Thursday, March 29, 2012

Previous Post Update #3

Word for 2012, Commit.  This is my progress on:

Healthy Eating/Menu Planning:

Now here is an area that I have been focusing on. 
If you've been reading, you will see that I have posted menus for the past 4 weeks and I have been trying to make healthier choices while doing so.  
I have also been making an effort to cut down on the potato chips and chocolate snacking!


Strengthening and Maintaining Relationships:

This is a tough one for me. 
We moved to a new town in September of 2011.
We are about 1 ½ hours away from our old town and return there frequently to check on the house that we still own there. 
I have, on a couple of occasions met a friend for tea or lunch, but finding the time to spare and matching up schedules is a challenge. 
However, I have managed to send a few cards, letters and valentines , in my efforts to stay in touch. 
I am also encouraging and assisting my daughter to do the same. 
I moved and changed schools in grade 5 just like her and I know how important it can be to maintain those friendships that she has established since kindergarten.   I didn't and wish that I had.

The internet sure makes this an easier thing to do these days!

How goes your progress on accomplishing things you've commited to or on living your Word for 2012?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Previous Post Update #2

I've been making some claims and promises here to accomplish a few things. Time to honour accountability.

For my word for 2012, I chose Commit.

Go here for a list of the things I wanted to commit to.

And this is my progress on:  Practice.

I must say that I have been more dedicated to practising my guitar than ever before. Perhaps it's due to the fact that I received as a Christmas gift from my fabulous Fishguy, a beautiful new guitar.

That and well, I've actually been following through on my decision to Commit to Practice!

I am singing just about as much as always (in the shower, doing dishes, while practising guitar, in the car, hanging the laundry when I am at work...) and would like to take more voice lessons or join a singing ensemble.

However, my financial situation is preventing me from doing any such thing that costs money. I need to look into some alternatives. Or get a full-time job (sigh!).

Yoga, well, I just haven't been putting very much effort into this commitment, I must admit.
I mean I have been doing some yoga, here and there. 
I even taught a couple of workshops for kids in Feb and March. 
And sometimes in the evening when I'm puttering about the house, I just drop into a pose when the urge strikes me, depending on what feels tight and needs stretching.
But as far as a regular “practice” goes,
I think perhaps I need to try to start small, just 5-10 minutes in the morning.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Previous Post Updates #1

I've been making some claims and promises here to accomplish a few things.  Time to honour accountability.

For my word for 2012,  I chose Commit.

Go here for a list of the things I wanted to commit to.

And this is my progress on:  Happiness.

So, here we are nearing the end of March and I can definitely say that overall, I have been a happier person .

I find January and February to be such challenging months, both in maintaining emotional balance and functioning energy levels. However, with the practice of Julie Cameron's morning pages in January (issued as a challenge for the month by Jamie Ridler), I feel I gained a leg up on beating the winter blahs this year.

Of course, I still experience the odd "down days", just noticeably fewer of them!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Menu, March 26-April 1

I'm really getting into a groove now!  This is my fifth week of menu planning!

Monday~ Shrimp Caesar Salad with Garlic Bread and Kale Chips

Tuesday~Beef, Red Pepper and Onion Kabobs, Green Beans, Basmati Rice

Wednesay~Broccoli Cheddar Quiche, Coconut Curry Dahl

Thursday~Chicken Fajitas, Guacamole & Pita Chips

Friday~Help Yourself and Eat Up the Leftovers

Saturday~Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Oven Fries and Baked Zucchini Sticks

Sunday~Honey-GingerTofu with Quinoa & Kale Pilaf

The tofu recipe is one I found in this month's Chatelaine and I'm looking forward to trying it out.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Menu for March 19 -25.

Gah! It's Friday and I neglected to post my menu for this week. Well, I can tell you that last week's menu was followed, more or less, with just a little bumping and substitution here and there.
My girl had a friend over on Thursday night, so we picked up pizza for dinner.
I knew this was going down so opted to have the beef stir fry the day before, instead of going out for dinner.

Sunday's dinner was one of my very favourites to have during the summer months.
It's only March, but the weather has been so wonderfully warm, it felt like a little celebration was in order and so we had the Grilled Chicken Salad pictured here.

It was alright, but nothing like in the summer when all of the vegetables are in season and local! (Well, maybe except for the avocado).

This Week's Menu:

Monday~ Burgers and Fries (we didn't end up eating out last week, so Fish Guy brought home Whimpy's!)

Tuesday~ Black Bean, TVP and Rice Burritos; Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday~ South-West Baked Bean Soup, Chicken and Pork Fried Rice, Lemon Parmesan Brussels Sprouts

Thursday~ Shepherds Pie with a Greek Salad

Friday~ Creamy Garlic Chicken Spaghetti with Broccoli and Parsnips, Large Caesar Salad

Saturday~ BBQ Ribs, Brown Rice with Kale and Grilled Veggie Kabobs (peppers, mush, onion and zucchini)

Sunday~ I still don't know yet!!

The South-West Baked Bean soup is a recipe I picked up at work.  It's super easy and fast, but kinda bland and boring as is. I sauteed onions and celery to begin with before adding all the other ingredients and I also added some Frank's Red Hot Pepper sauce in place of the cayenne. It was prety good!

Now I have to start thinking about the menu for the coming week. 
Can hardly wait for the local asparagus to be available.  The way the weather has been, I have a feelng I won't have to wait too long!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

These Are A Few of My Favourite Things, #2

This past week has been so wonderful. The beautiful springy, unseasonable warm weather; my birthday, the March break. 
Time again, to showcase a Few of My Favourite Things.

I love hanging my clothes on the line to dry.

Since we do not use a dryer (except very occasionally, part of my eco-living commitment) I hang my clothes to dry, year round.

During the winter, there are some days when hanging outside is possible, but for the most part I use drying racks within the house. So when the weather is as warm and sunny as it has been this week, I feel a bit of extra joy about being able to hang my clothes outside again... in March!

My darling Fishguy brought me beautiful tulips on my birthday last week!! 

I was able to display them in my lovely Aalto vase from Finland,
which was a gift from a very generous friend, while I was living there (95-96).

My sweet little Sugar-Plum had a friend overnight during the March break,

and THEY made themselves pancakes for breakfast. 

Pancakes with chocolate chips. Served with real, local maple syrup!

They also made me some tea :-) 
Chocolate Spearmint Organic Tea from my friend's Porcupine Creek Farm.

In my favourite cute little teapot that I bought for $2 at a thrift shop
got in my stocking for Christmas.

And one of my favourite little mugs which was a gift from my mother-in-law.
The art on the mug is by Maud Lewis.

I love how the tulips made their way into three out of four photos!
Hope you enjoyed this weeks edition of These Are a Few of my Favourite Things!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Black Bean Soup Recipe

Last weekend, I made a black bean and tomato soup. 
I had been craving one for some time and when I want to make something like that, when I haven't ever made it before, I will often google search for recipes and then look at about four or five recipes that look good. 
Then I just pick and choose a little from this recipe and a little from that till I get what I think will be what I am looking for.
I found some good basic steps and ingredients here, here, and here.
This is what I came up with for my own version of this soup.


2 cans black beans, rinsed
1 ½ -2 cups vegetable broth
6-8 Roma tomatoes
1 onion
1 celery stalk
2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ -1 tsp cumin
½ -1 tsp chili powder
½ -1 tsp oregano or mixed Italian seasoning

Juice from one lime
chopped green onions
half an avocado, diced

Okay so the biggest step is roasting the tomatoes.Slice them into quarters lengthwise. Also cut up onion and celery (I cut into large chunks so they wouldn't burn when roasting) Toss, in 2 tbsp of olive oil a sprinkle of salt and the oregano/Italian seasoning. Roast for about 30 minutes @ 350, then add the garlic in and roast for another 20-25 minutes.

Once roasted, add vegetable stock to the pan to scrape up all the roasty bits. Then, transfer it all to a large soup pot. Here I used my handy dandy Cuisinart stainless steel hand blender, using just a few pulses to blend things up a bit.

Then I added the rinsed cans of beans. I've cooked kidney beans and navy beans from dry, but I have yet to try black beans. Comes down to saving time really, when I use the canned variety.

Add in the spices and mash about half of the beans (or use the blender).

Bring to a boil and then lower to simmering for about 20-30 minutes, adjusting salt, spice and thickness (by adding more water or veg stock) as needed.

Serve in bowls.
I offered the lime juice, green onions and avocado on the side to add as desired.  I also think it would be nice with the bacon, but was serving a vegetarian guest.  Sour cream and cilantro would be nice additions to top it off with as well.  Perhaps I'll try that next time.

Yummy! I loved this soup and will make it again soon!

22 Things

Oh,  I do love to make a list.  
And I just found another great opportunity to make one!!

Angie, over at Write Me Happy has issued a creative challenge called 22 Things, which is a means to accomplish BIG things through small steps.

So, here is my list.

The one that came right off the top of my head with out any editing or shuffling of order of importance or anything like that.
  1. Move a little bit more each day (stretch, walk, dance)
  2. Listen to music more often
  3. Practice my guitar, daily
  4. Drink more water
  5. Do my vocal training exercises more often
  6. Sign up for voice lessons
  7. Organize my songs into folders (computer)/binders (hard copy)
  8. Finish putting together another copy of a children's book I wrote into 12x12 scrapbook
  9. Mail a minimum of 3 cards per week
  10. Make cards weekly, set aside an hour or two on Sundays
  11. Take better care of my fingernails
  12. Book an appointment for a pedicure (use christmas gift certificate!)
  13. Make one date per week with a friend for lunch or tea
  14. Start blogging more about music
  15. Start blogging some recipes
  16. Work on making a scrapbook again.
  17. Start recording songs and story readings for a gift for a special little girl
  18. Have more family outings (weekly)
  19. Be more physically active as a family
  20. Join a choir
  21. Find a songwriters group to join
  22. Play with clay (plasticine)
  23. Get a new journal
    I added that last one in because, I was making the list in my journal and had reached the last page!
Afterwards, I got looking at my list and I started judging it.
Wanting to tweak it. 
Change it. 
Make it more appealing.
(Why is spending time with my family so low on the list? How could I neglect 'practicing with my brother for our planned open mic night?' I didn't include any steps to finding a new full time job, which should be a priority for me right now in order to pay the bills).

And then, I went blog surfing. I went to visit Pauline at
journal illustrations and musings and read this lovely post.

I could see a similarity in her description of resisting the urge to change what she didn't like about her painting and just let it be and become what it will.
I then decided to leave my list alone.
It is what it is.
It came to me in that order for whatever reason and I'm not going to judge it, or change it, or add to it right now.
I think sometimes I just try to do to much at once.
So I'll stick with this list a while and see where it takes me.

Thanks Pauline!

Oh, and then, I ate some chocolate!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Friend, Food and Fun-Filled Weekend, Also, Menu for March 12-18

Lunch on Saturday

Last week's menu was another success. I did make a couple changes however.
I made a black bean and roasted tomato soup to go with the quiche on Friday.

And instead of sun brown rice and roasted veggies with the trout on Saturday, my wonderful husband made a veggie stir fry with Asian eggplant, zucchini, onions, beet greens, celery and peppers (red, green and yellow!) and served that over bean noodles, yummy!

He also made a little saucy side dish of okra with tomatoes!

I might mention that my husband was a chef in a previous life for about a dozen years.
I might also mention that we had an old friend visiting us this weekend and this is a friend who appreciates good food and also enjoys cooking.

I might also mention that this friend came bearing abundant gifts of fine wine, cheese, bread, tea and chocolate!!! (Now that's a good friend indeed!)

We enjoyed a lovely lunch on Saturday (see photo above) of seafood salad, bread, cheese, strawberries and champagne! We ate this while geeking out on our computers. It was a trial; we decided to play a game of scrabble via facebook, while in the same room. It was fun!

Sunday, it was just me and hubby for dinner as our little Sugar-Plum is still visiting at Grandma's with her cousin. We ate leftovers of everything! Which leaves the Beef Ginger Stir-Fry available for this week's menu.

I expect this week to be a bit crazy as it is the March Break and our days are in a bit of flux, trying to solidify plans with friends for playdates and get-togethers and outings.

And, it's also my birthday on Wednesday.

So as always, the menu is open and subject to change.

Monday~ still finishing up left overs, Bean Soup, Trout and Noodles.
Tuesday~ Turkey Gumbo with Crusty Rolls
Wednesday~Birthday dinner out
Thursday~Ginger-Beef Stir fry over sun brown Rice (vegg incl: onions, peppers, celery, carrots, asian eggplant, zucchini, garlic, ginger)
Friday~Beet and Lentil Salad, Roasted Potatoes, Carrots and Parsnips
Saturday~ Dinner out again (more birthday celebration!)
Sunday~ Large Caesar Salad w/ BBQ Chicken and Pasta

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Movement Practice in March

I am participating in Jamie's Movement Practice in March over at Jamie Ridler Studios

If anyone is interested in joining in, feel free!
Today I went for a 20 minute walk!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Menu for Week of March 5

Here is a photo of last Thursday's meal of vegetarian chili-cheese nachos

with spinach, strawberry, pecan salad.

Last week's menu plan went over well, and so I am encouraged to do it again!
And a piece of good news as well. My sister-in-law's partner gave me an

external keyboard, so typing up my posts is so much easier to do now!

This week we will dine on:
Monday~Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Carrots and Parsnips, Green Beans
Tuesday~Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli and Tomatoes, Baked Beans
Wednesday~Pepperoni Pizza, Caesar Salad
Thursday~Vegetarian (TVP) Tacos
Friday~Potato-Leek Soup, Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche
Saturday~Grilled Steelhead Trout, Sun Brown Rice, Roasted Veggies (peppers, sweet potato, onions, zuccini, mushrooms)
Sunday~Ginger-Beef Stirfry with lots of Veggies over Rice Noodles

I also found a couple of recipes through some other blogs that I'd like to start incorporating into my menu plans and I also do plan to begin including some of the recipes for some of these options you are now seeing in my menu plans. One step at a time!

Beet and Lentil Salad

Crispy Baked Onion Rings

Tomato & Pesto Soup

Please feel free to share or link to your favourite menu plans or recipes. I'd love to read them!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

These Are a Few of My Favourite Things

Our darling pussy-cat, Domino. So adorable!

Now there's that handsome face!

A few of my current favourites to listen to.

Adele was a Christmas gift and the others are friends and relatives.

who also happen to be awesome local musicians.

My living room where I was hanging out on Friday night,

listening to those recordings via my laptop

as well as journaling and playing my beautiful new guitar.

Watch now for weekly updates of,

"These Are a Few of My Favourite Things".

Please, also feel free to share a few of YOUR favourite things

or post a link to your display of them.