Tuesday, February 28, 2012

what's for dinner.

I don't know about you, but planning dinners around our house is always a bit tricky. We prefer to cook our meals instead of eating out but at the end of a long day there just isn't much steam left in this train to get my creative juices flowing in the kitchen. On the other hand, Max could eat the same meal every night and be perfectly happy.

Pork chops and 3-4 differnt kinds of fresh veggies.

I have nothing against this meal but get pretty sick of the same things day in and day out. I have been wanting to get better at actual meal planning. You know, making a list on Sunday and shopping for the week. Creating a menu of choices and actually having those items in the house. We live about a 1.5 minute walk from our local grocery store which means instead of planning out our week and doing one big shop, we go down there Every. Single. Day. Seriously, they know me there! I really consider this a bad habit for two reasons.

1. In an already busy day, adding another stop on my way home from work or bootcamp just eats up even more of my very little free time.
2. It is a proven fact (not sure when or who proved this…) that when a person shops everyday they end up spending far more money than if they were to only shop once a week. I really believe this and find that we probably spend far more money by shopping for our meals daily instead of planning ahead and buying only the items we need for the week.

Moving forward… I would really like to make something like this for our house. Of course I would try and make it a little less “this belongs in a first grade classroom” and more “wow, we are finally organised in a fun, creative way”. Plus, I think it will help us get more creative with our meals while still fulfilling Max’s meat and 3 veg requirement :) But in order to make this handy little meal board I first need to find some meals that we actually like. Here are two new meals we have tried recently.

1. Italian chicken nuggets and cobb salad with roasted garlic dressing. I got this idea from my best friend Evan’s blog. It looked super yummy, healthy and met the meat and 3 veg requirement.


I didn't take any pictures as I went, but the recipe links can be found on Evan's blog.


I think maybe my breadcrumbs were a bit old or something because I wasn’t overly in love with this meal.  Also, the dressing didn’t turn out as great as I had hoped. I chalk these two things up to my cooking skills and will probably try again with fresh breadcrumbs.  There are just so many ways to use these little nuggets with other things that I can’t throw in the towel after only one try!  Plus, they were really easy to make and really healthy.


2. Light Veggie Pizza

I got this second recipe from my friend Sarah who follows the Michelle Bridges diet. For those non-Australian readers out there, Michelle Bridges is one of the coaches on Biggest Loser Australia. She has several cookbooks and Sarah just loves her meals.

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Sarah’s house for dinner and she made us a very healthy, homemade veggie pizza. I can’t seem to find the recipe anywhere but this is how I made it in case you wanted to try yourself.

I started by picking some veggies for my pizza. I decided to use 1 zucchini, ½ sweet potato, three baby capsicums (or bell pepper as we say in America) and 1 red chilli. There are tons of other veggies you could use as well like red onion, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes… the list goes on and on.

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Next you want to finely dice your veggies so they are all about the same thickness like this...

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While dicing your veggies, heat up about 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in your pan. Once it is good and hot, toss in your veggies. I actually cooked the sliced sweet potato first because it takes a little longer to cook.

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While your veggies are cooking, take your plain “pizza crust” and put it in the oven until it is a bit toasted. I used these wholemeal Lebanese pita bread things because that is what Sarah uses and she is smart, hehe.  I am sure you can use other types of breads for your base but these work really well if you aren’t sure.

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Next you want to mix up your pizza sauce. Since this is a lighter recipe it uses olive oil and garlic instead of traditional tomato sauce. Now I have no idea what the measurements are for this part and it really depends on how many pizzas you are making… but combine some olive oil and some garlic (I used garlic paste).

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Then take your mixture and lightly brush it on your toasted pizza crust.

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Add your lightly cooked veggies to the top...

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and sprinkle with fetta cheese and oregano. [use reduced fat fetta to make it lighter]

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Once your pizza is assembled, place it back in the oven (5-7 minutes) to heat it all the way through.

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And there you have it friends. A nice, healthy veggie pizza. And let me tell you... it was gooood!

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I have also found a few other websites that have some really good looking, healthy recipes that I am hoping to try soon. I'll let you know how our meal planning goes as I start to get organised, healthy and rich from all of the money we will save by just planning ahead.  Okay- maybe not the rich part :)

ps. check out this blog for some great "skinny" ideas: http://www.eat-yourself-skinny.com/ She is pretty great and so are her pictures!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

a lover or a hater.

So you know how there are certain things out there that you either love or hate? Peanut Butter & Jelly- love. Vegemite- hate. Pickles- love. Seafood- hate. IKEA- LOVE.

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Yes, it is true. I LOVE IKEA and I not afraid to admit it.  I love the crowds. I love the colours. I love the way you can walk in and be instantly inspired to redecorate your ENTIRE house. Those Swedes sure know what they are doing!

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Max, on the other hand is an IKEA hater, if you know what I mean. I think most of all he is a hater of the money I give to IKEA but how could you not love this dresser?! SO. CUTE.

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We renovated our kitchen back in 2010 and I can safely say that if we were to do it again I would definitely use IKEA. While they have a lot of modern, sleek designs I just can't get past the rustic wooden bench tops and cream soft close drawers. Makes me want to get in that kitchen and bake up a homemade apple pie. From scratch!

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And these cheap little wooden drawers... I. want. them. They would be just perfect in my little girl corner of the shed for all of my girly ribbon and beads :)

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and I love this...

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and I love these....

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And just take a look at this little toddler bed. Yes please!

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But even if you don't like the crowds or the colours or the amazing ideas and "cheap junk" I can guarantee you will not pass up the $1 hotdog and 50c ice cream cone!

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So what are you? An IKEA lover or an IKEA hater?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

sleep tight.

As Byron has grown so has his need for a bigger, stronger bed. At 15 years old, 6'2" and a size 13 foot, his old hand-me-down bed wasn't really doing the trick anymore.


So last Sunday I headed out in search for a replacement bed for the big guy.


While he claimed his current bed was just fine and I am sure he would have preferred for us spend the money on something cool (like scooter or bike parts) we knew better.



So late Sunday night my wonderful husband broke out his muscles and tools to help me put together Byron's very first NEW bed and mattress.




I am not sure what Byron thinks of this new bed but Toby made it known that he was happy with our decision. It is always helpful to have a kid who doesn't talk and will agree to anything you say for a quick scratch under the chin.


ps. Byron broke the bed the second night he slept in it... sigh... This stepmom just can't win these days.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

missing persons.

Okay, so I have been a little MIA this week. Sorry!  I have a lot of things to write about and pictures to share but I have just been so busy. Not to mention (however, I am going to mention it...) yesterday was crappy. Like, I think I cried 4 times kind of crappy. In an effort to  move on from a bad day and mean, condescending, rude people, I am making this my new mantra.

bad day

So here's hoping today and tomorrow and the day after that are the best days of my life. However, right now I would settle for any day better than yesterday! Happy Thursday Friends!

Monday, February 20, 2012

op shop.

Op Shop (from "opportunity shop") is the Australian term for thrift store or a shop which is run by a charitable organisation to raise money for a cause. Just like an American "op shop" all of the goods are donated which means there is a lot of junk but there are also some real finds sometimes.

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Every so often I find myself at our local op shop in search of... well, to be honest I never really know what I am looking for but it almost always ends with me calling Max and telling him about some really amazing dresser or chair or table or desk that I just can't live without. It is usually half broken and terribly over priced so it stays right there for the next sucker and I usually go home with a picture frame or pale pink clutch.

So what did I find this weekend?! For starters, this really cool vintage orange bowl!


Sure it is chipped and faded and completely used, but I thought it was spectacular! Love at first sight (especially after seeing the $2 price on the bottom).


See, look how great our dinner looked in this vintage beauty!



My next find was this little basket for all of Toby's toys. After only 4 days his toys were spread from one end of our house to the other so I thought it might be a good idea to find them a home.


Toby thought it was a great idea too :)



And my last Sunday afternoon purchase was a large, beaten-up wooden frame that will soon house our Pensacola Beach picture that has been rolled up and hidden in the office since we bought it 2.5 years ago.



I plan on shabby chic-ing it up with a little paint and sandpaper. Not bad for $8 if you ask me!

1 hour and $12 later I was a happy bowl, basket and frame owner. Yep- still love my op shop!

Friday, February 17, 2012

ching. ching.

No matter how many times Max and I watch this commercial we laugh. Very funny... or so we think :)


Thursday, February 16, 2012

a day of love.

So I have never been a huge celebrator of Valentines Day. Like a lot of people say, it is really just a holiday made up by companies out there that want to capitalise on our need to buy heart shaped lolly pops and over priced red roses. I mean, who even likes red roses anyway? I would much prefer some nice tulips or colourful daises.

But then again what's so bad about a day celebrating love? We celebrate birthdays, mothers, fathers, veterans. We celebrate days by cutting crazy faces in to pumpkins and drinking green beer. We dye eggs colours of the rainbow and wear flag tattoos on our faces. So why not have an entire day dedicated to the person (or people) you love.


My love bought me a chilli plant (like flowers only practical) and some yummy chocolate.


I made him this little love map from an idea I saw on Pinterest.


We Met... We Married... We Live.


Of course I put my own little spin on the idea, but I think it turned out pretty well and I think Max really liked it too.



Oh yes, and we can't forget about this little Valentines Day surprise (who now has his very own name- by the way) Toby! Our little Toby :)


So you don't like flowers or chocolate or cheesy "I love you to the end of the world" cards. That's okay. Find something you do love and celebrate that! There is nothing saying that Valentines Day has to be about spending money on overpriced dinners or confessing your love to your biggest crush. You can celebrate this day with any people you love. Friends. Family. Your cutest little pet. Because that is the best part of Valentines Day. It gives you an excuse to tell or show all of the people in your life how much they mean to you. So go on- don't be a Valentines Day hater and embrace this day of love like you should!
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