Life Lessons (so far)

Now that my 30th birthday has come and gone, I thought it might be a good time to reflect back on some of the important life lessons I have learned along the way. Most of these things I have learned from my partner in life Darryl. If this was some fantasy world he would definitely be a ‘wise-man’ or something all knowing like that. As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted in a while. My latest lesson is that I don’t have time for everything, sometimes life needs to take the lead and the hobbies will just have to wait. That being said, I’ve started to adjust to school being out and staying home with a 4 year old and a 3 month old. I’m now trying to make realistic goals and fit in some writing here and there. Usually this means brainstorming while I’m feeding the baby and jumping on the computer for 5 or 10 minute intervals while I’m cooking dinner or my 4 year old is playing a game on his own. Now that we have a second child I am learning that just as you get into the groove of things, they change and you have to figure it all out again. Oh well, c’est la vie.

You can’t please them all, so don’t bother trying
This is an important one, I have spent most of my life trying to do what I thought I was suppose to. Making decisions based on what I thought was expected of me or what was usually a person’s next move. As it turns out, I’m kind of a free spirit that doesn’t fit into a mould and neither should my life. We all get only one life to live and we need to stay true to ourselves. There is always going to be haters and people that disagree with you. While it’s important to consider other point of views, stay true to what your gut tells you and make the decisions that are right for you.

Ask before you Assume
This is a relatively new one for me and an extremely beneficial one. In this digital age of social media, texting and emails there is a lot of room for misconstrued messages and wrongful assumptions. I have learned to clarify before I form an opinion about something I read or hear. More often than not I realize that I misinterpreted what they had said and am glad that we had talked it over. It’s actually amazing how often I get the wrong impression, this is especially beneficial with the opposite gender … men and women really do think differently.

Learn to let go 
I am one of those people that will replay a conversation or situation in my head over and over again. I obsess about what I should have done or should have said. It drives me crazy when I make a mistake at work, or get in a fight with a friend. Learning to let go of the things I can’t change is something I am still working on. This is one of the hardest things for me to do. I have a hard time with failure or letting people down. I am learning that you can try to make amends for things that you have done wrong but you can’t change what has happened in the past, you can only learn from it and keep moving forward.

Try to see yourself how others see you
This is a tricky one, it depends on your relationship with yourself. For me, I am my own worst critic so seeing myself through the eyes of others is a positive thing. Whenever I feel like I might not measure up or I’m having a bad day, I try and separate myself from these emotions and give myself the advice I would give to others. Obviously my emotions can get the best of me from time to time, but we are often harder on ourselves then we are on others. We set unrealistic expectations that we wouldn’t expect others to achieve. While having drive and goals are important, we shouldn’t set ourselves up for failure. Set an ideal goal that you would like to one day achieve and one that you think you can achieve in the near future.

Or perhaps you may have the opposite problem, maybe you see yourself as perfect and everyone else as flawed. Do you find your peers constantly not measuring up to the expectations you have set for them? Maybe it’s time you step back and take a good look at their lives. Remember they’re human too, are your expecations for them unrealistic? It is important to  evaluate the messages that you are sending out to others. Are you coming of as a jerk or a snob when your only trying to help? Think about the way you speak to others and how you might be misunderstood.

Patience really is a virtue
We live in a world where we can instantly access information, take pictures and see them immediately, we can send a text or an email and get a response back within minutes or seconds. Gone are the days of waiting and as a result of this our patience is almost non existent. We expect immediate results. We want what we want when we want it. I think most of us need to practice the art of patience and seeing things through. I can’t even count the amount of times I have decided not to purse something I wanted because it would ‘take to long’ so it ‘wasn’t worth it’. How lazy am I. Lately I have been trying to stick with things and plug away at them slowly, stick with them even when they frustrate and anger me. I have to say that I am begin to taste how sweet the fruits of my labour can be. I encourage everyone to have patience and to have the perseverance to see things through to the end, no matter how long they take. One step at a time folks, you’ll get there eventually.

Have some gratitude
With the exception of a few very unfortunate people who have truly been handed a ‘poop’ sandwich, we all have some things to be thankful for. Many of us take for granted the things that have come easily to us. Maybe it’s finding love and having a family. Or getting that great job or living in a great house. How about having friends and family that love us. It can be a simple as having a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. I am sure most of us can find at least one thing to be grateful for each day. Practice gratitude and your life will suddenly shift into focus and all that silly little stuff you were so stressed out about will suddenly fade away.

 

I think that is where I will leave you all for today, lots to think about and digest. Onward and upward we go on this journey we call life.

– Shannon

Advertisements

Eating Healthy … and Frugal?

Eating Healthy and Frugal, header image

I have often heard people say that healthy food cost more, I may even have heard myself say that from time to time. This may be true if you are considering ‘healthy’ food to come in a box or package from the grocery store. Many of those items, while they are healthier then there alternatives, still contain preservatives, chemicals and fillers. The best way to be healthy and frugal with your diet is to make it yourself. When you DIY you know exactly what your are eating and you can substitute ingredients for healthier options.

TIPS:
• Try to buy produce when it is in season or a sale item, buy in bulk and freeze the extra
• Growing your own produce is a great way to stretch a buck, there are even some items you can grow from kitchen scraps

• Don’t buy packaged, processed foods … make your own when you can

• Cook large portions and freeze the leftovers for when you need a quick meal

• Cut down on your meat and try some alternative forms of protein. Most people consume more animal protein than they need. In other words, don’t make the meat the main focus of your dish

• Buy only what you need and plan your meals ahead. Try and incorporate some of the ingredients into multiple dishes so you get the most bang for your buck

• Buy ‘no-name’ brands when you can, however some economy brands may be stuffed with fillers and chemicals so check the ingredients first

• Compare unit sizes and prices to make sure you’re getting the most for your money, packaging can be deceiving

 

ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF PROTEIN:
• Beans and Legumes
• Quinoa, Seitan and Tempeh
• Tofu and Soy
• Nuts and Seeds
• Green Peas, Edamame and Leafy Greens
• Eggs

• If you eat meat, consider adding more fish to your diet. You can purchase frozen fillets (no batter) in the seafood section for about $10 a bag (around 10 fillet/bag) and each fillet has about 20g of protein.

 

HEALTHY INGREDIENT SWAPS:
• Applesauce in place of oil, butter or sugar
• Nonfat greek yogurt in place of sour cream or mayo
• Mashed avocado in place of butter or oil in baking
• Mashed Bananas in place of sugar, butter or fats
• Rolled oats instead of bread crumbs
• Whole wheat flour instead of white flour
• Pureed potato instead of cream for soups
• Less salt, more spices

Vinegar – Your new best friend

vinegar_headerIMG

Vinegar is a great multi use product and it can be found in almost every household. The acidity in white distiller vinegar can kill most mold, bacteria and germs. It is an environmentally friendly cleaning substance that will please any budget.

If you’re anything like me, you hate to waste a good portion of your shopping budget on purchasing a variety of cleaning products. The cost can really add up and the harmful chemicals are not exactly a selling feature for me.

You can clean pretty much any surface in your kitchen and bathroom with vinegar. It’s great for deodorizing drains and garbage disposals. I use vinegar in my dishwasher in place of Jet Dry. It can also be used monthly to break down the soap buildup in your dishwasher.

You can use it in the laundry to help remove stains and odours. It can help bring out your brights and fluff up wool or acrylic sweaters.

There are a number of different ways to use vinegar. You can buy it in large quantities for economical prices and you can save yourself some coin by eliminating some of the cleaners from your shopping list.
For uses, tips and instructions visit vinegartips.com

Fancy Grilled Cheese

fancyGrilledCheese

This is a simple twist on your classic grilled cheese sandwich. I am one of those people that never really grew out of ‘kids’ food. I love mac & cheese, grilled cheese, pancakes, etc. So this is my adult version of grilled cheese that is great for lunch.

INGREDIENTS:
2 slices of bread (I use whole wheat)
spinach (about 2 leaves, sliced up)
cherry/grape tomatoes (sliced, about 3)
margarine (approx. 2 tablespoons)
mozzarella cheese (about 5 slices off a brick)
italian seasoning
pepper

DIRECTIONS:
1. Spread the margarine/butter on the outside of your bread (Basic grilled cheese technique)
2. Place cheese, spinach and tomato on slice of bread, then sprinkle with italian seasoning and pepper (to taste)
3. Place the remaining slice of bread on top, heat frying pan over medium heat and grill away. I place a pot lid on top of my frying pan to keep the heat in and allow the cheese to melt and the tomatoes to get nice and hot. Keep checking the bottom of the bread, flip when brown.

assembly

Fluffy Homemade Pancakes

This week I tried to post a recipe that I found on Pinterest and wanted to share with all of you, I ran into some copyright issues with a fellow blogger who had ‘adapted’ this recipe from one found on Allrecipes.ca. So after doing some research in recipe copyright laws, I have learned that basically a list of ingredients can not be copyrighted so I shall supply those for you, and as long as I tell you in my own words how I made this recipe then I am not breaking any copyright laws. Next time I make these I will photograph them myself and post them on this page. Well there is a lot to be learned in this adventure in blogging.

Pancakes are a staple at our house, my son is addicted to them and eats them for breakfast, when he gets home from school and any other time I will allow it. I basically have to buy syrup in bulk, it’s ridiculous how much of it we go through. I like to make a big batch of pancakes and freeze them so I can just pop them in the toaster for a few minutes and we are good to go.

DRY INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of flour
4 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of cinnamon

WET INGREDIENTS:
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of melted margarine/butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl

2. Mix all wet ingredients in a separate bowl then pour into dry ingredients and whisk away

3. Preferably using a non-stick frying pan either sprayed with cooking oil or lightly oiled with whatever you have and heated over medium heat, ladle out a scoop of batter (I use a soup ladle). When the pancake starts to bubble, stick your flipper under it and if it’s brown you may go ahead a flip the pancake over. Resist the urge to flatten your pancake with the flipper because here is where they start to get fluffy. Check the bottom of the pancake after a few seconds and if it’s nice and brown you can go ahead and consider that a done deal.

4. Repeat process for other pancakes

5. If you are freezing them, allow the pancakes to cool and then pop them in a freezer bag

This recipe was adapted from Allrecipes.ca

Lesson Three: Find the Buried Treasure

In Lesson Three, we must challenge ourselves to get more organized. Go through your pantry and freezer, throw out all the stale or freezer-burned foods, then put a system in place that is going to work for you. You may wish to use bins or baskets in your pantry or freezer to help keep things organized. I grouped like things together, such as cans, pasta and rice, baking supplies, snacks, etc. In the process of doing this you may discover you have an abundance of almost finished bags of rice, random cans of beans and you may even find things you don’t remember purchasing.

Reasons to organize your pantry and freezer
• You probably have more food than you realize, you just can’t find it
• It’s easier to do inventory before you go grocery shopping, you can clearly see what you already have
• It’s less frustrating when you are trying to throw together a meal (it feels like you have nothing to make because you have to dig through your pantry and freezer trying to find ingredients to piece together a meal)
• Food doesn’t get wasted and left behind, I was pulling out freezer burned meat, stale crackers and ridiculously old bags of chips, etc.

Reasons to portion and label your meat and other frozen items
• No products are wasted because you have to defrost a pack of 4 chicken breast when you only need 2, etc.
• The labelling is especially useful if you’re sick of your husband/other holding up pieces of meat to you and asking you what they are
• When everything is portioned into convenient little baggies, it’s easy to group like items together or even put the smaller baggies into a larger freezer bag so you can keep all chicken together, all beef together, etc.

So far with the better organization and planning, dinner at our house has been way less annoying. I keep the meal planning list on my fridge so I can refer to it everyday and choose what’s for dinner. Because I have also been packing up the left overs, labelling them and freezing them … I am beginning to  build up my stock of ready to heat meals which I suspect will come in handy after the baby is born.

Download Meal Plan Sheet

Lesson Two: One Pot Wonders

In my quest for frugal meals I have discovered that it is all about the ‘One Pot’ Meal. Things like soups, stews, casseroles, pies, crock pot meals, roasted meat with veggies and stir frys ( I think that’s the plural form ). The advantage of these meals is that you can basically just chuck whatever odds and ends you have in your fridge into a pot or other cooking device and create a hearty meal that goes far. Obviously I’m not going to suggest living purely off these items alone, of course if you are an extremist you may wish to do so, but the rest of us can certainly incorporate these types of dishes into our lives 3 times a week or so.

Soups are great for lunches and they can be made in large batches and frozen. Feel free to get as creative as you want with soup, there really aren’t any rules, just chuck whatever you want into a pot and cook it. However, for a little guidance you may wish to consult such resources as Pinterest, Allrecipes, Martha Stewart, Canadian Living, Chatelaine or simply do a google search for one pot meals.

Another advantage of these meals is that they are easy. You basically just have to chop and dump things into a pot then cook for at least an hour. The only disadvantage is that you generally need to plan ahead because most recipes require a bit of time for cooking in order to get the most flavour out of the dish. Lucky for us, Planning Ahead was lesson one.