Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dare #19 - Aloha!

Aloha bloggers! I hope that you are all doing great. I'm sitting in my hotel room right now with the patio door open listening to the ocean crash against the rocks. Touch life. :-)

I hope everyone had a successful week last week and completed their dare. I know I did.

Here is your dare this week:

Dare #19

In Hawaiian nature, one time this week say "Aloha" to someone instead of "Hello". I hope none of you get weird looks, ha ha.

Have a great week!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lack of post...

Some of my followers may be wondering why I haven't added a new post since Monday. So, I thought I should explain myself. You see, Ryan and I are leaving for Hawaii on Saturday and I can't bring myself to think about anything except for the trip!

My clothes are all laid out on the floor, the house is getting it's final cleaning, we've collected all our paperwork and now we just have to wait and it is so hard!

I hate to wait. I can usually occupy my mind long enough to not even think about the trip when I have packing and things to do. But now....there is nothing to do and all I have to do is think.

I'm thinking about what not to forget.....

I'm thinking about what it will be like....

I'm thinking about the activies we are doing....

I'm thinking about the food....

I'm thinking about the weather....


So, what do you think?



Monday, January 25, 2010

Dare #18

This morning I woke up to rain crashing against the window. Nothing makes me feel "cozier" than laying in a warm bed listening to the awful weather going on outside my window. However, waking up and walking in it....not as nice.

Here is your dare this week:

Dare #18

Donate something to the hurricane relief effort in Haiti.

This can be any amount that you want. Anything helps. There are many organizations who are accepting donations. Red Cross, United Church of Canada, and UNICEF.

Did everyone complete their dare last week? I can tell you I had a hard time. Our only T.V of the house is in the living room that is right off of the kitchen. I would convince myself that a certain night was "no T.V" night but then catch myself just glancing at the T.V while I passed by. But I did complete it. On Friday I went the whole day without watching T.V. We went out on the snowmobile, make pizza together, and to finish off the exciting Friday night, went to bed at 8:30.
Have a great week!


Friday, January 22, 2010

A Domestic Diva?

Something serious has happened and I think serious help is in order. I have never known one person to change so much in such a short time. I am scared for their well being. And that person? Me!

I guess I'm over exaggerating a little but I really have changed. Back in the day I was a lazy girl. My mom would do everything for me. She'd make my bed, clean up after me, cook and do my laundry.

After high school I got a place of my own near my University but I was a messy person. Cloths on the floor and a trip to a cafeteria was a lot easier than making my own food!

Then everything changed when I moved back home, it was as if a light switch turned on. I began renting a place of my own. I started to enjoy keeping the house clean and having home cooked meals on the table. Even if I was only cooking for myself.

Recently, my parents build a new house and handed me the keys to their old home. As grateful as I was there was A LOT of work to be done. The place hadn't been touched in nearly 30 years. Plus a few of the windows hadn't been replaced since 1912. It was a pretty drafty place!

Doing hours and hours of work on your own place sure does add to the appreciation that you have for it. But, it's worse than that! I am now a NUT for organizing...everything. I have basket's for scarves, mitt's, electronics and even one for elastic bands (no I'm not kidding). I love interior design shows/books and walk around my house planning the future rooms decor.

Now, I love to cook. Sure, a few might not turn out once and a while but I keep trying till it's perfect. I love recipe books, cooking utensils and trying new food. I use to be so scared about trying new food. I would only ever eat plain meat and potatoes, no sauces. I love hosting a dinner for friends and setting the table with a fancy centrepiece. Sometimes I feel like all I need is an apron and a set of pearls and I'll be June Cleaver reincarnated.

I have an urge to knit, quilt, crochet and sew. I am even acting on this and started sewing crafts that I do every night. I go to a craft class once a month and loving every bit of it!

I want to grow my own garden and eat the food out of it. I want to preserve food that can be used for later. I glance through gardening magazines looking for different kinds of flowers. Why has this all happened?

I have heard of "nesting" during pregnancy but I can assure you, I am not pregnant. So what is my diagnosis? Is it weird or do we as woman go through this stage because organizing our lives just makes things run smoother in general? Does crafting and gardening give us a hobby that relaxes us and also contributes something to the home?

I don't know what it is that has made me change suddenly and I guess it isn't as terrible as I once thought. Maybe it's just a part of growing up and becoming a woman. So I guess if I can't beat em' might as well join em'. Now, can someone please pass me my pearls? :)


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Better Butter Chicken

I can get really sick of eating the same kinds of food all the time. Nothing is worse than eating meat and potatoes over and over again. To spice up our meal plan Ryan and I added a Indian dish; Butter Chicken. However like the name it can be full of grease and fat but flipping through my "Eat, Shrink and Be Merry" book I found this recipe that contains half the fat.

Better Butter Chicken

- 1 Rotisserie Chicken

- 1 package of Nann bread

- 1 can of diced tomatoes

- 1/2 can of tomato paste

- 1/3 cup of cream (I just use milk to save money)

- 1 tbsp of butter

- 1 chopped onion

- 1/4 cup of sour cream

- 1 tsp of garlic, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric

- 1/2 tsp of Chili powder

- salt & pepper

- 1 tbsp of brown sugar

- Rice

All the ingredients

* If you notice in the picture above I have already sliced my chicken and onions the night before. This saves so much time in the cooking process!

* Also, tomato paste freezes really nicely and can be stored till the next time you need it.

1. In a large frying pan, melt butter. Add onions and cook until browned and tender.

2. Add spices and cook for another minute.

3. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste and brown sugar. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

4. Add chicken, sour cream, and the cream. Mix and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

5. Serve Butter Chicken over top of rice and with warmed Nann bread.

6. Enjoy! :-)

What I love about this recipe is that it tastes like something out of an Indian restaurant. It is so simple to make (after your chicken and onions is chopped) and comes from mostly fresh ingredients from my cupboard. Regular Butter Chicken has nearly 500 calories per serving but this recipe has only 300 calories. It can be a little bit more expensive to make being that you are buying pre cooked rotisserie chicken and special Nann bread. However, if you place it in a week that the rest of the recipes are a little less expensive it will all balance out.

Happy Cooking!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Dare #17

Why do the weekends always have to pass so fast? Sometimes I wish that we had one more day for the weekend. Saturday's and Sunday's I am so busy doing stuff that I want to get done around the house and if I had an extra day I would spend it relaxing.

Did everyone play a board game last week? Ryan had bought me "Sorry" for Christmas and we hadn't had a chance to play it yet. After supper last week we took it out and I got my butt kicked!

On to this weeks dare.

Dare #17

For one evening this week do not watch T.V. Spend the evening making/eating supper together, going for a walk or getting something accomplished around the house. It doesn't matter what activity you use to fill your time but for one whole night do not turn on that T.V.

Good luck - I know I'll need it!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Apple Pie Filling

I have been feeling pretty domestic lately. I have really been enjoying cooking, decorating the house and yes, even cleaning. For Christmas we received a box of over 100 apples from a sales representative. They were so good to snack on but I really had to do something with the majority of them before they went bad.

Earlier in December I had a "baking bee" and made about 10 homemade pie crusts. I made a couple of full pies for Christmas and just froze the other crusts. I knew I needed to find some good filling recipes to fill these pies with. I stumbled accross a apple pie filling that looked so good and the best part....its canned!

Here's the step by step of how to make it:


4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup corn starch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
10 cups water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
7 quarts of sliced peeled apples
7 quart mason jars with lids
1 canning pot

All the ingredients


1. Sterilize 7 1 quart canning jars and lids. Allow them to air.

***Check all jars for any cracks. I made this mistake of not checking and now I only have 5 apple pie fillings! Whoops! :-)

2. Fill the canner with water. Start boiling the water to get ready for the canning process.

It was a heavy pot!

3. Combine sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and water in a large saucepan. Cook on high heat until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

All the yummy syrup!

4. Peel and slice all of your apples. I found it took 3.5-4 apples per jar. Tightly pack apples into sterilized jars.

5. Slowly pour syrup over the apples.

6. Take a knife and slide it down the sides of the jars to take out any air. Continue to cover apples in syrup. Screw on lids.

7. CAREFULLY lower jars into canner. Make sure the lids are covered by 1-2 inches of water. Bring water to full boil, then cover and process for 30 minutes.

* This is when I heard a huge bang come from my pot. As I gazed into my canning pot I was so depressed to see little apple slices floating on the top.

8. Remove jars from canner and place on cloth, until cool. Once cooled press the top of each lid with a finger to make sure that all the lids are sealed tight (doesn't move up or down) Sealed jars can be stored up to a year.

Don't they look yummy?

I know it seems like a lot of steps but I did it on a Monday night and was finished and cleaned up in an hour. I think it is so nice to have homemade pie crusts and apple pie filling on hand. Taking this filling and placing it in a pan then covering it with butter, oatmeal, cinnamon, flour and brown sugar will give you a quick apple crisp to enjoy! So good!


Monday, January 11, 2010

Dare # 16

Welcome back to reality! I hope everyone passed a great weekend.

Here is your dare this week:

Dare #16

Play a board game. It can be whatever game you like but spend some time with friends and family having some competitive fun.

Have a great week!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Steps to Living a Frugal Life

In harmony with my dare this week I thought it would be appropriate to share with everyone some steps to take in order to start living a frugal life.

If in the new year you have decided to begin living a frugal lifestyle it can be hard to find a place to start. It is so easy to procrastinate and "purchase just one more thing" but following these 5 steps will make things a lot easier.

1. Create a budget.

Sit down with all of your bills, pay slips and receipts. Write down your monthly "fixed" expenses. These are the bills that need to be paid no matter what (ie: mortgage, car payment, loans, etc). Then write down your "variable expenses". These are the things you can adjust (Food, entertainment, etc) Do not forget your debt repayment. This number is considered a variable expense because you can adjust it according to your budget but try to pay back as much as you can so that interest payments are reduced. Calculate the total. If you run out of money before expenses you will either have to find more income or decrease your expenses. Live within your means and only on the money you bring in each month.

2. Only use cash or debit cards.

There is constant urge to use credit cards for all of your purchases. They are so convenient; buy now, pay later. When paying with credit there is the thought, I will find the money later but that can be too great of a risk. If you pay with cash or debit your purchases are "real". You own them. If they are on credit they don't belong to you until that purchase on the card is paid off. Now, I know there are some places that only allow you to pay with credit card. If you do need to use credit, make sure the money to pay off the purchase is already sitting in your bank account. Make the purchase "real" by paying it off right away.

3. Find some wiggle room.

Find some extravagances in your budget. At first glance you might not think that there is any room for wiggle room but with a closer inspection you could be wrong. Save money from your budget for; movies, dinners out, cloths, concerts and anything else you enjoy. Some things may require months of saving but if you don't enjoy life a bit you won't be happy.

4. Get Creative.

After your budget is finished sit down with your family. A fresh pair of eyes might be able to look at it and find some more flexibility (something they can live without). Together come up with fun activities that you can do as a family that costs you little to no money like skating, walking or making a fancy dinner together. Brainstorm ways to make a little bit of extra money on the side for the things you want. Some ideas are; looking after a child on the weekend, cutting grass, shovelling snow, picking up groceries for a senior or selling something you don't need anymore. Whatever you come up with getting together as a family to make sure everyone is on board is very important.

5. Plan for the future.

Keeping a focus on where you want to be in years to come is important. Do you want to retire early? Own a house? Have college money for your child? All of these things are very important. Remember to save for your future as well as your families. Here is an example of how great RRSP savings are.

Say you are 25 years old and you want to retire at the age of 65. If you contribute $150.00 a month you will retire with $523,651.00. Wouldn't that be nice? :-)

All of these steps are crucial to living a frugal life. However, remember always do what is best for you and your family because making sure you and your family is happy is worth all the money in the world.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Restaurant Worthy Chicken Carbonara

I love to go out to eat but unfortunately my wallet doesn't appreciate it. My favorite type of food? Italian! It took some searching over the last year but Ryan and I have finally perfected a Chicken Carbonara recipe that we both enjoy.


-Spaghetti Noodles
-5 slices of bacon
-1/2 onion
-1 small carton of cream
-2 chicken breasts
-2 tablespoons of butter

-1 tsp of garlic powder
-1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
-2 egg yolks

All the ingredients

1. Cook Spaghetti according to package.

2. Mealwhile, in a large frying pan, add butter, chopped chicken and onion. Fry until chicken is cooked and onions are tender. Add bacon and cook for addition 5 minutes.

3. Drain spaghetti and put it into the pan with the chicken.

4. Add cream, garlic powder. Heat until boiling.

5. Add cheese and egg yolks. Stir till well blended.

6. Enjoy! :-)

Jill having some Chicken Carbonara, Ryan trying to steal it.

I usually cut up my chicken, onions and bacon the night before. This way the meal is done from start to finish in about 15 minutes. It is one of my favorite meals not only because it tastes restaurant made but it doesn't cost too much either.

Chicken (2 breasts)- $6.10

Onion (1/2)- $0.45

Spaghetti (1/2 package)- $0.49

Bacon (5 slices)- $1.60

Small Cream- $2.79

Butter- $0.20

Parmesan Cheese- $0.70

Eggs- Free

Total: $12.33


Monday, January 4, 2010

Dare #15

Happy 2010! This is my first official 2010 post, exciting! Did everyone complete last weeks dare? I will tell you about my resolution after this week's dare.

Dare #15

Get your holiday debt organized! Write down how much money you owe in total, put together a plan of how much you are going to contribute to it each week and what part of your budget you going to take these funds from (ie: entertainment, food...)

So I happened to work most of the weekend but on my off time I sat down and decided to write down what my resolutions (plural, yikes) are.

1. Finish my basement. Get the floor, knee wall, paint, bar area done and purchase new couch set.

2. Grow a garden and eat something from it.

3. Finish the upstairs hallway.

4. Try a new food.

5. Last but not least.... Enjoy 2010!!!

Let me know what your resolutions are.