Tag Archives: 2012

Nerdy 30.

Yesterday I turned 30.

(Yes, I was born on Valentine’s Day.)

Oh, hello there.

I’m just about the lamest 30 year old ever, and I warned my husband that if I got any kind of party action he’d likely get punched in the stomach. I took comfort in knowing it would be a relaxing, comfortable day. We spent the day running errands with the kids and hitting up the library. There’s nothing like treating myself to a few good borrowed books on my big day.

Embracing my inner nerd with a few good X-Men comics.

Then I hunkered down cozily on the trusty papasan and finally finished my current book.

OMG. Total book crush.

My wonderful husband made an early dinner for the kids, engaged in birthday song shenanigans and made me a lovely salmon and asparagus dinner. To truly appreciate the dinner, you need to be filled in on a little secret. My husband totally, completely, 110% abhors fish and on a normal day will not touch it with a ten foot pole. But by golly, he cooks up the most delicious salmon I’ve ever eaten. Since it’s quite the rare beast around these parts, I take it whenever I can get it.

Sorry, no picture of dinner. I was too busy om nom nomming it up. Instead, here's a snapshot of my favorite wine which accompanied my favorite dinner.

To finish off my low-key day, I hunkered down with some chocolate cake and Breaking Dawn for a guilty pleasure ending to my happy birthday. No shame.

Chocolate mousse cake from Angela Mia in Norwalk. Holy wow, their cakes are good.

I'm totally Team Edward. Woot.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you. Happy birthday to me.

In the Kitchen: 2012 Food Bucket List

homemade bagels

One thing I love about food preparation is that there is always going to be something new that you’ve never tried before. It’s never boring, and the possibilities of what you can create are endless.

In an effort to avoid falling into a food rut, I like to challenge myself to experiment frequently with new recipes and techniques. Sometimes this requires me to step outside of my comfort zone as a non-professional cook, but I tend to pick up valuable skills by doing so, and the experience alone is usually worth a potentially failed dish or two. I’ve discovered how to make bread, yogurt, marshmallows, bagels, pasta, mayonnaise and so many other awesome things that I never in a million years would have thought I could make from scratch.

This year I’ve put together a list of things I’d like to try before the year ends. I’m trying to keep the list short and manageable, which will increase my chances of completing each recipe. But even if I don’t get around to all of them, this gives me a starting point for motivation! Here it is, my 2012 Food Bucket List:

  1. vanilla sugar – I’ve already started this, we’ll see how it comes out in a week!  Done!
  2. homemade english muffins
  3. cinnamon raisin bagels – I’ve only mastered the plain bagel, time to expand my horizons
  4. tofu – I just want to prepare it in a dish, since I’ve never cooked with it before Done!
  5. homemade pop tarts
  6. ranch dressing Done!
  7. homemade pitas
  8. challah bread
  9. vanilla extract
  10. baked falafel Done!
  11. General Tso’s chicken from scratch
  12. noodle kugel
  13. blueberry pie
  14. homemade crackers – Like a butter or cheddar cracker
  15. homemade ricotta cheese
  16. homemade cream cheese
  17. savory shortbread – I once ate a smoked onion shortbread cookie, and I’ve been obsessed ever since
  18. homemade fruit leather
  19. chocolate syrup from scratch
  20. jelly – grape?
  21. homemade graham crackers
  22. won tons - Won ton soup is my Chinese takeout order go-to
  23. meringue – …and then a lemon meringue pie, naturally!
  24. egg nog
  25. carrot cake – my all time favorite dessert that I’ve never personally prepared
  26. galette
  27. cheese straws
  28. soft pretzels
  29. polenta – I actually just want to try it, since I’ve never eaten it before
  30. bloody marys – my all time favorite alcoholic drink that I’ve never personally prepared
  31. matzo ball soup
  32. poached eggs – I’ve tried this in the past, wholly unsuccessfully
  33. milk pie
  34. sprouts – I’d like to grow our own
  35. homemade cheddar biscuits – I have a food crush on the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits and determined to replicate them in my oven
  36. yeasted coffee cake
  37. homemade liqueur – maybe amaretto or irish cream
  38. sourdough bread
  39. homemade tootsie rolls
  40. french macarons – I’ve never even eaten one before, but they intrigue me nonetheless! I suppose my plan should be eat first, make later.

Okay, so maybe I said “small and manageable”, but once I began typing I started to remember a gazillion other things that I wanted to make. Oh well, like I mentioned before, even if I don’t accomplish them all it gets me motivated to try. Wish me luck! And if you have any tried and true recipes for any of the things I’ve listed above, please do share!

What’s on your bucket list of foods to eat or make? Share with us in the comments section below!

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New Goals For The New Year

It’s that time of the year when we all jump on the resolution bandwagon, promising things to ourselves like we’ll eat less, stress less, weigh less, drink less, smoke less, spend less. But I’ve always felt that resolutions are meant to be broken, so I’m setting myself some goals for the new year. Because, well, you can’t break goals.

The title might be just a little misleading. Some of my goals for 2012 are actually rollover goals from 2011 that I didn’t get around to.  But we’ll act like they’re all bright, shiny new goals, for the sake of motivation and pride.

1. Read two books each month (1 fiction & 1 non-fiction). I love to read. I read news articles, I read magazines, I read children’s stories, I read blogs, I read the back of cereal boxes. What I don’t really read though, are books for myself. There’s nothing as calming and relaxing as curling up with a good book and a warm cup o’ something, getting lost in the imagination of a fiction author or learning something new through the visions of a non-fiction writer. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget to take 10 minutes for myself, and reading is the perfect way to incorporate that small need into my day.

2. Blog at least 3 times a week. When I started this blog back in September, I never thought that people would be interested in what I had to say. I thought, “I love to write (actually, I kind of just love the internet), and this would be the perfect no-cost creative outlet for me”. Four months, 40 posts and 1,900 blog views later, I realize that there actually are people out there who are interested in what I have to say! As a stay at home mom of two preschoolers, I sometimes feel a little disconnected from the rest of the world here in my primarily family focused life. But blogging opens me up to an audience of potentially like-minded folk in the vast world community of the internet, and encourages me to explore every aspect of my life, from my love of cooking to my family to my obsession with frugality and more. While I can go out into the world and shine, I’m truly a homebody. And the Ginger(ly) Homemaking blog lets me highlight that in a positive, confidence-building light. In an effort to milk that positive, confidence-building thaaang for all it’s worth, one of my goals will be to put a more consistent focus on growing this blog and a relationship with my wonderful community of readers =)

3. Sew a dress. I lurve my sewing machine. I got it for Christmas when I was 19ish, and for years it sat covered in dust in the back of a closet at my dad’s house. I’m not exactly sure why it was on my Christmas list, but years later I learned that it was one of the best decisions I never knew I made. When my daughter was born I dusted it off to make a ring sling baby carrier, and then used it to turn that one sling into a successful small business venture on Etsy. Once my children became older and more demanding, I no longer had the time to devote to the sling business, but I still used my sewing machine to make pillows, curtains, Halloween costumes, minor clothing alterations, aprons, and even a cock-eyed attempt at a dress for my daughter. I miss the constant relationship that I had with my sewing machine, but one can only have so many pillow covers. I’ve decided to use a sewing pattern for the first time ever, and sew myself a dress (because I can NEVER have too many dresses, of course). This is actually a goal from last year but I put off finding a pattern until the last-minute and then got too swept up in the holiday madness. New year, new opportunity to make that dress… and hopefully many more dresses.

4. Complete the 30 Day Shred. I hate exercising. The last time I willingly exercised was when I realized that the last 25 pounds of baby weight weren’t going to budge without it. I begrudgingly laced up my running sneakers, wiggled into a sports bra, and dragged myself down the hill at the end of our street. I then learned to find a new running route, because you should never run downhill without first acknowledging that you’ll have to run back up that same hill. I died. And then I did it, again and again. And despite dying, again and again, I also felt amazing! Fantastic! Full of energy! Rejuvenated! Awesome! Then I got lazy and stopped exercising once I hit my magic number on the scale, and never did it again. That was over two years ago, and I’ve been making excuses ever since. No matter how much I loved how I felt, I still hated exercising. This year I have to get over myself, because although my weight is still in a fairly acceptable range (yes, I did gain back 10 pounds… aka 15 pounds), I am not in shape and it’s kind of pathetic. Too cold to run outdoors? No problem. Too expensive to join a gym? No problem. Too lazy to leave the living room? No problem. I got myself the much-hyped Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred exercise DVD, because I generally fail at long-term commitments and 30 days is not yet considered long-term by my mental calculator. I also read that it takes 30 days to make a habit stick, and I’m hoping that this whole exercising thing becomes just that. Supposedly this particular exercise routine is going to kick my butt ruthlessly, and that’s just what I need to get back on track.

5. Eat meatless dinners 5 nights a week. I covered this topic in my last post, but to reiterate, eating a meatless diet for a year left both my husband and I feeling much better physically. We’ve since incorporated meat back into our diet and I don’t plan to go back to a 100% vegetarian diet, but I’d like to lean more towards our old vegetarian tendencies. We’ll be eating less meat, which combined with my exercise goal should make for an overall healthier feeling me for 2012.

6. Use my planner every day. I’ve learned to swear by my Franklin Covey planner to keep my life in check since having kids. I’m a chronic list-maker, and having a place to keep all of my schedules, to-do lists and notes is a lot easier than writing it on the back of my hand or on a slip of paper destined to fall out of my back pocket. I can always tell when I’m not using my planner consistently when I become less productive and more overwhelmed by the buildup of neglected daily tasks. I totally overlooked my planner in the past month (probably when I needed it the most!), so to get back in the habit I’m making it a goal to use it on a daily basis.

7. Use my household binder more regularly. I have a binder, that like my planner, is an imperative tool when it comes to making our daily life as smooth as possible. It has five sections: Home, Budget, Food, Learning and a recently added Blogging section. I use it for homemaking purposes, keeping track of our money, recipes and menu plans, homeschool planning/recording, and writing down ideas to cover here. When I incorporate using my binder into my routine I feel much more organized and productive. So this year I will try to use it on a daily basis.

8. Keep my nails painted. I don’t usually wear makeup. Every once in a while you might see a smear of mascara on my eyelashes, but I’ve never been one of those girls who primps endlessly in front of the mirror just to run to the grocery store. A full face of paint would probably look dumb paired with my oversized t-shirt/leggings/chuck taylors “mom uniform” anyways. Despite my general aversion to makeup application I still love to feel girly, and nail polish hits the spot when I need a dose of femininity. It also doubles as a nail-biting deterrent (my main stress-driven habit ever since I quit smoking 5 years 10 months and 6 days ago… not that I’m counting or anything). Keeping my nails painted might sound like a silly goal, but it’s a small way to make sure that I’m paying attention to myself in the midst of this all-consuming job of motherhood.

That’s it. Eight goals. I’m sure I could go on and on, but if I overfill my dish I’ll lose my appetite long before I qualify to join the clean plate club.

Do you have any goals or resolutions for 2012? Share with us in the comments section below!

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