Archive for February, 2011






It’s a good thing we have just enough:)

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How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

James and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day with each other. Before the kids we felt that we didn’t need one day to mark the love we showed for each other all year. Now that we are parents, we usually just do something fun with the kids. A card, usually homemade, a little treat, some decorations, a fun meal, perhaps some Valentine stories or a game.

This year we got an unexpected Valentine’s Meal, courtesy of Ashley and Caitlin.

From 02 February 2011

They launched a restaurant called it Bistro Pinguino, in honor of our kitchen, and even set up their own menu board.

From 02 February 2011

Ashley was our waitress.

We had the best seats in the house ,with a beautiful floral centerpiece (we had given each girl one of these plants as a Valentine’s gift). There was a bell to summon the waitress. Caitlin was the cook, though she seemed to have a lot of interaction with diners.

From 02 February 2011

Once we had eaten there were comment cards to be filled out and a complimentary chocolate to be eaten (no photo of that, I was too busy eating it :))

From 02 February 2011

Ashley even made me a real cup of tea because she knows how much I love a cup of tea 🙂

From 02 February 2011

Despite a strict no animals policy, we seemed to be overrun with animals trying to dine at the Bistro. Amongst those animals trying to crash the dining room were a cat and pot bellied pigs. These were then followed by a horse, a bear, goats and even a wolf. They must have heard to food was good. Staff took immediate action. They swiftly escorted each of the animals outside and adjusted their sign after each incident.

From 02 February 2011

As we were leaving we noticed them gathered on the ground outside, obviously overwrought at missing a good meal.

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“Allow a child the privilege of being a child. He will be one for such a brief moment.” -James Dobson

Someone I know has recently experience the excruciating loss of an extended family member, her 7 month old niece. I had never met the niece nor anyone in the extended family, however that does not diminish my ability to grieve for the death of this baby girl and her family and the person that I know.

Discovering this tragedy this week coincided with my scrapbooking goal of creating a scrapbooking page for each of my children to be displayed in our kitchen. As I worked on theses pages I had the opportunity to reflect on just how much they add to my life. It is hard to imagine life without them. Last night I finished the pages and sent them for printing. Thankfully, I’m a digital scrapbooker, which means you get to see them now. I’ll post a photo at a later date of them when they are proudly displayed in our kitchen.





Now today, go cherish those around you that you love. We are all transient beings and we have no idea how long we have each other. Love with all you’ve got.

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Each month I will be checking in with you all on the progress I am making with my goals for the year. I hope that this public accountability with family, friends and my blogging community will help keep me moving forward with them. I noticed that the first half of my goals were very much house and family related and the second half more personal. To avoid a really long post, I’ll be splitting my monthly updates into two parts. So here is the second installment of the January update. You can find January Update Part 1 here.

6. Read Book Club Books Each Month

I read The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin. Start to finish. Whoohoo!

It was an okay read, though I got a lot more out of after visiting the Science Fiction Museum at the EMP. I learned that LeGuin wrote it as a feminist text to examine what a world would look like if the population was not separated into male and female. In the world depicted in her book the people are hemaphrodite. It was interesting and I’m thinking of reading more science fiction as a result, so it was good to have read it.

7. Attend All Book Club Meetings (except possibly July)

Went to Laura’s and had a great time. Thanks Laura. The company, food and conversation were energizing as usual. I loved the Barley Soup Laura served and have been promised the recipe. Maybe I can adapt it for the crockpot 🙂

8. Read Stack of Long Time Wanna Reads

This has gotten off to a slow start. I only finished my bookclub book in January, but I have started The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Wincester. I haven’t had much downtime in January. Maybe I’ll have more in February.

9. Set a Scrapbooking Goal Once a Month and Complete It

We have taken monthly photos of the children during their first year and have framed these for Ashley and Caitlin. While we took photos of Ethan and have started taking them of Sean, I hadn’t finalized which photos we’d use for each month. I  have now identified all of the monthly birthday photos from Ethan’s first year and for Sean for his first six months. I will now continue researching frames. The kind we used for Ashley and Caitlin have been discontinued so now we need something else.

Btw, I was hoping to show you the photos that we will be framing for Ethan and the ones we’ve chosen so far for Sean’s frame. However, due to some archiving problems I can’t show them this month. Hopefully, I can show them soon. Meanwhile if you click on the link above you’ll see Ashley’s and Caitlin’s first year photos and Ethan’s first month photo. You can also see the most recent monthly photos if Sean at 5 months here and 6 months here.

10. Set a Sewing/Craft/Other Project Goal Once a Month and Complete It

I had two incomplete projects that I wanted to complete for Janet. One a very old project and the other I agreed to before Christmas.

The more recent project was to make some bands to wrap around the bottom of trousers when cycling. Janet gave me a reflector band that she wanted me to work from and the fabric she had chosen. They turned out quite well. However, when she wears them a lot of the velcro is revealed. It didn’t stand out so obviously when I saw her wear the refelector bands but with the fabric ones it doesn’t look as great as it could. So I’m going to make them again using more fabric to cover the velcor that would be revealed when worn. I just need to buy more velcro because I’m all out. Fortunately there is still plenty of fabric left from the fat quarters Janet gave me.


The older project was from a gift that Janet had given me a number of years ago. It was a pattern for making a lidded box. I made one for myself and then started one for Janet. It has been sitting unfinished in my UFO box for a long time. It feels very good to finally have it finished and to have given it to Janet.

11. Get More Sleep

Well, I failed miserably on this one. We will start sleep training Sean this month, so hopefully I’ll have a better report at the end of February.

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Goals 2011 January Update Part 1

Each month I will be checking in with you all on the progress I am making with my goals for the year. I hope that this public accountability with family, friends and my blogging community will help keep me moving forward with them. I noticed that the first half of my goals were very much house and family related and the second half more personal. To avoid a really long post, I’ll be splitting my monthly updates into two parts. So here is the first installment of the January update.

I can’t say that it amazes me that a month can go by so fast, considering how I felt that last year seemed to pass quicker than any other year in my life so far. Here we are with January over and time for my first goals update. So how did I do? Let’s find out.

1. Update Quicken Weekly
Yay, I did this. I’m so pleased. I’m still completing my report for January and have a little dilemma as to how best to incorporate cash spent but withdrawn from our account last year and the use of scrip which was bought last year. At the moment I am creating the January report in Quicken using the information in the software. I will then supplement the report by simply writing the additional extra for the categories on the paper report. This addistional information will be a break down into categories of the scrip and cash used in January. I’m not content with this solution and will work on an alternative. I’ve ordered two guide books for Quicken from the library to see if I can figure out a better way to incorporate the scrip and cash breakdowns. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

2. Keep Grocery Spending under $500 per Month

This was a little more complex than just assigning a $500 budget to each month.

I decided to break up my shopping year into quarters. This is to help incorporate the bulk purchases I make at Costco. I decided that I would try to make a run to Costco only every 3 months this year to stock up on bulk items and see how that goes. Whatever I spend at Costco for each quarter will be deducted from my grocery budget for that quarter. As the number of weeks vary each month, the remaining budget for the quarter will be divided by the number of weeks in that quarter, and then I’ll add together the number of weeks in a particular month to see what the final budget for that month will be. Sound complicated? Here is what I did in actual numbers to help illustrate:

January Costco Trip=$410.83
Number of weeks in 1st quarter (January-March)=13
$410.83/13 weeks=$31.60 to be deducted from each weekly budget  for the 1st quarter.

Budget for 1st quarter=$1500
$1500/13 weeks=$115.39 per week
$115.39 (weekly budget for 1st quarter)-$31.60 (portion of Costco bill deducted from each week of the 1st quarter)=$83.79 true weekly budget for 1st quarter

January has 4 weeks. Total budget for January=$83.79×4=$335.16

My grocery spending for January was $334.15, which means I was $1.01 under budget for the month. Isn’t that excellent?!

3. Inventory House One Section a Month

My plan was to make an inventory of the kitchen this month. I almost made this more complicated than it needed to be. I have an excel spreadsheet that would involve a lot of detail. I realized that all I needed to do for now was take photos of everything in the kitchen. So I did. And now I’ll place them in an inventory document and move on to the next section of our house, which will be the garage.

4. Use Slow Cooker at Least Once a Month this Year

I made Turkey Noodle Soup from the Christmas turkey carcass, which I had thrown in the freezer.
I also developed two really good Chicken Noodle Soup recipes in the crockpot.
And I made very tasty Barbeque Spare Ribs. I am working on tweaking this recipe as my family seem to prefer their barbeque sauce sweet rather than spicy.

Using the crockpot really is a great time saver, leaving more time for just being with the family instead of working in the kitchen.

5. One Family Activity Each Weekend

We went to Carkeek Park at the start of the month, played in the playground and watched the sunset. We went with Granddad to see the first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Illness has curtailed outdoor weekend activities outside the house for the latter half of the month, so we hung around the house together, engaged in crafts and enjoyed discovering America’s Best Dance Crew online.

So there you go the first half of my goals have gotten off to a good start. I’ll be back tomorrow with part 2 and we’ll see how my more personal goals progressed.

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FYI, I will be publishing archives in chunks to incorporate my old blogcity blog here into wordpress. I’ve figured out a way to prevent email subscribers from receiving these posts and having their inbox flooded with notifications. (I’ll publish 10 archives tonight to test if it works. If you receive email notifications, please let me know. Then I’ll troubleshoot some more before continuing.)

For those receiving the rss feed, I’m not sure if you will see these posts as new posts. Again, please let me know. If your end up receiving them I’ll add archives in small chunks over the rest of the year rather than try to get my 300+ archive entries posted over the next month or two!

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And the answer is…

…blueberries!!! If you guessed correctly then congratulate yourself. It means you have been paying attention to my blueberry posts 🙂 We just love blueberries around here. I usually wait until berries are in season before buying them. But every so often I buy some for a treat. They don’t last long, but the memory of impromptu picnics on the floor lasts forever.

On this particular day, once the blueberries were all gone, we sat on the rug in the kitchen and ate grapes and sandwiches and cheese and crackers too. Grandma stopped by and happened to have a sandwich and mince pie with her so she joined the fun too.

By the way, Lorna, do you see what Ashley is wearing on her wrist? The friendship bracelet you made her is one of her favorite things too. Actually, I’d go as far as calling it one of her treasures 😉 Thanks for making it for her.

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