Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bellevue, WA Park Review : Wilburton Hill Park

I really just want to mention our favorite feature here because it is pretty unique.

The children's play area has a zip line swing. It is good for a wide variety of ages as you can do tricks as you get older. Obviously, use your judgement having your kids play on it, especially the littler ones. My kids love it. Check it out for a unique park experience.

Here is the park website, from the City of Bellevue.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Redmond, WA Park Reviews : Grasslawn Park

Grasslawn is one of those really big and really popular parks! It is very easy to find and has lots of different activities to keep you busy.

There are two different, very distinct play areas. The smaller one, right by 148th Ave, contains some water play activities. The much larger one, over by Old Redmond Road, has a really big, really fun climbing toy. (Well it is only fun if you don't have a child at just the wrong phase - good enough at climbing to get to the top, but not able or confident enough to get down! I've had to climb up many times!) For bigger kids this is really great. There are also other things around the really high climb for younger kids, plus swings and a sand box.

There are two parking lots, one near each play area. There are also two bathrooms - one near the small one plus another about halfway between the two.

Other perks of this big park are tennis courts, basketball courts, big open grass fields, and paved trails for practicing bikes and scooters.

Here's the park website, from the City of Redmond.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Bellevue, WA Park Reviews : Robinswood Park

This is a big park!

There are two side-by-side playgrounds - they are both really nice. The play area for little ones is actually quite nice and has several interesting and unusual features. The bigger one also has some really fun features and a really nice teeter-totter. There are also paved pathways near the play areas for those who want to ride bikes or scooters.

A couple of other interesting options of things to do while there:
  • play a game in the HUGE field
  • watch others play sports on the big and well used fields
  • VERY SHORT walk down to the pond and see the ducks
2430 148th Avenue SE

This is really easy to get to, being just North of I-90 on 148th!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Redmond, WA Park Reviews : Juel Community Park

We headed out to check out the park on one of our recent hot days!

Not much there... There is a Frisbee golf course and there were several groups playing games there even though it was a weekday afternoon. I considered playing a round with my little guys but there was so much high grass around that I wasn't sure we would have much luck. At first I thought the course was not very well maintained but there was a mowed area from each tee to the "hole." So now I am thinking the grass is a "hazard," which might be great for adults but looked like it would be super tricky for little guys or beginners.

The highlight for us was the community garden. We took a walk around it (looking only, no touching) and enjoyed identifying all the neat vegetables people were growing there at various levels of success.

By the way, there is a porta-potty right by the parking lot. Here's the link to the park website.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Bellevue, WA Park Reviews : Downtown Park

This park is huge! Huge grassy areas and a nice walking path, with a pretty pool with ducks.

At the south end there is a nice play structure with a variety of levels of activities. It is very sunny there! There is a nice bathroom building right by the play area including a family restroom.

There are several parking lots. The one on the west side of the park I would use if I were walking around. On the southwest corner, by the play structure, there is another one. If that one is full, like it was when I was there yesterday, there is another one, slightly further east that would be a shorter walk than the other.

This is a very popular park!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Redmond, WA Park Reviews : Westside Park and Spiritbrook Park

These are two small neighborhood parks that I really like. There is talk of "upgrading" them in the near future but I hope they don't change them too much.

Here are some things I like about these parks -
  • never crowded
  • huge grassy area for ball sports or any sort of running around
  • street parking right beside the park
  • swings and simple climbing structure with slides plus basketball goals
  • Spiritbrook has monkey bars
  • Westside Park has a wooded trail you can take to Marymoor Park

Of course, both are small parks without bathrooms.

Spiritbrook has no real shade where Westside can be shady at times.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Redmond, WA Park Reviews : Cascade View Park

This is a fun sunny park with a nice big play structure and a smaller play structure for littler kids. It's a bonus that there is also a huge grassy area for all kinds of playing.

Parking is on the street (never had a problem finding a spot) and there is no bathroom.

This is a good park for little ones to practice their trikes or scooters, either on the basketball court or on the paved path around the play structure.

Here's the link to the City of Redmond site for this park.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bellevue, WA Park Reviews : Kelsey Creek

This is a really nice park, because it really has some of everything.

There are big grassy areas for playing ball and running around.
There is a nice playground area.
There are trails through the woods for family friendly hiking and exploring.
There is an actual farm with animals to watch.

A few words about the play structure. This one is for the little guys mostly - so bring your toddlers and come on! The only thing that would make this a perfect place would be a fence around the play area to keep the littlest ones contained.

That said, there are some rope webs for the big kids to climb on as well. And my boys are pretty big and they still had a good time with a little imagination. Plus the bigger kids in your group could always play games in the grass nearby.

We were there in the afternoon and I want to note that the playground was in full sun, which was fabulous since we have been lacking in the sun department lately. There are a few trees around but I think this playground is mostly sunny all day.

It also has a bathroom right by the play structure and lots of parking. If the lot is full, you can park on the road all along the edge of the park on 130th Pl SE.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Redmond, WA Park Reviews : Idylwood Park

This is a fabulous park in Redmond!

The big caveat is that you have to walk a little ways from the parking lot. If you have littles, you may want to bring a stroller or a wagon for the path down to the lake and play structure.

This park has a really nice beach on Lake Sammamish. In the summer there is a lifeguard and everyone enjoys swimming in the lake. My kids love playing in the sand all year round.

The play structure is large and has multiple parts for different ages of kids. There is a very large grassy area for playing. There are lots of picnic tables and of course there are bathrooms.

Here is the link to the Redmond Parks site for this park.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Issaquah, WA Park Reviews: Lake Sammamish State Park

This is a neat park with a lot of beach area on the lake. It was too cold for swimming but they had two pretty large swimming areas roped off that I am sure are fun in the summertime. The sand area was not real big but there was some sandy beach for digging and playing,

There are two play structures that we saw in the park, and several trails that are good for exploring. The main thing about this park is the large grassy areas and huge number of picnic tables and grills. This is definitely the spot for your next barbecue or picnic. Plenty of room for your group, no matter the size.

There are, of course, plenty of bathrooms and a very large parking lot. There also were lot of sunny spots for those sunny spring or fall days where you need the sun to be warm!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Redmond, WA Park Reviews : Willows Creek Neighborhood Park

We tried out a new park today - Willows Creek Neighborhood Park!! This park is a hidden treasure. We live very nearby but never realized the park was there. It is a small park with one basketball goal, two picnic tables and a play structure. There is also a good amount of grass to run around in.

The play structure was really fun with lots and lots of neat ways to climb on and off. It looked small at first but they really fit a lot of activities into it. My four-year old reports that the BIG BLUE SLIDE was his favorite feature of the play structure.

There are two benches by the play structure for parents to rest on but be sure to choose the one not beside the trash can. It really smelled when we were there. In our short visit, we saw two different people walking their dogs and dropping their little baggies in the trash can so I think I know why.

There is a small parking area, with one handicapped space and two other parking spots. It is a small neighborhood park so no bathrooms are available to plan accordingly. I also like to note whether or not a park is shady or sunny but on such an overcast day as today, I was not able to collect that data. I am thinking it might be shady in the morning and sunny in the afternoon, but I'll have to go back and check it out.

Here's the link on the City of Redmond website to this park.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Green Smoothies Continued

I used the last of my spinach today....

2 cups raw spinach
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup frozen grapes
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup water

The texture on this one was a bit off. Not sure why. All the smoothies have been fine, but nothing spectacular. It is funny - you can't taste the "green" or see the "green" but I am pretty sure you can smell the "green." Maybe my nose is really senstitive but it seems that way to me. Which is fine I guess - who says the point is to completely hide the spinach anyway?

Friday, February 26, 2010

More Green Smoothie Experiments!

Today's smoothie was actually green! No blueberries to mask the color!

2 cups raw spinach
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup frozen grapes
1 cup frozen orange juice
1 cup water

It was really sweet and very good. The kids loved it. Maybe the best yet!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Green Smoothie Experiments

Today I started with this:

2 cups raw spinach and lettuce mix
1 cup peaches
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup orange juice

And it tasted very "green." So I added more blueberries and some grapes. Better but still tasted a bit weird. Or maybe smelled a bit weird - like lettuce. It was ok, but not great.

Not sure where to go from here. We don't like bananas in smoothies. Maybe I'll go back to including yogurt. And I think I will stick to spinach for the green part!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Green Smoothie Experiments - Take Three

So here is what I made this morning:

2 cups raw spinach
1 cup frozen peaches
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup unsweetened peach juice

It was not bad but I feel like I am missing something to make these smoothies really good. And on this one, I felt like there was the subtle taste of spinach. Perhaps I packed my measuring cup a bit too full. Or maybe the orange really helps with that...

Hmm! I'll have to think on what to try next time.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Green Smoothie Experiments - Take Two

I made a few changes and gave it another shot!

So here is what I made this morning:

2 cups raw spinach
1 orange, peeled
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 cup water

I increased the blueberries because with all the water it was a bit bland. It was actually still a bit bland and watery. Still needs some perfecting....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Experimenting with Green Smoothies

I have tried this a few times before but have not been vary happy with the results. I think I need to be a bit more methodical about it.

So here is what I made this morning:

2 cups raw spinach
1 orange, peeled
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup vanilla yogurt

It was not bad but the vanilla yogurt was not a good choice. It overpowered the rest and made it awfully sweet. I'm going to make some changes and try again, hopefully tomorrow

Monday, February 15, 2010

Eat from the Pantry Challenge - Follow Up

Just wanted to follow-up on my eating from the pantry challenge.

I am still sorting through and getting rid of boxes and boxes of stuff I don't need anymore. I am really not sure why I saved some of this for so long!

Also, on the grocery budget, looks like I will be under budget again this month. No point it doing the challenge if you go over the next month. I am still using up a lot of random things, expecially produce from the summer and I still have most the meat I bought in Jan. (Told you we don't eat much meat!)

What a good month this is turning out to be!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Eat from the Pantry Challenge - Final Post

Today is the last day of January! It has been a great month of using up a lot of food and using my creativity to make up meals that involved needing to buy very little. I am excited that it was so successful and also excited that it is over. I still have a bunch of things I want to use up this month but also want to make some new recipes. This month has been all really simple and basic foods and a lot of repetition. I am ready for some change!

Here was our menu for the last few days:

Jan 29
b- cereal
L- leftovers
D- grits, quiche, green beans (canned)

Jan 30
b - cereal
l- black eyed peas
d - leftovers for kids, date night for adults

Jan 31
b- baked oatmeal
l- leftovers
d- barbeque chicken and mashed root veg

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Eat from the Pantry Challenge: Update 7

One last shopping trip - just a few items to get us through the end of the month.

So my food total for the month is:
Shopping Trip #1 $4.04
CSA Subscription $39
Shopping Trip #2 $42.18
Shopping Trip #3 $46.23
CSA Subscription $39
Shopping Trip #4 $48.40
Local Meats $29.61
Shopping Trip #5 $9.83
TOTAL $258.29

Not too shabby! I did use up a lot of random items this month. I don't expect to spend any extra money next month either, as I did not deplete all my stockpiles. I just used up some things that just needed to be used up, so I am really pleased.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Eat from the Pantry Challenge : Menu Week #4

Here is what we ate for the fourth week of the Eat from the Pantry Challenge. It looks like the challenge might be ending on a lot of blogs, but I will have one more update as I am running it all the way through Jan 31st!

Jan 22
lunch-at a friends house
dinner- kids oatmeal, adults date night

Jan 23
b-pancakes and sausage
l-baked ziti and salad
d- leftovers

Jan 24
b-baked oatmeal
l- leftover ziti
d- bean burgers, parsnip fries, broccoli

Jan 25

Jan 26
b-toast, eggs, sausage
l- leftovers
d-yukon gold potato gratin, roasted mushrooms, beets

Jan 27
b-crockpot oatmeal
l- leftovers
d- OUT

Jan 28
l- macaroni and cheese
d- quesadillas, peas

Monday, January 25, 2010

Eat from the Pantry Challenge: Update 6

With one week left, I thought I better take a look back at my goals from the start of the month and see how I am doing. When I went over my grocery budget, I sort of lost steam but I am ready to recommit to the goals and finish strong!

My goals:
1. Use as much of my stockpiles as possible - especially from the freezer
I am so excited about the items I have used up but I have lots more to go! I need to buckle down and plan meals for this last week that use only foods I already have.
2. Keep grocery budget under $200. This includes approx $80 for produce from our CSA.
I went a bit over this as I already said but I am happy to still be below my normal budget.
3. Only go grocery shopping 3-4 times this month.
I have been to the store 4 times already and I expect one more - hopefully only milk and some produce.
4. Bring nothing into the house (besides food) without getting rid of something(s) taking up TWICE as much space.
I forgot to track this but I don't think I have bought much more this month.
5. Keep count of how many boxes of stuff I donate and GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!
I donated three MORE BIG bags today! That makes my total 6 large bags/boxes. I know I can get rid of more if I make the time to sort through more areas.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Eat from the Pantry Challenge: Update 5

I went to the store again! I have at this point passed my goal amount for groceries for this month.

Here is where I am for the grocery budget for the month:

So for food so far I have spent:
Shopping Trip #1 $4.04
CSA Subscription $39
Shopping Trip #2 $42.18
Shopping Trip #3 $46.23
CSA Subscription $39
Shopping Trip #4 $48.40
Local Meats $29.61
TOTAL $248.46

I am still really happy with what I have accomplished this month. I am still a good bit below my normal grocery budget, I have used up a bunch of older things in my pantry and freezer, we have had some really creative meals, and I still have a lot of food going into February. I am disappointed not to hit the goal to limit my shopping trips to 3-4 for the whole month. If I had done that, I would have had better results on my budget goal. The problem was that we are drinking more than one gallon of milk a week all of a sudden so I keep running out of milk, therefore getting me in the store to "pick up a few more things."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Eat from the Pantry Challenge : Menu Week #3

Here is what we ate for the third week of January - the third week of the Eat from the Pantry Challenge. I realized we are a good ways through winter and have not eaten much soup so I declared this week Soup week!

Jan 15
dinner- stirfry noodles

Jan 16
d- mac n cheese for kids, adults out on date

Jan 17
b-baked oatmeal and smoothies
l- chili and cornbread
d- winter squash soup, naan, mango

Jan 18
d-leftover asian noodles and roasted cauliflower

Jan 19
b-toast, smoothies
l- leftovers
d-tortilla soup, roasted broccoli

Jan 20
b-crockpot oatmeal
l- leftover soup
d- zucchini chowder, popovers

Jan 21
l- honey mustard chicken, leftover broccoli
d- cauliflower soup, beets, salad

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Eat From the Pantry Challenge Update Four

Went to the store again, plus got another great box of produce from our CSA.

Here is where I am for the grocery budget for the month:

So for food so far I have spent:
Shopping Trip #1 $4.04
CSA Subscription $39
Shopping Trip #2 $42.18
Shopping Trip #3 $46.23
CSA Subscription $39
TOTAL $170.45

So it is pretty clear that I am not going to meet my $200 goal for the month, seeing that it is only the 20th. Actually I know I am not, because I have not included some beef that I purchased from a ranch in Eastern Washington and will be picking up on Saturday. But I am ok with that. I realized at some point that I had almost no meat in my house when the challenge started.

I considered not purchasing meat this month but decided that it was important that we have it and I should not go without for the challenge. We only eat meat for dinner 1 night a week or so and I want to keep it that way. So in addition to the coming beef, I got some good prices on chicken and stocked up a bit. I probably have enough chicken for Jan and Feb and maybe even some of March, and probably the same for beef once my delivery comes. That is why I will not make my goal.

I am, however, thrilled with the challenge. We have eaten so many things from our freezer and I am so happy that we are utilizing all of that food, mostly produce I froze in the summer and fall. The other thing I am happy about is that we have thrown nothing out this month and have really been careful to consume every leftover and every random bit of food. It has been great!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Eat From the Pantry Challenge Update Three

It took me a few days to get to it, but I got a bag packed to donate full of stuff! Definitely at least 2 times the amount of stuff that I purchased. It feels so good to be getting rid of it all.

So for the bag/box count:
3 boxes I took last week
1 1/2 LARGE bags so far this week!

I bet I can get a bunch more when I get around to finishing cleaning out the huge master closet!

And stay tuned, although I am still sticking with my donating goals, I am considering making some changes to my grocery budget goals!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Eat from the Pantry Challenge : Menu Week #2

Here is what we ate for the second week of January - the second week of the Eat from the Pantry Challenge. We are eating tons of leftovers and lots of repetitions so we don't waste anything! So far it is going really well though and everyone seems to be enjoying the food! Even the Salsa Pasta which was just a mish-mash of things I had around.

Jan 8
lunch-mac and cheese
dinner- crockpot tortilla soup

Jan 9
b-toast or cereal
d- leftover soup

Jan 10
b-baked oatmeal and smoothies
l- chicken rice soup (thawed from freezer) and salad
d- bbq beans, acorn squash, salad and oven fries

Jan 11
d-salsa chard pasta and broccoli

Jan 12
b-toast, smoothies
l- leftovers
d-large salads with chickpeas, deviled eggs, broccoli and leftover oven fries

Jan 13
b-crockpot oatmeal
l- ham and cheese croissants (thawed from freezer) or sandwiches
d- spaghetti (thawed from freezer) salad and choc tapioca pudding (found in back of pantry)

Jan 14
l- spaghetti
d- Quesadillas with homemade tortillas, sweet potato casserole (from freezer) and roasted cauliflower

Monday, January 11, 2010

Eat From the Pantry Challenge Update Two

Went to the store again today. Here is what I bought:

Grocery ($42.18)
Chicken Breasts
Canned Tomatoes
Kix Cereal

Non-Grocery ($39.16)
2 boys shirts on clearance
backless booster seat

So for food so far I have spent:
Shopping Trip #1 $4.04
CSA Subscription $39
Shopping Trip #2 $42.18
TOTAL $85.22

As far as non-food items, I need to get back to cleaning things out. My goal for today is to get rid of enough stuff to make up for twice of what I bought!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Eat from the Pantry Challenge : Menu Week #1

Here is what we ate for the first week of January - the first week of the Eat from the Pantry Challenge. So far the only food I have bought is a gallon of milk. The rest I already had either leftover from my last shopping trip in December, my CSA subscription, or from my pantry or freezer.

Jan 1
lunch-chicken rice soup (thawed from freezer)
dinner- spaghetti (sauce thawed from freezer), cauliflower

Jan 2
b-waffles and maple syrup
l-chicken rice soup (thawed from freezer)
d- adults date night and kids leftover spaghetti

Jan 3
l- bean burgers (thawed from freezer) and sweet potatoes
d- leftovers

Jan 4
d-bean burgers (thawed from freezer) and broccoli and carrot sticks

Jan 5
b-baked oatmeal, smoothies (I have lots of frozen fruit!)
l- sandwiches
d-pizza (sauce and cheese thawed from freezer) and salad

Jan 6
l- ham and cheese croissants (thawed from freezer)
d- leftover pizza and potato wedges*

Jan 7
b-toast and smoothie (I have lots of frozen fruit!)
l- mac and cheese**
d- bbq chicken (thawed from freezer) and roasted delicata squash and salad (both from CSA)

*EDITED - forgot to make the wedges, just had pizza
**EDITED - did not have this, had some leftover odds and ends instead!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Eat From the Pantry Challenge Update One

So far, so good in the Eat From the Pantry Challenge!

I went to Target today to pick up a few things. Here is what I got:
1 gallon of milk ($4.04)
canvas bins for storage
socks and undies for 4 year old

Fortunately, I also packed a medium sized box of items to get rid of from my closet that looks about right for twice what I am bringing in. I actually have 3 boxes of items ready to donate but my husband says that I can't count the ones I packed the day before I decided on this challenge. :-( Bummer, since one of them is huge! That's ok - there is plenty more junk to get rid of around here!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Eat From the Pantry Challenge!

A little over a year ago, I participated in a 30-Day No-Spending Challenge. It was awesome. I loved it. I spent so much less money that month and used up a lot of the stockpiles of food I had. I was considering doing a similar thing for January, when I ran across this Eat From the Pantry Challenge!

So after thinking through these two types of challenges, and thinking about what my goals really are, I have decided to sign up for the challenge. My goals will reflect not just trying to decrease the food I have in my freezer and pantry but also decreasing the amount of overall stuff in my house.

My goals:
1. Use as much of my stockpiles as possible - especially from the freezer
2. Keep grocery budget under $200. This includes approx $80 for produce from our CSA.
3. Only go grocery shopping 3-4 times this month.
4. Bring nothing into the house (besides food) without getting rid of something(s) taking up TWICE as much space.
5. Keep count of how many boxes of stuff I donate and GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!

Should be fun!