DIY: Coffee Table Project Preview

This past week or so I’d been on a mission to find my next furniture project. As this was going to be my first attempt since having Ari, I had a few criteria: It had to be a simple piece, such as a table or small cabinet; it couldn’t be too big; and it had to be something that didn’t require too much prep work. All of this since I knew my time would be more broken up taking care of the little one.
I’d been looking for the right piece, and being pickier than usual. I checked out my local haunts with no success, so when my parents and I got to check out Habitat for Humanity’s Restore stores (sorry, I know that sounds funny), I was looking forward to scoping out new territory.
We checked out of their  Burnaby & Vancouver locations. What makes these stores unique is their concept: they carry new & used building materials & home decor that has been donated with the proceeds going to build homes for those in need. It’s a treasure hunt with a conscience!
The stores had everything from cabinets to light fixtures to paint to power tools, and oh so much more. And the inventory is constantly changing. The prices are fair and they will negotiate if you make a reasonable offer. The staff were also very friendly, helpful, and willing to answer any questions we had.
I had success at the Burnaby location, and came across this lil beauty:
It was perfect, and I knew as soon as I saw it what I wanted to do with it. 
So after loading up my purchase, we headed to The FAT Paint Company in New West to stock up on chalk paint & wax. It’s currently a work in progress, but as you can see, the table has already undergone a partial transformation. I’m hoping to have this makeover finished this week, so I’ll upload photos & go through the process in a later post. In the mean time, if you’re feeling creative, check out The FAT Paint Company- Brad & Victoria (the brother- sister team who founded this gem of a company) are very knowledgeable & helpful. I’d recommend this little shop to anybody looking to try some DIY. 
When I upload the finished project I’ll go into more detail about the process. But for now you can see how well the chalk paint has worked out…
1st coat

2nd coat

FInished project to follow!!!

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Greek Night!

Image Source: http://waktattoos.com/id7001/theproverbialgreek-com-236-thickbox-greek-key-armband-tattoo-800×600-pixel.html
Opa!!!! This past Sunday we hosted dinner for some of the fam. As I’m sure anyone who’s ever cooked for anyone else knows, we all like different things. And to be fair, I do like my guests to like what they’re served- and as a bonus, I try to offer something on the healthy side (even though this Sunday had lots of carbs!). Since we’re moving into Fall, I figured I’d break out the slow cooker and test out a menu I could serve when the cooler weather arrives. So with all of this in mind, I decided on Greek food! (Cue the drooling Homer Simpson face!)
I wanted to make dishes that I was familiar with, since I’m comfortable with the ingredients and had a good idea of what was involved. I definitely was grateful to have the chicken on auto pilot all day, so I could prep the appies & sides (plus, I didn’t want the house to look like a laundry bomb had gone off ). 😉

I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and then it was off to the races!

Yummy Mummy Greek Night Menu: (Serves 8- 10)

Quinoa Greek Salad
Pita Chips & Tzatziki (also served with main course)
Slow Cooker Lemon Herb Chicken with Greek Style Rice & Potatoes

Quinoa Greek Salad

1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 avocado
1/2 cucumber
1/2 red onion
1 large tomato, or a handful of cherry tomatoes
1 small can of sliced olives (optional)
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:
Cook quinoa; Bring 2 cups water & quinoa to a boil. Stir, cover &reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes (or until soft & water is absorbed).
When cooked, remove from heat & set aside to cool.
Dice all veggies & feta into large chunks- approx 1/4″ – 1/2″ pieces.
In a container with a lid, mix the olive oil & vinegars; shake well.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until well blended.
Keep in fridge until ready to serve.

Pita Chips & Tzatziki

2 large pitas
8 oz Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber
2- 3 cloves garlic (based on prefernce- I say the stinkier your breath, the yummier the dip!)
1 tbsp lemon juice (fresh if you have it)
1 tbsp fresh dill or 1 1/2 tsp dried dill

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350; bake pitas for approx. 10 minutes, or until crunchy.
When cooled, break into pieces similar in size to tortilla chips.
Finely dice cucumber.
Crush garlic.
Combine all ingredients & stir well.
Keep in fridge until ready to serve.

Slow Cooker Lemon Herb Chicken

10 chicken breasts or thighs (or both)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
6 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup water
chicken or veggie bullion cube (or 1 cup stock)
6 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:
Mix all of the seasonings, etc in slow cooker until well blended.
Add chicken- mix well, so that all pieces have been coated.
Cook on low for 6- 8 hours or high for 4.

Greek Style Rice

3- 4 tbsp butter
1 small white onion, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 cups rice (uncooked)
3 1/2 cups water with 2 bullion cubes (or 3 1/2 cups chicken broth)
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2 tsp ground pepper

Directions:
In a large skillet/ frying pan melt butter; saute garlic & onion for approx. 3 minutes.
(or until onion is soft)
Add everything else & stir well.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat & simmer covered for 20 minutes.
Give a final stir- ready to serve!

Greek Style Potatoes

4 large potatoes, peeled & sliced (approx. 6 slices lengthwise per potato)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup water with veggie or chicken bullion cube (or 1 1/2 cups chicken broth)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350
In large baking pan (9″* 3″ at least) mix everything together (except potatoes).
When everything mixed well, toss in potatoes; make sure they are well coated.
Cover pan with foil.
Bake for 1 1/2- 2 hours, turning once or twice.
Poke with a fork to check if cooked.

Serve & enjoy!!!

Phew! I hope you get a chance to try some or all of this yummy goodness!

Amazing Mom Feature: Monica Romey, Realtor

I am so excited for the inaugural Amazing Mom Feature! As I have said before, I love hearing how Moms find a way to balance work & family, since so many have to go back to work. I want to encourage and support as many of these amazing ladies as I can, since we all know how much work it is!

Image Source: http://monicaromey.com/biography.html 
My first Amazing Mom is Monica Romey, a real estate agent in the Fraser Valley/Vancouver area. Fully licensed since 2007, she entered the industry in 2000 working part time as her father’s office assistant. During that time she dappled in other areas including positions in restaurants & spas, until realizing these were not the roles for her. As someone who enjoys freedom & flexibility in her work, Monica realized that being her own boss would be ideal, especially since it would give her the ability to set her own goals and “think outside of the box”. She has had sales anywhere from $30,000 to several million.

In terms of challenges, she states those common with entrepreneurs: the continual effort to evolve and grow her business; and pushing herself beyond her comfort zone to try new things. However, when you meet Monica, you see how comfortable she is with the constantly changing dynamic of her job, and she puts her clients at ease with this calming presence. 

In addition, what makes Monica so good at what she does is not only the advice & guidance that she provides  through the process of buying or selling real estate (including all of the negotiating & paperwork), she genuinely enjoys working with clients & making a positive difference in their lives. She appreciates that she is involved in such a major life event, and finds that the greatest reward is when clients recommend her to their family & friends.

When asked what advice she would offer, Monica has some classic encouragement: do something you love and surround yourself with successful people who will encourage and support you in achieving your goals.

To contact Monica, you can reach her at 604 783 7653; via email: monica@monicaromey.com, or visit her website: monicaromey.com.  

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

If you’re like me and have a sweet tooth, you probably have a weakness for baked goods 😉
My Dad makes this all the time, and when the Hubby and I were living with my parents to save for our house, this was a never fail crowd pleaser! It’s a simple recipe- a simple sponge cake as the base- and is quick and easy to whip up. This recipe is taken from the Be- Ro cookbook- which any UK expat will recognize 🙂 I usually double the recipe to get it nice & thick!
Yummy Mummy Recipe: Pineapple Upside Down Cake (as seen in the Be- Ro cookbook, hence the funky measurements)
Prep Time: 10 min. Bake Time:  20- 25 min in 2 pans; 40- 45 min in 1 pan
Ingredients: (4 oz = 1/2 cup approx.)
4 oz margarine or butter
4 oz sugar
4 oz  flour + baking powder, if needed (approx. 2 tsp per cup of flour)
2 eggs
+
1 can pineapple slices
1 cup brown sugar unpacked (or enough to coat base of pan(s)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350; grease & line pan(s)
Sprinkle brown sugar to coat bottom of pan(s)- it should look like  graham cracker crust (you may need to add more- and honestly, the more the yummier!) 😉
Drain the pineapple, but keep the juice! My Dad suggests adding 1- 2 tsbp of the juice to the batter for extra flavour & moisture- delicious! (Plus it’s yummy to mix for grown up drinks!!!)
In a mixer, cream margarine/ butter with sugar (I prefer butter!)
When mixed, alternately add flour (and baking powder, if needed) with eggs. Mix until all ingredients are blended; batter should not be runny and should be a creamy colour.
Use a spatula to scoop batter from mixing bowl and distribute evenly over pineapple/ brown sugar base

Bake at 350 for 20- 25 minutes if in 2 pans or 40- 45 minutes if in 1 pan. Use the old stand by of a skewer to check when ready- if you poke the cake and it comes out clean, you’re golden! Just like the cake should be! 😉
Yum!

Green Lake Getaway: Organizing a Family Adventure

I think one of the best things about Summer is the amazing weather we get here in BC. We pay our dues for 8- 9 months of the year so we can have a few months from June to September to get our yearly dose of vitamin C. We’re so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world, and the Summer is the perfect time to get out and explore the great outdoors.
That is, until you have a Summer baby! 😉 Ari’s a June baby, and I remember being grateful that my pregnancy would hopefully be finished before the weather got too toasty. I can’t see that being 9 months preggo in 30 degree weather would be too enjoyable. The only downside to this as a first time parent is the inevitable fear of venturing out with a new born (not to mention the healing that you have to go through, which can affect your mobility). As a consequence, I enjoyed a lot of Summer from indoors- at least for the first few weeks.
When Ari hit 3 weeks I was chomping at the bit to get out of the house. Fresh air and sunshine! We ended up staying pretty close to home, just visiting family & friends, but it helped keep me from going stir crazy. By the time August hit, I was grateful to have the chance to get out and enjoy the sun, but couldn’t fight the wanderlust any longer. A family friend has a cabin at Green Lake, and when we were invited for a getaway, we took the opportunity to get away.
If I could sum up my advice, for those of you with limited reading time, here it is in a nutshell: make lists, plan/ organize in advance, double check you haven’t forgotten anything (leave reminder(s) somewhere you will see), plan more time to load/ organize vehicle, and finally, plan your travel time around your new family life, not that of the dinks you were! (PS plan ahead for meals- are you going to make your own food, buy on the go, or some combo of the two?)
Now, this was our first attempt going away with the lil lady. Packing up ourselves is enough work, now throw in all the baby gear: the playpen, chair, stroller, clothes, and heaps of diapers. Oh, and don’t forget the baby. Safe to say there was a lot of planning involved- and lists. I swear I keep Post Its in business!
My advice to any new parent attempting their adventure is to plan ahead and give yourself lots of time. If there are items that you know you’ll be in trouble if you forget (ie diapers!) write a list and stick it somewhere that you’ll look at a lot and/ or before you leave. One of my favourite places is the inside of the front door, so I literally can’t leave my house without the reminder hitting me between the eyes. And believe me, this has come in handy on more than a few occasions!
Once you’re packed and you’ve checked and re- checked that you have everything, the time comes to load everything into the vehicle. Ha! Let real life Tetris begin! I definitely find that having a car seat and stroller to contend with makes how you pack and organize a little more strategic. Suddenly you’ve lost a big chunk of room to make way for some very important equipment. I’ve had to take all the contents  of my vehicle out and awkwardly squish them back in after a grocery shop at Costco! But I digress…
The other thing to consider is eating on the go. We all know the little one(s) will need to be fed- and if you’re on somewhat of a feeding schedule, you’ll know how far you’ll likely make it without a pit stop- but what about Mom & Dad??? Packing a cooler full of goodies and having it within reach of the front seats will save you from having to pull over when your tummy gets grumbly. It can also save you money (no drive throughs!), time (no drive throughs!!), and calories (no drive throughs!!!). Is it obvious that I’m kinda cheap and would rather make my own food for the sake of health and budget?
Don’t get me wrong, I did splurge a little and cave in at Costco- the M&M trail mix is deadly! We’d chomped through half of it by the time we got to Green lake! I also stocked up on chips & Annie’s Mac n Cheese (yum!). I probably blew half my monthly grocery budget to stock up for the trip, but I figure, hey, you’re supposed to cut loose when you go away!
I hope you get the opportunity to get away with your new family unit, and when you do, I hope it’s enjoyable, if not a little hectic! 😉 Enjoy the valuable time away & your time as a family without the craziness of everyday life- even if the craziness just takes a new form! 😉
OXOX