Despite a gloomy start to the week, it’s so excited to think spring is around the corner. We celebrate St. Patrick’s day this week and quickly swap out the decorations for Easter. Tulips and daffodils are starting to poke their little leaves up from the ground. It’s such a lovely reminder the season is changing and we can say goodbye to dark skies.

Did everyone fare okay though Daylight Savings? When one of our kids got up today at 7am, I was thankful it wasn’t 6am. But still.

Rainbow pinwheels lunch recipe for kids

St Patrick’s Day meal plan


  • Farro and Dinosaur Kale Salad with Coconut Milk Shallot Dressing- how can the kids resist “dinosaur salad?!” (recipe)
  • Thai-American Noodles- the Ruth Reichl cookbook, My Kitchen Year, was well hyped over the holiday season and I finally got my hands on a copy. It hasn’t disappointed. I’m mid-way through the winter season and I’m going to bed hungry after reading her cooking memoir. Put a copy of this on your wish list.
  • Vegetable Couscous Stew – after indulging in butter tarts and dim sum this weekend, it’s time to get back to basics with this hearty and healthy stew. (recipe)
  • Corned Beef and Cabbage- this is our traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner. It will be even more special as our dear friends will fly up from Boston to join us this year. (recipe)
  • Baked Irish Mash- adding this recipe to our Irish holiday from the Seven Spoons cookbook. Turns out the author is from Southern Ontario where I’m currently based…maybe I’ll bump into her at Whole Foods…


  • A double whammy recipe- one for kids rainbow pinwheel roll-ups and the second for a healthy sesame lime quinoa salad. Double delicious. Get the how-to here and get ready to make those cute pinwheels above.


  • Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash- we made this recipe last week for dinner and served with omelet. We skipped the bacon but I bet this will be extra good with it. Your choice.
  • Whole Wheat Waffles (recipe)- a hefty recipe to feed our crowd this weekend

Healthy Whole Wheat Waffles for a Crowd

What will you add to your meal plan this week. Happy  St. Patrick’s Day! Don’t forget to make this Irish Soda Bread recipe. It’s our favorite!


For more inspiration, see three years of past dinner plan heremy Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans. Some affiliate links are included. 

Beware the barrenness of a busy life. -Socrates

While on vacation, it becomes easy to see some of the habits we have when it comes to our schedules and connectivity. The daily influx of notifications on our phones. Texts. What’s up on social media now? The email inbox continues to fill as so many things compete for our attention. Quiet is so hard to find these days and I wonder if you feel the same. March Break starts at the end of the school day today here in Canada and it’s a great time to push the reset button before the spring season begins.

We have to make a conscious effort to avoid the glorification of busy. I fear that if we don’t, our kids will only know a world of to-do lists, dings and a lack of quiet. The immediacy of filling their needs is hard to live up, unless you are an iPad. Making them wait is a life lesson and it is taking great effort sometimes to slow them down and be present. If they are so busy, where is the time to create and imagine? Boredom in the week ahead may be a good thing.

If you don’t feel busy, you may wonder if you are doing enough. I read about bloggers with much bigger platforms than mine who homeschool four plus kids and still manage to be in so many places at once. Some days I think, why can’t I do that too? Other days I am wise enough to step back and wonder if they are doing it all themselves, or do they have help? The same goes for stay at home moms, working moms and everyone in-between. Busy is a part of life, but is doesn’t need to define us.

When people ask me how I do it all, I’m always a little hesitant to answer. For me, I like having lots of things going on. It gives me energy and fills my need to learn new things. However, I also check out for two months of the year at the beach to recover from the pace of this lifestyle. It works for our family, but may not for others. Everyone has to decide what level of busy works for them.

Everyone is busy. Parents singletons, grandparents. They are all busy in their own life stage. It’s not a competition. When someone asks, “how are you,” talk and share about what is filling you up, instead of what is filling your calendar. If you can’t think of what is filling you with joy, then it may be time to give that calendar a little edit.

Next up on my reading list is Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy by Alli Worthington. As I plan to rebrand this website in the coming weeks, I’m excited to read through the book and see what direction this little space should go. Blogging has never been a way to keep me busy, but more as a creative outlet. Sometimes we all need to write down what’s in our head to make room for more.

If you want to listen in the car instead as you play the role of chauffeur (me lately), take a listen to this podcast episode. As host Jess Lively said:  This episode is perfect for anyone who is over-scheduled, overwhelmed, or wants to drop the word “busy” from their vocabulary. I listened to this over a year ago and the comment about “e-brain” has stuck with me. Take a listen and see if you can climb out of the trap of answering busy, instead of really sharing what’s bringing you joy.

For those of you in Canada, enjoy your vacation week. I’m looking forward to ours and seeing where our open schedule takes us each day.

Breaking Busy Book: How to find peace and purpose in a world of crazy by Alli Worthington

What I'm into: February 2016

Today is a bonus day. One extra day we don’t see for another four years. I thought I would use this day to share what inspired me, delighted me and encouraged me this past month. Spring is around the corner and I’m excited to flip the calendar page tomorrow.

What inspired you this month?


  1. What started as a fun Instagram idea for #waterwednesday has turned into a fun beverage to fill the gap between coffee and wine.

IMG_34352. Trying to learn a new skill is hard, but worth it. I decided to sign up for the Modern Calligraphy Summit this month. I have enjoyed seeing people create wonderful businesses through the gift of lettering. Call me curious so I’m giving lettering a whirl. It’s a lot harder than it looks…


3. The bullet journal is working for me. My way. It’s not the real way, but it’s a tidy place for me to categorize all the random information I learn from magazines, blogs, conversations with friends and such. (I use the Kate Spade spiral notebook.)


4. At Mine is like Pinterest of old…pretty pictures without screaming headlines. Take a peek if you like to look at pretty interior design pictures. It’s also another way to shop directly from a picture.



5. Aqua is my happy color. I cleaned out my Martha Stewart office supplies and when I get a glimpse of this color it remind me of summer. I did the same thing under my kitchen sink with fun baskets. Who knew throwing out the trash could spark joy? (image source)

To round out what I’m into this month:

Reading: Station Eleven and listening to Daring Greatly

Listening: Finally switched to Spotify since Pandora doesn’t work in Canado (boo!). Love the Peace playlist when the kids are rowdy. Also loving the What Should I Read Next Podcast.

Watching: Billions. Great show so far. Also loved the movie Burnt.

See what’s inspiring others over at Leigh Kramer this week.

Ready for March?

After last February’s epic snowfall, I can’t say I was very excited for the return of winter. When we learned we were moving to Toronto, we had no idea what to expect. Most people said it isn’t too bad, yet others said the last two winter’s were really cold. So far it’s been quite bearable, but I know we are far from through the woods.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite things this winter that are helping me stay warm and cozy when the temps do dip below freezing. The only thing missing from this list is my husband lighting a fire in the family room.

How to Survive Winter with Cozy Favorites

  • Reading has become a favorite pastime again. All the Light We Cannot See is a must read. (amazon affiliate link)
  • North Face Mittens (shop)
  • Essential oils-I use the Young Living line and use Thieves daily. (if you need someone to place your order with, I can connect you with someone in the US or Canada) There are another 4 oils I use regularly as well and so far we are all staying healthy this season!
  • L’Occitane Shea Butter- using this on everyone’s hands and face. Amazing. (shop)
  • Tea is key, and so are cute mugs.
  • Lole Emmy jacket (shop). I have the blue one!
  • Cozy boots are a must for our slushy mornings. I love these ones from Merrell.
  • Audible books, which is Amazon’s audiobook shop- get 2 free audiobooks when you try it out this month. (amazon shop) I find it easier to listen to non-fiction books on my reading list in the car. My two favorite ones as of late are Big Magic and Make it Happen.
  • Tennis is my favorite sport these days. It’s social and aerobic at the same time and makes me feel less of an outsider in my new town. I use the Babolat Aerodrive racket.

Share some of your winter favorites in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear what’s on your list.

It’s time for back to school, back to routines and back to meal planning. After a delightful break from writing out our weekly meal plan, it’s finally time to get organized as our kids head to school tomorrow. The past few weeks for us have been focused on shopping for kitchen basics instead of shopping for new recipes. I “think” the kitchen is finally ready to kick off a new season of menu plans for all you readers.

Making the move from Boston to Toronto has been fun and grocery shopping has been an interesting experience as I stand at the deli trying to figure out how to order a pound of cheese. The people here are so nice and helpful when it comes to my blank stare looking at metric quantities. Otherwise, the food choices are very similar. The dairy assortment is probably the biggest different, with milk sold in plastic bags, smaller size quantities for yogurt and less sugar added to cream cheese. Generally all good things when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.

For this week’s meal planning, I got a new cookbook to review, Good Cheap Eats: Dinner in 30 Minutes (or Less!) written by fellow blogger Jessica Fisher. Jessica has two blogs I’ve read for years, Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats and the publishers from Boston kindly sent me an advanced copy to read. (You can get yours starting Tuesday!) Many years ago it was Jessica’s meal plans that inspired me to get organized and start sharing all of our past plans here.

Good Cheap Eats Cookbook tips and advice

The new cookbook features easy dinner entrees and side dishes, that are quick but not out of the box. For newer cooks and people who want to feel more comfortable in the kitchen, there are TONS of great tips in the sidebar of the recipes. Even I am getting a bunch of great ideas for prepping food, storing leftovers and how to rethink pizza. (a behind the scenes note, Jessica sent me a personal email about a year ago when one of my Pinterest Pins to my Lunch Love board was driving a lot of traffic to her site thanking me for pinning her article. It’s cool to see her commitment to healthy food hasn’t changed and I hope the cookbook is a success!)

Meal plan for this week…

Monday: Labour Day cookout at friend’s house. We get to bring dessert.

Tuesday: Someone has a birthday so he gets Steak Tips, smashed red potatoes and local corn on the cob. This recipe looks great and will try it with steak tips grilled.

Wednesday: One pan Mexican Quinoa. This is a repeat dish and it’s offered to the kids in hard shell tacos with some cheddar cheese on top.

Thursday: Teriyaki Meatballs from the new cookbook Good Cheap Eats. These may take the max 30 minutes to make, but it may give us some leftovers for the lunch box. I’m also curious about No Brainer Baked Rice recipe in this book too. Green beans on the side rounds out this meal.

Friday: Pizza night for kids and (hopefully) date night to celebrate that birthday this week if we can find a babysitter. The homemade pizza dough has worked just fine up here too.

Saturday: Chicken Chasseur. An easy one-pot dish that can be paired with any leftover rice. Roasted asparagus on the side.

Chicken Chasseur dinner recipe

Chicken Chasseur recipe from Urban Cookery


What are you cooking up for Labor Day this year? Ready for the start of the fall season?

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Albert Camus


For more inspiration, see three years of past dinner plan heremy Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans. (affiliate links included here which help support this site.)


Sometimes meal planning needs to take a break, or you need some motivation. One of the first places I turned is surprisingly not Pinterest, it’s our local library. Have you ever taken a walk through the cookbook section in your library? It’s filled with treasures, plus we have the luxury of requesting some of the newest titles from our neighboring libraries. There is something so renewing about looking at new food photography, different ways of explaining recipes and a safe opportunity to explore new cuisines before adding them to your kitchen routine.

I picked up Sunday Suppers, a book by Karen Mordechai. It was widely publicized last year when it came out in a number of foodie magazines. Sunday Suppers is a communal cooking center and website based in Brooklyn. I appreciate their focus on quality ingredients from local markets, simple recipes, and unfussy entertaining. The book is encouraging to plan easy meals as we look ahead to summer and hitting the beach for the next two months. Cream biscuits with jam butters….concentrated coffee with milk…perfectly scrambled eggs. That sounds like a perfect meal for any time of day.

The photos in Sunday Suppers are gorgeous. Taking better pictures is on my lists of goals as I plan to continue the blog after the move to Toronto. Sharing new recipes is one of my favorite things here on the blog and I would love to spend a little more time styling the shots and creating a story. I may pick up one of the Photography ebook Bundles on sale this week, yet I’m struggling to decide between the beginner and intermediate packages. (When do you get to the point when you can say you have mastered the basics?) I think the Unexpected Everyday and the Eat Pretty Things are my first two books to read this summer.

Pineapple Coconut Cashew Rice Recipe

The menu for the week as we clear out those shelves…

Monday: Omelets

Tuesday: Vinegar Glazed Chicken with Creamed Corn (recipe)

Wednesday: Pineapple Coconut Rice (recipe) …way to use up some random items in the cabinet!

Thursday: Pasta, veggies and feta mix-up

Friday: Pizza Night

 Vinegar Glazed Chicken and Creamed Corn

For more inspiration, see three years of past dinner plan here,

my Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans. (affiliate links included here which help support this site.)

organizing solutions book

The new year always brings about an organizing fever to many homes, mine included. Over the past few years, we have tackled small organizing projects, which often included buying new storage units for all of our stuff. This year I read the book, Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD. It was life changing and maybe it can be for you too.

Letting Go of Stuff

First off, I don’t have ADHD. However, I do suffer from owning too much stuff and blessed with three kids 5 and under who also have a lot of stuff. We try to take good care of our belongings (and toys) so everything is always in “good” shape. Reading this book taught me that being in good, or even perfect, condition doesn’t give an item permission to stay in our home. If it doesn’t have a purpose, it’s just more stuff.

As I keep my Word of the Year in mind, clearing out the clutter allows me to focus on the task at hand. Instead of struggling to put clean dishes away in an overstuffed cabinet, I took some time to pare down our collection of pots and pans. Some were donated and others that are used infrequently were moved to an accessible area in the basement.

The Organizing Solutions book addresses the challenge of dealing with sentimental items, like gifts. Some may not be your style, or the gifts are no longer IN style. Somehow after reading about how to reevaluate gifts made it okay for me to say goodbye to certain items. I’ll always appreciate the sentiment, but now my home can really show our favorite items and those that mean something to each of us.

The book is not just for people with ADHD, the author notes early on how distracted busy mothers can benefit from her methodology. In any give day (hour) a mother has to wear many hats. Following the same approach to make clean up easy, clearing the clutter in every room is the first step.

Chapter by chapter I got a few new ideas to bring order and calmness to my space. My office desk has a space for a couple of beautiful things and my new 2015 Emily Ley planner (yes, I am a paper and pencil girl!) Papers have a home and I’ve learned a few tricks on how to be a bit more ruthless with all the paper that does come into the house on a daily basis.

Simple rules for toy storage


In the playroom, I finally realized why my very pretty Ikea storage unit still didn’t help with clean up time. The book explains the difference between “pretty” storage and “efficient” storage. I think there is a happy medium but I would much rather make clean up as easy as possible for me AND the kids.

I created a downloadable printable of the SIMPLE RULES FOR TOY STORAGE that I hope can help you bring some peace and calmness to your toy mismanagement. Sign up in the box below to have it sent to you. Print it out and keep it handy to refer back to when the toy room starts to overflow again.

If you get on an organizing kick, my other favorite reads are One Bite at a Time and The Nesting Place. It’s easier to keep reading about organizing, but the reality is you have to start taking action. Good luck and happy sorting.

photo credit: Wendy Copley via photopin cc

As summer vacation beckons, it’s a time for kids to let loose and just play. It’s also a good time to let them read books of their own choosing to foster their interests. In our family, we often plan a visit to a new library when we have a rainy summer day. We read as many books there as we can, then put them away and say goodbye till next time. Having a “new” place to read can help keep the fun in an educational activity, for both little kids and big kids.

Pottery Barn Kids partnered with PBS Kids to promote the Summer Reading Challenge. Read any 8 titles from their recommended list and receive a free book! PB Kids stores also have weekly story times where kids can help reach their goal. The challenge runs through July 17th.

Creating a summer reading nook is another way to encourage reading during the quiet times of the day. On a recent visit to Pottery Barn Kids, they shared their ideas for a successful reading nook.

create a reading nook

There are also some fun book plate DIY projects to make with the kids for their favorite books. I tried making a couple at the Pottery Barn Kids store and will do it again with my kids. The downloadable templates for the project is found on the Building Blocks blog, a fun collection of ideas from Pottery Barn Kids.

  DIY book plate

Here is the list of books included in the challenge:

·         Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

·         Big Brothers Don’t Take Naps by Louise Borden

·         Corduroy by Don Freeman

·         Curious Baby Counting by H.A. Rey

·         Good Night, Good Night Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

·         Grammy Lamby and the Secret Handshake by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise

·         Heads by Matthew Van Fleet

·         How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? By Mark Teague

·         How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?  by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

·         Ladybug Girl by David Samon and Jacky Davis

·         Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney

·         Madeline and the Old House in Paris by John Bemelmans Marciano

·         Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too by Anna Dewdney

·         Olivia by Ian Falconer

·         Paddington Bear by Michael Bond and R.W. Alley

·         Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin

·         Sniff by Matthew Van Fleet

·         Tallulah’s Toe Shoes by Marilyn Singer and Alexandra Boiger

·         The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

·         What Sisters Do Best/What Brothers Do Best by Laura Numeroff and Lynn Munsinger


Ready to create a new summer reading nook for your kids? To kick things off, Pottery Barn Kids is offering a $25 gift card to one lucky winner. Please leave a comment below naming your favorite childhood book. Contest is open until Saturday June 7th. Winner will be notified via email.

Borrow instead of buying

Today I ask you to consider borrowing instead of buying. What little, or big, items could you borrow for a short time from a neighbor or friend. Can you knock on a neighbor’s door and borrow their hand mixer? Do you have a shovel you can lend a neighbor to plant some trees? Can you let my sister borrow a crib until hers arrives from Hawaii?

All these borrowing ideas are true stories in my little world. Borrowing can build community among neighbors. However, it also helps slow the flow of extra items in our homes. Some people only need a hand mixer a couple of times a year, and I am happy to lend mine out. From kitchen gadgets to baby gear, there are possibly a few items you could borrow instead of buying.

Today is Earth Day. I ask you to consider the idea of borrowing more often. It’s one small way you can reduce the build up of stuff in our homes.

This post was inspired by the new book, All You Need is Less. I received a copy to review by my stories shared here are my own. {affiliate link}

What I'm reading this month

Reading at night is finally becoming a habit. Although I don’t need much to fall asleep, I like the routine of reading in bed and slowing down my mind. “Slow” seems to be the theme of my reading this month. After learning about many of these books at the start of the new year, and hearing people’s resolutions of “slowing down,” I thought I would check out what everyone was talking about.

On the Bookshelf

Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table

I mentioned Jenny Rosenstrach in a meal planning post last month after I heard her on a podcast. I connected with her vision of the family dinner table. She documented all of the dinners she made for 14 years. Yes, fourteen years. The book is part memoir and part cookbook and has been one of my favorite reads in quite some time. The recipes are easy enough and written in a conversational manner. Jenny has a background  in magazine editing and is able to marry the task of blending the real life need to make dinner every.single.night. with a dose of clever humor.

Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!

I first heard about Rachel Macy Stafford’s blog Hands Free Mama when I read her Huff Po article about the day she stopped telling her daughter to hurry up. It struck a cord with me as I read it during the summer, when we were truly living a slow life. It was poignant and I realized I wanted to make some changes when we returned home to real life.

The book will be eye-opening for some parents, probably those who’s phone is generally at arms length, at all times. As someone who follows along with social media, both for fun and for business, I can easily fall into this camp. The book has made me aware of certain situations that I default to catching up on emails, when instead I will be better served listening. Listening to my children, my husband, my neighbor…basically people in real life. Although the book is a little repetitive than I would like, the basis of the book is good and I’m nearly done with it.

In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed (Plus)

This is an oldie but goodie. The book has touched on everything from Slow Food to slow weightlifting to integrative medicine. It’s so simple, but the book reminded me how important it is to remember to take deep breaths and slow down when I’m faced with a challenge…like crayon on a wall or fighting siblings. Those extra moments have allowed me to avoid raising my voice to discipline the kids. Somehow they seem more receptive to the calm punishment and then we can just move on.

On the iPad

Divergent Series

So far I’ve finished 2 out 3 and expect to finish the last in the series in the next week. I’m curious to see the movie as the first Divergent book was entertaining. If you are a fan of the Hunger Games series, this will probably be a winner for you too. (I read most ebooks via the Kindle app on my iPad. I’m an Amazon Prime junkie so it’s easy for me to just stick with one program for all my purchases from books to diapers.)

So now it’s your turn. What’s on your bookshelf this month?

Note~ any Amazon links are affiliate links. Any purchase made there helps support this site at no additional cost to you. Or you can do what I did and request them from the library first to see if you like the book. I did and will probably buy the hardcover version of Dinner: A Love Story because I loved so many recipes from it.