AsylumMom

Life on the inside. I've been sentenced 18 years to life and The Wardens are doing their best to drive me even crazier.

Archive for the tag “photography”

Shopping Results and What to do The First Day – Month Under $300

I’m finally here! I know I’m late but I can finally take the time to write up this post. And prepare yourself, it’s going to be a doozy.

To start things off, my shopping trip yesterday. I have included my receipts below and I know the totals are higher than expected, but let me remind you, this bit is about groceries. My receipt includes other household needs (like dish soap and toilet paper). Therefore, I have marked out the things that weren’t groceries but left the prices. Below each picture I will put how much I spent on food or food related items and then will give you my total. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I forgot to get the receipt for the gas but I spend $63.00. This amount would bring my total cost slightly above $300 for the day, but, it was well worth it.

First, I went to Walmart.

Walmart, trip one: $208.53

These trips costs also include the cost of formula for Row, and some snack items for B. Such as hot dog weenies, a box of packaged animal crackers, a box of packaged fruit snacks, and some Nutella to trick them into eating breakfast. There are also some extra veggies and fruits there to make baby food with. Those things weren’t on my shopping list from my previous post but I needed them for The Wardens. My total will still be under $300.

Sam’s, trip two: $66.09

After deducting the unrelated items, I added the two together to get a total of:

$274.62!

 

Now the fun part can begin!

After you get home with your groceries and you have taken the thirty minutes (or more if you have stairs or are alone) it takes to lug it all into your house, you can start putting things away or setting them aside. My trip lasted late yesterday so I simply put my meats on the bottom shelf of my fridge until morning. I put away the things that were already frozen and the dry or other cold goods. This morning, I got up and got ready to take care of the longest and most complicated day of this process. I promise the other days aren’t nearly this difficult!

A quick look at my tiny pantry trying to look organized without busting at the seams:

Teeny-tiny pantry

Teeny-tiny pantry

First, I got ready to separate and pre-prep the beef related meals. The bag meals for the Teriyaki Chicken and the Stew can be found in a link in yesterday’s post. I don’t have to explain those here. And you can scroll past the part where she talks about the shopping lists and such, we took care of that part already.

The other beef things called for certain amounts of beef per recipe. Because I want to save money, I buy my beef in the largest packages I can. Which just so happen to be 5lb rolls.

10lbs of beef

10lbs of beef

So, in order to get the meat I needed, I made a short list on a scrap piece of paper to take to the kitchen with me.

4lb – Goulash

2lb – Shepherd’s Pie

2lb – Spaghetti

2lb- Meatballs

Then I grab a sharpie, some gallon size freezer bags, plastic wrap, and get ready to go. (I use plastic wrap and plastic bags for several reasons; you can re-use the bags later, the wrap makes it easier to separate the meat, and double wrapping prevent freezer burn.)

First you need to label your bags. I only used three and labeled one “Goulash-4lb”, another with “Shepherd’s Pie-2lb and Spaghetti-2lb”, and the third with “Swedish Meatballs-2lb”

Because I plan on prepping the meatballs, I don’t care how the meat is. And because I want to keep my beef easy to package, I want to others to stay in rolls. This means that I cut about 1lb (don’t worry about being exact! Just guess about a fifth of the roll) off of the end of one roll to create my 4lb package for my Goulash. Wrap that is plastic wrap and toss it in your labeled bag. Make sure to squeeze the air out. It’s easy, just roll it!

4lbs for Goulash!

Next, you take the other roll and do the same to the end of it! That gives us our second pound for the meatballs and leaves us with 4lbs. Now cut that in half. Wrap each of those rolls and put them in your Shepherd’s Pie/Spaghetti Bag. Easy-peasy!

The two 1lb ends for the meatballs.

The two 1lb ends for the meatballs.

Easy-peasy!

Easy-peasy!

Then comes the fun part. Take the two 1lb ends and dump them in a large bowl. Throw in some seasoning (whatever you like), some bread crumbs if you want, an egg, and anything else you think you might like.

It's not an exact science!

It’s not an exact science!

Then, mix it all up until it’s nice and even. I used my hands. (Yes, they were clean, I wash them before and after every handling because meat is slimey.) You can use a spoon if you like but I’m from the south and here, cooking is hands on. Once it’s mixed well like this…

…we can start making our meatballs.

Meatballs! Meatballs!

Meatballs! Meatballs!

And yes, I used my hands for those, too. They aren’t perfectly round because I didn’t measure or use an ice-cream scooper. Just use your hands! It will all be fine! When we are done with this, we can put them in their own bag and place them in the freezer! Make sure to lay them flat first so they don’t get squished. But once they are frozen you can move them. When I’m ready to cook with them, since this recipe has been doubled, I can just break off half and thaw them and use the other half when I’m ready!

Freeze flat!

Freeze flat!

Finally! We can clean up our mess from the beef. Make sure you clean everything really well because we are working with the chicken next. However, because chicken is SO NASTY (in my opinion), I just got in and got out. I didn’t stop to wash my hands just to take a picture. So, unfortunately, I only have an end result for you. However, I will explain how I got there.

Once again, I made a list of what I needed for each bag.

4 breasts – Teriyaki

6-8 breasts – Spanish Chicken

6 chopped fine – Quesadillas

4 chopped – Alfredo

And once again, label the bags. I only used 4 bags (two for each of the Teriyaki and Spanish chicken) and used plastic containers for the chopped ones. You can go to the previous post for the Teriyaki recipe. The Spanish Chicken recipe is also in a link in the previous post, however, I made it a freezer meal so here is what I did:

First, I trimmed the breasts of any extra fat. Then I placed them flat in the bag (4 in each). I then poured the enchilada sauce, taco seasoning, and about a half a cup of shredded cheese per bag. After that, I added in a half a can of drained and rinsed black beans to each bag and a half a can of whole kernel corn to each because I had some spare in my pantry. When I’m ready to cook it, I will thaw it about halfway and then dump it into my stew pot and cook on a medium heat while stirring (and adding a little water as needed) until almost fully cooked and then will turn the heat to low and allow it to sit until the chicken is easy to shred. This will then be served with soft tortillas and Spanish rice! (You can use your crock pot, this was originally a crock pot recipe. I don’t have a crock pot anymore/at the moment so I use a stew pot. Because I’m home all day, it’s fine. I just stir it more often.)

After that is done we can trim and chop the other breasts for the last two meals. Here are the end result containers of chopped chicken. Notice the two together are a darker color and chopped finer. This is because I seasoned them with cumin and paprika and a little season salt because they are going into my quesadillas and we like our tex-mex spicy in my house. The other container is for chicken alfredo, though, and therefore was seasoned much more lightly and chopped into larger pieces.

Tex-Mex Style

Tex-Mex Style

For the Alfredo

For the Alfredo

 

Whew! Finally! I can put this all away and go do something else! I had dinner with family tonight so I didn’t actually cook which means no recipe tonight, darlings. But, alas, I fear you might gladly accept that! A recipe added to all this mess would just be entirely too much. Tomorrow I have church and then possible lunch with Dad’s family that may even turn into dinner. If it’s late at night  before you hear from me again then you can bet it was a good day. But I WILL post again. I have to give my weekly roundup and weekend recap!

So until then, goodnight!

 

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Intro to: “Feeding my Family of 4 for a Month Under $300” (Also D6 & D7)

Today will be short because it’s only an introduction to something I will be working on over the next week or so.

If you have read my “about” page, you have seen that I live in a tiny town with no options for shopping (at least not within a limited budget) and I might add, we live an hour from any other decently-sized civilization. If you haven’t read my “about” page, go now!

Did you go? Good, now we can really start. All of this may leave you wondering, “Well, how do you afford the gas to go grocery shopping? Wouldn’t that break your budget?”, to which my answer would be, “Yes, it would, especially since I drive a Suburban. But I don’t go grocery shopping often enough to cost me too much in gas.”. At this point you are staring at me like I’ve lost my ever-loving mind. I mean, really, how the hell do I not go grocery shopping!? I’ve got kids to feed!

Okay, let me clear things up. I said I don’t go grocery shopping often. Not that I never go. I go once a month.

That’s right! One day a month, I get a babysitter (yes, it’s necessary), put my big ass cooler in the back of my suburban,  grab my shopping list, and off I go to do my grocery shopping for that entire month. In fact, this introduction is coming right now because I’m going for the month of February on Friday! Yay! Isn’t that just perfect timing? It’s almost like I planned it…

How do I do this? Well, I buy everything I need for the entire month in one trip (the only thing I don’t buy is milk because we get that at the convenience store as needed) and that means I need to have the entire month planned out, to the day, to the meal, to the second!….Right?

WRONG

Wrong? Yep. I don’t have my menu planned for each and every day. I do, however, have a menu. This is what I will be posting tomorrow as well as my shopping list. I make a list of meals that my family likes. I then double or triple them as needed. I do a lot of freezer meals but I’m pretty lazy so that means I like to do things the easy way. I use easy recipes and easy methods. I figure up how many times one batch of food can feed us (I do a lot of leftovers for lunch) and shop accordingly.

One of my favorite examples is when I make chicken spaghetti, I double my ingredients  then I assemble one in my 9×9 baking dish and another in a foil catering dish (I bought 20 of them with 20 lids for around $10 at Sam’s). Then I place one in the oven, and cover the other and put it in the freezer! It’s that easy. When I’m ready to eat it, I get it out the morning of, place it in the cold oven (so it’s not taking space on my counter tops) and by the time I’m ready to bake it, it’s thawed out! Easy-peasy.

With that in mind, you can come back tomorrow to find my menu for this month as well as my shopping list for Friday. Then, Friday evening, I will post a copy of my receipt so you can see the proof! After that, I will be posting the recipes as I make them (screw that cooking once a month thing, I go with the flow!) and I will be posting the instructions on how I save them for later and how I go about re-heating them! This should be fun!

As a side note, I’ve been doing things this way for about 4 months now. I looked into many variations before I kind of stumbled into this method that works well for me. I understand that most people don’t live this far from a grocery store and that’s fine. But I do. And I have to keep my family on a VERY tight budget. This was the best way for me to do it. Another way this would help someone is any parent with a schedule too busy to shop often or think about meals every day could easily chose one day a month to shop and spread the work out accordingly. It really is a flexible plan!

 

Now! For D6 and D7!

D6 said “from some place low”….

A shot of my son's toy shelves in his room.

A shot of my son’s toy shelves in his room.

D7 said to take a picture of fruit… this will have to do.

I didn't have any fresh fruit (or fake for that matter) on hand so my smoothie raspberries would just have to be good enough.

I didn’t have any fresh fruit (or fake for that matter) on hand so my smoothie raspberries would just have to be good enough.

Baby Friendly Recipe (That My 2-Year Old Also Loved!)

The other day my friend, Joanne, posted a recipe on facebook that caught my interest. It seemed easy enough and was really open to adaptations. Here is my version of what she made based on what I had left over in my freezer and pantry.

Fast and Light Baby/Toddler Meal

Ingredients:

*You don’t have to be exact on these and you can substitute just about anything! Have fun with it!

5-6 baby carrots- cut either into small rounds or thin slices (I did slices)

1 1/2 c baby twist noodles

frozen vegetables of choice (I had about 1/8 c of mixed veggies and some sweet peas that I used)

a pinch of salt

2 tbsp olive oil (or butter)

1 tsp cilantro (her original recipe called for pesto but season it however you want!)

1/4 c Orange-Ginger marinade or sauce

about 2 c water

Get out a small saucepan. Add water, salt, and olive oil/butter to pan and bring to a boil. Throw in the carrots and set the timer for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes are up, add the frozen vegetables (I ended up adding around 1/2 c total) and the baby twists. Set the timer for 5 minutes. When the timer is done, remove the pot from the heat, add cilantro, cover, and let stand for 5-10 more minutes or until everything is soft. Drain and rinse with cool water twice. Gently stir in the Orange-Ginger sauce. Serve!

This recipe made enough for me to feed both B and Row as well as store two more small bowls in the fridge for later.

Warden-Approved!

Warden-Approved!

Give it a whirl! My kids loved it and it was so easy to make. I made it according to what I had on hand and to accommodate B’s lactose intolerance. Joanne’s original recipe called for pesto and a soft cheese in place of the cilantro and the marinade. She also used corn instead of peas. But really the idea is the same: carrots, noodles, small frozen vegetable, seasoning, sauce, and you’re rolling! Tell me what you thought or variations you tried!

Monday’s Aren’t All Bad… (and D5)

Seriously, this week’s bad moment award goes to Sunday!

Today’s post will be short, since it is, after all, late and I am tired from a long day. The Wardens chose today to refuse naps and scream loudly simply to enjoy the echo. And through all of that, yesterday was worse. Why you ask? Let me tell you a little story.

It begins in a sunny meadow. The Wardens were enjoying some worry free play while Mom frolicked alongside them.

Okay, so it wasn’t a meadow, it was my dead-weeds-back-yard and we weren’t frolicking, I was chasing B with a camera in one hand and Row in the other trying to get pictures. Then, B decides to play on the tire swing. I sit down near him with Row in my lap and begin snapping my photos.

Shit.

Literally.

Shit on my shoulder and on Row’s arm and in his hair.

A bird shit on us.

At which point I jump up, exclaim “Are you freaking kidding ME!?” and run into the house in search of baby wipes to clean us off.

So a happy Sunday full of pictures and a warm sunlight turned into shit.

I’m going to find that bird and shoot it. (Not really, I didn’t get a good look at the suspect. Now a vicious, shitting bird is loose on the streets just waiting for his next victim.)

 

On another note, today is D5 of the photo challenge and I was supposed to take a picture from “somewhere up high”. I am a mom, this is a mom blog, so what did I take a picture of? My kids’ messy room, of course! Look! Look, and relish in the fact that you aren’t the only person with toys and random boxes strewn across you child’s floor!

It will probably be an entirely new kind of mess tomorrow. We like to keep things fresh here.

It will probably be an entirely new kind of mess tomorrow. We like to keep things fresh here.

D3 and D4

D3 was to take a picture of clouds. This is what the clouds looked like here in Texas yesterday. I think they’re pretty cool!

Beautiful Texas Clouds

Beautiful Texas Clouds

D4 said “something green”. Here you go. I put my kids in green clothes and snapped a shot! What’d you expect me to do? Ha!

The Wardens in their wagon sporting green for Momma!

The Wardens in their wagon sporting green for Momma!

My First Weekend Post!

Please excuse my bad posting etiquette. Dad is off work on weekends and we like to spend that time together collaborating about how The Wardens treated us over the past week. Today I will bring to you the things that happened this weekend and a roundup of stuff I have found and been following this week on the internet!

 

1)      I did wake up Friday to find shit in Row’s sheets. Joy. I think I jinxed myself.

2)      Yesterday morning I made pancakes for breakfast. Pink, vanilla cake flavored pancakes. Yes. PINK. B was not impressed and refused them entirely. Row, however, enjoyed both his serving as well as B’s.

3)      Row has started crawling with his feet flat on the ground. It seems to be a lot slower, however, he enjoys that it allows him to pass over toys without scraping his stomach.

4)      The Wardens have been sleeping soundly through the night for quite some time now. They share a room and it seems to work well for them. But I suppose they thought I was getting too comfortable because Row made me participate in a drill last night at 3am. I can only assume this drill was of his own planning seeing as B was in his bed with his eyes screwed shut and his hands over his ears. Row persisted though until I brought him a sufficient amount of food and a fresh diaper. We did this again at 6am. I think he is punishing me but I’m not quite sure what for.

 

Now for my internet finds!

 

First, a close friend of mine has also jumped on this blogging bandwagon with me and her blog is a joy to read! Her name is Tess and she is also learning the ways of Mom-Slave. Go check her out here!

 

Second, as I was scrolling through the “freshly pressed” list of blogs, I stubbled across this man’s story. I love that he is a stay at home mommy-man as he calls himself. He has a great sense of humor and obviously finds joy in the cynical side of parenting like I do. This one story in particular made me smile. If he sounds like someone you would like to check out, just click here!

 

Third, another close friend of mine, with a daughter the same age as Warden Row, found out about a month ago that her daughter Makayla has cancer. The cancer had spread to her spine and has damaged her nerves that control the movement of her legs and feet. She will be starting her second round of Chemo soon and will need physical therapy once the cancer is gone. She is only 9 months old. A mutual friend of ours has started a fund raiser for Makayla and her family and if you enjoy Pampered Chef’s products or are interested in helping, you can join this facebook event and purchase some products. All proceeds will go directly to baby Makayla and her family. Thank you!

 

And Fourth, If you are an animal lover you are going to love this. Copper’s Cat Commune is a home based sanctuary where Mimi and Matt Baker take in cats that may have missed the mark on being as healthy as society would like them to be. They specialize in Feline Leukemia sufferers and refuse to let someone put a cat down just because of this disease. They have a wonderful story and a beautiful home. Mimi Baker is a pet photographer and a vet technician. Her and Matt pay for these animal’s health care and food out of their own pockets and love them more deeply than anyone could love an animal. They are hoping to get recognized as a charity soon so they can receive help with the animal care. But until then you can join them in their journey of facebook and read all the individual back stories of each cat with beautiful pictures to match! I suppose I should mention that Mimi Baker is my mom and Matt is my step dad. They have had such an influence on my life and how I treat the rest of the world. I am very proud to be the daughter of such a caring and selfless woman.

D2 – “What You Wore Today”

D2 of the 30 Day photo challenge! Today I am supposed to post a picture of what I wore. So here it is!

P.S. Yes, those are the same pants as yesterday. No, I don’t care.  Yes, I do that a lot. Sue me.

What I wore today! Taken in the same doorway as yesterday's photos. I like the light there. :)

What I wore today! Taken in the same doorway as yesterday’s photos. I like the light there. 🙂

D1- Introduction to the Thirty Day Photo Challenge

Today I wanted to start a thirty day photo challenge to keep things interesting on here. I found a few lists on Pinterest but ultimately decided on this one:

30 Day Photography Challenge

Because today is D1, I had the “Self Portrait” on my to-do list. I grabbed my camera, found some decent light (by opening the side door to my house and standing there) and started taking some shots! I had a few that I liked and they are all unedited. This is how I look every day. No makeup, raw skin by my nose from a recent sinus infection, zits on my forehead, and more freckles than I care to talk about!

The one decent shot

The one decent shot

Funny faces are…. funny

We're all a little mad here...

We’re all a little mad here…

So try and keep up :)

So try and keep up 🙂

Thank you for looking at my weird little self portraits! Come back tomorrow for D2!

The Other Patient

As promised, today I will tell you more about my husband, “Dad”. So here it is:

The Only 5 Things You Need to Know About Dad

  1. He loves all things motorized. If it has a motor, says “vroom vroom” or looks like a smaller version of something with a motor, then he loves it. Period.
  2. He has a pretty freaking amazingly awesome red beard. That I love and won’t let him shave.
  3. He drinks more sweet tea than I do… which is a lot.
  4. He works hard so that The Wardens can afford to keep me here as their slave 24/7.
  5. He loves me and The Wardens more than anyone else ever could. I mean, he willingly comes home to this crazy house every day. That’s pretty awesome.

Enjoy this iPhone shot of him and his freaking amazingly awesome red beard.

Dad and his red beard

Now, today was only going to be about Dad but The Wardens presented me with an awesome impromptu photo session that I thoroughly enjoyed. These are the things they do to foster feelings of affection in me… today it worked. I am ashamed of myself. But not so much that I won’t share the photos with you!

B laying on Dad laying on the couch during his lunch break.

B laying on Dad laying on the couch during his lunch break.

Look at those lashes! I’m jealous…

B holding me down for a routine affection session

It worked.

You see that, Momma? That’s what we call “outside”. I know it seems like a distant memory, but fear not, summer is near and we will have an array of activities for you to accompany us on.

No! I will not hold still for the camera! You don’t own me! I own you.

I told you no! I will not stand for this.

This is the proper way to make a crazy face. Now practice!

These are what The Wardens use to torture Dad and myself. Colors and noises are key in their effectiveness.

Contemplating new forms of torture

A shape sorting device. It’s new and they have yet to discover how to use it against me.

Intense focus

See? We have broken toys here. They are still useful!

Awesome technique, B!

Put the shape in my mouth? Like this? Okay.

If we work together, we can figure this out.

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