Words To Live By:

"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you finish the work."

Monday, August 5, 2013

Civic Holiday

IThe oldest monkey asks "Mommy what is today's holiday all about?"  Hmmm... I'm not really sure.  It's a holiday just for a break."  My less-than-knowledgable answer works for him and we declare it a lazy day!

We searched for close-to-home and inexpensive activities, but nothing really struck a chord.  We lazed in our pj's until early afternoon and then headed into town.

I absolutely love "downtown" Port Perry.  The shops are quaint, the people are friendly, and it's easy to find Kawartha Dairy!  The kids don't mind walking around as long as our loop finishes at Palmer Park.  They take advantage of the playground, we check out the lake, and when the weather cooperates, they can romp in the splashpad.

Today, as we reached our wandering limit, we opted to eat out in celebration of Kev's birthday.  1 vote pizza, 1 vote Thai food, 1 vote Mexican and one indifferent - mom's vote won today because we managed to convince the pizza vote to switch.

Now we're patiently awaiting our meals with a margarita, Dos Equis and two Sprites for the kids.  I love that my guys are adventurous enough to try something new... even if it's a little spicy for my dutch boy's bland tastes.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Farm Fresh Produce: Community Supproted Agriculture

Last week, I impulsively decided that a CSA Farm Share program was a great idea for our family.  I say "impulsively" because I stumbled upon the concept through one of the local farms while looking up U-pick berry info.  I then posted a question in regards to CSA programs on Facebook, and one of my friends replied that her parent's farm (also local) was just starting up a program.  It's a $400 investment with a weekly full-share - enough veggies for a family of four - over a harvest season of 20 weeks.  At $20/week for fresh colourful veggies and fruit, I thought it would be worth it and just sub for what we need at the local farmer's market and grocery store... and in minutes decided we should give it a go. Thus our jump in feet first adventure in CSA Farm Shares.  We're buying our produce from F&M Farm in Columbus (N. Oshawa) and Kevin picked up our first "basket" today.


Is it not a beautiful bounty of goodness?!?  We've got beets, zucchini, radish, spinach, swiss chard, arugula, lettuce, peas, strawberries, and herbs.  Unfortunately, we're a carrot/onion/celery/cucumber family (and I exaggerate when I insinuate that they're the only greens we eat...)  Regardless, I'm now having to come up with some fresh ideas on how to serve this "exotic" goodness.

My experience with beets is a long ago memory of childhood in the negative.  And our experience with swiss chard & arugula has been contained to baby mixed greens served with vinaigrette.  How about radishes?  I've only had them as a salad topping before.  Garlic scapes?  Never heard of them... (apparently they're the curly little herbs that I can use just like garlic.  Who knew?)

So for new ideas, I turn to Google.  Google, my friend, you are a wonderful provider of inspiration.   Here are some links to recipes & ideas on how I might use my farm fresh produce in not-just-a-salad ways:

From Parade.com:  10 Fresh Ways to Use Arugula
From CanadianLiving.ca:  8 Swiss Chard Recipes and
12 Ravishing Radish Recipes

And yes, this one from Laylita.com is a salad...
but it's a colourful mango, avocado & arugula salad with spicy orange vinaigrette!

From President's Choice:  Two Cheese Spring Pizza,
Open-Faced Chicken, Arugula & Walnut Sandwiches,
or Cheese Tortellini with Pancetta & Arugula
From OhSheGlows.com:  Citrus Beet Salad with Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing

All great ideas (and still some salads, but I could top them with some chicken, fresh bread on the side... yum!)  And there's always the stand by - just wash, dry, tear, and bag it for a variety of mixed greens to top as desired this week.

How do you use beets, arugula, radishes, or swiss chard?  Any tips on sneaking them by my picky eaters?

Another Side Project

Because I don't have enough to do...

I've decided to write a secondary blog.  On books.  Just books.  All things books.  It will probably actually be updated a million times more often than this one.

Check it out:  http://novelteasereview.blogspot.ca/p/welcome.html

I promise I'll add an update to this blog this week.  Maybe... after we sign the boys up for the summer reading program at the library, after I get 3 orders completed, after I clean the house, after I hit the Peterborough Zoo with my mother-in-law, and after all that regular stuff that fills up a week.

P.S.  Anyone here eat beets?  What's the best way to serve them?  Let me know!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Reality

Eavesdropping on my boys this morning...

(After another petty argument)

Justin:  Well, you're not real!

Kaleb:  If I'm not real, then no one would tell Mommy that you fell off the deck.  You'd still be lying there and couldn't get up. You'd just be lying there crying.  No one would know where you are.

(It's funny and mean all at the same time...not to mention it happened more than a year ago....boys! )

Friday, April 12, 2013

Orange Almond Strips

Just a quick post.  Busy weekend ahead!

Today started way too early with a kid having nightmares, snowplough lights flashing on the highway, and all the fun electrical sounds related to the power flashing on and off multiple times through the night.  Kevin had fun manually emptying our close-to-overflowing sump hole beneath the stairs - it doesn't work so well when the power goes out and the power tends to go out when it's stormy.  We got hit with a (pretty) ice storm that wasn't nearly as bad as they claimed it would be!  The boys got a snow day (in April?) out of it and among the regular Friday house cleaning blitz and endless laundry, we tackled the dungeon (aka the basement.)   Do you know how annoying it is to do laundry when the power keeps flickering?  We cleaned and tidied and even found a long electric slot car race track thingy - that took waaaay too long to put together - but resulted in lots of giggling.   

We ran off to church to set up for a gardening workshop for our women's group tomorrow.  Had to hit Timmies for a treat... and then figured I should bake some cookies for previously mentioned workshop and cross my fingers hoping the power stayed on.   I decided to try a new recipe and my only complaint is that the yield was not what they indicated it would be - I doubled the recipe and ended up with about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.   

These Orange Almond Strips (with a 4 star rating from the Robin Hood baking website) were pretty easy and they're pretty yummy, and apparently they freeze well.  I think they tasted okay even without the glaze (I'm not a glaze person.) and I couldn't find my almonds.  If I had almonds to top them, I think I would leave them without the glaze, but without the almonds and the glaze they just looked too boring.


Ingredients:

Cookie:1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) sugar
1 (1) egg
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) orange rind, grated
1/2 tsp (2 mL) almond extract
1 3/4 cups (425 mL)  All Purpose Flour
milk
1/2 cup (125 mL) almonds, coarsely chopped


Icing:
1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp (1 mL) almond extract
2 tbsp (30 mL) orange juice


Directions:

1. BEAT butter, sugar and egg on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add baking powder, rind, extract and half the flour. Mix well. Beat in remaining flour. Work dough with hands to form a smooth dough. Divide dough into 4. Shape each portion on lightly floured board into a 9" (23 cm) long roll. Place 2 rolls 4" (10 cm)apart on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten with hands to 2" (5 cm) wide. Brush top of rolls lightly with milk. Sprinkle with almonds, pressing in lightly.


2. BAKE at 325ºF (160ºC) for 15-20 minutes or until edges are light brown. While warm, cut strips crosswise on a diagonal in 1" (2.5 cm) wide strips. Cool.

3. COMBINE icing ingredients using enough juice to make a drizzling consistency. Drizzle icing over cooled cookies.


These will be a go-to in my bring-with recipe collection.  Great for a cookie exchange or just an afternoon of baking.  They'd be perfect with a cup of tea.  They have a subtle citrus flavour and a melt-in-your-mouth texture.   Super yum!      

Friday, April 5, 2013

Winner, winner...

Chicken dinner.

When Kevin & I went to Atlantic City for our anniversary a few years ago (hello cheap ocean front time share!), you couldn't walk through any of the hotels, restaurants, or lounges without hearing that cry from the casinos.  I can always hear the dealers' exclamations in my head, their sing-song chant, everytime I think about chicken.  I know it's strange, but that's just a free little peek into the wonder known as my mind as I present yet another recipe related post.

 
A few weeks ago WalMart had whole chicken 2 packs on sale.  I had no real use for them in my meal plan at the time but the price was right so I tossed them in the freezer.

I will often use the crock pot to skow cook boneless, skinless chicken into a fall apart mess of yumminess - just toss it in frozen with some herbs, spices, and water, and have juicy shredded chicken to toss into soups, salads, wraps, and more without any fuss.

I am hoping that the process will work similarly with one of these frozen babies.  I'll toss it in tonight and pull the meat off in the morning.  I'll whip up a batch of Mexican Turkey Soup (from my last post - subbing my poultry - I never did buy that turkey breast!)  If there is still left over chicken, I'll throw it into a chicken alfredo dish or serve it with a peanut sauce and coconut rice on Sunday.  Easy weekend cooking at it's best!  (I attempt a cooking strike on weekends but it just doesn't fly anymore what with budgeting and all.  And apparently my kids get hungry if they don't get fed regularly... who knew?)

And lastly, I have beautiful plans for that carcass! It's gonna be stripped down and tossed back into the slow cooker in a bath of seasoned simmering water for a (hopefully) successful attempt at tasty, healthy chicken broth using this Recipe: Overnight Chicken Stock in the Crock Pot - 100 Days of Real Food.

Sometimes I'm a great little Holly Homemaker.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Avoiding Turkey Deja Vu

Every holiday seems to be be an excuse to feast.   With the various family celebrations, a bird is likely to turn up at least once... for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.  So here I would like to set the record straight and state unequivocally... birds get boring, and eating the same meal as leftovers is just uninspired!  Don't get me wrong, I've had some fabulous turkey... my brother-in-law-in-law (sister-in-law's husband) brought one amazing bird to a family celebration last year and it had a delicious pimento gravy.  So good!  I throw turkey into our meal rotation regularly but all-in-all, a big carved turkey can be just kind of blah - but the left-overs, ah, the left-overs - that's where things get fun!

Thinking of all the yummy things you can whip up, I'm a little disappointed I didn't raid my mom's fridge before we left last night.   There's the usual but comforting hot turkey sandwich.  We've baked up some tasty turkey enchiladas.  We've used the left-over turkey in nachos, quesadillas, stir-frys, stew, and turkey pot pie.  This might be a given, but pretty much anywhere you'd use some chicken, you can substitute your turkey (and depending on how big your bird was, you could substitute for days!)

One of my favourite post-feast turkey fixes is a turkey soup.  Here is a recipe for Mexican Turkey Soup found in the Winter 2012 issue of Glow Magazine.  I haven't tried it... but it sounds delicious, and obviously can be tweaked to suit your tastes - I'd add more veggies and opt for a lower-sodium broth.

Mexican Turkey Soup
Glow |  Winter 2012
Makes approx. (8) 1-cup servings
Nutrients/serving:  216 calories, 9g fat (1g saturated fat), 441mg sodium (yikes!),
24g carbohydrates (5g firbre), 14g protein

Ingredients:
Simply Food Tortilla Multigrain Chips with Flax Seeds (to garnish)
4 cups (1 l) Cambell's Chicken Broth
2 tbsp (50 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stock, chopped
3 1/4 cups (796 ml can) diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp (1 ml) dried cumin
1/4 tsp (1 ml) dried coriander
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) chili powder
1 1/2 cups frozen peaches & cream corn
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded turkey
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped cilantro
juice from 1 lime
1 avocado, pitted, skin removed, and chopped

Hat oil in a large pan and saute garlic, onion, carrot, and celery until they start to soften, about 3-4 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes, spices, and chicken broth, while stirring.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Add corn and turkey.  Continue to simmer for 4 minutes.  Divide among bowls and top with cilantro, lime juice, and avocado.  Serve with tortilla chips (about 5 per serving) on the side.

I can just imagine the aroma and the flavour - I might have to grab some turkey breast just to add this to our meal plan this week!  So that's my take on avoiding turkey deja vu and making the most of your big bird.  How do you fight leftover boredom?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Midnight Ramblings

I am sitting in a VERY uncomfortable chair bedside in the ER with Justin.  The croup monster struck again... We've been treated and x-rayed and now we're patiently waiting under observation to make sure everything is good.  The doctors have warned it will be a very long night.  These chairs should have more cushion - it's not like anyone using them would want to plant themselves here long term.

I've been browsing Pinterest, surfing old bookmarks, and seriously wondering why I left my Kobo at home. (I was lucky to make it out of the house in real clothes.)

This fun link (ok probably not fun... but it's late/early and my entertainment threshold is very low....)  anyhow it's about making smart choices with ice caps.  http://www.livestrong.com/article/355579-tim-horton-ice-cap-nutrition-information/

Ice caps?  Healthy?  Probably not... but she breaks it down so you know exactly what you're getting and what it means.  I'm switching to chocolate milk base... with the odd cream based splurge.

Hope everyone else gets to snuggle in for a goodnight's rest.  I'm off to find some toothpicks to prop my eyes open.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Chicken!

Chicken is by far the largest percentage of meat we consume.  It doesn't seem to matter how I cook it, it's a meal the boys enjoy.  Happy dinner = happy mom!   Unfortunately, I get bored of chicken when it's the same old, same old.

Some days, I'll throw a little bit of broth and some (4) boneless skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot, frozen or thawed, high or low, cook until I think it's done (3-6 hours depending on the other variants.)  I then have precooked meat for other meals.

On weekends by the time dinner time rolls around, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking.  So yesterday I did some crockpot breasts - we threw two into a creamy cheesy pasta and tonight I subbed the other two in this BHG Mango Chicken Salad with Coconut Recipe.

I used a whole can of coconut milk.  I was missing a mango.  I added a bit of honey to sweeten.  I served it on tortillas (wraps) instead of lettuce.  The sauce was a little runny...

...but overall, it was a tremendous hit!  They even asked for seconds.  I think it would be delish on a coconut or jasmine rice.  Gotta love a new and oh-so-easy keeper!

(Image source: BHG)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Snow day

We're a "north of 7" school.  Snow days when the rest of the board has bus service.  Lazy days of PJs, video games, movies, and an enforced "Go outside!" - just to keep mommy sane.  At the moment, it looks like someone cut open a down pillow and is shaking it overhead.  Huge snowflakes - at least twoonie sized - are falling very, very quickly.  It's peaceful and intriguing.  My camera doesn't capture the beauty. It's days like today that I'm thrilled with our decision to live in the country... at least until I have to try leave the driveway.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Only I...

Would buy a pair of jeans online, to find they didn't fit, and forget to return them.  (If any of you have ever heard my tale of the lost favourite mitten story, this will not surprise you!)

In August, I ordered a cute pair of skinnies from Bootlegger.  On clearance.  With an extra discount. And no shipping. Sweet!  

Alas, when they arrived, my thighs and waist did not agree with them.  Sadly, I tucked them in a bag to return in store next time I happened to head to the mall. 

At some point I placed the bag in the car... so I wouldn't forget to return the jeans.  But the bag decided to hide out in the passenger seat storage compartment... which apparently, O rarely open.

Today, I was running into the grocery store with my mim and asked if she needed bags.  (I keep a couple extra tucked into above-mentioned compartment for the times I forget my stash.) 

Well!  Imagine my surprise when I find a bag with the skinnies (that I don't even remember buying!) They've been under my butt for months!   Aaaaaand, the even better part?  Since I've lost some weight they actually fit (minus the long legs vs. short me - no biggie!)

So now I'm extra happy.  And I'm up a boot friendly pair of jeans.  And I didn't spend any (extra) money!  Gotta love surprises...  even if they're more of a case of absentminded Lindsey-ness

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lucky, Lucky

This week, I've had some crappy days.  Not over-the-top horrible, nothing life threatening or catastrophic.  Just a run of little things to drive me batty or leave me frustrated.  And even though it's been a productive week because of the amount of work I've accomplished, it's been a non-productive week because I've been setting things aside to finish when I'm not ready to just tear it all apart!  So half-accomplished projects, but many on the go...

Earlier in the week, I entered a contest on Facebook.  I have NEVER, EVER won on FB, but figure if I want people to support my small business page, I should do the same.  And in the world of social media, activity is activity is activity, no?

Well.... I WON!!!!  Sarita Baby picked me (randomly) as the winner of their Sock Monkey clutch.  Which is absolutely perfect because I have two little monkeys who will think it's adorable (although they're not so little any more!)

I don't think I'll carry it around on it's own, but it will make a cute little pouch to toss in my bag when I'm on the go.  I'm thinking an activity pouch for the boys.  Some pencils, notepads, small toys, etc. - you know, a boredom bag.  I'm so excited!

And.... this morning, as I begrudgingly stumbled through my chilly house in the dark, mumbling under my breath about silly early start schools, I picked up my phone and absent-mindedly checked my emails.  I skimmed and saw:  "Congrats - you are a First Reads winner!"  as the subject line of a nice little email from Goodreads - super start to my day. 

Again, I've entered a ton of times for First Reads (ARC or for-review copies) on this site, but this is the first time I've won.  I'll be adding a copy of And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry to my bookshelves soon. The title might not be my very first choice of books to win, but it could be a good story and a FREE book is the best book!   If it's a bust, I'll just pass it along. 

In my head all day I've been singing (in my best Franz Ferdinand voice, of course!)

Lucky, lucky, you're so lucky;Lucky, lucky, you're so lucky:Lucky, lucky, you're so lucky:
....Yeahhh!!

I can't wait for the day my mailbox yields it's special prizes.  More than makes up for the crappy moments.  Maybe I should buy a lotto ticket!





Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Integrity

This verse caught my eye, or perhaps my heart.  It was my verse of the day today from the handy Bible Android app I use (www.YouVersion.com).  (Side note:  my not-so-handy Android Blogger app keeps crashing so I've rewritten this 5 times!)

Proverbs 28:6 NKJV
Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

In a society awash in mediocrity, ready to sugar-coat scandal, slingers of spin, where a little white lie doesn't matter unless your caught, in a society devoted to success at any cost, where status is based on wealth and appearance rather than accomplishments or character, this statement kinda makes you go, "Huh..."

Some days it's hard to remember that your actions speak louder than words.  Integrity & character go hand-in-hand along with honesty, truthfulness, principles, and being incorruptible (this sounds like a great group of superheroes... can you tell I have boys?)

I like the blurb from Wikipedia:  Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one's actions.... The word "integrity" stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete).[2] In this context, integrity is the inner sense of "wholeness" deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character."

Ralph Waldo Emerson was attributed with saying it best: "What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say."  It doesn't matter what you say or how much you have... if you're lacking integrity, you don't have anything!  A reputation soiled is hard to repair and you can lose it all if your thought to be lacking basic prinicples or honesty.  

Here's a quote from Harper Lee in To Kill A Mockingbird:  ...before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.”   It doesn't matter what's popular, it doesn't matter how the rest of society lives, when you ponder upon your own integrity, is your conscience clean?  Do your actions and beliefs align?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Etsy Ecstasy

I love Etsy.  I could waste soooo much time just browsing and dreaming and bookmarking.  Never mind the time I could invest in curating treasuries, looking for specific products, or making my own Etsy store.   It's fabulousness at it's best!  You can't imagine the shriek - yes, I shrieked - when Kevin said, "You know they have an Android app for that site you're always on?"  Eeeeek!

I know friends, acquaintances, friends of acquaintances, and random strangers I've bumped into at craft fairs who operate as Etsy vendors.  (...aaand when I can find the time to finish the craft-room overhaul, Wisdom & Whimsy will be venturing onto Etsy as well!)  Here is my round-up of ecstatically exciting local favourites - Etsy style - from those friends, and friends of friends, etc.  

Sarita Baby.   I was first introduced to Sarita Baby at one of the local consignment shops when Kaleb (or maybe Justin) was first born.  I fell in love with their designer fabric minky bibs. They wash up well and look super cute!  Check out the pretty pink Guitar Peasant Dress (I bought the matching bib for my niece at Christmas), the Modern Moustache Baby bib for any little men in your life, and the Black & White Chevron Zipped Clutch for you.  Adorbs!

Dixie Crochet.  These are my cousin's creations.  I love the ones I own (boot cuffs, headbands) and I want to custom order a super-slouchy hat.  Check out these boot cuffs (just like mine!),  pretty crocheted baby blanket, or these tech-friendly fingerless texting gloves.

Designs by Vicky VK.  Vicky is another distant relative.  Her shop features handmade bags, jewellery, and redesigned clothing.  I've bought some jewellery from her before and love them!  Check out the stylish and cozy Nordic Fleece Infinity Scarf, the urban chic Black Twisted Onyx Bracelet, or her sparkly blue Bubble Tank Tunic.

Felicia Colenbrander Designs.  Felicia is a distant cousin, too!  We're a large & creative family, apparently.  I ordered some crocheted critter hats for my boys (sock monkey & a puppy) and they both still love them.  I think they're just way too cute.   She's branched from the crochet to include sewn items perfect for baby.   I'm loving the White Crochet Beanie Hat with Interchangeable Flowers,  the flannel Riley Blake Alphabet Soup Gift Set (so cute!), and the soft & minky Blue & Green Zoology Cuddle Blanket.  

Crazy Baby Accessories.  I met the owner through a local mom group.  Her handmade dolls, plushies, and accessories are AMAZING!  Definitely worth the investment as a keepsake baby toy or if you want to avoid commercial "crap".  This boy-friendly Gumdrop Kid comes with clothes (including underwear), this Baby Monkey is perfect for my littlest monkey, and she has a fun destash/scrap pack section... oh, if only I could sew.

I'll take one of each, please!  I'm sure there are others that I know of personally, but my brain is no longer functioning today.  Off to do laundry, then cuddle up with some tea and my Kobo (I'm reading Simple Wishes by Lisa Dale - I love Beatrice so far!).  As always, feel free to share your Etsy faves & current reads. Have a happy weekend!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brainstorming: Holidays 2013

The holidays are all wrapped up... and I'm on a mission!  I have to admit I was horrible at sticking to my budget for Christmas 2012... I didn't use lists, I didn't track my receipts, and I'm paying for it (well Kevin is, much to his chagrin) now.   I resolve (yes, that's right - a resolution from one who procrastinates and never, ever keeps a resolution.  Maybe I'm just not so resolute in my resolving as I should be.)  But, yes, I resolve to stick to a plan... think beyond commercial... and stay in a budget for 2013 gift-giving.

So where does a girl begin?  I begin with plenty of time!  No last minute hmm-hawing a week before family gatherings.  Thus a brainstorm one night in January.

We buy gifts for the nephews and nieces.  On my side of the fam, I like to include a book in every gift because everyone should love books as much as Auntie Lindsey.  Everyone.  Unfortunately, I'm realising as the kid's are getting older, they don't want books - they want toys, or money, or gift cards.  Still, we also tuck a little something into the stocking and a book is just perfect for tucking.  

Beyond that, when they're small enough, I also try to create something personalized or homemade.  Again, the older they get, the less this thrills them.... so we'll really have to exercise our brains and if we can't do homemade, maybe we can still think outside the box.  This year (technically last year), I created a footprint canvas for my littlest newborn niece.  It was a knock-off of this canvas her sister already had - customized to suit her purpley? purplish? nursery colour scheme.  I designed it using digital papers and my own imagination in Adobe Illustrator and had it printed through the family business.  I'll post a picture when my sister-in-law snaps one for me.

For my second youngest niece, I created a chevron & dahlia Pinspired Etsy knockoff... which I feel kind of bad about because the lady on Etsy asks that her designs not be recreated, but I was already half done when I read that.  Whoops!

Other than that, my homemade gifts were minimal - some cards, some gift card envelopes, some k-cup sleeves, a barn board established sign for my parents.  I stole the barn board from my dad... ha!

We don't do gifts for the siblings, but we do contribute to ginormous stockings if we desire.  I ordered hand-stamped jewellery for the girls t- a WagJag/Groupon deal, but still purchased through a small local business, Rustic Metal Creations (Angus).  The boys got some barbecue sauces and the like.  Nothing exciting.

Sooo... this year (holidays 2013), I would really, really like to tweak my stocking stuffing routine and come up with some DIY ideas.  I'm giving myself plenty of time and plenty of ideas to mull over, test, perfect, and tweak.  Doesn't hurt to come up with some Wisdom & Whimsy craft show ideas either!

Here is the beginning of my whirlwind plan to create - obviously with some edits as we go along!


As I brainstorm, I realise that femme-friendly gifts are much easier to find than man and kid friendly ideas. So we (me, myself, & I) will continue our search... and leave lots of time to get things done!   As always, feel free to share any and all ideas or sure-fire hits you might have.  We love to grab ideas where we can :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Menu Monday: 2013

The craziness of the holidays are over.  Our family vacation is complete.  We've battled the flu (and various other ailments).  Last week my kids even made it through a whole week of school (a miracle, it seems this winter.)  With the craziness of life, we've been reaching for convenience - shopping without a list and thinking what's easy?  Our budget (and mealplan) have gone way off track.

Now that things seem to be settling into routine again, I took the time to write a grocery list and plan our meals for the next 10 or so days.  I always feel so much better when I have a full fridge, full cupboard and know we won't be eating pizza!  My latest grocery shop won't get me through completely - I'll have to run out for a top-up at some point - but the bulk of it is done and there is no pesky wondering about "what's for dinner?"

Here is our menu (in no particular order) to bring us through until next pay period:


  • Spicy Cashew Chicken with Cucumber Salad and jasmine rice
  • Skinny Enchiladas, salad on the side
  • Fish fillets (gross!  This is a buy Mommy some peace meal.  The boy's love fish - in any form - and frozen fillets are easy, if not the healthiest option.) I'll serve the fish with mango melon salad, and home fries or homemade hashbrowns (because the only way they'll eat their potatoes without complaining is if we pretend they're not potatoes!)
  • Lasagna Cupcakes, caesar on the side
  • Tomato Tortellini soup.  I've not tried this before, and the males in my family are anti-soup.  I'm hoping if I throw pasta in, I can trick them and everyone will be satisfied.
  • Crockpot ribs, brocolli slaw, and whatever side I feel like adding that particular day.  I'll probably make cornbread muffins.
  • Roasted turkey breasts with sundried tomato gravy, rice pilaf with sugar snap peas, salad on the side.
  • Salami Spinach Roll Ups.   I don't know what to call these - they're an adaptation of a spinach bread recipe I was given from one of my mom's friends.  I'm too lazy to make the bread myself most of the time, so I just use a package of pizza dough - the unbaked kind in the deli department.  I'll post the recipe one day - it's delish!  Pretty much just salami, cheese, frozen spinach, assorted spices layered on the dough, rolled up like a jelly roll, and baked with a buttery sesame top.  Soooo goood!  Of course, some veggies and dip or a salad on the side.
  • Corn & Chicken Chowder
  • Bratwurst, Uncle Ben's 7 Grains Medley, salad or mixed veggies on the side.
I've lost 15 lbs. since the fall... and I want to keep it off.  So we're trying to drink more water, eat healthier snacks... and reach for less-processed, less-convenience foods without actually dieting.  I'm not giving up on all the yummy things I love, but trying to make wiser choices while enjoying them.  I don't believe in a lot of low-fat or diet products (with the exception of my not-very-good-for-you diet pepsi addiction!)  I figure the "wholer" the food, the better for you.  I still enjoy my butter, my yogurt, my chocolate, my iced caps.  I think it's just everything in moderation - smaller portions, fresher foods, regular exercise, staying hydrated, reduced salt, etc.  We're going through a seedless orange phase right now as our go-to snack!

All that said... I want to start eliminating some of the condensed and cream-of soups from our pantry.  We don't use them often, but it's just a change I'd like to make.  Does anyone have a good tomato soup recipe they'd like to share?  I'm also trying to add new recipes to our rotation, instead of the same-old same-old.  I figure soups and salads are a great place to start!  Speaking of salads - they might just be my favourite veggie side - quick, easy and I can change them up regularly.  My kid's don't care for them - they don't like the leafy stuff  so they tend to get raw fruit & veggies as sides.   I've also started eliminating store-bought dressings (although I still love my Renee's caesar and a renee's sesame one I use on brocolli slaw).  Otherwise, I mix my own using whatever I have on hand (usually yogurt based) to suit whatever I'm adding to my (most-often) spinach-based salads.  

Here's one more recipe I'd like to try this week - maybe for breakfast on Saturday:  


Roasted Banana Chai Baked Oatmeal

It sounds tasty, filling, kid-friendly - and I'm a sucker for warm-my-belly meals.  We'll tweak it using ingredients on hand, but overall, I think it sounds delicious!