Apr 27, 2009

Cooking in Bulk

One of the many things I've learned from having twins is that time is very finite. After a busy day a work, I often don't want to necessarily cook at night. I also don't want to feed them fast food crap.

So, periodically I try to cook a few things in bulk over the weekend and refrigerate or freeze them. There are entire books and websites dedicated to Once A Month Cooking. If you search for OAMC you'll come across numerous website that give you recipes, menus, and shopping lists. I don't have the freezer space or the stamina to cook a month's worth of meals in one day. (I did try it once and just meh)

I recently came across a website called Cooking During Stolen Moments which is fabulous and has beautiful food pictures as well. I've made a few of the recipes that have been easy, tasty, and fun to make. (Plus they get a big thumbs up for also being bacon lovers like us!)

To give an example, while I was cooking waffles in the morning and waiting for each one to cook in my waffle maker, I made the brown rice balls. They made the entire house smell wonderful and both of my kids - who are rather picky - loved them.  And the recipe made enough for us to eat them with a couple of meals throughout the week with some to freeze for later. 

All I can say is...Yum!

Apr 23, 2009

Take Your Child To Work Day

Today was the national (US) take your daughters and sons to work day. Basically it's a day to bring your child to work and let them see some role models, hard work, and fun all combined to continue to inspire them to do great things.

I enjoyed having my children with me at work today. I work in the high tech industry so there were a lot of activities relating to technology, science, and math. Lego engineering, art activities related to shapes, online safaris, etc. 

If your company doesn't have one of these days, it might be time to start looking into it and share what you love about your job with your child.

Apr 20, 2009

Cooking Time

So there are many days that I get home from work late and don't have a lot of time to cook dinner. However, I still make it a priority to eat a family meal as often as possible. 

Some sources that I refer to quite a bit for quick meal prep:

Robin Miller from the Food Network has a show called Quick Fix Meals. She does some more in depth cooking and prep on the weekends (maybe 30 min) and then puts together 15 minute meals on weeknights. Her show notes list the recipes for the week, the grocery list, and provide step by step instructions on what to do to get prepared.

Cooking Light also has a Quick & Easy Meal section of their webpage. They have some great recipes. Additionally, they have 2 books Superfast Foods and 5-ingredient 15 Minute cookbook which are great for quick meal prep. 

I have been experimenting a bit with some quick meal options. One of my favorites to make is Fish in Parchment Paper.

Basically, take some fillets of white fish (trout, tilapia, or whatever happens to be on sale), add in some vegetables - I like to use leeks and carrots, sprinkle some seasonings - for me: salt, pepper, minced garlic, and thyme or dill, and then drizzle olive oil (or throw in a pat of butter) over the top. 

You can wrap up the packets and either freeze them or else refrigerate them for a day until you are ready to use them and then just pop them in the oven at about 425 degrees and depending if they are fresh or frozen - it takes 10-25 minutes to cook. Then just open up the packets and enjoy. 

Apr 9, 2009

Thursday News - Exercise

So I have a bunch of RSS feeds set up on different topics so that I can easily keep abreast of some of the things happening in my field. Much to my amusement, several of the articles from this week were about exercise.

The American of Othopaedic Surgeons came out today to say that you should do aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week. If you are just starting out, then they recommend starting with a 15 minute work out with a 5 minute warm-up, five minute workout, and five minute cool-down. Keep increasing the duration until you get up to 20 minutes or more. That's something that every parent can fit into their schedule!

Keeping with the exercise topic, the American Academy of FamilyPhysicians came out with some tips for sticking with an exercise plan. 

  • If you enjoy exercise, you're more likely to do it. Choose a class, sport or activity that you like, or work out while listening to music or watching TV.
  • Find a workout buddy to motivate you and make exercising more social.
  • Figure out the time of day you enjoy exercising most, and plan it then.
  • Don't push yourself too hard, and if you're in pain, slow it down or take a break.
  • Exercise doesn't have to be a dull routine. Instead, choose a variety of exercises that you like, and alternate them.
So keep on exercising - it's never too late to start!

Apr 7, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Road Trip

Spring break for the twins is next week and since we've learned that we have to time our vacations with their time off school, we are going to Disneyland. More specifically, we are driving to Disneyland. 

So here are my road trip tips:

  • Portable DVD players + library = win. My kids have portable DVD players, their own headphones, and we pick up DVDs for free from the library prior to our trip. It's a great way to keep them occupied.
  • MP3 player + kids CD books & Music. Again, the library to the rescue. My kids have MP3 players (which you can pick up for about $15 now). We then grab some music from the library along with a couple of CD books - The Magic Treehouse series is popular with both kids at the moment. More hours of keeping them occupied while they look at the scenery.
  • Build in interesting stops along the way. We haven't fully determined where we are going to stop, but we have lots of options along the way. Santa Cruz Mystery Spot, Gilroy Gardens, Monterey Aquarium, Bubblegum Alley and the Children's Museum in San Luis Obispo, the beach and Chumash Painted Caves in Santa Barbara. We planned for lots of different options since we don't know when or where we'll need to stop.
  • Pack a travel bag. Cookie sheets make great travel desks and can usually be picked up at the dollar store. Then you can toss in paper, crayons, magnets, magnet clips to hold the paper, etc. We also threw in some window markers so they can draw on the windows while we drive and some other little toys (Pokemon cards are hours of fun right now)
  • Pack snacks/drinks. Pack snacks and drinks for the road trips. It helps avoid some stops and is significantly cheaper than making purchases at gas stations/rest stops along the way.
  • Buy souvenirs in advance. Since we are going to Disneyland, we purchased some little things for the kids from the Disney store near our house which is significantly cheaper than purchasing stuff at Disneyland. 
Do you have any great road trip tips to share?

Apr 5, 2009

Finance Friday

Ok...so it isn't Friday but I still wanted to get a bit of financial information out there.

One thing that I've noticed lately is that my kids seem to be growing at a super fast pace. This has resulted in needing to buy kids clothes at the change of every season. Here are some tips on how I save money on kids clothes:

1) Freecycle.org - You can sign up for your local freecycle list and keep an eye out for clothes. As a warning, clothes typically go really fast. On the flip side, it's also a great way to get rid of toys and clothes really fast out of your house. Freecycle was a group of friends that wanted to keep things out of landfills and it's basically people who trade stuff they no longer want to others. We've gotten jogging strollers, kid bicycles, toys, etc through freecycle

2) Mothers of Twins/Multiples Club Sales - The Twins clubs often have sales of gently used clothes (as do several other moms groups). It's a great way to buy clothes fairly inexpensively. Typically most clubs have one in the fall and one in the spring. You can go to the national page and find a club near you.

3) Ebay/Craigslist - You can also sometimes get a pretty good deal on clothes from ebay or craigslist. Parents will sell a bunch of clothes. I managed to completely outfit my daughter one spring with one purchase from ebay of $40. 

4) Discounted kid clothing sites - There are several sites that offer discounted kids clothes. I often use kidsurplus.com they sell brand name off season clothes for pretty good prices. Also, the sale section of most major retailers often has some great deals too if you plan ahead and buy for the next season. (buy next year's winter clothes now for example)

Do you have any great tips on finding kid clothing?

Apr 2, 2009

News: Mothers of multiples have higher risk of PPD

Although the information came out on April 1st in Pediatrics, unfortunately it is no joke. Mother of multiples often have a higher risk of postpartum depression than single births. The scariest part of this study is that only 27% of mothers of multiples sought treatment for their depression.

How to identify postpartum depression? From the Mayo Clinic:

Postpartum depression
Postpartum depression may appear to be the baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and longer lasting, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Lack of joy in life
  • Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Severe mood swings
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby

So please seek help if you think that you are experiencing postpartum depression. Talk to your doctor. I use the general rule of thumb - if you have more days when you cry than when you don't, you need to seek help. From my experience, waiting doesn't make it better and you can't will yourself to get better. The best way to think about it is that there's a glass in your head and that after having all those hormones surging through you, the glass got a bit empty and just needs to be refilled.