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:
Tip Junkie handmade projectsAnything Related

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

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Everyday Active #7 - The Little Taskmaster

This afternoon I went for a bike ride with my four year old crammed into the bike seat on the back.

The sky started out looking pretty dark and ominous.
It was cold and windy enough to warrant fuzzy mitts.

But we biked along some pretty paths through woods....

  Over bridges....

And arrived at a park just as the sun was coming out again...
We took a few moments to play on the swings.

I wasn't sure how much of a workout I would get today, but my little taskmaster made sure I felt the burn.  As I paused halfway up a hill all out of breath she asked, "Why are you stopping Mommy?"
Me:  "I'm out a breath, I need a break."
Ellie:  Pausing about three seconds, "OK, break's over Mommy! Go Mommy!  Go!  You can do it!  I want to go fast Mommy!  Pedal faster!

Who needs a personal trainer?  I had a 35 lb taskmaster sitting right behind me.

"Kids Are Gone" Cabbage & Kielbasa Dinner

My oldest daughter hates cabbage.  It's really too bad, 'cause it's such a misunderstood veggie.  Plus, it's cheap!  And it lasts such a LONG time in the fridge!  Plus we're part Ukrainian.

But since she and her sister were invited out to a movie today with their friends, I decided to make something that they wouldn't mind missing.

Slow Cooker Cabbage/Potato/Sausage Dinner


    1 small head cabbage, diced into large chunks 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped 1 1/2 to 2 pounds Kielbasa turkey sausage cut in 1 to 2-inch pieces 4-6 potatoes, cubed 1 cup apple juice 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon cider vinegar 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar pepper, to taste


Layer the potatoes, onion, cabbage, and sausage in slow cooker. Whisk together the juice, mustard, vinegar, brown sugar; pour over slow cooker ingredients.

Sprinkle with pepper, to taste. Cover and cook on low for  6-8 hours.

Note to self:  When you leave the house make sure you don't accidentally unplug the the slow cooker or else when you come home hungry at 1:30 PM you won't find the food cold and uncooked and you don't have to wait another half hour while you fry the food up in the electric skillet.

At any rate, here's what the Brownlee Test Kitchen had to say:

Husband:  It's Ukrain-i-lish-ous - I like it.
Starving College Student:  I was a little worried at first about the cabbage, but the flavour of the sausage makes up for it - that's definitely the best part of the stew.
The Cook:  I like it - the cabbage isn't too soggy and it's flavour gets milder when it's cooked.  (I liked it so much that I had the leftovers later in the evening.)
Four Year Old: - ate nothing.  Her kidney disease leaves her with no appetite, which is made up for with a super high calorie formula mix she drinks....if I can get a few bites of food into her it's more just for the fun of it.

Super cheap, super easy, and I love it....but then again, that's probably the Ukrainian in me showing up!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Everyday Active #6 - Workout and a Wedding

Time got away from me this morning, and before I knew it, it was an hour before I needed to leave with my husband for a wedding.  Being late wasn't an option, in fact we needed to be there half and hour early since he was performing the ceremony.  I knew I wouldn't be thrilled about having to work out after I returned home from the reception so I was determined to make it happen before I left.

It's so hilarious having my girls dance around me in the living room getting in on some of the exercises.  I love this part of using the Wii - I'm not leaving them to go exercise - they can be a part of it with me, even if it means a little laughing at Mommy's expense.  "Come on Mommy - can't you bend lower?"

Getting in half an hour with the Wii EA Active might have meant that I was blowing out  my hair in the van using the heater vents and putting on my makeup in the parking lot, but hey - there was a chocolate fondue to enjoy at the reception....the workout meant less guilt was involved in the chocolate dipped strawberries.....

Friday, April 15, 2011

Everyday Active #5 - What a Difference a Day Makes!

Yesterday I was biking in hail with fuzzy mitts on my hands.

Today I was going for a walk in the sunshine along the river with no jacket on.

What a difference a day makes!

I'm blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places in North America, and I'm a five minute drive away from one of my favourite trails in the area - The Fort to Fort trail along the Fraser River.
We've gone for picnics, weiner roasts, jogs, and romantic strolls along was a 45 minute power walk for mommy.

No bears were spotted today!  Whew!

 I cannot resist taking a photo of a curvy, sun dappled trail....

 The trees are only just beginning to bud.

 A splash of colour!

Epic looking trees that were planted by the first settlers in the area over 150 years ago....

The only problem with going for a power walk along such a beautiful trail is all stopping and starting to take photos.  But I can't really say that I mind that problem...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Light & Luscious Whole Wheat Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

As much as we're all hoping for spring around these parts it's been rather elusive.  While my area just experienced rain & hail today, communities only a half hour from here got snow! 

Thus, it was a good day to bake.  And while I had visions of fluffy lemon meringue pie, or coconut lemon bars in mind when I bought a bag of lemons last week, I decided that muffins would be a better match for the weather.
I found a promising sounding recipe at GreenLiteBites and gave it a go.

I know a lot of whole wheat muffins can turn out rather dense and unforgiving.  This one is not!  You will really forget that it is made entirely with whole wheat flour if you follow the recipe, and don't overstir your batter.  I had to make a few slight changes to the recipe because of what I had on hand - here's my version.

Light and Luscious Whole Wheat Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
  • 3 cups (150g) of whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 squeezed lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds
  • non-stick cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Mix together the whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside
In a medium bowl add the eggs, yogurt, honey, applesauce and lemon juice and zest. Whisk until well blended and a bit “frothy”. Mix in the poppy seeds.
Mix the sifted flour with the egg/poppy mixture until just moistened. Don’t over mix!
Distribute the batter in regular sized muffin tin cups sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for about 18 minutes.  Makes about 20 muffins.

I also made a lemon glaze to up the lemon ante a bit - I simply squeezed another lemon into 2/3 cup icing sugar, a tsp of lemon zest, added a touch of water to thin it out and drizzled over the freshly baked muffins.

YUM!  There's no oil, no butter and they are SO soft & moist just from the yogurt & applesauce.  A suitable substitute for a luscious lemony dessert on a cold and rainy day....

Everyday Active #4 - Windows of Opportunity

Planning ahead is crucial for me to be able to squeeze in exercise.  Unless I want to get up early, or work out late at night (not so much!), then there will always be things that get in the way of a workout.  Finding "windows" in my day is what helps.

Today my 4 year old got out of preschool at 11:00 AM and I was due to help serve hot lunch at my older daughters' elementary school at 11:45.  Going home for half an hour in between wasn't a great use of my time, so I decided to bike to the preschool, then bike uphill to the local library to return an (overdue!) Barney DVD.  I knew that I'd have to really push it to make it there and back, so it was going to be a good workout.

Of course the return trip is a lot faster & involves a  lot of coasting downhill - but my legs sure felt the burn on the way up!  To make the bike ride even more exciting, on our way back from the school, after helping serve hot lunch it started hailing.  Of course my four year old thought it was hilarious....I'm sure the drivers passing by thought this mom was a crazy woman, biking through the hail with her preschooler.

Getting out is possible - no matter what the weather is like!

P.S.  Too bad I forgot my camera today.  Biking in the inclement weather would have made an interesting photo.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Everyday Active #3 - Wii EA Active

It's been a while since I put in my EA Active Disk.  Not because I don't like it....I think it's a great resource for busy moms!

 EA Sports Active

I used it a lot last year and it's a great exercise resource to have on hand for days when getting out isn't a possibility. With a speech therapy appointment, school meeting, and small group coming over tonight it was a great option to be able to do a quick 30 min workout before we had to head out today. I don't even need to try to keep my preschooler occupied during this time, because she likes my preschooler dancing in circles around me. I picked an easy level, but the great thing about the EA Active is that you can pick different intensity & length workouts, or custom make your own.

Next time I'll up my game and go for a longer workout, but this one was perfect for today before I had to run out the door.

Anyone else every use this?  I especially love the boxing exercises.  :-)  There's a newer version out there that I don't have, but I hear it's a gooder.  I'd love to get your feedback if you ever use it.

EA Sports Active 2

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Upcycled Vinyl Records into Funky Bowls

My 12 year old was given a great book for Christmas called, "DIY Divas".  It's got tons of fun, simple crafts, jewlery making, sewing, beauty products and decorating ideas for preteen girls.  She loves it!

DIY Girl

After school today she made this simple craft in about half an hour - records into funky bowls!

Find a couple of old vinyl records.  Garage sales, thrift stores, your parent's or grandparent's basement....


Place an oven proof bowl on a cookie sheet and centre record on top of bowl.

 With oven at 200 F watch it carefully till the sides begin to droop over side of bowl.  Remove from oven.

Working quickly use oven mitts to fold and press the record over the bowl shape.

It hardens pretty quickly.  If you didn't get the shape you desire you can heat it some more and try again.

She tried a couple and here's the result!  Pretty funky!  I have no idea what she's going to do with them - maybe put chips in them for her upcoming b-day party.

It's great to find crafts that aren't too baby-ish or even girly for the preteens or teens in your life.

Linked to:
Today's Creative Blog - Get Your Craft On
Tip Junkie handmade projects
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