!

Here's a quick overview of coupon terms from a prior post that I did in 2009 on coupon terms:
• Manufacturer’s- these are the ones found in newspaper inserts, but also in magazines, from “blinkies” on the store shelves, and now, on the Internet, printed either from a manufacturer’s website or a merchant’s website.
• Store coupons- these are found in store circulars or on the stores’ websites. The good news about these is that they can be used in conjunction (“stacked”) with a manufacturer’s coupon to increase your savings.

• BOGO- these are “Buy One, Get One” coupons where you either get something free or at a drastically reduced price. (You can also use up to FIVE coupons on a BOGO purchase- one for the BOGO and then two manufacturer’s coupons for each item. If there is a matching store coupon- even better!)

• WYB- these are “When You Buy…., You Get….” Coupons. A popular one that most everyone sees is like a save $10 off your $30 purchase at Bath & Body Works.

• $$ Off- simply stated, they are a $ off a certain amount of purchase, mostly connected to a certain store. We religiously use the $5/ off $15 purchase at CVS! They usually print from Catalinas at checkout, or in the case of CVS, they have a special printer when you walk in the store when you scan your frequent buyers card.

• Store Member- when you sign up for a free rewards program, your prices are usually the lower price in advertised sales. (We have CVS and Safeway… and at free obviously worth the weight in gold!)

• Rebates/ Checks- Rebates are usually something that you receive after the fact, but are worth looking into as they are higher dollar amounts.

I hope that you find this helpful and can save a latte money with coupons. And also, don't be afraid of what people think- it's YOUR money! ( :

March 18, 2011

Friends: With Kids/ Without Kids- Random Thoughts

While driving into work this morning, I experienced one of those rare occasions where I listened to 'regular radio' as opposed to my XM (love it!) and the morning people from one of the local stations were discussing friends. Particularly having friends of the opposite familial status (childless with parental friends and vice versa) and why it is so difficult to maintain relationships and hang out with them. The discussion got me thinking- even though I turned off the station after they interrupted the debate with a stupid song by Kesha. She bugs me. But I digress....
    I started thinking about my friends that I hang out on a regular basis and came to the conclusion that I don't. Hang out that is, I have lots of friends, but for various reasons. "Hanging out" is just much harder to do when you add motherhood to the other obligations in your life.
    I have 'work' friends. I have longtime friends- near and far- that I can call on anytime day or night to vent, bitch to, complain and can count on in a pinch. And then I have friends who came into my life because I have Little Miss K. I've met them through my local consignment sales that I volunteer for- wouldn't have met them if I was kid-less; same goes with the mom's group that I used to belong to. I have a handful of friends from high school and college, some from my direct sales business and some from random places that we met and struck up a conversation.
    The point is that I shared something in common with each friend at the certain time that we met and fostered a friendship. It may or may not have been because of children, but because of school, work, a hobby or..... whatever.  There was a common denominator in the relationship.  Am I still friends with everyone that I've ever met? Not so much, but not because I have kids. They may or may not, but we've lost touch for a host of random reasons- but I can't think of one friendship that has faded because I have a child. I can however, think of the many more that I have made because of my child.
    At this point in my life I prefer to have low maintenance friends- I've always tried to avoid drama, but even more so now that I don't want to involve Little K in said drama. I also don't have time for bullshit. I also may not have time to talk to you for weeks on end, but that doesn't mean I don't adore you. I work full time, I'm a business owner, I enjoy a small number of hobbies, I'm a wife, I'm a... you get the picture? It's hard enough to find time to have dinner with my dad, get a mani/pedi or to even just sleep, so to go out clubbin' with single, childless friends is just at the bottom of my list. Not the person, but the activity. If you want to come over and have something that resembles dinner with my family, c'mon over we're happy to have you and I may even serve you an overpriced drink in the process (cover charge will be waived).
     Now will I befriend you if you are kid-less? Maybe, maybe not. I'm not judging you but I think it will just be harder for you to understand what my life is like and I, in turn, will always think- 'just wait!' If we have enough in common outside of K, we'll probably be fast friends.  I made the decision to have K, and she is my life- friends or no friends. It's a package deal now, and most activities will be centered around her unless it's a very rare Mommy night out... hopefully! Happy Friday!

March 14, 2011

Is Parenting a Competitive Sport?

Why do people think that because they do said "insert blah blah" here that they are better parents that you? Can you tell me exactly when "Parenting" became a competitive sport? I'm sure that you've been the object of (dis)approval at one time or another from a observing spectator, er, parent.  And with the amount of skill, finesse and even teamwork required to raise a child, it really should be considered a sport.
  The competition started when I first began announcing that I was pregnant (wow, over two years ago!) with random questions ranging from if I was going to breastfeed to how long I was planning to stay at home.  I didn't consider those questions to be judgemental then, but in retrospect, the rebuttal from the interviewee is what tweaked me. Was I irked because I had no confidence as a new mom? Perhaps. But now as a veteran (ha!) mom of a busy 18 month old, I see those same questions as judgement or a way to rack up points for their 'team.'  Just because I was doing something that was different than what they did, it was wrong. Does everyone on the planet take their coffee the same? Of course not- there is not one cookie-cutter choice for everyone.
  "Oh, you're not going to breastfeed? Your baby *needs* breast milk to thrive!" Actually, she needed nourishment and milk period to thrive. Where it comes from was purely my choice. There are all kinds of organizations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA) and even the World Health Organization (WHO) that recommend breastfeeding, but also recognize- and don't chastise- that this isn't going to work for every Mommy for a multitude of reasons. Mine was because of a personal comfort level, I was going to return to work and didn't want to have to pump and I wanted to be able to eat and drink the same as I did pre-pregnancy. (Go ahead, call me selfish, or whatever you want.... I'm so over it.) Formula would be a black market item if it were a required part of parenting. As far as thriving, Little K just had her 18-month check up with glowing remarks; the same as all of her well-baby visits where she was above the 70th percentile with her measurements. I'm also aware that studies have shown that breastfed babies have better immune systems, but aside from a minor cold every once in awhile; she is the picture of health.
  "Good moms breastfeed. It will be harder to bond with your child if you don't." I am a good mom; I know that because Little K shouts my name with excitement and glee every time she sees me. I was also able to share bonding with Jason; and her grandparents and our wonderful extended family also had prime opportunity at feedings to build a relationship with her. Furthermore, I feel that these opportunities have helped with separation anxiety issues and she knows that our family can provide for her needs whether it's from Mommy, Daddy, "Mammas" or BopPop or her many Aunties.
  "Are you going to return to work?" This was the interesting one and divides a nation. In fact, I remember even seeing an Oprah episode on it a loooong time ago about the two camps. I was always planning on returning to work- I love my job; we need two incomes and for me, working outside the home is what makes me feel fulfilled and complete.  I feel that I am a better mom because of it. This choice works very well for our family. We are also so very fortunate that our daycare situation is primarily K's grandparents or a very close family friend; I know that she is in great hands while I'm off at work. Can you believe that I was even shunned from a "Mom's Group" because of this? Yes, those judgemental beyotches were quite appalled that I was planning on being a 'working mom'- please note the dramatic air quotes that accompany this stereotype. Like crack mom, only worse....
   And now there are lots of questions about how Jason and I actually parent her. I take most of these with a grain of salt and do consider the source. Or turn around and ask why they want to know- if it is from a soon-to-be parent, I know it's curiosity; if it's from an 'outsider looking in,' I know it's probably well-meaning but I don't feel like explaining and instead let them do all the talking as that's what they wanted in the first place- to tell you what their experiences were like. She's clean, healthy and well fed; furthermore, she is also sweet, affectionate and extraordinarily happy- and in the game of parenting that's worth more that a World Series pennant, the Super Bowl Trophy,  a Stanley Cup or a gold medal.

March 1, 2011

Terrific Tuesday: 3/1/11 (Resolutions, Twitter and a Sister Blog)

Happy Tuesday!  Why? Because it's not Monday and we're one day closer to Friday! I do like Tuesday's for some reason: it's my grocery shopping day, and it seems to be one of the more mellow days of the week work and family-wise.
  I had a super-productive weekend and feel in control of things (a great improvement over last week!); I'm almost at 400 Twitter followers; and am just generally happy this week!
    Today is also a Resolution Day. I find that making resolutions on the 1st of every month is far more productive than keeping resolutions from January 1st, and stressing over what went wrong.  For example, I made a resolution to "lose weight" on January 1st and it was already out the window by the 5th! Instead of beating myself up over it, I found an App on my iPhone (my 'world!') that would help me track my calories and in turn help me lose weight with a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goal: which is to lose 22lbs in about 15 weeks. The app is very user-friendly and has an on-line version with a community and is social as well... the social (seeing how much my 'friends' were going to the gym) is what made me finally get my butt back into the gym!  I'm actually hoping to hit that goal in about six weeks for a special occassion, but I have to step it up a bit, so I'm cutting back my calories and resolving to hit the gym (or be active) at least four times per week- which is four times more than I've been doing! So, my resolutions
  • Continue being active 4x or more per week
  • Continue with Family Green Plan   (just my little attempt to be more green-ish. We've actively done cans/bottles for the money, but now we have a big box next to the trash and all recyclables that can go curbside go in there. I'm happy to say that our trash bin went from overflowing to just half full, while the 'blue' bin is now very, very full!)
  • Ramp up my direct sales business to produce $500 in income/ month
  • Get home decluttered and organized
In other news- BabyK is now 18 months old!  Where has the time gone? There's so much that I've missed sharing on here but oh, the memories! It's amazing to know that she's gone from an infant to a walking running, chattering little individual in such a short time. And I love her more and more and more every minute!
   My dear friend Jenn also has her own blog now (she was one of my first, dedicated readers) and it is so quickly eclipsing mine in the amount of posting.  Additionally, her parenting style is much more natural mine (she breast feeds and cloth diapers) so if you are looking for advice on those topics, that is the place to go: check out Hybrid Rasta Mama and tell her I sent ya!
    And last but not least, a photo to show you how cold it's been- a one cat night perhaps?