Weekday Fried Rice

This is a super easy meal that I’ve been leaning on lately. You can make it with whatever you have and it only takes about 10 minutes to make, as long as you have some leftover cooked rice (or quinoa) in the fridge.

Here’s what you do:

Put a little oil in a pan. Add two eggs.

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Use a spatula to scramble them, then cook.

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Once finished take the onions out of the pan.

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Chop some vegetables, or use frozen vegetables. Good choices are beans, cabbage, carrots, onions, spinach, and peas, but anything works. Just don’t forget the peas! I did and I had to add them in later once I realized.

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Add the vegetables in the pan and saute for a few minutes.

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Add the rice.

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Throw the egg back in. Sprinkle a little salt and you are good to go!

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Free Spring Home Updates

We are trying to save money these days. We are getting our windows replaced in August, going on a 2 week trip in July and my car’s lease is up in September. So that’s a lot of big expenses over a few months.

With things starting to clear up and grow outside it’s nice to freshen up a bit inside along with it. Here are some ways to cheer up your home for free.

Bring some nature inside. There are finally things growing outside. Maybe you have flowers, lucky you. All I could find on a walk Easter weekend was a branch of pussywillows. Though they isn’t colourful, they are still beautiful.

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Change out your winter bedding for some lighter and fresher. Now is a great time to switch out heavy blankets and duvets. Choose something you love!

Choose one area of the house (or the whole thing if you are feeling motivated). Deep clean and purge any extra stuff.

Make some free art. Use some of those art supplies I’m sure you have around somewhere. Create something and be proud of it. Hang it on the wall!

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Road Trip Planning Tools

Two years ago we took a big trip West. We drove from Ontario, all the way to the coast. We were gone about three weeks, and drove through five provinces and six states. It took a lot of planning, but I honestly love planning trips. It is one of my favourite things to do.

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This summer we are planning another fairly big road trip. This one will be shorter, and cover much less geographic area. We are heading East, and will be gone for about two weeks. We will drive through Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, then take a ferry to Newfoundland. On the way back we might go through Maine, just to change things up.

This time around I have learned a few things and I thought I would detail my steps to planning a big trip.

The first thing is obviously to choose a destination. I don’t really have any strategies for this, since I don’t really know how we’ve chosen where to go for any of our trips. For Belize I think I searched something like ‘best places to see marine life’ and it was on the list. Random.

Anyways, once you know where you going, the next thing to do is check it out on a map (I used Google Maps). This is where I can see if there are any cool places along the way that I would like to build into the trip. I also plot all of the places I want to go to choose the smartest route.

At the same time I start researching the best things to see and do wherever I’m going. I used guide books from the library and internet searches for this. I find the TripAdvisor forums are great for this, because there are often people who provide there itineraries and what they loved or didn’t. Be sure to look off the beaten path as well. Some of the best places we’ve been to definitely weren’t common tourist attractions. We went to a National Park in Saskatchewan and I think we were the only people there, but it was stunning.

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On the same note, don’t be afraid to leave the highway (the literal beaten path). We drove up a twisty, narrow dirt road for about half and hour (and then back down) to get to this place:

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And it’s now one of our favourite places ever.

Before you get your heart set on a particular activity or location make sure to make it to make sure it isn’t too out of the way from your planned route.

Make sure to have lists of places to stay and eat, but also leave some room for flexibility.

Once you have your mapped out route, and a list (with addresses) of things to do, see and eat, the next step is budgeting.

On a road trip it is a lot harder to keep track of expenses, then if you were flying somewhere and staying in the same hotel the whole time.

I use a spreadsheet. Seriously. I have a column for accommodations, food, gas, and activities. A list would work fine too, but I like to be organized. Obviously it is just an educated guess. Having a strict budget would take some of the fun out of it, but at least this way you know the ball park cost. A really helpful website I recently found is Gasbuddy. You type in your car model and year, and then where you are going and it tells you how much it will cost for fuel. This is great if you are going somewhere where you may not know how much gas costs. Like this place, which was the only gas station in the boundaries of what is probably Canada’s most visited National Park, so they just charged whatever they wanted (which was A LOT!).

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So, that’s more or less what I do. It seems to have worked well so far. Kurt wants to drive to Alaska someday. I think that will be a true test of my trip planning abilities!

Easy Curtain Tie Backs

Sometimes curtains drive me crazy. Actually what really drives me crazy is the tutorials online for curtain related things. This time it was curtain tie backs. Everything is so complicated. Many involve finding an antique spoon and bending it. I just wanted to sew some fabric together and be done with it. So that’s what I did.

I went through my fabric scraps until I found something that looked good with the bright yellow, light blocking curtains I bought for the guest room. It get’s an insane amount of light, which I love, but sleeping people don’t love as much. I was in luck with the fabric because I had a strip cut off a sheet that I used for a quilt backing. It was the long, skinny part from the top of the sheet that is folded over and sewn. This meant less sewing, which was good because half-way through my sewing machine decided it hated me and was hell-bent to sabotage everything I did (actually I think I may have bent my needle, but at the time I just assumed the machine was evil).

Here’s what I used:

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All I did was sew the two ends of my strip closed with a loop of ribbon in the middle.

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If you don’t have a strip cut from the top of a sheet lying around (which is most likely the case), you will just have to use a strip of fabric and sew the long end together as well.

Each tie should only take about 10 minutes (this is assuming your sewing machine doesn’t hate you).

After the sewing I just wrapped the tie back around the curtain to measure where I wanted it and screwed a hoop into the wall, then looped the ribbon around the hook. For the second one I measured to make sure they were even.

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Obviously I didn’t iron anything. That’s my least favourite part of sewing, so I usually skip it.

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I’m happy with how they turned out, and the fact that they didn’t cost a dime!

Garden Plans

I’m really, really sick of winter. I’m tired of the ice chunks that surround our driveway. I’m tired of the extra time it takes to get out the door in the morning. I’m tired of the dry skin. I’m beyond tired of scraping my windshield. Sadly, this is Canada, and it is only February. Luckily, the time changes soon and that will give us an extra hour of sun in the morning (at least I think, I really have trouble wrapping my head around Daylight Savings).

The temporary cure for this feeling of never-ending winter is thinking forward to Spring. That beautiful season of sun, relative warmth, and green things poking up outside (though when it finally arrives I will probably be complaining of the mud….we live in a very muddy place). With Spring comes garden planting. I’m so very excited!

We’ve already started planning our garden out this year. Kurt has been reading books about seed saving, and such. I’ve been writing up lists of plants, and drawing out plans. We would like to have: tomatoes (a variety or two), hot peppers, kale (red and blue), radishes, carrots, beets, broccoli, garlic, zucchini, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, as well as a few herbs. Our garden space isn’t huge right now, so we try to be economical with how much a plant takes up versus how much it produces. We are also trying to plant mostly heirloom varieties suited for our region. Hopefully this will increase our changes of healthy plants. We are lucky to have a few options for seed producers local to us.

We will be starting some plants early from seed in the house, starting some outside when the frost is gone and we will also be buying some plants. We will have to wait and see what works best. Hopefully we have a good crop of beauties!

(Last year’s tomatoes)
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Sushi Bowl Recipe

So it turns out one good meal idea came out of my highly restrictive, not at all fun elimination diet.

This recipe is super quick, easy and adaptable to what you like/have around.

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Cook short grain rice (sushi rice); you could also use regular old rice if you prefer. I mixed mine with a little red quinoa that was in the fridge. Once cooked add a splash of rice vinegar and a tiny bit of sort of sweetener (honey, agave, sugar, etc.) to the rice and stir it in.

While the rice is cooking chop up some of your favourite sushi ingredients. I used avocado, cucumber (cut out the seeds), green onion and canned tuna. I left the chunks fairly big.

Dish up your rice and add your toppings. Add any ‘garnishes’ you want. I added sesame seeds. Then cut very thin pieces of nori (the seaweed wrappers used for sushi). I just used scissors for this and it worked great. Sprinkle on top. Add soy sauce, wasabi or ginger if you so desire.

Dig in!

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Super healthy, quick and easy, what’s not to enjoy?

5 Ingredient Curry

I’ve been trying to use up some of our dried goods. I’m going to try to choose two things each week to make a dent in. This week I chose mung beans (which I’m sprouting for later in the week) and green lentils. I searched for recipes to try, and this one caught my eye. We had it with homemade naan and a salad. It only took a couple of hours in the slow cooker. It took almost no actual prep time, and it is a very inexpensive dish.

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It turned out fairly good and it was super simple. This was actually my first time cooking with coconut milk. I’ve avoided it in the past since I hate coconut. On its own I thought it tasted like sunscreen, but it worked well in the recipe and I think it would be a good thing to have on hand for curries.

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The only thing I changed about the recipe was to add chili powder, and more cumin. I also added in some leftover roasted sweet potato. I would definitely recommend adding in a vegetable to this, since it is pretty bland. The sweet potato worked great, but I think zucchini, peppers or some greens would be good too.

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If I were to use this recipe again in the future I think I would just use it as a base and then add some more things to it. I do think it is good to have some good slow cooker recipes in your arsenal and this is great for that.