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Do you want freedom from whining? Although I can’t guarantee to remove it in all aspects of your life my wife helped me realize one solid strategy for freeing yourself from whining during planned family excursions/activities:

Leave your kids at home.

This Independence Day we had friends visiting from San Antonio. They went on a cruise from NYC and I convinced/invited them to take a swing up to us since they were already on the east coast. They had limited time and had never been to Boston before. I wanted to show them what I could so they 1) would feel the money they spent on their side trip was worthwhile and 2) they would want to come visit us again! (Note: this philosophy assumes you want your house guests to come again)

  • The Old North Bridge
  • At the start of the Freedom Trail
  • The restorative power of Slurpees

Since it was around the 4th of July and we live in the Boston area I thought some Revolutionary War history was in order. Much like our founding fathers I was determined to ensure our pursuit of happiness so I planned an excursion to the Old North Bridge. Located in Concord, the bridge is only about 30 minutes away from us. Perfectly spaced to allow us to get there, look around and be home in time to get ice cream before we headed out to fireworks (the fireworks display we go to is on July 3rd).

The kids were not thrilled about it. They have morning camp activities and like to chill at home for a bit before they head out to other activities but we had to get going. It was also a hot day. In the 90s with humidity. Not a recipe for success.

We got there in good time but all we had to do was get out of the car for the whining to start. It was 1/4 mile from the parking lot to the bridge and by 1/8th of a mile most of the kids were not having it. We got to the bridge, took the pictures, allowed my friends to briefly soak in the history and decided to cancel the rest of our plan (Lexington Green, walking along the Battle Road) and head to our favorite ice cream place.

The next morning was the 4th of July. Before a swim party and cook out I thought the whole family could head in to Boston to attend a reading of the Declaration of Independence, walk part of the Freedom Trail and get cannoli from Mike’s Pastry. We were tired and slow going from the previous night’s fireworks and canned the idea of the reading. But hey! we could still walk the Freedom Trail and get cannoli!

Well, some of the kids didn’t want to go. They didn’t care about history, they didn’t want to walk and they just wanted to stay home and then go to the pool party. I wanted everyone to come so we could spend time with our friends and do something (I thought was) fun. This sojourn in freedom was to be a family activity.

I freely admit that I am often a stubborn “I Say it-You Do it” parent. This does not always work well. Really, it hardly ever works well. Thankfully my wife has a different style and knows when to change tactics when I don’t. She discussed it with the kids and said she would stay home with the nay-sayers and get some things done in the house with them. I would take our guests and those who wanted to go adventuring in Boston.

I admit I was frustrated. This was supposed to be a family outing! I denied all non-attending children cannoli! After some back and “fourth” (get it) we got our two youngest ready and in the car along with the guests. It wasn’t my ideal scenario. I was going with our two least mobile kids (4 and 5).

As we drove into Boston the more I thought about it the more I realized how ridiculous I was being. My wife kept a kid home who literally would have whined the ENTIRE time (he was having a hard week). I was annoyed because now I would only have to maneuver 3 adults and 1 double stroller through July 4 Freedom Trail crowds instead of 4 adults and 6 kids? The kids who did come, although young, are the most up for adventure and usually are quite content to just sit in the stroller and people watch. I also remembered a conversation with a friend who related how she also left kids at home when they balked at a planned activity and how pleasant the result was.

The kids did great in the heat and my friends were gracious and understood the limitations of sightseeing with children. They even pushed the stroller the entire walk. We walked a good portion of the Freedom Trail and I relayed the facts I remembered from Duck Boat tours and showed my amazing ability to provide facts from signs readily available to all. By the time we got to Mike’s Pastry we were all ready to get some treats (I bought some for everyone, not just the ones who came) and head back to the car. We made it to the pool party only a little bit late.

In the end, leaving the uninterested at home worked for us this time. It was a good learning experience for me and my kids. Sometimes there will be a choice to stay or go. It truly can be okay if kids choose not to come. As a parent I deserve to have a nice time too and arguing with a whining kid for a 2-hour walk through Boston is not fun. My kids learned that staying home from an adventure will mean you also sometimes forgo unplanned surprises along the way (my friends bought the kids slurpees).

So don’t feel bad if you plan something and your kids don’t want to go. If they can stay home, let them. Chances are things will work out fine.

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I’ve previously written about how we get our meat by mail with Butcher Box. Well man does not live by pork shoulder alone (oh if wishes could make it so) so we were intrigued when we learned about a service called Misfits Market that delivers produce to your door. We are often looking for services to make our lives easier.

Like many families, we struggle to get kids to eat vegetables. We always try to provide one if not 2 veggies as side dishes and rotate through the normal options of green beans, broccoli, and zucchini (the veggie that shall not be named). We’ve steamed, baked and roasted. Made cheese sauce and drizzled with maple syrup (not at the same time). I also try to keep a sectioned veggie tray full of cucumbers, baby carrots and red, yellow and orange bell peppers. It’s really helpful for packing lunches during the school year and for snacking times before dinner. There are many times when I don’t have time to get veggies ready and I just plop it on the table. And by “plop” I mean lovingly serve with grace and care.

But the key to get kids to eat vegetables is just to keep offering it and letting kids know that they are not going away. Offering a variety of different things is also important. Misfits Market seems to be a good way for us to get that variety in a convenient way.

Misfits Market is a subscription box for produce priced at up to 50% less than the grocery store. Their slogan is “always fresh, sometimes normal.” They provide produce from farms and distributors that is perfectly edible but maybe too misshapen, small or underripe to sell in stores. They pass the discount on to you.

  • The box arrives!
  • Insulation and cold packs keep it fresh
  • Beautiful stuff!

To get started you just visit their website and pick the size that works for you. We get a large box (18-20 lbs of organic fruit and veg) once per week that costs us $35. A smaller one (8-10 lbs for $19) is also available. The company updates the list of produce they are sourcing on their website. But you may or may not get all of what is listed. You can schedule the frequency and the day of the week you would like it to arrive.

All the boxes had a great variety. Apples, Mangoes, Spring Mix, Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnips, Onions and Kohlrabi. We got this last week and have eaten nearly all of it. We have apples, and mangoes still from the box pictured above, the mangos will be short lived once I make this Mango Pie.

We’ve received three boxes so far and my 7 year-old son has been disappointed that the produce hasn’t been MORE weird than he expected it to be given the name. Some of the oranges have been a little small with mottled peels, the potatoes were not perfectly red and round. The mangoes and pears needed to ripen a bit, and some of the spinach leaves had brown splotches on them. It’s also all organic produce. I know I’ve mentioned that a lot. Did I say that it’s organic? I say this because organic produce is expensive! I definitely feel you get a lot of value for the money given the price of organic produce.

I’ve also been pleased with the selection. It’s a good mix of leafy greens, starchy vegetables, green vegetables and fruits. Some we had in our home before and some were new to me. In a recent box we got some kohlrabi (a crisp and watery root vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked) and some golden delicious apples. I normally wouldn’t have bought either of them being more of a Gala or Fuji man, myself. My 5-year-old daughter balked initially at apples that were not her preferred color but then ate a whole one. Her little brother followed suit. I used the kohlrabi to make some veggie fritters that almost everyone ate and liked (sometimes 2 out of 4 kids is enough). I don’t normally buy jicama or kale (ENOUGH with the kale propaganda) but am looking forward to putting them to use.

Another benefit of Misfits Market is helping to reduce food waste. You are buying food that is deemed “unsellable.” It sounds like a no-brainer but the ethics and reality are far more complicated than it first appears. Misfits Market seems to be one of the “ugly food” purveyors actually trying to buy direct from growers so it has that to its favor. Some vendors just buy from large agribusiness A lot of food that won’t win a beauty contest is sold to manufacturers who turn it into something where initial appearance doesn’t matter. Some say services like this also take away from Community Supported Agriculture programs. We’ve tried to do CSAs and for the most part they have long waiting lists in our area. I tried a type of CSA that delivered a produce box to my office. Apparently that community for some reason supported 2 to 3 different types of radishes per week. We stopped using it.

For now, this solution works for us. It has us trying different things and eating more vegetables. As we enter the busy summer months when it’s more difficult for me to get to the store by myself it’s nice to know I will have a box of fresh something arriving at the house once per week. Yes, I have to plan to cook based on what I get rather than what I want to buy, but sometimes that’s easier than starting from a completely blank slate. And usually there are many things I would have purchased anyway.

Misfits Market has not compensated me for this post. This is a service my family decided to try and I wanted to share it with you.

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On Friday Dr. Jones and I got a baby sitter and headed into the big city to hear Fitz and the Tantrums perform at the Rockland Trust Bank Pavillion. We heard them live once before when they opened for OneRepublic on their 2017 tour. They put on a great show. It’s like a big dance party. You can’t help but feel happy listening to their music. They played their big favorites and several songs from their upcoming new album. Everything was great.

Fitz and the Tantrums performing at the Rockland Trust Bank Pavillion

Now I don’t have a big history following or listening to what the kids call “popular music.” When I have listening time these days I usually put on a podcast or listen to a Broadway cast album. Mostly I went to sibling school band concerts or choir concerts and saw the occasional touring broadway show. I always went and saw The King’s Singers whenever they came to town. My first big stadium concert (other than Provo Utah’s Stadium of Fi-Yah!) was when a friend took me to Phil Collins at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City in the mid 90s.

My wife, though, loves bands and has many groups she follows. She saw Fitz and the Tantrums were coming to town as the middle act between Coin and Young the Giant and asked if I wanted to go. I was happy to be her +1. In addition to hearing great music (Fitz was amazing, the other bands were just loud) it afforded the great opportunity for an anthropological exploration of the many types of concert goers.

The Die Hard

The Die Hard is the always dancing, always singing concert goer. They may not wear the merch, but they know the songs and seriously dance. When we saw Fitz in 2017 there was one fan they had to ask to confine his dancing to his seating area as he was vigorously spilling out into the aisle. He would have blocked Ryan Tedder’s running through the aisle and the resulting high-five he gave my wife!

The Hip Family

These are parents who wish to impart a sense of coolness to their children. Or they just don’t want to get a sitter. We saw several families with kids who seemed to be round the age of our 2 older kids. I even think our 5-year-old daughter would have loved it–we just didn’t want to buy them a ticket. Sorry kids. Just more evidence of hour we are not “the hip family.”

The Average Fan

This is where I fit in. I usually would not think ahead to buy tickets for some events but once I get there I really enjoy it. I am not gyrating in the aisle. I do not know all the words. I do follow instructions when told to put my hands in the air like I just do not care. I enjoy the experience.

The Unaware

Similar to The Average Fan but with less interest. It’s like they decided I could go to a concert. Or not. There were people sitting right in front of us who might as well been listening to a Fitz CD or playlist. They were drinking their beverage of choice, chatting about whatever and looking at photos of their dog. They acted as if they were completely unaware that there was a concert going on. Maybe they just didn’t care about Fitz and the Tantrums, but they didn’t seem to light up any more when Young the Giant came up. We left after a few Young the Giant songs–it was just too loud for us.

The Corporate Sponsor

Although I think we can all agree that stereotypes are a bad thing, I think we can also agree when one of these things is not like the other. While at the concert I saw several individuals in good seats with no apparent interest in what was going on. Their age, demeanor and apparel suggested they were given the tickets for bankrolling the venue’s concert series.

Depending on the artist some of these groups may be more malicious or annoying than others, but if you have a group you love I still think it’s worth the effort to see them live. Making money from selling albums or streaming services is increasingly difficult. Live shows are one of the best ways to directly support the artists you love. So get out there and be an Average Fan or Die Hard. If you are an Unaware just stay home and listen to the radio. It will be cheaper.

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So I’m kind of having a stay-at-home dadding moment. About a month ago I was really thinking about giving up this blog. I wasn’t devoting as much to it as I wanted and wasn’t sure it was worth the hosting fee. But through my blog someone contacted me to to write an article for a media company that was picked up by MSN.com. Around the same time I raised my hand for a media opportunity on a WGBH (local NPR) radio show that wanted to feature stay-at-home dads for a father’s day segment.

So I guess I need to add “syndicated columnist” and “on-air personality” to my Linked In profile.

Me waiting in the WGBH lobby before my panel interview about being a stay-at-home dad.

The segment went live on their website today and will air this Sunday at 6 p.m. on the program “Under the Radar” with Callie Crossley. It was a lot of fun to drive into Boston, sit in a studio and have a chance to reflect on what fatherhood and being a stay-at-home dad mean to me. I even shaved, wore pants and put product in my hair.

You can stream the entire 30-minute segment at WGBH.org.

I am thankful for the opportunity I had to talk about being a stay-at-home dad There are many days I feel I do nothing to advance the greater good. Little by little though I know I am making a difference.

I am also grateful for the opportunity the host gave me to think about my dad. Back in the days of dial-up internet I was serving on the national leadership committee for the Public Relations Student Society of America. I was on the internet a lot so we decided to get another phone line. My dad said that if I ran the phone cabling around the house it would get done a lot faster than if I waited for him to do it. He showed me what to do and I did it. He taught me the importance of doing your part. I appreciate his other lessons of love, hard-work and service.

I’m sure this moment will pass. If nothing else it will give me a much needed boost to keep current material on the blog. Happy Father’s Day to all!

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A break from regular stay-at-home duties as we visit the Peter Iredale shipwreck one misty summer morning at the Oregon Coast last year.

I was recently approached to write an article about the “stay-at-home dad” life. A lifestyle website asked me to jump in after their scheduled writer had a conflict. The only catch was I had to turn it around in 24 hours. I said why not and thanks to a lighter day and my wife’s help I was able to get it done and sold my first article as an adult.

Hopefully there will be more like this forthcoming!

Click on over to BestLifeOnline.com to read how I Quit My Job to Become a Stay-at-home Dad.

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Earlier this month it was my family’s turn to help clean our congregation’s church building. I am not a fan.

Not the chapel I helped to clean, just a picture of “A” chapel.

For those of you not of my faith, the week-to-week cleaning of meetinghouses throughout the world is left in the hands of its members. The year is divided out among congregations (more than one may share a meetinghouse) and church members who volunteer or are voluntold (given an assignment) clean on specific weeks. You sweep, vacuum, mop and set up chairs so the rooms are ready for worship.

I think many faiths have the tradition of cleaning up after activities–sweeping up after a dance or putting away tables and chairs in the fellowship hall after a meal for example. Asking lay members to clean the meetinghouse sanctuary seems less common. Taken to an extreme example I do not believe the members of most megachurches can be found cleaning windows and vacuuming classrooms on a Saturday morning. Please note: I don’t think people wouldn’t do this if asked. I just don’t think it is asked of many.

For many years cleaning church meetinghouses was a paid position. Before a the centralized budget we have today members contributed their own money to fund a congregation’s bills and activities and often funded paid custodial staff. The staff was sometimes a member of the congregation who was in need of work or other support. From my best (short google search) research it seemed that the church switched tactics in the 1990s.

Bishop H. David Burton said “This new program is pretty simple. It basically amounts to inviting members of the Church to participate in the cleaning of their buildings in such a way that by their sacrifice, they will come to honor and respect and love these beautiful houses of worship.”

That’s a good theory. I do believe that by cleaning the building I serve God and show respect. But based on what I have seen it’s still not how many people appear to feel. I hate doing it. My kids often hate doing it and starting a Saturday morning with a fight about window cleaning is not a recipe for success. I think our buildings are dirtier than they should be and don’t always make a good impression. In the realm of what the church funds it’s not a huge expense (I am totally guessing. If scouting is off the table can we take that money and get our Hoover on for part of the year?) There are days, however, that if I were to have a faith crisis it would be precipitated by cleaning my meetinghouse. Few things cause me to question my commitment like being the only one to show up to clean a something no one cared enough to leave in a semi-clean state to begin with. Not feelings that you should feel as a result of providing service.

Here are a few things that everyone could do to make the the experience a little bit better.

1. Show up

Assignments or volunteer slots are provided in advance. Sometimes you can pick your own day. If you can’t make it on your day it means fewer people have to do the same work. Or it won’t get done. Communicate with those assigned with you. Swap with someone else. I think buildings don’t always look clean because too few people show up and those who are there give up. I know I have. And if you don’t want to do it? Most people don’t. Show up.

2. Leave it the way you found it

I went to clean once and the adult Sunday School room was totally unorganized. The piano had been moved into the hall. The orientation of the room was flipped so all the chairs were turned 90 degrees from normal. The main table had been shimmied out of the room and wedged into a tiny classroom next door. I once worked at a facility that had events. Rooms were always emptied or returned to a standard set-up at the end of a scheduled event. Just put it back and don’t leave it for someone else to rearrange a full room. If you have a major ward fiesta cultural dance-a-bration extravaganza super Saturday AFTER people have already come to clean for the day plan accordingly.

3. Take out the trash

If you generate refuse that is significantly more than just throwing a tissue in a trash can take out the trash! I have been to clean when trash cans are full of an entire seminary (early morning weekday Sunday school for teens) donut repast with crumbs everywhere. (see also number 2). The congregations in my cousin’s building were told if they didn’t clean up their act food would be banned from the building (vermin, party of 500?). If you have a significant mid week activity? Take out the trash. If you are there on a Wednesday and change a diaper that will make the diaper pail a superfund reclamation site by Saturday? Take. out. the. trash.

4. Make it easy to clean

My best building cleaning experiences have involved well-defined cleaning responsibilities. One congregation had cards you wore around your neck with a task that could be completed in 20-30 minutes. If enough people came you were done when your task was. Sometimes you had to get another one. Another time cleaning coordinators organized the cleaning and actually hid candy in the room for kids to find as they helped. There was even a little bin with all the tools you needed to do the task. Granted the latter was a well-staffed ward with people who were really dedicated to building cleaning. But it was nice. No one will come if you show up and there is a single sign that says “clean the church.” Have cleaning supplies labeled and organized. One building had the 3 different sizes of trash liners labeled in Comic Sans (how whimsical!). Instead of labeling spray cleaners light, medium and heavy duty maybe call them windows, floors and counters? And no one CAN show up (see number 1) if the building is locked on arrival. My entire family waited almost 45 minutes for someone to open the building and then left because the key wasn’t showing up until the time we had to clean in our schedule had passed.

When something falls through in any of these 4 points I have a hard time feeling Christlike love for people in my congregation or any of the congregations in my building. Why did you spill your yogurt in the entry way and not take the time to clean it up yourself? Why did leave your half-dead flowers in the chapel? They are not pretty. Why did you bring glitter ANYWHERE INTO THE CHURCH BUILDING AT ALL let alone complete what appeared to be a princess disco glitter ball craft on a chapel pew!

I wish we could pay a janitor to do it. I think buildings would be cleaner and better reflect who we are as a people. It would also spare me feeling that the people who sit next to me as I take the Lord’s Supper are jerks. It was YOU who pushed out the piano. Wasn’t it! WASN’T IT!

Most of my gripes focus on having respect for what is the Lord’s and for your fellow church members. I recognize that me judging others is part of the problem. I should just focus on doing what I need to do but I am only a human trying to improve. Even though I hate it I bring my family to clean the church because I want it to be clean when I come on Sunday morning. (If you have the last meeting of the day in the building all bets are off regarding cleanliness–sorry). It’s part of what I can do to show respect for God. It’s a way I can teach my kids that we can show respect for things that are not ours.

So there you have it. Just take out the trash next time you are there. Please?

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This was my mom Alice:

She studied home economics in college then taught it for several years. She even created one of the first high school home economics programs for men in the state of Utah. She used all these skills and more to teach all of her 5 children to cook through daily practice and summer cooking lessons. As part of the lessons she wrote out kid-friendly recipes on recipe cards and kept a file for us so we could find them easily. We learned to make breakfasts of muffins or scrambled eggs for ourselves and dinners like pizza or macaroni and cheese. I left home knowing how to cook a meal, to plan a menu, and to decipher most recipes. A love of cooking continues with all of my siblings to this day.

I still do a lot of things the way my mom did them I suppose, but as I was cooking the other day I realizes that there were some differences too. 

Fat, Baby.

I grew up with the vat of Country Crock (family of 7) and sticks of Parkay. We used the vat for our toast and to top our sides of frozen veggies at dinner. If we wanted to be “fancy” with our corn on the cob we got Squeeze Parkay. Sticks were used for baking along with shortening.  We had real butter for homemade rolls on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. For holiday baking we used butter for many but not all of our cookie recipes. I think some of this was economic and some was the prevailing wisdom of the day. I also don’t ever remember my mom using olive oil, although I’m sure she did on occasion.

Fast forward to today, I have a cubic yard of Costco unsalted butter in the garage freezer. We use it for all of our baking and also have a small amount of shortening in the cupboard. Toast needs are met by “spreadable” butter.  For cooking I have a myriad of fats at my disposal–olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and canola oil. Writing it out maybe I need to re-evaluate certain dietary life choices.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs are not something we used a lot. Dried herbs from the pantry were fine. We got herbs for a few holiday or celebration dishes. When I moved to New York City for my first job I also got cable for the first time and was able to watch the Food Network (when it had cooking shows on it). I started to use fresh herbs. I went to the Fairway on 72nd Street and was astounded by how many types of herbs one could buy. Today I buy fresh herbs more frequently than Mom did, but still don’t buy them regularly. I do love how they brighten up a dish. I bought lemongrass for the first time a week ago and made some great pressure cooker chicken curry

Stock and Bouillon

If my mom needed chicken stock for something, she usually used bouillon cubes. She also just cooked down a whole chicken in a pressure cooker and then used what was left as the basis for soup. Boxes of chicken stock are in our pantry all the time now. I also make bone broth for Dr. Jones to take for lunch.

Recipes

After my mother passed away, my dad compiled a lot of my mom’s recipes into a cookbook. There are a lot of things in there that I go back to time and again–her blondie recipe, the recipe for chicken gravy–and some I don’t. Like Autumn Soup. I just can’t even with the Autumn Soup. It’s a soup of stewed tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and ground beef that created a bowl full of fall colors. I just never enjoyed it and haven’t made it once since being out on my own. I don’t make everything my mom made, but I still have my mom’s love for trying new recipes on blogs, in magazines and by adding to our cookbook collection. 

Family Meals

Growing up we ate the majority of our meals together as a family. Regardless of the meal, we usually had a side salad of iceberg lettuce with tomatoes. With Dr. Jones’ busy schedule I am amazed that we are able to sit down and eat together as much as we do. My kids aren’t big on salad yet, but we always have a veggie tray of baby carrots, cucumbers and red, yellow, and orange bell peppers in the fridge that I bring out for dinner or use to pack lunches.

Let Me Sum Up

I am sure there are more similarities and differences, but nobody wants to read an encyclopedic ingredient comparison. I know my philosophy of cooking doesn’t stray too far from my Mom’s, though. She cooked to bring the people she loved together. To serve others. To teach them a skill so they could sustain and comfort. Although feeding a family can be a slog I’m glad I like to cook. Like Alice did.

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Over the past couple of years we’ve made an effort to change how we eat. Well…how the adults eat. We have yet to break some of our kids from the cycle of deliciousness that is carbs and cheese. As a “card carrying” lifetime member of Weight Watchers I wasn’t really excited to go back to counting points, but because I lost most of my weight eating real food I wasn’t interested in “Slim Slow” or fad diets. We decided to try Whole30–an eating program that focuses on minimizing processed foods (no sugar!) and getting your nutrition from whole foods and vegetables for 30 days. It allows for a lot of variety, and we’ve done it a couple of times. Sometimes for me it was more like Whole20, or Whole12. Okay I think there was a Whole7 once.

The point is we did (and periodically do) a reset to get our eating more focused on less-processed protein and vegetables. And when you only have meat and vegetables on your plate you want the meat to be good.  We tried just regular meat from the grocery store or warehouse club, organic meat from Whole Paycheck (Whole Foods), and meats from animals whom we have known personally and read stories to (not really–but we did buy part of a pig from a farm in Oregon when we lived there). I usually have kids with me at the grocery store and don’t always have the time I want to peruse.

These days we use Butcher Box for most of our carnivore needs. Butcher Box is a meat delivery company based in Cambridge, Mass., that delivers 100% grass fed beef, free range organic chicken and heritage breed pork to your door. You can create your own box or select one of their “curated boxes.” We have a mixed box delivered as we need it. One shipment lasts us 2 to 3 months. Although it’s set to auto ship you can pause until you are ready. Each delivery is like a treasure hunt full of different cuts of meat to discover. Some staples like chicken breast or ground beef can come every shipment. But other cuts vary by what they get from their farms. I like that i get different things that I may not try at the store. Every cut has been good quality.

Your butcher box arrives on your porch like this:

Inside the box is a lot of insulation (can be recycled) and a reusable insulated grocery bag which contains well portioned proteins. Each portion is usually about a pound, and feeds 2 or 3 people. Well 2 or 3 of MY people. Roasts probably feed 4 to 6. Not all of my tribe are big meat eaters yet so we get more out of the cuts than some may.

When we get our shipment I divide it into our freezer bins–one for chicken, one for ground meats and one for pork and beef. Its really easy for me to pull out what I want when I need it. I also have a bin for breads, and a bin for freezer meals or leftovers. The photo of the freezer was taken after we had defrosted and before we had fully stocked it again.

We have really enjoyed the convenience of meat home delivery. I know the quality that comes into the house is good, and I don’t have to spend a lot of time over the meat case wondering what I should get.

A few cautions:

  • It does take some flexibility. Sometimes I find a recipe that calls for a certain cut, but I almost always use something similar from the freezer so I’m not paying for meat twice.
  • Huge cuts of meat aren’t very economical to ship. If I want to roast a pork shoulder or a turkey I just get it from the store.
  • Keep track of your shipments and plan to use what you have. I have picked up fresh from the store before because I had nothing thawed but that defeats the point.

So let me know if you want to know more, and post your questions in the comments!

Disclaimer: I have not been paid by Butcher Box for featuring them in this post. It’s just a service that has simplified a few things for us and I wanted to share.

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Our ice cream freezer was pretty close to this.

My family would regularly make hand-churned ice cream for summer festive occasions. Memorial day and July 4th in particular were not complete without our homemade Cookies and cream, chocolate cookies and cream, or butter pecan. My dad even won an office contest with our butter pecan recipe. It was a group effort. My mom would make the ice cream base, and my dad would pack our hand-crank freezer with ice and salt. We would each take our turns churning the big crank–usually 10-15 minutes at a time–and were rewarded with a taste of the creamy goodness that clung to the dash when it reached soft-serve consistency. The ice cream was then covered, packed in more ice and salt and topped with newspapers and a few quilts to cure until dessert time. Packed thusly we would transport it to various functions. I even remember eating homemade ice cream on the national mall while we waited for fire works. I also have vague memories of meeting Joe Biden? We made ice cream so often that we ended up patching the fiberglass bucket and welding a piece back on to the crank when it broke off. We had a brief foray into using an electric ice cream maker but the motor burned out quickly so back to old faithful we went.

I purchased our ice cream maker when my wife was deployed in Iraq many years ago. We thought it would provide a good activity for me to do with our only child at the time. We found a coupon and purchased a Cuisinart 2-quart model . A lot of home ice cream machines don’t make a full half gallon which is needed when you want to make enough to share or give each guest more than a tablespoon. It was easier to use than Old Faithful as you didn’t have to worry about ice and salt. You just kept the insert in the freezer and pulled it out when you were ready. I’ve made ice cream and on off over the years but having some friends over recently gave me the motivation to try again.

I decided to make a traditional churned ice cream as well as one of these new fangled “no-churned” recipes that now seem to proliferate the interwebs. I settled on a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup with fudge swirl for the churned and then found a strawberry cheese cake recipe for the no-churn. Strawberry cheesecake is one of our favorite flavors at our local ice cream place.

The Peanut butter cup recipe came together pretty easily. You blend peanut butter with sugar and some dairy and chill it down before putting it in the ice cream machine. Once churned you fold in PB cups and a fudge sauce you make on the stove top and cool down. The finished product had a good peanut butter flavor and a creamy texture that softened quickly after freezing for several hours. I really wanted to use the mini pb cups from Trader Joe’s, but I was at the “not one more store” point in my shopping trip so I opted for unwrapped mini Reese’s cups in a bag. They were still a little to large. The fudge swirl was made with unsweetened chocolate so it was quite dark–I lightened it up with a little heavy cream. Next time I would use semi-sweet chocolate. I am a dark chocolate fan, but my family prefers something a little more mellow.

Most no-churn recipes involve whipping cream and then folding in flavorings before putting it in the freezer. In this recipe you blend the cream, sour cream, cream cheese (lactose intolerant need not apply), sugar and some lemon juice in a food processor. Then you layer it with a separately made strawberry sauce and cheesecake bites. Please note, I did not make from scratch cheesecake as the recipe directed. I just bought a few slices of pre-made cheesecake from our local Wegmans. Yes. I am a monster. The recipe had a fresh, light flavor from the strawberry sauce, lemon juice and lemon zest and good cheesecake taste. Because no air is churned into it, no churn ice cream (this recipe anyway) freezes really hard and I do recommend you leave it out to soften for the time indicated.

I would be willing to try some other no churn recipes, but I I find the texture of churned ice cream is so much better. It was fun making ice cream again. Happy Summer!

Before I put it in the freezer. We still have some of this. It was good…just harder to eat.

I forgot to take the before picture. This was the favorite.

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I loved The Incredibles. It really is one of my favorite super hero movies. For those of you unfamiliar, The Incredibles tells the story of a family of superheroes–the Parr family–forced to hide who they really are for the good of society and explores the resulting challenges that come to identity, self and family. The movie was so successful because it had both larger-than-life stakes (the giant robot is destroying the city!) and real life stakes (Why are you not investing in time with your family?) balanced with wit, humor and great super hero action sequences.

I was so excited to go see Incredibles II. It’s been a long time since The Incredibles hit theaters (2004!), a fact acknowledged by the cast in a pre-film segment, but I think it was well worth the wait. Although some social commentary (body cameras on superheroes/law enforcement) remained unexplored, the movie generally does a great job in setting up a crisis with some twists and turns. We have all the characters we love from the first movie and are introduced to a bunch of new supers. I will say though the movie could have benefitted from more Edna Mode. But we mustn’t look back dahlings…it distracts from the now.

Incredibles 2 Official Trailer - YouTube

In the sequel, we catch up with the Parr family struggling to deal with the aftermath of helping when it wasn’t wanted. Through various connections ElastiGirl resumes hero work as a public relations tool to help governments allow heroes to come out of hiding, and Mr. Incredible becomes a stay-at-home dad so she can pursue this goal.  Some of the online dad forums I’m part of weren’t too happy with how the SAHD portions of the film were portrayed. They said it was “stereotypical bumbling dad” and they were a little offended. I didn’t take it that way. He had never been a stay at home parent and rather suddenly became the lead parent to 3 children including an infant who proves to be a handful. Throw anyone into anything challenging that they haven’t done before and there will be bumps along the way. Had he stayed inept throughout the movie I would of had a problem with it. Mr. Incredible grows into the role and does it his own way. He asks for help when he needs it and helps his wife to succeed.

I. Totally. Relate.

Even as a SAHD for 3 years there are still plenty of days where things are handled less than gracefully. I agree with Edna that “Parenting, when done properly, is a heroic act—when done PROPERLY.” It’s the properly that trips up everyone now and then. Most days I hope i fall more in the middle of the “disney tween sitcom parent” and “super parent” spectrum.

My whole family loved this movie. We’ve watched the original a ton since we’ve seen it as our 3 year old can’t get enough. Like most Pixar films, this movie worked on many levels. Here’s to being “super” parents everyone!

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