Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

It was the most glorious of days today.  Plus 12 degrees with bright sunshine.  I have so many bulbs coming up in the front garden and there were at least 8 crocus in bloom.  

I wore my jean jacket!  I walked.  I thrifted and had fries and a Moolate from Dairy Queen. Ayaka and I made cheesecake and strawberry mousse filled hollow chocolate eggs for tomorrow's dessert.  Then we watched Harry Potter and Orphan Black.

I gave the girls their Easter Bunny pails early because we'll be doing Easter breakfast at church then scurrying around preparing prime rib dinner for 8-10 of us.  So, at we sat in front of the TV, we happily munched on Easter eggs.  I ate a Cadbury cream egg; I like that you can only buy them at Easter.  Makes it special.

Know what else is special?  Having such a great relationship with God and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and the joy and freedom that He brings.

Because as much as I love family meals and eating Cadbury eggs, I love my life in Christ.

Happy Easter my friends.  He is risen!



Monday, March 25, 2013

I can tell you how to get to Sesame Sweet (Chicken)


The road to healthy eating is an exciting road in this day and age.  Years ago, it was all dry tuna and melba toast.  These days, there's a myriad of information and research on what's healthy; and the internet is at our fingertips, making good food choices much easier.

I'm also hoping that this will help me to stay motivated and continue to make (mostly) good choices.  
It's my new "motivational wall" (inspired by my Korean student, Elly --- except her motivational wall contains much skinner girls "with heads" as she pointed out to me!).  Some of my bad habits are so ingrained in me, that I need a reminder to THINK before I do something I'm just gonna be sorry for later.

I choose to eat consciously and healthily MOST of the time.  And one of my favorite cookbooks is "The Looneyspoons Collection" -- full of great recipes that have been tweaked to lower fat and bad carbs but keep great taste.  

Last night, we had "Sesame Sweet Chicken" and it was delicious.  I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of their recommended thighs just because it's what I had in my freezer.     


We had brown rice and a bok choy/mushroom/onion stir fry on the side.  Yummy!  


Sunny day
Sweepin' the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Sesame Street.



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring and Happy Nowruz!



Happy Spring!








But what's this?  
A snow storm?  
Snow in my driveway? 
No school for the kids?  
More shovelling?


Pay that no never-mind!  Underneath those 3 inches of snow are numerous tulips and crocus coming up and even 2 little (icy cold) blooms.  Under that white is yellow and brown longing to turn to green.  It's the first day of spring!  Celebrate!

I should also wish you a Happy Nowruz!  Happy Persian New Year.  If spring doesn't get you revved up, a new year's celebration should do it, right?  Just think of hot 'n' spicy humus; or chunks of lamb on beds of noodles.  Or like me, cook this for dinner: 
Chicken thighs cooked in tumeric, cumin, paprika and cinnamon then placed upon a bed of basmati rice and lentils. 
 Is your mouth watering?  Mine is!  But then, it is lunch time for me; and the sun is shining and melting the snow.

Happy Spring everyone!




PS:  When I begin decorating for Easter next weekend, I'm considering a few of these in the front yard!








Thursday, March 14, 2013

Takoyaki Power!

Another package arrived from Japan last week.  Here's some of what was in it.  (And no; a stained tablecloth was NOT in the box!  Elly's side of the table is always stained.)

This is the equipment you need to make Japanese "takoyaki".  Elly mentioned to Ayaka that she loves takoyaki.  Ayaka told her father, and her father sent the box. (Do you think if I mentioned I love rich men, her father will sent me his brother or something?)
You need the batter mix, dried shrimp, minced pickled ginger, finely ground nori, chopped octopus, and a lovely little Japanese person who knows how to cook it.  


They're like little round Timbit-shaped pancakes of savory gorgeousness!  Drizzle a little takoyaki sauce over the top and sprinkle with bonito flakes.  We also had shrimp dumplings.    Sooooo good!


We ate all this last Saturday evening and then did what we usually do on a weekend -- we played Skip-Bo.  Elly almost always wins; and there might be a win for me thrown in every few weeks.  But that night, Ayaka won her first game and afterwards became a most fierce competitor. 

What did she say about her first win? 

Takoyaki Power!



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring; Printemps; 春 (haru); 봄 (bom) ... It's beautiful in ANY language!

Ahhhh!  Spring!  

Spring is one of the four conventional temperate seasons, following winter and preceding summer. The specific definition of the exact timing of "spring" varies according to local climate, cultures and customs. At the spring equinoxdays are close to 12 hours long with day length increasing as the season progresses. Spring and "springtime" refer to the season, and also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection, and regrowth.


Google talks about the changing from winter to spring -- from snow to sunshine.  It mentions the longer days -- from darkness to light.  But what Google doesn't mention?
The huge mounds of dirty snow (and what you find when those dirty mounds melt).  It doesn't mention the many, many grey days; the often seemingly endless days of rain; and the mud --- everywhere -- indoors/outdoors - the mud!  And it doesn't mention the betrayal that you feel after weeks of gradual warmth and melting to find yourself back in a winter wonderland.  It can be so discouraging.

Spring can be a fickle season, toying with our senses and turning our closets schizophrenic -- Warm?  Cold? ..... Wet?  Dry? ..... Coat?   Jacket?   Can't put the winter things away and can't take out all the summer clothing.  

But Spring is a season with a purpose.  It is perseverant and obstinate and it will do what's it's meant to do:  to bring birth and growth and renewal and resurrection and yes -- rejuvenation!   And we can join in this celebration by hopping on the spring bandwagon.

Let's get excited!  Let's get excited about the little things, such as:
  • Spring cleaning:  who doesn't like a clean house, huh?
  • That first bird song; or the spring peepers; or the brooks unthawing and water flowing again.
  • Flowers -- in or out of the snow. Flowers are beautiful!
  • And the colors of spring.  The colors we wear and the colors all around us in the flora and fauna.
And then there's March Break!  Has it come and gone in your area?  Is it coming next week?  We're in the midst of it in Nova Scotia.  Ayaka is in Montreal on a school trip, Elly's sleeping until 2 pm each day (and cooking me dinner tonight), and I have a more relaxed daily routine.   

Elly and I also have Friday and Saturday in the city where we'll  continue to eat our way 'round the world via the many lovely restaurants there AND visit the new, larger Value Village.  

OMG!  Eating and thrifting!  Two of my favorite things!


You know, whether there are flowers in your garden or snow on the ground, spring is here, people.  Open your eyes to what's happening around you and enjoy what each day brings.  

And if you're really optimistic and brave, pull out that spring jacket!






Sunday, March 10, 2013

Time to SPRING ahead!


Technically, the time goes ahead at 2 am Sunday the 10th.  But as I'll be sleeping at that time, I think I'll just go ahead and do it now.  

I lose an hour's sleep for an extra hour of sunlight -- not a bad exchange at this time of year if you ask me!

Look what I found in my garden this morning.  I got so excited!
I dug up and replanted all my bulbs last fall, so I have no idea what colors will show up where.  But those wee touches of green sure are a welcome sight.

My brook was babbling, and I think I even heard the earth singing.  Or was that my heart?

Makes me fair want to sit on the back deck and have a cuppa!  (But I'd have to dig out my snowsuit; and in spite of the sun, the deck chairs are still icy wet ..... and I don't think it would be good for my hemorrhoids!)  So, all deck adventures are temporarily postponed. 



It was another beautiful Saturday, so I took  a short walk.  And although the evidence may not be visible after our next inevitable spring snowfall (it is Nova Scotia after all), the proof was there for all Bluenosers to see today.  Spring is just ahead! 







Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thrifty Thursday - Finds of the Week



I did some meandering last Saturday (isn't that a great word, meandering?); and I leisurely visited the 3 local thrift shops.  Didn't spend much money, but I had a chance to take my time and really savor my little purchases.

I paid 50 cents for this 4" letter "S".  It probably stands for super savings, but I'll use it for my name, Sandy!


This gorgeous little bracelet cost me $2.  Love those colors!


$1.50 for the quilt template and fabric and 50 cents each for the patterns -- 2 for a friend and the pirate cape for me.  Now, where did I put my sewing machine?


And my favorite purchase of the day was this 2 qt mixing bowl.  I spent $6 for this beauty.



How was your thrifting week?



Monday, March 4, 2013

How I fell in love on my first date!

After Friday's big storm, we had lovely weather for the rest of the weekend.  

Saturday is my day to lolly-gag.  I went to Zumba; strolled the aisles of the mall, thrifted at Frenchies and picked up groceries, all at a very leisurely pace.  I bought myself some tulips -- not something I do very often.  But they spoke of spring and added such color and life to my living room later as I lolly-gagged on the couch reading my book.


We had a family dinner with a new boyfriend (very nice fellow):  lasagne, salad and (something not in my diet plan, unfortunately) brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce.  We then worked off our dinner by playing several lively rounds of Phase 10 and Skip-Bo (during which there were spicy potato chips -- also not on my diet plan unfortunately).

Sunday I returned to the straight and narrow:  I went to church (and prayed for help with repenting from my unhealthy ways).  Then in the afternoon, I did some healthy meal planning and made a treat that I've been wanting to make for months.  


Homemade Lara Bars
1.5 cups Medjool (soft) dates

3/4 cups chopped nuts
2 oz chopped dark chocolate
1-2 Tbsp water (if necessary)

Process the first 3 ingredients in a food processor until well chopped adding a little water, if needed, to bring the mixture together.  Press mixture between 2 sheets of wax paper (in a baking dish if you want).  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or freeze for 1/2 hour; then cut into 8 bars.  (I cut 16 because I'd used a bigger baking dish.)  Wrap individually and store in the refrigerator or freezer. 

These were much easier to make than I'd anticipated (although it took quite a bit of processing.  

How do they taste?
Delicious!  I fell in love (on my first date ..... & chocolate & nut).

They definitely satisfy my sweet tooth and my chocolate craving.  They are gluten free, dairy free, soy free and vegan.  They have loads of fibre and many other great nutritional qualities.  (10 gms of dates = 23 calories & lots of fiber.)   But dates are quite high on the glycemic index, so they must be eaten sparingly if you're on a diet and especially if you have Type 2 diabetes.   

Still for me, this is an excellent alternative to reaching for that chocolate bar or store bought cookie.  And there are so many variations in how you can make homemade Larabars -- with coconut, peanut butter, cocoa powder, different nuts.  If you're interested in these, my recommendation would be to check out Chocolate Covered Katie, the healthy dessert blog  (http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/)

Do you have any healthy dessert tricks to share?


Friday, March 1, 2013

Rabbit, Rabbit. Beware the Ice of March!


Rabbit Rabbit Everyone! 

When I awoke at 6:30 this morning, I could hear the click-click of frozen snow on the windowpane.   
A day all school children adore -- Snow Day!

And what a way to start March.   In like a lion, out like a lamb, I guess --- I hope!  

The roads were very bad; and it didn't stop snowing until just after noon.  So, it was a snow day for me as well.  After a 2 hour breakfast of tea and toast and reading "The Maze Runner", I spent an hour or so cleaning, followed by an hour nap, followed by another hour of tea and "The Maze Runner".  A perfect morning I'd say.


"Should I attempt to go into work now?"  I wondered

I'd have to get out of the driveway first!  And as pretty as it was outside, I contented myself with making lasagne and Thai meatballs and baking a cinnamon loaf.  

My God-sent, mysterious shovelling man (who's been showing up for the past couple of weeks) did not show today.  So, after the girls had been up for a while, we all went outside to shovel.  The temperature as perfect and we finished in less than an hour.
  




Thank Heavens for those little girls!      
Time for hot chocolate and cinnamon bread and more much deserved rest

BTW -- it's snowing again.  Oy vey!

I'm looking forward to the rain that's supposed to come tomorrow -- not only will it get rid of the snow but it's indicative of spring.  Spring people!  As I sit and sip, I muse in anticipation of sunshine and rain and little green shoots; of rain boots and jackets and umbrellas.  Yes, and even of being irritated at the deer eating my tulip buds.  Spring is coming! 

So, what's happening in your neck of the wood this first day of March?

What are you dreaming of today?