Meal Plan: March 2021

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
-Charles Dickens

March has arrived and I’m so here for it! This easy meal plan for the month will simplify your Spring! Follow this plan exactly as it, or make it your own–let your tummy be your guide!

I tailor my plans to fit my family of five, so remember to adjust for the size of your family. Also, take note that we do not eat these meals in any particular order, we just eat what sounds good when it sounds good. I also leave one or two days free for birthdays, meals out, or “fend for yourself” nights. We usually eat leftovers, if there are any, for lunch the next day.

1: Crockpot Zuppa Toscana Soup & Salad
2: Crockpot Firehouse Chili (halved recipe) & Cornbread
3: Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken & Baked Potatoes and Asparagus
4: Sheet Pan Hoisin Chicken & Rice
5: Sheet Pan Oven Baked Gnocchi with Sausage and Vegetables
6: Parmesan Crusted Steak & Baked Potatoes and Asparagus
7: Campbell’s Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

8: Easiest Crockpot Fajitas & Refried Beans and Rice
9: Brocolli, Rice, and Cheese Casserole & Frozen Chicken Tenders
10: Grilled Hot Dogs and Jalapeno Sausages & Chips and Apples
11: Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake & Salad
12: Lasagna Roll-Ups & Garlic Bread and Salad
13: Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans
14: Best Portuguese Soup & Jalapeno Bread

15: Waffles, Fried Eggs, and Bacon
16: Pizza Quesadillas & Salad and Grapes
17: Apple Walnut Salads with Goat Cheese (kids at Grandma’s!)
18: Crockpot BBQ Chicken & Salad and Corn
19: Sesame Chicken and Vegetables & Ramen Noodles
20: Sheet Pan Philly Cheesesteak & Fries and Brussel Sprouts
21: Spaghetti and Meatballs & Salad and Garlic Bread

22: Baked Ziti & Garlic Bread and Salad
23: Cajun Sausage and Peppers & Rice and Corn
24: Ground Beef Casserole & Green Beans
25: Loaded Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Alfredo Sauce
26: Fresh Fish Fillets & Buttered Broccoli and Sweet Potatoes
27: Broccoli Cheese Soup & Jalapeno Bread
28: Italian Chicken, Green Beans, and Potatoes

Did anything sound good to you? Do you enjoy making an entire month’s meal plan?

I always feel so accomplished after I plan for the month. Now if only I could get the rest of my life together!

Swing back by next month to see April’s meal plan and let me know which of these meals you ended up making!

Earthbreeze: Why It’s A Hard No

Plastic pollution has always felt to me like a growing issue that could be solved with small, easy lifestyle changes. I was thrilled when I discovered Earthbreeze, a laundry detergent sheet. No plastic, biodegradable packaging, and they claim it cleans as well as the big-name detergents on the market. Sign me up, I thought, and ordered a 60 load supply for $12. What a deal. Or so I thought.

I won’t leave you in suspense. Spoiler: I did not like these detergent sheets or the company. You can probably amass that from the title up there.

My first issue with the company came before I even received the sheets in the mail. I placed my order directly on their website and waited. And waited. And waited. I never got confirmation that my order had shipped. Since we were still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, I was trying to be patient. I simply contacted the company and said, “Hi, I ordered your detergent sheets and am wondering if it is currently taking over a week to prepare orders? The only email I’ve gotten says it’s “being prepared” so I’m just wondering. Thanks!” My reply? Nothing. Nada. Total radio silence.

Moving on to when I actually receive the product, over two weeks later. I ordered the Fresh Scent and let me just say that I am not sensitive to smells at all, but this was horribly over-scented. I felt like I was walking through a department store perfume department during a sale where all of the employees get a 99% commission. It was strong.

I convinced myself most of the scent would air out once I opened the package and tried them out. It is important to note that I have a husband who works and plays hard, a toddler who is currently being potty-trained, and a baby in diapers so I need my detergent to deliver. This just didn’t.

Sure, it dissolved easily in my HE washing machine, and, no, the clothes didn’t come out smelling as bad as the detergent sheets originally smelled, but nothing was quite clean. I read the FAQ and it states, “1 sheet for 1 full load. For small loads you may cut the sheet in half.” which is exactly what I was doing; one sheet for one full load. I even tried using one-and-a-half sheets. No luck. Our clothes started to smell a little funky and I was noticing more and more stains.

I was simply not impressed. I was even less happy when I realized that I had only received 30 sheets. Remember now, I ordered a pack that was titled “60 loads” but because their website states that “for small loads you may cut the sheet in half” this is what they consider 60 loads. That’s awfully misleading if you ask me.

The final straw came when I contacted the company…again…and told them that I didn’t feel like my clothes were getting clean. They did reply immediately! They replied and gave me a lesson on how to do my laundry. To say I was upset is an understatement. I let the person know that yes, I do know that the detergent should dissolve before adding the clothes, and yes, I am aware that certain fabrics may need to be washed at different temperatures. And then? Nothing again. No reply. Dead air.

It wasn’t until two days later that I got another email, simply asking, “Did you get our email?” to which I replied that I was angry and that I wanted a refund. Their website’s refund policy is “Our return policy is simple. If you don’t love Earth Breeze, we will refund every penny. For 30 days after you purchase, if you have any issues you can simply email us for a FULL refund or replacement.”

So you got your money back Dani, why are you still hating on them? Well, because I didn’t get my money back, at least not a “FULL refund or replacement…every penny” refund. And it was anything but simple.

Most companies with a refund policy like this will simply refund your money. Earthbreeze is stupid different. They ask you to take a survey. This survey asks why you’re switching, who you’re switching to, if you might come back, etc. Then on one day a week, they will refund you through PayPal. I jumped through their hoops for a refund on a Wednesday but they said they send all their refunds out on Tuesdays, so I had to wait a week. But a full refund? No. $10. I paid $12 plus tax and received $10 back on their “FULL refund” promise.

So really, I wouldn’t recommend Earthbreeze to anyone. I don’t like their product and I don’t like that the company doesn’t stand behind their promises. I’m, once again, on the hunt for an eco-friendly laundry detergent—but this time, one that doesn’t suck.

Knitting: Charity Guidelines

Knitting is my favorite hobby, a great way to keep my hands busy and pass the time, plus it gives me an incredible sense of accomplishment when I finish a project. I knit everything from washcloths to sweaters to queen-sized blankets. I also own and love using a circular knitting machine, which I use almost solely to make hats and scarves for charity.

Knitting for charity can come with some questions. Why knit for charity? Who do I give my knitted items to? What do I make? As someone who has donated thousands of knitted items over the years, I’m here to walk you through the process.

Why should I knit for charity?
I think this is a personal question for everyone who donates their makes. For some, it’s because they find a cause they’re passionate about, whether that’s helping those experiencing homelessness, sending warmth to people in developing countries, or giving extra love to babies in the NICU.

For others who love to knit, but don’t have people in their own lives to give the items to, donating may be a great way to fulfill a hobby without becoming overwhelmed with items. In my experience, I love knitting shawls but I don’t know anyone who might love to wear one, so I make them and donate them to nursing homes. The elderly people there always seem so excited to receive a hand-knit shawl, and when I return to donate again, I see that they are still being used by the residents.

Who should I donate to?
You can donate wherever you’d like, depending on who you’d like to help. Want to help babies? Call your local hospital and ask if they are willing to accept hats, blankets, mittens, and other items. Interested in getting warm items to people experiencing homelessness? Either ask shelters in your area if they can use donations or simply hang items around town in places where you know they will be taken by those who need them.

Here are some great places to donate to that I’ve personally worked with:
Knitted Knockers: Knitted prosthetic breasts to those who need them
Wool for Warmth: Wool items to people experiencing homelessness in the Nederlands
Project Linus: Blankets to children who have experienced trauma

What should I make?

Again, this depends on who you’re planning on donating to. I always try to make a variety of items in a variety of sizes, colors, and styles. My favorite colors are gray, brown, and green, but I make a conscious effort to knit items in reds, blues, and other colors I don’t necessarily grab for first. For those experiencing homelessness particularly, I try to vary my sizing and styles of hats and scarves. Just because I don’t love something doesn’t mean someone else will feel the same way. This is not to say that you should force yourself to knit things you don’t want to. It just means if you finish an item and you’re thinking, wow, this isn’t great, remember that it just might be someone else’s favorite thing ever!

When it comes to yarn material, there are no fast and hard rules. Some people might say only to knit items for those experiencing homelessness in wool because it’s the warmest. Others might say to only knit them in acrylic for ease of washing in a shelter setting. The only real guideline I follow is to knit baby items in a soft, washable yarn such as acrylic or cotton. What new parent really wants to hand wash a baby hat?

Whatever you decide to make, and whoever you decide to give it to, just know that I am proud of you. You’re helping to make someone smile by donating something made with love, and that is amazing.

The 100 Item Rule: A Clean Home

A clean home is a happy home, but not many parents want to spend all day following their kids around, cleaning up the messes they leave in their wakes.

You can shine your sink, polish your kitchen counters, and mop your floor, but if your kids are anything like mine, by the time you finish that, the living room has been turned into a fort, complete with a Lego moat.

If you’re as tired of the mess as I was of the mess–and as embarrassed when unexpected company popped in–then pay attention. This cleaning rule changed my life and helped me get the clutter under control.

At least five times a day, I pick up 100 items. Now stop laughing and listen. I know that 100 items may seem like a lot, but think of every single item as one induvial thing.

That sink full of dirty dishes? Count each fork as one item. The paper towel you left on the counter and need to toss in the trash? That’s one item. The Legos on the living room floor? Let’s be real, there’s probably about sixty there.

I do this constantly throughout the day. It’s actually pretty fun, trying to see how fast I can get to 100. When I first heard of it, I thought it sounded crazy, but honestly, now I usually get past 100 before I realize it

This afternoon is a great example of how much you can get done in a short time: I got my kids set up with some paint and was going to sit down to knit for a few while I supervised from the couch. Instead, I grabbed the laundry basket and folded one load of laundry. That’s 42 items. Then I went through our mail from the week. Already at 59. Next I loaded the dishwasher. 77. I finished up by picking up two twelve-piece puzzles that my daughter had played with that morning. All together, I picked up 101 items and it took me about ten minutes.

That made sitting down to knit so much more relaxing. I wasn’t thinking about laundry or worrying that someone might mix up the puzzles. Sure, the next time I get up, there will be a paint-covered table to wipe down and art supplies to pick up, but it’s more manageable.

Give it a try and see if it helps you! And let me know if you have any cleaning hacks that work in your life.