4/11 Meal Solutions: My love/hate relationship with cooking

I never thought I’d be vlogging about meal planning or cooking, because – blah. Boring.

But the fact is that people who don’t like cooking have one of two options, unless there’s someone in their life who will do it for them. The options are, eat at restaurants on a daily basis or grow up and figure out a feasible way to prepare food.

I cook all the time for my family, because they get hungry and I love them and care about their wellbeing. But know what I don’t love? Spending time in the kitchen over a stove and a sink. Don’t love it at all.

The answer for me is buying food in bulk, cooking double or triple batches, and freezing ready-to-reheat dinners for later.

Sounds like a no-brainer, but I only just started doing this recently, after 6 years of cooking dinners every night… I’m admittedly slow in some areas. ūüėČ

I have a Sam’s Club membership, so buying in bulk is easier and cheaper than ever. Rainy days will be spent cooking and freezing, and the sunny days will be spent on the beach and not in the kitchen. Just a bit of advice before the summer gets here. Enjoy your life! ūüôā

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4/9 Education and the S-Word

Education & the S-Word (Private/Public/Charter/Home/Un)

The subject of schools is a complex one. As a¬†parent, you have a choice to make when your child reaches 4 or 5 years old. What are you going to do about school? If your child has been attending preschool or daycare, the transition might not be as major. It’s still not an easy answer, because you can’t be 100% confident that you have¬†the right plan. How can you know whether your child will have a good experience overall? What about safety… Curriculum… Emotional well-being… The other kids… The germs… The teachers… The drills… ¬†If you’ve been the primary caregiver and instructor in your child’s life, the jump to a full-day school program, 5 days a week will be truly be a life change.

I had a conversation with my husband about it¬†last night, which may have been the 40th discussion we’ve had about sending the boys to school. We talked about the pros and cons of private school vs. public school. We talked about the benefits and negative aspects of homeschooling and unschooling. We talked about charter schools and the government and common core and PAARC tests and tutors and and college and just about everything else under the umbrella of formal education. I asked him if I could record our conversation for my blog. He said no.¬†So here I am a day late, with a recap. (Note: my writing style on this post is free flowing, so do not hold the run-on sentences or the fragments against me. I won’t even promise to spell-check myself today, which is ironic given the topic of this post.)

Back to our conversation:

He asked me hypothetically, that if I had all the money in the world, would I hire a tutor in place of sending them to school. I said yes, hands down, but that I wouldn’t stop there. I’d also start a¬†co-op- an alternative to school- which would provide organized field trips, workshops, competitions and team-building exercises, and classes focused on teaching LIFE SKILLS (More on this in the following paragraphs). I feel strongly on the subject of elementary education and high school¬†because my own experience was very eclectic. My mom also felt strongly on the issue of education and school, and struggled with the difficulty of choosing the right plan. As a result, I’ve been sent to a laid back Christian school, to a military-style private school, to a creativity-driven charter school, and I was also homeschooled and for a few years technically unschooled since I was motivated enough for a self-taught method of learning. (The best part is, I made and retained friends from all of these experiences.¬†Network building, to the max!)

I’m not claiming to be the authority on education, but I can objectively provide input¬†on the vast array of education styles that I have experienced. The truth is, I loved ALL of them… except for the one military-style private school (although I’m STILL pen pals with the teacher I had in third grade). I loved the family environment of the Christian school where my son now attends Kindergarten. I felt right at home in the charter school with the block scheduling and the theater arts classes. Being homeschooled was amazing because I had the freedom and flexibility to focus on my natural interest and develop my skills as an artist and pursue my interest in legal studies and mock trial, while taking advantage of the outside world in all of its glory. PLUS I still had friends. Don’t¬†buy into the hype.

Now that I’m a mom, I don’t know what to do.

Homeschooling would require so much of me and I’m not sure I’m up to the task, even thought I would love to give my children that luxury. Freeing up the schedule and using a child-led learning style and direction is the biggest draw for me, on behalf of my kids. The six hour days, five times a week, ten months a year schedule¬†is designed for the convenience of working parents. I don’t believe it’s necessary or preferable for elementary grade students, and I’ll just say it: we’re robbing kids of their time. Not cool. It doesn’t get any better for adults.

Private school is expensive, and while I’m blessed with this option right now for Caedyn, I’m not sure if that’s going to work in the long term, especially when my younger child joins the group next year. I also don’t love the concept of teaching Bible as a subject in school. Before I get attacked for saying this, I’ll clarify by saying that I absolutely believe in God and support what’s written in the Bible, and I’ll teach my kids that I believe it and I’ll take them to church where they will learn more. But I don’t think teaching Bible as a subject in school is ideal because it’s not about education it’s about a lifestyle. What I appreciate most¬†about Christian school is that the environment is faith-friendly and that the kids are allowed to pray and talk about God without being discouraged or dismissed.

Charter school was awesome. Still long days, but it provides a more student-guided experience and it doesn’t seem as¬†politically correct as public school- at least that was my observation at the time.

Public school….makes me cringe. (And it’s not because I never want to a standard public school. And it’s not because I think public school is evil.) Years ago, sending my kids to public school¬†was the obvious choice in my mind, but the more I learn and read about public school practices and curriculums,¬†and the more teachers I speak with about their roles in the classroom and the situations they deal with regularly, the more convinced I am that choosing one of the other options would serve my family better. I understand that public school is the most feasible option for many people, quite possibly even myself. Still, something in my mom-intuition makes me hesitate to enroll my sons.¬†It’s my opinion, and I’m speaking in very general terms, that most public school environments are not family-friendly (read: parent-friendly) and the information being pumped into the kids is not presented without bias. On the other hand,¬†I went to a liberal arts college with no hesitation whatsoever, and while taking it all in with a critical eye, there were only two classes I had that were conducted with questionable underlying agenda. The deal-breaker for me and public school system was¬†the¬†brief stint we had at the public preschool down the road.¬†But I’ll save that situation for a different post.

Returning¬†back to the daydream that I’m having about starting a co-op, here is an idea based on what I believe would be ideal for my family. This isn’t some fail-proof plan I’ve spent years developing, but just a collection of¬†thoughts thrown together with a big “WHAT-IF”.

If I could, I would start a co-op elementary classroom that served to instruct students on life skills and to provide a variety of applicable information: basic math, money management, grammar and reading, research and writing, scientific theory, diet/food prep¬†and personal hygiene, geography and maps, nature and animals, and maybe a few others that I’m not thinking¬†of at the moment but you can leave the other important ones in the comments for me.

Envision classes being held 1-2 times a week, for a couple of hours. The learning wouldn’t start and stop in the “classroom” but the co-op would be effectively preparing the students to take the reigns of their own unique learning process. They’d be encouraged to take what they learned in the class and apply it by doing independent projects, visiting galleries, interviewing industry professionals, volunteering, etc.

Co-op for grades 7-12 would be broken up into smaller groups and provide specialized education and training in areas of interest to the particular student (business or biology or journalism or art or healthcare or engineering, etc.) Additionally, the upper grades would provide education on social issues taught without bias and would teach world views and cultures, but instead of reading about it and having a test, they would be taken to museums, travel, volunteer in different cultural fairs. They would be encouraged to volunteer and work as interns to gain real life experience and be laying the foundation for a career path.

I’m sure I’ll have more to add on this but for now, I’m going to close this blog so I can get back to work. Real work in the real world. ūüėČ

What do YOU believe is the best education plan?

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4/4 Bringing back the bartering system

Today is Day 4 of my V.E.D.A Challenge, where I’m posting a 2-3 minute video on the Turnoversbaby¬†Youtube channel daily through the month of April.

The topic is BARTERING= trading and swapping products or services instead of using traditional currency. There are many benefits to bartering which can be a resourceful and eco-efficient practice. Upcycling clothing and household items, locally sourcing baked goods or art, growing your own products and trading with neighbors for other types of food- all of these are budget-friendly practices and can help to unify a community. The act of trading something or swapping services cuts out the middle man. Why pay cash or use a credit card when you can do an even exchange?

Bartering is fantastic at the business level, too, because it doesn’t hinder¬†the cash flow. If there are products or services you have that another business needs, negotiate a deal so that both of you can benefit from a trade.

How can you incorporate this old-school style of commerce into your routine? Do you have a neighbor who sells eggs from her chicken farm ? Do you know someone who has a housecleaning service? What do YOU have to give or offer? Brainstorm and develop a few ways you can implement this approach.

Thanks for visiting TurnoversBaby on WordPress! Leave a comment and let me know what you think! Check out a few other VEDA videos by clicking the link below and show some love to the other vloggers that joined my challenge>>>

4/1 Kid-Friendly Jokes (April Fools)

Happy First of April. Hope you’re ready for Easter and springtime weather. I’m still racking my brain trying to think of a good prank to play on someone tomorrow. Meanwhile I was looking for FUNNY (not lame) JOKES for KIDS. If you know any, post them in the comments because the good, clean jokes are few and far between.

My silly boys love to laugh which means I tickle them daily, and every once in awhile I’ll break out in dance, unexpectedly, which throws them into fits of giggles every single time. After all, LAUGHTER is the best medicine, and we took turns with the stomach virus last week. So briinnnnnng it on.

There are a few fun pranks mentioned on this fellow momma’s blog that I may borrow from at the last minute!

I hope you watched my video above. This is my FIRST of the 30-day Vlog Every Day in April challenge and I’m double-dipping by incorporating my youtube channel and my wordpress blog. (I still have my¬†business¬†blog but I didn’t want to slow down my website with¬†embedded videos!)I’m trying a scientific approach to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which means I have to be very careful and can’t have any duplicate info. Plus I need to write a text file for everything I said in my video. Tricky stuff. If I say¬†UMMM¬†and SOOO¬†more than 5x per video, I’m going to lose it!

Enjoy! Play Nice. And please avoid the Knock-Knock jokes unless they’re groundbreaking. Happy April!

Photo on 5-22-14 at 1.31 PM #5

Thanks for visiting TurnoversBaby on WordPress! Leave a comment and let me know what you think! Check out a few other VEDA videos by clicking the link below and show some love to the other vloggers that joined my challenge>>>

My Survival Kit- Top 5 Things for Mom

Do you remember all those gadgets, ointments, first aid supplies, and other paraphernalia that you probably received at your first baby shower? Maybe you went a little wild on your registry and found yourself surrounded with tons of items that you thought you needed. The result: A back-breaking diaper bag.

As parents, we often depend on things to help us with the balance and order of our lives. Our needs change as frequently as our child grows. Prior to a year ago, I could not take my sons anywhere without hauling around our diaper bag- the vessel for a hundred things besides the diapers. It was a life line, fully stocked with every just-in-case product I thought I might need.

I’m learning to prioritize and condense as the boys are getting older. Their needs have changed, and my confidence has grown. Unless we are traveling to a wilderness, far away from all people, gas stations and shopping centers, there is no need to pack so many things. I’m always prepared, but my little car can only handle so much cargo without feeling cluttered and making my passengers feel claustrophobic.

Things. We don’t need as many as we think. I played through my day quickly in my head, and realized something: Short of food, oxygen, and love… we don’t really need too much. However, in terms of physical items, there are some things that have proven to be very useful.

I came up with five things which, as a mom of 3yr and 4.5yr old boys, I wouldn’t want to live without. Next year, my Top Five Things will look completely different, but for this stage of life here is my survival kit:

1. iPhone Notes App

iPhone Notes Application
For everything that I can’t rely on my brain to remember

I use this memo program on a regular basis.¬†I digitally manage items on my grocery list as I shop the market. I write to-do lists while I’m watching my kids play in the bath. I type first draft blog posts while I’m standing in line. I copy/paste addresses, numbers, info that I found¬†on emails or web browsers. Anything I need to remember, for future use, gets put in a digital note. I even keep track of my kids’ height and weight, and when someone has a fever I log their temperature & medicine times/doses. If you want to hear more rambling about how much I love the Notes app,¬†watch my vlog on Youtube.

2. Portable Potty Chair

Potty Chair
A must-have for road trips and outings with potty-training children

This has been a lifesaver more times than I can count. It stays in the car, along with plastic bag inserts that have absorbing pads inside. If my newly potty-trained son absolutely needs to go pee right away (because kids don’t always give sufficient notice), I’m prepared. It was especially helpful when my oldest was potty-training because it would have been awful to drag along my youngest and put the baby carrier on the floor of a public bathroom so I could help my toddler. Thankfully, I’ve never had to do that, and I was able to limit the trips to public restrooms.¬†The model pictured here¬†is great- the legs fold up so it can be more compact. The legs also snap outward, so it can be set on top of an adult sized toilet seat. We have a sturdier potty chair at home in their bedroom, in case they wake up in the middle of the night and need to use the potty.

3. Car DVD Player

portable-dvd-player
An easy way to encourage quiet and relaxing car trips.

Sometimes there are places to go, and the kids are not always on board. If you have a long drive ahead of you, a DVD player for the car is very helpful for keeping the kids content. Grandmary (great-grandmom named Mary) bought a portable DVD player for my kids two years ago. The model we have is battery operated, but has a power adapter that plugs into the car and one that plugs into a wall at home. The screen swivels, but I keep it in the center of the back seat so it’s viewable from both sides of the car. The holding case keeps the screen opened and it suspends from the back of the driver and passenger seats. The case has a pocket for DVD storage, and it also came with a remote control. On occasion, I will set up a DVD even for a 30 minute trip if I’m really in need of a peaceful and quiet drive.

4. Double Jogger Stroller

Double Jogger Stroller
This was my best option for taking the kids on a jog, to the mall, on the boardwalk, to the beach and to some restaurants.

This jogger stroller¬†was purchased by my coworkers when I was expecting my second child. I don’t know how I would have ever left the house with the boys if not for this very handy transportation device. My sons are almost 3 and 5, so I considered selling it this year, but even my oldest still fits comfortably. It’s wonderful for taking walks, a day at the zoo, a jog on the boardwalk, and it even serves as a wagon for the beach since the tires are so wide. The storage space underneath has held shopping bags, snacks, toys, sweatshirts- you name it. The cup holder section near the handle is a convenient feature. The seats even lay back, which is excellent for holding a baby.

5. Storybooks

Storybooks
Reading is part of our bedtime routine and it helps the kids to be calm and listen contentedly.

Storybooks are a must-have in our house because we enjoy reading together, and it helps the kids to be calm and listen contentedly. Thankfully, we have an enormous collection of books and we visit the library every two weeks so the boys can choose new stories. Every night, we read 2-3 books before bed, and it’s good for them to have quiet time to listen and sit still for awhile. We also keep books in the car so the kids can look at the pictures and words while they’re stuck in their seats.¬†Storybooks can also help them to be patient at restaurants and in waiting rooms, and quiet when visiting someone who’s sick.

What are the Top Five Things in your parenting survival kit?

#momessentials

Get fit, avoid tantrum.

I’m not going to present myself as a committed fitness guru, and I won’t deceive you by implying that I exclusively eat vegan, non-GMO, healthy foods everyday. On the contrary, I’m writing this with a handful of jellybeans on the table to my right. My diet is healthy and well-balanced in general, and being in my best shape is important to me, but I have learned to set realistic expectations.

I have been in decent shape all of my life, mainly because I had hobbies that were physically strenuous. Rollerblading, playing basketball, running track, and snowboarding in the winter helped me to maintain an athletic build as a child and teen. In my late teens and twenties, I lived in the city and walked absolutely everywhere- often in high heels.

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Playing in water in Hawaii
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The fun kind of exercise ūüėČ

Even while pregnant, I was on the move- constantly up and down concrete stairs and traveling up and down Broadway while on lunch breaks. Truly, I was not concerned with weight much and I don’t bother with scales often even today. A telltale sign for me is “How do my clothes fit?” Having a baby throws you for a total loop, inside, outside, emotionally, and socially.¬†When my baby was ten months old, I went to work at a tailor shop on a United States Coast Guard base. Their state-of-the-art gym building was available for my use, so I took full advantage and my body was transformed into pre-pregnancy shape once again.

My baby's first outing
My baby’s first outing

Then… SCREECH!!!!! I had another child, was no longer working outside of the home, and I was left in¬†worse physical shape than the first time¬†around. Furthermore, a gym membership was out of the question. Competent babysitters were few and far between, and money was tight, so I had to get creative for my workout routine. I know there are other women out there in that same boat, and that is why I put together this blog post! I want to inspire and encourage you to create exercise opportunities for yourself in any season, with children of any age.

Lately, I’ve been feeling less motivated and my commitment level is dangerously low, so I created a list of ideas meant to inspire myself¬†to get up and do it! Hopefully, I will gain a few accountability partners who will cheerlead me in the comments, and I will also be asking what YOU are adding into your daily routines. If you feel trapped because you have children climbing all over you and can’t get to your local fitness center, take a look at this realistic chart and think of what you could implement right now. Spring=Green, Summer=Yellow, Fall=Orange, Winter=Blue

Object: Get Fit, Avoid Tantrum
Get into shape, in any season, with children of all ages in your care

In case you have not noticed, babies & children can really throw off one’s personal plans. If you’re dressed in workout clothing and ready to do some floor exercises, it will be that moment when your child needs assistance in the bathroom.

Even a baby can sense when something un-baby-related is in the works, because when Mommy steps up onto the treadmill, the baby will forget being content in the swing and will begin fussing for no apparent reason.

That may sound rather paranoid, but it is definitely the case in my house, and I used to be highly frustrated because I felt I could never get anything done! Whether it was working on my home-based business, cooking, cleaning the bathroom, getting a shower, switching out kids clothing for the next size- NO amount of planning ahead, distractions, or pleading would ever buy me enough time to finish a task like that.

When I was about one step away from insanity, I questioned whether it was humanly possible for caretakers of young children to be time-efficient and productive. Then I came up with a plan, and so far it has been working like a charm…

Wait until they are sleeping, or make them a part of it. 

Sidebar: showers are preferable while they are sleeping, as is most business-related work, but naps are a thing of the past and they only sleep so long at night.

MOTHERS OF NEWBORNS: A word of caution: You should not exercise before your doctor gives you clearance, at your six week checkup. Walking and stretches were awesome for me in the beginning, but I (stitches and all) was not ready for serious exercise until my baby was a few months old. Even at that point, I would advise that you pay attention to how your body feels and start slow.¬†Helene Byrne, founder of¬†BeFit-Mom, has offered a few safe suggestions.¬†‚ÄúAfter an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, women can start¬†pelvic floor exercises, special postnatal abdominal isolations, gentle stretching, and fitness walking with the baby in either a front pack or stroller as soon as she feels ready,‚ÄĚ Byrne says. All pregnancies and recoveries are not equal. Since the recovery time for a C-section is longer, I would strongly advise women not to exercise until they are fully healed and have had follow-up appointments with the doctor.

There are exercises you can actually do with your baby, aside from the ideas on my chart (above). A personal trainer in NYC named¬†Stefan Aschan has come up with exercises you can do using your infant’s weight to actually enhance your workout. Read more about it here.

TurnoversBaby's board on Delicious & Nutritious recipes
TurnoversBaby’s board on Delicious & Nutritious recipes

Now, the second part- which is no less important but not my topic of choice- is DIET. Diet and exercise go hand in hand, and I thank God that one inspires the other. When I’m doing sit-ups, it’s a great time to reflect on what I’ve been eating and when my abs start to scream, I downright resent the dessert I ate. My motivation to eat healthier is #1 I want to be healthy/beautiful inside & out, and #2 I want my workouts to feel easier and show me quick results. But diet on it’s own is a no-no in my book. I believe that STRENGTH is hugely important when you have children. Eating less or eating cleaner will surely help you to lose weight, but you don’t want to lose muscle in that! Try juggling a baby, a toddler, stroller, diaper bag, etc… you get the idea. So don’t lose your muscles- you’re going to need those. I am obsessed with finding healthy, delicious meals and snacks for my kids and for myself. I’ve started to pin recipes on Pinterest, so¬†follow our board¬†and you are welcome to send us your pins.

Meanwhile, I hope this was useful to you. Please share my chart and help other mommies take control of how they look and feel in a realistic, non-stressful way. Making your kids part of it is key, and you’re also teaching them by example how to exercise and take care of their bodies. Good job, mommas! If you have any ideas that I didn’t mention, or want to talk about what works in your family, leave a comment and share.

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A different kind of Valentine’s Day

Here’s the situation… Before kids, we loved to go on extravagant dates. Expensive,delectable restaurants in the center of town. Spontaneous excursions. We had fun. Even on a college budget there was always fun to be had via snowboarding trips to the mountains, game nights with friends, renting out the rink for private ice skating, karaoke, Harlem globetrotters games, open mic night, dance clubs, blah blah blah…

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Hanging out at Dave & Busters Arcade
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Snowboarding in the bitter cold of the Poconos
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At my friend Karen’s wedding

Fast forward to 2014: Having two preschool-aged boys makes it tougher to get away from the homestead, and it’s truly impossible to be spontaneous. Competent babysitters are few and far between, and going to Philadelphia so we can dine at our favorite restaurant is not in the budget.

So- it is time to get creative. How can I make-believe we are having dinner at Tequila’s, and avoid spending hundreds of dollars? How can we get around the challenge of finding an available, trustworthy babysitter for the night? (Where are all the level-headed, interactive teenagers hiding??)

The answer: Steal ideas from the menu, put the kids to bed for the night, and make cooking as a couple part of the experience. The result: AMAZING food, surprisingly good teamwork, and a memory far more special than the usual night out.

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The source of the inspiration. Tequilas Restaurant on 16th & Locust, Philadelphia, PA

Do I feel guilty for stealing the menu of this grand restaurant, and practically replicating their options in my kitchen? A little bit. No. Many people would never take the DIY approach (it’s no good if you’re impatient and hate cooking), and I hardly expect the restaurant’s business will suffer because of my choice. And so, inspired by their Valentine’s Day themed Special Lovers Banquet menu, we agreed to make sangria, a festive salad, rib eye steak in chorizo sauce, chocolate truffles with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet, and our favorite appetizer: queso fundido.

queso
Queso Fundido is a cheesy dip served with small flour tortillas or corn chips.

Next, I scoured the internet for recipes (links included below) that sounded close enough to our selections. The ingredients list tool on Allrecipes.com was helpful for some of the choices, and I also used Google to search for things by name.

I had a memo on my cellphone with a list of the ingredients needed for our dinner. We went shopping yesterday, and spent $73 at the grocery store, and another $26 at the liquor store (wine & raspberry pucker for sangria, mexican beer for the queso fundido). Spanish/Mexican food is CHEAP when you shop at the grocery stores! You may have to find a Spanish store for chorizo (hot sausage) or chayotes (a Mexican squash) but we found practically everything with no trouble at all.

Chayotes (a type of Mexican squash) look a lot like pears, but the bottom has a really funny shape. The whole family was joking about it looking like an old man's expression when eating something sour.
Chayotes (a type of Mexican squash) look a lot like pears, but the bottom has a really funny shape. The whole family was joking about it looking like an old man’s expression when eating something sour.

I also will admit that some of the prep was done last night. I made the raspberry sorbet (it needed to freeze) and mixed up the sangria (the flavors blend better overnight), and we also made the chocolate truffles and put them in the fridge. It was easy and didn’t take long.

Chocolate Truffles dipped in Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate. I colored the white chocolate pink with strawberry juice to decorate the top, and made taffy hearts. Cute?
Chocolate Truffles dipped in Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate. I colored the white chocolate pink with strawberry juice to decorate the top, and made taffy hearts. Cute?

Today needed to be¬†an early dinner¬†because of a commitment at 7pm. (Although I highly recommend you do this at night if you have young children, and let them watch a movie in bed while you cook. Tuck them in, say goodnight, and you’re ready for your date in the next room!)

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Neither of us are drinkers, and wine doesn’t appeal at all- But thanks to my friend taking us to a Portuguese festival back in 2006, it’s now our occasional beverage of choice.

The sun was shining, it was time to make dinner, and I needed a hat.

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Marques cannot take finding hair in his food, and despite my best efforts, it happens from time to time. I was considerate enough to stuff all of my hair into this pink striped hat that I found in the closet. (My grandmother bought me this when I was ten. True story.)

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At 3:30 this afternoon, we started chopping, grating, and sautéing.

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Carmelized Almonds, to top the salad
Carmelized Almonds, to top the salad
Poblano peppers had to be blackened under a broiler, then peeled and diced
Poblano peppers had to be blackened under a broiler, then peeled and diced
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I could easily be a vegetarian, or a pescatarian, since I’m not a fan of cooking meat. I eat steak maybe once a year.
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Searing the Rib Eye Steaks

I branched out of my comfort zone and touched raw steak. Massaged it, actually, with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Not my favorite part of this thing.

I sipped some sangria while the steak was cooking
I sipped some sangria while the steak was cooking

By 5:00pm, we were sitting down to a very Tequilas-esque dinner, all within the comfort of the kitchen.

tabledessertplates

It was fun, and really delicious. And I am no chef. Want to try? I dare you to get inspired by your favorite restaurant’s menu, and research some recipes to make with your honey. Make a memory and save money. By the way, the amount of food we made was way more than we would have been served while dining out. We had enough to share with others, plus there is queso fundito and a plate of truffles in my fridge right now.

Going to Philly for dinner at Tequilas would have cost us $303.95

Appetizer (queso fundido) $9.95

2 extra glasses of sangria $16

Valentines Special ($75 per person) $150

20% gratuity fee ($40)

Roundtrip train tickets $38 (to avoid the gas, tolls, & parking garage cost)

5 hours of Babysitting (rate: $10/hr) $50

–¬†darkshot

We spent almost $100 on everything we needed, and our kids were safely at home with us while we enjoyed our dinner for two.

Here are the recipes we followed!

Queso Fundido

Carmelized Almonds (for the salad)

Raspberry Mango Sangria

Rib Eye Steak with Chorizo sauce¬†(the rub wasn’t included with this guide, but I used olive oil, sea salt & black pepper)

Chocolate Truffles

Raspberry Sorbet

Resourceful Guide to a Gender Reveal

GENDER REVEAL is a¬†new trend that has been gaining popularity over the last few years.¬†Before sonogram technology was created, the gender was always a surprise, announced at the time of the birth! When sonograms were invented, parents were given an opportunity to find out sooner.¬†The latest craze is a compromise of those two options. Hosting a gender reveal party means that you won’t need to wait until your baby is born, yet you can still share¬†the surprise in the company of your friends and family.

Depending on how you look at it, you could see benefits or disadvantages to choosing not to find out your baby’s sex before delivery.
Keeping Baby’s Gender a Surprise

Let’s face it! There are pros and cons to each of the two extremes.

You might go the route of finding out ASAP because you can’t take the suspense, feel that you’re pre-planning is limited, or the pressure from family and friends makes you cave.

You might insist on waiting for the birth because you love surprises, found that it simplified the planning process, or because you take the most natural possible approach to things.

¬†¬†I was inspired to provide some helpful options (See them below) for moms-to-be who want to host an easy to plan, budget-friendly event. There are so many themes and favors and games available through online search, but the common approach isn’t always the best one. I created a list of the typical vs. the resourceful, and included some costs for your comparison. Shipping costs and transportation expenses were not included in the totals.¬†The costs are based on a party of 18 people.

Also note that for Option #2 Resourceful Approach, everything is reusable and there is nothing to throw away after the event is finished. The best part about following this guide: You could save over $300, plus save time and energy on the simplified style, and you will not have bags of garbage to take out with you.

Tips and Ideas for your Gender Reveal
Tips and Ideas for your Gender Reveal Typical

Typical Approach – Grand total $453

Cake

  • Bakery-made gender reveal cake, $75

Surprise Factor

  • Box of helium-filled Balloons, with no lasting value, $24

Snacks

  • Catered Hors D’oeuvres, minimum $180

Tableware  (prices from Party City)

  • Plates in pink & blue, $16
  • Napkins in pink & blue, $8
  • Plastic dining wear, $8
  • Plastic drinking goblets, $20

Store-bought Decorations

  • Paper Decorations, $28
  • Paper table cover, $6

Voting Symbols

24pc Lips/Moustache Awls $26

Invitations

  • Custom Invitations, $54
  • Postage, $8

Resourceful Approach – Grand Total $118

Cake

  • Friend or Relative bakes cupcakes, No direct cost

Surprise Factor

Snacks

  • Potluck-style appetizers, No direct cost

Tableware

  • Reusable Plates, Silverware & Glasses, No added cost
  • Cloth Napkins, No added cost (If you don’t own any, buy 20 for $11)

Homemade Decorations

  • Baby Photos of Mom & Dad, Ultrasound Scans Banner, Flowers from the garden, No cost
  • Tablecloth alternative:¬†5pk Baby Receiving Blankets, $13

Voting Symbols

Pink & Blue Wooden Clothespins, $4

Invitations

  • Online Invitations, No Charge

Postage, No Charge

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Remember, the object is to intentionally spend money on things that you need/ will use again, and eliminate the unnecessary extras that take up time and add to your never-ending list of things to do. Chances are, you will want to spend more time on prepping the nursery, creating gift registries and getting extra sleep before your bundle of joy arrives. Clean up will be a breeze, too! Just throw the receiving blanket “tablecloth” and the napkins into the washer, and use the dishwasher for the cutlery. You won’t have trash bags full of paper products. Follow our tips and you will enjoy your special day, and feel especially green while you do! (In spite of the pink and blue)

I hope this is useful for you! Please comment with your own helpful tips or questions. I will check back regularly and will do my very best to assist.