Thursday, March 31, 2016

Product Review: EZ Squeezees Refillable Pouch

I wanted to write a product review for these refillable pouches, because I absolutely love them. Caleb is two years old, and really good with a spoon but in the mornings, I don't have time to clean up potential messes. I like to give him yogurt to go along with his breakfast and these pouches make it so easy to give it to him.

The pouch opens up on the side, and it's easy to fill. It's also very easy to clean because it opens so wide. I can really get in there and wash it. I purchased the 3 pack, and it's been very useful. I think it's also great for roadtrips and having snacks that are easy to give a toddler.

I've looked at other pouches but they looked hard to clean. I know some companies also have yogurt in these pouches, but we always buy yogurt and I don't want to pay more when we always have yogurt in the house anyway. I think these would also be good for smoothies, apple sauce, pudding.

Here  is the company website. I believe I purchased mine on Amazon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring TBR

I've been doing really well with my tbr lists lately. I read all the Canada Reads books and it feels so good to be back into reading. I wanted to put together a spring tbr of the books that I really want to read. I'm also trying to read backlist titles that I have had on my reader for so long. Montreal weather has been decent, almost all the snow is gone and it might actually feel like spring soon. What are some of your favorite backlist titles? I'm looking to add more to my list. I always tend to pick out more recent reads and I want to find some older titles too. I also want to focus on the books in my ereader.

Goodreads Description:

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.

Goodreads Description:

A fresh, funny look at growing up Native in the North, by award-winning author Richard Van Camp.

Larry is a Dogrib Indian growing up in the small northern town of Fort Simmer. His tongue, his hallucinations and his fantasies are hotter than the sun. At sixteen, he loves Iron Maiden, the North and Juliet Hope, the high school "tramp." When Johnny Beck, a Metis from Hay River, moves to town, Larry is ready for almost anything.
In this powerful and often very funny first novel, Richard Van Camp gives us one of the most original teenage characters in fiction. Skinny as spaghetti, nervy and self-deprecating, Larry is an appealing mixture of bravado and vulnerability. His past holds many terrors: an abusive father, blackouts from sniffing gasoline, an accident that killed several of his cousins. But through his friendship with Johnny, he’s ready now to face his memories—and his future.

Marking the debut of an exciting new writer, The Lesser Blessed is an eye-opening depiction of what it is to be a young Native man in the age of AIDS, disillusionment with Catholicism and a growing world consciousness.
A coming-of-age story that any fan of The Catcher in the Rye will enjoy.

Goodreads Description:

On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. 

Still Missing interweaves the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfold through sessions with her psychiatrist, with a second narrative following the events after her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

Still Missing is a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted novel.

Goodreads Description:

As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah's universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other "bunheads" in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Canada Reads Day 3: My Reactions

Although, my lovely cute toddler gave me his cold. I was able to listen to Day 3 today. I really enjoyed today. I was happy that Bruce Poon Tip was called out for his comment about The Hero's Walk and India Reads. I don't think he realized how his comment could have been taken. All of these panelists are so passionate about their books. The debates are intense and so interesting. I wasn't sure how the vote would go today, but I was pleasantly surprised. You know my thoughts about Birdie...

Today's debates focused on storylines. This is where Birdie broke down for me. I respect Tracey Lindberg, I'm happy for her success but the story didn't work for me. It doesn't say anything about the writer or her book. No two people read the same book, and my opinion of Birdie was that it was so hard to follow. I couldn't just pick it up for a minute or two. I had to really sit down and try to understand it. I think readers will put it down and forget it because it's hard to read. At some point, I would like to read it again. I really do think that The Hero's Walk was a great book and the storyline was so great. It is timeless. I enjoyed The Illegal but I LOVED The Hero's Walk.

Tomorrow it will either be The Hero's Walk or The Illegal that will go.

Have I mentioned how much I've been enjoying this years Canada Reads?

Canada Reads Day 2 Reaction

I watched Day 2 yesterday evening. I was at home with a sick toddler and didn't get a chance to watch during the day. I thought Day 2 was another great day of debates. I was surprised to see Bone and Bread voted off. I'm always shocked by the votes because the debate doesn't seem to clue me into who will be voted off. The vote seems to come out of left field.

I wanted to touch on the remarks about what makes a Canadian novel Canadian. I wholeheartedly feel that a Canadian writer is what makes a Canadian book Canadian. It doesn't matter what country the book is set in, it doesn't matter what genre. I really disagree with Bruce Poon Tip The Hero's Walk should be on India reads. That really bothered me.

Clara Hughes is so passionate and a great debater. She makes me relive reading The Illegal again. Vinay Virmani is my favorite debater. He's defending my favorite book and he really seems to know what he's talking about. Bruce Poon Tip keeps talking about Birdie and it being relevant today. I agree that we have so many issues in Canada regarding First Nations People but I don't believe Birdie is the book to fix this. Why? because I struggled to get through it. I found it confusion and couldn't figure out who was who. If people can't get through the book. If they toss it aside, what will they learn from  it? I think a book really need to be accessible to make an impact.

Did you watch Day 2? What were your thoughts?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Canada Reads Day 1: My Thoughts

Today was the first day of Canada Reads and I'm so happy that it's back. I thought the panelists did a great job defending their books, and I felt that Adam Copeland was the weaker debater. Day 1 really reminded me that it's not just about which books I liked, and which ones I didn't. The theme this year is about starting over. In regards to the theme, sometimes people choose to start over and sometime people are forced to start over. In each of the books, the characters have to start over and evolve as a person.

I'm hoping that The Hero's Walk wins but it did get 2 votes today which makes me really worried. I wonder where the panelists are coming from. Last year Thomas King, was voted off so suddenly that the whole audience gasped. I felt like it was a strategic move to get it out of the way because so many people loved that book. I'm wondering what happened with The Hero's Walk today. Maybe it'll turn around tomorrow. It didn't seem to be going the route of being voted off, and suddenly it had two votes and it was tied with Minister Without Portfolio.

The Illegal really seemed to fly under the radar today. This didn't surprise me, i'm expecting it to go far in this competition. It wasn't discussed very much, as was Birdie. In keeping with the theme, I don't feel like Birdie was a great example of starting over. While I agree with what Bruce Poon Tip is saying about aboriginal communities and the injustices that Canada needs to fix, I don't feel like readers will take that away from the book. The book is so confusing and I wasn't able to connect with the characters. I struggled with figuring out who was who in the book.

Minister Without Portfolio wasn't my favorite but I didn't expect it to be voted off first. I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it. The style wasn't my favorite and I felt that the story seemed to slow down and I wanted to finish it. Adam Copeland's closing argument about it being the only book taking place in Canada, and it had the type of character that you would be sitting in a bar watching hockey with really annoyed me. Bone and Bread also takes place in Montreal. He was trashing the other books. I think he was caught off guard, and was shocked to have been eliminated on the first day.

What did you think about today's debate?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Quick Review: Gwynneth Ever After by Linda Poitevin

Quick Review:

Gwynneth is a single, independent mother of two. When Gwynneth meets actor Gareth Connor, she has no idea how important he will become to her. She struggles with knowing he’s a huge actor, knowing she has to protect her kids, and wants to remain independent. This was a sweet romance that I really enjoyed. It sounds cliché but overall it was very enjoyable. The characters were engaging and kept me reading. Gwynneth doesn’t trust easily, she has a history. Gareth isn’t forthcoming about his own secrets which risks the relationship. I didn’t expect to enjoy this one as much as I did. I had it on my ereader for awhile, and saw someone comment about it on Goodreads and I decided to give it a try. It was a light, fast read and I couldn’t put it down. I will be continuing the series. 

Rating 4/5

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Review: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

If you're looking to get your act together, and put your finances in order. This is an amazing book. I've always been someone who worked for my money and bought what I wanted. This book made me stop looking at money on a short term basis and look towards the future. My husband and I never really talked about money. He's much better at saving and planning than I am, and this book has put us on the same page. I really needed to learn that I have to say "no" to myself, and to stop feeling so entitled to things.

The 7 baby steps to the plan:

I also listen to Dave Ramsey's show and it's so inspiring to see where people were and how far they came. This book spells it out for people who are overwhelmed and need a place to start. This is the first financial book that I read, enjoyed and started to motivate me. Money problems and behaviour go hand in hand. I highly recommend this book, and want to read his Financial Peace University book. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Canada Reads 2016 Ranking

The Hero's Walk is the one that i'm rooting for. I loved this book, and I think it represents the theme of Canada Reads beautifully. 

 I really enjoyed this one as well. I thought The Illegal was a great read. I think this one will go far in the competition.

Bone and Bread was a a reread for me, and I enjoyed it more the second time. 

Minister Without Portfolio was the last book I read and I really wanted to like it more than I did. I thought it was okay, but I didn't really connect with the character.

Birdie was the book I was hoping to love but ultimately the book fell short for me. 

I'll be reviewing all these books separately. This is just a general ranking of how I liked the books.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My Go To Banana Bread Recipe

1/2 Cup of Oil
1 Cup of Sugar
2 Eggs
3 Ripe Bananas
2 Cups of Four
1 Tsp of Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp of Baking Powder
3 Tbsp of Milk
1/2 Tsp of Vanilla

Beat Sugar and Oil together. Add mashed bananas. Mix together dry ingredients and gradually add to mixture. Stir in Milk and Vanilla. Add nuts or Chocolate chips (1/2 cup) if you wish.

Pour in greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees of 1 hour.

I like to use two smaller loaf pans, check at the 45 min mark and see how much time it still needs.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Working Mom and Meal Planning

I'm a full time working mother, and wife. Meal planning has become a weekly task that I need to do. Why? It takes so much stress out of my life. When I don't have a plan, I feel very stressed and I won't accept that. I grocery shop every two weeks, and meal plan every week. I was writing down a plan for a meal picked out for each day, but I didn't feel like that was working for us. Some days I have more time than others. I tend to pick a few crockpot meals, a few quick 30 min meals and a few meals that take longer to prep and cook. I can do those on the weekend. In my planner I write down all the meals I have planned for that week, and I can switch out whichever day I decide to cook them on.

We grocery shop every 2 weeks, because it's hard to shop with a toddler who doesn't want to sit in the cart. After I finish my grocery shop, I write down a list of meats and meal ideas for two weeks and then I split that up between my weeks. I keep a written inventory of my meats and other meal ideas I have in my freezer/pantry. This list stays in my planner, and helps me know what we have. This gives me flexibility and gives me a sense of control.

I do my dinner prep once Caleb goes to bed, and if for whatever reason that takes longer than usual, I have a few meals that I can cook within 30 mins when I get home from work. I don't have much time when I get home, because Caleb has an early bedtime and we all need time to unwind and have family time before he goes to bed.

I also find the app "Out of Milk" really helpful when meal planning and writing out my grocery list. I can put the items and what they would cost into the app and it calculates it for me. This keeps us in check and allows us to stay on budget. I also like the Flipp app, because I can check all my flyers on my tablet/phone and start planning my grocery list.

I have master lists in my planner of Chicken, Pork, Pasta, Non Meat meals. So I easily go through the lists and pick out meal ideas. Sometime I know I have chicken, but don't know what to do with it. These meal ideas really help me remember different meals. When we try a meal idea, and like it, I'll put it on the list so I don't forget about it.

Do you meal plan? Is it something you would like to try?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My Canada Reads 2016 Progress

I'm really excited for Canada Reads this year, since I enjoyed it so much last year. I wanted to read all the books before the discussions in March. So far, I've read Bone and Bread, Birdie and The Hero's Walk. I just started The Illegal. Bone and Bread was a reread for me, and I really enjoyed it the second time around. I thought it was a great read. Birdie, I didn't enjoy as much as I thought I would. I felt like it was a hard book to just pick up and read for a few minutes at a time. You really had to sit and read the book to get the full impact of it. I would love to reread this one at some point. The Hero's Walk stole my heart and I couldn't put that one down. I loved it, and I really want to read more of Badami's books. I started Illegal yesterday, and I don't really have an opinion at this one. After The Illegal, I have Minister Without Portfolio and then I'm done. I'm really proud that I've been getting through these books. My reading has been pretty slow and I finally feel like I'm enjoying it again.

Wab Kinew is no longer hosting this years show, and I was sad but I think it's great that he's running for NDP. The new host will be Gill Deacon. I'm not really familiar with her, but I'm sure the show will be great. She is the host for CBC's Here and Now.

From CBC:
The 2016 contenders are:
The debates will take place on March 21-24 on CBC Radio, CBC-TV and