Spring is here?

17 Apr

IMG_5099 This post was supposed to be a ‘Hurray for Spring’ kind of post. But from the time I thought about it, to the time I actually sat down to upload this happy little photo, the weather took a turn and, other than the beautiful pink blossoms lining the street, it kind of looks fall-ish outside. Boooo! And the wild storm that is happening right now is shaking our windows. So that’s cool.

But back to thinking about happy, warm thoughts. Blue skies and blossoms. That’s the stuff that spring is made of. Or at least that’s the part I am most craving. Let me flashback to last week’s stunning weekend when we went on our first seawall bike ride (J still fits in the seat on the back of my bike!), had our first BBQ, and J and her father watched their first Rugby game of the season. You know, spring things.

Other spring things: we adopted a Robin. Yes, you know, a feathered friend, the one with the red chest. He sits in a tree outside of our window singing at 4:00 a.m. (!) I really believed it was a confused young bird  - but after my bird investigating husband decided to go on an obscenely early reconnaissance mission one morning, he tells me it’s a Robin singing a mating song. And that mating season doesn’t end any time soon (yay). My first thought was to try out J’s bow and arrow (kidding. sort of), but after we named him ‘Ricardo’, he’s now a bit like a member of the family in a weird way. The poor bird gets blamed for every offence under our roof these days….Ricardo! So I guess we’ve turned into crazy bird people. Oh, wait, that already happened. I guess we’re old (side note: J told me this morning that I didn’t look old…but that I WAS old – nice). But Ricardo’s song does mean something good. Spring is here – even though my windows are currently rattling. And you know what they say about April showers. So once this storm blows over we’ll get back to the business of all things spring, like picnics in the park, making fresh lemonade, and flying kites.

Have a great weekend!

p.s. A spring post from a couple years back…

 

Weekend on Mayne Island

11 Apr

IMG_4802Racing down the highway with a day-old piece of wedding cake, we really thought we’d miss our ferry to Mayne Island. But we didn’t. We made it. We played bocce. He lost (and consequently had to run naked around the cabin and do ten push-ups). We watched Jaws. We ran hand-in-hand at the Lighthouse and took a picture. It was really cute, at least I thought so. We hiked to the top of Mt. Parke and mooned the camera – it was our honeymoon after all. Nearly seven years later times have changed a little bit, but not that much. Here’s a recap of our most recent family trip to Mayne Island…

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IMG_4789We combed the beach in search of pirate glass, crabs, and pretty shells…

IMG_4791admired the cinnamon coloured arbutus trees…

IMG_4796IMG_4798IMG_4832visited the beautiful Japanese Gardens. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom, it was really lovely.

IMG_4834IMG_4821IMG_4844IMG_4838We listened to the sounds of the forest and gazed at tall trees

IMG_4849We all took a turn on this thing. And I’ll admit, it’s still pretty fun!

IMG_4779IMG_4810We climbed around on the rocks a lot. And heard this a lot: “watch out for the green stuff.” Good lesson, thanks, Dad.

IMG_4805She picked flowers. Of course.

IMG_4767We ate way too much

IMG_4910I got reacquainted with my big camera…i-phones are super convenient, but I do love my Rebel.

IMG_4919IMG_4929IMG_4933IMG_5042We took a family photo. Or ten – but you know how that goes. And that tongue is sort of J’s signature move – she cracks herself up.

IMG_4794 I snapped a shot of this handsome bald man on the beach…

IMG_5023…and this bald eagle

IMG_4869Rain was forecasted. Thankfully we saw a lot of blue sky!

IMG_5081IMG_4788IMG_4872IMG_5008We went on seal patrol. And spotted a few otters in the process

IMG_4991IMG_5034IMG_4882J sat in this old tree. Fun because her father and uncles sat in this same tree when they were knee-high.

IMG_4878J got her first archery lesson – and loved it!

IMG_5085 By the end of the weekend we were all feeling pretty relaxed and digging the rhythm of cabin life. And thankfully, the only one running around naked (and loving it) was that little four-year-old.

p.s. Our trip to Saturna Island last year.

 

Denim Moon

9 Apr

IMG_5020Just sorting through our photos from Mayne island and came across this one. Somehow it deserves it’s own post. Four years old is funny age: bums (and other parts) are pretty much the most hilarious things to talk about these days – and we hear about them often. And now that mooning is on J’s radar, I expect that we’re going to see a lot of that skinny little bare behind parading around the house.

Happy hump day.

Beachcomber

3 Apr

IMG_4743IMG_4742IMG_4749April 1st was (no joke) the loveliest afternoon we’ve seen in a long time. Still a bit of a chill in the air, but sunny enough to spend an hour on the beach, searching for treasure and building a sandcastle, complete with a large crab shell to act as the guard of the structure. Somehow J ended up being more of a foreman, standing  and pointing to items that were sandcastle worthy, while I ended up doing most of the grunt work…even so, it was a beautiful afternoon, and I can’t wait for more beach days…

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Bits and Bites

31 Mar

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A Meal Plan

28 Mar

 

3207d5de84f78899f8b95d1978f0a915“What’s for dinner” is not a question that you want to be asking yourself at 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon. At least for me it’s not. I tried it – and it’s really no fun, especially when you have a little mouth to feed. Dealing with the afternoon chaos at the grocery store is a painful experience, not to mention if it’s meat that’s on the menu (unless you plan on eating at 8:00), dinner is going to be on the bland side without allowing time to marinate. Factor in the mad dash home to prep, cook, and clean? No thanks.

These days I’m all about a weekly meal plan. The plan gets posted on the kitchen chalkboard on Sunday and runs Monday through Sunday. It has been a bit of a game-changer for me: less shopping, less time prepping, less waste, and less money spent on an annual basis. Here’s a sample week:

Monday: Pasta Night – Spaghettini in a creamy garlic-lemon sauce with spinach, plum tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Mondays are a busy day, so I usually try to keep this meal simple (or eat out), use up things in the pantry, and clear out any veggies that have seen better days. Pasta is perfect for those less than perky spinach leaves!

Tuesday: Homemade Pizza (one margarita and one pepperoni) plus a mixed green salad with plum tomatoes and olives. Here’s the recipe for an easy pizza dough. I love this meal because my little sous-chef gets a chance to create her own pizza.

Wednesday: Seared chicken breast and goat cheese salad with cranberries, avocado, toasted walnuts and shaved red onions – I don’t use a recipe for this, but here’s one that uses similar ingredients.

Thursday: Veggie and cashew stir fry over jasmine rice. This is another good opportunity to clear out the veggie drawer, and I usually just go freestyle with this one making sure to include lots of garlic and ginger. For the sauce, a combination of black bean sauce, soy, honey and chicken stock does the trick. A little cornstarch added near the end thickens it and gives it a nice shine.

Friday: Pulled pork enchiladas with refried beans, guacamole and corn. (We made pulled pork on Sunday (check out this recipe) and froze the leftovers for pulled pork sandwiches and enchiladas. Once you grab a tin of enchilada sauce, this makes for an easy, tasty dinner.

Saturday: Yellow Curry over rice. Here’s the recipe we’ve been using lately – I love it because it’s mild and super kid friendly. (I deviate a bit from the recipe and use a Thai yellow curry).

Sunday: Roasted mushroom Risotto with seared flank steak. We make risotto so much around here that I don’t use a recipe any more, but I think this one looks tasty. And don’t even get me started on flank steak. It’s so good. Marinate it in a little canola oil, black pepper, garlic, rosemary, and salt. Sear it, and serve it sliced with the risotto.

A few things I consider when planning a weekly menu

  • What’s currently in my fridge and pantry? I take a visual inventory and start planning from there, using the commercial kitchen rule of thumb, FIFO: first in, first out.
  • What’s the weather forecast for the week? If it’s going to be grey and soggy, soups, stews and belly warmers. Sunny days call for easy breezy salads and light pastas.
  • Have I planned meals that allow ingredients to perform double-duty? i.e. parmesan cheese is required for Monday’s pasta and also for Sunday’s risotto.
  • What’s going on in the food world? It’s fun to indulge in a little time reading Bon Appetit, scrolling Pinterest or food blogs – why not add some excitement to the rotation?
  • Hectic days (or nights) call for meals on easy street. I like to plan a couple meals that I can make with my eyes shut.
  • Have I included a vegetarian meal? It’s amazing how tasty a meatless meal can be – and the options are endless. Just ask Pinterest!
  • Can I double the recipe on any meals, freeze it and make for a quick, easy, and nearly dish-less meal the following week? Casseroles, burritos and soups work well.
  • If we’re splurging on a meal one night where do we make up for it? Enter veggie (read:cheap) stir fry or grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.
  • Can any of the meals turn into a lunch the following day? I love making extra chicken breast at dinner and then turning it into a chicken salad sandwich the following day by adding mayonnaise, dijon, green onions and plum tomatoes, that on a nice slice of bread with arugula is right up my alley.
  • What nights will my husband be home late? As much as we miss him, we love our girls “seafood nights” – he and les poisson have never seen eye-to-eye.

At this point, we do not do a breakfast or lunch meal plan. For nearly a month straight J has asked for a muffin (I make them and keep them in the freezer) and a cup of orange juice at breakfast. It’s all she wants, so I’ve been going with it. Lunches are pretty straightforward these days. We tend to eat a lot of cheese and avocado quesadillas (on whole wheat tortillas), soups, egg salad sandwiches, chicken wraps, and smoothies.

I like the idea of a bi-weekly plan or even (super ambitious) a monthly plan, but space is always a consideration with city life where stocking up isn’t really feasible. Plus, it’s nice to see what kind of cravings strike. Now that the weather is getting a bit warmer I feel a salad trend coming on…because I really want to squeeze into one of these this summer! 

Have a delicious day…

p.s. A menu planning app - I don’t have it but I’m tempted to try it!

*top image via Pinterest

A Portrait 03/14

17 Mar

IMG_4709Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

These photos are from a couple of days ago when all of Vancouver breathed a sigh of relief: the rain had stopped, the sun was out to play, and the temperature rose enough for spring coats (and some brave flip-flop wearers to emerge), it felt so good.

IMG_4695J found this bamboo stick which she quickly claimed as her own. She fancies herself Elsa (from  the movie ‘Frozen’) and this was her magic wand, or something like that. As you can imagine, I couldn’t really let her roll down Robson street with a 7 foot sick (or could I?) so after some discussion, we decided that we’d retrieve it another day.

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When we got home we set up a Skype session with my Mom so J could show off her green headband — I guess dork runs in my family, my Mom jumped off the screen for a moment only to come back wearing the identical green headgear. It was pretty cute.

Don’t forget to wear something green today – or get pinched!

xo

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