Thursday, April 28, 2011

USA - San Francisco

Postcard from lagina from LA

Description: A spectacular aerial photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who makes the better boss?

Recently, I've had a few interesting discussions with people about bosses, specifically, who makes a better boss and who is a better professional mentor and role model, a man or a woman. Wow, what a loaded question with a wide range of answers...

If you had asked me a year ago, I would have had said I would prefer to never work for a woman again.

My most recent experience working for a woman was not good. I moved back to Vancouver from London in 2002 and began working at a corporate office downtown. I started on the reception desk and before long I was assisting the accountant and then the President and the CEO, Sammy. The President was hands off. He didn't need much from me, except when Sammy insisted. The accountant was lovely and I had a few tasks to do for her, but nothing out of the ordinary or strenuous. She was predictable and the tasks were too.

But then there was Sammy. UGH. I think women like Sammy are the reason so many people have negative experiences with female bosses. Sammy was demanding. Sammy was flighty. Sammy was a narcissist. Sammy was just like Miranda in The Devil Wears Prada. Except Sammy wasn't wealthy, Sammy just *thought* she was wealthy. And Sammy didn't have the status in her industry that Miranda had in hers. She just *thought* she did. Sammy made my life hell.

I hated working at that corporate office and I wanted out. I had also decided that I didn't want to work for another woman. Everyone I talked to who worked for a man seemed so much happier with their work situation than those who worked for women, or at least they seemed happier than me, and I worked for a woman.

Men seemed to be more fair. Men seemed to be about business when it was business time and when that was over, personal relationships picked up where they left off. Women were petty. I saw this not just in Sammy, but in the other female executives as well - if there was a disagreement about a business matter, they took it personally. There were weeks when two of them wouldn't go for lunch together because of a business decision one made that the other didn't agree with. The guys, they got over it because the beer and game after work were about the beer and the game after work. The business decision? It was made for the betterment of the business and it could stay at the office.

Sammy was unpredictable. One day she'd be lovely - I spent a pleasant afternoon in Holt Renfrew with her picking out Christmas gifts for the staff one year – and the next day she'd be horrible and everyone would go out of their way to avoid her. Not so easy for desk was literally right outside her door. She would ask for one thing and when I brought it she's say, that's not what I want, why can't you read my mind. She'd ask me to remind her when it was five minutes before her next meeting and then scream at me for interrupting her. She'd tell me to go home early because I'd been there late all week only to yell at me the next morning because she needed me two hours after I'd left the night before.

I looked for a new job for a long time. I was reluctant to let go of my miserable job with Sammy because (a) I had a job, (b) I had benefits, (c) the job market sucked, (d) while she was crazy and unpredictable, she was also out of town often enough that is wasn't as bad as it sounds up there, and (e) I had some really good friends at the corporate office and they made me happy and sometimes we had crazy adventures. Then a new job pretty much landed in my lap and I hugged it and jumped at the chance for a change.

It was a big change. I no longer had Sammy to contend with; I had a male boss who was also an academic. Someone who needed to be reminded to get his haircut, not someone who had to be persuaded to get a manicure on the weekend, not during the week when we had a crucial conference call booked.

Sammy was a piece of work...and working for a man for the first time was heaven compared to that. I never wanted another female boss again.

Apparently I had totally forgotten about life before Sammy.

My first "real" jobs were at a shoe and clothing store and a fast food joint. My bosses both places were women. They were temporary jobs and pretty routine and I didn't think much about my boss. In both instances, she was just someone who trained me, scheduled me, and signed my pay cheque and pretty much left me alone otherwise. My next job was one I returned to for two summers. My supervisor was another student who was my peer and quite honestly didn't really supervise me. We were a tiny team that fortunately worked well together. My real boss was a man in a government building a few blocks away who occasionally stopped by for an extended coffee break to make sure everything was working the way it was supposed to.

None of my bosses was particularly inspiring. None of them provided much in the way of leadership or mentoring. I didn't look at any of them and aspire to do better or greater or more worthy things. They happened to be the people who would have something to say if I messed up, so I just made sure I didn't mess up.

After I graduated I went to live in London and work for WAGGGS...not only did I have a female boss, but all of my coworkers were female and we all lived TOGETHER. EEEeeep...I didn't really understand why people thought I was crazy until after I'd been there a, ever heard of hormones synchronizing themselves when women live together...yeah, interesting times!

D was my first "real" boss. Actually technically she wasn't my boss, but that's a different story. If I screwed up, well, I cared about what D thought.

D was all those things my previous bosses hadn't been. She was a true leader. She cared about Pax Lodge. She cared about the staff. She cared about our guests. She made me realize why it was important that I cared about the guests too. She inspired me to do my job better because it could make someone else's experience better.

D taught me that respect is to be given, not earned. Because she respected us, we respected her and life was much easier...Of course, if we did something to lose her respect, we would have to earn it back, but everyone started on a level playing field - everyone was given respect from the get go...and it worked. D pushed us to be the best we could be and to move outside our comfort zone.

After I left, I worked for two more women, but because I loved Pax Lodge and felt that D was a good boss, I was back at Pax Lodge within a year, this time working for her. I would have stayed longer, but my visa had other ideas.

But Sammy had wiped those memories from my mind. After changing jobs and working for my male boss who needed haircut reminders I was convinced I was never going back to a female boss again.

Then a year ago there was a major shakeup in our department and some people were let go and some were reassigned and our department was closed. I lucked out - I was reassigned. To work with a woman. Someone I'd never worked with and had met only briefly. She didn't intimidate me but I knew I wanted to have her on my side; I could tell being on the wrong side of her would be bad. I was terrified.

I had flashbacks to Sammy. I felt physically ill. It was not fun. For the first four months we were in different buildings a 12 minute walk apart. Things were going on in both our personal lives. There was upheaval. I didn't want the new building to be ready. I didn't want to move in across the hall from this woman.

I saw myself going on 45 minute lunch runs to pick up a sandwich because I had to find a place that made shrimp and avocado sandwiches and I couldn't come back until I had one in my possession. I saw myself not getting any work done and getting yelled at for it because I spent my day babysitting the boss's kids (for the record my new boss doesn't have kids). I saw my child languishing at daycare long after the day was over because I hadn't been "released" yet because there was an "emergency." I saw myself feeling sick all the time. I saw myself quitting. I didn't know what to do.

Luckily my new boss is not like Sammy. My new boss is an energetic, intelligent, inspiring woman. She's got great stories. She expects a high level of work, but she outlines her expectations very clearly. Even though she doesn't have kids, she's been excellent when it comes to picking J up early or working at home when J is sick. She encourages me to take vacations. She encourages me to take courses and buy and read books for professional development. She is constantly challenging me to push my boundaries and take on things I'm not entirely comfortable with (even though she's confident that I'll be fine). She is friendly. She is respectful and she is kind. She’s predictable - not in a boring way - I know that if she asks for x, she’s not expecting me to come up with f.

She is one of the people I've had this discussion with...her perspectives have been enlightening and many of her role models have been men, so she's tried to emulate some of their behaviour. We agree that things in the business world would likely run a little smoother if everyone was a little gentler with each other but also had teflon skin. It's not going to happen though.

I know this boss is not going to be my last boss...but I'm going to enjoy working for her as long as possible, because male or female, she's an excellent boss and she has reminded me that long ago, before Sammy, I had another amazing boss in D.

What do you think - do men make better bosses than women? Do women make better bosses than men? Or is it all about each individual's personality?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

And exhale...

I feel like I've been holding my breath ALL DAY. I didn't realize it until I let out a big breath about five minutes ago.

My baby girl is going through a growth spurt right now and seems to have some growing pains tonight. So, I ended up spending most of the the third period of the hockey game in her room rubbing her back. I did happen to come out just in time to see the tying goal.

And I was back in her room for the overtime. I decided if I couldn't hear anything, I was just going to assume that the game was still tied...

And then a horn honked. And then two or three horns honked. And a little almost asleep voice said "What's that?" And then our building erupted in cheers.

And I knew. The Canucks won. And all of a sudden my body relaxed and I started to breathe again. And J went to sleep.

And this just sums it up....I love this picture! Nashville is here on we go again...

Angst, tenterhooks, stress, and disquietude

Do you know what today is?

I'm sure it's a lot of things, but if you're a Vancouver Canucks fan, it's do or die day.

Game seven.

Round one.

I know they *CAN* win, it's just a matter of if they *WILL* win.

So, in honour of game seven, I'm going to sit at my desk and fidget and fret all day. It's a good thing I have yoga at lunch today...I'm hoping that will calm me down a bit...

Other Canucks fans out there, how are you doing today!?!?!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Leftovers + A Four Day Week = Easy Menu Planning

For the first time in a long long time, we were UNDER on our grocery budget last week...partly because we stuck to the meal plan and partly because I managed to get some good deals on some groceries. This week I'm hoping we'll be under too...we've just got a few things to buy before Friday (milk, maybe some yogurt - our budget renews itself every second Friday and this Friday is that Friday) and I've got a little bit of our budget left.

Monday: Leftover Easter dinner

Tuesday: Dinner at J's friend's house

Wednesday: Tortilla Pie (a hybrid of these two recipes with roasted chicken instead of ground beef)

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Salmon and rice

Saturday: Meatballs - probably with homemade marinara sauce and pasta, but maybe with broth and rice

Sunday: Roast Beef

Looking for menu ideas? Check out the link up at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Droopy eyes...

I was planning on writing about our weekend.

It was busy. And fun.

But now that I have the computer open, I can't keep my eyes open and the letters are actually starting to blur on the screen. So, tomorrow, when all the guests are gone, I will do a quick post about my weekend...

Four day weekends are awesome!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Week 16: Getting those drawers under control

Drawers...we don't have many, thank goodness. They're much like closets in my opinion - easy places to hide things when they need to be hidden...


Week sixteen questions:
1. Have you got a drawer that needs a little organizing? Will you tackle it this week or something else?
My entire chest of drawers needs to be tackled...and my drawer in the bathroom. The kitchen drawers aren't so bad, but they probably could use a good sorting out.

2. Was last week an organizing success for you?
Yes...I got some things done, but it would have been nice to get more done!

3. Has the habit of just doing one thing at a time helping to keep you from feeling overwhelmed?
Ummm...yeeeeeeeees...except that I forget and get ahead of myself. It doesn't happen as often, so I'm getting better, but I still try to do too many things simultaneously!

Happy Easter! I don't think I'll be doing much organizing this weekend...maybe some chores that involve tools and the help of my dad who is visiting, but no sorting and tossing and organizing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blog Organization...

So, my blog takes I'm sure you know if you have your own blog.

But I don't mind. I do it because it's something I enjoy. But I needed it to take less time. So, I've started keeping a chart and a list...


But there was another little blog related time problem.

The blogs I read. I just eliminated about 35 blogs from my Google Reader. But I expanded my blog roll. I knew I needed to do something about my Google Reader when the computer broke and I had my first computer-free weekend (oh freedom!). I had 430+ new posts when I got a chance to check it on Monday at work.

I'm not sure how many posts this will remove, but I'm hoping it keeps me from spending time reading things I don't need to read! My Google Reader now has the blogs I read every day and a few blogs belonging to friends and family that haven't been updated in a while. They're there in case they update!

I deleted blogs that I routinely skipped over or that annoyed me. Some of the ones that I skip ended up on the blog roll though. There were some blogs that I go to when I'm looking for something specific, but I don't read them everyday. There were some blogs that I enjoy browsing through when I have a few extra minutes, but I'm not going to read them every day. There were some that hadn't been updated in, oh, years. And there were some that I didn't like. I am not good with bookmarks, so if I find something that I think it interesting, I add it to my Google Reader. But I'm not very good at deleting it when I realize that I'm not really interested in that particular blog...

Oh well.

I know this wasn't on my list, but it's definitely my decluttering project of the week. I'm linking it to I'm an Organizing Junkie - she's talking about drawers this week.

Burn the candles

My mom sent me one of those inspirational PowerPoint-set-to-music things.

I don't normally open them, but then, I don't normally get them from my MOM either.

And this one was quite good.

There were lots of little reminders that I needed reminding of. (If that makes sense. And yes, I'm going to end that sentence with a preposition. There's nothing wrong with that.)

This is the one that's been dancing in my head all morning:
Burn the candles; use the nice sheets. Don't save it for a special day. Today is special.
I need to remember that. I'm a pack rat. I've mentioned that a few times I think. I'm not as bad as I used to be though - I'm even using the shower gel I got for Christmas this year.

When we were kids, we used to get small, novelty soaps (shaped like animals and flowers and even once I got a Cabbage Patch Kid!) in goody bags at birthday and other events. I stashed all of mine away in a box because if I used them, they wouldn't be special anymore. I remember finding the box when we moved when I was fifteen. The soaps were all stinky and dusty and sticky. I threw them away even though it pained me deeply. That's not an exaggeration.

So sometimes I need reminding that if we don't use something, it will actually become worthless because it will spoil or go bad or spill or get lost. So there are nice soaps in the bathrooms. We have lovely sheets on our bed. When our towels get old, we get to use the new ones (I have about 20 bath towels that we received as wedding gifts stashed in a storage box) instead of cycling the guest towels to us and giving the guests brand new towels. Because we deserve to use the nice stuff too. And really, we rarely have overnight guests, so the current guest towels ARE like new!

Tonight, I'm going to get out a lovely candle that my grandma gave me. That I'm pretty sure she had since the seventies. And after J goes to bed, I'm going to work by candlelight instead of electricity. Well, sort of. The computer still need electricity...

Thanks for the reminders, Mom! I saved the PowerPoint on my desktop so that when things get hairy at work, I have something to remind me of what life is really about!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Italy - Handmade


Postcard from micio from Italy

This card was handmade and bought at charity shop - I love all the stamps that came with it too!

Belgium - The Atomium


Postcard from kaes888 from Belgium

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You know it!

On our way home from a little field trip tonight, J and Kelsey were sitting in the back seat and J was "teaching" Kelsey I'm A Little Tea Pot so she could teach it to her class.


J: I'm a little dobobodo

Kelsey: I don't think that's how it goes.

J: ...then I YELL tip me over pour me out.

Me: Why don't you teach Kelsey the right words so she can teach it to the kids at her school?

J: I'm a little tea pot, short and stout. Here is my handle and here is my spout. When I get all steamed up, then I shout, tip me over and pull me out...


Kelsey: I'm a little...umm, J can you help me?

J: TEA POT. You know it.

And then she yelled the words a few more times. I guess we didn't really convince her that Kelsey didn't know the song...I guess two and a half year olds are smarter than we give them credit for.

The Netherlands - Fijne Paasdagen


Postcard from Angie1 from the Netherlands.

I love how other countries have postcards for special holidays...I noticed when I was in Europe that regular postcards (as opposed to tourist postcards) were available all over the place and didn't cost an arm and a leg like they do here...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Four Day Work Week!

Yay! This is a short week! I'm so glad...of course it's a busy week for us, so I tried to keep it simple! Although, I've already revised it...twice...last week we did okay, but ended up moving stuff around and doing some different things...had to get some of the food out of the fridge before it went bad!

I've linked to Org Junkie where there are all kinds of recipe and menu ideas waiting!

Monday: Leftover Casserole

Tuesday: Perogies (or out...depends on whether we're going on a field trip or not)

Wednesday: Tacos

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Dinner with my in-laws

Saturday: Birthday party for my sisters

Sunday: Easter dinner at a yet to be determined location

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Sunday

It's been a long, long, long time since we've had a weekend where we didn't have anything to do. No one to visit. No classes for J. No activities. No visitors planned. Nothing.

Yesterday J and I got up early and went to the library. After her nap we went to the park with Alex. Alex and I did some organizing and decluttering and throwing away of stuff. Today we were all woken very abruptly by a band outside our bedroom windows. Seriously...

Today was Sun Run day and our place is just past the 7km mark. There's a band that sets up on the grass median in front of our house.

We've cheered the runners on before, but this year we had Auntie Kelsey to cheer for.

kelsey wavingHi Auntie Kelsey!

j and her coffee
J brought her smoothie down to help cheer...and insisted on calling it coffee...So here she is with her coffee.

We spend an hour and a half running around and cheering and waving - J probably did 2km all on her own running up and down the sidewalk in front of our place with the neighbour's daughter.

Because it was a second beautiful day in a row, we decided to do something fun in the afternoon. After J had her nap. Umm, yeah, no nap today...So we went off to Granville Island and had a little treat...

sunday ice cream treatIce cream from Roger's Chocolates! YUM!!! Yummmmmmmmm

sunny sundayJ and her daddy having a wonderful afternoon at Granville Island...

checking out the cement mixersJ has a slight obsession with trucks and heavy machinery so she was thrilled when we went past the cement mixer parking lot...she tried to get in....tried...but we're going to go back in two weeks when they have an open house because J really, really, really, really wants to touch a cement mixer.

strawberry cement mixerThey are pretty exciting....they're all decorated - this one is a strawberry and there are stars, moons, flowers, all kinds of fun stuff.

We rounded our quiet weekend out with a hockey pizza night (GO CANUCKS GO!!!) and when J passed out (no nap+fresh air=falling asleep during story time) we watched the first movie we've seen in ages - The Social Network. Yes, we are a bit behind the times...

I wish instead of Monday tomorrow we could have another weekend.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's happened...

I'm turning into my mom!

I'm not really surprised; I actually kind of expected it, but I didn't expect it to show up the way it did...

We've started tackling the bedroom and I can't believe how many boxes and bags of stuff I've know, the oh-crap-someone's-coming-to-my-house-and-I-didn't-get-all-the-clutter-put-away boxes and bags...They drive me nuts. Because I lose things that way. And for the most part if I'd taken ten minutes to just PUT THE STUFF AWAY, I wouldn't be dealing with this now (and I wouldn't lose anything...).


But, I've been productive today. There's a full bag for the thrift store, a bag of garbage, Alex took a couple of trips to the recycling bin, we shredded almost a whole shredding bin of paper. I found all kinds of weird and random stuff...

Off to bed now...more things to sort tomorrow...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Finland - Handmade


Postcard from mam-mam from Finland.

This is a very cool handmade card with pretty paper too!

USA - Arizona - Tucson


Postcard from AnonAustin from the USA

Description: Saguaro cactus at sunset.

Week 15: Organizing Closets

This week at Organizing Junkie it's closet week...yeah, I'm so not there...yet...


Week fifteen questions:
1. Will you be tackling a closet this week? If so, don’t forget to follow the PROCESS to make it quick and simple.
NO WAY! I learned that I need to do my jobs in order and the ones that come before both our closet and J's closet aren't done yet. But I might tackle some of those so that I'm closer to cleaning out the closet!

2. Did you run into any road blocks last week?
Only that I wasn't feeling well, so I was tired, so I went to bed early, so I didn't do anything.

3. Since starting this challenge can you name one habit you’ve been able to develop that has stuck?
Remembering to do a quick tidy before bed. Even though I was going to bed really early this week, our living room and dining room still look like they did before our company arrived on Saturday...little things make a big difference!

So, after weeks of seeing people successfully cleaning out their plastics cupboards and thinking, gee, I should do the same, guess what I did last night? And I did it with J running around "helping." And it only took about fifteen minutes. So even though I went to bed at 8:30, I still got something done!

plastics cupboard before
To be honest, it's not all that bad...and that's because I haven't been feeling well this week, so the dishes haven't really been done since Monday. Which means most of the lunch stuff is on the counter waiting to be washed ('s washed now, I did it this morning before work because it was driving me NUTS).

plastics cupboard  contentsThis is what I pulled out...

plastics cupboard after
And this is the after shot. I tossed anything without a lid/bottom, nine yogurt containers (I kept five. We use them, but we also go through two or three containers of yogurt a week, so it's not like if I run out it will be a long time before I can replenish my supply), three Nalgenes full of BPA (why I still have these is beyond me...they told us to stop using them when I was pregnant with J - three years ago! and they've been in this cupboard ever since), four random lids with straws, two weird ice cub trays (they make ice cubes about 1/3 of a centimetre thick), and one random, empty Nutella jar.

There will be a follow up to this for sure because half of the containers are not in the cupboard. And my fridge is empty so there are two Tupperware fridge containers that are normally in the fridge. And I'm going to pick up a couple of bins at IKEA next week for some of the lids (I love the Rubbermaid containers that snap into their lids...they're great). We use the camping egg container for hard boiled's great because they are contained AND the fridge doesn't smell like egg sandwiches!

I hope that once I get everything put back in the cupboard I will be able to get my large pot down there too. The new stove is millimetres wider than the old one and the pot doesn't like to come out of its current home now...and I don't really want to bang up the stove every time I need the pot!

I know this is going to be a challenge to keep tidy. Mostly because a certain small person has claimed this cupboard hers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Getting my zzzzs

12. Get up every workday morning for a week without hitting the snooze button

So, after I made my list of 101 things and reorganized it so that like was (sort of) grouped with like, I sort of made some assumptions about some of my things. One of those things was this one...figured for sure it would go hand in hand with number 8 - go to bed by 10:00 every school night for a week. Yes, I still call them school nights.

But I was wrong. (And this is where you see how far behind I am in updating my list...) About three or four weeks ago my job went from snail pace to warp speed almost overnight. And as a coping mechanism I needed to get up and get out the door early. Because with a toddler I no longer have the luxury of staying late when I need to get stuff done...

So, for a whole week I got up either before my alarm or when it went off.

But I did hit the snooze button. I hit the snooze button because just in case I didn't get up right away, I needed the alarm to go off again...sleeping in would have been a disaster!

Unfortunately, now that my body and brain have adjusted to the new schedule, I am not living in panic mode, so I'm not necessarily getting up right away...darn...I thought this might be the start of a new habit.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's hockey night tonight!

I thought it was Tuesday today. Until I went for a walk at lunch time and all kinds of people were wearing Canucks jerseys. Then I remembered.

Game 1 of the playoffs!

Now I have Stompin' Tom Connor's hockey song stuck in my head. J's favourite Youtube version is here.

I'm looking forward to an evening of hockey and my confused toddler chanting "Go Rockets Go!" Last year during the playoffs, she stayed with my parents in Kelowna for a week and they have Rockets seasons tickets. So now, J yells "Go Rockets Go" at any and all hockey games.

It can get a bit awkward at Vancouver Giants know. But tonight, it will be endearing and the Canucks better win.

Deliciousness, Part Two

36.31 Try 50 new recipes

After our little dinner party, I had an entire loaf of leftover french bread that didn't graduate to garlic bread, so I decided that in the name of not wasting anything, we needed to have french toast the morning after we had our cousins over...

Except J got up first on Sunday morning and DEMANDED porridge. Who can argue with that?

But that meant I had a very stale loaf of bread on Sunday. And then I remembered that lovely, divine, scrumptiousness known as baked french toast. And since Pioneer Woman treated us so well the night before, I went straight there to see what I could find.

And I found Cinnamon Baked French Toast. And immediately started salivating.

I made it on Sunday night and got up before my alarm to dump it in the oven on Monday morning (you can see it soaking up the goodness in the second last picture here, middle shelf, right side.

Anyway, I put it in the oven, went right back to sleep, and when my alarm went off for real, our house was filled with the heavenly smell of cinnamon goodness.

baked french toast
See? Cinnamon goodness. I'd totally dress this up with some apples, cranberries and pecans, but it was divine just like that. J wasn't sure about it. She kept asking if the squishy bits were mashed potato or egg. She doesn't like crunchy stuff, so she gave me all her edge bits. She did make an exception to the crunchy rule and devoured as much of the struesel topping as she could.

I only made two small changes to this recipe - I didn't use the cream and it was fine. I also added more flour to the struesel topping because it wasn't dry enough...

So good. Will be making this again. For me and Alex. J told me when we got home on Monday afternoon that she didn't like "that porridge we had this morning" and could I please just "make the other kind of yummy porridge" from now on.


Party pooper...

So good. So easy. Make it.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Deliciousness, Part One

36.30 Try 50 new recipes

So a few weeks ago I made the Creamy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole from Pioneer Woman's website.

creamy chicken spaghetti casserole
And it was pretty good...not quite creamy enough for me (and I'm not a big creamy fan) but it was good.

So when we decided to have lots of loud and noisy and talkative and hungry Stewart cousins over for dinner, I decided I'd make it again.

I made a little more sauce and it was perfect...

And because there were some vegetarians, I made a vegetarian version. I halved the recipe and substituted artichokes for chicken and vegetable broth for chicken broth.

And they were a hit. SOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo good. And we're still eating leftovers. And that's okay. Because we love it. So good. Except if you're two. Then you just want to eat plain bug noodles or if you're the little-bit-older-little-bit-wiser cousin, then you have your plain bug noodles with a sprinkle of parmesan. Which is fine. It means more yummy casserole for us grown ups.

Week 14: Does your system need a change?


Okay, so not all my systems need a change, but some of them do.

That was Friday's question over at I'm an organizing junkie.


Week fourteen questions:

1. Have you got a system that needs some evaluation?
Yes...I have lots of systems that need evaluation...LOTS...

2. Pay attention to the areas that annoy you the most. What can you tweak to make it work? Who might you need to compromise with?
There are so many annoying was the table by the front door. It's gone to live in the living room. Then there's the shelves cobbled together in the living room. They're leaving...and I'm getting new shelves. Maybe. If the car doesn't suck our bank account dry first.

3. What was your organizing highlight from last week?
Our living room looks lovely...and it has looked lovely since Saturday. I love it!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Follow Up Fridays a few days late...

My lovely fridge!

It looked like this:

old fridge inside
and the door looked like this:

old fridge door YUCK! I hated this fridge....

So we cleaned it out and got a new one...and it has a light!

new fridge inside
Imagine that...a fridge with a light in it!

The new door looks lovely...

new fridge door
Four weeks have passed and where are we now?

Well...we have more food...the cousins came to visit on the weekend! And we still have a lovely did we do without a light for so long?

inside fridge four weeks later
See this morning's breakfast on the middle right shelf? There's a post about that coming soon...YUMMMMMMM....just wait! (and yes, I know the tupperware is backwards...)

fridge door four weeks later
And the door...with pretty much the same stuff as four weeks ago...And yes, that is a sign that says "Do Not Eat This." Let's just say it's recipe insurance...notes like that mean that the ingredients I need for recipes are still in the fridge when I go to cook.

Leftover Heaven!

Well, planning meals for the week has been pretty easy...we had a family dinner on Saturday and we're going to be eating leftovers for a very long time...okay, for a few days, but still...

Monday: Leftovers from Saturday

Tuesday: MORE leftovers from Saturday

Wednesday: Bean and lentil soup

Thursday: Daycare "Baby Beluga" potluck (anyone have any creative toddler-finger food-baby beluga type foods?

Friday: Perogies

Saturday: Roast Beef

Sunday: Leftovers

Visit I'm an organizing junkie for more menu ideas....

Germany - Ostergrüsse

Postcard from Germany from Nordbaer

Translation: Easter Greetings

J loves this card. I think she would have taken it to bed if I hadn't taken it away so that I could register it!

Russia - Moscow

Postcard from Russia from AnkaM

Description: Vestibule of the metro station Novoslobodskaya

I love this - old subway stations are so awesome (ahem, Tottenham Court Road Station and all its mosaics)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


36.29 Try 50 new recipes

Canadian Living Slow Cooker cookbook to the rescue...I had some ground beef and needed a quick and easy meal that could cook for at least eight hours. We decided to try the Picadillo (minus the olives).

ground beef
Do you see that? I asked Alex to pick up two packages of beef...I don't want to know how long it took him to find two packages that were EXACTLY the same weight...

cooking beef
Hello ugly, old, energy inefficient stove. So glad you live somewhere else now!

cooked beef
This is the only part that makes this recipe slower than I would like - browning the beef before you put it in the pot. I know why it's important, but I still prefer slow cooker recipes that have no prep...guess I'm lazy!

onions and stuff
I often get this stuff ready the night before...then I can just dump it all in the slow cooker and leave the house...see above re: LAZY!

ready to cook
There it is...ready to cook while I work.

So, I forgot to take pictures of this when it was done…silly me! I made this back before we realized the slow cooker had decided it only wanted to work on high, so it was a bit black around the top and sides, but (and I’m not sure how this happened) the middle was okay. It didn’t taste burnt or anything...

We had it with rice and in wraps. It was good and I’ll be making it again...when we have a slow cooker that cooks on low!

Friday, April 08, 2011

China - Lomography


Postcard from Prince4 from China

This is definitely one of my most favourite postcards EVER!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

USA - Washington, DC - Washington Monument

Postcard from the USA from starflake3

Description: From the top of the Washington Monument, each visitor is treated to an unequaled view of the city of Washington. Visibility can be over 40 miles on a clear day from this, the tallest structure in the city.



Postcard from midorilee from Taiwan

Tuna Casserole

36.28 Try 50 new recipes

When we were kids, we didn’t ever have tuna casserole that I remember. My mom made delicious macaroni and cheese, but I don’t ever remember having tuna casserole at home. I remember having it at my aunt and uncle’s house and I loved it. So, when I started making my own meals and when I was looking for a quick meal that’s a bit more elaborate than macaroni and cheese, I would make my own version of tuna casserole: I would just make my mom’s macaroni and cheese and add some tuna and some peas.

And that’s fine.

But it needed something. It wasn’t quite creamy enough and too cheesy.

I basically just modified the macaroni and cheese…I increased the amount of sauce by half except for the cheese, which I reduced by half. I used rotini and tons of peas. I double the amount of tuna I used. I made bread crumbs the Jamie Oliver way and included some garlic in them.


tuna casserole
DIVINE! Even Alex who told me he prefers his macaroni and cheese without tuna and vegetables liked it. This, we will be making again! Actually, I've already made it again, a couple of times. This last time I asked J to pick out the noodles she wanted to use and she got some bug noodles...little worms and beetles and butterflies...from the Eating Right line at Safeway. She loved it!

Tuna Casserole (serves 8)
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
3 cups milk
1 cup + 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

3 cups small pasta (ditali, spirals, macaroni)

2 cans tuna
1+ cup of peas

2 slices of bread (I use the end crusts. They spend ages in our freezer because no one really wants to eat them and they make perfect bread crumbs)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Boil water for pasta. Cook pasta according to directions on package.

Melt butter in a pot. Sprinkle flour over and mix, allow the roux to brown a little. Add the milk in gradually, about 1/2 cup at time, allowing to come to a gentle boil between additions, stirring constantly. The first few additions will be very thick and could almost form a ball, but it will turn into a sauce eventually. Stir until thick, then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly before adding 1 cup of cheese. Stir until it melts and is well mixed. If pot is large enough, add peas, tuna and pasta, otherwise, add sauce, peas and tuna to pasta pot. Pour into a greased pan.

Process bread, oil, and garlic in a food processor to make fine crumbs. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top of pasta mixture and top with bread crumbs.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Do not allow to boil.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Rosemary Chicken and White Bean

36.27 Try 50 new recipes

Safeway makes two soups that I love...they have a mushroom soup that isn’t too creamy (I am not a huge cream soup fan) and they have a Rosemary Chicken and White Bean Soup. YUM. It reminds me of the Campbell's Bean with Bacon soup we used to eat when I was a kid. But not milky-creamy, just nice creamy. Because it's actually broth based. Even better. I don’t like to buy either of the Safeway soups very often because of the LONG list of ingredients and the salt content...UGH!

rosemary chicken and white bean soup
I’ve been trying to recreate the chicken soup at home...I checked out the ingredient list again and I realized that I need to add some bacon, so the next time I roast or stew a chicken, I will be trying this again. I’ve used both Great Northern Beans and White Kidney Beans and I prefer the Great Northern Beans (they’re in both prepared soups!)

I think I need to write my recipe down though…the last time I made it, I almost didn’t add tomatoes and I forget to add carrots and celery. Ummm....

Lovely, lovely paper


I went to visit Paperchase. I haven't been there for a while.

Guess what! They deliver to Canada now...not just to the UK. Unfortunately it looks like there are no stands in the Borders stores in the US - it appears that Borders sold Paperchase (and they've now go bankrupt and Borders stores are closing all over).

But I can order online if I want. Not quite the same as going into the store, but I'll take it for now. It's a good thing the shipping is £20 or I'd be ordering from the site ALL THE TIME.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Spring Sleep...

What is it with spring and kids not sleeping? I think I know six other moms who have small children who are giving them grief at bedtime (or after bedtime...or both).

J was having issues with napping at daycare - she was sleeping in the cubby room because she was too disruptive to the other kids. She sang. She talked. She got up and wandered around the room.

But she REALLY wanted to sleep in the nap room. For months they would try to move her into the nap room and the experiment would fail...and then two weeks ago, well, it worked. Not only is she sleeping in the nap room, she's doing it on her own. She goes in, lies down, goes to sleep. She doesn't need a teacher to help her go to sleep or sing her songs or tell her stories. She just goes to sleep.

But now she won't sleep at home.

She offers to go to bed, but then she resists. She yells. She hides. She stalls. She cries. She stalls some more. It's the longest, most difficult process ever. And then, after she finally falls asleep, she wakes up multiple times, really upset. I think she's having bad dreams...or at least she's asleep and still dreaming. She told me the other night that she wasn't crying so she was going to stay in mommy and daddy's bed. Ummm...she was sleeping in her I agreed with her and she put her head down and went back to sleep.

And I've had enough...even though we have a bedtime routine, it still takes up to two hours to get her to bed. And I'm doing bedtime on my own because Alex is at work. And then I'm up multiple times in the night (she usually settles in just before Alex gets home so I have to get up every time). I had no idea what to I called my mom.

Apparently all three of us did the same thing at about the same age. The difference was that my mom just sent us all outside to play after dinner. But we don't have yard. So our new plan of action is to go for a walk or to the park before bed time...hopefully it will work...fingers crossed...

And on that note, I'm off to grab a little sleep before J wakes me up...

Monday, April 04, 2011's not even lunch time yet and already Monday is crazy

Okay, so it's nuts here today. Good thing I made my list last night. I didn't make mushroom soup last week because there was so much chicken soup and there was so much tuna casserole that we had it for dinner again last night.

Monday: Peanut Butter Chicken

Tuesday: Mini Pizzas (using last week's leftovers)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Maple Syrup Salmon

Friday: Omelettes

Saturday: Cousins dinner - I'm making pasta the rest will be some kind of potluck...YUM and fun!

Sunday: Roast Beef. I have two in my freezer. It's time to cook them.

No time for grocery shopping today, but dinner has been marinading in the fridge since bedtime last night.

For lots of other ideas for menus, check out Org Junkie!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

History repeats itself...sort of...

DISCLAIMER: I'm FINE. That's all. Now you can keep reading.

You think I'd learn the first time.

But I didn't.

So the second time, you think I'd learn for sure.



Apparently not.

Almost twenty years ago I was getting ready to go out to some field hockey thing. But I never made it. Because I flew down the stairs and went to the hospital instead. With my parents and my sisters. They had to repeat the very painful x-rays because they didn't work the first time. My mom bought me a Coffee Crisp...strange things that you remember. So diagnosis: destroyed knee...almost. According to the doctors, based on the way I fell, I should have torn my patella and most of the ligaments around it. I strained everything and moved, but didn't dislocate, the fibula...I'm talented.

I earned myself a soft, very hot cast and two weeks on crutches in June when we had no classes, just exam prep time. I did well on my exams that year...

Just over four years ago I decided it would be fun to repeat that exercise on the stairs in the blue house. I didn't fare as well. A few hours, one landlady, five paramedics, two ambulances (including a transfer from one to the other in the middle of Broadway in the middle of rush hour) and I was at the hospital. It took eight hours to get a diagnosis. I had a nurse who thought I was there for the morphine and a neighbour with dementia who had a very lucid moment when she told the nurse "This is a hospital. You're supposed to help people here, not hurt them more" seconds after the nurse forced me to a seated position and I screamed loud enough to wake the dead.

I had a fractured vertebrae. It hurt. A lot. I was off work for three months. It was evil. You can read more about it here.

So last night, I thought I'd try again. At Alex's parents house (which, interestingly, has the same floor plan as the house where I first fell down the stairs). With J standing on the top step. I apparently yelled very loud. Alex had flashbacks of 2006. J started crying. Grandma and Papa came very, very quickly...

My back hurts where it hit the steps partway down. My left thumb and the outside edge of my right hand are bruised and sore. I ache. All over. But I'm fine. Alex gave me Tylenol before I went to bed and I'm sure that helped - at least I got a decent sleep. J keeps asking my why I fell down and why I yelled so loud and why she cried...even though I'm moving fairly well, she's not sure I'm okay. She just told me it would be "better for me" if I stayed home from the park today...

They say things happen in threes...that's three tumbles down the stairs for me, so I've decided either I'm cursed and I should stay away from stairs permanently or I've had my three tumbles down the stairs and we're good...

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Yoga for a year

This post was originally published at Get Fit Chicks. It may refer to posts on Get Fit Chicks that no longer exist. Please email me if you run into any of those and I will break the links. More information about the reposting is available here

I’ve been doing yoga twice a week (in theory) for an entire year now. I can’t believe how much I enjoy it. When I started, I hate downward dog. Poses where I had to hang my head upside down were not something I enjoyed…at all. Now I can hang out in downward dog for ages!

My goal a year ago was to try to do yoga twice a week and to hold a plank for at least 30 seconds. Most weeks I meet my goal…as long as my kid isn’t sick. And I can hold a high plank for 60 seconds.

I can’t believe the difference yoga makes! I missed a few weeks of yoga because of my sick kid and when I went back, I immediately noticed a difference in my attitude and how I felt about everything. My patience grew. I felt more relaxed and more productive. I have finally found a video I like so that I can do yoga at home but I find when my week gets busy with a sick kid and/or catching up at work because of the sick days, I don’t manage to get it done on my own either.

I’m very glad my colleague talked me into joining yoga last year. My boss is hugely supportive of me running off to yoga twice a week – I have missed the occasional class to catch up either on some work or meetings, but most days she encourages me to go. Amazing what happens when you try something new…you might actually enjoy it!

NaBloPoMo - check!

72. Post on this blog every day for one month

Well, I did it...I forgot to publish three times, but I wrote every day on the NaBloPoMo theme...

And that was the hardest part - writing to the theme. There were days when I'd already posted once, twice, eight-six times, and I didn't want to post again...but I did!

I'm not sure I'd do it again though. Or maybe I'd do it at a time when I was having trouble writing...I have a backlog of things to post about because there was so much going on in my blog world I was getting overwhelmed...and who wants to read eighty six post from me in one day? I sure don't!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Poland - Życie ma tyle kolorów ile potrafisz w nim dostrzec

Postcard from Poland from lidialidis

Translation: Life has many colors as you can see it

Follow Up Friday - Clear desk top

I'm not sure if Sarah is still doing Follow Up Fridays (she moved her organizing stuff from The Home Organisation Project to her main blog) but I am going to still do it. It's a great idea and I'm glad she came up with it!

Four weeks ago, I cleared up my desk at work.

It looked great.

desk four weeks ago
Now it looks like this.

desk four weeks later
It's sort of not fair because before I leave on Friday, I wipe everything down, but I've been working on only touching each piece of paper once and tidying up after I finish something. I've been setting aside fifteen minutes at the end of the day to sort out my desk and my email before I head home...and it's working.

Week 13: Purge Magazine Backlogs

Yay! Something that's not too scary for me...I don't have to address my pack rat tendencies or make a decision about something (that may not be) sentimental. Magazines are pretty easy for me to keep under control!


Week thirteen questions:

1. How far back does your magazine backlog go?

A year. That's it. We only get Macleans and Real Simple.

2. Will you be able to part with some of them? What is the hardest part of doing this for you?
Macleans goes as soon as we’re done with it. I’m trying to get rid of them weekly, but often we get rid of two or three at a time. I figure if we haven’t read them before the next issue comes, we’re not interested.

As for Real Simple, I keep them for a year. So I have 12 issues hanging around. In theory when the new issue comes, I toss the old one…but I go through it first. The reason I tend to keep them for a year is that I actually do use them and after a year I just pull out anything useful. I go to their website if I need something I’ve accidentally tossed and so far I’ve found everything I was looking for. My exception is the Christmas issues – I don’t keep them all, but the one from 2008 had so many things I’ve used that I just kept it – it’s easier to have it all in one place. It’s put away with the Christmas stuff though and it only comes out at Christmas.

I do have random other magazines floating around – ones that I’ve usually picked up at the check out at the grocery store. I came across a Canadian Living from the fall the other night and spent some time pulling out a few recipes, but it’s gone now.

3. What area(s) are on your list for next week?
This week I’m trying to finish up the desk area in our bedroom…so far it’s taken much less time than I thought it would…and that’s a good thing! Embarrassing pictures to come...

4. For fun…do you do your laundry folding standing up at a table or sitting down?
I fold laundry either sitting in the living room (on the couch or the floor depending on how much there is) or standing beside the bed. I like Sarah’s squat idea though!

Oh 52 week challenge, you are so wonderful and you don't know how much you've changed our house! Thank you Laura!