May Long with the McGills!

This past weekend is the famous May 2-4 Weekend, the “official” start to summer and is one of the biggest camping weekends of the year. In Alberta the amount of people in the campgrounds and back country this weekend astounds me. This is because it snows probably 70% of the time, rains about 25% and is cloudy with sunny breaks the remaining years. 

So this year like all the years before it we staycation. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our fare share of fun! 

Our weekend started out with a trip to Costco, on a Saturday morning, of a long weekend. I know that Costco isn’t your typical adventure but for me who despises going there on a Wednesday morning when it’s completely empty let alone in the craziness that would be there this weekend, it takes more strength and determination than summiting Everest. But we survived and managed to pick up the fixings for our weekend of barbecues. 


After surviving that adventure, and Monkey was down for his afternoon nap it was time for a little rosé and sun on the back deck.


Once Monkey was awake the fun began. He has started to stand on his own and loves being outside thanks to Ms. J so with the sun high in the sky and grass finally soft enough for him to play barefoot we had lots of fun outside while Michael made is amazing burgers!

And once the little monkey was sound asleep in his bed, it was time to relax with a little white wine on the deck while enjoying the warm spring evening air. 


I had forgotten to put the wine in the fridge in the afternoon, so I used a gift that I find quite handy for when chilling the wine slips my mind… Chillin’ Rocks. They keep your drink cold while not watering it down like ice cubes tend to do.

Sunday morning started like it always does, snuggles with Monkey, nap time and mass. On our drive home for Chruch the sun was high and the air was warm. Perfect conditions for a surprise!

So while Monkey was napping Michael put together the last of the birthday gifts and I started to prep dinner for that nights barbecue.

Then we waited for him to wake up to see his face!​


 I think he really enjoyed it.​

While Michael and Monkey enjoyed the water table, I womaned the grill.
 I marinated chicken legs in Olive Garden Italian Dressing all afternoon and then grilled them on the barbecue. One thing I have never gotten the hang of is grilling chicken. 

They always start off nicely like this 

​Then I get a little confident when they start to look like this 


Then I close the lid and all of a sudden I get this


But on the bright side of things under the burnt skin was really flavourful juicy chicken that went well with Caesar salad, and spinach ravioli. I would definitely recommend using the dressing as a marinade, especially if you have better skills with the grill than I!


On Monday it was just Monkey and I, like “the good old days” when I was home on maternity leave. We went on a nice long morning walk by the pond Had a play date at the parkStopped for some yummy snacks And ended the evening by sitting on the veranda, editing and eating ice cream at sunset!

If you are Canadian like me how did you open summer this past weekend? If you are American what are your Memorial Day plans? I can’t wait to hear in the comments below!

Adventures with the McGills

With May Long Weekend right around the corner and the days finally starting to feel long and warm, it means it’s almost adventure time!

Adventure has been a pretty essential part of our lives over the last 5 years. Whether it’s a big vacation or a little outing Michael and I dub everything we do as an adventure, especially if it’s something Monkey has never tried before. 

This all started on our second date when Michael picked me up, and I opened the door saying “so do you want to go on an adventure?”. I was tasked with trading in a work vehicle for a new one and had about 90 minutes to get it done. I had tried when I got into town earlier in the day but couldn’t find the dealership anywhere! Google maps was pretty terrible at the time and I was still trying to learn the whole Street vs Avenue NE vs SW directions in he addresses. Plus it was Edmonton and I had only ever been to the city three times before this and only knew the training office and West Edmonton Mall at this point. With Michael’s help we managed to get the task done and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening doing more normal second date activities like dinner and movie. 

The rest as they is history! 

Before Monkey was born Michael and I tried to get a few big adventures in a year like zip lining and adventure courses


Mountain and glacial adventures


Maritime Adventures


Our favourite Wine Country adventures


European adventures


And just plain old every day adventures 

This summer I hope to have a big adventure (or two) and lots of little ones so here is my summer 2017 bucket list!

  1. Go to a Michael’s Family Reunion in BC
  2. Pick strawberries from a local you pick
  3. Go to the zoo (again and Again and AGAIN!!)
  4. Plant a garden
  5. Ride bikes
  6. Have a day at the beach
  7. Take a picnic at the park
  8. Go to the corn maze
  9. Have a fire and roast marshmallows 
  10. Spend some time in the mountains
  11. Visit at least 1 national park
  12. Go to the Canada Day festivities
  13. Take Monkey to the local pool or spas park
  14. Have patio drinks with Michael and great friends
  15. Spend lots of time as a family

What is on your summer bucket list? If you could do anything this summer what would it be? Let me know in the comments below!

    Spring Project Part 3

    One of my wishes for Mother’s Day was to have some time to get my tomotoes transplanted; and Saturday afternoon was sunny and cool during nap time. Perfect weather for planting! 

    Over the last month we have been slowly collecting yogurt and cottage cheese containers, until about two weeks ago I realized that more tomatoes sprouted than didn’t and I only had 4 yogurt containers! That was not going to work for the 28 tomato plants we had; so we increased our dairy intake over the last few weeks so I could get the tomotoes into roomier pots.

    Then I filled them all with soil


    Labeled the containers


    Separated the sprouts


    Transplanted them  


    And because the weather has been beautiful this past week, the plants have been hardened off so they can live outside now, at least on days when we aren’t expecting frost! 

    I am pretty excited for the next steps in the project, especially for a big surprise that may be coming down the pipes! 

    How are your summer projects coming along? Are you enjoying this beautiful weather? Let me know in the comment below!

    See the rest of the story here:

    Spring Project

    Spring Project Part 2

    Spring Project Update 

    Spring project UPDATE

    The tomatoes and peppers are sprouting! I opened the cartons to water them last week and there were a few little sprouts of my herloom crimson cushions and now look! 

    This morning I found a pepper sprouting.

    I think we will be transplanting to the larger pots this weekend!

    See the rest of the steps to the project here with Spring Project and Spring Project Part 2

    How are your spring projects coming along? Let me know in the comments below!

    Moo at the Zoo 

    Leading up to Monkey’s birthday we were asked what he needed or what we would like him to have. Our answer was always “books or experiences”, which was usually met with a look or comment of “really?”.

    Because we are a family with two working parents and Monkey (according to Ms. J) is the best sleeper ever he doesn’t need a toy room full of toys. I’m not saying he doesn’t need any, trust me he has plenty, but he is only home and awake for about 3 hours a day and that includes the 90 minutes it takes for supper, bath and stories at the end of the night.

    What Monkey (and Mama & Dada) need are things that create memories and can be used during the routine that works like magic. You don’t mess the the routine TRUST ME!

    Michael and I are strong believers that you can never have too many books and our house right now is a testament to that.

    Monkey’s ever growing book collection

    So gifting your favourite books to add to our collection is a lot of fun for me, plus I am that super lame Aunty who always buys books or gift cards to Chapters/Indigo for all occasions, all the time; so I really appreciate books as gifts. But for those rare times that I don’t, I give experiences. Either for the little and I to do together or for the little and their family. 

    It can be really difficult after a long week at the office to will yourself to put on pants let alone pack up the family and head out to somewhere full of screaming littles that aren’t yours and the risk of yours following suit. But one thing I know for certain is that when someone gifts you an experience you find that extra bit of will power and manage to make it out the door and you are thankful for the memories the gift brought. 

    This year Monkey received a pretty awesome experience for his birthday from some family in New Brunswick, an Annual Family Zoo Pass to the Calgary Zoo. This gift hits two very important markers for us, it will give us a reason to do something fun and stimulating outside the house and most importantly we can drive during naps!

    We decided that this past weekend would be a perfect time to go because it had been a sunny 27C the majority of the week and Nanny and Grammy are visiting from the Maritimes.

    Yes that’s right Mama put his shoes on the wrong feet #mamafail #noonenoticeduntil3hourslater


    As you can see from the look on Monkey’s face we had a great time. Even though he is just barely 1, there was so much for him to see, hear, smell (💩) and see. He was beyond fascinated with the animal sculptures around the zoo and I think he was a little perplexed as to how Sophie grew so big and managed to get to Calgary all on her own.

    So brave with Dada’s help

    Mama… how did Sophie get so big?

     

    But Mama’s favourite as always are the penguins 🐧 


    This has been one of our most successful trips so far! Beautiful weather, no melt downs, and lots of learning. I am sure we will be taking advantage of this pass often over the next year. 

    What is your favourite day trip with your littles? Let me know in to comments below!

    Pot Luck Pizza

    This recipe is quickly becoming a regular in my rotation. Whether it is a birthday party, work pot luck or a Saturday afternoon snack for Monkey, this recipe is always a hit!

    I first tried it at my baby shower, my cousin’s wife made it and I think I probably ate most of it myself that night. I have gone on to make it for Monkey’s baptism, a friends birthday pot luck, Monkey’s first birthday and a Saturday afternoon when I just wanted something yummy with vegetables. 


    I have no idea where the recipe came from originally, to me it’s Nicole’s pot luck pizza! 

    Ingredients 

    • 2 packs of crescent roll dough
    • 2 tubs of cream cheese
    • 1/2 cup mayo
    • 1pkg ranch powder
    • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
    • Vegetables of your choice chapped very small

    Directions

    1. Cook dough flat on cookie sheet according to introductions
    2. Whip cream cheese, mayonand ranch powder until blended
    3. Once the dough is cooled spread cream cheese mixture evenly over the dough and top with your favourite vegetables and cheese. 
    4. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

     

    Makes 2 pizzas


    What is your go to pot luck recipe? Let me know in the comments below I would love to try it out at the next office gathering!

    Spring project part 2: planting the seeds

    Easter Monday, Monday and I decided t was time to continue our spring project and get the seeds started. 

    This was more of a Mama project than a Monkey one so far but he did enjoy the fresh air, and chasing Desmond in the window.


    For me it was a little more work though. Over the last month I have been saving our egg cartons, to use as starter planters.

    I labeled each carton with the seeds planted inside.

    And planted 9 of each plant type.

    Then lightly watered, covered and placed in the laundry room window for warmth. In the beginning they don’t need sunlight just warmth. Once they sprout you can open the lids and let the sun shine in!
    When did you start your seed for this summer? What are you planting? Let me know in the comments below!

    Breakfast at the McGills

    This past weekend we celebrated Easter and my birthday, and if there is one thing I love on holidays it’s special breakfasts and brunches. Because we were just the 3 of us this year I didn’t want to do anything too crazy but I did really want cinnamon buns, which can be about as much work as a big brunch. 

    I found this awesome recipe on Pinterest (click here) which gave me enough time to prep them and get them ready for the oven before leaving for mass at 10:30.

    Recipes like this make me super thankful for my Kitchenaide. Not only does it reduce the time to mix and kneed the dough it also allows me to do two things at once play with Monkey and mix/knead the dough. 


    This is especially important when there is so much flour in the recipe! This one calls for 7-7 1/2 cups, which is more than mybpost gym arms can handle right now. 


    This recipe makes a ton of cinnamon buns and my first mistake was not having enough baking dishes so I had squish them all into the two dishes I own. But swished and funny looking they stilll taste the same, and went great with mini eggs and mimosas!


    You can find the recipe for these easy morning cinnamon buns here.
    Ingredients

    3 cups warm water

    2 tablespoons dry active yeast

    6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

    1 tablespoon salt

    6 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

    3 large eggs

    7 – 7-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    1 to 1-1/2 cups butter, divided, softened

    2 cups dark brown sugar, divided

    3 – 6 tablespoons ground cinnamon

    Directions

    Prepare your oven to allow the dough to rise by turning on the light a half hour before starting the recipe of turnin on the oven for a few minutes then turning it off so it is warm not hot.

    Add yeast water and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or until frothy. 

    Then add salt, oil, eggs and 4 cups flour and mix until incorporated.  Add 2 more cups of flour; mix again. Add 1 more cup of flour; mix again. 

    Increase the speed to medium for about7 minutes, if the dough is still wet and not just sticky add more flour in 1/4 cup amounts. The dough should not be dry. 

    Lightly oil an extra large bowl and transfer the dough into it to rise and place in the warm oven to rise. Allow to rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.  

    Once it has risen, punch it down, and allow to rise again until doubled in size

    Once the dough has risen grease the bootom and sides of 8″x8″ or 9″x9″ glass baking dishes. 
    Divide the dough into three equal portions and roll into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of butter onto the dough then sprinkle a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon over the dough. Then roll and slice into rounds. Allow to rise for 15 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 350 F while the buns are resting. Bake each pan for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. 

    What is your favourite brunch recipe? Let me know in to comments below I would love to try them! 

    Goals are a dream with a deadline

    Now that 33 is here it’s time to set some goals for the next 365 days. Last year my only goal was for Monkey to come home. This year I think I will be a little more selfish. 

    I have had a dream of running a marathon sincei was 21. I started running in my fourth year of university and blew out my left knee. I tried again at 23 and did really well but when my running partner moved away I struggled to maintain my routine. Every few year after that I have started and stopped with goals of running a marathon at 25, before 30, at 30 and now with 35 only a few year away I will set this goal again by 35 I will have run a marathon.


    My next goal is for our family. I want the three of us to travel to the beach when it’s freezing here. Whether that means Christmas at Disney, January in Hawaii or February at an all inclusive in the Caribbean, we will have a sun break this winter


    And lastly my third goal is to challenge myself to try 2 new healthy recipes a month and blog about it here. I hope you will all enjoy them and share them with your friends! 


    I can’t wait to see what this year brings and I hope you join me for the journey! 

    What was 33 like for you? Do you make birthday goals? What was your favourite? Let me know if the comments below!

    10 Things about 32

    I LOVE my Birthday. It’s my most favourite day of the year. It always falls on my favourite week in the best month of the year, April 16… TODAY!!! Yay!!! 🎉

    And in celebration of my special day here is a list of 10 things that made 32 so special.

    1. Monkey was home for my first Mother’s Day
    2. Michael and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary 
    3. Michael and I both brought Monkey home to meet our families.
    4. We had our first Christmas in our new house.
    5. I mastered the pizza stone
    6. And rye bread on the pizza stone
    7. I got really sick but got my priorities straight because of it
    8. I spent the entire year loving these Monkey  feet​.
    9. I learned the power of regular pedicures… especially in the winter.
    10. I Started Dinner at the McGills and I’m enjoying every minute of it! 

    Even though 32 began with a pod party, it turned out to be a magnificent year, that flew by far too quickly! I am so excited to see what 33 brings!