Friday, September 30, 2011

Feminine Friday

*Black Dress - Walmart (I think)
*Pink Cami and Sweater ($1 - garage sale)

Linking up to Feminine Friday at Buildeth Her House.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Plan & Menu Plan Tips

I cannot believe the gorgeous weather we are having this late into September! What a blessing it is to be having 30 C temperatures and sunshine. We've had to turn the a/c back on! If you haven't ever tried menu planning, I really encourage you to give it a try. I find it helps keep our grocery budget in check, decreases wasting food, Most importantly, in my opinion, it lessens the daily stress of not knowing "What's for dinner?"

Here are a few things I consider when planning my weekly menu.
  • What needs to be used up in the fridge? For example, I have a bunch of cabbage left over from last week's borscht. So, I pick a meal this week (cabbage buns) to help use up the cabbage from last week.
  • What's on sale this week at the grocery store? This doesn't play too much into my plan as we order all our beef from my husband's Mom and Dad. I do use it to help decide on vegetables and fruits to add to the plan.
  • What kind of week will we be having? Is it a busy week with lots of running around? What is my hubby's work schedule like? If the week looks like it's going to be crazy, I plan as simple and quick meals as possible. If I don't have too many projects on the go, I have more freedom to try a more complex dish.
  • Aim for well-balanced healthy meals and variety. Menu planning helps hugely in this area and helps prevent meal ruts and boredom as planning ahead encourages me to try new recipes. We eat mostly beef (because we have a lot of it on hand), but I try to plan one chicken dish a week and often we have one no-meat meal such as a meatless pasta dish.
  • And of course...
  • WHAT AM I CRAVING?? No explanation required. :-)

Here's what we plan on eating this week:

Leftover pizza and Italian bread
*Make cabbage buns (new)* -didn't happen on Sunday...will try for later in the week

Grilled Cheese, Homemade Tomato Soup

Sausage & Perogies with Cream Gravy, Cooked Mixed Veggies

Chicken Fingers (didn't happen last week), Baked Fries, Carrots & Dip

Cheesearoni Beef Casserole, Tossed Salad


Sausage Potato Soup (using leftover sausage), Savoury Flax & Carrot Biscuits

*For more great meal ideas, visit Menu Plan Monday hosted by*

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cheesearoni Beef Casserole

This casserole is based on a recipe I saw online somewhere (don't remember where, sorry!) but modified a bit to suit our preferences.This casserole freezes very well, and if you double the recipe, you can actually get 3-4 casseroles out of it! Here's my version.

Cheesearoni Beef Casserole

1 lb lean ground beef
1 28 oz can tomatoes (use whole, diced, or stewed - I use whatever I have on hand)
3/4 tsp garlic
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp basil
1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups macaroni, uncooked
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 tsp oregano
2 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream or cottage cheese
4-6 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, brown beef and onion until beef is no longer pink. Add tomatoes, paste, garlic, salt, oregano, basil, chili powder, and brown sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until sauce is thick. Cook macaroni, drain, and set aside. Toss macaroni with sour cream or cottage cheese, spread in bottom of casserole dish. Sprinkle with mozza cheese, top with sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. At this point, you can let it cool, cover with foil, and freeze. Or if not frozen, Bake at 325 F for 45 minutes.
If frozen, let thaw and cook at 325 for about 30 minutes or until heated through, or cook from frozen at 325 for about an hour or until heated through.

Note: This recipe makes 1 large casserole (serve 6-8 people). I doubled this recipe and was able to get 2 large casserole (serves 5-6 each) and 1 medium casserole (serve 3-4) plus some leftover meat sauce to freeze.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ellie at 2 Years Old

If you're looking for her birthday party pictures, you can find them here.

How does a little girl go from this...

To this....

And then to this...

In just 2 years!!?

Ellie at 2 Years Old

A little about you at 2...
You are a very bright, very sweet girl. You are also very stubborn and strong-willed. (I have no idea where she gets that from ;-) ). You are mostly outgoing and have an aggressive, go-getter personality, but you don't like strangers much. You are compassionate and like to give hugs and kisses and get concerned when others are hurt or look sad. You are a bit of a girly girl and often ask to wear "pretty dress?". Although you don't like to have your hands dirty or make messes inside, when you get outside you LOVE playing in the dirt and sandbox. You also enjoy sports, especially hockey and love to play it with your Daddy and watch hockey highlights on the computer. Throwing and kicking a ball are some of your favourite things to do with Daddy. You recognize the Flyers' logo and when you see it, you yell, "Go Flyers!" You are starting to become interested in playing with dolls and pretending to be a mommy. You also like to do simple puzzles and colour. Mommy often hears you singing throughout the day because you pick up on songs very quickly - everything from Jesus Loves Me to the ABCs to To God Be the Glory and Standing on the Promises. As far as sleep goes, you are an extremely light sleeper, which has made switching you to a toddler bed and getting you to stay there a challenge. Mommy doesn't even want to think about potty training until we get you sleeping better in your own bed :-).

The Stats:

Height: 33 inches
Weight: 25 lbs

Favourite Foods:
chicken, steak, roast beef, toast with rhubarb jam, peaches, oatmeal, things she can dip, tomato soup, most soups, cucumbers, perogies, sour cream, yogurt

Least Favourite Foods:
ground beef, meat balls, casseroles, rice, sausage, carrots

Favourite Activities:
colouring, playing with stickers, helping bake by mixing things, singing, dancing, listening to stories, splashing in the bathtub, talking on the phone and pretending to talk on the phone

Least Favourite Activities:
sleeping, sitting still, being by yourself, eating meals, brushing your teeth

Your vocabulary is growing quickly along with your ability to structure sentences, and you are becoming a little chatterbox. You repeat everything you hear and have lots of songs memorized. You ask questions, such as "Who's that?," "What's this?" "Where are we?" "How are you?" and one of the strangest ones, "So, why do we eat so much?" (from a Veggie Tales movie. It took me a LONG time to figure out where she got that one from!). You make comments such as, "I don't like that," "No thanks", "That's cuuuuute!" "Thank you for supper, Mommy", "I'm just playing", "I'm hungry."

You are learning how to...
Sing your ABC's (almost perfectly)
Count to 10 (sometimes you skip the #5 :-))

We love you so much our sweet "Ellie", our "God answers prayer" blessing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Today I changed up our favourite chili recipe just a little bit. The original was from my sister-in-law, but I can never leave a recipe alone. Everyone needs a go-to chili recipe, and this is ours. Nothing fancy-schmancy...just down-to-earth ingredients.


2 lbs ground beef
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Dash or two of tabasco sauce
1 large can (796 mL / 28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (284 mL, 10 1/2 oz) tomato soup (do not dilute)
1 small (5.5 oz) can tomato paste
1/2 cup beef broth (more or less depending on how thick/thin you like your chili and how long it simmers. I usually use about 1/2 cup)
398 mL can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
398 mL can pork and beans (I pick out the pork chunk cause I can't stand it in there!)

Place ground beef, onion, green pepper, and celery in a large, deep saucepan. Saute until almost ground beef is browned. Drain off excess fat if necessary. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. You can then transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low for 3-5 hours.

Linking up

Growing Home

Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Plan

After a nice week of holidaying-at-home, we are back into the swing of things around here. My husband was off work last week, and we spent the week with family and friends. We went out to eat lots, so I got a break too, which was really nice. However, I must confess I'll be happy to start eating home-cooked meals again, even if I have to cook them myself :-). We spent a few days at my husband's parents' house, so he could help with harvest. His Mom had to get her appendix out a week or two again, and she always helps with harvest, so his parents needed some extra help with an already-late harvest. My hubby, his dad, and brother-in-law worked on the fields while my sister-in-law and I cooked, looked after our toddlers, and harvested some of the garden produce.

This weekend my husband and I had a "date weekend" as we sent our little Ellie off to my Mom and Dad's house for a couple days. I always find it so hard to leave her anywhere, even with our amazing families, but it is nice to spend some quality time with just each other. We went out for a few nice meals, watched a couple of movies, went for a walk, etc.

Here's the plan for this week:

Ordered in pizza for lunch
Ate at Mom & Dad's for supper

Leftover pizza for lunch
Kommst Borscht (using leftover roast beef in freezer) for supper

Leftover Borscht, Cheese Biscuits, Tossed Salad

Grilled Salmon (NEW)(in oven), Rice, Carrot Latkes (NEW)

Crockpot Beef Burgundy, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli


Chicken Fingers, Baked French Fries, Veggies & Dip

*For more great meal ideas visit Menu Plan Monday hosted by*

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feminine Friday

I decided to join in again on Feminine Friday hosted by Valencia. The pregnancy pounds are being packed on (a little faster than I would like), which, quite honestly is a bit discouraging when I worked so hard to lose all that weight (40 pregnancy pounds plus an additional 35) a year or so ago. HOWEVER.. it's for a good reason...the best reason, actually. :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bedtime Prayers of a 2 Year Old

If you know our Ellie, you know she's sweet, she's stubborn, and she's busy. As my parents have said, "She's got more salt and vinegar than all you kids had combined." (Or something like that). We're on Week 2 or 3 of training her to sleep in her toddler bed instead of in her crib. It has been rough. Most days (and nights) have been very rough. Perhaps we had a breakthrough tonight, though. I'll try not to get my hopes up, but for the first time she fell asleep in her own bed without having to have me in plain sight or sit in her room (and still taking over an hour to get her down for naps and bed). Tonight it took 2+ hours, but finally she gave in. She has woken up once or twice since then but has not yet got out of bed. We shall see how the night goes. Anyway, she said the sweetest prayer tonight. She has just started saying her own prayers, and it just melts my heart. Tonight her own personal bedtime prayer went something like this:

"Dear God, Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for blessings. And...ummmmmm...Thank you for Gerry (her stuffed giraffe). Stay in bed. Thank you for ____(her cousin). Thank you for Auntie ______. And....umm.....Uncle __________. And....Grandpa and Grandma. Thank you for Mommy. Thank you for....Daddy. Thank you for food. Amen.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm Here and Busy

Yep, I'm still around. I'm just extraordinarily busy. Weddings, birthdays, harvesting the garden, helping with harvest, midwives appointments, etc. Too busy to be blogging. :-) Will post more some other day, but it could be next week sometime.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Feminine Friday & Belly Pic

Valencia from Buildeth Her House is hosting Feminine Friday. I decided it was high time to take a belly picture and participate in her linky party, too. The picture quality isn't the greatest, but that's as good as I can get for a quick self portrait with a timer.

*Also linking up to True Femininity*

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ellie Turns 2!

It was a busy and fun-filled weekend as we celebrated Ellie turning 2. I hope to do a more in-depth journal post about Ellie at 2 years old, but for now, the pictures will have to do the talking. :-)

Before I forget...I had my first midwife appointment today, which was fantastic! I am SO thrilled to switch my care over to them as they are very pro-VBAC. More about that another day. :-)

She was thrilled when everyone sang Happy Birthday!

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