Category Archives: Happiness

Happy Birthday to me!

Yes, my birthday was a month ago.  I’m aware of that.  But, today I bought my birthday present!  When family members asked what I wanted for my birthday, I requested financial contributions to buy a netbook.  And after Mike checked with a guy he knows that sells them, we went with one online from Future Shop.  I got a great deal on a very small netbook – which is what I wanted – and in the end, we only have to pay $11 of our own money for it, even with taxes.  Shipping was free, which made it even better.

So, very soon, I will be able to pack up my netbook when I take Jenny to kids club, and I can go down to Starbucks or even just stay there at the church and WRITE!  Hopefully without major distractions.  Or, if I’m at home and Mike is using the computer and an idea strikes, I’ll be able to take it into my room and write in peace. 

I have been wanting a netbook for quite a long time and thought I’d be buying one with our tax refund next year, but with this deal and $214 in birthday money (thanks to parents, grandparents and siblings) I can have it now!!  If it was our money, I would feel guilty right now about using it, but since I asked for it instead of other gifts, it would actually be worse to use it for other purposes.  It has been my experience that birthday money not used for specific items for myself within one month of my birthday, gets directed into the bill-paying fund and disappears forever.  Sad, but true.  And sometimes not such a bad thing when we’ve really been in need and the money wasn’t given for a certain purpose.  But if I did that with this money, the whole family (or those who contributed) would be asking all the time when I was going to get that computer.  So, yay!  I got it! 🙂

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Another year gone

Yesterday was my twenty-sixth birthday.  I had a pancake in the morning, lasagna for lunch and a really wonderful meal for supper.  My husband bought me a jigsaw for my birthday.  Yeah, a saw, not a puzzle.  I’ve been saying I want one for awhile now – he’s becoming a better listener all the time.  I had a long nap in the afternoon and went to bed before midnight.

My meal in the evening was too good to not write about.  We went to The Uptown Grill, which is our “never bring the kids” date restaurant.  They use local products at least some of the time, seasonal produce all of the time and have a changing menu for each season.  They also have a different theme each day – Mexican Mondays, Thai Tuesdays, Indian Wednesdays, Caribbean Thursdays and Surf and Turf Fridays.  Those menus have one item per course – an appetizer, soup and entree as well as a drink special.

I started with sweet potato fries with chipotle aioli from the fall menu – I cannot resist trying sweet potato fries (or yam fries, as most of them actually are) whenever they are new on a menu.  They were good – crisp with a thin batter on them, but the aioli was not as good or spicy as I’ve had before.  I ordered soup with my meal and again chose from the fall menu.  It was wild mushroom and leek soup, and while it had the fatty feel of mushroom soup, the leeks gave it a very nice flavour that mushroom soup doesn’t usually have.  It was so satisfying that I wished later I had just had the soup to start and skipped the fries.  I was pretty satisfied after the soup but still had an entree to at least start on.  I ordered the black bean and corn enchiladas, which I have had before and which are not really anything like authentic enchiladas.  They are amazing, though – made with corn tortillas, cilantro cream cheese filling and black bean and corn throughout, topped with lettuce, tomato and pickled red onions.  I think I managed about four bites of that and decided I’d better quit.  But then Mike asked whether they did anything for birthdays.  They do the traditional free dessert and I couldn’t resist.  I went with the Italian tartufo – espresso ice cream rolled in nuts and toffee bits, served with chocolate and caramel sauce and whipped cream.  Ahhh, what a dessert.  I didn’t get even close to finishing it, but it sure was good while it lasted.  My pregnant stomach manages to fit a bit more than normal, but there’s always a point when one must stop, no matter how good it tastes.  The sad thing is that I was hungry again within an hour and a half.  I had a few cookies and some milk at home before bed. 

It was a good birthday and I’ll still get to celebrate a bit more this weekend with the family.  I did wake up yesterday morning with a nasty head cold, but thankfully, it didn’t manage to drag me down much. 

On Monday night I took Jenny to emergency because she had been breathing fast all afternoon and evening – she has a chest infection and needs antibiotics and an inhaler – but they let us go home and she’s better already.  I was thinking then that I just couldn’t handle it if they made us stay overnight or something.  We had a late night, but at least got to sleep in our own beds.

Anyway, there is another year gone, and time just seems to keep going faster.  At the moment, I wish it would speed up a little bit so I can get past the stomach issues of early pregnancy, but thankfully things seem to be getting better.

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Filed under Happiness, Holidays

Recycling with children

My blog has felt a bit like a downer lately, so here’s something I found pretty funny this last week.

 

A list of non-recyclable things recently found in our bins on a trip to the recycling depot:

  • A soother (pacifier)
  • A doll comb
  • A light blue baby t-shirt
  • Two training wheels

These items were presumably stashed by Erik, who was more than likely hording them so that he could have something to play with in case his older siblings ran off with all the other toys.  I’m not sure what he planned to do with the training wheels…perhaps a miniature bicycle for himself?

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Filed under Happiness, Kiddos

Five years!

 Mike and I celebrated five years of marriage this past Saturday by taking a trip to Edmonton, Alberta for the weekend.  For people living in small towns like ours, hours away from decent shopping, a trip like this is a dream.  Edmonton is home to the West Edmonton Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in North America, and it is also home to an Ikea and a large number of other stores and restaurants that we have no access to here.  We hit the mall and Ikea on Friday before parking our van near our friends’ house and taking the LRT (light rail transit) to downtown Edmonton.  We stayed at the Delta Centre Suite hotel, which is in the Edmonton City Centre mall, so basically, we could walk out of our hotel and we were in the mall.  Mike is not into shopping so much, but the mall is also connected to a pedway system that connects a good deal of downtown at, above and below street level.  We walked this system last year when we were in Edmonton for a conference and Mike loved it.  So, when I wanted to shop and he was tired of waiting on me, he walked every direction on the pedway that he could.  We had lunch with Mike’s cousin and his wife and son, shopped, hung out together, watched TV in our hotel room and on Saturday night, went for a very nice supper at Lazia, which is right across from our hotel, still inside the mall (we actually never went outside from Friday night until Sunday morning). 

Our supper was possiblythe most gourmet meal I’ve ever had, and I felt an awful lot like a real foodie with the options available and the presentation of my Colossal Prawns dish (panko crusted crab cake, cooked shrimp ceviche, miso soya sugar snap peas, basmati rice, sweet pineapple curry, tomato & corn confit), which was very good, although I would never call those prawns “colossal”…more like jumbo.  Mike had a twelve ounce New York steak with asparagus and mashed potatoes, which he said was wonderful.

Anyway, the one hiccup of the weekend is that fact that Erik decided to be sick Friday night and Saturday.  He threw up twice right around midnight, the first time all over me, which made me get up and shower, even though I had just had a long bath.  He didn’t eat much at all during the night, but I fed him in the morning before breakfast and he threw that up, too.  Thankfully, he never seemed to get dehydrated, as he ate during the day on Saturday and didn’t lose it.  During our supper, though, I had just asked Mike to pass him to me when I smelled something foul and saw that he had pooped and squeezed it halfway up his back.  This was where the location of our hotel turned out to be a really REALLY good thing.  We hadn’t gotten our food yet, so I just ran up to the room and changed his diaper and clothes before going back down.  As I waited for the elevator, though, he threw up again.  Luckily, he burped and I turned him away from me just before he threw up.  Otherwise, I may have been in for another shower and a change of clothes when I should have been having supper.

We got home Sunday night and Mike started feeling sick.  He went to work yesterday, but didn’t feel well all day, and today, he’s at home.  There’s some sort of stomach bug going around now, so just as we’re getting over the cold-like illness, we’re dealing with lots of stomach irritation.  I don’t quite feel sick yet, but I don’t feel normal, either.  I have a dentist appointment this afternoon, so Mike staying home turned out to be a good thing.  This way, I can just put the kids to bed and leave them here with him.  As long as they stay asleep most of the time I’m gone, he shouldn’t be bothered.  I will probably have to take Erik with me and break my no-babies-carried-in- car -seats rule and just take him in it so he can be contained and not taking up too much space while I get my teeth cleaned.  I HATE carrying babies in car seats and we have a rule that honestly doesn’t get broken often – I’ve only carried Erik inside in his car seat twice, once on my birthday when I had a few hours without the kids and I wanted to get things done without waking him up (he had fallen asleep in the car) and once when I was getting the oil changed and had to take all three kids with me and wait half a hour in a very small, very kid unfriendly room.  Just in case you’re wondering, my reasons for this are twofold: one, I have a bad enough back already without adding the weight of car seat + baby dragging one arm down; two, I find that babies carried in their car seats often spend more time in them than in their parents arms, which I’m really not a fan of.  If we carry our babies in with us, we don’t have the hassle of taking them out of the car seat and we start out holding them so there’s no temptation to just let them sleep or play or whatever in their seat.  I am just about the only person who seems to abide by this rule in our town…I rarely see people carry their babies inside in their arms until they are too big for the infant carrier style seats.  Also, Mike is totally in favour of this rule and even less likely to break it than I am.  It was something we agreed on before we had kids and we actually had people betting that we’d change our minds when we had our first baby.  Three babies later, and the rule has only been broken three or four times total.

Anyway, my kids are crying, Erik has learned to creep (that was going to be the title of a post: My creepy son), which means he’s now getting around by himself and getting into things, and Mike is attempting to sleep on the couch, which is perhaps a bit more trouble than help, since the kids see him and bother him even though we’re trying to do things as though he wasn’t here.  I might just have to wake him up and tell him to go to bed.

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Filed under Happiness, Illness and Injury, Kiddos

Katie in the Kitchen: Part Two

Today I made tropical coconut black bean soup.  It is a soup that has to be put together and then pureed in a blender, which I generally do not have a problem doing.  However, something to do with the heat of the liquid, or just having too much liquid caused the hot soup to spew forth from the blender just as I turned it on.  Twice.  You’d think I would have learned the first time to come up with another way of doing it so that I wouldn’t have to clean up coconut milk and black bean skins again.  But the second batch (all that wouldn’t fit in the first time) did the same thing.  I had just cleaned up the mess from the first burst when I had to do it all over again.  The soup was good, though.

 We did really well for quite some time..not going out to eat and only eating things at home that were made (mostly) from scratch.  We had a week or two of reverting back to the old ways, but we’re committed again to sticking it out and not spending so much money on restaurants.  Think about it: the average meal at a sit-down restaurant costs us $30, since we now have to get Jenny a kids meal if we want to keep her happy.  Considering that I’ve had far better food made at home than in restaurants, the meals we eat often could be worth (in taste value) more than what our average eat-out meal costs us.  And yet we spend so little on the things to make the best of these meals.  Veggie ground round (a very often used staple food in our house) runs a little under $2 per pound at the Wholesale store – each package actually has the equivalent of 1 1/3 lbs of ground beef.  Good for tacos, black beans, hamburger and rice, chili, meatloaf…almost anything you can make with gound beef can be made with Yves Veggie Ground Round.  Rice: I bought a bag of brown rice yesterday that will last us for three to five meals for under $2.  I used to buy canned beans at about $1.79 a can, which was enough for one meal.  Now I can spend $3 and get enough black beans or lentils to last me for a month.  Produce can run up the bill if I get things out of season, but I try to be in a habit of buying things when they’re cheap.  Tomatoes on the vine, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, and onions are common fresh produce picks for us, and for a reasonable amount of them, I might spend $10-$20 and use them for a total of six different meals.  Frozen vegetables run a little more per bag, but I really only buy peas now, to be used in fried rice and as the ocassional side dish.  Pasta: by buying at Wal Mart, I save money.  I can get a box of whole wheat pasta (which is enough for part of one meal) for under $1.50.  For baked spaghetti, a family favorite, I need one package of ground round ($2), one and a half boxes of whole wheat spaghetti ($2.25) and around a quarter of a bag of shredded Italian mix cheese (which I buy in two packs for about $13, making the amount needed for this dish worth about $1.75).  Throw some peas, broccoli, cauliflower or a salad onto the plate and you have a complete meal for under $10.  Food for the ENTIRE family for a third of what we spend in a restaurant.  Not too shabby. 

When the math is done like that, it makes me wonder why we ever bother going out.  And then I remember that sometimes I just don’t feel like cooking or can’t think ahead enough to decide what to make.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with going out, but I would like to cut down again on how often we do it.  I’d rather take the time and money to get a babysitter for the kids and use our out-to-eat-nights as date-nights instead.  Not only do we get some alone time, but the meal is often cheaper without worrying over kids meals. 

 The real trick is planning.  Plan before you shop by paying attention to which stores are the cheapest for which items, who is having a sale, whether you need what’s on sale or not and what you’re close to running out of.  Plan while you shop by sticking to your list but also paying attention to deals you didn’t know about before (canned soup for emergencies on sale for 50 cents a can is hard to pass up).  Plan whole meals by deciding what you’ll need for just one meal – vegetable, rice/pasta/etc., protein.  If you’re having people over, remember this in advance instead of going super shopping the day before and paying more than you ought to (I’m just learning this one).  Plan when you get home by making lists of what you have and what can be made from it.  Plan by doing some amount of food prep when you buy things.  I have started buying onions and mincing them in the food processor, then freezing them so that I don’t have to chop onions when I want them.  Quite often I’m reluctant to use onions even if I have them because I HATE chopping them.  But right now, I have three or so small bags of minced onions that I can throw into a meal effortlessly.  I also do things like cutting apart the bags of ground round in the fridge so I can just reach in and grab instead of having to cut them when I need them.  Little things like that make it so much easier for me to feel like cooking.  The quicker I can throw things together and the more it appeals to me, the less I mind doing it.

The other part of meal preparation is mentality.  One mentality to avoid is that it’s just food, it doesn’t matter what we eat as long as we eat something (which leads to lots of trips to McDonalds YUCK).  Make each meal satisfying by putting thought into it.  This will sound strange, but connecting with the food emotionally will help you to enjoy the prep more.  Lentil soup has become a comfort food for me, through and through, and when I say that connecting emotionally will help, it is lentil soup that I think about.  When I saute onions and garlic and measure lentils out, I think ahead to how comforting this meal is: I’m making an emotional connection with the food.  Not as weird as it sounds, I promise.  Another mentality to avoid is that it’s another form of slavery we housewives/domestic engineers/stay at home moms/etc. have to endure.  I have learned that what I’m thinking while I cook greatly effects how I enjoy the meal.  If I think about it as a valuable, important service to my husband and children, I can smile and imagine their satisfaction with it, and that it is nourishing both body and spirit to share a meal together. 

I know a few things I’ve said have been a little new-agey sounding, but I think they’re quite legitimate and that God smiles down at me when I’m thinking this way about making a meal.  It has been a long and somewhat hard transition to make, but it is saving us time, money and emotional hardship in the long run.  We sit down together each night for supper and enjoy each other’s company.  The kids may be too young to understand it now, but I’m positive that they will appreciate it later.   

That was fun.  This may become a regular feature.  Stay tuned….

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Filed under Food Blogs, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Life, in general, Money

It’s been awhile..

I get the feeling that I don’t have any regular readers, but I still feel bad when I haven’t written anything in some time.  And, today, I have something to write about.

 This goes back to making progress.  I made a lot in the last few days, so much that my mother-in-law said that it resembled the nesting instinct at the end of pregnancy.  I had the same thought, actually.  If I was nine months pregnant and cleaning like this, I’d be having a baby very soon.

 The progress I have made helped enough to make me feel completely comfortable in having twelve people over (four of them were rather small people, but with all the moving around they were doing, they took up more space than the grown-ups).  I made lentil soup that seemed to go over quite well, even though I suspect that most of my guests had never had it before.  There was room to sit down, I wasn’t concerned about people seeing my bathroom or kitchen counters (they’re very clean HOORAY!) and I had everything under control when it came to making lunch.  And it was fun!  I have managed to have people over before, but usually I am so concerned about what they think of my house that I can’t really enjoy the time while they’re here.  I didn’t worry one bit about it yesterday.

To me, that’s better progress than the actual work done on the house.  Now if I can keep it this way so that it will always be company ready and I won’t run around cleaning up in a frenzy.

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Filed under Food Blogs, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Life, in general, Mi familia, The H Word

Getting somewhere

An announcement:  I cleaned the entrance to my house today and found four or five pairs of shoes and an assortment of scarves and gloves to get rid of.  Yesterday, I cleared out 115 magazines, books, CDs, phone books and movies to get rid of.  I also found an empty box to keep my recycling in for now, until I can get some better containers.  Hooray, I’m doing something productive with my time!!

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Filed under Environmentalism, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Life, in general, The H Word

Balance

I try to live my life with everything in moderation.  So when I diet (this comes to mind first because I’ve been doing a bit of it in the last six months), I eat as healthy as I can at home so that when I go out or to someone’s home and they offer something sweet or off my diet, I can accept it without guilt and without being rude.  In this way, it is easier to stay on my diet at home..I have tried strict all the time diets and I fail within a week.  This one has been working since January. 

My home:  I try to keep the major things done so that if someone should stop by unexpected, I won’t be horribly embarrassed by my house.  I have been doing one thing consistently and another frequently that are helping.  Every night, I make sure my sink is clean.  I dry it out so it doesn’t have water spots (this is a FlyLady thing).  In doing this every night before bed, I have to make sure that my dishes are done.  This way, my dishes don’t stack up like they have been prone to in the past.  The second habit I’m trying to include in my life is doing a load of laundry every time I have enough to do one load.  I still make a full load by doing everything there, but by doing only one load in a day, I’m much more likely to do it fully: sort (I actually don’t do much sorting..just if some whites need bleaching), wash, dry, fold, put away.  When I was doing three loads of laundry once a week, too often it was ending up left in the washer or dryer or unfolded in the laundry basket.  This, of course, leads to things going missing (“Katie…do I have any work pants left?” Mike would whisper to me over the sleeping baby and into my happy dozing state..to which I would reply “I don’t know…didn’t you look in the dryer..the laundry basket..on the floor!?”..and so on). 

So I’m making improvements in a few areas.  Recently, though, I have become inspired to change the way I think about the environment.  I may not buy into some thing whole-heartedly, but one thing I can acknowledge is the amount of garbage we produce.  It’s getting a little out of hand.  Sarah McGaughey’s No More Garbage blog has been my inspiration.   We also recently had an art from garbage show here in Fort St. John that was really incredible.  A way to reuse my garbage or recyclables and be artistic at the same time – what could be more perfect?!  In a way, I was doing that all those years ago with my Creating Sara dolls…using old dolls (I never bought a new one from a toy store or anything) and scraps of fabric, nails, pins, old jewelry, etc. to make something unique.

Now I come to the problem.  It is very very hard to balance creating art and keeping a clean house when your house is 800 square feet.  I like my little house…in fact, I love my little house, but without a basement or a free room, my projects end up on my dining room table, on the couch, in the kitchen, and so on.  I would so love to have a house with a basement and a room just for Mommy.  I could spread out, have a few tables that could be paint splattered or cut into without it mattering.  I could keep all my craft/art supplies in one place so that the kids wouldn’t be getting into them all the time.  As it is, I have one tower with four drawers and a small two drawer unit on top right next to my desk in the kitchen.  My yarn is, I think, in my bedroom closet.  My knitting needles are on the coffee table in the living room, behind a picture frame.  My fabric is usually in Jenny’s room, on the unused top bunk, along with an assortment of other craft items that didn’t find a better place.  This means that when my kids are napping or in bed for the night, I am out of luck if I want any of the things in a bedroom.  Currently, I have a half finished rag rug in my fabric container in the middle of the living room (just in case I want it while the kids are sleeping, I haven’t put it away yet), and the dining room table is covered in plastic bags in one form or another, an iron and ironing board and a number of other items that haven’t found their home yet.

My problem is that I can’t seem to balance these things…and now I’ve added another problem.

I would love to recycle everything I can, but where would I put it all?  One option, I suppose, is to use one bin or garbage can to throw everything into and then sort it later (not really a great idea), but what I’d really like to do is have some stacking blue bins to keep everything in.  Then the question is, where on earth do I put them?!  I’m running out of room! 

Just like food won’t solve every emotional problem (or any, for that matter), a bigger house won’t solve this problem.  I know this deep down, but it doesn’t make my desire for more space any less real.

There are a few solutions…but all of them require time and work that we either don’t have or don’t know how to do.  One is to build a floor to ceiling storage unit into my living room wall.  I like the idea, but I’m not sure if it would really be worth it.  We did put up some shelves when my dad came up to visit in May, but they’re up so high that anything stored there is best left there unless I have a stool to stand on all the time.

I’m griping.  Meanwhile, baby is crying in his bed and there is lots that could be done around the house.  Bah, humbug.

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Filed under Art, Environmentalism, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Kiddos, Life, in general, Mi familia, Rants, The H Word

On giving things away.

Well, after much discussion of the pros and cons of staying up later so I could soothe those itchy fingers, we went to bed.  I feared waking up without the same feeling, but it’s still there.  So I got up earlier than normal, put Elias back to bed and had my breakfast.  Any minute now, I imagine I’ll get up and have a shower and really start my day, but for now, I’m finishing up as much as I can on the computer because I may not come on any more today.  I probably will, but just in case my art gets carried away with itself, I’ll act as if I won’t be coming back on.   

As for the subject of this blog, I made a decision early this morning that I am ready to get rid of my Creating Sara dolls.  A great many of you won’t have a clue as to what they are, but if you’ve been to my house, you’ve seen the original on a cake platter under a dome lid.  She’s just a head of a doll, actually, but she, with her 27? piercings started me onto making dolls.  Actually, I used pre-made dolls, but then proceeded to change them considerably.  Some of them, I suppose, are downright scary.  But they served a purpose when I was younger.  I stopped making them and packed most of them up when I had Jenny.  I decided that people may just think poorly of my mothering skills if I had the things displayed all over the place.  I used to be certain that there was a market for them somewhere, and I’m still pretty sure of that, but I’ve decided that I need to be done with it.  They’re just taking up room in my shed and I don’t need them anymore.  The one doll that’s still in the house (other than Sara..she stays) I have already decided to send to my best friend back home.  Other than that, they’re up for grabs.  I have already made the post on MySpace asking if anyone wants any of them; the offer stands here as well.  It’s time to move on. 

You know, my dad once wrote an entire song about Creating Sara.  I was really into it back then.  Funny how life changes.

                                                                                                                                             

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A few from the collection.

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Filed under Art, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Life, in general, The H Word

Progress

Today was Father’s Day.  As is our custom, I told Mike he could do anything he wanted with the day (within reason, of course).  We went to church this morning, came home and had some fish and beans for lunch, then after the kids were down for naps, Mike went with his best friend (the one that isn’t me :)) to play some tennis.  I had time to be leisurely and then clean up a bit before they came back and another friend of ours came over.  The guys played some original Nintendo (woohoo), then played Heroscape – one of the games Mike loves to play but seldom gets to.  They stayed for supper – barbeque hamburgers – and finished their game.  Mike’s sister called just beforeeight and she and her fiance (who’s my buddy, just for the record) came over to play Wizard. 

The progress I’m referring to is being able to have that many people over without freaking out about the state the house is in.  Especially being able to have Lacey here – who’s kind of scary to have over because her standards of clean are so much different than mine.  And not only that, but after Mike served Lacey her water in a champagne flute, she said that we should use those when we invite her and Josh over for a fancy dinner.  I know she was hinting, but mostly joking, but I got the feeling that I could totally handle it.  And not only could I do it, but I should.  We have apparently hurt people’s feelings by not inviting them over for dinner or coffee.  This generally has everything to do with my fear of people seeing my mess.  So when I manage to get over it for any occasion, I’ve made progress.  Yes, I regress quite often, but I think it’s two steps forward, one step back.  I think.

So, it was a good day.  I made two separate batches of banana bread, so I even had something to serve for dessert.  Yay, me.  I’m feeling good about myself.  Which for me, is a very good thing.

Signing off.

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Filed under All things mommy and daddy related, Happiness, Holidays, Home Sweet Home, Life, in general, Mi familia, The H Word