Words To Live By:

"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you finish the work."

Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu Mayhem Monday: Week 5

The weather can't seem to make up it's mind.  Is it spring?  Is it winter?  Let's freeze one day, snow the next and melt it all down a few days later.   I find the weather actually affects my cravings and eating habits - and this wonky weather has me just as confused as it seems to be.   I want light spring-time meals, I want tummy-warming comfy food, I want someone else to cook for me for once!

I made it 2 weeks without doing a major grocery shop again (so proud!) - with just a quick run to replace some of the consumables (aren't all groceries consumable?  I don't think that's the word I want... but my brain is not cooperating this morning.)

Here is our mealplan for the next week aka - week 5:
  • Turkey Pasta Bake (made this last night so I just have to bake in the oven - hooray for easy meals!)
  • Turkey Stew
  • Turkey Pot Pie (using leftovers from the Turkey Stew)
  • Maple Chicken, Brocolli & Rice
  • Perfect Roast Chicken, Twice Baked Potatoes, Spinach Citrus Salad & Fresh Cut Veggies
  • Pulled Pork, Fresh Rolls & Asian Coleslaw
  • Pulled Pork Pizza
& a spare:
  • Lasagna
All of it sounds delicious... although I seem to be going through a poultry phase. Strange!  I've never made the turkey stew or turkey pot pie but I figure it should be simple enough to substitute the turkey for the chicken in a couple of my no-fail recipes.  

Now that I've made up my mind, let's hope the weather will do the same...and preferably leaning towards spring!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday: It's A No Go

I'm skipping the wishlist today.   I'm seriously slipping because I skipped Monday's meal plan (we had enough groceries remaining from last week and dining misadventures that we're borrowing from the last one.)
Now that I think about it, Friday's post was a day late too!  Such is life in the Brown household.  Always late or off-schedule.  

I could take the time to come up with some wishes... but really I'm feeling satisfied today and there's nothing 'jumping' out at me that I 'want'.  Oh sure, there's lots that I want... just nothing to throw into a collage and talk about. 

I've been workin on more shower details for April - including the finishing touches on the last of the 40 handcrafted invitations.   For today, I've had it with ribbon, charms & embossing powder.  Our venue is booked (Aurora Seniors' Centre), colour scheme selected and I think we've picked the favours we're going to use.   We'll be throwing a tea-style shower - lots of finger foods, mixing and mingling!  Still no thoughts on shower games - I don't want anything too cheesy, and we only have a 3 hour window for all our fun.  Any thoughts or tips on hosting a fantastic shower?   Any good game ideas?  

Best part of all of this shower stuff?  No boys... and I get to dress up!  Bring on my fun & flirty Madden Girl Rosette Pumps!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Five in Friday: Family Fun

So I'm going to make this quick - I'm in the car (passenger seat!) typing with my thumbs. Ignore the typos please! We're all dressed up for a night in the city - it's my sister's engagement party and I'm so happy for a grown-up night out.

I realize that it's Saturday but in finite if Family Day here in Ontario on Monday, here are some affordable family fun boredom busters:

1) Teddy Bear Picnic - great for the under 6 crowd. Simple fun that encourages you to use your imagination. Grab a quilt, your favorite stuffy, some honey sandwiches and lay out your spread and enjoy!

2) Slumber Party - stay in your pjs, build a fort, tell silly stories and don't forget the microwave s'mores.

3) Family Game Night - break out the board games, start a tournament on the Wii. Encourage your kids to take turns, play fair and the rediscover the importance of laughter.

4) scavenger hunt or any variation thereof. Got some pirates? Draw a map and make sure there's some hidden treasure to discover at the end. Looking for dimple? Sometimes we play the uninspired Alphabet Game - search the house or neighborhood for all the letters A to Z.

5). Movie Marathon - let everyone pick their faves (no complaints!) get your comfies, order pizza, pop the popcorn and settle in for mindless together time. Cuddles in the couch are a definite must!

Happy family Day - enjoy the ones you've got!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday: Soul Seeking

So my week has not gone at all according to plan.   The boys picked up the sniffles (again!) somewhere, Kevin came home from work early on Monday - not because he loved me so much and just had to see me - nope, he came home with fever and chills.   *sigh*  (And, regretably, I was not a very nice wife nor happy camper with him...  as we - the boys and I - have all had multiple experiences with this bug since before Christmas and does Mommy get to tuck herself in for a sick day?   Not a chance... although I didn't have to do much for one half-day I had the stomach flu on a weekend last month.)  The daycare kids (and my own little monkeys) have been getting into squabbles and bouncing off the walls.  The dog has been extra-mischievous.  I've been a little morose or peevish.  I need to slap on my happy face and get over myself.  Easier said than done.

All of the above being said, here is my most recent wishlist- more abstract than tangible today.
  1. I wish we would make it through the remaining weeks of winter germ-free!  Seriously had enough of fighting one bug and squashing it to only have someone introduce a new one to the house.
  2. I wish I was more organized... or followed through on staying organized.  I'm good at starting a system but it always ends up as organized chaos. 
  3. I wish we had more date nights - just the two of us.  I feel like it's very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and mundane.  It's easy to be tired, cranky and uninspired.  It's easy to forget how important it is to focus on the reasons we love each other and how special our relationship really is.
  4. I wish I took the time to document the monkeys' "firsts" better.  That ties into point number 2 a little.   I realise how much I forgot to commit to memory when I go to fill in their baby books or want to create a specific memory page for their scrapbooks.

    and my top wish after all this moody contemplating I've been doing would be:
  5. that my monkeys would have had a chance to know my Oma (my maternal grandmother).  She was such a sweet (but stern when necessary!) soul and I love her so much.  Today would have been her 91st birthday. 
Give a hug to those you love and take note of all the important moments you experience everyday.  Learn from your mistakes.  Choose to be happy!  Strive to be patient and kind!  Enjoy the rest of your week - we're half way to the weekend and for those of us in Ontario, it's a long one - woohoo!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu Mayhem Monday: Week 3

Happy Valentine's Day!  I know that many think it's just another big Hallmark holiday but it doesn't have to be.  I realise that we shouldn't limit ourselves to expressing our love once a year but honestly - who does that?  Sure it can be gimicky and a big cashgrab but if you think outside the box you can express your love (today or anyday) without spending a dime.    I mean, really, we should be thankful more than just Thanksgiving but you don't see people boycotting the turkey!

We don't celebrate big (maybe when we were dating, I got the token romance and wooing) and from there it's usually been meals in, light a few candles.... but this week we're going for dinner (as a family) or Kevin's bringing home takeout - probably a good thing because I made it two weeks without doing a grocery shop (minus milk & fruit) although I varied from the menu quite a bit.  Kaleb says "We should go out, Mommy, so you don't have to cook and it's less work for you."  Ah, sweet kid!

I made pink cupcakes (found a box of cake mix - I'm out of flour!), iced them with Nutella (because I don't even have icing sugar in the pantry), will top them with a shot of whipped cream and I melted down some white chocolate, tinted it pink and piped it into heart shapes to top the cupcakes.  This is more an afterschool treat for the daycare crew than a dessert for the family to enjoy.   We'll also be making candy flowers - hearts cut out of paper, hole punched near the bottom then you thread a few onto a sucker (a round one like a tootsie pop) and voila, candy flower.   The older boys will complain but it a) keeps them busy for a few minutes and b) I've told them they don't get the suckers if they don't do the craft.  I'm so mean.
On top of this it's Monday, and Valentine's celebrations aside, I need to think about our meal plan/menu for the upcoming week - 6 meals because I'm not cooking tonight, and of course a spare.

Week 3:
  • Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells - recipe courtesy of the Haute Apple Pie blog.  I'll probably make mine with sausage or ground turkey rather than chicken.  Served with a ceasar (salad, not the drink) and probably some garlic bread or garlic sticks.  Did I mention I made the Nutella Orange French Toast recipe from that site?!  Lemme tell ya' - BIG hit!
  • Crockpot Pot Roast
  • Beef Barley Soup (using the pot roast leftovers)
  • Roasted Chicken Breasts, Ranch Roasted Potatoes & a veggie side
  • Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad (or maybe I'll make it with apples and cranberries this time) - good hot or cold, it's a nice light-tasting alternative to a red sauce pasta.
  • Chicken Ceasar Pitas
and a spare:
  • Chicken Fingers & Sweet Potatoe Fries
Sounds delish... now if only I could restock my fridge, freezer and pantry without having to go to the grocery store.  I dislike grocery shopping.   Ah well... the end results are good!  Happy cooking!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This Little Princess

She finally decided to make her arrival (and she definitely deserves a post all her own!)

The wait is thankfully over (as I'm sure her mom will agree!) I'm an auntie again to a sweet little princess. Congrats to my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews (James, Krystel, Knightley and Hawksley) on the safe arrival of their baby girl, Tahlia Victoria! She was born this morning at 2:38am and weighs 7lbs 2oz.

We will make the drive to see them this weekend.  The boys and I are so excited to give her cuddles and kisses.  She's the first little girl in our family and will be treated like the princess she is!

Wishlist Wednesday: Kitchen Comforts

So today's post is a day late.... (a buck short and now I have a song stuck in my head!)   Yesterday just got away from me and I didn't have much time to relax.  I had a bunch of friends over for tea this morning/afternoon and I always feel obligated to give the house a more-thorough clean than my usual midweek clean for some reason.  Craziness when I look at what 6 kids managed to do in that short 1 hour post-school this afternoon... sigh!  

Anyhow, here are some of the things I've been wishing for when it comes to outfitting my kitchen:

  1. Cuisinart Single Serve Brewing System - I want to replace my first edition Tassimo which we never use and I love the features of this system, including the My K Cup feature and the great selection of flavoured K-Cups available.
  2. Hanging Pot Rack - I don't necessarily want this particular one but the idea of a pot rack always intrigues me, especially when I'm banging around in my overfilled cupboards.  I'd like a nice pot set to replace my well-used Pampered Chef set too!  (PS:  Did you know there are entire websites like this deciated to pot racks?!?)
  3. One Touch Can Opener - I had this can opener.  I loved this can opener.  I dropped this can opener one too many times and it broke.  It got stuck on a can and in my infinite wisdom I tried to wrench it off and sliced open my fingers.  Ouch!  That was a few weeks ago and everytime I have to use my old fashioned twisty opener, I want my One Touch back! (Despite my mishap above, it leaves no sharp edges anywhere - great for accident prone me!)
  4. Epicure Selections Turquoise Baker - I've wanted this baker since I first saw it in the catalogue.  I love the colour and how practical it is.  Do I need it?  Not a chance... but the 20cm./4 cup baker is on sale so I might just cave.
  5. Breadmaker - Ok, funny story, I've had a breadmaker on my wishlist for years.  I love the smell and taste of fresh baked, homemade bread but I suck at the whole patience and kneading thing.  Kevin bought me a breadmaker the Christmas before last.  I returned it - it was an overbudget gift and for some reason I just wasn't all that fond of a gift that meant 'work' for me.  (You know they'd want fresh bread every day!) I'm kicking myself for not keeping it.  I haven't done much research on them lately, but I liked the features of this Cuisinart model.  One day, I say, one day.
What kitchen gadgets, tools, appliances or solutions are you craving?  Everyone has to have a kitchen fave - feel free to share!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Mayhem Monday: Week 2

It's the beginning of another busy week, after yet another busy weekend and who want's to think about cooking?  Not me... which is why tonight (in between post-school chaos and pre-family-haircuts) we'll be dining gourmet style, enjoying white cheddar mac-n-cheese (from a box!) and frozen pizza.  Yum.  (Blech!)

The second week after payday, I try to postpone the grocery expedition as long as possible and get us as close to the next payday as I can without doing a big shop.   This means my meals don't tend to be quite as creative though.  (Or maybe they're more creative...but not as exciting!)   Last week's meal plan went pretty well - although we didn't get to the Fiesta Chicken Soup.  In no particular order, here's what's on the current menu in the Brown household:

Week 2:
  • Mac-n-Cheese with frozen Pizza
  • Dutch Meatball Soup (I can never get mine to taste like Mom's, Beppe's or Oma's... what's the secret?)
  • Shepherd's Pie (this will NOT go over well with the monkeys, but I enjoy it!)
  • Peanut Chicken with Coconut Basmati (I know two fabulous Epicure reps if you want to try the recipe... but storebought sauce - or your own concoction - would work just as well.
  • Lasagna & Caesar Salad
  • Honey Mustard Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, Salad & Fresh Cut Veggies
  • Chicken Fajitas
and a spare:
  • Cheesy Pasta Bake
Don't forget to share your favourite quick and easy dinner ideas!  And if anyone knows the secret to the soup (ahem, cough, cough - Mom!) wanna let me in on it?!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Valentine's Wooden Heart Wreath

Today, the boys - meaning Kaleb, Justin and the 9 year old who is spending the PA Day at our house - played board games and Wii.   This means while the 15-month old (who we also babysit) went down for his nap, I grabbed that spare hour to create this adorable wreath.  Total crafting time?  Less than an hour if you don't include waiting for the mod-podge to dry.

This is inspired by the Kaisercraft Star Wreath I've blogged about earlier (here) but this one is completely my own creation.

Supplies:  American Crafts Everyday Patterned Paper Pack, Craft Smart Acrylic Paint in Bright Magenta, Mod-Podge Matte Finish, Color Box Fluid Chalk in Charcoal, Celebrate It (Michaels) Basic Ribbon, DCWV Chipboard Glitter Alphabet -All Dressed Up,  assorted wooden hearts and 12" wooden wreath form from Michaels.

I have boys... not big fans of pinks or reds but I wanted a pretty Valentine's Wreath.  I decided to go with a fun and bright colour scheme and the AC Everyday papers were perfect.

Here are the steps:

1) On the reverse side of patterned paper, trace hearts (or other shape) face side down.  
2)  I've decided you could probably skip the painting... but that's hindsight!)   Paint the hearts with the acrylic paint, front and sides first.  Allow to dry.
3) While paint is drying, cut out shapes from paper and set aside.
4) If paint is dry, flip hearts over and paint the reverse side.
5) When paint is completely dry, apply mod-podge to hearts and adhere patterned papers.  Seal with mod-podge if desired.
6) When mod-podge has dried, distress edges of hearts.  You could use a sanding block but I cheated and used the fluid chalk.
7)  Hot glue hearts in desired layout to wooden wreath form.
8)  Embellish as desired.  I might add some buttons or trim to mine at a later date.   We'll see...
9) Trim ribbon to appropriate length and attach to back of wreath.   
10)  Admire your work and hang where desired.

Fun & simple but oh-so-cute.  Probably cost me less than $25 to put together.   Easy to customize for any occasion or decor using different shapes and papers - Christmas, Easter, Spring, Etc.   I love it!!!  This will definitely be one I'm adding to my easy-to-make-but-fabulous-gift file!

Five On Friday: Book Baby

Who knew it would be so hard to decide on a quick topic, list-format, when the choices are endless?  Do I highight my favourite teas?  Animated movies I could watch over and over and over again? Favourite baby girl names? List my pet peeves?  Least favourite foods? It was a difficult decision but I narrowed it down and am happy to present  today's Five On Friday:  Book Baby.

We love to give books as welcome-baby presents.  They say it's never too early to foster a love of reading and on the off chance that the new parents aren't big book people, well at least baby's library has something in it! 

Baby Books We Love to Give:

1.  Love You Forever - Robert Munsch 
2.  Guess How Much I Love You  - Sam McBratney
3.  Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? - Dr. Seuss
4.  Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes - Mem Fox
5.  I Love You:  A Keepsake Storybook Collection by Scholastic

This is by no means a definitive list.  I actually had a hard time narrowing it down to just five titles - we've been known to give others (like Princess Grace & The Little Lost Kitten - purchased at Chapters for my imminently arriving niece.)  Of course, we have many more favourites that we could share but if you're looking for a treasured gift that's a little different than the typical rattles or clothes, these are a good place to start.   Most are available in variety of formats including board book, gift editions, hardcover and paperback.   Browse the children's department at your local bookstore and you'll be sure to find some others that are perfect for the family you have in mind.

Here's a cute little side note on books.  I went to Chapters yesterday with Justin and spent quite a bit of time browsing the children's section together.   We picked up Mortimer by Robert Munsch and I've had my eye on the Adventure Bible Storybook and decided I might as well get it.

Last night before bed, I tucked in between the boys and we read the story of Creation from our new acquisition.  At the end of each story is a related memory verse - for this story, it is Genesis 1:1 - a verse we've attempted to memorise before.   As I'm getting the boys to repeat it after me, "In the beginning...", Kaleb jumps the gun and finishes with "God created the 'Kevins' and the earth."  So cute!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday

Time for another new feature.  I figure if I know I have to come up with an entry on regular topics with a modicum (ooh fancy word!) of variety, I might just manage to not go weeks without blogging anything.  Welcome to the new installment of "Wishlist Wednesday". 

Today's wishlist features built-ins, organization and decor I would love to see in my house one day:

1.  I'm craving wall to wall bookshelves in the living room.  Not quite sure how it would work as the window frame on the west wall sits under the recess of the bulkhead where the bookshelves would be.
2.  Cube display shelves.   Between the living room and so-called dining room we have a half-wall with no function whatsoever.  I would like to add cubes and possibly recessed lights to make it a display shelf of sorts.

3.  This picture doesn't quite show what I'd like, but it gives you an idea.  The depth of the fireplace and space between the windows would be ideal to incorporate some shelves or media cabinets when we finally get around to finishing the fireplace.  We would of course add a mantle and trim and hopefully the tv will be wall mounted above.

4.  I really want an entryway bench or table with some shelving above.  I love this one from Pottery Barn but it costs a fortune!  Maybe I can thrift something and give it a paint job over the summer. 

5.  I fell in love with these decorative plates from Pier1 the very first time I saw them.   Initially I wanted them for the dark wall in the living room... but if you refer back to item #1 on the wishlist, there just wouldn't be anywhere to hang them.  We could alter the bookcase idea to work around it though.   If that's a no-go I have a lovely little wall in the eat-in kitchen that would be perfect for these plates.

Happy Wednesday!