This amazing thing

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When I was 24 I decided that I needed an adventure. I quit my job (which turned into a leave of absence when my boss wouldn’t accept my resignation) and cashed in my RRSP’s to buy a plane ticket and apartment rental for Paris.

Paris!

This had been my dream since I was a little girl.  To stand on the steps of the Notre Dame wearing a long floral skirt, eating an ice cream and just breathing in Parisian life.  It was everything I’d hoped for and after a few hiccups at the start, truly was the most magical trip of my life.  As corny and cliche as it sounds, spending a month in Paris truly did change my life.

About half way through the trip I decided I needed to visit the Eiffel Tower.  Not just visit, but climb.  I mean, why fly all the way to one of the worlds most famous landmarks to just take the elevator to the top.

I started off fast, I was excited and finally doing what I’d dreamed of doing for years.  But, three-quarters of the way up it hit me; the Eiffel Tower is really high.  I stopped.  I tried to slow my breathing.  I seriously considered turning around and heading back down the stairs and buying a ticket for the elevator.  But, at that exact moment, two young British school boys came up, talking to each other, beside me.  One turned to his friend and said “I don’t think I can go any further”.  The second little boy stopped and looked at his friend and replied “You can do this.  You have to do this.  Don’t you want to look back at your life and say that you did this amazing thing?”

And.  He was right.  I did!  And I took a deep breath and replied “Yes I do!” and marched right past them to the top.  I arrived sweating and out of breath, but I climbed that tower and stood at the top looking out over the most beautiful city in the world.

I think of this moment of my life often.  Every time life gets hard.  Every time I think, I can’t do this anymore.  Because I do.  I want to one day look back at my life and say that I did this amazing thing.

Porch transformation

A few months ago a friend of mine was telling me about her newest Pinterest obsession, the She Shed.  I’d never heard of this new trend and she happily showed me many pins of gorgeous sheds filled with sheers and cushions and inviting colours that you could easily imagine spending hours just sitting in.

I was hooked.  I’d been thinking about our back porch and how something needed to be done with it.  My Husband has been working hard on our basement and I needed my own little project to claim.  I decided that the porch was a project that I could really enjoy and hopefully spend very little money on.

I spend a lot of time in our back porch from Spring until Fall.  It’s a small space but fits nicely a few pieces of mismatched furniture that we scrounged up from other places in the house.

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I knew I needed to start with the rug and window coverings.  It was a lot of blue for my taste and I felt like everything just kind of blended in together.  I also hate blinds, especially beige blinds.   I kept my eye out for sales and luckily the timing was perfect as most stores were starting to have end of season sales.  I found a grey indoor outdoor rug on sale for half price and a couple of pairs of simple curtain sheers on clearance.  I picked up a few basic curtain rods and for a total of $80.00 I was off to a great start.

Next up was the furniture itself.  The table was our old kitchen table that I bought at a used furniture store for $40.00 two years ago.  But, in oak wood, it didn’t give the She Shed vibe I was looking for.  After some research, I decided to paint it using Americana satin paint in beige.  I’m not great at painting and it seemed the easiest furniture paint I found to work with.  Also, it’s readily available at my local craft store that I happened to have a 50% off coupon for.  I gave the table a light sanding and wipe down and then quickly got to work.

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As promised, it went on quick and easy.  I did struggle at the beginning finding the right brush.  At first I used a soft bristle brush I bought at the craft store, but It left a lot of streaks.  I dug through my craft bin and found a sponge style brush and it worked much better.  Two coats covered the entire table nicely and I finished it off with three coats of Americana acrylic varnish in satin.  This little project cost only $15.00 thanks to the coupons I had for the paints.

Next I moved onto the love seat.  This is one of my favourite pieces that was actually an outdoor metal glider set that was left behind from the previous owner.  Originally I just bought outdoor cushions to place upon it and ignored the hunter green paint of the metal, but that just wouldn’t do for this porch makeover.  I dragged it outside, scrubbed it slightly with a wire brush and gave it a few coats using Tremclad spray paint in white.  It took two cans of spray paint to cover (which may have just been because I’m a terrible spray painter) which ended up costing a total of $16.00.

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Lastly I found a beige candle for my candle holder and an extra white fan we had in storage.  Putting it all together, I may have actually sighed once I had everything all set up.  It’s not a She Shed in the traditional sense, but it’s perfect for me.

The entire project cost $111.00 which was a great price to spend on a space that I spend so much time in.  Coffee in the mornings really does taste better in a pretty porch.

Taco Casseole

One of my favourite meals is one that often finds it’s way into our dinner rotation.  It’s filling, full of veggies and protein and well, delicious.  It was a recipe I found years ago but kept tweaking it and changing it until it came to what I call it now, Taco Casserole.

Taco Casseole finished

It’s not very involved but it looks like it is.  My husband and I both love it and I always feel afterwards full of energy.  Now, that could all be in my head, but I’ll take it.

Taco Casserole (serves a generous 4)

1 package of extra lean ground turkey (aprox .600kg)
1 can of black beans
1 small jar of salsa
1 green pepper
3 green onion
1 tomato
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
spices (optional)

prep

Brown the ground turkey in a frying pan until just cooked.

While the ground turkey is browning, chop up the green pepper, tomato and green onion and set aside.  Go back to the ground turkey and add some spices.  You could use a package of taco seasoning, but I prefer to make a homemade taco spice that I found here: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/46653/taco-seasoning-i/

Add the black beans, salsa and spices to the browned ground turkey and keep on the element until it’s warmed and mixed through.

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Once it’s heated, add the turkey/beans/salsa mixture to a casserole dish and add to the top of the mixture layers of chopped green pepper, tomato and green onion.  Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese on top.  Place, uncovered, in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.  Or, until the cheese gets all bubbly and yummy looking.

It probably serves about 6, but in my house it serves 3-4 depending on how hungry my Husband is.  It’s a great dish for dinner but even better as leftovers for lunch the next day!

I like to top it with fresh chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce, but my Husband enjoys it plain as is.

finished taco casserole

If you’re following Weight Watchers one of the best things is that it’s made with all 0 point foods.   The cheese is the only addition of points to the meal so you can use as much or as little to get it to the points you’d like to use.

The recipe above is based on 4 Freestyle points per serving.

Enjoy!

Taco Casseole finished

In the beginning, there was a flood.

In early 2016, we began the search for a new house.  It was a long and tedious search as the housing market in Toronto was hot and houses were on the market for mere days before being sold at outrageously inflated prices.  We lost out on 6 bidding wars, a few because we knew our limit and refused to go higher,   the others, because we refused to buy a house without a house inspection.

When we walked into our house during our first viewing, we knew right away that it was ours.   This was the house we wanted to spend the rest of our lives in.   Sure, there was a lot to think about.  Almost every room had pink walls.  The floors were old and cracked.  The washer and dryer were in the kitchen.  The kitchen?!  But, we didn’t care, it was ours.  After a hectic 24 hours (we got our house inspection!) we signed on the dotted line and just had to wait 70 days for closing.  It was a long 70 days.

We started fixing up the house slowly, by first painting all the rooms and rebuilding the back deck that was slowly sinking.   It was a slow start, but we figured we have our entire lives to work on it, let’s make sure we do it right and start with what needed to be done first.

Well.  Little did we know the universe had other plans for us.

At the beginning of this year a city water main burst outside our house and flooded our basement with water and mud.  What didn’t go into our basement rushed along the side of the house creating an actual river of water, mud and gravel.  It’s been a crazy couple of months with the demolition which uncovered a basement full of asbestos.  Firing our first contractor, we hired a second to complete the asbestos removal.  Because things never seem to go smoothly for my Husband and me, they didn’t end up doing it correct either.  We’re about to have a second abatement which will remove the rest of the asbestos that was left behind, as well as to clean up the black mastic from the floors that is being stubborn and just won’t go.

We lost nearly everything that was in our basement and what wasn’t destroyed has been boxed up and has been in our upstairs living area for the past four months. It’s been an adventure, to say the least.

The flood sped up the timing and order of work that we need to do around the house.  Once the asbestos is finally gone and we can give the basement a proper washing to remove the film of mud that is still on the floors and walls, we need to start tackling putting it all back together.  I thought it would be fun to blog about it on the way.

We have lots of DIY ideas to complete once we have access to our basement again and I can’t wait to share them all with you.