Monday, January 31, 2011

Because the Bible says so.

Matt came home to pick up his phone. He walked through the kitchen to let the dog in through the back door. The dog was so excited he ran into the house, through the kitchen, slipped, slid into the dining room table and hit it so hard he moved the table a foot and knocked one of my new plates off it, which of course smashed into pieces.
Dumb dog.
Fortunately Gabe was upstairs in his room so he wasn't in danger of the millions of pieces of glass suddenly on the floor. After locking the dog in the kitchen I swept up all the glass (I hope) and walked it to the kitchen. I opened up the cupboard in which our garbage can is and started pushing the dust pan into the cupboard - but the door bounced back and instead I hit the dustpan right against the cupboard door... and knocked all the glass all over the kitchen floor.
Dumb me.
And that is an account of today's excitement so far.
It's actually been a pretty nice day so far. I spent a good chunk of time chatting on the phone with my sister this morning and plan to do a fair bit of cleaning this afternoon. Mostly though I'm going to study my bible. Study it, not read it. What's the difference? Well, when I read my bible I find I'm sometimes guilty of just trying to get to the end of the chapter. I take some of it in, but I rarely get the whole of it. There are lines that seem to just melt into other lines and never stand out to me unless they are pointed out to me, even if I've read it a ton of times. Now, what I mean by studying my bible is actually moreso scripture memorization. A chapter at a time. I did this a few months ago with James 1 and then James 2. I spent a couple weeks memorizing James 1 and then found myself going over it in my head while I was doing other things. I was able to think on the words without focusing on reading them and that made a world of difference for me. I think it took me a couple weeks after I had memorized it to finally be struck by the line, "For man's anger does not bring about the kind of righteous living that God desires." (James 1:20) By having this scripture embedded in my memory I was able to think on it and ponder it at different times, in different circumstances - not just when I sat down with my bible open. It actually opened my eyes to the whole meaning of some of these verses. Just last week I was struck again by the truth of that verse and convicted regarding it, but my conviction was rooted in my knowledge of the scripture. If I had never memorized that I wouldn't have realized that while I might have had a right to be angry in that circumstance, how I was feeding my anger wasn't right, so I was just as guilty as if I had been wrong in the first place. This deeper understanding isn't from my studying directly, but from God's grace, but I need to do my part and read and memorize the words God has given to us, and not just think that God will bestow wisdom on me if I'm not really trying for it. Again, in James 1 it talks about, "If anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault." I've been asking God for wisdom and He's been leading me to His word. It would be arrogant for me to expect God to reveal things to me through some divine means like a dream or a sudden realization when He's already given these truths to me and I'm, unfortunately, neglecting to study them. It'd be laziness on my part.
Besides a deeper understanding, God calls us to arm ourselves with, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Eph. 6:17) First comes understanding, then comes application. I'm foreseeing a hard time in my immediate future (not without good reason) and so I thought it would be wise of me to memorize a chapter in scripture that speaks the most on the subjects that are going to be brought up in my life over the next few weeks. Now, this chunk of scripture I'm memorizing I feel like I understand - in part through my own study, in part through submitting to my husband's authority as a spiritual leader and acknowledging his wisdom on the subject, in part through conviction by God and entirely through God's grace. So, now that I understand, is my job done? No! Like I said, I've got a potentially rough few weeks, maybe even months, ahead of me. But I'm arming myself. We're applying what we've learned and I'm ensuring that I know what the scriptures say on it so that when people ask me about it and question our decisions I can present the scriptures to them and justify my actions through God's word. But it's not really about me being right and others being wrong. It's about upholding the truths of the Word for the glory of God.
It's funny how people say that all religions are the same. That's a lie. A really big lie. Christianity is very different from all other religions. The majority of religions are about what you can attain and what you can achieve. It's all about earning your way to paradise by what you do (Judaism), ensuring that your spot in paradise is the biggest and best and you can maybe have your own planet that you're god of if you're good enough (Mormonism), or killing yourself and a bunch of unbelievers for the sake of 72 virgins (Extreme Islam). Christianity, true Christianity, is all about God's glory. You see parts in the bible that talk about storing up treasures in heaven. You know what you use those treasures for when you get to heaven? You lay them at the feet of Jesus as an offering to Him! You don't wear them and parade them around or buy a ferarri with them! It is all about giving glory to God! Our whole existence on earth is intended to give glory to God. The catechism goes, "What is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever." Our whole existence after we die will be to glorify God - all of us, non-believers and believers. Every act and every pain and every tear and every victory will be used for God's glory because God is sovereign. Another difference - God loves us and has created us to glorify Him through our relationship with Him. That's the second part of the catechism. How do we glorify God? By enjoying Him forever. We aren't slaves. We aren't brainless zombies who follow in obedience... or else. We are joint heirs with Christ. Crazy eh? And when the new Jerusalem is established, we will live in fellowship with God and our relationship with Him will give Him glory. Oh, and we aren't in any way greater than God so that whole getting your own planet thing is just wrong to the enth degree.
Okay, so I had intended to write that first part about scripture memorization, but that last bit was an unintentional rant. I mean, it's still valid, but I hadn't planned on going that far with it.
I'm just feeling very convicted lately. I'm feeling attacked. I'm feeling challenged. I'm on the brink of feeling persecuted. It's amazing how these feelings can stir such passion in one. Those money matters I was worried about last week seem so trivial now. Sure money is a tough issue, but I've got bigger issues to deal with in my life and I trust that God will provide what I need. There, problem over!
I wish that it were good enough for the world, and good enough for the church even, to just say, "Because the bible says so," and that would be the end of the discussion. Why are we supposed to give 10% of our income to the church? Because the bible says so (Deut. 14:22, Mal. 3:10). How can you say that I don't need to worry about money and that I should just trust God? Because the bible says so (Prov. 3:10, Psalm 121). Why do you think that women should stay at home to raise their children and their household? Because the bible says so (Prov 31:10-27).
How can you say that you are right and the world is wrong? Because God has given us His very word; He has revealed truths to us beyond anything we can even imagine and He has given these truths to us in the form of His holy word, the Scriptures. Because the bible says so.
That's good enough for me.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Oh, Aeroplan Reward Miles, how I love you. I do, I really do.
In light of the recent takeover of Zellers by the much cooler Target, I decided it would be prudent to spend my saved up HBC Reward Points. I rarely shop at The Bay and if Zellers is gone I won't really have an opportunity to save up more points anyway, right? Well, I was quite excited to see what 56,000 points would buy. Turns out, nothing. Really. Nothing. I do, however, have the option to transfer them to AirMiles. I thought, "Sure, I collect AirMiles too." I went to see just how many AirMiles I had in hopes that it'd be a bit more impressive than my totally useless 56,000 HBC Reward Points. Nope. 335 AirMiles. Well, it's a bit more useful than the HBC points actually. I could maybe rent a car with it or pay for a night in a hotel. However, I've had my AirMiles card for a number of years now and I really thought I ought to be closer to something substantial. For a whole year of living in Calgary I got AirMiles every time I filled up my car, and I never forget to check to see if I place is an AirMiles partner. I suppose 335 is something though. So, next I went to check about my Aeroplan Miles. This, my friends, was a source of some happiness. We have enough for a flight! Two round-trip flights actually! Now, Aeroplan Miles expire every 6 years, but the majority of our points were earned in the past year, so that gives us a good 5 more years before we need to spend our points. That's 5 more years worth of saving! While our miles right now would pay for a short-haul flight, in 5 years time we could probably fly to Europe and back! Isn't that wonderful?? Oh Aeroplans, how quickly you accumulate!
I bought two ducks today. The dead and frozen variety of course. $8.50 apiece. Isn't that fantastic?? The last duck I bought was $17! It was cheaper to buy duck than chicken this week! I had to talk Matt down from buying the 1/4 section of hog for $25 but I barely fit the ducks in the freezer so it was for the best.
Last night a friend of ours sent some free hockey tickets our way so we took Gabe out to a WHL game. It was the second time we had taken him and we forgot just how transfixed he gets when he watches live hockey. He had an awesome time. Popcorn, ice cream and hockey. He even had his favorite stuffed animal puppy with him and his puppy had a whole seat to himself. We had a good time too. It was the first game I'd been to in a long, long time that our team won. Gabe was so excited when we got home that we had a bit of trouble getting him down to bed even though he was exhausted. He'd fall asleep and then jerk awake and yell, "Goal!" or "Hockey!" Not very helpful, but cute.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fancy Dinners

Duck is on sale for $1.49/lbs this weekend at a local grocery store! I'm so excited!!! The last time I bought a duck it was significantly more expensive! I can only get two at that price though, so I'll get them and maybe save them until summer or easter time. Unfortunately, the thought of eating duck right now isn't very appealing to me, so I'll have to wait to cook it until my tummy is a bit more predictable (hello third trimester).
I really want to make a special dinner for Matt and while duck seems like it would fit the bill I prefer cooking duck when we're having company over. That being said, I don't know when would even be the best time for me to make a fancy dinner for Matt. Valentines Day is coming up, but I doubt we'd be able to find a sitter that day and I don't know if the menu I was thinking of would sit well with Gabe. Also, it's a bit less romantic to have a candle lit dinner at home with a toddler yelling "ALL DONE!" every 5 minutes. So I think I'll just do a nice dessert for Valentines Day: Chocolate Pots de Creme. I've got a fantastic recipe for them that Matt really loves so I think I'll stick with the back massage plan that I mentioned in a previous post and the Pots de Creme will serve as a nice chocolatey extra.
Matt's birthday is also in February so maybe that's when I'll make this fantabulous dinner for him. It's mid-week so I'm sure we could get his parents to take Gabe for dinner and I'd have plenty of time to prepare. I haven't finalized the menu, but I'm thinking stuffed manicotti, crab legs, a fresh loaf of bread with some goat cheese, a nice salad (Matt loves salad) and a fresh pie for dessert. I know it sounds a bit more homey than fancy but it's alot more work to make all that up than to do a more gourmet meal. Mainly because it will all be from scratch - from the tomato sauce in the manicotti to the salad dressing. Plus, it includes some of Matt's favorite things: baked pasta, fresh bread, good cheese and pie. And while he does appreciate the occassional meal of lamb chops in a red wine sauce, I can do pasta and crab a heck of a lot cheaper than I can do lamb right now.
We're still on a kick right now about saving money so all of fancy meal costs will have to fit in to our regular monthly grocery budget - whereas some meals I've made for Matt have cost 1/5th of the whole budget. I always keep bread ingredients stocked, I've got loads of leftover chocolate from Christmas baking for the Pots de Creme, Crab legs go on sale every couple weeks if you know where to look for them and everything else would be fairly regular purchases that will serve for more than just one meal.
In keeping with our low cost life style, our Valentines Day outing will actually be taking place a day after Valentines Day at which point we will be going to the movies. Now, while going to the movies doesn't sound like a particularly cheap thing to do, we have coupons! Two admissions and two popcorns and pops. Sounds nice, eh? Things like that have been some of our favorite gifts lately - date night coupons and gift cards, I mean. We were given some gift cards to Earl's for Christmas and have had a nice dinner out with the whole fam and have enough left over for a quick dessert stop for Matt and I on date night. I actually really like getting gift cards for Christmas because even if you're trying to save money, you can still treat yourselves occassionally and not feel guilty that you didn't spend your Starbucks gift card elsewhere. We even got some prepaid Mastercards for Christmas that are going towards our Babymoon in March. Any gift that helps my husband and I spend more time together, is a good gift. I'm also a coupon hound so while everyone else throws their flyers away without a second glance, I always give them a good look through. We regularly get coupons for free appetizers at restaurants, discounts on golf games, and hey, I wouldn't have known about the duck on sale if I did read the flyers!
I'm in a hosting mood lately and it seems ages since I did any baking. Perhaps I ought to do something about that, hey?

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I love my Husband

There are a couple of things coming up that my husband would love to do or go to, and I would love to be able to treat him to those things, but alas, it's not to be. Not right now at any rate.
I have one particular wish for my husband and that's to send him to a conference in Orlando in March. I only found out about the conference tonight however and considering we have Valentines Day, his birthday, skiing and a family vacation between now and then, it's not going to happen. But perhaps I'm looking at this wrong. Perhaps I'm being too short-sighted and not romantic enough.
Example: instead of lamenting that I can't send him this year, maybe I take the next year and plan how I could send him in style. I could arrange a buddy to go with him, scrape up some money, plan their whole trip and let him know a month in advance so that he has time to be excited about it. And maybe instead of lamenting the fact that things like Valentines Day are getting in the way of bigger and better goals, I should be making better plans for our V-Day celebration so that I can get excited for those. I remember one year when we were dating I made this luscious Chocolate Anise cake, borrowed a cafe table and chairs from the cafe I was working at and set it up in my living room with a rose, candles, glasses of wine and a menu. This menu, however, did not contain options for food, but options for the evening. It included back rubs, a movie, board games, a walk, a night out or any combination therein. I took a picture of it because it was just so cute! But I've already done that so maybe I could make a special dinner for him and when Gabe goes to sleep show him into the office where I could have the futon laid out with white linen and rose petals all over and soft music and give him the supreme massage that would put any masseuse to shame, complete with oils, heated towels and chocolate (he loves chocolate). Or maybe I could have the entire house clean for him :) He'd love that just as much I'm sure.
And yet maybe, just maybe, I'm still looking at this wrong. Maybe instead of looking at these big things so longingly, maybe I ought to be focusing more on making his everyday experiences better and showing him day to day how much I love him. I could be getting up before him and making breakfast, having his lunch ready and making sure his morning runs smoothly. And I could be making his home an "en gedi" for him to come home to every day. En Gedi is mentioned in Song of Solomon and it refers to an oasis; Mark Driscoll talks in his sermon series "The Peasant Princess" about how a man's home should be his En Gedi - a place that he desires and that he feels blessed and relaxed in and not a place that causes him stress or frustrates him. FYI, every married couple should watch the Peasant Princess series. But anyway, while I may not be wrong in wanting to send my husband to some far off destination so he can attend a conference he wants to go to, and while I may not be wrong in planning special events for us, I would be more right to focus on showing my husband daily that I adore him and I want to make our home a haven for him. And when I've adapted some of those things I'll happily relook my situation and see whether or not I can send my husband to Orlando - or maybe at that point I'll be aware of more day to day things that I can do for him.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Trip to Edmonton

Oh, what a busy 24 hours! Lots of fun things to recount today!
To begin, Matt, Gabe and I did a trip to Edmonton yesterday to return the dog we had been sitting. While initially we had thought about just dropping the dog off and turning around to head home that night, we were offered a room at Matt's sister's house and a promise of entertainment the next day and decided to take them up on it. So we hit Edmonton around 4 and after a bit of running around, key picking up and dog dropping off we drove to IKEA by about 6. Matt's sister and her husband were getting home from a vacation that night and we said we'd pick them up at the airport at 8 so we only had 2 hours to spend at IKEA, however, I had made a list in advance of things that I really needed so I thought it would be a pretty quick trip. Well, it wasn't. It was very productive however. IKEA is awesome for pointing out things that you never knew you needed :) For example, I didn't know that I needed that 17 piece set of food storage containers until I saw it there for $4.99. I also didn't know that Gabe needed a bug shaped lamp that hangs on his wall but apparently he did. We did however know that we needed new dishes - that's been quite apparent to us for a while given the obvious nearing of the life expectancy of our current dishes which have taken to breaking for the oddest reasons. So we bought a new 6 place setting set of dishes for $29.99. I also did know that we ought to have a duvet cover for our gorgeous white duvet so when we saw a cute one for $13.99 we decided that was a good idea. We found lamps for our bedroom which mean that I can actually see what I'm reading at night, some new bibs and utensils for Gabe, a new cloth food set for him and a new dresser that we're going to convert into a change table for the nursery. All in all, it was very productive.
As I alluded to above, however, it was also very long. With stopping to feed Gabe supper half way through the shopping trip we were about half an hour late for picking up Matt's sister. Fortunately they were a bit delayed with some luggage issues so it all worked out... until we had to all try and fit into our van with their luggage and our IKEA purchases. But we managed.
This morning we all slept in, except for Gabe, we had a quick breakfast, packed our van back up and went to West Ed for the afternoon. Matt's sister and her husband took Gabe to the water park as a bit of a treat for us and so Matt and I got to go shopping with Matt's other sister. That was awesome. I found a whole new side to shopping at West Ed that I had never discovered before: T&T Supermarket. It's the asian grocery store down the Chinatown wing and they had stuff that I had never even heard of before. They had a super extensive produce section (we only walked through the fruit, not even all the veggies) where we found things like rambutan, kumquats and lychee nuts, but we also found this thing called a rose apple which looked like a normal apple that shrivelled from the top down. We then walked over to the live seafood section where they had not only lobsters, crabs and tilapia but conches and geoducks! I'd never seen a geoduck (pronounced goo-ey-duck) in real life! And I had never even seen a conch with anything in it! It was awesome - and might I say, so was my restraint. Being pregnant helped with the restraint I think. It was the only time in my life I wanted to live in Edmonton, just to have access to all the awesome culinary potential. Having said that, our monthly food budget would at least triple.
Besides T&T we also had some great bubble tea from the Dream Tea hut and we found a maternity swimsuit for me! Which is something I was beginning to despair of. After Gabe had finished swimming with Auntie and Uncle we had lunch at the Spaghetti Factory and then headed home. Nice hey? So tonight already we've started washing our new dishes, installed our new lamps and set up one of my organizational tools I picked up.
What a nice 24 hours!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Current Events

I managed to get a 20 minute nap in after my first post of the day and that definitely was advantageous. When I got up I got my son settled in with some lunch, I cleaned my living room (dusting, sweeping and honest to goodness organizing included), did some dishes up, started dinner and brushed the dog. It was a really nice change having the living room clean since it hadn't been so since Matt got sick. We had company over this evening; a couple that we haven't gotten together with since the beginning of my pregnancy, and it was really good to see them again. Now the living room is still clean, the dogs are in bed and I'm feeling the need to write on current events and world news - which I haven't done in a rather long time.
First off, I'd like to observe how interesting it is that they have to teach current events in high school to make sure that students stay informed on what's going on in the world. Even moreso, I find it interesting that there was a time when I could hardly remember who was Prime Minister of Canada (this was just after Jean Chretien was out so granted, it was a new thing for me to have to remember a name other than his since he'd been Prime Minister since I was in middle school). Now, probably a joint cause of personal growth, maturity, be less self-absorbed and the internet, I make a point of it every day to get plugged into some sort of a news sorce. My preferred is the internet, mainly and (yes, I read the American page), next in line is radio, then TV and finally newspapers. If I have a sick day or for some reason I haven't got around to hearing any news stories that day, I feel oddly disconnected. I think it's an important thing for everyone to stay informed on events around the globe for many reasons, the least reason of which would be for conversation's sake. Greater reasons would be to make yourself a better citizen and more informed voter and to make yourself a better person by being well rounded, having opinions and having empathy and prayers for matters bigger than yourself.
Now, on to my own opinions on the news.
Firstly, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is making amazing progress according to the latest reports. She's shown considerable progress in physical responses, has stood with assistance and has opened her eyes more frequently following reconstructive surgery to her right eye socket. I'm praying for her - I really, really am. I want this lady to heal; I want her to overcome what challenges are before her and I want her to recover to a point where she will be able to continue in politics. Why? Mostly because I want the shooter to have failed. He wanted to kill her and he succeeded in killing 6 other people and injuring 11 others, but I want him to have failed in his actual goal. He doesn't deserve the satisfaction of success. Also, I want her to overcome this because Rep. Gabby Giffords has become a visible rallying point around all the well wishers for all the other victims. Naturally the media would follow a congresswoman's progress, but it doesn't make the world less concerned for the wellbeing of the other 11 injured people. Particularly I feel concern for the senior man who tried to shield his wife and even though he was shot, she was still killed. I pray for that man. I want him to be alright and to not blame himself. Somehow I feel that if Rep. Gabby Giffords can overcome what has happened to her that her fate is tied with every other individual affected by the shooting. I can't get daily reports on their progress though, so I'll continue to follow the reports on the congresswoman, and at the same time earnestly pray for recovery and healing for her.
I also pray for justice for the shooter and while I know it will come in this life I pray for mercy and healing in time for the next.
Next, over 100 suspected mafia members in the states were arrested today. Good. And I'm glad they were smart enough to get them all at the same time and not leave any credible people left lingering who have the manpower and the authority to get back at any prosecutors, judges or arresting officers. I'm praying for them and their families tonight though, just in case.
Right now you could not pay me enough money to go to Mexico. Now, if any of you are planning trips there soon, please skip this paragraph, and have fun! Some of the latest stories coming out about violence in Mexico are focused in Mazatlan, Playa del Carmen and similar tourist destinations and resort towns. Previously it had only been places in the interior really, and non-tourist locations that were being affected by the drug war and the violence, but it's spilling over and I'm sure moreso than we realize. I only really hear the stories about Canadians being raped, beaten and shot. And that's just this week.
In bigger news, George Clooney just got malaria. It must be bigger news, it was higher up on the news page than all these other stories.
And lastly, a UofC student wore the same pair of jeans nearly every day for 15 months without washing them all in the name of science - and fashion. I don't care what it's in the name of, that's disgusting.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Kind of Procrastinating

What I'm doing right now would be classified as procrastinating if I felt physically capable of doing anything else. May I just say that pizza was a bad idea?
After spending the morning dealing with a sleepy and needy little boy, I finally got him down for a nap and figured I'd eat a quick lunch before I set out to clean the house for company that is coming over tonight. And lo, there was pizza. I was craving fruit but I can hardly eat fruit thanks to pregnancy allergies, so I figured I'd settle for the pizza. Stupid me. I at least had the sense to not try and finish it but my tummy is not happy.
I'm actually in a culinary land-lock right now. My stomach will barely tolerate anything more than toast or fruit lately but my fruit options are severly limited right now, even more so because it's winter, so every morning I've been making a fruit smoothie and having toast for lunch. My smoothie this morning was a little lacking. It was a peach and cantaloupe smoothie, as opposed to my normal strawberry and banana one. The cantaloupe flavour was too strong and the overall flavor was crying out for some passion fruit. Where exactly am I supposed to get passion fruit right now??? Ah well, I know for next time I guess.
Last night was a rather odd night. Odd in the sense that it was fairly productive, but the joy of that was overshadowed by the fact that it took three hours to get Gabe to go to bed. Why was it productive? Well, I set out to clean out the bottom of our closet in our bedroom, which I had long attested was 'organized'... just in 6 or 7 different bags that were thrown on the bottom of the floor... Matt had a spare underbed storage bin that I used to store all of the things I wanted to keep from those bags (they were mostly excess cosmetics, soaps and bath products). I then moved on to finally getting rid of all my clothes from high school that I've held on to thinking, "I'll fit into these again." Yah, I probably will, but between now and then I'm having another baby. I might as well buy new clothes when the time comes that I'm back to "normal". After all that purging was done I had two garbage bags of donations and two garbage bags of garbage (including all my old jeans that had holes in the crotch). Now, our closet organizer actually organizes things and the bottom of the closet is clean! Well, shortly after this we tried to put Gabe down for bed when we realized that his soother was torn and he had bit through it in the course of the day. That was the second one he had done that to that day. He's taken to biting on the nipple and pulling the soother back which makes a great nose when it finally pops out but rips the nipple obviously. So we decided now was a good time to ween him off his soother. And by ween I mean cold turkey. Gabe, unfortunately, disagreed. There were moments of hysterical tears and moments of over-tired giddiness. Finally we broke down at midnight and I found a new soother for him and within two minutes he was asleep. I, however, did not have such luck.
Ah well, we'll start him off easier with no soother except for at night time for bed and then go from there.
Well, I'd better have a quick nap to help put my stomach right before Gabe wakes up!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, January 17, 2011


Oh, the organization. Or rather, the attempt at organization. Matt and I have been trying to overhaul our house into a more productive state and thanks to the combined effort of and, we keep adding to what we want to do.
Our latest project in mind is our laundry room. I was drooling over a picture of a laundry room (odd, I know) that I had seen somewhere or other and got to talking to Matt about all of the changes I would make to our laundry room if I could. While some of those changes would have involved knocking down one wall and putting up another to give our laundry room an additional 18 square feet of space, I realized that some of the changes I actually could accomplish with a little ingenuity. Now, while I may not have ingenuity myself when it comes to organizational matters, Martha Stewart and her comrades certainly do. So I dug up some old magazines and hit up her website to find ideal laundry room layouts (an oddly common theme throughout the life of her publications). Now, while my laundry room will not include a gift wrapping station like one sample room, or a folding table (which was the thought behind the 18 sq. foot expansion), nor will I necessarily get my own Sheldon-esque folding board as seen on The Big Bang Theory, however, I will be reorganizing my shelves in a manner which ought to improve the efficiency of not only my laundry room but also my linen closet. We have ample shelving space in the laundry room and less than adequate shelving in our linen closet (which is a half closet), so a space will be made on the laundry room shelves for all linens excluding our nicest, fluffiest bath towels, all our face cloths and our bed sheets. The freed up space in our linen closet will now house jars of bath salts, our guest soap and towel basket and perhaps the surplus of shower gel that I have accumulated over the years. It's funny, I won't actually need to get rid of anything that's currently stored in the laundry room to make room for more on the shelves. I've merely stacked things in there in such a disorganized way over the past 2 years that by compressing and sorting I'll open up loads of room. I'm actually dividing the shelves into 6 areas: small, rarely used appliances (i.e. magic bullet, crockpot and George Foreman grill), Vases, bowls and other decorative vessels, Cleaning supplies and detergents, Linens, Overflow food storage, and Paper products. By putting everything in its place I ought to be able to make the room way more efficient and way tidier overall.
I did devote a chunk of time this evening to perusing the Ikea website for more organizational ideas for our house. The biggest ones I came up with were new wall lamps for over our bed to free up our bedside tables and some baskets for the laundry room project... until I remembered the adorable hanging pots that they have. I think they're actually classified as cutlery stands, however I intend to use them in many different applications. The cutest of these are the ASKER white ceramic pots ($6.99 for the pot and $4.99 for the hook) and the KROKEN mini galvanized metal pots ($3.99 for the pot and hook). I'm planning on getting three of the KROKEN pots for my bedroom and three for my kitchen - at very least. Oddly enough, the ones for my kitchen will actually be for organizing pens, coupons and general overflow from our mail caddy. The ones for my bedroom will be tasked with decluttering my bedside table so they'll hold mostly bobby pins, jewelry and coins. I may contrive to get a few more of these come spring to hold seed packets, garden gloves and my hand trowels as well as some for Gabe's room to hold things like coloring supplies and some select toys. Wall space is totally under-used in general and these little pots seem like a great way to take care of some ever-present and overlooked items in a space-saving way.
I've decided to start a file of dream home ideas for myself. It'll include articles and pictures from magazines with design and organizational ideas I really like. Martha Stewart, of course, will be the most dominant influence in my file, but a recent Style at Home magazine I got had a great little article on equestrian style and how to incorporate it into a neat entry way which I loved. Martha's article called Martha's 50 Top Kitchen Tips is full of great ideas if you ever have the good fortune to design your own kitchen (it was featured in her Sept. 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living but can also be found on and the IKEA catalogue is always a great source of inspiration. By compiling things over the years I'll be able to have a pretty good idea of what I like and what ideas will be most useful. Hopefully, one day I'll be able to put some of those ideas to good use!
I had a bit of a pampering day today unexpectedly. Matt stayed home from work today seeing as he was still dizzy even just sitting up, so I left Gabe with him for a bit and went for a long overdue haircut. I've grown my hair out over the past couple of years and it was in desperate need of some layering. Now I won't be scared to wear my hair down in public! I then made a trip downtown to get some coffee for Matt (why buy cheap supermarket stuff that you have to choke down when you can buy freshly roasted Tanzanian beans from City Roast Coffee?) and picked up lunch for myself while I was there. I ordered it to go and while they were making it I popped around the corner to a tiny shop called Paper Crane that specializes in positive feelings and independant, hand-crafted products. They carry the Thymes line of fragrances and lotions (much more extensively and for a much longer time than Chapters ever has) and are my ever present supplier of Kimono Rose bath salts. If you have no idea what Kimono Rose smells like then go now to Paper Crane. Seriously, it is the most heavenly smell in the world. You know how everyone and their dog adores Love Spell by Victoria's Secret? Well Kimono Rose is a more elegant, less sweet, but just as universally attractive scent. Anyway, Thymes also makes a new Agave Nectar scent which is combined scents of Grapefruit, guava, lemon blossoms and, obviously, agave nectar. I bought a bottle of the bubble bath in this scent and had a bath with it already today. Mmmmmmm... So nice.
Well, I'd best get my brain winding down from all the organizational planning now or I'll be up all night!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Yikes! Overnight my house became crazy! Today was supposed to be our family get together for Matt's extended family. I was asked to bring a salad or snack and decided against making homemade soft pretzels so I needed to go to the store to pick up some ingredients. Matt and I spent a while talking before we got up about what the day would look like and what we wanted to get done. Our plans included trips to the mall and the church and maybe a meeting for Matt before we met up with the fam. Well, as soon as Matt got out of bed he realized he wasn't feeling well... At all. Turns out he's got the flu. It snuck up on him quite quickly and quite violently. So Matt went back to bed and I still needed to get some errands done. I got Gabe settled in his crib with some snacks and toys and went grocery shopping and picked up Timmy's for lunch for Matt and I. I figured I'd get him a tea instead of a coffee but I was surprised to find that he didn't want either. Turns out water wasn't even staying down. I decided at this point that we would not go to the activities the family had planned and just meet up with them for dinner. After getting Gabe down for his nap however my head started hurting so I laid down for a nap myself... And woke up 20 minutes later when Gabe decided he only needed an hour's nap. At this point I gave up all hope of getting Matt out of bed (for probably the next two days mind you) and decided to hold off on going myself until later. The biggest problem was that Gabe was quite eager to play - loudly. So we called Matt's mom and got her to pick up Gabe and take him with her to the event. I ended up going after everyone had finished dinner and only stayed for about an hour. Before I arrived I stopped at Macs to pick up more Gatoraide for Matt which he was only too happy to get when I got home. To add to the struggle of having a teething child, a violently ill husband and being pregnant myself, starting this evening we are dog sitting Matt's sister's golden retriever. He's a good dog but he has taken to mounting Cash lately. Now normally I'd probably just let Cash duke it out with him, but he just got fixed and is still wearing his cone. So, he's not allowed to play with Cash and I'm assuming that means that Cash isn't allowed to beat him up either. Granted, Cash would have his work cut out for him anyway seeing as how Cash is a third of his size. Anyway, we have to keep them separated all week and seeing as how this dog is stronger than I am, all I can say is, please pray for me!
I'm scared for tomorrow, what with Matt still running a high fever and throwing up every few hours and I've got to not only work in the cafe at church tomorrow but also in infant care. And then there's Gabe... And the dogs,
Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bad Lemons

Well, we can add another fruit to the list of ones I can't eat while I am pregnant: lemons. And probably limes, just to be safe. When I was pregnant with Gabe I found out that I developed a prenatal allergy to apples and pears which has come back this pregnancy. What was new this time around was that I found out my stomach would not tolerate oranges. Now, at 16 weeks and when I ought to be full clear of morning sickness, I had three glasses of water today, each with lemon slices in them and my stomach protested - quite violently. It freaked out my poor husband who was mid-conversation with my when I all of a sudden jumped off the couch and ran upstairs to put my head in the toilet. In times like that, you're not really capable of answering the question, "Are you okay??"
Other than that, things are going well around here. I've scheduled my 18 week ultrasound for the 24th, I can feel the baby moving lots and lots even though I'm only at 16 weeks and I've been getting better at getting stuff done during the day. Tonight we're even having roast pork! What a lucky thing that I had a bottle of pear cider kicking around in the back of the fridge - when you're pregnant you don't really keep inventory of things like that. So in about half an hour my house will smell amazing and my husband will have the most complete home-cooked meal he's had in a few months for sure. I did have the foresight to cook a whole roast instead of a third of it like I normally do. This way, tomorrow night if I'm not feeling great I can just whip up something quick and easy using the leftover pork.
Matt and I have been working on getting more organized since the beginning of the month. January really is the time for something like that. I'm not one to set New Year's Resolutions simply because it's the new year, but the fact that millions of other people across North America are resolving to be more organized at this time, retailers have noticed and have wicked awesome deals on organizational supplies every January. We stock up on Rubbermaid containers and shoebox sized storage bins at this time. This week I'm going to be organizing all of my craft supplies into those bins and storing them in a wardrobe that the previous owners left in the crawl space when we moved in here. This past week I've been working on organizing my kitchen. The cafe I used to work at used a rubbermaid tower of drawers to store dry baking ingredients. Since I have so many different varieties of flours in my kitchen now that my kitchen cart is full and my all purpose flour and my granulated sugar still sit on the floor in bags, I decided to give the tower a try. The bottom two bins are bigger and hold my all purpose flour and white sugar. The next bin holds oats, the next has icing sugar and the top has little bags of bulk goods like sea salt, peppercorns and flax. I still have one bin left so I'll have to see what ends up in there, but using this system has freed up more space in my kitchen cart, in my cupboards and I have one more free counter-top canister that used to hold sugar and will shortly be used for something like rice, I'm sure.
I wish I could capture smells and post them like pictures on here. It's not even the prime point in the cooking process and already my roast smells fantastic! I used celery, onion and garlic as my edible roasting pan and the celery definitely adds to the overall aroma.
Well, I'd best be productive while I can - Gabe's bound to wake up soon!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

After the holidays

I beg your forgiveness. I know that I said I'd write more now that the cat's out of the bag about my pregnancy, but I really ought not to have promised that before Christmas. I had a spot of trouble with making my Sweet Pepper Jelly (it boiled over and basically exploded all over my kitchen - I salvaged most of it, but man that was hard to clean!) and then got a couple last minute migraines before the holidays. Then came Christmas which was drawn out over four days for our family. I spent alot of time last week trying to get the house cleaned up and making my plan of attack for reorganizing my life in January. New Year's Eve we spent at my parents' place with my sister and her family, New Year's Day we mostly just hung out and played games, and then the day after Matt and I were at the church at 7:30 to set up coffee, stayed until 11:30 so I could help out in the cafe and then were back at 5:30 to do it again.
I didn't really set resolutions this year - I just told myself I was going to make changes and that I had to do them... or else. First change was to Gabe's sleep schedule. Matt and I weren't able to be home before 10 every night so Gabe's bedtime was 10:00 and he woke up at 9 a.m. Now, you might not think that's such a bad deal, but it meant that we had no time for cleaning while Gabe was asleep because we try to be in bed between 10 and 11, and really, who wants to start cleaning at 10:00 at night? So now, Gabe's new bedtime is 8:00 p.m. and he wakes up between 7 and 8! So Matt and I have two hours every night before we even start thinking about sleep to fold laundry, do dishes or just watch TV (something we can't do around Gabe anymore thanks to his wonderful habit of repeating). The second change is to my meal planning. When I lived on my own in Calgary my first year out of high school, I spent about $100 a month on groceries and never wasted anything. The method to my madness? I meal planned before I went shopping! I'd have my meals planned out for a week or two in advance so that if I really wanted to make something with ginger in it on a Monday, I'd have to justify buying ginger-root by using it in other things that week so that nothing went to waste. Incidentally, that's how I came up with some recipes like my Peach Pepper Chicken and my Lime Ginger Pork. Now that I'm buying more food and cooking for more people it ought to be easier. The one thing that is hard is my morning sickness isn't quite gone so it's hard for me to predict a week in advance what I'll feel like eating on any given day. Ah well, at least Matt will be well fed.
Today's going to be a bit slower of a day than it ought to be. I had planned on a grocery trip, a trip to the mall, to Canadian Tire and to Walmart... but this morning Gabe woke us up at 5:30 because he was throwing up so I'll be staying home with my little guy. Not to mention I had a brutal migraine last night so maybe not pushing it is a good idea for me too!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)