Friday, April 26, 2013

How I Survived My First Week Back To Work

Well this was the week.  Back to work after being off for a year!  For anyone who has ever taken maternity leave you know how much you dread this day.  I wasn't so worried about leaving Dustin (and Emma) because I have an amazing babysitter-I was most dreading everything else that you have to do after working an 8 hour day-meals, lunches, cleaning, etc.

So here is a few things I've done this week to make the transition easier.  (Okay so I know I'm only into this for one week, but if I could just continue this - I think I'll be able to handle this work/life balance thing!)

1.   Meal Planning - Me and Meal Planning have gone out quite a few times only to break up when I get bored or too busy.  So I've committed to Meal Planning - at least 5 days a week.  There has been a few key things that have worked for me:
  • Understanding What You Have:  I'm notorious for buying all the ingredients to make spaghetti sauce and when I get home finding out I already have everything when I go to put it away in the cupboard.  So I try planning my meals around what I already have in the pantry.  This also helps with the grocery bill.
  • Review The Weekly Sales:  I also try planning my meals around the weekly sales.  Look through the flyers and get ideas for meals based on the bargains for the week.
  • Slow Cooker At Least Once A Week (or more!):  The Crockin' Girls have some great slow cooker recipes.  (I'll try to share some of my faves on a later post).  Check out their website.  Saves so much time and stress when supper is ready for you as soon as you walk in the door. 
2.  Lunch Preparation - This ties in with meal planning.  This week I made sure lunches were ready every night for the next day but I detest making lunches!  My place of employment is not close to anywhere you can buy ready made lunches so I've been packing my lunch 5 days a week for many years.  I'm so bored with lunches and this is something I need to work on-expanding my lunch menu.  But I've been incorporating my lunches into meal planning and it has helped.  What's your favorite go to item for lunches?

3.  Laying Out Clothes (including outdoor stuff):  I've had Emma start to pick out clothes the night before and this has worked out really well. I was scared she would wake up and say she wasn't wearing what she picked out but she has been excellent.  I also lay out Dustin's too because sometimes I spend too much time trying to decide between all his cute outfits!  And because dressing in layers is the only thing you can do this time of year-we usually have to bundle up (the kids anyway) when we leave in the morning.  So I have their jackets, mitts, hats and rubber boots all hanging on their little hooks by the door.  Saves so much stress in the morning-not having to look for the stray mitten. 

4.  Making Laundry Part Of Your Daily Routine:  I think I read this on another blog and it is so true.  I'm up pretty early in the morning to be out the door by 7 so after I shower and before everyone else is up, I throw a load of laundry in and then it's ready to be dried or hung out when we get home.  If I can stay on top of this and we average 5-6 loads a week I should have one day that's free of laundry!  I've just started this so we'll have to see how it goes. 

5.  Make Time For Yourself:  That's what I'm doing right now.  I've been thinking about this post all week and couldn't wait to start working on it.   Everyone is in bed now and I've finally been able to catch up on what's been happening all week on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  So do whatever relaxes you but make time for yourself. 

I am being truly honest when I say how well this week went and how easy it was.  I know they aren't all going to be like this but it sure was great to get started off right.  Oh and maybe I'm not being completely honest - I have a confession to make...I hired a cleaning lady which obviously takes a pretty big burden off me.  This feels like a HUGE indulgence and I actually feel guilty but I know I'm not going to regret it - plus it's my Mother-In-Law and her hourly rate is very reasonable.  Have I mentioned what a wonderful MIL I have!!??

Here is Dustin on his first day going to the babysitters.  He's such a big boy now!  

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

Well tomorrow is my first day back to work after mat leave and I'm not sure what state I'll be in on Monday, so my Earth Day post is a day early.

Although I very much agree with the mantra "Everyday should be Earth Day" I do enjoy planning a little something to commemorate the actual day. For Emma's first Earth Day we planted a tree.  Unfortunately, I didn't have anything near as good planned for Dustin's first Earth Day.  

Emma and I made a playhouse out of a cardboard box which is a pretty good example of reuse - and it provided hours of entertainment for her and Dustin.  And then Emma planted some seeds that will hopefully grow on our windowsill.  

And probably my most favorite activity was picking up "litter" around our house this afternoon. I can't wait till the kids are a little older and we can do some real litter collection on our road.  Nothing annoys me more than someone pitchin' their coffee cup or fast food containers out their window. 


Of course we separated the recyclables.  Hopefully next Earth Day we'll be able to do something with a little more impact.  Small steps....

Happy Earth Day everyone! 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Maple Syrup Season

Hi everyone!  It has been awhile.  Everyone is well (including Rusty the dog) - just busy!  First of all, I've been playing around with the settings on Blogger - so there may be a different design or layout every time I post.  Please ignore until I find something I love!

Before Easter Emma, along with her Daddy and Nana, tapped some maple trees along our driveway.   I love maple syrup season and think it is something everyone should experience, whether it's making maple syrup back at the camp or at a sophisticated maple syrup production - it's pretty amazing what mother nature provides us! 

Recently, we headed back to Dean's Uncle's camp to see what was happening to all that sap Emma and Nana had been collecting.  It was a pretty muddy walk!

As we got closer you could smell the syrup boiling.  Everyone was busy either cutting wood, gathering sap or adding wood to the fire.  It's hard work making maple syrup!

And then came the best part...taste testing!

It was such a great afternoon with our family and friends.  Dustin fell asleep in Nana's arms before we left and Emma almost fell asleep as we went and collected sap on the Ranger.  No problem getting the kids to bed that night! 

One of my favorite recipes using real maple syrup is Baked Salmon with soy sauce and garlic.  Check out the recipe here.  What's your favorite recipe using maple syrup? 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kitchen - The Heart of the Home

You'll notice a new button on the right hand side of the blog.  Part of this whole blog process has been connecting with other bloggers and Bloglovin seems to be a great way to do that so if you're on Bloglovin please click on the button to follow me.  Thanks!

Everyone knows the kitchen is the heart of the home.  When we built our house 7 years ago a great deal of thought went into designing our kitchen.  We have a relatively simple layout with a few must haves such as the recycling/compost cupboard and a deep pots and pans drawer.   My counter is just about as cluttered as it can be with kitchen appliances, storage canisters, bread box, fruit bowl, cookbooks, etc.  Here is a picture of one corner of my kitchen counter. 

A few things have helped me keep the space looking somewhat organized.  Gotta love IKEA organizers - the magnetic knife strip and the hooks for my measuring cups.  And I also use a wooden box to help store frequently used spices, S&P, etc.  My utensil holder features blueberries - one of my favorite things!  And in the centre is my favorite kitchen appliance - my KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  I always said I never wanted one of these (because I thought I would never use it) but it was a gift from my in-laws and it is well used now! 

I just wanted to share with you a little corner of my kitchen and how I try to organize all the chaos that usually finds its' way into my kitchen everyday.  What are your tips for kitchen organization and your go to kitchen appliance?  

TNT Pin (Tried N' True Pin)

Cooking Asparagus

It has been awhile since I've posted a TNT pin and since we had this again last night I thought I would share.   The original pin states: The absolute best way to cook asparagus: Season with olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese; bake at 400 for 8 minutes. Perfection.   And this is just about spot on. So yummy!  I can't wait until fresh, local asparagus is available.  Enjoy!  


Friday, April 5, 2013

A Brook, Some Rubber Boots, and Childhood Memories

Many of my childhood friends likely remember "playing down by the brook" when they would come over to our place.  Even into my high school years we would have campfires down there.  I honestly can't believe we were even allowed to play down at the brook by ourselves.

It's a fairly shallow brook that runs behind my parent's house in NS.  I remember playing down there for hours when we were kids.  Throwing rocks, watching sticks float down stream, and at one point there was even a swimming hole that was maybe up to our waists.  The brook seemed to change every year and I think we could only swim in it for a few summers.

When we were visiting over Easter Emma and I took a walk along the brook which eventually feeds into a river.  We walked all the way down to the river, stopping in spots to throw rocks and sticks into the brook.  Emma had her rubber boots on so she waded in the freezing cold water.

Love those rubber boots.  I could not get over how much the brook had changed.  Things were grown in more than I remember and it seemed that spots we use to play around looked so much different.  New streams had formed where the brook had taken a different path.  I could literally close my eyes, listen to the sounds of the babbling brook and be transported right back to my childhood.  It was no Disneyland or Seaworld but to me it was a magical place.  

I don't know if Emma will ever feel the connection to this special part of home that I do, but one thing is for certain we sure did have a great afternoon "playing down by the brook".


Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Traditions

To me Easter is a special holiday for many reasons.  It has a lot of significance religiously but it is also a holiday with many traditions for me and my family; traditions that I have grown up with and also ones that I've started with my own family.  One of those traditions is making Hot Cross Buns.  For as long as I can remember my grandmother and mother have made this tasty treat at Easter.  I've tried to replicate the recipe every year but to no avail.  So this year was extra special since we were visiting Nova Scotia and were able to enjoy my mother's Hot Cross Buns.  

This is Emma at home in Ontario attempting to make a batch.  And of course Dustin getting in on the action as well.

And here is Emma helping Grammie make a batch of Hot Cross Buns while visiting her in NS.  Mom still uses an old blue enamelware bowl that belonged to my great grandmother. Imagine the batches of bread this bowl has seen!  I never did get a picture of the finished product - we were too busy eating them!

Of course the Easter Bunny visited and hid chocolate eggs in the same places he did when I was a kid.  Except he use to leave us the marshmallow cream eggs which my sister and I never did like!

Probably the most exciting thing for me was that we were finally home for our family's 14th Annual Easter Egg Hunt!  Now this is not an ordinary Easter Egg Hunt.  I can only imagine how many hours of planning and preparation my wonderful cousin puts into this.  There was 85 people searching for 1168 eggs, carrots and bunnies.  Emma had so much fun collecting all the goodies for her and Dustin.



It was also a great chance to catch up with family and friends - some who are meeting Emma and Dustin for the first time.  We were surrounded by so much love and excitement - it's a wonderful feeling to be leaving NS with.  It's something I know Emma will always remember.  

And if you thought that was enough "Easter" on Sunday afternoon we had our family dinner and enjoyed many laughs and some great games of bingo!  Things were feeling very festive with my Aunt's beautiful Easter decorations.  

So I thank all our family and friends for helping us make so many new Easter memories.   It is always great to be home in NS and even more special when we're home for such a wonderful holiday like Easter.  God Bless!