"...In the dance of sun and water and sky. In the faces of the people who need us most and of the people we most need. In the smell of breakfast cooking on a charcoal fire. Who knows where we will find Him or whether we will recognize Him if we do? Who knows anything even approaching the truth of who He really was? But my prayer is that we will all of us find Him somewhere, somehow, and that He will give us something of his life to fill our emptiness, something of his light to drive back our dark"
-The Great Dance -Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Meal Planning for Family of Four

Happy New Year from me and my clan!!!

the only pic we got of the four of us over the holidays

I'm excited to get back into the swing of things after a nice long Christmas break.  What better way to start the year off right than to have some well thought out food to eat!!

There was a time where Nels and I put money in envelops and stuck to a VERY strict grocery budget.  We're looking to do that again in the New Year because to be honest... it was fun!

Not only am I looking to track our spending but I'm also looking to make sure we have plenty of homemade snacks, treats, and meals made in the next few months.  We always feel better and spend less when we eat homemade everything.

Ok, here's what I'm starting with

Freezer snacks

  • Peanut Butter Protein Balls.  I was introduced to these when I tried doing the 21 day fix (i lasted 7 days ha ha!).  They're so good.  I don't even feel bad having them for breakfast sometimes.  The kids both like them too.  I like to double the recipe and throw them in the freezer
  • Pumpkin Scones.  Molly likes these better than the Peanut butter balls or Greek Yogurt Muffins.  These are good for a quick breakfast or after school snack.

The Meal Plan

With our schedules being a bit odd, a regular Monday-Friday meal plan doesn't work.  I don't normally "cook" when Nels is working nights and not around for dinner.   I'm finding that a list of meal options for the month (or week) works best for us and i just make sure I have groceries on hand for those meals.  On Nels' day shifts I always cook, on his nights I don't and then on his days off we have lots of time for cooking.

Once a week Soups 

Before Christmas we started doing Soup Sundays.  Sometimes I had soup leftover from the night before or in the freezer but we would get home from church and make some homemade biscuits and then heat up soup.  So easy and awesome!  Here are some of our favourites... I'm going to try a few new soups this month that will hopefully make this "well loved" list.  I'm not actually making any of these soups this week but they're usually my go to's for Soup days.  Nels made the Taco soup yesterday and we still have some leftovers:)

Chicken enchilada Soup: This is my favourite soup.  It freezes REALLY well.  I take it to work with me for lunch often so I usually freeze it in individual containers

Mennonite Taco Soup: Similar type of flavours as the enchilada soup.  The kids like it which is awesome.

Broccoli Cheese Soup: My kids LOVE this soup.  I've always loved broccoli soup so this is a win for us every time.

Here are the meals I'll be trying this week (my week is starting January 5th which is a Thursday)  I've gone through the ingredients for these recipes and after grocery shopping today I have everything on hand.

  • Chicken Kale Salad with Brown rice and Balsamic Honey Mustard dressing
    • dressing recipe found here, the rest is pretty easy, just fry chicken, make rice and add whatever extra's.  I usually put in some cheese, cucumbers, roasted walnuts etc... The great part about this salad is that you can keep the leftover rice, chicken and veggies and just assemble salads for lunch throughout the week.  We do this kind of recipe a lot, especially in the summer with fresh garden veggie's.  
  • Tuscan Bean Soup with French bread.  
    • this recipe looks SO good.  I especially love the huge chunks of parm cheese so I'm excited to try it
    • I always use the French Bread recipe from Mennonite Girls Can Cook.  It is so easy and fast.  The recipe makes 2 loaves so I'll save one for Caprese Garlic bread that we've done for lunch in the past)
  • Baked Honey Sesame Chicken with Fried Rice
    • this is a new recipe.  We've done chicken similar to this in the past but I'm curious to see how this recipe tastes.  
    • this particular fried rice will also be a new one for me.  Most fried rice recipes use rice that has been cooked and in the fridge so I'll probably use leftover rice from the chicken kale salad.  The fried rice recipe I usually use is basically identical to this one so I don't think there will be any surprises.  
  • Chili Macaroni and Cheese
    • this recipe is from mixandmatchamama which is a blog I read quite a bit lately.  The recipe looks pretty simple.  I am also a lover of casseroles so this is a no brainer:)
  • Skinny Burrito Bowl
    • I've made this before and it was a really big hit.  The flavour is so great and there is lots of leftovers that everyone loves!!
  • Quinoa Salad
    • i love this salad so much.  I've been making it for about 3 years now.  I modify it based on what I have but the key for me is balsamic vinegar from Costco and the curry and cumin powder.  The mango is also one of my favourite parts but if I don't have mango I've used mandarine oranges too and its still good.  I'll probably make this one on one of Nels' nights.  It's hearty enough to be a meal but maybe not for men.  The girls and I love it so I feel like it's a good meal for the 3 of us:)
I figure these should get me through at least 7 days including at least 2 days of leftovers.  Our lunches are usually pretty simple so I don't really worry about recipes for them.  Violet loves noodles so I usually do a homemade cheese sauce with elbow macaroni and she's happy.  Tuna sandwiches or peanut butter sandwiches are also hits for both Molly and Vi.  

Guess what!?!?  I'm even going to try to take some pics of how these recipes work out and update the blog.  Who cares you might be wondering... well probably no-one but i'm just stoked about having a meal plan:)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Growing Up

"There are three things that are important in human life. The first is to be kind.  The second is to be kind.  The third is to be kind."

"Be kind because although kindness is not by a long shot the same thing as holiness, kindness is one of the doors that holiness enters the world through, enters us through -not just gently kind but sometimes fiercely kind."

Frederick Buechner, "Growing Up"

Happy Friday

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Molly is FIVE

I was on the verge of tears about a million times today because of this kid.  

 She made me a mom 5 years ago today.  She is a source of absolute pure joy in my life.  Sometimes when I watch her try new things or just be her everyday awesome self it hurts because of how much I feel for her.  As she gets ready for Kindergarten to start next week I have all kinds of anxiety that I never thought I'd feel.  I don't want to let go of her, not even a little bit.  I can't stand the thought of not knowing what she's doing and sharing in all of her wonderful moments throughout the day.  

I hope that she is always as full of joy as she was today.  That she always loves "her" day as much as she did even though it didn't totally work out the way we thought it would.

I hope we will always have fun moments like today even when she's older and I'm totally not cool to her anymore.

As if today wasn't exciting enough, she topped it all off with losing her first tooth.

and then her and Violet laughed and played together at the pool and crashed on the way home.  

they are literally my whole world.

Friday, July 8, 2016


Lets face it... I haven't written in this blog for ages but in an effort to organize my life and reflect on progress in all areas I thought I might start writing a bit more.

First of all... our kids, they're growing like fricken weeds.  Today Violet cried for almost 20 minutes because she didn't want to grow up.  It was heartbreaking and hilarious all at the same time.  I had to convince her of all the wonderful things that happen when you become a "big girl" and she kept on saying she didn't want to be a big girl and wanted to go back to being a baby.  Let's face it if I didn't feel like I had to be the parent in that moment I would have been crying right alongside of her.  

We went to finding Dory over Nels' holidays and it was SO FUN.  Violet might have been a tad young  (she's 2 weeks short of being 3) but Molly is a breeze at the movies.  

We also did our second annual baseball game in Okotoks on Father's day.  The kids did awesome and it was fun to be with lots of family.

Our yard is coming along so well this summer.  One day if I have time I'm going to take a million pictures so I can remember what this summer looked like.    We planted more trees, landscaped the front and seeded some more grass.   Here are a few pics of early spring after some planting.  

I can't really do a yard update without mentioning the garage that Nels built in the fall.  Not only has it been awesome for storage and for the cars... it's made our yard look much more complete as we wait for our trees to fill out a bit more.  

In the early spring I figured one of our first "yard" projects should be painting our play structure.  It looks great but it was a terrible process.  It basically took almost 2 full days by the time we got every little corner.  I am super happy that it is done and it looks awesome.

My theme for the inside of our house this year was "Let it go".  Being busy with work and kids and family and friends allowed me to really pull back on house projects and it was actually really fun to just enjoy what we have and not obsess over things.  I thought I'd add a pic of one of my favourite things Nels built this year.  I got the idea from here and after having it pinned for months Nels whipped it up one afternoon and now the kids have some awesome storage for their dress-up clothes. It looks so cute and we've recently added a homemade frame on the other side of the couch that looks awesome.  I'll share that later.

Ok, I'd say that's a semi complete update of our lives:)  Happy July!!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I blinked and it's 2015

Nels and I have been talking lots about 2014 and what our favourite moments were.  I love the New Year and setting goals but its always fun (and I think important) to look back at the year that passed.
Funny thing is, our favourite moment was one of the simplest things ever.

Drumroll please… best moment of 2014…

a blueberry u-pick!!!

We lead exciting lives don't we!?!?

I kid you not, this night was one of those fun ones.  We were sitting around the back deck in Harrison getting ready to head home from holidays and we were probably talking about how great blueberries are.  It was getting pretty late but it was a beautiful summer evening and Mom said she had seen a blueberry u-pick up the road.  We piled in the van and got to this awesome farm where the guy let us pick all the blueberries we wanted for free!!  The kids were loving it, the blueberries were huge, and the night was so fun!

I'm not sure what this says about our year but i loved this night because were were with people we loved enjoying the outdoors and eating good food.  Here's to more of the same in this New Year!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Weighing in on "Trim Healthy Mama"

Ok so this post is only my first impression of the book… just got it like an hour ago and instead of doing a workout today I'm sitting on the couch reading it… have I already done something wrong!?!?

First off THANK-YOU to Margi over at her blog for doing a giveaway.  Margi, you look awesome and you seem to be energized even with 4 kids so I was intrigued when you started talking about this.

A huge thanks to the two authors of Trim Healthy Mama as well for sending me this book.  I saw how much you paid for postage which makes me even more grateful... I'm really excited to read it:)  Not only that but it arrived on a day that is fricken freezing outside and I was up all last night with a sick baby so needless to say this really made my day.

Here's a bit about my food background:

I don't have a whole tonne of weight to lose.  My weight story isn't one of those drastic extreme makeover weight loss things.  Basically I would like to feel good in my pre-pregnancy clothes and most of all I would like to be energized and add some variety to my meals.  I LOVE food and I enjoy cooking when I have the energy.  I make time for cooking over most things (like cleaning house or working out).  Heck, I'm a foods teacher, so I'm used to being around lots of food and experimenting.  Now that I don't get paid to cook all day and I don't have the energy to work out as much my enthusiasm for cooking/food has changed.

I have also found with kids I've become a bit of an emotional eater.  If something is going terrible or I'm just so exhausted I go to the fridge and eat whatever is quick and easy (hello chocolate!)  Most of the time I'm not even hungry which is weird.    I want to stop emotional eating because its not good for me.

It is really important for me is to SUPPORT LOCAL INDUSTRY.  I'm a farm girl and very proud of it.  Therefore when someone tells me to not use a little canola oil in my baking I'm all like "what will my Dad think??"  Canola has helped put me through University and helped me live where I am.  Heck, I live right in the middle of a canola field.  So basically I am excited to try coconut oil and other things but I will always support our farmers and, for the majority of time buy canola oil.  This same thing goes for Dairy.  There will be very little almond milk in my recipes.  I feel that it is my ethical responsibility to support our local industry so bring on the milk and the canola oil (well in reasonable amounts)

As I've flipped through the Trim Healthy Mama book I am super stoked to try some of the recipes.  I've highlighted some that I know will work for me and there are others that I'm willing to try even though I'm skeptical.  I think the cauliflower crust pizza sounds awesome and I'm excited to try using cauliflower instead of higher carb foods like potatoes or bread.  I'm also excited to educate myself a bit on Energizing meals vs Satisfying Meals.  I haven't really given much thought towards energizing vs. satisfying but I'm excited to do some learning.    I'm slightly nervous about any sweeteners other than plain ol' sugar so I'm not sure how I'm going to navigate around the amount of stevia mentioned in the recipes.

I have the utmost respect for these two Moms who have obviously spent lots of time researching and thinking/praying about this book.  Whenever Moms go out there and do anything outside of the box I always admire them.  I, however also believe it is important to never look at something as "The Only Way".  I'm going to give this book a good read and definitely incorporate some of the ideas into my life… I"m excited!!!          

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How in the heck is it 2014 already!?!?

Quick recap… we had a great Christmas.  Molly showed her first signs of Christmas excitement/understanding which for me (a lover of ALL things Christmas) was very exciting!!  From leaving cookies for Santa, to stockings and giving gifts… that girl had fun with it all:)

In front of our tree on Christmas Morning.  We got a real tree from Ikea this year which was surprisingly amazing and only cost os 20.00 plus we got a 20.00 coupon.  We will DEFINITELY be heading back there next year to get another tree… we loved it!
Molly leaving a cookie for Santa

Nels thankfully had from the 25th morning to the 29th off so we were able to hang out and enjoy some good weather.  I know with his job there will be lots of years where he will be working Christmas Day so eventually I'll hafta navigate around that.  

I added a few new recipes to my Christmas baking repertoire… both I got from Pinterest and they were hits!!  I'm gonna round them up and share them later.  

We decided to start the New Year off with an overnight trip to Banff (Nels worked actual New Years Eve and Day) but due to an INSANE amount of snow and drifting we were unable to get out of our driveway on his days off.  Not gonna lie… its kinda hard to stay positive in January when you are literally snowed in every second day.  

Besides doing a fun little New Years trip we've been racking our brains about some possible New Years resolutions for things around the house.  I always have about a million resolutions because I'm a sucker for new beginnings and making lists… I love it!

We had a pretty unexpected major expense come up before Christmas with the motor in our car dying so any of the big projects planned for our house this winter had to get scratched.  We had wanted to re-do the tile in all of our bathrooms due to a shifting sub floor but I think we're going to put that on hold for now.  

I've been really encouraged by some of the posts over at Young House Love since they've moved into their new house.  They've talked a lot about doing projects in phases.  Mainly making things pretty to look at by using things like accessories or a quick paint job while in the mean time saving up for big projects.  I'm a big fan of doing things in phases especially because it give you more time to truly decide what you're going to do.

Sooooo having said that.  Most of my house resolutions for the New Year involve very little money and are geared more towards small decorative projects.  We usually clump house projects into Summer and Winter because as soon as the weather starts getting nice we pretty much forget about the inside of the house and focus on building the yard up and finishing exterior things on the house.  

Here are our "Winter House Resolutions"… Summer ones are yet to be determined:)

#1. I have a Huge oversized frame that I'm guessing was once a mirror.  I would love to hang it and do a chalkboard inside of it.  Not sure where to put it yet… at first I thought in the kitchen like this but now I'm looking at a few options around the house.  
I will be painting the chalkboard paint directly onto the wall because the frame is so heavy already so I don't want to add wood or something to the back of it to paint on.  I've decided to head over to Benjamin Moore because they do any colour in chalkboard paint so I'm pretty stoked.  I might even take some pics of the process so look out!!

#2.  We have a big space above our kitchen sink that we've talked about using for a shelf or doing a valance but I've decided to try my luck at making a sign using this technique.  I haven't decided what it should say yet but I'm excited to try the transfer paper method because it seems pretty no fail to me:)

#3. We need to address the boring room that is our guest room.  I don't quite know what to do in there but we need some art on the walls or some painting or something… I'll post pics when we start the project

#4. We are continually working on our Master Bathroom which is in need of some trim, curtains, light fixtures, tile and some major organization.  I'm looking forward to tackling this project sometime soon!  This will be one that is definitely done in stages as we have money to throw at it.  Unfortunately baseboards cannot be complete until the floor is done and since the tile floor will take bit more money both flooring and baseboards will probably be the last thing done on the list.  

#5.  Then there's just some organizing that I would like to get done. Our mudroom closet and the office mainly.  

So there you have it… they're written down so now I actually hafta do them right!?!?  Looking forward to trying some new things this year and just enjoying where we are in all aspects of our life right now.