A Call for Your Questions

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Heather says:

The questions answered here at Home Ec 101 come from a variety of sources:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • IRL friends
  • email to helpme@home-ec101.com
  • my weirdo imagination

I know the past couple of years have been a little different around here. I’m glad the bulk of you stuck around through it.  I thought I had it all together, but *snort* yeah, you just don’t know what you don’t know.

Anyhow, I want to toss out there a call for questions today. Feel free to just toss them in the comments or send them right to me (if you’re getting the newsletter) by hitting reply. Thank you, in advance. As always, I’ll never reveal who you are, unless you want me to. If you’re anything like me, growing up a latchkey kid and never actually taking Home Ec there’s bound to be something. There’s no judging.

Here’s a confession:

I switched hosting providers back in December and with that something about the email changed -where my app picks it up. And. . . I forgot to make that switch until about a month ago. Brilliant move, Heather, brilliant.

I think I was able to download everything that had been sitting in the queue and I think I answered everything people had sent to Helpme that was not a pitch or a link request. If I  missed your question, I am sorry.

I have a backlog of cookbooks to review including Joy of Kosher. I’ve been cooking again for a few months -some of it experimental and some of it really dang good, but the camera has been sitting neglected. It’s time to take the next step and get back to doing some of the want-tos in addition to the have-tos and should-dos.

I joked on Twitter the other day that it took a year, but now I’m eating kale (I moved to a very hipster part of town), the truth behind that is that I’m getting back to eating healthier and finally exercising. Kale just happened to be on special (and always is, maybe it’s waning as the best food ever, whatever, I’ll buy your cheap unloved produce).

Enough rambling, Heather.

Have at it, Home Eccers, what do you want to know?

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

I’m Looking for Tex-Mex Side Dish Ideas

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Heather says:

With things normalizing, I’ve decided to involve the minions in Home-Ec. The site earns a little through advertising and in order to keep the kids from being resentful of this never ending side project that does take time, I have decided let them in on the business side of things. This is what it costs to run, this is the traffic etc. They are going to start helping with setting up the photography equipment (and keeping the table clean so we can). So, we’ll see what happens.

On another note:

I am cooking again.

For real.

Many meals.

With vegetables and nutrition in mind.

I’ve got an Ask the Audience for you. I try to give the growing minions two vegetables a meal -one can be incorporated into the main dish, but the other needs to be a stand alone. Starches don’t count. Why? Because that’s simply how things roll around here.

Most of the time it’s easy, but some cuisines just make vegetable accompaniments difficult, Tex-Mex I’m looking at you. And ever since we saw The Lego Movie, my kid are completely enamored with Taco Tuesday and are insisting we do this. Often.

Most of the time I saute zucchini and yellow squash and I’ll sprinkle in a little cumin and add some fresh garlic. Yes there are tomatoes in salsa, but condiments don’t count. This week we found a pile of vegetables under the youngest minion’s chair (she’s six, can you believe that? I started this site while pregnant with her). Obviously we need alternatives.

I will do fish tacos this Tuesday and cabbage slaw is an option, but what else? (I asked on Twitter and got some ideas, but I’d love to hear your opinion).

If you’re reading this via the Home-Ec 101 newsletter, please click through so everyone can see your comment.

And please keep sending in your questions, they are always appreciated.

In Which I Ask for Your Help with a Bland Diet

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Heather says:

Bland diet.

Is that not one of the most obnoxious suggestions ever?

How about, keep your foodie kid on a bland diet for three weeks (minimum).

My poor kid cried on the way home from the pediatric gastroenterologist’s as he began thinking about all of the foods he can’t have:

No red meat, deer, lamb, or pork.

No dairy.

No spices or herbs.

No onions, no garlic.

No caffeine or chocolate.

The one thing that breaks his heart? Salsa, he talks about salsa multiple times a day. I’ve mentioned before he’s high-functioning autistic, so distracting him from this line of thought isn’t the easiest task.


Water, rice milk, or Gatorade.

Breads and cereals.

Fruits and Vegetables

Skinless poultry, fish, fish canned in water

“Most soups”*

Miscellaneous: plain popcorn, jam, jelly, 1 TBSP of nuts / nut butters a day. 1 TBSP per day total of light or whipped margarine, vegetable oil, or light mayo

*Most soups contain so many of the forbidden foods that I do not understand how they can be allowed. Who makes soup without onions? Who makes soup without garlic or bay leaves or even pepper? This doesn’t even make sense to me.

We’re a little over a week into this and I admit it. I’m at a complete and utter loss as what to do for meals.

This bland diet is going to make all of us snap. You see, I won’t let the other kids have foods that will make this one jealous, the dynamic between the siblings just becomes unbearable if they have something they can hold over another’s head.

We have almost two weeks to go and I’m already hating this.

Yes, raw vegetables are great, but steamed with lemon juice can only be sold to a 9, 7, and 5 year old so many times before they look at you like you’ve lost your mind.

So now, I’m asking you, Home Eccers. How do you feed yourself and children -in a somewhat healthy fashion- staying within these guidelines? The amount of sugars and salt that is contained in this diet by default is ridiculous. I’m having a hard time understanding how something so starchtastic can be healing. However, I am doing the best I can by my child and yes, he’s getting an insane amount of fiber (4 TBSP Metamucil) each afternoon in a rice milk shake -this is part of the therapy recommended by the GI.

So help, me out, please share your best recipes / techniques that fit this bland diet. We’ve got two weeks to go and I’d really like something delicious and healthy and within the guidelines on the dinner table tonight.

Share Your Best Back-to-School Tips / Ideas

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Heather says:

Here’s a little transparency for you.

This is the first time my children are going to school and frankly, I think I’m more nervous and excited than they are. I have once mentioned that my oldest child is on the autistic spectrum (Asperger’s) and that he needed a couple of extra years at home to mature before he could adapt to a classroom environment. We used a virtual charter school system mostly because I needed the structure. My middle child also used this program, because I couldn’t wrap my brain around schooling one at home and not the other. This year all three will be school-age and now, with my working outside of the home, as well as here at Home-Ec101.com something had to give. Thankfully, everyone seems ready for next week. My house quiet after having three marauding minions stampeding around for the last 5 years 9 years in all) is mind-blowing.

As I usually do around the time change, I’ve begun moving their bedtimes to a more respectable one 15 minutes at a time. (This seems to cut down on the whining and bickering after lights out).

So today, since I’m the n00b, I ask you:

What is your best back-to-school tip or idea?

Just for fun, I’ll randomly select and send a digital copy of Home-Ec101: Skills for Everyday Living to someone  who comments (with an actual suggestion, First and Lulz, do not count).

Finding Odd Sized Clothing on a Tight Budget: Ask the Audience

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Dear Home-Ec 101,

I have a problem. I need to clothe myself, and all the clothes I have had since high school and that were bought when I started college are starting to fall to pieces from overuse with dreary regularity. I’m down to one pair of jeans, one pair of yoga pants, and a skirt when it comes to covering my bottom half without holes. The sole is pulling away from my shoes, and I have one mediocre-fitting bra and one moderately well-fitting bra with seams that make it inadvisable to wear with the knit shirts that I have to cover my upper half.

I find it very difficult to fit even one piece of clothing into our budget, because everything I need to buy can’t be had at cheap mainstream prices. I have to buy plus-size clothing, which is something I can theoretically change, but it isn’t melting away, per se. I break out in a rash anytime I wear polyester and exert myself at all. I am also extremely busty, an H or I cup for my band size, and currently breastfeeding! I have feet that are not only WW/EE, but they are thick at the ball of my foot, causing all but a few low-cut or low-lacing shoes to fit badly. I have sandals, ankle boots, and dress shoes–one pair each, and one or the other of the first two is constantly falling apart from the season’s wear. (I would think the $60-$80 I am forced to spend to cover my feet would ensure a long-lasting shoe, but no such luck.) I’m even expensive to adorn! I can only wear hypoallergenic jewelry, and am allergic to many scents in perfumes, cleansers, and hair products.

I guess what I’m trying to ask is this: What strategy can those who are forced to buy the more expensive options use to cut costs so they don’t have to run around in clothes better sent to the rag bin? Assume that items that can be mended or glued have been repaired when possible. I do check at thrift stores, but because the sizes required are unusual, the pickings are slim.

Thank you!

Expensive Genes

Heather says:

You may find this hard to believe, but I can relate, if you’re not within the “normal” range, clothes can be very hard to find. I’m far too tall for petite clothing and rack clothing for tall women is usually sized for a larger frame. At least short people have the option of hemming.

My personal solution is to KEEP checking the thrift stores, every single time I’m nearby. Yes, it’s a pain. Yes, I hate shopping.  But occasionally I score exactly what I need and those small scores eventually add up. Just recently I scored the best fitting jeans I’ve ever had for $6.

E-bay and Garage sales also come to mind, but neither are a perfect solution.

Since I also  have a hard time with this exact problem, I thought this would be a great Ask the Audience question. I know many Home-Ec 101 readers have also faced this problem and have found ways to cope.

So, Home-Eccers, how do you find odd-sized clothing on a tight budget?