Well hello, all! Fancy meeting you here in 2012!
Who else is ready for a fresh new year?! I am. I spent the last three weeks of 2011 binging on chocolate cake, cheese and chicken pot pies, and now I’m ready to give up dairy, for realsies.
I also spent those last three weeks assembling a bunch of recipes and meal ideas so that we have a higher chance of eating in instead of eating out. I’m hoping that these meals will be good enough to share with you guys. In the meantime, I'm going to share how I've prepped with you!
Just as a refresher, all of our meals are:
- Fast. 30 minutes or less, better yet 15 minutes or less.
- Completely dairy-free and usually gluten-free as well. If it’s not completely gluten-free, it’s something like falafel that can be served to C without the pita. The meals are also low in soy content because C is sensitive to soy. I am not a huge fan of meat, so some of the meals are completely vegan – but those have been harder to find. Our diet most closely resembles the paleo diet.
- Contain whole foods – I really try not to cook with any processed foods, which I find is common with vegan meals. We aren't cooking with meat or dairy alternatives.
I must say, figuring out ideas for meals has not been easy. Most “fast” recipes contain dairy and gluten, and most vegan recipes aren’t fast (and sometimes contain gluten or soy). Thank god for the paleo nuts out there (love you guys), because I've gotten a lot of inspiration from them.
Here's what I've done to prep.
Step 1: Find New Recipes (and hide my old favorites)
In doing research for this endeavor, I realized I needed to split my recipes into three parts: 1) Regular meals (which take some preparation, like veggie chopping or marinating), 2) Insanely fast meals (made from stuff on hand), and 3) Freezer meals (which may take a lot of time, but make enough for many meals). My plan is to make a different freezer meal every couple of weeks. Most of our nightly meals will be from the "Insanely Fast" category, and maybe one or two will be regular meals.
I found most of our new recipes by googling incessantly. I still haven't tried a lot of the meals I've found, so if there are especially good ones, I'll point y'all toward them as we try them.
In the meantime, here are a few resources I found very helpful:
- Go Dairy Free (I've had the book for months - at first I didn't read it, because there are a lot of words for a not particularly interesting subject - but once I actually started reading it, it was by far the most helpful resource!).
- This list of 101 Quick Meals is awesome. Quite a few are dairy/gluten-free, vegetarian, etc. It's worth a glance, whatever your restrictions (or lack thereof).
- Cooking for Isaiah was recommended by one of my readers (thanks Caryn!)
- This gluten-free, dairy-free bread recipe is delish. It's the first bread C's ever had and she loves it!
Step 2: Organize Recipes
I printed out all of the recipes I found online, plus photocopied recipes from books. I know myself, and I know I won't look in those cookbooks! Then I took some file folders and sorted them: Insanely Fast, Regular Meals, and Freezer meals. I stored them in an acrylic recipe book holder (pictured below are actually my old folders - I've been using this method for awhile):
Step 3: Print Out a Quick Guide to Each Section
I created a new Word doc for each section, then simply listed the contents of each folder. This way, I can see at a glance what's in each folder without having to search through it. I also created a list of quick snacks (tortilla chips & salsa, hummus, carrot sticks, etc) for when I'm hungry and don't know what to eat. I don't do well with keeping stuff in my head these days - everything must be written down.
As an aside: the other thing I realized is that, once I start acquiring freezer meals, I'm going to need a white board that says what's in the freezer, or we'll never see it again (let alone eat it). This will also be useful for snacks. The less remembering/thinking, the better, I say. Let's reserve the thinking for world peace (or at least for remembering where we left our keys).
Step 4: Plan the Meals
Next, I printed out three months worth of calendars (I did this using iCal, but I'm sure you could figure out a way to do this another way). At this point, I was surprised how easy it was! I just filled in recipes for 5 days each week. At the beginning of each week, I'll compile a shopping list for the items I've listed, and I'm done! So far, so good!
One day, I'd really like to get good at the whole "I cooked a pot of beans on Sunday, and I made 5 meals from them!" thing. But for now, I'm just going to try cooking anything, and go from there!
What do you think? Is this method sustainable?Comment
Sometimes when I tell people about the things I do -- my little projects and such -- I realize that I sound like a complete and total crazy person. Normal people have better things to do with their time than think up ways to redecorate their not-even-a-year-old baby's room.
October 5, 2009 in How To
I am recovering from the worst case of writer’s block EVER. This morning I’m going to share a tip with you guys that I have found super helpful over the past few years–it’s also saved me a bunch of money.
I, like a lot of women, have an addiction to fancy jeans. I really, really love them. However, I am also short. And after blowing a bunch of money on a pair of jeans, I really don’t want to pay an extra $20 to have them hemmed because I’m vertically challenged (is that fair?! I think not!). Now, many people might say, “if you buy your Citizens at Nordstrom, they’ll hem them for free!” And yes, that is true–however, they will not preserve the fancy cuff or hem at the bottom of the jeans, which is part of what makes them so fabulous! Instead, you pay $200 for jeans, only to have a crappy looking hem at the bottom. In order to have them preserve the original hem, you have to pay $20 for a fancy hem (otherwise known as Original Hem, Fancy Hem or European Hem). And despite what buying expensive jeans may indicate about my spending habits, I assure you: I am otherwise quite cheap.
Enter the DIY Fancy Hem.
A few years ago I did a google search, trying to figure out how to do this myself. I have since lost the incredibly helpful article, but not before I learned how to do it. So here, my friends, is a tutorial:
Step One: Figure Out How Long You Want ‘Em
Decide how much length you would like to take off. I do this by putting the pants on and looking in the mirror to see how far they are to the floor, then pinning them over and over until they hit in the right place (it might be easier to get help, haha). I have one pair of jeans for flats and one pair for heels.
Once you’ve decided how much you want to take off, divide that number by 2.
Step Two: Prepare for Hemming
Cuff the bottom of the jeans. For example, if you want to take two inches off, fold the jeans up and measure 1 inch. Only measure the light-colored part, not the actual hem. Once you’ve folded them up, pin around the cuff, making sure to measure all the way around. (Side note: I actually like to iron the fold, just so things are nice and clean, but that’s just me. )
While you’re pinning, make sure to line up your seams:
Step Three: Sewing your Hem
Make sure you put the needle RIGHT UP AGAINST the original hem–that way, things will fold in all the right spots (this might not make sense yet, but trust me–this matters). Sew all the way around the cuff, making sure that you don’t sew your foot hole shut.
Step Four: Check ‘Em, Iron ‘Em Flat and you’re done!
Now flip the sewn part inside your jeans to reveal the old hem, and try them on. Are they the right length? Awesome. If not, you messed up your measuring and need to start over.
If they’re the right length, awesome! You can either cut off the excess (leave about a half inch in case it frays), or you can do what I do and leave it inside the jeans. I’m a commitment phobe like that. :)
Once you’ve got the right length, iron the seam into place so it lays flat, and you’re done! Now you can save yourself $20 every time you buy a new pair of jeans. Unless, of course, you are blessed to be taller than I am!Comment
Are you patiently waiting for the second part of the sandwich board table tents tutorial? Well, here it is! And here is a handy link to Part One.
Last we left off, you’d finished all your cuts. Good job! You rock. Now, let’s get organized.
You should have:
- Two pieces of book board measuring 9.5″ x 6.5″
- Two pieces of “big” text paper measuring 8″ x 11″
- Two pieces of “small” text paper measuring 6″ x 9″
- One piece of scrap text paper measuring 4″ x 9″ (just throw this off to the side for later)
- 13 or so strips of book cloth measuring 15″ x 2″
Here’s a visual guide. The numbers above serve as kind of a legend.
Step 1: Gluing the first piece
You’re going to do steps 1 and 2 twice, for each piece of book board. Get excited!
Step 1A: Stick it down
Get your PVA glue, one piece of bookboard and one piece of “big” text paper ready. You also should cover your work surface with some kind of paper (be careful using newspaper, though! You don’t want the ink to transfer to your paper and ruin your board!).
Using a brush, brush some PVA onto your bookboard piece. Cover the entire thing. Don’t put it on too thick, or too thin. It should be thick enough to look white, but not so thick that it drips. Now carefully and slowly center it, face down, in the middle of your big text paper piece.
Flip it over and use your fingers to carefully smooth out as many of the bubbles as you can. Make sure you don’t have any glue on your fingers first!
Step 1B: A bit more glue…
Flip the whole thing over again, and use your brush to put PVA on the edges of the text paper. The best way to do this is to start at the edge of the bookboard and brush out. If you have a piece of paper down (and you should!), you can brush the glue from the text paper and onto your work area so every bit of paper is coated.
Step 1C: Finishing it
Now that all your edges are glued, start folding them in, one at a time. The edges on the left and right are smaller than the ones at the top and bottom, so start with them. Smooth out the bubbles as you fold each side. You should end up with something that looks like the drawing below. The paper should be tight around the bookboard, so it’s pretty much the same size as the book board was when you started with it.
Step 2: Covering the rest of the bookboard
Go get your “small” piece of text paper (#3). Cover one side in glue and then (slowly and carefully) center it over the exposed book board, like so:
Now, with glue-free fingers, smooth out the bubbles.
Step 3: Repeat.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 with your remaining pieces of book board, “big” text paper, and “small” text paper.
Now you have two. Yay!
Step 4: Stick ‘em Together.
Go get one of your pieces of book cloth, and lay them out like this:
You’re going to glue them into this position. Don’t put the pieces of book board right up against one another, or it won’t bend at all and you won’t be able to stand it up. I’ve found that 1/4″ between the two works pretty well, but use your judgment.
Coat the book cloth piece in PVA on the un-pretty side, and lay your pieces in place. Then fold the book cloth sides into the middle. Flip it over and push out any bubbles. In the 1.4″ gap between the two pieces of bookboard, use your fingernail or the edge of a spoon to make a nice crease–the book cloth should get stuck to the other side, so it’s very thin. Try to make it pretty. :)
Step 5: Standing them up, Part 1 .
Keep in mind that your setup isn’t dry yet, so it’s fragile. Try not to move it too much.
Don’t try it right now, but trust me: if you were to try to stand your sandwich board up when it’s dry, it wouldn’t stay standing. It would slide apart and flatten itself on the table. Not cool. As a result, we need to keep the bottoms of the boards together, so they don’t slide. That’s what the ribbon’s for.
You can see the ribbon at the base of each sandwich board, in this photo:
This is where that little scrap piece (#4 from above) comes in. Cut out two pieces measuring around 2″ x 2″. This doesn’t have to be perfect. Also, grab your piece of ribbon.
Glue one side of your ribbon at the bottom of one of the bookboard pieces, in the center (as pictured below). You’ll want to use about 1/2″ of the ribbon for this part, and not too much more. Aside from the 1/2″ you’ve glued to the bookboard, you should have about 6.5″ of ribbon hanging off the bottom. You’ll use that later–for now, just let it hang.
Then, cover one side of the 2″ scrap piece with glue, and glue over the top of the ribbon. This will hide the top of the ribbon and add more support. Push out any air bubbles.
Step 6: Let it Dry.
Let it dry. Do not skip this step, or you will be sad. Or angry. Or both.
My recommendation is to let this dry overnight. You don’t want the whole thing falling apart!
If you’re making multiple sandwich boards, you can set this one aside and repeat steps 1-5 for all of them. Tomorrow, you can move on to Step 7 for all of them.
Step 7: Standing them Up, Part 2
Why hello again! I hope you had a wonderful sleep last night! Your sandwich board should be all dry now, waiting for you.
Pick up your sandwich board and gently move it back and forth a little to stretch out any glue that might have hardened the book cloth. Now, try to stand it up. See how it falls down? You need to finish attaching the ribbon to keep this from happening. Can you imagine if you had no ribbon?! The disasters, I tell you! ;)
Basically, you’re going to repeat Step 5 from yesterday, but it won’t be as easy because you can’t lay the sandwich board flat anymore. This may require some finagling on your part. Also, it’s hard for me to draw what you have to do, so this is what I’ve got:
Basically, you have to work with the ribbon, glue and scrap piece of paper while the board is folded.
Then, put it on its side and let it dry. Don’t try to stand it up, or the ribbon you just glued will fall off. Don’t let it dry with both boards touching, or they may end up glued together.
And that’s it! After it’s all dry, your beautiful sandwich board is ready to be personalized for your purposes.
This is my first real tutorial, so I’m not sure that I was 100% clear on every step. If you have any questions, please let me know! I will be happy to answer them in the comments!Comment
A sandwich BOARD, that is. A long time ago, a couple of people expressed interest in learning how I made the sandwich boards for my wedding table numbers. I got an email yesterday from a friend of a friend (hi Sara!) who wanted some info as well, so I thought I’d draft something up. :)
So here we are! A tutorial!
The supplies are pretty minimal, actually.
For each board, you will need:
1) One piece of 9.5″ x 13″ book board (for a finished sandwich board measuring 9.5″ tall x 6.5″ wide):
Cost: $1.35, Paper Source. For some reason, the website only shows 9.5″ x 11″. Weird.
2) One container of PVA (this will get you through MANY projects):
Cost: $7, Paper Source.
3) One sheet of 26″ x 20″ text weight paper in your color of choice (this is the main color of your board. You will get one completed sandwich board out of each sheet):
Cost: $.60, Paper Source.
4) One sheet of book cloth (this will get you through most, if not all, of your sandwich boards. If you doing multiple colors of sandwich boards like I did, make sure you choose a book cloth color that will match all of your main colors.) You can also use bookcloth tape. I used this for my later sandwich boards, and it’s easier than cutting book cloth. I wasn’t sure if it’s available everywhere, though, so I’m also including instructions on how to cut your bookcloth. If you go the bookcloth tape route, buy the 2″ width.
Cost: $6, Paper Source.
5) 7 inches of ribbon. Cost varies, and you can get this wherever you want. I collect ribbon scraps, so this didn’t cost me anything.
6) Other random tools: a cheapy brush, like one of those foam disposables, a exact-o knife and a ruler.
Tips before you start:
–I recommend doing all of your cutting first. If you are doing multiple boards, figure out how many you will need and do all the cutting for ALL of them before you do any assembly.
–Get some large sheets of scrap paper (or preferably, plain kraft paper–I took some from work. I don’t know where else you can get this). I wouldn’t recommend using newspaper, because the glue might cause the ink to smear and get all over your paper. That would be bad.
Step 1: Cut your bookboard.
Use your exacto knife and your ruler to cut your supplies (use the ruler as a guide for your exacto knife, and cut along the side of it. If you are using a ruler with cork or foam on the bottom, make sure the cork/foam faces UP. Otherwise your exacto knife will slip). A paper cutter won’t work because most of these sheets are too big to fit in one. All you will need to do for the bookboard is cut it in half:
(a guide to the cuts: BLACK are the dimensions before cutting. THICK RED lines with no arrows are cuts. RED LINES WITH ARROWS are the dimensions after cutting.)
You should now have two pieces of bookboard, which measure 9.5″ x 6.5″. Put these off to the side.
Step 2: Cut your text sheet:
If you will notice, there are two cuts on this sheet. I have labeled them “1″ an “2″. Do cut #1 first, then #2. You should now have three pieces of paper. One measures 11″ x 16″, one measures 9″ x 16″, and the other measures 10″ x 20″. Put the 10″ x 20″ piece off to the side somewhere–this is scrap. Now we need to cut the two remaining pieces again.
Cut the 16″ x 11″ piece into two. The two pieces resulting should be 8″ x 11″.
Cut the 16″ x 9″ piece twice. Two of the remaining pieces should be 6″ x 9″, and one should be 4″ x 9″. The 4″ x 9″ inch piece is scrap, but you will need a bit of it later. Put it off to the side.
Step 3: Cut your Book Cloth.
The point of these cuts is to make as many 15″ x 2″ strips as possible.
There is one major cut here…cut the bookcloth into two pieces (cut 1) measuring 15″ x 27″ and 4.5″ x 27″. The piece measuring 4.5″ x 27″ is a scrap, but if you need more than 13 strips, you can get 4 more strips out of this piece. If you don’t need more than 13 sandwich boards total, put this piece off to the side. Now let’s move on.
Take the piece measuring 15″ x 27″ and cut strips measuring 15″ x 2″. You should end up with 13.
Step 4: Jump for Joy, because the cutting is finished!!
This tutorial is going to be *really* long if I post the entire process here, so I’m going to separate it into two posts. Click here for Part 2!Comment
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