Making Fresh Groceries Last Longer

Every Wednesday I shop for groceries, mostly produce. While I try to use all of these up in a week, I want them to last beautifully until I use them.

Certain produce simply lasts longer if stored in certain conditions.

I knew this a little, but it wasn’t until I read The Waste Free Kitchen Handbook that I learned that I needed to store things in my refrigerator right (the know on a crisper drawer does what?!?) or that tomatoes should be on the counter unless cut. I can’t recommend this book enough, and mostly for the “How to Store” section in the back.

So…

The unloaded produce…

My new counter companions…

I put my peaches in a paper bag to soften. This is great for avocados too. Just put avocados in the fridge after they’re ripe.

Then I put garlic, onions, and sweet potatoes in the pantry. Onions make potatoes sprout, so they’re on opposite sides. I use metal magazine holders from IKEA. I saw that on Pinterest.

Then my fruit for the fridge drawer on low humidity (that slide thing means something!) with all of this, don’t wash anything until you’re ready to use it and it will last longer.

Then it’s time for the vegetables. This takes the most effort, but you can really make a “lasting” difference.

I separate radishes from their tops and placed them in a bag, actually cooking the greens in a crockpot with bacon grease for dinner. So tasty.

Lettuce gets stored in an airtight bag (the one it came in works if I squeeze out the air and tie it. It keeps longer with a paper towel on the core to keep it moist. This is all after I remove the twist tie that’s strangling the head.

Herbs can last like cut flowers on the counter, but I fail when I try this. I like the method of storing them in their bag, but keep it open and breathable. I put a dry paper towel with parsley and cilantro and wrap the roots of my green onions with a wet paper towel.

Storing my heavy things at the bottom with herbs on top, my vegetable drawer is packed to the brim, but not crushed.

There’s something so satisfying about caring for everything in your home, including the things you’ll eat soon.

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Devotions Starter Kit

My friend Mari Jo and I taught a middle school breakout at church camp on doing devotions and quiet time. In a nutshell: have a time, have your materials, read your Bible, and journal.

During one of our classes, we suggested to these students to ask their parents for a back-to-school or birthday shopping spree to purchase their materials for doing devotions. The next week, a student asked me to baptize her. She’s about to be a 6th grader, so I decided to gift her this devotion starter kit. I love shopping for journals and pens so it was just as much fun giving this gift as I hope it was receiving it.

First, the Bible. The best version of the Bible is the one you’ll read. At our church we encourage elementary students to read out of the NIrV (New International Readers Version), our youth group’s version of choice is ESV (English Standard Version), but I also have begun to encourage middle school students to read the Biblical paraphrase version The Message too. That’s what I purchased for this student. I found a pink one on Amazon, and it was super affordable. Pay a little more and get a super nice leather bound one, but this worked for my purpose.

Then at Target, I found this sweet journal.

And these pens…

They’re erasable?!? Of course I bought a pack for myself too.

That’s all you really need, but Mari Jo suggested to have a drink with you for your devotions. She drinks tea. I figured my 6th grader would like pink lemonade. I bought a country time mix, they have directions to make a cup at a time, and I also got her a cute melamine cup. All hers.

I wrote my student a card explaining the kit and then suggested a place to start. Now, she and I, and my other small group leaders all committed to reading a chapter of Proverbs every day in July. 31 chapters, 31 days. If you have a young adult or an friend who is new to quiet time, this starter kit would be a great gift. Other suggestions to include:

  • Noise canceling ear buds or head phones if a kid lives in a packed house.
  • A camp chair or blanket or cheap tent if the student would do best reading out doors.
  • A beanbag chair or camp chair for inside, or a new fun pillow.
  • Get into reading plans you find on the YouVersion Bible app. So many students are tech savvy. Pick one you can do together.
  • A devotional- books that supplement or lead your devotion time. Buy one you’ll do together. Our elementary students are doing this one.

Trim His Eyebrows

This is Katie.

She styled my family’s hair when we lived in Wisconsin, and she surprised my husband the first time she took scissors to his eyebrows. His initial shock became delight when he saw the results. Before we moved, Katie taught me how she did it.

Simply backcomb one eyebrow (from temple to nose) and trim with hair-cutting shears whatever hairs come past the spine of your comb.

Katie told me she once trimmed a family member’s eyebrows while camping and there was no comb, so she used a fork. (I always think of Ariel’s “dinglehopper.”) So resourceful!

Katie will always do this more capably than I do, but now every time I cut his hair, I trim my husband’s eyebrows too. Thanks for teaching me how, Katie!!!

Christmas in July

We’re heading out for vacation soon. We drive, so my husband wisely buys little dollar store gifts for “on the way,” but we also give gifts just in preparation for the trip.

Because of the timing (leaving in July), and because my daughter missed our church celebrating “Christmas in July” last year because we were on vacation, and probably also because my car wash’s free air freshener was pine scented (aroma inspiration) we decided to surprise the kids and throw our own. My stickler 2nd grader want everyone to know that it was Christmas in June since we did it on the 30th. (Any tips on breaking a semantically-inclined arguer????!!)

We decorated with three outdoor lights we usually put on our play set out back (they’re wonderfully tacky and yes, we saved them from large trash pick up day, so I banish them to the backyard usually).

My husband read the Christmas story with the kids out of the Bible App Kids Bible (any Bible will do or even the actual Bible App for kids).

We streamed a couple of kids worship songs.

Oh What a Special Night

And we watched this… Best Christmas Carol written by kids

Then we opened presents…

Then last night we had family over after church, ate falafel and I made the world’s most epic banana splits (future blog post soon) and the kids opened some gifts from Grandma too (great time to give their patriotic shirts for Independence Day)!

Merry Christmas in July!!!

Kid Days

After reading a phase guide for each of my children’s current ages, I knew I needed to get more intentional in celebrating their uniqueness and interests.

If you’ve never seen a phase guide, it looks like this… I’ve saved the link on the picture, so if you click it you can learn more.

Our church’s children’s ministry uses the curriculum that is also made by the creators of these special parenting guides.

After writing down some notes on each of my kids’ interests I decided to do a special day with each of them.

In November my daughter and I went to a mall to be the first customers at a Charming Charlie accessories store, we also rode a double decker carousel (side note: taking a picture looking backwards while riding a carousel can lead to this mom getting motion sick.) We got personal MOD pizzas, I gave her my old digital camera and taught her basic photography, we got drinks at a cafe and brought a My Little Pony board game, then finished with a round of put put.

It was good, but exhausting. The next one, I decided would be much simpler.

My son and I spent a day in December at the St Louis Science Center.

I wanted to plan another day for each of them. His birthday is April 6th, so I dubbed the 6th or so of each month is a “Titus day.” In March we did Taco Bell, Monkey Joe’s, and McDonald milk shakes (only for Titus since I wasn’t through with Whole30.

I joined a class field trip on March 14 for my daughter whose birthday is December 14th. So from then on the 14th or so of each month has been declared “Elodie Day.”

Now each kid has a special day each month to look forward to and help plan. Their birthday months are covered already of course.

But on all other months, we do a few things that make each kid feel special. Last month Elodie Day involved going to IKEA with Daddy and getting a new light for her room. All four of us went to the science center on the 7th last month for Titus day.

We have enjoyed each time we focus on the special interests of our kids. Having an approximate day of each month gives us an easy way to set something up.

How about you? What’s one of your ways to spend individual focused time with each of your children?

Freeze Stinky Shoes

I’ve heard Levi’s actually recommends that you not wash your denim jeans but instead you should freeze them to kill any germs. I wash my jeans because… dirt. But, freezing to kill smell causing bacteria makes great sense when it comes to shoes.

Have you ever washed your shoes but they still smelled like stinky feet? Try freezing them.

First wash them (I just throw them in any old load of clothes) and dry them (preferably outside to air dry).

Then place then in a ziplock bag and freeze them overnight. Take them out of the bag and let them warm back up before wearing them.

When they thaw they should smell better. I’ve never had them back to 100%, but it’s noticeable better. When you’re not wearing your shoes, try putting a used dryer sheet in them too.

Still waiting on Sploosh to become a real thing Stanley Yelnats.

Less Mess Deviled Eggs

After making easy peeling hard boiled eggs, deviled eggs are a snap. All the times I’ve made deviled eggs, the peeling takes the longest time. I like my deviled eggs savory and sour. You should make your favorite filling but mine is:

Mashed hard yolks from halves of a dozen hard boiled eggs (don’t count in the picture, it’s fewer here), 1/2 c mayonnaise, 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard, and 2 Tablespoons of relish or finely chopped pickles (whichever you have).

Once your filling mixture is smooth, put into a frosting bag with a tip or a ziplock bag and snip the corner. (It’s kinda amazing that I have a frosting bag. I use it primarily for making deviled eggs. I don’t have a deviled egg plate so I use a pie pan.)

Then pipe in your filling one egg half at a time. If you have frosting skills yours will look better than mine. I just hold the tip near the bottom of the egg half then squeeze until the egg is filled and lift out.

I sprinkle with paprika, but chives or dill would be good too.

Happy Cookout Gatherings!