Pantry Crafting

Have you ever looked into your pantry and questioned what you were looking at or holding? Since in my home I put all my dry food items in glass jars they ended up unlabeled and eventually a mystery item.

In order to change this practice of confusion I decided to put labels on all my jars. Now there is many ways to label.

  • Grease Pen
  • Sticker – Paper / Chalk board sticker
  • Label Maker

I personally went with painting my jars with chalkboard paint. This was a bigger task then I thought it would be but am super happy with how it turned out.

Here are some of the things I learned while doing this project:

  • Spray painting is really messy
  • It takes at least 1 full day to finish
  • Do NOT run your jars through the dishwasher after you paint them!
  • Painting with brush much easier

It took 3 coats of the paint and then 24 hours to cure after the final coat before I was able to write of them and take the paint tape off so that it would not peel off the paint.

The great thing is now I can label all of my jars and my husband and I know what we have and guessing is now off the table.

 

Colds and Flu’s – Few tips on staying healthy

Cough Cough ……you know you have heard it and cringed when in a crowd of people wondering who it was and who to avoid.

I take public transit and with a baby under a year I cringe at the sound of people coughing and sneezing near me. Not only do I not want to get sick but I really do not want my baby to get sick. There are so many do’s and do not’s when it comes to flu and cold season that people seem to forget.

So here are some tips to stay healthy this season and avoid the nasty that comes around.

1 ) Wash your hands!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

You do not need to use anti bacterial soaps, just warm water and soap. Wash your hands, under your nails etc. I take public transit so as soon as I get home its the first thing that I do. Just think about how many public surfaces you touch in a day. By just washing your hands you can seriously cut back on your chances of getting sick.

2) Get sleep.

Sleep is a huge thing people forget when it comes to their health. If you are exhausted due to lack of sleep, your body is then run down and will have a harder time fighting off what viruses and infections that it comes across.

Phones and smart watches now how apps that try to encourage proper sleep, telling you time to go to get ready for bed and go to bed. It is actually speculated that if you are sleep deprived your brain starts to shrink!!! Now I do not know if this is true but I do know if I do not get enough sleep I do feel less able to handle the day.

3) Eat a balanced Diet! 

Flu season is holiday season which means we are all either doing a little too much indulging or we are trying to get back on track. The more foods that we eat that are over sugared, alcohol-ed and greased make our bodies have to work harder and we do not get the nutrition we need from them. This makes us slow, bloated and more susceptible to colds etc. because we do not have the reserves and internal resources to fight off whats attacking us.

Eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated will not only make us feel good but will help us fight off any nasty stuff floating around.

4) Take your vitamins

If you do not have the best diet taking some extra vitamins during this time while be it in pill/liquid or shake it is always good to give yourself a boost. Try vitamins that help with your gut health. Gut health is so important to our immune systems and it is important to help us stay healthy and fight off many illnesses.

If you are sick please stay home if you can to take care of yourself and not spread the love to all your friends and co-workers. If you do have to go out while sick please remember coughing into  your elbow is better then coughing into your hands in which you will inevitably touch touch things with.

Hope everyone has a healthy season!

 

 

 

 

New Year – New Goals and Plans

Happy New Year’s everyone! Now what did you say you were going to achieve in 2017?

I have a list of things I would like to do and am working on my plan to make them happen. You have so many ways you can look at your 2017 goals!

Even the smallest goal or resolution requires a plan and smaller steps. It takes at least 21 days to change a habit and without a plan you might give up by day 11.

The best way to start these new plans in the new year is by writing them down! Hit pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Write out your goals and think about what you need to do to make them happen.

Example: run 5km

  1. buy running shoes
  2. set a side time for walk – after dinner for 30 min
  3. get an app to track running
  4. join group
  5. walk 5km
  6. run 1km
  7. run 2.5km
  8. run 4km
  9. run 5km

These are all the small steps to make sure that you are set up for success. I have listened to many great speakers that all say the same thing, you need to break it down so that the big goal is not so unattainable. Make it into smaller goals and give them time lines. Don’t just say lose weight, make a plan and make small goals so that you will have many victories instead of one. It will leave you feeling so much better and less like you are staring down a long tunnel to your end goal.

2017 can be an amazing year for you by setting yourself up for success and lots of small victories instead of a few big ones.

Sending lots of Cheer ! Happy 2017!!

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Image-1So living in Canada it’s hard to not notice the rising food costs (ehhem $8.00 cauliflower) and wonder how am I going to stick to my budget and still eat healthy. There are many neh sayers saying it’s cheaper to eat processed food then to grocery shop and have a well balanced meal. I do have to hand it to the fast food chains though, they have been marketing this for years, the idea that they are giving good food for cheap. For example the commercials with salads and saying they are serving high quality meat. Question what were they serving before?????!!!!!!

I admit with some grocery store chains it’s hard to see the benefit beyond the price tag and your ever emptying wallet. Also beyond the conveyance of a quick and sugar laced meal that smells and tastes good with little effort on your part. Question though how do you feel? Really feel after eating it, before bed, waking up in the morning? I know for me if I am not eating good food I feel kind of off after a while, not that great. As I have talked about in a previous blog post what goes in directly affects so many aspects of your life.  Eating the cheap, unhealthy “budget saving” food is not always going to save you in the long run. It’s going to cause inflammation, bloating, depression and many other health issues we don’t really want to think or talk about.

So that’s all fine and dandy you knew all that from high school health class right? How does this help with the rising costs and the shrinking wallet. Well it’s a long term thought but also a thought that you are worth a little effort in the kitchen and a planning. Planning is the first step to saving money, if you are always like shoot I didn’t think about what we are having for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks today the quick way out seems like the only solution last minute.  Planning is what you want to do once a week for about 20 – 30 minutes. That’s 20 – 30 minutes so you do not feel as stressed later and spend double that time in line ups grabbing something “quick”. Which by the way all those fast cheap items add up, so when you are looking at it from a simple cost savings, are you really saving?

Sit down with a pen and paper or tablet (I am a pen and paper kinda girl) and write down each day.

For example

Monday

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks

Repeat for each day of the week and think “what will we eat on this day?”, after you figure that out or have a rough idea, which you can get from cookbooks, internet, local library etc.  There are so many places to get information that this should not be any issue. Next you look at that list and try to remember you need to make these items ,so roasted duck with, gnocchi might not be a great beginners meal and not very cost saving (unless  you really got an in on duck).  This list of what you are going to make will tell you what you need to buy and how much. Check your cupboards and see what you have, then add the items your missing to your list.

For Example

Monday

  • Breakfast – Steel oats with jam / coffee

I will need to make sure I have steel oats, possibly a milk product, jam and coffee. You do this for everyday and then you have a detailed grocery list that will keep you from buying items you do not need and limit food waste.

Another way to save and keep it healthy is to buy in season! If you are planning on fresh strawberries all winter then you are going to pay though the nose! Online is a great recourse for this and even going to your local farmers market is great as they generally have a list of what is in season written somewhere.  The in season foods will cost less (most of the time) and generally be in better shape. They also might be more likely to have deals on the in season foods, as they will be more plentiful at the time. I know you are thinking now but I want strawberry smoothies for my breakfast, well frozen will be your best bet. They will be flash frozen and last way longer than buying the half dead fresh ones. Also if you compare prices from the 2KG bag VS the 454g basket you might just be swayed by the actual cost savings. Once you are ready to shop it is a great idea to check out your stores flyer, which you can get online or see at the front of the store, this will let you know what’s on sale or if they are having any specials. For example some stores to a $5.00 day on fruit and vegetables or a no tax day.

Buying in season also ties in with buying local, which I know can be hard with a lot of major grocery stores buying from other countries. I am very luck that I have 2 or 3 local grocers near my home plus regular farmers markets. These let me buy in season and local a lot more readily, but even if you only have one check it out once and a while and see what they carry and what those items cost. You might be very surprised that they always have a regular staple in your home for .50cents less than the big box store near you. Farmers markets are my favorite though and they also help create a family activity or some nice couple time. It gets you talking about what you are buying and lets you and your family, know where the food came from and how it was grown. Those farmers are a wealth of information and are almost always happy to share.

Now this other way of saving ties into your planning okay everything ties into your planning) and is to cut out meat once a week.  I know this is not everyone’s cup of tea or you may be like “hey I cut out meat 7 days a week”. If this is the case then great you are already saving quite the bit if you are eat a healthy well balanced vegetarian diet. If not then cutting it out once a week is as not as bad as you think. This does not mean you don’t get any protein; you just look at other sources like beans, tofu, quinoa etc. With increasing costs, meat is almost the first to creep up. Cutting it out once a week will help cut costs in your home and might even do your family some good. We as a developed nation tend to eat way more protein then we need in a day. This also can lead to a lot of health problems. Meatless Monday is something that has been around for a long time and is a great way to introduce other foods into your home.

The above ideas are just that, ideas on how to keep eating healthy without hurting your wallet in the process. They also help get you and your family more familiar with what is being served. Being informed about where your food is coming from and how to cook it is a great skill to pass along, eating healthy and working out a food budget.

I hope this helps get the juices flowing on how to stay eating healthy even as the food prices seem unreasonable.

Hope everyone has a great week!

From Blah to HA! meal time tricks and tips

Go from this….IMG_4944  to this …..IMG_4969  make meal time fun again!

 

Trying to make a healthy well balanced meal every night of the week can be over whelming and stressful and make diner time a chore!

First things first you have to go in with a plan, which yeah I  know seems like extra work but if you don’t plan you won’t have what you need to have those great and healthy meals.  Then you will end up stressed and scrambling or eating out more then you want.

Knowing what you are going to cook can be the first stop to making diner more fun. What how why you ask staring at this like you crazy! Well yes I am but that is beside the point!

I like to go online, magazines, cookbooks and Pintrest to find things I want to try to eat or just to see if I can do it. Then make a list Monday through Sunday what each meal will be. Once you have this you will have a good idea of what you need to buy for the week. This is great because going shopping with a plan not only makes you kitchen time easier but your wallet will thank you too!

Trick for grocery shopping is never go hungry! I know you all have heard it, but it is so true. If you go hungry that bag of chips and all those foods you had no intention of buying become really enticing and before you know it your cart is full but not really of anything that makes a good meal. Just of every bad craving you have in that moment and then your wallet is like AH!  You spent how much on all that junk!

So step one plan! Plan! PLAN! Step two is turn on the music! I spent over 10 years working in kitchens as a professional and one thing ever kitchen had in common that i worked it was music! Loud and fun music!  This got us through some of the worst shifts where you never thought would end, someone would turn on the tunes and it changed everything. The mood lifted and all of a sudden you’re singing a long, dancing and the whole mood changed. You can do this in your home too, just by turning on some of your favorite tunes. This is something so simple that changes the mood in your kitchen and makes from this chore to your own dancing party with you singing into a spoon!

So now that I have you carefully dancing in your kitchen (please remember you are still in a kitchen so mind the stove and knives). It is time to start cooking the meals that you planned on your list. Remember food is an art, an art that is completely free to interpretation. If that receipe you found asks you to use something you don’t have improvise, no cream use milk and see what happens. No one is going to know but you and you are your biggest critic.  Try making the small fancy cuts or turning the potatoes, challenge yourself. Challenging yourself in the kitchen can be so much fun and make diner time for the rest of the family more exciting because they see you having fun with it.

I do get though what if you don’t want to challenge yourself and you just want to get diner on the table because your day was challenging enough well that is a daily truth too. Planning is still your number one friend! When you hunt and plan for those breakfasts, lunches and dinner recipes look for ones that can be made it bulk so if you don’t mind eating the same side for a few days its ready and one less thing to cook.  If you are cutting carrots for tonight’s diner but have carrots in your lunch or dinner later in the week cut some extra and set them aside so that its done! Small things like that can make diner time so much easier.

Remember its just food! Not saying that it is not important but it is not the end of the world if your roast is a little dry or your carrots are all little over cooked. Heck if you over cook your root vegetables turn it into a mash.

To go along with this post throughout the week I will be posting simple meals that can be either made in advance or take traction of the time for a great healthy meal!

Thank you !

 

 

How to prep for the holidays and not a straight jacket !

Holidays make everyone just a little crazy no matter what your situation. Between parties , baking, cooking, cleaning and shopping it feels like every year the time to get ready needs to be extended just to fit it all in. With so much to do to get ready and if you have small children even more to do just make the entire season fun filled and magical. Here is the big question how do you get ready for this season without wanting to crawl into the corner with your bottle of wine and rock back and forth. I have found myself getting busier and busier every holiday that passes and needing to find ways to make the season more magical and fun for everyone as we get older and the magic of the season loses its sparkle for reality. This means I need to get organized sooner and get my prep on earlier in order to make the season more fun for myself as well.

Since fall is my favorite season with all the crunchy leaves and change of smell in the air I like to start all my prep just a little before this so I can enjoy the outside as much as possible. So let’s say around mid September it all begins.

First things first PREP! This is like taking your weekly meal prep a smidge further than normal. I start by making sauces, soups, stews and freezer meals for my husband and myself. These things will help when the nights come early and get cold. When the thought of having to go home in the dark cold and wet and start cooking something to warm you up just seems like a lot of work these meals will come in handy. So here is a list of things I stuff into my freezer and make ready to go!

Chicken Soup/Carrot Soup/Squash Soup/Any soup – Soup is a great! One of my favorite things to eat, it is also great for a light healthy meal that can be paired with a salad or sandwich for a little something extra.

Stew – There are so many different kinds that making 2 or 3 small batches of different kinds keeps things interesting and a little heartier.

Pot Pies – Chicken, Beef, and Vegetarian – pop in the oven and go.

Apple Sauce/ Cranberry Sauce – If you see a sale on fresh apples or cranberries buy them. Then when you have that big meal you can just take it out of the freezer and boom you’re ready to go.

I know all these things require a lot of work and stuff at the time but this is why I like to do a little at a time to build up the stock pile. Once a week I pick an item and prep a big batch, put it in Tupperware or glass jars and freeze away. This is also a great time to start the prep for all of that Christmas baking so that you can look like the sane domestic goddess/god of the holidays when everyone else is panicking over the next cookie exchange or potluck they have to go to. I love to have these staples in my freezer ready for whatever pops up.

Freezable cookie dough – I have a least 8 logs of cookie dough in my freezer that I pre-mix. All they need it to be cut and baked when the need arises. You can even make them into balls and put them into a freezer bag so its already portioned.

Pie Dough – This is great to have ready to go in your freezer! If you have the space you can make and freeze entire ready to bake pies as well but if not just having the dough ready to go helps cut down on the mess and fuss.

Breadcrumbs – Bread ends – keep your bread ends and dry them out in the oven. Once this is done run them through the food processor to make your own bread crumbs.

Fruit/berries – If you travel in the summer or find a great deal on berries or fruit stock up – clean them and prep them. Throw them into a freezer bag and freeze, this way all winter you can just pull out some great berries for pies or other baking. If not into prepping you can also buy what they sell in the stores,just try and wait for a great sale as they do get pricey!

Another little trick is to keep your cake scraps throughout the year and make rum balls with them! You can make them at any time and be ready to go just thaw and boom! You have something in a pinch to bring to that holiday party you forgot about.

Keeping the crazy hat off during the holiday season is all about planning and being the holiday boy scout. I have met a lot of people that by the end of the season (around new years) everyone is feeling broke , exhausted and drained. No real magic there now is there?

Planning ahead is the key, which I know sounds simple in theory but takes time planning and work so that when you hit December 1st you have it in the bag!

Try and keep it to an item a week this way your not going crazy trying not to go crazy at that defeats the whole point of the exercise. The planning also extends to other things like gifts. September great time to shop since a lot of things are on sale because of back to school. If you can slowly start knocking off your list of people you buy for early then by time time everyone else is just starting to think about and stress over price tags you are done and wondering what pretty wrapping paper to get.

Christmas cards is my big time killer! I love sending out cards but with postage going up and the list of recipients growing every year I am thinking this year I will start sending out E-Cards to friends I might not be as close with or that I know are not attached to receiving the physical card. This will cut down on time and the cost of sending out holiday greetings to family and friends and save your poor wrist from cramping!

So to recap !

Plan ahead with gifts and food!

Do not take on too much at once! – Try and pick one thing a week to work on

Start early! – Giving yourself more time does not mean decorating your house before halloween (though if you want to you can). It means taking things that might seem like huge tasks and breaking them down and spacing them out. Preparing treats and meals ahead and freezing them helps save you from stress and preventing some bad out of time food choices.
I hope this helps someone out there have a slightly less stressful holiday and gives some ideas on how to do so.

Thank you!

Re-Set back to Pre-Vacation

Capture

You go on vacation for just a few days but you come back and step on the scale or look at your tummy in the mirror. Bloated, tired and feeling the after vacation slump.

I just got back from a beautiful wedding at an amazing resort we visited with family, laughed and drank and ate. Since we drove up to the wedding we brought as much food as we could to try and not eat out as much to avoid the after vacation ick. Best laid plans right? Lots of yummy road trip snacks and the great wine and food at the resort threw those plans out the window and ran over them a few times.

So now we are home and I am awake at 6am feeling bleh (tired, bloated, mad at scale). So time to re-set and get back to where I was and where i want to be! Since we are in a new month and entering into a new season I think this is the best time to make some changes, but first time to do a little repair work.

I know making those life changes for the first time or re committing to the ones you have already made seems like enough but sometimes you need a little re set button to help deal with the immediate issue so that you can feel good enough to re/commit.

Here is my plan for myself and I think it works for most.

Start your first day back by hydrating! Hydrating yourself is super important and will help deal with a lot of the after vacation issues.

Warm lemon water first thing in the morning – this will help get your digestion working and wake you up a little.

I also have some of my vitamins in liquid form or powder so I will take these around the same time in the morning as well.

Remember you can fruit your water to make it taste better or add some vitamin C to it too there are many great brands of Vitamin C powders that add great flavour to your water. Just be mindful to keep those in moderation as they will most likely have sweeteners in them.

This does not mean go and chug 2L of water all at once that is not great for you and you will feel very sick and possibly get sick! No, what you want to do is drink small amounts of water throughout the day. After your morning coffee would be a great time to have a glass of water and after your shower so on and so on.

So this is step one! Hydrate! This will really help get everything in your body moving and take some if any swelling down. The next step is on day one eat light. This is not the day to eat everything not nailed down. Your poor body needs time to deal with what you did to it on vacation! Now is the time let your body deal with all of that and have some light meals.

I am not saying don’t eat or starve yourself, what i am saying is to think about what you are putting in. For example for breakfast have a banana with granola and yogurt. This is great fiber and if you get yogurt with live cultures it will be great for your gut. The snacks can be fruit instead of processed food; all of this will help your body re set and feel a little bit better. Even having some nuts like almonds on hand with you as a quick pick me up is a great way to stave off any junk food cravings you may be having.

Next step sweat it out! Now if you are a workout nut go for a run! Get moving and get those endorphins pumping! I did manage on my vacation to fit in one workout, which was great because it made me feel tons better after a night of drinking and having a great time. If you really, really do not want to work out to sweat you can also have a nice hot bath. I like mine with Epson salts and lavender. I recommend this if you workout or not. This will help calm your body and mind, and it will also feel amazing on any soreness that may be lingering from your trip.

So now you’re hydrated, giving your gut some love and getting the blood moving its time to look at the mind. After all that stimulation from seeing people and doing things and talking and socializing your brain is tired too. It is time to take some time to let it come down and re focus. This is why I am awake at 6am on a long weekend instead of in bed relaxing with my cat and husband.

I personally find my brain calms down after i get moving for example going for a walk or run lets me think and focus my thoughts. For some it might be in that hot bath or during the morning coffee. Just remember to give yourself a little meditation time however you meditate. Some actually sit on the floor and chant which is great! Personally i always fall asleep if i do that, so i take to a more active meditation and do something that is mindless so that i can focus my mind. Now i am not suggesting turning on the TV and zoning out as that is not focusing your mind that is just shutting it off, I am saying do something like knitting, cooking, walking or even cleaning .Something you do that is automatic in nature so that you can let your mind work through and come to a place of calm.

So day one back is done and the re set back into life is done. Then starting or re committing to whatever life change will be a lot less jarring when you are feeling good and not feeling like you are going to toss yourself into a frozen lake.

I hope this helps you like it helps me get back into my groove.