Tuesday, October 20, 2009

E-books and self publishing

I've been reading Joe Konrath's blog A newbies Guide to Publishing for forever (it seems) because it's fascinating to read about his process of writing, publishing and promoting. And because he's open and honest about what works and what hasn't (and he includes $$ amounts for reference).

Todays entry was about ebooks leveling the playing field for authors. And the comments...oh my goodness. It seems like "published authors" fear ebooks because it makes self-publishing easier and then their world will come crumbling down because any old person can publish a book.

To which I say good on them! Because the majority of books I've read in the last year have been crap. And these are from big name, big back list authors. And it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to pay $11.99 for the e-book of the garbage.

As a consumer I love that authors can publish their work on Amazon for what they think is a fair price. Just like I love buying music from itunes. No more shelling out a ton of money for a disc that has one (maybe two) good songs. I just pay my 4 bits for the good stuff.

And yes, with the increase of self-published authors it will mean that I have to be more diligent in what I buy, but if the last year is any indication I have to be more picky with the established authors as well.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Crockpot Wednesday - Chili

I don't usually use the crockpot during the week because we're gone for at least 10 hours and my crock doesn't have a timer. Maybe I'll splurge one day and get a "fancy" one.

Tomorrow is Kick-Off for football and we're having a few friends over, what better to have then Chili and home made buns?

So, here's the most difficult, sodium laden Chili recipe evah. Seriously.

1 package ground beef, cooked and drained

2 19 oz cans Aylmer Tomatoes (Chili seasoning Accents)

2 14 oz cans Heinz Chili Style Red Kidney Beans

2 14 oz cans Heinz Chili Style Pinto and Red Kidney Beans

1 tsp Chili powder

1 tsp Chipotle Chili powder (I use the Epicure Selection ones for both)

Toss everything in a crock pot, give it a stir, cook for a while.

I have no idea why people like it but they do. I like it 'cause it's simple :)

Buns are from Tasty Kitchen using the bread maker.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Labour Day! We're celebrating by watching an Original Series Star Trek marathon (currently Amok Time is on). And I'm knitting a bit while watching so maybe by the time the colder weather comes around I'll have a blanket done.

I didn't do a menu plan last week which turned out good because I didn't really cook alot, not sure what we ate actually :)

So for this week,

Monday: Tacos with homemade Guac and Pico de Gallo

Tuesday: Chicken Roll ups (flattened chicken breast, spinach and swiss cheese on top. Roll up and bake in the oven. Recipe is from my moms Herbal Magic cookbook)

Wednesday: Quasidillas using leftovers from Monday

Thursday: Chili for football kickoff, with home made buns

Friday: Leftovers

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Congratulations to our softball team for winning the 'A' division final this year. For winning we got a cooler full of beer. I wish there were any left, but there's not because we had a great time.

But oh what a long weekend.

Six games in two days. Eight games in the last 5 days. That's a lot of ball.

My house is a filthy mess, I have less than half my laundry done from last week; I hope that we all have clean clothes for tomorrow. I don't have a menu plan, but I did get groceries on Friday. I need to hose the boy off soon because he's filthy. And my tomato plant needs some water.

Bed is calling.

Everything can wait until tomorrow.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Phoning it in

I'm really taking the easy way out this week, phoning it in so to speak :) I didn't make it to the frugal grocery store on the weekend and I couldn't justify buying the same thing for dollars more at Safeway so it's a kind of eat out of the pantry and freezer week.

I did, however, do a mini review of last week since there were so many new things that I tried.

Monday: Leftovers. I'm going to toast the remaining baguette and put warmed up risotto on it. I'm going to make Adam and Jet fend for themselves.

Tuesday: Ham and Cheese Quiche. Need a quick dinner than can be reheated when we get home.

Wednesday: Steak and Potatoes. Because it's EASY.

Thursday: Pizza or maybe take-out because it's our last ball game.

Friday: Fish for friday. Chili Lime Orange Roughy, and rice or noodles.

Saturday and Sunday we're playing ball. Which will probably include drive-thru.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Meal Plan Review

Because I made a whole bunch of new stuff this week, and for lack of anything else to blog about, I thought I'd review the new recipes from this weeks menu plan.

Country Fair Chicken is reviewed here.

Tater Tot Casserole Quick and basic, tasted pretty good too. Only problem was, I didn't have Tater Tots so I went out and got some. Turns out the reason why we don't have Tater Tots in the house is because it gives me fierce heartburn. So...will know for next time.

Shepherdes Pie Wow, that was a ton of work. And it didn't have enough salt or pepper. If there's ever a time where I've got potato leftovers I'll make this again.

Risotto Today's dinner, because Jamie Oliver said it would be good. I liked the process of making it, but didn't taste all that good by itself. I think I used to much cheese and a bit too much wine. And it's debatable if I cooked the onions enough.

However, it tasted pretty good on slices of baguette.

Now I have to figure out something for this week. And finish all my laundry.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Great Western Drive

Somedays things just come together.

I got an automatic email from Sony today letting me know that new titles were available for an author I was watching. Last Christmas I bought a Christmas anthology - A Bride by Christmas with a Western romance written by Candace Camp. I loved it and have been wanting to read more of the same since then.

But it's really really hard to find. This author published under a different name and the back list is just now starting to come available. But I still don't know what's good from what's bad.

The second email I got was my reading list from Feedblitz. KristiJ from Ramblings on Romance had a post on Westerns and how they need a little love and attention.

And there were recs! I love recs, especially ones that are out of print but available as e-books.

Because that's the beauty of e-books.

The backlist is forever available.

Harlequin gets that. Others are starting, but it's slow going.

So, except for that one short story and a (unfortunate) paranormal, I have nothing to add to the Western love. Yet. But thanks to the Great Western Drive I'll have lots of recs to choose from.

Country Fair Chicken

This was actually pretty good. Nice and simple the way that I like my food.
I have no idea why it's called Country Fair Chicken, but whatever. I got the initial recipe from E-Mealz, but then I also looked online and modified it a bit.

Country Fair Chicken

2 or 3 chicken breasts chopped up
3 or 4 medium potatoes sliced
3 or 4 carrots chopped roughly
1 onion chopped
3 Tbs olive oil
1 package of herb and garlic soup mix
1/2 cup chicken broth

Chop everything, toss with oil, add soup mix and toss.

Pour into casserole dish, add chicken broth

Cover and cook in 350 degree oven for 1 hour, remove cover for the last 15 minutes.

I didn't have this soup mix so I used a herb marinade; it was very peppery. Probably shouldn't do that again.

I used a cup of broth because that's how much was in the container. It wasn't detrimental.

Could probably use another veggie, like celery in really big pieces.

But all in all quite good and easy to throw together. Just have to find the right spices to replace the soup mix.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

menu plan monday

Monday already?! I'm not sure how well this weeks plan will work out because I'm a bit under the weather and all I want to do is order take-out.

Monday: Pizza.

Tuesday: Country Fair Chicken. Pretty much just cut up chicken, potatoes, carrots and onion tossed in olive oil and spices. Put in a casserole dish and add some chicken broth, cover and bake for an hour. I have a real recipe that I'll add if it works out.

Wednesday: Sausage and Perogies. Adam requested it, and it's super easy so I'm all for it this week.

Thursday: Tater Tot casserole. Except I don't have tater tots or green beans in a can, but I do have hash browns and frozen green beans. I'm sure it will all work out.

Friday: Steak sandwiches with bruchetta and extra old cheese. Sliced steak on toasted french bread topped with strong cheese and bruchetta. With a good red wine if I'm feeling better.

Saturday Shepherds Pie. I was going to do this for Friday, but it seems like more work than I usually want to put into Friday dinner.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This 'n That

Bullet posting today

  • Bought an ice cream maker, not the easiest thing to purchase if you want to spend less than a million bucks. The first batch is firming up in the freezer as we speak; Mint Chocolate Chip. Should be yummy.
  • Found out a big chain bookstore is opening up in the shopping centre near my house. This is bad news for me unless I get a Christmas job there to help offset the number of books I'll buy.
  • Saw GI Joe today. We sat too close and it made me queasy (or the coffee/popcorn combo did it, not sure which). It was a completely awesome movie even though Adam thought the dialog was campy, I was too busy looking at the hottie Duke to notice.
  • Also bought a new cast iron frying pan, for 16 bucks at a discount store.
  • New Home Outfitters near my house carries Le Creuset. At some point the three hundred dollar price tag isn't going to stop me. I should just never go in there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Wow, whoda thunk eight years could go by so quick? Happy Anniversary to me and Adam.

It was probably the hottest day of the year, I feel bad for the guys in their tuxes because the church didn't have A/C and then there were a ton of pictures outside and I'm not sure the hall had very good A/C either.

Mostly it's a blur, a good blur, but a lot of planning, a little stress and a whole lot of expense to be shoved into one day.

I have a grand total of 12 digital pictures from the day and I can't remember why I scanned them in the first place. Almost all of them feature people who I know don't want those pictures posted, so here's three of the ones that are just me and/or Adam:

Our cake pic. I'm glad we didn't go wild on the poor cake because we forgot all about it until my Aunt reminded us. We (meaning my mom) got it from the local grocery store and decorated it with leftover flowers from the bouquets.

My pensive picture. Post ceremony at the formal picture shoot while Adams family was getting their pictures done. I was hot, tired, hungry and my feet hurt.

So I found some shade and hoped that somebody brought food soon.

They didn't.

So we went to the restaurant where we always go to wait out the time between wedding and reception and got some wings. Best wings ever. Made for some good pictures too. But I don't have those scanned.

Honeymoon in St. Louis. Had a good time; watched a football game and a couple baseball games. Toured around a bit and met some nice people. (edited to add; I just threw away the shoes I was wearing in that pic. Sad.)

We'll go out tonight with the boy for dinner to celebrate, but other than that we're pretty relaxed about the whole thing.

Which is not to say that for our ten year anniversary I don't expect something grand, because I do. Adam just doesn't know it yet :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Aug 10

Menu Plan Monday

We've got a busy schedule at the start of the week, so I had to find stuff that won't take long to cook but can also be eaten a couple hours later after we get home. I've got a bunch of lettuce and salad left over from the weekend, so we'll be eating that for sides for a few days too.

Monday: Chicken and rice wraps. Actually frozen left overs from the last time I made them, but it would have been just as easy to make from scratch.

Tuesday: Anniversary. Don't know if it'll be sit down or drive-thru, but I'm not cooking on my anniversary.

Wednesday: Omelet Using some more of the spinach I got from mom.

Thursday: Tuna Cakes I saw a similar recipe in a London grocery magazine last year and Adam won't be home for dinner on Thursday I think it's the perfect time to give them a try.

Friday: Herb de Provence Chicken I have bone in chicken in the freezer, a jar of Herb de Provence I've never used and Friday off from work. Should be interesting.

Saturday and Sunday are unknown to me.


Took it easy today because we had people over to watch UFC 101 last night. I always think that we don't do any entertaining, when we actually have people over about every other week. But it's almost always very laid back; BBQ steaks or burgers, hanging out in the kitchen, maybe watching a sporting event or movie.

I made bacon wrapped jalapenos from Pioneer Woman and they were a hit. I could have easily made two or three times the amount and they would have been gone.

But how could anything with bacon be bad?

We had fun, spent most of the time chatting in the kitchen, as always, and then watched the show in the basement because we've realized our furniture is not big enough for more than three adults at a time.

Got to sleep in a bit this morning and then went and raided the garden for more potatoes, carrots, beets, beans and spinach.

Now just watching a Poirot movie while finishing up laundry. Then bed.

Fun times, fun times.

Friday, August 7, 2009

What I'm currently reading

or, more precisely; What I'm currently reading again.

What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown

This is perfect example of book I probably wouldn't have bought if it wasn't for my e-reader. I would have read the back cover and saw that it had a mix of paranormal, contemporary and historical and then would have put it down and said "No thanks, not for me".

But I must have had a couple glasses of wine, or really wasn't paying any attention at all when I bought it, because by the time I started reading and realized what was going on I was in the middle of a perfect read for a summer day.

Basically a regency costume designer is taken back in time by ghosts in order to right some wrongs that happened in the past and she falls for the wickedly hot rake who isn't at all put off by her modern way of thinking and acting.

Convenient, no?

So I'm reading along and thinking this isn't too bad; I'm connected with the characters, I love their interaction, I don't mind that there's ghosts, but I'm also wondering what's going to happen at the end? She must go back to her own time, what then?

One other thing about my e-book reader is that I can't just flip to the end of a book easily like I do with paper. Yes, I'm a last page reader. I have been since that disastrous fantasy novel that was a billion pages long and a third of the way through the love of the girls life dies. And I've been a romance reader ever since. I don't have time to be reading books where there isn't a happily ever after.

Which there is, in this book, btw. I like the ending, but the transition between regency and the ending chapters needed to be longer or more filled out I thought. I wanted to see more.

Anyway, I put my hesitation of paranormals aside and bought the authors previous book Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake, which was equally as good.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Things I Covet - Kor One Hydration Vessel

The Kor One Hydration Vessel is a fancy water bottle made by a company who is an water advocate. I first saw it in a GOOP newsletter and have been wanting one ever since. Not only because of the causes they support and their business practices but because it's kick ass cool and I think it will be a good conversation piece.

Two downsides;

1) it's pricey to begin with, and my option for purchase is through websites which need shipping or go to our Community Natural Food store and pay their price; which might not be any better (and then I'd actually have to go there).

2) I have to choose a colour. There's four colours and each is in support of a different cause (although I think from the website it sounds like they contribute to all equally). I am not a good decision maker and this might be a serious barrier.

However today I got a code for 25% off, which makes the price better. I asked Jet which colour I should get, and because he has gender roles down to a science, he picked pink. Which is cool because I like pink as much as I like blue, orange and green.

My decision to purchae might come down to shipping costs and how quickly I can get it :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Food Notes

Having a rough time with cooking this week, and it's only Tuesday.

1) Meal Planning doesn't do much good if I don't take stuff out of the freezer. Luckily the steaks for today were individually packaged in plastic so I could easily defrost them in a sink of lukewarm water.

2) The cake from yesterday cratered in the middle. I didn't expect it, but a little research showed that I live at high altitude (which i knew but don't really compensate for) and I should have either increased the baking temp, decreased (?) the leavening (don't know what that is), increased the flour and/or done something with the liquid. The result is a very yummy cake which didn't rise as much, and got kind of mushy in the centre because of the big crater.

3) Cooking ribs requires heavy duty foil. And I don't really like ribs.

4) Moms garden is a victim of a massive storm that passed through on the weekend. So I probably can only sponge potatoes and carrots.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - August 3

Back on track for Menu Plan Monday

Going to try and use most of the veggies I pilfered from Moms garden yesterday. Also looks like rain all week so I don't have to worry about keeping the house cool like others :)

Monday: Ribs from Alton Brown. I stocked up a while back and got slabs for $5 or less, but I have a sneaky suspicion I have no white wine or apple juice for the brine. Probably potatoes and green beans for sides.

Plus this cake

Tuesday: Steak and potatoes and some other vegetable.

Wednesday: Spinach quiche. For reals this time.

Thursday: Chicken nuggets and home made fries.

Friday: Baked Parmesan Roughy that I didn't make last time.

Not sure what Saturday or Sunday will bring.

Now I'm off to do laundry, clean the kitchen and bake a cake.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

First Harvest

Because I didn't have enough family time at the parade yesterday, and because the boy was still at Mom and Dads, I went back out with the (secondary) purpose of picking strawberries at the u-pick place down the road. I didn't realize it was so late in the season though, so the pickings were slim and tiny.

Mom and I both came back with a pail each of strawberries and one pail for her of Saskatoon berries.

Then I raided her garden for this:

Potatoes - two plants worth, and it was a lot.

Spinach - I did not know that's what it looks like. Washed it, dried it and then put it into freezer bags.

Strawberries - from the u-pick place. Washed and hulled the tiny little guys, flash froze them and put hem into freezer bags for later. Then I went and bought the ingredients, pan and toy (for the boy) for PW's Strawberry Shortcake Cake which looks beyond awesome.

Green Beans - Only a handful were ready, but there's a whole row in her garden and I'm the only one who eats them, so I'm getting a head start on them.

What I didn't take with but ate a whole bunch of anyway:

Peas - Love 'em to death. They're like bacon to me; I don't think I could ever get full or sick of them.

Raspberries - They're not quite ready yet.

And then one of us was so tired they fell asleep on the half hour drive home, and then he slept on the couch for another hour after that.

Next up; what to make with all this good food. But now; watching Merlin. ASH is still a hottie.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Heritage Days

The August long weekend is known by many names; British Columbia Day, Civic Holiday, New Brunswick Day, Scotia (Day?) and in Alberta Heritage Day.

In the town where I grew up the long weekend is when they have...wait for it...Heritage Days, where there's a rodeo and parade and family get togethers and all sorts of pancake breakfasts. When I was little it was called Whooper Upper Days, which I think is an infinitely more fun name and I still call it that and look forward to it every year.
Even the year it snowed.

Yes. Snowed.

In August.

Anyhoo, today was the parade. I love the parade. The route goes past my grandparents (old) house and the family would always make a day of it with a potluck breakfast afterwards. Sadly, the grandparents moved, but the family still goes to the same spot every year to watch. We don't even have to call or co-ordinate anything, just show up and there's someone that you know.
Like a cute little puppy.

Or a strange kid in his batman pjs on the hottest day of the year. But you try talking to a four year old when he's got his mind made up.

There's horses.

And some dude with a sword.

And some dude in a bathtub.

There was a ton of candy.

And dinosaurs; because we're in Alberta.

And a train that was really cool.

And then there was something that made everyone stop and stare in wonder.

because you don't see this very often.

A pirate ship

In Alberta

During Heritage Days.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vacation Wind Down

Almost done this vacation. While I'm having fun, I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.

We've changed hotels to one right outside the airport, mostly because our flight is earlier in the morning and neither of us wants to drive from Anaheim to LAX and then return the car that early in the morning, and because we like to try out hotels at airports.

Jet doesn't have a problem winding down.

Now we're at the Radisson at LAX. It's...near the airport and has a good lounge which you need after the excruciating parking, check in and elevator debacles. The room in nice though; we'll see how the shuttle is in the morning.

Gonna watch a movie and finish the rest of our snacks, then a good sleep and back home tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

California - Days 4 and 5

Things I love about vacation:

  • Bacon - I've never sat down to see how much of it I could eat, but I'm pretty sure it's a lot. Vacation means we're eating out for breakfast and it usually involves bacon. And I love it.
  • Baseball - Baseball would be even better if it was only 6 innings, but I love the excitement and the people.
  • Pretzels - Can't get them easily at home but I love the salty goodness. Also can easily be acquired at baseball.
  • U-Turns - Pretty sure trying one at home will get you shot. But here it's expected, and wonderful.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop Tarts - Couldn't believe there is such a thing. I bought three boxes. Maybe one might make it home.
  • The cast iron pan I got for twenty bucks - Yes, I'm putting a frying pan in my checked luggage.

Things I dislike about Vacation:

  • No Interac - I'm used to paying with my bank card for everything (even the farmers market). Not having it available weirds me out. And not having to sign for some credit card slips is also a bit odd.
  • No Vegetables - I miss raw peppers and cucumbers. Admittedly I haven't made good choices when they were available, but I think I'll go veggie for a bit when we get back.
  • Not my computer - my laptop is too bulky to travel. It has all my links and passwords saved. This one does not.
  • No playmates for hubby and child - These two are social butterflies and require outside conversation to be the most relaxed. I do not. I'll be in my room reading.

Been spending our time at Disneyland, the pool, the ball diamond and various restaurants. Will continue for the next day and a half before it's home time.

Bought a new camera too! The old one was acting up a bit and this new one is a good transition to a digital SLR that I want. I'll be taking it out and putting it through it's paces (such as they are) tomorrow.

Monday, July 27, 2009

California - Day Three

(I typed in Californication three times before getting it right)

Medieval Times - It's like wrestling but with the added bonus of horses and swords.

The first time we went to Anaheim Jet was 18 months old and I talked Adam into going to Medieval Times because I remembered it from a trip I took when I was 14. He just about had a heart attack when he saw the price of tickets, but when it was all over I had a convert on my hands. Yes it's cheezy, over the top and an excuse to get you to spend money; but it's also a whole lot of fun if you let go and allow yourself to roll with the punches and have a good time.

And there's always booze to help you along the path.

I got a smoking' deal on the tickets which helped a whole lot.

Jet's jumping around in the hotel room fighting bad guys with his foam axe and shield, this is the first time he's stayed awake for the whole thing, I think it will take a while for him to go to sleep tonight.

(I'm trying to convince Adam to see if his work buddy wants to go before we leave. We'll see)

In other news we spent three hours in Disneyland before the crowds got to be too much for us prairie loving Canadians.

Although not before Jet weaseled an Indiana Jones getup of out us.

And a random picture that Jet took. Just because.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring, but dollars to doughnuts it's not the beach.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

California - Day Two

There are pineapples carved on the headboards of the beds. That means something, I'm just not sure what it is. Probably that I'm craving fresh fruit and veggies after two days of vacation food.

Sports Day today.

Honda Center, right across the street from the hotel. We didn't go there.

Angels stadium, a 5 minute (maybe) walk from the hotel.

Kids run the bases after the game. Jet's rounding second and if my sister would have emailed me back and let me borrow her camera I would have zoomed in so that you could see him.

And once the game was over we went to Hooters for dinner, because it's Adams vacation too.

My quest for a meal that contains vegetables will continue tomorrow.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

California - Day one

Ayres Hotel Anaheim

I love this hotel!

While it's not "near" Disneyland, it's close enough to be convenient and is accross the street from the Honda Center (there's a circus this week) and next-ish to Angels Stadium where we'll see a couple games. The hotel is so cute; outside and in.

That huddled mass in the bed is Jet, we checked in around 11 (midnight our time) and we had to carry him into the hotel because he refused to wake up in the car.

Anyway, so cute!

Best part is this:

I didn't have to crawl under the desk or plug into a lamp base to get power.

We spent the day at the disney parks, took Jet on a bunch of rides that he wasn't big enough to go on last year. We tricked him into going on Space Mountain; but unfortunately to make the ruse work I had to go on too. He had a blast, btw.

Big ferris wheel in California Adventure, I didn't want to go but Jet loved it.

Asleep the moment we left the parking lot. We had to wake him up again to pick up some stuff for the hotel:

Chex Mix (we don't have this at home)

My second favourite table wine Menage e Trois by Folie a Deux (awesome, I may or may not love it because it was an X-files episode) was nine bucks, it's 15 - 20 at home

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop Tarts - are you serious!?

Pretzle Goldfish crackers - can't get this back home either

Basically we stocked up on junk food that we don't get back home :)

Tomorrow is a baseball game (kids run the bases after) and bit of relaxation.

Friday, July 24, 2009

And we're off....

Yesterdays packing went about as good as I expected. Adam was super sneaky in his attempt to not pack; he played on the computer until 9 and then decided that today was the day he wanted to watch Love Actually. And because he wouldn't let me skip the sad and boring parts he didn't get started until 11:30.

And then was cranky this morning trying to get everything together.

Got me some snazzy new ear buds since mine bit the dust a while back and I've been using the default ipod ones. I can't sing along or talk or chew without them falling out and the sound is garbage from them.

House sitter is all setup, our ride is co-ordinated (I hope) and I don't think I forgot anything.

Out of office is on and note is on the door.

I think I'm officially on vacation :)


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Soooo Tired

I feel like Tired Taz today. It's hot here and even though we installed A/C last year (the majority of people in the city don't have it because we only get a few weeks of really hot weather) it's still tough to sleep at night.

Tonight will be clean up, laundry and packing for the flight tomorrow. Adam hasn't buggered off (yet) like he normally does the night before we go away. There are occasions where we're not totally on the same page and it causes mild frustration; getting ready for vacation is one of them. So this time I told him if he was playing ball tonight (Thursday) then he had to be packed and ready to go by Wednesday (yesterday).

So I will have help getting ready. Yay!

Printed off all of our tickets and stuff, one less thing to worry about tomorrow.

Must call my mom and make sure she can drop us off at the airport. We'll spend a good ten minutes trying to figure out what time she should be at our house. As a family growing up the only person who could make an actual decision was my sister. We haven't improved much since then.

Must find someone to water our plant (singular) while we're gone.

Locate passports

Make sure Air Canada hasn't gone on strike

and the most important thing;

Download some books for the oodles of free time I'll have. With a four year old.

Yeah. Right.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - July 20

Menu Plan Monday

This weeks challenge is to find meals that will use up the perishables and not have a ton of non-freezable leftovers before we leave for vacation on Friday. Too bad I wasn't thinking this way when I bought groceries on the weekend, I blame the bliss of solitary shopping for the amount of fruit and veggies that I came home with.

Monday: Chicken and Rice Wraps and corn on the cob. Strawberries and whipped cream for desert, yum.

Tuesday: Chili and a salad.

Wednesday: Chicken fingers from PW . I'm embarrassed I needed a recipe to figure this one out, but they're wonderful. Made a bunch on the weekend and froze them for nights such as this. Fresh veggies as a side.

Thursday: Baked Parmesan Roughy. I bought some (a box) of frozen fillets at the farmers market last week (putting aside the fact that frozen fish from New Zealand goes against what a farmers market should be) and this looks pretty tasty. Or, if I have a million loads of laundry to do and tons of running around to get ready we'll have pizza.

Friday: Waiting for the plane, California Dreamin'. Since the options are Tim Hortons or Harveys it'll probably be Tim Hortons.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chicken and Rice Wraps

I found this recipe a while back when I thought that Once a Month Cooking was something that would save me time during the weekdays (it doesn't for me, not really). We liked this because it's simple, tastes mild (good for the boy) and makes a ton of leftovers.

Chicken and Rice Wraps

1lb chicken, cooked and shredded
2 c water
1 c mild salsa
1 pkg taco seasoning
2 c instant rice
8 - 12 tortillas (fills way more than that)

Combine Chicken, water, salsa and seasoning together

Bring to a boil

add rice and simmer for 5 minutes.

Put into a tortilla with some cheese and eat! Freeze assembled tortillas wrapped in foil and put into a baggie. Or, if you're like me, freeze the filling in smaller quantities and fill after.

I'm pretty sure you could use regular rice, boiling for 20 minutes with a closed lid. I'm also going to add some black beans because I like the texture it adds.

The Sound of Blissful Silence

Saturday morning the husband and the boy went away. For the whole day AND night.

It was wonderful.

And it only took the promise of a parade with candy to get the four year old to go.

I got groceries without having to worry about the two of them adding stuff to the cart.

I cleaned the bottom floor of the house (can't expect too much on my one day off) and made myself homemade chicken fingers for lunch...and did the laundry (I accomplished a lot, whoda thunk it?)

Went shopping with my mom and sister.

Came home and the house was in the exact same state it was in when I left. It was blissful.

Made salsa and guac for dinner, with a nice glass of chardonnay, and read the entire evening.

Like until midnight.

Woke up to peace and quiet and a still clean house. Ate breakfast and got ready at my leisure, then went to see the husband play ball. While it rained.

Except for the rain it was a real nice weekend.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Cleanse - Day Seven

It's over. I'm done.

I'm very pleased.

I wasn't totally on program; there was the cookie, cake day and pizza from a box, but otherwise it went well. I felt pretty good the entire time and I think it made me be more mindful of my choices.

And I'm celebrating with a glass or two (maybe three) of wine.

Have a good weekend! All signs point to child-less and husband-less tomorrow.

[Crosses everything I can find]


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cleanse - Day 6

I can see the finish line....it's soooo close.

Feeling good, but getting a little bored of it all. If I was doing Weight Watchers or something else it would have been a good day, but I did cave to peer pressure and made pizza out of a box for dinner. It caught up with me throughout the entire evening.

Talked with Mom today, she's having a bit more aches and pains than I am. Mostly in her lower back, it's something to do with the detox but I'm not sure what's going on. I had the same thing the first time I did it and didn't know if it was something I did or a result of the cleanse. Apparently, cleanse.

...sorry back now. Cake day today. Had a small piece of carrot cake (shame) and a bunch of veggies and fruit (yay)

Anyhoo...in general am doing well. Down another pound too :)



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cleanse - Day Five

Cruising along except for that cookie and tiny decaf Timmies that I had in the afternoon. I just really wanted a cookie. Actually i really wanted ice cream, but I got a cookie instead.

I think the hardest part of the cleanse is finding food when you're hungry and unprepared. The intent is not to starve yourself; it's to detox and to reestablish healthy choices...but sometimes I forget to bring healthy choices with me and it's really hard to stop in someplace and pick something up.

Unless it's the grocery store :)

I read French Women Don't Get Fat a while back and Mireille Guiliano recommends to carry an En Cas, which is a healthy little snack for those times when you need something and good choices aren't always available. I'm going to try and do that. Just have to figure out what it should be.

Anyhoo, it was a really good book. Also A French Woman for all Seasons. I should give them a re-read; lots of good recipes in them too.

Played ball (slow-pitch) for exercise, didn't do much actual work but we got outside none the less.

And, fell asleep better again last night. Anything that helps me fall asleep at night is good.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Cleanse - Day 3 and 4

Day Three

Almost all good. Starting to feel better in general, not so very tired even after a trying night with the boy. Was a little dehyrated though from sitting out in the sun for most of day two.

Ate well; omlette with lots of veg and some left over potatoes, basically the same for lunch (thanks to mom), and roast pork tenderloin with rice, green beans and carrots for dinner.

Excercise was half hour of keeping the car steady while driving 50 miles and hour down a gravel road. My arms got a good workout.

Down two pounds, yippie!

Day Four

On the home stretch. Now it's just falling into a rhythm; keep mindful of food choices, lots of water, excercise and a few trips to the potty after eating :)

Slept better last night too; didn't wake up at three for the first time in a few weeks. Had one weird dream though, the kind where you spend the rest of the day thinking about it.

Let's see....breakfast of fruit, yogurt and cereal. Lunch of chilli and veggies. Dinner was steak fajitas (with the kitchen still waiting for someone to clean it up, but he's watching the home run derby so I'm not sure when it'll get done)



Menu Plan Monday

This weeks plan was a bit more challenging due to the cleanse I'm doing this week. I'm supposed to cut out; processed foods, high fat foods, sugars, alcohol and focus on whole grains, lean meats and lots of fruit and veg.

And it didn't say anything about limiting salt, thank goodness, or I'd really be hooped.

My child had complete melt-down before, during and after the grocery trip, so I'm almost certainly headed back to the store for more fresh fruit and veg since I forgot basic stuff like lettuce and tomatoes.

Monday: Steak fajitas with corn on the cob.

Tuesday: Roast pork medallions (left over from Sunday) with bell peppers and zucchini

Wednesday: Baked or BBQ chicken with rice and mixed veggies. I got a big package of chicken so I'll dice up and freeze the extra for something next week, maybe chicken and rice wraps.

Thursday: Spinach quiche. And a salad if I make it to the grocery.

Friday: If we're at home, hamburgers or mini meatloves. Maybe. Or Pizza.

I'll attempt to feed the boy (who's 4) dinner, but he isn't a fan of things that aren't Nutella sandwiches and cucumbers.

Want to join the meal planning? Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cleanse - Day Two

Day two done. Went and bought groceries for the week; it's easy to plan for dinners and breakfast, but I'm having a hard time with lunch. And something sweet.

Breakfast was fruit and yogurt. Lunch was an ice cream sandwhich (I know, I know) and a quarter of a bbq hamburger at the ball diamond. Dinner was steak, potatoes and salad (yummy). Oh, and home made salsa with chips.

Did a half hour of yoga too.

Felt okay, bit of a headache, little twinge of backache but nothing horrible. Maybe a slightly bit cranky. Especially having spent the day in the sun, even with drinking 2L of water I was still a bit dehydrated.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cleanse - Day One

Started my cleanse yesterday, as expected it's so far been a mix of the two previous times.

7:30 - Dump half the liquid into 600ml of water. Smells not bad, like a sort of apple cider. Tastes about the same.

8:00 - Breakfast; Plain yogurt, nectarine and corn flakes. Not exactly a whole grain cereal but it was either that or Corn Pops.

9:30 - Refill water bottle. Yesterday's "breakfast" really did takes it's toll.

11:00 - Husband calls says he forgot his wallet, can I buy him lunch.

12:00 - Eat most of my packed lunch (sauteed bell peppers and zucchini with a bit of risotto) and half of his pepper & salt chicken (not to be confused with the more popular salt and pepper chicken).

12:30 - Dump last half of the liquid into water bottle. Starting to get a bit of a headache. Probably from no coffee.

3:30 - Leave work, fill up water bottle again. This will be my 2L of water requirement for the day.

6:00 - Eat dinner at mom and dads after picking up a free! tent trailer. Baked Potato, Hamburger cooked well done (burnt) on the BBQ and salad.

8:00 - Back home, do 15 minutes of yoga before going to bed and reading.

All in all I felt good, went to the potty a bunch as expected, this stuff starts to work right away. Probably why they suggest you sip your water throughout the day; I can't imagine what it would do if you chugged it all in one go and then drank plain water for the rest of the day. Also amazed at how few healthy choices there are at the work food court.

Tomorrow, day two. At the ball diamond.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Calgary Stampede

Yee Haw!

For ten days at the start of every July Calgary has their annual Stampede and Exhibition. It's something that most everyone who has grown up here remembers from their childhood fondly; get to see a Rodeo and Chuckwagon races, ride midway rides, play carnival games and eat midway food. Plus an agricultural exhibition, concerts, nightly fireworks and indoor marketplace.

And mostly everyone in the city takes this opportunity to pretend to be a cowboy/cowgirl for the week. I lack the boots and shirts to pull that off. And I don't have a good hat.

So I just don't bother.

Work is pretty much a write off this week too, because of:

  1. Pancake Breakfasts

  2. Stampede Parties

Almost every company will put on a breakfast and every client facing business will have a party. If you really wanted to, or were part of a sales team, you could spend every afternoon/evening at a function and not be sober the entire ten days.

Like yesterday, I went to a pancake breakfast that lasted six and a half hours. And used only a package and a half of pancake mix.

Good times, good times.

Tomorrow; Cleanse Day One.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


My mom and I are going to start a 7 Day Body Cleanse sometime in the next week. (I love saying stuff like that in front of my sister who will, without fail, roll her eyes and start into her rant about cleanse = hooey. ) I'd like to kick start the last bit of my weight loss and I'm feeling a little sluggish and blah. Plus vacation is the last week of July and I'd like to jiggle less while trekking around Disneyland.

We're doing the 7 Day Body Cleanse Dietary Supplement from Arbonne, which is an all natural herbal cleanse. For one week we will:

  • Drink at least 2L (64 oz) of water a day. You mix the supplement in with the water and sip throughout the day. The supplement tastes like yuck but you get used to it.

  • Eat whole grains, lean protein, fruits and veg (preferably organic).

  • Avoid sugary food, fried food, food high in fat and highly processed food.

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Actually it doesn't say that about caffeine, but it must be an oversight because if there's one thing that your body needs cleansing of it's caffeine.

  • Avoid artificial sweeteners. It doesn't say that either, but I have a beef with fake sugar.

  • Exercise 30 minutes a day.

  • Take time to relax and get good sleep.

My sister will rightly point out that by doing all of these things (minus the supplement) you will lose weight, feel better and be healthier.

And she's correct; I could do all of it by myself.

But I won't.

Not in a million years.

I require a little more motivation that just my good intentions. Which has, quite honestly, let me down more often than I care to admit.

This will be my third time doing the cleanse. The first go was intense; major headaches (from no caffeine and no booze), a bad backache which I'm not sure was related, lots of trips to the potty (but nothing super urgent) and general yuck for the first 4 days. After that it was better and I felt fab after it was all done; no craving for sweets, coffee or processed food, lots of energy and could sleep soundly. Lost 6 pounds which stayed off too.

Second time was much better because I didn't go back to caffeine, so no headache or body aches etc. Lost 5 more pounds that stayed off.

I think this time will be in the middle since it's been a while since the last one and I've gotten back into some bad eating habits.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tania, who is watching the rain come in over the city.

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Garden, such as it is.

(Just a little Alberta background)

Calgary's climate is semi-arid and is in Zone 3a for Plant Hardiness. We get about 169 frost free days a year, 115 of them are consecutive from end of May to mid September.

Unless it was this year when we got frost and snow well into June. And because I'm lazy I didn't even bother with bedding out plants or my plans for raised boxes in my garden area.

See the area between the garage and the fence? We don't use it for anything, it gets a ton of sunlight and would be perfect for a garden.

Next year.

This is the only plant that we have.

Got this tomato plant at Wal-Mart and it took off better than any we've had before. Of course, we're watering it properly and put it into a right sized pot so it doesn't keep tipping over (took a few tries for us to figure that out).

It's got a bunch of flowers and ten or so tiny little tomatoes. Don't know when they'll be ripe, but it's exciting to see something growing :)

Until next time,


Menu Plan Monday

I've been doing a weekly meal plan for a while now, it's helped cut down on the expense and calories of drive thru/restaurant dinners and it has the added bonus of leftovers (sometimes) which I can take to work for lunch and cut down on the expense and calories of whatever is available at the office.

This week, however, is the first time that I've needed to have a plan. My husband and I are playing on a softball team together and this week we play Tuesday and Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:00. I was told it was once a week, or I'd never have agreed to participate but that's neither here nor there. So those two days have either got to be quick or we'll wind up having KFC like we did last week.

Monday: Chicken Pot Pie. Recipe from e-mealz which was so embarrassingly easy I should have known how to make it myself.

Tuesday: Leftover Chili. Made a huge (barely fit into the crock pot huge) batch of it on Sunday and it will do for lunches a couple days this week and I'll probably freeze a bunch too.

Wednesday: Leftover Pot Pie. If there's any left. Otherwise it's Pizza Pops or something just as frozen and processed.

Thursday: Fish and Chips for hubby and the boy. Grilled veggies for me, and if I'm feeling really ambitious I'll make some risotto, yum.

Friday: Pizza.

Saturday: I have a feeling we won't be home for dinner on Saturday, but if we are it will be Chicken-something.

Want to join in with your own Menu Plan? Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Reading Q&A

Since I spent a good portion of my weekend reading, it seems fitting to answer a couple questions.

Q: Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I don't mark up books but that doesn't mean I'm set against it. I have thought about marking up a couple of novels to show changes in point of view and things like that.

Q: How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

My husband hates it (he's a bookmark dude) but I'll dog ear it or lay it flat open to keep the spot. Now that I don't buy as many paper books my reader saves the page for me (and I love it to death).

Q: Fiction, non-fiction, or both?

Both, but not as much non-fiction anymore. One, because I'm poor, two because I was running out of space in my house and three because there's not many non fiction subjects that catch my eye nowdays.

Q: Hard copy or ebook?

Ebook when possible, sadly it's not always possible. I got a lovely Sony ebook reader for Christmas and I love it to bits. It's helped me to explore other types of fiction because there's some pretty sweet deals on e-books if you look around

Q: Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?

I can put it down at any point, but if the writings really good I'm hard pressed to stop at the end of chapters.

Q: If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Write it down to look it up later?

Infer it from stuff around it. But the things that I read don't usually have big complex words.

Q: What are you currently reading?

Winterset by Candace Camp. I finished it this morning. It was okay; about 60 pages of stuff that could have been edited out.

Q: What is the last book you bought?

Confessions of a Duchess by Nicola Cornick. A sony ebook store special when you bought two Harlequin titles on a Wednesday (I do not make this stuf up.)

Q: Do you like re-reading books?

Oh yeah. I can re-read just about anything. I've gone though a couple copies of my favourite paper books because they were falling apart.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake

Know what I just realized about having a blog? I can keep track of the recipes I find on the web and not have to save bookmarks (which I lose) or print them off (which I lose too).

Came home with Strawberries today, sadly not local. Our spring was horrible so if we get any it will probably be another two weeks before the u-pick places are ready.

Strawberry Shortcake - Bisquick

Which I got from Simply Recipes and it was on the Bisquick box (not the one I had, that would be too easy.

2 1/3 cups Bisquick baking mix
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp sugar

Heat oven to 425°F. Stir baking mix, melted butter, milk, and 3 Tbsp of sugar in a mixing bowl until soft dough forms. Drop by 6 spoonfuls on to a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 6 biscuits.

I made one big biscuit, and it's expanding to fit the 9 x 9 pan I put in in. Took about 15 minutes at 430°F (altitude).

By way of introduction

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