Checking In

We’re back from vacation! It was less than stellar, weather-wise, but other than that we had a great time (and a day of +8C on vacation is better than a day of -40C at home!).

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I have things to share —  my February resolution round-up, more #WomensLives posts, some vacation details, a book review or two — but right now I’m in that post-vacation slump. Despite sleeping like a rock in my own bed last night I’m tired and trying to get my feet back under me while playing catch-up. I’m declaring blog reading and commenting bankruptcy, too. The last time this happened I felt better within a day, so here’s hoping I’ll be back on the blog tomorrow!

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Things I Liked in February ’15

How is it nearly the end of February, already? This month went by very quickly, aided by its shortness, of course, and a vacation partway through. I always feel like February is the worst of the worst in terms of weather here, and this year was no exception to that rule — we’ve had tons of snow and insanely cold temperatures, so I’m kinda glad to wave goodbye. Bye, Felicia February! Onward!

PANCAKES

I mean, I like pancakes any time, but February was definitely a month of pancakes over here. M is obsessed with them and woke up every morning for about two weeks straight insisting “Cakes! CAKES!” So I acquiesced and made cakes of all kinds. We had peanut butter, oatmeal, ricotta/orange, cinnamon bun… the list goes on. The only ones that sucked were the ones I tried to make from a mix.

CinnamonRollPancakes

I think we’ve kicked the “CAKES!” obsession but that’s because of…

WAFFLES

Now it’s “Off-oh! Off-oh!” I bought a cheap Oster belgian waffle maker on Amazon and it showed up mid-month. If you’re looking for a waffle iron with a small footprint that does what it says it’s going to do I recommend it! Our showed up with a small dent in the top but at that point we were already knee-deep in waffles, so whatever. The most ridiculous thing is that so far we’ve only made actual waffles once — did you know you can waffle pretty much anything?

Waffle

The top left, that’s a regular waffle — but clockwise we have waffled cinnamon buns (take refrigerator cinnamon rolls, waffle, drizzle icing, done), a meatball sandwich (meatballs and sauce in a PC thin bun), and what we called French Taffle (make french toast, but instead of putting it in a skillet, waffle it). SO EASY. Matt and M also had waffled pulled pork sandwiches and I had a waffled PB&J. You can’t go wrong. I love this thing.

USING PINTEREST FOR MEAL PLANNING

I know, this is not a new or novel idea, but I’ve recently jumped into the Pinterest world again. I deleted tons of stuff and stopped following a bunch of boards and people to make it work for me. Now I have boards focused on food I’d like to try for breakfast, lunch, dinner mains, side dishes, sweets, and snacks. Before I do our weekly grocery shop I flip through and pick out a few things for the week, which I repin on a separate board for easy access. If the recipes turn out well, I move them over to a “Tried and True” board set up for each meal category.

CANVA.COM

I’m probably late to the game on this one, too, but figured I’d share it. Canva has some great layouts and graphics for free — it’s sort of like Picmonkey but a bit more polished for making layouts and graphics rather than straight-up photo editing.

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL CHOCOLATE

Years ago Matt and I went nuts on dark chocolate, trying lots of varieties. I’m back at it again, stemming from my Valentine’s Day gift to Matt (the book was for M). The weirder the better, which is sort of challenging up north. I’m trying to find some Wild Ophelia bars in the States.


Once again, food and technology are at the top of my list for favourites! What did you love about February?

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Making a Litterless Lunch

In many ways, I’m really grateful to have flexible work hours. It means working evenings and weekends, sometimes, but it also means I typically come into work mid-morning three out of five workdays a week unless I have something scheduled. This is to facilitate family breakfast time and getting a few things done around the house before I head in — and it usually means I work through lunch instead of coming home.

Our lunch routine may change when Matt goes back to work but for now, I work straight through to avoid messing up naptime by dropping in at home. Packing my lunch also makes it far less likely that I’m going to end up at Subway, and helps ensure I have healthy food throughout the day.

was throwing all of my food into assorted tiny plastic containers, then loading it into a leftover grocery bag, but I decided to improve my lunchbox status recently, and bought a Goodbyn Hero (the blue container you see below!). I hated lugging individual containers and didn’t like the mess it created in my office. And, litterless lunches seem to be more and more commonplace within schools so I may need the practice for the future!

LITTERLESS LUNCHES

Some of these are things I have already. There’s the Hero, which fits perfectly into my $5 basic lunch bag from President’s Choice. The green spork is also from Goodbyn — I bough it for M but she doesn’t use it so I stole it back. The Anchor Hocking glass container, I use if I have food I need to microwave to reheat. Most of the time my lunches are dinner leftovers plus an assortment of snacks, so I don’t mind eating things cold, but if I want hot food I don’t want to microwave plastic. The Brita bottle is a hard sided filtered bottle which I carry everywhere — my last one started leaking about a year and a half into its life and I’m not enamoured with this bottle but have yet to find something I like better.

Things I want? A silicone muffin liner set, to separate my food further. The Hero comes with those two small leakproof dippers, which fit into one of the smaller size portions or the large portion, but I find I fill the large portion with various foods and don’t like when my food touches (yes, I’m one of those people). That particular snack/sandwich bag is from Bumkins but I’m looking for basically any big sandwich bag I can rinse and reuse. The JOCO coffee cup is on my wishlist — we have awful metal travel mugs that are all in various states of disrepair and the JOCO looks so swanky (and reheatable)! And finally, Cuppow makes all kinds of neat attachments for mason jars including this dipper that can hold your salad dressing, hummus or other liquids within a jar full of other food.

Packing my Litterless Lunch

When I clean up from dinner I scoop whatever leftovers I plan to eat into the right container, then take a look at what other food groups I want to fill. I like to snack through the day, so I try to include fruit and/or veggies for healthy eating. A treat is nice, too, so I’ll throw in a cookie or fruit snacks (which are not litterless — I’m not quite there yet). Sandwiches are easy, too! I need to sort out more snack food and start buying/making dips, but I actually have a lot of fun trying to fill the box every night. I stash it in the fridge then pop it into my bag in the morning.

I’m not worrying about cute sandwich shapes and fun decorations, yet, because I’m just making my own lunch, but we’ll see what happens when I’m dealing with a school-aged kid!

Canadian Resources for Litterless Lunches

  • Fenigo has bento/lunchbox items for Canadians, with a shipping cost of $10 (unless you go over $200 in which case it’s free, but that’s a lot of product to buy!).
  • Amazon has inexpensive silicon muffin liners and food/cookie cutters and punches.
  • Greenmunch has things like reusable straws, glass bottles, and this awesome Cuppow attachment that lets you use a regular mason jar as a lunch box.
  • Kitchen Stuff Plus stocks tons of lunch containers, including inexpensive reusable bags, and they also have fun punches and cutters on sale a lot of the time. I’ve never ordered from them, but I might soon.
  • My personal favourite — Well.ca! That’s where I bought my Hero from, and they have tons of reusable snack bags, food jars, and lunchbox items for grownups and kids.

If you order through Well.ca for lunchbox stuff (or anything!) you can use the code SHAYLA10 to get $10 off a $40 purchase, by the way. I think we do at least one Well.ca order a month and I can vouch for their awesomeness.

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The Freedom Clip

Once upon a time Matt and I slept in late and had lots of spare time and didn’t drink much coffee. We had a small traditional coffee maker that was used every once in awhile, mostly when we had coffee-drinking company, but other than that we drank it so rarely and in such small quantities that it wasn’t worth making a large pot of coffee every morning.

Then my mom sent up a Tassimo for my birthday a few years ago and the robot coffee obsession took root. It’s so easy to hit a button and make coffee appear! We became daily coffee people. Then we had a baby and became multiple-coffees-a-day people. Then the Tassimo started making a weird grinding noise.

Around Christmas, of course, all of the robot kitchen devices go on sale. We had some gift money and decided to switch to Keurig. The reasoning for it makes NO SENSE in retrospect. “Oh look, you can use your own pods to fill with ground coffee and save money,” we said. “Oh look, it has the capability of brewing carafes FULL of coffee! Let’s get it!”

You know what else is a fill-it-yourself, carafe-capable coffee maker? A coffee maker. Figured that one out a few weeks ago…

Anyway. We didn’t really research much, we just bought the Keurig 2.0 that looked swanky. Then we found out that you can’t actually brew your own coffee, or the non-Keurig approved pods, because the 2.0 literally locks you out of its system if you attempt to use unapproved coffee. People hack their way around it using pieces of Keurig 2.0 pods glued to DIY pods (that’s what we’ve been using) but there’s a better way.

Well — there’s a better way, other than just brewing your own coffee. We’re robot coffee people, though, so don’t talk to me about French Presses and the horrors of machines, right now, because I’m not hearing you.

Freedom Clip Keurig

Enter the Freedom Clip (‘Murica!). I do not know exactly how this sucker works but I can tell you this: Rogers Family Company is sending them FOR FREE to people with a Keurig 2.0. That little orange and black clip, which is tiny, sticks right into your Keurig in a matter of seconds and bam, you can brew whatever you want, including the FREE COFFEE Rogers Family Company includes in their shipment. FREE. FREE. Should I say it again? Free clip, free coffee, all because they don’t believe Keurig should have a stronghold.

I’m Canadian and they still sent me a free clip and coffee even when I offered to pay, so scratch that ‘Murica joke because Rogers Family Company is awesome in my books. Their own pods are 97% biodegradable, too, which is also awesome. Go forth and order a Freedom Clip, fellow robot coffee people.

For Canadians, if you want to specifically order from a Canuck company, ECS Coffee based out of southwestern Ontario is sending out a Freedom Clip with every sampler pack order until February 28!

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#WomensLives: Tell Your Story

Tell me which of these scenarios sound unrealistic:

  • Female university student walks twenty minutes from one campus to another at night, dorm keys clutched firmly between thumb and forefinger the way her mom taught her to in case she needs to defend herself quickly.
  • Female college student is walking home to her apartment, after the sun has gone down. Two males, probably also college-age, pop up beside her and offer to escort her home. She says no, but they insist. When they all get to her door she’s intensely happy that they were actually people with good intentions, who (theoretically) wanted to protect her from the type of people she thought they might be.
  • Female twenty-something-year-old doesn’t exit the building at work, on the weekend at night alone, without 9 and 1 keyed into her phone in advance.
  • Female, age high school on up, always, ALWAYS looks up and makes eye contact while walking because a self-defense teacher once told her that women who look down are easy targets.

None of these are unrealistic, if you haven’t guessed already, because they all happened to me at one point or another over the last decade or so. One time I thought about all of the so-called ‘close calls’ I’ve had — my nighttime jogging habit during school. So many cab rides alone. Bus rides after hours, by myself. The fact that I had to walk home from work, half an hour across town, every time I worked a closing shift at my college job. The dozens of times I’ve been cornered on the street. And I thought, “Wow, I’m lucky.”

Waterloo Park

Waterloo Park — safe in daytime, at least.

But then I thought about it again. No, I am not lucky to have avoided sexual violence or worse, because it shouldn’t be about luck. I shouldn’t have to think, I am so glad that those men who catcalled me left it at that. Or, Good thing those people who followed me home were decent human beings! Because that shouldn’t happen, at all, ever.

In Turkey, women are fighting back after a 20-year-old woman was stabbed to death by a bus driver who kidnapped her from the bus and tried to rape her. Turkish women are telling their stories — stories like We are afraid to even bend over and tie our shoes on the street. I’d say that I can’t imagine that fear, but I can. I’m not comparing my own stories to that of women in Turkey, who face huge amounts of violence, but I can certainly relate — as I’m sure most of my readers can, too.

The Twitter hashtag these women are using is #tellyourstory, or . If it takes a hashtag to be heard, I hope someone is listening.

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