Lunchtime at the McGills

These past few days have been a little crazy. Michael’s work schedule changed meaning I am working from home on Mondays for the next little while. This change in our routine is a little rough for Monkey because Mondays and mornings are such a special time for him and his Dada.

To make Monkey’s day a little special I decided to make something a little fun and yummy for monkey for lunch. Monkey’s favourite foods are bread, cheese and berries so what better way to combine them than Strawberry Grilled Cheese Sandwhiches!

It turns out they are yummy to Mama too!


And bonus time this light lunch is only 250 cals!

Ingredients:

  • 2 laughing cow cheese wedges
  • 2 slices of rye bread
  • Strawberries 

Assemble grill and enjoy!

This is my new summer go to yumminess, and I am sure Monkey and I will be enjoying it often! It’s making me very excited to harvest strawberries from our “patch”.

What is your favourite light summer lunch?   Do you have a spin on the classic grilled cheese? Let me know in the comments below!

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Spring Project Part 4

These past few weekends have been full of projects and updates around the house.  The long weekend we had our fence put up, thank goodness Michael won that conversation! We have been outside more in the last 14 days than last 18 months we have owned this house. Monkey loves it and thinks it’s his Fort, he is constantly checking the walls and peeking through the fence at the neighbors or into the alley. This is the only toy he needed for summer I guess.

After the fence went in Michael and I went on to plan the garden. We hoped to have raided beds but they are so expensive,  take time to build and the plants were in desperate need of being transplanted into the ground. This will hopefully become part of our fall landscaping project but we will see. 

For this year we did a plain old in the ground rows upon rows of veggies garden. It all started Saturday night when Monkey went to bed. Michael measured, steaked and dug up a 7 1/2 x 22 foot rectangle. He even cut the sod up so we could fix a small patch that had died under a chest, and give the rest away on the local Buy and Sell. He really killed it and made it look easy. 

Meanwhile I womaned the Bose, drank Spritz and transplanted the strawberries into lager pots.

On Sunday after mass, Michael hand tilled the garden and incorporated all the extras to help the soil be neutient rich so the plants would hopefully live and and I could fake this green thumb until I make it. I played with Monkey and tried to keep him out of the garden and the strawberries, while still trying to teach him a little about what we are doing. I think all he understood was “plants are yummy” because it took him all of 5 minutes outside to pick a strawberry and eat it.

Once Monkey was in bed for the night it was my turn to hit the garden. So with my Hunters on my feet and Michael’s work gloves on my hands I struck out on a mission to get my plants into the ground before the predicted 30 hours of rain began.

My mission was a success, I finished just as the wind began to pick up, meaning the prairie rain was on its way. 


I am really proud of myself in comepleting this project. I have never been one to do well with plants. I have a history of killing a cactus (from under watering) and managed to do it again even when Michael expressed his theory that people should first need to keep a plant alive, then an animal and then could move on to people… this  theory slowly died as I managed to murder… plant slaughter…. every single plant he had. We moved on to Desmond at the 2 year point point and hey it’s been 3 years and he is still alive, so that shows promise for Monkey right?

I started out this project with 5 packets of seeds and some egg cartons and now I have 20 tomato plants and 4 jalapeños plants. The only ones that didn’t make it is the sweet salsa peppers but that’s ok you can’t swim them all. 

I am really excited to see how they grow and if they make it in the ground!

How are your spring projects coming along? What do you have planned for summer? Let me know in the comments below!

See the rest of the story here:

Spring Project

Spring Project Part 2

Spring Project Update 
Spring Project Part 3


Barbecue Pizza

Since the weather had finally changed from cold and dreary to warm and sunny the last thing I want to do is cook inside. After last weekend’s barbecue fest I was inspired to try my Friday night pizza recipe on the grill. 

I started by moving the pizza stone from the oven to the grill. It was a perfect fit! Once the dough was made Monkey and I made a pepperoni pizza, vegetarian with pesto and some Atlantic Canadian Galic fingers. 


Once they had a chance to rise again they went on the stone and this was the final results


What I found worked this time was starting the barbecue about an hour ahead of time with the two middle elements on low and the two outside on high. This allows the stone to get screaming hot and give the crust that crispness you only get when you use a stone. 

Cooking time is closer to 10 minutes on the grill, compared to the 22 minutes it usually takes in the oven which is a really nice bonus. Be sure to whatch the pizza closely but don’t open the lid too often because you will loose too much heat and you won’t get the nice rise in the dough and golden cheese.

To make the truly Altantic Canadian Garlic Fingers I needed a little donair sauce on the side. This is something you don’t easily find in Alberta, so I went to Pinterest and found an authentic recipe here. All you need is a can of evaporated milk, some sugar, garlic powder and white vinegar. 

And after a few hours in the fridge you will have yourself some Maritime yumminess! 


What is your favourite non traditional grill food? Do you take to cooking your favourites outside so you aren’t warming up the house at meal times? Let me know in the comments below!

What’s in my Diaper Bag? CDDC Edition

Cloth Diapering at DayCare… I just so happen to have won the lottery when it come to a day home provider for Monkey. Miss J is always upgrading her education, she likes reading Monkey’s discharge reports from his specialists so she can be on board with his routines, she makes everything served at meal times from scratch with the kids, but best of all she is a rare cloth diaper accepting provider!

Finding a day home provider who would continue with cloth once I went back to work was a huge priority for me. If I was unsuccessful this last year of rinsing, washing, sunning, folding would have been for naught. Where cloth really become a money saver is when you are using them for years, stopping after one would really have been a disappointment.

While other parents are buying cases a diapers and wipes and leaving them at the day care it takes a little more planning on my part to make sure that there is always fuzz for my Monkey’s bum. 

To start you need a good size diaper bag. I use an Expand-A-Tote from Thirty-One. It’s a hostess exclusive bag that comes with 2 packing cubes that work great for extra clothes and orgazing all the little things that always get lost on the bottom the diaper bag.  Plus it expands in the middle making room during those transition months when you are packing everything from shorts to a parka! 


Then you need to know how many diapers you will need to pack. Monkeys goes to see Ms. J 4 days a week right now and tends to go through about 3 diapers from drop off to pick up, if I pack 10 then I only need to add a few extra on the next diaper day and we are good for the week!

I pre-line my diapers for Ms. J to make life a little easier for her and a million times easier for me. This way I know every diaper is lined, she can dispose of the stinky stuff easily in the diaper genie and I am not stuck with spraying out a dirty diaper that is 8 hours old.

bumGenius Elemental All-In-One in Grasshopper and Grovia Bioliner


One thing I got a ton of at my baby shower that I was certain I would use especially when out and about were wipe clutches. But even the most gentle of disposable wipes were too harsh for my Monkey so he is all cloth all the time. Up until it was time for me to start packing a diaper bag on a daily basis I thought these would end up in the donation bin; but after a little thinking I learned they make a great cloth wipe case!


Next is a change mat. At home we use cloth ones a dear friend made that can get tossed in the diaper bin whenever we have an accident, but as per day care rules Monkey needs one that can be disinfected after each use. I picked up this cute little clutch one, that even has a space to store some dry wipes just in case we run out!

Apparently it also doubles as a yoga mat

In the pouch of the wet bag I pack my trusty coconut oil and cornstarch as well as Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Diaper Rash Cream. It’s one of the rare zinc oxide creams that is cloth diaper safe, and it’s a miracle worker! I also pack sunscreen because it’s FINALLY SUMMER!

And lastly I  pack the Muddy Buddy, swim gear, a hoodie and a few changes of clothing because let’s face it poo happens! 


Packing Monkey for day care sometimes looks like we are heading out for a week, but he always has what he needs. 

What do you pack in your day care bag? Do you use cloth at day care or did you switch to disposable? Let me know in the comments below!

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!