Saturday, February 29, 2020


Last week's meals went exactly as planned even though the week didn't.  I thought I was going to have a week of activities and extra work.  Instead, by Monday evening, I was back on the sofa with a new version of the plague. Like the door I shared earlier in the week, I am alarmed. I'm using up all my sick days and COVID-19 isn't even here yet. Not good. Still, in spite of my illness, every meal went as planned.  I'm sure that's because we had planned, and prepped and kept it simple.  

It wasn't perfect though.  By Thursday the tofu and rice for the tofu bowls were a bit stale. I guess that's why the authors of "Simply Bento" suggest doing so much of your prep work in the morning.  That's not going to happen in our household.  We already get up at what I've been told is a "grotesquely early" hour.  There's no chance that I'm going to get up earlier to prep rice, tofu and veggies.  (And no, it's not going to happen the night before either.  Getting up at grotesque o'clock means that we're in bed before most people are finished their dinner.  There's just no time for that kind of meal prep on a work-night.)  Oh well, the tofu bowls were edible, if not fresh, and now I'm sure that "Simply Bento", though beautiful,  isn't the right cookbook for our current cooking needs.

This week, I tried to make sure that prepped food gets consumed closer to the day it was prepped.  I'm still keeping it simple.  I'm on the mend, but I'm certain that I'm not going to have a lot of energy for cooking, and I'm certain Hubby won't either.  This week it's meat and veg, 5-Ingredient Meals and items from the freezer for the win.  Oh, and I also have a back-up plan in mind should things go sideways.  You never know when the plague is going to stop by for dinner.

Ooh!  Look!  I've snazzed-up the dry-erase board.  So sparkly!
(*Note:  I don't get anything for the links above.  They're there for your information.  Hope you find them useful.)

Friday, February 28, 2020


So many reflection metaphors I could gift you with here.  And don't get me started on bridges.  Or rivers. Or rays of light. 

Fortunately, you are saved from such navel-gazing by the fact that I have the plague AGAIN.  My head is too congested for such mental meanderings.  You'll have to supply your own analogy.  

And if you come up with a good one, feel free to share it with me.  Comments are always appreciated.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Roll Back

My sister and I have had some lively conversations while preparing these throwback posts. I'm having a great deal of fun, and judging by the texts I've been receiving, I think she is too. 

Excerpt from this week's string of texts:

Sister: What's wrong with my eyes? Is that a black and white photo or is the color just off?

Me: I don't know what's wrong with your eyes.  They're your eyes.  You tell me what the heck you might have been doing. And yes, it's a black and white photo.  I took it with my old Polaroid camera.

Sister: I won a bunch of races, hence the ribbons.  I was hot, tired, hungry and wanting to eat and change my soaking-wet, sweaty underwear. Probably why my eyes are rolled back in my head.  Or maybe just dehydration.

Me:  *Snort* Now I have soup coming out my nose.  You are hilarious.

Sister: I know.  I hope the soup wasn't too hot.

Me:  Nope.  I'm good.

Sister:  Yeah, but I'm the best.

And now I'm rolling my eyes too.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020


From there to here, 
From here to there,
Funny things are everywhere!

Dr. Seuss
"One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish"

A pink unicorn on a post, a stuffed mouse in a field, a rainbow sticker on a trash can - all random items I spotted on walks.  Dr. Seuss was right.  Funny things are everywhere.  You just have to be open to seeing them.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


Alarmed?  It doesn't even look startled!

Thanks to Hubby for sharing this silliness.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Something About Marvin 6

Marvin chose his name.

He had a different name when we adopted him, but we figured a fresh start demanded a new name.  We didn't have any idea what that name was going to be though.

Shortly after we brought Marvin home, Hubby and I were making the bed.  We were brainstormed names while we worked.  Zaphod? Hamill? Mr. Spock?  Marvin prowled around as we talked.  When we hit on "Marvin" he hopped up on the bed, curled up and started to purr.  It was the first time we'd seen him relax! He hadn't really settled down since we had brought him home.  We decided that was his way of telling us his he we had hit on the right name.

It seems that Marvin is as nerdy as we are.

If this isn't enough Marvin for you, you can follow him on Instagram.  He's @marvinmeowmeow.  

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday Bonus Recipe: Chickpea Salad

Ok, this isn't really a recipe.  It's more like a suggestion, or a suggestion of a recipe. 

I was inspired by this recipe for Buffalo Chickpea Salad.  I wasn't in the mood for spicy, but when I saw the recipe, I realized that I can use chickpeas in the same way I'd use tuna, eggs or chicken in salad. The "recipe" below is based on what I had in the fridge at the time.  I didn't measure anything, so you're going to have to use your judgement based on your requirements, your tastes and the items your fridge.

Chickpea Salad

chickpeas - either home cooked or canned
celery - diced fine
red onion- diced fine
mustard - Dijon or yellow
dill pickle juice

  • Mash chickpeas with a fork or a potato masher
  • Stir in veggies
  • Add mustard, mayo, pickle juice, salt and pepper
  • Stir again
  • Taste and add more of whatever you think it needs.
(*Note:  I don't get anything for the links above.  They're there for your information.  Hope you find them useful.)

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Keeping it Simple

Last week's meals went almost as planned!  I think that's a first since I started sharing my meal plans here.  I swapped chickpea-and-orzo salad for bean salad, but I figure that was close enough, and it allowed me to use up leftover orzo from earlier in the week.   

This week we'll be relying on big-batch cooking to provide leftovers for several suppers.  I know a lot of people balk at leftovers, but I can live with eating the same meal more than once if it means less cooking and clean-up.  It's going to be a busy enough week as it is!

Still figuring out the new board.

On Sunday we'll prepare a big shepherd's pie using a recipe from my old "Second Harvest Cookbook" as a guide.  I have had this cookbook for years.  I remember seeing an article about Second Harvest in the Globe and Mail. I was so intrigued that I mailed a cheque to get the cookbook. Newspaper, cheque, mail. That should give you an idea how long I've had this cookbook. 

We'll also prepare tofu and rice bowls inspired by the tofu poke bento recipe in "Simply Bento" by Yuko and Noriko.  I borrowed this cookbook from the library.  It is a beautiful cookbook, but the recipes are far too labour-intensive for my current cooking style.  I returned the book, but it has influenced how I think about packed lunches.

And once again, I'm relying on Stephanie Kay's "Red's 5-Ingredient Meals" for a big batch of Tex-Mex quinoa.  This cookbook has had a huge impact on how I think about our meals. I've been too distracted by the onslaught of "healthy eating" information out there.  This cookbook has been a good reminder that not every dish needs to be crammed full of "superfoods" to be healthy.  Delicious, good-for-you meals don't have to be complicated.  How did I forget that?  

(*Note:  I don't get anything for the links above.  They're there for your information.  Hope you find them useful.)

Friday, February 21, 2020


Look up.  Look way up.  There's an eagle at the top of that mast!

It's spring, and young hormones are fizzing.  I passed several pairs of canoodlers while walking along the waterfront last week.  The evening air was overpowered by the aroma of body spray, but I did learn a new term: kink shame.  As in, "I don't kink shame, but if that's what y'all are into y'all need Jesus."  I almost want to know what was suggested.  Almost.  

Thursday, February 20, 2020


While we're on the subject of garden ornaments...

LOOK!  It's a gnome!

Nah!  Not really.  It's just my sister again.  She's the one who noticed her resemblance to a garden gnome.  I completely missed the similarities.

I guess I was distracted by the look in her eyes. I can see she's pissed off. Even all these years later, I can see I'm in deep shit.  Imagine what it was like to experience that look in person! 

We both have similar memories of home perms.  Standing on your toes with your head over the sink.  Cold chemicals being dribbled on each individual curler.  Sitting around with a bag on your head while water and solution dripped down your neck. The smell.  The stinging.   

What my sister doesn't seem to remember is that her hair always looked great after a perm.  In fact, it was her success that convinced me to try a home perm myself.  What I didn't factor in was that we have VERY different hair.  Where she got curls, I got frizz.  It was really, really bad.  I insisted that my ever-patient mom take me to buy a hot oil treatment to try to 'fix' it.  It did not improve things.  Instead, my poor, over-processed hair sucked up all that oil and held on to it.  I had greasy, fried hair for days.

You'd think that would have put me off perms.  Nope.  That's how much I wanted curls.  I just left the perms to the professionals after that.

Salon perms were somewhat better, but at least at home, there wouldn't be too many witnesses to your bag-and-curler headpiece.  Unless, of course, someone snapped a picture and shared it thirty years later for everyone on the interwebs to see.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


I spotted the item above while walking with a friend.  It looks like someone's concrete garden ornament, but it was a long way from anyone's garden.  Given its size and its material, it would have taken some effort to place it there. I wonder, how did it get there? Why is it there? Who put it there? Where did it come from?  It feels like there should be a story to go with it.  Is anyone looking for a missing garden ornament?  Or a story prompt?  

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Frosty Family Day

Yesterday morning was clear and cold.  Frost sparkled everywhere.  Frozen water droplets hung from branches and berries.  I'm so glad I got out for an early walk.  It was beautiful.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Something About Marvin 5

Apparently he doesn't mind other cats when he's the cat!

Marvin joined us in bed in the wee hours Saturday morning.  He walked all over me twice before he decided to curl up on my pillow.  He was on my hair, which wasn't great, but I decided to leave him if he'd settle down and let me go back to sleep.  He was obviously very comfortable there, as I was just drifting off to sleep when he started drooling on my head.

So gross.  

On the upside, maybe it will make my coat soft and shiny too.

If this isn't enough Marvin for you, you can follow him on Instagram.  He's @marvinmeowmeow.  

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Green is the Colour

Changing plans and extra leftovers meant that last week's meal plan  shifted a bit toward the end of the week.  Still, everything in the fridge got used up, no extra groceries were required, and we didn't have to resort to take-out.  A good week!

This week more fresh veggies landed in my cart, though some on-the-fly substitutions had to be made when the desired item was too expensive or too withered to buy.

Asparagus, broccolette, avocado and living lettuce all followed me home.  I must be craving green things!  (The asparagus was part of our Valentine's Day dinner and our post-Valentine's Day breakfast, so it doesn't appear on the board.)

Still experimenting with ways to set up the new board.
I'm still relying heavily on root veggies and items from the freezer to fill out the week.

I also found a new cookbook at the library. "Prep: The Essential College Cookbook" by Katie Sullivan Morford has been a fun reminder that cooking doesn't have to be complicated.  Unless I choose to make it complicated.  Like when I decided that the "Mix-in-the-Pan Applesauce Cake" had to have homemade applesauce.  At least I decided that I could let go of using homemade yogurt!

Other than that, I'm relying on cookbooks that have been in my kitchen for ages.  That includes one prepared for me by my mother when I moved away from home.  I've had the spiral-bound note book for so long it is stained and falling apart.  It looks terrible, but the recipes are great!  

(*Note:  I don't get anything for the links above.  They're there for your information.  Hope you find them useful.)

Thursday, February 13, 2020


Today we are throwing waaaay back to 1981.  The beautiful, intelligent, musically talented young woman in this picture is my sister.*

The instrument in the picture is a marching-band French horn.  My sister's marching band experience was so short-lived that I forgot about it until she reminded me.  Surprisingly, she was not kicked out of the band for inability to figure out where the mouthpiece goes.

Oh, I forgot to mention she is awesome and athletic.

Whereas I am old and forgetful.

*I may have had some "help" writing this post.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


I have awesome friends.  Shortly after I posted yesterday, I received a text with this picture...

...and the message "Is this the photo you were looking for?"

Yes.  Yes it is. 

It's in focus. There are no strange shadows.  There is nothing weird in the background.  Perfect!

Did I mention I have awesome friends?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


They were trimming trees across from my workplace yesterday.  It was loud and irritating, so I decided to walk in a nearby park on my lunch break.  I was hoping for some peace and quiet.  They were trimming trees there too.

I walked anyway.  It was lovely in spite of the noise.  Spring flowers were starting to blossom.  The buds on the trees were hinting at leaves.  I took lots of pictures as I went. 

When I got home I didn't like any of the photos. They were out of focus, or there were strange things in the background, or the lighting was just wrong.  If it wasn't one thing it was another.  Sort of like my day.

So instead of springtime flowers, today you are getting a picture of Marvin in a Buff.  It makes me smile.  Hope it makes you smile too.

I realize that this is not a safe garment for a cat.  It was removed as soon as the picture was taken.  

Monday, February 10, 2020

Something About Marvin 4

Marvin does not tolerate other cats.  It's the reason his prior owners surrendered him for adoption.  We didn't realize how serious this was until I had to drop him off at the vet for tests one morning.  On his first visit he charmed the vet so much that she wanted to invite other people in to meet him.  He was even well behaved on his second visit when he had to have a abscess drained.  When I dropped him off for tests it never occurred to me that they'd be calling me at work to pick him up because his behaviour was so bad they couldn't deal with him.  He was lovely with the vet and the staff, but once he realized there were other cats in the building, he lost it.  You know it's bad with the professionals can't cope.  

If this isn't enough Marvin for you, you can follow him on Instagram.  He's @marvinmeowmeow.  

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Sunday Bonus Recipe: Carrot Soup

I served this soup to friends on Thursday.  They liked it enough to ask for the recipe, which was awkward, as I had cobbled together two recipes, then I made changes to those recipes, to come up with the soup I served them.

I referred to carrot soup recipes in America Test Kitchen's "The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs" and Stephanie Kay's "Red's 5-ingredient Meals".  I'm really enjoying how these cookbooks are allowing me to get tasty food on the table fast, even when I don't follow the recipe.

Carrot Soup

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1 medium onion, diced
1 (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth*
1 1/2 cups water*
1/2 tsp salt
1 14oz can coconut milk

  • Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat
  • Add diced onion and cook until translucent
  • Add salt, cumin and coriander and cook for a few seconds
  • Add carrots and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes
  • Stir in water/broth and bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender
  • Remove from heat, and puree with preferred tool.
  • Stir in coconut milk.  Return to low heat and warm to desired serving temperature.
  • Serve topped with with chopped fresh herbs, croutons, or roasted chickpeas if desired
*or three cups broth, or three cups water.  Enough liquid to cover carrots and onions.

(*Note:  I don't get anything for the links above.  They're there for your information.  Hope you find them useful.)

Saturday, February 8, 2020

It's Snot Easy

This is the time of year when I find meal planning difficult. Though there is a huge variety of produce available, there is little that I want to buy.  I joke that I don't want vegetables that are better-travelled than I am, but the reality is that it is expensive to buy fresh veggies in February.

I work around that as best as I can. Carrots, potatoes, celery and onions were my vegetable purchases for the upcoming week.  I also splurged and bought a basil plant, and I'm growing alfalfa sprouts beside my kitchen sink.  I'll supplement these fresh items with canned tomatoes, frozen peas and pumpkin in the form of soup I made and froze in the fall.  There will be lots of legumes and a variety of fruit to add plant power to our meals. 

Part of me feels that there should be more variety, but that would be expensive in terms of dollars and time. For the price of 2 pounds of carrots I could have had a head of romaine lettuce.  In our house the carrots will go much further, are generally quicker to prepare, and can be used in more ways than the romaine.  The carrots will also still look like carrots at the end of the week.  The romaine will look like something found in a used tissue.  

Of course, my sister thinks peas look like boogers, and we'll be eating peas more than once this week.  At least, according to the ads, the peas are frozen at the height of freshness, whereas there is no way to get truly fresh romaine in Canada in February.

Friday, February 7, 2020

All According to Plan

Last week's no-plan plan was a success.  Some of the items on the list got made, others didn't.  Some of the items made were eaten, others weren't.  There was take-out and home-cooked.  There are two batches of carrot soup in the freezer for future meals.  

Sometimes having, and sticking to, a plan makes getting food on the table less stressful.  Sometimes it's more relaxing to figure it out as you go.  And sometimes you have to plan not to plan in order to maintain kitchen calm.

Thursday, February 6, 2020


I considered sharing a photo taken while snowshoeing a couple of years ago.  It was lovely with its calming blues and greys.  

But today I'm craving sunshine, so I'll save towering trees, snowy trails and overcast skies for another time.  Today, let's recall brighter times.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020


It is possible that these spring flowers were intentionally planted. I'd rather believe they are volunteers that are determined to thrive in spite of the landscaping tie dropped on their heads.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020


Two similar containers in the fridge.  One contains my lunch.  Guess which one I brought to work?  

Monday, February 3, 2020

Something About Marvin 3

Marvin drools when he is relaxed and content.  Apparently this is quite common, though we had never experienced it with other cats.  We thought he had dental problems!

Marvin actually drools a lot, so I guess he is a happy cat.  Which is a good thing - except for all the cat drool.  

If this isn't enough Marvin for you, you can follow him on Instagram.  He's @marvinmeowmeow.  

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Happy Groundhog Day!

From an out-of-province friend's email earlier today:

"Take heart ---- the Marmot Recovery Foundation, when  asked if Van Island Violet would make a prediction, said that a hibernating marmot is unlikely to see her shadow. Ergo, an early spring."

I live on Vancouver Island, and I had never heard of Van Island Violet and her weather predicting powers, so I thought I'd look into it.  I wish I hadn't, as I found this article, which states she did, in fact, see her shadow.  Ugh.  More winter.

Still, it sounds like this is good news for our marmots. I suppose I can't begrudge them a longer winter if it will help with their survival.  Vancouver Island Marmots are a critically endangered species.  I can always buy some spring at the grocery store if winter gets overwhelming.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

New Board. No Plan

This week we are going with a no-plan plan.  What we have are meal suggestions based on what is in the house.  Why?  Well, I've been sick, and I've likely passed along my germs to Hubby.  I suspect that neither of us is going to feel like cooking this week, and, when we do, we likely won't know what we want to eat ahead of time.

I'm relying heavily on a cookbook I got from the library.  "The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs" is full of quick easy recipes, and, as it's by America's Test Kitchen, I'm assuming they are reliable as well.  I've pre-made both soups, and the quick tastes I had were quite good considering the simplicity of the recipes.  

Soup, grilled cheese (in the form of quesadillas), eggs, one-pot meals, items from the freezer and take-out.  Easy, comforting food to get us through what I expect will be a long week.

(*Note:  I don't get anything for the links above.  They're there for your information.  Hope you find them useful.)