Friday, January 30, 2015

Foodie Friday - Aunt Jen's Meatballs

Do you like meatballs? I LOVE meatballs. They are probably one of my very favourite foods, especially this recipe.

This recipe has been handed down in my family from my great great aunt Jen and it has always been a hit. Since going gluten-free, I have changed up the meatball section but still follow her recipe for sauce, seeing as that's the best part anyway.

Rosemary Quinoa Meatballs (inspired by this recipe) 
2 lbs ground meat (1lb beef & 1lb pork)
1 1/2 c. cooked quinoa
1 small onion, finally chopped
2 eggs
2 Tbsp rosemary
2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Form the meat mixture into 1 inch meatballs and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. You will probably need to use two baking sheets to fit all the meatballs. Bake in 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes, rotating the meatballs halfway through the cooking time.

While the meatballs are cooking, start making your sauce. This sauce tastes so good but is also chock full of sugar. So while I love this recipe, I try not to make it too often since it's not the most healthy option. Now since the above meatball recipe makes so many, I usually freeze half of them once they're cooked. If you choose to use all the meatballs from the recipe, double up the sauce recipe. If you do half like me, one sauce recipe will work just fine.

Aunt Jen's Meatballs (Sauce)
1/4 c. soy sauce 
1/4 c. vinegar
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. water (or coffee)

Mix all ingredients in a pot over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the sugar has dissolved, let simmer for 1 minute and then remove from heat. 

Move the meatballs into a glass casserole dish and then pour the sauce over them. Cook in a 350 degree F oven for 1/2 an hour or until the sauce is bubbling. Serve over rice and with your choice of veggies on the side. Enjoy!

Do you have a favourite meatball recipe?


Foodie Friday Mini Series, Take 2

Week 1: Banana Bread
Week 2: Butternut Squash Soup & Flat Bread 
Week 3: Nutty Chocolate Bark
Week 4: Lazy Sunday Casserole 
Week 5: Teriyaki Meatball Bowls
Week 6: Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew
Week 7: Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
Week 8: Pumpkin Muffins
Week 9: Tourtiere
Week 10: Gingerbread Cookies
Week 11: Aunt Jen's Meatballs

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Simple Pleasures - January 2015

It's been a little while since I did a simple pleasures post and for that I am sorry. And I am just barely squeezing this one into January. I really should try and do better with these, especially since I find they are the most important during the winter months when I tend to feel down and these posts help pick me up.

Here are the few things that have been making me smile lately.

Homemade vegetable soup

Our Christmas lights are still up

My new puzzle and card table!

The little turtle to represent Chomper that my niece gave us

A Bunnykins set from a dear friend
Now it's your turn. What has been putting a smile on your face?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Masquerade Ball

Want to know what I did last weekend? I attended my very first masquerade ball!

You may be wondering what the fabulous occasion was for this fun masked party and I will tell you. I was in charge of family Christmas this year (for my side of the family) and when I announced that we wouldn't be able to make it back to Quebec until December 31st, everyone had a mini fit that it wouldn't actually feel like Christmas and no one would want to celebrate that late. After taking minor offense (and after everyone apologized for their fit taking), I decided I would plan the party of a lifetime and it wouldn't be one bit Christmasy.

I made fabulous homemade invitations (which I forgot to photograph) and sent them off to my family members. Everyone was so excited when they received them and immediately started planning outfits.

Here's the sad part though. I got sick over Christmas holidays and we had to postpone our trip to Quebec and consequently, the masquerade ball. Super sad.

So that is why it ended up being last weekend. But really, masquerade balls are fun no matter when they happen so it ended up being not too big of a deal that it got pushed a few weeks.

The party went even better than I expected and everyone totally embraced the requirement to dress up and wear a mask.

The food was also pretty good. I had dispersed the courses amongst the families, so each couple was responsible for something. Mike and Tara made fabulous cocktails which were appropriate for all ages.

Stacey and Eric made some of the best hors d'oeuvres I've ever tasted. I normally hate tuna but there was one tuna roll thing that was to die for.

Tuna spring rolls

Mushroom pinwheels

Cauliflower popcorn, falafal and dairy free tzaziki
We took a break between appetizers and dinner to open presents, to give ourselves some time to digest. And once the presents were done, we spent the next half hour trying to get a decent group shot of everyone. We somewhat succeeded.

Dinner was cottage pie but I forgot to take any pictures of it. I used this recipe though, so you can just click on that link to see what it was I made.

After eating dinner, we opted to dance off some more of the food in the living room before moving on to dessert.

Cora and Jeremie were originally in charge of making dessert but Cora came down with the flu and was feeling pretty miserable leading up to our party. So Tara and I jumped in and offered to cover for her. We chose a fabulous looking recipe from a new cook book I got and we whipped up a frozen dessert pizza.

It was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. Seriously, so so good.

Once we finished our dessert, we danced some more and then people slowly started parting ways and heading off to bed.

It was basically the most awesome masquerade ball I have ever been to. Have you ever attended or hosted one?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Art Around the House

Hello readers! As some of you noticed, I took last week off from posting since I was exhausted, unmotivated and out of ideas. I needed a break and so I took it. But don't you worry, I am back this week with some fun posts lined up.

To start the week, I thought I would show off some of the art I have around the house. I am by no means an art connoisseur but I do enjoy my small bits of creativity that I have hanging up. I also thought it would be fun to show you guys some of the art since I've never done it before and you only get to see my decorations when they happen to sneak into a picture of a room or project I am photographing.

For starters, I will share my favourite painting in the house. It was a wedding gift from a friend of Dan's family and we actually got to choose it from a selection of 8 paintings or so. I love the colouring of it and how it looks fabulous in any lighting.

We also have a painting hanging above the piano that we bought in Jamaica in 2010. I like it because it reminds me of a fun trip we took together and the sky is also pretty spectacular.

Growing up, Dan had a dog named Ziggy and his sister Trish drew a beautiful picture of him. This is by far Dan's favourite piece of art work in the house.

Dan's other sister Sam is also very artistic and she lovingly painted these butterflies for us a few years ago. The three butterflies represent our first three babies.

By our side door, we have a cute little welcome sign that was made for us by a lady I used to babysit for. It reminds me of all the fun times I had babysitting her four children.

I'm also pretty in love with our bathroom art. Both of them were wedding gifts, one from my sister Cora and the other from my niece Eloise. The drawing by Eloise has been in every single bathroom we've had since we got married and I hope it stays that way forever.

And lastly, my laundry room art. That is where I hang my cross stitches that were made for me when I was little. I hope to eventually move them into a baby's room but for now I am happy with them hanging out with my washer and dryer.

So there you go, a small sampling of some of the things I have hanging around my house. I have much much more, since I hate to have an empty wall and I thrive off of hanging fun things up, but this is a good start to share with you.

Do you have much art in your house? Is it something you splurge on or do you make do with the small things like me?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Foodie Friday - Gingerbread Cookies

I made these cookies before Christmas but never got around to sharing them with you and for that, I apologize. Growing up, we would spend most of December making fabulous Christmas cookies and then eat them all throughout the holidays. It was one of my favourite parts of Christmas and I was excited to continue on the tradition into my married life. But we ran into some problems. Dan only likes one type of cookie and I am now gluten/dairy/corn free. So much for a wide variety of Christmas cookies.

But I have learned to live without all the frenzied December baking and can now appreciate a good cookie when I come across one. And in December 2013, I did just that. My sister-in-law Tara introduced me to her gingerbread cookies.

I immediately fell in love with them and asked for the recipe. I needed to make these cookies more often. I had every intention of making them throughout the year and being able to enjoy their chewy flavourfulness whenever I wanted to, but life got in the way and it was December again. Oh well. Once a year will have to do.

One of the reasons I love these cookies is that I can roll them out and make them into shapes. I feel like Christmas isn't really Christmas unless you have some classic gingerbread men to nibble on. Yes, they're a little more fragile than normal cookies but they aren't horrible to work with. And the end result is pretty darn good too.

I had some issues with my first batch (as you can see from the one legged man above) but for my first time making these, I think I did okay. I ate them all within four days of making them, so they must have been decent.

For those of you who can't eat gluten, dairy or corn, I would highly recommend these cookies. Just be careful with the cooking time, because if you overcook them, they tend to be super hard to bite into.

What is your favourite cookie?


Foodie Friday Mini Series, Take 2

Week 1: Banana Bread
Week 2: Butternut Squash Soup & Flat Bread 
Week 3: Nutty Chocolate Bark
Week 4: Lazy Sunday Casserole 
Week 5: Teriyaki Meatball Bowls
Week 6: Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew
Week 7: Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
Week 8: Pumpkin Muffins
Week 9: Tourtiere
Week 10: Gingerbread Cookies

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Needle in my Tummy

As I mentioned in Tuesday's late night post, we are doing our first medicated cycle this month. We've been waking up at 4:00am every morning for the last five days in order to make it to Toronto for 7:00am for our monitoring appointments. I am officially exhausted, with very sore arms from all the blood work.

But happy news, we didn't have to go this morning! Nope, lucky me got to sleep in until 7:30am! I pretty much wanted to sleep all day but I have things to do, so I forced myself out of my cozy bed.

This post will be short and sweet, because I honestly have no energy to write much and because I don't have very many topics to write on. I just thought you should all know that I am very brave. So brave in fact, that I gave myself an injection in my stomach!

I know that to some of you, it may not be that big of a deal. And for those of you who have to do this regularly, I really admire you. This was my first time stabbing a needle into my tummy and I was very nervous.

This medication is called Ovidrel and it triggers ovulation. So after injecting myself, I should ovulate in the next 36 hours.

It really wasn't that big of a deal and it didn't hurt too much, I'm just a bit of a dramatic baby. So I got myself all worked up and then felt nervous and a little sick afterwards. Especially since I really hate needles and the thought of them makes me queasy.

Fortunately, I only have to take this one, so I'm now done for this cycle. Well, injections that is. We are back to the clinic for another monitoring appointment on Saturday to confirm ovulation. But then we'll get a break from the travels for a couple of weeks!

Have any of you had to give yourself a needle before? Does it get easier the more you do it?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Medicated Cycle #1

The blog is being a little neglected this week. I thought I would be able to keep up but this week is kicking my butt.

At first I wasn't sure if I was going to share with you guys when we started our first medicated cycle but then I decided that I may as well, I share everything else. Plus, I like to educate others by sharing my experience with infertility and I like to keep it real around here. And I also don't want you to think I'm a bad blogger. And I could totally use your prayers and good thoughts.

January 2nd marked the beginning of my cycle so I started the baby aspirin and called the clinic to set up my first monitoring appointment. We went in to Toronto on January 4th for our first round of blood work and ultrasound and to pick up our prescription for Letrozole.

Oh and did I mention we had a mini ice storm that day? The roads were really bad when we first left but improved the closer we got to Toronto. Good thing it was a Sunday and Dan could come with me, since I tend to get stressed driving in bad weather.

I took the Letrozole from days 3-7 and had minor side effects from it. The most prominent ones were hot flashes, a small amount of nausea and being slightly overly emotional. I didn't feel like myself and was happy to stop taking them by the time day 7 rolled around.

We headed back to downtown Toronto on day 9, which was January 10th, for our monitoring appointment. And that's what we have been doing every morning since. Dan was able to come with me on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday but I had to go alone today. I felt very brave tackling the GO train and subway all on my own, especially considering that public transit scares me to death. But I didn't get lost and I am proud of myself for doing it.

Can I just say that 4:00am is an ungodly hour? It is brutal getting up at that time multiple days in a row. Especially since the purpose of such early rising is to travel an hour and a half away (that's only if there is no traffic) and then be poked and prodded. Having blood taken and an internal ultrasound done every morning is not a pleasant way to start your day.

Oh and that above picture showing 3 degrees? It lies. I had been parked in the garage over night so it didn't register the real temperature yet. It really should have said -22 degrees. Ya, add the freezing cold temperatures to the early wake ups and you have got  yourself one grumpy girl.

So faithful readers, this is where we are at right now. In the midst of our first cycle and feeling very overwhelmed and over tired. I knew that the traveling and monitoring would be tough but I really had no idea how tough. Being in the midst of it sucks. It really really does. I so admire people who do fertility treatments and with how well they hold up during them.

I realize that I am very fortunate that Dan has been able to come with me to most of my appointments, having him there for moral support means so much to me. I am also so thankful for understanding family members who listen to me whine and cry over the phone, it helps to get out the emotions. And I am also very appreciative of wise friends who explain things to me and keep me sane while I try to deal with all the confusing jargon that comes from doctors and nurses.

So please, if you pray, can you pray for us? Pray for strength to get through the rest of this week while we continue to go in for daily for monitoring. Like I said, it is exhausting and I am feeling very discouraged. Pray that everything continues to look good and that this cycle continues to move forward successfully. And lastly, pray that it works. The whole purpose of this is to get pregnant and I am so scared that it won't actually happen. I keep telling myself that all of these early morning wake ups and travel and blood tests and ultrasounds and medication will be worth it in the end. But that is only if the end results in a baby. And I am terrified that it won't.

Mists on Lake Ontario
I'll probably be back later this week to tell you about my experience giving myself a shot in my stomach and to update you on our cycle and how many more days we had to go to Toronto for. I hope you don't mind all this infertility talk, but it's what we're living right now and I have no energy to focus on anything else.

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Office Area

As you may have been able to tell by now, when Dan and I get an idea for a new project in our heads, we tend to jump in with both feet and just do it. No waiting around or lengthy planning processes involved, just get er done. <---- That is Dan's redneck influence wearing off on me.

We live in a three bedroom house and for the past three years, we have had a master bedroom, an office and a guest room. The original plan was to turn the office into a nursery when we had a baby. Except the whole baby thing isn't really happening as quickly as we had once hoped so we weren't in any rush to convert the office over.

Well for the last couple of months, we have realized that our small desk just wasn't cutting it anymore and we needed something a little bigger to accommodate our growing business.

Isn't it beautiful? We are so happy with how it turned out and love how much room we have for everything now.

For those of you who haven't memorized our house layout and don't know what used to be there, let me remind you.

The air hockey table came with the house, I'm assuming because the old owners didn't want to move it. And while it has been fun to have when our nieces and nephew come for their yearly visit, it was taking up valuable space and went mostly unused. I finally convinced Dan that we should post it on Kijiji (kind of like Craigslist) and move our office down to the basement.

But we weren't in a rush. Our old desk was still working okay for us and we decided we would take our time. You know, sell the air hockey table first then shop around for a good price on a desk, etc. But alas, that is not how we do stuff. When shopping at Costco the end of December, we came across the perfect desk for a really good price. So we took home the information sheet, measured out our area, decided we could totally make it work and then returned and purchased the desk.

Before building it though, we wanted to make sure that the layout we had planned in our heads would actually work in our space. So we took the tops of the desks and laid them out on the floor until we were happy with the set up.

Once that step was finished, we got to work tearing up carpet and laying a new laminate floor. We originally planned to just buy one of those chair mats that you can get at an office supply store but once we priced them out, we decided that wasn't the way to go. Since our carpet in the basement is considered plush, we would have to buy a heavy duty mat and they cost approximately $140. We priced out laminate flooring that was on sale at Home Depot and it cost about $100. So the flooring won, especially since we knew it would look nicer too.

Doesn't it look nice? We later got transition strips to go along the edges but I didn't get a good finished picture of it, so you'll just have to trust me on that one. We put down the flooring in an afternoon and immediately wanted to get to work putting together the desk. Fortunately for us, the instructions were well written and it came together quickly. By the end of the first night, it was looking a lot more like an office!

The next day we got back to work on it and finished off the flooring (transition strips) and put together the rest of the desk. Weekend project, done.

We also bought a new chair since our old one was breaking and an extra filing cabinet for more space. Our office totally rocks now.

It feels like it was always there and we don't miss our old desk at all. We went from a small cramped space to a large beautiful office in one weekend.

We sold the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey light and our old desk within a few days of posting them on Kijiji but have yet to sell the air hockey table. So it's still in the basement, leaning against the wall, taking up space. If you know of anyone who wants one, let us know!

I now have a mostly empty room upstairs that has no immediate need. No nursery for us yet. Any of you have any ideas on what to do with the room? Other than storage that is.

What do you think of our new office? Do you like it? Do any of you need to have a dedicated office space for a home business? Or do most of you not even have an office?