Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Ground Turkey Hamburger Soup (Gluten and Dairy-Free)

One thing I used to loathe was packing a lunch every day. It was annoying enough when I could eat anything but after giving up gluten and dairy is became a serious challenge. Towards the end of last year I found the perfect solution: individual portions of frozen soup. Given how well it worked, I decided to do it again this year. 

I couldn't resist a tiny bowl before freezing the rest.

This hamburger soup was one of my favourites last year so I made another batch. The recipe is a modified version of one I was given by my principal. Because I don't eat beef, I make mine with ground turkey. I also change the types and amounts of veggies depending on what I have on hand.

1 pound ground turkey (I typically just use 1 package)
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans mushroom pieces
2 cups chicken bullion
1/2 cup ketchup
4 cups hot water (+extra to top up)
salt and pepper to taste


Step 1: Cook ground turkey in a frying pan. 

Step 2: In the bottom of a large soup pot, heat olive oil, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are almost cooked but still slightly crunchy.

*I usually do steps 1 and 2 at the same time.

Step 3: Add the ground turkey and all the other ingredients into the soup pot. As you can see below, I typically add a little extra water to make my pot extra full. Bring to a simmer until veggies are completely cooked. Based on how cooked my veggies are when I add the liquids, I let my soup simmer for about 30 - 45 minutes.

Last week I spent an afternoon in the kitchen and, along with this hamburger soup, I made two other recipes. By spending one afternoon in the kitchen I started the school year with 31 individual lunches frozen and ready to go. Add in lunch out once a week and a few meals of leftovers and I should be good until November.

10 meals of hamburger soup, cooling and ready for the freezer.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Runners Tell All: Favourite Person To Train With/Routine/Tips

It's time again for the monthly link up from Amanda at The Lady Okie and Becka at Sunshine to the Square Inch. This month the topic is Favourite Person To Train With / Routine / Tips.

I know I'm a little late with this but I wasn't sure I was going to link up. I actually injured myself at the start of the summer and took a lot longer to heal than expected. However, I've been feeling great lately so I decided this morning to get back at it. While I was out running my usual route I snapped a few pictures and decided to write about who I run with and when I run. As you'll see, it's very beautiful where I run. We live in a small city and our house is on the edge of it so I run away from houses as much as possible.

I usually see these horses on my run.

I'm a solo runner. While I started running for health reasons and because I liked the thought of it, it has become such an important part of my life. I'm a teacher at an alternative school and am one of those lucky people who loves their job! In case you're not familiar with the role of an alternate school, we're the school for the students in our division who are struggling or unable to be successful in a traditional school setting. As much as I love it, it can quite stressful. Anyway, once I got into the groove of running, it became my release. It's my time to reflect on the events of the day or week, and to work through my stresses and emotions. It's also when I come up with some of my best ideas for addressing issues and developing lesson plans.

There aren't many lakes around here but I often run beside this one.

As for when I run, if you read the last paragraph you can probably guess. My favourite time to go is after school. I'm a morning person but I like to go to school early and don't want to give up that time for running. Also, as I explained above, it allows me time to work through my day. I actually think running after school has helped me find balance because it allows me to work through my day so during the evening I can focus on other things. I remember one day in particular last year that was extremely challenging. I didn't leave school until much later than usual, picked up take-out on the way home, and told J to go ahead and eat his. I left my food in the microwave and went for a run. At the start of my run I was in a horrible mood but by the time I got home I was feeling more calm. It didn't magically fix the situation but it did allow me to work through it, which was exactly what I needed.

My route takes around these cows most days.

As for any tips, the only thing I struggle with when running after school is getting supper ready. I typically know what days I plan on running during a week and will plan meals for those days that can be prepared and then put in the oven and left for an hour. I'll prepare them when I get home and put them in the oven, then leave a note for J with the temperature and length of time. He turns the oven on and sets the timer and by the time I'm home supper is almost ready. I don't know about you but after a run, I'm hungry!

Earring Makeover: From One to Three

J and I spent 10 days at the beginning of the month visiting my family in Newfoundland. While we were there, my mom asked if I could fix some earrings for her. She has a beautiful pearl necklace that came with these matching earrings but felt that, all together, it looked too busy. When I saw the pieces together I totally understood what she meant.  

After: three pairs that suit my mom

For these earrings I decided to make each pair slightly different and to reuse as much of the originals as possible. Please excuse the horrible photos but I worked on these during the evening so the light was awful.

Before: pretty but not something my mom would wear

For the first pair I cut each pearl off the chain and then added a new hook to the already-existing loop.

For the second pair I completely removed each pearl from the settings. I used a headpin to make a new loop and then added it to a new hook.

For the final pair I eliminated the middle. I cut the chain off each stem and off each pearl and then reattached the stem to the already-existing loop.

While I realize this is not a tutorial, I think it's important that we remind ourselves of the possibilities. I was able to take one pair of earrings that weren't being worn and make them into three pairs, all of which will get multiple wears. It's amazing what we can sometimes do with things we already have.

Shared at: A Stroll Thru Life, Kathe With An E, Serenity You, Life on Lakeshore Drive, Lines Across

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Texas Caviar (aka Amazing Goodness in a Bowl)

Back in July I was visiting my super amazing friend and she kept raving about Texas Caviar. When she described it to me I thought it sounded disgusting but decided to give it a try.

She started with this recipe from, which she got from a coworker, and then modified it a bit. This recipe is quite flexible, depending on what you like and what you have on hand. It takes a lot of chopping but is totally worth it!

2 jalapeƱo peppers 
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 red onion
2 cans black beans
2 cans pinto beans
1 can chick peas
2 cans corn
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white sugar

*I recently made this with different beans - 1 can of white kidney beans, and 1 can of lava beans instead of 2 cans of pinto beans - and it was equally delicious! 

Step 1:
Finely chop all peppers and red onion, and place in large bowl.

Step 2:
Rinse and drain beans and corn, and add them to large bowl.

Step 3:
Mix liquids, pour into the large bowl, and stir.

The longer you let this sit, the better it gets. With that said, we couldn't resist digging in right away with some tortilla chips. Trust me. It's that good.

Shared at: The Happy Scraps, Artsy Fartsy Mama, Echoes of Laughter, Diana Rambles, Natasha in Oz, Serenity You, Life on Lakeshore Drive, C.R.A.F.T., A Stroll Thru Life, Kathe With An E, Ginger Snap Crafts, Clean & Scentsible, Fluster Buster, Home Coming, Upcycled Treasures, Belle of the Kitchen

Monday, 18 August 2014

Removing Tree Sap From Mesh Sneakers and A Bear

J and I love to camp and hike and go on adventures. Recently we were hiking on a camping trip and J was wearing his very new sneakers. Unfortunately he got a big blob of tree sap right on the toe of one shoe. Now I'm not one of those people who think sneakers should be spotless but this blob looked really bad so we went to work trying to remove it.

after several unsuccessful cleaners

As a side note, this little guy tried to join our picnic while we were camping. We had finished our lunch and put the food back in the car. J was on the dock with Raven, who was drying off after a swim, and I was at the table with our drinks  picking our next hike from the guide book. J noticed Raven was staring at something, looked, and saw this black bear cub about 20 feet from us. He called out to me and we all backed away to the safety of our car. The bear went to the dock and then up to the picnic table where I'd been seated. In my hasty retreat I'd left our soft drinks on the table. The bear sniffed them, decided (s)he wasn't interested, and wandered back in the woods. We waited a while to see if the bear would come back and when there was no sign of it J, armed with bearspray, went and retrieved the rest of our belongings from the table.

Anyway, back to the tree sap sneaker. We tried several methods that were suggested online that used things we had at home: Goo Gone, dish soap, even Vim. None of these made much of a dent in the tree sap. 

the cleaner that actually worked

Finally we found the solution that really worked: alcohol. I used little alcohol swabs because that's what I had on hand (love these things!) and a toothbrush to work down in the mesh. Once the sap was gone I gave the sneakers a good scrubbing with some water and left them to dry. After they were dry we can still see the mark but it's quite faded and not noticeable unless you're looking for it.

after scrubbing with toothbrush and alcohol

The next day we went to Newfoundland and I forgot to take an after picture, so this after picture is actually two weeks later, after much more hiking and adventures. Oh well, you can still tell the spot is mostly gone.