Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I want to wish everyone a very joyous and prosperous Christmas!

May your heart be filled with the spirit, generosity and kindness of the season.

I want to wish all my friends, family, readers and fellow bloggers a very joyous and prosperous Christmas! May the sun shine bright, your love be strong and your spirit filled with the generosity and kindness of the season.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

(Recycled) Christmas Crafts!

Burned out Christmas lights
Well, here we are a few days from Christmas and I *almost* got all the things on my "to do" crafting list accomplished. However, I didn't get to share them for a few reasons (I really wanted to, I'm so happy with what we've accomplished). First and foremost being married to a photographer has it's benefits... It also has it's pitfalls. Namely, December is a really popular month for people wanting pictures. So although my stuff is a priority people who pay with more than cookies and kisses take the front seat. Then, my dear husband, threw his back out and was laid up for a good many days.

Milk carton villages!
But I did take a few "during the process" snaps that I'll share and who knows, maybe I can make proper tutorials before next Christmas!

 Snowflakes from old letterhead!
The burned out Christmas lights I had from the hanging of our outdoor lights and all the rage right now is to make them pretty by dousing them with glitter. I did 8 bulbs, 5 of which I added magnets too and are now adorning our refrigerator!  The main issue I have, as pretty as they are, is the glitter shed! I looked for from Diamond Glaze but it's only available at a few stores in my area and I wasn't going to drive 1/2 an hour to find some. They look great and absolutely pop against my white fridge.

We also built a milk carton village. It is absolutely my favourite thing we did this year! We have five houses in our village and they are adorable. We added flame-less candles and they have been twinkling the night away since early December.

Snowflakes - who doesn't love them? Even though we are under snow here for typically six months of the year, it's fun and simple to make paper snowflakes. TroubleMaker is a pro with his scissors and with a simple square folded, it's a breeze for him to make unique and creative snow flakes.

So this is what we've been up to this month - what have you been doing to make Christmas fun and crafty?

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Little Philanthropist

I've got many reasons to be proud of my son (doesn't every mother?) but sometimes, if it's possible, he makes me more proud than usual. Before I get there, though, let me rewind the clock a bit...

A few weeks before last Christmas, we saw a television commercial for an aid agency that helped children in Africa. He turned and said to his father and I "Mommy, why don't they go to the store and buy food?". We explained to him that they didn't have money to buy food. With out missing a beat, he declared that we needed to help them get food. He didn't judge, he didn't say "get a job", he took it at face value and knew, deep in his heart, that the only thing to do was help another human being.

Help he has... With the help of his friends, he raised 19 kilograms of food at his 4th birthday party. His generosity continued through the year but with the Christmas season approaching again, his desire to help out came to the forefront.

He expressed his concern about helping out other kids this Christmas. We explained to him that not every family who wishes to celebrate Christmas could celebrate. We asked how he'd feel if he woke Christmas morning only to realize Mommy and Daddy couldn't afford to get him a present. He decided he had to help a family in need. We planned a Christmas dinner and decided to donate toys for a kid his age to the local Santa's Anonymous.

Today, we delivered our dinner to our local Food Bank and dropped the toys in the bin at the shopping centre. Just a fun fact; today, his donation weighed more than he did!

So yes, I am proud, enormously proud of him. Proud because he gets it, proud he understands he is part of the community, the province, the country, the world. Proud that he understands that it is his social responsibility to help out his fellow human beings. Proud that he understands that he can't have everything he wants. Proud that at his core, he is four years old and although he knows it is important to help, he's not above temper tantrums, stalling at bedtime and shoulder rides to bed.

This is my Merry Christmas and seeing the world through his eyes makes it the merriest one yet.

Our food bank was so happy to see a young friend, they tweeted his donation.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bad Mommy... Happy birthday to the Wonder Schnauzer!

I realized as I was putting TroubleMaker to bed that December 13th passed with out a thought.

What does this mean? It means I forgot my first baby boy's 13th birthday. His GOLDEN birthday. I suck in an epic way.

The only relief is that baby boy #1 won't know I forgot and as per TroubleMaker's suggestion, we shall party tomorrow!

Happy birthday, Cortaillod High River Maximilian Finnegan! I love you (even if I forgot your birthday)!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - December 17 to 28, 2012

Brennan's Christmas Picture (Blackstone Images)
Trying to get ahead of the game with planning the next couple of weeks so I only have to do a small shop right before Christmas... I don't like the crowds so I'm happier being home right around Christmas. I also don't like that it's so close to Christmas. I really, really like the lead up to Christmas and realizing that I can plan my menus up to and past Christmas day makes me a little sad.

December 17 to 23
Monday (17) - Chicken and Mushroom Linguine
Tuesday (18) - Burrito Bake
Wednesday (19) - KD and fish sticks
Thursday (20) - Chicken Caesar Wraps
Friday (21) - Assorted sub sandwiches
Saturday (22) - Crock pot BBQ meatballs, baked potatoes, corn on the cob
Sunday (23) - Pizza

December 24 to 28
Monday (24) - Mom's Ham, Gramma's buns, cheese platter
Tuesday (25) - Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies
Wednesday (26) - left over buffet!
Thursday (27) Maple glazed pork roast, baked mashed potatoes
Friday (28) - Perogies and ham sausage

Linking up with the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thanks for stopping by and Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Currently - December 12, 2012

This week, Brennan is currently...

Reading... Curious George's Christmas Countdown
Listening to... Holiday's Rule!
Hating... His eye drops for pink eye 
Laughing... At the new episodes of Curious George on PBS!
Ignoring... Me, when I tell him it's time for eye drops!

Brennan's mom is currently...

Reading... Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper
Listening to... Holiday's Rule!
Hating... Giving Brennan his eye drops!
Laughing... At being the healthiest person in our house!
Ignoring... The pile of stuff I have to do yet before Christmas!

Linking up with...


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Optimism is for someone else!

Typically, I'm a happy, glass always full kind of person. Certainly, I get "down" and have off days but for the most part, I'm sunshine and rainbows...

Mostly, today, I'm not. I'm all angry eyes, death ray stares, F bomb dropping, punching Tickle Me Elmo in the face, flipping off little old ladies and drive through the puddle to splash the kid on crutches kind of not happy.

Is it stress? Is it hormones? Is it pain? I don't know but I'm not a very happy camper which means no one with in 20 feet of me is happy either.

This too shall pass... I hope... I miss my unicorn.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Currently - December 6, 2012

Brennan is currently...
Making... Christmas decorations (helping me with bows), paper snowflakes and milk carton houses (check back  on Monday to see those).
Thinking... About trying to be "good"; he's had some being good issues lately and he's very aware that his behaviour has put a visit from Santa at risk.
Loving... Christmas lights. It's like a contest when we drive up the road to see who see houses lit with lights first.
Cooking... Cookies! His recent fixation has been on chocolate chip cookies made with M&M's... Next, we'll be onto Christmas cookies!
Dreaming... About a remote control monster truck.

Brennan's Mom is currently...
Making... Christmas decorations (like bows, milk carton houses and Christmas tree toppers).
Thinking... About how I continually over do it.
Loving... Christmas lights!
Cooking... Cookies, of course!
Dreaming... About surgery and feeling my thumb again!

What are you up to? Share it here...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Countdown - Day 2 - Bird Snacks!

Stir it up!
It snowed early here this year and our usual bumper crop of sunflowers wasn't so bumper! What does this mean? Hungry birds and an easy peasy craft for us to do! Cruising FOLK! magazine's blog,, I saw a crafty little idea for a bird seed ornament. We have a feeder in our tree (my mother in law gave it to Brennan) however the birds haven't exactly flocked to it. But with a few dozen hungry chickadees roaming around our yard, we headed off to get birdseed! He is a very helpful helper. He only splashed flower out once. We pressed them into a wax paper lined cookie sheet - finding the backside of a spoon was much less messy! Add some cookie cutter (press them REALLY hard into the mix - getting them out and flipped later was challenging and we found they didn't seem to cut through much).


Just a little higher! 

Brennan is very independent and must always, always have a hand in anything - especially if it is very awkward and requires some form of parental acrobatics!  The end resulted netted us a large ziploc bag full of ornaments (mostly "blobs", our shapes didn't withstand the taking out phase). We've hung four in our tree and are now awaiting some fine feathered friends!

Nothing says bird food like a bear!

Unfortunately, our neighbourhood has a load of cats that have the local bird population hesitant to land anywhere) but we remain hopeful, especially since we're only a few months into winter! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - December 3, 2012

Another Monday and I'm in a slump. Unable to perform my usual culinary genius (haha) in the kitchen, I'm tapped for ideas and tired of chicken, pasta and blah meals. Thankfully, I know about this amazing resource of people who share their awesome menus!

Monday Assorted submarine sandwiches
Tuesday KD and fish sticks
Wednesday Honey Garlic Pork Chops with mashed potatoes
Friday ??
Saturday Sweet and sour pork ribs, fried rice, veggie stir fry
Sunday Sloppy Joes on buns

Thanks to all the blogs I was inspired by and to Laura from The Organizing Junkie (who contributed menu items on Wednesday and Thursday)! Happy cooking!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Countdown - Day 1 - Chalkboard Sled!

For the past few years, I've struggled to do an "Advent Calendar" for TroubleMaker. By struggle, I mean I see so many ideas that I want to employ, I wait until the last second to pick an idea and then play catch up all month trying to stuff, fill, colour, cut and figure out what to do.

But no more. This year, although I had several different ideas in mind and been inspired out the wazoo by Pinterest, I decided on a treatless, presentless countdown device. He doesn't need all the extra candy and because we made a resolution to not spoil him too much (my husband and I made this pact before we got pregnant), I didn't want to get him 25 little things!

I was inspired by a cheap snowman chalkboard in the Dollar store and when I couldn't find a snowman wood cutout at the craft store, I fell in love with a large wooden sled and decided that this would work even better! Using this picture as my inspiration, I started to work.

The runners were broad brushed on with a blend of gold and brown.

I blended four colours for the base coat wash (red, poppy red, gold, black and a colour extender) applied with a dampened sponge applicator.

Once it was dry, I applied a second coat with a dry sponge. I then dry brushed black all over the edges. Next, I lightly sanded the entire surface and wiped it clean with a dry towel. I blended a white acrylic paint with a silver acrylic paint to paint the snowman. I gave him three generous coats (as the red beneath showed through). His nose was orange and his buttons had a base of orange and I painted over it with the scarf colour (a blend of red, black and gold). The hat is pure black and the cloud was acrylic chalk board paint (3 coats). The snowflakes were applied using white acrylic paint on a rubber stamp and I had painted his name on the top.

I had planned on putting an acrylic sealer all over the piece (save for the chalkboard part) but I finished the sled at 9pm last night after a very long day... This morning, I added the string - which consisted of three pieces of jute twine with three bright red jingle bells.

He was so excited to see it this morning, he didn't even ask for a cheap chocolate advent calendar at the grocery store today! I, myself, am enormously proud of how well it turned out. It's been a many, many years since I've done any folk painting (I actually gave my sister all my paints a year or so ago as I hadn't used them in at least 3 years) so I think for being pretty rusty, the Christmas Countdown Sled turned out very well!

Thanks for stopping by! I'll be sharing a number of Christmas and holiday ideas between now and December 24th so I hope you'll stop back again soon.

Sharing the season with...

Ask Anna

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why people with memory problems (shouldn't be allowed to shop by themselves)!

As I may or may not have mentioned, one of the medications I'm on for managing the pain from the compressed discs in my neck causes "reduced mental acuity . More or less, I forget stuff easily, I know I know something but can't remember it, I get pretty muddled sometimes and I get confused pretty easily.

This could also easily be confused with "Pregnant brain" or "Mommy brain" or "old age" but let me blame the medication, it's easier for me to cope (and subsequently forget about).

Some of you, who are closer to me, know that I've recently discovered I've purchased duplicates and triplicates of some things (rice, croutons, kid's snack foods, pasta) but I truly outdid myself this time.

With Christmas approaching, I've been unearthing all my Christmas stuff... Which I dutifully cataloged when I packed it up last year. I knew exactly what I had (and where, which is even a bigger miracle). Pinterest has led me to a plethora of new (and cooler) projects to tackle this year so back in early November, I took advantage of a 30% off coupon and shopped Michael's early on a Sunday morning.

Having raffled off all the Perfect Bows I've made in a fund raiser for TroublerMaker's old preschool, I knew I needed to make new bows for my banister  So... I picked a nice plaid, wired ribbon, identical to the previous bows (as I really liked it).

So today, as I finally unpacked all the stuff I bought nearly a month ago, I discovered the ribbon. And found the ribbon I packed last year... Then I found the other new spool I bought at Costco during our annual Christmas Shop in November to Avoid the Insanity of December.

How much plaid ribbon do I have? 100 yards. Which is 300 feet (91.4 metres).

That's a lot of ribbon. Plus I bought the gold and the pine cone for bows too.

So I've figured out my new business venture... Handmade Christmas bows in plaid or pine cone... ;)

This is why people with memory problems shouldn't be allowed to shop alone! This is also why I baked my husband cookies and made him promise to love me forever.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - November 25, 2012

Hi! Back at trying to be a productive member of the (blogging) society and what a better way to start than to share my weekly menu plan... That I and I know my other mother is perving checking out my blog and I know she's asking herself  "What are they eating up there in the frigid north while I'm basking in the sun and drinking margarita's?"... Hi Nancy!!!!! :) <3 p="p">
Sunday Beef dip (in a crock pot)
Monday Gramma's Homemade Mac and Cheese with steam green beans
Tuesday Baked Pototo & Leek soup with cheddar and bacon
Wednesday Pork Stir Fry with Fried Rice
Thursday Sante Fe Sheperd's Pie
Friday Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I`m back on full cooking duty and have my first (partial) day at work tomorrow! Thanks for stopping by and please come back soon - I`m getting off my sit and wallow kick and will be heating up the kitchen and my home with lots of holiday goodies!

For more yummy menu plans and inspiration, check out the Org Junkie`s Menu Plan Monday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lamest Blog on the Block...

I am the lamest blog on the block these days. My heart is just not in anything at the moment and as down as it gets me, I just can't. It's been a funk since the spring but I had renewed energy over the summer and was planning stuff.

And then I broke, my body broke, and I just stopped.

So I'm sorry, I'm sorry that my hearts not in it and I keep posting what I'm doing instead of actually doing the stuff I like. The more time that passes, the more problems I'm having getting started. I'm sure it will get figured out sooner or later. :)

Currently: November 14, 2012

Brennan is...

Reading... Robert Munsch's "Thomas' Snowsuit"... I do not like this book, or, for that matter, most of the Robert Munsch books (save for "I'll love you Forever"). I get that kids like them, I get that he gets them. I just don't like the stories, cadence or language. Just about every reading means at some point before bed, Brennan is going to flip a line from the book back to me... If you've read these books, you know what I mean. Or maybe it's just because I really like to get into reading them with voices and emotion?

Wishing... For cold weather. He is tired of the warming trend melting his snow.

Cooking... Nothing. He is getting particularly good at deciding what restaurant to order from... *blush* Guess we should start meal planning and cooking together again!

Thankful... For his new slippers. His ridiculously expensive slippers; we wanted good quality, supportive slippers. This is apparently something not frequently sought after...

Loving... Sharing my bagel at breakfast. He's also loving my grapefruit.

Brennan's Mom is...

Reading... Way too much "mommy porn". The latest book on the nightstand is "Wicked Nights" by Jenna Showalter. It's terrible. Like really, really, really bad. My friend assures me the next book she's lending me is better... More "50 Shades" with less abuse. We'll see.

Wishing... To go back to work. I got the "okay" for a few hours a week but now my department is the stall - just wanting to make sure I'm not doing more damage than good... But I'm going a little bOnKeRs!

Cooking... Nothing. We ordered out tonight and last night, I made chicken and fried rice, the night before I had crackers and cheese - I made the boys Kraft Dinner.

Thankful... For my physio therapist and acupuncture  It's got the bleed through pain from the compressed discs back in manageable form.

Loving... That today marks the 14th (fourteenth) "anniversary" of my first date with my husband. I cannot believe it's been 14 years. FOURTEEN YEARS! That's crazy!

Linking up with Currently over at Harvesting Kale. Thanks for reading! I hope to read yours too during my travels!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Currently - November 7, 2012

I was sure looking forward to this today! Check out Brennan playing in the snow!

Brennan is...

Anticipating... Is there anything else a kid at this time of year, who lives in Canada, thinks about? SNOW!!!

Buying... Everything he could buy for the children who don't have. We've asked that he only ask Santa for two gifts... He does have a budget to buy gifts for the local Christmas toy drive and he's been pouring over the WalMart toy flyer dreaming!

Needing... Although he hasn't said it, I think he needs me more than usual. He's been clingy, argumentative and a bit whiny. He's happiest when he's in my lap - and I'm okay with that!

Thinking... About decorating the house! We bought a few new decorations for the holidays and he has been on at me since we brought them home to decorate... Although I used to have a strict "no decorating until December 1", having kids have changed EVERYTHING I once knew and believed to be true!

Ignoring... The idea that he has to go through his toys and part with many of them... Previously, we've purged his toys but thought it would be a good exercise for him to realize the ebb and flow of "stuff"...

Brennan's Mom is...

Anticipating... Getting the okay to go back into the office a few hours each week! As my friend told me, I'll be wishing a year from now to just work a few hours a week so I better enjoy it while I can!

Buying... Too much of everything: decorations, food, presents. I love Christmas but I hate my compulsion to buying things!

Needing... Snuggles from my little boy and reassurance that this will get better and one day, I'll be muddled brained and in pain no more!

Thinking... About the office and the screw ups I have to correct when I go back. A person took over my projects, said person has been terminated and said person SCREWED UP a lot of my stuff... Everything is over budget and I'm left trying to explain why.

Ignoring... The giant dust bunnies that are accumulating on the stairs... and under the bed... and under the table... and under the phone desk... But I'm okay with it really...

Thanks for stopping in and be sure to check everyone over at Harvesting Kale!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Currently - November 1, 2012

Brennan is...

Loving... The idea that Christmas is TOMORROW!

Looking... For his Halloween candy his Dad took away from some serious misbehaving tonight!

Cooking...  anything he can chop!

Catching... every single cold that's bouncing around his preschool!

Missing...  Halloween! He woke up this morning asking me if it was Christmas, when I said "No", he asked if it was still Halloween!

Brennan's Mom is...

Loving...  Being able to spend some extra time with Brennan... Although being home medically impaired from the crushed discs in my neck is not the best way to be able to have a few more minutes, it is still time that I'm happy to have!

Looking... Forward to getting the okay to go back to work part time! I see the doctor next week and fingers crossed, he thinks I'm well enough to go back to me regular duties!

Cooking... Mostly simple things like grilled cheese and opening cans of soup but at least I'm not watching my husband trying his very hardest to prepare dinner!

Catching... Up on my soap opera! It's been decades since I watched it regularily, but I'm enjoying every single guilty minute of the trash TV!

Missing...  My very best friend from work!

Linking up with Harvesting Kale!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Currently... October 24, 2012

Brennan is currently...

Worrying... about bears, foxes and wolves getting into the house.
Listening... to the satellite radio station on the TV for Children (I'm amazed at how many voices he recognizes).
Wishing... for snow!
Observing... Science! We did a science experiment this week - freezing ice in various containers (at different levels) to observe what happens and work on understanding the three states of matter!
Considering... His dislike of mushrooms! I made a dish at dinner and there were itty bitty mushroom pieces (it was a casserole with mushroom soup), he, of course, got every single little one. He decided they were just kind of squishy and didn't taste like much!

Brennan's Mom is currently...

Worrying... about another back surgery, going back to work (and whether or not I can) and if the coconut cream pie container will wake Brennan when I go up to get a piece of pie!
Listening... to the satellite radio station for Children (because the remote is on the other side table and I'm lazy).
Wishing... for happiness - it's been a blue couple of days.
Observing... my son growing taller by the second and smarter by the millisecond!
Considering... Getting a pop and some pretzels!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - October 22 to 28

Keeping it simple this week as we are sharing more of the cooking tasks. In part because my husband dislikes cooking so much, he's happy to watch from the sidelines and in part because I'm realllllly tired of being an arm chair cook (and also because I'm still not up to my usual best in any way so it has to be simple for me to do it without over doing it)!.

Monday: Chicken Pot Pie
Tuesday: Grilled cheese and soup
Wednesday: Hamburger Casserole
Thursday: Egg wraps and tater tots
Friday: Tacos
Saturday: Pizza (with store bought crusts)
Sunday: Swiss Steak and rice

I am working towards repeating more of the meals we eat; I've always been big on making sure we don't eat the same things 2x in one month so after discussing with my husband, I decided to try repeating a few things... Also, since we haven't actually eaten a few of the meals in the past few weeks, I just keep bumping them to the new menu!

Thanks for stopping by and please check out all the yummy meal planning being shared at the Menu Plan Monday, hosted by Laura from Org Junkie!

I'm also sharing with Laura  from Healthy Branscoms and her new Menu Plan feature!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Currently... October 17, 2012

Participating in "Currently" again this week - just so much fun and such a great way of documenting the things I can't remember! This week, I thought I'd include TroubleMaker (aka Brennan)... :)

Brennan is...

Feeling... Anxious... He is anticipating our "Mom and Brennan" day tomorow!
Drinking... Water and chocolate milk (two different cups but he keeps alternating)
Looking for... Halloween decorations!
Dreaming... I can only guess but I'm thinking Halloween!
Making... Pictures to decorate the house with - for (you guessed it) Halloween!

Brennan's Mom is...
Feeling... Very, very full! Had a very LARGE dinner at the Sicilian Pasta Kitchen with my friend, Jenn.
Drinking... Water!
Looking for... Information on Ancient Civilizations
Dreaming... Of getting feeling back in my thumb!
Making...  I'm starting to think about making some new Christmas decorations but with the absence of snow, I'm not really feeling winter!

Linking up to Harvesting Kale's Currently! Check it out!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - October 14 to 21

After a sort of impromptu visit to my Mom's for the weekend, I have a few meals left over for this week... Oh, and we didn't have the Swiss Steak but opted instead for a Crustless Quiche - with green peppers added and served with tater tots. It was very good, heartily filled our family of three (and our Wonder Schnauzer) and is being added to our regular menu rotation.

This week is the first week in a long time (well, 5 weeks, anyway) that I've not had to be ferried off to a medical appointment - and only one physio appointment again this week! I'm back to work - well, working from home - but I've been doing that for a while now. It's keeping my mental muscles exercised, even if I don't remember half of what I do! I've also learned just how much I can do and how much I shouldn't do. Working a few hours a day plus trying to do stuff at home just increases the pain.

Monday: Something with ground beef and mashed potatoes ?? (ETA: Trying this with a bunch of "from the fridge veggies")
Tuesday: Nuggets and fries
Wednesday: Boys Night (I'm going to dinner with my best friend)
Thursday: Swiss Steak and steamed rice
Friday: Italian Chicken Pasta Skillet
Saturday: Nachos
Sunday: Spaghetti

Thanks for stopping in and please check out all of us sharing our culinary adventures at the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Currently... October 13, 2012

I'm joining Harvesting Kale for "Currently". I happened across it while blogsurfing early Saturday morning (as TroubleMaker doesn't care if I stay up late visiting with my sister - 6:30 is 'get up time').

Watching Being home on sick leave has left me a lot more time in front of the TV then I've had in years... However, being the discerning view I am (haha), I'm only currently hooked on Doc Martin, Days of Our Lives and Steven and Chris.

Reading Just finished The Lovey Bones and started reading Drawing from the Right Side of your Brain.

Eating At this exact moment, I'm eating a Jolly Rancher sucker - I'd like to add that is is now mid-afternoon.    I'm also re-finding my love for fried zucchini with garlic and garden carrots with a brown sugar butter glaze.

Inspired by nature. With the fall colours everywhere, I can't help but feel like I should be doing more with the vibrant oranges and yellows I see all around me!

Thinking about taking a nap!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting my Craft On! Fall style!

I am a crafty person. I enjoy making crafts. My problem is a lack of time. A few weeks ago, however, while TroubleMaker was spending the night at his Gran's, I got busy... It took a ton more time than it should have as I still have a wounded wing. Using wire cutters with your non-dominant hand is tiresome, painful and not very productive. I also learned I cannot make a bow single handed...

All that aside, it is the best wreath I've ever made. It turned out exactly how I'd envisioned it and I'm immensely proud of the work! I was inspired by this wreath - when I priced out sunflowers at my local craft shop, I rethought my plan and opted for a single sunflower (they were $14 each). My sunflower was actually a napkin ring that I popped off the ring.

I hung it on our front door and it is SO fall! Not wanting to stop there, since I was on a roll, I decided we also needed a centre piece for Thanksgiving... Ten minutes and an existing vase, I whipped it up. I thought I struck pure genius - I always have issues with my silk arrangements staying upright. I've been collecting (not hoarding) rolls - paper towel, toilet, ribbon. I stuck one in the middle of the vase and filled it with leftover bird seed, old popcorn and nuts! I then wrapped it with plastic wrap as my cat, as sweet as she is, cannot leave anything alone and I knew I needed to slow down the eventual spill. See the bumpy green gourds? WE GREW THOSE!!! In fact, we grew like 16 of them!

I'm going to steal a line from the Slap Chop Guy... But WAIT! There's more! Canadian Thanksgiving doesn't have much to do with turkeys (as turkeys are not indigenous to Alberta), but we traditionally eat turkey on Thanksgiving - so why not make some yummy turkey desserts! Inspired by and their wonderful homage to the noble turkey, TroubleMaker and I are proud to present our rafter of candy cookie turkeys!

Thanks for stopping by!

Linking up at a few fun places - please check them out for more inspiration!

Funky Junk Interiors SNS!

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - October 7 to 14

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Or at least to my Canadian friends! We had our turkey celebration on Sunday -  and I can assure you I ate my fair share of turkey and I ate so much pumpkin pie; it was delicious!  It was my husband's first time putting together a traditional dinner and he did a fantastic job!

I've been a bit more productive in the kitchen but I spend a good portion of my time on the side lines still "guiding" him through the motions. It is an exercise in patience for us both; I have a hard time not "back seat cooking".

Monday: Ham and turkey sandwiches
Tuesday: Homemade Mac & Cheese
Wednesday: Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Thursday: Swiss Steak & steamed rice
Friday: Nuggets and fries
Saturday: Nachos
Sunday: Spaghetti

Thank you for stopping by and please check out everyone sharing their menus at the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - October 1 - 7

Another week as the Arm Chair Chef... Tonight, however, I made dinner as it was my husband's birthday! We've got Canadian Thanksgiving coming up so my husband is going to try his hand at turkey cooking - we are just cooking a turkey breast roast but he'll still be in charge of the dressing (stuffing)! His Mom is bringing Pumpkin pie (made with carrots - it's new - I'll let you know what we thought next Monday).

Monday: Pizza and Caesar Salad
Tuesday: Homemade Mac & Cheese
Wednesday: Tacos
Thursday: Tortellini with Alfredo sauce (FROM A JAR - I may just die from embarrassment)
Friday: Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Saturday: Hamburgers 
Sunday: Turkey with all the fixings

I'm also happy to announce that a suggestion made last week by Ginny from Gabbing with the Gafford's has actually been welcomed by my husband! She plans one week and they eat it for two.. So this week's menu could be repeated next week. When I broached the subject with my husband - as a passing "I can't believe someone would do that!" and he said "that's not a bad idea!"... Especially while he's doing the cooking!

I'm not sure I am totally on board but I think I would do it "every other week" so we may try that. As our grocery budget spirals out of control (my husband actually laughed at me when I suggested a new budget number).

I'm sharing over at the Org Junkie this week. Thanks for stopping in!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - September 23 - 29

This is for my other mother - see, I am trying to post more! Pain and all...

This week we're recycling a couple of last week's meals as we had company in town (my mother) and we ordered dinner in. Tonight, we were hosted by my other mother and dad!

Monday: Beef Taco Quesadillas (something like this)
Tuesday: Chicken Stew
Wednesday: Hot Beef Sandwiches
Thursday: Chicken Salad Sandwiches (scroll to the bottom of the link for the recipe)
Friday: Pork Lo Mein
Saturday: Chicken Wings and Corn Fritters
Sunday:  Special Birthday Dinner (my MIL and my husband's best friend are bringing dinner to celebrate my husband's birthday (on Monday)

That's it for this week - another week of the boys cooking as I'm still down for the count. Soon, I hope, I'll be back in the kitchen and not just coaching from the sidelines! Check out all those linking up at the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu Plan Monday (boys can cook)

Well, it's been months since I've blogged, months since I've shared a menu plan and years since I've been incapacitated. This is what the "Boys can Cook" plan is about! Just about a month ago, I woke to a crick in my neck... By lunch, it was a full blow pain that I could only breath thru. By nightfall, it was agony. By two am, I was in tears waiting for morning so I could go get help. By four am, I was trying to rationalize that it wasn't that bad and I could make it til morning and not have to wake up my husband, son and a grandparent (to come babysit while my husband rushed me to emergency).

I made it through the night, but since August 23, I've cooked four meals (and that doesn't include the one time I dialed in dinner for pick up). What does this mean to our family? Well, my husband does not cook. Let me reiterate:

He does not cook. He cannot cook. He will not cook. The day I got home from my spinal fusion in 2003, I made lunch and cooked every meal after that (until, of course, I had to go stay with my parents because I had another infection and nerve damage - not at all related to his inability to cook).

He makes French toast and macaroni and cheese. Of course, he managed to keep TroubleMaker and himself fed for the two years after my maternity leave and he was the stay at home dad... But that doesn't really compare to preparing nutritious and complicated dinner fare for a family of three (and a schnauzer expecting a bonus in his nightly kibble).

He's done really well and I'm immensely proud of all that he has taken on. It's been a month (almost) and I've cooked a few more meals off the "couldn't be simpler" menu plan but the boys have and continue to be, the keepers of the kitchen.

Sunday: Homemade Pizza w/ Caesar Salad
Monday: Chicken Pot Pie
Tuesday: Chops & mashed potatoes
Wednesday: Baked Spaghetti
Thursday: Monte Cristos w/ Minestrone Soup
Friday: Taco Pizza/Pie (I can't find the recipe and I can't remember if it was supposed to be pizza or pie)
Saturday: Chicken Stew

I had hoped to launch my new (and I hope exciting) blog, but with my recent being stuck on the couch, sleeping sitting up, book reading extravaganza, the crafting and interior design stuff has taking a break. So I'll keep posting here until I can start the transition.

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to check out all of us sharing our meal planning inspiration the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

One week...

There is a song I like called "One Week" - it seemed fitting since it's been a week since I've blogged. I guess I'm in a bit of a slump - well, that may be a bit of an understatement... I'm in a BIG slump. I have so much to say and nothing to say. If that seems confusing, it's even worse in my head.

So, I'm going to take a little "blog-cation"! I'll be back, have no fear! I just need some time to regroup and get myself focused!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Sandbox Story

The second weekend of the sandbox build took place this weekend.

The sandbox won.

I think this quote sums it up "...such is the transition from designer to builder. It's so EASY to DRAW the wall straight". 

It wasn't that the work was really that hard but I think it was tedious. Very tedious. And tiring. Measure 16 times, cut once. Measure again, cut again. Repeat. I can draw just about anything and I can even envision it in my head constructed but building it and fitting it together are vastly different things.

I've always admired carpenters and builders - what doesn't look hard is actually quite intricate and complicated.

We were building a sandbox. A box - a rectangular shaped box with a lid. Sounds perfectly simple for two (relatively) novice builders. And I suppose, in theory, it wasn't that hard, it just seemed to take a very long time to complete.

And it isn't complete yet. We have a box and a lid and a cubic yard of sand. The handles and trim are still to come...

But two weekends of (hard) work and it's play worthy and ready. Saturday afternoon and part of today was spent digging, piling, packing and raking. This morning, shortly after rising, I found TroubleMaker at the back door strapping on his sandals - his destination? The sandbox, of course!

Friday, May 18, 2012

So many things, so little time... The Sandbox Saga

I am feeling inspired and very random. I have a to-do list a mile long and no plans to actually complete any of it... I'm tired and excited and a lot worn out. Visions of great and amazing things to do to my home and yard dance in my head - driving me a little crazy because I don't quite know how I can get it all done.

This weekend I want to build a sandbox. I've drawn a plan, calculated the sand we'll need and I've marked off the area in the yard where the sandbox will be built. I'm -->thisclose<-- to building it.

And it scares me.

I'm a real, live grownup. I own my home and I'm free to whatever I want to it. This scares me a bit. A lot.

I think it scares my husband even more. He likes my vision - he just doesn't like being the one has to execute it.

We aren't "handy", really, we can figure out just about anything we set our mind too but sometimes the attempt takes a couple of trips to the home store to buy parts. Twice.

Our latest endeavour is my wish to give our son a sandbox. I've got it drawn (in three dimensions even), calculated the board feet, planned a lid (as our neighbour has seven cats) and started to dig out the area. My husband even purchased a wheel-barrow so that we move sand and dirt as needed.

The weather forecast is agreeable, we have the desire.. Will it result in a sandbox?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I love you Mama, you are the best...

"I love you Mama, you are the best!
You cut up snacks and made me a vest."

TroubleMaker sang me a song at bed time tonight. It's a "thing" we do. Sometimes I sing to him.

"Angel sprite, angel sprite, light so bright my angel sprite!" (sang to Greensleeves)

Then there is the "Black and Grey song"... Technically, it's "Amazing Grace" but that names seems to evade him so he made up his own title and it works for us.

"Hush, little baby" and "Go to sleep, little baby" are part of our regular repertoire too but more frequently, he and I both make up little ditties to sing to one another. Sometimes they make sense, more often, they do not. What they do is comfort, cheer and warm our hearts. It brings us close and sometimes, they make us laugh.

Last night, for example, he tried to rhyme "apples" with "snuggles". It sounded so very cute, in seconds, I was laughing so hard, tears were rolling down my cheeks. It delayed bedtime substantially I am hopeful it's moments like these that we will both remember with fondness.

Happy Mother's day - the greatest gift, for me, is my beautiful son. He is my sun, my star and my moon. I love you, Brennan. Now, always and forever.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We-Design-Day: The Evaluation

This week, I've got my document started! Having never done one for a home before, it's a big job. I'm still working on the format and as I move my field notes. I'm finding that I may end up doing it by room instead of by discipline.

Here is a link to the spreadsheet!

Blue Door Interiors Home Evaluation Spreadsheet

While doing my research, I found a couple of good resources that share the average life expectancy of various parts of your home.

Svistun Inspections

National Home Builders Association

I hope this information helps you get moving forward! I'll be working on this over the summer but I'm hoping to get back into design projects in the next week! With home improvement season approaching, I need get moving! Thanks for stopping by today and see you again soon!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Menu Plan Monday (On Tuesday)

This week kind of got away on me... But we still need to eat and having take-out three of the past four nights is just more than I can handle... My honey has graciously agreed to do the shopping tomorrow so I'm pulling it together tonight!

Wednesday: Homemade sub sandwiches
Thursday:  Pancakes & bacon
Friday: Quasadillas
Saturday: Hamburgers
Sunday: Grilled pork chops w/ raspberry salad
Monday: ??
Tuesday: Enchilada Rice
Wednesday: Egg Wraps
Thursday: Chicken Caesar Salad
Friday: Slow Cooker Coca-Cola Pot Roast

I've not been hungry much lately (except for delicious things like chips and bars of chocolate) and I find it very difficult to plan a meal. I am very thankful for the Internet or my family may only eat cheap steak cooked in mushroom soup...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We-Design-Day: Checking in!

How is your study going? Mine kind of got stalled... My husband occasionally works out of town and last week, he was gone and took my computer... And I ended up working last Wednesday putting a project schedule together for a grant submission.

With summer approaching and projects needing to be addressed, I really need to get this put together!

While trimming our cedars in front of the master bedroom window, I had a chance to examine the odd insert under the window I mentioned here... It was solid and intact. It is likely just heavy condensation causing the bubbling paint... Good news!

I'm going to continue with my evaluation and get my document together. The next phase is going to be applying numbers and getting a timeline together based on the findings. Remember, the plan is to get the study to the 'living document' phase - where it can be updated and changed as needed to fit your life, the needs of your home and your budget.

Next week, I'm going to share my document and show you how we can start putting this all together.

Thanks for checking in and see you again next week!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - April 30, 2012

Saturday Nachos
Sunday Slow Cooker Orange chicken, fried rice, stir fry veggies
Monday Potluck Playschool "graduation" ceremony
Tuesday Tuna Melts
Wednesday Pantry Surprise
Thursday Macaroni & cheese
Friday Grilled steak with veggie kebabs & roasted potatoes

I have to say, I'm really liking the change to my menu planning. After spending many years struggling to do a "Monday to Sunday" plan, changing the order a couple days have made it so much simpler! I've got a renewed sense of organization just from going Saturday to Friday!

For more inspiration, check out the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thank you for stopping in and see you again soon!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: April 24, 2012

This week, TroubleMaker and I are on our own - my husband is out of town for work... Easy, quick meals are a must when I'm doing this solo!

Saturday: BBQ Hot dogs and macaroni salad
Sunday: Homemade Pizza
Monday: Ravioli and Caesar salad
Tuesday: Farmer's Breakfast
Wednesday: Freezer Pizza
Thursday: Chicken Nuggets and fries
Friday: Chicken salad sandwiches

For more great menu planning and dinner ideas, check out the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We-Design-Day: Home Evaluation - Mechanics!

I'm back this week with another part of my study.... How is yours coming along?

Spring is coming up outside, assuming we can keep it from snowing again, and my mind is full of renovation ideas! Knowing that we have deferred maintenance to attend to does help me align my priorities but I can tell you I'd much rather be planning aesthetic components instead of thinking about the plumbing and furnace in my house!

This week, I want to take a look at laundry room, specifically, my big mechanical systems - my furnace, some ducting and our hot water tank are being looked at this week.

The first stop was the hot water tank. This is "new" to the home - we had to replace the hot water tank when it "tanked" in January, 2008. It is a moderately efficient, gas heated unit. We had it installed professionally and it is still in good condition and likely won't need to be addressed for 10 (or more) years.

New chimney and connections were installed as well. I did notice that the unit could really, really use a good dusting... One more thing to add to the housework schedule I've been working on!

Our furnace is original to the house and has been well maintained. It is now approaching 31 years of age and it is one of the things we must look at factoring in to our home study. I am a heat miser so I'd like to think my frugal and deliberate furnace programming has helped to extend the life of the unit but I know even minimal use still causes wear and at 30 years old, I can't expect miracles from the unit. It has a washable filter, thus saving general maintenance costs and the previous owners installed a humidifier when they installed the wood floors.

Again, look at all the stuff in that opening! Colour me surprised - I have no idea what it is (and I've yet to clean it up). Fortunately, our utilities companies do free evaluations of furnaces and check to ensure they are functioning properly. I will be calling late this summer to have ours evaluated and will be scheduling a duct cleaning too. Having the furnace maintenance and the ducts kept clean help the furnace work more efficiently and can work to extend the life of the unit. Furthermore, many government programs have been offering financial rebates for upgrading energy hogs like old furnaces.

In addition to looking at your furnace, you need to check the ducting too. Cold air intakes and the ducts can deteriorate and reduce efficiency (if there are penetrations or disruptions to the ducts or clogged intakes).  Our insulated ducts (the ones that bring cold air in from outside) aren't pretty, but they are functional and in decent shape.

A home evaluation is an involved and detailed process but the information gleaned is invaluable. Thanks for stopping by this week and see you again next week as we start looking at the miles of pipe that take water to and from all over the home!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: April 16, 2012

I've decided to try and juggle around the way I plan my menu... I shop on Saturday mornings and typically, I make my menu on Friday night. So... I'm going to try the "Saturday to Friday" week and see how that flies for me!

Saturday: Fiesta Chicken Enchilada 
Sunday: Spinach Lasagna
Monday: Pantry Surprise (an unknown dinner that will use stuff out of our pantry)
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday
Wednesday: Crockpot Ribs
Thursday: Dad's Night Potluck (at school) - TroubleMaker requested my Gramma's Macaroni and Cheese
Friday: Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps

For more great menu planning and dinner ideas, check out the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - holiday treats

Another Monday has arrived and it's a holiday here so I'm sitting back and relaxing... Well, I am now - but earlier today (and earlier this weekend), I was a machine! I love baking and cooking but don't often get the opportunity to share my work. The four days off (well, sort  of - I went in to work for a few hours Friday) gave me the chance to play!

A tisket, a tasket - cheesecake in a basket!
I'll admit, I've never made a baked cheesecake before. Generally, I'm about instant results so I usually do "no bake" cheesecakes but this recipe seems so easy that I had to give it a try.

It went together beautifully and it tastes great. Using cookies for crusts also made life easier! I'm not so sure that my attempt went quite as it should. When I took them out of the oven, the middles were just set however shortly after removing them from the oven, all but two fell. This did not affect the taste.

Our menu this week isn't nearly as exciting as my weekend of desserts...

Monday: Easy Hot Wings, Coyote Fritters and Caesar Salad
Tuesday: Gramma's Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Wednesday: Baked Pork Chops and Garlic Butter Egg noodles
Thursday: Spinach Salad and grilled sirloin steaks
Friday: Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Saturday: Pizza (with this crust)
Sunday: TDB

Hopping fun!
Tomorrow is TroubleMaker's preschool Easter party so I baked up some simple sugar cookies and spent the morning decorating them. Sadly, this is his last party as the wonderful teacher he has is leaving at the end of the month and the school year will be ending early.

Thank you for stopping by today, I hope you all have a great week and we'll see you again next week. For more menu ideas, please check out the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!


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