Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Friday night dinner...

After work on Friday I picked up the kids and took them out for dinner.

Normally we would come home and I would make dinner, but this week I had a bunch of running around to do and I knew that if we didn't stop for dinner the kids would be beyond starving before we got home. That is never good.

So, I picked one of the kids favorites. Swiss Chalet. Certainly not my favorite, being vegetarian and all... I sent R. in to get a table while I searched for a parking spot. Surprisingly there was no lineup and he got us a table right away. He is such a smart kid, he had already checked out the menu and had a plan before I got in there with the girls.

We got settled and the girls started colouring while R. and I set to work with the menu. He suggested that we get a 'special' they had on, where you buy a rib dinner and they add a 1/4 chicken to the plate. then get 2 extra plates and the three of them could split this. Man he is smart! So, that's exactly what we did. And for myself, I ordered a baked potato. There is not much there that I can eat, but the baked potatoes are a safe bet. I also ordered a side of poutine for the kids to share as they all love it and it would fill them up in case there was not quite enough for them all.

Figuring out that the Ribs are good.

Now that's a happy eatin' face!
One trick I have learned when eating at Swiss Chalet, and one of the reasons I am willing to go there, is that they will de-bone the chicken for you! So, I made sure that when I ordered I requested that they do this. I can handle cutting the ribs apart, but I am not picking through chicken for bones.

So, after some colouring on the kids menus and chatting, our meals arrived. I got to work dividing up the ribs, chicken and fries between the kids and they dug in. R. got to work and enjoyed everything. The girls were not to sure about the ribs, eating with their fingers and getting all mucky sure did not come easy to them. Once they had a few bites they decided that getting mucky was OK, and they polished off the ribs in lightening speed. Then the chicken, which is never a problem for these kids, also disappeared quickly.

Then it was my turn to take care of that baked potato. As soon as I picked up the plate I was looking for our waitress. I think I ended up with the greasiest, fingerprint covered, plate in the kitchen. There was no way I was eating off that plate. So, I sent it back and asked for a potato not on the grossest plate in the kitchen. Our waitress was fast to replace this with another potato on a shiny clean plate. Then I got to dig in.

By the time we left the restaurant we were all full and ready to head off and get our running around done. We also had an order of poutine to take home as the rib & chicken dinner was more than enough for the three kids.

Those are some happy, full, tummies...

So how does Swiss Chalet rank on my list of restaurants? It's a good choice with the kids and they have baked potatoes. I wouldn't go there if it was not for the kids, but when I do go there, I don't get too upset about it. So, I guess it's a middle of the road, with the kids, restaurant.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

So Long Summer...

Well, Summer has come to an end.

There is an undeniable crispness in the air, the leaves are changing colour and there are far fewer hours of sunlight each day. And rain. Lots of rain.

Mom and Dad will be back in another week or so, at the beginning of October. They have been 'on the road' since June 29. It sounds like their retirement trip has been amazing. I am looking forward to hearing the stories and seeing all the pictures.

Once they are back we get to figure out how to live together again after almost 13 years. This will be interesting... We figured we would give this a try as we all had to move at the same time of year, and we all love this house. Sharing this house allows us to live in a great place and have a bit of extra money to do cool stuff, like travel, buy motorcycles, and other fun stuff... I guess we will have to see how this goes.

I have a few outside jobs left to get done before I hang up my gardening gloves for the winter...

My Truck and Motorcycle need washing and polishing.
I still have some plants to get into the ground and some others to get moved around.

It's also time to get a start on my 'inside' progects...

I am still working on the bedroom for the girls.
The house needs a super duper clean before Mom and Dad get back.
Get all our pictures scanned and sorted out.
List stuff for sale online.
Oh, and planning a little holiday...

I am thinking about 3 weeks in Europe in January or February. Yah, I said 3 weeks and Europe! While they have been away, Mom and Dad bought a time-share thing where you can stay at Hotels in Canada, the US or Europe. I don't really know how it works yet, but I get to use a week to go on a holiday. And I am going, darn it! So, yes, I am excited, and yes, I will be working on plans for this trip over the next little while. I am looking forward to it! I am thinking of splitting my time between London and... somewhere in Germany. Eek!

At this point, I think I will fly into London, then go to Germany by train, stay in Germany for a week and a half, then back to London for a week and a half, then fly home from London. Thats the tentative plan. I will have to see how it all works out, but I am going!

Before I go, I have to get all my stuff done. It's going to be a busy fall.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Yes, Garfield.

That is what my parents called me every time they served Lasagna. Every time. It really is my favorite meal. Ever. I mean, I have different favorites at different times, like right now if you asked me what my favorite this to eat is, I would say Pizza. But really, my forever favorite is Lasagna.

I have been craving Lasagna for a few months now. Finally, I have made a pan of it. 

Isn't it beautiful?!
Here is what I used...

4 cans of diced tomatoes
Italian Seasoning
Seasoning Salt
1 bunch of Celery
4 medium Onions
750g Cottage Cheese
2 Eggs
2 cups Parmesan Cheese
Lasagna Noodles
Mozzarella Cheese
Cheddar Cheese

How did I do it?...

Saute the Onions and Celery, add to the tomatoes in a large Crock Pot. Add Italian Seasoning and Seasoning Salt to taste. Let this cook away for a few hours. 

Mix the Cottage Cheese, Eggs, and Parmesan Cheese in a bowl, set aside. Preferably in the fridge.

Once the sauce is ready, use a ladle to collect a bit of the 'juice' (no veggies) and put this in the bottom of the Lasagna Pan. This will prevent sticking. 
Then, lay down Noodles. Dry noodles. Don't boil them first, there is no need.
Then Sauce.
Then Noodles.
Then the Cottage Cheese mixture.
Then Noodles.
Then Sauce.
More Cheese!

Then, bake this beautiful masterpiece in a 350degree oven for about an hour. Until it's all bubbly and gooey and smells delicious. 

Bubbly Deliciousness.
I like to let this cool for a few minutes before I dig in. Mostly so I don't melt my mouth. It also lets the cheese on top settle and get all crispy. After it has had time to rest, I give it about 10 minutes, dig in!

Bedtime snack?!
I have managed to make this 'sugar free', which means I used Brown Rice Pasta instead of the typical wheat pasta. I have included the details of any 'special' ingredients in my Sugar Free in Victoria Page. I have not found a difference in the taste or texture with changing the pasta.

Now that I have had a dish of this, I will put it in the fridge overnight. This lets the juices 'soak in' to the pasta and it will firm up. Then I will portion it out into containers and freeze some for lunches.

Tonight the pan will actually make it to the fridge. I won't pick at it until it's gone.

Fortunately this Garfield has learned a little bit of restraint over the last few years.

Just a little bit.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Breakfast of Champions... or Breakfast for me.

Tonight I had to make some Steel Cut Oats for breakfast for the next few days. It is so yummy that I have been raving about it to everyone that will listen. 

I figured I would show you how it's done.

Start with a pot of boiling water, with Kosher Salt and a bit of Olive Oil. I add the oil as it breaks up the starch a bit more.

Once it is really boiling, add the Oats. Stir to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.

 Keep stirring them occasionally. 

When the Oats start to thicken, turn them down so they are simmering, keep stirring occasionally. They may start to stick to the bottom as they thicken, this will take about 20 minutes.

Just before they are done, add the raisins, cranberries, pecans, cinnamon and vanilla. Give it a stir again.

The raisins and cranberries will start to plump up, this means they are getting yummy! When the whole house smells delicious, it's done!

Serve up into bowls and add a bit of Rice Milk. Or, divide into storage containers and keep in the fridge, or, if you like, you can leave the whole pot in the fridge for a few days and reheat it as you go.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Meal Planning

After the Golf-a-Q on Friday night, and having a dinner that certainly was not sugar-free, I am back on the wagon. It's not hard. I like what I am eating and have found enough items to have variety and not be bored.

I do need to find some sort of pasta I can have though. This morning I was having breakfast and going through my list of blogs I like to follow and saw this... Lasagna - Lazagnuh posted on C.'s blog. I work with C. and she is an amazing cook and has a great blog. The problem with this post is that now I really, really want some Lazagna.

One thing I have added to my list of projects for next weekend is to make some Lasagna. Maybe a couple of them and freeze some for later. Then on a day when I don't have time to cook, I can just thaw one and pop it in the oven. I think the most important part of eating 'no sugar' will be the planning.

Planning, planning, planning.

Fortunately it's something I am good at. (That's why I helped S. with her wedding.) This week I will be searching for some pasta I can have and planning out some meals. Particularly Lasagna. Mmmm... 

Other meals to plan...

Lasagna, of course
Vegetable/Lentil Soup

I think that's a good start. I will need to find good recipes and make time to get these made. I think the girls will really like helping make Lasagna next weekend.

I can also make 'parts' of meals to freeze as well, like cook up brown rice in a big batch and freeze portions.

Once I get a few meals stockpiled in the freezer I think this will get a lot easier. Especially on school nights.

I can't wait to get started and get the freezer filled up.

Projects in Progress

Well, it's a rainy Sunday. I love rainy Sundays, they have a built in excuse to have a pajama day! I don't have to go out to the garden, so no need to get dressed...

It also means I can get going on some inside projects. A few weeks ago, in the post titled Projects, I discussed the room I am getting ready for the girls to use on the weekends. Last weekend, when the girls were here, we got a start on cleaning out the room, which basically involved moving most of the stuff to the Family Room. Also, lots of recycling and bagging  for donation.

Work in Progress...

Now that there is room to move in there, it will be easier to get the table sold, and get the rest of the work done. I think the girls will be getting bunkbeds so they have more floor space to play. That will come later.

There is still quite a list to get done...

Sell the table
Find curtains
Find bunkbeds
Clean, clean, clean
Weatherstrip the windows
Sort out the wireless internet located in this room
Find a home for the printer and scanner
Move the dresser to my room
Move the dresser from my closet to this room
Still got to put up that mirror
Set up the TV
Find places for all my assorted 'stuff' left in the room
And lots more...

It is coming. Today I have a few other projects first, but this room will get some time.

I will be measuring the windows today so Mom and Dad can look for curtains in the States, if they are cheaper. Then I will be vacuuming and listing the table and chairs online for sale. And maybe emailing about getting the chair reupholstered. I think that will be enough for today, after the other stuff I have to get done, like dishes and washing floors.

Well, off to get started...

Enjoy your Sunday projects!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sugar Free and Me!

Well, it's been 10 days of sugar free eating.

I feel great! The first couple days I felt really tired. Now, I am good. Not bursting with energy, but just 'normal'.

Everyone keeps asking what I am able to eat, which I think is kind of funny. I mean, it's not really all that hard. I am not cutting out anything from my diet, I am just changing out some ingredients.

For example, Pizza. Pizza is my favorite. I *heart* pizza. So, instead of using a flour tortilla as the crust I buy Spelt Pizza Crust. It's a bit of a different texture, not bad, just different. So... See?... Easy! Eventualy I would like to make my own crust, but I need to make sure that I have my meals all sorted out first and then move on to making things like Pizza Crust.

Pizza, the 'old way'.

One thing that I was pretty firm on when I agreed to change my diet was that I was not willing to go hungry. And I haven't. I have enough choice and volume to make sure I am not feeling like I am starving. And, a nice side effect is that I have lost 4 pounds! That's pretty good for only 10 days!

I have managed to find Soya Sauce, Apple Sauce, Yogurt and many other things that are on the 'good list'. I have created a list called Sugar Free in Victoria of the items I have found, and checked with my Naturopath, that can be incorporated into this way of eating.

So far I am feeling good, losing weight and enjoying what I am eating. I don't see any reason not to keep this up.


Well, today was our annual 'Golf-a-Q' at work today. We went in to the office in the morning and then headed out to Prospect Lake Golf Course at about 1pm. It was a day of Golf, Dinner, Door Prizes and fun. 

Ready to Tee Off.
We were split into teams with others in the office that we didn't normally work with and sent out for a round of golf. This is done so that we get to know others in the office that we don't know. It works, and it's fun.

Co-Workers waiting their turn to tee off.
This is the third year I have gone to the Golf-a-Q and each year I have met some great people and had a good time. That's what it's all about. And a great dinner. And awesome Door Prizes...

The Golf Course is in a great setting. It is actually about 3km from my house. The company rents a bus to make sure that everyone gets to the Course, and then home safely, after drinking. Then everyone goes back to the office tomorrow to pick up their cars. Since I don't drink, I took my truck, full of prizes, and then was able to head home when I was ready. It was nice to be home within 5 minutes.

Beer Cart
While we are at the Course, some of our Social Committee Members commandeer Golf Carts to take orders and deliver 'beverages' to the golfers on the Course. They also drive around and have fun, take pictures and tease the golfers. 

This is a great day and an awesome way to get to know some of my co-workers.
And, this year, I cleaned up on Door Prizes! 

I am very thankful that I work for a Company that is willing and able to organize events like this.

I am also thankful that I am home and will be heading to bed shortly. All that fresh air, golfing, dinner and fun has worn me out.

I already can't wait till next year.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pretty in Pink

Well, that's it. We are over. After such a long relationship, it has come to an end.

Sugar and I are over.

I have started seeing a Naturopath. During my appointment on Tuesday we were discussing diet and reviewing my one week Meal Record.

I don't recommend the Meal Record exercise the same week as a wedding, a barbeque and the busiest week of the year at work. Cake, brownies, bread, KD, it's all on the record...

Anyways, I am happy to go and see a Naturopath as long as they are not trying to supplement me all up and sell me all sorts of stuff. I would much rather make changes in my life than take a bunch of 'stuff'. And, I am not willing to starve.

So, since I would rather make changes in my life, I am now off of sugar. I am going into this with cautious optimism. Certainly sugar is not something I need to be ingesting copious amounts of. Cutting it out completely is still going to take some doing.

The rest of this week I will be finishing off the things in the house that I am cutting out and working on restocking the cupboards with things I should be eating. For me the hard part is not stocking the cupboards, it's putting in the prep time, planning my meals and packing enough to get me through the day, and night, when needed.

Today seemed to go well.

I had oatmeal with raisins, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg and rice milk for breakfast. It was very good. I had three servings of oatmeal left, and then I will be switching to Steel Cut Oats instead. Steel Cut Oats are 'allowed' and oatmeal is not.

A morning snack of yogurt with mixed nuts and seeds was also great.

Lunch was veggies and hummus, lots of veggies. I love hummus. I could eat it with a spoon. Maybe I have, but I would never admit it...

I also packed an apple and peanut butter for an afternoon snack, but was not hungry, so I will have that tomorrow.

Once I got home, I made myself a veggie pizza on a flour tortilla with veggies, cheese and veggie pepperoni. The flour tortilla, cheese and veggie pepperoni are on the no-no list. The flour tortilla because it is processed flour, the cheese because of the ingredient Tartarazine and the veggie pepperoni as it is highly processed.

This is one of my favorites.
Later, as a snack, I made a smoothie. I am pretty sure it was the best thing I ate all day! I mixed a banana, frozen strawberries, vanilla yogurt and 1 Tbsp of Udo's Oil.

Pretty. Pink.

Udo's Oil is plant based and a source of Omega 3-6-9. I have not ever used this oil before, and was very concerned that it would be... well... gross. I have attempted to include other oils in my diet previously but have tossed them out as they have added an unwanted aftertaste. I tried a bit on my finger before adding it to my smoothie, and it has no taste. None. I think I will try it as a salad dressing next.

I don't want it to sound like all I am doing is cutting stuff out. I am cutting a lot of things out, true. A lot of crap I don't need to be eating.

Some things I will be changing, like cheese. I can still have cheese, just a different brand that does not have Tartarazine. There are also breads I can have; good whole grain breads. Pizza crust is also available, just not what I am using now. So it's really just changing some things for better options.

The Naturopath I am seeing has a list items to avoid, a list of items to stock up on, and most importantly, a list of where to find things locally. This is important. Don't tell me I can have 'A' or 'B' but then not tell me where I can actually get them. She also has meal suggestions so that I don't feel like I am lost in the woods on my own. I have enough to get started with.

So, this is the next adventure. The next challenge. I look forward to it.

Hard Work, Yard Work

I have started planning my garden for next year. Eeek!

This year has been the year of prep work in the yard. Tearing out blackberry, transplanting, pruning, weeding, digging and all sorts of manual labour.

We moved in here in April and as I got started in the yard this spring, I realized that I would not be getting everything done that I wanted to.

I don't think the yard has had any 'garden love' in about 5 years.

Here is a sample of the work I have done, and still need to deal with, this summer...

The apple trees are so overgrown that they didn't produce this year.
The vegetable garden area is full of horsetail.
The back yard (read Septic Tank Area) is full of blackberry and other assorted weeds.
The side yard, over the well, is full of snow berry and blackberry.
The plum tree is overgrown and needs pruning, as do the pear and cherry trees.
The hawthorn tree needs topping. (Technically in the neighbours yard, but it hangs over the fence, and I don't like it)
The other trees need topping and pruning. All of them.
The gardens have not been turned in years, they are like concrete.
The flower garden needs to be transplanted to make room for the herb garden.
The plants in containers need to be planted in the ground.
The plants and gardens need to be fertilized. Carefully. We are on a well.

Once this is all done, I will feel like I am caught up. It has been an overwhelming and amazing summer. I think I have thrown enough into the burn pile to keep the fire going for a week.I have never been so constantly sore, and burnt, and dirty. And so happy.

When this is all taken care of, I will be able to get going on the planting and maintaining. So, since I am working on having this done by the end of this summer, I have started dreaming.

Dreaming about what I want to do in the spring. The things that make you smile. Planting. Watering. Weeding. Picking plants.

I have been researching plants online to figure out what I want. And what I don't want.

Mostly what I want...

I want height. Maybe because I don't have any.
I want colour. Pinks, purples, blues. Even reds and yellows.
I want lots. And lots. And lots. Of flowers.
I want to have to give away zucchini to everyone I know. And tomatoes.
I want to distract the deer with all the flowers so they don't eat my vegetable garden.

Starting early will be the key I think. If I start by ripping the weeds out of the boulevard, I can get the wildflower garden planted there. Then on to the vegetable garden. And the flower beds out front. Then, last but not least, the flower garden out the back ofthe house. This one can wait a bit as it is over the septic field and since it will have great fertilizer, it is last on the list.

Well, thats my list. I will have to work it into my planner pretty soon so that I have no excuse to not get it done!