Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Make your own reusable swiffer cover

I saw this on a blog somewhere and I forgot where I originally saw it, so I googled it today and from the Clever Homemaking blog I found the following recommended free pattern for a Ballband Dishcloth Reusable Swiffer Cover by Skull Charms. I definitely plan to try making one of these! I haven't knitted in a long time so I'm going to have to google some refresher pointers I'm sure.

For those that don't knit but do crochet, you're in luck! I also found a free crochet pattern by Tawnie's Knits and you can find it here. I'll probably try this one first as it looks easier.

So, get your knitting on and go green!

And by green I mean both environmentally friendly AND cheaper!

For those who are craft-challenged, you can always get a friend to make them for you or you can order them online from Etsy.

Or you can wait to win one here on a future blog giveaway!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Menu Monday and BBQ Chicken recipe

Menu Monday returns! I know, you were all waiting for it with baited breath.

I'm not necessarily going to post the meal for each day - but rather I'll pick 6 meals and then I can decide throughout the week what works best. For ex - if it is raining on bbq day, I may go easy on Nathan and switch things up.

Spaghetti and meatsauce, corn, homemade foccacia bread - today!
BBQ chicken
BBQ sausage burgers
tacos/taco salad
chicken quesadillas
homemade pizza (and pizza wheels for future lunches)

Nathan makes the best bbq chicken I've ever had! We got the recipe from Kraft Canada and I will generously share some of his grilling secrets with you my loyal readers.

First, choose a good quality brand of chicken. Next follow the recipe below!

From the Kraft Canada magazine/website:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
1/3 cup Kraft Creamy Caesar Dressing
1/4 cup Bull's-Eye Chicken and Rib Renegade Barbecue Sauce

1. Place chicken on cutting board and use kitchen mallet, rolling pin or small sauce pot to slightly flatten any thick ends. This step ensures even width and even cooking. (FYI - we skip this step 99% of the time)
2. Pour dressing into a large resealable plastic bag.
3. Place chicken in bag with dressing. Seal bag and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour to marinate.
4. Preheat barbecue to medium heat. Remove chicken from plastic bag and discard marinade. Place chicken on barbecue; cover with lid. Grill 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
5. Brush with barbecue sauce during last few minutes of grilling time.

* Lightly oil the grill. Use a barbecue basting brush to apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to the grill to prevent sticking and charring.
* Make sure the grill is hot. The high heat will sear the meat on the outside, giving it that great flavour and sealing the juices inside to keep it moist.
* Don't use a fork. Piercing the food will release the delicious juices.
* Go easy with the spatula. Pressing down on the meat squeezes out its flavourful juices, causing the meat to dry out, and can also cause dangerous flare-ups. Also, turn meat only once during cooking to ensure good searing.
* Baste at the proper time. Brush with barbecue sauce only during the last few minutes of grilling. Because barbecue sauces contain sugar, they'll burn if added too early.
* Use an instant-read thermometer to check if done. Boneless chicken breasts should reach 165°F, while bone-in chicken pieces should reach 170°F.
* Remove cooked meat from the grill and place on a clean plate immediately. Cover with foil to keep juicy.

Note: I do not like Caesar salad and I love this recipe. You can't taste the Caesar dressing. So, if you don't like Caesar salad, don't let that throw you. This is the easiest marinade ever. I don't actually measure, I just eyeball it. You have no idea how long I've waited to be able to say that. Seriously, I measure everything.

I've highlighted what we think are the biggest tips. Follow those 3 tips to a T and you'll be a grilling guru in no time.

Happy grilling!

30 Day Shred - Level 3!

Awhile back I reviewed Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, Levels 1 & 2. I've progressed to Level 3 now so I thought I'd post a review.

I just finished the workout and I'm sitting here still sweating away! No point in showering till you're done sweating right?

This. Is. One. Tough. Workout!

The toughest thing about this workout is that so many of the moves qualify as both muscle conditioning AND cardio. Sometimes abs are also kicked in for a triple killer.

For example - one cardio circuit included doing butt kicks, jumping jacks and punches - WITH weights. Wow, talk about an arm workout while getting that heart pumping. Another cardio circuit had mountain climbers (tough move totally involving abs) and sumo squats (which obviously work the thighs - inner thighs specifically).

Other tough moves in this workout include travelling pushups, jumping lunges, jumping squats and rock stars. I'm exhausted just typing that out.

I found that Level 1 had quite easy ab moves. Level 2 was slightly harder, and Level 3 does kick it up a notch in this area as well. Pike situps, full situps, double leg raise with scissor kicks (add a LOT of inner thigh on that one!) and side lifts are a few of the delicacies you will experience in Level 3.\

Edited to add: My reviews seem to be scaring people away from this workout - and that is not my intention! This workout is awesome!! It is customizable to varying fitness levels. One of the girls always demonstrates an easier version of all the moves, so you can definitely follow her. You can also simply use lighter weights - or even no weights at all if necessary. You can customize it to your fitness level. Just do it!

The actually purpose of this workout is to workout 30 days in a row without fail. I have not done that, and I'm sure if you did you would see more impressive results. I have definitely noticed an increase in strength. I have not noticed any movement on the scale - however, I'm trying to keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat and I've definitely been gaining muscle and losing fat, so that's a good thing.

If I could be more disciplined with my eating (or should I say snacking!) that would probably help a lot. My plan with that is to avoid chips. I've recently developed this awful habit of having some chips with my sandwhich virtually every day for lunch during the week. Even though I am keeping the portion size under control, having it every day is definitely adding to my calorie intake! So, no chips at home. Chips and desserts are only allowed when we go to someone's house, or have people over, and even then I'm going to pick and choose. For ex - yesterday we had my family over for Mother's Day/Father's Day and I was able to pass on the ice cream sandwiches fairly easily. Though I like ice cream sandwiches, it's not a weakness and if I'm going to say no, that's an easier one for me. On Saturday we had Pam's family over for supper, and then we had ice cream sundaes - which I was able to at least limit to ice cream and strawberries (I CAN'T pass up ice cream and strawberries!). So, hopefully these decisions will help. Making a fairly specific plan like this helps me to make better food choices, much better than just generically saying I'm planning to eat better. What does that mean exactly anyway?

Why are those last 7 pounds so hard to lose?! Grrr.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Drum roll please......

And the winner of my first ever blog giveaway in memory of Georgia is.....


Congratulations on winning the book and the secret prize which is.....

A pair of earrings from Two Belles and a Bead - one of the Belles is an online friend of mine.

I love her stuff! I bought this necklace and then had her custom design these earrings (which she then added to their online store) - both of which I LOVE and wear a lot. I also had her custom design a Mother's necklace for me. I should've taken a picture of that one too - maybe later.

There's a funny story to go with the earrings I'm giving to Jessica for winning the blog giveaway...

I was ordering myself some jewellery from this site and found a few good deals on some earrings and, in a totally blonde moment, thought they'd make a perfect stocking stuffer for my mom. How is this a blonde moment you ask? My mom doesn't have her ears pierced. Yep. Seriously. Thankfully I remembered this before I gave them to her - wouldn't that have been embarassing!

Thanks to all of you who supported Georgia's family by signing the Petition to Cure SMA!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Last Chance!

Just a quick reminder that the deadline for entering my first ever blog giveaway is tomorrow at 11:30am CST - so get those entries in quickly!

You'll be supporting SMA, encouraging Georgia's family - and possibly winning TWO great prizes - what are you waiting for?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

First ever blog GIVEAWAY!

I've been thinking about doing a blog giveaway for a long time. I just think they're so much fun so why not?!

I've decided to do my first ever giveaway in memory of Georgia.

In order to be eligible for this blog giveaway you must complete the following...
1) Sign the Petition to Cure SMA. You will receive one bonus entry if you also have your spouse/children sign the petition. For more details on the petition see my previous blog post.
2) Go to Georgia's parents blog and post a comment on their blog letting them know that you and your family (if applicable) have signed the petition in memory of Georgia.
3) You can receive a third bonus entry if you post about this blog giveaway on your blog, or if you tell a friend (email or in person) about the petition.
4) You can receive a fourth bonus entry if you already signed the petition before you read about this giveaway, in response to my previous post (or however you previously heard about the petition).
5) Comment on this post letting me know that you and/or your family signed the petition, and if you spread the word via the blogosphere, email or word of mouth, and if you signed it before reading about the giveaway.

Obviously a few of these things require me to rely on the honour system. Of course, I have the utmost faith in my readership and do not doubt your integrity in any way, so I know this will not be an issue.

US & Canadian entries are all eligible. And, due to a few of my online friends residing in other corners of the world - I am also opening this up to Australia and England. If you're from somewhere else, and are interested, I'd likely be convinced to include you as well. Twist my rubber arm.

The winner will be picked at random.

So - what's the prize? There are actually two prizes!

First, those who know me will not be surprised when I say.... a book :)

One of my favourite Christian authors is Randy Alcorn. Recently as I was purchasing some items on Christian Book Online I came across this amazing sale of Randy's book Deception. I couldn't resist purchasing it, even though I've already read it. I was planning to donate it to our church library, but they already have a copy of it, so it's a perfect item to give away.

Deception is a spinoff of Deadline and Dominion but it is also a stand alone book - you don't have to read the others in order for it to make sense.

Here's the publisher's description of the book
Who Done It...and Why? Ollie Chandler is a brilliant and quick-witted homicide detective who lives by Ollie's First Law: "Things are not what they appear." So when a university professor is found murdered and the motive looks like revenge, a stunning discovery leads him to an unimaginable conclusion. Could the murderer be a fellow homicide detective? As Ollie probes deeper, another detective is murdered. What is the root of this jumbled, deceptive mess of lies and secrets? Jake Woods returns from Deadline , and Clarence Abernathy from Dominion in this heart-pounding murder mystery bristling with tension and suspicion. Deception will take you to heaven and hell and back again...breathless to discover the truth.

The second prize will remain a secret - don't you just love surprises?! :) I will reveal the secret prize when I name the winner of this giveaway.

You have less than a week to enter - the giveaway will close at 11:30am CST on Thursday, May 21st - the one month anniversary of Georgia's death.

Thank you for your support of the Petition to Cure SMA and good luck!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Something you can DO - in memory of Georgia

Often after hearing of a tragic death, we wonder how we can help. If we have not experienced a similar loss we often do not know what to say or do to be of some comfort or help to the grieving family.

Well, I know of something you can do for Georgia's family! It doesn't matter if you knew her or not (I only knew of her through a mutual friend), if her story has touched you in any way, here is where you can make a tangible difference.

Georgia died from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) - it is the #1 genetic killer of children! Bill & Victoria Strong's daughter Gwendolyn was diagnosed with SMA in spring 2008. So far, she is still fighting it. Her parents started the Petition to Cure SMA as something they could do, a grassroots effort to drum up support for the SMA Treatment Acceleration Act. It is too late to help Georgia. It's very likely too late to help Gwendolyn. But it's not too late for future SMA generations.

About SMA
* SMA is the #1 genetic killer of young children.
* Fewer than 1 in 35 people unknowingly carrying the gene responsible for SMA.
* 1 in every 6,000 babies is born with SMA; SMA prevalence is comparable to ALS and Cystic Fibrosis.
* SMA impacts the ability to walk, sit, stand, eat, breathe, and swallow. SMA does not impact the mind, and children with SMA are bright and social.
* There is currently no treatment and no cure for SMA, but there is HOPE!
* The NIH has selected SMA as the disease closest to treatment of more than 600 disorders.
* Leading U.S. researchers, including Nobel laureate James Watson, have stated that a viable treatment for SMA is possible within 5 years IF they are provided the proper resources.

So, please - if you're wondering what you can do.... Please sign the petition (you, your spouse and all members of your household can sign).

For Georgia.

For Gwendolyn.

For all past, present and future SMA sufferers.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Book Report by Emma

Emma was recently assigned to do her first "real" book report for Grade 2. She had to choose a fiction or non-fiction book that was at least 50 pages long and that she hadn't read before. She had just taken out the book "Helen Keller" from our church library, but it was only 47 pages. So she asked her teacher if that would be ok and she said yes. Anyway, I thought the report was imaginative and funny so I'm going to post it here. (Brag moment - the teacher wrote "Emma, this is one of the best book reports I've seen!" and gave her 100%)

Helen Keller by Johanna Hurwitz

Favorite Character Election Ballot
I vote for Helen from the story Helen Keller because she lerns to have light in her life.

If you were to give a gift to the main character, list three gifts you think the main character would like and why.
1) Gift: working eyes
Why: She can't see!

2) Gift: sibbling
Why: nice to have a friend all the time!

3) Gift: a book
Why: She likes to read.

Write a letter to Mrs. F telling me if you liked the book. Also tell me why or why not.

Part 1
Dere Mrs. F, I loved the book Helen Keller. It's so .... Interesting on how Helen get's to speak, communicate and cooperate with other peaple. She had Darkness But now lightness in her life. AND I MEAN IT!

She drew a picture of Helen Keller saying "Ahhh!" and her teacher Annie saying "Now Helen pay atenchin!"

Part 2
My favourit part in Helen keller is when she learns about how to be a proper child. Mrs. F you know not all children can have proper lives and thats how they get into lots of TROUBLE! (unlike me) of course My mom is a professional children trainer, so she teachs me and my sisters and Jacob good. from Emma.
p.s. Love your hair.

She drew a picture of 3 girls and 1 boy standing in a line, with "my mom" saying "Hup-2-3-4."
And another picture of Mrs F and her new haircut.

On the back she wrote
on my book report.
Emma R loves adventures and lot's of Books About famos peaple.

Monday, 11 May 2009

The flu. Get the facts, Max!

With all the fuss over the Swine Flu, pardon me - the H1N1, it may be time to look at the facts before we freak out too much.

According to the Center for Disease Control ....
Each flu season is unique, but it is estimated that, on average, approximately 5% to 20% of U.S. residents get the flu, and more than 200,000 persons are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year. About 36,000 Americans die on average per year from the complications of flu.

According to the World Health Organization so far H1N1 has caused 3 deaths in the US, 48 in Mexico and 1 in Canada.

So where's the pandemic?


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