Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Salad of the Week

This week's salad was selected from the internet by Jay. We followed the basic recipe and marinated the chicken as it described! I did not make the dressing; we simply used a Balsamic Vinegar dressing from Farmboy. I didn't have an avocado, but I thought mango might go nicely, so added that instead. I also sprinkled on a generous helping of pine nuts (after the photo) due to our $12 recent purchase of them! You can see from the picture I sort of layered my salad, instead of mixing it altogether. Two thumbs up for this salad, the flavored chicken made the dish and I could have made it a bit spicier. I also love cilantro, so that made it awesome!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

100 laughs in a day = 10 minutes of exercise!

I believe it, but I don't even laugh every day anymore. Of course I smile and grin, maybe give a chuckle or two, but actually laugh... every day, I don't think I do.

The other day I went to the walk-in clinic to get my iron prescription filled. I used to have the over the counter stuff, but apparently that wasn't cutting it anymore. I am still friggen' tired all the time, but if I don't take those iron pills for a few days - man, I am almost non-functioning - lazy really, with NO desire to do anything. The problem with iron is absorption and I'm terrible at following the rules. Personally, I'm just happy if I remember to take them every day, but you aren't supposed to take them with calcium. This means, one, I shouldn't be taking them in the morning with my breakfast cereal, or oatmeal with milk or my peanut butter sandwich with a glass of milk on the side. It also means I shouldn't be taking them with duh, my calcium supplement. So, all this time, I've been taking my iron pills with breakfast and calcium pill. I've tried to remember to take it later, get into a routine of taking it at snack time with a glass of orange juice, because Vitamin C helps absorb more iron, but snack is often on the run and I forget to take it then, so I'm back to taking it with breakfast, but at least I'm taking it, right? In the meantime, I'm adding more raisins, dried apricots and oatmeal to my diet. We already eat broccoli and asparagus pretty much weekly and I'm trying to add more spinach as well. All the big iron storers (especially the easily absorbed irons) are meat, especially red meat, which quite frankly we don't eat regularly do to other diet restrictions, like Jay's cholesterol... we stick to chicken and turkey (and pork loins, too).

Okay, where was I going with this... oh, yeah, after waiting almost an hour at the walk in to have them simply sign a prescription to renew my drug, she asks me a load of questions. One being, "Are you happy?" This question sent me for a bit of a loop, I mean why wouldn't I be happy? I have a wonderful husband who is an even better dad, 2 great troublemaking kids, a supportive family and sisters that I chat with weekly (right, Les?), I have a job that I enjoy, roof over my head, food and water to drink and good friends, too! So my answer of course is, "yes, I'm happy, just tired." Hmmm.....

Let's backtrack to about a week ago. I went for a walk with a couple of colleagues of mine (Hi Lisa and Natalie!) I brought up the idea of friendship. I'd seen this discussed on another blog and was interested by how many different people had responded. Some saying they lived in their hometown and had loads of friends mostly still from high school, some saying they have found it hard to make friends as an adult due to lack of time with children and work, while others were saying that they have a high expectation of their friends or friends let them down.... So, I asked these colleagues of mine, what makes a friend? When do you get to that place where you say friend, instead of colleague or neighbour or are those words just used to give more specific information. In this post I am referring to them as colleagues, but really they are friends of mine from work. Other colleagues I might simply use co-worker, because really I am not their friend - we don't do things together outside of school and I honestly don't know much about them outside of work. Does this make sense?

I like to think I have a lot of friends, but I have a horrible memory (as many of you know and can't believe actually how bad it is). I don't remember details, like how many siblings my friends have or what their names are (the names of their siblings, not the names of my friends, ha, that would be really bad). I may meet the same friend of theirs 4 or 5 times over the course of years and still not really know who they are talking about when we have a conversation. I try to be a good friend, be helpful, keep secrets, listen, but I have to start paying more attention to the details.

Another part of having friends is having fun. Often I get together with my friends to scrapbook, which I do enjoy, but would most of us scrapbookers classify that as... FUN? It can be fun, especially when you add food, drinks and prizes, etc. but generally I would say it is a nice, social experience. So, when did I last have FUN? When did I last laugh - laugh enough that it felt like exercise? When do I remember feeling happy and not just knowing I was? These are good questions? Do you know the answers to them for yourself?

Another issue we talked about on our walk, after we determined that we were indeed more than colleagues, but friends... was anxiety. I've never called what I have anxiety, I've always referred to it as nerves. What's the difference? Probably nothing, but having a bad case of nerves doesn't sound quite as bad as saying I have an anxiety problem. My "nerves" do prevent me from doing fun activities I would like. Anything that brings me too far from home,(downtown) has drinking involved (bar), puts me with people I don't know as well (going out with friends and their other friends) and even sometimes just out of nowhere (in the middle of a movie theatre with Jay), I seem to get a bad case of nerves. Usually part way through the event I start getting the shakes, chattering my teeth even, stomach starts to turn... just need to get home and go to bed, pretty much right away. This is no fun, so I have started avoiding situations that are "uncontrollable". This means I am saying no to a lot of fun events, like this weekend I passed up on Chippendale's and I don't mean the chipmunks! Ha! Anyhow, this has to play a factor in how much fun I have and in turn how much I am laughing. Staying in control all the time, doesn't allow for as much of a feeling of freedom.

So, all that said, when did I last have fun... well I can't remember exactly, but I remember having a great time when Darren came for a visit! He lived in dorm the same summer Jay and I originally got together and he is a kook of a character. Darren, you are so much more than funny, but you sure have a way of making us laugh and simply enjoying our time with you - thanks! That was almost a year ago, boy I sure hope I have laughed since then. Actually, I do remember another good laugh, with one of my "friends from work" mentioned above. We were at a wedding shower in the summer time and I was telling her a story and once she started laughing she couldn't stop and we laughed and laughed at almost nothing, but it was soooo much fun! And you know what? I love her for thinking I was funny.
I am making it my mission to find a good laugh and make other people laugh! We all need to burn off a few calories, right?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just dick n' around!

...or should I say, deck n' around! I'd like to say all our thoughts are focused on building our new deck, but unfortunately we have a lot of things to think about right now. I, for example have my teacher evaluation tomorrow. We are evaluated once every five years and mine is tomorrow. Should I even tell you that tomorrow is wacky hair day at school, come on! I'm sure that won't be at all distracting to my lesson plan... oh, well, that doesn't bother me as much as the brutal menstrual cramps I have right now - well, it's true - they suck! I'm done having babies, can't they just go away now? I'm glad my evaluation will be over with tomorrow, smooth sailing for another 5 years, assuming I pass! It's pass/fail, so I'm not really worried, but of course it is nice to get a good review! Jasmine also gets her report card tomorrow, which I am very excited about. I already told her we could go out for supper IF it was good. She said, "I know it will be good - I only got 1 time out all year!" Then there is our training for the upcoming Capital Day Race in Ottawa. I registered for the 5 km and Jay registered for the 10 km. I am training 3 times a week and Jay is training 5 or 6 days a week - it feels good, well no, actually it hurts - Jay keeps icing his knees and I keep icing my ankles, but overall it feels good to know we are doing something good for our health. I just took this picture of Jay and I keep chuckling because every few minutes he says out loud to himself, "OKAY LET'S DO THIS!" He's so cute :) And besides all of that, Jay is increasing his hours at work. We are trying to arrange our schedule so he can go in to work early 3 mornings a week and then on the alternate days stay a bit later. This should add 5-8 extra hours a week depending on the week and how late he stays.

On to the deck... Oh, no I'm laughing, Jay just said, "let's kick this thing's ass!" God, he is funny, I think he is trying to do 8 km tonight! Oh yeah, I was talking about the deck... well, we do have a dream picture - seen here!

Ultimately we would like something similar to this. We have patio doors in the same spot they do and our kitchen window is in the same spot, behind the bench with the pillow and then on the far left hand side is where our dining room is supposed to be (currently our office/playroom). We'd like to walk out the patio and go down 2, maybe even 3 steps onto a wooden deck (composite?) We'd like to have the barbecue on this deck and have a similar trellis to slightly block the air conditioner from view and our neighbours on that side are also higher up than us, so can see onto our deck. We'd like to have a built in bench at the far end of that deck with shrubs on the ground (can't see that part of the picture though). Then we would have another step or 2 down to the ground where we would have a stone patio (our problem is our lawn is sloped, so likely it is level on one end and then it would have a small stone step down into the rest of the yard? Then we would have another wood deck where they have their second one also, in front of the dining room. Here is where I consider putting a hot tub and eventually another set of patio doors there? Jay, however has decided against a hot tub for right now (dad, does this mean no pirate ship? - we'll have to ask Jasmine for those deck plans?) We will do similar to the picture and have built in benches on that deck too, or so goes the plan it my head! Things I am not sure about...

1) The slope and all that will mean

2) If the built in benches count as deck height and then we would need an additional railing (if it's too tall?

3) If we will indeed ever put in a second set of patio doors (long term plan)

4) Do we want wood or composite decks (I'm still thinking of stone stairs even?) I'm going to get a picture of some from my good friend Sandi, right Sandi? There yard is looking sharp!

5) Will we ever get a hot tub?

6) Will there be enough space for the kids to play?

7) Can this even be built by us on our own with help from our loving parents in one summer?

8) Can we afford it?

I wish, all I was thinking about was my deck, as it needs a lot more time to be thought about, but it will at least have to wait until after tomorrow!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Scrapping Anyone?

This past weekend I had an opportunity to scrap with some of my favorite ladies. On Friday afternoon my friend and Stampin' Up! demonstrator picked me up and we drove out to the small town of Almonte to check out our friend and fellow demonstrator, Cynthia's new stamping pad - WOW! It was amazing! Tonnes of space, tonnes of stamps, tonnes of embellishments - I was in heaven! I started the below layout there and then finished it on Saturday night with my "b-fry" Pam! Then on Sunday, I went to my scrabpook club where I had the chance to play with my pretties kit and dye material flowers. It was so much fun! Next I am working on camping, oh, about 6 different camping trips - yikes! Wish me luck!

Salad of the Week

This week's salad could be called "leftover salad", doesn't that sound appetizing!? The spinach base is from last week's jumbo container and the baby tomatoes were also from last week and I did add processed turkey meat - they just had to be eaten. Then we've got loads of veggies: zuchinni, celery, sugar snap pea pods and cauliflower. For flavor I added Roquefort Cheese and for protein the hard boiled egg on top.
This was a fine salad, but simply not exciting. For next week I bought a can of artichoke hearts, but damned if I know what to do with it? Any ideas?

Friday, March 20, 2009

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree

In this picture you can see Devin eating peanut butter by the spoonful. The funniest part of this story is that I had just happened to leave the container out after making myself a sandwich and Devin went to the drawer and got himself a spoon so that he could do this. This is totally me! I mean totally! Only I would teach my son to do something like this. For all my effort of not wanting to teach them certain habits, what do I do? I teach him to eat peanut butter by the spoonful - for shame!

What I have managed to avoid teaching them (so far): 1) Cinnamon Toast 2) Chocolate Chips by the handful for snacks 3) Shreddies dipped in Cheese Whiz (Thanks for that one Mel!) 4) Nutella 5) Licking the peanut butter off the knife

Things that I meant not to happen: 1) Corn Syrup on Rice Krispies 2) Butter & salt on vegetables 3) Butter on Pancakes 4) Chocolate Chips in Pancakes 5) Eating Peanut Butter by the spoonful 6) Butter & salt on popcorn (lots of butter) 7) Dip for their raw vegetables

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day #4 - Spring Break - Sugar Bush

Today we ventured to a sugar bush that we had not been to before, Proulx Berry Farm and Sugar Bush. (We were trying to think of how many times we had ever been to one, so if we went to one with you, comment back to me and refresh my memory) Overall a great day, although we did have bad timing with all the bus groups and spring camps that were there - made for a very long, slow moving line for the food. Putting that issue aside, we had a great time. The petting zoo, was less than exciting for grown ups, it's never that nice to see a cow with poo all encrusted to it's hind quarters, but the kids loved petting the pony! Next we headed towards the play area and they had 2 very unique, homemade slides that the kids both loved - they were fast and fun! It didn't hurt that to get to one of them you had to walk through a huge puddle, I think that was Devin's favorite part. They had a couple of fenced in mazes, which were just the right size for the kids. We avoided the teepees due to muck overload, but they were still cool to see. We also had a blast in 2 different hay bale areas. They had a large pyramid structure of bales and then they had a barn full of them and a secret tunnel underneath them. Then you had to take the covered wagon out to the food shack, there you could see the steam coming out of the sugar shack and all the tapped trees and of course we had a taste of the maple taffy on a stick. Even though the wait was waaaay too long, the food was worth it, the best pancakes I think I have had at a sugar bush :)

Jasmine's Top 3 list - 1) The mazes, which she was very good at 2) The petting zoo and the pony 3) The slides

Devin's favorite - The tractor that pulled the wagon (of course)

Jay's favorite - Making the taffy on the stick

Mommy's favorite - The kids were sooooo good, not one bad listening incident, no getting upset or frustrated - it was so nice and lots of fun to watch them having fun! I like the use of hay bales the best, totally different than anything else we have ever played on!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We've got the luck of the Irish...

...well all of us, but Jay! For St. Patrick's Day Jasmine was wearing a pin that said, "Kiss me I'm Irish!" She wanted her dad to wear it, but we said he couldn't because he wasn't Irish. She had trouble understanding how the rest of us could be Irish, but not her dad, after all he is her blood?!

Jasmine woke up about 12:30 a.m. on St. Patrick's literally feeling "Green" and proceeded to throw up a few minutes later! So our big plans of green eggs and green pancakes went out the window, but our spirit was still great! After supper we got dressed up and went around to visit all our favorite neighbours on the street - Jay and I were dressed up too, but we forgot to take a picture of that!

My sister apparently has the luck of the Irish, too! Congratulations Deanna on the purchase of your new dream house! Great house, great view (of the mountains), great price - what a sweet deal! It sounds pretty exciting to me and I will allow myself to be "green" with envy for a few more days!

It also seems that my niece and nephew have the Irish luck, as they are both playing in playoffs for hockey and ringette! Go Tyson, Go Allison, Get your Game on!!!!!!!!!! Good luck!

(And yes, I know, really we don't look Irish, we just look like Rider fans - go green!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Salad of the Week

When I asked Jay what ingredient he wanted me to use in this week's salad his response was sun-dried tomatoes. I did a web search and came up with 2 recipes that sounded appealing, but we went with this one and put a little spin on it!
We mostly followed the recipe, but we used butternut squash instead of pumpkin and we used Farmboy's balsmic vinegar dressing instead of a glaze. To add a protein to the meal, we added leftover steak from our meal last night.
I used the oil soaked sun-dried tomatoes, but found them too greasy for my liking. I would either dry the with a towel first or try soaking dried tomatoes in water next time? Everything else went quite nice together. Although, the other flavors were so strong that I didn't notice the avocado that much.
...And don't be surprised if I used pine nuts in my next few recipes, Jay bought $12 worth of them at Bulk Barn :)

Spring Break Day #1 - Aviation Museum

Today we spent the morning at the Aviation Museum and had a great time! Devin could not be stopped - he just ran from airplane to airplane shouting, "look at this one, mom!" or "dad, dad, look at that one!" he was continuous! After we had the whirlwind tour of the planes themselves, Jasmine made a lovely diorama and Jay and Devin spent some time in the well stocked playroom. Jay made an airplane out of a paper towel roll, with little help from Devin, but he had fun anyway!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Tooth Fairy

"I don't want to lose anymore teeth. I just don't want to lose any of my teeth, not even the 1st two," Jasmine cried as her bottom tooth got knocked even loser. This from a little girl who feels that losing teeth means she is growing up and she doesn't want to grow up! Poor thing! She sure does get upset. She doesn't want to you to touch it or wiggle it! She doesn't want to eat anything that may make it fall out and she doesn't want to talk to the tooth fairy about it, because if she leaves a note to the Tooth Fairy and there is no tooth, the Tooth Fairy will be mad!
These pictures were taken earlier in the day, before our most recent tooth incident. Jasmine really likes this Kids Yoga video and has been doing it a few times a week. From left to right, you can see her lunge forward on the lion pose, then they bird pose and last the dragon pose where she is breathing fire!

Sick again!

A few years ago I remember going on a health kick and getting frustrated with getting sick right away. The office administrator at my school, Jill Hogg, tried to tell me that this was my bodies way of flushing out toxics and to keep on going! I'm sorry, but frankly that just pisses me off. I start eating lots more fruits and veggies and am punished by getting a cold - more than annoying! I will keep going with the addition of more fruits and veggies, but I can't promise that I won't be adding an extra serving in the form of potato, chips that is!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Salad of the Week

This weeks salad was inspired by my friend Wendy (our old caregiver... sorry Wendy, I'll rephrase ... our past caregiver). When we went to their house during Christmas for what she referred to as spaghetti supper, we had the BEST meal of our entire holiday. We started the night off with cantaloupe wrapped in proscuitto to give you an idea of how the meal went.

The base of this salad is from a bag of mixed greens I bought at Farmboy. I threw in chopped celery and red onion as well. Then we have chunks of cantaloupe, blueberries and strips of proscuitto. It's topped off with a slice of herbed goat cheese and toasted pecans. For salad dressing I used the Mango Poppyseed dressing from Farmboy. On the side we had fresh multigrain ciabatta bread.
To add motivation for the kids to eat their salads, I made theirs into shapes. Devin's was a cat with celery whiskers and a proscuitto tonuge, while Jasmine had a person with proscuitto eyebrows and pecan ears. Devin still did not touch his lettuce, but always eats his fruit and bread (and he likes celery - go figure?) Jasmine for some reason did not enjoy hers, but I honestly think the time change made her not as hungry. Jasmine had to strike a pose with hers.After careful analysis, we decided we would have cut the proscuitto up smaller, as it was a little long and I would have added more red onion than I did - otherwise a very nice salad! The goat cheese was a great addition and proscuitto was a nice treat!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A "beautiful" walk!

The weather is gorgeous and we want to be outside and surprisingly, we are all healthy enough to do it. So, yesterday we decided to go for a long walk and go to Dairy Queen for supper - yes, no vegetables in that meal... anyhow, it takes us about 40 minutes each way to walk there with the kids and what a great walk it was. On our way we discovered that all this melting is revealing an awful lot of trash. It was quite disgusting actually. Jasmine got it in her head that we should pick it up! We thought this was a great idea, but only one you could do when prepared - like when you had a garbage bag and gloves! So today, we went for another walk, very short this time. We went a few houses up from our house on both sides of the street and in both directions of our house - we picked up all the trash on the way and had 1 1/2 grocery bags full from not even a block of our neighbourhood - wow! It was gross, but we felt really good about helping the environment and our neighbours. Just 2 doors down we found beer bottles hidden under someone's front tree :p

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Okay, tomorrow my plan is to go and get groceries... I know, how exciting! Anyhow, the goal is to make my first salad to have for supper. Like we have never had salad for supper, duh! This needs explaining. As part of my goal to eat more vegetables, I decided to make a nice salad once a week. Being inspired by project 365 (take a picture everyday for a year) I thought I would start slow, but try to take more pictures. I'm waiting for those of you who know me to stop laughing, because I already take a lot of pictures, but all the pictures are of my family and us doing things - special moments! I want to learn to use my camera better and I am going to try and see snapshots in different things around us. To start I am going to research salads, healthy veggies and fruits and then take a picture of each one, list it on the blog with the ingredients for you to try, too! Essentially, I will be running a Salad of the Week section in my blog and you can look for my first one in the next couple of days!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Healthier Eating

How many times have we gone down this road before? All too many in my lifetime, each time with new goals. I guess, some would say, "why bother", if it never seems to stick. I always find there are a couple of things that do stick, so it is always worth the effort... AND there is always hope that this time will be the one, right? Years ago Jay and I were both diagnosed with high cholesterol - this was in our first apartment in Ottawa, so 10 years ago now. I started weight watchers and over the year and half lost 50 pounds - felt great, but was loads of work and consistent effort. Years went by and the weight has come back, but some of the habits always stayed... for example we don't eat near the amount of cheese we used to, we try to buy light cheese, we put less cheese on everything and we don't eat nachoes EVERY weekend. We also don't eat regular ground beef anymore, we always buy extra lean beef and more often than not use ground chicken or turkey, especially for the likes of chilli or spaghetti sauce, meatloaf - still use the lean burger. The other main difference was reducing our egg consumption - I'd say we picked this up a little more lately with little kids - they like scrambled eggs and Jazzy has a soft spot for soft boiled eggs, but we rarely eat fried eggs anymore and it isn't a weekend staple.

With the change in our diet, my cholesterol has stayed down - mine was due to diet! Jay's however barely budged - his is genetic! A few years ago, Jay went on a very strict cholesterol diet to see if it would help, so he wouldn't have to take meds. Unfortunately, it still barely made a mark on his cholesterol numbers, but a few things stuck with him - he eats All Bran pretty much every morning - Psyllium fiber is one of the best things for cholesterol. He was adding flax seed, but that was a bit of a pain and has been lost over time. We are also still using the healthy oils for cooking and added a lot more salmon to our diet as well.

Yesterday my mom and dad sent me a website: http://www.meschinohealth.com/html/videonewsletter19jan09.html and we both took their test! Very interesting results. The big news for us was that we don't eat enough vegetables and fruits. I know it, but seeing it written and having to choose where you were at and knowing it doesn't even come close was a bit of a hit! You think about fighting off all the cold germs and wonder that if you had more vitamin fuel in you, if you could fight it better? I'm also constantly tired and they completely linked this with mineral deficiency. So here I am blogging and trying to decide what the practical way to eat more fruits and veggies is?

To help track things I typed out a checklist - they never last for a long time, but I do find they help me get on track and really see how well I am doing, so I typed a chart for 2 weeks to track how many servings of fruits and veggies I eat, how many glasses of water I drink, if I remember to take my vitamins and how much exercise I do. I also typed up a menu plan, very basic, but it shows which days I am supposed to get groceries and right after I get groceries I plan to make either a big salad for supper - you know one of the fancy kind with toasted pecans and goat cheese or red onions, mandarin oranges and almonds or a stir fry. Might as well plan it while the veggies are fresh and ensure I get 2 really good veggie helpings in a week. Other nights include: pasta night - spaghetti, stuffed shells, lasagna..., meat night - chicken breast, pork chops, steak..., leftover night - roasts, whole chickens and fun night - sushi, fondue, tacos... with each of these nights, I would like to add an extra veggie serving and lighten the other carb.

My next step is to look up some new recipes. If you have a good salad, stir fry or other veggie dish, please forward it on to me. I'm also wondering how does everyone else fit in there veggies, besides taking an apple to work and a tupperware of baby carrots. Hope to hear from you on this! And my other concern is breakfast, what do you eat for breakfast. We eat cereal and usually healthy cereals, but also a fairly large bowl - lots of carbs here. Any alternates you like and find tasty and easy to do before work?