Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Blurb (updated maximum discount)

The lovely folks at Blurb have given me a discount code to share with my (Canadian) readers:

Promo code for 25% off: BLOG25331

I have only recently started printing photo books from my digital photos but I've managed to try three different companies. In my (limited) experience, Blurb is the easiest to use and has the best end product. (Blurb gave me a code for a free photo book but that doesn't sway my opinion - it just is what it is.)

Have you tried printing photo books? Did you like the company you used?

Promo code fine print: * Offer valid through March 31, 2013 (11:59 p.m. local time). A 25% discount is applied toward your product total. Maximum discount is CAD $100 off product total. Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

Sunday, 24 March 2013


I'm trying to be a better meal planner but I'm lacking in motivation. Shawn hates cooking so he's happy to eat whatever is put in front of him - whether it's a healthy, well-balanced meal or dirty takeout burgers. I'm hoping posting my meal plan will give me a modicum of accountability.

So! This is what we're eating this week:

Monday - crockpot stew (I have a really busy day tomorrow so I've already prepped my meat and veg to go into the crockpot tomorrow morning with a bottle of beer and some barley.) Served with roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes and maybe a green salad if I can be arsed to wash my lettuce.

Tuesday - tacos (because I can't stop thinking about tacos ever since it was suggested to me and I have some beautiful avocados that should be perfectly ripe for guacamole by then.)

Wednesday - leftovers

Thursday - something veggie because beef three days in a row is unusual and meat-heavy for us. Does anyone have any lighter suggestions? It doesn't have to be vegetarian, just pro-veggie. And Shawn won't eat tofu.

Friday - I think we're going to roadtrip out to Shawn's Dad's house because Shawn has the day off work so I'm not planning a Friday meal. If we do end up eating at home we can throw together a quick pizza or make grilled cheese sandwiches.

What are you eating this week?

Thursday, 21 March 2013


I once stayed solo in a "bed and breakfast" (I use that term oh so loosely here) in Cambridge that was so rundown, with a proprietor who was so creepy and a room lock that was so flimsy, that I concocted an alarm system of assorted empty bottles placed strategically in front of the door and slept fully clothed - shoes and all.

I once was drugged in a packed nightclub. My brain was alert but my body wouldn't function and my last clear thought was that something had been slipped into my drink and I was about to pass out. I woke up on Granville Street with a police officer pounding on my chest and my best friend supporting my head so that my face wasn't touching the concrete.

I once was on a flight that arched over the Italian Alps and circled around over the Mediterranean Sea before landing on the artificial peninsula that is the Genoa airport. That would have been enough to tweak my anxiety but I was treated to the addition of the worst turbulence I have ever experienced and an airplane full of elderly Italian women who clearly felt the same way I did and had no qualms about voicing their fear. Loudly.

I once walked home from a party alone, barefoot, crossing through the Downtown Eastside because it was Christmas party season and there were no cabs to be found. I may have also been inebriated (hence the removal of my high heels.)

I once lived on my own, in a sketchy area of town, in an apartment next to a man who kept his windows covered with foil.

I keep running through this list, like, I survived creepy aluminum foil neighbour man! I can survive a suspicious neck lump! I don't even have a scary diagnosis. I have a suspicious lump and some not-so-great blood test results. Suspicious lumps and not-so-great blood test results can be nothing. They can totally be nothing. I survived all of those scary (and arguably stupid) situations. I survived them even before I invested a whole lot of time and energy into therapy. A suspicious lump and not-so-great blood test results are not going to throw me for a loop.

(Except that they totally fucking are throwing me for a loop. I had another biopsy on Monday. Now all my tests and re-tests are complete and I just have to wait until I get the results on April 2nd. Bear with me - I know I'm a fretty mess. I'm trying not to be.)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Meal Planning: My Nemesis

You guys, I really tried to plan my meals this week. I did a really good job with breakfast and lunch (giant pots of steel-cut oats and curried lentils that lasted the week) but dinners were a mess.

I'm going to blame it on Shawn's wonky schedule this week and try again next week.

Part of the problem is I'm feeling so uninspired in the kitchen. I'm in a rut. It might have something to do with the heavy rain and grey skies we've had all week (I need me some sunshine, pronto.) Or it might have something to do with stress-eating my weight in Oreos leading up to next week's repeat biopsy of my bastard thyroid. Probably it's a bit of both.

I need a spark. What's your go-to dinner when you're feeling blah? We're not talking fancy shmancy here folks, I want simple and easy. Preferably with cheese.

Oh! And before I forget, the winner of this week's (final) $50 Safeway card is Marianne! Email me your details and I'll mail it off to you this week.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

As in, the winner can make me a chicken dinner because she's won a $50 Safeway gift card AND because she's my neighbour! Emily, random.org smiled upon you tonight and chose your comment as the lucky one.

But! Don't fret if you didn't win; I have another $50 Safeway gift card to give to a lucky BC reader. Just leave a comment telling me where you find quick, easy dinner recipes online and you'll be entered to win the second $50 Safeway gift card provided to me by HealthyFamilies BC as part of their Shopping Sense campaign.

I'll announce the winner on Friday. Thanks for playing!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Shopping Sense - Review and Giveaway

I was invited to join a group of bloggers at a HealthyFamilies BC event to celebrate National Nutrition Month (here's the boring part where I tell you that I was given a $100 grocery store gift card to attend but my thoughts / feelings / words expressed here are based on my experience and not on the swag.)

Shopping Sense is an online resource that was recently launched to help people make healthier, more budget-wise decisions while grocery shopping. I was excited to try it out because menu planning (and as an extension, grocery shopping) is something I've never been able to grasp, no matter what I try. I go through fits and bursts of inspiration - cooking an elaborate meal one night only to eat grilled cheese sandwiches for the following three nights.

I love the meal plan template. The grocery list (divided into grocery store departments, be still my type-A heart) on the side of the meal plan is perfect for jotting down ingredients. I'm actually excited to try meal planning again (and grocery planning! Lists! More lists! Ohh, talk wordy to me.)

The tour itself was a lot of fun. Dietitian Melodie Yong was engaging and informative - I was feeling a bit smug on my way in but I ended up learning a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I think that a big part of healthy eating is just common sense (eat more vegetables! eat less processed junk!) but it's really easy to fall into bad habits, especially when life gets busy. Shopping Sense is a great tool because it pools together all that common sense in an easy, accessible place. It's kind of like having a a concerned parent that you can access whenever you want (and, uhh, ignore whenever you want.)

Now! The fun part! I was given two $50 Safeway gift cards to give away to my readers. For a chance to win one of the gift cards, take a look at the Shopping Sense virtual tour and tell me what you liked about it (or tell me what you would change.)

Winner will be announced on Monday (and because this is a HealthyFamilies BC initiative I'm going to say this contest is open to residents of British Columbia only.) One comment per household please. Let's keep this fair, folks. I'll be posting another giveaway for the second $50 Safeway gift card next week.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Orange-y Crockpot Chicken

I'm a big fan of my crockpot. I throw a bunch of stuff in it while Grady eats lunch (i.e. strapped into his highchair so he can't destroy everything within reach) and 3-6 hours later (depending on the recipe) dinner is ready.

I made this last night and it was a hit. It's not the healthiest recipe (the sauce is sweet) but it's health adjacent. I will probably cut the sugar next time but I will definitely make it again.

Orange-y Crockpot Chicken

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 2 oranges (approx 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup soya sauce
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 cup cold water
2 Tblsp cornstarch

Put chicken in bottom of crockpot. Mix together remaining ingredients (apart from water and cornstarch) and pour over chicken. Cook for 3 hours on high.

Remove chicken and slice / chunk / shred - whatever your preference.

Mix together water and cornstarch. Add a little of the hot cooking sauce to the water / cornstarch mixture so it doesn't just turn into a clump when you add it to the sauce. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the cooking sauce and leave on high for 10-ish minutes until it's thick.

I had a de-zested lemon from the broccoli slaw so I juiced it and threw it into the sauce with the cornstarch. It added a nice bit of zing to the sauce and it meant that I didn't have to keep a naked lemon in my fridge until it dried out and I could throw it out without feeling wasteful (which I realize is ridiculous because I would still be wasting the lemon. Look, I don't claim to be sane.)

Throw the chicken back in the sauce to stay warm.

I served it over carrot quinoa (1/2 onion - diced, 2 garlic cloves - minced, 3 carrots - diced, 1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water or stock: sauté veg in oil for 5-ish minutes, add quinoa and stock, heat to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, let sit for 5 minutes, fluff with a fork.)

I made broccoli slaw as a side because I'm kind of obsessed with broccoli slaw right now. I started with this Smitten Kitchen recipe a couple weeks ago and keep playing with it.

Broccoli Slaw (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 large heads of broccoli, chopped finely
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp dried dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of Tobasco sauce

Mix up the dressing and then toss it all together. I like to make my slaw ahead of time so it's got at least a couple of hours to get nice and chilled in the fridge.

not the prettiest but definately yummy