menu plan monday: 7|11 to 13|11

Monday, November 7, 2011 0 comments
Have you heard of Menu Plan Monday? If you've read this blog more than once, especially lately, you have. MPM is hosted weekly by Laura over at

It seems that all I manage to post these days is my weekly meal plan. (How many times have I said that over the last couple of months?) The time I have to sit at the computer for longer than a few minutes seems to be getting more and more infrequent. I usually start working on MPM mid-week and finish it up when the grocery flyers come out. Posting it here somehow makes it a lot easier than if I were to just write it down with pen and paper. Maybe because I don't print out the recipes?

Printing out the recipes wouldn't be a bad idea though. If I were to do a binder with the meal plan for the week and a printout of each recipe, as I make each meal I could tear out the recipes we didn't care for and keep the ones we liked. It would be a good way to get a compilation of tried and true family favourites. Hmmm... Maybe I need to find my laser printer in the garage? I prefer it to the ink jet that is in the house right now.

On to this week's suppers though.

Tuesday: slow-cooked Eye of Round roast, Roasted Red Pepper Rice (minus the feta), Roasted Beets with Balsamic Vinegar, Special Cauliflower, carrot sticks
Wednesday: Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs, rice, corn, garden salad
Thursday: Pizza Braid, Caesar salad, baby carrots
Friday: Lentil Sloppy Joes over Carrot Wheat Kaiser Buns, carrot sticks
Saturday: Lemon Pepper Pork Chops, baked potatoes, peas and corn, toast
Sunday: Oven-Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, green peas, Cheese-Garlic biscuits

I have the sweet potato in the microwave right now for the gnocchi in tonight's soup and am on the hunt for a quick and easy crusty bread. Dishes to wash, laundry to put on, a grocery list to put together for tomorrow, and a million other little things to do. Happy Monday!

menu plan monday: 17|10 to 23|10

Monday, October 17, 2011 0 comments
Last week I forgot to take into account the fact that my boyfriend was going to be in the bush hunting (or not hunting; more of a boy's week, really, and not so long on the hunting part) and, as my step-daughter is likely to stay at her mom's even on her dad's days since he'll be gone, it'll just be myself, the boychild, and the baby and there won't be much need for things like a huge ham shank in the slow cooker. So last week's meal plan got modified towards the end of the week and some things were moved to this week and next instead, hence the deja vu this weekend.

Monday: homemeade Egg McMuffins
Tuesday: creamed peas on toast, carrot sticks, apple wedges
Wednesday: Chicken Chili, lime Tostitos (meal to be eaten from a Thermos in the van)
Thursday: Crock Pot Minestrone Soup
Friday: Pizza Braid, Caesar salad, carrot sticks
Saturday: slow cooker Chili Verde, homemade tortilla chips
Sunday: Slow Cooker Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Roasted Beets with Balsamic Vinegar, broccoli

What's on your menu?

caveat artopta

Sunday, October 16, 2011 0 comments
Be ye forewarned that baking bread while the usual household population of four-half-the-time-and-five-the-other-half-of-the-time is down to three, with one of those being a bottle-refusing nursling (who is not yet a consumer of solids), will be detrimental to your post-partum waistline. And just out of curiousity, how long can I say my waistline is post-partum? Babygirl will be five months old next week. I'll always be post-partum by techinical definition, right?

But yes, it is true. If you take those three lonely oranges spoken of (and photographed) a few days previous and juice them up (manually; too much effort to drag out the juicer and then have to clean it), you will end up with the exact amount required for the recipe you should not be making in such a sparsely populated home, temporary though that scarcity of people might be. Homemade bread? Does not remain uneaten for long. Certainly not long enough to share with the missing family members. And if you count out the baby, as mentioned, the number of potential consumers is two.*

The juice. The Juice! Oh Em Gee! (I had to.) I grew up on frozen concentrated OJ and loved it. I could mix up a jug of it in the morning and drink it all by supper. I can probably count on one hand (possibly even half a hand) the number of times I've had fresh-squeezed orange juice. My little fresh-squeezed cup of juice had the intensity of a crappy-for-you drink like Tang or Sunny D but with the flavour of real, fresh oranges. It had that hit-you-in-the-taste-buds flavour burst. And the colour? Amazing. Look at it! Orange! Not yellow.

So. Take that little glass measuring cup of juice and add to enough ingredients to make the dough for Cinnamon Swirl Orange Bread. Split the risen-and-punched-down dough (I'm all about the hyphens today, aren't I?) into two as the recipe says but roll the second portion out a little bigger and spread it with way too much (is there such a thing?) melted butter and cinnamon sugar to make cinnamon rolls. Mix up the glaze called for in the recipe but instead of putting in on the bread, spread it over the cinnamon rolls instead.

The loaf of bread will be just fine without the glaze.

It has a delicate orange flavour from the juice and zest and a beautiful swirl of cinnamon and sugar inside. And this way it can be toasted. If it lasts long enough to make it to a toaster. Which it isn't. Lasting, that is.

* If the one solids-eating child remaining in the house decides that he doesn't care for the orange flavour of the glaze on the cinnamon rolls (but doesn't mind the orange flavour in the rolls) and chooses instead to have a half slice of bread in his school lunch, that's fine. You have a bread-eating partner. If that child then comes home from school saying that, on second thought, he doesn't really like the bread either because of the "brown stuff in it" (the cinnamon and sugar, perhaps?) and requests it please be made "without the brown stuff next time", you've lost that bread-eating partner. And you will find yourself eating two thirds (or is that three quarters?) of the loaf and 81.25% (yes, really) of the rolls with only two, possibly three, rolls being eaten by others (one or two by my mom and part of one by the boychild).

So caveat artopta - don't make those things over which you will lose the struggle with your willpower. And caveat mansor. For you will ingest way too much gluten and feel like a slug.

this moment

Friday, October 14, 2011 0 comments
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

WFMW: meal planning

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 0 comments
It's been a looooong time since I've participated in Works for Me Wednesday but I think I remember how to do it. It's just like riding a bike.

I've posted about meal planning before. I seem to fall off the wagon and then hop back on a little while later. Repeatedly. I'm currently on the wagon and it's working out well for us. Having relatively recently merged two houses and families together as well as added a third child, things are getting hectic. I think I'm getting the hang of working around our schedule though and planning according to whether my step-daughter is at her mom's or not, whether my boyfriend is off or working a day or night shift, and whether one or both of the older kids have anything going on (ie: swimming, dance, martial arts). Practice makes perfect, right?

I only plan out our supper meal. When I'm planning (which I do right in a blog entry, figuring it out as I go), I first type out the days of the week and then on each line, before the weekday, I temporarily type what is going on that day that will affect supper. Is it martial arts (MA), which requires supper to be over and us out the door by 6 p.m.? Swimming (a 5:30 out-the-door timeline)? A day shift (D), which means that my boyfriend won't be home until after 7 or 8 p.m. that night? On dayshift nights, I often just plan for my son and I and keep leftovers for my boyfriend. Seeing in black and white what is going on makes it easier to know where to use the slow cooker and where I have time for my involved meals. I may be off on maternity leave right now but it seems like I actually have less time during the day than when I was working. Could be that my day seems to be chopped up into 10-minute blocks much of the time and supper preparations, even if started in the morning, often take hours.

After I write down the day's activities, I slot in anything that I know I need to make. For example, if my son requested pizza one night, I see what night that best fits and type it in as a place marker. If I know chicken works best on Thursday night, I type that in. I then hit up my Pinterest Food board and the recipe boards of those I follow for the actual recipes to link to. I also take a look at previous the recipe index round-up over at I'm an Organizing Junkie as well as recipes I've linked to right here in my own previous MPM posts. If I know I have chicken and pork in the freezer, I look for recipes that use those meats. If I know that one of the grocery stores has a steal on ham, I plan a meal or two using ham. I try to choose recipes that use my freezer, fridge, and pantry first and require few extra ingredients. And I find that using a specific recipe, rather than an ambiguous "Thursday: chicken, rice, vegetables" makes it easier for me as well.

Once I get the week's meals planned out, I go back and take out the notes, deleting the swimming, dance, and shift references since I no longer need them. Once I've posted my blog entry, I refer to it a couple of times a day to see what I can do in advance to make things go faster, either for that night's supper or for a future night.

It's a system that continually evolves for me. It's not yet perfect and could stand to be quite a bit quicker but in time... It has definitely made things easier and has helped us to eat more cheaply and much more healthfully.

What works for you? Head over to We Are THAT Family and let us know.

orange you glad?

On my counter sit three lonely oranges, slowly shriveling up and getting soft.

Nestled in a cool metal twig-ish bowl right next to an overly ripe banana.

After the success of Monday's Carrot Wheat Kaiser Buns and the recent acquisition of some new loaf pans (metal though; I prefer glass), these guys have been calling my name. So I've been hunting down some orange-infused baking recipes. Quick bread? Orange Bread from the trusty Simply Recipes. Yeast bread? Orange Yeast Bread all the way from New Mexico. Orange Cinnamon Rolls, Cinnamon Swirl Orange Bread, Orange Blueberry Bread, Apricot Orange Bread, Granola Orange Bread, Orange Oatmeal Bread... What's a girl to choose?

As tonight's chicken sits in the crockpot awaiting just the right moment for it to be turned on, I sit here in my pajamas, baby sleeping upstairs and bedhead begging to be washed out, waffling on which recipe to make. (Orange waffles!) Because if I don't start now/soon, the day slips away. Funny how it does that when I have to stop for 15 to 45 minutes every couple of hours to feed the baby. Not to mention the diapering and just the general babygirl interactions.

Hair! Clothes! Dishes! Chicken! Laundry! Baking!! Budgeting. And then all the rest of the things that need to be done.

undercover vegetables

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 0 comments
I'm not a fan of sneaking vegetables and legumes into recipes in an attempt to disguise them but I do like adding in extra veggies. Spinach in rice pilaf or marinara sauce. Lentils in turkey sloppy joes. Celery in salmon patties. Clearly visible added nutrition and colour.

Monday night I tried out a new recipe. Two new ones, actually. In the past I've made sloppy joes with a mix of ground turkey and small brown/green lentils. I decided to try red lentils despite the fact that my only other experience with them resulted in an unappetizing mush. And seeing as I was all out of ground turkey (I switched from ground beef a few years ago and have never looked back), these sloppy joes were aaalll lentil. Onion, celery, and bell pepper made up the veggies in that dish and finely grated carrot stood alone as the vegetable in the kaiser bun recipe I used. They were very good, I thought. Brushed lightly with butter after coming out of the oven, they were moist and chewy in all the right ways.

waiting for the oven to heat up. so proud of my shaping.

risen and ready to bake. nope, that's not cheese.

I'm thinking that next time I make them, I'll either make smaller kaisers (the recipe makes four) or double the recipe.

Now what to make that will use up the remaining grated carrot?

menu plan monday: 10|10 to 16|10

Monday, October 10, 2011 0 comments
Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canucks!

We had Thanksgiving supper at my mom's on Saturday evening and my boyfriend is back to work today so our long weekend ended up being a regular (ie: not long) weekend. Yes, the kids are off school today but my step-daughter is at her mom's. The baby is currently napping and B is sitting on the couch eating popcorn and watching an episode in the all-day Discovery Channel marathon of River Monsters. (Mmmm... Jeremy Wade!)

It's after 1 o'clock already. I have put sleeping bags outside to air out in preparation for S's hunting trip next weekend, washed a counter full of dishes, vacuumed, and now I have two loads of laundry to wash and three to dry and those plus two more to fold. There are Kaiser buns to make and somewhere in there I think we need to hit the pavement with the stroller (for the wee one) and bike (for the boychild) and visit the park again. We went on Saturday, my boyfriend took the kids again yesterday, and it's a gorgeous day again today. Perfect fall weather.

With the return of fall weather (though it has been warmer than fall this past week) will come the return of oven cooking. It's amazing how much turning on the oven even for 30 minutes can heat up our main floor in an uncomfortably warm way. The stovetop, rice cooker, and slow cookers come in handy for summer cooking. This week we're having a mix of all four cooking methods.

Monday: Lentil Sloppy Joes over Carrot Wheat Kaiser Buns, carrot sticks
Tuesday:  pasta with Yummy Marinara Sauce (using up leftover and frozen Unstuffed Cabbage)
Friday: Slow-cooked Eye of Round roast, Special Cauliflower, Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Rice, carrot sticks
Saturday: Pizza Braid, Caesar salad

Must- and maybe-do kitchen tasks this week include:
What's on your menu? Turkey Day leftovers? You'll find plenty of meal ideas over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. I'm getting quite the collection of recipes to try on future menus.

menu plan monday: 03|10 to 09|10

Monday, October 3, 2011 0 comments
Last week's meal plan de-railed somewhere around Thursday, which was the night we had new counters installed in the kitchen but I ended up with leftovers from the first half of the week and have tried to incorporate those into the suppers this week. Last Friday's supper became Sunday's meal instead and there is enough left over for lunch a few more days this week.

This week's meal plan uses up freezer and pantry items as well as the previously-mentioned leftovers. Apart from fruit for school lunches and a few miscellaneous items, the grocery bill this week should be pretty low. I plan to shop from the fliers and price match as well.

This week I plan on us eating the following suppers. 

Monday: Pizza Braid, Caesar salad
Thursday: Baked Quesadillas filled with leftovers from last Tuesday's supper, veggies
Friday: Savory Spiral Stuffed Rolls, Caesar salad
Saturday: loaded Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes, steamed broccoli with cheese sauce, raw veggies

To do and/or do ahead of time:
Today while surfing on my phone and nursing O, I came across a blog which mentioned themed meals for each week. Of course, I've lost the page and can't find it again but I think it may be something I try next week. It'll likely be fairly broad - eg: Monday: Italian, Tuesday: slow cooker, etc - but it might make it easier to meal plan. Or maybe more difficult if I'm also trying to incorporate leftovers and sales into those themes. For now though, for this week, I'm going to work on prepping as much as I can in the mornings for each night's supper. O naps best in the morning and I'm more likely to get uninterrupted time to work.

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Head over there if you're in need or want of hundreds of other meal ideas.

    menu plan monday: 09|26 to 10|02

    Monday, September 26, 2011 0 comments
    Menu-planning makes it easy to use up what is in the freezer and/or pantry and that is the plan for this week. There are plenty of potatoes, carrots, grains, pasta, meat, and canned good (like tomatoes and beans) and I'm hoping to not have to pick up anything other than possibly milk.

    Mondays are for Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie and it's a great place to pick up new recipes and  ideas. This is what we're having this week.

    Monday: Unstuffed Cabbage, mashed potatoes, Green Peas with Onion and Garlic
    Tuesday: Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet with spinach and shredded chicken, green salad
    Wednesday: Sweet Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin, Savory Herb Rice, roasted brussels sprouts (or this recipe), corn
    Thursday: tortellini with pasta sauce
    Friday: Broccoli Barley Soup (leftover barley), Cheesy Savoury Monkey Bread
    Saturday: spaghetti with Yummy Marinara Sauce, garlic toast
    Sunday: Impossibly Easy Roasted Pepper and Feta Pie, veggies to be determined

    What's on YOUR menu?

    got smartphone?

    Friday, September 23, 2011 0 comments
    My last contract with my cell phone provider expired at the beginning of this month and I decided it was time to upgrade my phone as well. Previous to the contract expiring, I hadn't planned to upgrade to a smartphone seeing as all I did with my phone was talk and text. Somehow, in the days leading up to the end of the contract, I changed my mind. I was moving from an old Sony Ericsson, with which I had no problems, so I decided to stay with Sony. I came home with an Xperia Arc. I know, welcome to the 21st century.

    So far, so good and I've been busy plugging it full of apps. I went app crazy in the first couple of days but a couple of weeks later sat down and weeded through them, deleting nearly half of them. I'm sure I still have some deleting to do but as it is now, my phone is populated only with apps that I use regularly or that will be used in the right time and place. Some are Android-specific and some work with the iPhone as well. Some are fun, some are essential, and some are just very, very handy.

    In the category of "Fun", I'm loving the Paper Camera app, which can transform photos from plain with painting and cartoon effects. There is a sketch effect, comic book, half tone, and several more. It turned this picture

    into this

    With a bit more tweaking (maybe softer lines), I'd like to print it out and frame it. Paper Camera is listed on some websites as costing up to $2, however it appears in the Market for free.

    Other fun apps include SoundHound, a music recognition app; Goodreads; Catch Notes; and Google Sky Map.

    In the budgeting/money-spending category, I'm loving the YNAB app to take my budget program out and about with me; Grocery King to help track prices and create lists for multiple stores; and Christmas Gift Planner, a simple little program which keeps track of money budgeted and spent per giftee as well as the overall total spent.

    I'm using Jorte for a calendar and loving it as well. It syncs beautifully with both my Google calendar and my boyfriend's so I'm always aware of appointments and important dates no matter where the information has been entered. There are several different calander view options as well. And for those To Do lists, I'm using Do It (Tomorrow), a simple program with two lists - Today and Tomorrow. A simple press of the screen and tasks for today are moved to tomorrow's list; when tomorrow rolls around the next morning, those put-off tasks are back on the Today list.

    I'm constantly finding new apps to love. Some replace my existing ones and some fit right in with those I already have. I'm just waiting for a Pinterest app for Android. When that happens, I'll be a happy girl

    menu plan monday: 09|19 to 09|25

    Monday, September 19, 2011 0 comments
    In March of this year, my son and I moved in with my boyfriend and his daughter, of whom he shares 50% custody.

    In May, our family grew by one as we welcomed our daughter together.

    In August, we decided that it was high time we got a budget going and we turned to YNAB, a program we had both used somewhat in the past when we were still in separate houses. Having never budgeted for a family of four before (the baby needs surprisingly little as a cloth-diapered, breastfed little person), we guessed on the figures for many of the categories, Groceries being one of them. At the end of August, we were almost $200 over our budgeted figure for that category. I think it's partly that we budgeted too little but also partly that the money wasn't spent as wisely as it could have been and the dollars weren't stretched to their full potential.

    September's grocery budget is the same as August's was with a few changes. There will be more couponing, more meal planning, more cooking-from-the-pantry-and-freezer self-challenges, and more cooking from scratch. There will be more price-matching among grocery stores and more shopping from the sale fliers. There will be more personal Make It Instead challenges too.

    This week I am making many of our menu items from our existing pantry and freezer stock. Here's what we'll be eating until next Monday.

    Thursday: roast in the slow cooker with potatoes, Garlic Mustard Green Beans, carrot sticks
    Saturday: Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Chicken with spinach, corn

    If you're stumped for ideas or just want to mix up your meals a bit, head over to for Menu Plan Monday. Each week Laura links up hundreds of bloggers, each posting their own weekly meal plan and recipe links.

    a belated tuesday and marinara sauce

    Thursday, August 25, 2011 0 comments
    This post was supposed to be done up on Tuesday, when the pictures were taken, and linked to Tasty Tuesdays, which Alissa hosts over at 33 Shades of Green. I didn't quite make it on Tuesday (or Wednesday) but here I am, on Thursday, linking it up.

    My favourite recipe to use for marinara and pasta sauce was adapted from this super-simple and super-tasty Yummy Marinara Sauce over at My Square Foot Garden. I use this for spaghetti, tortellini, lasagna, and other pasta bakes.

    Start with the ingredients. Those would be the ones in the foreground. Mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes (or whole ones to be chopped, since I was out of diced), onion, garlic, bell pepper, celery, carrots, and herbs and garlic which are not shown. I don't usually add the tomato paste called for in the recipe.

    Finely chop the celery and the onion.

    In a large stockpot, melt a tablespoon of butter (or use olive oil) and add the celery and onion to begin to soften. Chop the pepper and carrot.

    Add the carrots and pepper to the celery and onion in the pot.

    Crush the garlic the didn't make it to the group picture.

    Open and dump into the pot, the tomatoes. Chop your whole tomatoes if you don't have diced.

    Admire your can of mushrooms. It makes me happy to use Canadian products.

    Be weirdly amused by the not so photogenic contents.

    Add in lemon juice, honey, and herbs and spices including onion powder, basil, oregano, salt, and thyme.

    Simmer for 30 minutes or up to several hours. Try not to drool into the spoon as you lift it to taste.

    menu plan monday: 08|22 to 08|28

    Monday, August 22, 2011 0 comments
    It's Monday again and time for Menu Plan Monday.

    I'm sneaking this week's menu plan in under the wire so there is no lead up and no wind down for this post. This week's suppers will be like so:

    Monday: lasagna (since Saturday's lasagna dinner didn't happen)
    Tuesday: cheese tortellini with Yummy Marinara Sauce (adding carrots and celery)
    Wednesday: chicken to be determined, Special Cauliflower, brown rice
    Thursday: Pork 'n' Potato Skillet, corn on the cob, garden salad
    Saturday: Italian Sausage Zucchini Bake, tomato wedges
    Sunday: slow cooked pork ribs with this tangy sauce, baked potato, green beans

    This post is linked over at I'm An Organizing Junkie, where you will find hundreds of other meal and menu ideas and recipes.

    menu plan monday: 15|08 to 21|08

    Monday, August 15, 2011 0 comments
    The weeks are flying by this summer. Monday is here again and it seems like it was just Monday a couple of days ago.

    Today brought about the start of two weeks of daycamp for my 6.5-year-old at our local conservation authority. One week after that ends, school is back in session. Along with menu planning, I plan to start making school lunches the night before, unlike last year when I was scrambling each morning and juggling way too many tasks. I'll be practicing for the next two weeks; daycamp doesn't start until 10 a.m. but it will be nice to pretty much just grab his lunch and go. That's just one step in Operation Organization.

    This week, we will be eating the following suppers -

    Monday: Baked Slow Cooker Chicken with crispy skin, baby potatoes, carrots, and garden salad
    Tuesday: veggie-filled omelet with leftover chicken, toast, fruit salad
    Wednesday: Rhubarb Pork Chop Bake, mashed potatoes, broccoli
    Thursday: Baked Sweet Potato with Apples and Turkey Sausage, corn (on the cob?)
    Friday: Crockpot Chicken Pizza, garlic toast, garden salad
    Saturday: Slow Cooker Lasagna, Caesar salad
    Sunday: Creamy Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup, Crusty French Bread

    Other kitchen-related activities this week include
    Visit Laura's blog at I'm an Organizing Junkie for hundreds of meal ideas and menu plans. She hosts every week and there are always wonderful new recipes to be found via the link party.

      play with your kids

      Wednesday, August 10, 2011 0 comments
      A friend on a message board posted a great article. She read it in a random newsletter she received (whether via email or regular mail or another way, I don't know). I'd give credit to the author and newsletter if I knew the source. It's definitely worth sharing though. We struggle every single day with my 6.5-year-old's behaviour and I do know that part of it could be helped by more one-on-one play and more personal attention in general. It's something I'm working on. I feel like I'm just running in place right now though as often he'll just bring down a game to play and then the baby demands attention and by the time I've taken care of her, he's off and into something or out playing with the little girl across the street and we rarely get that time together that he needs, that we both need. We ended tonight with a game of Memory while having a muffin and lemonade picnic on the living room floor. Our bedtime tuck-him-in-and-scratch-his-back routine got cut short by a fussing baby, however.

      The article posted was the following:
      Playing to Prevent Power Struggles

      Kids playing independently! Parents celebrate when kids will finally play on their own or with a sibling. Finally – a few minutes of breathing room for mom and dad to get some things done around the house!

      Independent play is important for your child’s development and should be encouraged, however, playing WITH your kids on a daily basis will do you and your kids a world of good. It will even fend off some of the most frustrating power struggles.

      Playing WITH your kids doesn’t have to be elaborate or take a lot of time. It can be as simple as throwing a ball or role playing with dolls or action figures. “Playing” with a teenager can be a game of backgammon, UNO, or a round of Wii Golf. “Playing” is what ever your CHILD likes to do for fun.

      3 Great Reasons to Play With Your Kids

      1. Deepen Emotional Connection: Kids love to play with us. When you spend time in their world – doing what ever it is they like to do – it creates strong emotional connections. Imagine how your child will respond if you say, “I have 15 minutes before I have to leave for work and I would love to play/hang out with you. Let’s do something YOU love to do for the next 15 minutes.”

      It doesn’t require a long time to create emotional bonds – but being INTENTIONAL about spending PLAY time each day with your child will do wonders for strengthening emotional connections.

      2. Fewer attention-seeking misbehaviors: When parents play WITH their kids, they are PROACTIVELY filling the child’s attention basket in POSITIVE ways. Children have a hard-wired need for attention – it’s non-negotiable. If we provide sufficient POSITIVE attention on a daily basis, kids won't resort to negative behaviors to get it – clinging, helplessness, sibling fighting, etc.

      When parents implement consistent playtime WITH their children – attention-seeking misbehaviors begin to fall off the radar screen!

      3. More cooperative kids and fewer power struggles! As playful parents fill their kids’ attention baskets in POSITIVE ways and emotional connection increases, children consistently become MORE COOPERATIVE at other times during the day! When your child’s hard-wired needs for emotional connection and attention are met, he doesn’t feel the need to “fight back” to get negative attention.

      You’ll be amazed at how much more cooperative your kids will be throughout the day. Try it - it’s a beautiful thing!

      menu plan monday: 08|08 to 14|08

      Monday, August 8, 2011 0 comments
      I'm recycling a photo from a blog post from almost a year ago as my camera is dead and in need of repairs and therefore there have been no pictures of late. Not even of the sweet baby girl who joined our family in May. She's growing like a weed at nearly 11 weeks and the only recent-ish pictures I have of her are on my phone, for which I can't find my cord to connect it to the laptop.

      I've spent three days on the Montreal River with views like this:

      My boyfriend's sister turned 50 in June and this weekend was the only time we could get the family together to celebrate. The weather cooperated beautifully and while it was somewhat humid, there was a great breeze to go along with the gorgeous sun. Lots of food (way too much food!), friends, and family. BabyGirl was lavished with attention and it was good to see everyone, some of whom we don't get to see very often.

      I think the plan may be to spend another day or two there again this week so for a second week in a row, the meal plan will be somewhat short. I'll also be recycling the salmon cakes recipe as it didn't get made last week. The Rice Cooker Macaroni and Cheese turned out well but needs a few modifications before I make it again.

      I'm expecting to only have to make meals for four or five days of the week so our suppers shape up like this:

      Monday: Sweet Potato Salmon Cakes, Cilantro Lime Rice (minus the cilantro), Special Cauliflower
      Tuesday: Lemony Herbed Slow-Cooked Chicken, Quinoa and Rice with Sweet Potatoes
      Wednesday: Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Sugar-Crusted Parsnips, brown rice
      Thursday: Pork Chop and Rice Bake, veggie
      Friday: hopefully not cooking
      Saturday: hopefully not cooking
      Sunday: tortellini with Yummy Marinara Sauce (made earlier in the week)

      We also need to start planning my boyfriend's lunches at work. He works 12-hour shifts in sets of four (two days followed by two nights). We finally set up our budget at the beginning of August, we are trying to send him to work with lunch so he doesn't have to stop at the grocery store or fast food place to pick up eats in the middle of his shift. I'm hoping to have leftovers and also a few things made specifically for lunches. Some possibilities this week include:
      As always, head over to visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie for this week's Menu Plan Monday contributions.

        menu plan monday: 01|08 to 07|08

        Monday, August 1, 2011 0 comments
        In my blog travels last week I discovered that Laura at Organizing Junkie has a handy dandy compilation of recipes from the weekly Menu Plan Monday contributors. It's aptly named the Recipe Index Round-Up. I anticipate that I will lose vast amounts of time there in the near future.

        This week, however, I've pulled my recipes from other sources. As I attempt (yet again) to get back into meal-planning, I'm also attempting to get us back on track via budgeting (it's been a looooooong time since I've used my budgeting program, YNAB) and couponing. Here in Canada we aren't quite as fortunate to have the coupon system that our American friends do but we get by. If our neighbour across the street can save $160 in one grocery shopping trip, surely I can save a few dollars too and work my way up as I learn the tips and tricks and find the places for scoring relevant coupons.

        I am cooking mostly from the pantry and freezer this week and trying to use alternatives to the oven whenever possible. On Saturday I picked up a 16-cup rice cooker to replace (or accompany) our 3-cup cooker. I've been seeing a few posts on using a rice cooker to cook chicken and thought it the perfect solution to dinner on the many days of heat and humidity we've had of late.

        On to the recipes for the week. This week is a rather short one as we have family obligations going on and I will only be making dinner three or four nights out of the seven.

        Tuesday: Rice Cooker Macaroni and Cheese with garlic toast
        Wednesday: Caesar Chicken with Orzo (and carrots, corn, and broccoli)
        Thursday: day off
        Friday: day off
        Saturday: day off
        Sunday: Chicken-Stuffed Peppers (using turkey instead) and Sugar-Crusted Parsnips

        Whether you check out this week's link party or the recipe index round-up, you're sure to find hundreds of recipes to add to your usual rotation.

        menu plan monday: 23|05 to 29|05

        Monday, May 23, 2011 0 comments
        Today finds me one day before my due date and still no baby. Looks like this one wants to bake, which is perfectly fine. I believe babies come when they are ready. I was expecting this one to be a week early like my son was but apparently not.

        We've spent the weekend and this Victoria Day Monday working like crazy to get the house cleaned up and my boxes put away. We've done well and thrown out a entire pickup truck load of stuff too. There is still a bit to do - finishing up the dining room table, mopping the upstairs bathroom, and thoroughly cleaning the downstairs laundry/bathroom but in the grand scheme of things, those last jobs are all that remain of the iceberg. They will be the project for tomorrow.

        Menu Plan Monday rolls around each week and it's that time again. I did well sticking to last week's meals. I have no idea if a birth will play into this week's plan or not but we'll make adjustments as needed if needed. For now, the week's meals look like this:

        Monday: Lentil Burritos, Caesar salad
        Friday: Pizza Braid, Caesar salad
        Saturday: The Best Whole Chicken in a Crockpot, garlic bread
        Sunday: Garlic Lime Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, roasted brussels sprouts

        I've posted my menu plan over at Orgjunkie. Check out Laura's blog and the Menu Plan Monday links for hundreds of other meal ideas and recipes.


        Tuesday, May 17, 2011 0 comments
        As the week marches on towards my due date next Tuesday and as I was sitting in front of the shredder with a box full of papers and waiting on the shredder to cool down enough to be run again, the parcel delivery guy pulled up in front of the house. I'm expecting a woven wrap (for babywearing) to arrive as well as a couple of other things so I met him at the door. He handed me a small box and though one of the items I'm expecting (empty pill capsules) will be fairly small, this did not look like it had shipped from across the border. I brought the box in, opened it up, read the first line of the enclosed note, and started to get tears welling up.

        I belong to an amazing message board (Diaper Sewing Divas, linked in the sidebar) full of amazing women. One of the things that these women regularly do is send out small but meaningful gifts as a random act of kindness. We call it being FOM'd, in which FOM stands for Fairy Odd Mother. A few days ago, I had replied to a message in the Buy/Sell/Trade forum in regards to a couple of Snappis being offered free for shipping. Enclosed in this box was indeed a Snappi but also included were several diapers and a diaper cover.

        Clockwise from the top is a bamboo velour pre-fold, a Katrina diaper cover with PUL body and fleece bands, the Snappi, a Pea Pods fitted diaper, a Hippy Hippy Snap fitted (I've been wanting to make one as I've heard they're very trim), and a prefold-turned-fitted diaper. I can't wait to use these on the Bean!

        menu plan monday: 16|05 to 22|05

        Monday, May 16, 2011 0 comments
        It's been about two months since I last posted and the blog has a new look. I'd like to think that it will help me pay more attention to it, neglected as it has been, but I don't know that it will. I'm going to try. I do miss blogging, however I haven't been taking very many pictures or doing very many projects of late.

        At the moment, I'm one week away from my due date with this Belly Bean. I moved in with my boyfriend in mid-March and just the other day I signed the papers to sell my house, which has a closing date in mid-July. Most of my stuff and furniture will go into storage as it's going to be hard to cram a whole house worth of things into his house, which is already fully furnished and full of his things. We will be looking for yet another house in the very near future though as with the baby, my son, and my step-daughter, we are a bedroom short. For the time being, Bean will have to sleep in a bassinette in the corner of our bedroom, which is not something I want to do longterm. This week, as we wait for Bean to make an appearance, we are scrambling to get the house into some sort of order so that we can have a homebirth. There are numerous areas that need to be unpacked and cleaned in order for both of us to feel comfortable having extra people (ie: the midwife, family, etc) in the house.

        One of the things that we need to get back into in order to simply things, including simplifying this week, is to get into meal planning again. I've been saying it in each of the past few sporadic posts and it only gets more and more true. It should be no surprise by now that this post, the first after another long absence, is one for Menu Plan Monday

        Monday: tacos (using tortillas)
        Tuesday: chicken and rice in the rice cooker, corn on the cob
        Wednesday: Potato and Ham Soup (with carrots and corn added), crusty bread
        Thursday: Bruschetta Chicken, brown rice, green beans
        Friday: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes, fruit salad
        Saturday: Breaded Dijon Porkchops, mashed potatoes, carrots
        Sunday:  Saucy Crockpot Chicken with Beans and Rice

        Menu Plan Monday is hosted each week by Laura over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Head over to add your own blog link or just to check out the hundreds of meal plans provided this week by other bloggers.

        menu plan monday: 21|03 to 27|03

        Monday, March 21, 2011 0 comments
        Long time, no post. I desperately need to get back into meal planning though and as I often find most of my recipes online, it's easier to link them here rather than writing them out or otherwise noting where to find them. Laura's weekly link party over at I'm an Organizing Junkie makes it easy to find tons of great new recipes and discover new blogs in the meantime.

        I'm trying to use up some of the ingredients that we already have this week so subject to modification, our suppers for the next seven days will be shaping up as follows:

        Monday: Ham Casserole
        Tuesday: Baked Lemon Chicken with New Potatoes and Vegetables
        Wednesday: Tuna Noodle Casserole
        Thursday: Cabbage Rolls
        Friday: Rotini Pasta Bake
        Saturday: Pineapple Pork Chops
        Sunday: Caesar Chicken with Orzo

        Head over to Laura's recently revamped blog to participate in the link party that is Meal Plan Monday or just to find some meal ideas for your family.

        oh where, oh where

        Wednesday, January 19, 2011 0 comments
        Where have I been for the past two and a half months? Right here. At home. Not here on the blog, obviously. Living life.

        Sewing diapers.

        Growing a baby.

        Parenting my now 6-year-old. Eating, sleeping, working. I'm not really sure why I stopped posting. I think I just ran out of things to say and the motivation to write.

        Belly Bean is due in the last half of May, so I was 22 weeks along yesterday. There is so much to do. I want to  almost exclusively cloth diaper him/her (we don't know the gender and won't be finding out in advance) except for possibly a trip to the east coast early this summer so, while the newborn stash is mostly done, I do need to make a few newborn woolies and beef up the small stash. I'd also like to work a bit on a stash of medium diapers so I don't have as many to do after Bean arrives. We'll also be moving house in the next few weeks or so and there are all the things that go along with that. Plus my regular full-time shiftwork gig. I have four weeks of holidays (two 2-week blocks) between now and Bean's due date and I'm very much looking forward to those as well as then entire year off after Bean arrives.

        In the meantime, I'll be sewing and knitting and packing and unpacking and settling in. Hopefully the time until the next blog post won't be nearly as long.

        menu plan monday: 17|01 to 23|01

        Monday, January 17, 2011 0 comments
        Menu Plan Monday post first, Where Have I Been for Two-and-a-half Months post second.

        Despite my knowledge that everything runs much smoother when I know what my supper meals are going to be for the week, I've again fallen off the wagon. Here's hopping back on! This is a no-spend, make-it-instead month so most of the necessary ingredients are from my freezer and pantry.

        Monday: supper at my parents'
        Tuesday: Lasagna Soup, garlic bread
        Wednesday: Honey-glazed Chicken Breast, acorn squash, green beans
        Thursday: leftover lasagna soup
        Friday: big ol' salad
        Saturday: Crispy Oven-roasted Chicken, potatoes, broccoli
        Sunday: turkey meatballs with pineapple sweet and sour sauce, brown rice, corn

        I usually find, when I'm planning my meals out for any given week, that I end up using at least two of the recipes that Laura has posted in her menu plan. I find when I don't meal plan, we get into a rut of making whatever's quick and easy with no real thought given to the nutritional value or variety. If you're in a rut too, take a look through the blogs of the participants (linked at the bottom of this post) and you'll find all the ideas and inspiration you could ever want.