Monday Meal Plan #36

Happy Monday! I hope you have a fantastic weekend and all the dads out there had a lovely Father’s Day!

Weekend Recap

We had a weekend of fun activities and good weather! On Saturday, I made progress toward one of my goals for 2017, and ran my first 5K in almost a decade. The race was a fundraiser for my daughter’s school, and there were lots of familiar faces running and cheering. I didn’t exactly set any records, but I did run it at a faster pace than I had been running the rest of this spring. My daughter ran both the one-mile race and the 50-yard dash, and now insists she’s ready for a marathon.

Lupine and solar panels at the Wild Center

Yesterday, we went to the Wild Center, my husband’s request for Father’s Day. It’s in Tupper Lake, in the Adirondacks, and the drive was about two hours each way. It was my first time there, and I was very impressed. There are many great exhibits on the natural history of the Adirondacks and local wildlife. The setting is absolutely gorgeous, especially the Wild Walk, which I’d heard a lot about and was excited to see for myself. It did not disappoint.

Caught in the spider’s web on the Wild Walk

The Week Ahead

Wednesday is the last day of school here. Buh-bye, second grade; hello summer! My daughter and I are celebrating the start of summer with hair cuts and pedicures on Thursday. (The pedicure is really a bribe, since she hates getting her hair cut.) Friday evening, we’re heading to my in-laws’ house in New Jersey. My husband and I will spend the night there, and head home on Saturday. Our daughter is spending a week with her grandparents, which I’ve been referring to as “grandma camp”. Saturday is also my husband’s birthday, which we’ll be celebrating with dinner out at a restaurant that doesn’t have chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese on the menu.

This Week’s Meal Plan

  • Monday: Pozole rojo w/ red beans and rice (from 9 Miles East)
  • Tuesday: Pasta w/ Bolognese sauce and frozen peas
  • Wednesday: Leftovers
  • Thursday: Grilled burgers w/ couscous and raw veggies
  • Friday: Dinner with my in-laws at their house
  • Saturday: Grilled fish and veggies
  • Sunday: Date night out with my husband

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

My Family’s Summer Plans

My daughter is wrapping up her final, full week of second grade today, which means that summer is officially just around the corner! I experience the same conflicting emotions every year at this time: excitement about the two-plus upcoming months of unstructured time, and terror about the two-plus upcoming months of unstructured time.

I love the idea of lazy, unstructured days – sleeping in, showering late, and not having to be anywhere, at any particular time. In practice, though, I’ve learned that what really happens is that I sit around reading for a couple of hours in the morning, feel gross because I haven’t showered, accomplish very little all day, and field endless “what are we doing today?” queries from my daughter. It might be different if we had more than one child, but without a home-based playmate, my daughter gets bored and lonely.

These are the tools I’ll be using to balance lazy time, socialization, learning, and fun for my daughter this summer:

Summer Camp

Socialization is important for all kids, but especially so for an only child like my daughter. This summer she’ll be participating in five weeks of (day) camp: two, two-week sessions of children’s theater camp, and one week of Girl Scout camp. Both of these camps will provide lots of socialization, plus activities that she loves and cannot do at home.

Learning Activities

Since most kids forget a decent chunk of what they learned the previous school year over the summer, I think it’s important to build in some learning activities throughout the summer weeks. Daily reading is a given, and our library has a great summer reading program that keeps my daughter motivated. (See below.) In past years, I’ve purchased workbooks for her to practice her skills, but this year I want to keep it a bit lighter. I’m going to have her write a letter or postcard to someone different each week, since spelling is a skill she needs to practice.

Last summer, her school sent home a summer math challenge, which she did. We kept track of the days she did 20 minutes or more of math activities, and she received a prize in September. We played a lot of the game Math Dice last summer, and since she still enjoys it, I’m sure we’ll play it again this year. Her class studied both money and telling time this spring, so I’d like to create some activities around those skills. (Please send any ideas you have my way!) And I may check out some other games, including this one, this one, and this one. With or without a school math challenge, regular math practice will also be part of our plan.

Family Vacation

We have a week-long vacation in Quebec planned. We’re going to Mont Tremblant, which is a ski resort during the winter months, and a family vacation spot during the summer. It should be a nice blend of relaxing, sightseeing, and activities.

Library Summer Reading Program

This will be my daughter’s fourth year participating in our library’s summer reading program. Kids log the number of minutes they read, go to the library to report on what they’ve read to a “book buddy”, and receive “book bucks”, which they can redeem for prizes. My daughter is highly motivated by rewards, so this program is right up her alley.

Playdates

There are a number of playgrounds and splash pads in our area, and my daughter enjoys all of them. Of course, they’re a lot more fun to do with friends, so we’ll meet up with them as often as possible. Last year I sent out group emails/texts, letting people know where we’d be and when. Sometimes a big group of friends showed up, sometimes one friend showed up, and sometimes it was just us. I’ll be doing this again this year, for sure.

What are your family’s plans for the summer? Do you keep it unstructured, or plan out your days and weeks?

 This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #35

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic weekend!!

Weekend Recap

After a wet and chilly spring, summer arrived here in upstate New York last weekend. Temps were in the upper 70s on Saturday, and hit the low 90s yesterday. What a strange spring we’ve had this year!!

On Saturday, my daughter went to Scout Day at the local Six Flags park, The Great Escape. I’ve been there a couple of times, and I consider it one of the circles of hell. Fortunately, a couple of my friends were going with their daughters, and they offered to take my daughter with them. They were there for about six hours, and I was grateful to them every, single moment of it. My husband and I used the time to run a few errands – farmers market, hardware store, and grocery store – and do some chores at home.

We knew yesterday’s high was going to be in the 90s, so we needed something appropriate to do with our daughter. Since the pools and splash parks in our area aren’t open yet, lakes were our only option. We chose Moreau State Park, which has a lake beach, walking trails, and a shaded playground. It was HOT on the beach, but we hung in there for a couple of hours. When we left around 1:30, the place was becoming a zoo.

The Week Ahead

This is my daughter’s final, full week of school before the summer. We don’t have many plans this week, since the end-of-the-year school events and spring extracurricular activities are over. These last couple of weeks, I’ve been picking my daughter up from school on Wednesdays, and taking her into town to visit the library and the farmers market.

Next weekend is my first 5K of the year – GULP – on Saturday. The run is a fundraiser for my daughter’s school, and she’s going to run the kids’ one-mile race. I haven’t been running as much as I should, but I know I’m capable of running the 5K distance, even if it’s at an embarrassing pace.

Next Sunday is Father’s Day, and my husband gets to choose how he wants to spend it. One idea that he’s been considering is visiting the Wild Center. I’ve never been there, but it’s on my list of must-do things for this summer.

This Week’s Meal Plan

As much as I dread meal planning and cooking, both feel much more manageable to me during the warmer months. Grilling is easy, requires little advanced planning, and is very flexible. We finally fired up our grill last weekend, and it was fantastic. Plus, fresh, delicious food is in abundance, and easy to acquire at farm stands and farmers markets.

I decided to cancel my Hello Fresh subscription, because I just didn’t find enough meals that appealed to me. (As someone who dislikes poultry, this is a problem I run into often.) Unfortunately, I missed the cut-off for this week’s delivery, so we’re stuck having three meals that I would never have chosen myself. (I also missed the deadline to change my default meal options.)

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

  • Monday: Blueberry pancakes w/ smoothies – brinner!
  • Tuesday: Grass-fed Vietnamese beef (from Nine Miles East)
  • Wednesday: Zesty crusted catfish w/ cilantro jasmine rice and roasted broccoli (from Hello Fresh)
  • Thursday: Chicken Parm salad w/ baby spinach and creamy lemon dressing (from Hello Fresh)
  • Friday: Herbs de Provence chicken w/ farro Caprese salad (from Hello Fresh)
  • Saturday: Shrimp and veggies on the grill
  • Sunday: Dad’s choice!

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #5

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things.

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m going to use this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’ll be sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #5

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

In May, I returned to nonfiction and read Killers of the Flower Moon, and The Dirty Life. I learned a lot from Killers of the Flower Moon, which is about a time and place – Oklahoma in the early 1900s – I knew nothing about. It tells the story of a disturbing period during which Native Americans were murdered for their lucrative land rights. The Dirty Life, which is about a woman who falls in love with a farmer, leaves her life in NYC to start a new farm with him here in upstate New York, was fine.  This brings my total number of books read in 2017 to ten. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races.

I went for a few more runs slow jogs in May, but I’m still not in particularly good shape. My first 5K is coming up on June 17th, so I need to make the most of the next couple of weeks.

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

Twice in May, I received meals from 9 Miles East, which I continue to enjoy. I was able to customize my plan to include more entrée servings, and fewer salads. We also had the “Chicken Parm Monday To Go” from Augie’s To Go. It includes a large tray of chicken parm and ziti, a basic, two-serving salad, and bread. I don’t like poultry, but my husband loved the chicken parm.

My husband cleaned out the grill, so it’s ready to go for grilling season! For some reason, I find grilling dinner much less intimidating than cooking. It’s easy, requires only a few ingredients, and almost everything tastes great grilled. Here’s just another reason to love summer!

How are you doing with your 2017 goals/resolutions?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #34

Happy Monday!! I hope you had a fantastic weekend, and all the mothers had a lovely Mother’s Day!

Weekend Recap

Saturday was a cold and rainy day here. I accompanied my daughter to a friend’s roller-skating birthday party, then made a quick Target run later in the day.

Yesterday, my husband picked up breakfast sandwiches for us, and I opened presents over coffee. I got a gift certificate for a massage and a facial at a local spa, plus some cool flower bulbs that I may have mentioned wanting… My husband gave me the same massage/facial package two years ago, and it was absolute bliss. In fact, it was so relaxing that I fell asleep during the facial, and woke myself up with a snort! #mortifying

We also went to the library for a llama program, walked around Saratoga, and – most gloriously – I wasn’t responsible for preparing a single meal all day!

The Week Ahead

My daughter and I have a pretty standard week coming up. Her school’s art show is Tuesday evening, and she has gymnastics class Thursday evening. My poor husband is traveling a good bit for work this week – Monticello, Syracuse, and Fulton are the highlights – so he’ll probably be home late most evenings.

Spring has finally remembered that it started almost two months ago, and we’re expecting lots of sun and highs in the seventies and eighties most of the week. I’m going to take advantage and plan to get outside as much as possible. I have to start conditioning my bales for my straw bale garden, do a little more work in a flower bed, and try to get ahead of the weeds. I’ll also be walking and/or running every day, since last week’s cold and rainy weather kept me inside a lot.

This Week’s Meal Plan

I’ve felt a little lazy for having our meals planned for me by Blue Apron and Hello Fresh – or cooked and delivered for me by 9 Miles East! – these past few weeks, so I decided to kick it old school and plan, shop for, and cook all of our meals this week. 🙂 Here’s what’s for dinner at my house:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #33

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Weekend Recap

It was an unseasonably cold weekend here in upstate New York, and this trend looks like it’s going to continue for the next week or so. I would’ve gladly traded the random seventy-degree days in February, for consistent, seasonable temperatures now!

Despite the chilly temps, I went for my third run slow jog on Friday. While it may not be pretty, I’m confident I’ll be able to survive my first 5K, coming up next month.

On Saturday, we ran a few errands, including picking up my car from the mechanic. I’m very happy to report that the air-conditioning is finally working. I’m less happy to report how much it cost to get it back in working order…

Saturday night, our daughter had a sleepover at a friend’s house. My husband and I decided to take advantage of the night alone, and went out to dinner. We ate at a fish restaurant, then went for a short walk. Since we had shared the chocolate globe dessert, we needed all the extra steps we could get!

Sunday was particularly chilly, so after picking my daughter up from her sleepover, I spend most of the rest of the day reading the paper and my current book, in sweats.

The Week Ahead

It’s going to be another quiet week for my family. My daughter has a Brownies meeting after school today, and gymnastics Thursday evening. She also has a friend’s birthday party on Saturday, for which I have to pick up a gift this week. (Speaking of which, I’ve officially transitioned from buying birthday presents for children, to gift cards. It’s easier than trying to figure out what they (a) want, and (b) don’t already have. Do you do this too, or do you think it’s too impersonal?)

Since I continue to enjoy the meal deliveries from 9 Miles East, I decided to get another one this week. I opt for the Meal Plan Plus, which includes a four-serving entrée, a soup, several salads, and two servings of grilled veggies with quinoa. The food lasts us all week, making it money well-spent in my book! **If you live in the Capital Region or the Boston-area and are interested in trying the 9 Miles East home meal delivery service, contact Adam (Adam@9mileseast.com), let him know that Amy from My Upstate Life sent you, and you’ll save $10 on your first order.**

I’m also trying a different meal kit delivery service this week, Hello Fresh. I’ve had success using Blue Apron in the past, but unfortunately it doesn’t eliminate the need for me to prep the ingredients and cook them. (Yes, I hate cooking that much!) My sister has tried both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, and she found the latter to be simpler and to require less prep. I decided to give it a try using her referral code, which saved my $40 on my first order. As a result, I’m getting three, two-serving dinners for only $19.95. If you’d like to try Hello Fresh for a similar deal, just use this link.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

This post contains affiliate links, which helps support this blog. Thank you!!

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #4

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things.

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m going to use this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’ll be sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #4

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

In April, I read The Dry, and The Lowland and  I really enjoyed both of these fiction books. This brings my total number of books read in 2017 to eight. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races.

In April, I finally went for my first jog in about three years! Amazingly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I managed to jog for 27 minutes, including up a hill. While my pace was glacial slow, it gave me hope that getting back into decent cardiovascular shape won’t be completely impossible. Just to be on the safe side, though, I decided to postpone my first 5K until June. And I registered for this one, so I can’t postpone it anymore.

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

I tried two local, no-cook options in April. First, I tried the home meal delivery service from 9 Miles East, which I loved! I ordered the Meal Plan Plus, which comes with a four-serving dinner entrée, several salads, a soup, and two servings of grilled veggies with quinoa. It took my husband and me all week to finish everything we received! (Our daughter prefers to stick with chicken nuggets and mac and cheese – sigh…) We had the entrée and salads for dinner several nights, and I had soup, salads, and veggies and quinoa for lunch all week. Their food is local, seasonal, healthy, and delicious, and we’ll definitely be ordering from them again! If you live in the Capital Region or the Boston-area and are interested in trying the 9 Miles East home meal delivery service, contact Adam (Adam@9mileseast.com), let him know that Amy from My Upstate Life sent you, and you’ll save $10 on your first order.

The second option I tried in April was the “Mama’s Ziti To Go” dinner from Augie’s To Go. For $21.95, we got a large tray of ziti with meatballs and sausage, a basic, two-serving salad, and bread. I really enjoyed the meatballs and the ziti, but was not a fan of the sausage. Our super-picky daughter enjoyed the ziti, which was a huge win! They offer a couple of other weekly dinner-to-go specials, including my husband’s beloved chicken parm, which we’ll probably try in the future.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals/resolutions?

Frugal Real Food Meal Plans

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #32

Happy Monday, and happy May!! I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Weekend Recap

It’s that time of year again – I’m on summer break from my job. As it does every year at this time, the student traffic in our office has dropped way off, so Thursday was my last day of work until September.

On Friday, I went for my first run slow jog in about three years, since – in keeping with one of my goals for 2017 – I’m running three 5K races this summer and fall. It wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I also finished reading The Lowland, which I enjoyed a great deal.

Friday night, we attended my daughter’s play at school. It was done with the Missoula Children’s Theater, which sends two directors to the school, along with all of the materials needed for the show – scripts, costume, scenery, and more. The kids rehearse every day after school for a week, then put on two weekend performances of the show. It’s a very impressive undertaking! My inlaws came up from New Jersey for Saturday’s show, and spent the rest of the afternoon with us.

Yesterday was freezing here! My daughter and I joined several other girls from her Brownie troop at a tour of an equine therapy farm in our area. The other moms and I spent three, chilly hours outside, while the girls toured the farm, did crafts and a trust-building exercise, and planted seeds. I also fell in love with this absurd-looking creature:

The Week Ahead

We have a pretty quiet week this week. My daughter starts a new gymnastics class on Thursday evenings. It’s not ideal timing, since the class runs from 7:00 to 8:00, and she usually goes to bed at 8:30 on school nights. She’s very excited about it, though, and since the end of the school year is in sight, I decided to give it a shot.

Because I enjoyed my first meal delivery from 9 Miles East, I decided to get another one this week. I opt for the Meal Plan Plus, which includes a four-serving entrée, a soup, several salads, and two servings of grilled veggies with quinoa. The last time I ordered it, the food lasted us all week, making it money well-spent in my book! If you live in the Capital Region or the Boston-area and are interested in trying the 9 Miles East home meal delivery service, contact Adam (Adam@9mileseast.com), let him know that Amy from My Upstate Life sent you, and you’ll save $10 on your first order.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at our house this week:

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

I Heart Beekman

I’m just going to say it: I adore the Beekman Boys. I remember seeing ads for their show, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, when my husband and I first moved to upstate New York, back in 2008. It looked cute, and I had a vague sense of their story, but that was about it.

Fast forward almost seven years, and I started noticing their pictures that my friends had liked on Facebook. I ended up liking their Facebook page myself, and started to fall in love with them and their world.

If you’re not familiar with them, Josh and Brent are the Beekman Boys. They used to live and work in NYC, but on a weekend trip upstate, they stumbled into the town of Sharon Springs, and found a beautiful, old farmhouse. They bought the farm, and eventually started a business selling cheese and soap made from the milk of the herd of goats living there. Today, Beekman 1802 is a lifestyle brand, focused on seasonal products ranging from skin care and cookbooks, to furniture and clothing. Their goods are produced seasonally, and in collaboration with local artisans and farmers. Here are some of my Beekman favorites:

  • Books. Josh is an accomplished writer, and his book, The Bucolic Plague, tells the story of how they found the Beekman Farm, and eventually decided to make it their home and business. I’ve also read his personal memoir, I Am Not Myself These Days, about his time spent working in advertising by day, and as a drag queen by night.

  • Reality Show. Early in their time in Sharon Springs, Josh and Brent had a reality show, chronicling their adventures as they transitioned from city life to country life. The Fabulous Beekman Boys is great viewing for those of us who fantasize about farming, but will never actually do it ourselves. I binge-watched both seasons as soon as I got my hands on them.
My most recent Beekman Beauty Box
  • Beauty Box. In my post about my favorite subscription services, I mentioned that I would love to receive the Beekman 1802 Beauty Box as a gift. Fortunately, my sister was reading, and she gave me a subscription for my birthday. (Thanks, again, Sis!) The Beauty Box contains several Beekman 1802 soaps and skin care products, beautifully packaged, is delivered quarterly.

  • Harvest Festival. Rounding out my “Beekman birthday”, my husband gave me tickets for our family to attend the 2017 Harvest Fest Beekman Farm Tour this coming September. We’ll get to tour the farm, meet the goats, and attend the Sharon Springs Harvest Fest. I love fall events, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to contain my excitement on our way to this one!

Are you a Beekman fan, too?

Beekman 1802This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Monday Meal Plan #31

Happy Monday!! I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Weekend Recap

We had a pretty low-key weekend at home, with mostly nice weather. On Saturday, my husband spent a lot of time working outside on projects – re-seeding the back grass and building a fire pit were his big ones for this weekend. I spent a little time working on my own gardening projects, did a few indoor chores, and ran a couple of quick errands.

The fire pit my husband built

Yesterday, my daughter and I spent some time at a playground with friends. The weather was beautiful, and she and I both had a great time catching up with good friends.

The Week Ahead

This week, it’s back to school for my daughter, and back to work – Tuesday and Thursday – for me. It’s going to be a long week for my daughter, because she’s participating in her school’s Missoula Children’s Theater production. Essentially, this traveling theater company spends a week at the school, and the kids who participate practice the show after school every day, then put on performances on Friday evening and Saturday. My in-laws are coming up for the day on Saturday, to attend the play.

My other commitments this week include: having our septic tank pumped, getting my hair cut, grocery shopping, dropping outgrown clothes off at the children’s consignment store, and a visit from the exterminator to check the status of our mouse bait stations. A week full of non-stop excitement, huh?

In keeping with one of my goals for 2017 – find a way to hate meal planning and cooking less – I’m trying a local meals to-go place. A couple of days a week, they offer specials on family dinners. This week we’re trying the ziti with meatballs and sausage, plus salad and bread.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

  • Monday: Shrimp stir fry w/ peanut sauce and jasmine rice
  • Tuesday: Leftovers
  • Wednesday: “Mama’s Ziti To Go” from Augie’s To Go
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday: Picking up pizza before my daughter’s play
  • Saturday: Post-play dinner out with my in-laws
  • Sunday: Risotto (from Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking) w/ peas and asparagus

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!