Balance might be futile…

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I used to think that being a working mom meant finding the perfect balance.

Homoeostasis if you will, where there is harmony and equilibrium. That place where my attention is equitably divided between family, work and a little social too. Houses are mostly clean, files are up to date and my children happily play while I follow my passions and hubby builds something…

I think I invisioned the place where June Cleaver and Gloria Steinem meet.

But the truth and reality is no where near that.

I have had to accept messes and I sometimes have to resort to using TV as a distraction to get supper on the table. My toilets are so gross that I have quarantined one bathroom to minimize the damage. I can’t even imagine where I would send someone to pee if they came over.

My sons books create Mandalas on his bedroom floor and there is the semi permanent pile of laundry on our couch that I tuck my feet under while I watch TV, officially dubbed Laundry Mountain.

Although all attempts are made at being super, working mom I forget keys to my office, photocopy the wrong thing twenty times, have a laughable pile of ‘to dos’ and have a coworker that I am sure must wonder how I remember to put on pants.

I was obviously deluding myself about what it would look like. I have realized that a ‘balanced’ life is futile and that the type of women I imagined was barely possible on paper.

My day starts in chaos and ends in exhaustion. It is no where near that glorious, balanced place I imagined. But somehow I feel like a better mom and a better wife, probably not a better friend but definitely a better me.

When I was home with the kids all day I would feel just outright drained. I would run out of things to do, ways to entertain them and I could tend towards getting a little yelly (thank you ohdeerestme for the apt description). Bed time was the only relief I could see and I was so tapped I hurried through the moments that I now savour.

Now, I can lie with my son forever, squished snuggly in his little bed. Surrounded by furry things and staring at a starry ceiling we discuss our days. He tells me about spiderman and playing pirates and I tell him about going into a school or working on my computer. We snuggle and he tells me he loves me and that I’m the best mommy in the world and I believe him.

My daughters special time is in the morning. I used to dread the early wakeups and now I listen for her little peeps to bring her in to our bed. We look at books, touch our noses and toes and cuddle while she has her morning bubba.

My time with them has become more valuable and precious. I know I have less of it in the day and I refuse to waste a single second of it. Laundry Mountain be damned if my kids want a story read to them. And if at the end of the day I’m too tired to make the house all sparkly and perfect for the next day, screw it, I need to write or pin until I fall into a well deserved sleep.

My work is also important. It is a part of my identity and who I am. It is a seperateness from my family and space where I am the professional that I spent all those hours and dollars to become. It doesn’t define me but it is a part of me and even with children that part of me still needs to be nourished, encouraged and explored. I am good at what I do and I love it.

In a way I suppose that is a type of balance. I have the love of my children and the support of my husband. I’m in a profession that provides challenge and growth. I have a home that feels lived in and safe to be who we are and every night I create a meal that nourishes my family.

“Roots of Love in a Beautiful Storm” is our family motto and I think that sums it all up pretty well.

Speaking of roots…This weeks plan shows my new goal of half vegetarian meals. In another attempt at finding balance I am trying to meet my wants for lighter non meat meals and hubbies needs for calorie dense and meaty meals. I think so far it’s working pretty well and you’ll probably see this in my meal plans from now on. I’ve also started branching out and trying some fellow bloggers recipes so I don’t always have to be a creative genius.

Lasagna

Lasagna

Sunday

Lasagna
My sauce starts with celery, carrots and onions then Italian sausage and ground beef. I add diced tomatoes, garlic, dried oregano and basil and a cup of stock. I let this cook down as much as possible and season with salt towards the end so that it doesn’t end up overly salty. I layer this with noodles and a mixture of a large container of cottage cheese, two eggs, pesto, spinach and parmesan. This turns into a creamy layer that’s less expensive then using ricotta. Top the whole gorgeous thing with mozzerella and bake for an hour. The biggest thing I have learnt about lasagna is to let it sit at least 20 minutes before serving. If it’s served too soon you end up with soupy glop instead of the lovely slices you see on Pinterest

Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza

Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza

Meatless Monday

Butternut Squash, Kale and Sage Pizza
I love the combination of kale and squash it’s a little sweet and a little savoury and combined with sage it’s just plain delicious. I used a creamy garlic white sauce as the base and then layered on the kale and squash then finished it all with a combination of parmesan and old white cheddar. A good friend made a dairy free version that sounds delic!

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas

Tuesday

Chicken Fajitas
I oven roasted 3 chicken breasts and then thinly sliced a large zucchini, a large onion and two red peppers. The veg was sauteed with 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tsbp olive oil. Once it had cooked down I seasoned the veggies with salt and a sprinkle of cumin and finished with some chopped cilantro. Toppings were diced tomatoes and grated cheese plus some plain yogurt and hot sauce…of course

Sweet Potato Nachos

Sweet Potato Nachos

Wednesday

Sweet Potato Nachos
One of the few times I made an easy supper for the kids so I could have dinner with hubby when he got home. I used a recipe from Pinterest as inspiration. I thinly sliced two large peeled sweet potatoes and tossed them in a combination of olive oil, cumin and chili powder then roasted them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once they were cooked and a little crispy I topped the whole thing with grated cheese, diced green onions, cilantro, and diced tomatoes and then baked it for another 10 minutes until the cheese was lovely and bubbly. Served with tomatillo salsa and plain yogurt I will definitely be making these again. 

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs

Thursday

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs
I used this recipe to create the meatballs but using canned salmon instead and adding an egg to hold it together. For bread I used a multigrain baguette cut the old school Subway style and a mayo with added siracha, grated garlic, ginger and a splash of sesame oil. I layered in cucumbers, and grated carrots. It was different but really tasty. I can see myself making it again for sure although I’d love to try the meatballs with fresh salmon. I imagine they’d be even better.

Falafel

Falafel

Friday

Falafels
I used a box mix of falafels called Casbah. It came together really quickly and dinner was ready in 20 minutes. While the mixture was resting I sliced cucumbers and tomatoes and set out some sprouts then made a sauce of cumin, chili powder, plain yogurt, feta and parsley. I used Roti instead of pita because pita always fall apart and piss me off.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Saturday

BBQ Chicken Pizza
This is one of the earliest recipes I posted on my blog. I still make it regularly and I think it’s a family favourite. I love the combination of the slightly spicy BBQ sauce with sweet pineapple and my favourite cilantro.

Butternut Squash and Sage Mac and Cheese

Butternut Squash and Sage Mac and Cheese

Sunday

Butternut Squash and Thyme Macaroni and Cheese
I think this will be my new favourite mac and cheese. I followed the recipe almost exactly (strong almost). I used sage instead of the rosemary in the recipe and added a clove of garlic to the cream sauce. Other then that no changes needed and I have a feeling this will be become super popular in your home too.

Well that’s another week of meals and a little more about my family. If you want to see what we eat everynight you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I hope I’ve provided some meal inspiration and made feeding your family and friends a little easier. I always love to hear thoughts and comments so please leave me a message:)

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Leftovers for Lunch or Fill the Freezer

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Hubby and I have been together from almost 10 years and I know it makes me a massive dork but I keep falling more in love with him.

There was a time where my tough exterior, (I do have tattoos) and a need for protection, kept me from admitting how much he meant to me. And I’d be lying if I said it was that long ago. new baby day 016

The last remnants of the wall just crumbled down this year. I think the struggle of having him work in another province really put into perspective how much he actually did and want he meant to our lives. I realized I cared a lot less about how the towels were folded and a lot more about having someone to talk to.

I wrote a blog post acknowledging what a jerk I had really been. He’d jokingly asked for it in writing when I apologized to him and since I’m an overachiever he got a public declaration of my wrongness.

The funny thing is that I had struggled with the whole loving my hubby as much as I do thing. In some ways a deep part of me thought it’s a sign of weakness to admit I need him and that I truly love the guy.Licking

I reflect on this one a lot. What what was it that I saw as weak? Was it admitting that I need someone? or the fear that if I broke down all the walls around my heart then I left myself open to hurt? Maybe I thought he’d start using my weakness against me?

I think I was just straight up scared. It meant that I had to honestly accept him for everything he is and isn’t. What he would be and what I might have to let go of ever having. I have to be accepting of the life we have and I have to take the chance that I might get really hurt.

A million years ago my auntie told me that when I was able to open up completely and be vulnerable, holding nothing back, then I would really be in LOVE. I thought I had done that but I realized I hadn’t. I’d been holding on to past resentments and my own fears of rejection.

Letting go and opening up changed everything so when I say now that I love him, this is more than a love for cheese,this is the full force of my heart open to him. This is me wanting to be with him old and feeble, young and broke, tired and in a messy house.20131109-221243.jpg

And the best part is that when I opened my heart to him he did the same for me. Each day I see the trust and belief we have in each other grow. I wanted to share that joy and that feeling of knowing that I am loved because with it comes the strength I have to do what I do and I think he draws from it too. We revel in each others successes and I trust more than ever that if the world wants to give us lemons that we’ll make the best damn lemon tart with it EVER, (really did you expect anything but a food analogy??)

This last week I lent my support in a more tangible way. Hubby’s got a new gig working on a tugboat running around on log booms. Cold, wet and dangerous so of course he loves every minute of it.

I wanted to make sure he had filling, warm suppers that would make great lunches the next day. Gotta nurture my superhero hubby, (seriously you should see what these guys do!).

This is not my usual cooking style so I pulled from some fellow bloggers recipes, adapting them a little of course because I can’t help playing with my food. I think this week is a great one for this time of year and if you don’t have someone who needs hearty lunches it’s a week of meals that will give you a freezer full of leftovers to pull from as needed.

Sunday

Irish Beef Stew
I used this recipe as a starting place and tried to recreate the stew I’ve had at Sean’s aunts. I added crushed tomatoes, peas and used stewing beef. It was hearty and filling and I made a big enough pot that I had 6 portions to freeze for lunches

Monday

Chicken Tortilla Lasagna
This is one of the few times I use a pre-made canned soup. It makes for a quick prep and tastes delicious. Using rotisserie chicken speeds supper up even more

Chicken Tortilla Lasagna

Chicken Tortilla Lasagna

Tuesday

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
It was less challenging to make my own then I expected but my recipe needs another round of testing so I’ll share the one I used as a starting place for inspiration. Next time I want to add tortellini into the soup and I think that would make for a little more hubby friendly meal (by hubby friendly I mean really filling)

Grill Cheese and Tomato Soup

Grill Cheese and Tomato Soup

Wednesday

Perogy Bake
I was short on ideas this week and this made for a no thought supper. I placed a layer of  boiled perogies in a baking dish and topped with crumbled cooked bacon, fresh tomatoes, sautéed onions and sprinkled on some cheese. I baked this at 350 until the cheese was bubbly and served them with plain yogurt

Thursday

Tuna Casserole (aka Tuna Surprise)
I’ve made tuna casserole twice this year and that was 2x more than I had ever eaten it since I was 7. My dad made a terrifying version and I had been scarred, but I have moved on and find it’s a cheap and easy casserole that my children wolf down.

Tuna Surprise

Tuna Surprise

Friday

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Cobbler
I used this recipe and it was great. I would cut back on the thyme as I found it a little overwhelming. I also added plain yogurt to the sauce and it seemed to cut back some of the richness.

Saturday

Baked Tortellini Casserole with Cheese and Veggies
Another easy supper inspired by something I saw on Pinterest that made for fabulous lunches. I used a cheese filled tortellini and prepared them to package instructions. Then added in a jar of my home-made marinara. I had sautéed onions, peppers, mushrooms and zucchini and added that in too. Then topped the whole thing with grated cheese and baked it for 30 minutes at 350. 

Baked Tortellini

Baked Tortellini

So there it is a sweet love story and a week of meals that will either feed a small army (or my husband) with delicious suppers and leftover lunches.

I have a Facebook page too. I post nightly meals, tips and tricks and just share a little more about how I keep my family fed with healthy and low-cost meals. So come check it out at www.facebook.com/myweeklydish

Doing the broke dance – a week of meals for $100

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We all have fears and things that create anxiety in our lives. For me it’s money or the lack thereof. I hate being broke more than anything and I can tend towards obsessiveness around finances. Not that I’m good at it. In fact I kind of suck and that really doesn’t help. It takes me a million hours to create a budget and make sure the bills are all paid.

Looking back my concerns probably started in university. I had next to nothing and there were times where the best meal plan I could create was rice with either hot sauce or soy sauce. Coffees were an absolute luxury and I snuck on the train to get to school. I hated it and everything I thought it said about me. Since then I’ve always squirrelled a little away or stockpiled toilet paper and pasta to get us through the little bumps that all families face. Continue Reading »

Turning Points

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I have to be honest, I had a hard time writing this week.  Life just feels kind of beige, like being stuck in neutral or purgatory. Work is slow, the kids are pooped from daycare and at the end of the night hubby and I just plop on the couch to watch garbage TV. Not that I crave excitement, that usually means drama or stress but something would be good.

I see it too. That’s the worst part. I walk by the mirror seeing my apathetic face and all I do is shrug and plunk back down on the couch. I’d score a 2 out 10 on the “I give a crap” scale.  Continue Reading »

Weekly Meal Plan – Community Garden

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When you live in a town house there are pros and cons. I don’t have to mow my lawn, worry about maintenance and it’s nice to know we’re surrounded by people that are quick to lend a hand. Especially the weeks when I’m on my own. The biggest drawbacks are the horribly small kitchen that I complain about daily and the teeny tiny yard. With two kids and a large dog it makes for a limited space to play.

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Happy gardener

So having a community garden as a yard extension has been my life saver. Continue Reading »

Weekly Meal Plan – Autopilot

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As I struggled to once again put my daughter to bed last week I noticed that my brain has become permanently impaired. I was staring at her pj’s and seriously considering changing them because the last time she wore them she was up all night. Was this an omen, was there something about these pj’s she didn’t like? Unfortunately, I have been blessed with a sh*t sleeping baby and it’s taking its toll. Continue Reading »

Weekly Meal Plan – Change is good

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My sister and I were talking tonight about the challenges of adapting to life with kids, especially if life doesn’t fit into a 9-5 package. It got me thinking of the difficult shift we had to make when Hubbers started working away. It required some serious adaptability and planning to keep on top of things and at times it has felt pretty overwhelming. Thankfully, we are pretty adaptable and I pray that organization is a skill that can be learned at any age.

We were also discussing how easy it is to start eating like crap if you aren’t prepared. Continue Reading »

Weekly meal plan – Fortunately, unfortunately

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My mom and I have a game we play and I’m going to share it because I think it’s the best way to describe this last crazy week. It’s called fortunately/unfortunately and it’s played like this…

Fortunately, my mom came to visit me this week… unfortunately, the house was a disaster and the kids were nuts so nobody slept.
Fortunately we both really like tea…
Unfortunately, my son barfed all over the car on an outing… Fortunately, it was only once.
Unfortunately, my washing machine broke so we had to take laundry to my dad’s every second day… Fortunately, my mom was super generous and helped us get a new one.
Unfortunately, it still won’t be here for another 3 days making it 2 weeks without a washer…Fortunately the weather is so amazing I’m just letting the kids run around naked cutting back on laundry.
Fortunately , my stepsister came into town with my niece for a visit…unfortunately, I had to share her so I barely got to see them.
Fortunately, my husband came home a day early this week…unfortunately it’s week three of solo parenting and I was completely pooped so I probably wasn’t there
Fortunately, it was our son’s third birthday party on Sunday and we all had a blast…unfortunately, he was so wired that he was up until 11pm about 2 hours past when we were still functioning. Continue Reading »

Weekly Meal Plan – Spring Showers and a Full Freezer

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Well my hubbers is off to work again and I’m feeling like his time home was a bit of a write off. We had such great plans of picnics and fish and chips and pretty much none of it happened. We all managed to get sick and between naps there was no time to head out. It did however give me some great time to write a few new recipes. A couple are ready to share so will show up over the next few weeks and the rest require more tweaks before going public.

This week I need to do some serious freezer clearing. I was a little shocked by how much has accumulated in there. Normally with meal planning very little is left in my fridge or freezer by the end of the week but I think with my trying to write some new recipes I got a small backlog. Plus, I can’t throw anything away so I end up with the most random things in there. Fortunately/unfortunately the weather is very spring like and rainy here so I’m thinking it will be a perfect week to clear out the freezer with some hearty meals. This will also save me a few bucks for some cute spring dresses for when it does get sunny.

Monday

Lunch – Crackers, cheese and cut veggies with dip

Dinner – Chicken Soup
In my freezer I discovered chicken bones and veggie scraps I was obviously intending for a soup that hasn’t happened yet. I’ll start the stock early in the afternoon by roasting the bones and veg in the oven until golden brown and then moving it all to a pot of water to simmer on the stove. I know I have some veggies that will be happy to join the pot and I’m sure there is some chicken hiding somewhere too.

Tuesday

Lunch – Peanut butter, jam and banana wraps with apple slices
A tortilla spread with a smear of peanut butter and jam then rolled around a banana. I may even add some cheerios or granola in for some texture.

Dinner – Pierogies, sausages and sauerkraut
I love sauteed onions and plain yogurt on the side.

Wednesday

Lunch – Ham and tomato grill cheese with veggies and dip

Dinner – Fish tacos
I have some multi-grain Tilapia fish sticks that work great. They’re huge pieces so 4 is good for me and the kids. I serve the fish in tortillas with shredded cabbage, cilantro, diced tomatoes and a lime sauce. The sauce is really easy: 1 tbsp mayo, 1 tbsp plain yogurt, half a lime and a little salt.

Thursday

Lunch – bagels and cream cheese with apples slices and peanut butter

Dinner – Vegan satay pizza
A friend is bringing me this over to try and I’m really excited. It sounds like an amazing pizza with cilantro, peanut sauce and yummy veggies. I may steal the recipe if I fall in love.

Friday

Lunch – Tuna sandwiches

Dinner – Chili mac with cornbread crust
I need to use up some frozen chili and cornbread muffins. I’m going make a basic mac and cheese, mix in the chili and then top with the crumbled muffins. I think it should be pretty nummy.

Saturday

Lunch – Egg salad on buns with carrot sticks

Dinner – Meatball subs with Caesar salad
I made these a few weeks ago and they were delicious. I’m using meatballs and sauce from my spaghetti recipe that I froze last time I made it. Cut the top off a sub bun (old school Subway style) and place a row of meatballs in. Cover with sauce and grated cheese. Place in a 400F oven for about 10 minutes, remove and top with their lids.

Sunday

Lunch – Waffles and fruit salad
I love brunch so I’ll give the kids some fruit to tie them over and then make waffles, sausages and fruit salad

Dinner – Veggie Taco Salad
I’m hoping for a little sun at the end of the week and with some heavier meals throughout the week this will be a great ending

Hope this makes your life a little easier, at least the food part. I’d love to hear about how your family plans their meals.

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Weekly Meal Plan – Hubby’s home

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I made it through my first two weeks alone with the kids in months and successfully I think. We all are completely intact and I managed to get meals on the table every day. Personally, this last one was a huge win and a whoot, whoot to my successful meal plans.

This week I have my husband home. When he works away we try to cram as much in as possible so we are eating out a few times. Partially for convenience and partially because for me eating is part of the adventure. The rest of the week we’re at home spending as much time together as possible. I’ve picked meals that are easy so I’m not spending too much time in kitchen and a few family favourites too.

Monday

Lunch – Coombs market
My favourite market up-island. We’re planning a hike up that direction so lunch and a little shopping sounds perfect. My son also loves it because they have goats that live up on the roof and what almost three year old wouldn’t think that was awesome.

Dinner – Gnocchi, turkey sausage and peppers
Gnocchi are delicious little potato pastas. They cook like a regular pasta and then I sauté them with the sausage and peppers. I found a sundried tomato and basil sausage that I think will work perfect for this.

Tuesday

Lunch – Bagel sandwiches

Dinner – Pulled chicken sandwiches with coleslaw
Use left over or rotisserie chicken and coat with your favourite bbq sauce in a saucepan over med-low heat, (I have an amazing bbq sauce recipe I’ll share over the summer!). Make a quick coleslaw with shredded cabbage, grated carrot and a dressing of roughly 2 spoons mayo, 1 spoon vinegar, a sprinkle of sugar and salt. Place the bbq’d chicken on a bun top with coleslaw and voilà, pulled chicken sandwiches.

Wednesday

Lunch – Picnic for Newcastle Island
I’m making veggie wraps with hummus, fruit salad and will have some snacks of chips, trail mix and juice.

Dinner – Trollers Fish and Chips
Working in Alberta doesn’t give hubbers much chance to eat yummy fish so since we’re going to be in Nanaimo it only makes sense to stop at Troller’s after our busy day exploring.

Thursday

Lunch – Pita and tzatziki with Greek salad

Dinner – Spaghetti and Meatballs
I’m not sure why but all my son wants to eat with daddy home is spaghetti and meatballs, or sketti and meatballs. I Can’t even maybe say no to this.

Friday

Lunch – Chicken quesadillas
I’ll use the last of the rotisserie chicken I bought, pesto, diced tomatoes and cheddar

Dinner – Pepperoni, mushroom and green pepper pizza

Saturday

Lunch – Ham sandwiches

Dinner – Creamy chicken and vegetable tortilla casserole
I’m having my parents over for dinner and with a salad this is a great family meal

Sunday

Brunch – I’m making waffles, fruit salad and bacon

Dinner – Chicken and Root Vegetable Fries
I want to get a little more chicken for when my hubby is gone so this will be a great last dinner before he heads back to Alberta.