Ugh. Packing sucks.
Packing sucks more when you’ve got to pack not only for yourself, but for the rest of the family as well. I tend to do all the packing since I pack the most neatly and the most efficiently, and we take one large bag for the entire family. To be fair, Kurt laid out the clothes he wanted to take; all I had to do was make sure they were still folded neatly and to put them into the suitcase with the rest of our things.
But that still left me trying to figure out what Grace and I were going to wear for the next four days. And when you’re a girl, that can be somewhat complicated. Add in trying to balance Grace’s penchant for wearing dresses with her need to race around like a tomboy, and you’ve got a rather complicated situation.
I solved that by bringing one skirt with attached shorts, one outfit featuring capris, and two dresses. That’s not even including the dress she’s wearing to the wedding, the dress she’s wearing to the reception, and the dress I had to pack for church on Sunday morning.
Thank God we have a huge suitcase.
Then again, I’ve known women who pack the same size suitcase for their own clothing and accessories for a long weekend. At least I’m sharing mine with two other people.
For me, we’ve got my dress for the wedding on Saturday, a dress for the reception, a dress for church on Sunday, and then capris and t-shirts for after church and for Monday. And of course that requires three pairs of shoes — my cute white “espadrilles,” my brown heeled sandals, and a pair of Birkenstocks for everyday wear.
I just hope my feet don’t swell so much I can’t wear my cute shoes this weekend!! Note to self: stay away from the salt. Drink more water. Keep feet elevated.
I’ll do my best!
Oh! I didn’t even mention why I am going away. The first grandchild on my mom’s side, who is two years younger than me (I didn’t join the family till I was six, which makes Aubrey the first grandchild even though she is not the eldest), is getting married this weekend!! She is a really beautiful woman, so sweet and kind and generous, without a snide or catty bone in her body. She’s an elementary school teacher, living in her hometown, and enriching children’s lives every day. Her fiancé Nick is also a teacher, only he’s in the middle school system, and he also coaches a number of athletic teams. They’re both really lovely people, and I’m so thrilled for them both.
The wedding sounds like it’s going to be absolutely lovely. It’s not a terribly formal affair, which is totally up my alley, and it’s to be an afternoon wedding. Aubrey is wearing a gorgeous white dress, simple in its lines and its fabric, and accented with a spice-colored ribbon at the waist. The bridesmaids will be in spice-colored dresses, and the men will wear khaki slacks, spice-colored shirts, and ties. I do believe the wedding will be outside, so I hope the weather cooperates.
Then the reception will be much later, around 6pm at night. It’s to be of a luau theme, since they love the beach so much. In fact, I think the original plan was to have a destination wedding, but it just wasn’t feasible. They’ve asked the men to wear Hawaiian shirts, and I even found a dress for Grace that will be perfect — sage green in color (she loves green) with white plumerias scattered all over it. I am wearing a plain brown dress, but I am probably going to stop in at Walmart and see if I can find myself a lei to drape over my neck.
It should be a ton of fun, and I am really looking forward to it. It will be the first wedding I have attended since I was married myself in October 2001, and really the only wedding I have been a guest at since I was a kid. I was invited to another wedding for this Sunday (hi, Ben!), but Aubrey’s wedding sort of trumps his, since she is family after all. It’s a shame; I was really looking forward to Ben’s wedding. I’ve heard Jewish weddings are so much fun.
But again, being in Pennsylvania means I will not have cell phone reception, and neither will I have internet access until we return home on Monday. So you’ll just have to forge ahead through your Labor Day weekend without me.
I’m sure you’ll be just fine.
And since it’s been several blog posts since I have mentioned cooking, let’s talk about FOOD!
Sunday mornings are usually my time to plan the next week’s menu. It’s been working really well. I can’t think of the last time we ate out for dinner. Of course, we’re still having lunches out too frequently, but we’re working on that. Planning has to take place on Sunday since the commissary is closed on Mondays, so if I’m lazy, I’m waiting till Tuesday before I can load up on my week’s groceries. That, of course, will lead me to eat out on Monday, so I’ve got to go on Sunday.
I made up a short list for this week, since we were going away on Friday. I found recipes for Mustard and Herb-Crusted Trout (Kurt loves fish; I am still trying to acquire a taste for it), Falafel Pitas (our meatless night), and Chicken Scaloppini over Broccoli Rabe. Kurt had broccoli rabe at some restaurant, on a pizza, I think it was, and he loved it. He’s been bugging me ever since then to find recipes with broccoli rabe.
I never did make it to the commissary this week. On Sunday, my normal shopping day, we’d gone to our friends’ house for a lovely lunch. Since the commissary was closed on Monday, I had to scrounge around for dinner that night. Fortunately we still had plenty of baked pasta left, so we finished that off.
Tuesday featured pan-fried chicken with a bottled sauce I picked up from Trader Joe’s a while ago, steamed fresh green beans, and a box of StoveTop stuffing. It’s what I had on hand.
Yesterday was a box of Annie’s Cheesy Lasagna, which amounts to a healthier version of Hamburger Helper, with homemade garlic breadsticks and roasted asparagus with tomatoes. Again, what I had on hand.
Tonight I made Creamed Tuna with Peas, served it over rice, and steamed some fresh zucchini to go with it. We also had more of those garlic breadsticks I made last night. Creamed Tuna with Peas is basically Tuna Helper, just made from scratch. And let me tell you, it’s far more delicious than Tuna Helper ever could hope to be.
Plus you should see how empty my fridge is!! I managed to clear everything out of it by using it, instead of throwing away some of the produce that I never managed to use before it spoiled.
See, earlier this week I found this website called the Hillbilly Housewife. I’d seen it mentioned on MSNBC.com while reading an article about how grocery prices are staying high, and how people are trying their best to stretch their grocery budget.
This website is pretty darn cool. Every so often, the author of the site brings up her personal religion, but never in an “in your face” type of way. Like the reason she won’t call a particular meat replacement by its proper name — “seitan” (or “SAY-tan”) — because it sounds too much like Satan. Instead she calls it “wheat meat,” which is what it is. It’s where I found my recipe for homemade garlic breadsticks, as well as the Creamed Tuna with Peas.
I realized, as I was making dinner tonight, that what I was preparing was your everyday basic white sauce. White sauce was one of the first things girls were taught how to make in years gone by because it was so versatile, yet so simple. Folks would make croquettes of their leftover meat and cover them with white sauce. Or you could add cheese, and now you’ve got a base for macaroni and cheese. White sauce is simply butter, flour, and milk. If you want to get fancy, call it “Béchamel” — the French version of the very same thing.
It felt kind of neat to make something that generations of women before me had made from scratch, before we were spoiled by convenience foods.
Another reason I love that website is because it teaches you how to make a lot of things from scratch, but not spend hours and hours in the kitchen while doing it. Plus it proves how cheaply you can make convenience foods from scratch, and you’re actually making it healthier since you know what’s going into the various mixes. You’re not adding in all the crazy preservatives and chemicals that can be found in so many convenience foods at the grocery store.
Now I don’t buy into everything on this website; there are some things I object mildly to. But it’s a good starting point for making more things from scratch, and for saving as much money as possible when it comes to my grocery bill.
And saving money is NEVER a bad thing!