30X30 Challenge

Tomorrow is the first day of May (I’m sure you already knew that though). I’ve found this great challenge for the month of May. It’s been created by the David Suzuki Foundation and the challenge is to spend 30 minutes outside every day of the month. Once you join they give you great tips and ideas for keeping your time outside interesting. Some days this will be easy for me because as a teacher I spend a lot of time outside with the kids in the spring. Other days will be tricky because we get a lot of rain here this time of year. Maybe I will have to invest in a pair of rain boots!

Directly behind our house there is a conservation area with a river and walking trails. I literally only have to walk through a gate at the end of the backyard and I am in nature. This challenge will be great for spending more time there. It will also encourage me to get more exercise and spend less time in front of screens. The 30X30 website has a lot more information on why spending time outside it good for you. I will let you know how it is going throughout the month, and any changes I notice.

P.S. I finally joined Instagram, I can’t figure out how to leave a link (I’m finding the thing a little tricky to navigate), but you can search for me at tisty82.

Organic Produce

The other day this year’s EWG Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen List was released. Like every year I looked it over and panicked. “Oh no, most of the things that we buy and eat every week made the top…again.” That is scary, not only because of the potential health consequences, but because of the ecological ones. Fear, however, is not the solution, only a by-product. Action and change are the solution.
Since the list came out I’ve been trying to pay closer attention to the organic sections at the grocery stores near us. It is not so reassuring. We do have options, but many of them are prohibitively expensive. Kale, for instance, is available at Metro. Conventional is $2.99 for a huge bunch which would easily last us the week. Organic is $3.99 for a tiny bunch, of which we would have to buy two for the week. Some things are doable, apples, celery and spinach are fairly easy to find and are not much more than conventional. Organic grapes, cucumbers and peaches, though, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them for sale. Strangely (or maybe not so) garlic, kiwis, avocados and bananas, all which are on the Clean 15 are easy to find in organic and not too expensive.
So, what’s the solution? I really don’t know. I guess for now we will just do our best to buy the few things that we can organic and otherwise try to focus on the Clean 15. We already regularly buy a lot of those things (onions, avocados, sweet potatoes). Once the farmers’ markets begin I also plan to talk to the vendors and ask what their policies are. We’re also planting some stuff ourselves, though this is our first time so we don’t know how it will turn out.
Otherwise, we just have to eat healthy and hope that our food isn’t killing us, or the planet because in this world of industrial farming, it is pretty difficult to break the chemical habit.

P.S. Check out this guy and what he’s doing to improve his food situation.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Last weekend we were at Costco and it seemed like they had gone hummus crazy. Literally every second free sample that we had was another brand of the stuff. Some were good, some not so much. Anyways, we were both inspired to make our own varieties. I chose to make roasted red pepper and Kurt made olive.
I followed Andrea Chesman’s recipe from 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans and Grains, which is a great comprehensive cook book.
It was pretty easy. I just stuck two red peppers on the elements of my gas stove to char the skin, waited for them to cool and then peeled off the skin and the insides. Then I threw them both into the food processor with some garlic, tahini, lemon juice and hot sauce. I didn’t really measure anything. I buzzed it up until it looked smooth and crazy red. I added 3 cups of cooked chickpeas and continued processing until it was smooth. I added about a half a cup of water to make it smoother.
I didn’t any pictures of the process sadly, but here it is completed:
Red Pepper Hummus
It was pretty good, and better the next day. Hopefully it continues getting better because there is tonnes of it! Next time I would roast the garlic first, and use less chickpeas. I think this would make it much more flavourful and improve the texture. It sure it pretty though!

Tie Up Curtains

So far our guest room is the most ‘finished’, meaning we’ve actually put some stuff on the walls and I have put some level of thought into making it cohesive. We’ve actually had a few people stay here since moving in and since more are expected, I decided it was time for curtains. Though I hate to block light in any way, people seem to enjoy having windows covered, so to keep our guests happy I looked into it. It turns out nice blinds or other coverings for giant windows are fairly expensive. I thought about it and figured I could easily make curtains. The next step was to look through my fabric stash (since we have no good fabric stores in town). I found what I wanted to use. I held it up to the window to measure and it was much too little fabric. The problem was, I had decided that this fabric was perfect and nothing else would work. I had bought it at JoAnn’s a while back, so I checked online. The only place that had it was Etsy, and it would have cost me $10 per yard, plus $20 in shipping. Yikes. Not happening, especially since I think I would have needed 2 more yards (though I don’t actually know what a yard is, so I can never be sure). I spent some time looking online and finally found a solution. They were going to be a cross between colour blocked curtains and ribbon tie-ups.
I really couldn’t find instructions on exactly what I wanted to do so I had to wing it. There was a lot of staring at fabric, then staring at the window involved. There was also way to much math. Other than the math and my sewing machine and I coming to odds for a while in the middle, it wasn’t too difficult.
So here they are down:
And tied up:
The concept is basically three panels of fabric. Between the top two panels four lengths of ribbon are sewn in pairs a third of the way across and then two thirds across. The front ribbons must be in exactly the same spot at their pair on the back. Once they are were sewn together I hemmed all the way around and then added the pocket. I used a tension rod and measured the pocket by sticking the rod on and pinning, then making sure it would come out. Measuring would probably also work well, if you don’t like to do things the hard way. They block the light fairly well and I think they look good with the paint colour. It’s a good way to make curtains using the smallest amount of fabric.
Now I just have to figure something out for our 7 foot wide bedroom window.

Meal Planning- Again

I know, I’ve written a lot about meal planning. This time, though, I think I finally have found a system that works well for us. It is flexible enough that we can have variety, but concrete enough that it can be relied upon. I based it around the things that we were usually eating anyways. The idea is that each week night has a sort of theme. Anything can be cooked and eaten that night as long as it involves the theme. This ensures that our meals are healthy and well rounded. It also works out well that we can use a variety of ingredients (whatever’s on sale/in the fridge) for many of the meals so I don’t have to shop specifically for the meals unless there’s something special I want to make. I can also still try new recipes, since they can easily be fit it.
So without further ado, here it is:

Monday- Eggs
Tuesday- Stir fry
Wednesday- Curry
Thursday- Pasta
Friday- Tacos

Mondays are the hardest, mainly because Kurt doesn’t really like eggs, but I do and they are very quick and easy. Other than that I think it is fairly self-explanatory. On the weekends we are often away, or have company so we can plan for that based on the situation.

I really like having the structure. It makes things reliable and stable (in an increasingly unstable world). The world (at least the blogs I read and Pinterest) seem a little obsessed with meal planning, but it honestly makes life easier. What’s your strategy?

Lentil Veggie Curry

We’ve been trying to have a good curry meal once a week. Last week I made this:
Most Indian recipes are daunting because they use a lot of unfamiliar spices and things that I don’t usually have on hand. This has been my go-to recipe for a while now. The first time I made it there was only one ingredient that I had to go out and buy, which was the curry paste. I had everything else on hand (except for the ginger root, which I left out, since I hate ginger).
Anyways, this time I used the recipe as a base, but added some chunks of potato, sweet potato and carrot. It was also a little acidic so I put some yogurt in at the end.
We ate it with Ashley’s 5 Minute Naan, which was also really good. Though I think next time I will roll it out a little thicker. That’s just me though!


A Little Spring in my Step

After many teases and a few April snow storms I think Spring might actually be here. The weekend started out rainy and awful, but on Sunday the sun actually showed itself for a little while. Long enough for us to go to a few garage sales (where I got a box of antique blue glass canning jars for FREE!!!).
Though we didn’t get anything on my list done this weekend, I did pick up these guys:

If you look closely you will see a 50% off sticker on the tulips! I also got the daffodils thrown in for free, since they were almost done blooming. Once the weather’s nice I’m going to plant them in the front garden and then (hopefully) next Spring…BAM, colour! Spring flowers are my favourite because they pop up just when you think nothing outside will be pretty again.

Hopefully where ever you live things are looking a little less bleak!

Looking More Lived In

This week we made some strides in making our house look a little more lived in. We did this mainly by hanging some stuff on the walls. This also helped a little with the echo problem we seem to have.
Living Room

Guest Room

I also made this based on something I saw on Pinterest:

We haven’t gone crazy hanging things up yet because we plan to paint in the nearish future, but it’s still nice to not have blank walls for now.

As for this weekend, it is the official start to yard sale season (official only in my own mind). We’re hitting a few up, with some prospects for gardening tools! I’m also hoping that the rain will stop at some point so that we can grow non-aquatic plants in the backyard.

Butterscotch Pudding Pie

I know it’s been a while since Easter, but I haven’t shared this recipe with you yet and it’s really good, so here we go.
Before Easter I spent a while looking for something great to make for dessert. Nothing really caught my eye. I had some oreo cookie crumbs that I’ve been wanting to use up, so I decided to use those and make pudding pie. I was planning on making butterscotch, using a box since that’s how my mom always did it. On a whim I decided to look up a recipe and see how hard it would be. I make chocolate pudding and that’s not too difficult, but I didn’t actually know what made something butterscotch. Turns out it’s pretty easy. I went with this recipe. It’s really good and not too complicated, but it creates many more dirty dishes that you actually need. I made it into pie by added melted butter into the crumbs and pressing them into little ramekins (they were mini pies).
Then I made the pudding according to the recipe. The only change I made was to use regular brown sugar, but I think that dark brown would really enhance the flavour. I also didn’t have to strain it. The only lumpy part was at the very bottom of the pot, and I saved that for me for later! I put the pudding into the ramekins over the crust and sprinkled some left over crumbs on top. My lovely family commented that it looked like dirt.
It was a good dessert for company because you can make it earlier as long as you put plastic wrap over it really tight. It’s simple, but fairly decadent, plus it’s delicious!

The Good Food and Drink Festival

Salted Caramel Cupcake. Curbside Bliss Cupcakes. Amazing.

Mahi Mahi taco from Buster’s Sea Cove. Very delicious, but very spicy.

So much free food! This doesn’t even include the hours of free tastings we did. Note the can of Pam that I won playing Plinko, haha!

All in all it was a great time. Definitely something we would go back to, especially since tickets for both of us were 7$ with a coupon and I think we made that back in free cans of tuna!