Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Feeding my kids: Breakfast

A friend just asked what I feed my kids for breakfast.  Here's what I told her:

My 3 guidelines are:
1)  vary breakfast/meals as much as possible (we try for 5-7 different meals for breakfast) -- variation hopefully leads to more openness about all food
2)  fruit at every meal (or veg, if I could make that work)
3)  I think everyone's blood sugar is more even with protein at breakfast.
and bonus:  Ben and I take turns which makes #1 easier, but I still have to make #2 happen personally.
reference:  Tavie is 3 and Josie is 9

Example Breakfasts:

  • yogurt "sundaes" -- greek yogurt (sometimes plain, sometimes vanilla) with frozen fruit defrosted to be saucy and a sprinkle of cereal and a drizzle of chocolate syrup
  • steel cut oats -- I parboil these in the microwave the night before and then it's just 5 minutes in the morning.  Josie likes hers with pesto/cheese/bacon bits; Tavie likes hers with chocolate chips (sigh).
  • pancakes made with one of the bob's red mill pancake mixes (make on the weekends and serve leftovers)
  • frozen waffles (kashi or similar)
  • grits -- I buy the frozen "true grits" from HEB (Josie only, Tavie won't eat)
  • cheese toast -- multigrain "good bread" with sharp cheddar melted on top
  • french toast made with good bread and egg substitute (makes it easier/faster)
  • scrambled eggs (Tavie only, sigh)
  • boiled eggs (Tavie only again)
  • peanut butter + banana + honey open faced sandwich (Tavie deconstructs, oh well)
  • apples slices and peanut butter/almond butter
  • refrigerator biscuits (the ones with some whole grain/bran) with bacon
  • muffins (freeze & defrost) -- I can share the whole grain, lower sugar recipes I've found
  • sausage -- either the natural stuff (applegate farms?) or the not-so-good but oh-so-popular lil smokies (turkey)
  • sweet quinoa -- made with half milk/water, stir in chocolate chips

I'm sure there is more, but that's most of our rotation.
I also think it's perfectly reasonable to serve dinner foods for breakfast.  I offer leftovers for breakfast as a way to encourage my kids to stop eating chicken fingers and french fries (sigh) when they are sated, rather that overstuff themself.
And my breakfast ideas pinterest board:  http://www.pinterest.com/saracarl/breakfast/
not all for the girls, but gives some ideas... 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Matagorda, TX Beach Trip

My family loves the beach.  We normally go to Port Aransas, which is a fun beach town, but doesn't have quite the budget-fishing-village vibe of the beach house Ben's family had on Bolivar Penisula before Hurricane Ike swept it away.  After a "coast people" conversation with one of the guys that works at Stuffed Cajun Deli, I asked "so where do you go from Austin for a cheap and easy beach trip?"  His answer:  Matagorda.  So we did our research and made our reservations and this weekend we drove down.

The trip from Austin is about 3 1/2 hours, a full hour less than it takes us to get to Aransas.  It's a tiny town, with about 4 restaurants, 3 gift shoppes, a seafood market and a convenience store with some groceries.  (We picked up supplies in Bay City at a very nice HEB -- but it's 30-40 minutes from the beach.) 

The history is interesting -- Matagorda was settled to protect colonists coming to Stephen F. Austin's original colony, there are historical markers all over town, and we noticed a Episcopal church claiming to be the (Episcopalian) "mother church of Texas."

The geography is also interesting.  Matagorda is where the Colorado River runs into the Gulf of Mexico, so in addition to the ocean and wetlands, there's a lot of river recreation.  We stayed at a beach condo but there were lots of houses lining the river for people with boats and a love of fishing.

The river was actually what saved our trip.  The Texas coast is experiencing a crazy influx of sargasso seaweed on shore right now.  So when we went to the beach, there was 10 yards or more of solid red seaweed two feet high between us and the ocean.  Our neighbors down the beach had brought a shovel and were shovelling a path through the seaweed -- it took them about 40 minutes of work -- but they were kind enough to let our group use it to get to the ocean to swim.  (And the ocean was full of seaweed, too.)  I didn't actually swim, but sat and built sand castles and read magazines in the sun.

[side note:  According to the Texas A&M Galveston Sargassum Early Advisory System:
Public use of these beaches can be severely restricted by the periodic mass landings of the free-floating algae Sargassum, commonly referred to as Seaweed. These Sargassum episodes often occur with little or no warning. They can last for weeks at a time, usually during the prime tourist season.  So I don't hold the seaweed against Matagorda.]

If that had been the sum total of our beach experience, I would have been very disappointed.  (And since this was our first time at Matagorda, we all wondered if it was like this all the time.  Ben even went so far as to ask how long it would take to drive to Port Aransas!  Both of us were worried about the impression our guests and Texas beach newbie friends were getting.) Luckily, the Lower Colorado River Authority had a park right where the river met the ocean that had both sand and no seaweed.  We spent our second morning there and finally had the beach experience we wanted.  (Without waves, but that was OK too.)


We stayed at perhaps the only condo complex at the beach itself -- Bahia de Matagorda #9.  The complex was very nice -- a large pool with a very 1980s swim up bar with in-pool bar stools (and a large sign saying "no glass, no eating or drinking in the pool").  I wouldn't think a pool is a requisite for a beach trip, but our last 4 have had a pool, and it makes coming in from the beach much easier.  You shower off in the outside shower on the way to the pool, then use the pool to cool off after a hot time at the beach.  The pool was actually on an "island" surrounded by a lagoon -- the lagoon added a nice atmosphere, and we saw some another guest kayaking in the lagoon.  (And a big surprise -- the big girls watched a turtle dive into the pool as we got there this morning -- nets were fetched to get it out, but it was an exciting 15 minutes!)

We mostly cooked in the condo, but we did get dinner out one night at Riverbend Restaurant & Tavern.  The large signs warning that the kitchen can take 40+ minutes to get food out once they get busy were a bit disconcerting, but we arrived at 5:15 and had a food in reasonable time.  The food was good for what it was -- fresh, fried seafood.  My french fry aficionado says the fries were boring.  They had fried okra as an appetizer, which was a surprising hit with the kiddos, even if it was just a vehicle for batter, salt, and ranch dressing.

The moms sneaked out to grab fancy coffee at Cattails once we had everyone settled on the beach.  The coffee was a surprise -- good lattes and mochas in a charming gift shoppe/wine bar/coffee bar attached to a surpisingly upscale Karankawa Village Lodge.

I alluding to wanting a "cheap and easy" beach trip, and this one was definitely more affordable than Port Aransas.  We spent $225/night for a 3 bedroom condo that easily accommodated two families.  That's hard to beat!

Will we be back?  I suspect we will, but the seaweed was enough of a damper (ahem!) to color our experience (even though that wasn't unique to Matagorda, but to our trip time) that we may try someplace else before we make it back.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Things I Like

I was considering calling this the "Things I Like -- Frugal Edition", but really, anything I really enjoy is going to be relatively frugal, because spending money carelessly is not something I like.  Perhaps I should call this "Things I Like -- Fun Edition" because both of these are fun.  Cheap fun.


First, Yellow Tail Bubbles.  These are solid champagnes (flat, the white is a bit Gew├╝rztraminer-like), but the brilliance comes in the cork.  The Zork, to be exact, a resealable champagne cork that works better than any champagne-sealing-solution I've tried before.  I can open one of these babies for Friday Happy Hour, have a glass or two a day, and still have plenty of nose tickling bubbles by Wednesday.  Amazing, really.  Moderate champagne consumption, without those silly little bottles.  Yellow Tail even has a video about the Zork.

 
Second, these Ikea funnels.  (We have the red ones.)  They made great bath and pool toys all summer, but where they really shined was at the beach last month.  The dome shape made for awesome futuristic cities and dome topped ziggurats (bucket + funnel).


 And the funnel itself could be filled with wet sand and dripped into drip castles or used to decorate the aforementioned cities.  Hard to beat for $1.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Lessons from Project 333

I've just finished 3 months of Project 333, where you wear 33 peices of clothing for 3 months.  I chose a modified approach -- I didn't count shoes or accessories in my 33 pieces, and since this was an exercise in editing my closet, I gave myself carte blanche to donate anything that wasn't working and replace it (it couldn't stay in my closet, though!).

Throughout the project I kept a spreadsheet of what I wore, how often, and my thoughts on the individual pieces and outfits.  I found this the most useful part of the project, allowing me to refine what worked, what didn't, and why.  You can check out my spreadsheet.

One of my favorite outfits from the last 3 months

Here are 10 of the lessons I learned during the project:
1)  Fabric matters -- pay attention!
2)  Dress for the life you have.
3)  Comfort trumps style (but both together are great!).
4)  Know what colors flatter you.  For me, "soft autumn" colors like muted reds, greens, pinks, mustard yellow.
5)  Know what flatters your shape.
6)  With a small closet, everything has to earn it's place.  If it's not carrying it's weight, let it go.
7)  It's OK to wear the same dress 5 Sundays in a row, or the same skirt twice in a week, especially if you feel fabulous in it.
8)  1 piece you feel fabulous in is worth 3 that you feel OK in.
9)  Accessories can add a lot of variety.  (This project pushed me to use more accessories to spice up my wardrobe of basics.)
10)  It's OK to spend a lot on one piece you will wear a whole bunch.  It doesn't make as much sense to spend a lot on special occasion clothes.