Monday, 30 July 2012

My New Kitchen Toy!

I know I am trying to become a minimal-isht , but if something in your house isn’t working for your needs, I think it should be ok to replace it.

For six years we have used this vase-thing to corral our kitchen utensils. It’s horrible.
It’s narrower at the top, so there is always a logjam of utensils you need to navigate through to get to the salad tongs. It’s really big, so anything not quite tall enough to come over the top gets lost in the abyss of the vase.
Oh yes, and it’s ugly. I keep it on top of the fridge because I don’t like to see anything on my counters that shouldn’t be there (although the mountain of paper that I can’t seem to tackle usually ends up on the kitchen counters, but that’s a story for another day...).
A friend of mine had a Pampered Chef party recently and all of the ladies there raved about this Turn-About to contain their utensils. At first I thought it was pretty steep at $24 when I already had a semi-functioning holder of my kitchen stuff, but after thinking about it for the next two months and seeing how well it worked for my friend, I decided to take the plunge.
So, I took a chance and ordered it, and it promptly arrived a week later. And it has been sitting. In the box. For three weeks. Right next to the stupid vase thing it is supposed to be replacing!!
But today is the day – Ta Da! It’s out of the box!
Now it’s time to purge until it fits.
Alright, I know, it's a pretty sad purge pile, but I have been pretty diligent about getting rid of stuff that doesn't have a purpose in the kitchen. 
After the purge, I managed to get down to just the necessities and they fit in the Turn-About! SUCCESS!
Have you had any organizing successes this week?

Going on Holidays, what to make for dinner?

Another party-filled weekend has passed us by and now I’m digging out from a pile of cupcakes, chocolate trifle and dirty dishes! We had our block party this weekend in our complex (with a mandatory 8pm bedtime for all of the kids) so the parents could break into the board games and the tropical beverages - there was nothing but fun times all weekend long. Today is recovery day!
Some yummy desserts from this weekend
This week will consist of a whole lot of list-making! I need lists of what to pack for camping, what to buy when down in the States next week, what to do for Miss A’s birthday party and most importantly –what to pack for BEACH DAY tomorrow!!

The dinner time schedule this week is probably going to be pretty relaxed, since I’m preparing to head into vacation mode! Lots of easy dinners and eating out of the freezer this week I think, then it’s camping food for a couple of days!

On the menu this week:
Monday – Teriyaki Salmon with veggies and rice
Tuesday – BEACH DAY! Pizza and salad when we get home
WednesdayBaked Ziti and Rachel Salad
Thursday - Turkey Meatloaf with perogies and
Friday – Going away for the weekend! Dinner on the road!
Saturday – Steaks, corn on the cob, baked potatoes and salad
Sunday – Greek chicken, potatoes, Caesar salad
Holiday Monday – Grilled chicken breast, spring mix salad
Still Camping Tuesday – Turkey hot dogs, mac n cheese
Home on Wednesday – Something easy – I’m thinking Chinese take out!

I’ll be linking up to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday . Come check it out!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

Last week, a friend that I go to boot camp was having a BIG birthday, and how best to celebrate a birthday? With cupcakes of course!! I know, I know, who goes to boot camp and works out like a mad woman for an hour and then has cupcakes? About half of our class did!
I knew that I wanted the cupcakes to be light and refreshing and summer-y. Another friend had sent me a recipe for Pink Lemonade cupcakes a while ago that fit the bill perfectly. I made sure to make a mixture of regular sized and mini-cupcakes so the boot camp ladies would feel a little less stressed about ingesting sugary calories at 7:30am :)
The original recipe called for sweetened pink lemonade drink mix, but I used Crystal Light to sweeten the cupcake batter, and it worked out fantastically! 
Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
adapted from Real Mom Kitchen 
1 package white cake mix
1 small package (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding
1 pitcher sized container (see photo above, it's just a little tiny plastic cup) of Crystal Light Pink Lemonade
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil
4 whites eggs
6 drops of pink food coloring
2 cups butter, softened
1 single package (for a bottle of water) of Crystal Light pink lemonade drink mix
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 pound package or 7 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 drops of pink food coloring
In a large bowl, whisk cake mix, pudding mix, and drink mix together. Add sour cream, lemon zest, water, oil, and egg whites to the dry mix. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed for about two minutes. Use a strong mixer, this batter is thick.
Scoop batter into lined muffin tins (this recipe made 18 regular and 24 mini cupcakes). Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until cupcakes don’t look wet and a toothpick inserted in one comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting the cupcakes.
Prepare the frosting by creaming butter then add pink lemonade crystal light package, milk and vanilla with a mixer. Beat until smooth. Then gradually add the sugar, mixing well until light and fluffy. Beat in the food coloring.
Pipe frosting onto the cupcakes (I used my favorite Wilton 1M tip). (You will have plenty to pile it on. I had over 1 cup leftover to use on another cake the next day.
Option: Cut down the tops and bottoms of a flexible drinking straw (in coordinating pink, if you have them!) and place one straw piece in each cupcake to resemble a drink.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Minimal-ish Rules

Totally not my kitchen
Yesterday I told you all about my meandering journey toward minimalism. I know that I can never be one of the people whose kitchen looks an Ikea showroom, but I don’t know that I would want my life restricted that way.
I’m trying my own version of minimalism, I’m going Minimal-ish. In my journey to be minimal-ish, I have been purging unnecessary items from our home, clearing the clutter and trying to make our household live with less. I’m not doing the greatest job of it (mostly because I have a mild sales shopping compulsion) but it’s a work in progress. As promised yesterday, here are the rules and principles I am going to follow to keep myself on my minimal-ish path.

The Rules

Challenge myself Pinterest has a wealth of organizing and decluttering ideas that I could try. One challenge I think I’ll give myself is to clear the house of 40 bags of “stuff” in 40 days.
Purge til it fits Laura, the Great Organizing Junkie has great tips on her site. One of her suggestions is to purge excess items until what you have truly fits in your space.
Lead by Example – I can hardly expect Miss A & Miss E to keep their rooms and their toys clean and organized if my fridge is super full, the garage is full of junk and there is stuff on the kitchen counters at all times. I need to clean as I go, happily purging excess clutter and teach my girls the value of letting things go.
Let Go – I’m not good at letting go. I’m better than I used to be FOR SURE, but I am the queen of keeping things “just in case.” I need to realize that the car air fresheners I bought four years ago can just go in the garbage; they probably don’t even smell anymore!
This is actually my kitchen, for about five minutes til the counters get all filled up again
Clear the surfaces! - I need to clear counter tops, tables, shelves and the floor. It makes such a difference. If I let things pile up, I’ll wait until I actually have time to sort it. Instead I should sort the clutter every day and get rid of it before it has a chance to drive me crazy!
Ten Minute Tidy. - Every. Single. Day. I am pretty good at this one. I usually spend ten or fifteen minutes in the evening, while making the hubs his dinner (he works until 10pm) wiping down the kitchen table, the kids snack table, sweeping the floors and running the dishwasher. It makes me happy to wake up to a tidy house, so those ten minutes really make a difference.
There you go, some easy rules to help you clear the clutter, find focus and be minimal-ish. Good luck!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Becoming Minimal-ish

This is totally not my living room - it's the "ideal" minimalist living room
Over the past two or three years I’ve been taking a meandering minimalist journey through life. I have been decluttering my house; purging items I don’t feel bring value or beauty or have necessity in my home.
I’ve taken carloads of excess household items and clothes to the second hand store for someone else to enjoy.

I have challenged my husband and daughters to purge 100 items each on a weekend– and we succeeded.
And yet it seems like we still have a lot of stuff. Like a LOT of stuff. My kids have a ton of toys they only sometimes play with. I have a TON of stuff hanging around “just in case” I need them someday.
Even though my journey is still a work in progress, and I know that I have a long way to go, I think I need to set myself some rules to help guide me on the path to being a minimal-isht.
I follow a few famous minimalists (Leo Baubata, Courtenay Carver) who inspire me to live with less, and as much as I appreciate their guiding principles, it is hard sometimes to rationalize the idea of actually having empty rooms and empty shelves when the kids keep filling them up with toys and crafts. It’s going to require a bigger philosophical shift than I have taken so far.
I know that I am never going to be a true minimalist, but I think if I can guide my rules with a minimal-ish tilt, I may be successful. I’m still working on the minimal-ish rules, more on those tomorrow.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Mid-Summer Menu Plan

Can you believe it is halfway through summer vacation already? It's going to be August next week!!
With two BIG parties coming up in the next few weeks (neighbourhood block party this weekend and Miss A's birthday mid-August) I think it's going to be another busy busy week ahead.
This weekend flew by with a kid-free evening - dinner and a movie (Batman!) and a family filled day today with a wrap up of the kids VBS Camp (complete with sing-and-dance-along!) and a swim and dinner at the in-laws with some cousins we haven't seen in ages!
I am doing a mini freezer cooking session this week with a friend. She has been begging for some Turkey Meat Loaf, so we are going to make a whole bunch of them for our freezers!
On the menu this week...
Monday - Chicken Macaroni Bake
Tuesday - Turkey Meatloaf, scalloped potatoes and beans
Wednesday - Teriyaki Salmon with rice and veggies
Thursday - Beef Enchilada Bake
Friday - BRINNER! Breakfast for dinner ~ waffles for the kids, bacon and eggs for me and the hubs!
Saturday - BLOCK PARTY! BBQ chicken breasts and whatever the neighbours bring to share!
Sunday - Dinner with the family, I'll be bringing dessert.... maybe a new cupcake for the quest?
I'll be linking up to Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday - come check it out!!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

A little while ago, an old friend named Monica asked me for a recipe. I’m always happy to share the recipe wealth, but this time, I didn’t have one to share! Fast forward a couple of weeks and I went to an engagement party for another friend and lo and behold a delicious dish of the exact recipe Monica was looking for! (Sorry I didn't take any of my own photos of the recipe, I totally forgot.  The photo above is from the recipe website, but it's just like what mine looked like :)
I haven’t had much experience cooking with quinoa, but everyone I know seems to be extolling the virtues of this grain famous as a source of complete protein, is a good source of dietary fibre and is high in iron and calcium while being gluten free. (SOURCE).
I hope you enjoy this one, I served it for a neighbourhood bbq and everyone loved it, even some of the kids! This recipe is from, and it’s delicious!
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon fresh minced cilantro
2 tablespoons minced scallions
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 cup diced bell pepper
2 teaspoons minced jalapeno chilies
salt and pepper
Put ½ cup quinoa in 1 cup of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover, cook for 15 minutes, remove from heat, leave covered for 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the oil, lime juice, cumin, coriander, cilantro and scallions. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, bell peppers and chilies. Add the cooled quinoa. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold.
Hope you enjoy this recipe!  Bon Appetit!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Do you like to win stuff?

Hey All!
Hope you all are having a fantastic week! Sorry for the lack of posts this week, but the weather is so beautiful and the kids and I have been doing our best to enjoy it!
I thought I would tell you guys all about a fantastic contest that you should all enter - my super talented friend (and family photographer) Alana, of Alana Joy Photography is having a draw for a FREE photo session!
The session could be a newborn, maternity, family, grad, or just "hey take some pics of me because I won this awesome contest" photo shoot!
How do you enter? Well it is really quite simple….do any of the below and you will get an entry into the giveaway. The more you do, the better your chances of winning.
Leave a comment below on Alana's blog = 1 entry
Go to her Facebook page here and hit the “like” button = 1 entry
Share this post either on your Facebook or Blog and let me know = 1 entry
(yes you will get 2 entries if you share on your Facebook and blog)

You may enter until July 21, 2012 and then the winner will be chosen via **This giveaway is open to BC residents only and the session must take place somewhere in the lower mainland before the end of 2012. All portrait session rules apply. This giveaway has no cash value.

Please visit Alana's site, she's awesome and takes beautiful photos!! Good luck in the contest!!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Bacon wrapped corn on the cob for dinner on Sat - thanks Drew & Jena
Happy Monday Everyone!
Hope you all had a fantastic weekend – I know we sure did! Since I was little we have been spending summers down at Black Mountain Ranch. Now I can happily say that my brother, sister and I have our very own place to make memories with our little ones!
There is a lot of work to be done to modernize the space, but I’m confident that elbow grease and Pinterest will provide us the tools to make the updates for little or no money. You’ll definitely be seeing some makeover projects on the blog, so get ready!
My niece Belles and I hanging out in the pool :)
On the menu this week

Monday: Turkey Calzones, yam fries and roasted red peppers
Tuesday: Shake N Bake Fish, rice and veggies
Wednesday: Baked Ziti and Rachel Salad
Thursday: Turkey Meat Loaf, scalloped potatoes, beans and Rachel Salad
Friday: The hubs’ favourite! KD and Farmer Sausage
Saturday: Dinner out with Friends – going to see Batman!
Sunday: BBQ burgers, new potatoes and corn on the cob (I might even wrap it in bacon, like we had last weekend!)

Hope you all have a great week! My girls are at camp this week, having many fun adventures, so hopefully I'll be able to get to some projects around the house.  I'll be linking up the menu at Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.  Come check it out!


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