Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lazy Lady?

I bought this backpack for Molly at Monkey Mountain Toys & Games. It's the cutest thing I have ever seen (well, today anyway). But here's the real deal: This backpack is actually attached to a "leash". In the past, I have seen kids with harnesses and leashes & secretly judged their parents. How lazy can you be? A leash takes away the simple responsibility of keeping your eyes on your child. But now I'm not so sure. Maybe I was too quick to judge. Molly is a mover. And a shaker. And definitely a trouble-maker. If I turn away for a moment, she's gone! Miles was never like that. Until now. He's 2 and making sure the phrase 'terrible twos' isn't changing. So I have two kids each running off in separate directions. A cheap fix would be this backpack. But what happens when I have another child? I buy another backpack? And soon I look like I'm a "Toddler Walker". There are millions of moms out there without "leashed" children. I'm torn. Is this the Ultimate in LAZY or the best frowned upon invention?

Layout #242

April Snow by Haley Ross
I sat at the Church across from Kaly, who was decidedly uninspired and Jen, who was scrapbooking a layout just to fill an empty slot. Both great ladies but neither of them were at their inspirational peak. I often feed off the creativity of people around me. So as we chatted about the usual things (babies, husbands, what to make for dinner) this page seemed to just happen. I wasn't really even paying too much attention to what I was doing. And it made me so happy. It made me start to love scrapbooking again. Because when something becomes too much effort I get grumpy. And scrapbooking was making me grumpy.

Materials: Paper: Echo Park; Alphabet Stickers: American Crafts; Journaling Spot: Jillibean Soup; Fabric Tabs: Scrapworks; Brad Charms: Making Memories.

Layout #241

Easter by Haley Ross
There was a moment there when I thought all hope was lost. When I thought I would never feel happy about my layouts again. This is NOT the layout that restored that hope, it's the one I did before. But I still love it because I had a great day scrapbooking with a friend.
Materials: Patterned Paper & Chipboard: Scenic Route; Cardstock: Bazzill Basics; Stickers: Jolees By You & Scenic Route; Brads: Making Memories; Border Strip: Doodlebug Designs.

Monday, May 30, 2011

This is NOT a cooking blog...

... But it's probably not JUST a scrapbooking blog anymore either. And although I will get back to my scrapbooking roots (I have 3 new layouts to post tomorrow), today I have to share two of my favourite things from this past week (and they just happen to be cooking things).

1. My new Dutch Oven (pictured above). I am in love. And the Honeycomb Cannelloni I made (with Creme Fraiche!) the other night in my new LeCrueset confirmed it. Never has cooking dinner been so easy for me. I love the easy transfer from stovetop to oven. This was a great investment.

2. Bee Keepers Gold. Brian made this beautiful cutting board for me and to keep it looking beautiful (but still getting to use it) I am lathering it with wax. I never understood how much gratification comes from taking care of something so simple. And how pleased I will be to get so much more from something I love & use daily. In a world where we consume SO much & throw things away (old cutting boards) without thinking twice (I do too.) I am oddly proud to claim to have had this cutting board (in great condition) for three years already.


Tonight as we cleaned up after dinner the conversation took an interesting turn. We have started "Meatless Mondays" in our house (a concept that I was surprised to see my husband embrace so easily.) and we were noting that our meal tonight was just as good as any meal with meat. Brian has often said that he feels a 'proper' meal consists of meat, a starch & a vegetable. Something he no doubt grew up with (I did too) as his sister shared with me that she also prepares dinner with those three components. Tonight our dinner was prepared with a very different formula. And possibly, we noted, a cheaper formula. So I started to look into it.
The average American (I couldn't find Canadian stats) in our income range spends $338 on groceries per week. And another $245 on eating out. We don't spend nearly that much. I would say on average we spend $170 on groceries (not including diapers or formula). I estimate we spend $60 eating out (mostly on coffees). When we discussed this spending Brian immediately proposed "Foodless Mondays" but for now "Meatless Monday" will suffice. On this budget it would mean our average meal (when we eat 3 per day) is $8.09. With such a tight budget going "Meatless" is looking more appealing. Here's how our meal tonight breaks down (Some things were on sale. And I did my best to estimate portions & round up.):
Red Pepper Soup
Can of crushed tomatoes $1.50
Red Bell Pepper $0.50
Cream $0.75
Basil $0.25
Vegetable Broth $0.25
Onion $1.00
(That's $4.25 for four adult servings)

Quinoa $1.50
Avocado $1.50
Canned Mandarins in Water $1.00 (At Dollarama. Not kidding).
Lentils $0.70
Canola Oil $0.60
Apple Cider Vinegar $0.25
Craisins $0.45 (I buy them bulk at Costco as they are a Ross Family favourite.)
Pine Nuts $2.00 (Also bought bulk.)
Cucumber $1.00
(That's $8.75 for four adult servings)

So. That's $13.00 for tonight's meal (which will also be eaten tomorrow at lunch along with other items.) That's nearly $5.00 over our allotted budget. Adding meat to that equation would increase the cost substantially Adding meat to that equation would increase the cost substantially But it's do-able when you consider that most mornings for breakfast we eat yogurt, toast or cereal.

So here's what I am wondering. Are we doing the most we can to make the best of our limited budget? Besides cutting out meat once a week (which was initially done for reasons other than cost), are there other things we can do without compromising the quality of food we eat. Should we be making our own bread? Should we be buying more or less in bulk? I already prepare meals based on what is available in my home (The other night I tried a new Southwestern Sweet Potato Soup based on the fact that I had two potatoes about to grow sprouts!). I refuse to buy more processed food, but I can see why those on a shoestring budget do. I was appalled to recently read that nearly 25% of people haven't used a fresh ingredient in the past WEEK. Even with Brian's "3 part" meal formula there is still a vegetable on the plate! And I don't claim to never used processed food. Miles eats Kraft Dinner EVERY SINGLE Wednesday after gymnastics. We also use cheese slices, fruit snacks & peanut butter to name a few. But is there something I am missing? Is there something I could be doing that I am not? Something that could be as revolutionary to our budget (and health) as "Meatless Monday"?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Knitting Attempt #2

I am much happier with my second attempt at knitting. I used a thicker yard which made all the difference. I still had some issues attaching the flower so it didn't pull...if you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them. That being said, I'm on a roll! I am going to make hats, scarves & legwarmers for everyone I know. Just in time for summer??? Ha!
How many items do you have to make before you can officially call yourself 'A Knitter'?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rainy Day Cheesecake

 I tend to bake & cook the most when the weather is dreary. Give me a warm day & you'll probably end up with hot dogs for dinner (I'm too busy enjoying the weather to cook). Yesterday was rainy. And the perfect chance to try out one of my new springform baking pans (which I am so glad Kacey talked me into). So here's a look at my process. So pretty I just couldn't resist taking pictures.
 Run graham crackers & melted butter through the food processor. Such a pretty (and tasty!) result (above).
Pack it into the bottom of the pan to make a crust. I used the opposite end of my meat tenderizer (below).

 I don't have a juicer so I had Brian squeeze my limes (so hard!).
So hard not to eat the batter (Alright! I did lick the spoon once!). It's basically cream cheese, lime juice, eggs & sugar. mmmm. Health Food. Obviously.

 Cooling off after 55 minutes in the oven. I always thought cheesecake was a no-bake dessert. Not so. Or at least not the one I made last night.
 I started at 4pm. And by the time I finally finished it was late. About 8. Most of that time was spent chilling in the fridge while I made dinner. But by the time we finally had a bite it was dark out & the rainy day was almost over.
Lime Cheesecake on a rainy day.

My 1st Attempt at Knitting

Molly is wearing my first-ever attempt at knitting. And like everything else in life, it's amazing how much you can learn in one attempt. I love to scrapbook, but it's not the most portable hobby. And I like sewing, but it requires as much 'baggage' as scrapbooking. I wanted something I could easily take to the cabin & camping. So I decided to teach myself to knit. I think it was the beautiful selection of yarns available at Hobby Lobby & JoAnnes on my recent trip to the US that inspired me. And a couple days later, here it is. My first toque is finished (and let's just say I wouldn't feel confident throwing it in the washing machine...). I know they will just get better with practice.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Layout #240

Boys at Play by Haley Ross
I busted out my sewing machine to give "freehand" a little try. Holy crap. THAT is hard. I am so excited to try again... I think after a couple hundred time I could nail this technique :)
Materials: Cardstock: Bazzill Basics; Patterned Paper & Stickers: Echo Park; Buttons: Fancy Pants.

Layout #239

4 by Haley Ross
Finally scrapbooking my family photos from the fall....I thought I should do it before it is suddenly fall once again. Michelle Gier took these pictures for us, it was such a nice day & Miles had a great time. Of course there are more pics, but these are may favs.
Materials: Patterned Paper: Basic Grey; Transparencies: My Minds Eye; Rub Ons: Daisy D's and Basic Grey; Chipboard: Rusty Pickle; Flowers & Leaves: Prima & Close To My Heart; Other: Button.

Layout #238

cake by Haley Ross

When Miles turned one I took about 400 pictures (true). When Molly turned one I took about 100. Still too many. So instead of scrapbooking them all (I think I did about 150 of Miles before I got tired) I have picked my favs. I usually do this, but for some reason I find it hard to slim them down for big events. This is when I most appreciate the Flip Flaps from Close To My Heart (seen above). This layout actually has 9 pictures. And I am sure I will slip all the rest into the album in a 12x12 slotted page (I love those!).

Materials: Patterned Paper: Heidi Grace and Chatterbox; Cardstock: Bazzill Basics; Flowers: Prima; Leaves: Making Memories; Alphabet Stickers: White Blossom; Flip Flaps: Close to my Heart.

Layout #237

Happy Haunting by Haley Ross
I've had this Halloween line from Cosmo Cricut lying around for a while. I like it. I loved the little eyeball stickers & the journaling spot. Halloween really is one of my favourite holidays.
Materials: Patterned Paper, Chipboard, Stickers: Cosmo Cricut; Cardstock: Bazzill Basics; Pen: EK Success Zig Writer.

Monday, May 2, 2011

For Pete's Sake...GO VOTE!

I'm annoyed today. But not because I had to go vote, although I don't appreciate or support this election. I'm annoyed because I saw a Facebook status that read "Didn't go vote. But doesn't complain so it's OK".

It's really not. And here's why (just ONE of the many reasons):

Today, as we line up to vote (there was no line up...), people in Libya, Tunisia and all around the world are fighting and dying for their right to vote. So when you chose to not to vote, you are making a HUGE statement. One that says you don't respect your RIGHT to vote (let alone your civic responsibility). That right wasn't given to you, it was fought for. And one of the men who fought for it (and was lucky to survive) was my Grandpa. He didn't just pop over to Italy for a weekend to show those Nazi's who was more powerful, he sacrificed years of his life (time with his family, time that would have otherwise been peaceful) to fight for freedom. And because he won that fight we have freedom today. And I think that with that freedom, he would want us to vote, to make sure that freedom is secure. TO make sure his efforts weren't wasted.  Listen lady, maybe you don't complain, but that's because overall, you don't have a whole hell of a lot to complain about. And that's because of my Grandpa and thousands of others like him. Some of whom never returned home to their families. So get off your ass and go vote. It will take 30 minutes to educate yourself & do it.

Not voting is disrespectful and ignorant.