Wednesday, 18 July 2012

My back corner flower garden

We had a wet spring, with lots of these:
Thunderstorms and lots of rain came with those clouds. And rain makes the flowers grow J. My garden looks better than it ever has. The Calgary growing season is so short, making it tough to get a really good garden - this year has been great since the snow left early (for us).

Here’s a picture of my back corner – it’s shady, so hostas, astilbes and lilies thrive there. Oh, and my ligularia is growing like crazy too. I can’t wait to see how tall he gets this year – he’s nearly 3 feet tall now.
My Asiatic lilies are in full bloom – aren’t they gorgeous? My neighbour Karen gave me a few extras from her garden a couple of years ago, and they love this spot.
My hostas have loved the wet weather and are doing really well too: 
And my rhubarb is still growing (front of this photo). So I’m still cutting rhubarb to eat – and it’s mid-July J
I love looking at all the texture and colour and contrast right now – it’s almost like I knew what I was doing when I planted this! J


Monday, 16 July 2012

Meals - Week 25 - and some recipes

This was a great meal week – lots of variety. And these meals were all quick and easy to make, which makes it an even better meal week! J

Sunday: Balsamic-Marinated Pork Chops & Grilled Peaches – we didn’t make the grilled peaches, but  this is a fantastic meal. The pork chops are tender and have a great flavour. 
Recipe and picture from Clean  Eating
Monday: BBQ Sausages and Baked Potato – a standard around here (as I’ve said before, we like to BBQ in the summer J)
Tuesday: Chicken Skewers with Apricot Glaze – we had no idea for dinner and I’d seen this in a recipe book on the weekend. The chicken was tender and the glaze was a really good addition. 
Recipe and picture from Fine Cooking
Wednesday: Salmon pasta with peas and dill sauce – I made this entire meal up. I didn’t use a recipe because I couldn’t find one. It turned out really well, if I do say so myself J
Recipe and picture from - Me!
Thursday: Black Bean Cheddar burrito – I added ground beef to this (I should read the recipe first – oops), but I don’t know how this recipe would feed four people otherwise. This was a HUGE hit with the boys, which surprised me. It could be their love of eating without a knife and fork J
Recipe and picture from Fine Cooking

Friday: Pork tenderloin with baked potatoes – the BBQ to the rescue again!

My Mom is here next week, so the food will be even better (and not only because I won’t have to make dinner every night J)


Monday, 2 July 2012

Meals – Week 24 – and two recipes – soup and shepherds pie

Life sure is crazy busy for us these days – busier than usual. Menu planning (or sort-of meal planning) has kept us eating healthy, balanced meals, and mealtimes have been enjoyable around the table.

The boys spent hours at the edge of the water, trying to catch dinner. Even though that didn’t work and they had to eat steak, they loved every minute of it.  
 Boys - doing what boys love best - fishing
Have a great week!

Cheers! Kim
Sunday: Chicken Stir Fry – a home made concoction with teriyaki sauce and lots of veggies
Monday: Garlicky Tortellini, Spinach and Tomato Soup. I love this soup and have made it many times before. The boys liked it and enjoyed the spinach J (that’s what they said, anyway)
Recipe and picture from Fine Cooking
Tuesday: Swiss Chalet – the boys finished writing their Provincial Acheivement Tests (PAT’s), so it was their choice for dinner
Wednesday: Shepherd’s Pie with Buttermilk-Chive Mashed Potato Crust. This is a great, healthy version of shepherds pie that I've made before. And I made two, so one went in the freezer for another day.
Recipe and picture from Clean Eating
Thursday: Spaghetti and meatballs – quick and easy, but a family favourite.
Friday/Saturday: We went camping for the weekend, and our gracious hosts prepared everything and made sure each of us were completely full all weekend J

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Meals - Week 23

It was a routine meal week this week – everything was good, but nothing was ‘outstanding’. Oh well, some weeks are going to be like that. And since life seems to be getting faster and faster, good is . . . good enough.

Sunday: Veggie pasta with homemade cream sauce
Monday: BBQ burgers
Tuesday: BBQ pork chops with mashed potatoes
Wednesday: leftover pasta from Monday
Thursday: Chicken with rice and veggies
Friday: spaghetti and meatballs
Saturday: BBQ hot dogs

As you can see, we BBQ a lot when it’s nice out – summer seems to last a very short time around here, so we take advantage of it while we can J

Cheers! Kim

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

For a Good Cause - Head Shaving

This is what my oldest son Aidan looked like about a month ago: 
I’m biased, but isn’t he a good looking almost-teenager? J Other than the mop that lived on the top of his head – he and his brother have super thick hair, which is also slightly curly. Aidan’s been growing his hair for months now, in anticipation of this.

He took head-shave pledges for the Kids Cancer Care Foundation here in Calgary. This organization ensures kids dealing with cancer (and their siblings) get the chance to go to camp – it’s a great cause and definitely makes you realize how lucky you are – well, it makes me realize that anyway.

Aidan and 60 other kids (!) at school raised money and on June 9th, they came home looking like this: 

What a difference!
Here’s a side by side of the before and after pictures so you can see the extreme change: 
I’m a proud Mom – Aidan raised more than $1000 for Kids Cancer Care, and overall, their school raised more than $30,000! Woohoo! Way to go everyone! J



Sunday, 17 June 2012

Meals - Week 22 - and a shredded carrots recipe

Another week of successful meal planning – yahoo!

My goal at the beginning of the year was to eat a different dinner every night for three months - and while not every meal has been new and different, about 80% of the meals we’re making are different. And I did have a bump in my planning, but it's June - so I say I've officially accomplished my goal! J

That’s a huge accomplishment! It’s fun to pick new recipes – and everyone helps out where they can, so it makes dinner a bit more special.

Here’s our menu plan for the week:

Sunday: BBQ – sausages and baked potatoes. We use the BBQ a lot in the summer because the kitchen gets really hot. This is one of our go-to meals.

Monday:  Takeout Swiss Chalet. Mr. E was out of town so the boys and I ordered in. J

Tuesday: Crockpot Chicken with Olives – the boys and I prepped this before we left in the morning, and it was so nice to come home to an already cooked meal. We added some mashed potatoes and that was it!

Wednesday: Leftover French onion soup – we made this last Saturday and re-heated it today.

Thursday: Pork chops with shredded carrots – Mr. E BBQ’d (again! J) and I made a carrot side dish. There was a lot of cilantro in it and the boys weren’t big fans, but they sure got their veggies! J

Image and recipe from Fine Cooking
Friday: Takeout pizza – I know I’ve said this before, but by the time Friday rolls around, we’re just exhausted and need something super simple for dinner. Takeout pizza isn’t the healthiest choice, but every once in a while is okay.

Saturday: BBQ burgers and hot dogs. Like I said, we BBQ a lot in the summer J

Enjoy your week!


Monday, 4 June 2012

Meals - Week 21 and Two recipes (!)

So, a while back I talked about my meal planning challenges - mostly because of the kitchen being unusable (you can see that here and here), and partly because life was so busy I ccouldn't seem to find ten minutes to plan.

Well, neither of those things have changed, unfortunately, but I have planned our meals for the past few weeks. And somehow that is helping make life seem less chaotic. J

The kitchen is slowly moving ahead – the next time I think I can take on a fairly extensive project while working full time and trying to keep the kids on time for after-school activities, can someone please remind me about this? (gently, please J) Trying to be Superwoman isn’t helping anyone at home. Seriously. I'll show you how it's going later this week.

Okay, back to food – here is the recap of what we ate a few weeks ago (week 21, according to the title).

Monday: super simple pasta dinner – noodles and sauce.

Tuesday: Chicken fajitas – using home-made fajita seasoning. Eating with your hands is always a hit with kids J

Wednesday: Citrus Pork Chops with mashed potatoes

Thursday: Cheesy Baked Shells and Broccoli. This recipe comes from Real Simple and turned out really well. Next time, I’ll add some chicken since there was no protein and that isn’t a good thing for growing 12 year olds.
Image and recipe from Real Simple
Friday: Wendy’s take out – after a long week at work and at home, this was a quick and easy meal. I wish I could say I had a baked potato and chili, but I can’t. L

Saturday: French Onion Soup – this was our evening with no kids, so we had one of our go-to ‘adult’ meals. We don’t order French onion soup when we go out for dinner anymore because nothing compares to this version. It must be the white wine J

image and recipe from Fine Cooking
So, it was a good dinner week J It really does make the week feel less rushed and busy, which is always a good thing.

Cheers! Kim

Friday, 18 May 2012

Spring is Here!

Pretty much, anyway.

On Monday I showed you the flowers that bloomed for me on Mother’s Day: 
I thought I’d take a few more pictures and show you what spring looks like for us right now:

My lupins are growing like crazy
And my rhubarb is too (it’s already about 4 inches taller than that – it’s growing a few inches a day J).
And spring in our house wouldn’t be complete without nerf guns everywhere. The kids have ‘battles’ with each other and the kids next door. Mr. E has to be REALLY careful when he cuts the grass, so he doesn’t chew up any bullets. Thankfully they’re orange J
It’s tough living in a cold climate – my tulips are almost ready and they’ve been blooming in other parts of Canada for weeks now. My Mom has already had rhubarb desserts, but mine won’t be ready for another three weeks, at least. It looks like a few of my plants didn’t survive the winter, and it was a mild one. L

And . . .

The weather channel is calling for snow tonight – yup, snow. Planting anything outside before the May long weekend is definitely tempting fate here.

It takes so long for spring to arrive here, and fall shows up way too fast.

I may have to visit the garden centre on Monday though, just to pick up a few new plants to try out. I have some plans for our front entrance – I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.

Have a great long weekend!

Cheers! Kim

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Meals and Planning – an Update

Meal planning is such an amazing time saving concept – but it’s tough to execute when you feel stretched and overly busy.

And, you need a usable kitchen to cook in J

Our kitchen update is ongoing, and taking longer than I thought, so the kitchen has been a mess and pretty much unusable. 
I’ve fixed that by moving the cupboard doors to the garage where I’ll continue to paint them. (more details about the project that here). So, we now have our counter space and table back.

Anyway, back to bad meal planning . . .

I haven’t done it in weeks. I talked about how I fell off the planning wagon back in March, and I really haven’t done it since. I do plan on changing that – maybe next week J

The plan of having a new meal every night just isn’t going to happen – not with a full time job and a full time commute and being a full time mom and full time wife and sometimes DIY’er. So, I’m going to have to be more flexible.

We have frozen pizzas in the house now, and frozen meatballs for spaghetti night.

And that’s okay.

Cheers! Kim

Monday, 14 May 2012

Mother's Day

We had an absolutely beautiful Mother’s Day. The weather was glorious – not a cloud in the sky, but it got a bit breezy later in the day. We set up the patio furniture and enjoyed a glass of wine on the deck, in style. J

Mother Nature gave me these for Mother’s Day:

Both my daffodils and prairie crocuses bloomed for the first time on Sunday – the perfect bouquet.

And the boys gave me lots of nail polish. They picked the colour that they wanted me to wear to work on Monday:

I know it’s a day late, but Happy Mother’s Day to everyone.

Cheers! Kim

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

One Year Ago . . .

Photo by Eric Daigle Photography - he is amazing

I became Mrs. E.

Happy anniversary sweetheart. I love you.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Kitchen Update - part 2

Wow, this is a HUGE project (here’s how it started, last week).

This is how part 1 ended:
And to be completely honest, it doesn’t look a lot different, even though I’ve put a ton of work into it.

The paint I’m using needs 16 hours of drying time between coats (Benjamin Moore Advance) – so that’s one coat a day. I paint light coats, so the cabinets need four coats (yup, 4). The oak grain is quite deep, so the fourth coat finally covered all the grain enough that I was happy with it.

So – that’s four days for one side of the cabinets. Then I have to turn them over and spend four days painting the other side.
I spent every night last week painting – the stove and countertops make a good work surface:
At least the dishes can go back in the wall cabinets. The four coats are done on those.

So, at the end of a very long week, here’s what I have:
No doors on any cabinets, which shows me exactly how unorganized my bottom cabinets are L Here are the bottom cabinet doors waiting to be sanded and filled and primed.
I’m moving them into the garage tonight to start that.

Oh well, ‘they’ say it always looks worse before it looks better, right?

As I mentioned last week, please wish me luck because I think I’m going to need it.

Cheers! Kim

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Kitchen Update - Part 1

As I mentioned here, I decided that updating the kitchen would be my big project for the year. The kitchen is fully functional and a decent size, but I don’t like the oak cabinets and dark tile backsplash. The entire kitchen seems dark and dated. I’d love a bright white space to cook and bake and entertain in – because truly, this is where everyone ends up.

That was back in January – and until this past weekend, I hadn’t done anything else about it. What an overwhelming project – painting the cabinets, new tile, granite countertops – where to begin?

I bought paint:
And started. I’d procrastinated enough.

Here’s what the kitchen looked like when I started:
I took the molding off the top, and washed the tops of the cabinets. Yuck. This took a lot longer than I thought it would. But seriously, who ever looks at the top of their cabinets? Magic Eraser to the rescue – they took all the grime off (I’m blaming all the grease on Mr. E and his love of bacon J)

While I was up there, I decided to paint the wall behind the cabinets – might as well, since I was already standing on the counter. I used the same colour I painted my wall stencil with.
After that, it went pretty quickly – the doors came off, and I taped the walls and white parts of the cabinets.
The first brush of primer meant there was no turning back!
I primed the cabinets and called it a night – it was after 5, and I was tired. Proud, but tired.

So here’s where we ended up at the end of the day:
My plan for this week is to finish the cabinets and the doors, so the upper cabinets are done – so we can put the dishes away and actually eat at the kitchen table.

I’ll keep you posted, but wish me luck – I think I might need it. J

Cheers! Kim

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A Time for Reflection

I’m back.

The past month or so has been a time for me to stop and think – re-prioritize my life and make sure I’m doing the things I want to do, and not doing the things I don’t want to do. I wish that was easy to do, but it’s not.

But, my life is getting back on track. It was seriously out of balance.

I can not do it all – and I thought I could.

My personal life suffered, and that’s not acceptable. Which is why I took some time to re-prioritize.

There are still some big decisions to be made, and some hurdles I have to overcome, but I do feel that my family is my focus again. Nothing should have changed that, but sometimes, trying to be Superwoman turns out to be impossible.

And that’s okay – I don’t have to save the world. Not every day anyway J

Cheers! Kim

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Scrapbook Shopping with a Friend

A good friend, a scrapbook store and a few hours – what could be better? J

My friend Connie was in town for a business meeting, and she always stops in at Scrapbooker’s Paradise in south Calgary when she’s here. Today, I had the time to meet her and do some shopping of my own.

Connie is a die-hard scrapbooker – a professional one. She’s been a member of Canadian Scrapbooker magazine since it started, and contributes articles and tons of layouts for each issue. I met her just when I was starting out, and we’ve been friends ever since.

Anyway, we had a great time, catching up on kids, work and life while we wandered through the store. I hadn’t been shopping in a long time, so it was fun to see all of the new products and ideas – and to me, even the sale stuff was new and exciting.

So exciting that I had to buy some J 
Inside that green bag is a bunch of fun colours – orange and aqua. Half a dozen matching papers and letter stickers – gorgeous. 
There were some pretty paper flowers on sale too. I thought they’d look good on our wedding pages – that I haven’t started yet. Mr. E and I have been married almost a year so it would be nice to have some scrapbook pages of our wonderful day. 
I can’t wait to use my new stuff – sometimes that’s all it takes to ignite creativity again.

This was a great distraction in the middle of the day – in the middle (almost) of the week. Thanks Connie!

Happy Thursday!

Cheers! Kim

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

52 Projects - #7 - A New Chandelier

Isn’t this a great chandelier? J

I love it – but it’s from Ballard Designs that doesn’t ship to Canada – and it’s $400! I’ve seen these lights in blog-land, but I thought I wouldn’t be able to find them up here.

Well, look what I found at HomeSense a few weeks ago!
It's almost the same light - there's no crystal at the bottom, but the size and shape are the same. And the best part? It was $180.  Woohoo! Obviously, it came home with me. J

Here's what our old light looked like - it was too small for the space.
Plus, it faded into the background and was very bland and boring:
Here’s what our eating area looks like now:
A bit closer:
 Compared to the Ballard Designs light, it's pretty close, don't you think?

It’s a bit higher than it should be – but the chain was only 5 feet long and this is an 11 foot high ceiling. It’s about the same height above the table as the old light, and I don’t notice that it should be 6 inches lower – and I doubt anyone else will either. J

Out with the old, and in with the new. 

Another project finished - what a great feeling.

Cheers! Kim

Monday, 19 March 2012

Meals - Week 11 - a Bump in the Planning Road


We'd been doing really well with meal planning - until this week. I was out of town for three days (yup, gotta love work travel) and that completely threw me off of my planning routine.

Mr. E did a great job getting the boys where they needed to be, on time, every day - and their meals were fairly healthy, and fast. So, as I think about it, it was me that was thrown off - healthy eating in a restaurant definitely isn't the same, and it seemed like too much effort to finish out the week on a good note. (I'm always exhausted after traveling for two or three days).

So, I've dusted myself off and am getting back into the routine. I don't have travel plans for a while, so I know I can get myself back on track. I'm beating myself up - but I shouldn't be.

No recipes this week - but hopefully we'll have a few good ones to share next week.

Cheers! Kim

Thursday, 15 March 2012

52 Projects – Number Six – China and an organized China Cabinet

I got a delivery a few weeks ago – check this out: 
These were BIG boxes, and they were heavy. I had no idea they were coming – my cousin David called me to tell me he had a special delivery from my Mom. J It took some arranging with my other cousin Terry (who I talked about here), but eventually the boxes made their way to me.
That may not seem like a big deal, except for the distance – my Mom lives in Ontario and I’m in Alberta, so these boxes came across three time zones, four provinces and about 2700 kilometers.
This was what I found inside: 
An almost full set of dishes from my Great Grandmother. It’s a very delicate flower pattern, which is beautiful.  A covered serving dish, bowls, plates, cups were all inside the boxes: 
The handles and edges are gold leafed, and it’s a beautiful set that has obviously seen a lot of love and use over the years. The gold is worn in spots on the massive serving platter.

This is a wonderful gift, but the big question for me was – ‘where do I put everything?’ There are a LOT of dishes.

I’d been wanting to organize our china cabinet in the family room, so this was my incentive to get started.

This was what I started with. What a mess – this was a place we’d stuffed books and odds and ends – then promptly ignored: 
It sure didn’t make a good impression when we had company over. It’s right beside our fireplace (you can see the brick on the far left), and our family room TV is on top – so you can’t miss our big, hot mess.

So, I cleaned it out and packed up the books. We plan to build a bookcase in the basement this summer, so they’ll be unpacked when that’s finished. 
It looks so much better already! The clutter is gone J

Then I started staging the bookcase – it took longer than I thought it would. 
Slowly, I got things put on the shelves. I have a doll collection from my late Aunt that I put in with the dishes. 
After about an hour of arranging and rearranging, I came up with this: 

I’m amazed at how much better the china cabinet looks. Great Gran’s dishes are out for everyone to see – and it’s a china cabinet again, instead of a junk collector J

One more project done – while I may not be doing one a week, I’m proud of myself.
Cheers! Kim