Showing posts from April, 2011

Gardening 101

When thinking about planting a garden - there are two main starting points:
1. How much space do you have?  You will want most of your garden in direct sunlight for the majority of the day - there are also many things which will take partial shade (lettuce/carrots/etc).  Garden boxes and containers can be built in just about any size.  Figure out how much space you have.
2. What do you want to grow?  You need to figure out what types of fruits and vegetables you want to grow in your garden.  We started by figuring out what we eat a lot of, followed by what we want to eat but don't want to pay exorbitant prices for, and lastly just what would be fun to grow!  We are very blessed to have a ton of room and have planted just about everything we wanted - if you have a smaller space you will want to pare your list down.
3. Now to build our boxes we used Mel Bartholomew's method Square Foot Gardening.  Things like carrots go 16 to a square, beans 9 to a square, tomato's one per squa…

Grocery Deals April 27th - May 3rd

Mangos @ .33/each - Stock Up Price (buy some and freeze for smoothies) Limes @ .25/each - Excellent Price Albertsons Diced Tomatoes @ 1.00/can - Good Price Rosarita Beans @ 1.00/can - Good Price (cheaper for an 8 pack @ 5.99) DiGiorno or CPK Pizzas @ 2.50 - Good Price (Great with coupons) *****BUY $20 WORTH GET 5 RedBox Rentals & $5 Off Next Purchase****** Tide @ 10.99 Each - Great Price with Coupons and Above Deal Cascade Detergent @ 4.99 - Good Price with Coupon
Ralphs: Avocados @ 1.00/each - Good Price Kiwi @ .25 each - Great Price Mangos @ 1.00/each - Good Price Ground Beef 80% Lean @ 1.99 - Great Price Totinos/Celeste Pizzas @ 1.00 - Great Price with Coupons Kellogs Cereal @ 1.98 - Great Price could be stock up with coupons Ralphs Frozen Veggies @ 1.00 - Good Price Knorr Pasta/Rice Side @ 1.00 - Good price look for coupons. McCormick GrillMates @ 1.00 - Excellent Price Nabisco Snak Sacks @ 1.00 - Good Price Crest Toothpaste @ 1.00 - Stock Up Price - Free with coupons Oral B Indica…

Big Kid Books (Ages 3-5)

So while I am definitely not an expert - I am a parent - and I feel being a parent gives *some* authority on what the best things are for MY kids.  Big C is an avid reader - since the age of oh birth - she has LOVED books we have tons and tons laying around (okay they are neatly on a book shelf) so I thought I would pass along what have become some of her favorites from about last year through now (she is 4) and that I think will continue on for the next few years. Our favorites series, authors, or books:
1. I Can Read Series: These delightful stories come in single story version or complete series sets (above).  They include classics like Rainbow Fish and Amelia Bedelia and new stories such as Biscuit.  Both Big and Little C love these stories and they progress from pre-reader through chapter books.  A must have for kids this age!
2. John Muth: Detailed water color painting inspire conversation and artistic endeavors, couple this with wise stories and what a combo.  While most of his…

Garden Update

Okay I am playing around with what day of the week I am going to post our garden updates...and finding it is quite hard to remember to weigh and take pictures of our harvests - must get better at this!  Anyways we got three huge artichokes this week:

Fresh Artichokes from the garden!
A cooked artichoke (because I forgot to photograph it first)
And one that is not pictured! Here is an interesting tidbit for you - pincher bugs LOVE my artichoke plants and have apparently decided to breed in them.  Each artichoke is thoroughly washed and we watch as 5-8 pincher bugs get flushed down the drain - ewwwwwwww.  Everyone is under strict orders to run the artichokes straight to the sink after picking them.
Any who we have a total approximate weight of: 2.2 lbs of artichokes this week!
What are you growing this season?

Meal Plan - Week of Leftovers!

Greetings all, hope you had a glorious Easter celebration - we sure enjoyed a weekend full of family, food, and fun!  Big C turned 4 this weekend and we enjoyed taking her to the movie theatres for the first time.  We had a great time laughing and enjoying the birds during Rio(we even went bird watching - hence above)!  Here's our menu for the week:
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Donuts, Strawberries Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Cuties Oranges French Toast, Watermelon, Peanut Butter Whatever Grandma has! (Yay for carpooling to work with daddy) Cereal, Yogurt, Bananas Breakfast Burritos, Watermelon Waffles, Peanut Butter, Apples Lunches: Appetizer snacks at Grandmas! Hard Boiled Egg, String Cheese, Wheat Thins, Strawberries (picnic at the park!) Egg Salad Sandwiches, Wheat Thins, Carrots & Ranch Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Apples, Yogurt Ham Sandwiches, Mandarin Oranges, Cheez Its Bean & Cheese Quesadillas, Tomato & Corn Salad Pollo Asada, Beans, Rice & Sides Dinners: Turkey, Ham, M…

Mother's Day Gift Idea

Every year for Mother's Day we make our mom's photo books of the best photos from the last year!  They both tell me they love the books and have asked for them each year (so nope not ruining a surprise).  I use to print these books (but please download it through a link on Costco's Photo Center as it saves a ton)!  They frequently run a great promotion where you can get their bestseller book with unlimited pages for $35 + shipping.  Going to go finish my mother in laws book right now!
Ash of All Trades
PS One tip is rather than finding each picture off your camera or hard drive -set up a new folder on your desktop copy the pictures you want into it and then upload them to mypublisher - you will save yourself a lot of time!

Our Favorite Baby/Toddler Authors

We are book fanatics - anyone who knows us or who has been to our home would be able to tell you this! Shelves upon shelves fill our home and we have tons of kids books but I really wanted to point out our five favorite authors for kids from birth through oh I don't know my husband's age!  But seriously these are books that are good for the younger ones (infant, toddler, preschool) but also keep my four year olds attention (I will do a post later for preschool aged books).
1. Eric Carle - We love Eric Carle Books for their simple illustrations with vivid colors.  Their text invites even the smallest children to learn the soothing sounds of mom or dad's voice.  I don't think my girls will outgrow these books as I certainly have not. All of his books are classic!

2. Olivier Dunrea - Follow Dunrea's goslings through simple plots involving all things toddler.  My girls adore these books for their simplicity and pure innocent even messy fun.  The girls love hearing about…

Meal Plan April 17th to April 23rd

Happy start of a new week all!  A couple shots of our palm crosses and a meal plan as we enter the last week of lent also known as holy week. 

Breakfasts: Chocolate & Peanut Chip Pancakes and Grapes Syrup Pancakes, Mandarin Oranges, Sausage Cereal and Smoothies Breakfast Burritos, Baby Oranges Waffles, Yogurt, Strawberries Cereal, String Cheese, Grapes Overhard Eggs, Toast, Strawberries
Lunches: Egg Salad Sandwiches, Cheez Its, Grapes Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Strawberries, String Cheese Surprise Lunch out for the girls Quesadilla, Beans, Corn Pasta w/butter, Carrots/ranch, grapes, Popsicles Fried Bologna Sandwiches, chips, strawberries, bell pepper sticks Mac N Cheese, Mango & Melon, Goldfish crackers, Peanut Butter Dinners: The Hubs marinated steak & salmon, Baked Beans, Asparagus Chicken Raviolis, Garlic Bread, Salads Tamales, Beans, Chips & Salsa, Corn Fire Roasted Ziti, Salad, Bread Ground Beef & Cilantro Soup, Quesadillas, Corn Green Chili Burritos, Chips & Salsa, Asparagus …

Garden Update

We have artichokes - about 8 of them!
Some are small and near the bottom but look at these babies!
9.5 ounces of Artichoke!
Plus I harvested about a pound of kale this weekend for Zuppa Toscana and Kale Chips- Yummo! Nothing is more delicious than fresh produce!
So a garden harvest total of: 8.218 Pounds of Produce So Far!
Ash of All Trades

Drinking From A Cup

We are working with Little C on learning to drink out of a plain ole cup (without spilling as much as she currently does).  My favorite method:
Send her outside with a cup of water! Such a big girl!
The Sweet Satisfaction of a Refreshing Sip of Water!
Ash of All Trades 

Grocery Deals April 13th through April 19th

Whole Chickens & Bone In Pieces @ .88/lb - Excellent Price Red Grapes @ .88/lb - Excellent Price (Stock Up if you Freeze) Quaker Cereals/Post @ 1.75 (4) - Stock Up Price (look for coupons) Del Monte Canned Veggies @ .50 - Stock Up Price Albertsons Cream Cheese @ .99 - Stock Up Price Birds Eye Steamfresh Veggies @ 1.00 - Excellent Price (look for coupons) Oranges @ .99/lb - Excellent Price Finish Dishwashing @ 3.99 - Okay Price look for coupons and you get free eggs! Ronzoni Pasta @ 1.00 - Great Price Ralphs:
Foster Farms Chicken @ 50% Off - Could be Great Price (look for coupons) 50% Beef Roast - Could Be Great Price Barilla Pasta @ 1.00 = Great Price Navel Oranges @ .99/lb  - Excellent Price Lettuce @ .88/lb - Excellent Price Broccoli/Cauliflower @ .88/lb - Excellent Price Baby Carrots @ .99 - Excellent Price Green Onions (organic) @ .79 - Good Price Blackberries @ $2 - Okay Price Mangos @ 1.00 - Good Price SteamFresh Veggies @ 1.00 - Great Price (look for coupons) Kens Dressing @ 2.00 -…

Garden Pictures

Wahooo - Spring Weather is finally here and we finished our yard (as in the ground is all covered and there are only cosmetic preferences we want to add).  Without further ado our yard!

Girls Swing Set
Love Seats & Berries in Pots
Gardening Boxes
More Boxes
Our Fruit Trees
Stepping Stones - Corn Box
Cantaloupe & Pumpkin Area
BBQ & Eating Area w/Tomato Plants
Slider & Tomatoes
Artichokes & Strawberries
We also have two side yards one with trash cans / storage bins and one with a shed, playhouse, picnic table.  We LOVE our backyard and spend ours out there each day.  Buying a home out here with a yard was one of the best decisions we have made.
Ash of All Trades

Meal Planning

Breakfasts: Chocolate Chip Pancakes (of course!), cantaloupe, peanut butter French Toast, grapes, yogurt Eggs and smoothies Syrup Pancakes, cantaloupe, egg Cereal, grapes, yogurt
Lunches: Black Beans, Tortillas, Corn, (bowls or burritos) Tuna Sandwiches, grapes, Cheez Its Quesadillas, cantaloupe, turkey Hot Dogs, String Cheese, Grapes Leftovers
Dinners: Sunday: Garlic Lime Game Hens, Wild Rice, Asparagus
Monday: Chicken Chow Mein, Asparagus
Tuesday: Rockin Round Roast
Wednesday: Paella
Thursday: Shredded Beef Tacos, Salad, Rice
Friday: Pesto Pasta, Salad, Garlic Bread
Saturday: Supplied by a Family Birthday Bon Appetit,
Ash of All Trades

Butter Bell

We have made the switch folks - no more margarine in this household!  I grew up with margarine and loved it but with all of the recent research indicating the more natural a product is the better it is for our body I made a decision to switch to butter (and oh boy is my dad - an all butter guy - happy!). 

Honestly though I had a huge hesitation - my kids love toast and grilled cheese where you spread the butter (or in our case margarine) all over them.  Let's just say that I was horrible at remembering to pull the butter out to soften to make these types of foods.  Enter a great invention one which I was introduced to by my in laws who then bought me my own:

Butter Bell
Seriously you add 1/3 cup water to the bottom.  Place one stick of butter (slightly softened) into the top and it will keep for 30 days.  We do change the water every 3-4 days but no more hard butter to cut for toast.  The best part is the girls love it and after having margarine again for the first time in a while …

Garden Update

One of the best things about having a garden is heading out and picking what you need right when you need it.  One of the bad things about doing that is we often forget to weigh our produce before using it.  Oops!  But here is an update: We picked 4 heads of lettuce at approximately 1 pound total.
We picked three lemons at approximately 15.375 ounces
We picked two batches of kale at approximately 7 ounces total
Then we picked this kale and broccoli:

So 7.125 ounces of Kale & Broccoli.
Total for the last few weeks: 1.844 pounds of produce
Total for the year:  6.624 Pounds of Vegetables/Fruits!
Thanks for reading,
Ash of All Trades

Meal Planning

Okay folks just have to let you know I very rarely stick to our breakfast or lunch schedule.  We usually eat the items sometime during the week but rarely if ever on the day that it is schedule for - so instead I am just going to list 5 things we will eat for breakfast and lunch.  Dinners are still very much planned out and go according to schedule more than 99% of the time.  Without further ado:
Breakfasts: Chocolate Chip Pancakes (of course!), cantaloupe, peanut butter French Toast, grapes, yogurt Eggs and smoothies Syrup Pancakes, cantaloupe, egg Cereal, grapes, yogurt
Lunches: Black Beans, Tortillas, Corn, (bowls or burritos) Tuna Sandwiches, grapes, Cheez Its Quesadillas, cantaloupe, turkey Deli Turkey/Ham, Cheese, Crackers, Grapes Leftovers
Dinners: Sunday: Steaks, Twice Baked Potatoes, Caesar Salad Monday: Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs, Fried Rice, Broccoli Tuesday: Tostadas, Corn, Chips & Salsa Wednesday: Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Corn Thursday: Mongolian Beef, White Rice, Broccoli Friday:…


I LOVE decorating cakes and making unique creations for my girl's birthdays and other events.  Now with a two and three year old in my house I don't have a ton of time to make fancy fondant cakes but I try to make cute ones. 
My sister in law so graciously gave me this cake pan (follow the link to see it) - she shares my love of cake decorating and her creations are absolutely awesome.  Any who I used my new cake pan to make Little C's number 2 cake:

Isn't it adorable!  I love how it turned out considering she picked it out and kept trying to take the decorating tools from me.  Other than baking the whole things took less than 10 minutes yahoo for an awesome quick cake!  And yes my baby is 2 - two - 2 oh how time flies.  She is a big girl now and love holding up two fingers so she can let everyone know how old she is!
Thanks for reading,
Ash of All Trades 

Moroccan Chicken

We love to cook - just about anything and everything we love trying new things especially ethnic foods outside our normal upbringing (Mexican/American).  So here is Moroccan Chicken in the crock pot.  Super easy and super yummy!  Even Big C who is one of the world's pickiest eaters devours these and asks for more!
Recipe: 5-6 Chicken Legs (bone in) 1/4 Cup Orange Juice 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste 2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin 1 Teaspoon Curry Powder 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger 1 Teaspoon Salt 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil Cooked White Rice
Directions: 1. Heat Olive Oil in skillet then brown chicken legs evenly about 5 minutes each side. 2. In a mixing bowl combine: juice, tomato paste, cumin, curry, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  Whisk together. 3. Place chicken in crock pot and pour the sauce mix over chicken. 4. Cook on low 8 hours or High 4. 5. Serve over white rice.
Browning the Chicken Legs
Place in Crock Pot and Add Sauce
Finished Product
Incredibly Picky Eater with Her Finished Leg  …