Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday!

Good morning, everyone! I hope your weekend was peaceful, relaxing and fun! Ours was good - although our attempt to take TroubleMaker skating on Sunday was thwarted by a "private party" at the rink... Not deterred from spending time outside, we zipped home and grabbed our sleds and found a hill "not to big" for our little (and us) to sled down! Lots of laughter, lots of tumbles and wet mitts reminded me of my own childhood and sledding down the big hill at home!

This week, we're talking easy. Today is "payday" so I had to make our few dollars stretch until today so we are using up what's on hand (I can't believe I only have a pound of hamburger and one pack of chicken keels in the freezer) and making things simple! My husband suggested skating one night after work then stopping for burgers on the way home... I agreed whole heartily - and not just because I love to skate! ;)

Monday: Tuna Melts and Spring Salad
Tuesday: Crockpot Meatballs & noodles
Wednesday: KD & Fishsticks
Thursday: Burger Night!
Friday: Taco Salad
Saturday: Pizza Party (made with our favourite crust)
Sunday: Crockpot Roast Beef on toasted buns

I like it when things come together easily and quickly and this menu has that in spades! Less time cooking means more Family time, which is what I'm all about these days!

For more excellent meal and menu planning ideas, head over and see Laura at the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thanks for stopping by and see you again soon!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Our Chinese New Year

I like to celebrate. I like any reason to be fancy, make huge meals and enjoy the company of my family and friends. I also love culture and when those two things can combine, I am over the moon!

For the past many years, we've celebrated Chinese New Year. That said, I also have it firmly planted in my brain that it happens in February... So imagine my surprise when I found out Monday, it was Chinese New Year! The Year of the Dragon, even, and me with no plans for celebrating in mind!

Fear not, I planned and schemed and we celebrated our Chinese New Year today! Paper lanterns, dragons and lots of red (which happens to be TroubleMaker's favourite colour)! Combining my love for fun paper crafts with a (not so traditional) Chinese food dinner (Ginger beef, fried rice, sweet and sour pork and a vegetable stir-fry) will certainly bring in our New Year happily!

With a rat, boar, two rabbits and a tiger in the house, I'm certain we will celebrate with style!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We-Design-Day: Home Evaluation - the starting point

Why a Home Study is necessary!

This week, we are going to start looking at what needs to be included in the home study. First, I think it's important to understand a few key things about our homes and the parts that make it all work together.

In the beginning, there was a lot. Upon the lot, was built a foundation and on that foundation a structure was erected. The structure was covered in building materials to protect the interior from the elements. On the interior of the structure (now covered in building materials) there were fittings. The fittings brought heat, light and water to the structure.
Your foundation, the exterior walls, the windows, doors and roof make up your building envelope. Much like a postage envelope, it protects the interior of the home. As important as all of the functional features are, without an intact and sufficient envelope, the rest of the parts would be exposed to the elements. If any part of the envelope fails, it will allow all the weather that blows by to blow in and will be as effective as sleeping in cardboard box. The envelope works with the heating, cooling, ventilation and electrical to enhance the performance of the home and should be examined as part of our home study. Malfunctions in the interior systems can also cause the envelope to fail. It's kind of a catch 22...

Your interior fittings include all the mechanical systems (furnace, air conditioner, plumbing (water, fixtures)), electrical systems (power, telecommunications, internet), fire systems (which in most homes includes smoke detectors and CO2 detectors) as well as your interiors finishes – flooring and wall coverings. General home improvements or modifications/upgrades generally aren't included in a typical (condominium) reserve fund study but when you are a homeowner, they do need to be included in order to keep your house current and saleable.

Overwhelmed yet? It's all really quite straight forward but I'm big on sharing information because I believe the best decisions are informed ones! Let's simplify and break down to it's parts.

Your home study needs to include everything that keeps your house together and running. In addition, it also needs to include all the flexible items. If we had a laundry list, it might look something like this:

Envelope: foundations and footings, exterior walls, door and windows (and their framing/assemblies), roof (including trusses, sheathing, shingles and related fittings and items attached to your house (awnings, decks, railings, patios).

Interior Fittings:

Mechanical systems: furnace, hot water tank, air conditioner, mechanical ducting, humidifiers, water pipes, toilets, sinks, taps, ventilation fans

Electrical systems: electrical panel, fuses, wiring, light fixtures, duplex outlets, light switches, telephones, wiring, data cabling, data connections, outlets, burglar alarms, fire suppression systems (smoke or heat detectors, CO2 monitors)

General: flooring, wall coverings (including paint, sheathing and insulation)

Aesthetic considerations: mill-work, cabinetry, appliances

This isn't necessarily a complete list but it starts to show just how many different things need to be looked at and included. Thankfully, many of the things on the list have a long life so although they will need replacing, it is possible to space the big ticket items over many years.

Thanks for joining me this week and come back next week as I start exploring how to assess the current conditions of the building and the systems with in it!

Want more information? Here are a couple of links that give a bit more detail about the topics of today's post.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: A New Week

I love menu planning and how it simplifies everything for me. I know what's for dinner, I know what to take out, I don't have to stress about cooking or what to make for dinner and I'm able to get dinner on to the table quickly (save for the 20 minutes I spend trying to find spices).

January 22 to January 28
Monday Hamburger Casserole
Tuesday Chicken Bruschetta Bake
Wednesday Egg wraps
Thursday Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Pork Loin
Friday Fettuccine Alfredo
Saturday Beef Sandwiches
Sunday ??

Thanks for stopping in and check out everyone sharing their menu's at the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We-Design-Day: The Home Evaluation Plan

We-Design-Day's are sponsered by Blue Door Interiors
After living in a condominium for five years, I learned a few valuable lessons. One: I don't want to go back to a poorly run condo, two: neighbours in condo complexes can be busy bodies and three: the value of a Reserve Fund Study.

What is a reserve fund study? For a condo complex, it is a document that outlines the monitory contributions that need to be made to the Reserve Fund in order to meet the need for (ongoing) maintenance and future repairs and replacements. The report encompasses all the items “owned” by the collective and puts together a list of the the current condition and sorts out a schedule of maintenance or replacement and associates the cost. This then allows the association time to find the money (usually by Special Assessment) of the owners.

In my opinion, no house should be without one either. The significant difference between a condo association and a typical homeowner is that in a house, one person is wholly responsible for all the maintenance, replacement and upkeep. In a condo, it becomes a shared expense – that is why, in part, that condominiums have become so popular. Additionally, one typically wouldn’t have a reserve fund however; it is wise to have a special savings account to pay for the ongoing repairs and maintenance or to use for emergency repairs!

We had a home inspection done when we purchased our home – the report we were provided noted the existing condition of some of the key items that should be included in a ten year plan. If you’ve got a report, pull it out and look at it. In most cases the home inspector evaluated the condition of important things like your roof, windows, doors, foundation and grade. This can be your starting point.

If you don’t have one, why did you buy a home without getting a home inspection!? Seriously, I know full well a home inspection can’t catch everything and I also understand that in the height of the housing boom (in North America, anyway), waiting often meant being outbid or disqualified because the seller didn’t want to wait for the time it takes to arrange an inspection. Professionally, I think it’s just silly to not have one. They generally cost a few hundred dollars but can save you thousands!

Case in point – my sister bought a home fifteen years ago and didn’t have a home inspection. After they’d been in the house for a bit, the learned the entire back wall of the home was filled with mould and was rotten. There were tell tales signs of mould but even though her father in law worked in the construction industry and was “handy”, no one saw them until it was too late. A proper home inspection could have given them options – to pass on the house altogether or to go back to the seller and as for a reduction in price. Without it, they were left with thousands of dollars in repair costs. It isn’t fail proof but it can significantly reduce complications! Please note, for some first time mortgage applications, the bank or lender will evaluate the home and call it an inspection but the bank only evaluates if the house is worth the price being paid, they do not inspect any elements of the house.

Whether you build new or purchase an existing home, both require time and money be put in to them in order to maintain their value. How much depends on a few key things. The year of construction, type of build, size, materials used and government rules and regulations all factor in to the equation.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share with you the development of my home study and explain some of the factors to be considered when developing your own plan. As always, I welcome your questions and in put - if I don't know the answers, I have the resources to find the answers for you. Check back next We-design-Day as I start rolling out our plan and explain the building envelope and it's importance.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday (do Monday's ever stop?)

Every time Monday rolls around, I think of Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats... "Tell me why I don't like Monday's!" It isn't even that I don't like Monday's... It's just that there are so many of them and they never stop coming (and I'm never quite ready for Monday morning)...

I actually had my menu ready on Saturday (yay) but have been a little uninspired and unorganized when it comes to blogging. I've got a list of things I need to get organized for the blog (a bunch of good design and craft stuff that I'm very excited and energized about) but I don't want to launch anything until I'm "ready" - hopefully it will all launch at the beginning of February.

This week, in conjunction with our desire to improve our eating habits, I dug out my old vegetarian cook books. I'll share one of the new recipes I tried below my menu. Here is what we're having this week!

January 16 to 22

Monday Breaded pork chops and Lemon Brown Rice
Tuesday Steak and baked potatoes
Wednesday Chicken burgers and salad
Thursday Fettuccine Alfredo
Friday Grilled Cheese
Saturday Brute Sandwiches
Sunday Roast Beef

Thanks for stopping by - for more yummy menu ideas, check out the Org Junkie!

Breaded Pork Chops
1/2 cup cracker crumbs
1 pkg. Onion soup mix
2 eggs
3 pork chops (loin cut, no bone)

Trim all fat and soak chops in beaten eggs. Poke well with fork. Combine crumbs and soup mix and drop in chops and shake well. Bake on a rack over a cookie sheet for 40 minutes at 375 to 400 Fahrenheit.

 Lemon Brown Rice
6 cups cooked rice (1/2 white, 1/2 brown - or any combination of brown and wild rice)
1 cup each coarsely chopped broccoli and cauliflower
1 carrot, julienned
3 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp margarine
2 tsp lemon juice
salt, to taste

Melt margarine in wok, when hot, toss in green onions and cook until bright green and translucent, add other vegetables and stir fry 4 minutes. Remove vegetables and pour in lemon juice until pan is deglazed. Add vegetables and rice and salt to taste. Stir fry until heated through (5 minutes) tossing often.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dream a little Dream: Plans instead of Resolutions!

I don't know about all of you, but I have dreams of grandeur. I don't mean that I dream of fame and fortune but I do dream of a life less ordinary. I start out the year (nearly every year) with the thought “this is going to be my year".

The year I lose weight and get healthy, the year I finish/write a story to publish, the year I get organized, the year I get my own business running, the year I succeed.

Each year turns out just like the last and I begin each New Year with the same ideas, hopes and dreams. I've known for a long time that my thought patterns are cyclical and in order to do something, I have to take it further than a list or an idea on a piece of paper. I joke about being scatterbrained and disorganized - and I am, to a point, but I think I also lack a few other things that keep me from succeeding.

Focus - I know this is a problem. What starts out with a bang gives way to me forgetting about it, replacing it with a new and even better idea, or my lack of confidence zaps the life out of it.

PhotobucketCommitment - maybe this is similar to focus but I can't commit to any one thing. I've got a few talents and they aren't the get you rich quick kind of talents but moreover, I need to hone in on one thing and start with that but because I lack focus, I'm not sure how to do that!

Time - not enough of it. I know everyone suffers from this. The real world gets in the way of living one's dream. Food needs to be bought, bills paid and by the time all that is done, there is no time left in my day to dedicate to a start-up. I work 7 to 5 (including commute) and I have a small child who is not known for his ability to sleep... I just don't know how to get it all in...

Health - I lack it. Not just my weight and lack of regular exercise. I have a few health problems that are roadblocks. I've never used my health as an excuse but as the drugs increase in my body, the side effects worsen but the issues aren't really being resolved. My body hurts, a lot, but worse than that is the exhaustion! Any parent, college student, senior or stressed person can relate, I'm sure, but many days, I feel like that times 10. My head gets muddy and I can't think straight and its sheer will power that one foot gets put in front of the other. Working all day and walking all over campus do me in. When I get home, its make dinner, find jammies and SIT! There is no playing with my son, no visiting friends, talking on the phone, and writing or being creative, I am just finished. And the bonus? I get to do the exact same thing the next day!

But I want 2012 to be different. I’m three years from my fortieth birthday and although that doesn’t really bother me, the fact I feel stalled – and like I’ve spent nearly twenty years stalled – does. I want to live life, not wait for a life to live. I’ll let you know right now, I don’t know the answer, I don’t have a plan and I don’t know if I will have any success but this New Year, I’m making a list and I will be checking it twice! Assuming I can remember where I put it…

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Amazing "Other Mother"

Today marks the birth of my "other mother"... My step mom is having her &$ birthday today and although we've got thousands of miles between us, I wanted to extend my heartfelt wishes to her!

I think I've been very fortunate to have been blessed with an amazing woman as my step mom. She's just like another mother and sometimes, we are so alike, I forget that she actually didn't give birth to me!

Happy birthday, Mémere, we love you and miss you!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Old Habits

This week, it is just me and TroubleMaker (sorry, Mom, if that's not a real sentence)! My husband is going out of town so it's just us (and the fur kids, of course)! When my husband lived out of town (during the six years prior to TroubleMaker being born), I had a routine...

Get up, get dressed, walk dog, get ready for work, have toast, take dog to daycare, go to work... Get dog from daycare, come home, change, walk dog, have shower, make dinner, sit, eat, play on computer, bed.

Not exciting and neither were my meals. I like quick and easy and often (ok, not often) always made the same dishes week after week. When it was just me, I didn't care much about what I ate. I ate the things my husband isn't keen on too. This week, I'm paying homage to my roots! (haha)

January 9 to 15
Monday Delicio Pizza
Tuesday Farmer's Breakfast
Wednesday Fish n Chips
Thursday Grilled Cheese & Soup
Friday Hamburgers & fries
Saturday Nachos
Sunday Chicken

It will be an adjustment for everyone so I`m hoping it all goes well! Thanks for stopping in and be sure to check out all the menu idea`s at the Org Junkie`s Menu Plan Monday!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Menu Plan Monday!

It's Monday and that means another menu plan! I didn't get very far over the Christmas break with planning my menus - I, in fact, didn't even plan a menu between Christmas and New Years! I will admit, I don't like flying by the seat of my pants! I need structure! Thankfully there was turkey and ham leftovers so that saved my bacon (sorry, it's early, I'm up by myself and I feel funny)...

This week, I wanted "EASY" and not much prep. Being I'm back to work Wednesday, I have to get back in the groove of getting dinner on the table at a set time. I was sick New Year's day so I've bumped things around a bit. What's on your menu this week? Are you back to work too? 

January 1 to 7
Monday: Chinese Take Out
Tuesday: Yummy Beef with Rice
Wednesday: Baked Mac & Cheese
Thursday: Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
Friday: Burgers with Cheddar Jalapeno Rolls
Saturday: ???
Sunday: Crockpot beef roast

Check out all the great menu's at the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thanks for popping in and we'll see you again next week! 


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