Meal Plan 05/28/2018 - 06/01/2018

I've managed to completely fall off the meal-planning wagon and my budget/sanity/fridge are suffering. I'm completely overwhelmed by...life...right now so I'm committing to get back into my habit of Sunday meal planning. It feels like a manageable step that will hopefully add a bit of structure to my week (and cut back on the flood of junk food / comfort food that seems to piggyback with stress). 

I'm also experimenting with sous vide and could use some help. I bought Shawn the Anova (affiliate link) for his birthday and so far we're underwhelmed. I've only used it twice (once for sirloin steak and once for chicken breast) but both times the meat came out a bit mushy and unappealing. Do you sous vide? Point me to your best recipes, tips, and tricks, please! 

 {Follow along on Instagram @hillarywith2Ls to see if I manage to stick with my plan. #dinnerwith2Ls} 

{Follow along on Instagram @hillarywith2Ls to see if I manage to stick with my plan. #dinnerwith2Ls} 

Monday: Giant green salads topped with fresh mozzarella and grilled flank steak.

Tuesday: Spaghetti Pie served with green salad on the side.

Wednesday: Asian Noodle Salad served with whatever fish looks good at the fishmonger.

Thursday:  Grilled smokies, Mexican Street Corn Salad, and roasted peppers with garlic and herbs.

Friday: Snack dinner! Chicken wings, nachos with fresh guacamole and salsa, fresh veg and homemade ranch dip, popcorn, strawberries, and watermelon. 

What are you planning to eat this week?

Two

Dear Poppy,

Today you are two. And oh, you are so two. The twoiest two who ever twoed. 

When your older brother was two, I would smugly tell people how much I loved age two. I didn't know what people were talking about when they referred to the Terrible Twos. Two was my favourite. 

The universe responded appropriately by sending me you.

You with your full-body tantrums, your high-pitched screaming, your floppy rag doll maneuver, your belly laugh, your feelings (which may well be the biggest feelings I've ever witnessed) and your deep, unwavering love. You are intense, baby girl. And I love it.

We were out walking last week and we ran into a neighbour we haven't seen in a while. He commented on how big you've grown and then he said, "she has one volume setting, hey?" This is not our next door neighbour, Pops. He lives a few houses down. But it's true. You have one volume setting: loud. You say things and you feel things on the highest level.

You love your big brother more than anything. When he's upset, you drop whatever you're doing to hug him and say, "hey bud, hey bud, you okay?" When he goes to school, you spend the day asking me when we can go pick him up, "jacket? Shoes? Let's GO GET GRADY!" Your biggest delight in life is when Grady lets you play with his Lego, even though your main goal is breaking all the things.

You love to eat food and try new things. It's impossible for anyone to eat unless you're also eating because you glom onto whoever has food and do a little eyebrow wiggle and say, "try it? try it? try it?" until they give you some. Your favourite foods are cheesy pasta, pizza, yogurt (goat!), apple sauce (appie shosh!), blueberries, and blackberries. Last weekend you were having a tough day and you kept asking for blackberries so we just kept handing them to you until you'd managed to inhale $6 worth of blackberries in one day. The diapers that followed were...not my favourite. You're still allergic to peanuts and eggs but your allergist is hopeful that you'll grow out of the egg allergy and he gives you about a 20% chance of growing out of the peanut allergy. You've managed to go a full year (*knocks on wood furiously*) without a serious allergic reaction. 

You are an amazing singer and dancer. You sing all day long and as soon as you hear music, your hips start to wiggle and soon the music is moving through your entire body. Your favourite songs to sing are The Wheels on the Bus and The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Your favourite music to dance to is Death from Above and anything by the Swedish metal band Avatar. I couldn't make that up, Poppy. I really couldn't. When your uncle played Hail to the Apocalypse for us, you danced so intensely and enthusiastically that he recorded you and showed the band. You're part of the Swedish metal scene, baby. Your father and I are so proud. 

After you were born, you and I had about an hour together before the nurse told your dad, in that calm but firm nurse voice that everyone knows to obey without question, to please pick you up off my chest. The next thing I remember, our quiet birthing room went from four people to what felt like 20 people. One person was putting another IV in my hand, someone else was holding a clipboard with consent forms in front of my other hand, there was a lot of shouting and a lot of blood. They wheeled me out of the room, away from you, and as I stared up at the flourescent lights, I felt terror like I've never felt before. Every cell in my body felt like ice. I was passing in and out of consciousness but every instinct in my body was telling me to get up off the stretcher and get back to you. It was the closest I've ever felt to being an animal. 

I woke up after surgery in the recovery room, howling for my baby. The nurses were so kind. One stood by my bed and held my hand until I was cleared to go back to my room. They wheeled me to the maternity ward and into our room and I was terrified at what I would find. Would you be hysterical, crying inconsolably because you'd been separated from your mom so soon after you were born? Would you be hysterical once I held you because you didn't know me? (Listen, typing this now I realize it doesn't sound reasonable but you have to remember, I had not slept in days and I was still woozy from the anesthetic.) They wheeled me into our room and you were curled up, sleeping peacefully on your dad's chest. You slept on his chest for three hours while I was in surgery, without a peep. As soon as I saw you I started to shake and cry. Your dad put you in my arms and a wave of relief washed over me. You were in my heart for so long, before I was even pregnant, and now you were in my arms and I knew everything would be okay.

That feeling has persisted. Through sleepless nights and temper tantrums and hospital visits. You are in my heart, and in my arms, and we're going to be okay. 

Happy second birthday, Penelope Bloom, Poppy Doodle Bug, Pops, The Biscuit, our little Honey Badger. We lub you a lot.  

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Five

Five years ago I sat in my surgeon's office and heard him tell me I had cancer and then...nothing. I don't remember anything after that. My world shrank to the size of those two syllables and all of a sudden I couldn't see past that afternoon.  

I was a few months into a fresh decade. My thirties were supposed to be filled with big dreams and opportunities and adventure. My diagnosis turned it all upside down. 

Life has a funny way of keeping on keeping on. Even when I felt like I was taking one step forward and two steps back, days turned into weeks and then months and years. I've not wished away the last five years but I have had this date tattooed on my heart.  

Five years is the magic number. Five years means my risk of recurrence has dropped dramatically. Five years means big dreams and opportunities and adventure don't need to be tempered by test results or specialist appointments. Five years means I can breathe again.  

Five years isn't a guarantee of anything (the first person to tell me we could all be hit by a bus tomorrow gets a punch) but it is a comfort. I can wrap those five years up in a box and tuck them away. Life will keep on keeping on but now I feel like I can start making plans instead of being swept along in the terrible current that is cancer.

I have been cut open and sewn back together. My body is scarred and soft in some places and gnarled and rough in others. But I'm standing strong, five years later, bolstered by the love and support thrown at me from every corner of my life. Cancer has taken a lot from me but it's also filled me with gratitude and a deep appreciation for the different ways people show up. Today is a celebration of my five years, yes, but it's also a celebration of the amazing people in my life who kept my life keeping on keeping on. Y'all, we did it. Five years. 

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Hands-on Cook-off Contest by Better Together BC

The Hands-on Cook-off Contest is back! Between now and May 16, 2018, any BC resident can submit their video to enter to win some amazing prizes (like $1,000 cash, thankyouverymuch). 

Videos can be submitted in either of two categories:

  • To enter in the Multigenerational category, at least two generations must be involved in the making of the recipe.
  • To enter in the Youth category, at least two youth aged 18 and under must participate in the making of the recipe.

Cooking with my kids is not stress-free, and sometimes it is not even a little bit enjoyable for anyone participating in the cooking or existing in the general vicinity of the cooking. But it's important. I want my kids to grow up with a healthy relationship to food. I want them to appreciate the care and effort that goes into preparing food. I want them to be familiar with different ingredients and different cooking techniques. I want them to feel comfortable and confident in the kitchen.  

My parents never discouraged me from experimenting in the kitchen, even when it resulted in offerings such as a solitary black olive floating in a (white porcelain) bowl of water. They made me feel like I'd created a new and exciting dessert when really what I'd presented them with was a faux turd. My parents gave me the freedom to play with different flavours and made the kitchen a fun place to spend time. It's something that's stuck with me and it's something I want to give to my kids.

If you're a BC resident and you've got a budding chef, head over to Better Together BC to enter the contest, but also to check out the great resources and recipes. Good luck!

 {image: bettertogetherbc.ca} 

{image: bettertogetherbc.ca}