Summer 2014- A Glimpse

This summer has gone by SO fast.  I had to take a moment and think about what  I actually did because it really just flew by.  Then I realized, we had some great adventures!  Here is a sample:

1. Went to the zoo.

2. Went to the botanical gardens.

3. Picnic in the park on a sunny day.

4. The Artist got his first tattoo.  See: https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/the-artists-first-tattoo/

5. We spent a weekend with my sister and brother in law.

6. We played darts at Blueberry Hill.

7. Horror movie marathon with a friend.

8. Became good friends with our new neighbour across the hall.

9. Discovered a great, brand new Goodwill store nearby with great items.

10. Went to one of our favourite restaurants for Pad Thai, called Basil Spice.

11. Saw the latest Wes Anderson movie in theatres, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

12. Went to the circus.

13. Each celebrated a birthday.

14. Went to some art shows.

15. The Artist made homemade alfredo pasta with grilled pork loin.  I don’t even like alfredo sauce but he had a vision.  So I tried some- it was AMAZING!  I guess it is the stuff in jars or pre-made sauce that I don’t like because this homemade sauce was delicious.

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16. Went bowling.

17. A walk in forest park at dusk on a brisk, beautiful day.

18. The Artist had his thesis show and I threw him a little surprise.  See: https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/surprise/

19. We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary.  Read about our love story here! https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/3-years-of-the-best-marriage-ever/

20. I got a job!  Which involved the getting work permission, which was stressful, but  I did it!

21. The Artist got gallery representation.  Yes, that’s right!  He has been a busy beaver with that.

22. I got my ears pierced- for the very first time ever!  Most women get them done so young they don’t even remember it.  I have never had a piercing at all, and it was no pain(or blood)-free!  But I love them and am so excited to try out all kinds of earrings after they heal 🙂

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No wonder summer went by so fast, we were so busy!  I am so fortunate to be able to do all of these things!  The Artist and I are officially announcing that we are staying in St. Louis for now, because I have got a job 🙂  What a whirlwind it has been these last few months ❤  Cheers to our future!

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Top 6 Ideas for Easy Preparation of Weeknight Meals (and even packing lunches too!).

My sister and brother-in-law are very busy career folk with 2 dogs, a house under renovations, and a million other things to do, and freeze a lot of meals for quick dinners on busy weeknights.  After a recent conversation, I was inspired to share what I do for quick and easy meals, and how this preparation and routine has helped me maintain a healthy, whole foods diet (for the most part, haha!).

1. Have cooked or thawed protein in the fridge at all times.

I like to buy in bulk and freeze meat, and there is nothing worse then being hungry for dinner and having to defrost something before you can even cook it!  I like to bake 5 or 6 chicken breasts in the oven, with a simple seasoning such as salt and pepper, or some herbs.  This way, they can be doctored up later.  Add a drizzle of oil for extra flavour and juiciness.  Chill in the fridge in a container for later use.  P.S. Cutting cooked and chilled chicken is so much easier and slices SO nice.  Now you can add it to a salad for an entree-style salad, make a quick wrap, or pasta.  You could also cook a whole chicken, bone-in chicken, etc. and do the same thing.  For pork and beef, I prefer to have them thawed and even marinated for a day or two in spices or whatever, or even cut up and put on kabobs for quick grilling.  This works with chicken too.  Or with thawed meat you can cube it or slice it when raw and store in the fridge.  Sometimes cleaning and cutting the meat takes awhile, but this way, it is already done.

 

2. Make a big batch of homemade tomato sauce.

When you have tried this, you will never go back to the canned store bought kind again.  I freeze it in batches and always have one ready in the fridge.  Chicken parm sandwiches, english muffin or pita pizzas, or pastas are made super quick easy.

 

3.  Triple recipes, or just make a TON of something at once.

Put on the radio, and spend some time in the kitchen on the weekend and cook up a favourite dinner.  We love pasta dishes in our house and make huge batches of them.  Mac n’ cheese is really delicious for leftovers, and can easily be healthified.  We will make a pasta that has 4 or 5 chicken breasts in it and a mound of veggies is on the cutting board waiting to go in.  Pasta is good for leftovers and re-heats well too.  If you have a microwave at work (or like cold pasta) you will have lunches for several days, or leftovers to eat anytime.

 

4. Prep all your produce.

Wash, cut, and prepare all the fruits and veggies (including lettuce and greens) in your fridge store in containers (which also makes for easy snacking, I find I am much more likely to grab them if they are ready to go).  For lunches, I even take it a step further and portion them into baggies for small lunch containers for the week.  That way, all the work is done and I plop them into my lunch bag.  And having peppers and mushrooms sliced and washed already, and lettuce clean and dried, cuts dinner prep time way down.  I even sometimes do things 2-ways, for example, I will cut carrots into sticks for snacks and side dishes and also shred some for salad toppings.  Words cannot describe how useful it is to have a fridge full of washed and prepped fruits and veggies.  If I have edamamme, I will cook it and do the same thing (it is good hot or cold, or added to salad or stir fry).  Or I will have a can of beans or chick peas rinsed and ready in a container for salads and topping any dish basically.

 

5. Cook up a batch of rice.  A big one.

With your veggies already prepared and meat thawed, you can stir fry it all together and then serve over rice for such an effortless, yet delicious dinner.  I find rice re-heats well, in my opinion.  Or make a curry, which is really easy, yet really hardy, and serve with rice.  And combine leftover cooked rice with leftover cooked chicken, you get an amazing homemade chicken fried rice.  I even like our homemade, healthier version better then take-out now.  We almost never buy it out anymore.

 

6.  Use the slow cooker for everything.

Casseroles, meat, roasts, sauces, etc.  It does the work all day and you come home to a delicious meal!  For extra fast meals, do something all-in-one, like pork loin with potatoes/onions/carrots, seasoning of choice, and voila.  You could even add a side salad or corn on the cob for something extra.

Now I bet all of this sounds like a ton of work, and just really not do-able at all.  But I don’t have every single example above ready in my fridge.  My rule of thumb is: always have cooked or at least thawed protein available and abundant, and prep all produce.  One week I might have a ton of cooked chicken breast and rice in the fridge, the next week might be more grilling with side salads, and the next week might be making loads of 1 or 2 dishes for leftovers.

I pick a day when I have some time, put on my favourite radio station (oldies or NPR usually) and head into the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. It’s very relaxing, because there is no time frame, I am not starving, and can putter around.  Or the Artist and I will do it together one night, and catch up, be silly, or have really great talks about life, or all of the above.  Being in the kitchen together is one of our favourite ways to spend time together.  Sometimes we even take it a step further; the Artist will prepare a big dinner with tons of leftovers, and I will prep all the produce for the week, and we will pour drinks, turn up the tunes, eat the dinner by candle light, and make a mini-date out of it.

When these are all prepared, and I even pre-portion for lunches (so I literally grab my lunch from the fridge and plop it in my lunch bag in the morning), I eat a lot healthier and a much more balanced diet.  We are less likely to resort to junk or take-out when we get home tired after a long day because we can make something delicious and homemade in minutes.

The fastest meals, I would say in 15 minutes or less, would be: entree-style salads, tacos (using already cooked meat or beans), quesadillas, wraps, and grilled kabobs.

On the more medium side of things, in about 20 minutes, you could have: grilled meat, stir fry (less time probably if you use cooked meat instead of sautéing), pita or flatbread pizza, or grilled paninis.

And in about 30 minutes, you could make: spaghetti, chicken fried rice, any pasta dish, prepare pizza dough ahead of time by rolling it in desired shape(s) and freezing (you could even cook it for a few minutes to help it hold its shape) for taking pizza at home to the next level, spicy orange chicken with cashew nuts (or any Asian dish that doesn’t involve battering and frying the meat before starting), or larger cuts of meat including larger cuts of bone-in meat either grilled, or oven roasted.

In 30+ minutes: mac n’cheese casserole, sweet and sour chicken (or Asian dishes that include battering and frying meat), Mongolian style stir fry with Sriracha sauce, and of course things in the slow cooker.  These just mostly require time for cooking and don’t need as much attention other then checking or stirring during this time.

And for all of these examples, having prepped produce will come in handy for easy and quick side dishes and salads.  For example; grilled peppers, corn on the cob, steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus, raw veggie platter with hummus, and never ending combinations of salads.  And to keep things as healthy as possible, choose whole wheat options, make your own marinade instead of using a bottled one, and be aware of how much sodium and sugar you use so that you can adjust to fit your needs/wants.

I hope this was helpful 🙂

 

I love Good Food.

I love good food.

I love making good food.  Mostly, just because I love eating it.

That is all.

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I made this for the Artist. All his favourite toppings and sauces.

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A view from the other side to see more of the layers.

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Brushetta topping to toss with a pasta dish.

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I didn’t make this, but bought it for $1. So good. Nice and warm, and healthy. Whole grain grain bread, provolone, chicken breast, spinach, loads or green pepper, onion, and black pepper. No condiments or sauce- yuck.

I am not a condiment girl.  I don’t like most of them.  I like sweet chili sauce sometimes on my chicken nugget, or plum sauce.  But mostly I like nothing 🙂  Especially on sandwiches!  The closest I get to a condiment is a smear of pesto or hummus.

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Apples are in season 🙂

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Love the size!

My ideas for apple-cooking-and-baking so far include: Apple crisp and apple cheese danishes- the Artist’s favourites.  Apple cake with caramel topping- a new recipe I would like to try.  Apple chips- something I have never had before.  Caramel apples- my Halloween day treat.  Applesauce- unsweetened to use as a sugar substitute in baking.  Apple cider- but I don’t have cheesecloth, and the recipes I like so far call for that.

I think I might need more apples haha.  I don’t know if I will get to all of these or not.

Some apple sauce to start:

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Home made snack mix. Shredded wheat, almonds, Grape Nuts, peanuts, a spoonful of canola, flax, seasonings and spices. Toasted nicely in the oven.

This turned out pretty good.  Maybe next time I will skip the flax, it didn’t stick to everything as well as I had hoped.  Maybe less seasonings too, I think I over did it a little.  Less is more for this recipe I think.

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Homemade Cheddar Bay Biscuits- see my Copycat Recipe blog about these 🙂

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The Artist wasn’t feeling well, so I made him a hot breakfast.  He asked for cream of wheat.  It smelled so good when I was making it.  I had to have a bite.  But then, as always, I quickly remember that the smell is deceiving because it tastes like nothing.  Mushy nothing.

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I made these next, and tried a new recipe.  Bad idea.  They turned out too cakey.  Not moist enough.  But the Artist had no problem loading them with ice cream and caramel sauce.

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Banana-Chocolate-Protein Muffins.

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Dark chocolate covered pretzels- not healthified haha.

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Roasted pork with carrots and onions, edamamme, and cous cous taboule with fresh mint from our plant 🙂 My FAVOURITE way to have cous cous.

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Roasted chickpeas with some herbs and spices for a crunchy, and extremely delicious snack.

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Pesto chicken, grilled red pepper and onion, and low fat mozzarella on a toasted bun.  BEST sandwich of life.

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Baked chicken and orzo mediterranean inspired flavours.  AMAZING dish.

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Homemade granola bars- tried to make them with chocolate protein powder….I didn’t like the texture, and they didn’t turn out too good. Definitely need to play with this one.

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Ravioli stuffed with cheeses and tossed in pesto.  These raviolis are from Costco, and are fresh pasta that gets frozen- SO GOOD!

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Plantain chips- thick cut with a knife and roasted in the oven with canola oil- the worst way!

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Cut with a mandolin and roasted with canola in the oven- they are ok, the taste of the oil comes through.

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Cut with the mandolin and used my Chipster- the best way! No oil or anything, just plantains and a pinch of salt. Delicious! Super healthy, crunchy, and tasty.

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Substituted banana and applesauce for sugar, and used chickpeas, no flour, and even melted chocolate chips on top in a thin layer, and still only 4g of sugar and low carbs per generous serving 🙂 I call them “banana muffin squares”.

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Whole wheat pasta with kale, baked chicken, onions, and asiago sauce (just asiago melted and thinned with milk). I don’t like kale, check out my “done with kale” blog post! I prefer spinach.

I am going to try a healthfied version of homemade butterfingers later 😉

Done With Kale

The title pretty much speaks for itself- we are done with kale.  It is really high in nutrients and has a dark, rich green colour, and we have tried it several ways, but all in all- it sucks.  The taste is bad, the smell of bad, the texture is bad, and eating it raw is the worst. Now don’t get me wrong.  I have tried to like it, tried using it in lots of different ways, and was extra open to new tastes because I have been looking to try new recipes, ideas, and incorporate more variety in my cooking.  I gave it so many chances to be good, and it never seemed to please me.  I am a spinach girl- all the way.  And here is why I am done with trying to like kale, done eating it, and why I am not missing out on the nutrients.

*The following is based on the nutrition info on the bags of spinach and kale that I have bought.

In terms of taste: I don’t like the taste of kale.  It is too strong and overpowers any dish I make it with, and I always remove all of the stems.  Spinach has a milder taste, and tastes good raw.  Whereas I don’t like raw kale, the taste just doesn’t jive with me.  It is too strong or something.

In terms of smell: For some reason, I think kale stinks lol.  But I don’t find the same problem for spinach.  When I was reheating some leftover pasta with kale in it, all I could smell was kale.

In terms of texture: Having tried kale cooked, raw, sauteed, etc. and the texture is always the same to me.  Even though cooking it makes it softer, it still is chewy.  I even tried making kale chips.  They were good- for the first few chews.  Then it was like chewing a ball of grass and I couldn’t get it down.  That is how I feel anytime I am chewing kale.  The texture just bothers me.

In terms of price: No cheaper or more expensive then spinach, they are about the same.

In terms of nutrients: Kale is loaded with several hundred percent of your daily intake of vitamins K, C, and A.  It has some mineral content, and isn’t that high in fibre.  Spinach has over 100% of your daily intake of vitamin K, and is still a good, high source of vitamins C and A, but does not exceed 100%.  It has a lower fibre count, similar to the kale, and has some mineral content, similar as well.  So obviously, kale is loaded with much higher concentrations of vitamins then spinach is.

But….here is my opinion.  Do we really need more then the 100% of a daily intake of a nutrient?  Unless you are on specific recommendations by a doctor or something.  But I am not.  So do I really need more?  I feel like after 100% is a waste, and over-doing isn’t always good either.  And as for the less-then-100% of vitamins C and A, I eat a variety of fresh produce, and a variety of foods in general in my day-to-day food intake.  So I am not missing out.  I regularly eat fruit, including apples, oranges and berries, so vitamin C isn’t a problem for me, and I regularly eat carrots and sweet potato which are loaded with vitamin A.

So, all in all, why would I keep torturing myself with kale if I don’t like the way it tastes, smells, I don’t like the texture, and I am not missing out on any nutrients, and I love spinach and there is no price difference?  Exactly.  I am not going to.  I am not missing out on anything, except stinking up my kitchen when reheating last night’s kale.

Here is a photo of the pasta dish I was referring to that had kale in it.  Normally I use spinach for this recipe, but tried kale instead. It is whole wheat penne, baked chicken breast, onion, kale, spice, and asiago cheese sauce (which is  just asiago cheese and milk to thin it out a little).

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Writing this makes me wonder, do others feel this way too?  It’s not like I am never going to eat kale again because I refuse to eat it, I just won’t likely buy it again for my own cooking.  If I am out, or having dinner somewhere else and there is kale, I would eat it.  But I do not prefer it.  So, are others feeling the same way, but just eating it anyways and “tolerating” it because it is the “new super food”?  Are they eating it just because it is hip to be doing so?  I, for one, do not care about belonging in the kale-club.  I guess I am not “hip” enough, haha.  Is kale the new fad?

If I am missing something, I would love to know.  Am I missing the key secret as to why everyone is crazed for it?  Or is there a mysterious nutrient I haven’t mentioned?  Anything- I would love to know.

On to nice things the Artist and I have done for each other: The Artist wanted me to come to his studio with him, so I did, to keep him company.  And of course, being in the presence of his passion and talent brought out so many nice things to say about him.  The Artist also drove me where I needed to go bright and early in the morning.  Before I woke him to do this, I prepared his coffee for when he got home.  This weekend we have decided to try and do something fun like go to the zoo, park, or whatever if the weather holds up.  The Artist also told me how nice I looked in my outfit the other day- his eyes lit up when I emerged all dressed, even after 3 years of marriage.

I love my Artist.

Happiness is contagious.

Back to Life.

I never thought I would see the day where I would be excited to see our thermostat say 82 F.  Yes, it is still super hot both in our apartment and outside, but having our apartment temperature be 82 F instead of in the 90s is a big deal.

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Yesterday afternoon we noticed that it wasn’t so blazingly hot outside, it was actually somewhat enjoyable, so we headed to the park for some fresh air and enjoyed the freshly brewed iced tea with lemon and mint (from our plant!) that we made on the weekend.

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Today, the Artist has a full day of TA and class, and who knows when the next day of only 82 F will be?!  Time to get things done.  We have been talking lately about how done we are with this level of heat, and that we are ready to come back to life!  The heat has been interfering with our sleep, cooking, meals, eating, exercising, fresh air, cleaning the house, etc. because it is too hot to move.

I have been craving time in the kitchen, and today was the best day for it, and to get the place together.  I tidied the whole apartment, folded and put away the laundry that was hanging to dry, and did another hand-wash load.  Thankfully, this load was pretty small.

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I hand-wash all delicate items even if they don’t need to be, because it saves room in the washing machine loads for other stuff, and saves us the quarters too 😉

Then I moved onto the kitchen.  Oy- what a mess.  I got caught up on all the dishes and cleaned the counters and appliances.  Then I made some banana-chocolate protein shake popsicles, and some peach flavoured.  I think I inherited by love for peach flavoured stuff, and peaches, from my dad ❤

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I also thought I would prep dinner for the Artist since it will be later when he gets home, and I prepped for one of his favourite dishes- broccoli pasta.  I don’t know why I call it that, there is broccoli, but lots of other stuff too.  First I bake some chicken breast.

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While that is baking I make some brushetta topping, it is so fresh and light and delicious!  The photos don’t look too good, because I used a red bowl for mixing, so it doesn’t look the best against the red tomatoes.  But it is delicious.

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Then I put it all in the fridge until dinner.  When the Artist is wrapping up class, I start putting it together so it is ready when he comes home.  Am I the most thoughtful wife or what? 😉  I slice the chicken and put it in a deep sided pan with the tomato brushetta mix and warm it up.  At this stage I also like to add crushed red pepper flakes.  Then I throw in some blanched or lightly steamed broccoli (I like it super crunchy) and let all the flavours marry.  The tomato brushetta mix is awesome after it sits for a period of time, the best is letting it sit overnight and the flavours just blend together in amazing ways.  I usually make a little extra to scoop onto toasted baguette or french bread…mmmmmm.  Meanwhile, I have some noodles boiling, I like to use fettuccine or linguine.  When the noodles are ready I add them to the pan and toss everything up.  The bigger the sides of the pan, the better.  But, timing is everything.  If you leave the tomato-chicken-broccoli in the pan too long before adding the noodles and then serving, the tomato will cook down and sort of “disappear” leaving you with skins.  Not the same.  If everything is warmed, I just turn the heat off completely until the noodles are done- they don’t take long to cook anyways.  Then turn the heat back on after the noodles are added and toss.  Or, if the noodles are done before the chicken-tomato-broccoli mix is, I strain them and set them aside for a minute or two….everything comes together quickly, so having prepped it all before hand works well so I can put it all together before the tomatoes disappear haha!  It looks like this in the end:

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So all in all, I tidied the apartment, put away the dry laundry, did a load of hand-washing, cleaned the kitchen and appliances, caught up on dishes, prepped everything for dinner tonight, cut up the watermelon and honeydew so it’s ready to eat, and made 2 types of popsicles.  Phew.  Even at 82 F it still makes you sweat, but not nearly as badly.  The vacuuming and dusting will have to wait until another day, a cold shower is calling my name.

It is so nice to get back into the swing of things, I hope this weather keeps up and continues to get even cooler.  My “off season” is officially over.  During the summer months, the Artist was off school so he did all the cooking and dishes, and helped with cleaning.  The exercise classes I like to do don’t run during the summer, and the heat has been awful.  So now I am back to cooking and cleaning and exercising my butt off.  I miss it.  I miss sleeping all cozy under the covers with my nose cold, making home cooked meals every night and things from scratch (instead of avoiding cooking because it’s hot and just snacking- ugh!), and enjoying a clean house.  I like to make lots of things from scratch.  Tomato sauce is a big one, we never buy it canned, or any sauce for that matter.  I make tomato sauce, pesto, cream sauce with milk instead of cream, salsa, etc. and freeze it in batches.  I make home made butter, croutons, soups, hand breaded meat, popsicles, doughs, desserts, breads, and so much more.  Not only is it much, much cheaper, it tastes better and is healthier.  And sometimes I healthify things more by adding protein powder, flax, bran, and the like when it fits.

Ahhhhh, it’s good to be back 😀

P.S.  The Artist is so sweet, he said he would rather cook together then either of us cooking alone because it is fun and we have great conversations while prepping, cooking, and at the dinner table.  It is so nice to sit at the table and eat a meal together.  And last night while he was out, I was watching a movie and snuggling with a teddy bear.  When he got home he crawled into bed with me to watch, and ever so slyly, with that twinkle in his eyes and that smile on his lips full of mischief, he slowly pulled my teddy bear from my arms, set it aside, replaced it with himself, and said, “I’m your bear”.  How cute is that?!  I always call him “my bear” because, as I am sure you can tell from the photos, he is full of “fur”.  And he is a snuggler, hence why I call him that.  So when he replaced my teddy bear with himself, and said he was my bear, the world exploded with cuteness ❤  We like spend time together often, so when he goes to school I pack him a lunch or a snack, depending on the time of day, made with extra love to take with him, and sometimes a little love note, so we are “together” even when we’re not.  And I usually sneak the note in so he doesn’t know it’s there until he grabs his snack and it is a surprise.  And he always comes home full of hugs and kisses and thanks.  And back in the day when we had cell phones, he would text or call me telling me how the note made his day so much better.

The little things in life are the best.

A little goes a long way.

Happiness is contagious.

 

A Stitch…

I have had a “stitch” in my upper side for 2 days now….it comes and goes.  I hate it.  It is on my upper left side and hurts when I take a deep breath.  I thought it was because I didn’t have any water and it was going on noon, so I started guzzling. But I have been being conscious of drinking more water for 2 days now and it won’t leave me alone.  I have also tried Advil, and taking a hot shower.  The hot shower seemed to work while in the shower, but as soon as I got out it was back.  It seems to alternate between being almost nothing, usually while sitting, to being quite uncomfortable.  And the worst part is, I can’t think of what I did to cause this.  Maybe I am just getting out of shape this summer because my normal exercise classes don’t start up again until September, and my lack of exercise is what caused it.  Ugh.  It is driving me crazy.  This is the longest “stitch” I have had I think, maybe it is from lifting weights on Friday.  Waking up this morning it felt completely better, but as I got my day going it creeped back.  Maybe I am just sleep deprived from these last few days of 6 hours or less of sleep per night.  And this, ladies and gentlemen, does not fly with me.  I need my sleep.  A good 8 hours minimum to function, but too many nights in a row of just 8 hours won’t cut it.  The perfect amount is 9 hours.  I feel refreshed and energized.  I have a zero tolerance to feeling sleepy the same way I have no tolerance for feeling hungry.  And if I am tired I can’t control it at a certain point….I will fall asleep on a bus, subway, in a car, on a couch, sitting up, laying down, in the middle of the day- anywhere, anytime.  If I am tired enough, I will sleep.

To get my mind off this lingering stitch, the Artist and I got some Pad Thai.  This place we have been going to for years whenever we are in the area serves the best Pad Thai ever.  It is the right amount of spicy and sweet, with the egg whisked in really finely (I don’t like big chunks), the noodle is not too skinny but not too fat either, and there are some delicious ground peanuts on top as the perfect garnish.  And the portions are large, so there is usually enough leftover for lunch the next day 😀  I love a good Pad Thai, and this hit the spot.

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The Artist also makes a really delicious version of this.  He is such an amazing cook, he can make italian, chinese, thai, and mexican dishes better then take out places.  Especially pastas, I don’t generally order them at a restaurant anymore because I always find myself thinking “The Artist can make this waaaay better at home”.  Although certain things are just better for take out.  A nice greasy pizza, or deep fried chicken wings, are among the best to order out.  But as for fine italian fare, the Artist is the best.  Typing that made me think of Kenny Bania on Seinfeld…”The best Jerry, the best!”

Here is one of my favourite pizza dishes the Artist makes, it is homemade dough (we have really been enjoying thin crust with our home made dough), homemade sauce, low fat mozzarella, basil pesto (often home made), baked chicken breast, and grilled red peppers.  Sometimes we add diced tomatoes too.

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And then we convert the flavours into a pasta dish, not using any tomatoes, and adding onions.

pesto pasta

The Artist also makes this really good brushetta and broccoli pasta.  He makes a home made brushetta topping of freshly diced tomatoes, olive oil, a splash of canola oil, loads of fresh pressed garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and parsley.  He mixes it all up and it is so yummy on toasted baguette, so wonderfully fresh.  It is even good to “marinade” a little in the fridge, if you make it the day before you use it, the flavours really settle into one another.  But he boils some noodles and tosses them in this mixture along with baked chicken breast slices (we often bake a bunch of chicken breast with simple seasoning like just salt and pepper for example, and keep them in the fridge and slice off as we need them), and some briefly steamed or blanched broccoli.  I love my broccoli only briefly cooked so it is nice and super crunchy.  This is a favourite staple dish in our house.

broccoli

My Artist is such an amazing chef, he always cooks for us on special occasions, and a lot on weekends, and sometimes even lights candles for dinner, and serves me my plate all fancy looking like in a restaurant.  And then he cleans up and does the dishes afterwards!  He likes to spoil me, and I love to be spoiled.  We both definitely love being spoiled, as well as doing the spoiling.

I have the best marriage ever ❤