Friday, September 26, 2014

DEAL ALERT: Frozen Turkey Sale Time!

Image result for no frills
With Canadian Thanksgiving just around the corner, No Frills has started their frozen turkey sale (starts today, FRIDAY Sept. 26) for 0.88 a pound.  This means Walmart's frozen turkey sale cannot be far behind.

Stock up!!!

In Case You Missed It:  Why I LOVE the humble frozen turkey

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Married Young - You Can Too

Time Magazine has published a report on new statistics predicting that 25% of Millennials will never marry.  This is a serious problem that society should not (but will) ignore.  The top reasons cited in the study are:
1) Not ready to settle down/too young
2) Not financially prepared
3) Haven't found what they are looking for

Let's discuss.

1) Not ready to settle down/too young
And here we have one of the great consequences of the Eternal Adolescence that seems to be gripping society.  Once you turn 18, being ready to settle down has very little to do with age and very much to do with maturity and life outlook (no I'm not suggesting everyone should get married at 18, far from it!).  As the value of BA's decrease, more people go to graduate schools (in turn decreasing the value of a graduate degree but I digress), thereby pushing back the age at which they feel ready to settle down.  Although I have a feeling that for most people it is more of "I just want to go on one more totally awesome backpacking trip" or "I just really want to spend money on ME ME ME" or "I just want to p-a-r-t-y" than it is that they are not ready to settle down.  My grandma was 18 when she got married.  She has been married for 60+ years.  You are not too young to get married.  You are too immature.  Next.

2) Not financially prepared
I can empathize with this reason.  A little.  The desire to be financially secure is admirable, but is that what this is really about?  Or is this more about living like royals and looking after yourself?  The one thing that seems glaringly problematic among young marrieds today is the expectation that they will be living the same lifestyle at 28 and 29 that their parents are living after 30+ years of marriage.  Sorry folks, buying a 3500 square foot house and eating sirloin steaks every night  A lot of it.  And that money is hard to come by when people are spending more than a down payment on a house to pay for their wedding.  (Side note: My husband and I had a beautiful wedding.  Really.  I do not regret the wedding we had because we are very good with money, however looking back I can definitely see how we would have benefited from spending less on the day.)  I am going to bring up my grandparents again because when they got married they literally had a net worth of $10.00.  TEN DOLLARS.  They made it work.  Unless one of you is carrying a mountain of debt (which, if due to frivolous spending, could be a sign to not marry the person......) this excuse is garbage.  It is a cop out.  Especially for men.

3) Haven't found what they are looking for
This is what happens:  People date someone they really love, but then delay getting married because of reasons #1 and #2.  They break up.  By the time they are "ready" to get married reason #3 comes into play.  You know the expression all the good ones are gone.  Guess what?  When you get to a certain age this expression becomes reality.  The good ones are gone.  Or they are back on the market as divorcés and divorcees with a whole lot of emotional baggage (and probably kids).  The other possibility here is that people are looking for something that doesn't exist.  These are the people who watch too much tv and believe in things like soul mates and the perfect person for them.  These are the people who get hung up on "the one that got away" and never move on.  Tough luck buddy.  Get over it.  Human beings are all deeply flawed and you just have to make sure you can handle the flaws of the person you marry and vice versa.
On another note - you might be looking in the wrong places.  Several years ago I was sitting in an airport lounge with some of my husband's friends from university.  We had attended the wedding of a friend and were waiting for our flight back to London.  One of his friends, an attractive, 32 year old with a great job in the City, confessed that he wanted to find a "great girl" and settle down like his friends were doing.  He complained he could not find anyone who would qualify as wife material.  This is the same guy who the night before the wedding was trying to find the best strip club in the greater Salzburg area and when unable to do so settled on a seedy bar.  Case in point.  Think about the kind of man or woman you want to marry.  Where would they hang out?  Go there.

OK let's regroup.
I met my husband when I was 21 and got married when I was 23.  My husband was 28.  We are still married.  We still like each other.  The right time to get married is not about age, or money, or some trumped up fantasy about the ideal partner.  You find someone you are incredibly attracted to (this does matter somewhere along the way, because if you never feel it then....there's a problem), you fall in love.  Important: you make sure this person has the same view of marriage and roles in a marriage that you do.  You make sure they are not a psycho and that their family is not going to make your life a living hell.  You make sure they want children (if you do).  You make sure that you can tolerate their flaws and they can tolerate yours.  You.  Get.  Married.  You make it work.

This is life.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Things I Love: Ricardo

I love Ricardo Larrivée.  Not on a personal level, I've never met him, but I absolutely adore his cooking show as well as his cookbooks and magazine.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I picked up the premiere edition of his English magazine Ricardo at Costco Canada this past weekend.  Ricardo is one of Canada's best chefs.  We are a half French speaking household, so I have watched his cooking show and read his French magazine for years - but now I am thrilled that English Canadians (and Americans) can enjoy his English language magazine.

Why do I love Ricardo so much?
It is quite simple - he creates beautiful recipes that are practical.  Excellent food that working moms and dads can make without having a nervous breakdown.  His recipes are designed with the importance of family mealtime in mind (because it is important).  If you have seen his show, or seen him appear on television it is obvious how important family is to him.  And to erase any doubt, here is a quote from the introduction of his new magazine:
"I have always wanted a family of my own....Your family helps you discover your true self. 

Day after day, we create great recipes that bring families together, enable them to save time and money, teach people healthy eating habits, help build children's confidence, and even contribute to the local economy."

Do go and pick up this issue of Ricardo - available at Costco Canada and other retailers.  If you are living in the States or elsewhere abroad, here is the link to Ricardo's website:

Try.  Taste.  Enjoy.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Money Saving Tips: How to Reduce Food Costs (Part 2)

Part 1 is HERE

#8 Keep a few frozen dinners on hand.  
I know this goes against "make as much as possible from scratch," but there are always those times when you do not want to or have time to defrost a pre-made dinner and you just feel out of options.  Having a couple of frozen dinners on hand is still cheaper than going out to eat.  I am partial to Walmart's finest frozen dinners.  They are pretty good (Chicken Korma is my personal favourite) and at $2.49 a pop in Canada it's not a bad deal when you're in a lurch.

# 9 Beware of beverages.
The cost of drinks (even non-alcoholic ones) adds up very fast.  In our house we drink milk, water (tap), tea, and sometimes orange juice.  I keep a bit of pop on hand for company or for when I want the odd Coca Cola with lime, but we don't buy it regularly.  Simply Lemonade and Pure Leaf Iced Tea are two drinks I love - but they are bought as a treat and not on my regular shopping list.  If you start tracking what you spend on drinks you will realize how quickly this stuff adds up.

#10 Get a Crock Pot
If you want to reduce the cost of groceries but for whatever reason you do not have time to cook a meal at night - invest in a Crock Pot and learn how to use it.  These are a time-saving, money saving, sanity saving wonder.  Working moms love the Crock Pot.

#11 Summer Storage
We eat a lot of fruit in our house, both fresh, in baking and in smoothies.  I pick a great deal of my own fruit in the summer and freeze it.  I also do a lot of canning.  Often this is definitely cheaper than buying frozen fruit in the store, however Costco does have pretty reasonable prices on frozen fruit so you need to know your prices and figure out what works best for you.

#12 Maximize Reward Points
There are many great reward programs out there.  I try to maximize my rewards when grocery shopping.  My two favourite reward programs are Shopper's Optimum and the BMO World Elite MasterCard (both of these are only in Canada).

BONUS:  Keep restaurant coupons in your car.  There will be those days where you just end up eating out,  It happens.  When I get coupons in the mail (especially from McDonald's because I secretly love their Signature McWraps as well as the McCafé) I immediately put them in my car.  This way, they are always with me and at least if I find myself in a drive-thru I know I am saving a bit of money.

Laura Rosen Cohen on The Selfie

I love this:

Hello men?

There is a direct correlation between the relative sanity of a woman to the number of selfies she has on social media.


So, if it is selfie, selfie, selfie, selfie-stay away from that woman because she is selfish (duh) and veering toward the batshit crazy default setting.

If you have friends, then friends take your picture.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Money Saving Tips: How to Reduce Food Costs Part 1

Lots to say on this.  Ideally I would grow all my own produce, make everything from scratch, awake before dawn every day to make fresh bread....HA!  I have a full time job.  I have kids.  I want my sanity.  Although I completely admire people who do these, it is just not in the cards at our house.  However, I have put together a list of tips that work for me.

What if you do not already have a set grocery budget?
If you do not already have a food budget, I recommend you track ALL your spending on food (including eating out) for a few months.  Just keep all the receipts.  Then sit down, go through them carefully and look to see where you should be cutting costs.  Even if you have a set budget, it never hurts to review.  I try to track our spending for three months every year just to analyze what I am spending the most money on, where I can still cut back, etc.  Of course you have to consider seasonal expenses, etc. but it is a good place to start.

OK - Tips...

1.  NEVER go to the store without a list (plan ahead). 
You don't need to plan your weekly menu down to the finest detail, but if you do not have a list you could come home with a lot more than you actually need.  Or less, which will just mean additional trips and additional spending on gas and food.

2.  Read the flyers.  Every week.
Even if you are not going to the store - this will help you know where the best prices are, but you will also learn in time what the rotation of sales on specific items tend to be at specific stores.  This really helps with items such as cheese, fresh chicken, laundry detergent, and fabric softener.

3.  Shop once a month, plus once a week.
What?  How does that make sense?  Do one big shop a month for any pantry items, meats (use your freezer) and household goods you might need.  After this, shop once a week (or less as needed) for fresh produce and dairy products, and bread if you do not make your own.

4.  Make as much as possible from scratch.
You know what your time is like.  Figure out what you can do.  I love homemade spaghetti sauce - I just make a couple big batches in the summer and it lasts the whole year.  I do a fair bit of canning and freezing during the summer as well.  But I do splurge now and then on pre-made pie crusts.  Like I said, you know your time vs. money ratio so figure out what works best for you.  But I say this - pre-made bread products (bread, muffins etc) are so much cheaper to make yourself.

5.  Make ahead and freeze as much as possible.
More on this in a future post.

6.  Limit or avoid cold cereal.
I know some of them are good and very tempting but hot cereals are much cheaper and often healthier (hello oatmeal!!).

7.  Buy in bulk - but only if you will use it before it expires.
Buying lots of stuff that goes to waste is waste of money and resources.

Speaking of food - dinner is boiling over on the stove and my son is yelling for me so......Part 2 will be coming later.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Recipe: Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I'd love to tell you I made this recipe up myself, but I did not.

I was reading Châtelaine over the weekend and Robin Hood Flour had a coupon book insert.  This recipe was in it.  The cookies looked delicious.  They are delicious.  So, so good with a glass of milk.  Even better warmed up in the microwave.  Yum.

I was able to find the recipe in English on Robin Hood's website.
 Click here for the  Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie recipe.

CHECKLIST: Mom and Baby Packing Checklist for Hospital Delivery

My list 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Giving Birth, got a great response so I have decided to follow it up with something useful, a checklist of what to bring to the hospital.  The full list is below, but I am going to preface it with a few quick tips.  Pack this stuff well in advance because......just because.

#1 - Bring a package of Depends.  Without getting to gory, you will need them.  Pads are ok but if you want coverage, protection and way less worry about leaking you will want to be wearing Depends for at least 48 hours after giving birth (and then during the night for a few weeks, depending on how much you are bleeding).  They just provide better protection and you don't have to worry about throwing out your underwear because a few pairs will likely get ruined.

#2 - Do not bring your favourite clothes/underwear unless you are prepared for them to be ruined.  Labour can be messy.  You cannot count on things being kept in good condition.  On that note - I just opted to wear the tried and true hospital gown because who cares if that gets ruined?  I changed into my comfy and warm pjs after giving birth.

#3 - Bring a warm blanket.  If you plan on getting an epidural, they often give you the chills. You will want to feel warm.  Again, don't bring something really good that cannot get ruined.  Bring one even if you are not planning on having an epidural because hospitals are often cold, AND it I know many people who were not planning on an epidural but for various reasons ended up getting one.  Just bring a blanket.

#4 - Bring a small cooler full of snacks.  This is key.  I highly recommend juice boxes (both for you and your partner).  You can also throw in some yogurt (if you have time) and non snacks.  I recommend packing the cooler with non perishables well in advance and then when the time comes if you need to grab it and run you can, but if you have extra time to add some fruit and veggies great.

# 5 - Look into purchasing a hospital parking pass. OK, this is not in my checklist but I wish we had done it.  Check the fees for parking at your hospital.  Even if you only end up being there for 24-48 hours it may be cheaper to buy a weekly parking pass than to pay for parking as you go.  This is especially true if your doctor's office is also attached to the hospital.  I wish we had done this.  It would have saved us a few hundred dollars as I went into preterm labour at 32 weeks and we ended up making many, many trips to the hospital.

Alright - here is the actual list:


FOR MOM AND DAD (or labour support person)
¨  Pillow (or two)
¨  Sleeping bag/blanket or pillow for significant other if staying in a private room
¨  Any toiletries your partner may need plus a towel and washcloth for him
¨  Depends or sanitary napkins (at least one package)
¨  Breastfeeding pillow
¨  Bra (a nursing bra, sleeping bra)
¨  Nursing pads
¨  Comfortable pajamas/clothing
¨  Warm socks! (or slippers)
¨  Bathing suit or large t-shirt if you plan on using tub/whirlpool
¨  Contact lens and solution or glasses
¨  Hairbrush
¨  Shampoo
¨  Deodorant
¨  Mouthwash
¨  Soap
¨  Lotion
¨  Chapstick
¨  Washcloth and towel
¨  Drinking glass/bottle/cup
¨  Kleenex
¨  Snacks and juices
¨  Music (Ipod, MP3, or CDs depending on hospital)
¨  Pen and notepad
¨  Cellphone and charger (important!!)
¨  Camera (make sure battery is charged!)
¨  One book or magazine (which you might not need depending on duration of labour)
¨  Infant car seat (make sure it is properly installed)
¨  Newborn diapers and baby wipes
¨  Diaper cream
¨  Clothes and blankets to wear home
¨  Soap/shampoo
¨  Baby brush/comb

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Yes, The Family Meal Matters

A debate surrounding the family meal has been raging in cyberspace over the past few weeks.  Feminist Amanda Marcotte wrote an essay suggesting the family dinner was tyrannical because it takes a lot of work and women are rarely thanked for their efforts.  This unleashed a torrent of criticism in the blogosphere and on Twitter.  This week, The Globe and Mail published an article questioning whether family meals are worth the effort, citing numerous examples of tired parents and picky kids while claiming to "debunk the myth" that family dinners matter.  Family meals matter.  Not only do they matter, they are a blessing.  I'm not suggesting that the entire family needs to sit down to a homemade dinner seven nights a week (but if you can, wow, that's pretty amazing).  In our house, my husband's job means he is never home for dinner during the week.  Ever.  So I definitely sympathize with people who find this task daunting.  What matters is that families are setting aside regular times every week to break bread together - whether it is for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  This looks different in every house.

Why does the family meal matter?

Priorities - Making time to eat together as a family shows your kids that spending time with them is a priority in your life.  This reinforces that they are important to you.

Quality Time - Ah, the old QT.  This does matter.  Sitting around a table with your spouse and kids gives you a chance to talk and interact in ways that you do not do while driving in car to hockey games, school, dance lessons, etc.

Behaviour - This is a big one.  Many social norms, manners and decorum are learned while sitting around the family table.  Manners do still matter.  Being able to carry on a conversation, read cues, and behave appropriately is a very important skill that your child will need if he or she is going to be successful in life.  The best place they can learn this is at the dining room table and the best teachers are Mom and Dad.

Nutrition - You do not need to be serving gourmet meals every night. The fact of the matter remains that the vast majority of homecooked meals are healthier than eating out.  Enough said.

Responsibility - So many people are complaining about the family meal because it takes so much work.  It's called chores.  Make your kids help.  From a very young age kids are able to set the table, clear away dishes, wash dishes (load the dishwasher), sweep the floor, and put things away.  All these things teach responsibility and help ease the "burden" of the family dinner.  As kids get older, this is an amazing way to get them involved in cooking and the meal planning process.  A child does not need to be very old before they are able to prepare a spaghetti dinner once a week for the family, and it will not be long after that when more sophisticated dishes interest them.  Having a teenager prepare a family meal once a week is a fantastic way to help them learn how to cook - and this is a skill that will benefit them immensely once they leave the house. 

Gratitude - All these complaints about no gratitude.  First of all, if you are looking to your kids to fulfill some internal need for gratification you have problems.  They are kids.  However - it is a parent's responsibility to teach their children gratitude.  My late father-in-law taught my husband this - when we got married he thanked me for making dinner every night as he cleared the dishes.

Hospitality -  Remember when you were a kid and your parents had guests over for dinner?  This is like the Family Dinner Plus.  This is where your kids will learn so much about being gracious hosts and hostesses, how to entertain, how to behave appropriately in various social settings.  

Life Lessons - Sitting around the family table and hearing stories from various family members reminds everyone that there is world outside their own.  Every day we are all experiencing different things, and we can learn from and help each other.  Knowing when to speak, and knowing when to listen is an invaluable lesson which many people have learned sitting around the family dinner table.

Memories - And here it is.  The immeasurable benefit of the family dinner.  Whether you are a single mother with kids, grandparents raising a grandchild, or a mom and dad raising a handful of kids - countless memories are created around the family dinner table.  My parents are divorced.  I remember when we had family dinners.  And then I remember never having them.  I loved going to visit friends and sharing dinners with their families.  It was beautiful.  It is not just about setting the table and serving some food - it is about watching your parents interact, it is about the giggles from your children when something funny happens, it is about mom making that special dinner for you when you have had a bad day, it is the smell of roast beef drifting through the house on a Sunday afternoon, it is the pumpkin pie that your grandma always made just for you, it is the time you spend with your family.  You cannot buy this.  Millions of people would give up so much to be able to sit down and eat a dinner with their family.  Do not take the family dinner for granted.  Cherish it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Freedom Friday News Bits

Cozy up with a blanket and get caught up with these reading over the weekend:

Of Politicians and Moral Courage (Caroline Glick)

Janay Rice Confounds Feminists... (Barbara Kay)

NYT Baghdad Bureau Chief on Iraq (Hot Air)

I am a 14 Year Old Yazidi Girl (Washington Post)

And for the best tweets about Benghazi this week - see Sharyl Attkisson's Twitter feed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Is the Bugaboo Donkey worth it?

Short Answer: If you can afford it, yes.

Longer Answer:
First, let us begin with a small video so you can see what the Bugaboo Donkey is all about...

When I was pregnant, all of my mom friends told me to invest in a good stroller.  Those who had bought a good stroller said they were glad they did, and those who hadn't told me they regretted not doing so.  The Bugaboo brand has been popular for quite some time in Europe, but it was propelled to international superstardom when the press reported that a Bugaboo Chameleon was purchased for Prince George (prior to his birth).  These strollers are not cheap.  The Bugaboo Donkey retails for about $1300.00.  (I'll just disclose here that my father bought ours as a gift for the baby - after telling me it cost more than his first car.)

Why did I decide on a Bugaboo Donkey?
The reason I chose this one over other strollers is because of the mono/duo combination.  You can have two babies in this side by side (instead of one in front of the other, or one underneath the other as with some strollers).  I really wanted this side by side option as opposed to the others.  Maybe because when we lived in London I watched so many babies looking like they were being bounced off the steps of the tube as their mother tried to carry the stroller up and down stairs.  The great thing about the Bugaboo Donkey is that you can have two children side by side - and they can both be front facing, or both rear facing, or one front and one rear.  I just love these options.
The Bugaboo Donkey also comes with a bassinet style seat for newborns, as well as the "regular" seat.  (Note - to make your Bugaboo Donkey a duo you have to purchase the extension pack as well as additional seats).
The other big factor in getting a Bugaboo Donkey was the resale value.  Because the Bugaboo Donkey comes at a hefty price tag, there is a big demand for used Donkeys.


Cons: I will start with the cons.  First, obviously, the price.  It is an investment.  With regards to the stroller itself, there are a few things that I would love to see improved.  The seat has two positions - one which is almost completely upright and the other reclined.  I would love to see one more position added somewhere between the two.  I would say the Donkey's biggest drawback (aside from price) is its size.  This is not a compact stroller.  If you drive an SUV of minivan you may be able to fold this up and easily fit it in the trunk, however in both of our vehicles (a four door car and a pick-up truck) we have to remove the seat and basket before folding the stroller and putting it in the trunk.  It is not difficult, just another step that takes a few seconds.

Pros:  This stroller has lots of storage space which I love.  You have the side basket as well as the basket underneath (which easily holds a full backpack as well as other items).  We can load it up and motor.  The adjustable handlebars are great for someone like myself who is quite tall.  They also allow for more compact storage when the stroller is assembled.  The sunshade provides excellent coverage for the baby.  The stroller moves well in all terrains and I have also found it easy to use in the winter.
At the end of the day, and going back to the main reason why I wanted this stroller, what sets the Bugaboo Donkey apart from other strollers in its class are the seating options (mono/duo/twin) which are well illustrated in the video above.

In a nutshell:  This stroller is quite large so make sure it can fit your vehicle for transport.  The seating options are what truly set it apart from other comparable strollers.  It is quite pricey but has a good resale value.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Money Saving Tips: Behold, the Humble Frozen Turkey

In our house the three main factors influencing my grocery shopping are (in no particular order):
Convenience (I make almost everything from scratch, but it still has to be convenient as we both work full time)
Quality food

Sometimes these three things are hard to balance, but often it just requires a bit of thinking or working ahead.  One of the ways I do this is by stocking up on frozen turkeys.  With the Canadian Thanksgiving just around the corner, allow me to share with you why I love frozen turkeys (and why you should too!)...

Typically around Thanksgiving, frozen turkeys will be on sale at Walmart and No Frills for 88 cents a pound.  This is cheap.  Very, very cheap.  As a comparison, boneless skinless chicken breasts go on sale for $5.99 a pound.  If you are in the States, when November comes frozen turkeys tend to go on sale for even less thanks to some marketing board differences between Canada and the US.  Stock up!!!  I usually buy 6-8 of these frozen birds and toss them in our big freezer.  If you do not have a big freezer even buying one or two is great.

What can you get out of a frozen turkey?

Over the weekend, we cooked the last of our frozen turkeys and these guys give you so much bang for your buck.

From one14lb turkey we got:
-a meal for 6 (turkey dinner)
-turkey salad for a meal for 10 people
-turkey for a turkey pot pie
-turkey for turkey and vegetable soup
-turkey leftovers for lunches (about 15 portions)
-plus some additional meat to throw in the freezer emergencies (I use this for adding to pasta dishes in place of chicken, for turkey fajitas, or just to eat with some delicious mashed potatoes)
Just to reiterate: you get so much great meat you get for so little!

How do I roast my turkey?
I use a very simple method because I like simple and it works.
First - defrost the turkey in your fridge.  A good rule of them is to allow 24 hours per 4lbs of turkey.
Once the turkey has defrosted, I remove the neck and gizzards because I just think they are gross and I don't want to deal with them.
I then pat the turkey down with paper towels.
While the turkey is hanging out in the roast pan, I mix up a spice rub.  The amount of spices are variable depending on your taste, but my rub usually looks something like this (for a 14lb turkey):

1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sage
2 tsp thyme
2-3 tsp salt

Once the spice rub is ready, I get my hands into some butter (yum) and I rub butter both under the turkey's skin as well as on top.  How much butter?  Usually about 1/2 cup.  Once I have rubbed on butter I get into the spice rub and again rub it under the turkey's skin as well as on top.  Then I clean my hands (I usually like to have a dry paper towel beside the turkey because it is tricky to wipe the butter residue of your hands).

Next, I quarter two small or one large onion and stuff them in the cavity of the turkey.  If I have celery I might throw a bit in as well.  I also dump some salt into the cavity (about 1/4 of a cup).

That's it.
Put the turkey (covered) in the oven at 425F for 25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325F for the remainder of the cooking time.  (Allow approximately 15 minutes per pound).

Once the turkey is done, I tent it and let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving.

One of my favourite things to do with the turkey is make a turkey salad - I will share to recipes with you below but you can play around with them quite a bit.

Take the white meat (from the breast) and chop it into small cubes (pieces) - I usually do about 5-6 cups chopped.
For a great, healthy sauce - mix 1 cup of plain yogurt (I use Liberté) with 1/2 cup  mayonnaise.  The amount of sauce you want can vary based on your tastes - and the amount of turkey you are using - but the ration I always use is 2:1 (yogurt vs. mayonnaise).
Then add 1 tsp cumin to the sauce.  Mix the sauce with the chicken.
Finally, chop 1 cup of seedless red grapes and add to the mixture.  You're done!!

ALTERNATES: Another great option is to replace the cumin with dijon mustard and replace the grapes with dried cranberries. 
You could also add chopped celery or chopped walnuts to this recipe.

What to do with your turkey salad?
I love this turkey salad just plain on its own, on fresh rolls, in tortilla wraps, on Paninis with melted cheese (delicious!)......

Remember this post in a few weeks when you see the advertisements for frozen turkeys in the weekly flyers.  Stock up and save!

For more turkey recipes see the Ontario Turkey Producer's website.

Products I Love: La Roche Posay's Lipikar Balm AP

Lipikar Balm AP packshot from Lipikar, by La Roche-Posay
This stuff is amazing!  It's not cheap, but I love it.  I received a sample of this when I got my v.i.b. (Very Important Baby) sample kit from Shopper's Drug Mart (Canadian drug store chain).  Their promotion definitely worked on me.  It is extremely gentle on baby's skin but does not feel greasy.  I slather my son in it after his bath, and one tube lasted me just over six months.  I also use it on myself sometimes - especially dry elbows!  The reason for the mention today is because Shopper's Drug Mart Optimum has a promotion running from now until October 31.  If you purchase this product you will receive 2500 Optimum points.  See why I love Optimum here for more money saving tips.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

In Case You Missed It: 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Giving Birth

Click here to read the complete list.

Having a child is absolutely the best and most important thing you will ever do (#10)

This is the final installment from my list, 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Giving Birth

You want to have kids.  You are excited to have kids.  You know that family is important to you.  This will be amplified infinitely once your baby is actually here.  Being a parent is hard.  Really hard.  Sometimes more than others.  However, even the most baby-loving person will tell you that they never imagined how much they would love their own child.  Having a baby sometimes changes your outlook on life, other times it just makes convictions you already had stronger.  Your priority will become (it should become) raising you child in a stable, loving, happy home.  You will realize how little material things matter (for example you may suddenly find your entire shoe budget shifted to swaddling blankets, or your husband's annual boy trip money going to your child's RESP).  This little person will make you want to be the best you can possibly be.  You will do what is best for your child.  And you will not regret it.  Not once.  Having a healthy, safe child is without a doubt the greatest blessing of adult life.  Cherish life.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Freedom Friday News Bits

The list is a bit short today as I had a procedure done on my hands this morning and typing is difficult.....more to come this weekend.  I don't drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes but all my friends tell me they're available now, so sit back and enjoy one while reading the below.

The Dilemma of the Jewish Leftist (Caroline Glick)
Just have to share this little nugget:
Much has been written since Islamic State released the video of its British executioner chopping off James Foley’s head last month. We have been told by leaders and commentators alike that with this singular crime, Islamic State awakened the sleeping lion of the West. That act of barbarism, we have been assured, will now force the US to lead a global coalition against this Islamic army of butchers.

Clearly Islamic State is not convinced. With the release of the Sotloff beheading video this week, it appears that Islamic State thinks its cinematographers will move the West in another direction – apathy.

Foley’s execution video ended with the preview of coming attractions for the Sotloff execution video.

And the Sotloff execution video ended with the preview of a British hostage’s execution video.

By releasing the films gradually, Islamic State is apparently trying to routinize beheadings. Its leaders are probably betting that by the seventh or eighth beheading video, we will greet the violence with a shrug of our shoulders.

Pushing Back Against Putin (John Bolton)  A good one.

The New World Disorder (Victor Davis Hansen)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

You Can Learn From Others and Meltdowns Happen (#8 and #9)

I decided to combine #8 and #9 from my list Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before Giving Birth.

First # 8 - You Can Learn From Others

It may seem like I am contradicting myself since I have appeared somewhat anti parenting books and have told people to mind their own business when it comes to telling you how to be a parent.  However, you can learn from other people.  A lot.  Both good and bad.  I learned a great deal by simply observing other people.  Look at the people you admire as parents.  Look at the people you think are a disaster.  Remember what you think is a disaster now might not seem like such a disaster once you have your own kids.  If you are going to judge do it in your head not out loud, otherwise it could come back to haunt you.  Trust me.  I am not going to slam any particular parenting book but I have read several and I am not a fan - but that does not mean I learned absolutely nothing from them.  Keep that in mind.

# 9 Meltdowns happen (this is normal and ok)

This is important.  Giving birth to a human being that you created is an amazing, emotional experience.  In addition, your hormones are raging as your body goes through some major changes in a very short time.  This can make one rather emotional.  After my son was born, I remember looking at him and crying (happy) because I just felt so blessed to have this healthy little baby in my arms.  This is normal.  There is also something called the Baby Blues.  Apparently (via my doctor) many, many moms experience this.  Essentially your hormones surge and you are very emotional for a few days.  I definitely had this.  It lasted a bit longer than I think it does for most.  I remember completely melting down in my doctor's office when my son was a few weeks old because I was just feeling very overwhelmed.  Thankfully, my doctor and his nurses were very supportive.  This emotional surge did go away.  Poof.  That is not to say this was the end of the meltdowns.  A few months down the road when my son was having a very difficult time sleeping and on one particular night was up screaming for 12 hours straight, I became very tired and emotional.  (Hello - no sleep = emotional woman).  After talking with other moms I realized that I was not losing my marbles, this is common.    Even my son's swimming teacher told me she remembered a couple of times where she shut herself in the bathroom to cry while counting down until her husband got home from work.  My point is that parenting is a massive learning curve and it is ok to shed a tear now and then when you are exhausted.  You are not a failure.  You are a human being.  However - this is not meant to dismiss postpartum depression in anyway.  Postpartum depression is very real and very serious and nothing (absolutely nothing) to be ashamed of.  If you think you are suffering from postpartum depression, in particular if you are feeling overwhelmed by guilt, if you are unable to sleep, if you are thinking of hurting yourself or your child - please, please seek professional help.  Call someone you trust to watch your baby.  Go to your doctor.  If your doctor does not give you the support you need go see another doctor.  Do not stop until you get help.  There is help for you.  Reach out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why We Left the UK

Some readers may know that my husband and I lived in the UK for a time.  After being there for a short time we realized we did not want to raise a family there, but it took several years before we actually made it back to North America.  It's a fun place to visit.  Rural England is beautiful and the people tend to be very friendly folk.  Living in London (UK) felt like the we were in the centre of the universe, more particularly it was like living where civilized and uncivilized meet (in say, Regents Park or outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square) daily.

The UK has been in the news quite a bit over the past few weeks.  (Rotherham, Jihadi John, Scottish referendum, the NHS).  Forces at play in all of these stories are why we left.  If you live in the UK and you have lots of money (and I mean lots because my husband was doing really well there and loved his job, but it was not enough) you can isolate yourself in a little cocoon and pretend that none of this stuff is going on.  For most people this is not possible.

In a nuthsell - these are four things that convinced me we had to get out:

-one of my friends was told (when pregnant) to bring some pillows with her to the hospital in case they could not find a bed for her to deliver her baby in  (also on another occasion I was diagnosed with a broken leg, when I in fact had nothing of the sort)
-celebrating outside Finsbury Park Mosque on the anniversary of 9/11  (couple this with the 7/7 bombings)
-realizing (after working in them) that I could never, ever send my child to a public school in London (when you see a small child coming to school, clearly the victim of physical abuse, and your colleagues say "oh yeah, a lot of the parents 'round here are quite violent" you know there is a problem)
-watching tens of thousands of hateful people marching through Central London screaming for the obliteration of Israel and jihad on America (this was in 2009, not last month)

We did have some great times there, but only because we always knew we were leaving.  What made me most convinced we could not stay were the discussions I had with security personnel.  Two in particular.  One day I was chatting with a diplomatic protection officer working at one of the embassies in London.  He told me he could not understand why North Americans were moving to London when he and most of his colleagues were desperately wanting to get to North America.  Another friend worked in security at the US Embassy (but I honestly have no idea exactly what he did because he couldn't discuss it).  He also told me that without the perks of working at the Embassy (ie. what was provided for his family) there was no way he would stay in the UK with his kids.

And so, there you have it.  London will always have a special place in my heart but I have no desire to move back.  Although these days it seems many places in North America are becoming more and more like London.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Everyone has an opinion about how you should raise your child (#7)

Here is #7 from my list 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Giving Birth

Everyone knows how you should raise your baby.  Even strangers.  Once baby arrives, you will get unsolicited advice coming at you from all directions.  Most of it comes with nothing but the best intentions, some of it might even be useful.  Unfortunately there can be another side to this.  Sometimes people say some very hurtful things to new moms.  This can come from a person who genuinely cares about you, but who while trying to be helpful makes you feel like a terrible mom.  Or it can come from someone who is just plain mean and sticking their nose where it does not belong.  Most people have kids, and some people think that having a functioning child makes them a parenting expert.  It does not.  What worked for them may be terrible for you.  I had some people say some terrible things to me in the first weeks of my son's life.  I was extremely tired and hormonal and trust me - these people did not help.  In fact, it made things worse.  Looking back now, I know that under different circumstances I would have simply brushed off what they said but as a new mom I put way too much stock in the opinions of others.  If I could give one piece of advice to the friends and family of new moms I would say keep your mouth shut.  Unless you are asked your opinion mind your own business.  And even if you are asked, tread very carefully.  "Have you thought of this...." or "this worked for me...." is sometimes a way of saying "you useless idiot why aren't you doing this."

As I have said before, there is not one way to raise a child.  Trust your maternal instincts.  God gave this baby to you to raise (not your mom, mother in law, sister, friend, neighbour, the lady in the grocery store, etc.).

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bathroom Renovation - Part 1

For a backgrounder on our house click here.

When we first moved in I knew that eventually we would redo the main bathroom, but for the time being I just did a quick repaint.  I love bright colours, I wanted a bright and cheery bathroom so I painted it this awesome (if you like bright colours) blue.

Bathroom pre-reno

You will notice that this bathroom is small.  So small.  It was not long before the vanity (which left very little space to walk through the bathroom) and the sink (which was very shallow, resulting in water splashing everywhere each time we turned on the water) were driving me crazy.  Once we knew a baby was on the way we decided it was time to say goodbye old sink, hello new vanity.


And so the process began.  If you are looking for a post on a budget reno, this is not it.  I love saving money, I really do, but after much thought we realized we could not do a cheap renovation for two main reasons:
1.  In order to maximize the space in our small bathroom we needed custom work done in several places.
2.  Looking at comparables selling in our neighbourhood, we would need a luxury type bathroom to get maximum resale value from our house (in the event we need to sell.


Here are the pictures of our renovated bathroom (Part 1 - Part 2 will follow later).

The entire bathroom was gutted.  Vanity, toilet, tub, floors, everything gone.  Poof.  The footprint did not change and the walls were not moved.  In the picture above it looks like a wall is being added or moved, but the wall was simply made bigger (6 inches instead of 4) to accommodate new fixtures for the new shower.  

Below is a picture of the flooring - it is Pasha porcelain tile.  I just love it.  

This is the view once the custom vanity was installed (more on this later).  Behind the vanity we had white subway tiles instead from the floor to just above the vanity (they are wall to wall).  The light fixture is by Martha Stewart and was purchased at Home Depot.  There is a mirror above the sink (not in this picture, see Part 2).

The walls were painted a light very, very light grey (the reason I am not mentioning a name is because I had it colour matched to something) using Para Paint.  Let's talk about the vanity.  The picture is angled because our bathroom is so small I cannot get a straight on picture of the entire vanity. The vanity is my favourite piece of the bathroom.  It is solid wood and was custom ordered through Dreamwood Furniture in Nobleton, Ontario. (Disclosure: I know the store's owner.)  Dreamwood Furniture is amazing.  We have ordered numerous custom pieces from there and it is amazing, high-quality furniture.  They ship all over North America and have excellent prices.  I highly recommend a visit to their showroom in Nobleton.  Getting back to the vanity now - I needed a custom vanity because we actually reduced the depth by 6 inches (compared to the previous one) in order to make the bathroom feel spacier.  It worked.  The vanity is tall, narrow, and long.  The bathroom looks so much better with this piece and we can move around with ease.  It is painted in Seersucker Suit by Benjamin Moore.  The apron sink is made by Whitehaus. (MONEY SAVING TIP: I ordered the sink from Home (not .ca) and had it shipped to a store in Michigan, where I picked it up.  We did this with several pieces in our bathroom and it ended up saving us over $1000.00.  Check your prices.  You either need an American credit card in order to do this or a gift certificate.  Also you need a US mailing address even if you are having it shipped to a store).  We used wall mounted faucets simply because we could not fit another faucet behind the sink without having to increase the size of the vanity.  The countertops are quartz, PARYS from Cambria.  It is beautiful.

That's all for Part 1.