Summer Days

As the temperature rises (and unexpectedly rapidly drops, as we have recently experienced), the pull to be out of doors rises equally. The annual poke through the dusty bins that hid from the wintry wind in the safety of the shed begins anew and we find treasures long forgotten.

Deflated balls representing all sports, jumpropes and skipballs that likely will remain untouched by the soon-to-be teen, bits and bobs of the bicycle-part variety, frisbees and kites destined to spend the next 6 months in the back of the car for the just in case moments and impromptu park stops.

The garage will be void of shovels and snowblowers, replaced with lawnmowers and gardening tools, and bicycles will once again make getting out of the car a little tricky on the left hand side.

A quick once-over of the current state of our patio set leaves something to be desired. Bird poop from overhead target practice and enough spider webs to make even Charlotte jealous can be cleaned off but the rust on the frame work from seasons spent under a blanket of snow call as loud as the geese flying by for a full replacement.

So the search is on. Chairs, ideally stack-able for winter storage and preferably without cushions that I have to remember to take off when it rains or go collect from about the yard when our summer winds pick up. Table, large enough for 6 without having to pull a lawn chair over to accommodate all of the food offerings that don’t fit on the tiny bits of available space on the table. Umbrella, nope. We spent more time trying to corral that bugger in the wind that we did enjoying its shade and thus, it spent more time on the floor beside the table than upright where it belonged.

And so I wait, flip flops at the ready, cold drink and a good book on standby. Dinner al fresco every weekend. Coffee in the morning sun. Serenaded into the evening by the frogs and other critters.

Deck life.

We are hearty enough to withstand our Winnipeg winters. And as such, we are rightfully rewarded with our Winnipeg summers.

Summertime

Summertime, and the livin’ gets decidedly easier!

An Everything-Free Dinner

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Yep. My ma, who is currently living a gluten free, egg free and dairy free lifestyle. After years of just living with various ailments, she finally got herself checked out, referred, and diagnosed and as such has had to make a number of dietary adjustments. Which flow into the menus of those who cook for her.

Challenge accepted!

We started off with basics. A homemade pico de gallo and some Que Pasa purple corn chips. To accompany that, we added our long time fave, Freybe’s fine liver sausage and two types of cracker-ish things. My fave of the two was the Wild Riceworks Sea Salt and Black Sesame. Fabulous! The one my ma kept reaching for was the Crunchmaster Multi Seed cracker.

The main course consisted of slow roasted ribs in our favourite Mr. Spice GF BBQ sauce mixed with some blended apple and pineapple. I was pretty skeptical on that one. But they turned into the best ribs we have done thus far. Accompanying the ribs was a salad full of fresh veg and an oil and vinegar dressing. Since my mum can’t even have balsamic anymore, we pulled a portion out after just adding oil. Poor lass.

My fave part, as always, is the roasted potatoes. Nothing beats them really. In there for an hour or so, crisping up the edges, dressed only in oil, salt, pepper and a little seasoning salt because that’s how my pa-in-law makes ’em. Toss with some carrots and you’ve got a full meal deal.

And dessert. Well. Given the difficulty one has finding all natural, edible, raw cacao butter in this city (to make my own white chocolate), the dessert plan changed mid-way.

McK made us some cinnamon tortilla chips using the recipe from her Home Ec class and I whipped up a fruit salsa to go with it. And then good old Lorenzo’s filled in the rest! Along with all of their gluten free baked goods, they actually had a few GF, EF and DF treats! Cupcakes for everyone!

Reading labels has become a regular part of life for many people for a variety of reasons. I read them for carb counts, for wheat ingredients, to see if there is corn listed, to see how many I can’t pronounce (those usually go back on the shelf). To create a meal that incorporates allergies and sensitivities is not an unusual thing for me so this did not seem an insurmountable task.

What I think many forget is that real, whole foods don’t have labels.

Go to those first.

Build your menu around whole, clean items. You’ll be amazed at how little you need outside of that.

eat better feel better

It is really just that simple, isn’t it?

 

How do you incorporate healthy changes or dietary restrictions in your meal planning? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

The Misconception of Clean

A clean house means a boring life.

That’s what a number of memes and other little quotes and sayings would have you believe. A clean house means you pay no attention to your kids or do not allow anyone to have any fun because you are too busy scrubbing and mopping.

I am here to challenge that.

My house is clean. It is always tidy. Our idea of messy is drastically different from others.

That does not mean we are neat freaks (ok maybe my husband is), or that our daughter is not allowed to be creative, or things do not get out of control.

Au contraire. These things happen. They just happen in certain areas and when they happen they are cleaned up before moving on to the next thing.

We have a craft area in the basement. We go nuts there with glue guns and paint mixes and creations of giant accessories like chainshaws and over-the-top signs for football games. We also tidy up when we are finished.

We have a well-used kitchen that sees chopping and dicing and experimenting and recipes gone bad. It also sees proper clean up and re-organization once we are done.

Is our house spotless? No.

Is our house always tidy? No.

But we do our best. We know where things are and where they belong. We put laundry away when it’s done (most times). We tidy up when we make a mess. We bring things upstairs instead of adding to the pile of items on stair number 3. It has become habit.

If I straighten up the blankets on the couch before I go to bed, do you care? If I wipe up any signs of crumbs on the counter or floor after preparing a meal, does it really affect you? If I tidy up the craft area when we are done with our latest masterpiece, does it matter?

Nope.

It only matters to me. And I would rather do little tidies throughout the week than dread a giant clean up on the weekend.

Clean does not mean spotless. It means maintaining a tidy existence that does not suit all, it just suits us. I don’t wipe the baseboards or wash every window or wipe out the fridge drawers. I put things away. I straighten. I organize.

McK is no less creative because she is expected to clean up after herself. She is no less expressive if tidying is an expectation. We are no less interesting.

A clean house is a contributor to an organized mind.

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I disagree.