Friday, July 20, 2012

100th Post and 100 Random Things about Me

You may not have noticed, but this is my 100th blog post.  Since I love talking about me (that's the purpose of blogging, isn't it?), I would like to share 100 random facts with you about myself.
  1. My biggest fear is tornadoes.  Stupid Wizard of Oz!
  2. I am the middle child of four siblings.  Figure that one out!
  3. I am horrible at keeping in touch with people. I always tell myself that I will call tomorrow. Years have passed without ever picking up the phone.
  4. I screen phone calls.  If I don't recognize the number, I won't answer.  
  5. I love Country Music.  I was once ashamed of this, but not any more!
  6. I love routine.
  7. I am grumpiest when hungry.  My brain has trouble functioning.
  8. I love hard ice cream, chocolate and popcorn.
  9. I have never lost anybody close to me. I worry that I will not be able to handle death if anything were to happen to somebody that I love. 
  10. I am passionate about many things.  I jump into life with both feet.
  11. I am shy.
  12. Once I get to know you, you may have a hard time shutting me up.
  13. I failed first year of university miserably.  I did summer classes and completed my degree in 4 years.
  14. I met my two BFFs in university residence during my first year.  We will be life long friends, I am sure.
  15. I moved around a lot as child.  I lived in a total of 6 homes before leaving home.
  16. My extended family is the most important thing to me.
  17. I have always been daddy's girl.
  18. As I get older, I realize how similar I am to my mom. I also realize that that may not be so bad! 
  19. I have no sense of direction, unless I am in a shopping mall.
  20. I love chick flicks.
  21. I hate organized games and  sports.  
  22. I love to drive. I find it relaxing. Sometimes I am so relaxed that I arrive at my destination and don't even remember how I got there. 
  23. My current home is the second longest I have ever lived in one house.
  24. I hate washing dishes.  I would rather scrub the toilet with my naked hands.
  25. I already worry about retirement and being financially ready.
  26. I plan on retiring at 55.
  27. I drool in my sleep.
  28. I have many dream careers-caterer, baker,photographer, cloth diaper salesperson, etc.
  29. I always drive 10 km/hr over speed limit.
  30. I hate winter.  I seriously hibernate.
  31. I have a squeaky clean driving record.  Knock on wood.
  32. I am always cold.
  33. I hate being barefoot
  34. I have never been outside of Canada/US.
  35. I love being a boy mom.
  36. I hate cats.
  37. We have 2 cats. They live outside.
  38. I only brush my teeth once/day even though I know better.
  39. I shower in the mornings.
  40. I only get my hair cut twice/year.
  41. I have a hard time reading a clock without numbers.
  42. I hate coffee
  43. I love tea with my sugar.
  44. I planned my dream wedding since I was 12 years old.  The day turned out just as planned.
  45. I became a Dietitian because I love food but didn't want to get fat.
  46. I love vegetables and would choose them over many other snack foods.
  47. I live in <800 sq ft home.
  48. My favorite books are the Hunger Games trilogy.
  49. I hate shopping.
  50. I love online shopping.
  51. I have less clothes than Ryan.
  52. I have no desire to win a large lottery.
  53. I was less than cool in high school.  Looking back, this was more my own perception of myself than other's perception of me.  I am way more confident now.
  54. I hate to dance.  I lack coordination.
  55. I cannot work in a messy atmosphere. If I have work to do, you will always find me cleaning first.   I have been told that a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind.
  56. I love making lists.
  57. I always way the pros and cons.
  58. I have a firm grasp of the concept of wants vs. needs.
  59. I have no sense of fashion. Even if I had a million dollars I still wouldn't know what to buy. 
  60. I am early to bed, early to rise.
  61. I lack spontaneity.
  62. I embarrass easily.  If you tell me I am red, I will get red.
  63. I find silence awkward.
  64. I love to swim.
  65. I have had the same alarm clock since I was 11 years old.
  66. I have a hard time keeping secrets.  If you tell me it is a secret, I am good, but I have a hard time recognizing it on my own.
  67. I love butter.  I can eat it plain.
  68. I love bacon.
  69. I don't have a favourite colour.
  70. I hate wood ticks.
  71. I love to sing.  I have been told I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket.
  72. My nickname growing up was Care Bear.
  73. There were only 25 students in my high school graduating class.  I still have contact with maybe half of them.
  74. My favourite alcoholic beverages are Kahlua and Milk and Pina Coladas.
  75. My favourite non-alcoholic beverages are water (room temperature) and skim milk.
  76. I never hand write.
  77. I still use cheques.
  78. I probably cry every day.  Doesn't matter if it is happy tears, sad tears or frustrated tears. My mom says my bladder is likely too close to my eyes.
  79. I cannot wear shoes with any type of elevation.  I am happy that flats are back in fashion.  I am sad that I still lack fashion sense.
  80. I always have postage stamps on hand.
  81. I am right handed.
  82. I haven't really gotten to know my paternal grandparents until adulthood.
  83. I never wear jewellery besides my rings and a watch.
  84. I can spend hours in Staples.  I am that geeky.
  85. I cannot do my own hair.  It is either straightened or in a ponytail.  You'll never see another style.
  86. I have 6 piercings.
  87. I have no tattoos.
  88. I have only had one boyfriend besides Ryan.  We never really broke up.
  89. I started dating Ryan when I was 19 years old.
  90. My favourite season is summer.
  91. I have never had a broken bone.
  92. I was top of my class academically throughout both elementary and high school.
  93. I haven't bathed in years.
  94. My favourite board game is Clue.  Ryan hates Clue.
  95. I am a pen snob.
  96. My favourite fragrance is peach.
  97. My favourite candy are Fuzzy Peaches.
  98. I count stairs pretty much every time I go up them.
  99. I hate anything carbonated.
  100. I am glad to finally be at 100 :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thrifty on Thursday-The Laundry Room

Growing up, I didn't quite understand the value of money.  I came from a family that always had enough.  I wasn't spoiled by any means (at least in a materialistic way), but I didn't ever have to go without a lot of things.
My parents often remind me of a time when I came face to face with my ever frugal grandmother quoting "what good is money if you can't spend it?"
Fast forward to today.  Having gone through 4 years of university and 1 year of unpaid internship, I can now say with confidence that I understand the value of money.  I'm cheap, frugal, a thrifter.  Some would say I can squeeze a nickel until the beaver craps.
I realize that life comes with many compromises and sacrifices.  We can't all have it all.  We must prioritize and decide what material things are important to us.  I have become great at finding ways to save money to get the things that I want.
One area in which Ryan and I save money is in the Laundry Room.  Here are just a few ways that we cut costs while doing our laundry.
  1. We only wash our clothes if we have a full load.
  2. We almost always use cold water to wash our clothes.  According to BC Hydro,  heating water accounts for 90% of the energy consumption of washing machines.
  3. We try to line dry as much as possible.  As you can imagine, machine drying takes up quite a bit of energy, but it also heats your home in the summer, leading to increased costs of cooling your home.  Hanging your clothes on a sunny day with a slight breeze can be quicker to dry than the dryer.  The sun is also great at taking stubborn stains out of white clothing.  Tip: If you don't like the crunchy feel of line dried clothes, throw them in the dryer on air fluff for five minutes after line drying.
  4. We make our own laundry detergent for both our regular laundry and our cloth diapers.  In terms of cost, the regular detergent costs us $0.02 per load and although I haven't calculated the cost per load of the cloth diaper detergent, I am guessing it is much cheaper than the commercial brands marketed as cloth diaper friendly.  Regular commercial laundry detergent would cost approximately $0.10 per load (based on sale price of $9.99 for 96 washes).  See our recipes below.
  5. We (or at least I) don't use fabric softener.  Instead, I use dryer balls.  Although a one time investment, they are said to reduce static and pull clothes apart in the dryer, therefore reducing drying time.  Commercial fabric softeners work by breaking down the fibres of your clothing, so by avoiding these products, your clothes will also last longer.
  6. We recycle the hot air from the dryer in the winter.  We bought a contraption for around $10 which attaches to the dryer vent.  In the summer, the air goes outside and in the winter, we can vent it back inside.  By doing this, we reduce our home's heating bills as there is less wasted heat.
How do you save money in the Laundry Room?


Homemade Laundry Detergent (Liquid)

2 cups grated soap
2 cups Borax (stain remover)
2 Cups Laundry Soda (deodorizer)
9 L water
  1. In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.  Remove from heat and add soap flakes.  Stir until dissolved.
  2. In a large pail, combine Borax, Laundry Soda and remaining water.  Stir until dissolved.
  3. Add soap mixture to pail and stir. (Note: You may end up with some stringy goop floating at the top of the pail.  This is normal. Just stir it up before using it.)
  4. Add 1/4-1/2 cup detergent to each large load of laundry.
DIY Cloth Diaper Detergent (Powder) (from The Eco Friendly Family Blog)

1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1/2 cup of oxiclean
  1. Mix all ingredients together in container.
  2. Use 1-2 tbsp per load.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2 months

Two months has already passed since you came into our lives.  Although it's only been 61 days, it is hard for me to remember life without you.  You have changed so much in the past month.  You are now a smiling, drooling, bouncing baby boy.
You are quickly developing your own personality.  You have so much to say with your "goos" and "gas".  You have learned to not only tolerate, but to love diaper changes and bath time.  It warms my heart to see your big smiles and your kicking feet splash water on me.  You love to stand (with help of course), and it is amazing how strong you already are! You love your swing, and are growing to love your soother.  
This month, you have challenged us in many ways.  From your colicy evenings, which are hopefully a thing of the past, to your new found hatred of your car seat.  This hasn't stopped us from taking not one, but two road trips with you anyways.  We have discovered that you, just like your dad, hate being hot, which has been interesting with a month of 30+ degree weather!
This month, you have began to sleep in your crib, and aside from your late night snacks, have remained there for close to the whole night!  I still love bringing you into bed though and waking up to your smiling face!  You have allowed us our first post-baby date, and hopefully you weren't too hard on Grandma and Papa!  You continue to awe your cousins, and one day I know that you will be great friends!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Meal Plan

Catching up on a few of the recipes that I have yet to critique:

Super Simple Shrimp Tacos
I would rate these 4/5.  They were super simple to make, and contained all food groups so that was a definite pass for me.  I found the sauce a bit spicy (would add less cayenne next time).  Ryan found them a bit to cilantro-y, but I loved the flavour.  We also cooked up a chicken breast with Club House's new Cajun seasoning to add to these as Ryan isn't a huge shrimp fan.
Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
 5/5.  Finally a fettuccine Alfredo recipe that Ryan will eat (the man has a thing about creamy foods).  I swear I could add the word Cajun as a prefix to any dish and it would taste 10 times better in his mind.  Anyways, although this recipe definitely isn't the healthiest out there, we will likely make it again since all of the flavours went so well together.
Crockpot Coconut Ginger Chicken & Vegetables
This recipe was disappointing.  I really went out on a whim with this one as we do not typically eat any type of ethnic foods.  I was expecting something to really wow my taste buds, but this just tasted bland.  I would give it 1/5.

Two other recipes that I have tried this week:

Sweet & Spicy Pork Back Ribs
 These were delicious, but salty.  I added only half of the salt that the recipe called for, and I think that I would cut back even further next time.  There will be a next time though.  They were that good!
Cauliflower & Aged White Cheddar Soup
In true fashion, I didn't quite follow this recipe to a T.  I used leftover BBQ grilled cauliflower with Club House Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic seasoning.  I used yellow cheddar instead of white cheddar since that's what I had on hand.  Still, this recipe was a 5/5.

And finally, this week's recipes to try:

DIY Pita Bread
Chicken Gyros 
Salmon with Brown Sugar and Bourbon Glaze
Mojo Pork Tenderloin
Ratatouille
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Friday, July 13, 2012

12 of 12-July

1. Carter hanging out on his exercise mat.
2. What's currently in my candy dish (although much less today :).
3. Carter trying out the "big boy" bathtub.  Up until this point, we have bathed him in the sink, but this boy is growing too quickly and needs more room to stretch out and splash!
4. Cloth diaper Thank You's inspired by Pinterest.
5. Carter's birth announcement in the paper today.
6. Sunning my cloth diapers.  Even after a day in the sun, they still had to be thrown in the dryer.  They are that absorbent.
7. Entrance into our yard.  The flowers in the wheelbarrow are dying from the extreme heat wave over the past weeks.
8. Concrete pad from which we just had three grain bins removed from.  My vision is a summer sitting area, perhaps with a pergola.  I can also see this being used as an outdoor skating rink in the winter in the future. 
9. Quilt that my BFF's sister made for Carter.  I love the colours!  BFF also made a mobile in similar colours, but it isn't hung yet.
10. Remnants of my snack.
11. Shelf that houses our pots and pans.  This shelf has become a catch-all as it is handy right when we come in the door.  I love having the pots open, but hate the clutter.  Any suggestions?
12. I have run out of photo ideas.  Time for bed.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cloth Diapering a Newborn

Having recently cloth diapered a newborn, I figured that I would pass on some tips to whoever may be considering doing the same.

1) If you are cloth diapering for financial reasons, choose an inexpensive option to start.  There are many reasons that parents decide to cloth diaper-environmental, health, aesthetics, etc.  However, if financial reasons are your main motivators to cloth diaper, start cheap.  As babies grow very fast, and many babies are born large enough to fit into one-size diapers right from the start, do not spend too much money on newborn options.  I would say not to spend more than $100 on a newborn diapering system.  Personally, my baby only fit his newborn diapers for three weeks before moving on.

2) Shop second hand.  As above, newborns grow very quickly, so they outgrow their newborn cloth diapers very quickly.  For this reason, you can find a variety of very gently used newborn cloth diapers online on websites such as Ebay and Kijiji for a fraction of the original cost.

3) If purchasing diapers new, do not purchase too early before baby is born.  Many companies offer warranty for 6 months from purchase date, so if you purchase too early and encounter any problems, your warranty may be void.

4) Buy a variety of cloth diapers.  Mistakenly, I chose only one cloth diapering system for my newborn.  I chose to go with pre-folds and covers, which was definitely a good option, however, I wish I would have bought some flats and fitters as well.  Flats would have provided more coverage than pre-folds for the meconium poop that seemed to just roll off of the pre-fold into the cover, and fitteds would have come in handy for nights as my heavy wetter seemed to saturate the pre-folds at night leading to leaks.

5) Buy extra covers.  If you are using covers, purchase a few extra than you would for an older baby.  Since newborns poop a lot more, I found that my covers were soiled after 1-2 diaper changes when using pre-folds.
Pre-fold diaper with cover
6) Be ready.  Have your cloth diapers purchased and prepped prior to baby's arrival to make cloth diapering just as easy as disposables.

7) Jump right in.  I have found that it is easy to get bogged down in all of the cloth diaper advice available from which detergents are cloth diaper safe, to the proper wash routine.  From personal experience, it is very hard to ruin a diaper, so don't let fear hold you back.

Have you cloth diapered a newborn?  What advice would you pass on to other parents?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers-Fridge Edition

  • Is it just me, or does anybody else think that one fridge is not enough?  We have a standard size fridge along with another small beer fridge.  With just Ryan and I, both fridges are always packed to the brim.  Maybe it is because we shop once a week and make 99% of our food from scratch, but I cannot comprehend how a family would keep all of the food for their entire family in one fridge.  I am seriously considering getting a second full size fridge for our basement just for the "overflow".  
  • Although our new well was drilled a good two months ago, we have still not begun to utilize it because we cannot find anybody to dig a trench to plumb it in.  Ryan is now considering renting and trailering the equipment here, and then digging the trench himself.
  • The mosquitoes are absolutely ridiculous here.  Just going to my car results in multiple bites.
  • I am sad that I have spent very little time outside so far this summer.  I love summer weather-the hotter the better, but unfortunately the newest member of our family takes after his father and hates heat, leaving me inside the over-air-conditioned house much more than I would like.
  • How many computers do you have in your household?  My family of 6 had one computer that we all shared when I was growing up.  More recently, Ryan and I have each had our own laptops, along with our iPhones.  Ryan's laptop has subsequently become de-commissioned, leaving us with one computer to share between the two of us.  We talk frequently about getting another computer or an iPad, but wonder if this is overkill, or just a result of the society we live in today.
  • I recently started using Swagbucks as my default search engine.  In two weeks, I have earned 450 Swagbucks, which equates to a $5 Amazon gift card-pretty good for just searching the net if you ask me.  If you are interested, contact me and I will pass on my referral link so that I can earn what you earn.
  • I am becoming increasingly dependent on  the soother when taking Carter out.  The boy just loves to scream!
For more Friday Night Leftovers, click here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Goals Update

It is hard to believe that we are already half way through 2012!  It has been six months since I wrote this post with my goals for the new year.
Honestly, I most often make resolutions for the new year and never look back on them.  However, since this year I set more achievable goals than I ever have, I think that it is important to take inventory and see how I am doing, and focus the next six months on areas that I haven't yet succeeded.
These were my goals that I set in January, along with an update on my progress towards them.

Financial

  • Maintain financial ground throughout my maternity leave.  This may mean reducing our contributions to our renovation fund, RRSPs and TFSA, but I do not want to increase our debt load throughout my year off of work.  Well, my maternity leave has barely started, so I can't say that I have achieved this one yet.  This year, we have taken on several renovation projects that have set us back a bit, however, they were for the most part necessary jobs that had to be done, and we saved tons of money having Ryan do the work. As for my maternity leave, I have not yet felt the financial crunch. I am still receiving top-up from my work so I am actually bringing home more than when I was working since I do not have as many deductions or the expense of travelling to work every day.  We have reassessed our contributions to our RRSPs and TFSA, and have re-allocated some money into an RESP for Carter, so I think that this goal will be achievable for the duration of my maternity leave.
  • Continue to coupon and bargain shop in order to save money on all types of purchases made throughout 2012.  Check.
Household
  • Add dusting to my weekly cleaning routine.  I rarely dust my house, and throughout these renovations, I have come across some embarrassingly dusty picture frames, shelves, corners, etc. Check.
  • Maintain a place for all things in my home.  This means not accumulating more "things" than we have room for.  These renovations have definitely turned our house upside down!  I cannot say that everything has a place yet, as we still have not finished all of our spaces to work for us.  These renovations have allowed me to take inventory on the "stuff" that was already in our house, and I have come up with a pretty big collection of items to go to yard sale.  As for not accumulating any more "things", I think that I am doing well, however, it is difficult to tell others that we have no need for more "stuff", and we'll just say that we are blessed to have many generous people in our lives!
Personal
  • Take more pictures, and find a way to keep them all organized.  So far, I would get a big fat F in this category.  This is likely the most daunting of most of my goals.  I have not pulled out my DSLR nearly as much as I should have.  The few times that I did pull it out, I was not satisfied with the result of my efforts (yes, I know I am a perfectionist).  I know that I just need to commit and take some bad pictures before I can take better ones, so I am recommitting myself to this goal over the summer.  I have found a "baby photo-a-day" challenge on Pinterest, so will be working my way through that.  I have also gotten a start on organizing my pictures on my computer, however, with pictures dating back to 2004, this is a HUGE task.
  • Take on more DIY projects throughout my house to save money.  On the horizon are sewing projects, along with a couple of baby things that I am working on. I do not know if this is a pass or a fail.  I have taken on a few DIY tasks that have failed miserably.  You may have read about my rag rug.  And that rocking chair that we planned on re-finishing for the nursery-still not done!  I have, however, made good use of my sewing machine-fixing up some clothes that needed it, and I plan on sewing some things for Christmas gifts.  My mat cutter has also come in handy, and has paid itself off several times already with beautiful pictures for all of our freshly renovated rooms.
  • Not lose contact with friends/family far away (as I am incredibly horrible at keeping in touch with people).  I have not lost contact, but have not done a whole lot to maintain it either.  I will likely have to work on this one for years to come.
  • Maintain "alone time" for Ryan and I after Perogy is born.  This one is happening slowly.  I am still not comfortable leaving Carter with anybody else for any period of time, but we are trying to continue to do all of the things that we did pre-baby, now just with a baby in tow.  There are still a few things that we can't do like eating out and going to the movies, however, these are not things that we did on a regular basis before.  I actually feel that our relationship has changed very little since Carter's birth.