Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Spring Cleaning Challenge - 400 Item Purge

Hello my friends! I hope you are all having a fantastic week, I know with this weather it’s nothing but sunshine over here. For the last while, most of the posts on this little blog have been recipes and menu plans and while those are fun (and delicious) it’s time for me to get back to the root of this blog.

The reason that I started blogging in the first place is because I decided to find my own form of minimalism, which I labelled minimalish. I was voraciously reading blogs on home organization and decluttering and minimalism and trying to find a way to clear out the excess from my life. With help from friends I managed to make some serious organizing headway and cleared minivan-loads of "stuff" out of our home. It felt great and I was doing really well, but sometime between minimal-ish and today things have started to creep back into our house.

With spring break for the girls starting next week and the hubby home for a week, we are going to get a start on our spring cleaning. It is much easier to actually wash the walls, windows, blinds and floors when not constantly moving things around. To that end, I asked Miss A to pick a number between 1 and 500 - she chose 400. So, this weekend, our family is going to purge 400 items from our house. If each of us commits to picking through 100 items that can go, we will make it to our 400 item goal in no time!

We have done it before! Back in 2012, we did a 300 Item Purge. Look at how cute and little my littles used to be!! We did a massive purge of kids stuffies and clothes back then. Well, a couple of years and a couple of sizes have passed, so I am sure we can start by purging the kids closets, but there are many other areas to try too! I'm getting excited to see how much we get accomplished!! I even have my hubby involved this time! I'm not sure how much he'll be purging of his own stuff, but if I have my way, more than a few old tshirts will be making their way onto the purge pile...

I'll check in with you guys later in the week to let you know about our progress. Thanks for stopping by! I hope I've inspired you a little today!!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Menu Plan Monday - March 1, 2015

I can hardly believe I just typed the words March 1 in the subject line for this post! March??? When did that happen???We had an amazing weekend, filled with family, friends and trophies!! We celebrated Miss E’s 6th birthday with a rainbow themed party at our local gymnastics facility. She had a ton of friends and a ton of fun. All the kids left the party a sweaty mess, filled with sugar and with giant smiles on their faces!

Yesterday the girls competed in a feisanna (Irish dancing competition) with a few hundred other competitors. I’m so proud to say that the Steel School of Irish Dance dominated the winner’s podium! Both of my girls rocked their dances and they both won medals and even more exciting – they won trophies!


The Cinnamon Swirl Bread post that I shared last week was gobbled up in mere minutes by the girls.  Make sure to serve a few slices right out of the oven.... it was amazing!!

Last week’s menu plan was a great success – we managed to follow along five out of seven days. Although we didn’t get a chance to try out the new recipe I had planned for Sunday, I think I’ll add that on to this week’s menu to try it out.

On the menu this week:
Monday: Spaghetti Carbonara
Tuesday: Teriyaki chicken stir fry and spring rolls
Wednesday: Kiddo’s cooking tonight – chicken strips, fries and salad
Thursday: Baked Ziti
Friday: Bacon wrapped pork roast, parmesan roasted potato wedges and steamed vegetables
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Kung Pao chicken and rice
I’ll be linking my menu plan up to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday – check it out!!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Sandwiches. When I was a kid, that's what I had in my Rainbow Brite lunchbox. Every. Day. Flash forward so many years into the future and I have two littles packing lunchbags to school every day. BOTH of my small people refuse to eat sandwiches and this mama is running out of options.

I have had a lot of success with sending baked goods with the girls instead of sandwiches, and I wanted to try something other than these (awesome) Banana Oat Muffins that I make every other week. While watching tv the other week, we saw an ad for Robin Hood quick breads and the girls wanted to try them. I hit up my fave recipe site allrecipes.com and searched for a Cinnamon Bread recipe. I specifically was looking for a recipe that didn't include yeast (like a loaf of bread) and could be made with ingredients that I have on hand all the time.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread 
Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com

Ingredients


1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan with non-stick spray. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup brown sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and remaining brown sugar. Combine egg, milk and vegetable oil. Stir wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle with half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Pour the remaining half of the batter on top, and then top with the remaining cinnamon and sugar.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack for ten minutes. Slice into delicious slices and serve warm if you can!!

I plan on making these into muffins next week for the littles to be able to pack along easier when they go to dance class. When I make them into muffins, I'll modify this recipe with the new cook time.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope I've inspired you a little today!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Feb 23, 2015

Hello my friends!! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. We celebrated our littlest little, Miss E getting ready to turn SIX! Our whole family (except my sister, who had to work) got together for an evening of lasagne, cake and good times.

Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes!! That's what I have in my future! Miss E needs cupcakes for her kindergarten class, cupcakes for her Sparks group, and of course, cupcakes for her birthday party this weekend! Throw in a batch of cupcakes for a baby shower this weekend, and I figure I have about 125 cupcakes to bake this week. Hopefully I'll be able to fit some actual food into the plan for the week, too!

This past week was filled with amazingly delicious meals. A few recipes I have shared with you already (Tex Mex Lasagne and Chicken Florentine Lasagne) and another recipe for a Lemon Butter chicken that I will hopefully be able to share with you later this week!

I'm not gonna lie to you guys... this week we are not looking at the worlds most healthy dinners. It's just going to be a crazy busy week and we'll be lucky to have meals that can be cooked in under 20 minutes (because that's about how long we have at home most evenings this week)... wish us luck!!

On the menu this week:

Monday: Spaghetti with turkey meatballs
Tuesday: Tortellini with prawns and homemade alfredo sauce
Wednesday: Chicken nugget sliders and fries
Thursday: Pizza
Friday: Turkey meat loaf, scalloped potatoes and mixed veggies
Saturday: Pizza at Miss E's birthday bash!
Sunday: New recipe! Shrimp & broccoli stir fry and pot stickers

I’ll be linking my menu plan up to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday – check it out!!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Chicken Florentine Lasagne

Hello my friends!! Hope you are all having a lovely weekend. Today is the ONLY day on our monthly calendar where we have absolutely nothing on the calendar!! I am so excited to be able to sit in my house with my littles and do as close to nothing as humanly possible. We had a lovely family dinner last night celebrating Miss E's birthday - can you believe she turns SIX this week??

So we would be able to have a chilled out, relaxed dinner with the fam, we went with an easy dinner - lasagne, salad and of course, cake! I made two great big lasanges and a big tray of cheese tortellini with alfredo sauce (for the kiddos). For the lasagnes, I made my favorite beef lasagne, a Tex Mex Lasasgne I have shared with you on the blog in the past.

Since not everyone loves meat, I also wanted to make a chicken lasagne for the crowd. I hunted around on Pinterest and found a link to this recipe from tastykitchen.com. I immediately knew that this recipe would be a huge hit, and I was right! It was the first dish completely scraped clean from the pan and it was gone so quickly I didn't even have time to actually take a photo of the completed, cooked slice of lasagne.

The original version of this recipe was cooked right away and served. I needed this for the weekend, so I prepped it on Thursday and froze it until I needed it.

Chicken Florentine Lasagne
Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen


Ingredients
9-12 whole Lasagna Noodles
½ cup Butter
1 whole Onion, Chopped
1 clove Garlic, Minced
½ cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Chicken Broth
1-½ cup Milk
4 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, Divided
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, Divided, Plus Additional 1/4 Cup For Topping
2 cups Ricotta Cheese
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken)
2 cups fresh baby spinach

Instructions
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, strirring frequently. Stir in the flour and salt and simmer until mixture is bubbly.

Add the chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for approximately 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a separate pan over medium heat, cook spinach until wilted. Transfer the cooked spinach to the sauce and mix until combined.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with the shredded chicken.

Assemble your lasagne by spreading 1/3 of the sauce mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Layer with 1/3 of the noodles and 1/2 of the ricotta cheese/chicken mixture. Repeat these layers again, finishing with the final 1/3 of the sauce mixture on top.

Sprinkle the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese on the top of the dish.

You can bake this dish right away, at 350F for 40-45 minutes. I prepped this dish in advance of Miss E's party, so I froze it and on the day of the party, allowed it to thaw and cooked for about an hour. I put tented tin foil on top for the first 45 minutes of the cooking time, removing for the last 15 minutes to allow the cheese to get all melty and delicious.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe, I know my family did!! Thanks for stopping by, I hope I have inspired you a little today!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Feb 16, 2015

Happy Monday morning my friends! Ooops!! Looks like a forgot to blog last week!! After forgetting to menu plan, and being double booked half of the week, I let this piece of life slip. Oh well, back to it today!!

I have found that posting my favorite recipes and sharing them with my friends has allowed people to try some new recipes that their families love. It also means people are sharing their family successes with me! A friend shared her recipe for a Lemon Butter Chicken that I absolutely MUST try out this week.

This weekend we are having a big family dinner to celebrate my littlest one’s 6th birthday – can you even believe it?? I am going to make a couple of gigantic lasagnes this week and put together Miss E’s favorite dessert for Saturday night. It’s going to be a crazy week, but lots of fun!

On the menu this week:
Monday: Dinner out! The hubs is up for an award, this mama is getting all dressed up for dinner tonight!
Tuesday: Shrove Tuesday!! We’re having pancakes for dinner!
Wednesday: Miss A’s cooking tonight – roasted potato wedges, fish and beans
Thursday: Cheeseburgers and fries
Friday: Lemon Butter Chicken
Saturday: Family dinner for Miss E – Tex Mex Lasagne, Ravioli lasagne, Caesar salad and garlic bread
Sunday: A free day on the calendar?? I’m not cooking! Leftovers!
I’ll be linking my menu plan up to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday – check it out!!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

A little bit of garage organization

We all have that place in our homes that, no matter how hard you try, just can't get/stay organized. My house has lots of those places. The place that drives me the most crazy? The garage.

We are very blessed to live in a home with a two car garage. We also make sure to actually park two cars in said garage. That means all the other things we have that don't belong in the house end up in the garage. For us, that meant three bikes, two scooters, a pogo stick, a bazillion pairs of shoes and boots, recycling bins and a ton of other stuff.

This past summer Miss A finally graduated to a mountain bike. At the time, we had the bikes mounted on the wall beside my husband's car. With the old bikes, he was able to get out of the car easily. With Miss A's new bike, he had to duck and dodge and try not to hit his head on the bike when coming into the house.

After reconfiguring a set of shelves to another part of the garage, I set out to my local Canadian Tire store to find a better way to store these bikes. I found these awesome, low profile Mastercraft Bike Hooks for $9.99!!

The hubs and my dad mounted a couple of pieces of wood onto the blank space of wall so that we'd have something solid to mount the hooks onto.

All in, this project took less than an hour and made a HUGE impact on the storage and space in our garage. I had the hubs add a big hook above the bike storage to hold the bike rack that goes on my truck when we take the bikes away with us. It makes me happy every time I drive into the garage. Best of all? I can get the bikes up and down with no trouble at all!!

My Husband and my Dad!! I'm so lucky :)
Thanks for stopping by, I hope I've inspired you a little today!!

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