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!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

We-Design-Day: Home Evaluation - Starting your study

Keeping up with my plan to document my home evaluation, I started photographing things around the house. I had planned on doing the exterior first, however, when I woke last Sunday, there was snow everywhere and it was still snowing! So I focused my attention indoors!

Doing close-up photography sure goes to show one where the dirt lurks in a house! So please excuse the large and overwhelming dust bunnies running around the pictures!

First, I started off in the master suite looking at the window casings. I was aware that we had some water infiltration in the past, however I had always thought it has been because we'd left the window open in the rain.
If you look (and I hope it translates in this picture) there are streaks down the wall. It would appear, at first glace, that I'd left the window open. The only issue is this is the end that doesn't get opened.

Then I started examining the wall under the casing and I found evidence of further issue. See that little bitty piece of peeled paint? That, my friends, can be evidence of water damage. finding this did not make me happy. I pushed around and sniffed (don't ask, I have a weird sniffy thing I do). Now I didn't find anything soft or smell anything odd. The sniff test, for the record, is not scientific. But finding the peeled paint and additional bubbling paint indicates to me there may possibly be water infiltration at some point on the window.

I then started looking at the window structure itself and the wood supporting it. I noted it was very dusty (someone should really dust behind the blinds once and a while) and in the corners, years of ground in dirt. We bought our house in 2004 - it was 23 years old at the time and although it had been well maintained, things age naturally. Couple it with the window's northern exposure, the two large spruce trees that shade and shelter the window, the decorative wooden "trim" installed under the window and it can lead to what I'm seeing in the window. The exterior casings are also shown here and you can see that they are moderately weathered but still in reasonable condition. I do believe my 'problem' is the decorative wood piece on the outside. It's been inset in the aluminum siding this providing an easy access point for weather. I know part of it's rotten (from when I repainted it seven years ago) and I'd love to remove it (I'll take a picture of it soon - if it stops snowing at some point this weekend) but I'm not sure what's under and what exposing it would do. So, I'm smart enough to leave it alone (for now, anyway)!

Disheartened, I moved into the ensuite. I already know I've got problems in this room. Firstly, the exhaust fan conked out years ago and oh, it's so necessary in small space! I already knew the shower pan is cracked and we have a humidity problems in the space and a while back, I noticed darkening at the edge of the shower and under the toilet. Both spots indicated a leak of some variety.

I don't like dark marks under places where water is. I'm not necessarily concerned about mould - dangerous mould anyway. However, dark spots like this mean there could be rot and I don't like rot. Rot means more work. One wants to remedy leaks before dark spots appear. I'd like to say that I did this for my science, but it was mostly caused by busy lives, a husband living in a different city, marriage, new baby, new job syndrome. We got busy and didn't have the funds to manage repairs. It happens to everyone and why having a plan in place is so important.

Here is a picture of our window. Other than needing a good cleaning, a coat of paint and an operable ventilation fan, it's in reasonable condition. It does ice up in cold weather (like big chunks of ice - but this usually occurs at minus 30 Celsius).

Our sink and taps were next - the sink is cultured marble and it's horrible. The big black mark is a chip that had been previously repaired and is now deteriorating. The taps are new (we replaced them last fall). I don't like them but we opted to get the cheapest taps available as we were not in a position to properly renovate the ensuite however the taps needed replacing.

Finally, I looked under our sink to check the condition of the pipes. We've got a proper trap and the plumbing is adequate. The water lines are good and show no sign of corrosion, leaks or sweating.

Putting it all together takes effort and energy and time! Having it completed will allow me the ability to properly plan and develop our maintenance and replacement schedule. I hope you've found today's article informative and educational! If you have any questions or if you'd like additional information, feel free to send me an email! Thanks for reading and see you again next week!


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