Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Freezer Meals and Menu Planning

This year I have really started using The Big Cook again. It is a wonderful recipe book written by a couple women from Alberta who understand the chaos of being a working mom with a busy family who don't want to be going through drive thrus for dinner all the time. They have created recipes that are easy and amazing. I have yet to make something from that recipe book that my family didn't rave about. Recently, my kids asked what was it that made me decide to be so gourmet. Now there's a compliment you don't get often from kids!

This week we are gearing up for some more busy-ness. Peirce is working at the stampede, cat sitting and looking after exercising our neighbor's dogs and so Allen will be helping facilitate all that while working working working himself. Jill and I are headed off to Edmonton for Provincials and so the boys are staying home. I made some meals today that Jill and I can take and that I can leave at home to make life easier for Allen and Peirce.

What I usually do when I am shopping is keep my eye on good deals on meat and snap up a stack of it. The book has recipes for one meal, four meals, six meals and eight meals. In the past, when I have made freezer meals, it takes all day. These sure don't. They're so easy!

Here is how you do it:

Label the bags with the name of the recipe and the instructions for oven, BBQ and crockpot (whichever works best that day is what I use).

Throw the meat into the bags.

Make the sauce. The sauce recipes are easy and made from simple ingredients and oh so good! Then at dinner time you add potatoes or rice and a salad and vegetable and you're good to go. 

This whole concept has improved the quality of our meals and the quality of my life immensely. We all love it!

Today I put together and froze eight meals. It took me about an hour. Actually, I did it while this wonderful rhubarb cake was baking. Yum!!

The Big Cook. Get the book. You will love it.

Monday, 29 June 2015


A while ago we went out to this restaurant called Double Zero. It is a pizza place. We thought it was an odd name so we asked about it. Turns out it is named Double Zero because of the flour they use. It is ground on the highest setting and therefore very fine. It is so fancy they have to import it from Italy!

I wand to take the poor boy aside and say: silly boy....don't believe that foolishness. We can make double zero flour right here!!!
He also went on to say that if you use double zero flour, which you can only get in Italy, it is easier on your stomach and doesn't sit there like a big lump.

So we tried it today! Well, we didn't go to Italy. We did it ourselves! I always set the wheat grinder on medium....but today we double zeroed it and it WAS very fine! 

One of the things I want to do this summer is get my kids to help in the kitchen more. They know how to make a few things. Time to expand the repertoire! Jill helped with the bread. This morning Peirce made pancakes! They were fantastic too!

Peirce helped with the eating. We tore a little off and fried it up. It was so good I barely got a picture before it was gone!

...and you know...lie think it did turn out lighter. Those pizza guys might be on to something! 

I must say, it was gooooood! I think I will leave it set right there!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Gospel Doctrine

Today I got to teach gospel doctrine. I loved it!  I especially loved how it made my scripture study more focused this week.

At the beginning of the class I explained that I was filling in (there were a lot of visitors) so I asked for everyone's help by participating. They came through with flying colours! The family visiting reminded me of times we have gone to Sunday School when we spare visiting somewhere with lots of Ackroyds. Lots of interesting comments and discussion.

The lesson was on John 16 and 17 and we focused on feeling the spirit.....how it feels, how we know when it is the spirit speaking to us, etc. Could there be a more important topic?!


One thing I love about summer (and fall break and winter break and spring break!) is the additional time I get to cook.

I have been using The Big Cook a lot lately as well as Looney spoons. They are both awesome! I have yet to make something that disappointed.

Here is the roasted chicken I made today. Isn't it beautiful? It tasted as good as it looked! In the past I just threw a chicken in the oven. This recipe said to add onions and make a simple sauce with lemon juice and oil and some herbs. What a difference! At dinner Jill said: Mom, I am so glad you discovered sauces.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Shakespeare On the Bow

Today my mom and sister were in town so we invited them to go to Shakespeare on the Bow.

I always love going to these productions. I don't consider myself much of a Shakespeare/classics person. This has been a great way for me to get a little more familiar with Shakespeare.

The play they did was The Tempest. 

Jill and Tanner and Peirce and Sydney. Sydney volunteered to be part of a musical number at the beginning of the show.....crazy girl.

There was a lot going on at Eau Claire and Prince's Island. We will have to go more this year. I love it down there!

Director's notes for The Tempest: 
Two years ago, the Bow overflowed its banks and flooded much of Calgary, including the trailers, booths, and sets for Shakespeare by the Bow's 2013 production.
Where you are seated now was completely under water. The rest of the country looked on, first in horror, and then in awe and admiration as Calgarians quickly got back on their feet and moved forward. That's why this play makes so much sense to me here and now.
The Tempest is Shakespeare's last play – his swan song, knowing he would never write again – and it’s filled with theatrical images. Storms, magicians, magic capes, wings, monster fins, sorcerer’s wands, lovers reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, singing clowns, invisible sprites, and disappearing banquets. He was saying goodbye to his precious Globe Theatre, his actors, and his colleagues. He was moving toward the future, just as all his characters in The Tempest do. This play is about letting go of the past and embracing theMfuture. Not an easy thing to do at any age.
I am also excited that we have a female Prospera. The part is written for a male, but as a mother, I have always felt that a mother-daughter relationship illuminates the play more clearly than a father-daughter relationship. Mother Bears are extremely fierce... 

Stampeders Game

I volunteered at the Stampeders game this weekend. It seems they are in a bit of a flux with new employees. Things didn't go too smoothly. I volunteered in a pizza stand and was to do a "skim".

One of my memorable conversations: 

Money lady: We will be doing two skims tonight.

Me: Yes. They told me you'd come after the first and second quarters.

Money lady: No. We are coming after the first quarter and at half time.

*blink*  *blink*

....ah yes, I am starting to see the root of the problems we are facing :)


This past month we bought a second car. It didn't have to, but it wreaked havoc on my walking goal. I am so happy summer is here. I am committed to walking first thing each morning. I walked this morning at 8:30 and even that is a little too late....it is warm out! (I don't do well walking in the heat.)

This is the creek in Confluence Park, where I like to walk. It is a great spot to sit and spend a little time reflecting and praying. 

Oh how I love summer mornings!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Awards Banquet

Tonight was the swim club's award banquet. 

They had it at Heritage Park. Cool place eh?!

Peirce got a certificate and new swim cap for getting his MQT and B time.

Jill won the Timmerman's Award again - second year in a row!

Peirce and Jill also got nominated for the training awards and came close on the kick awards.

Family Adoption

Today we got adopted by this dog. Or at least he made a good attempt!

Peirce texted me and asked if we were dog-sitting.

Me: Uh, no.

Peirce: Then why is the neighbor's dog in our house?

He had made himself right at home. 

I think he was jealous of the time Peirce spends with their other two dogs. He has been playing catch with them every day in the field by our house. 

We still don't know how he got out of his house and into our house. Peirce wanted to just keep him. I figured the neighbor's might notice.

They sure did have a good laugh when Peirce finally brought him home!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Scenes From Saturday

Up at 5:30 to get one off to practice. 
Bribe him with breakfast out with dad after. 
Take off for a 6 km walk. 
Hurry home to get the other one to her race at the meet where, surprisingly, I not only find a parking spot, but a place to sit. 
Now for some undivided attention on my way too large pile of marking. 

I love Saturdays. Really. I love it.

Jill, Libby and Elaina were all in the same heat. In the end, Jill came in 2nd, just ahead of Libby. She moved up 2 spots too from the seeded positions.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Daddy Daughter Night

I am so grateful for the good relationship Allen and Jill have. Tearing up the dance floor at the ward's Daddy Daughter party is a natural for them.

You sure can tell they are related! 

I love that girl. She is a gem.

Showing off the moves they routinely rehearse in our kitchen.