Category: Fun Stuff
Sunday, August 31
Hi there. I can’t believe it’s time to plan another menu…here we go!
So, I completely underestimated what an interruption to normal life repiping our house would be this past week. I didn’t cook once. We’re almost back to normal now and I actually am cooking this afternoon, which will be nice! Needless to say, lots of repeats on my menu this week from last. (For those of you in California and Nevada, if you are ever in need of repiping your home, see below for info on the company we used.*)
- Happy Labor Day!
- Hot dogs & hamburgers on the grill
- Chicken Caesar Wraps
- Fresh fruit and carrot sticks
- Homemade pizza night (flavors TBD!)
- Taco night
- Breakfast for Dinner: Waffles
- BBQ Chicken on the Grill
Your turn! Share your menu for the week, pretty please with a cherry on top!
*Repiping info for California and Nevada folks: Repipe 1 was the company we used and they were fantastic. Their prices are phenomenal, they are super organized and timely, and the customer service has been great. I highly recommend them. The only issue we had was with the crew that patched up our walls. I won’t go into the too much detail, but the biggest issue was that they should have done a much better job putting plastic over our belongings, which ended up being a major headache for me. The company was quick to respond, however, and offered to come out and help clean everything (which I declined in the end and just did it myself). Even with a few hiccups on patch day, I still highly recommend them.
Posted by Jane Maynard at 11:21 am 14 Comments
Categories: around the house, new house fun, weekly menus Tags: dinner plans, free printable, meal plan, menu plan, PRINTABLE MEAL PLAN, repipe 1, shopping list, weekly menu, weekly menu planning |
Friday, August 29
Happy Friday! Today for show and tell I have a lot of movie and tv talk. Sometimes I just can’t help myself.
First, Cate and I went to see The Giver this week and it was so good. The movie doesn’t have high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and I don’t understand why, it was great! The book really is one of the best books ever, so Cate and I were worried about how it would be adapted to film. We didn’t need to worry – the film was beautiful. There were a few changes to the story but the changes made sense, and the visual interpretation was lovely. Plus, Cate and I were both sobbing at the end, which earns the movie extra points for sure. Definitely a great movie, go see it! (If you haven’t read the book, do that first!)
Second, Netflix is starting to overwhelm me! I was super excited about the final season of The Killing coming on the service this month and totally liked it. Since the series is now done, I kind of figured I was sort of all caught up on my Netflix originals viewing. And then I heard about Bojack Horseman and Happy Valley and had to add them to our list. Then Nate and I watched the first episode of An Idiot Abroad, which was hilarious and necessitated another addition to our list. Make it stop! My playlist is too long! Sidenote: I will be forever bitter that Ricky Gervais didn’t win the Emmy this week for his acting on Derek. Don’t even get me started on Jim Parsons…for crying out loud.
One fun food link this week on Babble: 12 Clever, Tasty Recipe Hacks for the Dorm Room.
You know the drill…share your stuff!
Thursday, August 28
Earlier this summer I received an email from Tillamook, inviting me to visit the Tillamook cheese factory in Oregon as well as see one of their dairy farms. After a little “please pretty please can I ditch our family for three days” begging with Nate, I promptly emailed Tillamook and said YES to the invitation. We love Tillamook around our house. From the time I was a wee thing my mom taught me that Tillamook cheese was the best. Not only do I think their products are great, but I always love getting a peek into food production, so I couldn’t wait for this trip.
Two weeks ago I flew to Portland, OR, where I arrived at what appeared to be the set for Portlandia. Oh, wait, it was just Portland. Portland IS Portlandia, in case you were wondering. I loved Portland and had a wonderful afternoon exploring and eating my way around town. A delicious lunch at Tasty n Alder, dessert at Voodoo Doughnut, and a large portion of my very short time spent at Powell’s Books, which is now on the list of my most favorite places on the planet, made for a pretty perfect day.
Let’s get down to the business at hand, shall we? Cheese! I have so much to share about Tillamook it’s almost overwhelming, so I’m going to let my pictures from the trip guide me through this post.
We headed west from Portland to Tillamook, OR. The drive was unbelievably picturesque and you can’t miss the factory once you reach town. There I am in front of the GIANT Tillamook sign with Stephanie from 52 Kitchen Adventures…she is wonderful, btw.
We of course were given a tour of the factory. Anyone can visit the factory for tours and to shop in the store, so if you’re ever in the area be sure to stop in! We also had a chance to go behind the scenes and see where the cheese is aged and stored. The facilities are quite impressive.
Have you ever noticed a boat on the Tillamook logo? Well, there it is! The ship Morning Star was used in the early days to deliver cheese up and down the coast. Obviously it’s a little landlocked now but it is just as beautiful as ever.
Part of our tour was lead by Dale Baumgartner, Tillamook Head Cheesemaker (a.k.a. the Head Cheese…that joke is irresistible). Dale has been working for Tillamook for for over 40 years and he knows his cheese. It was fascinating learning how the cheese is made today, but maybe even more interesting hearing about his early years at Tillamook. I always love talking with people who truly love their work and are such experts at what they do. It’s inspiring to me and something, quite honestly, I can’t imagine.
Want some fun cheesemaking facts? Here you go! (I stole these from the signs on the tour.)
- Each of the eight stainless steel cheese vats holds approximately 53,500 pounds of fresh milk. On average each vat makes three batches of cheese per day.
- It takes 10 pounds (1.16 gallons) of milk to make 1 pound of Tillamook cheese.
- More then 1.7 million pounds of milk arrive at the plant each day. Approximately 167,000 pounds of cheese are made each day.
In addition to learning all about how the cheese is made, we also spent part of our day with Jill Allen, Manager of Product Quality. Jill leads the sensory team, which spends all day every day tasting every single batch of everything that is made at the plant, from butter to yogurt to cheese to ice cream to sour cream. Jill was equally as fascinating to listen to, plus she let us taste all kinds of delicious things. And, in case you are wondering, her team expectorates everything they taste so that their tastebuds are as ready to go on the first bite as they are on the last. Bottom line, after everything we learned about sensory, I would absolutely not want to be on that team! I’m glad other people are up for the job!
During our session with Jill, we taste tested Tillamook products alongside leading competitors. You can even tell from this crappy indoor photo how different Tillamook’s cheddar is compared to other brands – the difference was night and day! Many factors play into this, from the quality of the milk to the water content or the cheese to the smaller blocks of cheese that are made. Great care is taken at every step in the process, making for a higher quality final product.
I think one of my favorite things we tasted that day were the cheddar cheese curds. The curds is what the cheese looks like before it’s compressed naturally into blocks. Sadly you can only buy the curds at the Tillamook factory store, which was, by the way, awesome.
That evening we drove west, where we had a view of the amazing Oregon coast.
We stayed at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, where my hotel room looked out on this:
I didn’t want to leave. But they made me, which wasn’t too hard since they gave me cute yellow boots and told me I could go look at cute baby cows. Sold!
Before we flew home, we spent the morning at one of the Tillamook dairy farms, owned by Ryan and Wendy. Tillamook is a cooperative, so the farmers all have a stake in the business. There are less than 150 farms in the co-op and they are all within a fairly short distance of the plant. And, from what we witnessed, the cows on those farms are living good lives as Tillamook employees.
Here’s the deal. We did not hear one “MOO” the entire time we were on the tour. Wendy said that cows only “moo” when they are discontent or warning other cows about something, so if they’re quiet, it pretty much means they’re happy and content.
Wendy and Ryan were gracious hosts and taught us all kinds of interesting things about being dairy farmers. I think what struck us most is how much work it is and how tied they are to the farm. It’s really hard for them to ever get away and I think they said it’s been 2 years since their last vacation. Heavens. And Ryan is up before 3:00 AM every day. I can’t even imagine.
They explained that it costs more to make high-quality milk but that Tillamook incentivizes the farmers to make high-quality milk, so it’s worth it. It is amazing how much goes into the process of milking cows twice a day. This particular farm has around 400 cattle and it costs $7/day/cow just for feed. Ryan is a 4th-generation dairy farmer, so he knows what he’s doing. He and Wendy were both incredibly relaxed and happy.
Needless to say I had a fabulous time, surrounded by wonderful people, delicious food and cute cows! I learned a lot and am so appreciative that I was able to be a part of the trip. Also, we had the chance to taste a new Tillabar flavor that is coming out next year and it is AMAZING. I’m not allowed to tell you what it is, but I’ll be sure to let you know when it hits stores!
Thank you, Tillamook!
Friday, August 22
Friday Show and Tell: The Cutest Comment on the Internet, A Must-Read Article About Plastic and More!
Happy Friday! I didn’t publish any blog posts this week – that might be the first time ever! It was the last week of summer and we are dealing with a plumbing mystery that has taken hours (days?) of our time and is resulting in the need to repipe our house. Yes, totally sucky. But, I have a house to repipe, so who am I to complain? As a result of my non-posting this week, I’m bubbling over with things to share with you, so today’s Show and Tell is chock full of good stuff!
I had a post publish on Babble this week entitled Kick It Old-School with this Milk Toast Breakfast Recipe. I’ve been excited for this post to go live so I could share it with you. The recipe is seriously delicious. As wonderful as the recipe is, I have a little something else about milk toast that I have to tell you about.
Milk toast is considered a “vintage” recipe, one that I’ve found many people haven’t even heard of. While I was researching milk toast for my article, I came across a comment on a random website by a reader named “Grumpy” that absolutely captured my heart. “I have tried to make [milk toast] from memories of my mother making it when we were children. We had more milk than we could use from the cow I milked, and fresh home churned butter mixed into the hot milk. Mine is not near as good as I remember it was back then. I am 85 and have to cook now, after all these years. I do miss my darling wife’s cooking.” Seriously, this might win best comment on the internet ever. I can’t even.
Moving on to less cute, more depressing things…how’s that for a segue? Aren’t you excited to keep reading? I thought so! Remember my annual New Year’s Resolution to Use Less Plastic? We haven’t talked about it since the beginning of the year, so I thought I’d touch base real quick. I found an article on Medium this week that you should absolutely read, Gyres: The Terrifying True Story of the Garbage That Could Kill the Human Race. I had a similar reaction when reading this article as I did when I saw the documentary Bag It and the short video The Story of Stuff – basically a horrified, “we have to do something” reaction. The article about gyres is loooooonnnng and, honestly, the writing is super flowery and kind of hard to get through, BUT you still need to read it. I had pulled a bunch of quotes to share in this post but realized I had pulled paragraphs of quotes, so it’s probably better for you to just go to the source. And then let’s use less plastic together! I think about this goal every day and our family has definitely made progress, little by little. As Gandhi so eloquently said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” We can do it! (Sorry for the cheerleading, preachy portion of today’s program…sometimes I can’t help myself.)
Here are my other food links for the week!
- On Babble: Luscious Lemon Chicken…with Just 4 Ingredients (this is an adaptation of a recipe I got from a friend when we got married…it’s so simple and truly luscious!)
- On Cosmo: 16 Refreshing Lemonade Recipes You Need This Summer
Phew! I’m done! Your turn to share whatever you like! Also, if you’ve joined me on the Use Less Plastic train, tell us how it’s going!
Friday, August 8
Before I get to food links, I have two things to share with you that I’m loving.
First off, I started wearing Birks. As in Birkenstocks, specifically the Gizeh sandals. I received them as a gift last fall at a Ladies’ Home Journal event but didn’t start wearing them, despite my sister-in-law Hannah who works in fashion in NYC telling me that people were totally wearing them again. Then I bought a standing desk and my feet started hurting from standing so much and then I pulled out the fancy new Birks and THEN I FELL IN LOVE. Just thought I should let you know. My feet never hurt when I wear these. Plus, they’re actually kinda cute.
Second, a new company started by a mom contacted me about trying out their product, the Kupp’. My kids are absolutely loving it! I love that they are made out of glass, given my goal to phase out plastic as much as possible from our lives, but the silicone sleeve makes them very kid-friendly. And my kids love having their very own cup to be responsible for. They basically haven’t used anything else for two weeks!
Here’s my post on Babble this week. My kids and I were supposed to try a Disney recipe out and report on how it went. The popsicles are made from non-fat, plain yogurt, bananas and blueberries with just a bit of honey. I honestly didn’t think my kids would like the popsicles that much, but I was so wrong. They loved them! This is a great recipe for kids:
And food fun on Cosmo:
- 15 Perfect Peach Recipes You Need to Try This Summer
- 15 Incredible Three-Ingredient Desserts
- 12 Unexpected Ways to Use Peanut Butter
- 10 Amazing Ice Cream Sandwiches You Must Try This Summer
As always, please share anything you like!
Friday, August 1
Happy Friday! Happy August!
I don’t have anything particularly awesome to share today because I just spent three hours getting new tires on my car. Because I drove over a construction tool on the way home from the beach on Wednesday. And, you know what? As much as it all was completely inconvenient and expensive, I never freaked out. I remained surprisingly calm. On a related note, a few nights ago I got pulled over for not stopping completely at a stop sign and, again, was calm and collected. My friend Barbara said I was “cool as a cucumber.” (In the end no ticket, luckily!) So, I guess my big share today is that maybe I’m getting a little more zen than I used to be. Maybe. I am trying. Because, honestly, even when the crappy stuff happens, what do I have to complain about? I got to hang out with my kids this week, work at jobs I love, go to the beach, look at stuffed animals (literally) at the natural history museum with little people who for some reason just really love taxidermy. It’s all good, popped tires and all.
Okay, time for some fun food links!
On Babble, my kids and I tried another one of the Dishes by Disney recipes:
And all kinds of yumminess on Cosmo:
- 10 Amazing Ice Cream Sandwiches You Must Try This Summer
- 21 Charming Ways to Use Cinnamon
- 13 Genius Spiked Popsicles
- 12 Flawless Ice Cream Cakes You Need to Make This Summer
Please share your own thoughts/links/blog posts/accomplishments/anything!
Friday, July 25
Happy Friday! I survived our first full week of summer at home. Yay! My strategy is to work a bit each day and then plan one fun thing to go out and do with the kids each day (even if it’s just a stop at the library or sprinklers in the yard). One of our fun activities this week was watching Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I can’t even tell you how excited I was when it came onto Netflix service recently. The kids totally loved it! I especially love how nervous Cate would get during the suspenseful scenes, it was crazy cute. Also, I can’t believe how much of that movie I still have memorized. Kinda scary.
Here are links to all my other stuff on the web this week!
- What To Do With Your Summer Tomato Harvest
- 3 Kids, a Mom, & a Kitchen: Jake’s Buried Treasure Banana Pudding
- 14 Delicious Desserts You Can Make on the Stove
- 20 Recipes That Will Make Zucchini Your Favorite Summer Food
- 16 Slushy Drinks That’ll Keep You Cool All Summer
Your turn to share whatever you want! Blog posts, fantastic finds, summer activity ideas, it’s all fair game!
Tuesday, July 22
My parents recently moved to northern New Jersey, very close to the New York border. It is absolutely beautiful where they live, complete with rolling green hills as far as the eye can see. This is the third summer that we’ve visited them at their new home but the first summer that we made two really great discoveries – Dairy Swirl in Vernon, New Jersey and the little town of Warwick, New York.
First, let’s talk ice cream. Dairy Swirl is literally five minutes from my parents’ home but, for some reason, we never went until this year. And that is a crime because it is awesome. They serve homemade ice cream in all kinds of wonderful flavors that are creative but make total sense. You know, nothing crazy, just all completely wonderful combinations of ingredients. And just outside the shop there are these giant rocks embedded in the side of the hill that are perfect for sliding. The kids could have stayed there all day. If you’re ever in northern New Jersey near Vernon, be sure to stop in!
After you hit the Dairy Swirl, keep driving north about 30 minutes to the town of Warwick, NY. Again, I don’t know why we never ventured to Warwick before but I’m so glad that we did! The town is adorable, with lots of little shops and restaurants, a cute town green where they play live music on the weekends, farmstands and more. I can only imagine how beautiful it is in the fall when the leaves are aflame!
My dad and I spent a few hours in Warwick with all three kids, so we kept the visit simple: lunch, dessert and a visit to the local bookstore. After lunch at Eddie’s Roadhouse (the filet sliders were awesome, the ribeye steak was just okay according to my dad), we hopped over to Corbett’s Cookie Bar Kitchen, where we had a really fun chat with the owners. They’ve been open about a year and only serve cookie bars. I love talking to small business owners who are so passionate about what they do – I really admire them because I am too chicken to do anything like that! The carmelita was our favorite flavor – it was like taking a big bite out of the best cookie dough. And the Mexican brownie was my other favorite. One bar is enough for 2-3 people, by the way, so pace yourself!
After stuffing ourselves silly, we took the kids to Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe. This bookstore is tiny and like a maze of book shelves, which I love. The kids’ section is tucked in a back corner and the kids and I spent a lot of time back there. Basically, we loved it.
Quick side note: another 10 minutes north there is an even smaller town called Sugar Loaf that also has some really cute shops, where you can buy things like handmade candles and soaps.
So, this fall when you east coasters are wondering where you should take a drive to enjoy the leaves, head over to the Warwick Valley. You can’t go wrong! (For that matter it was perfectly fun in the summer, too!)
Friday, July 18
Hello, everyone! So, I really took a break from the blog this week…I don’t know the last time I did that! It’s just that we were too busy doing things like this…
But the party ends today…we’re flying home this afternoon! We’ve been gone almost a month and, as absolutely wonderful as our trip has been, it will be nice to sleep in our own beds tonight. That is if we survive the flight…wish me luck flying alone with 3 kids!
Here are my food posts elsewhere on the web this week!
- On Babble: Healthy Morning Milkshakes!
- On Cosmo: 17 Shrimp Dishes You Should Make All Summer
- On Cosmo: 11 Fun Things You Can Make with an Ice Tray
- On Cosmo: 8 Fabulous Fondue Recipes
Your turn for show and tell – share whatever you want!
Friday, July 11
Happy Friday! Just a few fun links today and then I’ll be out of your hair! As always, please share your own stuff in the comments, too! I love seeing what you’re up to/what caught your eye during the week/all of it!
Okay, so I really loved writing my Babble post about making fondue with kids this week. We put it all together with our extended family here in New Jersey and had a blast! The cooking was fun, the eating was fun and everything tasted wonderful. Plus, there are lots of cute photos and two great recipes in the post. So, you know, be sure to check it all out!
And here are some fun posts on Cosmo this week!