Friday, August 28, 2009

No Post Week...

Well, I am still alive and kicking just in case anyone was wondering and I realize that I have not posted all week!

With my husband and boys all gone and just my daughter and I at home I have been lazy about cooking and meal times. Lets see, for the last two weeks we have lived off mocha smoothies (our favorite), chicken and tuna sandwiches, salad and store bought Mexican food that can be heated in the microwave (that may contain real meat?). Not the most healthy at times, but my daughter is soooo fussy and cooking for just me does not appeal to me.

All my four boys (three sons and hubby) are due back on Sunday after being gone for two weeks and we will have one day to get them ready for their first day back at school (go back Tuesday).
September will be busy as usual and I am looking forward to lots of new recipes, meal plans and chore chart planning. I am looking forward to some routine and scheduling as I have been starting to feel a bit lazy, sleeping in a bit too much and staying up way to late, but I have lots of happy memories with my kids from this summer, so sometimes taking it easy and relaxing the schedule is worth it!

Watch for my next post on Tuesday - I promise something yummy and tempting. Besides, my kids will need something to look forward to on their first day back to school, the only thing I need to decide is whether to make something smooth and velvety or rich and gooey...what do you think?


Friday, August 21, 2009


As you may have noticed, I have not posted any photos this week. The reason why is that my husband and three boys have left for a boys trip to Vancouver for two weeks and have taken the camera with them.

Therefore, the only photos I will be posting for the rest of August are photos taken by others and then sent to me or those already saved on my computer. Sorry everyone - I love photos too!


Specialty Coffee

I love drinking coffee. The smell of freshly brewing coffee reminds me of happy childhood memories, of waking up Saturday mornings the smell of fresh coffee, bacon and pancakes.

Today we have many choices for specialty coffees, some which are sure to break the bank! Since I do not like to spend those high prices I have come up with some easy and frugal recipes for my favorites.

Iced Cappuccino

1 cup ice
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp espresso powder
1 squeeze of chocolate syrup (or you can use cocoa powder and honey)

Blend together in your blender till well mixed and frothy. If it is too thick just add a splash of milk or cream.

Mexican Coffee

Sprinkle a teaspoon or so of cinnamon over your coffee grounds in your coffee maker and brew your coffee as normal. Serve with some honey and cream.

To make this extra special, whip some cream and dollop some fresh cream on the top and sprinkle with cinnamon.

French Vanilla

I know you can buy cream for this, but how healthy is a "dairy product" that has a shelf life of months? Here is a healthier versions...

Mix 1 tsp of vanilla into a half a cup of cream, use a bit of sugar or honey to sweeten your coffee to your preference.

For more frugal tips and recipes check out Recipe Swap, Food on Fridays, Foodie Fridays, The Finer Things and Frugal Fridays.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hair Rinses

I have that sort of in-between hair - not quite strait, but it is not really quite curly or either. In many ways it is nice because I can wear both strait or wavy styles, but both take some effort. If I blow it dry or let it dry on its own it kind of turns frizzy wavy wild - not really what I want.

I assumed that frizzy hair was my lot in life and that there where worse things, so I shouldn't complain, BUT I have been experimenting with homemade hair rinses for the last couple of weeks or so and have noticed a huge difference in my hair! No longer is my hair this wild, out of control mass that I try to flat iron into submission, it is actually silkier, smoother and shinier. Now once I blow dry my hair I just spend about 1 minute with the flat iron to smooth out a couple of strays, plus my hair looks and feels healthier and I have noticed a decrease in the amount of hair that is falling out as I shower (which was getting me a bit concerned!).

So what am I rinsing my hair with???

My Hair Rinse (made for brunettes, it has some hair darkening qualities)

1 cup of Apple cider vinegar
2 cup tea (*see below for directions)
2 - 3 drops Rosemary essential oil

1 - 2 Dark tea bag (any black tea will do)
4 tbsp dried herbs (rosemary, lavender, parsley and sage leaves are all good)

Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the tea and herbs and let steep for 2 hours. Strain.

Combine vinegar, tea and essential oils.

Shampoo as normal, then, starting at the roots, pour about 1/4 cup or so (more if you have longer hair) onto your hair and massage in. Let sit for a few minutes. If you condition your hair, you can rinse your hair then put in the conditioner or just condition over the rinse. Rinse well with cool to warm water.

I make a large batch, keep it under my bathroom sink and fill a smaller plastic bottle that I keep in my shower. This lasts me at least 2 weeks. You can omit the tea all together and just use apple cider vinegar and water, but the herbs and tea add extra shine and strengthening benefits.

For more tips and tricks check out WFMW!

For more posts like this:

Making Your Own Beauty Products

Making Your Own Bath Salts


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Brandon!!

Today is my eldest son's 17th time flies by!

On the menu tonight:

Marinated bbq steak
Garlic mashed potatoes
Roasted tomatoes
Cesar salad
Crab stuffed jalapeno peppers
Homemade icecream cake

Happy Birthday Brandon!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My 100th Post


Here is what my daughter thought I did to my hair back in the 80's - pretty close eh? All I need is some blue eyeshadow, black mascara and hot pink lipstick and I may just pull it off! Time has flown by here in blogger world, and for my 100th post I will do something that I have enjoyed reading from others...

100 Things You May Not Know About Me:

1. I always have my toenails polished, and have since I have been 13 or 14. The longest I have gone without polish on my toes is maybe 4 hours and it drove me crazy!

2. I love to dance around my house - the fact that it drives my kids crazy is an added bonus :)

3. I am a bit of a sci-fi freak...I love the Star Wars movies, the Star Gate Series, the Matrix movies. My husband and eldest son like sci-fi movies, I must have got it from them!

4. I love musicals - Annie, Sound of Music, Oliver and Disney movies like the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast are a few of my favorites.

5. I am a cookie freak - and have been known to down up to a dozen homemade cookies, fresh from the oven in no time flat.

6. I serve cake for breakfast...this one is my dad's fault, he would always let my sister and I have cake for breakfast the day after our birthdays and the habit just sort of stuck. Soooo good with a cup of coffee.

7. I hate gardening - there is not much worse of a chore to me then weeding!

8. I love to read romance novels - my heart just melts.

9. I would rather get practical gifts than romantic ones - I would take a new vacuum over a piece of jewelry any day!

10. I got a new frying pan for Mother's day and was over the moon.

11. I drink coffee till 10:30ish then switch to tea for the rest of the day.

12. I was raised with alot of British roots - tea and scones anyone?

13. My favorite people to hang out with are my kids :)

14. I love watching my middle boys together, they remind me of my sister and I, watching them together soothes my soul on those over hectic days - a blessing strait from God!

15. My middle boys, Jesse and Justin, are step-brothers - Jesse was almost named Justin.

16. Although I love talking and being with others, I love my own company and hanging by myself.
17. I spend way too much time agonizing about the wrinkles on my forehead - very silly, very vain, I know.

18. When I walk I like to do so with purpose - walk like you are going somewhere!

19. I turned 34 this February.

20. I am a bit of a clean freak.

21. Piles make me go a little bit batty.

22. When I am upset my kids tell me I remind them of Storm off the X-men.

23. I have a very bad temper, which through Gods grace I can normally control.

24. Maybe my hair should be red?
25. I have a tendency to be a bit over dramatic.

26. Two of my children have gotten this trait from me - the three of us drive the other three crazy!

27. My first love language is Acts of Service.

28. When my sister comes to visit she always makes me my bedtime tea (cause she loves me so).

29. Everyone in my family are great cooks, but I am the only one who loves to bake.

30. I love going to the Rocky mountains - I can feel God's presence wash over me.

31. I am not naturally organized - I must work hard at it.

32. I was a hyperactive child.

33. I was a total dare devil and drove my parents batty!

34. I got a child just like me, now he is driving me batty!

35. I tend to lean on the side of being an over protective parent.

36. I am glad I had my kids young (all four by the time I was 22), I was more easy going and went with the flow more back in my 20's.

37. By the time I am 40 my youngest child will be 18 and my eldest will be 23.

38. I am going to look fabulous when I am 40 so no one thinks that those kids could be mine!

39. Some of eldest son, Brandon, friends saw us walking together one evening and teased him at school the next day thinking I was his girlfriend - he was mortified and traumatized by the entire event!
40. I have a precious little girl named after me - Megan Christine - she is soo much like me.

41. When my feelings get hurt I normally act angry.

42. I love double espresso lattes sprinkled with cinnamon.

43. I love to make homemade soup, but I don't enjoy eating it.

44. I didn't like meat till I was pregnant with my first child.

45. My sister did not like veggies and so her and I would switch my meat for her veggies when my parents were not looking.

46. When I was around 10 or 11 I put on a pair of my mother's pantyhose and ran up and down the street with them on - I felt guilty for years about doing it, still kind of do!

47. I have lived in the same city since I have been 5, but I was born in Ottawa, Ontario and then moved to the North West Territories, then to Florida before moving to Alberta.

48. I grew up with only girls around me, my parents friends had all girls too, my first experience with boys were my own - needless to say I was a bit shocked!

49. When my boys where little I thought they might kill me they were so naughty and busy!

50. All of my boys have broken a bone - two needed surgery to fix it!

51. My daughter is alot like me and it scares the heck out of me!
52. I have a psychology degree with a minor is sociology.

53. I met my BFF in college.

54. My husband and I met when I was 14 - he was 17 so I lied about my age and told him I was 16, I confessed a couple of days later.

55. I was a rebellious teenager and still sometimes have to fight a rebellious spirit.

56. I love that my husband grows a beard.

57. I love to go for walks or hikes.

58. I am pretty good at checkers, but all my boys can beat me at chess.

59. My kids think I am the best cook in the world!

60. I am not good at taking pictures.

61. I love taking day trips.

62. I love visiting historical sites, reading historical novels, and basically daydreaming about historical times.

63. When electronics do not work for me I tend to smack or hit them in order in an attempt to make them work - this causes my husband and eldest son great trauma.

64. I don't like the cold and the snow, but I don't think I could live somewhere that doesn't get snow.
65. When I get overwhelmed or down I dream of running off to an island where there is nobody else there.

66. I'm a screamer - I startle easy and scream in my shock. I do this in movies alot and have scared the pants off those around me and embarrassed my poor kids (he, he, he). When I saw Narnia and the fox jumped out I scream so loud and jumped so high I startled the entire theater!

67. I don't like black pens.

68. I LOVE being a mom!

69. Even though I got pregnant very young, I was overjoyed and took to motherhood right away.

70. Learning to become a good wife has not come as easily.

71. I still have a hard time convincing myself there is nothing "under my bed".

72. One of my favorite foods are hamburgers with mayo, pickles, hot peppers and Tabasco sauce.

73. I click my nails when I am upset or stressed.

74. My favorite Christmas treat is butter tarts right out of the oven (yum).

75. My favorite cake is vanilla with vanilla frosting.

76. I clean when I am irritated or cranky.

77. Sometimes my house is REALLY clean!

78. I like to write boring research papers (don't know why).

79. We have two dogs - but I am really more of a cat person.

80. I get really motion sick - in cars, planes and amusement rides.

81. The older I get the worse it is - even watching others twirl around now can make me sick!
82. I love getting back rubs.

83. I love looking through old cookbooks -the older the better.

84. The only thing I don't like tossing out or getting rid of is books.

85. I have always wanted a small library in my house with one of those moving ladders like off of Beauty and the Beast.

86. I have always love taking long showers, I find it more relaxing then a bath.

87. I have always wanted to live on a rocky cliff overlooking the ocean so I could hear the crashing of the waves.

88. I have always wanted to visit Scotland and Ireland...maybe when the kids are grown.

89. When I was younger everyone told me I should become a lawyer.
90. I love laying in the sun and napping...aaahhh.

91. I love laying in my bed in the morning and always find it hard to get up.

92. I think old cars and trucks are cool.

93. I can't carry a tune very well, but have always loved singing when no one is listening :)

94. My daughter knows how to use my phone better than I do - and she is 11.
95. I often dream of what it would be like to win lots the lottery (but I have never bought a ticket before, imagine that!).

96. When I was little I told my parents that I must have been switched at the hospital and my real family was rich and would eventually find me.

97. I am still a bit afraid of open back stairs - I watched People Under the Stairs in my youth and it scared the wits out of me!

98. I make melt in your mouth cheesecake (honest !!) - my favorite is eggnog cheesecake at Christmas (chocolate swirl and mocha are my families favorites).

99. I still love to climb and would love to go mountain climbing with my family.

100. Some of my favorite memories with my kids are turning the music up real loud and dancing around the kitchen with cleaning up after dinner.
Thanks for reading everyone!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mocha Freeze Mini-Cheesecakes


My daughter has been hounding me for cheesecake and since it suppose to be summer (sure not feeling like summer lately here in Alberta - what is 12 Celsius in Fahrenheit? It is cold thats what it is!), I chose a cool frozen version of her favorite baked mocha cheesecake with a super easy crust!

Mocha Freeze Mini-Cheesecakes

24 Oreo cookies

2/3 cup chocolate chips
3 tbsp water

1 pkg (8 oz) of cream cheese
1 container (250 oz) of sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp espresso powder (or 1 tbsp instant coffee powder)

1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped till stiff peaks form

Place oreo cookies in muffin tins lined with paper or foil liners. Set aside.

Melt chocolate chips with the water in the microwave. Mix till smooth (be careful not to overcook). Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Mix together cream cheese and condensed milk till fluffy and smooth, add coffee. Pour in melted chocolate and blend till smooth. Fold in whipping cream.

Divide cream cheese mixture over the cookies. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

For more great recipe ideas check out Foodie Fridays, Recipe Swap and Food on Fridays!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Easy Lip Gloss

My daughter is the queen of lip gloss - she is constantly slathering her lips with some form of shinny balm. She doesn't like any other form of makeup (yet), but she loves her lips shinny and moisturised.

I have been going through books and websites that talk about making your own beauty products and have had lots of great results, so I have been starting to branch out. Here is the lip gloss recipe that I made for my daughter (and me!) that she LOVES!

Shinny Lip Gloss
*Recipe from Janice Cox (She has lots of great recipes!)

1 tsp Coconut oil (found in any health food store)
1 tsp Petroleum jelly

Melt in a small dish and pour into an clean lip gloss container or pill box (found at any pharmacy).

Let cool and ta-da - instant frugal lip gloss! Can it be any easier???

For more great tips check out WFMW!

More posts like this one:

Making Your Own Beauty Products

Making Your Own Bath Salts


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Homemade Jam


Among home renovations this past few days I had some Saskatoon berries that I had picked off my parents tree that needed to be used.

I typically make 5 - 6 batches of jam over the summer, which lasts us throughout the year and even give us a couple to give away as gifts. Yesterday I got a good start with two batches of Saskatoon Rhubarb and one batch of Saskatoon Strawberry. I will likely still make some Raspberry Rhubarb, my raspberry bushes are not looking so good this year and we have had a really late season overall, but even if I get one batch I will be happy.

Saskatoon Rhubarb Jam

4 cups Saskatoon berries
2 cups Rhubarb, diced small

1 pkg Reduced sugar pectin powder
2 1/2 cups Sugar

Put the fruit, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the pectin powder into a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add the remaining amount of sugar and boil for 1 minute.

Pour into sterilized jars. If the lids to not snap within a few hours then refrigerate.

(*Note: I always put my jams into a hot water bath - Bring a large pot of water to a boil, place jars of jam in the hot water and let boil for 10 minutes.)

For more recipe ideas check out Tempt my Tummy, Tasty Tuesday and At the Table!


Monday, August 10, 2009

Home Renovations and Such

I despise messes, so home renovations seriously stress me out! When we moved into this house just over two years ago I was relieved that no serious renovations were needed - the house was painted and updated, and although not necessarily to my exact tastes, it was nice and nothing needed to be done. The previous house we had was bought with the intention to fix it us and sell for a profit, so renovations seemed to be constant and I was happy that our new house was move in ready.

About a year ago, I decided that I should paint my daughters room (well, she decided and I conceded). About 6 months after that, my middle son's joined in that they did not enjoy the bright blue paint and astronaut wallpaper boarder (come on I argued - what teenage boy wouldn't love the astronauts, but they stood firm!). So again, I conceded and painted their room.

I don't know what got into me the other day, but I was just sitting there looking around my house when I decided that not another minute could go by, that I must paint immediately. I was never fond of the red paint in the family room. It was one of those colors that you thought was okay at first, but after some time you realize that is sort of off, maybe the tone wasn't quite right, I am not sure, but all I know is that the time had come for it to go. I had put off this task due to disagreements with what color to put up and the fact that it has very high ceilings, so it would be difficult to paint.

Regardless, once my mind has been made up, the primer came out, tape went up and baseboards were pulled off before my husband could shout "NOOO"! And before he could charge after me up the stairs I had the burgundy wall in our bedroom painted as well.

With each stroke of paint I felt better and I have to say the rooms look fantastic (I will post a picture later today - my camera is dead - sorry)! I wish that I could show you some before pictures, but in my hurry to make the change I did not even think about it! Although we need to buy some new curtains and a couple of pictures for the walls, the hard work of painting and rearranging furniture is complete (big sigh of relief!).

Have a happy Monday!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Spicy Asian Inspired BBQ Pork Burgers


I LOVE hamburgers! I don't know what I love most about them - that you can eat them anywhere, that you can make them taste so different with spices and toppings, that they are pretty frugal meal for hungry boys, or that they are a crowd pleaser!

I will buy pre-made burgers to cook in a pinch, but there is something special about a thick and juicy homemade burger, loaded high with fresh veggies on a crusty bun.

Asian Inspired BBQ Pork Burgers

3 - 4 lbs Ground pork
1 Egg
1/4 cup Soya sauce
1/2 cup Oatmeal (a healthier alternative to bread crumbs)
1/4 cup Natural bran (honest - you will never taste the bran and it gives a nutritional boost to your burgers!)

*All spices are approximate - I don't measure, just pour or sprinkle, add to your own taste preferences :)

2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp garlic granules
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 - 1 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp parsley

Once you place everything in a large bowl, push up your sleeves and mix with your hands. Form patties that are a bit larger than your buns as they will shrink up a bit. This recipe will make 12 - 16 burgers, depending on what size you like your burger. We tend you make big, fat burgers, so this recipe will give us 12.

These make great sandwhiches for lunch the next day - a favorite for my husband and sons!

This post is linked up with Foodie Friday, The Recipe Swap and Food on Fridays!

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cream of Potato Soup


I find soup calming to make and is a nutritious and frugal meal to serve hungry boys! Since I make my own stock, this dish cost me about $3.50 or so to make (that's in Canadian dollars - you will pay less in the States!) and gives us almost 6 L (or 6 quarts) of soup.

Cream of Potato Soup

4 slices bacon, diced small

2 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 - 4 stalks of celery, diced
sprinkle of salt and pepper

6 - 8 potatoes, diced
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp parsley
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp pepper (or to taste)

3 L (aprox 3 quarts) stock (any stock or broth is find, I use chicken or turkey)

1 1/2 L of milk
1/2 cup cream (optional)
Fry the bacon in the bottom of a large pot till crisp. Remove from heat and remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Saute carrots, onion and celery in the bacon fat till tender, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes, garlic, parsley and additional salt and pepper and stir. Pour over stock and simmer on low for 20 - 30 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and add milk, cream (if using) and the bacon you set aside. Stir to mix.
Taste for seasonings, you may need to add more salt or pepper. Serve with buns or biscuits.
For more recipe ideas check out Tasty Tuesdays, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday and At the Table!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Book Reviews - Son's of Encouragement and Lineage of Grace

Are you looking for books that will captivate you and leave you feeling inspired and uplifted by God's glory and might? Well look no further than novels by Francine Rivers. Among other titles, Francine Rivers has written two series that outline the lives of ten remarkable people in the Bible.

Sons of Encouragement - Tells the stories of five men who worked along side of God’s chosen leaders
The Priest - Story of Aaron
The Warrior - Story of Celeb
The Prince - Story of Johnathan
The Prophet - Story of Amos
The Scribe - Story of Silas

Lineage of Grace - Tells the stories of five women in the lineage of Christ
Unveiled - Story of Tamar
Unashamed - Story of Rahab
Unshaken - Story of Ruth
Unspoken - Story of Bathsheba
Unafraid - Story of Mary

I hear many people say they love the Psalms or the gospels, but me, I have a deep love of the stories of the Old Testament. I am captivated and drawn into the struggles, pain, perseverance, disobedience than repentance, and most of all, Gods unfailing love and might. I can see my own life in these stories, but most of all I start to understand Gods true character.

I see Leah’s loneliness and see that God saw...
I see Celeb’s courage and determination and see that God was faithful...
I see Ruth’s loyalty and humbleness and see Gods provision...
I see Bathsheba’s and David’s sin and I see Gods overwhelming mercy and forgiveness...
I see these people, I read about their lives and I see God!

Although these two series are considered a historical fiction, they are very biblically accurate and readers are encouraged to be read along side the stories in the Bible. After I read them, I got my bible out and re-read the scriptures and the words seemed to jump out at me from the page. These were not just stories - but real people, who were sometimes sinful or disobedient and sometimes courageous and faithful, but God saw each of them and used each of them.

I encourage you to make Sons of Encouragement and Lineage of Grace part of your summer reading!

Other Book Reviews:

The Five Love Languages