Monday, November 14, 2011

Two in a row?

We did it! We stuck to the plan last week...Can we do it again???

Monday: Leftover spaghetti with bacon meatballs

Tuesday: Salmon Cakes

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Beef Barley Soup

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Cracking Burgers

Sunday: Burritos (plus more for the freezer)

Check out Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more meal ideas.

Creamy Potato and Dill Soup

Mmm...yesterday I made soup for our lunches this week and it turned out so well. We all tasted it before dinner last night and I think if I hadn't already started dinner, we would have just had soup.

We'll be eating this all winter.

3 lbs potatoes (about 8 small), peeled and diced*
1 large carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp butter (you could substitute oil, but butter gives it more flavour)
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups water
2 Tbsp dried dill
2-3 strips of bacon, optional
salt and pepper to taste

*Medium to large dice is fine

Melt the butter in a heavy pot over low heat. Add the onion and garlic, stir occasionally until soft, do not let it brown. Add the carrots and cover. Let it sweat for 6-8 minutes. Add potatoes, cover and sweat for 3-4 more minutes. Add the broth, water and dill and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots and potatoes are very tender.

The soup was tasty without the bacon, but Alex and I both felt it was missing something. We had bacon meatballs for dinner and as I was preparing the bacon for the meatballs, I realized that, hey, bacon would be awesome in this soup. I chopped it and cooked it in a frying pan, drained it well and added the bacon to the soup. Now it's heavenly...Alex thinks it would be yummy with grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream on top too..

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Getting ready to hibernate

36.39, 36.40, 36.41, 36.42 Try 50 new recipes

I love long weekends.

This weekend turned into a hibernating weekend for us...there was lots of cooking, some furniture rearranging, some deep cleaning, a ton of laundry and way too much time spent with the computer. Oh and what felt like a never ending sink of dishes.

We're trying to get all of our CDs loaded onto the iPod and it's a huge task. We have between 500 and 600 CDs. That's a lot of CDs. I did close to 200 over the summer and over the weekend we've done another almost 300. That leaves not quite 100 left. I'm going crossed-eyed. But if I get stuck on a desert island with my iPod, I have 17 days worth of music to listen to...if the batteries last that long.

One of the things on my list for the weekend was to lift up the mats on the living room floor and clean under them (I tend to do my "spring cleaning" in November. You know. To get ready for Christmas). We're having Christmas here this year and that will mean rearranging the furniture in our living room so that the tree has a home.

living room before

Because our living room is wide open and has only two walls there are limited places to put the tree. And by limited, I mean one. The tree has to go where the couch is, so the couch needs to move...

living room after

This is what J and I have come up with...she was SO excited to help. She kept going in to tell Alex that the furniture MOVED! The rocking chair probably needs to leave, but my inner pack rat is not letting it go...just yet...

Alex and I are enjoying our cosy new living room...I think we might stay with this arrangement even after the tree is gone. For some reason it feels a whole lot bigger than it did before....

I also spent a fair amount of time in the kitchen this weekend...I've been trying to fill the freezer so that nights I have to go out after work are not crazy with meal prep...

So, we had Black Bean Chili (I love my slow cooker) and then last night I froze some and we added a corn bread topping to the rest and baked it (inspired by Oh She Glows). J told us she didn't like the chili anymore, but she liked the cake, except the crunchy parts. I used the corn meal muffin recipe from the Purity cookbook - it's the one we always used when I was a kid. It's pretty much this recipe.

chili casserole

And I finally made the spaghetti with bacon meatballs recipe from Real Simple. There was so much going on in our kitchen that I ended up heating the sauce in the small slow cooker because I didn't have an unoccupied pot big enough to hold it!

spaghetti with bacon meatballs

It was a hit...Alex and J loved it, although J loved the soup even more. I made some potato and dill soup for our lunches this week and J had a little as an appetizer, but a little turned into THREE bowls! I guess I'll be making that again.

potato soup

It was tasty. Recipe to come!

It was a good weekend...I'm glad to go back to work tomorrow hands are feeling the effects of all those dishes!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Quick Meals

We have discovered that we really need to make sure our weekday meals are quick. Leftovers and the slow cooker are both great for that and we're building a book of faster, simpler recipes in hopes that soon Alex will be able to take over some of the week night cooking so that we can have other meals too. That means I've been making some old favourites and writing down the recipe and the method. Because I cook a lot from memory and Alex is just learning to cook...It also means we won't be experimenting with new recipes very often during the week. But that doesn't mean it can't taste good!

Monday: Homemade Chicken Soup

Tuesday: Leftover Soup

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Beef with this sauce

Thursday: Leftover beef

Friday: Black Bean Chili minus the salsa only because avocados have been suspect lately (we love them normally)

Saturday: More leftovers

Sunday: Pasta - maybe spaghetti and meatballs

There are more menu ideas at OrgJunkie. Does anyone have a quick and easy recipe I could share with Alex?

Friday, November 04, 2011

The demise of Get Fit Chicks

One of the blogs I used to post on has ceased to exist. I'm still not sure what happened, but it's not there anymore. I have started to repost my posts from there over here because, well, I like some of them. It's a painstaking process as I'm attempting to update links etc, but it's taking FOREVER. So, if you see a post and the links don't work, please let me know. Or if the post references another Get Fit Chicks post that doesn't exist anymore, I'm sorry. I've tried to break all of those links.

What I should have been when I grew up

Um, does that even make sense to anyone but me? Because maybe I'm still not grown up?

I'm working on a project at work that involved a bunch of research about some stuff that happened here years ago. This is the kind of work I really like. To access some of the files for this project, I had to do some digging in the archives. I did my initial research online - you can access lists of the contents of the various fonds, but you can't actually access most of the documents (yet?). Then I contacted the archivist and she pulled the boxes I needed and then I had to go down to the archives to look through the documents.

I spent over three hours in the archives yesterday, taking notes and photographs of the things I was digging through.


The reading room down in the archives is lovely with lots of lights and it's warm and it's relatively quiet.I loved it. I didn't want to leave.

While I was flipping through all the bits and pieces (I had three boxes of files to go through), I realized that I should have become an archivist. That might satisfy my pack-rat tendencies in an appropriate environment and then I could come home and feel good about being a semi-minimalist.


Note to self: for your next life, archivist is an appropriate career path.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Progression: Pack Rat ---> Wanna be sort of minimalist

Okay, AndreaClaire is the inspiration for this post. I'd been tossing it around in my brain for a while and yesterday's post was the first part of that thought process. AndreaClaire said:
I need you to come over and teach me to toss sh!t out. Seriously. I could toss everything in my storage room right now without looking at it and I'd have no idea what I was missing! 
I was wondering how I went from needing to keep everything to feeling like I could let a whole lot of stuff go.


There were a few things that helped...Laura's week 4 post gave me a bunch of questions that I find very helpful (they also showed up in this week's post! Imagine that!).

1.  Can I afford, in terms of space, to keep this item?
2.  Could the space that this item takes up be put to better use?
3.  What am I saying NO to in order to say YES to this item?
4.  What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen if I get rid of this item?

I also thought about why I was keeping things, but I didn't really come up with anything. I have a list of questions from somewhere else (maybe FlyLady?) and one of them is something along the lines does this item make me feel guilty or unhappy. I'm better at identifying what I feel about things which has led me to feel better about getting rid of things.

Oh, and my little daydream that didn't go away for a few months about moving away to a far away land, that helps me decide...I ask myself if it's something I'd have to take with me if we moved and could only take a few things and if the answer is no, well, then it's gone.

And thinking that maybe everything in our storage unit was garbage and realizing that I don't care about much of it made me think that I might feel the same way about our other stuff. I've gotten rid of as much stuff this week as I usually do in about six's unbelievable.

Maybe in a few weeks we'll notice a significant difference in our house...

Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Out, damned stuff

I am a pack rat.

That isn't a secret I keep from anyone in real life or on this blog.

I keep stuff.

I keep too much stuff.

I know it. I'm trying to get better about getting rid of stuff, but it's a work in progress. That's why I decided to do the 52 Weeks of Organizing Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie is hosting and you'll also notice some organizing and purging items in my 101 in 1001 list.

I'm getting better at getting rid of stuff. I'm slowly teaching myself not to feel guilty about getting rid of things we never use or don't like. Because we're never going to use them. Really.

This weekend we discovered that we will be getting rid of a bunch of our stuff, whether we like it or not (it's a long, on-going story...everything is fine, nothing bad happened) and you know what, I've discovered I'm actually okay with that.

I did a quick mental survey of our house earlier and the only things I'd be sad to lose, that I felt were irreplaceable are some photos, my Pax Lodge books, and our Christmas decorations, but really, if something happened to our stuff and all I could take away was Alex and J, well, that would be fine too.

Somewhere in the past ten months something inside me has shifted. I'm not attached to stuff anymore. I've figured out that it's just stuff. Sure, I have a lovely blue-glass, mouth-blown vase that I got in Camden market and a handmade pottery water jug we received as a wedding gift and a Swarovski crystal butterfly Alex gave me years ago, but we can replace that stuff if we need to. Maybe not with identical things, but with something.

We've tossed a lot in the last few weeks (it will soon be showing up on the tossed out stuff website) and there is more to come. And I'm good with it.

I've noticed it's extending to other areas of my life too. I was horrible for archiving 90% of what came into my gmail and filing 95% of my work emails I received. I know what I need to keep for future reference and what I don't. Just because I have tons of space doesn't mean I need to keep every single email I get. I can delete the ones that say "thanks" or have the directions to a meeting that happened a month ago.

It's totally liberating. And I love it. I feel lighter. Hopefully there will be a marked improvement in our apartment soon too!

And so far, I haven't regretted a single things I've tossed or deleted. I haven't even missed them!