Friday, 26 June 2015

Pantry Challenge – day 17 & a super refreshing frozen treat

Something that should’ve been obvious to me wasn’t until I decided to try it. As I’ve already told you, I’ve been using frozen bananas to make something as smooth & creamy as ice cream, but it doesn’t have any cream or milk unless I decide to add some to the bananas. I’ve always loved bananas, but frozen ones that’re well blended is, to me, one of the best foods in the world. It’s so good & healthy, & you can do whatever you want to it. Basically, what you do to ice cream, you can do to frozen blended bananas. For those who’re on a non-dairy diet of any kind & who can have bananas but miss their ice cream, this is a really good thing.

So, the frozen banana thing has already been a part of my life for a long time. Today, though, I decided to add some other frozen fruit that I had to it.

The other day I went through a thing of strawberries that I had. Some were bad, & so I tossed those. I saved a few to eat that day – with Nutella. Mm! – & froze the rest. Yesterday, Mom sent home a bag of frozen blueberries & a bag of frozen raspberries. So I took some of the frozen strawberries & raspberries & blueberries, & I put them in a bowl to thaw a wee bit. Just enough to make them easier to blend, since my hand blender’s not the most powerful thing but does a great job of making my bananas super smooth. I had to let the bananas I’d taken out of the freezer thaw a wee bit as well.

After a while, I returned & got the bananas super smooth. I could’ve eaten it just like that, but I wanted to add the other fruit. The berries were still quite frozen. I added them to the bananas, &, while the mixture didn’t blend into a super smooth mixture, it’s still wonderful. The chunks of berries adds an extra bit of goodness like ice cream often has.

No sugar or milk or cream or yoghurt or anything else added, & so this is good for almost anyone to eat. I know that some people have allergies to strawberries or bananas, & I’m sure that blueberries & raspberries are also not good for some people. You know what, though? This sort of thing can be adjusted. I don’t know what else would work like bananas to make a smooth & creamy mixture, but if there’s something else, please let me know. I’d love to know, & I know that others would as well.

The great thing about fruit things like this is that you can do anything. You can have any fruit with it, & it’s always refreshing & cool on really hot days. I’m sure that you can come up with a hot version, if you prefer, for winter as well, but I’m in full on summer mode right now – it’s unseasonably hot here. So cold foods are on my mind these days when it comes to food.

I’d love to know what your favourite summer treat is, especially when it comes to fruit & frozen goodness.


Here’s a bit of those frozen goodness.
You can see
scrummy chunks of
strawberries & blueberries
here. Mmmm!!


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Pantry Challenge – day 15

So, it’s been 15 days since I started this pantry challenge. I don’t really feel any different than before it began, although I do have to say that I am having a bit of fun seeing what I can combine that may not be obvious at first. My homemade pasta salad dressing has always been Miracle Whip with dill & parsley, but recently I added yellow mustard to that, & it was so good that I’ve decided to always add it to my pasta salad, unless I’m following a specific recipe that’s different than my own. This is one example of that. Another is using tomato soup when I’d normally use tomato paste. Well, OK, so this isn’t really all that far off the mark, & tomato soup isn’t nearly as thick as tomato paste, but it works & does the trick. One thing about this challenge, too, is seeing what I can use as substitutions for what I don’t have but need.

I froze some spiral pasta in the freezer very close to the beginning of this challenge, & I took it out this morning to thaw it out. So I mixed up a batch of my dressing to go with it. I’m using chicken as the protein part of it since I have no cheese. Well, I do, but it’s cream cheese, & I don’t want to see how that goes – or not – together. Besides, I like chicken. So it’s all working out.

A treat that I discovered but wasn’t really surprised at is a banana with Nutella. I like both a lot & bananas & chocolate go really well together.

This is a short post today, but I just wanted to drop a quick line. I still have to go through my pantry & freezer & take an inventory of it, but I will. If it’s not too hot this coming weekend, I will. We’re supposed to have a heat wave starting tomorrow – ugh! Summer started early this year & it’s supposed to be a very hot one. I am NOT looking forward to that. The heat doesn’t agree with me. I’ll make it through, though. Thankfully I have lots of fans, &, yes, hydration is high on my list of priorities. I have plenty of fruit & I’ll be making smoothies, which I find are good things to keep hydrated in tasty ways, & they have nutrition as well. Of course the best way to get the nutrition from fruit is to eat them whole & as they are, but it never hurts to have them in smoothies or in other ways. Better than other things that could be eaten.

Well, that’s it for today! Have a good one, y’all! Open-mouthed smile

Monday, 22 June 2015

Pantry Challenge – day 13 & a most rude awakening

Have you ever been woken up by a horrible smell? Well, I have twice, & last night was the second of those two times. Last summer was the other time.

It was 3:30 in the morning. The reek was from a skunk, & it was really close. The first thing that I did when I got up & was greeted by Dublin was to pick him up & smell him. He smelled fine – so that I knew that the skunk hadn’t sprayed into our home, thankfully! I came out here & closed one of the two windows I’d had cracked open, I sprayed a Febreeze-like product & it helped pretty well right away. I then remembered the other window that was cracked open, & I shut that.

I returned to bed, but I couldn’t fall back asleep ‘til about 5 or so. Ugh! I had to be up for work, &, needless to say, when I got up, I wasn’t fully awake. Thankfully I had my cold chai latte that I’d put in the freezer last week, & I’d taken it out of the freezer last night. It was thawed enough for me to drink it, & so I brought it along to work with me. It helped me be awake enough for my shift & to drive back here to Agassiz.

When I got home, the place didn’t smell all that good. I’d left the windows closed, but I opened one up wide because, even though it’s warm, it’s cool enough with the breeze that’s been going all day to not get hot in here. There was a faint odour of skunk here yet, but there was also the smell of the stuff in the plastic bucket that I was wanting to put into the compost. Our compost thing is right full, though, & so I can’t fit it in. So I just put it in a black garbage back & put two more over that. Because the smell was here before, it’s lingering. I’ve sprayed room freshener, but it’ll be a while before it goes away, I think.Ugh! I had every fan in my place going, including the bathroom fan & the over-the-stove fan, &, while that all helped, it’s still here. *sigh!*

Oh, well! At least I could air the place out when Dublin went outside today for a while. So I happily left my front door open. I also left the door from my kitchen to the laundry room open as well as the outside laundry room door. That did help as well. I’ll do the same when Dub goes outside tomorrow morning, too. I also have the one window wide open.

In time it’ll go away, but until then, well, yeah, ugh!

It was wonderful to have milk here at home this morning! I’ve not eaten much today since I’m not really hungry, but it’s still good to know that it’s here when I want it.

I saw a container of spiral noodles in the freezer last night, & I was going to take it out of the freezer this morning, but I changed my mind. I’m glad that I did change my mind. So I’m going to have it another day. Maybe tomorrow. It’s just nice to know that it’s there.

I went to the local produce store today & saw bags of overripe bananas for 99 cents each. So I bought a bag & put them on a cookie sheet that I’d lined with wax paper. Then I slid that into the freezer. It’ll be nice to not freeze my fingers on the peels later on when I go to use them. Once they’re truly well & frozen, I’ll stick them into a freezer bag so that they’re ready when I want to use them. One of these days I want to make banana bread, but, for now, I’ll most likely use these for “ice cream.” I’m planning on checking the produce store every time I go in for these bags of bananas from now on – it’s a great deal & a good way to make sure that I have plenty of frozen bananas for various things.

When I was there, I also saw 6-packs of small pizza shells. There was one kind that cost $3-something (almost $4, if I remember correctly) & another that cost just over $2. They were exactly the same. So I bought the lesser priced one. They’re good to have because homemade pizza’s just as good as store bought or the stuff from a restaurant. Better in many ways because I can put just what I want on it. If all I want is cheese – which is quite often – then I can have just cheese. Mm!

I also bought Granny Smith apples & one Ambrosia apple as well as some other bananas just for eating now. There were some good-looking strawberries, & so I snatched up a carton of those. They’re not local ones – the local ones looked too soft & I just want the strawberries to eat raw & now. That’s all right. I did buy a 4 litre jug of milk & a large loaf of bread, which is what I’d planned on getting in the first place. So all’s good!

It feels good to buy bargains if they’re things that I’ll use & not just taking advantage of bargains just because they’re bargains. I don’t think that they’re truly bargains then because, chances are, they’ll just go to waste & not at all used. That’s my experience, anyway.

Well, this is today’s post. Take care & thanks for reading it! Smile

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Pantry Challenge – day 12 & a confession

Mmmm!! Milk! It does a body good!

Yesterday, I worked two-four hour shifts for the same client, & I shared meals with him & his family. They offered me a glass of milk with both meals, & with tonight’s supper. I happily accepted, making sure that it was all right. They said that it wasn’t something they usually thought of since they don’t drink milk themselves but, rather, use it for coffee or cereal. They were more than happy to share a glass or two with me. So that was good!

On the way home from work tonight, I stopped at the brand new Esso station on Seabird Island for a carton of milk. Well, the only two sizes they had were 250ml & 500ml. So I bought the last 500 ml carton. 4 litres is about a gallon, to give those of you who use Imperial measurements an idea of this. It’s about 1/8 of a gallon, I guess, since 500ml is half a litre, & a litre is 1/4 or a gallon.

So it’s not much, but it’ll be plenty for a bowl of cereal for tomorrow’s breakfast & a drink later in the day.

A very dear friend blessed me with a financial gift this morning, & this allowed me to put a good amount of gas in my car. I put part of it aside, & this is good. I want to have it for what I need. As I said, I spent part of what I brought with me today on a small carton of milk on the way home. On my way to work is when I picked up gas as well as a treat for someone who’s been very good to me.

I admit to splurging today. Yes, i bought that treat for someone else, but I also treated myself. It wasn’t something that I truly needed, & I did enjoy it, but it goes against what I’m doing with my spending fast. This was the first test of my spending fast, & I do feel bad for having done it. However, I refuse to beat myself up over it. I’m not saying that a treat every now & then is a bad thing; but when I put certain stipulations in place, I shouldn’t go against them. So, because of this, I shouldn’t have bought what I did.

Oh, I could justify it & say that it was a refreshing smoothie on a warm day & that I’ve done really well with the spending fast so far, & so I deserve a little treat. I could say that the little bit I spent isn’t going to break me, & I could also say any other number of things.

The fact is, though, that I didn’t follow through on what I’d set forth for myself, & that’s what I’m upset about. No, me being upset is NOT beating myself up. Rather, it’s realising that, as soon as I had a little bit of extra money, I slipped right back into my old patterns. I don’t feel as if I’ve changed.

BUT, having said that, I chose to forgive myself & to not dwell on it. This is a very new thing for me, this spending fast, & this is the first real test in it. It’s not like I went out & spent a lot of money on something that I would’ve bought before, like some knick knack or something else that I’d never use. I’m using this as a learning experience & to keep it in mind for future reference.

Yes, it was worth it, I guess. A chocolate banana smoothie? Oh, yeah! Mr. Sub makes great smoothies, &, in the future, when I’m not being so strict with myself, I’ll remember this.

As for my pantry challenge, I’ve been really good. I’m enjoying eating what I have already in my house, & I am looking forward to buying regular bread & more milk & some cheese & a few other things on Tuesday when I get paid. I have no fresh fruit, & so I’ll buy plenty of those. My sweet tooth is slowly adjusting to fruit being what it craves, & that is a truly good thing, my friends!

I have to mention something that happened to me when I got home tonight.

I sprayed a Febreeze-like product on the pair of pants that I’d worn to work this evening, &, after I put the bottle away, I walked where I’d sprayed. Well, I didn’t realise that it’d made the floor slippery, &, before I knew it, I was falling, taking a kitchen chair down with me. It ended up behind me, & I was down on my knees. Oh, they hurt!! They hurt so much that I felt sick. I managed to crawl ahead to the rug that goes down my very small hallway & into my bedroom – my bathroom door’s right there, too – & then knelt there a little bit. One of my upstairs neighbours was doing laundry & heard me fall & then heard me say, “Oh, mama mama mama!!” as I often down when I’m in pain. Even at times like this I don’t swear. Well, not conventionally, anyway. Not with words that people usually recognise as swear words. haha

He asked me if I was all right, & I said that I was & told him that I’d just slipped. I thanked him for asking & then that was that. I managed to get myself up & into the bathroom. I sat down on the toilet with my garbage can in front of me in case I had to vomit, but, thankfully, it didn’t. I kept praying for the dizziness to go away, & in a super short period of time, it did as I sat there with my head between my knees. I sat for a bit longer like that just to make sure, & then I sat up.

I’d not yet had a shower after work, & so I did at this time. Oh, that felt good on my knees! After drying myself off & getting dressed, I came out here to the living room, where I iced both knees for about 15 minutes – I have two flexible water bottles that I keep in the freezer for times like these, & so these’re what I use. They stay frozen a really long time, which is good for times like this.

Yes, my knees are still sore & I’m sure that they will be when I get up tomorrow morning. I’ll keep an eye on them & go to the doctor if I need to. I can walk, though, &, aside from being slightly swollen & a tiny bit scraped, they look fine. I do know that sometimes the real injuries show up later. I hope that they heal quickly, though, especially since I need my knees to be good for work. I shall keep you posted on them.

So that’s all I have to say for tonight. It’s just after 11:30 PM, & I have to get up for work in the morning. So I shall bid you all good night, & I hope that you have sweet dreams, whenever you go to sleep next.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Pantry Challenge – day 10 & 119 days without Coca~Cola!!

Ooh da lolly!! Did the last two days really go by without me blogging here? Yes, they did. I apologise for that. I’m still getting back into blogging, & so this isn’t yet habit for me. Still, I do want to keep it up every day as much as possible. Tomorrow, though – Saturday 20 June 2015 – will most likely not find me blogging since I work two four-hour shifts with the same client. I’ll have three-&-a-half hours in between, but I won’t be going to any location with WiFi. When I get home, I’ll be tired & will most likely just want to go to bed right away. I probably won’t be up in time to blog in the morning, either, although I have been getting up earlier these days due to being at my Tuesday to Friday client’s home by 7 AM. We’ll see, though. I’ll be getting to bed quite a bit later than I have been the past few days since I’ll be working at my every-other-weekend-client’s home ‘til 9:30 PM in Hope, BC this evening. It’s a 20 minute drive from my place to theirs, & vice versa, & I’ll most likely chat with the client’s mom for a few minutes before I leave for the night.

So all this adds to me most likely not blogging at all tomorrow. I will do my very best to on Sunday, though.

I decided to create a post for today, though. I feel like it and I really do want to get into this habit. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, & it takes about 30 or so to really cement it into a person; or so they say. It does seem to be true.

Since I don’t plan on blogging tomorrow, I want to mention a very special thing – today is 119 days without any Coca~Cola. Whoohoo!!

In case you’re not familiar with my Coke history, it’s a huge addiction for me. Some argue that it’s not all that bad & that there’s nothing wrong with having one once in a while. For me, though, it is a thing to be avoided. I ended up having two or three pretty well every day, and if even a day went by without me having any, I’d have nasty headaches and my stomach would hurt a bit. I’d feel so groggy and just generally blah and not right. I’d get quite persnickity & very grumpy. I just wouldn’t be myself.

On 20 February 2015, I had my last Coke. I didn’t plan on it being so. It was just that I drank the last one I had here in my home and didn’t have enough money to buy any for the next day. Surprisingly, I felt fine the next day. Well, I did have a tiny twinge here & there in my head as if it was going into headache mode, but that headache never came. Then I decided to cut it out for a fitness challenge that I was doing at the time. I started to drink a lot more water, and that was the best thing that helped me get over the initial craving.

There’re times when I do want one, especially when I see the ads for those Coke bottles with people’s names. Otherwise, I honestly could care less. So that’s good! I know it’ll be something with which I’ll struggle my whole life, or at least have periods of struggle about it, but I’m happy to say that it’s no longer a huge drive in my life, something that I long for or actually think about going out and buying.

Part of this really has to do with the fact that I’ve really had to pray & think seriously about how to spend my money lately. Since starting on this spending fast & pantry challenge 10 days ago, it’s been interesting that, aside from a moment here & there, I’ve not actually craved food that I don’t have here at home; nor have I really had an urge to spend money. This is a very good thing! I’m not fooling myself into thinking that this’ll always be the case, especially when I get paid or if I see something that I’d really like to have. I just can’t be spending freely, though. It just doesn’t work right now. Even when it will work, I don’t want to go back to that. Yes, I want to be able to spend money & to treat myself every so often, but I don’t want to be the impulsive & reckless spender that I used to be.

Doing something like this is a good exercise that wouldn’t other people to do. Some know what I’m going through because they’ve had no choice or currently have no choice but to be super strict when it comes to their spending. Others have an idea because of what others close to them have told them or because of how they grew up and what their parents went through. Others have good imaginations and can picture what I’m going through that way. There are others, though, who just can’t imagine ever being in this place. If you’re not in this place & never have been, I hope that you never have to be. It’s not fun.

While I’m very thankful for what I’m learning & for what I’ll take out of this, I’d love to not be in this place. However, I am, & I’m not wishing it away. That doesn’t do any good. I’m choosing to face the reality of where I am & to do what I can to live as best as I can, to learn from it, and to grow from it. That’s really the only choice for me. I’ve gone through financial hardship before, and I’ve not learnt. This time, though, is different and I’m taking my lessons and applying them to my life and to be a wise steward of all that God has given me, whether that’s money or material possessions or gifts or talents, or absolutely anything else. I’ve taken it all for granted far too long & far too often, & I’m not doing that any longer.

Since coming back here to the Fraser Valley in southwestern BC, Canada from Inuvik, NT (up on Canada’s Arctic), a very, very long period of low paying jobs & unemployment started for me. It’s not been fun & it’s not been easy. I have learnt about how generous & kind people can be, though, & how willing people are to help out those in needs. I’ve learnt to put my pride aside when I really & truly need something & to ask for help. It’s certainly not hard for most people to ask, & I definitely don’t take it for granted that people will help, but I have learnt that sometimes I just have to break down the walls of pride & let people know what my needs are. Oh, it’s humbling! But I needed to be taken down several pegs – let alone one or two.

My desire now is to help others as I’m able. I’ve learnt that helping isn’t always about  money. Sometimes giving food or to other needs in place of money are far better ways to help. I’ve grown so accustomed over my life, though, to think of helping in terms of money. That kind of thinking’s been broken, though. Still, I am looking forward to the day when I can help out with money if someone has such a need. I just want the freedom to be able to help people in various ways. I also want to be able to take friends out for coffee or to treat them once in a while, & that’ll come in time.

I don’t remember if I mentioned it in my last post, but I got my second client. So this adds to my income. Slowly it’s increasing, & that’s nothing but a good thing. I’m looking forward to my first paycheque with Nurse Next Door on Tuesday – that’ll be freeing! No, I’m not planning on splurging – I’m not stopping my spending fast anytime soon. I still need to do it. It’ll just be nice to have the money for what I need – gas AND milk and other foodstuffs and other things that I need.

So, food-wise, what I have done lately? Not much worth mentioning. I’m just eating from what I have in my pantry & freezer still. Without milk, I’m not having cereal. I have bread, but it’s Paska, which is Easter bread. It’s really good with Nutella, but it’s not good for things like peanut butter sandwiches. I did have Granny Smith apples (my favourite!!) with Nutella & peanut butter the other day. That was really good! I always cut my apples in pieces because it’s a lot easier on my teeth, which aren’t that great. So I had some slices with just peanut butter, & some with just Nutella. I had a couple with both, & that was good, too.

Right now, I have a bowl of two eggs & cheese & salsa that I cooked in the microwave waiting for me. It smells really good & will taste good, too. Good sources of protein & a bit of veggies; so it’s a good, quick meal. Just right for one person. Some people would have just the one egg, but, foolishly, I didn’t have breakfast before I went to work this morning. So I’m having two eggs to make up for that.

That’s another thing I have to work on – making sure that I get up early enough for breakfast, even if it’s just a quite bite of something. I just need to make sure that my tummy’s full & that it’s not grumbling. I don’t like being hungry & there’s no excuse for me to ever be. I just get so busy doing stuff or don’t plan for eating first thing in the morning. I need to make sure that I eat, though. I’m working on it, & I’m usually pretty good at it lately, but once in a while I slip. Oh, we all do, don’t we?

Well, that’s it for today! I hope that you’re even a little bit blessed by reading this post, & I hope that you have a good weekend. Take care of yourself & make sure you count your blessings.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Pantry Challenge – day 7

So, I don’t really have anything to report today about the challenge itself. I’ve not been hungry today. The start of my low-hunger-during-hot-days has begun, & today’s the first day in which I haven’t really felt like eating – just drinking a lot Well this is fine. I can stand to have a few days here & there of very little eating. This helps me to keep well & truly hydrated during the super warm days, & that’s always a good thing.

I did take the casserole that I froze last week (see Pantry Challenge Day 3 – a good evening for an ice cream-less milkshake with Nutella to see what I mean if you can’t remember last Friday’s post) & ate it. Of course I thawed it a bit before heating it up in the microwave. I also ate the frozen bananas & Nutella mixture I’d put together yesterday. It had a bit of a spiciness to it because of the cold chai latte that I’d added to it instead of milk yesterday, & it was so very good & hit the spot.

Otherwise, I’ve just been drinking lemonade & water, & I don’t feel one bit hungry. Mind you, it’s not yet all that late – only about 4:25 PM – & so I might get hungry a bit later, but overall, this has been a very non-hungry day, & that’s a good thing.

Either tomorrow or Thursday I plan on going through my pantry & making a list of what I have. When that’s done, I’ll see what I have in my freezer. This way I can do some planning & see about getting some ideas of how to make good meals from what I have, whether I come up with them on my own, find recipes that work in one of the many cookbooks that I have, or see what’s online that I can do or improvise. It’ll be cool to see what I come up with. I’m looking forward to it!

Earlier today, Dublin & I spent hours outside in the sun & fresh air. I’m definitely not one who usually sits outside in the sun just for the sake or sitting in the sun, but after the past few days, I felt that a large dose of Vitamin D would do me some good. I’m quite sleepy now from all the fresh air, but I do feel better for it. It was cooler this morning, & there was a wonderful breeze that kept me from getting overheated. Also, I spent quite a bit of time in the pool. The family upstairs has a child’s pool that’s not a bad size. I’m 168 cm, or 5’6”, & I can stretch out in there with plenty of room to spare. It’s certainly not deep, but then you don’t want it to be if you have small children in it. There’re two small boys living upstairs – 2 & 4 years old.

I know that I got some colour today, & there’re more freckles than before on my arms. I think my legs got a wee bit of colour, although it’s hard to tell right now. They’re so pale, but they were in the sun. They don’t feel like they got sun, but I know that they did. The back of my neck & upper back certainly did, but that’s all right. I’m not burnt & made sure that I didn’t stay out nearly long enough for that. I can’t tell by my face because it’s almost always on the red side.

Anyway, I feel much better today, & that’s a good thing, since I start my first of my regular shifts with my new client tomorrow morning. I’m glad that I’ll be working earlier in the day so that I won’t be working when it’s too hot. It’s not a long drive from here, & that’s cool. I’m glad that I now have two clients – every little bit gained is more than what I had before.

Now I’ll post this. I hope that you enjoy reading it! Smile

Monday, 15 June 2015

Pantry Challenge – day 6

So, I fully meant to write a post yesterday. The day just got away from me, though, &, before I knew it, I was just so tired that I knew that any post I’d write would possibly not make any sense. Not wanting that, I decided that it was just better to not write a post than to do so.

On Saturday I was quite sick. So I didn’t really eat much at all. Because of feeling ill, I decided there was nothing to say for that day. So I left it alone. Then yesterday, although I did eat, like I said, time just got away from me & I left it alone.

Today I’m sick again, but I wanted to write a post so that I didn’t keep putting it off so that, before I knew it, a lot of time had gone by before I got out of writing. I don’t want that. I’ve been in that place far too many times before. So here I write about my challenge despite not eating much at all today.

Yesterday after church, we had our monthly post-service meal. It’s a good chance for people to visit & to bond over meals. Food, fun & fellowship is a phrase I grew up hearing, & it applies here. The food’s always good, & my hope is that, eventually, I’ll be able to help provide food for it.

Yesterday’s was a BBQ feast! Hamburgers & hot dogs, & there were good. There were lots of salads, too, although I just took a bit of the broccoli salad. I know, I know. I should’ve taken more of that & taken home the remains of my hamburger if I couldn’t finish it all, but I’m so accustomed to the cultural norm or larger portions of meat, although I’m getting a lot better at this.

I grabbed two things for dessert – a chocolate chip cookie & a piece of platz. Oh, platz!! It’s one of my favourite desserts & so very easy to make. It’s a good ol’ Mennonite treat & I grew up with it. As you can see by the recipe below, it doesn’t take many ingredients to make a platz, & you can use any fruit you want, although some definitely work better than others. I love a good blueberry or rhubarb or strawberry or strawberry-rhubarb platz, but other fruits work really well, too. Thinking about it, I don’t have any idea whether bananas would work for this, but it never hurts to try if someone wants to. I just think of it as being topped more by things like the fruits I mentioned or other similar fruits. You could do anything with it, really, I guess. The crumble on top is super scrummy, too! Like the name of the recipe calls it, it’s a coffee cake with fruit & crumbs. Yum!

Here’s one recipe for it from Mennonite Girls Can Cook ~

I was encouraged to take some food home following the lunch, so I brought home several hamburger patties & hamburger buns, & they all went into the freezer. They can be used later on.

So aside from that lunch, which was super filling, I had 2 eggs for breakfast.

I was bummed out!! I’d gone to make those eggs, & that was fine. However, including those 2 eggs, I had 8 eggs altogether. When I went to get 2 eggs out of the carton, though, one of the eggs was tough to get out. It turned out that 4 of the eggs had frozen & their shelves were broken by my effort to remove them! So I decided to not use those 4 eggs. So now I have 2 eggs from that carton left that I can use.

You may ask why I didn’t use those 4 eggs for baking. I would have, but when eggs thaw, you have to be very careful of bacteria on the shell. I can’t remember the name of it offhand, but it’s a kind that makes people very sick. So I’ll just toss those eggs on garbage day, which is Wednesday. For now, I’m keeping them in my fridge so that they don’t start stinking up the place in the heat we have right now. The other two are fine.

I was talking to my friend Sonja on Saturday, & she mentioned that she & her hubby had a lot of duck eggs in cartons of 18. So they brought me a carton yesterday, along with a bag of walnuts. Cool! So now I have a small bag of walnuts in the freezer, & they can be used for so many things. I have the eggs in a place in my fridge so that they don’t freeze.

My fridge does that sometimes, freezes things even if I have the temperature on a good setting. It doesn’t matter if my fridge is empty or full or somewhere in between. I don’t care if some things are frozen – like juice or the like – but some things are just not good when they’re frozen. Ugh!

One other thing that I brought home yesterday was a plant. I can’t remember the name, but it has beautiful flowers & I put it in a hanging basket. I love flowers – they cheer things up so beautifully. I’m glad that I can have it outside so that I don’t have to be concerned about Dublin possibly eating it. I have no idea if this plant is toxic to cats, & Dub’s not a huge plant eater unless it’s cat grass or the like, but I’d rather not take the risk. Better safe than sorry.

Here’s a picture of them. I believe they’re petunias, although I can’t find out for sure from the web, although I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to find out. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know in the comments below. Thanks to anyone who does. Enjoy!!

My Hanging Basket 14 June 2015

I have the chat app called Viber, which I really love using. Two of my good friends – Nadia & Rose – are down in New Zealand, & we have a great, ongoing chat that’s been going on for a long, long time. It’s so cool to have such a long lasting friendship, even if we’ve never met in person. I love that friendship doesn’t have to be just one thing that fits all.

Anyway, the reason that I mention them is because they dry clothes outside on the line because neither of them have dryers. It’s not nearly as common down in New Zealand to have dryers as it is here in Canada, apparently.

It’s so hot & sunny outside today that I was inspired to dry my laundry outside today. I remembered that I had an old wooden drying rack in the laundry room. Since it was covered in cobwebs & other dusty bits, I hosed it off outside on the lawn. Then it dried quickly in the sun. Once that was done, I covered it with my things.

One good thing the lilac bushes at the end of my patio do is provide a good place to dry things. So I put my towels on there. The things that I’d washed this morning are now done. I did one load a little while ago, & that’s now drying outside.

Things dry a lot more stiffly when they dry outside like that, but I don’t care. They smell good & I didn’t have to use the dryer. I don’t mind using the dryer & I’m very, very happy about having one, especially on rainy days & in the winter, but it’s great to have the option to dry things outside like today as well.

Tomorrow I’m going to be doing a bit of puppy sitting. The family who lives upstairs from me has a 9 week old English Springer Spaniel puppy named Zed, & she is way too cute for words!! Everyone upstairs will be out tomorrow, & Karmelli (the lady who lives upstairs) asked me if I’d check in on her & let her out to take care of business and the like. I eagerly agreed. Even though I’m a crazy cat lady, I do love dogs as well, & Zed’s a little darling.

So this is today’s post! I hope that you enjoyed reading it. Take care & blessings to you!! Smile

Friday, 12 June 2015

Pantry Challenge Day 3 – a good evening for an ice cream-less milkshake with Nutella

Today is a blah day since I’ve been feeling ill all day. I’ve not been ill, but I don’t feel well at all. I think it’s because my sleep’s not been that great lately. Oh, well! I go through this every so often – I think that most people do – & it’ll pass. So I’m not concerned. If it goes on for a long time, then I will consult my doctor about it. If it ends soon, though, I won’t worry. Otherwise, I’m fine.

This morning I had a bowl of cereal with milk, but I didn’t use up all the milk in the bowl. So I put what remained in the fridge to use for another time. Normally I’d just drink it up, but, since I’m trying to make things last as long as possible so that I don’t have to spend money too quickly, I decided to save it. In this case, it came in handy for this evening’s dessert.

I decided to make a casserole this morning & have some for lunch. I didn’t know if I’d have any of it for supper as well, but I made enough for four small servings. I always eat less in the summer because I rarely have much of an appetite in the heat. Even though today was quite a bit cooler, I still didn’t have much of an appetite due to not feeling well. The highest it’s been today is 16C, or 60.8F. The sky was almost completely grey ‘til a couple of hours or so ago, when the sun came out. Then it warmed up a bit. Not too hot, though. The birds have been singing all day, & they’re still singing. It’s been nice to hear them.

Dublin my ginger boy went outside for a while today.


Here’s what I did for my casserole. No measurements. So if you want to try this out but like measurements, I’m sorry to not have any. For things like this, I like to fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, so to speak.

Broad egg noodles
Grated cheddar cheese
Campbell’s tomato soup, small can
Canned corn
Canned diced tomatoes (this one had herbs and spices)

The noodles were pre-boiled, of course. I then put about a third into a freezer safe container & put that in the freezer once it’d cooled off quite a bit. Then I put about a sixth into a bowl with about half the can of corn. From the remaining third & sixth (I’m horrible at fractions. So please don’t mind me not knowing what this comes to. haha), I put about half of that into a small casserole dish. I layered some of the shredded cheese over that. Then another layer of noodles, followed by another layer of shredded cheese. The can of tomato soup, I spread over this, & then half the can of corn. Half the can of diced tomatoes went over this, followed by the last of the shredded cheese. I then baked in the over at about 300F for 30 minutes or so. Since cheese melts quickly & the noodles were already cooked, it probably didn’t need to be in this long. I wanted it well & truly baked, though, & it turned out quite well.

The rest of the tomatoes ended up getting frozen, & half the casserole is in the freezer, too. The other half I ate in two meals. How good it is!! The corn adds just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the tang of the tomatoes. The cheese adds a wonderful texture. Well, pretty well anything is good with cheese, with some exceptions.

Now for the ice cream-less milkshake!!

Something I discovered from SparkPeople recipes is that frozen bananas make a wonderful substitute for ice cream. You can either freeze them peeled & on a flat tray before putting them into a freezer bag, or else you can freeze them in their peels. This is what I’ve always done, but just watch out for how cold they are when you go to peel & cut them up. I don’t have gloves to use for this purpose, & so I’ve gotten some pretty cold fingers from this. I need to be careful because I got mild frostbite when I lived in Inuvik, but, well, yeah. I tend to forget. No excuse for not being careful, though.

So I took out one of my frozen bananas as well as the milk I’d saved earlier, which had been in the fridge ‘til now. I then cut off the ends of the banana. Then I cut it into slices. It’s surprisingly easy for most people to cut frozen bananas, but just be careful, of course. It’s good to have a pair of gloves on hand that you don’t mind mucking up a bit or a pair of dish gloves that you can use just for food & not for cleaning. Either way, a pair of gloves that allows your fingers to be nimble is a good idea for stuff like this.

One the banana was cut, I peeled it. I had a small knife for this purpose & used it to scrape off the peel. This is a lot easier than using my fingernails. Once this was done, I then put the banana into the cereal milk I told you about earlier. I used my hand blender & started blending away.

Nutella came to mind because I wanted a bit of something extra added to it. I love Nutella, & so I added a couple of teaspoons to this. Yes, I do know this measurement. haha  It was two heaping teaspoons because, well, it’s kind of hard to get non-heaping teaspoons of Nutella. At least for me, anyway.

More blending, & it was thoroughly mixed. It was a bit too thin for my liking. So I put it into the freezer in order to get thicker. I’m looking forward to it!

Something that’s usually added to frozen bananas for a bit of added flavour is a few dashes of vanilla, or a wee bit more than this. I don’t have any right now, but that’s all right. I did taste the mixture & know that it’s good anyway.

If you search online, you can find all kinds of ideas for making milkshakes without ice cream, & here’s one link with 3 recipes for such a thing:

Do you have any ideas for frozen treats that don’t have ice cream but are still creamy like it? I do love ice cream, but I’m not going to be buying any anytime soon. SO I’m open to ideas.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Pantry Challenge Day 2 – a pasta salad kind of day


This picture is not of my pantry. Rather, I got it from the following link ~  I just wanted a picture of a pantry. Someday soon, I might post a picture of my own pantry.

Today is Day Two of my Pantry Challenge. So far, so good. Yesterday was not hard at all, and today’s not hard, either. Mind you, the first few days of things like this aren’t usually when feelings of hardship kick in. I’m not going to wait with baited breath for those. That doesn’t do any good, does it?

Yesterday, I ate vermicelli – a spaghetti-like pasta that’s much thinner than spaghetti – with a meatball concoction that Mom had sent home with me on Monday. It was really good, & quite satisfying me. The only thing is that I waited ‘til 1 PM to eat anything, & that’s not wise. I usually do eat within an hour or so of waking up, but sometimes I end up getting caught up in things that I’m doing that I put off eating. Then I end up eating way too much & too late. I’m trying to not do that, though. The things can wait. I just like knowing that they’re not hanging over my head as I eat.

This morning I did eat breakfast a lot earlier, although it took me about an hour to eat a small bowl of cereal. Oh, well! *shrugs & laughs*

Today, I was up a couple of hours earlier than yesterday, which I like. I prefer getting up early in the morning. I get more done that way, &, these days, it’s cooler. I don’t do well in the heat, and so any relief is wonderful to me. Mom had sent home a bag of rotini on Monday, & I cooked that up. I ended up freezing some of it, & the rest, I put in the fridge too cool off. While it was cooking, I mixed up the dressing part of it. I like my pasta salad, although sometimes I like to make it zestier than at others. Today it’s a bit more mild, but that suits me. That way it doesn’t take away from the taste of the shrimp that I added.

I don’t always have the same stuff in there. It all depends on what I have at hand at the time I make it. I used to buy pasta salad seasoning, & that’s always good. I’ve not had any for a long time, though. So I now always add dill & parsley, a bit heavier on the dill than on the parsley. A few weeks or so ago I added yellow mustard the last time I made pasta salad. Wow! That added just that little bit of something extra, & so I added it again today.

Cheddar cheese is also something else that I always add. I almost always cube it, but today I had small slices left over from crackers & cheese that I ate yesterday. So I used those up, breaking them up into smaller pieces.

I don’t measure the stuff. I just go according to taste, and that suits me fine.

As for the pasta, in the past, I’ve also used shells & macaroni & wagon wheels & other smaller pasta with interesting shapes. This adds a bit ore variety as well.

Since I like different kinds of cheese, I want to try different ones sometime. It just seems, though, that I only ever have cheddar on hand when I go to make it. haha  Oh, well!

One thing that I love about pasta salad is that it’s a complete meal in & of itself. I love one-dish food, especially if they’re easy & quick to put together. I’m not a super busy person, but I still like to be able to whip something up in a flash.

What are some quick and easy meals that you like to put together? I’m open to a lot of ideas food-wise right now. I won’t try all of them since I admit to being picky & not eating things that I really don’t like. I also am sensitive to spicy foods & try to avoid things that give me heartburn or acid reflux. I still like to get any & all ideas, though, because then I can pass them on to other people who might like them. So please feel free to share whatever recipes & foods you like in the comments below. Smile

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Pantry Challenge

Hi, all! A VERY, very long time no-write! I’ve just not felt like blogging as I didn’t feel that I had anything positive to say, when I really did. Still, when a person gets into a certain frame of mind & worries & concerns & anxieties start taking over, things look a lot bleaker than they usually are.

I won’t go into detail, and a lot of you know that I’ve been out of work since January. My EI was quite low, & it recently ran out. I did start to work again last week, & that’s good. It’s still only every other weekend, but it’s a start.

The job is as a caregiver for Nurse Next Door, a company that started in Vancouver or North Vancouver by two young men who had needed the services of home support for relatives of theirs. They wanted to start a company that was different & went the extra mile for their clients, & they do that. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this company, & it also cares for its employees. Some companies will be great to the client but not so good to its employees, or it’ll take care of its employees but not of its customers. NND does its best to be good to both its clients and its employees, and that’s good.

I’m starting off as a casual worker, and it always takes time to get going in those kinds of jobs. So I’m looking for other work to add to my income, & I’ve had a few leads. If I end up with a different job that’s full time, I’ll take that since I do need the money. After all, it’s only me supporting myself, although I have had some much welcome & appreciated help along the way.

I’m an independent person who would rather not rely on the help of others, but I’ve learnt to quell my pride & to accept it when it comes. There’s nothing shameful about accepting help, & I certainly don’t want to deny anyone the blessing that comes from helping others. Since September 2006, when I moved back down here to the Fraser Valley from the Arctic, I’ve had to learn to accept help from people, but especially the past couple of years. I’m so tired of having a lower income – I used to make more than average, & it’s still hard for me to accept. I’m starting to, though, & I know that things will get better. It’s just hard to wait for that.

One of my biggest struggles is spending. I love to shop & to spend money, but it always bugs me when I overspend. I don’t always think about the consequences of my overspending, although I’m great at thinking through the possible consequences of other things. So, even though I’m an impulsive person, I tend to play things very safe & to not throw caution in the wind in general.

The number one place where my money goes is food. I love food. I love to eat and I haven’t always eaten what’s best for me. This has changed over the past while, though, and, overall, my diet is a lot better than it used to be, a lot more balanced and healthy. I still like to have the occasional bit of junk food, though, and there’s nothing wrong with that, once in a while. The trouble is, though, that I just don’t have the money for such extravagances. Yes, they are extravagances when you think about it. At least to me right now and to others in similar situations as me. I need to avoid spending money on what’s not necessary for me, and, recently, I read something that gave me an idea.

First of all, though, I’ll tell you about something else that gave me a complete change of mind about my spending.

This past Monday evening, my church had a seminar called “Getting A Grip On Your Finances,” or something close to that. The speaker is a financial advisor with RBC (Royal Bank Of Canada) in Chilliwack, & he’s been in a place like I am right now – very little money coming in. What he did was go on a spending fast. That evening, I was struggling with the idea. I like instant gratification and I don’t want to curb my spending. I thought and prayed about it, though, & realised that it was a wise idea. So I decided to do that.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t spend any money at all. After all, there are things that need my money – gas for my car, car insurance, rent, utilities, and certain essentials. If I could live without spending any money at all, I’d love that. It’s just not realistic in my world, though. What Eddie (sp?) did was curb his spending down to the absolute essentials. He needed food – so he’d only buy the food that he truly needed. He needed to pay his bills and for housing, and when his car died, he didn’t pay to get it fixed, even though the repairs wouldn’t have cost all that much. He even pared down his essential purchases & lived a super sparse lifestyle. He said that it was good since his income was super low and he wasn’t about to use credit for things. He said, too, that it was a really good thing for him at the time, and I got the sense that it made him appreciate what he had even more. He received a lot of valuable lessons at that time.

So I’m going on a spending fast. I mentioned things that I really need, &, yes, I do need my car. In home support work, you go to clients’ homes, and that usually involves some distance between your home and theirs. So I do need my car. I need to pay rent and I need to pay utilities to the people who live upstairs from me – the bills are in their name. I need my phone so that I can get calls about work, and I need certain supplies for a woman’s monthly visitor. I can get them for a really low price at a local store, though, and I can walk there. So no gas needed to get those. I also need to eat.

Now this is where my Pantry Challenge comes in.

I read an article online – or it might’ve been an entry in a blog – & I can’t remember the link. I’d only read through it casually at the time & didn’t pay much attention. Obviously things stuck with me, though, & I’m thankful for that.

From what I remember, the person who did the same thing had seen her pantry and realised that she had lots of things that weren’t being used. There was still a long ways to go before the expiry dates, and she decided to use them up. So she set herself a goal of using up all that was in her pantry and freezer and would only buy things like milk and bread and fresh fruits and veggies as they were needed. If she was doing something for a special event and needed to buy something that she didn’t already have, she would make an exception and buy what she needed for the recipe. Otherwise, she just used the goods she had in her pantry and freezer and, as I mentioned, only bought certain items when they were close to being out.

I thought a lot about this and the spending fast yesterday, and I realised that such a thing would be really good for me. I have a lot of canned goods and items in my freezer that can be used up. I like them, but so often, I tend to go out and get other stuff just because. Well, I really can’t afford to that anymore.

So I’m going to start my own pantry challenge. I was going to set tomorrow as my start date, but I actually started it today – Wednesday 10 June 2015. No time like the present!

Like the blogger, I’m going to use what I already have in my pantry and freezer, and the only things that I’ll buy are perishables that are essentials to my diet. Bread, milk, and produce. I can buy a couple of loaves of bread at a time and keep one in the freezer for when the first one’s done, and I can buy larger bags of fruits and veggies if they’re ones that I’ll use. If it’s stuff I don’t like, I’m not going to eat it. So why buy it? Sometimes I buy something because I want to try it out, but I won’t do that right now. I’ll splurge on stuff when I have the money to do so.

I’ll also buy soap and shampoo when they run out, but I’m really good in that department. I bought a large thing of shampoo a while back, & I just started using it when I ran out of the other shampoo I had. I also bought the corresponding conditioner. Antiperspirant's something else I have plenty of, and soap, well, yeah. I have lots of this. So I shouldn’t have to buy any for a long time. I might have to buy dish soap, although I’m fine right now for it. Just a little bit works well anyway. Laundry detergent, too, is another I’m fine with right now, although it, too, is a need I’ll have to purchase when it’s time for it. Sometimes my mom gives it to me, though, and so I might just take her up on her offer at that time. Of course these things aren’t food and don’t fit into the Pantry Challenge, but I thought I’d mention them because of the spending fast.

Someone I told about this asked about going out for meals if they’re at other people’s homes or if they’re taking me out for a meal, and about accepting gifts of food & household items. I will accept these offers and gifts, although they happen rarely to me. So it’s not something that I’d thought about when putting this together. I also don’t want to take advantage of people’s hospitality & generosity, but if they are offered freely and because someone’s being genuinely kind, then I’ll most likely accept. I just don’t want anyone thinking that I’ll be mooching off anyone.

One thing that will come of this is creativity in the kitchen. I like being creative, and that goes for my cooking as well as my yarn crafts and other things. It’ll be interesting to experiment with what I have, and I’m looking forward to it.I’ll write about those and let y’all know how they turned out! Smile

So, here I go, embarking on adventure that’ll change my life, I’m sure! I’ve already learnt to do without spending a lot of money, but now I’ll learn to truly spend only what’s absolutely & truly necessary. It’ll be very good for me, and I expect to gain wisdom in this area. I do want to be a wise steward of all that God’s given me, and that includes money. ESPECIALLY money, which isn’t something I’ve been all that wise about in the past. I’ve already made changes in this area in the past several years, but now more changes are about to be made, and I’m looking forward to this with nervous yet joyful anticipation.