Monday, November 30, 2009

A Cozi Weekend & Menu Plan

It suddenly snowed on Friday night and I suddenly got a cracker of a headache. Coincidence? I think not. So, we ended up staying in for most of the weekend and it turned out to be nice and cozy in more ways than one. Once my headache subsided a bit, I worked on some kits for the craft show next weekend, watched a couple of bad made-for-TV movies, completed our Advent Calendar (more on that tomorrow!), put up our tree and discovered Cozi. I think I am in love.

Cozi is a calendar application from Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) that I stumbled upon while I was reading one their many online newsletters (scrapbooking, probably!) Shane and I have been trying to coordinate our calendars for a while now. Since I use Microsoft Outlook, I end up having to send him an "invite" for all the events I need him to know about. With Cozi, we can both check the calendar online, sync it to both our Microsoft Outlook accounts and see all the events for all members of the family. I can make and keep track of all my lists, including my shopping list (which I can easily send to my phone) and my calendar in one place. It also has a journaling feature, (which I don't know how much I would use since I have a blog) and a screen saver mode which will come in handy. All in all I really like it so far! Check out the intro video here. Oh and did I mention it's free? Yay!

So, I used Cozi to plan my menu this was nice to have my calendar in front of me and then to easily add item to my shopping list. Then I sent my list to my phone and I can stop at the supermarket later today without worrying about having my scribbled-on-a-scrap-of-paper list with me!'s my plan, and make sure to check out all the other great plans on

Monday: Chicken cordon blue (pre-made from M&M), rice and mixed veggies
Tuesday: Mushroom Garlic Pork Chops, roast regular and sweet potatos, broccoli
Wednesday: Hamburger Soup, buns, veggies and dip
Thursday: Spaghetti & meatballs in tomato sauce, salad
Friday: What else - pizza night!
Saturday: Leftovers (I am at the craft sale all day, so I held leftovers off until tonight.)
Sunday: Baked ham, Schwartzies potatoes, peas and carrots

I am off to finish off more kits for the craft sale and projects for the 12 Days of Christmas which starts tomorrow on Sharing Memories Scrapbooking! I am very excited to share some Christmas crafty goodness!

Have a good one!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday and a Free Download!

I felt so unorganized last week when I didn't have a menu plan, so I was determined to get back on track this week! Here's my plan, and of course go to to see hundreds more meal plans!

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce, Raw Veggies and Dip, Garlic Bread

Shepherds Pie, Green Salad


It's my Dad's birthday so we'll have a little fancier dinner along with a nice dessert - Glazed Chicken with Fruit and Sweet Potato, Crusty Bread/Buns, Green Salad, Ginger Cake with Whipped Cream

Pizza, Salad and my weekly glass of Red Wine!

We are at a kids Christmas party for one of hubbies clients - so no cooking for me!

Meatloaf, Mashed Potatos, Green Peas

You may have noticed that I love Campbells Soup Recipes...their recipes are easy, foolproof, tasty and economical. While I was on their newly revamped website I saw that they have a FREE 16 page Holiday Planner with recipes for appetizers, main meals, desserts and idea for those holiday leftovers! You can download your free copy here. Print it out and keep it handy for the holidays!

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This and That

Wow...things are really getting busy around here. So busy that I completely forgot about making a menu plan this week! Oh well, I have been winging it, but it sure does take up more energy when you have to figure out what you are going to make for supper each day. It has reinforced why I love staying organized with a menu plan. Back at next week for sure!

Had a great weekend...Friday was the blog hop over at Adornit (if you missed it you can still visit all the blogs involved, just start here!) What a blast it was! (I have to say it makes you feel pretty good when you get some lovin' in the form of comments!) And Saturday was a fabulous day of scrapping, fun and friendship at our first Calgary Crops All-Day Crop! We are so looking forward to more crops in the New Year.

Now I am turning my attention to Christmas preparations. I have pretty much all my shopping done, which is great, so now I am planning for some fun family activities and traditions - working on getting my December Daily album and Advent Calendar ready for December 1st; getting family clothing ready for holdiay photos and events; pre-baking some cookies; sorting through (and giving away!) decorations etc. We also got our Elf on the Shelf the other day: Grayson was mesmerized! I will post photos of all soon enough!

But I am really excited about prepping for this fun event:

I have been working hard getting Christmas items ready for the store and some upcoming craft fairs, so I am going to showcase the items with some fun and easy projects! A new idea/project will be posted everyday starting December 1st. And we'll also have prizes! To make sure you don't miss out and sign up to receive the RSS feed from the site! (It's easy...just click on the Subscribe/Follow button on the bottom of any blog post and enter your email address. You can also follow in Google by adding the URL to your account)

It's gonna be lots of fun!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Make it Merry!

I am so excited to be included in Georgana Hall's Adornit Make it Merry Blog hop!

Because I made a totally scrappy project for the hop, I posted it on my other blog. Go check it out and learn how to make this super cute mini-album!

And then grab a coffee and hop around the blogosphere to 60 blogs featuring lots of Merry projects! You can start here.

Have fun!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lists and Plans

'Tis the season for making lists it seems! I spent the morning making a bunch of lists - To-Do's for this Saturday's Crop, the beginnings of the Christmas gift and card lists, ongoing renovation plans and of course the weekly menu plan and grocery list.

Monday: Maple Soy Salmon with rice and veggies not couscous and asparagus as stated in the linked recipe

Tuesday: Loaded Baked Potato Chowder, Green Salad and Buns.

Wednesday: Skillet Pasta (not homemmade this time - Hamburger Helper Lasagna I am afraid!), green salad and garlic bread

Thursday: Leftovers...we always have to clean out the fridge by this point in the week!

Friday: Homemade Chicken Strips (cut chicken breast into strips and coat with extra Crispy Shake and Bake. Bake according to direction on package.) Oven Fries, Raw Veggies and Dip

Saturday: I switched Pizza Night from Friday to Saturday this week as I will be out all day at our Calgary Crops Scrapbooking Crop. Putting a pizza in the oven is the easiest thing to get Shane to make! I'll add a salad and have a big glass of wine when I get home!

Sunday: We are going to have dinner at my brother (and hopefully soon to be sister!) in laws place to celebrate Maja's birthday! Yay! A birthday celebration AND no cooking for me!

As always, check for hundreds of menu plans!

OK...back to my list making!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Daily Bread

I mentioned on Friday that I was baking bread. Well, it turned out FAB-U-LOUS! I think it truly is a no fail recipe - because I am no baker! The only drawback is you have to plan ahead for this bread as it has to rise a loooong time. I started it on Thursday night, let it sit about 14 hours overnight, then turned it out, folded it over onto itself, let rest for 2 hours and then baked it. We had it for dinner on Friday night (instead of previously planned pizza) and again on Saturday for lunch - smothered with butter, sliced garden tomatoes and salt. A piece of cheese on the side and I was in heaven!

So, here is the recipe as I gleaned it from the Jim Lahey video I posted on Friday.

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread

3 cups all purpose flour (apparently you can use bread, whole wheat and even rye with the same great results - I just haven't got there yet)
1/4 teaspoon yeast (Yes, that's all the yeast you need)
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups tepid water

Mix dry ingredients with hand in large bowl, just to blend. Add water and mix with hand until it all combines into a very wet shaggy dough. (it's worth watching the video to see how fast it comes together.)

Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in warmish place (18 - 20 degrees celsius) at least 12 hours. Dough is ready when it has risen dramatically and there are lots of bubbles on the surface. I wish I would thought to take pictures of the steps up to this point. It was hubby who said "Aren't you going to take pictures of it?" that prompted me to do so!

Tip dough out onto WELL floured work surface. Pat the top with a little more flour and fold itself gently back onto itself. Let rest 15 minutes.

Generously flour a cotton (not terry cloth) tea towel and plop the dough onto it, forming it into a ball shape as best you can. Add more flour over the surface, cover over with the tea towel and let rise for at least 2 hours. (It will probably double in size.)

About a half an hour before the dough is ready, pre-heat your oven with a round cast iron, pyrex or ceramic casserole dish in it to 450 degrees. Leave the dish in the oven for half an hour, as it has to be screaming hot when you add the dough. Pull the dish out of the oven and flip the dough off the tea towel and into the dish (again, have a look at the video to see the type of pot and how to do the dough "transfer"!) Place the cover on and bake for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. Then, take off the lid and bake for another 15 - 20 minutes uncovered (until the crust gets nice and brown).

Slip the bread out of the dish (mine came out so easily and I never greased it) onto a rack or cool countertop and let it cool. Then enjoy the hard hollow sound it makes when you tap it, slice it to admire the "crumb structure", then eat it up!

I don't kow if this bread will become our daily would take a lot of planning to make sure you had a loaf ready every couple of days...but I think it will become our weekend bread. It's great to include with a casual Friday supper and for weekend lunches. I think I will still ask for a breadmaker for Christmas, but this will be a recipe I definitely will turn to again.

Tomorrow...meals for the week!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Five

A few random things to report on...

1) The boys got their H1N1 vaccination yesterday. After the kefuffle that the Alberta Government's Health Ministry created last week with mass clinics, I was thankful that they backed off, regrouped and came back with a better plan to immunize high risk groups first. And apparently it's working - no more 6 or 7 hour lineups. We went to the Olympic oval and were done within 45 minutes. Much better. I am just glad they were able to get it, what with the possibility of running out of the vaccine etc. They do have to go back in three weeks (Nov. 26) for a second dose, so I am hoping that it will be as easy then! SO far they have had no reaction, although most kids apparently complain of sore arms more than anything.

2) Grayson had his first piano lesson yesterday! I found a great music studio who has a variety of teachers that come out to your home to give piano, guitar, bass and drum lessons. And their first lesson is free. If you are in Calgary, they are called Zephyr Music Studios. Grayson was kind of cautious at first having someone in our house, but after he got past that, he was happy to sit down, listen and learn for the enitre half hour lesson. He now knows where the C's and F's are and that the notes are named after letters - A through G ("There's no "H" mom" he said afterwards to me!) I think he enjoyed it and we signed up to continue with the lessons. (Sorry for the not-so-great photo, but I took it just as they were finishing up and didn't have a chance to take a second one!) 

One thing I have learned about Grayson and I is that he doesn't respond well to me being the teacher. This was the case when I was trying to teach him how to write, and again when I attempted to teach him about the piano. I took lessons and played piano in my formative years so I thought I would be able to teach him at least the basics. But when we sat down together he balked and didn't want to listen or try anything I suggested. We both got frustrated and gave up before the lesson had really even started. So although I had harboured dreams of homeschooling my children, I don't think it's gonna happen!

3) I am baking bread. Yes, real bread, from scratch., no breadmaker. I came across a link to this video produced a few years ago by the NYTimes. It features Jim Lahey making his super simple no-knead bread. It's so simple he says a child could make it. His secret? TIME. So I started it last night and should be ready to move to the next step after 9:00 this morning. I'll let you know how it goes, but in the meantime watch this and get inspired to make some yourself!

4) I forgot to share this on the blog, but this past Halloween I found, puchased and gave out a few of these cookie treats to some special kiddos.

These fun little cookies are by KookieStationary, a local company from Canmore, Alberta. I first saw the cookies at the Creative Craft show back in September and grabbed a few of the Halloween themed cookies. The cool thing is you can write on them with the included pen (the ink is made of vegetable oil and is completely edible) before you give them away! And they have lots of designs for every occasion - inlcuding some really cute Christmas ones. You can buy them at some locations in and around Calgary (check their website for retailers) or order directly from them online. So fun!

5) Since deciding to take an extra year off of work we have adopted a more frugal lifestyle while living on Shane's income. I have always enjoyed getting a good deal but recently have started being more aware and watchful of coupons, freebies and sales. I was so proud of myslef when I was able to save $66.08 off my groceries yesterday! Between the 10 for $10.00 sale, regular sales, CO-OP gas coupons, instore coupons and vendor coupons I watched the total on the cash register drop and drop and drop from $180.84 all the way to $114.76! Amazing! I have to say I felt like a very thrifty little housewife!

Here are a few blogs I enjoy that give me inspiration or resources to live a more frugal lifetsyle:
  • Simply Frugal posts several times a week on Canadian coupons and deals in Canadian stores.
  • Small Notebook inspires me to embrace a simpler, less materialistic life. I love the No-Spend July she does!
  • Simple Mom offers tips to stay organized and therefore spend less. Love this blog.
Do you follow any good sites on living a frugal live? Do you have any suggestions or tips? I would love to hear them.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Getting Ready for Christmas? Yes!

How many of you start Christmas preparations the day after the Halloween goodies are put away? I know I do! This year besides starting to get cards and baking and gifts ready, I am excited to be starting TWO new traditions for our family this year.

The first is The Elf on the Shelf!

I saw this last year on Georgana Hall's blog. It was too late to get started with it at that point, but I made a note in my "Cut the Crazy Out of Christmas" notebook to order it for this year. The idea is that the little elf watches your children every day and reports to Santa whether they have been naughty or nice. He changes his location each night after the children go to bed and they must find him the enxt morning! He has strict instructions not to talk to the children, only to grown-ups and Santa! I ordered mine yesterday and am looking forward to having the kids grow up with this little elf watching over them. (And I am really hoping he can get them to be "nice"!) The Elf is $29.95 US and you can order it here.

(Oh, and if you are curious about my Cut the Crazy Out of Christmas noteook, it was a BPS class I took last year, taught by Georgana Hall and Debbie Raymond. If you missed the class this year, you can find out all about it here. And yes, I love my notebook!)

The second new tradition I am preparing for is the December Daily Album. It is the brainchild of Ali Edwards and she has been doing it for a couple of years now. I love the way it is set up to capture and record all the preparations that go into Christmas, documenting the 25 days leading up to the Holiday. I am super excited about this one and have been working on it and some special freebies to share over the past couple of days. I will share more soon, but for now, go read about it and get inspired at Ali's blog.

Because I was busy working on my December Daily stuff, I didn't get my menu plan posted in time yesterday to call it Menu Plan Monday, but oh least it is here and organized for the week:

Monday: Perogies with side of Veggies
Tuesday: One of Shane's favorites, Dijon-baked Chicken Thighs with Rice and Broccoli. This recipe is from Sandi Richard - menu planner extraordinaire!
Wednesday: Ravioli with Quattro Fromaggio (four cheese!) Sauce, Garlic Bread and Salad
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: What else...Pizza and Salad and Wine, Oh my!
Saturday: Steaks ( grilled if it's nice out, broiled if it's yucky weather!), baked potatoes, raw veggies and dip
Sunday: I'm getting a little bored with roast or ham for Sunday dinner...any other ideas? If not, I'll do a roast. Sigh!

And since I'm asking for advice and ideas, any new ideas for kids meals out there? What are your kids favorites? I feel like I am always cooking the same old same old!

Have a great day!