Friday, September 30, 2011

Bone Broth Twice Over...and over, and over...

About a year ago, I finally began making soup stock from scratch.  I was motivated by the fact that most store bought soups and broths are really high in sodium, and as my youngest daughter has chronic kidney disease, I'm always looking for ways to cut down on salt.  I was also inspired by old fashioned cooking - cooking that is frugal, simple, and resourceful.  Homemade soup is all of the above.

I normally make my soup in the crock pot overnight, strain it and then toss the bones.  Till I stumbled across this awesome article from The Nourishing Gourmet  on reusing your bones again and again for stock.  I decided to make some chicken broth using this method.  Normally, I buy chicken whole and roast two at a time in my big roasting pan.  We usually have roast chicken for supper that night (YUM!), and then I take the leftover meat and shred it or dice it and freeze it on cookie sheets before putting into freezer bags.  The frozen chicken is great to grab for casseroles, soups, salads or whatever other chicken-y dish your heart desires. 

Anyway, back to the stock.  I tossed the carcass in the crock pot, add some onion, celery, and carrots, herbs and put it on low in the crock pot overnight.  The next morning, I strained out the broth, took out the veggies, and then did the whole process over again.  While I didn't keep making repeated stocks till the bones dissolved into nothingness, I did make two batches of flavourful broth.  Who knew?  Most likely my grandmother and great grandmother....and it's the sort of things that I need to relearn.  Thanks, Kimi, for the great tips!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Amazing Discovery About Carpet Cleaning!

I know that title is really infomercial sounding, but I really am amazed at what I discovered recently and I wish I had learned this years ago.

This is a secret that the carpet shampoo companies do not want you to know.

Just use water in the carpet cleaner.  They'll come out amazingly clean.  The carpets in my house are pretty old and need shampooing about every six months to perk them up.  Every time I think, "I cannot live with these carpets one more day", I'll just rent a steam cleaner and, VOILA!  new carpets.  For years I blindly bought the brand name carpet shampoo, high traffic pre-treater, and anti-foaming solution.  They cost more than the actual rental itself.  About a year ago I discovered that you don't need to purchase that expensive defoamer since adding a 1/4 cup of plain vinegar worked just as well!  While I was searching out that info, I stumbled across these frugal carpet cleaning tips and one of the recommendations was to skip on the shampoo since it actually created a film that attracted dirt.  So this summer I gave it a try and I was SO AMAZED out how clean my carpets got simply using hot water.  For a high traffic area you can simply scrub with a soft brush and a little dish soap or laundry detergent.

If your carpets need deodorizing as well you can add a cup of vinegar to the water.  Use the hottest water you possibly can.  I heated mine in a big pot on the stove and in the kettle.  But be very careful not to burn yourself, and don't attempt this while your little ones are around!

P.S.  Is it just me, or is it satisfying in a gross way when you dump out the water from the tank and see how black the water is?  You'll know the Hot Water Only method works just as well when you see this!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Great Use for Overripe Strawberries: Strawberry-Poppy Seed Dressing

I was a bit overzealous at the grocery store the other day and bought three packs of strawberries on sale.  We've been eating them every day, but I noticed that some of them were starting to get dark and mushy.  I was about to toss overripe ones out when I stopped myself and wondered, "Do I really have to waste these?"  They weren't rotten or moldy or anything, just not that "pretty" anymore.

We've been eating lots of delicious summer salads lately, and I was planning on making some poppy seed dressing.  A quick google search came up with a few great recipes that I pretty much morphed into this one!

Lynnie B's Strawberry-Poppy Seed Dressing

Wash and remove tops of about 6 large overripe strawberries.
Puree in food processor or with hand blender until smooth.
Add 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Blend together until smooth
Stir in 1 tbsp poppy seeds

Pour into jar or bottle and refrigerate.  So good over spinach or mixed greens with strawberries or blueberries!  Don't you just love summer?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Great Use for Overripe Watermelon

When my mom was in town she picked up a watermelon at the grocery store for us.  The problem was, the weather was chilly and rainy so nobody felt like watermelon.  When I finally decided to serve it up one day after school we were disappointed to discover that it was overripe.  You know when it gets that weird mealy texture?  Sigh...what a waste.

But then I thought, "Hey, it still tastes's not rotten or anything, just not a nice crisp slice.  I wonder if I could use it for something else?"

So I diced it up, put the cubes in the freezer, and once they were frozen solid I put them all in a big bag and left them in the freezer.  We've been using them all week for after school smoothies and slushies.

They are great blended with a handful of frozen strawberries and a splash of orange juice, pink lemonade or limeade.  You don't need to add ice cubes at all....just use your "watermelon cubes".  Add more or less fruit juice for your desired consistency.  So refreshing and makes a perfect homemade "Slushie" without all the food colouring and crazy amounts of sugar.

Perfect on a hot day!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Everyday Active #32 - Golf Day

I haven't posted in a few days, because summer fun has finally arrived!  The last few days have been filled with end of school year field trip to the horse stables, sports day, track meet, and a trip to the beach.  So not much exercise other than biking to and from the school.

Today though was our ministries Charity Golf Tournament and I was once again reminded of how much hard work it is to golf 18 holes!  I am wiped out!  It's no cardio, that's for sure, but I know my arms and shoulders used muscles today that aren't used to being stretched.

Next week I've got to revisit some good ol' cardio though.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Everyday Active #31 - Canucks Who?

It's NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs right now, and for the first time in many years Vancouver's hockey team is in the finals.  I can appreciate the level of excitement, but since I'm not a hockey fan to begin with, I didn't want to be stuck inside watching a sport that I don't care about.

I convinced the group of young adults that I mentor to join me on a walk along the river.  Since most of the population was watching the game, we had the trail to ourselves!  We power walked 6 KM and the rain kindly stayed away.  The river had a cool, eerie mist hanging just above.

Thanks for joining me guys!

P.S.  The Canucks won....

Monday, May 30, 2011

Everyday #30 - Keeper!

My husband has just come out the other side of an incredibly busy season of work.  Today was he first day off in quite a while and he slept in AND had an afternoon nap.  He was wiped.  At the end of our evening of supper, chores, homework, & bedtime wrangling for the kids we were both feeling weary and more in the mood to flop on the couch and watch a DVD.  But I knew I really should enjoy the nice, non-rainy evening and get some exercise, so my wonderful husband said he'd go for a walk with me.  He's such a keeper!  Admittedly, my "power walk" is faster on my own, but the time together is a fair trade.

Happy Trails!
P.S.  I haven't weighed or taken my measurements, but honestly, today was the first day that I could "feel" the benefits of my increased exercise.  I guess my clothes are just starting to fit a little differently....slow and steady will give results eventually!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Everyday Active #28 & 29 - RAIN DAY...again

My mom is in town visiting so we've been spending a lot of time thrift store shopping, drinking tea, watching "Little House on the Prairie" episodes and "puttering around the house".  So I haven't been as faithful at posting everyday, but I have still been trying to get in my Everyday Actives.  Thank goodness for the Wii!  With all the heavy rain we've had lately I have been making a lot of use out of my EA Active workout.  Yesterday I did a 40 minute hard level workout ....and my hip flexor on one side is killing me today.  I guess I lunged a bit too hard in my lunges!

Today I went for a half hour walk in the pouring rain after dropping my little one at preschool....I wish I had known that it would finally clear up later on in the evening.  I guess I could go out again now....but then again, watching another episode of Little House with my mom sounds pretty nice too.  She grew up on a farm in rural Alberta, and remembers many things about her grandma's cabin that is just like the pioneer days!

P.S.  No pics this time, as my husband has taken my camera to work these past couple days.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Everyday Active #26 - Drop Off & Everyday Active #27 - Trestle Hike

It's been a pretty busy few days for our family.  Every Victoria Day long weekend our church denomination hosts a conference for thousands of teens from across BC.  Therefore it's a working weekend for us as we work in the exhibitor area promoting our discipleship school.    However, on Sunday evening on the way home I simply asked my husband to drop me off partway home and then simply walked the rest of the way.  It was a good 30 minute power walk - a simple solution on a busy weekend.

On Monday we took a group of young adults on a day long spiritual retreat.  I was able to go for a walk with my husband along some old train tracks through some incredibly lush forest.  Loved it!

It's a looooong way down!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Everyday Active #25- Orthodontic Express

It was such a sunny, summery day that I was kinda bummed that I would have to drive to Vancouver to take my daughter to the orthodontist.  To help save money (we're talking $800 as opposed to $5,000!) she has her braces done at the Dentistry School at the University of BC.  It's about a 3 hour round trip and anywhere from a one to two hour appointment.  My husband had to work, so I would have to bring my four year old along as well.  Sigh.  It was going to be a long day for Taxi Mom.  But then right before I left, I had a flash of inspiration and tossed the jogging stroller into the back of the van.  UBC is such a beautiful campus that I knew I could take go for a power walk with Ellie and enjoy the sights and fit in my Everyday Active.

I really think UBC has to be one of the most beautiful campuses in Canada.  It's situated right on a peninsula on the Pacific Ocean surrounded by forest and ocean.  Plus the architecture is amazing.  I would have taken more pictures if I had more time, but I had to hoof it to get back to the Dentist office.  But here's a few from this gorgeous spring day!

 Little wood sprite...

 View from the end of the Main Mall

 Don't you love ivy covered buildings?

P.S.  I actually managed to get out again this evening, biking up to the library with the girls to pick up a book one of them had on hold.  And you know, that hill doesn't seem quite as steep anymore!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Everyday Active #20 - Thank Goodness

In hindsight, it's a really good thing I decided to do this Everday Active Challenge.  This time of year I normally count on being able to go for lots of bike rides and power walks.  Exercising indoors isn't my favourite, so I really need the challenge to keep me motivated during this long, rainy season.

Yep....pouring rain again today.

Thank goodness for free Zumba videos on the internet.  I did the same beginner workout that I did yesterday, and I found I was starting to get the hang of some of the steps.  If I didn't need the steps broken down in half tempo I just did them full tempo during the tutorial.  But most of them I still needed to start out slow.

I made it even more humbling by propping a full length mirror against the fireplace so I could make my form was correct.  How zumba instructors keep a straight face in front of their students is beyond me!

Anyway, this is a fun, hip shaking cardio.  Just don't take yourself too seriously!  ;-)

Everyday Active #24 - Biking for a Cause

Sunny, summery weather two days in a row!  It was a perfect night for BBQing now that my grilling husband has come home.  We also were having a guest over for dinner so I needed to head to the grocery store to pick up a few items.  On busy days it's so tempting just to resort to dashing here and there in the mini-van, but I was determined to bike everywhere.  So, after biking to pick up my youngest from preschool we headed over to the elementary school to serve at "hot lunch" day.  From there we headed up the hill to the local grocery store.  I've been pushing myself to set my bike at a higher gear just to feel the burn a little bit more.  Having my little taskmaster sitting in the child seat behind me helps as well....she reminds me when I need to pick up the pace!

I felt very Parisian biking home from the store with a baguette sticking out of the grocery bag.  Too bad I don't have a wicker basket....

Anyway, finding ways to fit exercise into the regular errands of the day is really the best way for me to make it happen.  And it's so much prettier going to the grocery store on a bike when you get scenes like this!

 My neighborhood has the most amazing network of greenspaces and trails.  And look what was overhead!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Everyday Active #23 - Working for Supper

Single parenthood is tough.  My husband has been away for 10 days, and as all you single moms out there know, it's pretty difficult to keep all your balls juggling in the air at once.  You might feel for a while that you can keep it all going (taking care of the family, making sure the house doesn't implode, keeping everyone fed on something other than frozen pizza and perogies, appointments, taxi-mom, mowing the lawn, refereeing, volunteering at the school, yardwork, having fun with the kids, and then trying to squeeze in daily exercise on top of it all?)  Eventually, something's gotta go and guess what got tossed first?  Exercise.

But after an early bedtime for me last night and a day free of appointments and getting mostly caught up on laundry I felt more energized.  Since kids eat free on Tuesdays at Denny's I decided to celebrate surviving our time without Daddy and took them out for dinner.  But instead of hopping in the car and driving, we took advantage of the sunny day and rode our bikes there instead.  It's about a half hour bike ride mostly uphill on the way there, and then a much faster return home downhill!

So, no 15 km bike ride today, but it was better than the last 3 days!

We also stopped by a new playground on the way home.  Don't you just love the longer days of spring and summer?

P.S.  Dinner for the four of us was only $15 - sweeeet!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

White Bean, Cabbage, Carrot & Potato Soup

It's been a rainy weekend, so there was lots of opportunity to put my apron on and make a big batch of soup for my weekly "Sunday Stew Special".  I had a few potatoes left that were starting to go soft so I figured I'd better use them up.  This soup is a great budget friendly, good ol' classic recipe.  I've also been cooking with dried beans and lentils more and more and cutting back on our dependence upon meat for protein.  Plus, they're cheap, fill you up, have tons of fibre, and are SO GOOD for you!  I cooked up a big crockpot full of white beans earlier this week, so I had some ready to go for this soup.  I've learned it's better to cook the beans ahead of time, store them in the fridge or freezer, and then toss them into recipes as needed.

Anyway, here is what was on today's menu!

White Bean, Cabbage, Carrot and Potato Soup

2 T olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 head medium cabbage, cored and shredded
5 medium potatoes peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups slow cooked (or 1 14 ounce can) cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups veggie or chicken stock (you can learn how to make them from scratch here and here.)
3/4 t. thyme
salt and pepper to taste
20 fennel seeds

Saute the onions, carrot and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until softened -  about 5 minutes.

Toss all the veggies into the slow cooker except for the beans.
Pour the stock over all.
Season with salt and pepper, mix in the fennel seeds, cover and cook on low for 8 -10 hours.
Add beans and stir.
Serve with thick slices of whole grain bread.  This is a great bread dipping soup!

The fennel seeds are apparently supposed to help with the gassiness that can come with high fibre foods such as beans and cabbage.  I'll let you know how it goes.....

Results from the Brownlee Test Kitchen

10 year old - (when she came into the kitchen)  Mmmmm....something smells delicious!  (That was a positive sign!)  It's very potatoey.  I'd say it's a keeper.
13 year old - Does this have cabbage?  (When she was convinced by her 10 yr old sister that you couldn't even taste the cabbage she gave it a try).  It's not bad.  It's a typical potato soup.  Eh.  I guess it's a keeper.  (I was just happy to get some cabbage into my cabbage despising daughter.)
4 year old - More carrots please!  (Soup is one of the few foods I can get her eat more than a couple spoonfuls.)  I managed to convince her to try the white beans too.  She only ate a couple before stating I don't like those beans!  I'm accepting this one as a thumbs up from her though.
The Cook - This is tasty, filling, simple soup.  Good thing I enjoy it...I made so much that I've got a ton stored in the freezer.

As with all soups...use what you have!  Be creative with your herbs and spices.  Make a big batch, store it in small freezer containers and pull it out when you need a quick, healthy lunch or supper.  It's better than a box of instant Mac & Cheese!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Everyday Active #22 - 15 KM

I'm beat!  After spending most of the day pulling weeds and mowing the lawn I wanted to make the most of the nice weather and bike with our girls to a nearby town for Gelato.  My kids were dubious...."That's far Mommy!" but I cajoled them into taking on the challenge.  The way there didn't seem too far, but to avoid the steep uphill on the way home we took a flatter, longer route along the river.  It seemed to take forever!  But the girls persevered (my four year old got to ride on my bike) and we made it home just as it was getting dark.

Plus, the Gelato was great!
Freaky kid on a cone....but the place was packed so I don't think it scares too many customers away...

And the bike trail along the river offers one of my favourite views in the area...

Anyway, it's a good thing tomorrow is a Saturday - I think my kids will be sleeping in!

Everyday Active #21 - Blogger Down

Yesterday the blog site was down so I wasn't able to post, but I did manage to get out and enjoy the non-pouring rain weather with my 10 year old last night.  We went for a bike ride in search of bunnies along some of our favourite paths and trails.

No bunnies were seen (probably because of the large number of people out walking their dogs), but it was a great little 30 minute bike ride at the end of a busy day.


Today the weather is fabulous so the little and I have been enjoying pulling weeds.  Well, she's been enjoying digging in the dirt while I do the pulling!  I anticipate a longer, more epic bike ride tonight with all my girls. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Everyday Active #19 - Do You Zumba?

My sister who lives in Jasper was the first person to tell me about Zumba last year.  She took a class and said it was a blast...but then again this is the sister who took a belly dancing course, so I thought it was one of her granola crunching kicks.  After she mentioned it to me suddenly I noticed signs advertising it everyone, and tons of people talking about what a sweat inducing, calorie burning workout it is.  I figured if something is tons of fun and burns calories like crazy then I'd better give it a shot.

Today I managed to find a free beginner video on the interwebs.  I'm giving you the link here, but as with all video uploads, who knows how long it will be on there!  If that doesn't work for you, simply search zumba under google videos, more than 20 minutes in length.  After the kids were all in bed, I started the workout.  (I'm not a fan of 9:00 pm workouts....but the rest of the day was full so it was then or never...)

This is a great video teaching the basic moves step by step.  But don't think you won't get a workout!  I was dying.  All in all, I did pretty well...WHEN THEY WERE SHOWING THE STEPS HALF TEMPO!!!  Now I know why it's such an intense really have to move it!

I'm glad I found this video...I don't have a lot of opportunity to get out to a class, and I'm not sure I would want to show up to a class without first trying it in my own home.  I'm so white, it's not even funny.  Well, I'm sure it would be funny if someone had a chance to watch me attempt the salsa moves.

Anyway, in case you missed the video link the first time, here it is again.

Do you Zumba?  Any other great beginner videos out there?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Everyday Active #18 - Forgetful

Yesterday I didn't just not exercise....I completely forgot about exercising!  That's a first during this challenge.

Today was the older girls' dance class and I love going for power walks along the country roads in that area.  But I forgot my camera!  And my iPod!  I love power walking with really upbeat music so I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep up the pace.

It ended up being an awesome walk though.  I kept my heart rate up and I enjoyed hearing the twittering of all the songbirds and nearby stream rushing over rocks.  When we got home it was actually semi-nice out (as in not pouring rain!), so the girls played hide and go seek with the neighbor kids while I weeded my poor neglected flower beds.

All in all, I think I made up for yesterday.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Everyday Active #17 - Taxi Mom

I'm sure many of you relate to the years of being "Taxi Mom".  We are fully into that time of life where our older girls enjoy all sorts of social/extra-curricular activities, and therefore your life largely involves shuttling them from one event to the next.  That was largely my day.

But my four year old got to stick by Mommy's side today and she faithfully reminded me, "When are you doing your EA Active?"  Wow.  Nothing like having your preschooler keep you accountable.  And it was pouring rain most of the day, so thank goodness I've got an indoor workout plan.

Remember when I said yesterday that you get what you put into your Wii workout?  Well today I got SORE glutes!  Holy cow.  Sitting down was entertaining.  Therefore, today I let my lower body rest and just did an upper body workout.  Summer is hopefully one day coming and it's time to tone triceps!

See you tomorrow!  No excuses!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Everyday Active #16 - Can You "Cheat" on the Wii?

I wanted to avoid falling into the late evening "too tired to work out" trap so I made sure to do my Everyday Active right after I dropped my little one off at preschool.  The piles of laundry and mess in the kitchen would have to wait!  Since the rain was coming down pretty hard it meant another Wii Workout.  (Yes, I live on the West Coast & rain is expected....and no it usually doesn't continue like this into MAY.....Spring....where ARE YOU?)

Things I like about EA Active is that it has a lot of options and a lot of their exercises help work your thigh muscles.  My knees have felt kinda achy lately (damp weather?  old age? inheriting my mother & grandmother's arthritis?), so I need to be strengthening my quads. I chose the Sports Drill Hard level, 'cause it's more fun to pretend you're playing volleyball, tennis, or basketball when really they are sneakily making you do squats, jumps, and lunges.

EA Sports Active 2

A friend mentioned to me one time that you don't even need to get off the couch to use the Wii...that it's all in the "flick of the wrist".  So that leads to the question....can you cheat on your Wii Workout?  I guess the answer would be yes, but really....why would you?  If you don't want the results that exercise gives you, then wouldn't it be more enjoyable to lie on the couch with a book and a bowl of ice cream?

So if you're working out with EA Active like I get what you put into it.  Focus on your form, feel the burn, and push harder!  The workout predicted about 182 calories would be burned and I made it over 200!

On another note, a friend of mine said she tried Wii Zumba...I'm thinking of checking it out...anyone else tried it?
Zumba Fitness

Or maybe I should just check out some of the DVDs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Everyday Active #15 - Find a Buddy

After a busy week attending two back to back conferences it was high time for me to get back to my exercise plan.  But I was significantly lacking in motivation this evening.  Thank goodness for my husband!  I'm sure he would have much rather sat down and watched Mythbusters, but he offered to go for a 30 minute power walk with me instead!  I tried to whine my way out of it, but I knew that I would feel better once I got out.

And the rain that had pretty much fallen all day had actually stopped, leaving the evening air smelling fresh and feeling almost springlike.

And of course the chance for a heart to heart with my beloved always makes everything better.

Best way to motivate yourself out of workout apathy?  Find a buddy!

"It's So Good You Don't Need to Put Butter On It" Whole Wheat Banana Bread

I've been absent from blogging after attending two 3-day conferences back to back - the first was on hearing loss (effective communication, learning & advocacy for my four year old) and the second was our denomination's annual Pastor's Conference.  All my good intentions for an "Everyday Active" have gone out the window this last week.  Regular exercise takes some serious commitment!!!  I admire those of you who don't let travel or change in schedule throw you off your routine.  **applause**

If talking about regular exercise is making uncomfortable thoughts rise up within you, here's something to soothe your pain....what's more comforting that warm, fresh, homemade banana bread straight out of the oven?  When we returned home from our Pastor's Conference we had about one hour before our house would be filled with a pile of young adults who we mentor weekly. And they are generally hungry.  Starving, even.  Some of them exist on pizza pops and "frozen whatever".  I must admit, it felt "back to my wonderful normal" to put my apron on and quickly make up something yummy and healthy  to feed people I love.

"It's So Good You Don't Need to Put Butter On It" Whole Wheat Banana Bread
 ½ cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups mashed very ripe banana (3-4 medium to large bananas)
¼ cup honey
2 large eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or dried cranberries if desired..I had neither on hand, but it turned out fine without.

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
- Beat together the butter, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Add the banana, honey and eggs, beating until smooth. Add the flour and nuts, stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and let it rest at room temperature, uncovered for 10 minutes.
- Bake the bread for 40 minutes or until outside starts getting dark. Lay a piece of foil gently across the top and bake until a cake tester (like a toothpick) inserted into the center comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.

This recipe that I found on a website called Breadtopia turned out fabulous!  I always struggled with burning the outside of my banana bread in order to get the inside cooked through.  I had never been told to simply cover with foil.  Duuuuuuhhhh.  I was patient and made sure to let it cool enough before slicing and it didn't crumble into a million pieces.  The entire loaf was gone in about 5 minutes and got rave reviews from even the pickiest eaters of our young adults group.  One of them was shocked that something with whole wheat actually tasted good and another said, "It's so good you don't even need to put butter on it!"  (Hence the name....)

So, if you still aren't convinced that whole wheat baked goods can be as moist and fluffy as those made with white flour I dare you to try this recipe.  And if you really need help making the switch from white to whole wheat, simply STOP BUYING WHITE FLOUR at the grocery store.  It's amazing how quickly you'll start loving baking with whole wheat.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Everyday Active # 14 - Bike to DQ track record hasn't been so great lately....I'm skipping out almost as often as I'm working out! Today in spite of the fact that I was at a seminar with Ellie all day for hearing loss resources/advocacy (she has mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears and wears hearing aides. I was feeling pretty wiped out mentally & physically I was determined to get some oxygen to my brain.

I convinced my 13 year old to bike up to the Dairy, not to indulge in a Peanut Buster Parfait, but to pick out an ice cream cake for her upcoming birthday party. Biking uphill into the wind to get there definitely got rid of the cobwebs!

We also popped by the grocery store to pick up a few British items for our Royal Wedding Watching. My big girls and I are going to TRY to wake up at 3:00 AM to watch along with all the other 2 Billion people on the planet. It'll be a memory!

 How's that for a last minute - "Hey, let's pop over to the store to get something for the Royal Wedding!" idea!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Everyday Active # 13 - Bike Race

Whenever possible, I like to spend time with my kids while doing my "Everyday Active". My 13 year old wanted to drop something off at a friend's house and we also needed to return a library book, so off we biked. Uphill. Urrrrg! I was feeling the burn.

It's worth it to get out though when you get to pass by a lane of trees heavy with gorgeous blossoms.

Of course that means that the way home is downhill and so much fun! You can just fly! It finally levels out on our street so my daughter and I raced the final blocks home. I won....but just barely....

So if you're looking for a heart racing workout....challenge your spry teenager to a bike race - I guarantee it'll get your cardio in!

"Anything But Split Pea!" Ham and White Bean Soup

I'm sure that there's many Split Pea Soup lovers out there.  Making a big old pot of it is as much a part of your post Easter traditions as snatching up discounted chocolate is.  At least I know that batch of homemade Split Pea Soup was a part of my childhood.

And I hated that soup.

To be fair, I haven't tried that mushy, pukey green soup in years.  Decades, really.  Although I know I have to conquer overcome that childhood trauma someday, I wanted to make leftover ham soup with something other than split peas.  So I compromised and decided on white navy beans.

White Bean Ham Soup

2 cups cooked white beans (or use canned if you don't like messing with dried beans).
4 cups veggie stock (I made some homemade stock the day before)
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup raw potato, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
2 cups leftover diced ham
1 can of kernel corn
Place potatoes in veggie stock along with bay leaf.
Cover and bring to a boil slowly. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about till potatoes begin to get tender. Add cooked beans, celery, ham, corn and simmer till heated through.  
Season with salt and pepper.

Of course there's tons more things you can do with this soup - use a ham bone to make the stock, add carrots, canned tomatoes, onions & garlic - but I simply used what I had on hand and it worked great.  That's what I love about homemade soup, you just use what you have!

Maybe next year I'll try the Split Pea version....but then again my children ate this without gagging, so maybe I'd better stick with what works!

Linking up to:
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Everday Active # 12 - Double Duty

Wow - getting a workout in on a holiday is no easy task!  Especially when you're hosting an Easter Dinner and Egg Hunt for 13 people.  Thus, an Everyday Active did not happen yesterday.  I'm beginning to understand why people do that early morning thing....

I decided to double it up and do a one hour  "Hard Marathon" EA Active Workout today. Quite a different workout from that first Wii workout on the easy level!

378 calories burned baby!  My knees are feeling pretty achy now, but that could also be from the hour I spent kneeling in my shower scrubbing out mildew from the shower door tracks with a toothbrush.  Not sure which was more painful....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Everyday Active # 11 - We Don't "Stroll" Through Gardens

Yep, yesterday was another "skip" day for me...the morning got away from me, and after going to a Good Friday service in the afternoon, we spontaneously had a bunch of people over afterwards for pizza and games that went on till midnight.

So, lesson learned....get your workout in early!

Today was finally a lovely spring day. We went as a family to a fun Easter event and then spent a couple hours wandering around a huge garden in the city. You would think that strolling through the gardens isn't much of a workout...unless you're going with three kids who love to charge through the trails and dash through the hedge maze and climb on rocks and sculptures that you didn't realize had "DO NOT CLIMB" signs on them till afterwards....
 Hey kid!  Off those rocks!

At least we didn't get kicked out.

All in all, not a heart pumping cardio....but muscles were definitely stretched, especially when pushing the stroller uphill!  And there was so much beauty to behold...

Hope you were able to enjoy the day too!

"No Buy" Easter Decorating

I love getting excited about holidays.  And Easter is the best of them all!  But I'm not crazy about excessive materialism and the meaning of special days just getting lost in all the "stuff".  So I've avoided buying decorations for every holiday under the sun, and try to either just make things, or use what we already have.

We gathered up all the bunny/sheep/chickie stuffies in the house and arranged them - add a vase full of moss gathered from the ravine out back, and a mason jar with the chocolate eggs (okay, so I had to buy those) and voila!

Easter vignette that doesn't take up valuable off season storage space!
Cheap bulk section chocolates look so much better in a Mason jar!

I'm also a fan of finding free printables to put into frames with the change in seasons.  I thought this one from "Stay at Home Artist" was really pretty.
Yeah, I know - the praying bunny is over the top cheezy - but I've got three adorable daughters; they are in love with "cute".

I really don't need to schlep home a bunch of stuff from the dollar store to make the celebration special.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Everyday Active - Skipping Out

We interrupt this evening to blog to you that I have officially skipped out today. No, I didn't get a good cardio workout with a jump rope either. After a seven hour day of appointments at BC Children's with my littlest one, and an hour and a half drive home through traffic (Easter weekend, NHL playoff game to blame!) - it was going to be a stretch to fit one in. Not that I didn't have good husband suggested I could walk up to the video store to return an overdue movie. So after getting the kids going on baths & showers I was all set to do that....when my hubby realized at 8:06 PM that he was supposed to be in a 8:00 PM! Ooops! By the time I got all the kids tucked into bed my bed my jammies were just looking waaay to good to me. I just couldn't muster up the will for a Wii workout.

Peppermint tea and a chick flick it is....I'm officially skipping out!

Upcycled Cardboard Tube Flowers

I wanted to make a springy/easter banner or garland with my girls, and I saw a picture somewhere (I wish I could remember where the link was since I got the idea from there!) of an adorable garland made of recycled toilet paper or paper towel tubes.  Apparantly lots of people have done this, because it was pretty easy to find a how to on the web - check it out! 

Cardboard Tube Flowers

Here's an example of a really crazy, cool one! 

We had a freak hailstorm one afternoon last week, so it was the perfect time for the girls and I to do an indoor activity.  This is a great craft for all ages - my 13 year old enjoyed mixing up all the craft paint colours, and my 4 year old sat for in a chair for at least half an hour carefully painting her toilet paper petals with a little paintbrush.  After they were painted, we let them dry overnight, pinched them & glued them into five petal flower shapes, poked a hole in the top petal, and strung them on a piece of ribbon.  Oh yes, we also painted a sheet of corrugated cardboard, cut it into circles, and glued them onto the flower for the centre.

It was so stinkin' easy, fun, and FREE!  And with the bizarre temperamental weather we've had lately it's nice to have a few flowers to brighten the doorway.

Happy Easter!

Linked to Thrifty Thursday

Everyday Active #10 - Low Impact

I wasn't able to post this yesterday  because our internet service was down, but I did do this yesterday - honest!

I was battling a low grade headache all day, so I decided that a heart pounding, cardio workout wasn't a great idea.  Good thing the Wii EA Active has some great low impact options.  I chose a workout I had never done before called Upper Body Sculpt and Tone.

While it wasn't a huge calorie burning workout, I know it was worthwhile, because my triceps are achy today!  It makes great use of the resistance band - a great versatile workout tool since you can make the tension whatever you need.

I haven't done a workout today yet and the little one and I are off to a couple Dr's appointments, but I'll fit something in tonight!  Blogging sure keeps me motivated on days that I'd be more inclined to skip....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Everyday Active #9 - Go On a Mission

It really helps me to go for a power walk or some form of exercise knowing that my husband has my back.  After supper was done and chores were accomplished he put the little one to bed and got the big girls going on music practice and shooed me out the door.  He sent me on a mission to go to the bank and deposit money.  I always find that it's more motivating for me to walk SOMEWHERE on a mission, rather than just walking.  It was a 45 minute power walk there & back, and now my husband doesn't have to have "stop at bank" on his to do list.  Need to pick up some milk?  Return a book to the library?  Go to the video store?  Walk instead!  Get the exercise and save the gas...

It was an added bonus that it wasn't raining....the weather was schizophrenic today....sunny and warm one moment, black and pouring or hailing the next!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Everyday Active #8 - Wii With Kids

Normally on Mondays I go for an hour long power walk while my big girls are at dance, but my hubby wasn't able to get home in time to watch our four year old during that time.  So the "Little" and I ran some errands and I vowed to get some exercise in sometime that evening.  By the time supper, chores, baths, etc. etc were done it was getting late and my motivation was waning.  So when my eldest asked if we could play some Wii I figured that would be a good way to get some activity in and have some family fun.  I like to include my kids into my "Everyday Active" whenever I can.

Wii SportsWii Sports Resort

So for about 45 minutes we did sword play, cycling, tennis, baseball, and finally some boxing.  I found the only game that really got my heart rate up was the boxing.  I'll count it as an Everyday Active.....but just barely.  I think the Wii Sports & Wii Sports resort is awesome for getting kids up off the couch but not the calorie burning workout I would normally try to get.

However, at the end of a busy day with two therapy appointments and lots of Mommy chauffeuring, it's better than just defaulting to collapsing on the couch.  
Sneaky husband snapped a pic!  :-P