We took the family to Drumheller over the last week. If you haven't been there, you should add it to your list. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is an amazing museum all about dinosaurs set right in the badlands of southern Alberta. We stayed at River Grove Campground. We would stay there again. Of course we packed the cooler up with everything we needed, though we did allow ourselves to stay for lunch at the museum the one day.
3 years ago we decided to make sure we took some sort of holiday with the kids each year, whether it was an extravagant, long-saved-for vacation or a staycation. I'd always thought of staycations as smaller, less expensive, closer-to-home adventures. Not always "at home" each night, but not far either.
Last week my friend and I had a discussion about staycations. She thought of them as things you do in your city or area, that travelling away and setting up a tent counts as a vacation. Wikipedia seems to think both answers could be correct. What do you think? What do you do when you "staycate"?
A local boy needs expensive medical treatment, and I would like to help. There are 2 ways you can help me help Alex!
My friend Michelle is hosting a Pampered Chef open house on Tuesday, July 22. Click here for the event details. You can also order online. Each order placed will be entered into a draw for a half-price meal plan service, up to a $40 value.
If you live local to me, 50% of any grocery shopping service booked and paid for this week will be donated to Alex's family to help cover the cost. I know if my children needed something so drastic we'd also need to depend on the kindness of strangers. If you can help out, please do.
We're almost halfway through our summer holidays. How are you enjoying summer this year? One of my favorite things about this summer is our serious lack of mosquitoes. I don't know if it's just in my city or if it's all over our province, but this is the first year I haven't had to wear the perfume of summer- insect repellant.
Given how wonderfully bug-free we've had it so far, I've spent a lot of time outside. After-dinner glass of wine on the deck, BBQ'ing, even just spending time reading a novel and drinking a cup of coffee or a glass of iced-tea outside- it has been marvelous.
For me, meal planning is pretty different during the dog days of summer. I don't plan for the month, for one thing. It's still planned, but loosely, and looks more generic than specific. For example, tonight I was thinking of having chicken. My planner says "chicken?", instead of specific "curry coconut chicken". We might have a stirfry, or sandwiches, or kabobs, or a wrap...or maybe curry coconut chicken. I found a great-sounding recipe online here, and I have some potatoes that need using.
I've purchased my grocery items as I need them, this month, as well. Partly because I've been trying to clean out my freezer and fridge (in preparation for a major defrosting), and partly because my brain seems to need a vacation too. We might be out doing things more (given that it's summer) and I try to keep our options for mealtimes open so that we don't have to rush home if we're having a good time somewhere else.
I do have to say, though, that buying a little here and there adds up quite significantly compared to my usual Costco shop. For example, our local No Frills has blueberries on sale this week- 2 pints for $3. I spent less than $4 at Costco a week ago for twice that amount of blueberries. The takeaway for me is to keep an eye on how much I've spent already and to make sure I allocate enough to get us through to the end of the month.
How are your summer meals working out for you?
Tonight I met my friend Tamara for coffee at a local place I kept thinking about going to but never quite getting there: Skyview Bistro. Listen up: Lemon Ice Pie and Cappuccino (pictured on the table). They were to die for.
Tamara and I sat indoors because the air quality today was terrible. Smoky and hazy all day- you could actually see the ash settle. However, husband and I are going to have to go there soon and sit outside while it's summer and enjoy a dinner date.
Please do yourself a treat and go there. Great service, friendly staff, excellent food.
Congratulations, Vicki Curran! You've won my random draw for the Pampered Chef Cut n' Seal! Please get in touch to arrange delivery!
Over the years I've probably heard the adage hundreds of times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Anyone else hear that?
Recently I read an article that stated that belief is a myth. Well, no matter. I need breakfast. It gets me out of bed, some mornings, thinking about how yummy breakfast is going to be. And if I don't eat breakfast, I get cranky, shaky, and panicky. It could be because I will still drink coffee first thing, and that's pretty hard on an empty stomach for me.
Over the years breakfast has changed for me. I remember eating breakfast when I was growing up, staring bleary-eyed at the cereal boxes in front of me and reading them both in English and French, trying to remember what the words were in both languages. Neither my brother or I talked much over breakfast. I think we were trying to wake up before getting to school. Cereal and milk, a glass of juice.
In college I started drinking coffee. I remember those mornings so clearly, leaving my house in the quiet, muffled darkness. Driving to school through the country in the snow. It was so cold the windows would fog up and ice over on the inside of my car. Getting to school for my first class, and like any college student short on funds, I'd buy the cheapest hot drink I could afford. At college it was horrible-tasting coffee out of a huge urn. 25 cents a cup. I'd load it up with sugar and powdered creamer. Oddly enough I don't remember what I actually ate for breakfast, maybe an instant breakfast drink or a piece of fruit.
After I started working as a young married I'd eat (predictably) something overpriced and fairly unhealthy I bought at a coffee joint while getting my morning java, usually a bagel or muffin.
When my son was born the only thing I could manage was coffee and peanut butter toast. Don't get me wrong- I still enjoy peanut butter toast, and there's nothing wrong with it. But now that both my boys are older and more capable I enjoy a wide variety of morning meals.
This summer I've enjoyed homemade instant oatmeal, fruit and cheese, and lately I can't get enough yogurt with chia. I especially enjoyed my breakfast this morning. Fresh hot coffee (of course!), Liberte coconut yogurt, mixed with a tablespoon of chia seeds, and left to "set up" while I cut some fresh pineapple to mix in. So tasty and filling. I was sad to see it finished, but looking forward to tomorrow's breakfast: chocolate chia pudding, found here. I mixed up 2 jars and actually I don't know if one of them will make it until tomorrow. It just might be an afternoon snack. I made a few small changes, and will report back tomorrow with a new recipe under "Breakfast".
What do you eat in the mornings? Has it changed over the years?
I bought a composting bin from Lee Valley years ago but stopped using it after a while. It was in an awkward place in our yard, and eventually the tree that it was sitting beside grew so much it was hidden from view.
Then came this wonderful summer vacation, and all the yard work in the last week. I opened it up to discover we actually had compost. I was amazed. And excited!
Not that I really like gardening, but I do like the idea of not throwing away everything I don't need to freeze for soup stock.
So I did some research and found this great list: 50 things You Can Compost.
What do you think? Do you have anything to add or subtract from this list? Do you compost? What are your experiences? I look forward to hearing from you!
Have an excellent week!
The best part about finishing camping this trip was coming home to hot running water! We had all kinds of weather, from hot and sunny to cold and frozen to cloudy, rainy, and damp. All told, though, it was a great trip for us, a grand adventure for the kids (first time using an outhouse!), and we are looking forward to doing it again this summer- although maybe somewhere with running water!
Breakfasts were homemade muffins and homemade instant oatmeal mix, with of course lots of coffee. I ended up bringing sandwich meat, cheese, and vegetables (with bread or buns) for lunches. Most of our dinners were simple camping food, like hot dogs. The best meal I brought with me was homemade chili, frozen into a couple of blocks in foil containers. By the time they thawed they were very quickly heated and enjoyed. I've got to say, cooking with gas (propane stove) was a really interesting way to cook for me. I hadn't done it before and I was really surprised how quickly things heated up.
For snacks, we brought a lot of fresh vegetables (cucumber, baby carrots, and sugar snap peas), 6 pounds of gala apples, a box of granola bars, and cheesestrings. A couple of nights we made s'mores. I found the best s'more maker that lets you make 3 at a time. I took it a step further and wrapped them in foil so they had a place to cool off without dripping out the chocolate all over. Can't waste chocolate, right?
How is your summer going? What do you like to take camping?
As promised, I'm giving away a Cut-N-Seal by Pampered Chef! This fabulous little kitchen gadget is demonstrated on my Pizza Pocket recipe. Because it was partially funded by a Canadian Pampered Chef consultant, I am offering this gadget to my Canadian readers. However, because I know I have some American readers, I'm also going to draw for a half price meal plan to any Americans who enter this giveaway.
To enter, please comment on this post what your favorite kitchen gadget is, or the small appliance you cannot live without, and "like" my facebook my Meals Maven facebook page and "share" this post!
This contest will be open for 10 days.