Monday, November 26, 2012

A Must-Read for Everyone: With the [Stroke] of a Pen, Claim Your Life by Jane Blaufaus

Back in October I attended a fabulous conference for women bloggers called She’s Connected.  I met all kinds of amazing women, some of whom I’d gotten to know online (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and some I was fortunate enough to meet by chance. 

Jane Blaufaus, author of With the [Stroke] of a Pen, Claim Your Life, was one of those women I was fortunate enough to be sitting at a table with during a couple of sessions at the conference.  Along with her publicist and friend, Rania Walker, Jane was not only attending the conference but she was also there to share her story and her book.

Jane’s story is one of tragedy and triumph.  She lost her husband in a plane crash when she was just 39 years old.  Suddenly a single mother and head of the household, Jane soon found that she had a lot to learn and a lot of hurdles to overcome. 

With the [Stroke] of a Pen is a real, no-holds-barred story about what it’s like to lose your spouse and the aftermath that ensues. Jane tells it like it is.  It’s full of emotion but also full of practical advice.  If you’ve never lost someone close to you it is impossible to know or to imagine all of the details and everything you must do in the days, months, and even years following a death. 

Having recently lost my Dad, I can tell you that there are decisions you’ll be making and details you’ll be taking care of that you won’t want to think about.  Things happen fast and you need to be prepared.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to educate yourself about your spouse or parent’s final wishes, finances and personal matters, but also to ensure that all of these things are in order for yourself.  There is nothing more difficult than having to make decisions in the midst of grief.  I know this first-hand. 

With the [Stroke] of a Pen also provides a summary of key take-aways following each chapter and comprehensive checklists at the end of the book.  Everything from what you need to talk to your life insurance advisor about to pre-arranging your funeral is covered in these checklists.  It truly is food for thought.

Nobody wants to talk about dying or about losing someone they love, but it does and will happen to all of us.  Have those conversations and pick up this book to help you.  You will be glad that you did.

Note:  I was provided with a complimentary copy of Jane’s book at the conference – thank you!  All opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated to write this blog post.  This subject matter is important and these conversations necessary! 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Chatelaine Magazine is my Go-To Resource for Easy Weeknight Meals

Meal planning is a top priority for me and makes life so much easier on busy weeknights.  While I love to experiment and try new recipes, I also like to ensure that what I choose to cook for my family has familiar ingredients and can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.
Time and again the recipes I try from Chatelaine magazine are winners on all counts: quick, easy, familiar ingredients and, most importantly, delicious. The food editor of this Canadian icon has really got it right by providing fantastic recipes and meal ideas.
I’ve been known to rip out recipe pages from Chatelaine at the doctor’s office (shhhh, don’t tell!) but absolutely love the online food and recipe section of their website.  With features like meal plans, grocery lists and 30-minute meals the site makes it easy to find what you’re looking for and help you to plan ahead. 
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Here are some of my favourites, with my notes, that have become regulars in our dinner rotation.  Click on the titles to be redirected to the recipes.

Pork and Pepper Stroganoff
So fast, so easy, so tasty.  I omit the jalapeno (for my toddler’s sake) and serve it over egg noodles. 

Hong Kong Chicken Curry 
A great recipe to use up carrots and potatoes.  Adjust the spice to your taste.  I double it!   The recipe calls for chicken thighs, but boneless, skinless breasts would work too.

Spicy Garlic Noodles with Pork 
This is the most requested meal in my house.  Extremely fast to prepare and full of flavour, I serve it over rice stick noodles (which cook in 3 minutes!) instead of pasta.  

Singapore Noodles 
I’ve added broccoli to this one too, and I always omit the shrimp (personal preference).  I add extra curry powder too.  We like curry, in case you couldn’t tell…
This is a nice alternative to the usual ground meat chili.  I have used canned chipotle chilis in adobo sauce.  Be careful though, they are spicy!
Juicy and tasty, indeed.  Serve it with some roasted potatoes, homemade tzatziki sauce (SUPER easy to make) and a green veggie.  A simple but flavourful dinner.

If you’re looking for inspiration for dinner (or any meal, really) make sure you stop by or pick up this month’s issue.  You won’t be disappointed!