We ate our first harvest from the garden today! It was a radish. A single, tiny, lonely radish we carefully sliced into four little pieces :-). Many of the radish's friends should be ready to pluck from the ground this weekend!
In other gardening news, we have plenty of green poking up through the soil. The spinach, peas, beans and sunflowers appear to be growing especially well. Sadly, the zucchini is nowhere to be found. (We planted the seeds over three weeks ago, so we should have sprouts by now. Right?) This past weekend we sowed our second crop of beets, carrots and lettuce. We also thinned all those cute little seedlings.
Gardening is turning out to be really fun. Our three-year-old especially enjoys helping mommy water the plants each morning. (She also enjoys digging up the plants. Yikes!)
Our family loves the big soccer field behind our house. It is truly an endless source of entertainment. Right now I am watching (what I suspect is a church group) play a rowdy game of dodge ball. Yup. Dodge ball. It is hilarious.
In other parts of the field I see a young family chasing after toddlers, another family lounging in the grass, and a couple of soccer players. Earlier this afternoon I saw a man flying a huge kite. A cricket league plays in our field several nights per week. Kids' soccer practices are always fun to watch at supper time.
I think we love our field because it is fun. Almost without fail, people visit the field to play and relax. We hear lots of laughter. The sea of lush, green grass is rather intoxicating and people enjoy playing within it.
When I think of all the ways God has blessed our family, I am truly thankful for our beautiful house. Most of all, I am grateful for the huge grassy field it sits upon.
Phew! We're caught in a busy season around here. End of school activities fill our calendar for the next couple of weeks. For a family who plays it very low-key, we're not used to all the excitement! I'm looking forward to the end of the craziness next week!
Dancin' up a storm
Celebrating kindergarten graduation
Crafting for a special birthday girl
Baking for a party
Shopping for the teachers
Working on the yard
Going on a field trip
Hangin' at a picnic
And trying desperately to stay caught up on sleep!
Tonight they're forecasting frost for the third night in a row. It's June! Where is all this cold weather coming from?
I've diligently covered our garden each night with old sheets. I think almost everything has survived. The peas actually seem to be loving the cold temperatures. Only the tomato plants look frost-bitten (and I think they'll bite the dust, sadly). At least it's early enough in the season to try the tomatoes again.
Here's to hoping tonight is the last we see of winter!
Here's to hoping our cute little sprouts don't freeze tonight. They're predicting a chance of SNOW! It's June, for goodness sake! I'll definitely put our garden to bed under some comfy old sheets tonight.
We have sunflower sprouts! In one day they are already becoming HUGE (compared to our other little seedlings). I'm curious to see how quickly they grow. The variety we chose is supposed to reach six feet tall!
I'll need to buy some garden stakes this weekend...
Gardening seems to be the topic of the moment around here :-). Our family has shared much excitement this week watching tiny sprouts emerge in our backyard garden. It's been fun and a terrific learning experience for us all.
Our family is also reading the following fantastic book:
Lynne Cherry wrote and illustrated How Groundhog's Garden Grew during several artist-in-residencies at institutions such as the Smithsonian Museum and Cornell University. Cherry's illustrations are beautifully detailed. Our family particularly enjoyed the pages depicting many types of sprouts! The story "introduces children to the cycle of an entire gardening year: gathering seeds in fall; storing them in winter; planting in spring; weeding and watering in summer; and a delicious and bountiful harvest at Thanksgiving time."
I can only hope our little backyard garden grows to be as lush and green as Mr. Groundhog's ....
We planted our garden a mere 6 days ago, so I wasn't expecting to see any green for another week or so. However, this morning my little helper and I spotted tiny green sprouts poking through the soil! We have a wee row of spinach and a few eager radishes!
I've started keeping a gardening journal to log these exciting discoveries. The journal is nothing fancy. I'm using a pretty notebook I've been squirreling away for ages. (The notebook is perfect because it says "maison des gardins" on the cover.) Each day I jot down the little things that happen and the work we accomplish in the yard. Since gardening is a new adventure, I'm hoping the notebook will prove to be a handy record.
Didn't Ben do a great job building our garden beds?
The veggies are planted and now we wait! I followed the plan for "square foot gardening" and between our two beds we have about 30 sq. ft. of space to work with. Today only half the beds are actually planted, though. We'll successively plant the rest of the garden over the next few weeks in hopes of spacing out our harvest.
What did we plant?
Black Seeded Simpson lettuce
The kids and I will plant sunflowers at the corners of the garden this afternoon. Next week I also plan to plant one or two tomato seedlings. This is all a grand adventure, so we'll see what actually grows :-).
Next on the list ... put up those gates to keep the bunnies at bay!
This week it's been the number one topic of conversation.
What to do with the yard?
The good thing is this: Ben's plans and my plans are pretty well in agreement. We are certainly on the same page.
The bad thing is this: We don't have enough time! A few hours each weekend just aren't going to cut it. (And let's face it --- we don't want to be slaves to our yard either.)
Oh yes, and there's also the issue of our budget. Home improvement projects can get very, very expensive.
Ben and I have been riding high from last weekend's productivity. Ben did a fantastic job with the raised garden beds. They truly look great! I was also happy to get the weed barrier put down under our mulch. We reached our goals before the poor weather set in and it felt good to work out in the sun.
So, what's the plan of attack for this weekend? Here are our priorities:
1. Mow and water the grass. Green Drop is scheduled to aerate and spray our lawn today. They were supposed to arrive a few days ago, so Ben's been putting off the mowing and our yard looks like a jungle!
2. Plant the veggie garden. I am very much looking forward to this! Last night I actually dreamed about planting our garden. I was worried we were planting too late in the season, however I found an extremely useful chart in The Calgary Gardener. The chart lists May 24 as the best day to plant many veggies in Calgary. Looks like we're right on track!
3. Figure out where to build gates. This is a rather pressing concern. Our yard is fenced but not gated. Ben and I discovered evidence of a furry friend living under our deck (a veggie-loving rabbit) and need to fortify the yard! We may rig a temporary barricade until we decided where to install gates. Sadly, utility lines and a water spigot interfere with the most logical placement.
4. Power wash the house and deck. This is ambitious, and if it doesn't get finished I won't sweat it. The house is grimy from winter. The deck is in sorry shape. We were upset to discover the previous owner failed to seal our deck last year. It is now a mess! We don't want our beautiful deck to rot away and need to strip, stain and seal pronto. This was not a project we had anticipated and it will likely require a lot of effort.
I think my mom and I will visit the garden centre on Saturday. I may be sorely tempted but I'll probably wait another week before buying flowers. (We had a frost advisory last night in Calgary!) It will be fun the look, though.
If you love crafts and are looking for some serious eye candy, this is the book for you. Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts is a gorgeous compilation of inspiring projects and stunning photography. This is a must-read for craft enthusiasts.
Imagine my surprise when I caught Ben reading this book a few days ago. We actually shared a cozy moment leafing through the book together. My (secretly crafty) husband was especially inspired by Martha's section on punched tin and created the following project in response:
Ben used baby food jars to make these cute salt and pepper shakers. Not only that --- he also constructed a thrifty homemade light box in order to photograph them. Who knew I had married such a crafty dude?
It just goes to show Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts is a truly great book!
It's a cool and rainy Victoria Day here in Calgary. We did enjoy sun for the first part of the weekend, however. Ben and I accomplished lots in the yard (and did even more planning and dreaming for the weekends to come). It's been a great few days!
I have some sad news to share. Last week my bread maker died. (Boo hoo!) I use the bread maker often and am quite upset. I did have a couple weeks warning of the machine's impending demise, thank goodness. I decided to learn bread-making the old fashioned way and have made a few (successful!) batches of milk and honey bread. (I changed the recipe slightly and used 50% whole wheat flour.) I've also discovered that my bread machine recipes are fairly easy to adapt. Maybe, just maybe, I'll learn to live without my handy machine.
Ben and I have BIG plans for the long weekend. (Big plans to work on the yard, that is!) We have our fingers crossed that the rain will dry up and we'll finally see some sun.
A couple weeks ago Ben edged our flower beds and filled them with mulch. They look great --- except for all the grass and weeds now poking through! Yuck! We did not use a weed barrier because I thought I would plant some flowers. Guess what? Plans have changed and "low-maintenance" is the word of the day. This weekend I plan on scooping out the mulch, laying down weed barrier, and putting it all back together.
Meanwhile, Ben has a project of his own in the backyard. After weeks of deliberation (and seeing the soggy results of recent downpours) we've decided to build raised garden beds. Last week Ben dug the foundation for the beds along our back fence. We plan to use landscaping ties to build up the garden. This is our most ambitious yard-improvement project to date, so we'll see how it turns out!
In other news, I booked Green Drop to look after our lawn. To tell the truth, I'm not sure how I feel about the decision. I certainly look forward to green, lush grass. Will it be worth the expense? I guess time will tell. Ben is the first to admit he is not a "lawn guy" and our poor grass could use some TLC. The bigger issue is the chemicals, though. Green Drop offers a 100% organic program (and it costs the moon). We've gone with their standard program of aeration, fertilization and spot-pesticide. (Green Drop will not spray the entire yard with weed killer.) Ultimately, Ben and I plan to lay paving stones over most of the backyard. (Who needs grass when we have a gigantic field out our back gate?) Maybe lawn maintenance will be less of an issue in the future.
Over the next week or two I look forward to making our yard "pretty". I have four flower planters and plan to hang some baskets on the deck. We'll stick with easy, colourful flowers like petunias. The kids and I will also plant our veggies (providing the raised beds work out). The following book has been a great source of information and I highly recommend it:
Phew! That looks like a lot! Ben and I are quickly realizing that yard work is HARD work.
Today has been a busy day filled with fun activities! Each of our boys had special Mother's Day functions at preschool and kindergarten. I was not able to attend our four-year-old's Mommy & Me day this morning, but I hear he had a terrific time with Grammy! (Thank you for stepping in, Marilou!) Our six-year-old and I had lots of fun at his kindergarten Mother's Day Tea this afternoon.
A ferocious dinosaur lives on our driveway. He faithfully protects the house from intruders. Yes, his form is a tiny bit lumpy and the extra leg does slow him down. Just don't let the smiley face fool you into thinking he's friendly...
It's almost here. Trekkies unite! The newest Star Trek movie opens this Friday. Rest assured, my beloved and I will be among the first in line on opening day. Ben and I do enjoy a good Star Trek movie and the latest one looks pretty sweet.
I wouldn't say Ben and I are voracious Star Trek fans. We simply enjoy watching the shows and regularly crave a healthy dose of geekiness. Lately, we've been catching old Voyager episodes on YouTube. Few things beat an evening snuggling on the couch, sharing a big bowl of popcorn, and devouring a couple episodes of Voyager.
This week threw us for a loop and I did not stick with my original meal plan. No worries. We'll just transfer everything over to next week!
Our family is working hard to cook and eat all our meals at home. Our budget is tight (like everyone else's these days) and restaurant meals are insanely expensive. (Admittedly, our family does have a weakness for take-out pizza. That's another story!) I am learning that "home cooked" doesn't have to translate to "complicated and time-consuming". Sometimes the simplest meals are the very best. Besides, when I'm super tired it's usually easier to throw something together in my own kitchen than bundle all the kids off to a restaurant!
This week I tried a simple supper idea I read about in Taste of Home. Supper turned out surprisingly well and was ready in a heartbeat. Also, our meal cost considerably less than take-out or restaurant fare.
1 can black beans ($0.75)
200g shredded cheddar cheese ($2.00)
10 whole wheat tortillas ($2.25)
Rinse and drain the beans. Squash the beans with a potato masher. Combine beans and cheese. Divide the mixture evenly between the tortillas. Fold each tortilla in half and grill each side until crispy. Cut grilled tortillas into wedges. Serve with salsa.
We ate our quesilldias with sliced oranges. The meal was nothing fancy but it was fast, filling and healthy. Not only that, the entire meal cost well under $2 per serving!
When we're crunched for time or it's been an exhausting day, our family relies on a few other easy "fast food" fixes:
Scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast, fruit
Homemade soup (from the freezer), whole wheat toast or biscuits
Tortilla wraps and green salad
Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Does anyone else have any great suggestions for homemade "fast food"? What works for your family?
I think (I think) we are in the clear with the tummy bugs. I figure we will have dodged the bullet if everyone is fine through tonight. Our son was the only one to get sick! Hallelujah. I'm sad our little guy threw up so many times but am thankful no one else got sick. (Quite frankly, I'm shocked no one else got sick!)
Our son threw up for about two days. He spent most of yesterday sleeping (praise God) and slept through all of last night as well. Today was his first day back on solid foods. I suspect he was hungry. The kid had food on the brain. It was his favourite topic of conversation all day long ---- especially cheeseburgers, of all things!
"Mommy? What's in a cheeseburger? How do you make cheeseburgers? Can you make some cheeseburgers? Can you make some cheeseburgers today?" And on and on and on.
Sadly, we did not eat cheeseburgers for supper tonight.
1. Our son has been throwing up since this morning. Yucky. Our kids very, very rarely throw up. I'm praying no one else gets sick and have disinfected every surface I can think of. My hands have been washed raw. I'm working hard to control my imagination, what with the whole pandemic panic. I sure hope our little guy has a good night tonight!
2. I am very happy because our friends had a new baby this afternoon. Hooray! What great news to brighten a difficult day! Babies, babies, babies.
3. Ben had a terrific idea --- a great disciplinary tactic for when our kids are older. We'll send the kids out to the huge field behind our house make them pick up litter. Brilliant!
I made the following soup for supper this evening. I found the recipe in a Wonder Time magazine I borrowed from the library. I made a few modifications to use ingredients we had on hand and we ate our soup with popovers (as suggested by the magazine). Yummm!
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 C. crushed tomatoes (or plain tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes)
1/2 tsp. salt
1, 19 oz. can lentils, rinsed and drained
8 C. chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. dried thyme (or 1 small sprig fresh thyme)
1 C. diced kielbasa (optional)
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Heat oil in a wide saute pan over medium-low heat. Saute onion until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add celery, carrots and garlic. Saute until vegetables soften a bit (about 5 more minutes). Then add the tomato sauce, salt, lentils, broth, bay leaf, and thyme. Stir.
Simmer soup on very low heat, partially covered, for about an hour. Add the kielbasa, if using, after 45 minutes. Add water if the soup looks like it's drying out. When the lentils are nice and creamy, stir in the vinegar, then taste the soup. Add more vinegar or salt if the flavour needs brightening.
I love him to bits but, lately, our four-year-old is driving me crazy. He's quite the space cadet. He's a sweet, smart, sociable little guy but he also has an incredibly vivid imagination. It often seems the stuff going on between our son's ears is far more interesting to him than real life. It's nearly impossible to get his attention! And following directions? Forget about it!
This morning I sent the oldest boys downstairs to eat breakfast. (I took the boys downstairs, got everything ready, and left them shoveling cereal into their mouths.) I hurried to get the two little ones dressed. Our four-year-old soon ran up the stairs to find me.
"Mommy!" he yelled, "We've got trouble!"
(I thought, "What? Did they spill the orange juice?")
"Mommy! We need a hero!"
("I guess I can heroically wipe up juice.")
"Because there's a big pile of dirt!"
"Um, excuse me?" I asked, "What in the world are you talking about?"
"I need to dress up as a super hero because there's a big pile of dirt out on the street!"
(I failed to see the connection between dirt, super heroes and breakfast, but that's usually the way of it.)
"Dude. Did you finish your cheerios?" I asked.
Our young hero stared into space, deep in thought. "Oh yeah. That's what I was supposed to be doing..." he replied.
The forecaster predicted sunny skies and temperatures above 20 degrees. I figured we'd seize the day. (After all, they're predicting snow for Thursday. Say it ain't so!) I guess I wasn't the only mom with the same idea...
The zoo was crazy this morning. Totally packed. It's a Tuesday morning and school is in session, so I figured things would be relatively quiet. Boy, was I wrong! I can't remember the last time I've seen the zoo so busy.
The kids had a blast, nonetheless. I let the boys run and run and run and run, hoping for a long nap this afternoon. (So far that seems to be working!) The weather was actually rather cool and cloudy. We visited the hippos (who were literally snoring), giraffes, lions, monkeys and gorillas. We ate a nice picnic lunch as well. I love our zoo pass because we can stop for a quick visit and leave when the kids get tired. Usually, a two hour trip is about perfect.
Now I'm looking forward to a quiet afternoon and evening. I think I'll spend some time praying for the snow to pass us by...
I always enjoy finding the newest Taste of Home magazine waiting in our mailbox. I like the bright pictures, the unfussy recipes and the everydayness of it all. Taste of Home is totally unpretentious.
Unfortunately, sometimes the magazine is a little too unpretentious.
Actually, the magazine itself is not the problem. The ads enclosed with Taste of Home are really classy, though. They make me want to run off and load my credit card to the max. (Insert sarcastic tone.) Here's an example of this month's gem:
"Rockin' Through the Years" begins with a fully-sculptural replica guitar adorned with a vivid montage of favourite Elvis moments ... just flip the switch, and you'll be dazzled, as the special built-in lighting system illuminates the vivid art from behind.
What in the world is a "fully-sculptural replica"???
Apparently, the king is still alive and well. (And tackiness reigns supreme.) You, too, can own the "Rockin' Through the Years" commemorative guitar for two easy installments of only $29.99.
Our littlest Inkling celebrated his first birthday yesterday. How did that happen? Our little timbit is all grown up!
Here are some of the things our big boy is up to:
Timbit has six teeth and is working on number seven. He likes to feed himself all sorts of things --- pieces of banana, pear, orange, grapes, hard boiled egg, peas, corn, beans, chicken. Our growing boy is a good eater.
Our one-year-old is not quite crawling yet. He gets around by bum-scooting. He also like to turn around in circles (sitting on his bum). Over the past few days he's started flipping on to his tummy, so he'll likely make it to his knees soon.
Timbit knows the signs for "more" and "all done". He can also wave bye-bye.
I think our big boy's favourite birthday present was a sparkly gift bag. (Not too interested in the gift inside the bag!) He's a typical one-year-old :-).
I can hardly believe we woke up to snow again this morning. Will it ever completely melt away? I'm just itching to get outside and play in the dirt!
Ben and I spent most of the weekend talking, planning and dreaming about our yard. We even made two separate trips to Home Depot. (Scouting expeditions.) We have grand plans and a small budget, so we'll see what actually gets accomplished! Ben and I have never done anything with a yard before. It's all a great, big adventure.
I've been mulling over the flower beds I dug out along the driveway last fall. Ben thinks we should just fill them with bark mulch this year. I sort of agree. I also sort of disagree. I'd like to fill the borders with an easy, pretty, low-growing perennial. I'm thinking pinks might look nice, maybe cheddar pinks? (The name alone is almost enough to sell me.)
If the weather improves I hope we'll rake the lawn next weekend. We may even start digging out the veggie patch along our back fence. I'd love to clean off the deck and bring out the patio furniture, but then I'm sure we'd be guaranteed to receive another dump of snow!
One year ago today Ben and I placed on offer on a beautiful home. The offer was accepted and six days later (mere hours before we signed the final papers) our fourth little Inkling was born. What a crazy start to a very busy year!
If Ben and I had charted our own course, we certainly would not have chosen to buy a house last spring. In our eyes the timing was all wrong. However, God had a bigger plan and we are very grateful He was guiding our steps. Ben and I had no idea the housing market would take such a nosedive and we sold our condo at the best possible time. God's timing was perfect.
Looking back, we have lots to be thankful for: terrific next-door neighbours, our school right across the street, a huge expanse of green just out the back door, a safe and beautiful home.
Our little girl is nearly three years old. She's been essentially potty trained for a few months but still has occasional accidents. To be blunt, she has poop issues. She doesn't like to poop in the potty. She doesn't like to poop in a diaper. She won't poop in her panties. She simply holds it all in, for days and days and days and days and days.
(Each of her older siblings have done exactly the same thing.)
The problem is, a little body is not designed to hold on to poop for weeks on end. (Here's where things get a wee bit gross.) Often, she leaks. Her poor body just can't handle it. We've tried everything but our girl refuses to poop until it's absolutely necessary. After a lot of disgust and frustration (and a ban on diapers in the daytime) we came up with a workable solution.
For the time being, our daughter wears "poop skid liners" on her underwear. They are simply pantie liners designed to be worn by women. I figure the liners are meant for panties, so why can't a toddler wear one? Those liners have saved many a pair of small panties over the past few weeks.
Our little girl has no problem with wearing the liners, and in fact, now refuses to wear panties without one. She's completely accepted them. There's just one problem, however. It's pretty embarrassing to travel down a store's feminine hygiene aisle and hear my daughter loudly exclaim:
We had a great day today. (At least, I think we had a great day.) Ben and I tackled a project that has haunted me for months and it feels great to be finished!
I thought the walls and baseboards along our stairway and upper hall looked patchy. The nicks and marks really bugged me. This weekend we borrowed our neighbour's ladder (thank you!) and fixed everything up. Painting the tall walls was definitely a challenge! Thankfully, we only needed to paint one coat because we kept the original colour.
I haven't read Gary Chapman's Love Languages book yet, but I'm fairly certain my primary language is gifts of service. I feel most loved when someone helps me with a task. I know how much Ben loves to paint (insert sarcasm here), so I'm very thankful for his help this afternoon. I couldn't have done it without him! The thought of climbing that tall ladder totally freaks me out.
Most people who visit our house probably wouldn't notice any change to our hallway but I can see a huge difference. The walls are clean and bright now. Thank you for your help today, Benjie! I really appreciate it.
The other day I bought a dozen hollow plastic eggs. I'd spotted a neat kit for "Resurrection Eggs" at the Christian bookstore and hoped to recreate it (more frugally) at home. A quick search of Google turned up these great instructions!
There are twelve days left on the calendar until Easter Sunday. Each day we will send our kids on a treasure hunt for one hidden egg. Inside the egg they will find a Bible reading and a tiny object representing the day's theme leading to Easter.
Here is what's inside today's egg:
Message --- Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people waved palm branches.
Passage --- Matthew 21: 1-11
Item --- Piece of a palm branch or a small plastic leaf.
Last night Ben and I filled all the eggs with the appropriate slips of paper and small objects we scrounged from around the house. (We had to be creative for a couple things!) We numbered each egg with a sharpie pen and placed them in a reused egg carton. All told, our resurrection egg kit cost $1.49 to make.
I am looking forward to the kids' reactions later today as they hunt for the first egg. Ben and I hope to build anticipation and excitement for the fast-approaching Easter season!
My poor little computer died this weekend. The thing shut down spontaneously and would not reboot. When technology fails, it definitely pays to be married to a geek!
My knight in shining armor quickly diagnosed the problem and replaced my notebook's RAM (because he just happened to have extra lying around). Voila! Problem solved! Not only that, my computer now boots much faster than before.
Many thanks to my buff and studly resident IT tech.
Maybe you've noticed ... my blogging performance has been less-than-stellar lately. I'm completely uninspired. I've hit a major slump. That big 1-0-0-0 posts thing has left me rather deflated. What else is there to say? I can only talk about menu planning and my crazy kids for so long before people (all ten of you) rebel against reading the random musings of my mundane life.
(I'm so ready for spring to arrive.)
Fear not, I won't take drastic action any time soon. I realize I've been sick and tired and grumpy and stressed the past while. Life will likely settle out and all will be rosy once again. New inspiration will strike eventually. Right?
I think my love affair with blogging has grown cold for two key reasons:
I've changed my daily routine and am spending very little time on the computer. (I actually see this as a healthy thing.) These days I'd rather dash off a quick post than spend an hour crafting something witty and profound.
I'm pretty sick of myself lately (but I don't mean to sound horribly self-deprecating). I'm simply tired of coming across as prideful and "super-momish". I don't want to boast about the cool things I've done / nifty projects I've made / profound books I've read. I just want a rest.
All that to say, ye olde Ink Spot is looking rather forlorn these days. I guess this is my rough approximation of an apology and explanation.
I am seriously lacking motivation these days. Seriously. I've been running on fumes most of the week. Blech!
I think the root of my problem is a pesky cold that refuses to leave. It's haunted my body for the past three weeks. The darn thing has taken up permanent residence in my sinuses. I'm not deathly ill, more under the weather, and haven't felt great for a long time. It's time to be healthy already!
Well, today is officially my last day as a twenty-something. Tomorrow I'll hit the big 3-0. Yikes! I'm not completely sure I'm ready to take the leap into a new decade, but as my big birthday approaches I do feel very loved.
Yesterday Ben baked me a cake. He baked me a cheesecake. All by himself. That would bring the number of things my husband has baked in his life to a grand total of ... one. It was the first time he had ever baked anything. I must say, that cheesecake looks mighty fine sitting there in the fridge. It's taken a great deal of willpower for me to refrain from sneaking a teeny-tiny sample.
Earlier this week I casually mentioned I needed some new oven mitts. My six-year-old asked where someone might buy said oven mitts, and I suggested the loonie store. Well, yesterday my son told his daddy they had to stop at the store. With his own allowance (the kids earns only $2 per week) he chose a stylin' pair of oven mitts. What a sweetheart! He brought his gift home as proud as could be. You can be sure those mitts will be put to good use! (In fact, I believe my husband might have used them for the first time last night!)
Bake some cheesecake and pull up a chair. We're having a party! Today The Ink Spot has reached a significant milestone. (Or perhaps it's a mille-stone?)
This is officially my blog's 1000th post.
Gosh, that's a little bit scary. Who knew this blogging experiment would last so long? Thanks so much for tagging along for the ride. You've graciously endured my random musings, mundane blather and an embarrassing load of navel gazing.
Like everyone else in the world, our family is watching our pennies these days. I've had several friends ask for cheap and easy recipe ideas lately. Budgeting is a common concern! Since I plan to stre-t-c-h our leftovers this week, I thought I'd share a couple of simple, frugal recipes.
I make this dish when we have leftover spaghetti and meat sauce (an easy and economical meal in and of itself). I always seem to make more spaghetti than we need but hate to let it go to waste. This casserole freezes very well.
Cooked spaghetti (we like whole wheat)
Spaghetti sauce (with meat or without)
Small broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
Shredded cheese (we like low-fat cheddar)
Combine spaghetti and meat sauce. If you'd like, add extra veggies such as shredded carrot, mushrooms or pureed squash. Place in a large casserole dish and arrange broccoli on top. (If you use fresh broccoli, steam it for a couple minutes first.) Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, until heated through.
Chili and Cornbread Casserole
We often seem to have leftover chili in our house. I can usually find a container or two in our freezer! We enjoy both meatless or beefy chili, and this recipe works with whatever type you have on hand.
1 C. cornmeal
3/4 C. flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. milk (I usually mix up powdered milk to use in baking)
1/4 C. oil
3/4 frozen kernel corn, thawed
Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in one bowl. Whisk together milk, oil and egg in another bowl. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in corn.
Arrange chili in a casserole dish. Spoon cornbread mixture on top and smooth flat. Bake at 400F for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cornbread comes out clean. (Alternately, this recipe makes one dozen cornmeal muffins or one 9-inch square cornbread cake.)
My friend Sara has another delicious suggestion for using up leftover chili right here.
Have fun cooking at home, get creative with leftovers, and save a few pennies in the process!
Last week's menu went over surprisingly well with our family. The pierogis were a hit with the kids, the orange chicken recipe was delicious, and our homemade pizza turned out great. (As requested, I will share the orange chicken recipe below.) This week I am trying to get away with skipping my regular shopping trip, so I'll cobble together our menu with ingredients I already have on hand.
Monday: No cooking (supper with my parents)
Tuesday: Spaghetti pie, sliced apples
Wednesday: Chili and cornbread casserole, green salad
Friday: No cooking (Ben is in charge of my birthday supper!)
The following chicken recipe is flavourful and easy. The sauce is especially good with rice. (I substituted whole grain rice and red peppers for our family.)
Orange Chicken with Vegetables
1 Tbsp. plus 1/3 C. cornstarch, divided
1 C. orange juice
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 lb. chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 C. chopped green pepper
1 1/2 C. sliced fresh carrots
1/2 C. chopped onion
Combine 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, orange juice, soy sauce, sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Place remaining cornstarch in a large resealable bag. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook chicken in 2 Tbsp. oil for 7-9 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Remove and keep warm.
In the same skillet, saute carrots in remaining oil for 2 minutes. Add green pepper and onion, saute 2-3 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender crisp. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add chicken and heat through. Serve with hot cooked rice.
Yield: 4 servings
Thanks to Org Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday each and every week!