Thursday 27 June 2013

Meal planning helps the budget and the waistline

Mr Fork and I used to do them same dance every night when we came home from work:
"What do you want for dinner?"
"I don't know, what do you feel like?"

Then we'd decide on something, realise we didn't have the right ingredients and either a) go to the supermarket to get them as well as a few other "necessities" while we were there or b) give up on the idea and get takeaway instead.

In the end, I made up a meal planning sheet for us to stick to the fridge. It was supposed to be used for all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) but instead we just use it to write our planned dinners on now. Breakfast is usually cereal or toast, while lunches tend to be leftovers or sandwiches, and we found we didn't need to plan those.

It's just a simple A4 document, which I laminated. We write on it with a whiteboard marker every Saturday morning, and complete our shopping list at the same time. There's a bit of a system to our routine:
  • If it's not on the shopping list, we don't buy it. So if we use something up during the week or need something specially for a meal, we need to make sure to put it on the list or wait until next week. The shopping list is also stuck to the fridge with a magnet so we can add things to it as we think of them. Friendly on the hip pocket as we know what we want and can get in and out of the store fast.
  • We try to only shop once a week. Weeknights are hectic enough with the bedtime routine that we don't need to add a shopping trip in as well. Therefore meals that require the freshest ingredients tend to be on the weekends or earlier in the week, and meals that we can use frozen or canned things for appear later in the plan.
  • Mr Fork and I both have a terrible habit of cooking up way more than we need. So we regularly have "Hunt and Gather" nights (H+G). That's when it's a free for all with the leftovers and frozen meals - whoever gets in first gets to eat it. We don't cook on those nights, and just eat up things that would otherwise have been forgotten about in the fridge/freezer. Less waste for the bin or compost heap. 
  • We plan in takeaway nights and around upcoming events. If we know Mr Fork has an early football game on Tuesday nights, that's usually a H+G night or something quick. If we've planned dinner with friends or family, that goes on the plan so we make sure not to cook or to cook something suitable if we're hosting.
I didn't think our meal planning was anything special, until my friend the1337mum came to visit and commented on it. It works for us - just knowing that we have a meal planned takes the stress out of dinner preparations. Because we know what's happening, whoever gets home first starts the food prep so we eat (mainly) nutritious, home cooked meals which are healthy for both the wallet and the waist.

Do you use a shopping list or a meal plan? If so, how does that work for you and do you have any favourite meals to share?

Speaking of being good for the wallet, everyone loves a giveaway. The1337mum was lucky enough to be invited to KMarts toy launch and she wants to share the love with a toy giveaway. Head on over and put your entry in!

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Make your own lounge pants

I was feeling crafty on the weekend so I decided to put these feelings to good use and do some sewing. Mr Fork had been complaining that his pyjama pants were "old" so being the thrifty sort I decided to make him a new pair. For fun, I figured that I'd also make Ellie a pair with the leftover material too.
Big and small pants
I'm not much of a seamstress but I can do the basics so I wanted a fairly simple pattern. Google came up with the goods and I based my pants off this very simple tutorial. Here's what I did.
  • Make your pattern. I used wrapping paper as the base because it was what I had that was long enough for the length of Mr Fork's pants. Grab the pants you want to make the pattern out of, and fold them in half lengthwise. Make sure that you pull the crotch straight. Draw an outline around the pants. If they have an elasticised waist, be sure to stretch this out for the purpose of the pattern. When you have an outline, draw around this again to make the seam allowances – I allowed 2 inches at the waist and ankles and half an inch on the leg seams.
  • Fold your material along the leg seam and pin the pattern. Cut it out. Do it twice. I'll be honest, I didn't use the 1/2 inch seam allowance on the fold of the material because I thought it was overly generous and the pants I used for the pattern were a loose fit anyway. It depends on how you want the pants to fit. I also am not fussy with how my material matches up. On Mr Fork's pants one leg has the monkeys going vertical the other has the monkeys going horizontal. It depends how much material you have and how fussy you are with these things.
Cute monkey material!
  • Pin the material cut outs with the right side together from ankle to crotch. Sew your seam. Mr Fork is rough on his pants and Ellie's fluffy cloth bum means her pants take a beating too, so I did a double line of stitches to reinforce everything. I suppose if you have an overlocker you don't need to worry about doing that.
  • Turn one of the legs right side out and tuck it into the other leg. Line up the inner seams and then pin the crotch from there. I did a double line of stitches along this seam too.
  • Turn the pants completely inside out. You should have what looks like a pair of pants with raw edges on the waist and ankles.
  • Fold a small seam, and then a larger fold to tuck all the raw edges in and create a nice 'tunnel' for the elastic of the waist to go into. It's not necessary, but it makes it easier if you iron those folds before sewing (I'm lazy and I didn't). Be sure to leave an opening (about 2 inches) so you can insert the elastic!
  • Measure your elastic, making sure to stretch it appropriately and leave a small amount for an overlap. Attach a safety pin to one end and feed it through the opening you left in the last step. Make sure not to twist it! Continue to feed until it comes out the other end. Use a wide zigzag stitch to join the overlap of the elastic ends, and then close the gap in the waist seam.
  • Fold a small fold and then a slightly larger one to finish off the ankle seams neatly and sew those up. Again, an iron will make things easier but isn't essential.
  • And, you are done! Loll around in your lounge pants!
Mr Fork is like an Oral B dentist. I'm not allowed to show his face!
What about you - have you done anything crafty lately?

Friday 14 June 2013

Post op surgery post

I started writing this post from the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane. The last time I was in a hospital was while Ellie was having light therapy for jaundice. This time I'm in hospital again for an equally lousy occasion.

I'm sitting in the parents room with Mr Fork as we attempt to distract ourselves while our 8.5 month old is having hernia surgery. If you exclude the puppies, who are technically now 'it's', Ellie is the first in our little family unit to have surgery, which is a sobering thought for any parent to have.

About 30 minutes ago we passed our little girl over to a nurse to be anaesthetised, and then cut open. They asked did I want to be with her while she went under but I'm not strong enough to watch that.

I know that in the whole scheme of things, a hernia operation is relatively straight forward and routine. I know that in an hour or so she'll be coming back up to the ward and I can hold her again. This little girl that I grew inside of me for 9 months, and who barely left my side for 6 months after that. Who lights up when she sees my face when I come home from work.  

I know I posted last week about how miserable a sick, wailing baby at a funeral was.  Let me tell you, even sadder is having to have your baby fast before surgery. Needing to wake her at 0130 for milk because it was the last thing she'd drink for many hours. Sitting in the waiting room watching her desperately suck her thumb seven hours later because she was hungry and mummy couldn't make her understand that she wasn't allowed to feed her. My heart broke a little then.

However, the operation was a success. My little girl came up from surgery with the nurses part way in love with her, all snuggled up in their arms and looking so small and fragile. She slept a lot, drank some milk, ate a little pear puree and was charmed by the wandering clowns and the teddy bear she was given in the recovery ward. I held her in my arms and soothed both of us while I rocked in the bedside chair and cried on the inside at the sight of her incisions and the cannula in her tiny hand. 

For the next few days as Ellie recovers from her operation at home, Mr Fork and I will tend her and be grateful that we live in a place where health care is accessible and doctors are skilled enough to fix our little girl for something so 'minor'. And perhaps, mummy will steal a few extra kisses to help soothe the inside wounds that happen when our little ones are sick and we need to stay strong on the outside for their sake. 

As for Ellie? As usual, she doesn't know she's sick and should be resting. I know she's in pain but when the panadol kicks in, I've got no hope of stopping her zooming around the house and playing madly with her favourite toys. Children are so resilient.

Has your child ever needed to go to hospital? How did you cope?

Monday 10 June 2013

And they call it puppy love...

I think these two are going to grow up to be fast friends!  The white dog is always the one that Ellie goes to for snuggles. He will tolerate her pulling on his ears, pulling his fur to lever herself up, and even rubbing her face all over him to wipe the snot off. In return, he expects her to share her food and be able to lick her occasionally - usually he sneaks up and gets her on the toes or the head. Many squeals (delight from Ellie, disgust from me) occur.

I honestly thought we'd have adjustment issues bringing Ellie home, but the hounds were lovely. From the start, they snuggled my tummy all through pregnancy and seemed just as delighted as Mr Fork when Ellie kicked them from the inside. When I was in hospital after giving birth, Mr Fork brought home one of her tiny hats to familiarise them with her smell. He tells me that sometime in the middle of the night while he was sleeping, they stole the hat from the bed and he found them sleeping snuggled around it in the morning. I think they loved her right from the beginning. Now that she is bigger than them as well, they recognise that there is a new pecking order in the house but they've accepted it gracefully.

I suppose it helps that the newest Fork member has a tendency to throw pieces of what she is eating down to her loyal hound subjects from her highchair on high!

Do you have fur-babies? If so, how did they adjust to a baby in the house?

Wednesday 5 June 2013

One of those weeks

Last week was just one of those weeks. You know, the ones where everything that can go wrong does? It was a really, really terrible week.

To start with, my grandmother died on Monday. I wasn't particularly close to her, but Ellie was her first great grandchild and she was besotted. It's hard to feel ambivalent about someone who so clearly adores your child. Of course I was also sad that my family was sad. Grandma passed away within days of her brother so it really was the sad end of an era.

On Tuesday, Ellie was sick and I was asked to pick her up from daycare early as she wasn't herself. She perked up as soon as I got her home, so I thought no more of it, but on Wednesday morning, her temperature spiked to 39.8. You better believe I was on the phone to 13 HEALTH quick smart, and high tailing it to the GP right after. After a very rude man saw her (not our usual GP), the diagnosis was bronchiolitis - a respiratory virus which can't be treated with antibiotics. Plenty of snot, plenty of wheezy breathing and lots of high temperatures. We're all sleep deprived what with the slow feeds because she can't breathe and the warm sponge baths to try to bring down the temp. There have been lots of sleepless nights at the Fork house.

Because Ellie was still contagious on Thursday, I couldn't take her to daycare again, and so I had to bring her to the funeral with me. Is there anything more miserable than a sick, wailing baby? Yes, a sick, wailing baby at a funeral. Honestly though, I'm sure of all the people who attended, Grandma appreciated seeing Ellie there.

On top of all that, Ellie has recently been confirmed with a hernia, so she's also scheduled for surgery on that next week. Surgery! On a poor tiny baby! My heart breaks.

Just to add to my tale of woe, I totally caught Ellie's fever, so that knocked me down for the count, of course right when we had a house of visitors staying for the funeral, so I couldn't really rest properly. Even now, I have a scratchy throat, a constant headache and sore joints. They suspect glandular fever with viral meningitis. Yay! To think, this is my mummy life for the next 18 years! Lucky I have baby cuddles and puppy companions to make it somewhat better. Thanks Mr Fork for this totally flattering picture...
Is it a powder puff or just a snuggly puppy giving comfort?

Having said that, we're all on the mend. Still a bit coughy, snotty and herniated, but slowly our household is getting there. 

Also, it doesn't fit in my tale of woe properly, but Ellie cracked her first tooth last week too. Stealth tooth - we didn't realise until she bit Mr Fork's finger, and even then he was so chuffed he kept sticking it in there for her to bite so he could feel it again. That's daddy love. She chews on everything now. Nothing is safe from being shoved into her small gob.
Yes this is a tasty wash cloth. Yes, I must chew it
What about you? Have you ever just had one of those weeks?


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