Sunday, December 10, 2017

Something I Love and Cried 5 Times While Watching






Western Canada Theater Company has been on a roll the past few years - we've seen some really excellent shows, and yesterday The Boy and I saw one of the best - A Christmas Carol.
They are doing an amazing job and I really did cry a lot, as did the lady next to me (not as much as me though!)
I'm not giving you much time but if you are in Kamloops, you have only a couple of days left to go see it - and if you can, you really should! 

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Snapshot - Saturday afternoon reading






A couple of Saturdays ago the boys were out at a birthday party and The Girl was napping, and I should have been cleaning something, or laundry, or sorting, or a million other chores that always seem to be waiting for me, but I couldn't find the energy to do anything but crawl under a blanket and read a bit of "My Life In France" by Julia Child.
When I read As Always, Julia in the Spring, it fatigued me a bit for this one- I didn't enjoy AAJ as much as I'd expected to, and wasn't looking forward to Life in France. But this one is more my style, and a real treat.  

Stress and my schedule have finally caught up with me, and I was down for the count for 2 days which has put me behind at work and at home which, guess what?  adds more stress.  Ugh.
I am trying to be chill about it and not over do it on the first day that I feel somewhat  normal.
This Christmas (this December; this YEAR) looks nothing like I expected or wanted it to, but I cannot control it, so instead I will roll with it.

Happy Saturday.  Deep breaths.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

6 of my favorite books

My Book Club posts focus on books I haven't read before; so here I thought I would share with you 6 of my faves from my book shelf. 
I laid them out on the cleanest spot on the carpet that I could find for a fancy photo.


Let's start with the one I think I've owned the longest- The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole.  
I really wanted to take a photo of the first book in the series - The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 - but it escapes me at 5:30am, so here is book 2 in the set.  My parents bought me the first two I believe, at a book store in Vancouver in the 80's.  My dad (The Grandfather)  was and is a big reader, but didn't approve of most teen and juvenile fiction.  These got his approval probably because they were English, but I'm not sure they would have been ok with me reading them if they'd known the content. The books, especially the first ones in his younger years, are hilarious, and angsty and wonderful. The Queen and I is also a very good book by Sue Townsend, as is The True Confessions of Margaret Hilda Roberts.

Beside that is Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood.  My grandmother bought me a couple of her books as a birthday gift one year; this one and The Handmaids Tale,  and one other I can't think of anymore.  This was my favorite, because I felt like it was written for me. This isn't the original copy from her, I lost that in a move, not that that matters to anyone but me.   I think this is one of MA's greatest books.

Up next is She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb.  I don't know why or where I bought this one, but this is one of those books that punches you in the gut and you are rooting for the main character and you don't ever want the story to end. Another great one by WL is I Know This Much Is True.

Top row- Where The Red Fern Grows - oh man. This is one of those books for me where you feel like you are in the story.  Get a box of tissues ready.  So good.  No idea how I came across this one but I can't wait to read it with The Boy.  He's probably old enough now, come to think of it.....

I have a pretty big soft spot for the movie Friend Green Tomatos (Jessica Tandy!), but the book, which I ordered from the book counter at the grocery store (early 90's ahem), is SO MUCH BETTER.  I have read this book so many times that it's falling apart.  

The most recent book is Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. by Rob Delaney.  I  discovered him when I still used twitter for more than checking the weather, the traffic,and following Chrissy Teigan, and although he is often crass, he is funny and brilliant.  His book is both hilarious and sad, and reading about his struggles with alcohol and depression were eye opening for me.  

I have more that I love and plan on keeping for a while; but recently a friend told me that she almost never re-reads books and gets rid of them as soon as she is done.  
Are you a saver or a recycler?
What are some of your favorite books of all time?

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Something I Like - The Big Sick


It was worth it to stay up late (for me) and watch this excellent movie.  Funny, sad, beautiful.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Cajun Linguine


We've got some heavy stuff happening in our family right now and things are not smooth sailing. The days are long and busy and most nights it is late when I get home and everyone is waiting for me and dinner still has to be made before we can talk and catch up, and before you know it, it's time for bed and no one wants to go but me, because I am so damn tired all the time.....and it feels like I've only been home for 10 minutes and the day is over. 
 It's tough. It's draining. It fills me with mom-guilt.

 I continually struggle to find fast meals that everyone will eat - which is 
a nearly impossible challenge! 
We don't have a lot of fridge space, so I can't make much in advance. 
My preferred solution would be to order in each night, but my teeny 
bank account won't let that happen. 

I try to spend some time online on the weekend mornings looking for easy fast meals - and here is  the most delicious pasta I found on Pinterest - Cajun Linguine!


I went a little off recipe - used fresh garlic, chicken broth instead of wine,  subbed all half and half for the heavy cream/light cream combo, and eased up on the cajun spice for my weenie kids.

It was delicious and fast and comforting.  Exactly what I needed.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Essential Elixers

I went to the hospitals Craft Sale at the hockey arena a few weeks ago. I stopped by a table on my way out called Essential Elixers. Aromatherapy has been part of my life for years and years, since I "discovered" it in my early 20's at a health food store in Calgary. The lady running the table was very nice and answered all my questions and helped me pick out a couple of things - 

I bought an aromatherapy bracelet - you put a couple of drops of oil on the lava beads and wear away.  I have a lava bead necklace that I love.  
I also love the oil that came with this - called Fall in Love.



I liked this spray so much that I bought 2 bottles!  Wake The F Up, 
with my favorite scent, peppermint.


You can find them on Facebook - essential.elixirs.mm
And Instagram - essential.elixirs.mm

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

I am trying to clean out our freezer; it seems to be mostly full of weird things that I never seem to use because I forget about them - heads of roasted garlic, random bags of greens (spinach, kale, chard) I have frozen for soups and smoothies, BREAD products galore. 
And also, bags and bags of rhubarb. I have got to figure something out for all that rhubarb...... 

But anyway, I found a bag of chicken breasts in there, and I had some gruyere cheese, so I thought - Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole! 


This recipe is a new favorite - easy and delicious.
I cooked the chicken and made the sauce the night before; so the day of, I just had to assemble it while the oven was heating up.  
Very, very good.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cooking from Queso


My new filter again!  Do you love it still?
It won't be making an appearance for a while,  as I forgot my new filter plan almost as quickly as I planned it.

This is the first dish we made from Queso - El Paso Chile Con Queso.
I didn't use the fresh Anaheim peppers - instead I used part of a can of diced green chiles. 
My kids are not fans of heat.  
I also didn't serve this as a dip - I left the chicken a little chunky and served it over rice.
It was AMAZING.  I could eat it every day.

I tried the Chile Con Queso Sausage Balls for a test run for a potluck next month.  They were ok.  A bit dense and very tomato-ey.  We ate them, but they aren't a contender for the potluck.

I need to shave a few pounds off this bod so I can dive into some 
of the cheesier recipes in the book soon.  The melted cheese,  it calls me.

Monday, November 27, 2017

You can't spell Painting without Pain

The Mister decided we should paint the kids rooms. The Girl's was the same beige color as the rest of the house. The Boy's is a bit juvenile for him; blue with clouds at the top.

After testing a few paint colors we were ready to go on The Girls room!


I think the pillow was removed before we started.  Getting things out of the way and protecting them from the paint is apparently not a strength of ours.


Both kids were desperate to "help".  We managed to distract them for almost the whole paint - but near the end The Mister and I both took our eyes off The Girl, who took the opportunity to grab a paint brush, dip it in paint, and drip paint on the one area of carpet that wasn't covered with a drop cloth.  AIEEEEEEEEEEEE. 

We did yellow in The Girls room, but 2 weeks later we still haven't found the time to do the touch up work so we can put her room back together.  
She isn't sleeping on the floor, don't worry.  Her toddler bed is in our room.  I should be in more of a hurry to get that painting done!


Up next is The Boy's room, once we find the walls through all the Lego and Star Wars worlds.  We had more trouble picking a color for his room.  He wants green and the first was too dark, the second too light.  He's settled on a mint green.  I am a bit worried about the end result, but then I remember a million years ago I lived in a tiny apartment in downtown Calgary that had mint green fixtures in the bathroom - sink, toilet and tub, and how much I loved it.  So maybe once all the junk is back in the room it will tone it down enough.

I will be done with painting for a while after this, and thankfully the paint is holding up everywhere else in the house except for the trim around the front door, but November is not the time of year for THAT sort of project.
Next I am considering tackling the teenage mutant ninja turtle stickers that have been on the bathroom wall for 3 years.  If anyone knows an easy way to get old stickers off a wall, let me know.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Book Club- The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling





"O mind, the world is a deep, dark pit.  On every side, Death casts forward his net."

Saturday, November 25, 2017

2017 - Day 322 - a day in pictures

I get up a couple of hours before everyone else nearly every day of the year. Practiced yoga at home for the first time in a long while. Was hoping this would be the start of another long stretch of practices, but after 2 days, my plan derailed.
But this was good.


Made The Grandfather a batch of his favorite blueberry muffins.  I just noticed that in the title of that post I'd spelled muffins as mufins.  Our computer is slowly dying and one of the new symptoms is that some of the keys - f, b, y, z are all prime examples - don't always work. And the space bar too.  And I don't always notice.


While the muffins were baking I decided to make a batch of baked Oatmeal
 from my new Pioneer Woman book.


Lots of butter and sugar.  It was good.

 

The Girl was recovering from a cold, so we skipped her Saturday activity and went to 
the Dufferin Craft Fair instead.


Checked out the new wetlands area they are working on.
Bought The Girl a Wonder Woman skirt for Christmas.


After I took The Boy to HIS Saturday activity, we stopped by Chapters to pick up a gift for The Grandfather's birthday.  The Boy's birthday is also coming up, and all he wants is Lego.  I asked him to please think of something non Lego related, like a book, so he took my phone and took pictures of the books he wants.  Lego.



I was considering buying this mug for The Mister, because sometimes we 
call him Papa Bear.  But it was $$$.


Then it was home for a mediocre dinner.  I tried a new recipe that we didn't like very much.  
After dinner the kids and I watched Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas special on Netflix.  They loved it!  To The Mister's annoyance, their favorite part was The Secret Word, and we 3 all screamed our lungs out every time it was spoken.





Friday, November 24, 2017

Double Squash Coconut Soup


Let's talk about the filter first - I threw a party, and the soup was invited!
It adds something, don't you think, to my usual quick, no set up shot?  This might be my new thing.

Now, the soup. So easy and delicious.
I had half a butternut squash (i wrote butterbut at first, and didn't notice, and I must be more tired than I realize, based on how hilarious I thought it was) and an acorn squash in the kitchen that I decided to roast and then see what I wanted to do.  So I roasted them with some oil and salt and pepper at 400 for about 40 minutes (the acorn was cut in half and seeded first) until they were nice and tender.  I set aside a couple of big spoonfuls of the butternut for another 
purpose and the rest I decided was for soup.
I scooped the squashes out of their skins and into a big pot, and added 5 cups of veggie broth.  Brought to a simmer and cooked for 10 minutes or so.  Removed from the heat.  Pulled out my stick blender and whizzed until smooth.  Stirred in a can of coconut milk.  Reheat - check for seasoning.
Enjoy!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Kids Book Club - Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe

Why we chose it - from the bookshelf - part of a "Classics" order from Scholastic at school.

The Boy's favorite part- "The mystery of the white vegetables!"

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The rest of the order is here



The rest of my birthday order is here!  I also impulse purchased the new Pioneer Woman cookbook.  I bought one of her other ones - Dinner, I think, secondhand this summer, but I have yet to make anything out of it.  Been too busy to even open this one yet.
I added Bear Town in for my last pick because I wanted another fiction book, and I've heard good things about another book of his - A Man Called Ove.

I haven't been reading much this fall, since mid summer, but I'm trying to get back on track.  We are also doing nightly reading with The Boy and I thought I might mention some of the books he's reading here too.  He will be 8(!!!!!!) soon and is enjoying reading more, which makes me happy as I've always loved to read.

Menu planning and cooking have also fallen apart over the past few months as my days are longer and busier, and it is hard to come home and figure out something fast, interesting, nutritious, AND that everyone (kids) will  eat.

And with that, off to find something for dinner tonight!

Monday, November 20, 2017

HRC's CC Cookies


I recently came into possession of a slightly damaged but mostly intact copy of the 2004 Better Homes Christmas Cookies magazine.  I note the slight damage because to my disappointment the page containing the first recipe I decided I needed to try had been ripped out by some diabolical person.
The second recipe I wanted to try was Hillary Rodham Clinton's Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I am a fan of hers in many ways and for many reasons.
She is a smart, strong, opinionated woman.

I can't wait to read  her book, and  I will make another batch of these cookies for the Nasty Women in my life, just like I did with the first set.

HRC's Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Book Club - Reinventing The Body, Resurrecting The Soul by Deepak Chopra


"When you assume nobody is going to change, you have closed the box and locked them in."

"The deeper point is that people will go a long way to protect their comfort zones and to fence out painful reality."

"Embrace every day as a new world."

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Red Cabbage

I've got a couple of pot lucks coming up and I've already started researching some options, which is totally out of character for me.
After I finished up my cookbook shelf purge in August I tried to take another critical look  at all the cookbooks that stayed behind.  Do I really need all of them?  Really?
Well so far  the answer seems to be yes, but I am keeping that thought in my mind.  I am hoping that if I do decide that a book isn't for us, that I will do the right thing and donate it so someone else can enjoy it.
One book I wasn't sure if it should stay or go was The Rest of the Best and More - A Best of Bridge cookbook.  But now that I've flipped through it again I've found a lot of recipes I'd like to try - for potlucks and just eating in general.

I made the Red Cabbage recipe last weekend to use up a half head of red cabbage and also this is the sort of the thing that The Mister loves to eat.  It was easy and we had to tinker a bit to get the sweet-sour yin yang just right for us, but in the end it was delicious.  And even The Boy ate some!
Something about this dish says Fall/Winter to me.

Red Cabbage
from The Rest of the Best and More

3 lb red cabbage
2 green apples, peeled and chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
2 TB bacon fat
1 tsp salt
pepper
1/2 cup boiling water

Shred cabbage and place in a large saucepan with remaining ingredients.   Bring to a boil and reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour, stir occasionally.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Book Club - The River at Night by Erica Ferencik



"This is my world too; don't I deserve the chance to see it?"

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Upcoming reads and miscellaeney






I received a book store gift card from The Mother In Law for my birthday this year.  The order was broken up into 2 deliveries and I just got the first.  Queso was a total impulse purchase but after reading the first few pages I can already tell it was money well spent.  
I have read in a few places how great we are never meeting in real life is, 
and am looking forward to it.

Some other stuff floating around my head -

I really liked this article - A High-Security Prison Is Offering YTT for Inmates
I am trying to convince my head that it is time to get back to yoga.  It isn't going well so far.

I made this honey garlic chicken a while back and loved it.

If you like chicken and peanut sauce- I do! - then you will love this chicken and broccoli with peanut sauce.

I don't watch much TV any more, but I am excited about David Letterman's show on Netflix.  When does it start?????  I liked this interview from early this year.


I have some childhood memories of visiting my great-nana when I was small; not many - but I remember quite clearly a big plastic photo cube she had on her coffee table.  It had photos of her great grandchildren in it, and I was fascinated by it.
I made one similar this Spring for The Grandmother - I bought a wooden cube and cut photos to size and glued and sealed them on.  It was a cute quick craft.  



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wedding favor cookie cutter


Recently I was helping my dad clean up some  stuff in their basement, and I came across this favor from our wedding.  I'd wanted to be different, and not do the same  old candy or cookies that everyone seemed to do.  So I chose a cookie cutter and recipe for cookies.
We had to tie each cookie cutter in place with the ribbon, and I can't even tell you what a unfun job that was to do on 100+ cutters.

The wooden desk this photo was taken on was my desk in my bedroom when I was growing up.
After I moved out, my mom used the desk for sewing and knitting projects
and then it became one of my dads art tables.
A few weeks ago we moved it from their house to our house and now it is in The Boy's 
room, covered in lego. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Pork Wontons and Carrot Soup from Shutterbean

Shutterbean is one of my weekly reads. Gorgeous photography, adventures, yummy eats. 
What else do you need? 
I recently made her wontons, which were delicious. I had only small wrappers, so we made a ton. And then ate them all. 




I also  less recently made her carrot coconut soup 3 times in 2  weeks.  Delicious.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Kamloops Symphony Book Sale is on!


The Kamloops Symphony Book Sale started yesterday.  This year it's at Lansdowne Centre downtown, between the dollar store and London Drugs.  The crowds were big and there were some good books.  We picked up a handful for The Boy, and I scored the 2 above.  Yippeeeeee!  7 years after first reading it, I now have my own copy of I Like You.

The book sale runs until November 25.  Go often!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

There is always something to be thankful for


It is easier, some times, to be negative than to be positive.

Let's focus on the positive today, shall we?

I am eternally grateful for The Mister.  Sometimes he drives me crazy, 
but I know I drive him nuts too. We got it going on.
I am grateful for what a good big brother The Boy is.  He is almost always kind and 
patient to his little sister.  I hope they will always be a team.
I am always grateful for my parents, and I am thankful we moved from Alberta to be closer to them.
I am thankful to be Canadian.
After this blast of cold weather I am grateful for scarves and slippers and heating pads.  


Friday, November 10, 2017

French Onion Chicken


This one popped up in my facebook feed last weekend and it looked SO delicious I made it that very night for dinner. The kids were fairly indifferent about it, but The Mister and I really really enjoyed it.  It wasn't a super quick dinner - you have to cook those onions down for a long while, nice and slow, but it was worth it.  This could be a make ahead too - cook the onions in advance, I bet that would work well.
I forgot to buy some nice bread so we had our with roasted potatos which were also excellent.
The only change I made from the recipe was to skip the broiling in the oven as I was trying to get dinner on the table as fast as I could.  This is a definite make again!

Recipe - Cheesy French Onion Chicken

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Blueberry muffins for G


Every weekend I make a batch of blueberry muffins for The Grandfather.

They are one of his favorite things ever.

These are serious muffins - low in fat and sugar, and high in fiber.
My kids are not fans.  What a shock!

I've taken my mom's recipe, which she has noted on the paper came from the local hospital, and made a few changes over the multiple times I've made these.

Blueberry Muffins for G

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
3 TB vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grated lemon or orange zest
1/2 cup Bran Buds cereal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350'.  Line 12 muffin cups with liners.

Beat egg, stir in milk, oil, vanilla, zest and bran buds.  Let stand 5 minutes.
Stir again and add in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir until just combined.  Gently stir in berries.
Spoon into prepared cups and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Chicken curry


This is from Rick and Lanie's  Excellent Kitchen Adventures,which I cooked from for my bookcase clean up back in .... 2015.  Oh my lord.  
At that time we tried 3 recipes - biscuits, meatballs and chicken donburi.  I still dream about the biscuits.
I made two more recipes a couple of weeks ago - a chili which I altered A LOT so I can't really say it was theirs, but it was fine.
This curry was more than fine.  I made it on a Sunday for dinner on Tuesday.  Even the kids liked it, which is completely and utterly amazing as they are pretty much the most picky beasts on the planet and like practically nothing, so this is a keeper.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Creamy Potato Soup and Davidson's Orchard

We took the kids to Davidson's Orchards in Vernon this Summer and had lunch at the little cafe.  They had a soup on the menu that I thought The Girl might eat - probably chicken noodle - but after I'd paid they told me they had just run out. They had 2 other choices, one of which was spicy, so I chose the potato soup and lordy it was delicious!  I mean, The Girl didn't eat any, but The Mister and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I started googling to find a similar recipe - creamy, with veggies, not pureed, but the potatos were starting to fall apart.....and I found a very very good one at Cooking Classy which is very close to what we enjoyed that day.

I've made it twice since, and everyone (ok, everyone who is not my child) loves it.


And some photos of our day -