Welcome to 2015… Finally!

Okay, okay, okay. I suppose I fibbed a little. Who noticed?

My intent on getting back to blogging early January simply didn’t happen… clearly.  The craziness of the holiday, the fun of having 2 wild munchkins running around with their heads cut off, the transition back into “real life” just required a little more down time. But, I’m here! I’m finding my “new normal” for 2015 when it comes to blogging, too.

Welcome to 2015… finally! We are gearing up for a fun year in our house and are celebrating the chaos that was the holidays.

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So what was the Wise Crew up to during our time off? Here’s the down and dirty:

  • watching Finn perform (stand still) during his school Christmas program
  • celebrating Christmas with both our families
  • holiday nails (the kids flipped!)
  • falling asleep on NYE at 9:15p (pretty sure Justin made it until 10p)
  • getting some house decorating goals accomplished (the mirror and print will not stay)
  • agreeing on plans and color schemes for other rooms (timeline is still debatable)
  • hosting my neighborhood Bunco group
  • Cedar Falls trip with good friends for a UNI basketball game and trip to The OP
  • celebrating my dad’s retirement with a company party
  • flashlight dance parties
  • regular morning stand-off with Evie about wearing pants (our max time was 90 minutes)
  • working on potty trainingimage1

I know I’m probably a day late, but I’d love to hear the highlight of your last month!

My Mommy Mind

  • Christmas Week! We’ve been busy enjoying the season, gearing up for all the fun of this week. We are ready, especially the kids. I’m so excited for Christmas morning, but I don’t want the week to end!
  • My favorite time will likely be Christmas morning this year just because the kids are SO EXCITED. We stay in our PJ’s for hours, make pancakes and just snuggle and play before heading out for the rest of the day.  Let the chaos begin!
  • I will be taking an online hiatus until the New Year. We need this time as a family to rest, recharge, and relax. I’ll be back the week of January 5.
  • A high school friend unexpectedly lost her mother over the weekend. The filled-with-life grandmother to 11 — it’s just heartbreaking. Such a bittersweet reminder to how precious life is and how important to care for those around us. May this season be filled with bountiful reminders of just how lucky you are.
  • I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I look forward to lots more learning and engaging in 2015. Until then…. be healthy!

Grocery Shopping Staples: Costco

While Costco isn’t a weekly run for me, it is important for us in saving money. I visit once every 4-8 weeks, depending on our needs, and try to go during the week. If you’ve been to Costco on the weekend, you understand why I avoid it like the plague. In fact, I think I’d rather have the plague. So.many.people. I suffocate from that close proximity to strangers!

I have a list in our kitchen of our Costco staples. Each time I’m about to visit, I compare that list against what we have stocked to make sure 6 days later I’m not upset for missing a key item.

I’m not including fresh produce we buy from Costco as it can change with season and availability, but needless to say, there is a handful of fresh organic produce available at Costco including spinach, baby kale, and carrots. This summer organic berries were also available for a fantastic price. It’s always worth a look.

(In case you missed it, here are our Trader Joe’s and Hy-Vee staples.)

Here are our Costco staples:

Dubliner Cheese: Since cutting dairy, we aren’t big cheese people, but I do buy a block of KerryGold’s Dubliner when I’m at Costco. Justin and I munch on this with apples and crackers. It’s a little slice of heaven! The first time I had this cheese was at Justin and my couple’s engagement party in 2006, hosted at the (now extinct) Java G’s in West Des Moines and thrown by our good friends Travis and Tiffany. I still remember my first bite and demanded T&T tell us where they found this gold mine. Travis was so excited to tell me it was actually called KERRYGold.

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Toilet Paper: I mean, does this need explaining? I don’t buy the cheapest TP because that’s more like… tissue paper. Ya know, just yuck.

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Organic Frozen Peas: The kids prefer peas frozen. Weird? It’s a super easy side veggie for the kids that they devour with a spoon. There is a handful of other frozen organic fruits and vegetables available including mangos and berries.

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Ezekiel Bread: I saw this for the first time at my last visit. A good price if you’re a Food For Life fan! (A single loaf is normally $4.99-$5.99 at regular grocery stores.)

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KerryGold Butter: This is the only butter we will use (from grass-fed Irish cows). We’ve been trying to add this to recipes that Finn eats and so far, so good… no reaction.

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Raw Almonds: While I wish we could afford organic almonds, we just can’t.  They are SO expensive! Justin and Evie both love raw almonds. I use these to roast and Vitamix into almond butter. Homemade almond butter is 10 times better than store-bought if you haven’t tried it. (A real treat is to add some maple syrup to a small batch!) We’ve been making almond butter for about 6 months, and minus the “emergency” jar of Trader Joe’s salted creamy we usually have on hand, homemade with these almonds is now our go-to.  We also buy pistachios, cashews, and pine nuts from Costco.

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Avocado Oil: This is the first time I have bought avocado oil from Costco (or ever, for that matter), but I keep hearing how great it is and read the Costco oil was recommended from a few bloggers I respect, so I made the leap. Haven’t used it yet, but I have a few recipes that call for it.

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Organic Sugar: We’ve been buying this sugar for a few years now. I’m always worried it won’t be there when we return for another bag! Not only is this non-GMO sugar, it’s larger crystals so it’s perfect for sugar scrubs and baking. You can imagine that a 10 pound bag lasts us a LONG time!

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Real Maple Syrup: Check your store-bought syrup. Most cheaper versions do not contain any real syrup, but are simply high fructose corn syrup with artificial flavors and colors. Bottles shaped like someone’s aunt? No good. And the sugar-free versions, sheer junk. This is the good (and real) stuff! (There are lots of great real maple syrups out there, this is just the best prices I’ve found.)

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Coconut Oil: We use coconut oil for a variety of things including baking, cooking and skin care. You can never have enough!

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Chicken Stock: I use stock in place of broth for most recipes as the flavor is so much richer. This stock doesn’t have a lot of the normal funky ingredients, is gluten-free, and comes at a great price for organic stock. If you don’t have stock on hand, this is a great back-up to have on-hand, especially for the winter months when soups and more hearty recipes call for stock or broth.

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Red Pepper Soup: I usually buy one or two of these individual boxes at Trader Joe’s or Hy-Vee, but realized the price just makes sense at Costco to have through the winter. This is a great light meal for me when Justin is out of town or I’m craving something warm and cozy for a Saturday lunch. (Note: We have not fed the kids this as there is dairy on the ingredient list.)

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Chia Seeds and Quinoa: We devour chia seeds in smoothies, salads and oatmeal, so good quality bulk bags are a blessing for us. Last time we bought bulk quinoa, we did not use the entire bag before the expiration date, so it might be good to split this with a friend if you are a “sometimes”-quinoa family.

IMG_0094Whole Foods staples to come.

What are your Costco staples?