Thursday, April 30, 2009

STAYCATION pt. 1: The Orchard House

I thought it would be fun to post a series on this blog called "staycations," which is like a vacation, but without traveling too far away. For my purposes, I'm using the term staycation to represent short trips we take around Idaho, either for the day or the weekend. It's become a popular promotional tool for the tourist industry in these difficult economic times, trying to get people to explore leisure in their own backyard, so to speak. Staycations are always something my family has enjoyed - finding the quirky, unusual, and cheap adventures locally. This has become more imperative to us given our new financial situation. I really needed a change of scenery last week, so did some research. We had a great day trip staycation over the weekend, all within about an hour of our home, and I'll be posting about it in three parts this week.

We loaded up the Jeep Saturday morning around 11am and headed towards Nampa, where we got off on Hwy 55. It was a beautiful, sunny but chilly day, and we enjoyed driving through beautiful orchards and wine country. Soon after we passed Chicken Dinner Road (which Lucy thought was HILARIOUS), we ended up on Sunnyslope Road, in what is technically still Caldwell, Idaho, to have lunch at The Orchard House.

My dad had sent me an email about The Orchard House's cooking classes, and we'd heard they had recently been filmed for an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on The Food Network. Known best for their handmade finger steaks and onion rings, we were excited about having lunch there. Not only did they both live up to their reputation (the rings were gargantuan and yummy), but they were also inexpensive. The fingers and rings dinner was only $8.25. I had the BLT, which was also delicious, and was only $6.50.
The kids menu, however, was a highlight for us. They offered several kid friendly options, all which came with a fancy drink. Kids can choose from Jurassic Juice or the Teddy Bear Pool Party, which Lucy can't stop talking about. It consists of strawberry and vanilla soda, complete with gummi bears "swimming" around and basking on the lid. Overall, the location was lovely (we have to go back to sit outside on their bucolic patio once the weather warms up), the service friendly and quick, and the food excellent. If you're looking for an nice, locally-owned place to have lunch or dinner that's a bit off the beaten track, I recommend taking a drive to The Orchard House.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

STYLE: Nature Babycare diapers

I love these diapers. Seriously. When Lucy was born five years ago, we only had the usual suspects to pick from (Huggies, Luvs, etc.) as far as disposables. I felt bad about all the waste, but as a new mom in grad school trying to raise a baby, work as a curator, and write my thesis late at night, I had no desire to attempt the not yet vogue again cloth diapers. When Alice was born a year ago, I wasn't so self-centered and really wanted to do the cloth option, but the full time daycare situation didn't allow for it. Luckily, there were several earth-friendly options for disposable diapers to pick from.

My research indicated, however, that only Nature Babycare, created by a super smart Swedish mother, was both organic and biodegradable. They are hard to find here in Idaho, but some Target stores carry them (although, in my experience, none in the Boise area) and you can order them from Target online. I order my diapers and wipes in bulk from They are only around $44 for a case of 4 packages and when you spend $49 you get free shipping and they arrive in 3 days at your doorstep (Target's price is about the same and they, too, offer free shipping when you spend over $50). That's only a couple of dollars more than the better known disposable brands that are neither green nor cute.

We have also been pleased with their durability and feel. They are comfortable, keep Alice dry, and hold lots-o-urine. Plus, who doesn't like that darling leaf design on a tiny tush? A few tips: they do run a bit small and since there are no synthetic materials in the diapers, the rolling up the dirty business and tossing thing takes a bit of practice. If you're looking around for disposable diaper options, I highly recommend them. Give them a try.

Friday, April 24, 2009

FOODIE: Bulk Breakfast Burritos

My husband and I are self-proclaimed "foodies on a budget." In our past lives as childless lovers in great food cities like Portland, Oregon, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, we explored every diner and dive and nook and cranny of suburban strip malls in search of good eats (The Food Network references intentional). Our eating out habits lessened when we had kids, as we began to cook at home more, which became even more imperative when our income dramatically decreased a few weeks back. We still explore new joints on occasion, and I'll be blogging about them here (check back to see my review of Boise's new Idaho Fry Co. coming soon). Also, I'm not the world's best chef, but I do enjoy the challenge of creating somewhat healthy, affordable food for my family, so I'll be blogging about that and sharing recipes here, too.

As I was doing research for this blog, I came across some other sites of laid off bloggers that were inspirational, creative, and therapeutic. One site I stumbled across is The Simple Dollar, written by Trent, who found himself in "financial Armageddon" and thus decided to start his blog, offering sound financial advice for the rest of us. My favorite find, however, was his recipe for bulk breakfast burritos made on the cheap. My husband, who has been known to stop at a McDonald's or Maverick for a breakfast burrito from time to time, was all over me trying out this healthier, cheaper option.

Click here for the complete recipe:

I've actually made them twice now, the first time with the black beans like the recipe indicates and the second time (photo above) with shredded ham instead of the beans. We both agree the bean option is better and probably healthier for you. Also, we added a bit of shredded cheddar cheese and a few shakes of Tapatio for spiciness. I halved the recipe, since the recipe actually makes 32 burritos (a bit much for my small family), so while I should've been able to make around 16 burritos, I only wound up with 10. I think I may be putting too much egg mixture into the shell, but, damn, it's worth it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Over the past few weeks, my whole world has been turned upside down. I was laid off from my dream job turned nightmare, resulting in a what could've been a major career setback and a loss of almost 1/2 of our income. In this short amount of time, my persona has morphed from a chain smoking cigarettes in my pajamas all day lush into a stay at home mom with a fresh, albeit sometimes cynical, perspective. I've got a lot to share about life, Idaho style, so I decided to start a blog. Stay tuned.