Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chocolate Syrup

 Chocolate syrup isn't something that we usually buy since it runs upwards of $4 a bottle even when on sale. We bought a bottle of Carriage Trade (knock-off brand, their tea tastes just like Tetley) syrup for $3.49 at the beginning of the summer and just recently finished it off. I fully intended to buy another but wasn't able to find it again, either the store was out or they don't carry it anymore. I really like to have iced mochas in the afternoon when I start to run out of energy and I found this super easy recipe online so I decided to give it a try while I was waiting for some bread to bake.

The recipe I found called it Almost Hershey's Syrup and used Hershey's cocoa powder but it's far more expensive than the Trophy brand cocoa powder that I have always bought, about $6.99 versus the $4ish I normally get mine for.

Here's what you need:
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk everything together in a pot over medium heat, let it get to a boil for just a minute to make sure all of the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into whatever container you want to use (I reused the chocolate syrup bottle and it ended up filling it more than halfway) and store in the fridge. Use however you like!

This ended up being quite a bit thinner than syrup you would buy but that just made it way easier to mix into milk!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

30DC2 - Day 27

Alice wouldn't let us sleep past 6. She kept harassing us, yelling, falling off the bed, thrashing around until 8:30 when I got up. I strapped her into the high chair and after a small breakfast she fell asleep again. I snuck back into bed and fell asleep for half an hour.
I did the swagbucks crap and got some work done. After that I had a client drop by to back up his files.
After some Kraft Dinner for lunch I went downtown by bus and Holly and Alice went to donate some junk to Value Village and buy stuff of course.

I had to return some things to Winners downtown. None of the shoes I liked fit, didn't like the hats but I did find some nice black Volcom jeans. I actually found a dark blue pair as well but at the last minute I checked the fly and there were buttons. I will never understand that.

The other goal for the day was to use the two 7-Eleven Free Wings coupons we printed on the weekend. I didn't have any luck downtown with mine but Holly did on her way back from VV, but mostly by accident. Although the coupons were posted on a Canadian deals site, they're US only.

Dinner was Beef Stew with spicy cornbread muffins.

No plans for tomorrow set yet. No projects on the go.
We might go out to grab a big bag of sugar because we're almost out.

30DC2 - Day 26

Not much happened today, it poured rain all day so we stayed cooped up inside. No chores needed to be done and there wasn't anything important to attend to. I started the day off by finishing off the no-knead bread that I started up yesterday, we had half a loaf for lunch. It's always quite tasty. Then the rest of the day was just general tidying up, hanging out with Alice, interneting,  writing 2 new blog posts that will be up this week, trimming the dead stuff off of my tomato plant and so on. Boring stuff that people do when it's gross and rainy. I also started on November's meal plan.

Jon set our Swagbucks stuff up this morning to get our maximum points and then did his podcast stuff.

Dinner was a chicken stir fry. We watched some old Doctor Who episodes.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Mixer Dance

I think we forgot to post this. Holly was making cookies or something and Alice was dancing in her chair along with the Kitchenaid.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

30DC2 - Day 25

The weather in Vancouver went from Summer to Winter really fast.  It's been raining for the last couple days on and off we really have to force ourselves to get stuff done. I spend too much time watching videos.

While I watched Jackass 3 on Netflix, Holly got what should be the last of the groceries for this month:
$4.13 at John's Farm Market for fruit and veg
$12.92 at Donald's Market for Kraft Dinner, coffee cream, ramen noodles and more vegetables.

The grocery total for September is now $263.60
Not great but acceptable, we did have an extra adult to feed for 7 days.

Holly gave me a list of what she did today:
-Groceries late in the day
-Reorganized kitchen
-Had to bring plants in so they wouldn't be blown off the balcony
-Brewed iced coffee
-Started a loaf of no-knead bread
-Apartment still clean! Yay!

And I did this stuff:
- swagbucks points
- organized and re-named all the Doctor Who episodes in the library
- watched Jackass 3 on Netflix
- watched 1 episode of Pulling on Netflix
- watched 2 episodes of Gavin & Stacey on Netflix
- ate a banana, nectarine, almonds, leftover soup, half-box of Pocky, soup and biscuits for dinner
- recalled 10 mixes
- watched new Doctor Who during dinner
- baby bath
- watched Sons Of Anarchy
- remastered 10 songs
- uploaded masters to client

Alice loves brushing her teeth

Saturday, September 24, 2011

30DC2 - Day 24

I think we're finally caught up on the cleaning! We actually got up on time and got everything done before 4 for a change. 2 loads of laundry washed and dried and put away, pet houses cleaned, floors swept and mopped, dishes put away and washed again after dinner. I filled out the meals for October today as well. Groceries will be picked up tomorrow for the rest of the month, right now our grocery total is $246.55.

Here's the meal plan for the remaining days of September:

Here are some of the foods we cooked last week.

Chicken Pie


30DC2 - Day 23

OK, here's what happened today.
Alarm went off at 8am, decided NOT to get out of bed and stayed there until 9:30. Last night I finished the last of 19hrs of an audio restoration job. With no other urgent tasks today I figured it's ok to have a late start.
The last couple days we started doing the Swagbucks thing again after I read a way to get points without actually doing anything. We both have accounts building up points a little at a time throughout the day while we do more important things like argue about microphones with other geeks on Twitter. Swagbucks points can be redeemed in a variety of ways, most notably with Amazon gift cards or Paypal deposits.

I downloaded a bunch of TV shows we've been wanting to catch up on. While Marta was here we mostly watched our favorite UK comedies she hadn't seen like The IT Crowd and The Inbetweeners. We were watching a season each night after dinner. I also signed up for another trial of Netflix because of the big Swagbucks promotion happening now (they give you enough points to for almost $10 at Amazon or $5 Paypal).

I worked an hour while Holly did a load of laundry then we got ready to go out.

First stop was Mr. Donair for lunch. I'm on a chicken donair/swharma rampage lately. I've now been to 5 places in Vancouver, I can't rate any of them lower than a 6/10 because they've had great food each time but they've all been fairly different. This is my first time at Mr Donair but I've walked by it hundreds of times (remember I just recently realized donair and swharma are the same). This place was actually pretty expensive ($8 each!) and didn't have the super garlic taste the others had. They don't grill them here, they wrap them a little different and they're really messy. Unique things were the onion/cilantro/parsley mix and it looks like they make their own hummus and tzaziki sauce.

Next up to the bank for a deposit, then library for a drop off. Further up the street is the Shoppers Drug Mart & post office. Bought eggs and got a good deal on shampoo. Fructis was on sale for $2.99 and the bottles each had a $1 off coupon so we grabbed 2. Pretty sweet deal IMO.

Finally we stopped at London Drugs to get two more cases of diapers (on sale). I noticed that some of the baby treats were also on sale, Hollly had coupons for some of them also. With the diaper and snack coupons we saved $9, overall savings would be over $40.

Got home and at 4:30 shut the studio door until 8 so I could mix the ten songs I've been putting off for a week. I think I'm pretty close to finished on all 10.

While I was doing that Holly Vacuumed and cleaned the bathroom.

Dinner was a pasta with a tomato cream sauce.
Looks like I forgot to post the meal plan last week so here it is at the end of the week. The Lasagne was epic. The buffalo chilli a few days earlier was really good too.

arg, bedtime.

Friday, September 23, 2011

30DC2- Days 14-22

It's been a pretty busy week, neither of us has had any time to sit down and write a blog post. We had a house guest for the entire week that we had to entertain and show around, Alice had her 5th tooth pop through and she was sick with "fifth disease (roseola)" the entire week and had a high fever for 2 days. She's feeling much better now, well enough to learn how to climb in and out of bed and meet me on my way back from the bathroom just before 5 this morning in the dark!

So all of today was spent trying to catch up on chores and work. We got a good amount of stuff done but there's still more cleaning to do, the floor is dirty, my laundry is a mountain and the bathroom really needs a scrubbing! I managed to get a load of laundry on the go late last night but since it's been raining nonstop it only just fully dried tonight because of the insane humidity. I really only managed groceries, meals, baking and babycare for the week when we didn't go out anywhere. We did have a good long walk everyday so we got our exercise in. This was directly counteracted by the amount of candy, treats and lunch that our friend insisted on treating us to. We had the most awesome cupcakes that she bought downtown!

We'll total up how much was spent on groceries after I pick up the items for the next week tomorrow. We're going to be over in our allowance but not by much, an extra $20 should cover it. Not too bad really considering we were feeding an extra person. We'll also upload pictures of the yummies I made during the week too!

So on the agenda tomorrow and maybe the next day:

  • groceries
  • banking
  • post office (I had another Etsy sale! Yay!)
  • laundry
  • clean pet houses
  • clean bathroom
  • vacuum and swiffer mop
  • ?
I know a lot more stuff happened but we can't remember it all right now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

This is a recipe I've been meaning to get around to making for quite a while. Like most recipes it's one that I found online and modified to fit ingredients that I have around or to exclude things I don't like. I rarely ever do chocolate things because I honestly didn't bother picking up cocoa powder until today and chocolate chips are pretty expensive.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used chunky)
  • 1 cup melted butter or margarine
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • chocolate chips (as much as you like, I only had about a half cup left)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour 
Start by preheating the oven to 375.

Mix the sugar with the melted butter and vanilla, then beat in the peanut butter and then the eggs. You might have to scrape the bowl to get all of the peanut butter into the batter. Now mix in your chocolate. If you want to add some chopped up peanuts now is the time to do that!

Now mix in the salt and flour until just combined. I had to stop when it was half mixed to scrape the sides of the mixer again. The batter is thick!

Lightly grease whatever pan you are going to use, I'm using an 8 inch springform pan because I like to cut my brownies like slices of pizza. It makes them taste better! I swear, it really does! Dump the batter into the pan and spread it out with the spatula or your hands if you don't have a spatula.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Turn halfway through if your oven is like mine and is hotter towards the back.

These were pretty good, mine could have used more chocolate chips because it was more peanut buttery than chocolatey. One thing I discovered, filling a brownie with peanut butter makes them REALLY heavy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

30DC2 - Day 13

Alice keeps waking us up earlier and earlier every day and is back to waking me up every hour or so at night. This results in tired, cranky people who have no motivation to do anything until early afternoon. The poor chick has another 4 teeth coming in right now so I'm guessing that they are the culprit.

Today after tea, breakfast and probably 3 diaper changes and feedings I finally got around to doing something while Jon was holed up in his studio working on a project. I managed to pull out the seams on a king-size duvet cover that we have that had been repurposed as a curtain for the balcony door until recently. We needed to make a privacy curtain since we now have a combination living room/bedroom and we have a guest arriving tomorrow. Now we have 2 large matching panels hanging from the ceiling and it actually looks pretty decent and didn't cost us anything other than my sanity because I had to let Alice destroy my kitchen in order to buy enough time to get this done. Jon hung them up since I'm a shorty.

We needed a quick lunch after that so I made us a batch of fries. I cut them into thin chips because they taste better that way.

I managed to get Alice down for a nap and then got ready to go out to get some groceries, after an hour she was still asleep so she stayed home with her DaddyMan and I got to go out baby-free. I went to Shopper's Drug Mart because they have a CanadaPost outlet and I needed to mail out my first Etsy sale. Then I picked up a few things, some non-grocery items and some breakfast stuff that we used to buy regularly but haven't bought since we started the challenge in June but we have a guest for a week so I thought it would be a healthy treat.

I spent $8.47 on a jar of mayonnaise($1.99), 1.89L orange juice($2.99) and 1lb unsalted butter ($3.49).

Then at Donald's Market I picked up some more breakfast stuff as well as a couple baking supplies, total spent there was $21.77:
  • 1L 18% cream $3.89
  • 1.89L vanilla soy milk $3.09 (this was a maybe on my list, something I usually buy for $4.69 but was on sale so I picked it up since I use it in my hot cereal and we can have breakfast smoothies with it as well)
  • cream cheese $3.99 (not something I usually buy but I'm going to make bagels at least once this week)
  • can of cocoa powder $4.49 (this will last forever so I finally picked it up)
  • packet of turkey gravy $1.99
  • 2 bananas $0.55
  • 4 russet potatoes $1.90
  • halfish pound champagne grapes $0.88 (Alice loves these for snacks)
  • red food coloring $0.99 (that's right, I'm going to make red velvet something!)

I had some time to spare before dinner so I baked some peanut butter brownies and then did dishes while they baked and then prepped dinner and then fed the pets while everything was on the stove. We had awesome bowls for dinner tonight, one of my favorite ways to use up leftover chicken. I made Alice a teeny one too and she ate most of it before rubbing it into her eye and through her hair. She's so lady-like. I used the packet of turkey gravy I bought today since I couldn't find chicken gravy anywhere and I didn't have enough left from dinner last night.
Tiny "Awesome Bowl" for La La

After dinner Jon gave Alice a bath while I did the bit of dinner dishes. 

I'll have to try to get some laundry in first thing in the morning and give the floor a quick sweep and do a bit of organizing before our guest arrives tomorrow. Hopefully Alice lets me have a decent sleep tonight!

Monday, September 12, 2011

30DC2 - Day 12

This morning I watched Alice from 8-10 while Holly got some much needed extra sleep. Alice had breakfast then fell asleep so that was pretty easy.

Next up was an hour of work. Then brunch and vacuuming and mopping, then I adapted one of my articles into a podcast script.
Around 2pm Holly made us some spicy Edamame with rice for lunch. It was good but not the same as at Wild Garlic which was awesome. Ours were a bit drier, and the beans weren't quite the same but likely a fresh vs frozen situation.  I don't really know the details but we have several more portions to try cooking in different ways.

Spicy Edamame
My writing and recording this afternoon took a little longer than planned which messed up the schedule a bit. Holly was supposed to drop off old clothes at Value Village but that may have to wait until later in the week now. I wanted to go out for a slurpee before the podcast recording but there wasn't enough time.
Holly made Macaroons (of less failure) in the afternoon.
Crunchy and chewy
Dinner was Roast Chicken and Mashed Potatoes.

Holly made a sale on Etsy finally, that will be mailed tomorrow.
We also need to figure out how to divide the living room and bedroom areas. Currently its one large semi-divided space. We have an extra person sleeping here for a week so our bedroom needs to be private again. We don't have enough material to make curtains and buying something would be a big hit to our budget. I'm sure we'll think of something.

I'm starting the editing process for last week's film gig tomorrow. I estimate that will be about 10 hours split across 4 days but because we have Marta coming Wednesday and I'm at another studio Friday I should probably do it in two days. I may need some energy drinks and snacks, it's not going to be fun.

Meal plan for the next 7 days including today

Sunday, September 11, 2011

30DC2 - Day 11

Today was our appointment to take in a bunch of Alice's old clothes for consignment, we had 2 big bags of stuff and thankfully they took almost everything. Alice got to play with the owner's baby while she sorted through everything, we don't know anybody with kids so it was pretty exciting for her to get to play with him. It was pretty damn cute.

We didn't have any lunch stuff around and didn't really have time to throw something together before going out so we stopped at a pizza place for a poutine for me and a donair for Jon. He's excited because he figured out that it's the exact same thing as a shwarma and he frigging loves those things. He would eat one every day if he could.

We needed to pick up a few groceries while we were out, spending another $18.28 on:

  • 4 bags of pasta @$0.99 each
  • bag of almond granola $3.79
  • 2 1/2ish pounds russet potatoes $1.74
  • bag of coconut $1.59
  • bag of frozen edamame $1.99
  • package of hot chili peppers $1.69
  • can of black beans $1.29
  • 1 3/4ish pounds of nectarines $2.23
We're going to have the edamame for lunch tomorrow and Jon has requested another batch of coconut macaroons of failure .

We got started on the cleaning after we got home. Alice had soup for dinner last night and she smeared it all over the high chair so I gave it a bath in the tub this morning so that she could have breakfast in it. It made a big mess of the tub so I ended up just cleaning the whole bathroom just to get it over with. I folded and put away the laundry that I washed yesterday and Jon did the dishes from yesterday. I did dishes again while Jon gave Alice a bath after dinner.

For dinner we had cheesey Mexican rice, we have 1 block of cheese left now and still a couple of dishes to go that need cheese coming up. We watched the last episode of the new Torchwood series, I liked it but Jon didn't.

We still didn't get around to vacuuming and mopping and our floor looks pretty terrible. We'll have to do that first thing tomorrow, there's bits of dried food everywhere since Alice's new favorite thing is throwing food when she starts to get full/bored. She likes to snack on the stuff later in the day and it grosses me out pretty bad. Most of the time I don't even know what she's eating.

I got some wet mop cloths from the dollar store for $1.25 for a 10 pack compared to the $7.99 for a 12 pack for Swiffer wet cloths. Hopefully they smell good and do a decent job. I was going to wait until I had a $2 off coupon again and get the Swiffer ones but this is way cheaper!

I'm going to take a trip to Value Village to drop off the stuff they didn't take at the consignment shop as well as a couple things of mine that I decided to part with the other day when I decluttered my clothing a bit more.

The coat and shoe closet is stuffed pretty full right now so I would like to tackle that tomorrow too if I find time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

30DC2 - Day 10

This is probably a boring post, in fact, I know its boring because I lived through it.

Today started with an early wake up from Alice. I figured since I had to go to the bank and post office this morning I'd just bring her in the carrier after my coffee. Two problems with this plan, the first was the Post Office doesn't open until 10 on Saturdays and the other problem was Alice was already upset before I'd finished my coffee. Letting Holly sleep in didn't work out either. So I had to wait around home for a while before I could go out, not enough time to do work, too much time to go early.

The package I picked up from the Post Office was RAM sent from my friend Ryan in the US for my iMac [sidenote: one day I should explain how I was able to afford a new Mac so quickly]. I got him to order it on Amazon and ship it to me and it still ended up being cheaper than buying from any Canadian retailer. I was already annoyed that they didn't deliver the package, that I had to walk 20 minutes in the sun, then I saw that the package would have fit in the mailbox.

On the way back my client called to cancel the session today due to illness. OK with me because then I would finally have the couple hours to commit to completing another project that has been taking me way too long.

I got the new RAM installed and tested it twice while Holly did the laundry and I ate lunch. Then, working in 25minute intervals (Pomodoro Technique) I got a little over 2 hours of work done without interruptions and was paid almost immediately. After I caught up on invoices, budget and other paperwork.

When Holly started working on the soup and bagels I took over baby duty and watched TV with Alice. We watched Futurama and Doctor Who with dinner.

I don't have any specific goals for tomorrow yet, which is probably a bad sign.

Next week we have a friend coming from Ontario to stay with us. We're thinking up things to do and try that won't break our budget too badly.

Friday, September 9, 2011

30DC2- Day 9

Since Jon was out all day yesterday and has no idea what went down at home here's a quick rundown:

  • Loaf of French bread from Asian bakery $1.39
  • 3 large bananas and 3 lemons from Chinese market $2.14
  • Donald's Market- total $21.82: Whole chicken, 1 pound ground beef, 1 box Crisco, can of tomato paste $0.79, bag of pasta $0.99, can of diced tomatoes $1.49, over 2 pounds Russet potatoes $1.64, 3 jumbo carrots $1.51, over a pound and a half of green beans $2.04
I really don't remember what else happened other than it was hot and I'm sure I did something around the house!

So, what happened today?

Jon spent most of the day complaining about the garlic he had yesterday. So he had even more garlic today and for some weird reason it seems to have cancelled out yesterday's garlic. Strange. He also worked a bit I guess, I really don't know, the farting kept me away. Lol.

I spent a lot of the day keeping Alice from pulling dirty diapers out of the garbage, stopping her from trying to open the balcony door and peeling paint chips off of the frame and eating them, and pulling her down from the coffee table that she learned to climb up onto. She's a terror, she also didn't nap until 5pm and then someone rang our door and woke her up after just 15 minutes.

In between baby wrangling events I managed to tidy up the living room and finally fold and put away the laundry from a couple days ago.

Around 2 we went out to get some worms and slugs for our teeny snake Noodle and to let Alice play on the swings. I brought a small plastic bag with me thinking there might be some cherries we could pick from the tree at the park if it was still the season. About a block from our place there was a giant blackberry bush hanging over the sidewalk and it was just filled with huge ripe berries. We got right to work picking them and had a good amount within a short amount of time. We continued to the park where we found very few bugs, no cherries but even more blackberries, we picked anything we could reach before heading back and stopping at the park with the swings. Jon took Alice on the swings and I discovered even more blackberries. I nearly filled the small bag, totaling almost 2 pounds of berries! This would be about two pints I think. I may go back tomorrow to pick some more.

Urban foraging FTW! 

Forgot to buy beans for the Mexican Rice planned for tonight so we swapped for Spaghetti with cheesy garlic bread. The stinky cheese we got is awesome for garlic bread.

In the morning Jon has to go to the bank and post office before work in the studio.

30DC2 - Day 8

I don't know what happened from Holly's perspective, but my day went well.

Woke up at 6am, coffee, snack, teeth brushed and went outside to wait for my ride at 7.

Set up for the event, a few things didn't go as planned because of the pace and schedule but there's 10 hours of audio with multiple mics to go through now. Hopefully the problem areas can be salvaged. The event was a conference for Exit Strategies for companies and angel investors. I was recording the sound to go with the video. There are always problems and compromises with these situations, and never any time to test things but everyone just has to do their best. A long day of work. I will also be doing the editing and will be paid for bringing my own gear, making almost triple what I originally agreed to. Sweet!

After the event the 3 of us in the crew went out for an early dinner at Wild Garlic in West Vancouver. It's a Cantonese (?) tapas place with a menu largely based on loads of garlic. We ordered almost everything on the Tapas menu, about 10 dishes.
My favorites were:
Cheese, Spinach, Artichoke Dip, Nan Bread
Szechwan Edamame
Wok Seared Garlic Butter Black Tiger Prawns, Focaccia
Roasted Garlic & Camembert Cheese Fondue

At the time I was thinking there wasn't that much garlic in the food. Now I realize I probably ate a whole bulb myself between the Fondue and candied garlic. I'm writing this post post 20 hours later and I can still taste and smell garlic. The gas is horrible and a real productivity killer today. So worth it. I'll be going back again I'm sure, and I think Edamame will be added to our menu soon.

This food was paid for by the event. Food is rarely paid for with my projects so this was a real treat.

As for Holly
There are some receipts on my desk so I guess she got more groceries.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

30DC2 - Day 7

One week down.
No money spent today. Didn't go out. A more productive day for me, certainly more than yesterday.

Holly made bread in the morning, we ate the bread with leftover soup from a while ago. Dinner was Baked Macaroni and Cheese using some of the cheese we got cheap yesterday. The cheese is much stronger than our usual brand, good for cooking but not for snacking. After dinner Holly made some Bran Muffins.

Laundry done
Dishes done a couple times
worked a few hours
booked a short mix recall session for Friday
packed gear for gig tomorrow

I have an all-day recording project downtown tomorrow so we'll be in bed soon to get up for 6am. I'll be making a good rate tomorrow and all my meals and transportation is covered. Nothing to complain about there!
I also booked a demo recording session next weekend at a much more pro studio, taking a slight cut in my day rate for a massive increase in quality and convenience.
These two days of work will pay rent for the month. I have a bunch of other things going as well so this should be another great month. Should be able to pay bills and put the extra away into my studio upgrades and emergency savings accounts.

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

This is an excellent and quick pancake recipe. It tastes just like the expensive Aunt Jemima Complete buttermilk pancake mix but since I'm making it myself I know it has no weird additives and it doesn't have that slightly powdery taste.

This makes 6 medium pancakes which is perfect for 2 people, or 5 medium and 3 teeny baby sized pancakes.


  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups flour (I used 1 cup all purpose and 1/4 cup whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Start by making your buttermilk if you don't have any. The buttermilk has to sit for a little while so do this first, then start heating your skillet or frying pan.

Mix together the buttermilk, sugar and margarine. Beat in the egg. Add all of the rest of the dry stuff on top and mix until just combined.

Scoop onto your hot grill or frying pan. The batter is pretty thick so you might have to spread it out a bit with the spoon. I cook mine on 4/medium. You can tell when the pancake needs to be flipped when it gets all bubbly on top.
Add syrup and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

30DC2 - Day 6

We went to bed early last night, then slept in this morning because we didn't actually sleep well. Alice was thrashing around as usual.

Almost all attempts at productivity this morning were failures. More than 30 minutes were spent looking for a good list app instead of just writing something down on paper or actually starting a task. For one of my jobs today I spent nearly two hours to accomplish what normally takes 20 minutes. The job I wanted to complete today I didn't even get started on.
By 1pm I had given up on trying to keep my ideal schedule. We went out to deposit cash in the bank, get a big bag of flour, and see what food could be found cheap.

We got some $1 pizza slices from Fresh Slice, which were a little undercooked but filling enough.

At Rio's we found cheese on sale. 3 200gm blocks for $7. We usually spent $7 for a 430gm block. We have a few cheesy meals coming up so it will be used up fairly quick.

At Donald's there were more Salmon bones (technically just offcuts of their more expensive filets, including bones) for $1 each and lots of 2.5lb packs of Chicken bones for just $0.50! There is tons of meat on the chicken bones. Enough for 5 batches of soup and 4 cups of broth. Holly roasted and portioned these tonight.

Como Market - Canola oil 3L $6.49, White Flour 22KG $8.99
Donald's Market - 2 x Salmon bones $2, 3x Chicken Bones $1.50, Raspberry Yogurt $2.99, 1L cream $3.89, 2L Milk $3.99, 4 small apples $1.12
Rio's Meats - 3 200g Mild Cheddar $7

Total = $37.97
So far we've spent $92.26 in 6 days, we didn't even go out for 2 of those days. I guess we need to slow down a little.


30DC2- Day 5

We skipped the day end post last night in favor of going to bed early, it was a holiday after all so why not? We're usually up until midnight but everything was done early and Jon and Alice were both asleep before 9:30 so  I crawled into bed before 11. Still didn't have a good sleep though since somebody is still going through bouts of teething and cries randomly and rolls around all night.

I was going to go out yesterday for a couple of bulk things that we didn't have room to carry home last time and some cream, milk and fruit but then remembered that most places wouldn't be open so we plan on going out today to do those things as well as checking out the reduced bins for meat.

So here's what happened yesterday.

  • Jon was in his studio pretty much all day
    • Sent the intern to wait in line at the apple store for a return (win!)
    • caught up on some work
    • recorded a podcast
    • Was supposed to have a photoshoot but the photographer was sick
  • Sold old computer monitor for $30
  • I did dishes in the morning from the night before
  • Jon vacuumed
  • smoothies were made for lunch
  • I finally sorted through the bin of baby clothes and other stuff
  • auctions were reposted
  • dishes were put away
  • Alice learned to climb up on the coffee table so I had to either stop her or pull her down a couple dozen times, so tiring
  • I managed to get started on another sewing project
  • pets were fed
  • Dinner was prepped and ready on time as well as an apple crisp for dessert
  • dishes were washed again while Jon gave Alice her bath
That's about it, we watched a bit of tv and just lounged around. Even with the AC running all day it's still quite warm in here, the heat kinda saps your energy and makes it hard to get things done.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Homemade Sweet Cornbread

This is great for breakfast or as a snack with tea. It's quick and easy to make and you can make it sweet or savory. This time I went with sweet but next time I may do savory with some cheese and green onion to go along with soups and chili that are coming up on the menu later in the month. Sorry, no photos of the process this time.
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

Start by making a cup of buttermilk if you don't keep any in your fridge, pour it into your bowl or mixer and add the cornmeal. Let the cornmeal soak for a couple of minutes while you get the other ingredients ready and preheat the oven to 400.

Now add the sugar and oil, mix for a bit and then add the egg and mix. Now add all of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. The batter should be quite thick, pour into a lightly greased pan and thump the pan on the counter to even out the batter a bit. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Mine baked for 22 minutes and was perfect.

For savory cornbread:
  • Only use 1 tablespoon of sugar instead of 1/2 cup, you could also up the salt to 1 1/2 teaspoons if you like
  • Add 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and a chopped green onion as well as a shake or 2 of cayenne pepper
  • Try cheese and diced jalepenos
Be sure to add these things in with the wet ingredients so that they are well mixed.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

30DC2 - Day 4

Here's a quick wrap-up of the day, it's pretty late now and I just want to go to bed and hopefully get an hour or 2 of sleep before Alice wakes up again and spends the rest of the night thrashing in our bed!

  • Jon spent nearly the entire day in his studio (working he says)
  • laundry was put away
  • dishes were put away
  • cornbread post was written, that is set up to post tomorrow
  • made homemade pancakes for dinner, that recipe post is written and will be up later in the week
  • breakfast is set up for tomorrow morning
  • Jon took the trash and boxes down
  • dishes and floor are going to have to be done in the morning since Jon will have people over nearly all day again
  • made another batch of simple syrup
  • used the peels from the oranges with dinner to try out a batch of "orange cleaner" that I saw posted on my new favorite blog Penniless Parenting. There are tons of great ideas on her blog, I've bookmarked a bunch of things I want to try in the near future.
  • I remembered to pay the hydro bill
  • pets were fed
  • we had to set up the AC again because it's supposed to be really frigging hot again all week. I wasn't going to set it up today but it got up to 84 with all of the curtains/blinds closed and fans going and I just couldn't deal anymore

Here's the meal plan for the next 7 days. I don't need to get groceries until the 8th. I just have to run out in the morning before it gets too hot for more cream and a bag of flour.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

30DC2-Day 3

Today Alice woke me up just after 8 like she usually does. I had a decent sleep but Jon was tired so he slept in a bit. I made us coffee and tea, Alice sat on the floor and played with her toys and read a book while we enjoyed our morning beverages. Once those were done Jon went into his studio to work for a bit and we moved to the kitchen for breakfast. I put away yesterday's clean dishes while we had our cereal and fruit.

I managed to get the laundry washed and hung to dry while Alice had a lengthy early nap then it was lunch time while Jon did the dishes that didn't get washed last night.

We went out to get a few groceries while Jon had lunch and then went to get crickets. We stopped by a yard sale on the way home that I had seen on the way to the store that looked like it had a lot of baby girl clothes. Alice got a t-shirt, pair of pants, pink maryjane walking shoes and sequined silver hightops, all for just $5!

Groceries from the Asian market:

  • 2 red onions
  • 2 bananas 
  • 2 pork chops
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 large broccoli crown
All of that came to only $4.99

Groceries from Donald's Market:

  • 2 bulk jumbo carrots
  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 1 package cut cauliflower from the reduced bin for $1 (no marks of any kind on it!)
  • 2 packages salmon bones reduced to $1 each
All of that came to $6.15

The cauliflower and salmon wasn't on my list but the cauliflower is perfect for snacking and I plan on using some of it as a substitution in a meal in a couple of days. The salmon bones had a ton of meat on them so I put them into the oven with some olive oil and lemon-garlic seasoning and then easily picked the meat off once they were baked and cooled. I ended up with a full tupperware container full of salmon that I then put into the freezer. Much more meat on those 2 packages of bones for $2 than I would get from buying a $6 fillet.

I will definitely be buying the salmon again when I see it reduced, I put off buying it before because I wasn't sure how to go about preparing it, I didn't want to mess with it raw but then the idea to bake it and pick it apart came to me. We only ever eat fillets of salmon but I think I'll try to make patties or fishcakes or just heat and season it and heap it onto a pile of rice.

I also prepped dinner early since I've been having issues with getting it ready to eat by 6:30 and actually had it ready on time today. I also halved and pitted a large bag of cherries that I bought for $1.29 per pound a couple days ago, those filled a large container and went into the freezer as well for smoothies for what's supposed to be a pretty hot week coming up.

No need to buy anything tomorrow at all, don't really have anything planned either. The apartment is clean, Jon has a session so I may take Alice to the park for a bit. The only things that need to be done are putting away the laundry and dishes and making dinner.

Maybe I'll actually get time to do another project!

Kobo Touch E-Reader review

At the end of July Holly ordered me a Kobo Touch for my birthday. After a lot of research and the recommendation of a friend we went for the Kobo instead of the Kindle, because it's a simpler, more intuitive interface and a little more open with e-book formats.
Besides reading books I thought it would be a useful device for keeping my bus route information and other helpful info.
Shopping around online it seems the price is the same pretty much everywhere so free shipping was the only reason we went with for the purchase.

Feature overview
Lightweight e-reader with 6" infared touchscreen with wifi available in 6 colors.
2 GB internal storage expandable with microSD cardslot.
Support for multiple content types: ePubs and PDFs from Kobo’s store; Books: EPUB, PDF and MOBI, Documents: PDF, Images: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF, Text: TXT, HTML and RTF, Comic Books: CBZ and CBR.

Thoughts on the design
When I got the Kobo Touch in my hands it was a little smaller than I expected. Not TOO small, just thinner, lighter and about 1/2" smaller than I thought it would be. The shell is made of plastic with a rubberized feel. There's a diamond pattern relief on the back which is more for appearance than for helping holding the device.
I don't have big hands but I find the Kobo to be a little awkward to hold. Often my thumb creeps over the edge and touches the screen changing the page. With a real book I hate that I have to hold it open so I guess I can't win.
The rubbery texture shows finger grease and prints more than I'd like. The actual screen doesn't have this problem. (see photos)
The screen is not bright but it is not hard to read either. It is not backlit like a computer screen or an iPad so eye strain is reduced, but you can't read in low light. A crisp white screen might have been nicer but perhaps that would increase eyestrain.
There are two buttons: the "Home" button on the bottom front brings you back to the main screen, and the sliding button on the top edge turns the Kobo on/off. With the sleep mode activated from the menu the kobo starts up very quickly and restores the last page you were reading. A full restart takes about a minute and starts on the homepage.
Reading EPUB e-books
The books from the Kobo store (EPUB format) are very easy to read on the Kobo Touch. Font size and spacing as well as a few typefaces are available when reading epub and mobi formats.

Reading PDFs
Reading PDFs on an e-reader sucks. You have to zoom in and scroll (and wait for the screen to refresh each time) then zoom out just to read the text clearly. After a page or two of this you realize why the books in the Kobo store are worth spending a few bucks on.
PDFs and most other formats can be converted to a more friendly format with a free program called Calibre. The conversion doesn't always work well though. It doesn't seem to know what to do with text in the header or footer so it ends up randomly in the paragraphs sometimes.

Reading Kindle books
Sometimes Kindle books (from are cheaper than the epubs in the Kobo store. There are also many ways to get Amazon credit (such as Swagbucks and MTurk) in exchange for your time doing simple tasks. If you have Kindle format books (with DRM) you can remove the DRM and reformat as MOBI using Calibre and a plugin (more info). I did this for one book and it came out exactly as I hoped.

Bonus features - Kobo Sketch
Kobo sketch is a simple drawing app that can be fun if you're bored. Here's a Unicorn.

Bonus features - Internet Browser
Kinda hidden in the options menu is a wifi internet browser. You are able to change the homepage, bookmark a few pages but is pretty limited. It's neat that it's available at all but expect things to take about 15x longer due to the slow loading and clunky keyboard. The worst part of it is when you enter a URL you have to type http then go to the punctuation menu, then :// then go back to the letters for www then back to punctuation etc. You see the problem. Often a light touch for a key press results in doubled letters. The wifi feature also drains the battery very quick.

What's missing/complaints
Bookmarking pages - Seems essential, I can't figure out if it's possible
Save text to a new document - It would be great to select some text or a paragraph and copy it to new document of favorite quotes etc.
Notes/annotations - There is a dictionary and built in keyboard for the browser, I could be completely paperless if I could make notes on what I am reading.
Evernote support - It would be great to have all my lists and articles and notes available on the Kobo for when I don't want to bring my laptop.
Browser should have "http://www." preset in the address bar.

I know some of these feature requests are outside the scope of what an e-reader should do. A device like this should (I hope) be expandable via software updates.

Verdict and final thoughts
For $150 its a cool device that is small and light enough to take with you anywhere. It takes up about as much space as one book but has the capacity for thousands.
It's not exactly everything I hoped, but it doesn't seem any worse than the others and I don't think you can really go wrong with any of the e-readers on the market today. The Kobo is not locked to a specific format like the Kindle is, so for about the same price, it's worth checking out.
I hope this review helped.

Friday, September 2, 2011

30DC2 - Day 2

Here's a wrap up of day 2
I entertained Alice while Holly slept in a little until my vocal recording session.
Holly built some cornbread which we ate for lunch. A recipe is forthcoming.

In the afternoon we went out to get a couple cases of diapers from London Drugs because they were on sale and we had coupons. Coffee was also on sale and we had a coupon for that too.
The floor was swept, the pet houses were cleaned, laundry and dishes put away.

Groceries Day 2
London Drugs - 1KG Melitta Espresso Roast Whole Bean Coffee $6.99 (usually $14.99)
We don't count diapers as groceries.

Tomorrow the plan is:
Crickets for pet food (really long walk booo!)
a few grocery items to pick up
Pay Hydro bill
a few hours of work

Sunday I have some audio work and Monday is a pretty busy day with a photoshoot, a podcast and more.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

30DC2 - Day 1

Fairly successful first day of the challenge.

Some of the less important chores were skipped. The floor will be swept before the studio session in the morning.
We paid rent, cleaned the bathroom, did laundry and dishes and took out the garbage.
In the afternoon we got the money out for groceries for the month. Stopped by Rio's to check the discount meat freezer and got some of the larger and more expensive groceries for the month from Comos.

Groceries Day 1: Total $36.16
Rio's - 2 boneless seasoned chicken breasts, 1lb margarine. Total $3.50
Como Market - 8KG rice, 4KG sugar, 2KG brown sugar, regular tea, corn meal. Total $32.66

We have the meals planned for all of September. Here is dinners for the rest of this week.

We've been planning our meals in Google Calendar for a few years now. It's virtually eliminated the blank staring into the cupboards and fridge trying to figure out what to eat for dinner. Planning the meals in advance means we can make better shopping lists so we rarely run out of something essential for a meal.