Friday, March 31, 2017


Let's get some business over with first...of all my complaining lately, did I even tell you guys about the stale Kit Kats that I bought after Christmas? I can't keep track anymore of all the crappy stuff, complaining process, returns, hassles and finally refunds and coupons....anyway, Kit Kat sent me a coupon for $10 to 'enjoy' their product. I didn't expect that much, but I am grateful. :) Oh, the burned cheese nips? No response yet and I re-emailed the same complaint this morning.

So..yesterday I was talking about a shift in our philosophy towards purchases. Alex and I had to go out this morning and on the way back, we discovered a local store that sold kitchen supplies. The owner has been in the business 60 years, taking over his father's door-to-door "chaudron" (pot) business. He told us the history of fondue pots and the manufacturers here in Quebec. He also had one of these gorgeous enamel fondue pots left that he got as overstock and offered us a 40% discount. I think we were in that store a good 45 minutes before we decided it was worth the expense. This is quality! The pot is pretty heavy and the base is cast iron...and even though it means we have to cut down a few other expenses now, we are so proud of our purchase! And this is exactly the type of store we want to invest our money in.

Of course, this is the perfect opportunity for me to make one of the fondues from my new cookbook tonight! :) I was telling Alex about the Hygge and the Danish way of being cozy and he said that we need to find a way to have cheese fondue in bed lol...I don't think we'll every accomplish that but it's a nice cozy idea!

Speaking of cozy and comfort, I read through this book yesterday. It was a fun little book to read, and I admit I skimmed through some of the longer paragraphs that focused only on statistics. The whole concept, in a nutshell, is to make your life cozy with dim lighting (mostly candlelight), cozy nooks with lots of blankets and pillows, comfort food, warm beverages, a fire burning, time with loved ones and pets...and anything else you deem cozy.

Personally I found the focus on social interaction as a precursor to happiness to be a little off topic for me. I'm a self-admitted hermit and anti-social homebody. Alex is the same way. Society and social interactions actually have the opposite effect for us - we become mentally exhausted and stressed out. We much prefer quiet time with just the two of us and the pets around us. Maybe that's why I got through the book so quickly, I just skipped over those parts. But all in all, it's a wonderful concept and I have realized that I am already hygge-filled in my life! Everything I do is to create comfort for myself and Alex. I'm still going to read the other book I got "The Cozy Life" to see if there is anything different in there!

I used the last of the fresh tomatoes and lettuce to make BLT's yesterday for lunch, well, BLTC's since we add Cheddar. :)

I wanted to use up the leftover roast beef so I cubed it all up and made Alex a shepherd's pie. For me, I baked a chicken breast in barbecue was such a comfort meal! :)

We stopped by the pet store to buy more bones for the dogs. Charlie looks crazy looking at me while she's chewing! If the dogs don't get a good solid chew each day, we find they get restless and antsy so I always have a "bone budget" for the winters. During the summer, they don't need as much because they're more active like us! :) 

Speaking of dogs, Alex is putting together a file for the next town meeting with regards to the loose dog and feral cat problem here. He spoke to our neighbour and they're forming a team to speak to the mayor. We heard some disturbing things about the condition of the canine control inspector's premises, the lady who is contracted out to this town. Apparently it's borderline neglectful, the stories were horrible and heartbreaking...we can't just look the other way. Ironically, we heard similar stories from two strangers we interacted with today, so we feel they must be at least close to being truthful. Alex knows that my mental health can't take too much of the stress so he's going to do all the talking and petitioning, but he definitely has my full support. We're actually going to do some investigating before mid-April's town meeting by visiting her premises. She doesn't know us by'll be like those private investigators in the movies lol. I'll be posting about this issue now and then! 

It's been a long day for us already, so Alex made us each our favourite version of an Old Fashioned and we are off to watch a few movies before the cheese fondue! I hope we don't lose power, the storm has just begun.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sunshine, Sprouting and Some Shifting of Habits

I LOVE the sun! See those three sinkholes on the left of the photo? Yeah, that was me this time of year the snow is still really deep but not solid enough to keep me from plunging down. I'm taking full advantage of the sun today because the forecast is now 5 inches of snow tomorrow overnight to Saturday. I'm going to spend the weekend mostly reading, speaking of that...

I downloaded these two books this morning. Thanks to Yarrow and Sam I Am for the suggestion. I've been having such a hard time this winter and I think reading these books on making life cozy at home will do me some good! One of my goals in life is comfort and making our lifestyle as cozy as possible - especially while renting because we can't do anything we want with our rental, but I can make it cozy and peaceful to be in. I'm looking forward to reading through these, although they are digital version, which I usually don't like, I'll make the effort!

You guys are going to think that all Alex and I eat is pizza lol...It's true we do love the stuff! We had one of the frozen bacon and cheese pizzas for lunch yesterday, delicious! (Sorry for the ooey gooey cheese photos again Kymber) 😋

This is Mr. Snowy, he's my winter porch decoration. He's smiling because he's thrilled that it's going to snow tomorrow...I had to burst his bubble. It's time for him to retire for the season! I made him last November from some pallets that our lumber yard gave us. He is now housed in the storage room in the basement, I hope he's still smiling! :)

This morning I re-painted my Tweety Bird and Sir Dusty Buttons - buttons dusty no more! At least for now!! They needed a tuneup. Tomorrow I'll put a gloss paint over them so they'll be all ready to guard my new garden when the weather gets better! For now, they're keeping an eye out on the basil growing on the window sill. :)

With all of the lousy products out there, Alex and I have decided that we are going to slowly make a shift in our habits with regards to buying products; by that I mean, we are going to invest rather than buy for the best price. See these nice flannel sheets? We bought these at a reputable store, The Linen Chest. They were regular price $90 for the set and we saw them on sale 60% off so we took advantage and bought 3 sets of them...I can't believe they sell these for $90 to begin with because we got these at the end of January and already two of the pillow cases are torn and one of the's so terrible. 

Anyway, we weren't always in a position to buy based on quality vs. price, and I know how hard it is to get by, a lot of folks just don't have that choice. We still live paycheck to paycheck what with paying back debt, saving for a down payment and just living the lifestyle we enjoy. For our first few years together, we had major car, pet and moving expenses and basically we were broke. 

Here's one example, all we could afford were dollar-store cutting boards. I don't know what you're experience is, but our experience is that they last a month - if that. Alex even tried sanding and curing them, but the knife marks go right through them and you can really smell the leftover onion and garlic on them, despite using baking soda and lemon to clean them. And the splinters...okay, I could go on and on, it's just one example. This photo is from a local craftsman's workshop. He makes all of these breadboards and pizza peels from cherry and maple wood. He guarantees them for 20 years if you follow his instructions on care. We're going to go to his workshop next week and invest some big bucks in buying a large and a small cutting board. I think from now on, we're going to keep this philosophy whenever we can afford it. I used to cringe at the words "locally made" and "locally grown" simply because I just didn't have the we will opt for these things as we can afford them, and do without until that time because I'm sick of wasting money on crap. What about you all out there? What are your experiences? Are they as discouraging as mine? What's your philosophy on product purchasing? We both wish we had better skills to make more of our own things.

Do you sprout?  My fellow Canadian friend Dianna suggested a company called Mumm's to me a few days back as her go-to seed sprouting supply store. I've never sprouted before, but have been getting more and more interested as the quality of the lettuce in winter declines. I'd love to hear about every and any experience with home sprouting because I unfortunately fell upon an alarmist news article about the frequency of salmonella in sprout seeds...anyway, since I don't know much about it, I'd like to hear the good and the bad from people who actually have done or do sprout now! If you've written a post(s) about sprouting, please include the link(s) for me, I need to be more educated (and please never even think of a lengthy comment as being too long, I love them long!). I don't want to have a pre-judgment based on one article, but it does linger in my mind unfortunately. Anxiety anyone? Lol...okay, I'm still working on it!

And last but not least, a no-shame photo of Oscar suntanning, using Jack as his foot rest!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Whoa Is Me! More Snow!!

Here's a picture I took from the upstairs balcony/veranda. It's been sprinkling snow all day long. There shouldn't be too much accumulation, but the Weather Network is calling for 4 inches on Friday overnight to Saturday, sigh. Why on the weekend??? That gives motivation for the snowmobilers to come up north!!! It'll be another hibernation weekend I think...hmmm...maybe I'll sit and watch my basil grow lol...

I'm having egg issues too...not like other homesteaders who are gathering so many fresh eggs that they don't know what to do with them!!! But I think I may have overbought...yes, I did! I've already frozen a few dozen and I still have two more than need to be eaten in the next two weeks, so I'll be baking a lot and making egg dishes. I made a double-decker egg salad sandwich for Alex's lunch yesterday. I forgot to take a picture, but I made myself an egg white scramble with tomatoes and Parm. No dinner pics today, we had the leftover Crunchwraps!

I got my book order yesterday! :) I've already started reading the Anti-Anxiety book and there is a LOT in gosh. It might take me reading it a few times over to process all of the food information relating to different conditions of the mind.

I also got this new gardening book. It's so much easier to read than Eliot Coleman's "Four Season Harvest" which I have to admit, I'm having a hard time getting through right now...but that could be that my mind is focusing on healing the anxiety. The author of this new book, Niki Jabbour, is from Halifax, so she's a Canuck and she writes very well, lots of explanations of each crop and how it relates to each season for the garden. I browsed through it last night and can't wait to get more into it! I'll still read Eliot Coleman's, it'll give me a few different perspectives and suggestions.

Anyone up for a baking challenge this weekend? After my horror story about the burned Cheese Nips in yesterday's post, Sam I Am mentioned that there has to be a way to make them at home; and I found a recipe that I did actually use once: Homemade Cheeze-Its. I looked back at my photos and I made them last November. I served them with homemade tomato soup and I couldn't remember why I didn't make them again. Alex thinks it's because they were really "flour-y", which makes sense because I kind of remember the dough being very sticky so I might have used more flour in the rolling and cutting. Plus I didn't have cookie cutters back then, just my dog bone-shaped ones...I have more now though so I can make them smaller. If you look at the website though, hers look perfect...I don't know that I can achieve that! But I'm up for the challenge. I have some Cheddar that ain't doin' nothin' so I'm going to do this sometime over the next four days!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Roast Beef and Rainbow Trout

This is Oscar. See how cute he is? He's trying to keep his toes warm on my heating pad that was incubating my latest batch of yogurt. Oh he's cute, I had to get a hour later I could have rung his neck because he was so into the heating pad that he knocked over the yogurt, grrrrr! Such a clatter...I did actually spring from my bed to see what was the matter! How did I not see that one coming??

After my initial "Oh My God OSCAR!!!!" squeal...he ran upstairs to hide next to Charlie. Aw, I can't stay mad at any of them. I managed to salvage some of it, but it didn't really set very well. Pets...

I made Alex some of that Beef Jerky that he loves so much. I'm not sure what happened, but it dried out so quickly this time that we had to re-marinate it and let it dry again. I hope my dehydrator isn't on the fritz because I always get the same cut of meat and use the same drying time. At least we salvaged that too! A day of food-rescue!!!

For dinner I made Alex a roast beef. I wanted to use the Brussels Sprouts that I'd bought on shopping day, they lasted a very long time in the fridge. I just cooked them in a pan with butter and salt and with a baked potato, Alex loved it! I'm not a beef-eater anymore because of my digestion, sadly because this looked and smelled so good! I found a simple method online for the beef. Just salt, pepper and Dijon mustard rubbed and then baked 25 minutes a pound for medium. How do you make your roast beef? I was trying to get the similar scent and taste of my grandmother's old Sunday dinner roast! I think I succeeded!

For me, I had a nice piece of Rainbow trout with a Chardonnay butter sauce (wine, butter and onions, that's it!). The first few bites were divine, but as I kept eating, I didn't really enjoy it, which kind of surprised me. I'm a fish lover, but I found the Rainbow to be really intensely strong in flavour. I got turned off salmon for the same reason, when years ago I used to eat it a few times a week...I hope my taste buds aren't shifting!

Another Chapter of the "Not Surprising" Files:

Some of you may remember I wrote about a box of Premium Plus crackers that Alex bought for me when I had food poisoning. I mentioned that one of the sleeves of crackers was all burned. Well, at the beginning of March, I did get a coupon from the company as a result of complaining. I used it to buy a box of Cheese Nips the other day, Alex loves them but we buy them rarely because they're not good for us. Check this out:

BURNED CRACKERS AGAIN!!! I've had it. I wrote again to the company saying I felt like I wasted my coupon on these burned Cheese Nips. No quality control. And I'll bet I simply get another coupon in the mail with no care about how mediocre the product is. Every day I get more and more examples of poor products and it really motivates me to become as self-sufficient as I can be. Crazy!

Monday, March 27, 2017

We Have Basil !!! Crunchwraps and an Ice Storm

Look! I planted my basil indoors on the first day of spring and today I got the first sign of life! This makes me so happy on a very dull Monday. I feel like I'm gardening lol!

We had an ice storm overnight. This kind of weather makes me uneasy because we often lose power when things get very icy and heavy like this. But so far the power lines are holding strong; and the lilac tree is holding its own too. The ice on the little twigs look almost silver.

The bird feeder is frozen solid! I tried to break it up a little for the birds today but I kept slipping on the ice below so I figure I'll wait a day then fill it up again!

Some critter found their way to the feeder though, likely one of the hundreds of feral cats in this area. We saw some prints coming out of our shed too. The shed is a useless structure but we knew that when we signed the lease a few years back. The landlord was honest and said he had no intention of fixing it or replacing it when the times comes. We never use it, though it would come in handy. The door is kind of stuck ajar and the feral cats use it, which I'm thankful for, because I have so much pity for them when the -30 C weather hits. So let's go to my favourite subject: FOOD!

I don't know why but we've been so into Mexican-style food lately. I was watching a video on how to make a homemade version of Taco Bell's Crunchwrap Supreme. It looked rather easy and really delicious so we gave it a try. Alex did most of the cooking and preparing since my energy was still a little low by the time we started to get hungry. Oh my gosh! This meal was SO GOOD. We had fun garnishing them for the pictures too :) Here's the play by play:

These Crunchwraps were really delicious! When I saw the video a few months ago, I noted to myself that I should try to find extra-large tortillas. But I couldn't find them, so we made a few mini ones. I've never been to Taco Bell, we didn't have them here in Quebec until recently I believe, but from what I've seen, the wraps are supposed to be the size of the inside of my dinner plate when they're all bundled up and ready for the frying pan. I'll have to keep an eye out for larger tortillas because we will be making this again! Another thing is that we broke apart some taco shells in lieu of the round corn "tostada" that the original recipe called for. It seems that corn tostadas don't exist around here at all, same concept as the taco shell though, just not as pretty! :)

Look at the innards of this thing! :) And we have plenty of leftovers for a lunch or another dinner. Yum yum yum! Because the crunchwrap was browned and warm to eat, it didn't bother me so much that my "freshly" bought crappy head of $3.49 lettuce was wilted a came that way to begin with, but I pretended it was just due to the cooking. :)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Daily Routines

This is last night's moon. I'm surprised the photo turned out so nice because I used my phone! So far with all of my efforts, I've been anxiety attack-free going on three days. I don't want to start counting, because that will add pressure to me I'm sure, go figure, my mind and body do what they want sometimes! So far my efforts are working! What relaxes me the most is a 20-minute meditation before dinner. I'm developing a good routine and I'm so happy it's helping me!

Speaking of dinner, this is a familiar sight, Chicken Cesar Salad. We love this meal, but sometimes I wish I had better ideas for salads. It's hard to eat salad in the winter what with the produce so expensive and icky-looking, so we only have it a few times a month and it's always the same meal. I downloaded a few salad cookbooks to try to move beyond the Chicken Cesar! It'll be more cost-effective in the summer to eat more fresh lettuce and vegetables so I have time to prepare!

Two more pizzas are in the freezer! I made bacon and cheese pizzas yesterday. So far I've only made basic pizzas for the freezer, but the last time we had them, we both liked them better than fresh. I think it's because the dough ends up cooking crispier. I have a nice fig and prosciutto pizza planned and a four cheese for next week...maybe I'll try freezing them and seeing how they hold up!

The dogs are all eating bones and I'm going to get back to my anti-anxiety routine! Are you a creature of habit like me or do you need to be more spontaneous?