Friday, April 29, 2011

Food Friendly Friday - Week 1

(haha - pretty cheesy title right!)

A lot of blogs have a 'Menu Plan Monday', and they all have great recipes and weekly menus to check out (some are listed on the right :)), and I do check them out and use them, but for my blogging purposes, I will post on Friday (because I plan on Thursday and shop on Saturday). Hence the cheesy title...gotta name it something!

A little background on our family food habits...the main point being that our (my) two kids are only with us 4 days out of 8, so it really plays a part on what will be eaten that night. Also, our 17 year old starts work at 5 generally and will just eat before us. Some nights are VERY laid back as far as meal prep goes, with only 2 or 3 of us to cook for, although that doesn't stop us from going all out if we feel like it!

Another thing is that we have whatever nights. Lately I've been scheduling this for Wednesday's, which makes for a nice break in the middle of the work week. Basically we all have whatever we want that is in the house. Leftovers, canned soup, cereal, sandwich, cheese and crackers...see, whatever! It's supposed to be a good way to eat up the leftovers, and can be, but we are picky about which leftovers we like, so I'm slack on that. I try not to succumb to takeout on this night based on principal...what principal I'm not exactly sure!

Lastly, we are far from perfect in the food category. Although I find it extremely helpful to plan our week's worth of dinners ahead of time, there are times when takeout is just too convenient. For the most part, it's lack of motivation that causes the need for convenience, but that's where having a plan is all the motivation I need to cook a healthy, home cooked meal most nights, so that's why I bother to plan in the first place. But I don't beat myself up either if I skip the plan one night every couple of weeks.

Okay, on to my first weekly menu post (yay!!!) 
(I'm trying some new recipes this week, hope they turn out!):

Saturday - (no kids today and tomorrow)- (shopping day) - Whole cooked chicken from the deli and buns - believe it or not, it's generally cheaper to buy a whole cooked chicken over a raw one at my grocery store, so that's usually the way we go. We usually have it in chunks on tray buns with miracle whip.

Sunday - Chicken Stir Fry - (using leftover chicken from Saturday) - I just sauté whatever vegetables I have in EVOO and then toss in the cooked chicken, some sort of stir fry sauce and some Epicure stir fry spices and serve with rice.  Easy Peasy!

Monday (kids for 4 days) - *Slow Cooker Ham and Parmesan Potatoes* - *new recipe* - I try to do slow cooker meals on Mondays 'cause it's a hectic day at work :)  Here's a link to the recipe (oh, and the links do work now!):

Tuesday - *Shaker Village Tomato Soup* and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches - *new recipe* - a twist on an old standby.  Again, the link:


Whatever Wednesday

Thursday - *Slow Cooker Spicy Goulash* - *new recipe - follow link* - I have my own goulash recipe that I will post some day, but this sounds good. I will be swapping the ground turkey for ground beef.


Friday - (no kids) - Chicken Burgers and Taters - not the best meal, but what the heck, when all white meat breaded burgers go on sale, you buy them! And I bake them of course, same with the frozen taters :)

Thoughts on Week 2's menu:

There is still ground beef, ham and pork chops in the freezer, so I'll be trying to use those up. Maybe a second try on a newly found recipe and also a couple of tried and true's to make up for all the new stuff this week!

Do you plan your meals? Post a comment and let me know!

Pssst, Amazon has some great calendars to help you plan. I've seen this one being used by a few bloggers out there..

Happy cooking, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Finally, some Renos pics...

I'm not sure exactly how many days it has been since the renos started, but the first day was January 31, and today is April 28, so let's just say 3 months. That's about how long it takes to do an entire upstairs reno. Of course, we are not exactly finished yet, BUT, the cabinet maker says he will be done by the end of next week, FOR SURE, and since everything else is done, that means it will all be over once he's finished!

All of the tiling and grouting was finally finished on Monday of this week, and it looks great! I'm so glad I made him rip the other stuff out in the kitchen. We used all the same colors, but mostly beige instead of gray. What do you think?

Also, the blinds were installed on Monday. You'll notice every window has the same blind. It's hard to tell in the pics, but there is a slight texture to the material, which is just a dark brown.  Drapes to come soon in the living room I think.

The trim for the cabinets was installed today, and I think it really finishes off the cabinets nicely.

And the doors were installed on the cabinets in our small bathroom.

Some of the closet doors and drawers were installed in our bedroom as well.

LOVE these shoe drawers!!!

And how about this corner piece in the dining area? Isn't it beautiful? It still needs the glass up top, but that will go in tomorrow, along with the rest of the closet stuff.

That leaves Alex with still having to do the TV stand, the back porch and the mantle. Plus he's going to spruce up the always banged up ledge around the stairs to the basement (yet another add-on). Hmmm, next week for sure huh? I guess time will tell....

Here are some pics of the living room with the new furniture...

The dog's favorite spot to wait for kev...

As you can see, my scrap room is being put to good use!  I already have a few projects on the go ;)

On a whim I decided to just decorate Cam's room as the guest room now, since that is what it will be when the basement is done, and since my mom is coming to visit for Taylor's graduation :) Cam is not too happy about what he calls a 'girly' room...I told him to pretend he was away on vacation to a spa-like destination :)

That's it for reno news.  I'll do a before and after post next time so the changes can really be appreciated. We are very proud of how it has all come together and can't believe it's almost done, finally!

Oh, I almost forgot...I sewed the coolest thing together the other day for myself and a couple of and a link to the tutorial to come on the weekend!  Sorry, not telling what it is 'till then 'cause one friend doesn't know what I have for her yet!

On a different note, I'm gonna totally plug Amazon here and post this link to the Adele CD ...she's one of my new favs, so why not.  

And just so you are aware, I do get a commission if you click thru and purchase it.  That's not a hint or anything, I just want you to know :)

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blogging...A Learning Curve

Last Thursday night I sat down and drafted my first menu plan post. Well, where is it you ask? It's still sitting there in the drafts folder, that's where it is. Why, you ask? Sitting here now, I'm not sure to be honest.

It was a fine post....up until I wanted to personalize the name of the link I wanted to embed. It wasn't good enough for me to just be able to link you directly to a recipe on the Kraft Canada site, but I wanted that link to show as just the recipe name to you, not as the whole address. You know, when you click on the word 'here' and it takes you to wherever you are supposed to be directed to?

WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME??? I completely gave up because I couldn't make it "perfect"! I searched around and I think I found the directions on how to do it, but the language was so foreign to me I'm still not sure I was reading the right instructions! I was defeated. I thought - maybe I'm not cut out for this...this is a lot of technical stuff I just don't get! And trust me, I'm decently knowledgeable on both the inside and outside of a computer! But this language I didn't know had me feeling on the dumb side and I've avoided the blog since then.

Today I came on just to rant a bit and say I was giving up, and when I went to bold a word I noticed the link button. I was even excited to see it. In my drive for perfection, I actually forgot that I could still helpfully direct you to where I wanted you to go, which was the whole point to begin with! Who cares if it isn't exactly what I wanted? I can't believe I gave up so easily!

There are a slew of pretty blogs out there, fantastically designed blogs actually, and I will say the women (and men, I know you're out there too) who are designing them are talented. But just because my blog isn't as fancy as theirs, it doesn't mean I should give up. Doing what I am able is enough.  I will carry on with the tools I have, and hopefully expand on pressure though :)  I'll change the colors up here just to add interest and to at least feel a little bit better about myself in knowing I can do that at least ;)

And to impress you with what is a new skill to me (perfect or not), here are a couple of links to a some tasty dishes we had for supper last week...

I hope it's ok for me to link you to a blog recipe. I'm not up on the blog etiquette, but I know it's a good thing to give credit where credit is due, and this blogger deserves credit for her quick and tasty Creamy Potato Soup:

And this was a fun take on meatloaf...the potatoes were sooo yummy:

**ARGH!!  As you can see, my linking skills still need some honing (not so impressive!) - I guess you will have to copy the address and paste it into the address bar if you want to view these recipes.  If you need help with that, please let me know and I'd be more than willing to assist, although I'm sure the help is not required :) **ok, now they work :)  not sure what I did different this time, but I'll take it!

RENOS UPDATE - the tile backsplash in the kitchen was started yesterday...buuuuut, they didn't order enough tile. And go figure, the grout color was wrong. Another delay. Other than that, the new sectional and chairs were delivered and that is it. No word from the cabinet 
maker in a while...maybe tomorrow? Pics to come soon....

Oh - happy Hump Day tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hmmm, I kind of like this blogging thing...

It's been 72 days since we started our renovations, and although we aren't finished quite yet, we are so very, very close! Backsplash, grouting, cabinet doors, trim and crown moulding, 5 more pieces of cabinetry, and a bathroom fan. That's it and the upstairs is complete! Then I can start really personalizing the space. Right now we are living up here, but it will really start to feel like home when those last little things are finished and I can pull out the goodies!

I mentioned last time that I was becoming a little OCD, and some may agree. I decided (with a little help from the blogs I've linked to on the right) that a household binder might be for me. It started with the decision that since we were starting with basically a brand new house we weren't going to allow anything to come in unless it was a) clean, b) needed (ok, and just wanted too, but that's where c comes in), and c) had a designated spot. This lead to trying to find a way to keep our mail organized, as well as find a replacement for our old "message center", which was the side of our fridge, which is no longer magnetic or visible on the one side as it was before. This then lead to the blogs.....soooo many home organization and meal planning blogs! It's like heaven out there for me! Why had I never explored this resource before? From there came the household binder, and then a meal planning binder too, and then the idea that I have to keep blogging! It's fun, it's a great way to share things with family and friends, and it's a great way to keep track of all the great blogs I've found.

Over the next little while I'm just going to play with it a bit, so if you decide to follow along, or tune in once and awhile, please bear with me. Designing an interesting and organized :) blog is foreign to me...I've just followed the template thus far! I hope to post links to blogs and sites I enjoy, share more details on our household binder, post home decorating projects I hope to attempt, and maybe even share my meals as I plan them each week. Who knows really, I'm just gonna wing it for a while!

Most certainly though I will complete the original goal of blogging about our renos by posting before and after pics (together, so you don't have to link back to the beginning :) ), and by keeping you updated as the last things are finished upstairs. Then there will be the basement to report on. If I get things right, there should labels for the topics I'll be posting about, but I only think I know how to do that at this point, so wish me luck.

Happy blogging!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

End of Day 65

It's true that diamonds are a girls best friend, but closets have got to be the next best thing.  It's going to be so much easier being organized with all this storage space.  Everything will have it's place, and be sure, everybody will know where that place is!  I'm going to be a bit anal, I can tell.  I already feel a little bit OCD while unpacking....labels out, straight lines, like with like, no clutter....I'm sure it took me 10 minutes to put the cat and dog food away, the cans had to be lined up just so.  Oh well, being so organized and tidy will allow me to spend 10 minutes on putting cans away if I so wish to spend my time that way!  And all because of closets!  I'm sure you have figured out by now that the closets have been installed (well, most anyway), and after taking all these pics I have been busy filling some of them with our 'stuff'...there is sooo much room!  Alex also installed the mirror/cabinet units in the bathrooms just today - OMG - they are perfect and he is awesome, what more can I say?

And lights, the last two were installed just today - love them!!  The electrician did lots today actually...the outside light, the thermostat, and the doorbell.  Well, she tried to do the doorbell, but apparently Kevin cut the wires on  She'll be back tomorrow anyway.  We weren't really thinking when we installed the big wall of cabinets in the kitchen about there being a plug-in available at counter height.  We knew the plug-in for the mixer cupboard had to be moved, but that's as far as that planning went, and since the backsplash won't be installed until next week now (insert sad face here) she's going to come and install 2 plugs so we can plug stuff in when it's on the counter.  What a novel idea that is huh?!

All in all, still a couple of weeks left - feels like I've been saying that for a while now!  But at least we are using the space now.  I'm pretty much upstairs all the time, either cleaning, unpacking, puttering or chilling in the bedroom.  My mood has improved - I think - but I still want it to be done.  We are using the space, but it doesn't feel like ours yet, and won't until the code on the door has been changed I'm sure!

Hallway closet.  Putting the french style doors on really allowed the shelves in the closet to be fully accessed, very glad we did that.  Alex cut them at a slight angle so that when you open the doors they weren't so in your face, very glad he did that!  Still a shelf to be installed on top and doohickeys put in to hang the broom and such in the middle section.

Scrap room closet.  I don't like how these bifold doors cut off the shelves in this one, but not much we can do.  I will be using the shelves for books and magazines anyway, so it won't be an issue.

Cam's/guestroom closet.  So much space!

Front entry closet.

The best of all - our bedroom closet (doors to be installed at a later date)!  

Check out the built in laundry hampers - his and hers of course!  I get the left side of this unit.  The far upper left will have 2 hanging rods for shorter items and the section above the laundry hamper will be for long hanging, and then 3 drawers to the left of the hamper.  Kev gets the right side - the far upper right section will be 1 hanging section for short items with a couple of shelves below.  The section above his hamper will be shelves, and then 3 drawers to the right of the hamper.  The bottom middle section will be drawers for my shoes (insert super large grin here), there will be 2 small drawers directly above that, 1 for my jewelry, 1 for ???.  The upper middle section will be shelves for my purses, but there will be a tonne of room left in there for ???.  The ???'s don't bother me - empty space - I've never known that before and can't wait to experience it!

The hugeness of this closet isn't coming across in the pictures so I put the chair there, but I don't think that helps either.  If I was standing in front of this, I am about as wide as the laundry hamper section (no jokes please) and my head comes to about the middle of the upper section.  It's massive!

My scrap room light - so pretty!  Even Kev likes it, suprisingly.

This is what we bought to replace the horrible chandelier in the dining room.  I loved this light when we saw it in the store, then when we got it home I was worried because I didn't like it in the picture on the box.  Now I know why - you can't take a good picture because of the way the wire twists, it looks crooked, but in 3D, it works.  I love it again and think it will look even better when we get the kitchen  table in the room.

I think it's time for the contractor to take a trip to the dump!  I'm so tired of looking at my beautiful kitchen and then turning around and seeing this!  But I think you can still tell that this light looks better.

Main bathroom.  Hmm, I seem to recall a problem with gray tiles in here just last week, but now - what gray tile?  I don't notice any gray tile...all I can see are the awesome cabinets in this room.

Our bathroom - more doors to be installed at a later date :)  You can't really tell in this pic, but the space under the counter and to the right is open shelves.