Friday, October 31, 2008

MPR eat your heart out!!!

So this morning during "Midmorning" with Carrie Miller I called in and got on the radio!
Here is a link to the broadcast. I come in at about 12min 30 sec or so.
The topic was about the economic crisis and unemployment. The guest speaker said two sectors were adding jobs and that was government and healthcare. SO I had to call in and let them know otherwise. Please refer to my entry "Even Nursing Isn't Immune" which describes the situation more in detail.

As soon as I was off the air...I called Guy to gloat!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Amazing Stretching Chicken!!! "Chicken Pot Pie" Recipe

Ok people I am not taking about a rubber chicken...I am talking about making your chicken stretch further.

Continuing our "Thrifty is Nifty" series is a recipe for "Chicken Pot Pie"

I can't take credit for this recipe. I obtained this recipe on ""

This is a feel-good meal! It's traditional without a catch but very satisfying—not to mention easy and relatively fast. What I love most about this recipe is that it takes advantage of your basic kitchen staples. There isn't much you have to get extra, if you have a well stocked pantry. (Stay tuned for my "Thrifty is Nifty" post on a"Well Stocked Thirfty Pantry"coming soon!) I really dislike having to get just one specialty item for a recipe, only to see it sit in my fridge or cabinent and never used again. Besides that wouldn't be thifty now, would it?

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium Onion , chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups chopped Roasted Chicken

1/2 cup frozen sweet petite peas
1 potato , diced and boiled USE ANY LEFT OVER VEGGIES OR GRAINS!
1 1/2 cup chopped, cooked carrots
1/2 tsp. salt
Cracked pepper
Dash of Tabasco® sauce
3/4 cup white or yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. canola oil

To make filling:
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Spray a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray. (optional)
In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and unsalted butter together.
Add onion and sauté until tender, about 4 or 5 minutes.
Add in flour until blended.
Slowly stir in 2 cups of heated chicken stock (it really doesn't need to be heated, just not cold as you will get lumps), whisking well.
Cook mixture over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 4 minutes.
Stir in roasted chicken, peas, potato, carrots, salt, pepper and Tabasco®. (Remember your root veggies and chicken need to be precooked.)
Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish, spread evenly.
To make crust:
In a bowl, stir cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
In a separate bowl, stir milk, egg and canola oil until well combined.
Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Please don't over work batter or it will get tough.
Spoon the batter evenly on the filling. (I found a thinner layer is better but, you be the judge.)
Bake until the top is golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes.
(Mine took about 30 min...bake until your finger doesn't leave an indent. It got pretty dry baking until "golden")
Tonight I had my friend Niki over for dinner and I made this pot pie from some left over chicken. She went back for seconds and said it was really good.
Only thing is it is kinda I would recommend adding some herbs or spices.
UPDATE: This is an AWESOME freezer meal. I made two last time and froze one. I wasn't sure how it would reheat with the cornbread on top. It was fabulous. I just thawed it in the fridge and reheated it in the oven @ 350 for about 30 min. ( I got hasty and needed to eat and pulled it out early and mic'd it the rest of the way and it turned out fine!) It was actually even better the second the flavors had a chance to meld and develop. It was a little bland and drier than I would prefer. The next time I make it I am going to add Lawery's Seasoning and more chicken stock.
PLUS, this is a great recipe to use those local in season root veggies!
If you make this please let me know how it turned out and any improvements you would make. Happy Cooking and Thanks!

Amelia's Fall Photo Shoot

Hi everyone! I am please to share with you pictures from Amelia's Fall photos taken by Jennifer Johansen Photography. We hope you enjoy these photos as much as we do.

Please click here link to the Shutterfly album. Thanks and enjoy!

Love the Mattson's

(If you are wondering where is Guy in the photos. Unfortunately he had class the day of the shoot. :-( )

Pumpkin Cookies

Fall is in the air and so should the smell of pumpkin baked goods. Whip up some pumpkin cookies if you don't have the time to muss and fuss making a pumpkin pie. I made these for the last two fall parties we had and they were a HIT! Seriously these are out of this world and so easy to make. The husband of one of my girlfriend's said he was raving about these cookies and said they were the best he had ever had. Now that is a lofty compliment!

Recipe from "Real Simple".com

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg 1 cup all-purpose flour (I use whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (found in the spice aisle)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Optional cream cheese frosting:

2/3 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
Powdered sugar until it reaches desired consistency.

Heat oven to 375° F.

Beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and egg and beat until combined.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar and butter and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated.

Spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture 2 inches apart onto parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets.

Bake until puffed and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.Clean the mixer, then, as the cookies bake, beat the cream cheese, heavy cream, and confectionersý sugar until smooth and spreadable.

Tip: The cookies can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in an airtight container. Whip the frosting and frost no more than 2 hours before serving.

ENJOY! Let me know if you try them out.
What I like to do with the left over pumpkin puree.
Feed it to my daugher plain
or doctor it up with a little wheat germ, ground flax seed, pumpkin pie spice and honey. Chill it and eat cold. YUM YUM!!! It tastes like a mini pie. Try it out for a healthy snack!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Less is more

Over the last 6 months I have been becoming more and more at odds with my "stuff". Being in a 1 bedroom and now a small 2 bedroom condo has amplified the amount of "stuff" we own.
I peer into our yet to be organized closets and see "stuff". I think do I really need it? Do I really need all this "stuff". I have gone through many purging cycles in my life. Right before I moved to California, right before I moved back to Minnesota. I think I am overdue for a purge. The problem is the cycle of stuff I continue to accumulate. After getting married and having Amelia we are innundated with stuff. I am to blame. Also I think my American consumeristic mindset is to blame. While I don't think I am as bad as other people in our country I do think I could improve on decreasing my consumption. Ever since I was a young child I have been a little bit of a eco nut (ask my mom!). Pressuring my family to recycle. I also remember even as a young child begging my mother to walk to the store instead of drive. I thought it was so much fun!!!

Throughout our journey of getting ready for Amelia this winter we utilized "Craigs List" for most of our bigger purchases. We bought our glider and changing table used. We obtained our crib from a friend for free who no longer needed it. We borrowed our baby bath tub, stroller and swing from a friend. We got a used exersaucer from Amelia's grandma. I borrowed many of my maternity clothes and bought most of the others at "Turnstyle" (which by the way is a great place to shop!!!) . We cloth diaper Amelia and I have also made about 4 of her diapers. I plan on making more once she grows out of these. Even through all these practices with our daughter we still are busting at the seams with stuff. Mainly clothes. She grows so fast! I have a hamper over flowing with clothes I need to sort to store for #2. I was thinking about lending some out but most of them are out of season for the people I know who just had Fall baby girls.

With Christmas just around the corner and thinking of yet another year of getting a bunch of stuff I don't want and ultimately I do not need makes me a little well depressed and frusterated with the consumeristic system we have. I would love to make some gifts for family and friends. I have done this in the past. I made knitted scarfs in addition to other bought gifts.
The only thing I really want for christmas is an automatic starter for our jeep so that I can have the car all warmed up in the winter for Amelia. Other than that....I really don't need anything. Sure I have a lot of things I would like...but they are mainly services like a simonson's gift card so I can get a facial, get my hair cut and dyed and maybe get my brows waxed. I guess I just don't want more stuff.

I was watching the last part of Days of Our Lives. I know a soap...but I follow it now that I am home at that time. Sad I know. During the show I was just getting sickened by the comercials. I was getting sickened by our consumer driven our culture is. Buy that. Then I think of this Wall Street crash and bailout. I feel like the government is more concerned about corporate America than "Americans". While I understand the economic repercusions of the bail it is just a symptom of a bigger problem. I am not anti capitalisitic but I do think we put to much emphasis on our "stuff". Be it houses, cars and other items. I feel that if we didn't have so much emphasis on owning these things just perhaps we wouldn't be in the credit crisis we are currently in. If people weren't so concerned about being things they can't afford and living with in their means perhaps the government wouldn't have to be stepping in. I don't like the idea of the government owning or having a stake in so many corporations. Because if the government has a stake in all of this and the goverment is supposed to be for the people it isn't any more and is now more "for the corporations". with that I will leave you with
Less is more!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Autumn Photo Shoot

Amelia and I had a fun mother daughter photoshoot. (Guy was in class.) The shots were taken by our friend Jennifer Johansen. We had such a good time. Through a snotty nose and being a little cranky I think we got some awesome pictures of Amelia playing in the leaves and in her bumble bee costume.

I will post more pictures from the shoot soon when Amelia is feeling better! Stay tuned!

Thrifty is Nifty Series

Another installment in our "Thrifty is Nifty" series.

This time it's about having convenience food. We all need it every once in a while. Especially on those nights when everyone is hungry and there is nothing quick to prepare in site. Usually in these instances we go for something quick and usually it is not a healthy choice. I am not immune to these episodes where the dinner hour is looming and there is no dinner in site. Just this week Guy and I got fast food...twice!!! YIKES!!! (having a sick babe sure takes up a LOT of time.)

Here is something I have been doing over the last month or so I want to share.

Making your own precooked meatballs.

Ok Kristina what are you talking about...meat balls?

I discovered how versatile meatballs are this fall. They are an easy and inexpensive way to incorporate meat into a meal without having to take the time to cook it.

Here is what I do. Make my own meat balls, cook and freeze. (a commercial bag costs about 8 -9 bucks depending on the brand.)

This week ground turkey was on sale.

Here is the recipe I use...

20 oz of meat
1 egg
1/3c bread crumbs
seasoning of your choice
olive oil

This is a great way to use up old bread or those bread butts no one seems to eat. I also incorporated a little wheat germ and flax seed too. I like making my own because I know what is in there.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Cover your cookie sheet with aluminum foil (you'll thank me later)
drizzle olive oil on the foil and spread it all around with your hand or a paper towel.
Preheat your sheet in the oven.

Combine your ingredients. Really dig in there. Use your hands.

Make some balls. (about 10-16, to start, you'll still have meat left don't worry) I like to make mine relatively small in order to stretch the meat. Make them no bigger than ping pong balls.

Get your hot pan out of the oven and place it on trivet or hotpad so your don't burn your counter top.
Place the meat balls on the pan and bake for 15 min.
Take them out and turn and bake for an additional 5-7 min until done.

I then cool them in the fridge and then freeze them. They can keep for a while, but that won't really matter because they won't last long.

Ways to use your meatballs for those in a pinch lunches or dinners

Spaghetti and meatballs.

Mac and cheese with cut up meatballs.

Salad with cut up meatballs.

Pretty much any place you need ground meat you can use the meatballs.

I just mic them for about one minute to defrost and then cut them up and add them to our meals.

This is a great way to cut out those fast food meals which are detrimental to your wallet and your wasteline.

Sick little pumpkin

Amelia has her first cold. It was inevitable. Little Finn (Amelia's buddy) and many other people Amelia has come in contact with in the last week have had the sniffles. Amelia started throwing up at Karen's (she watches Amelia during the week) about 8 times!!! Poor little pumpkin! Luckily Bette was scheduled to pick up Amelia early since Finn was sick. Karen told me she let Amelia throw up on her about 8 times...when she was holding Amelia little Finn fell and bonked his head and started to scream. So she had to switch for a second and put Amelia in the car seat and she threw up some more ( I think?) I heard Amelia was a little soiled when Bette picked her up and gaggy. Man oh man I felt bad for my Amelia and for Karen. Just as long as little Amelia was OK which she was. I know Karen must have changed her clothes because a different outfit was soiled than what I sent her there in. All in all I think Karen did a good job and I didn't know Amelia was going to be a puke monster! Thank goodness Bette was there to help rescue Karen and care for Amelia.
Today Amelia was super clingy and only wanted to nap in my arms. We learned about nasal bulb suctioning those snot bubbles. Amelia actually let me do it a few times without fighting me. No throwing up for me today. I introduced a new food (pumpkin) to Amelia the day of puke fest. So perhaps that is our culprit. Note to self: do not introduce a new food on the same day Amelia has daycare. So for now no more pumpkin for the Pumpkin. I had some of the canned pumpkin I fed Amelia and I felt fine.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

$$$ Values

Tonight I am staying up too late and watching Oprah. The topic reminded me of many values I hope to instill in Amelia. The value of money.

I am going to back up a little bit.

I grew up for the most part..."not wealthy". Does this mean we were "poor"? Sometimes. Sometimes it felt that way when I compared myself and my material belongings to others. BUT I think being "poor" is more of a state of "mind" than a state of "being". Did I grow up without? Not really. The state of being feeling "without" is contextual. What I mean by this is, who you compare yourself to can greatly influence your perception of being, "without".

OK now back to Amelia.

1. The Value of money. I want Amelia to know the value of money. I think I will start to pay for things in cash in front of her when she starts to notice.

2. Grades do not equal (immediate) rewards. We will not pay for grades. A grade's value should come intrinsically not from extrinsic material items or monetary gain. I am not against rewarding but not with material items or money. Perhaps with a date out doing something special with mom or dad. This is something we will figure out along the way. I hope to remind her that the rewards for her good grades will be reaped in a good college and future career. (I am proof of this.)

3. Honesty. I will not tell Amelia no and then go out and spend the money on myself or on another child. I also will not tell her yes when we really can't afford it. Being honest about priorities and helping her safe up her earnings for things she wants and not just providing instant gratification for something she wants but can't afford at this time. (This will have to be a family effort including grandparents not giving in with out parental approval.)

4. Money (stuff) does not equal love. Christmas and birthdays are wonderful memorable times. I hope the memories are not about what she got but who she spent the time with. Also I want her to know that Christmas is not just about stuff but about Christ! The excess I see during the holidays makes me SICK. I think thoughtful gifts are wonderful. These can be homemade, etc... I want Amelia to look forward to Christmas for the fellowship of family and the traditions we create. I hope the tradition does not include being inundated with gifts.

5. No entitlement. Amelia is not entitled to stuff just because she is a "good" kid or gets good grades or is part of the family household. Money is earned. The entitlement psyche of our American culture is so apathetic. Our children will not be entitled. They will know money is earned and how much they will receive is not just based on time spent but performance of the task. Once the allowance is gone, it's gone. Learning to live within their means.

Living in a smaller place everything you own becomes amplified by having to find a place for it.

I am trying to be simplier in my consumption of stuff. My reasons for this are multifaceted.

1. The environment. There is only a finite amount of resources. Most of Amelia's bigger items were bought used. (Swing, exersaucer, changing table, glider, crib, stroller, and many of her clothes. ) I am inspired by how easy it was to get quality items for Amelia I am hoping to step up my own purchases of used items for myself.

2. Money. Buying less and used is cheaper. It also doesn't support industries in foreign countries that do not abide by environmental or labor laws.

3. Buy American made.

4. Make it home made when possible. Examples of this. I cloth diaper Amelia. (the amount of garbage disposable diapers create is staggering. I use disposables for a couple days last week for a break. It was a huge reminder of why I cloth diaper. The garbage mounted up SO fast. It literally made me nauseous. Also my laundry mounted up because they leaked and blew out often. (ewww poopty pants!!!) I now make Amelia's cloth diapers. It takes a little time...but they are cheaper than buying them and insanely cheaper than disposables. PLUS I can use them on kid number two...the savings continues.

5. Buying foods whole and preparing them at home. Example. Instead of going to breadsmith for my yummy muffin with my starbucks. I now make my own awesome muffins and brew my own coffee. Savings of about 6bucks each time I do that. That is about 50 bucks a month in my pocket. It adds up FAST!!! I was able to get Guy an awesome present from my savings of my mad money. (He was happy!) I also bought 2.5 lbs of ground turkey. So far I have made...2 shepherd's pies, and the rest I made into mini meat balls which I cooked and froze. I love having precooked meat in the freezer that I can just heat and serve. Store bought meatballs are about 8bucks a bag. I got mine for about 2bucks. We still have a bunch left. My next endeavor is making frozen burritos. (I love love love the Amy's frozen burritos).

Recipes to follow soon!

Thanks for reading these thoughts.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Meal Plan Monday

Ok here I am week 2 trying to plan meals again.
This week will be a challenge as I work Tues and Thurs

B: Eggs and left over muffins
L: Yogurt and grapenuts fruit or salad (Rice and avocados for Amelia)
D: Sloppy Lentils and salad or steamed veggies (Rice and sweet potatoes for Amelia)
Prep: Soak Oatmeal, Make baby food (beets, peas, avocados), Make granola bars

B: Soaked Oatmeal one egg for Kristina (Egg whites and cheese for Guy)
L: Yogurt and grape nuts, carrots or spinach salad (Rice and apples for Amelia)
D: Left over sloppy lentils and Kashi frozen dinner, Salad(for Guy while Kristina at work) (rice and peas (new food!) for Amelia).

Prep: Soak muffins

B: Eggs and Kefir fruit smoothies
L: Salad etc... (Rice and apples)
D: Spaghetti w/ Homemade turkey meatballs, steamed veggies. (Rice and peas)
Prep: Make Muffins, soak oatmeal

B: Oatmeal and eggs
L: Yogurt and grape nuts, veggies (Rice and avocados)
D: Leftovers (Rice and peas)


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Happy 30Th

Birthday Guy!!!

Stay tuned for post...

North Shore Get Away Part I

Last weekend Guy and I (Kristina) vacationed on the north shore of Minnesota on Lake Superior while Amelia spent the weekend at Grandma Bette's house. We left on Thursday and spent the night in Duluth.
Friday we headed up to Tofte and camped on Lake Superior at the Temperance River campsite. It was about 38 degrees and raining off and on throughout the night. The wind picked up during the night and it (the lake) was quite loud since we were only about 50 feet from Lake Superior!!!
It was quite chilly and uncomfortable for me (Kristina) as I forgot my pillows at the hotel in Duluth we stayed in Friday night. It was a fun experience though. We played cards games and Guy did card tricks with our tiny little book light I brought (thank goodness as all Guy brought in the way of flash lights were two mini tiny little mag lights that didn't work well).

While Guy slept like a log I was up from 830 when we went to sleep until 330 am. I couldn't get comfortable, the lake was SO loud and then on top of it every noise( including those of innocent leaves falling on the tent) had me on high alert. I grabbed Guy on several occassions,

"Did you hear that?"



"That's a leaf go to sleep...."

Saturday (the next morning) we headed out on our day hike up Eagle Mountain; the highest point in Minnesota. We started hiking about 11:15 AM and got back around 4:45PM. It was a 7 mile hike round trip. We had to watch every step we took for 7 mile which was too bad because the scenery was really beautiful. Here are some pictures from our hike.

At the top of Eagle Mountain

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Update Blog


I have many updates to share

We purchased a new vehicle; a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherrokee Laredo. (The L is missing from the decal So I call it our "Aredo". And joke it is a designer knock off Laredo.) We sold the little green 2002 Sentra. :-( She was sold to a 16 year old girl who was "STOKED" to buy it and even featured it in a music viedo she made. She even have her a name. "Dill" So I am glad "Dill" has a loving home!

This summer we bought a new condo (well it's not "new" but you know what I mean.) We took advantage of the slumping market and our good credit. It has 2 bedrooms and a pantry. I realized my youth was over when I got really excited about having a pantry. Amelia has her own room. Her nursery colors are pink and brown. Her room is still a work in progress. I am enjoying putting it together and having one room in our home I solely decorated. (Bette helped paint the walls)

We are now land lords. We rent out our old condo. It is a weird feeling to be collecting rent rather than paying it. A good weird feeling.

Guy started a new job at Burke and Thomas working as an assistant of sorts for one of the partners. Even if Guy doesn't get hired on as an attorney after he graduated law school it will be great experience on his resume.

Amelia is 5 1/2 months old!!! She is rolling over left and right and now can also roll from her tummy to her back. She can get her legs under her and scoot a little too. It won't be long until she is scooting all over the place.

GUY IS TURNING 30!!! Yep, Guy is an old man. Be sure to let him know!

I (Kristina) am still working at the U of M. Though they are laying off about 100 full time positions there. I think I am safe as there are many people below me in senority (whew!)
I thought nursing was safe!?!?!? The recession it affecting everyone.

Amelia started solids about 1 month ago. She wasn't really into it at first so we backed off. Now, whoah watch your food if you are holding her and eating because she will try to snatch the food right out of your hands. She loves apples, pears, sweetpotatos, green beans and LOVE LOVES Avocados (yep Lippolds she loves Avocados). Guy and I don't love the Avocados but that doesn't mean that Amelia can't like them. I wish I did they are so good for you! So I am glad Amelia is getting all those good fats and vitamin E.

Guy and I just got back from a weekend away to the north shore. We hiked up the tallest "mountain" in Minnesota. It was a 7 mile hike. I am STILL sore! Beautiful fall colors. We camped one night to save some mula and froze our little bottoms off...well I did. I was not a happy camper. :-) All and all we had a great trip. Amelia was with Grandma Bette for the weekend. (Pictures will be posted soon!)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Deflated bread

The bread I made while it tastes Ok it looks like a deflated balloon. I am not exactly sure what went wrong but I have some ideas. During the first rising I had to tend to Amelia so it nearly tripled in size. I punched it down and was going to put it in the loaf pans but I was interupted again and it rose again in the bowl. So I thought...well it should rise again right. So I shaped it and attempted to rise it a 3rd time in the loaf pan in a warm oven. (120 degrees, it was still cooling off from when I made the muffins.) The dough didn't really rise much but I baked it anyways. It is really dense and really crumbly. I didn't add too much flour I don't think. I don't know how well I kneaded once again Amelia was fussing. All Amelia wants is to be with me non-stop.This is why I am writing a second blog of the day as I can't really put Amelia down because she will cry and fuss. I can't cook like I had planned with her in my moby or in my arms. She is due for her next nap soon. Thank goodness!

Ok back to the bread. So does anyone have any suggestions on how to fix my bread. I want to try it again. I remember making bread as a kid...mainly pizza dough. I don't remember this being a problem...I was using white flour then. (I refuse to use white flour).

Here is a link to the recipe I used. I halfed it.

Meal Plan Monday part II

Ok so last week I attempted "Meal Plan Monday" it was out the window by Tuesday. Having a 5 month old sure shakes things up!

So here is my attempt again!

B: Soaked Oatmeal
L: PB and J carrots, yogurt
D Shepards pie (Make extra for Joanna) steamed veggies from farmers market last week
side salads

Prep: make muffins(done), make bread(done), make turkey meat balls
Soak tortilla dough (I couldn't find tortillas that were big enough @ Super target so I thought...what the hay I'll make some..we'll see how it goes :-) Laundry!!!

B:Eggs and muffins granola and yogurt
L: Left over shepards pie, Spinach Salad
D: Baked penne w/ turkey

Prep: Soak flour for Guy's supersecret suprise flavor cake!
Make frozen cheese and bean burittos , Go to whole foods for Organic grains, drop off Amelia's library books. Drop off Shepards pie for Joanna if available. LAUNDRY!!!

B: Soaked oatmeal, mufffins and eggs
L: Left over Baked penne
D: Out for Guy's Bday!!!
Prep: Thaw chicken, Make bread crumbs

B: Granola and yogurt eggs and bread
L: leftovers or PB and J w/ spinach salad
D: Chicken strips, mashed potatoes and carrots. (left over salad)

Prep: Soak oatmeal, make lunch for friday

B: Soaked oatmeal, Eggs and home made granola bars
L: PB and J on the Run ECFE @ 11am Day Care @ 130 Work @ 3pm
D:Find your own!!! (left overs)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Even Nursing isn't Immune

Fairview job cuts are latest for area health careCHEN MAY YEE, Star Tribune
In a sign that health care isn't immune in a bad economy, Fairview Health Services said Monday it is laying off 150 to 200 employees.
The owner of the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview Southdale Hospital and other Twin Cities medical facilities said the job cuts are across the board and will occur through October.
The reductions represent less than 1 percent of the workforce. Fairview is also cutting overtime and delaying some maintenance projects.
As it has for companies in other industries, the turbulence on Wall Street has slashed the value of Fairview's investment portfolio and raised the cost of borrowing money.
But health care also has its own special problems: cuts in reimbursements from Medicaid and a rising tide of unpaid medical bills from the uninsured and the underinsured -- those who have insurance but can't pay their deductibles.
In addition, Fairview said it is losing some business as more patients with large deductibles put off elective procedures.
"It is a big deal, particularly if people are deferring needed services," said Fairview chief executive Mark Eustis. "If you defer too long, you end up with a greater problem. ... [They'll be] coming to us in need of greater care."
With the downturn, Eustis said Fairview may consider delaying some projects, such as upgrading its main lab and its information technology systems. Construction of Fairview's new children's hospital in Minneapolis will not be affected by cuts, he said.
Unpaid bills
Patients at Fairview left $32.3 million in unpaid bills between January and August this year, up $7.1 million compared with the same period last year. The number of inpatient admissions was down 1.3 percent, which works out to 710 fewer admissions, partly because more procedures are now being done on an outpatient basis. But clinic volumes are up, as are visits to the emergency room.
Other medical groups haven't been spared. Last week the Twin Cities' biggest medical group, Allina Hospitals and Clinics, said it was eliminating 250 to 350 jobs, or 1 to 1.5 percent of its employees, because of financial pressures.
Regions Hospital in St. Paul, part of HealthPartners, last week cut 30 full-time equivalents, partly through layoffs and partly by not filling current vacancies.
HealthEast Care System in St. Paul, which has St. Joseph's Hospital and St. John's in its network; Park Nicollet, which owns Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, and North Memorial Health Care in Robbinsdale said they had no plans to cut jobs.
But they, too, are seeing a rise in unpaid bills. At North Memorial, uncompensated care so far this year is $29 million, up 35 percent from the same period last year, said spokesman Robert Prevost.
At Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, emergency room visits are up 3.3 percent compared with last year, "generally an indication of economic stress," said spokeswoman Trudy Marshall. Medicaid, known as Medical Assistance in Minnesota, now represents 40 percent of payments to Children's, up from 30 percent a year ago.
Chen May Yee • 612-673-7434

Monday, October 6, 2008

Granola Bar Recipe

Granola bars are a main stay here at the Mattson home. We eat about a box or more a week. At about $3.00 for a box of Kashi granola bars this t equals approximately $12.00 a month or $144.00 a year just on granola bars! (yikes!!!) . As Guy exclaimed, "That is a car payment!!!".
So I decided it was time to take our addiction to granola bars into my own hands and learn how to make granola bars comparable to to the Kashi brand we love. I had some standards; no high fructose corn syrup, only whole grains, and organic if possible.
I found a delicious, frugal and easy recipe I would love to share with all my "granola" friends.
Here is a link to the recipe I used. It has a great tutorial step by step on how to make them. Link to Granola bar recipe from Joyful Abode

I have this problem, I can't stick to a recipe.

So...I used a little maple syrup (because was too impatient to wait for the last dredges of honey out of my bottle to make the total 1/2 cup.)

I would suggest not toasting the wheat germ because it was done before the rest of the grains were. The bars have a "done" taste to them. Guy says he doesn't mind.

My wax paper stuck to my bars. I nearly had a heart attack and thought I was going to have to throw the whole batch out. Then I had an idea! I used a dry towel and a hot pan to coax the paper off. Not ideal! So I would suggest using the wax paper to press it down when they are warm and then removing the paper from the top before they cool. I didn't have a problem with the underside wax paper sticking after they cooled. Strange.

I used plastic wrap to wrap them individually...but I think snack size bags would work well also. The baggies would be more "secure" but we are looking to be frugal here ladies. You could also just put them in a plastic container with plastic wrap between the layers. (I have shunned all wax paper for extended periods of time on these babies.)

I thought the bars were REALLY overly sweet. Of course, Guy loved them.

On his side I pressed some left over butterscotch chocolate chips that have been hanging out in my freezer for the last 2 years. On my side of the bars I pressed in some dried organic cranberries.
I think the next batch I am going to add some peanut butter to the "caramel glue" and not use maple syrup.
Also I may toast some coconut flakes and flax.
I am also going to lower the toasting temp to 325-350 degrees. I have read that toasting above that temp can turn the good polyunsaturated fats into trans-saturated fats… not so healthy. This is especially true if you add flax to the mix. I think I may add some ground flax to my next batch as it is more nutritious ground than whole.
I would love to hear any ideas or alterations you may have.
Does anyone have any ideas for a healthier "glue". I was thinking maybe molasses or rice syrup? Could I sub oil in for the butter?

Meal Plan Monday

OK, I know most of you come here for updates on Amelia.
This blog is also a way for me to keep track and refer back to different events and trials.

Yesterday, I was mandated to stay home from work. (I am a registered nurse). They are laying off about 100 full time positions from our hospital next month. I thought my job was recession proof? The reasoning is many people are approaching health care differently and many people are unable to pay their existing bills. This in addition to the hospitals investments going south has racked up a huge deficit. In order to counter this deficit they are laying off many employees. I think in the Twin cities together about 400-500 full time positions will be let go!!! We will be taking on more patients and expected to do more with less. (As if we weren't already!!!) I hope I am not one of the nurses laid off. I have 6 years experience but since becoming pregnant with Amelia I have dropped off the extra curricular scene at work. I also tend to put in a little bit of over time here and there. (I am working on this.) Because of this I am looking for ways to cut some corners and save money.
1.) We cloth diaper. Since we pay for laundry it costs about $3.00-$5.00 a week to wash and dry. I would love to hang dry but it really isn't an option, though I may start to just get them half dry in the dryer and hang them the rest of the way instead of adding an extra quarter. I figure we save about $5.00 a week on diapers so about $20/month or about $240/year + we don't buy wipes either. I haven't calculated the savings on that...but I am sure it adds up too. Since Amelia has been born I have bought a total of 3 packages of diapers. She grows out of them faster than I can use them up.
2.) Eating in more. We are still working on this one. I used to be really good about cooking dinner every night I didn't work...but since Amelia some nights I just don't feel like cooking.
Guy doesn't cook. Though he has tried a couple times. He just needs some confidence in the kitchen. (My children will be confident and competent in the kitchen; no excuses.) Amelia already loves to watch me cook. I will be posting weekly meal plans for accountability and suggestions for frugal nutritious recipes are welcome.
3.) Making convenience foods at home. Like instant oatmeal. (Pre-soak oatmeal the night before and it takes the same time as instant oatmeal and tastes SO much better.) Granola bars. I made my first batch last night. They are TASTY!!! The recipe will be posted soon so stay tuned!
I am thinking about making bread...thinking about it. I will need to borrow my mother's kitchen aid mixer (It's just gathering dust in her closet anyway since they aren't home much.)
I am also thinking about making burritos to freeze. I love those things and for $2.00 a pop for organic frozen burritos it kills me. Any one have a good recipe that stands up well in the freezer.
Also I am buying the big container of yogert and spooning out what I need. If I need to take some to work I put it in a double just fine...kinda like go-gert.
4.) We are rewearing our clothes as much as possible. With a $50.00 dollar a month laundry bill we are really trying to cut back on laundry. Using towels for the whole week or more and rewearing shirts that aren't smelly or soiled. This is a little bit harder with Amelia but I am trying to be better about getting bibs on her to keep her outfits cleaner longer and to reduce changes.
5.) I am home making Amelia's baby food. This is so easy and so much more economical.
6.) Breast's virtually free and the best for Amelia. Win win!
7.) We don't have cable, we use an antenae.
8.) Brewing coffee at home and taking it togo. I actually buy togo cups (I know bad bad...) but I know myself with thermos' and I forget them in the car and they get all moldy and then I get grossed out and this prevents me from using them and I just get a coffee from Starbucks. So I spend $3.00 on 12 to go cups at Target and I figure this saves me money in coffee and lost thermos'. I am going to work on this one.
9.) Making muffins and cookies at home. I love a good scone with my coffee. I have been going to the bread smith WAY too much. I will take a walk with my coffee and home made muffin to a park bench and eat it and be happy I have $5.00 in my pocket!
10.) Making smoothies at home. I use my jamba juice cup over again and fill it with my own smoothie and walk with Amelia. If I need to pitch it while walking I can and I feel like I went out...I know pathetic, but it's true!
11.) Taking fewer showers. My hair is falling out at record pace...a post pregnancy thing. So I have been taking fewer showers. It seems to have slowed it my skin isn't so dry. Win it is better for the environment.
12.) Borrowing or getting used baby gear.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fun Pictures of Amelia

Amelia loves her Exersaucer!!! Thanks Grandma Bette!

Pumpkin classic nose scrunch...I wonder where she gets that from?

Soaked Oatmeal

I have discovered a wonderful and nutritious breakfast I would love to share with you.
Soaked oatmeal . Ok the name doesn't conjure up the taste buds, but once you taste it.
Delicious and smooth!

Why soak the oatmeal?
Several reasons.
1.) Basically soaking (with an acid like yogert) helps to break down phytates in grains which prevent proper digestion of the nutrients and allows the body to properly absorb all the good content of those whole grains!
2.)It cuts the cooking time of old fashioned organic oatmeal to only about 5 min, if that!!! (It usually takes about 20-25 min.)
3.) Soaking expands the oatmeal so it yields more servings. Which makes oatmeal a very frugal meal!

I like to add dried fruit (not treated with sulfites) like cranberries and apples, slivered almonds, coconut flakes and flax seed to the mix too. Soak it all overnight in a glass jar or tupperware container on the counter (I have found the oatmeal isn't as smooth if you soak it in the fridge).
Top it off with a little soy milk, maple syrup or honey and you are on your way to a super nutritious breakfast!

What arephytates?
Phytic acid is found within the hulls of nuts, seeds, and grains.[1] In-home food preparation techniques can reduce the phytic acid in all of these foods. Simply cooking the food will reduce the phytic acid to some degree. More effective methods are soaking in an acid medium, lactic acid fermentation, and sprouting.[5]

Phytic acid is a strong chelator of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, and can therefore contribute to mineral deficiencies in people whose diets rely on these foods for their mineral intake, such as those in developing countries.[6] It also acts as an acid, chelating the vitamin niacin, which is basic, causing the condition known as pellagra. [7] In this way, it is an anti-nutrient.[1] For people with a particularly low intake of essential minerals, especially young children and those in developing countries, this effect can be undesirable. (Copied from Wikipedia link provided above.)

There have been some studies about the chelation effects of phytic acid in depriving cancer cells of iron. Something I have just started learning about and interested looking into further. Phytic acid's same mineral binding properties may also prevent colon cancer by reducing oxidative stress in the lumen of the intestinal tract.[12] Researchers now believe that phytic acid, found in the fiber of legumes and grains, is the major ingredient responsible for preventing colon cancer and other cancers.[1][13]. (copied from the phytate wikipedia link provided above). Also grain fed animals who do not produce phytase excrete large abouts of phosphorus into the environment because of the phytic acids chelation effects and binding properties with phosphorus. Phytase is used as an animal feed supplement - often in poultry and swine - to enhance the nutritive value of plant material by liberation of inorganic phosphate from phytic acid (myo-inositol hexakisphosphate) and, thereby, to reduce environmental phosphorus pollution.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

TVP helper...makes a great meal!

I am notorious for not thawing out the meat I planned to use for dinner. Tonight was no exception. To my defense I had actually planned on making these Lentil burgers that sounded really good. BUT I had used up all my onions in my pot roast and my eggs for breakfast. (I didn't plan ahead...I need to really work on weekly meal planning). SO...coming in on stage left...TVP!!! TVP is a wonderful product. What is TVP you ask? Texturized vegetable protein. It is a soy product. You buy it near the natural grains area in the market. It is a dry good and stores well for extended periods of time. In my effort to cook 2 meatless meals a week TVP helps a lot. I actually forgot all about it. I used to use it alot when I was single and making an effort to decrease my meat consumption. Guy is much more of a carnivore than I. Now in the midst of a financial crunch and trying to save money on groceries I "rediscovered" TVP. What brought it back to my attention is the book I am "reading" called, "Super Baby Food" by Ruth Yaron. It is packed with great ideas. I do with she would have edited her book a little more and kept it a little more simple. Either way, her book has lots of great vegetarian recipes, one of which for TVP skillet dinner. Now, those of you who know me I can't stick to a recipe ever. (I wasn't one of those kids who liked coloring books either, I didn't like to color inside of the lines...I liked to draw my own pictures.) I have to tweak it here and there. I used Ruth's recipes as the skeleton on which I made my version of "TVP Helper".

TVP Helper
(this is a great way to stretch your meat. Any ground meat, turkey, beef, pork.)
I happened to have 4 meat balls in the freezer. What do you do with just 4 tiny meat balls? Stretch them to feed two people with TVP!!! Here is how I did it.

2 cans of crushed tomatoes (juice and all)
2 cups of filtered water
Bring to a boil
Add 1 cup of noodles (I used whole wheat elbow noodles)
1 cup TVP
1 can navy beans (drained)
1 TBSP Italian seasoning (you can use what ever you have on hand)
dash of onion powder (I ran out of onions remember)
dash of garlic powder (too lazy to mince a clove...honest but true)
dash of caiane pepper
dash of red pepper flakes
dash of Lawry's seasoning (I normally don't use this BUT I was trying to trick Guy into thinking this was all REAL meat)
Couple twists of the pepper mill.
1/4 c of shredded cheddar cheese stir this in.
Optional 1tsp of ground flax seed (I have a designated coffee griner for spices and bread crumbs I use to grind up seeds etc...I would HIGHLY recommend having a designated grinder. I can't tell you how many dollars I have saved in making my own bread crumbs with it and by using up those dried up older bread butts and heels that would normally go to waste.)

I sprinkled a little more cheese on top for "garnish" again to sell it to my husband.
He took a couple bites and was like, "WOW babe this is what is in this. Is this all meat?

The great thing about TVP is it has the texture of ground meat and takes on the flavors of the dish you are making and doesn't lend a weird flavor like tofu sometimes can if it is cooked wrong. If you really like a beef flavor you can soak the TVP in beef stock. I warn you it can become really salty if you do this, so use a low sodium stock.

I have been really proud of Guy lately trying new foods and expanding his palate!

Sorry no pictures...think of hamburger helper...that is what it looked like.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I have been having difficulty having grace. Grace for my fussy teething daughter who is very cranky most of the time while working on those pesky teeth. Grace for myself. Grace to not feel defeated everyday looking at my condo and seeing how much I need to do just to get organized. (We moved to a new place when Amelia was 5weeks old.) I had our old place organized to the max while I was nesting. Our new well not organized at all and I am finding it hard to find motivation to organize in addition to caring for Amelia and keeping up with laundry, dishes, cooking and working part-time. I feel like I have this dual personality. At work (I am an RN for those who are reading and don't know me) I am very VERY type A. I have myself very organized and I have a routine on how to do things and hopefully get them done. I am fussy about details and policy. I am very anal and a little hyper about it. People at work can't believe I can actually allow myself downtime.

Welcome to the other side of my personality. At home I am what I call a frusterated perfectionist. If I can't do it perfectly or at least to my standard I don't usually do it at all. And with a 5 month old...doing things to my standard (and not just half way) isn't really an option. So I am faced with lowering my standards or not doing anything. I am also plagued with a lack of routine. As I find a routine Amelia and I can fall into...I have to go back to work...grandma, etc...takes care of Amelia and it's all out the window. I feel like somedays I am starting from scratch with her and I and this makes it very difficult to get things done around the house.

I am very overwhelmed. Guy helps as much as he can in addition to working and going to school. He has a very overloaded plate also.

I guess "trying" is the best I can do...but I don't like to just "try" to do something...I like to actually "do" something. And it's really REALLY hard with a babe who is crying ALL day LONG!!! Unless we are outside walking in the moby. (I can't do housework in the moby...too hard on my back.)


Guy and I talked about the stress I have been having about keeping up the home, Amelia and just myself. I asked him to pray with me about grace, focus, and reprioritization. I felt like this weight was lifted and I could actually breathe.