Sunday, May 31, 2009

Green Update

This morning we found buttercrunch lettuce and tiny pea sprouts!

Saturday, May 30, 2009


More sprouts today!  

Black seeded simpson lettuce and lots of radishes.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Big Excitement!

Sprouts!  We have sprouts!  Hooray!

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.
Joke of the Day

Our (almost) three-year-old was in an especially good mood this morning.  Here are two of the gems she shared with us:

Knock, knock!
Who's there?
Cookie and banana and apple
Cookie and banana and apple who?
Don't cry, it's just a joke!

Q: What did the chicken say when she burped?
A:  Excuse me!  

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Mommy, I don't know how anteaters kiss."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Shopping Online (with a six-year-old)

"Hey Mom!"


"I can't wait until I'm older."

"Why's that?"

"Well, then I can buy things on eBay."

"Oh?  And what will you buy on eBay."

"Good stuff, like bows and arrows..."

"Oh, really?"

"... Yep.  And maybe even a ninja sword!"

Monday, May 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday
May 25, 2009

We've had a full weekend --- full of work and fun and visiting.  Now it's time to plan for the week to come!

Here's my proposed menu plan for the upcoming week:

Monday:  No cooking (supper with my parents)
Tuesday:  Orange-glazed salmon, brown rice, green salad

Wednesday:  Hamburger soup, homemade bread
Thursday:  Leftovers
Friday:  (Carried over from last week) chicken skewers, baked beans with pineapple, poppy seed tossed salad, blueberry ice cream tart

Saturday:  Homemade pizza
Sunday:  No cooking (supper with Ben's parents)

Our family especially enjoyed two recipes from last week's menu.  The kids loved the meaty noodle casserole and also the crispy pretzel bars. (I actually made those sweet treats twice last week!)

If you would like to browse other great meal plans and recipes, check out Menu Plan Monday hosted by Org Junkie.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Garden is Planted!

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?

Pole beans
Black Seeded Simpson lettuce
Buttercrunch lettuce
Sweet peas

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!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

All About the Yard

This week it's been the number one topic of conversation. 

The yard.

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.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crafty Goodness:
Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts

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!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Mad Dash

Here's a classic video from the Inkster family archives.  Hope it brightens your day!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday
May 18, 2009

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.

Here's our menu plan for the upcoming week:

Monday:  No cooking!  (Supper with my parents)

Tuesday:  Meaty noodle casserole, fruit salad

Wednesday:  Encore performance

Thursday:  Soft tacos with beans, veggie fixings, salsa

Saturday:  Clean out the fridge

Sunday:  No cooking!  (Supper with Ben's parents)

I also plan to do some baking this week.  Here are the treats I hope to make:

For more menu planning madness, check out Menu Plan Monday on Org Junkie!

Friday, May 15, 2009

You Know It's Time to Lock the Cabinets When ...

... you catch the one-year-old eating out of the compost pail under the kitchen sink.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mr. Sun, Where are You?

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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Inspiration

Inquiring minds want to know ... how did our six-year-old learn about Tesla coils?  It all began when his father showed him the following video:

Feeling inspired, our son created this scene with Lego. (Look familiar?)

I suppose I should be thankful our son's fascination with Tesla coils hasn't gone any further than Lego and bad puns.  Here's to hoping that's where it stays!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Hey Mommy!  I know the difference between Tesla coils and testicles."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

This afternoon our six-year-old played with his junior microscope kit, sorting through all the stuff inside the box.  "Hey, Mommy," he called, "Why would you need a razor blade in here?"

"I don't know," I said, "Why do you think?"

Our young scientist thought for a moment and then replied, "I guess you might need to shave a frog."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday
May 11, 2009

Here's our plan for the upcoming week.  I will include a couple recipes from last week we didn't have a chance to try.

Monday:  (Mother's Day meal with my family)  BBQ pork on a bun, roasted potatoes, corn, coleslaw, dessert courtesy of my sister!

Tuesday:  Leftovers

Wednesday:  Vegetable chowder, homemade bread

Thursday:  Toasted artichoke sandwiches, fruit salad

Friday:  Homemade pizza, green salad

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  No cooking!  (supper with Ben's family)

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Org Junkie.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Quote of the Day

Our almost-three-year-old made the following statement after using the potty this evening:

"Oh Mommy.  Now my brain is feeling much better!"

I must admit I don't see the connection...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

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.

What do you think of my stylin' Mother's Day hat?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


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...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Geekiness Abounds

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.  

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Fast Food (Homemade Style)

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.

Super-Easy Quesilldias

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?

Friday, May 01, 2009

All is Well

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.