Friday, September 2, 2011


This is a Spanish Friday about what's On My Mind. Scroll to the bottom for the English translation.

El domingo, mi hijo (aqui se llamamos Pooh) cumplirá 3 años. Guau! Nos conocimos hace 2 años casi exactamente. Era (fue? nunca recuerdo) el fin de semana de Labor Day del año 2009. Yo acabo de cumplir mis estudios y mudarme a Texas para comenzar un trabajo nuevo. Fui a la casa de mis papas para la celebración, y vino tambien mi sobrina con su familia, incluyendo su "foster child" nuevo. Él era un gordito precioso!

Fue amor de primera vista!

Pooh vivía en la casa de mi sobrina por 9 meses, mientras mi esposo y yo cumpliamos todos los requisitos para ser "foster parents". Nos visitaba varias veces, y nos conocimos bien durante este epoca. Después de la navidad, mi sobrina y su esposo fueron a India, y Pooh se quedó con nosotros por una semana en total. Que alegre poder cuidar a ese niño precioso! El dia que recibimos nuestra licensia, Pooh se mudó a nuestra casa. Fue el 28 de junio de 2010. Después de casi un año, el 13 de mayo de 2011, finalizamos el proceso de adopción, y ahora el niño es hijo mio por siempre. Es increíble que nuestras vidas han sido tan bendecidas por ese hijo!

Y mira, como ha crecido y cambiado en 2 años:

Estoy participando en los viernes de español con Latinaish - ven a ver todo!

English translation:
Sunday, my son (who we call Pooh on here), will be 3 years old. Wow! We met almost exactly two years ago. It was Labor Day weekend of 2009. I had just finished school and moved to Texas for my new job. I went to my parents' house for the holiday, and so did my niece and her family, including her new foster child. He was a precious little doughball! [see first pic]

It was love at first sight!

Pooh lived with my niece's family for about 9 months, while P-daddy and I finished all the requirements to become foster parents. He visited us several times, and we all got to know each other during that time. After Christmas, my niece and her husband went to India, and Pooh came to stay with us for an entire week. What fun to take care of such a precious little boy! The day that we received our foster parenting license, Pooh moved to our house. It was June 28, 2010. Almost a year later, on May 13, 2011, we finalized the adoption process, and Pooh became ours forever. It's incredible how blessed our lives are with this little boy in them!

And check out how he's changed and grown in 2 years! [see second pic].

With the 3rd birthday coming up, Pooh is definitely on my mind! To see what's on everybody else's mind, join Rhonda over at Down to Earth!

My To-DIY list

I love making things for myself rather than having to rely on lots of commercial products. When Pooh was in diapers, we made our own cloth wipes, I make my own laundry detergent and dishwasher soap, and (when it's not 100+ degrees outside), we bake our own bread. Sometimes we get silly with it:

This morning, P-daddy brought home some delicious multigrain raisin buns (nope, not homemade, though you can bet they are now on his bread-baking list!). He piled his with mozzarella, tomato, and basil, but I opted for a sweet treat of Laughing Cow cheese with homemade blackberry jam:

I realized as I ate it that in all my 40+ years, I've never made homemade jam or jelly! My mom does, and lovingly provides it for us, and I actually helped pick the blackberries that went into that jam, but making jam/jelly is one thing that I need to put on my To-DIY list. uh-oh. I don't really have a To-DIY list! Well, at least I didn't before this post. Because I realized that just having a nebulous idea in my mind isn't enough! Crystal over at Money Saving Mom keeps a running list of new DIY projects, with one assigned per month. I didn't want to be that specific, but I did want to have a real actual list. So here it is, my ongoing To-DIY list:
1) Vanilla
2) Jam/jelly
3) Liquid hand/body soap
4) Busy bags for kids
5) Wool nighttime soaker
6) Bar soap
7) Household cleaners
8) Insect repellents (for humans)
9) Natural insecticides (for the garden)
10) Granola/snack bars
I'm sure the list will grow as I continue to think, but just getting those down into one spot helps me think about them more concretely. What about you? What are you To-DIY musts?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Calgon, take me away!

It's been one of those weeks! First day of classes, getting used to the new schedule, major deadlines coming up next week, and really, just too much to do in too little time. I'm feeling the stress. Even worse, I've been feeling the stress for a long time now.

A very wise friend once told me, in relation to changing jobs and moving on to something different, that you need to get out before you have to. I'm feeling in that position right now, sadly. There are so many aspects of my job that I love, but more and more I realize that it's not what I want to do forever. Not only do I not want to be part of the rat race stress, but I want to be able to enjoy my family while I can. This is a large part of what has brought P-daddy and I to the decision that a move out of the country would be a good choice for us. Not only would it be less expensive in terms of retirement, etc, but the pace of life would allow for more enjoyment now, when we really want to enjoy Pooh's childhood.

This doesn't mean we are packing up and moving today, as there are still tons of things to do before them. Here are just a few:
- Find a way to make money to live on
- Find a way to make money to save
- Decide where to live
- Decide where to send Pooh to school
- Decide what to do about our home here
- Pack up/sell/donate things we don't want to take with us
- Figure out how to take our household items with us
- Adopt Piglet (as of yet unknown to us, but we'd like a second child)

The list could go on and on and on. Each of those things I'll likely be talking about in a lot more detail as time goes on. I figure, the more research I do now, the sooner we can make the move!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nature's Bounty

Yesterday I mentioned talked about our produce co-op and showed what we got in it this week. What I didn't mention is the fact that we are overflowing in veggies right now! We hosted a potluck on friday night, and part of our contribution was veggie strips. Of course when I purchased them, I bought way more than we needed. Plus, rather than taking their contributions home with them, lots of people left them for the rest of the party-goers to enjoy. This meant that at the end of the night, we were left with a ton of food! That's both good and bad. Luckily, I was able to pawn off share the desserts with my sisters and their families, leaving us with just a few cookies and brownies that we promptly froze (except for this really incredible cinnamon coffee cake that I forced myself to finish).

One thing that was left was a gorgeous (and huge) veggie tray, with zucchini, yellow squash, cucumber, carrots, snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower, yellow pepper, and I think there's more that I cannot remember. That, plus the extra carrots and peppers that we already had, plus our co-op shop, means that we are swimming in veggies! This is only a small portion of what we've got:

While this many veggies sometimes means that some goes to waste, we are really trying right now to use our resources well and not waste food. Plus, it's the beginning of the school year, which is the most stressful time for me. So, I decided to take advantage of all the veggies and prepare lunches for this week. Here's how it went:

First, I chopped up onions, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes to make a chunky veggie sauce for noodles. I got the sauce going on the stove and the water boiling for noodles, and then started on the rest.

Second, I washed and chopped up cabbage and peppers, and portioned them and some carrots out into 5 individual servings. When the noodles and veggie sauce were done, I made 5 individual servings of them as well.

When I stored those in the fridge, I grouped them by day, so that I can just grab a stack and toss them into my lunchbag:

With that, I can add an apple or tangerine (no prepping needed), and I have a super-healthy lunch and snacks for each day of the coming week, that includes my 5+ servings of fruits and veggies.

Third, I washed and chopped the rest of the carrots, celery, cucumber, and cabbage, and packaged them so that they are ready to eat (or cook) whenever we want them. I washed the green and black grapes, removed them from the stems, and packaged them, so that they are easy to grab for a snack for Pooh. I also washed and chopped mango and nectarines so they are easy to add to smoothies or yogurt. P-daddy and I have been talking about pickling lately, so I decided to cut some carrots into matchsticks and pickle them as well. Then I prepped homemade french fries for the freezer and diced red and yellow peppers to freeze for later. Once I added the rest of the noodles in veggie sauce, we had quite an array:

Now my fridge is full, I'm ready for the week, and I feel a great sense of accomplishment! And Pooh is asking for grapes so I must run - luckily I've got a few all ready for him!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our Veggie Co-op

I have this distinct memory of grocery shopping with my sister shortly after returning from Guatemala. We walked through the produce department, where tomatoes were $0.99 a pound. My sister thought that was a good price, and suggested we buy them. "What?! 99 cents a pound?! Are you crazy? That's almost 10Q a pound, and I can get them from the woman at the corner stall for 2Q." [Note: Q = Quetzal, the currency in Guatemala, at that time roughly 8Q = $1]. I didn't buy the tomatoes. We moved on. Onions were too expensive, because I could get them 2 pounds for 1Q at my favorite vendor. Carrots, apples, and pretty much everything I wanted to buy was the same; outrageous "gringo" prices. um, yeah, gringo prices, since gringos would pay a lot more in the markets in Guatemala since the expensive prices were still less than what they would pay at home!

Adjusting to what I considered to be the outrageous prices on produce in the US, in comparison with the incredible prices I had seen all over Central America was really difficult for me. And yes, I look forward to seeing great prices again when we move. But for now, I'm in the US, and I am simply never going to find tomatoes for 20 cents a pound!

While we've started growing a few (very few!) of our own veggies, we don't produce nearly enough for our needs, so I'm constantly looking for fresh veggies at good prices. When I lived in California, I was part of a CSA, but where we are in Texas, we have not been able to find a CSA in our area with pick-up days/times that work for us. Instead, we've found a veggie co-op that buys in bulk from the local farmers market every two weeks.

This co-op is run by a woman in my sisters' homeschool group, and most of the members are also members of that group. In an effort to save on cost, everybody contributes $30 every 2 weeks, and one or two people in the group do the shopping every time, then come back to the organizer's house and split the goods:

At 8 am (yes, that means that the veggie buyers have to hit the market before the crack of dawn!), the rest of the members of the co-op arrive, pack their veggies into their boxes, pay for their portion coming in 2 weeks, and head home to enjoy the bounty.

When we first started this, we shared a portion with my sister, but we found that it was more veggies than we would sometimes eat before they were going bad, and we hated for them to go to waste. Now we share our half with another sister, and we end up having to buy a little more, but we prefer that over wasting food.

This week, this is what our quarter portion looked like:

Once it was all laid out and grouped together, it looked like this:

We got:
- 1 head of leafy green lettuce
- I head of broccoli
- 1 head of red cabbage
- 1 large baker potato
- 3 red bell peppers
- 2 yellow onions
- 4 tomatoes
- 1 huge nectarine
- 3 apples (one is not in the pic since Pooh already ate it)
- 2 oranges
- 5 tangerines
- black grapes (maybe 1/2 pound?)
- 1/2 bag of baby carrots (also not pictured)

For $7.50, I think that's a pretty good deal! I'm trying not to imagine how much better it would be in El Salvador! I admit, though, that I'm intensely curious as to how much this would cost me at the local grocery store - I think I may have to do a little cost comparison later today!