March 31, 2011

First Heartbeat

As Baby Ryan has yet to appear, I have time on my hands. I used some of that time to scrapbook another page for the pregnancy scrapbook album (which I've concluded likely won't be completed before the pending arrival ... but the longer he/she hangs out inside, the closer it will get).

I saw this layout over on the October Afternoon blog and thought it would make a great base for a layout for week 13 and hearing the first heartbeat. I scraplifted it and ended up with this pretty page:

The journaling reads:
We heard your heartbeat for the first time this week. So amazing. The quick ‘thump thump thump’ made
our hearts beat a little quicker. Your dad got up from his chair and came over, taking my hand in his.
We couldn’t stop smiling. You’re suddenly even more real and wonderful sweet pea. We can’t wait to
experience all your firsts - your first kick, your first breath, your first smile, your first step and so many more.

March 30, 2011

Notice Has Been Served


Dear Baby Ryan,

This notice is to inform you, as the tenant, that you are expected to vacate the premises (aka the womb) within three days. The 40-week rental arrangement was expected to conclude on or before March 30, 2011 and you have now violated the terms of that agreement. However, as landlord of the property (aka your momma), I am willing to grant you a three-day grace period to gather your belongings and make the transition.

I will acknowledge you have been a relatively pleasant tenant. Aside from some expansion to the front of the premises and the recent nightly disturbances, you have managed to keep property destruction to a minimum. However, the 40-week arrangement is now concluded. Failure to vacate the premises in the next three days will require immediate corrective action and forcible removal at the landlord`s discretion.

Your Landlord & Momma

March 29, 2011

Week in the Life 2010

It has taken me almost a year, but I finally finished my Week in the Life 2010 album. Hooray for checking things off the to-do list! It helped that Ali Edwards posted a save the date reminder for her 2011 Week in the Life project earlier this week, spurring my butt into action.

Album Cover
 Week in the Life is a week-long project designed to capture what our everyday life looks like in photos and words. It really is just an in-depth look at what everyday is for us at a specific point in time. Ali offers more detail and past samples of her albums here.

I joined in the fun last year (yes, it was last April, literally almost a year ago!). Knowing that we were planning to start a family in the near future, I thought it would be nice to capture what our life as a family of two looked like. Ten years from now, our everyday life will likely be very, very different. Ten years from now, it will be awesome to look back at this album and see how we lived our everyday. Can you imagine what it would be like to go back to a week in 2000, 1990 or 1980 and be able to see what you did, what your routines were, what you ate?

My album was actually pretty much done in May of last year, aside from printing the words out and putting the pages in the album. I spent the actual week of the project focused on taking photos, jotting down the details of the day and collecting the little bits that showed what was going on. I spent the next couple of weeks formatting and printing the photos, putting them together with the pretty papers and embellishments and tucking into page protectors. After that, I edited my notes and formatted the journaling for printing. I 'needed' some special sized page protectors for the journaling, which of course you can't get in NL... hence the year-long stall.

Earlier this year, I finally got around to ordering those page protectors online, which then sat around until this week. With the the one-year mark since I started the project approaching, I buckled down and finished it off. I love it. Even now, looking back at life a year ago is pretty awesome. Here's a look at the end result:

Our front door in the spring

A spread from Monday - small pics, notes on the left and the day's journaling on the right

On the left, a page from Monday and on the right, the opening page for Tuesday.
Each day had a few pages, including an opening page with a large photo, followed by smaller photos and notes in sports card protector sheets, journaling and another large spread of photos.

Wednesday ... love that money shot :)

And Thursday's opening page

Ahh, Friday Happy Hour ... already life is different!

A glimpse at Saturday - a special one with Emily's graduation.
Now she's finishing up her first year of university!

More Saturday ... mmmm muffins and a receipt for showing the cost of gas

Sunday - brunch at Blue, coffee at Starbucks, supper at home - love routines.

Closing page - the words read:
capturing, documenting, living, loving, being, breathing
Week in the Life 2010
these are the everyday moments in our life right now
I won't pretend that taking photos and jotting down notes all day long for a week is easy, it's not. But it is absolutely worth it.  I'm already looking forward to going on the Week in the Life 2011 adventure in July! Having this album of memories for us, for our family is simply amazing. And it will only get more amazing with each passing year.

March 28, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Soup - New Recipe #3

I had some broccoli left over after making a couple of Chicken Divan casseroles for the freezer and thought about how I could use it, rather than just the usual roasting/steaming for a side dish. I also realized I hadn't yet tried my new recipe for March. One plus one equals broccoli and cheddar soup, made the healthy way.

I love a good cream of broccoli soup. It's rich, tasty, and hearty. I don't love that the restaurant versions are laden with heavy cream, massive amounts of cheese and oodles of sodium. After a good Internet search I discovered this recipe on It had an overall good reader rating, so I gave it a go.

I started with this bunch of ingredients:

Missing from photo: dry mustard, black pepper and flour.
I gave the carrots, celery and onion a quick dice and tossed in the pot with some oil for a saute.

Followed shortly by diced potato and minced garlic (again, no judging on the lack of fresh garlic please ;) and another short saute.

Add in the flour, dry mustard, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne. Cook's note: I eventually added in more cayenne, as there just wasn't quite enough flavour for my tastes. I think next time I'd also add in some thyme.

After just a quick mix in of the spices, the broth goes in for a 10 minute simmer. If you were using broccoli stems, they'd go in now too. I had just the crowns, so they wait until the heartier veggies simmer and soften. Once they're in, it's another 10 minute simmer.

Note: I also doubled up on the amount of broccoli the recipe called for and very glad I did.
I'd even try a little more the next time around for more of that broccoli flavour.
After the simmer, I let the soup cool a little on the stove before using my immersion blender to puree. You don't have to wait, that is assuming you don't mind the possibility of being splattered with scalding soup. Just saying. Use the cooling time to clean up the dishes, grab a shower, snack on some grapes. I may or may not have done any or all of these things. I also apologize for neglecting to grab an action shot of the puree. You could also use your blender or food processor, or if you like it a little chunkier just give a good mash with the potato masher. It's cooking, not an exact science after all.

Once pureed or smashed to your liking, you stir in the reduced fat sour cream and cheese. The recipe called for light cheese, but I only had regular on hand so I went with it.

Once the sour cream and cheese melts in, serve it up with some crusty french bread and topped with a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkling of grated cheddar, or heck go with both if it floats your boat.

The verdict: It was really good. I would say it's not quite as rich-tasting as some restaurant versions I've had, which I chalk up to the reduced sodium content and absence of heavy cream. But at just over 200 calories and only 9 grams of fat (a little more with regular cheddar cheese of course) in a 1 cup serving, I think it will be have staying power on the Ryan menu.

March 25, 2011


With a few upcoming birthdays and *hopefully* a birth day of my own, I made a few birthday cards yesterday afternoon. The Paperie posted an awesome colour board on their blog this week, so I used that as my starting point for two girlie cards.  

I love using up my scraps of paper when making cards - and since they`re stashed in baggies by colour it was a breeze to pick out a few strips in the muted green, yellow and cream colours. I punched a bunch of those strips all at once using a border punch and layered them on two card bases I cut from gray card stock.

For the first card, I broke out my new Stampin' Up Chic Boutique set and white embossed the sewing form and sentiment. It still felt like it needed something else so I added a little vintage-style lace, a textured grey button and mint green thread. I love the way the button and lace fit with the 'sewing' theme.

For the next one, I added the same lace, but used a horizontal ruffle to contract against the vertical ruffle feel of the layered paper. I then added a layered flower/button combo and rub-on sentiment. I also love the way this one turned out ... not sure which I like better...hmmm.

Hopefully the March birthday girls will enjoy them!

March 24, 2011

DIY Artwork

We're still awaiting the nursery bedding. According to USPS, it was received at Canadian Customs on March 15 with no updated status since. Hopefully we'll see it sometime this week. In the meantime, I thought you'd enjoy a little sneak peak of what's else is happening in the nursery.

I decided to try some DIY artwork for the walls. I was inspired by a bunch of things I spied on, but didn't want to wait even more weeks for shipping. I figured I could create my own versions at home, frame it up and call it done.
I wanted both an alphabet print and a number print. I perused a bunch of etsy shops and then sat down with MS Publisher (I'm not yet proficient enough to tackle it in photoshop) to create my own prints - customized to the nursery colours. Once happy with them, I printed them on heavy card stock and they were ready for framing.

I picked up the inexpensive white frames earlier this week, they just need a good cleaning to get the layer of dust and finger prints off them.

Once they were framed up, I thought they looked pretty cute. Particularly given they cost me nothing more than the frames!

And ta-da!

The bottom frame will hold a birth date print. That print is already created in two versions, one with our boy name and one with our girl name, and is just awaiting the birth date, time, weight and length details. You'll get to see it sometime after wee one's arrival - no sneak peak on that one ;)

And there you have it. With just a couple of hours of effort, I created, printed, framed and hung my DIY art. I'm pretty sure Baby Ryan won't mind that it's not Monet :)

March 23, 2011

Winter Soup in Spring

It’s called winter minestrone soup, though I enjoyed it equally as much yesterday evening even though it’s spring. Perhaps that’s because it still feels a little like winter around here, with the crusty white stuff still on the ground and nippy wind chill temps hovering around -11 degrees celsius. The soup is chock full of delicious veggies and flavour, making it good year-round.

I made a double-batch so I’d have some to freeze and enjoy after baby’s arrival. And really, when cooking soups and stews it really is just as easy to make a double or triple batch as it is to make a single pot. I started with this stash of ingredients – just look at all that orange and green goodness!

keep in mind this is enough for a double-batch
First, heat the olive oil in the pot.

While that warmed up, I chopped up my onion, carrots and celery.

I found pancetta already chopped, so that saved a step.

You just chuck all that in the pot with the hot oil and a little garlic ... and please don’t judge me for using the pre-minced garlic from the jar. I know the real stuff tastes better and adds more flavour and all that jazz. But I’m about 39 weeks pregnant, so easy-peasy outweighs peeling and mincing individual cloves of garlic these days! I sautéed that together for about 10 mins.

While those ingredients danced away together in the pot for about 10 mins with the occasional stir, I washed and chopped the swiss chard. It’s hearty and holds up to the rest of the soup marvellously. The recipe also calls for a chopped potato here, but I leave it out. Experience has shown the potato doesn’t freeze well, so I sub in extra beans later on.

Once the chard wilted a little, I added in the tomatoes and rosemary (the recipe calls for fresh sprigs, I used dried and it worked just fine). You bring it to a boil, turn back heat and simmer for about 10 more mins.

In the meantime, puree most of the white beans with a bit of broth.

Add it to the simmered veggie mix, along with the rest of the broth and simmer for another 15 minutes or so. I then added in remaining white beans plus the extra that I use to replace the potato. Simmer a couple of more minutes just to let the beans soften. Season with salt and pepper to taste, ladle and serve.

I like mine with crusty artisan bread. But if you prefer crackers, that’s cool too. Either way, it’s healthy, hearty and delish!

For the complete recipe visit

March 22, 2011


Happy Tuesday morning to you. I'm enjoying mine sitting on the sofa, surfing the web and sipping a toasty cup of decaf coffee.

Jumping Bean Coffee + A Favourite Thermal Mug

Which to most of you probably sounds divine right about now. And yes, it is nice. Though I've decided I wouldn't be a good one for doing this stay-at-home alone thing all the time.

A) I'm social. I like people. Seeing them, talking to them, listening to them.
B) I'm active. I like to be busy, to have things to do, to be accomplishing something.

Yet without a car (I'm also a sleeper, so I don't want to get up and take hubby to work every day), I'm homebound, without social interaction most of the day. I'm also just about 39 weeks preggo, meaning what I used to be able to do and accomplish in a day, I can't. I now have to space it all out with breaks and rest time on the sofa, surfing the web, sipping decaf. And to think I've been off work less than a week!

What keeps me sane is knowing that the time is short and before long I'll have plenty to do with the babe and, quite likely, less energy to do it with. The house will also begin to fill with visitors wanting to pinch pink cheeks (no, not mine) and there will be more social calls than I'll know what to do with.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to doing a few things this week (and not worrying about the fact that I normally would be able to do this in a day or so). On my to-do list is making this soup for supper and extra for the freezer, finishing up some DIY art for the nursery inspired by some discoveries on etsy, including this and this and this, finishing up tidying the scrapbook nook which had become a catchall for everything that didn't have a home elsewhere in this home over the last few weeks, scrapbooking a few photos, and taking time to stop and smell this sweet laundry.

Sweet Smelling Tiny Clothes :)
And of course, making my way through the to-do list is ever-contingent on baby's decision to hang tight or make his/her world debut.

March 20, 2011

Simple Things - Essie

There's just something about a new bottle of nail polish that makes me smile, especially when it's at a spa awaiting a pedi!

Essie nail polish in Raisinuts
I finished up work this week and kicked off my year of maternity leave as a lady of leisure...complete with a massage, lunch with my hubby and a good friend, a pedicure and a couple of St. Paddy's Day socials. I enjoyed every second, knowing those days will be fewer and farther between once the wee one arrives (which is hopefully very very soon!).

before ...

and after!
Linking up with Rebecca Cooper's Simple Things challenge:

March 18, 2011

Nursery Inspiration

With the wee one's arrival only days or weeks away (really only he/she knows when it'll be), we're getting close to finishing up the nursery.

We're still awaiting the bedding, a custom-made order from RockyTop Design on Etsy (and our splurge for the nursery, as we were fortunate enough to get almost all of the other "big" items on loan from my sister - muah sissy!). On the plus side, we know the bedding is en route. On the downside, we also know it's at customs, meaning it could be just days or up to weeks before it actually arrives here in the far East. But, on the plus side again, the bedding really is decorative for now as the wee one will be in a cradle in our room for the first little while, and said cradle is ready! Other than that we still have to get a blind and curtain rod for the window, I'd like to pick up a nice laundry basket, and I plan to make a couple of prints to frame and hang by the crib.

I'll post pictures once it's complete (fingers crossed that the postal-fairies are kind enough to send the bedding soon and that'll be sometime next week). In the meantime, here are a few sources that inspired the style. We started with this hand-embroidered pillow sham that Des had brought back from his trip to Zambia, knowing we wanted to hang it in the nursery. Fortunately, with it's array of colours and cute elephants, it would be an easy fit.

We then wanted to pick colours that weren't "too boyish" or "too girlish", but that we also not the standard cream, yellow and green combo that fills gender-neutral nurseries. After a visit to and, I fell in love with these bright turquoise/orange and soft grey combos, which fit perfectly with the pillow sham ... and could work for either a boy or a girl.
Loved the striped walls in this one, though it was way to much work for us (and by 'us' I mean D who did all the painting work in the room!) to do.
Once settled on the turquoise/orange/grey colour palette, I went in search of bedding. It was nearly impossible to find anything in that combo on mainstream retail sites, which is how I ended up on discovering this fabric collection from RockyTop Design:

from RockyTop Design on Etsy
Can you say love? We were able to pick the different coordinating pieces we wanted using a selection of the above fabrics (you'll see our choices with the final reveal!), which was excellent as most of the pre-packaged sets she offered included a crib skirt. I'm so not a crib-skirt person, a little frou-frou for my tastes, but of course to each their own.

Another source of inspiration was this post even though we didn't go with any owls:

Now if only I had discovered these cute pouffes a month ago, I would've had those too ;)

So, there you have it - the starting point for wee one's new digs. Hopefully I'll be able to share the final room next week!