Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Adapting to a Tiny Freezer

My freezer is tiny.  It's the smallest side-by-side Frigidaire makes (I assume).  I can't even fit a frozen pizza in it!  So, when it comes to storing food in my freezer, I have to be creative with the space I have.

I like to buy my ground beef in bulk, because we go through it very quickly.  As soon as I get it home (or sometime in the next few days), I measure out 1lb servings of the meat and put them in freezer bags. (This is not the cool part yet)

The cool part is that I realized I could save space in my freezer AND help myself when it comes to defrosting my meat later.  When I put the pound of meat in the baggie, I squeeze out all the air.  I then mold the bag to form a flat meat 'pattie'.  The bags now take up only about 1/4 - 1/2 inch of vertical space.   I put those flattened bags in a gallon baggie to keep them all together in my freezer.  I can get up to 6lbs of ground beef in one gallon bag by flattening them out like this.

Not only does it save space in my freezer, but it also serves an equally important purpose.  I started out flattening them, because I wanted my meat to defrost quicker.  The thinner they are, the faster they defrost.  And as an added bonus, you don't have the frozen middle 'chunk' that you're too impatient to wait for, that freeze your hands when you try to form meatloaves or hamburgers. Or is that just me?

Flattening out my ground beef for freezing works for me!  Stop by We are THAT Family to find more tips and tricks that work for others.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My New Favorite Thing

I recently mentioned that my 8 month old son went from eating all pureed food to eating finger food over night.  Well, this crunchy, make-it-from-scratch mama went out and bought Puffs for Jack this weekend.  Let me tell you, these things are WONDERFUL!  They're little puffed cereal that melt in your mouth and are full of flavor.  I started out with just two containers, (sweet potato and banana flavors) because I didn't know if they'd go over well.  Two days later, I went back to the store to get the remaining flavors (blueberry and apple strawberry) and more of what I already had.  Jack loves them all.  It seems now that all he ever wants to eat are those puffs. I have to keep them hidden, or he won't eat his other food.  I have to admit that I understand this.  For every one puff I let Jack pick up with his little baby fingers, I eat two.  They're so yummy! 

I'm so glad he's at the stage where he can have snacks.  This mama loves snacks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Something of interest

I didn't want to put Giveaway in the title, because I'm not giving anything away.  But I just wanted to share with my (few) readers a giveaway happening over at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee.  The giveaway is a set of teething jewelry.  How smart is that?  I haven't worn a necklace since Jack started teething.  These necklaces are designed for babies to chew on.  And for the Mommy to look good - while the baby is slobbering all over her jewelry.  HA!  What a great concept. 

I just wanted to share with my friends in case they were interested in getting in on the giveaway or sharing it with a mommy-friend. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bedtime Stories and Other Stuff

Every night, Jack and I go through the same bedtime routine.  First it's a diaper change, then sometimes a bath, and almost always some bedtime stories.  There are two stories that we read every night, but some nights call for more stories than just the two to help us wind down.  We have read It's Time for Bed  and Goodnight Moon every night since Jack was 3 months old.  He is VERY familiar with them  Usually he sits in my lap, listens to the stories, and sometimes tries to grab the book to eat it.  It's very sweet when he grabs the book like I do, and he sits there holding it open for me to read.  The other night we had a Growth Chart Moment while reading our books.  We were reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  and this time Jack reached for the page to run his little hand over it.  I thought maybe he wanted to rip it up, or just get a feel for the pages, but after doing this with all three of our books, on every page, I figured out that he was touching the picture on the page.  He was touching the bear's face, the little boy's hair, and the fire in the Great Green Room.  (You'd have to know each of the stories to understand.) I was so impressed with this, because up to this point, I wasn't sure what he was really seeing when we were reading the stories.  Now I know he's trying to figure out the pictures on each page.  I wonder if he's figuring out that the words I'm saying go with the pictures on the page. 

Other stuff - Do babies become solid-food-eaters overnight?   While visiting with family over the weekend, and apparently not bringing enough food for my little boy, I ended up giving him some of my food.  Mostly just my pasta, but also some bites of my Fluffy Pink Salad. (And a taste of BBQ sauce, but we won't talk about that). Today, while I was feeding him lunch, I realized he wanted to eat only what he could 'chew'.  I didn't thin down his chicken, which meant he had chicken powder to munch on (do you remember what it resembles?). I also gave him some small bits of nectarine.  He barely touched the pureed sweet potatoes that he usually loves.  I think he just wants to eat big-boy food now.  New baby-food-making adventures await me!

And I think it's finally here.  He's crawling like a big boy now.  Most of the time anyway.  He looks so cute doing it too.  We walk laps around our kitchen island, he cruises around all of our furniture, and now he crawls on all fours.  And I'm proud to say my floors have never been cleaner!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Works For Me!

I don't know if I'm just out of the loop or what, but for the longest time, I didn't know what to do with my grease after browning ground beef. Growing up, I'm pretty sure we kept a can or jar in the refrigerator that we would add the grease to until it filled up. I presume it would then get thrown away. While that may work for some people, I found that with my space limitations in my fridge now (read "I have too much stuff packed into this tiny, tiny fridge), it just wasn't working for me to keep a jar of grease. I tried leaving it in the pantry, lazy susan, and even on the counter top. None of those worked for me either. I wanted to get rid of the grease, not save it. (before I met him, my husband would pour it into a coffee mug...later realizing he had to throw the mug away)

So, here is my solution. I create a little pocket/basket out of aluminum foil, place it in the bottom of the sink, and then drain my grease right into that. I let it sit in the sink while we eat dinner. Usually, by the time I'm ready to clean up after dinner, all I have to do is throw the aluminum foil into the trash can, because the grease has 'firmed up'. I love that I don't have to save my grease in the fridge, and that it's easy cleanup. It may not be as cost effective, but I'm finding that store brand foil is pretty cheap and it works just fine.

This is what works for me. I'd love to hear if you have a better tip for getting rid of your grease. I'm always open to new suggestions!

Find all sorts of tips and tricks and what works for others at We Are THAT Family.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Food Adventures

Jack is 8 months today. 8 months! We'll be doing our monthly progression photo today, and I'm hoping things go better than last month. I've stitched up Buddy Bear and washed the quilt, so we're ready to go. This 'birth'day comes with a few Growth Chart Moments.

Jack ate his first finger food this weekend. The In-Laws came down to visit Saturday, and they took us out for dinner. I didn't take food along with us, because Jack had just eaten, but because of an impromptu nap on the way to the restaurant, we ended up getting there later than I expected. So, Jack was hungry. I asked if they had a banana for him, but big Italian restaurants don't have bananas. Go figure. So we gave him a bread-stick with no butter or garlic. This was his first time trying out 'finger food'. Not sure I would have started with a bread-stick, but it worked out great! He just gnawed away on it, and it slowly disintegrated. I did have to fish out a few big chunks a few times.

Since he's 8 months old now, I can start trying new foods for Jack to explore. My first new food: chicken! Before I read up on baby food making, I had no idea you could puree meat. Well, I've done it, and I can say - it's WEIRD! I boiled a chicken breast, let it cool, cut it into chunks, and then chopped it in my blender. It turns into a texture that is similar to Moon Sand. I have to admit, that it does not look yummy, but baby food doesn't always appeal to the mommy, right? I tried giving Jack his new food by itself, causing him to make all sorts of 'yuck' faces. Then I added it to some green beans. More 'yuck' faces. Finally, I tried mixing the chicken with sweet potatoes. That worked the best, since he loves sweet potatoes, but it didn't last long. I think chicken is going to be a 'work in progress' for awhile.

Finally, after all the new food adventures, and especially after the bread stick adventure, I decided to give Jack some O-shaped cereal. Let's just say he's not there yet. He looks at them on his tray, plays with them, picks them up in his little fingers, and puts them in his highchair "for later", but he does not eat them. He did try ONE, but he didn't seem to like it. We'll try again later.

Here is a picture from our visit with the Grandparents this weekend. Do you think Jack will fit in to the family? You've gotta love 3 generations of plaid!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Was Not Expecting This

We had a big day of Growth Chart Moments! And, like always, I wasn't expecting any of them.

The first moment happened after his morning nap. I was listening to the monitor while reading my blogs, waiting for him to wake up from his nap. Recently, he has been very pleasant after his morning nap, not screaming for me to get him as is his tradition after his afternoon nap. I've begun letting him have a little alone time in his crib when he wakes up from his morning naps. It's so adorable to hear him babble to the animals on the wall. After a while, I go in and get him, and it never fails - he cries as soon as I see him. Today, I was bracing myself to see him change from babbling happily to realizing his plight in the world (being in a crib, away from Mommy and his toys). What I found when I opened the door was my little baby boy STANDING there waiting for me! Now, I knew this would happen eventually, but I was not expecting this yet! He didn't cry this time. He just gave me a big grin. *We lowered his crib to the lowest setting tonight.

After his nap, we headed to the grocery store to do our weekly grocery shopping. (I even go through the same lane each time, and the woman is finally recognizing us. She thinks Jack is the cutest baby ever. Do you think she's just saying that?) As we were going down the baking aisle, I did something to make Jack laugh out loud. This was when I noticed a third tooth! I was not expecting this. His bottom two came in almost 2 months ago, and I'd been waiting and watching for the next ones to come in ever since. The thing is, I've been watching the top gums! I didn't even think the next one to come in would be another bottom one. I think it's been up for at least a week.

Recently, Jack's army crawl is getting pretty fast. I can tell he wants to crawl like a 'big-boy', but he just can't figure it out yet. He'll get up on all fours, but then as he starts going forward, he falls down to his belly. This evening, however, for about three 'steps', he crawled on all fours! I wasn't expecting this, because it was getting later in the evening, and he was getting pretty tired. (Which means he was pretty cranky and unable to keep from falling a lot). He is still mostly army crawling for now, but as of tonight, he has actually crawled 'big-boy' style.

Our little Buddy Boozle is getting so big! This 7th month has been a huge Growth Chart month. He sleeps better, cries a little less, eats a ton more, army crawls whenever and wherever he wants, pulls himself up on furniture and toys, and cruises around everything. I'm in the throes of "they grow so fast!"

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dirt and Dust

I have both dirt and dust in my house. I have never been one to keep a sparkling clean house. I don’t dust or vacuum on a regular basis. It gets done before company comes and when I can no longer stand it. I thank my mother for this lack of housecleaning skills. (Hi Mom!)
You’ll never know how much dirt and dust is in your house until you have a 7 month old crawling around, exploring his new found freedom. As soon as Jack found the window, I cleaned the window sill. Does that mean there is no more dirt in it? NO. As soon as Jack found the intake vent, I cleaned it. Does that mean there is no more dust on it? NO. As soon as Jack learned that he could fit nicely under the kitchen table, I swept and mopped the floor. Does that mean there are no more food particles, dirt, or dust under it? NO. I have come to the conclusion that, even though I will continue to clean my house *better than I ever have before*, I will never keep Jack from finding dirty or dusty places. I think that, in order to survive in my house, the boy needs to build up a little tolerance for dirt and dust. It’s boosting his immune system….right? Besides, he’s a BOY. Boys are dirt-magnets. They LOVE to be dirty. They don’t ever want to take baths, and they seek out puddles! I love boys.

By the way, I ‘walked’ around on my knees today as I dusted. I didn’t realize how dusty I’d let the bottom part of my house get. Who thinks to dust chair rungs?

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Because this blog is still so new, and because I'm anal, this blog may be acting a little funny for a while. It may look different from day to day as I try to pick a really groovy background. It may post previous entries again as I edit old mistakes and tags. You'd think I would work out all these kinks before I 'put it out there', but not me. I like to be difficult. Really, I just didn't know what I was doing when I started. I've learned a little since starting, and I'd like to put my new knowledge to good use.

So, please forgive me if I randomly change my look or randomly post previous entries again. Like my title says...RANDOM thoughts... I got that right in the beginning!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Baby Food Organization

This is my What Works For Me Wednesday organization tip.

This organization tip isn't very exciting, but it definitely works for me.

When Jack turned 6 months, I was excited to start making baby food. He didn't eat a lot at first of course, so I had a lot left over for freezing. I originally thought I'd purchase the fancy baby food cubes which stack nicely and keep things easy and clean while freezing your homemade baby food. But then I figured out that they're just glorified ice cube trays. In order to do anything I can to save us money, I decided not to buy the fancy cubes and just get a set of ice cube trays. I bake or steam the food, throw it in the blender to puree' it, and then freeze it in ice cube trays for a few hours or overnight. I then put the cubes in freezer bags and toss them in the freezer.

This was fine for a while, but then I had bags tossed all over my tiny freezer, and I was going crazy with the disorganized mess. (this may seem strange to those of you who know me, but I really hated not being organized with my baby food). In order to solve this mess, I knew I just needed a box of some sort. But I didn't want to purchase anything new (even though visions of cute little colorful sorting baskets came to mind). So, I found a box that was in my pantry, not in use, and tossed my bags in it. It was big enough to hold a few bags, and small enough to not take up a lot of freezer space. I can't close the lid, but that's ok for me. It adds vertical space to store my bags.

Check out what works for others and to get entered into some GIVEAWAYS at We Are THAT Family.


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