You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2012.


In preparation for our jaunt away last weekend, dad and I had agreed to try to eat up/use up everything that was in the fridge before the weekend so that we’d not come home to find something gone skunky. (I’m sure the hubster was happy about this as he opened his lunch bag daily to discover multiple repetitions of various food items.) Let me just add that by doing this, our next grocery shopping trip was MUCH easier as we could clearly see what was needed.

Having no food ‘wasted’ this week, I did decide to sacrifice the last two tablespoons of some generic store brand jalapeno sour cream based dip. Why we kept the last two spoons I’ll never understand. Down the drain it went with the container into the recycling.

So…what did you waste this week?

On Friday’s, I share what food items that I have ‘wasted’ by letting spoil during the week from forgetfulness and/or neglect. Kristen over at The Frugal Girl has inspired me to publicly post in hopes of reducing waste.

During our drive down through Southern Ontario en route to Windsor, ON to celebrate our first year anniversary, I couldn’t help notice how much the area around Leamington, ON had changed over the years. It had been at least five or more years since I was last down that way.

The one thing I couldn’t help but notice was how ‘eco’ it has become.

The fields are scattered with wind turbines as was the horizon.


There was some sort of solar farm as well.


And of course, no trip through the farmlands of Southern Ontario is complete without a shower of fresh hay escaping from the bales! LOL


Random facts about Leamington, ON – its known as the Tomato Capital of Canada, home to a large Heinz factory with a 4 km² crop of tomatoes, the town’s water tower is in the shape of a giant tomato and lastly, there’s a tomato festival each August!


Today’s lunch:  fresh vine tomatoes with jack cheese on a toasted chiabatta bun smeared with plenty of  homemade aioli.

Lastly, while I was making myself some lunch today….I totally thought of Leamington.

We survived!  We survived!!  We survived!!!

This past weekend, the hubster and I celebrated our first year wedding anniversary.  Yes, we survived one year of marriage AND our celebrations LOL.   We’re not very big on celebrations in terms of throwing parties and giving extravagant gifts but we do like to celebrate in our own way.   To mark our joyous milestone, we decided to spend the night away at Cesars Palace down in Windsor, ON despite the previous weeks headlines in the news with bomb threats and the discovery of two headless bodies found in the river.   (I’ll admit that there was a lil jaunt across the river to the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit, MI and a trip to Target too ;))

Overall….we had a great time with the family – we brought along dad and my sister – and with all the in’s and out’s of traveling by car, with family etc…we truly did survive.  True to our wedding weekend last year, it (almost?) was the hottest day of the summer (hello, 37*C + humidity anyone?) and our weekend was very eventful which has now created many funny memories and stories to be reflected upon and shared in the future.

The only real disappointment….the big name casino resort hotel we stayed at didn’t live up to its hype.  You’d expect to be treated well at a 5 star hotel/resort but honestly…I think we’d have been just as happy if not happier at a Holiday Inn.  A myriad of things went wrong/were wrong from the get go BUT its all about how you handle things.  Needless to say, we didn’t let the hotel disappointment get to us as we had a blast!



We took the tunnel across to Detroit, MI
(sorry for the blurry pic, I had to snap quick as we drove past)


The line up for US customs as you exited the tunnel was RIGHT there.  We’re talking hairpin turn out of a tunnel to an abrupt stop.  Me thinks there’s a bit of a layout/functionality issue growing there.  Just sayin’.


The GM Building
(right as you come out of the tunnel, its the first thing you see lining up for customs)


I thought it was hilarious that the GPS was telling us to go to customs.


We took the Ambassador Bridge on our way back.
(Detroit’s going through some construction and all the signs that normally show you the way to the bridge were all covered up stating they were closed.  We had to ‘tour around’ hoping (praying) to find access to the bridge which we finally did. It took over an hour but we found our way home!)


Our hotel room at Cesars Palace, Windsor, ON.
Looks great – just like in the magazines!

Gosh, am I ever thankful for what we were able to do – go away to celebrate.  And with family. (And to make it back to Canada, hahaha)

But, I am most thankful for a very loving and an awesomely understanding husband.  One year baby!!  Can’t wait to see what next year brings 🙂

I first saw the idea of posting what food we (as a household) wasted on a weekly basis posted by The Frugal Girl and liked the idea of actually documenting it.  I mean, we all do the big fridge clean up the night before garbage day or as part of prep for grocery shopping. Or in some cases, after we’ve returned from grocery shopping to make room for the new groceries – you know who y’all are 😉  But to actually document and post it for the world to see, kinda makes me feel more guilty and urges me to be more accountable.  (Another example of necessary guilt was back when I discovered pantry bugs in my kitchen. *shudders* You can read more about that incident here.)

I’ve been thinking about this idea a lot lately especially since our garbage days are Wednesday’s…so I’d be cleaning out on Tuesday nights but ‘Food Waste Tuesday’ doesn’t seem to have as nice of a ring to it.  Hopefully I’ll remember to post on Friday’s what I’ve thrown out throughout the week with the bulk of it going out Tuesday night.


Who wants to join me in shamefully sharing their wasted money and food? Sounds pretty sad right? But I’m sure with enough practice and this weekly reminder…we’ll all get MUCH better at not wasting.  This can be done via list for and/or with pics.

I really do hate wasting food and money.

What I ended up wasting this week:

* 4 pints of blueberries

* 1lb of strawberries

* 1 pint of blackberries

* 1 pint grape tomatoes

And I know the reason why. Dad has pushed everything to the back that isn’t important to him.  Not trying to justify my waste but I know when I organize the fridge, I push the berries to the side so they’re still visible. He pushes everything to the back of the fridge to make room for his groceries & leftovers etc.

Note to self…be more diligent on keeping fridge organized.

What have you wasted recently?

I’m not sure I understand the beauty of planting wild vines and clematis except for the fact that its ‘pretty’ to look at – so long as its not growing out of control on your side of the fence, right?

The previous neighbours planted a few years back and it barely climbed the fence, so yes…it was pretty. Who doesn’t enjoy admiring beautiful flowers and greenery?

The following year, it climbed up our fence. And then over it.  It totally ate our fence.  I mean, there was no evidence of a fence being there.   After that summer, they sold their house and moved leaving behind their beautiful vines and clematis to grow freely.

Last year it had eaten the fence, the pathway and was trying to take over our garage.  This summer…the vines are growing out of control as scheduled, eaten our fence and is attempting to eat the pathway.   Have I mentioned that these vines and clematis  are home to the Japanese Beetles/Asian Longhorn Beetles?  Good luck walking through to the backyard without getting a good buzz by or bite!

Enough was enough…we don’t want these beetles eating our garden bounty either so the hubster and I decided to wage a war and take the vines down! Muhahahaha!! *insert evil laughter here*

The hubster whipped out the electric hedge trimmer and within a matter of 10 good minutes, success….the vines were down!!    I corralled the clippings into garden waste bags then went back and finely hand trimmed the rest, taking back our pathway AND fence.  Take that wild vines and clematis! *shakes fist*  Oh and buh-bye beetles too!!

BTW:  I think the new (current) neighbours were sad that we trimmed the vines down. They had a week’s notice AND there was no way they didn’t hear us when we started the trimming. Electric hedge trimmers aren’t exactly quiet.

Take a look and tell me what you think.





Time sure is flying by rather quickly! It seemed like just the other day I had finished planting the garden with the hubster and the wait for the veggies was just beginning.  (I did just post about it last week but the pics were from a few weeks prior. You can read more about my garden here )

Now here we are, mid July and there is finally some evidence that I didn’t kill the garden!! *insert Snoopy dance here*

Here’s an update via pics.


We have been enjoying salad almost daily with our bounty. This is a pic of AFTER I had harvested two large bowl.  Homegrown lettuce DOES taste that much better…grassy, earthy, slightly bitter yet sweet. I. LOVE. THIS. STUFF.


Ah yes, the yellow zuc.  Found this one hiding under the huge leaves that come with the plant.  When dad found this he nearly keeled over with shock as he didn’t remember me buying this seedling NOR did he believe that zuc’s do come in yellow LOL  Either way…it will be in our bellies soon enough!


This was more along the lines of what dad was expecting.


Not sure if you are able to pick out what the pic is of with a quick glance but if you focus just to the right of the centre of the pic…you will see jalapenos!! I loved growing these last year and am slowly learning how to cook with them. I can’t wait for these puppies to grow as they grow plentifully well.


These are in the same planter box next to the jalapeno’s….I was so giddy with glee when I spotted these! I totally thought they weren’t going to produce but slowly and surely there’s 2 right there (they’re about the size of a medium plum right now) and their friends are hanging out in the plant behind this one.  So far, there are 4 bell peppers!!


Spotted some San Marzano tomatoes finally on the vines.


And some beefsteak tomatoes too!!


Lastly, just to give you an idea of the size of the zuc’s…yes they’re larger then life. Definitely larger then the tray but the teeny tiny one down in front there at the bottom…thats a ‘store bought’ one.  That’s right. My home grown zuc’s are BIONIC!!!

So with that lil update … anyone got any recipe suggestions/ideas for the zuc’s?  I do the whole zuc bread thing as well as sauteeing it or grilling it up as a side dish and have also shredded it and added it to sauces but I’m sure all of these ideas will get old really fast with the boys.

With summer being in full swing, I totally lucked out with nabbing lunch reservations with one of my best girlfriends at a participating Summerlicious 2012 restaurant – Hot House Cafe.

For those not in the know, Summerlicious is an opportunity to try out fancy’ish, upscale & sawnk restaurants across Toronto, Ontario via menu’s that are “prix fixe” (one set fixed price for all three: starter, entree & dessert) Drinks, taxes & gratuities are not included. There are options of different price points ranging from $15 – $45 for both lunch and/or dinner with a wide range of various cuisines to choose from. (They also run this festival in the winter and call it “Winterlicious”)

You can browse Hot House Cafe’s Summerlicious 2012 menu here.

Personally, I find it an affordable way to get out for a date with your significant other or gather with friends to catch up while trying out various restaurants and cuisines.

We couldn’t have chosen a better day weather wise. We have been experiencing a very hot and humid spell – I’m not complaining, after all it *is* summer! – but today, there was a break in the humidity which made our meal that much more enjoyable by being able to sit out on the patio taking in the fresh air and sights. (Oh c’mon, who doesn’t love people watching?)

My view from the table…it was empty when we were seated but by the time we got our starters, it was packed!  Also, had it not been lunch, I’d have ordered some sort fun summery adult type bevvy!  Tough being responsible sometimes huh? 😉

My starter: Louisiana Crab Cake with Chili-Lime Aioli

[Crab cake fried to a golden brown served with a tangy Aioli sauce and crispy Shrimp Chips on mixed greens]

Mighty tasty! I was actually very surprised. It really did taste like I thought it should – like crab! Imagine that *lol* Apparently what I had been served in the past “called” crab cakes were nothing of the sort. They were horrible! I would eat these babies as an entree if given the option!

My entree: Grilled Cheese Supreme

[Gruyere, Aged Gouda and Fontina Cheeses melted between two slices of
thick Sourdough bread with fresh Tomato slices and Prosciutto di Parma, served with Sweet Potato fries

Hey…can’t go wrong with something basic and classic right?  I think I’m going to try making this at home…shhh, don’t tell them!

BTW: The fries were surprisingly great! Super fresh, crispy and perfectly seasoned. That was a shock as whenever I’ve tried ordering them elsewhere they’re served soggy and not fully cooked through.

My dessert: White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pie

[Peanut Butter Mousse drizzled with White Chocolate on a Graham Cracker Crust]

I haven’t a clue as to why it’s called “pie” when it looks as if it was made to be some sort of a dessert square/bar.  It had the texture of a peanut butter cheesecake.

It was so peanut buttery and rich that I was barely able to eat it (especially since I polished off all them sweet tater fries! Moo.) So I just had a taste and wrapped it up to bring home and share with the hubster later, after dinner.  I will give props though as anything marketed as “peanut butter” flavour usually has the essence of it vs actually tasting of it.  This “pie” tasted like you were literally eating pb straight from the jar with a spoon. Totally awesome!!

I think my selections from the Summerlicious menu were great and were definitely not disappointing.  Not bad for $15 huh? How’s that for a bargain?  Great food with great atmosphere.

I wish restaurants would offer prix fixe menus more often so us frugal kinfolk could seek out hidden gems more often.

Do you like dining out and trying new restaurants? Any faves or recommendations?

Tonight, I had logged on to blog about an entirely different subject matter but discovered that I was a recipient of a ‘Liebster Blog Award’.  How awesome is that!?!  I’m so excited with being a newb at the whole blogging thing and all. I do want to give thanks to Hilda over at From Overwhelmed to Organized who has presented me with the award.

Thank you Hilda 🙂

Here are the rules for the award:

1. Post about your win on your blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who presented you with the award and follow their blog (if you don’t already!).
3. Copy and paste the award button to your blog (you can right-click on the Liebster label from my page, save it to your computer, then save to your blog).
4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs that have fewer than 200 followers that you think deserve to be recognized.
5. Let them know by leaving them a comment on their blog.
6. Please share 5 random facts about yourself.
Paying it forward to five more great recipients!

* Sage over at Sage & Simple

* Nichole over at family style mayhem

* Amy over at My Real Life

* Donna over at Fluff and Feathers

* Allison over at The Keswick Blog

Lastly, here are the five random facts about myself:

* Used to be afraid to cook, bake & experiment in the kitchen (not anymore)

* Loves to travel – locally and abroad when time & budget permits

* Considers herself to be an amateur photographer

* Does not like most amusement park rides

* Starting to figure out the whole coupon thing

At the end of last summer, I vowed to learn how to garden this year.  I had made the same vow the year before but didn’t take as much action as I’d have liked.  My dad is aging, he’s not as into gardening as much as he used to.  I need to absorb as much knowledge as I can before its too late.  Besides, who doesn’t love the huge pay off for all the hard work?  What’s better then walking out into your own backyard and picking out your veggies for your next meal? You know exactly what’s in/on them and where they’re from.  Dare I call my garden bounty “organic”?

Hubby said he’d garden with me (aka help me BIG TIME because I’m not good at it) since I have very minimal experience. I know how to water the garden, weed and harvest.   Dad also said he’d have no part in gardening this year as he was  ‘done with it’.    To be honest, I think he was tired of being the only one doing all the work.  (To be revealed later, dad does putter around in the garden but not nearly as much as he has in the past.  I guess old habits die hard ;))

This year, I dove in head first! Back in mid-late May, the hubster and I tilled the garden beds, mixed eggshells into the soil and fertilized it as well.  I picked up the seedlings for our future garden and they were planted.   Man was I ever excited!!

Then the boring part came…waiting for things to grow.  I watered religiously and weeded as needed – basically daily.

Now that I look back on it, it really *is* a lot of work to grow & maintain your own garden but its SO totally worth it!


A few years back, we designed our backyard to be an enjoyable living space adding in the gardening aspects later.  Now the two styles live together almost harmoniously.  Turned out well if you ask me.


The tomato bed – san marzano, beefsteak & roma.


Pot – basil & Italian oregano.

Planter box #1 – jalapenos, red, green & yellow peppers
Planter box #2 – leaf lettuce

BTW: thats thai basil growing all rogue (bottom right hand of pic) Haven’t decided if we’re going to try to eat it/use it.


In this garden bed – yellow and green zucs, English cucs, butternut squash, Chinese eggplant and  bittermelon.


Large pot:  spearmint

Small pot: cilantro

Missing is one pic of the other large garden bed which is home to Chinese fuzzy gourds, Chinese long squash, bittermelon and pie pumpkins.

So far, the garden has produced plenty of herbs and lettuce. I can’t wait for the other items to start growing in!

Do you garden? What have you planted?  Any recipe suggestions for the herbs? (I seem to have a lot to use LOL)

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