A New Book

Sometimes a new chapter starts so suddenly had the big heading stating it was new chapter not been there you would have kept on going without noticing. In life these seem to be most common. Its the transition from birthday to birthday or Christmas to Christmas. Usually a big holiday or tradition brings us to think “Remember this last year when…?” It is only then that we become abruptly aware of the changes that have taken place since “when” and we panic a bit about how quickly time is passing. Sometimes, however, the opposite occurs, we become abruptly aware that nothing has changed since “when” and we panic a bit about how quickly time is passing.

Occasionally in life, changes are so large there is no missing the chapter heading, you know you are into a new chapter of life. These chapters are usually exciting moments, new beginnings. Think of the young child off to kindergarten for the first time nervous of being away from Mommy and Daddy for so long. Think of the new high school graduate now faced with the unique challenges of the “real world.” Think of weddings, the birth of children, the purchase of new car, moving, leaving an abusive or “not-a-right-fit” relationship, starting a new relationship.

Right now however, a new chapter doesn’t seem enough. There are so many new chapters occurring so quickly it appears to be time for a new book. Its incredibly overwhelming, stressful, exciting, and about a million others things I cannot find words for. I’m happy, I’m sad, I’m scared, I’m ready.

Since 2012 I have ticked a lot off the ol life to do list.

 

Bought my First Car-Check!

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Married the love of my life-check

Graduated University-Check!

Attended weddings- Check

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Grow another human with the help of my favorite human-check

Deliver that little human-Check

Fall In love with that little human-Check

Go visit other little humans after their birth-check

Lose a best Friend

lose another Best Friend

Get the Dream Career

Capture

Buy a House

Lose Another Best Friend

And another one

Its crazy to me how hard even the good things were/are. We made the choice to rehome Bailey and Rusko (the last two) as with being two working parents of a child under the age of 1 we no longer had the time they deserved from us. My heart hurts so bad especially for Rusko. He’s been my best puppy friend for two years. He cuddled with me when I was sick or sad (he never left my side through the whole pregnancy regardless of whether I was puking or not). He played with me when I was bored. He walked with me when I needed fresh air. He watched TV with me when I needed a break. It was the hardest choice I have ever made.

I feel like I have made a post similar to this before. The point however is not to say oh look at me Im not even 25 and I have my shit together. The point is to say as the builders finish building our house, as my family shrinks from loss of fur babies, as time with my son dwindles as he sleeps most of the time I am home, change is never easy. I often lay awake at night and think about the gravity of the choices I have made in the last two years. I’ve pushed myself so hard to have these things I have left people and things I care about behind. In two weeks we move to the new house and while I am excited, I am nervous because this new book is about to start and its daunting. Its just daunting. Its like one day Im standing at high school graduation thinking wow I have no idea what to do with myself and now 7 years later Im thinking wow I muddled through this far lets keep muddling. Plans fall through. I should have graduated university a year before I did. We put an offer on a house a while back that fell through. We should have had a baby 6 months earlier.

Life is a ride that is for sure, and I’m hanging on by dear life. This many changes this quickly is overwhelming. Just as you get used to life it changes. and Im sure just as we get settled in the home and feel that we are settling into a life where the chapters seemlessly run into each other another big change will come. But thats what your twenties is all about right? Creating the path. Trudging ahead. Making the choices that will affect you for the rest of your life. Its not easy. But with my best friend and wonderful son by my side, I’m sure we will get through just fine.

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No Wonder I Never Have A Clean House

Right now husband and I are both getting paid to stay home with baby (thank God for our Canadian parental leave program). Aside from the obvious benefits of having family bonding time (which I will hopefully write about in another post at another time) being home together has taught me a very important life lesson. Having and keeping a house clean is friggen hard!!

I absolutely love having a clean house . Who wouldn’t? Being able to walk from point A to point B without tripping over crap, knowing where to find things, having all your dishes & clothes clean etc. These are marvellous. But it is no wonder why since moving out on my own at the ripe old age of 17 (ok I was basically 18) I have never had a clean house. Right now for example, Jacob & Husband are relaxing on the couch together while I attempt to pump breast milk and write this.  Jacob is kinda fussy and insisting that husband hold/bounce him just right or he starts crying. Even with neither of us working we are always doing something. Blogging while pumping is one thing, I could hardly clean and pump. Jacob requires a lot of time and attention and since we are being paid to take care of him and you know we are responsible loving parents, we WANT to spend our time and attention on him.

Still, during naps or times where one parent is taking care of him and the other is cleaning we have managed to get the house pretty clean. There is no longer random coffee spills on the counter or dirty dishes in the sink. The floors are swept on a regular basis which means tornadoes of dog hair aren’t following you around the house. Getting it there wasn’t too bad, a couple good naps on Jacobs part and the house was clean. It’s maintaining this cleanliness that is so exhausting! There are only three of us! How do we possibly go through so much laundry? How is it every time I turn around the space by the front door is full of junk mail again? How is possible to KEEP a clean house?

Last night after dinner, husband fed Jacob while I put the rest of supper away, loaded the dishwasher, swept the kitchen, and wiped down the counters and table. This somehow took me like 25 minutes! I didn’t even touch the coffee table in the living room that is piling up with crap, or that basket of clean laundry that needs to be put away. I didn’t even look at the pile of junk mail accumulating or tidy Jacobs room which has some of his toys and books scattered about. Who has the time for a clean house? I have so much respect for stay at home moms period, let alone stay at home moms who manage to keep an immaculate house and have dinner on the table every night at the same time. This is a crap ton of work. I always see posts on pinterest like this…

e1b3ba421d0e3d7d47109093e106c6a7While I shamelessly post them, I just can’t keep up. I really feel like life is too short to worry about a few crumbs on the floor or wrappers on the table. Parenting has come really easy to me so far. Its rare that I am standing there wondering what the heck to do but cleaning. Man, cleaning is the hardest thing for me. I want so bad to teach Jacob the importance of being clean. I want him to make his bed and put away his toys and I try so hard to keep his nursery very neat and tidy. But this is one area where I am such a hypocrite. I am hoping that when we buy a house in the spring that it will be easier because we will actually have a spot for everything (at least theoretically).

I guess what all this rambling is trying to say….is that different things come easily to different people.  University statistics courses, living off a budget, or going through labour and delivery may be the hardest things ever for some people but these were all a walk in the park for me compared to just keeping a clean house. But by recognizing your weaknesses you can begin to strengthen them right? That’s the way this works? I promise I am trying.

 

Best Intentions

So I said that I would organize my photos this week. I had great intentions really I did…apparently it has been a while since I have scrap-booked… my word the books are expensive! I thought I would be able to find a plain one for $10-15 but it seems like they are like $30? Ain’t no one got time for that (well at least not me while I am living on a tight budget in preparation for baby) so the photos at least got picked up off the floor and ended up in a shoe box on the bookshelf.  I thought about just scrap booking them into a binder but they include all my dance photos (I did tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop and lyrical from 3 yrs old to grade 10 and I feel like those photos need a little more love then just a binder).

So long story short, I have cleaned the house up a bit but I have nothing at all interesting to say so I am going to stop writing this homemaking section. When I do get around to neat projects organization stuff I will post it, but I’m gonna drop this as a once a week topic because its boring and turn it into an occasional post.

There ya have it. The joys of starting a blog…live and learn. Lets talk happiness instead!

A Successful Chicken Adventure

In Junior High I took my obligatory Home Economics Course whereupon I grasped the basics of cooking and sewing. Over time both skills have drastically diminished…you know what they say about practice? Well I haven’t been. I was once able to sew pajama pants, skirts etc. from a pattern (and thereby understood how a pattern worked) and now I can’t even hem a pair of pants. Trust me, I just BUTCHERED a pair of pants trying to hem them on Friday. I also used to know how to cook a few good recipes and bake some interesting things. Now unless it is a cookie (for I am a master of the cookie) it is probably cooked from a box or can and still burnt.

Over the long weekend, Husband and I went to my cousins wedding (Congrats to the new Mr & Mrs!) and we stayed at his aunts house. She loves cooking and knows a lot about it and so we discussed some various cooking techniques and she explained that she taught herself slowly by learning through books and blogs. It seemed to have lit a fire under mine and husbands ass to get back the Home Ec skills we have both forgotten….though more so me, husband is a really good cook-especially on the BBQ. We really want this baby that’s growing in the womb right now to be exposed to lots of different foods and lots of healthy foods. I would love to be able to sew him Halloween costumes and fix a hole in his pants. These are part of being a mom right? So when we got back from the wedding, we decided to scour through our various cookbooks for something new to try. We decided to make chicken enchiladas, something husband hasn’t ever had and something I haven’t had in years. I remembered to take some photos this time, are you proud of me?

So here’s how it went. The recipe is bold, my notes regular font.

Chicken Enchiladas in White Sauce

Oven: 350*F Makes 6 servings

1/4C Chopped Onion
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 4-ounce can diced green chile peppers, drained
1 3-ounce package of cream cheese softened
(To save you the conversion this is about a third of a block of cream cheese)
1 Tablespoon of milk
1/4 Teaspoon of ground cumin
2 Cups of chopped cooked Chicken
12 6-inch flour tortillas
1 can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
1 8-ounce carton of sour cream
(which works out to the small 250ml carton)
1 Cup of Milk
3/4 Cup of Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese

Our thoughts/Changes to the ingredient list.

  • If you have never eaten/bought green chile peppers you can find them in the grocery store by the Mexican food (taco seasonings and such)
  • We used all “light” “fat free” “skim” e.g. light cream cheese, skim milk, whole wheat tortilleas, light mushroom soup, fat free sour cream and light cheese. The flavour of the dish was still amazing!
  • If you don’t eat spicy don’t worry the chile peppers are really dulled by the dairy and I could barely taste them
  • I hate onions, we used them but not as much as suggested.
  • Although not economically the best option, we bought the Compliments package of tex-mex cheese. We plan to use the left over tortillas and cheese to make breakfast wraps! yum!

We headed off to the grocery store to get the few items we were missing. I have always known that a full chicken is substantially cheaper then buying a chicken breast but Sobeys put the two right beside each other and quite literally we could buy a whole chicken for $8.94 or 2 chicken breasts for $9.10. We bought the whole chicken.

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Now I’ve never really cut up a chicken before, when we buy the rotisserie ones from the grocery store we just kind of pick at them and that wasn’t an option here so I did my best to butcher the thing up. Considering the baby inside of me, the sound of the knife cutting through the bones in a couple places, peeling back the skin, seeing some of the really red bloody areas etc. didn’t bug me as much as I thought it would. I just kept thinking about how much more chicken I had acquired and the price I paid for it and kept hacking. We ended up making 3 full meals out of this but to start I specifically cut the breast out and then cubed it for the recipe.

Step 1
In a medium skillet cook the onion in hot butter over medium heat until the onion is tender. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the canned chile peppers; reserve the rest for the sauce

Remember how it was supposed to be cooked chicken? Well ours obviously wasn’t cooked. After I got the breasts out and cubed, husband cooked the chicken and onions until the chicken was no longer pink and the onions were soft. He removed it from heat and then put in the chili peppers.

skillet copy

Step 2
In a medium bowl stir together cream cheese, 1 tbsp. of milk and the cumin. Add the onions and chicken. Stir until combined. Spoon about 3 tbsp. of the chicken mixture onto each tortilla near the edge; roll up. Place filled tortillas seam sides down in a greased backing dish. Set aside.

The milk is not enough for the cream cheese to become sauce-like; it remained quite lumpy but once the chicken mixture was added and it was all cooked the lumps went away. I suck at rolling tortillas but we got the job done.

wraps copyStep 3
For sauce, combine reserved chile peppers, soup, sour cream, and 1 cup of milk. Pour evenly over the tortillas in the baking dish.

I used the kitchen aide mixer to mix the sauce cause I’m lazy. It took remained a bit lumpy from the soup but the lumps all disappeared after baking. You’ll notice the peppers look pretty big but I promise they cooked right down and you didn’t even notice them. If you want your enchiladas spicy I would recommend adding some fresh Jalapeno or Habanero as well. These were not hot at all!

Step 4
Cover with foil and bake at 350*F for about 35 minutes or until heated through. Remove foil. Sprinkle enchiladas with Monterey Jack Cheese. Return to oven and bake about 5 minutes more or until cheese melts.

This was pretty self-explanatory.

finished

Whaa-laa! Enchiladas. They were SOOOOO good and incredibly easy to make. I was really excited with how flavourful they were considering we made the recipe as healthy as possible. We bought a Mexican rice sidekick (for a $1 how do you go wrong?) and the rice complimented the enchiladas quite well. It was a DELICIOUS meal!

So what about the rest of the chicken?

I cut off the legs and wings and those went into a large ziplock bag which a bunch of random ingredients husband found (BBQ sauce, ketchup, seasoning etc.) Like I said he is awesome with the BBQ so he is really talented at making his own marinades and rubs I doubt he could even tell you what all went into it. The chicken soaked overnight and we had it for supper the next day with a salad. OMG it was good!

While hubby was making the marinade (and while the enchiladas were baking), I took the chicken carcass (which still had quite a bit of chicken on it) and put it in a pot with Chicken broth, water, onion and some seasoning (salt, pepper, and some other things husband suggested I add which I don’t really know what it entails…sorry!) We simmered the carcass in the broth water mixture for about 3 hours. Basically we left it simmering while the enchiladas cooked and we while we ate and cleaned up from them. We then drained the liquid into a bowl and left the chicken in the colander to cool off a bit. After a while, I went back and picked all the chicken off the carcass I could (this was ironically the part that made me nauseous….weird seeing as it was cooked now). The chicken was now obviously fully cooked and was just falling apart in my hands. I put all the pieces of chicken into the broth mixture and then loaded up the bones etc. into a grocery bag and took them out to the dumpster…wouldn’t want my cute puppy getting a hold of chicken bones!

We put the stock into the fridge. We plan on skimming some of the fat then cooking it up with some noodles, rice and carrots (we didn’t have any or I would have boiled them and some celery in the pot as well…the price I pay for not thinking ahead) to make a chicken noodle soup.

All in all I’m really proud of us. We made 3 really good meals (with leftovers) out of a $9 chicken. I just need to figure out how to cut one properly now.

Operation Organize Computer Room

As I kind of figured, operation organize computer room in 1 week was a complete bust! Holy Macaroni there is sooooo much crap in here!! One day this room will be beautiful but it became readily apparent that this is not the kind of clutter one can simply clean up in a week. I did a few small things before getting stuck on a large task I wasn’t anticipating.

Apparently after my promise to take lots of before and after photos I didn’t take any…..I will get better at this blogging thing I promise.

For the “little tasks” I:

  • Cleaned up the area around the chameleons cage. It was covered with cleaning supplies, his spray bottle (to mist the leaves etc.) and lots of little plastic bags that his crickets come in. I also moved his cage over so that there would be room for a garbage can beside it to collect both the waste associated with the chameleon and the rest of the garbage that seems to love accumulating in this room.
  • Cleaned up some of the clothes that had been left behind in here. I have an awful habit, especially when I am studying late at night to get really cold so I throw on a big hoodie, then I get a big hot chocolate and as I’m drinking it I get really hot so I take off the hoodie and my socks and then I leave them here. I found a few sweaters I thought had been lost forever! The clothes have been moved to the laundry room.
  • I also vacuumed the floor and I honestly don’t remember the last time it was done. We have laminate but the dog fur and chunks of bone (he loves to chew while I write) collect so it was really nice to get that out of here.
  • I tried to organize my bookshelf by putting some of my textbooks away and apparently the bookshelf couldn’t handle the weight of the books and broke on me 😦  So I took all the books off and reorganized them which actually worked really well because I was able to to put some bigger binders and the old computer in there as well (as you can see below). The shelf definitely isn’t done yet, theres still a lot of crap around the room that will probably need to be added but its a little better now. I also labelled all the binders because I was tired of looking for something and not being able to find it. photoAs you can see my puppy Rusko wanted to get in on the photo too….and yes there is a huge unorganized stack of papers there….

Now the big task I wasn’t expecting has to do with that stack of papers. That is such a small proportion of the paper I found in here so far, I can’t even think of an accurate fraction to associate with it (it could be like 1/30th of the papers I dealt with?!?!). I found bills, pay stubs, loan documents etc. dating back years. The stack you see in the photo is just student loan stuff and it dates back to my original application in 2007 which I then declined because I ended up taking a year off of school to work.  Soon, the paper shredder (as opposed to my cat Shredder) and I became best friends (my cat Shredder and I were already best friends you see) as I put the machine through intense amounts of work.  In fact together we filled a full regular black garbage bag of shredding (I didn’t have any blue bags on hand) and we worked through several jams as I impatiently tried to put more than 7 page maximum through at a time. It took forever! Every single piece of paper I found had to be looked at, how old was it? Was it important? To Shred or not to Shred.

photo (1)

It seriously seemed like a never ending process. As I shredded I found more and more and more and more. As you can see by the bookshelf photo I’m still not done organizing them and I feel like I won’t be done until I have deemed the computer room itself to be done. Clean. Organized. Livable. I’m sure there are still papers hiding everywhere.

Luckily I had an accordion file folder kickin around. I labeled the first twelve inserts for the months of the year. In each of these inserts I placed any document relating to that month (of 2013, everything else was shredded). So July has all the bills & pay stubs from July 2013 in them etc. I then labelled the remaining inserts for things like pets, vehicles, taxes, and one for extras from my husbands job (his pension documents, health care etc.) seeing that I am on maternity leave and not on a permanent contract anywhere I don’t have those documents myself.

It is however a wonderful feeling knowing that I have now thrown an entire full bag of useless papers that were just taking up room in my house into the recycle bin. I kinda hope someone tries to take it out…all the bills look the same and there’s years worth…it would be a really fun puzzle.

Every step I take towards cleaning out the old the useless from my house gives me one more breath of fresh air. I was suffocated by stuff.  Since March 2013, my husband and I have taken several car loads full to the dump and to goodwill and now this step to clean out the nooks and crannies is the last step on our journey of being better than our stuff. It feels great! Its just A LOT OF WORK!

For Next Week: I have a box of photos that I borrowed from my parents to use for the wedding….over a year ago. I need to deal with those photos. They need to be put in albums, scrapbooked etc. I hope to finish organizing the crap papers and begin organizing these photos. One small trip to the dollar store and less than $10 and I should be on my way on the next project. (Hopefully). 

  • Shredding the Past of Me (memoriesofatime.com) I agree with what this author has to say…shredding is hard but also very freeing!

Why Talk About Homemaking?

At no point through my educational experiences did anyone ever explain to me how to keep a clean house, provide adequate nutrition to a family, organize my junk or keep track of my important documents. Growing up I had one answer to these dilemmas and that was MOM. If my Mom had a dollar for every time she heard me or one of my brothers yell, “Mom I’m hungry!” or “Mom have you seen my ____” she would be rich! In fact even now, at least once a month I call my mom and say (in my best game show voice ever of course), “Congratulations Mrs. O! You’ve been selected for another round of where am I? I am currently standing in a Safeway and cannot find the brown beans. Any idea where they would be??” My mom just laughs at me, but she always knows where that thing I just can’t find is!

While I did not learn about homemaking from formal education I did grow up in a Latter Day Saint household and homemaking seemed to be regarded as one of the core ingredients to a successful woman’s life. I grew up hearing things like, ” Homemaking is not just baking bread or cleaning a house. Homemaking is to make the environment necessary to nurture our children toward eternal life, which is our responsibility as parents. And that homemaking is as much for fathers as it is for mothers.” Elder Dallin H. Oaks or ” There is no career more meaningful, no calling more divine, than being a person who truly makes a home in the sense of creating and maintaining an environment of human warmth, intellectual stimulation, and spiritual strength—someone who sees the wellsprings of personal meaning that lie beyond a first glance at a diaper, a frying pan, and a worn tennis shoe.” Sister Marie Hafen. (1)

These sound so wonderful in theory, but I knew from a young age that being a stay-at-home-mom and homemaker just weren’t for me. I wanted children, obviously, but I also wanted a career outside of the home. I believed from a young age that life is WAY too short and it was up to me to suck every morsel of information and experience from this one life I lead. So while I was exposed all these quotes, talks, and scriptures about the value of being a homemaker they really fell on deaf ears. “Who cares about having a clean house?” I thought, “Life is too short for that”
Then I grew up. My house is a mess! Sometimes I don’t eat all of the lunch that I prepare for work and forget it in my bag for weeks on end. I’ve thrown out A LOT of containers because I was too scared to deal with the green smelly mess inside. I’m constantly saying, “Hunny have you seen my chequebook?” or “Any idea where that smell is coming from?” or “I seriously have no clean underwear left…” (I’ve worn bathing suit bottoms under my jeans more than once lets just leave it at that….).

Then Pinterest came along. My word, if you want to waste hours of your life and make yourself feel like crap (without even realizing you’re doing it), Pinterest is the way to go. We see our friends posting all these wonderful recipes, and tips for clean and organized living. We are exposed to women and men that are in shape and looking sexy. We see power-moms who spend their days ensuring that their children spend their days learning and growing through enriching activities aimed at helping them to develop their fine and gross motor skills, oral skills, imagination etc. We see the working women pinning fabulous outfits she would love to wear for work. Pinterest is an entire world where people (Albeit mostly women) can live out their fantasies one click at a time.

Don’t believe me? Check out some of these photos. All I did was open Pinterest and copy a few of the first photos I saw.

window seat and cabinetry

Your house looks like this right?

Simple and cute - with pattern

And your kids wear darling hand made crochet goodies

The No-Equipment Workout: Workouts: Self.com:All you need is a wall to firm every square inch. So lose the equipment (and the excuses).

you have this body

{holy crap} 7 layer goodness with Brownie, cookie, cheesecake and graham cracker

and you eat this

How cool is this?

While your kids do this…

Well Fitted Blazer - MUST HAVE!!

Oh and you look like this M-F 9-5 while you rock the perfect job and don’t ever have to deal with frizzy hair and jam hand prints on your beautifully tailored blazor. 

Father and His Son

and did I mention you married the perfect man who never farts and earns really good money and always looks like this and you two just have the most perfect marriage and family ever?

We have time and money for all that right?!?

So what do we do about it? We could stop going on Pinterest all together and pretend like our mess will just go away or we could actually start clicking into some of those photos, following the links and learning about homemaking. My house is not a place I like to invite visitors too, why then do I think it is a place I would like to bring a child into. I keep saying oh when my son gets here I’ll get better, but I’m not doing anything different, I’m thinking about doing something different. So this section of my blog is going to be a little different then rest. I’m going to set a weekly goal and check back and let you know how I did and set another weekly goal.
So far, I have tried to introduce each topic and explain why I chose that topic for my blog and then wrote one post on the topic to get the ball rolling. Because this section will be a little different I am going to skip making the next post and just say my goal for this week is to organize my computer room. After several years of University there are psychology textbooks everywhere, Spanish notes and compositions everywhere, pens and notepads, random documents like tax forms just chillin on one of the two desks etc. I’ll post before and after photos next week and explain where I started and what I did. This may end up being a couple weeks worth of goals though as its pretty bad…it’s the worst room in the house for sure.

References
(1) http://empoweringldswomen.blogspot.ca/2010/01/amazing-quotes-about-motherhood.html