Monthly Archives: May 2012

I want a Diet Mountain Dew — 30 Days of Eating Vegan at Aldi

Mmmm… Soda.  And cheese!!  And cheese covered in soda!  And soda covered in cheese!!!!  MMMMM!!!!  CREAM CHEESE!!!

It’s day 10, and at this juncture, the vegan part is way harder than the Aldi part!  I thought I was adhering pretty strictly to this lifestyle before, but, I guess I wasn’t actually that much.  I think tonight’s the night to indulge in some chip and salsa or something.  Just 1/3 of the way through, and it’s already starting to get hard!

Shew!  I can make it.  Right?

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Being a Good Wife is Easier (Harder) Than You Think!

As a stay at home mom, I love eBooks.  At first it was just a way to save space and money–no more dusty bookshelves, and eBooks are usually a few dollars cheaper than their ink and page counterparts.  But eBooks also open up a new world where bloggers and niche writers can offer targeted material that would never have been practical or profitable through traditional publishing.  In other words, the Kindle store offers hundreds of informative titles written just for my situation!

Unfortunately, not everything in the Kindle store is as helpful as it would seem.  I recently took a chance on a volume entitled The Good Wife’s Guide.  Author Darlene Schacht takes this opportunity to support a very old fashioned, fundamental view of the wife and mother’s role in a home–a view that, for the most part, I can really get on board with!  (I’d make a lousy feminist.)  The thing missing from The Good Wife’s Guide was anything uplifting for those of us already enamored with this ideal.  For example, she says every wife should anticipate her husband’s return from the workplace by having dinner prepared, the children cleaned up (and encouraged to stay quiet), the house neat and tidy, her own hair and makeup freshened or reapplied, and THEN have the patience not to bother her spouse with any problems she may be struggling with until he’s had a meal and sufficient time to unwind from his day.  I can already hear you snickering, but I actually think it’d be nice to greet my husband in such a peaceful way.  Unfortunately, it’s just outlandishly unrealistic, even for those of us who don’t find it outrageously offensive.

I read most of this book yesterday on the four hours of interstate it takes to get to and from my brother’s home in central Ohio.  We were to join them for a day of backyard barbecue, and after my shoddy driving skills nearly got us killed, my husband took the reigns of our Toyota Camry.

Within a few minutes of silence, he started fidgeting with the radio.  “Ugh!  Do we have to?  I really just want to read,” I whined.  The kids started whining, too, and I tried to just ignore them and focus on my book while Marcus experimented with different techniques to make them behave more tolerably.  I was in a plain bad mood when he asked if I could hook up my phone to the stereo and play us a podcast.  “Really, Marcus?  Come on!  The kids are making us crazy, and I SO just want to read my book!”

With eyestrain from the sun-scorched highway, earstrain from my bored and noisy little babies, and the worry that the fruit salad I’d lovingly prepared was just spoiling in the back seat, the irony of my situation was lost on me in that moment.  Here I was, acting relatively b**chy towards the love of my life, all because I was frustrated that I couldn’t be left alone to read my book… about being a good wife.


As ridiculous as it is, we can easily judge our skills as a wife or mother by the wrong standards.  The Good Wife’s Guide spent most of it’s chapters dealing with housework, but we’ve all met women who keep immaculate homes and treat their husbands like dogs!  How about the parent who never misses their child’s soccer game (good job!), but spews unkind words at every perceived failure (ouch!)?

But back to my car ride:  I started to come to my senses when I paused my reading to entertain my road weary husband with Stephanie’s hilarious and heartwarming entry from this weekend.  The more we laughed together, the more I realized how blessed I am to have him in my life and how spectacular it is that in the midst of our most miserable situations (like two hour road trips with screaming babes), we’re usually more likely to apologize to each other and try to cheer each other than to blame each other for our shortcomings.

The truth is, I really DO want to be that stellar housewife that greets her husband home from work with a quiet, orderly home and a kiss fresh with lipgloss.  But frankly, that’s NOT what defines a “good wife”.

  • A good wife lets her husband dream out loud without chiming in quickly to tell him why his ideas won’t work.
  • A good wife supports her husband’s time with “the guys” and is thankful for her husband’s close friendships.
  • A good wife can get jazzed about some of her husbands hobbies and interests.
  • A good wife is secure enough to know she doesn’t have to be a part of ALL of her husband’s hobbies and interests and vice versa.
  • A good wife does more than her share of the housework.
  • A good wife doesn’t mind blowing off the housework if an amorous mood strikes.
  • A good wife can enjoy an action movie from time to time and knows that Han shot first.
  • A good wife is a great listener on a bad day.
  • A good wife knows how to make her husband’s favorite meal.
  • A good wife also has her husband’s favorite pizza place on speed dial, and his Taco Bell order memorized.
  • A good wife makes her physical and emotional health a priority.
  • A good wife supports his physical and emotional health, too.
  • A good wife always carries the second newest iPhone.
  • A good wife has grace when her husband’s not perfect.
  • A good wife knows she doesn’t have to be perfect either.

I’m really good at some of these.  I really suck at some of these.  But being a good wife doesn’t come from anybody’s silly list.  It comes from having a kind heart.

Have you ever mistaken being a good homemaker for being a loving wife?  Have you ever discovered that something you do was surprisingly important to your spouse, or surprisingly unimportant?

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Aldi Shopping Trip Tips — 30 Days of Eating Vegan at Aldi

Well, this weekend marked the first official shopping trip of my challenge.  Well, I mean, I stocked up the day before the challenge began, but I guess this is the first “embedded” shopping trip?  Does that make sense?

Let’s get down to brass tacks:

The total was 107 dollars and 33 cents!

What?  Not impressed?  Well let me frame it this way.  $32 were spent on paper plates, (my dishwasher’s broke) personal care products, (I decided to try Aldi’s skin care line–I already love their hair stuff) and don’t forget a week’s worth of diapers and wipes for two boys.  So, let’s just say I spent $75 on one week’s worth of mostly whole foods, fruits, and veggies!  I’m satisfied.

While I was bagging my groceries, I payed attention to the other families checking out and eaves dropped as the cashier announced their totals.  One woman and her daughter had a cart almost as full as mine.  Her food was not vegan, but still pretty healthy.  Whole wheat bread.  Unsweeted cereals.  Milk.  Eggs. Cheese.  Not a lot of veggies, though.  The total came to $102.  Next, a man and his son came through with their cart.  It was also nearly as heavy as mine, but his was full of frozen pizza, microwave burritos, canned foods, cookies, sugary cereal…  The cashier told him his total: $109.  Neither of these carts had the almost $15 worth of diapers and wipes like mine did.

If’ you’re planning to go to Aldi sometime before Wednesday, let me point out a couple highlights:

I’m sorry!  Fresh pineapple at just $1 a pop?!  YES PLEASE!!!  I bought three.

I actually had a cookout and a graduation party to attend over the weekend.  I threw together fruit salads for both events–you know, to celebrate my good fortune with the 99 cent pineapples.  Next time you need to make a fruit salad, just start with your favorite (for me that’s ALWAYS pineapple!) in a pretty round bowl, then work outwards adding contrasting colored fruits until you have a lovely flower pattern.  It’s just fruit, but the arrangement seems extra fancy!

And remember that herb garden I have in my window sill?  (cill?  I don’t pretend I know how to spill spell.)  Now’s a great time to start your own for little more than it costs to buy fresh cut herbs from the normal grocery store!  Just make sure to give them plenty of sunlight, and make sure the soil is moist every day.  Also, read this article.  It has really helped my garden this year!

And don’t forget Aldi’s seasonal treats!  This large bottle of “Berry Boost” (similar to the popular “Naked Juice”) was being clearanced off for just $2.50 a bottle!  We got two bottles and they’re already gone!  And these Peanut Puffs are a German delight at just 99 cents!  (Did you know Aldi is a German company?  Their chocolate is to DIE for, though it’s not allowed for me this month!)

Four simple ingredients… and although this is still DEFINITELY a splurge for someone on a “whole foods, plant based diet”, everybody needs an occasional treat!  It’s a sweet/salty peanuty “cheeto” sort of treat that confuses you in the first bite, delights you in the second bite, and has you begging for more by the third!  Delicious!

Finally, one reminder:  Every Aldi tends to have local deals when they’re overstocked!  Keep your eyes pealed for deals!  Red and Yellow peppers were 2 for 1 at my Aldi this week!  I’m excited to try my hand at some black bean fajitas!  What a delight!


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Don’t Blink, You’ll Miss Something

By Stephanie Politte

It’s raining right now as I sit at a table in the Burger King play area. That makes me feel warm and fuzzy for some reason. (It is partly due to the fact that it was NOT raining when I clumsily managed to get myself, my 3 year old, my 21 month old and my 7 month old out of the van and into Burger King, I’m sure. I have a double stroller, mind you, in the van. But in my experienced wisdom, I determined it would be less cumbersome and therefore more practical to put the baby’s carseat in the single stroller, have the 21 month old ride atop the handle and tray area of the stroller while I hold onto him and expect the 3 year old to hold on the side of the stroller. Clumsy is a pretty accurate description of the situation. Regardless, we are in and enjoying our breakfast and playing in the tunnels having a merry time while the rain falls peacefully outside the window. In my heart I am confident that by the time I have to pack everyone up and my our clumsy way back out to the van, the rain will have stopped and everything will smell that refreshing way it often does after a short rain on an otherwise nice day.

I’m feeling introspective today with regard to my kiddos. I think it is because I didn’t get to do it much on Mother’s Day as I was very near death with the flu. I have concluded that my family is in real trouble if I should ever find myself facing a life-threatening illness. I will be ready to throw in the towel without much of a fight. I am the worst sick person. Just pitiful, really. The doctor will give me an 80% chance of survival, but I will ask my husband to marry someone who will be a good mother to my children and tell them to pull the plug. I absolutely think it is the end of the world when I am sick and have such a hard time imagining a world where I will possibly ever feel good again. Anyway, my sweet husband who also had the flu (as well as a sinus infection) took care of all of us while I was sick, especially on Mother’s Day. But this will not go down in history among my more favorable Mother’s Days.

Now that I’m feeling much better, I’m reflecting on my amazing munchkins and how my life would be so drastically different without each of them. I cannot believe that Adeline and Anderson, my 4 year old twins are completing their first year of preschool next week. When did they go from 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 lb tiny babies to such big kids who run around and spell things and operate various forms of technology? Last night I came home from a meeting and my husband had already done the bedtime routine, but Anderson was still awake. I went down to say goodnight to him, and I hugged him and said “I’m so proud of you. Someday you’re going to be a so big and you’ll be an astronaut or a cowboy or a policeman.” He laughed at me like that was ridiculous and said “I’m not going to be any of those, Mommy. I’m gonna be a Daddy, cause I got hair my arm.” It was really sweet, and his reasoning was hilarious. I stayed up last night looking through the portfolios their teacher sent home with them highlighting the school year. They couldn’t write a single letter at the beginning of the year, and now they’re signing their own names to my Mother’s Day card. Next year they’ll be running for President.

I’m enjoying the time I get to spend right now with the younger 3. I’m not sure I’m ready for Campbell to head off to preschool next year. She’s my baby girl, and she can’t possibly be ready for school already. My favorite things that she says right now are “Mom, all the times you…” instead of “Mom, you always…” and “Westerday” instead of “Yesterday” which actually means “anytime before right now.”

Henley is talking all of a sudden. He says everything and is signing a lot, too. We’re pretty sure he’s a genius. I mean, we all say that, I know. But I think he’s some sort of 2 foot mad scientist.

And Keaton is just a little ball of sweetness. 7 months old and a killer smile. With babies like him why wouldn’t I want 15? (Because my KIA Sedona maxes out at 5 carseats, that’s why. Oh, and sleep, I haven’t slept in 5 years. Oh! Oh! And because my body will quit on me if I don’t give it a break. Pretty much been solidly pregnant for 5 years.) But other than those, wouldn’t just one more be sooo cute???? 🙂 NO. But yes, a little. But no. No. But…….no. Ok.

When the twins turned 1 some friends gave us the book “Let Me Hold You Longer.” I call them friends, but in reality, anyone who would give this book to a parent is really a sick and twisted pillar of EVIL. There is no excuse for such a hateful gift. You have to just have a black heart full of hate to give this to someone with children. Children of any age.  Of course, for some time it was the book they always wanted read. “Mommy, read?” So I would think to myself, “Hold it together, it’s just a kids’ book. You can make it through, don’t be such a wuss.” And each time, I was sobbing before I finished the second page. Have you read this book? I dare you. Just try it. You think I’m exaggerating. Go ahead, tough girl. Read it and report back to me on what page # you starting weeping uncontrollably.

Once my mom came to stay with the kids while I went with Steve to an interview in Florida. When I got home she asked, “Why do you have such a horrible book in the house? Adeline asked me to read it and 2 or 3 pages in kept asking, “What’s wrong, Nana? Why are you crying?” No warning, thanks.” Suffice it to say that this book forces you to reflect how much more you would relish each experience with your child if you knew it was the last. Like the last time they want to be kissed goodnight. Or the last time they sit in your lap. You recognize and note each “first” with them, but we don’t really realize when we are experiencing the “lasts” with our growing babies. I HATE this book. You should really get it.

What are some milestones your kiddos are reaching that make you just a little sad at the thought of them not staying babies? How would you say you are handling the process? It’s so cliche when people say “They grow up fast!” But wow, they really do. And I really wish I could slow it down just a little.



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Fixing Food Fast (when fast food is not an option) — 30 Days of Eating Vegan at Aldi

Confused by this?  Start here!

It’s day four.  As I write this, my husband and older son are at the doctor’s office, my husband for what he thinks may be diverticulitis, and my 3 year old because he’s been throwing up all morning.  :-/

Yesterday, though, things were looking up.  The sun was shining, my own flu symptoms were gone, and with a day so nice, I thought I’d cook twice!  For lunch, I made black bean and roasted sweet potato tacos from Bubby and Bean.  I do them a bit different than she does, but that recipe has been on the menu every week since she posted it.  I’ll come back and elaborate on it later.

Then, I texted Marcus at work, asking if he’d mind watching the kids a little later, so I could take a bike ride!  The day was so beautiful!  He showed up at around 4:30, and I enjoyed some free time on the open road!  With the fresh air still in my lungs, I walked back in the door announcing that this night I would toss up a fresh salad and Stephanie’s sweet potato cakes!

My husband grinned, “Mmmm!!!  I can’t wait!  But, I gotta be out the door by 6:00…”  Oh no.  I had totally forgotten that tonight was band practice for him.  (He’s a music pastor, not a rock star.  I figured you were wondering, but hey, he’s still a rock star to me!)

To put this in perspective, my husband has band practice every Thursday night.  I usually try to make Thursdays a crock pot day, while he tends to pack a boxed supper or hit up Subway, not getting home from work until 8:30 or 9 at night.  Disoriented by Wednesday’s sick day, I was totally off my game!  I would never have asked him to watch the kids had I realized!!!  And now I had to whip this meal up in 30 minutes–and I hadn’t even prepared my rice or sweet potatoes!

Stephanie’s Sweet Potato Cakes in 30 Minutes Flat!

Here’s the original recipe.  First thing’s first, I didn’t bother to measure ANYTHING.  I used to be a strict recipe follower, but isn’t it easier to just eyeball things and dump them in together?  I stuck three sweet potatoes in the microwave just like Stephanie had instructed to do… the night before!  But who cares!  I was outta time!

While those things were in there (about 6 minutes)  I started chopping the heck out of whatever I thought would be good.  I skipped a few things she recommended, added a few more I needed to use up.  As soon as the microwave beeped I cut the piping hot sweet potatoes open into fourths so they could cool while I heated a tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick skillet and chopped up some greens for my salad.  (By the way, do you have a salad spinner?  So useful!  Chop up your greens first, rinse them, then give them a satisfying spin-cycle!  Get one.  NOW!)

Next, it was time for mamma’s secret weapon:

This 79 cent pantry packet saved my meal!  About half a packet was perfect (and I didn’t even bother to microwave it)!  I just dumped all the ingredients in a bowl, mashed them together with a fork, and they were cool enough to handle into patties and sear on my skillet!

The final product?

One OH-MAZ-ING vegan meal!

And the leftovers today were fabulous!  (Also a note, the lemon slices were for dressing our salad. I’d never heard of this, but apparently, people do it all the time.  It’s a delicious way to add nutrition, cut down on oil, and aren’t lemons just so pretty?)

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