Monday, October 31, 2011

Spooky Nights

Happy Hallowe'en! Are you eating "gross" food tonight? We're not...we're keeping it simple. We were going to take J trick or treating yesterday at a local Hallowe'en event, but life had other plans for us.

fairy princess

So, J and I are meeting up with Fiona tonight to do a block or so of Fiona's street. J was SOOOOOOOO excited to wear her costume today!

Usually we have macaroni and cheese for dinner on Hallowe'en, but due to the changes in plans and all the other "life" that is happening in our world right now, we're not having it tonight. But it will make an appearance soon. J has asked for it!

Monday: Tortellini Soup

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Spaghetti with Bacon Meatballs

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Salmon Cakes

Saturday: Visit with Alex's parents

Sunday: Chicken and Dumplings

Hmmm...does that look suspiciously like last week's menu or is it just me? No, the last half is the same as last week. Last week was nuts and some things got moved around and some things had more leftovers than expected and other things didn't get made and then there was life kicking us in the pants so we ordered takeout and ate leftovers forever. But it's all good.

For more menus, including some that are Hallowe'en inspired, head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Comfort Food

It's getting cold and I'm seeing a definite change in our meals - heavier, less raw, not sure the last time I saw a salad. Good thing we all seem to enjoy broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and other winter vegetables.

Monday: Black beans and grilled shrimp

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Channa masala (yup, we love it!)

Thursday: Spaghetti and Bacon Meatballs

Friday: Salmon Cakes

Saturday: Visit with Alex's parents?

Sunday: Chicken and Dumplings

Head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for more meal ideas.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kitchen Tweaks

I'm generally happy with how my kitchen is organized. I'd love to have more space, particularly a proper pantry, but as it is now, it will do. We're working on a solution for a pantry that involved our small storage closet, some shelving and the assistance of Alex's dad.


I can't really complain about my kitchen. It's small, but it works. I'd love new paint, a back splash, new counter tops, different flooring and different (or at least painted) cabinets, but those are cosmetic issues and they will eventually get changed. Eventually. One day.

There were two spots that were bugging me a bit - our miscellaneous drawer and a corner cupboard when I keep cutting boards, cookie sheets, muffins tins and other flat things.

drawer before

The drawer wasn't too bad for a catch-all - there were many, many, many sets of take-out chopsticks (I'm not entirely sure when we had Japanese or Chinese take-out last), a bunch of ketchup and soy sauce packets and a few weirdo kitchen utensils that we tossed, but that's it. With the exception if the roast lifting fork things, the turkey baster and the rolling pin (they're in another drawer), everything is in here and sorted.

drawer after

It's amazing what three small containers can do for one unruly drawer! Everything had a place before but the whisk attachments for the hand blender and the mixer kept getting crushed, the pastry cutter floated around and the eight bazillion chopsticks where just really annoying. We have beautiful, lacquered chopsticks a friend from Japan brought us and we usually use those. We ask for our takeout without chopsticks and that usually keeps the number of extra chopstick to a minimum. If we were ordering chopstick food and there were more than six people, we could just ask for chopsticks then. I've never heard of a chopstick emergency...

I also tackled the corner cupboard. I had read somewhere about using tension curtain rods to make a rack for cookies sheets and other flat kitchen things, but I had been unable to find ones that didn't need hooks to attach. I was out a few weeks ago at a discount department store (you know, the one that sells off stock from other stores...starts with a "W") and was looking for something else and I saw this. It was less than $15, so I figured it was worth a try.

pan rack

Our pans were all leaning against one another in the corner cupboard - well, flat-ish stuff, not just pans. There was a roasting pan and rack (not pictured because it was in the oven cooking a turkey) three cookie sheet, a pizza sheet, a bunch of cutting boards, and some muffin tins. T Hat glass loaf pan you can see there sort of held them up, but not really. In reality everything just slid down until the loaf pan ran into something else and nothing moved.

pans before

It drove me nuts! The kitchen in the blue house had a funny narrow cupboard with wooden dividers just for stuff like that.

This is the result. And it's so nice. Nothing falls over. There's no avalanche of flat stuff every time we take something out of here. The rest of the things in this cupboard have more space. It's great.

Side note: Does anyone know why we have holes cut in the tops of the corner cupboard (like the one you can see in this picture)? Both corner cupboard have similar cutouts. Does it have something to do with installation?

I'm slowly getting back on track with my 52 weeks of organizing list, so I'm linking to I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Fast Approaching

Just in case you need a reminder of how far (or close) Christmas really is...

christmas countdown

Usually it's a few weeks before I really start thinking about December, but for some reason this year I've started already. But 65 days seems like a long way away, so maybe I can forget about it for a while. But you know, in a few weeks, I will be checking this site regularly. (oh, and this is correct. It looks like there's an extra hour there, but that's because there is...we gain a hour when the clocks change in November)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pulled Pork (Beef)

36.38 Try 50 new recipes

Last week on our menu for Sunday we had written pulled pork. We were looking forward to this dinner all week. Except when I went to the grocery store, I couldn't find a pork roast over 1 lb. And it was late enough that the butcher had gone home, so I was left with what there was in the meat case.

I hummed and hawed and discovered there were three pork roasts that added up to close to 3.5 lbs, but they were three different cuts and together they cost, oh, $38! That's just way too much to pay for pulled pork! But beef was on sale. I got a 3.5 lb roast for $10. A huge improvement!

I decided to just cook it exactly as I would have cooked the pork and it was SO GOOD. Yum!

pulled pork beef

J loved it too - we let her pick the vegetables and as always broccoli is one of her favourites. I think next time we let her pick, we'll specify that they should be different colours (although peas and broccoli are two of my favourites too). We got a good four meals out this. I'm looking forward to trying it with actual pork too.

Is it Monday somewhere?

I didn't get this up on Monday. Or yesterday. So here it is today. Partly because I need to be able to refer to it when I'm not at home.

Monday: Leftover slow cooker pulled pork that was actually beef

Tuesday: Chicken and white bean chili (recipe to come) with homemade bread

Wednesday: Leftover chili with cornmeal muffins

Thursday: Something special for Alex - Tater Tot Casserole, Shannon-style

Friday: Dinner out for the grownups. J will either have leftovers with the babysitter or she has asked to make pizza

Saturday: Take out (probably Italian)

Sunday: Alex's choice (and he'll be cooking) - he hasn't decided yet but my guess is either fish or a hearty soup or stew...

This week is a funny food week partly because it's our anniversary - that's why we're having tater tot casserole and going out AND ordering in. I linked up to I'm an Organizing Junkie and I hope that next week I'll my life together enough to get my menu up before it's half cooked and eaten!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A pancake lover's pancake...

36.37 Try 50 new recipes

My house smells like Christmas. And I'm okay with that even though Christmas is still over two months away.

I saw these tasty looking pancakes and knew we were going to try them. I didn't realize it would be so soon...J asked for special pancakes this morning (we're a pancake family and Sunday is usually pancake day at our house)and I immediately thought of these.

whole grain gingerbread pancakes

They were so thick and fluffy and light. I realized I need to replace my ginger and nutmeg, because there just wasn't enough of those flavours (and when I smelled them before I put them in, I thought they were a bit weak), but that's my fault not the recipe's.

We'll be making these again for sure - I made two changes - I doubled the recipe because 2-3 servings doesn't usually manage to fill up the hungry people at our house (there were only 3 pancakes left and I'm sure they'll be gone before lunch) and I didn't have Greek yogurt so we used 3%.

I have made a few of Jenna's recipes and I've loved all of them...if you're looking for something new, I recommend her site for sure (she does vegetarian and vegan recipes as well as meat).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Broken Magazine...

I'm all for technology, but first the "suffering" caused by lack of Blackberry and now this. Check out the link and watch the video.

This make me sad. Yes, I am a self professed paper addict. Yes, I read real books still (we don't have an ereader or tablet of any kind). Yes, I still have two subscriptions to magazines and pick up an occasional magazine on my way through the check stand at the grocery store. The last lines of text on the video make me the saddest: "For my one year old daughter, a magazine is an iPad that does not work.It will remain so for her whole life. Steve Jobs has coded part of her OS."

Steve Jobs didn't do the coding, the parents did. J is a three year who has grown up in the same world of technology as this kid. True, we don't have an iPad or even an iPhone in our house, but you can bet J knows how they work. She's known for a good two years. But she also knows how a magazine works. She knows how books work.

Will tablets take over part of the book and magazine (and likely newspaper) markets? For sure. But I don't know that tablets will make books, magazines or newspapers obsolete. While there are still people who love to read "real" books, magazines and newspapers, there will still be "real" books. I imagine that one day soon the majority of that stuff will be available on tablets, but I'm not convinced the paper products will go away.

That said, I would have loved to have all of my university texts available on a tablet. Can you imagine how much lighter my book bag would have been!?!

PS Sorry about all grumpiness today...maybe it's a sign that I should be in bed long before midnight. Like hours before midnight. I'll try that tonight...

Suffering? Seriously?

On my way to the office this morning, there was a segment on the radio about the current lack of service for Blackberry clients (as of 8:20ish am Pacific Time, service has apparently been restored). And many of them were complaining that they were suffering because of the outage. SUFFERING.


No, really?

Suffering? I can see a three day outage as being a big pain and a huge inconvenience, but I don't think it's quite suffering. There are enough examples of people really suffering right now on this planet that calling a Blackberry communication outage suffering just trivializes them. We used to be able to function on a daily basis without Facebook, Twitter, email, Google and whatever else in our pockets. We used to be able to make plans by TALKING on the PHONE (which still worked on the Blackberries) and the meeting people at a predetermined time and location. We used these funky things called maps, printed on paper, to figure out where we need to go.

It was only the Blackberry network that went down, so those business folks who have been inconvenienced could probably still use their other technology (tablet, notebook, laptop, desktop (!), iPhone (because I know a number of people who use both), printer) and make do until the network got fixed.

Yes, three days is a long time to not have your Blackberry working, but it's not like it was three days without food or water. That would actually be suffering.

Yeah, I'm a bit cranky today.

Oh, and full disclosure, I'm a Blackberry user and I'm not sure that I was affected, but my Blackberry is primarily for my boss to find me, and since the phone still worked, my Blackberry was doing its job.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Say Cheese!

29. Have family pictures taken

We had a family picture taken at our big family reunion party this summer.

family picture

My dad took a bunch of pictures for us and I think this is my favourite. I'm not sure the last time we had a picture taken of the three of us must have been, oh, over a year ago. Maybe one day we'll get professional pictures taken, but for now, I like this one!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One year plus update on 101 in 1001

I'm now just over year into my 101 things in 1001 days, 392 days to be exact. So, how is it going? looks like I've got 28 completed (and 8 or 9 that I haven't blogged about), 28 in progress which leaves 45 that I haven't even started...

In the next few weeks you can expect to see some updates about things like Post Secret and Postcrossing, paring back our book collection, writing thank you notes, swimming lessons, and farmers' markets. I hope some of it is interesting!

I'm glad I gave myself this challenge. We'll see how it all pans out (if it were to end today, I'd have $140 in the bank, but I'd be sending a whopping $1480 to charity. Maybe I need to get cracking on some of these!

Anyone else still doing their 101 in 1001? AndreaClaire? Fifers (do you have a list yet)? Anyone else doing it too??

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dear Thanksgiving,

Every year you give me a chance to stop and think and reflect and be thankful. For the last few years I've had so much to be thankful for: my husband and my little girl, my family, my friends. We are blessed to live in a free society, have jobs that allow us to live the life we live, a home and city we love. The past few years I've had other things to be thankful for too: the recovered health of various family members, the safety of my family, my own health.

This year I am particularly thankful. It's been a long year. Many things have happened between last Thanksgiving and this one. There have been some ups, some downs, some scariness. When we said thanks this Thanksgiving, my list was long. Longer than usual.

Because it's all okay now. And for that I am thankful. Very thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving Canadian friends!

A week of turkey

I cooked a ten pound turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. That's a heck of a lot of turkey for two grown ups and a three year old...I'm going to try to not overdose on turkey leftovers this week. Our freezer is going to be happy!

Monday: Turkey Soup

Tuesday: Turkey Pot Pie

Wednesday: Channa Masala

Thursday: Pasta with sausage

Friday: Salmon and rice

Saturday: I'm out, so J and Alex (who are both excited already) are ordering pizza

Sunday: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I've linked to I'm an Organizing Junkie...who seems to have managed not to have any turkey leftovers on her menu (and yes, she's Canadian too)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Let the holiday season begin...

It's grey. And not very warm today.

But our house smells heavenly. And I've got a nice warm sweater. So it's all good.

There's a turkey in the oven. J is resting. Alex went to pick up the last minute groceries for our turkey dinner (umm....who forgot the potatoes...) And I'm gearing up to go wash the first round of dishes.

That's the only think I hate about making a turkey's time consuming and can be hard work, but the loads and loads of dishes kill me. And then there are more loads of dishes.

Whatever. Thanksgiving is the beginning of holiday season as far as I'm concerned. That means this week Alex and I ahve been slowly planning for the next few months. We have a few free days in December, but that's it. It's only October. How does that happen? Oh well. We have sort of cheated. We purposely "booked" a few days for us. Days with no plans.

It also means it's time to start Christmas shopping. Except. Well, it appears we have already started...there is a bag in my closet with gifts for three people. And there is a gift for a fourth that is decided on, but can't be purchases until closer to Christmas. If I can keep up this organization, well, the holidays should be a blast!

I have a list that's twice as tall as I am (which, I think, accounts for my relative absence from the land of blogs) and once I've checked a bunch of things of that list, I get to really start planning. Which means making more lists: lists for gifts, lists for cards, lists for projects around the house, lists for gifts to be made...

Uh, yeah, can you tell I like the holidays?!?!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Bountiful Harvest

Yesterday J and I met up with Rebecca and went to the Kitsilano Farmer's Market. I hadn't done any meal planning yet - I wanted to see what I came home with and then I was going to build my menu around that.

We stopped and god a bunch of yummy carrots, J picked out her own cucumber and then we decided to get some plums. We were just going to get a container of the purple plums, but the woman at the booth gave us a sample of the smaller, reddish plums.


So good! They were sweet and juicy and I immediately added a basket of those to our haul. I've spent the last 24 hours trying to keep J from eating more of them! The woman told me what they were called, but I've forgotten. Does anyone know?

Not long after we got home, I got a message from Kelsey who had been up in Kelowna over the weeks - she had a bunch of fruit and vegetables for me, could I please come pick them up? We returned home with two boxes of home canned stuff, apples, more carrots, more cucumbers, potatoes, onions, tomatoes and green beans. I had dumps dinner in the slow cooked before we left yesterday morning, but we did add a side of fresh green beans to our dinner. I am pretty sure the beans, tomatoes and cucumbers all come out of my parents' garden. They also send some canned pears, peaches, tomatoes with basil and peach marmalade.

I was soooooooooo glad I didn't plan anything and even more happy that I hadn't gone grocery shopping. I have to pick up a bit of protein and a few staples on the way home tonight, but we're actually pretty much set for the week with all the goodies yesterday brought. I love fall.

This week's menu (I am so happy to once again have a functioning slow cooker, can you tell?)

Monday: Quesadillas with carrot sticks and cucumbers

Tuesday: Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans

Wednesday: Beef Stew

Thursday: Leftover Stew

Friday: Calzones with homemade tomato sauce [I'm on a Martha Stewart kick this week, hey? The calzones are premade and already in the freezer]

Saturday: Turkey dinner - early because I have a whole day to make dinner

Sunday: Leftovers or soup or something light because we're going for Thanksgiving brunch with Alex's family

Happy Thanksgiving week! I've linked to Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie where I'm sure you'll find that not all the menus are Martha Stewart-heavy!