Committing to Carolyn

I’m a tortured omnivore. I enjoy meat and  have grown so used to it I struggle to think of consistent vegetarian meals. I enjoy cooking in spurts so meat dishes appeal to me when I’m at a creative low.

The downside is that I don’t enjoy thinking of the way animals are treated so that I can have a tasty meal. Even a little thought to the matter makes me queasy.

It may be easier if I were willing to purchase from farms directly. If I knew my chicken was being raised well rather than in agony I’d feel just dandy eating her.

The truth of the matter is that I’m a wee bit lazy when it comes to walking my talk. Farms require research, relationship building and a 45 minutes drive each way. The grocery with my 8 drumsticks already packaged from who knows where is 5 minutes away.

Laziness leads me once again to consider more vegetarian fare. This then lead me back to looking at information about food rationing in WW2, which took me to Carolyn’s 1940’s Experiment. I’ve been addicted to the site for years. Coming back to admire her determination and debating if I could ever do such a thing.

I often only last a week or so when I honestly attempt to live on the rations but I’ve had some unexpected success when I haven’t been trying.

This year I’ve decided will be different. I’ll continue towards eating more like the 1940s. For me this means:

  • Less convenience food
  • Lots more vegetables
  • Meat sparingly
  • Stretching food through creative cookery

To to set myself up for success I’ve made a list of recipes I want to try from her site in January.

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The ‘R’ column in the margin is the recipe number on her site. In addition to these I have a few meat dishes on the menu using the lamb and ham.

ML has no real interest in giving up meat but has promised to eat his ‘cheater food’ outside the home and not tell me.

I’m hoping that this start to the year will give me a good basis for a sustainable way to consume less meat and enjoy time in the kitchen with ML.

What tricks do you use tobe creative and frugal in the kitchen?

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2018 Word of the Year: Continue

Last year I discovered the concept of selecting a word of the year. I think I can still get more mileage out of the stretch but I also feel like each year deserves its own theme.

I don’t feel very prepared for 2018. Everything feels like a continuation with no truly new things on the horizon. I suppose I feel as though I’m at a stage where I can be great if I continue to do the work I started. When I use the word continue I don’t mean to purely keep doing what I was doing before. I think of it as improving upon foundations that have been set. This includes:

  • Keep attending singing lessons
  • Stay on track with my budget tools
  • Commit to my excercise program
  • Explore ways to get even closer to zero waste
  • Commit to more vegetarian meals
  • Keep up the decluttering efforts and being conscious of what we bring into our home

Do you have a word that encompasses 2017 or you would like to focus on in 2018?

Cake Mix Donuts

This week is always tough: my desire to eat all the treats is at war with the knowledge I should be a little more balanced in my diet as well as careful with my budget

We’re off to see friends and I volunteered to bring dessert. I’m also feeling a bit lazy so the idea of whipping up something homemade isn’t overly appealing. However, I want to take something interesting and must use the toaster oven.

My compromise turned out to be cake mix donuts. I got to make minimal dishes, use ingredients already in the house and the donut pan that hasn’t seen the light of day in years.

Ingredients

  • 1 cake mix (I used carrot)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup water

Method

  • Whisk all ingredients
  • Pipe into oiled donut pan
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 450 F
  • Remove from oven, let rest for 10 minutes, remove from pan

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I’m really pleased with how they turned out. I think a bit of icing would have been nice but 48 mini donuts were all the domestic goddess-ness I had in me.

 

Stretching out the Pantry

I was so proud of myself for doing pantry checks and doing menu planning that I neglected a basic task. Check leftover levels.

It turns out we only had enough leftovers in the fridge for light lunches tomorrow and ham wraps. Not exactly the two days I had assumed.

No problem! I already had menu ideas for the Christmas leftovers in the freezer. Well, with one problem. I don’t want to do groceries until my next paycheque and all the recipes called for ingredients I didn’t have.

I decided to make the lamb shepherds pie but use lentils instead of carrots, celery, etc. Then I realized I could make a vegetarian cottage pie!

Well, within 15 minutes I went from missing pantry items to having everything  I need.

This is my first time making the recipe so I was a little nervous when I saw this mush:

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However, it did smell great so I topped it with mashed potatoes and cheese. This looks way more appetizing and I’m looking forward to trying it for dinner tomorrow.

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Here’s what I had used:

1 onion chopped

1 clove garlic diced

oil

2 cups red lentils

4 cups vegetable broth

Seasonings: Parsley and Basil

Leftover mashes potatoes

grated cheese

Method:

In a saucepan, sauté  onion and garlic in oil

Rinse lentils and add to pot along with broth and seasonings

Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes

Add frozen mixed veggies

Simmer for 10 minutes

Take half of lentils out and whisk in cornstarch then re-add to pot

Put in Pyrex dish and cover with mashed potatoes

Grate cheese over top of potatoes and put in oven for 15 minutes at 325.

This made what appears to be 7 servings

Leftover Magic

We hosted dinner for my family on Christmas Eve. It was a fantastic night made even better by the fact that my sibling and I split the preparation pretty evenly. I made the meat courses, was responsible for apps and the bar, while he took care of all the sides.

Even after we divided all the food, ML and I ended up with a significant amount of roasted lamb and baked ham left over. While this isn’t my leg of lamb it does look quite similar.

See the source image

I’ve had a couple days of ham sandwiches and we stripped the lamb of all useable slices but there’s still a lot. Not wanting any to waste I’m delving into the art of food makeovers. The rest of the lamb was stripped and minced so that I can make lamb shepherd’s pie in the new year. The bone is currently waiting for ML to come home with a borrowed soup pot so I can make lamb broth

The ham, which had a lot more meat on it, has given me slices that are in the fridge and 4 cups of cubed ham in the freezer. I divided them into 2 packages so that I can make a ham casserole with one and possibly a ham quiche with the other. The bone ended up in the freezer so I can make a ham bone soup in the New Year.

I feel like this is a great start for my uber-frugal month challenge. I just need ground provisions and vegetables from the grocery in order to make the three meals.

What do you make with your leftovers?

Photo from here

Good News, Bad News Budgeting

I was so proud of myself when I took a look at my budget last week. Little did I know I was going to blow through it in no time!

I’m really glad I don’t budget with my whole paycheque as I still got to put a sizeable amount to the kitchen fund even though I let the season get away with me.

That’s the good news. Great news, actually, when you think about it.

The bad is that boy did I spend on entertainment!

ML hosted a party and as I hadn’t gotten him anything for his birthday I covered the pizza. That was in the budget and perfectly fine. Breakfast the next morning was not an anticipated expense and definitely didn’t fit in the budget.

The following day we hosted my family for dinner and a quick look at our bar made me realize we had depleted it slowly and not re-stocked. I’m so envious of people who live in countries with inexpensive liquor! It took $150 + gift cards to get the bar basics in.

I then used points to get a few more apps as well as the mixers for the bar.

While I definitely went over budget, once I stick to my plan I shall still end the year in the black!

I’m going to take this week to prep for an uber-frugal exercise in January to give myself a chance to build my savings and get myself off the spending cycle.

How’s your December going?

December 2017: Week 3

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Thank goodness for blogging!

Last week I had done my weekly check and posted it. It was a lovely pat on the back for a job well done of not going spend crazy.

Then today, I budgeted and somehow only had $10 to last me until the end of the month. While upsetting I used all my frugal know-how to make this alright. But then I read last week’s post. How could I go from having money in reserve to this bad in a week?

That was the kick I needed to re-check my numbers. I’m not sure how I feel about my new found knowledge. I have $70 available.

As none of my break goals involve spending money, I’m going to try to work on a zero budget. With a little luck this will mean that I’ll be able to put $70 in my fun fund at the end of this month.

How’s your spending going this month?

Image from here

Taking a Break

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I’ve got the week off and I’m really trying not to overbook myself.

I started 2017 with the intent to StretchThe universe got on board and before I knew it I was given no choice but to be very gentle with myself. Not really what I was aiming for!  However, I did learn that when I prioritizing self-care things still get done. In fact, not only do a remarkable number of things get done but I feel better about them.

I’m hoping that by putting my goals out here I’ll be kind to myself and the universe will conspire to help me keep them, albeit in a less painful way.

  • Sleep in and read novels I get lost in
  • Complete my course work for a certificate I’m working towards
  • Spend leisurely time with Bunny listening to audio books
  • Shop for the last couple of appliances we need and the flooring
  • See friends/family a maximum of 4 times (or every other day on average)
  • Take candlelit hot baths
  • Move the rest of the ‘kitchen’ downstairs and set up a breakfast bar
  • Enjoy gently exercises or vigorous dance parties as the mood strikes
  • De-clutter the back basement

I’ve tried to give myself one fun ‘task’ for every work task. While I adore my friends and family, I can no longer go from party to party. Post-concussion I crave down time to balance.

Do you have time off between Christmas and New Year’s? Do you have any personal goals?

Photo from here

Cutting back

When I was a child, the weekend before Christmas we were highly encouraged to clean our rooms, tidy our toys and get rid of things. It was a way for my parents to make the post Christmas gift rush a little less chaotic on the family.

I didn’t realize how deeply the tradition is ingrained until I felt the urge to clean up this past weekend. I began the process of emptying the kitchen of things we won’t be needing in the near future. To my surprise most of it fit quite tidily in the room I’m currently using as a craft room. Next I tackled the back basement, which the crew will need to access. Once again things got out of the way easily.

While great, this also means that the basement and the craft room feel much fuller than they did before. This led to the urge to go back to my KonMari days. In a few short hours we had done the living room, spare bedroom and family room.

I’m hopeful that over the break I’ll be able to go through our basement to sort out what items have been kept simply because we have the space.

The thought of tackling ‘stuff’ always makes me a bit tired but it feels so exhilarating once it’s done and though most of it is in cupboards and drawers the house always feels lighter once I’m done.

Do you or your family have any cleaning traditions around this time of year?

It’s Happening: Kitchen

Since the day we purchased this house, 8 years ago this month, we’ve wanted to do the kitchen. I recently found notes from 2013 detailing my goals:

  • Immediate: be more active, play with each other/ spend quality time together, explore our home town and surrounding areas, start retirement savings
  • 5 years: kitchen renovation, backyard clean up, go back home with ML, go to the East Coast, take 1 beach vacation
  • 10 years: pay off our mortgage

2018 would make it 5 years since that list was written and we’re doing well!

I still need to force myself into activity though my levels seem to depend on my moods and the weather and as a couple we’ve done a good job of prioritizing our relationship. I joined my company’s pension plan and set up an additional fund to give myself piece of mind.

The only  outstanding items on my 5 year plan are to go the East Coast and to renovate our kitchen. I don’t think the East Coast trip is happening in 2018 but the kitchen reno definitely is!

We just signed all the paperwork and this dream will become a reality in March of 2018.

We’re over the moon excited about this and are still doing some pieces a bit at a time, for example we don’t have immediate intentions of purchasing all the appliances or painting.

While I’ve been planning for the logistics of life without a kitchen for some time, signing the paper work and getting a schedule made this exceptionally real. I spent some time over the weekend cleaning up our back basement where some work will occur, tidying the pantry that is in the basement and emptying the kitchen of ‘extras.’

I defined extras as anything that we won’t don’t anticipate using in the next few months. With this criteria, I emptied 3 cupboards and an entire bookcase. All the items are still easily accessible as they’re in Bunny’s room but it really drove home how much stuff we still have.

As our goal is to have everything fit in the new kitchen, ML and I are going to wait until the kitchen is in place before going through and streamline some of our kitchen gadgets, utensils and serving dishes.

Have you done a kitchen renovation? Do you have any tips to keep sane during that time?