Thursday, 27 June 2013

Camping Menu 2013

School's out for the summer and it's Canada Day on Monday. That means today is the launch of the official camping season!

In honour of this momentous day, I though I'd share my camping menu with you! This year I have a 4 day camping menu. We usually only go camping for 2-3 days, but I've added an extra day in case it's a long weekend (like this weekend!).

Cooler Tips: I try to bring as much canned or frozen food as possible to reduce the amount of ice I need to pack into my cooler. Milk jugs filled with water and frozen make great cooler packs and give you some nice cold clean drinking water too. Keep a refrigerator thermometer in your cooler and if the temperature rises, get some more ice!

2013 Camping Menu

Day 1 (Friday)
Travel Snack - Ladybug's Trail Mix
Evening Snack - S'mores

Friday Notes: Pre-make trail mix and store in ziploc bags for the drive to the campground. Help make dinner easier by marinading chicken at home and storing in a ziploc bag. Cut up greek salad and prepare dressing (don't add dressing until you start making dinner) and pre-make Naan (wrap in aluminium foil).

Day 2 (Saturday)
Breakfast - Pancakes & Strawberries
Lunch -  Chicken Quesadillas
Afternoon Snack - Watermelon
Evening Snack - Banana Boats

Saturday Notes: prepare pancake mix ahead of time for a quick hot breakfast. Use left over chicken for quesadillas. pre-cook, marinade, and freeze ribs. Pre-make potato salad without eggs & use a small unopened jar of mayonnaise (added when serving) as it doesn't have to be refrigerated to reduce the risk of food poisoning.

Day 3 (Sunday)
Lunch - Taco Soup
Afternoon Snack - Oranges
Supper - Low Country Shrimp Boil & Leafy Greens Salad
Evening Snack - Orange Brownies

Sunday Notes: Bring oatmeal pre-baked and reheat before serving. Taco soup can be pre-made & frozen or bring frozen ground beef and canned ingredients. Use frozen shrimp & sausage for low country boil.

Day 4 (Monday)
Breakfast - Breakfast Hash (left over fried potatoes, meat & veggies with a few eggs)
Lunch - use up any left over food (or have hotdogs!)
Driving Home Snack - Ladybug's Trail Mix

Pack all the spices you need in this handy little home-made spice container.

Yay, food to shop!

Happy Long Weekend!


If you want to see more ideas for camping with kids, check out my camping page.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Dillytard Potato Salad

Dillytard Potato Salad

7-8 medium Potatoes (I used red potatoes)
1 cup Celery, diced
4 Dill Pickles, diced
1/4 cup Fresh Dill, chopped
3 Boiled Eggs, Diced (Optional)
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup Sour Cream
1 1/2 Tbsp Regular Yellow Mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp Grainy Dijon Mustard (even better with some heat)
1 Tbsp Seasoning Salt (no MSG)
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Peel & cut potatoes into bite sized pieces. Boil in water for 20-30 minutes until soft (but not mushy). Add celery, pickles, dill & eggs (optional) and mix together. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir well. Pour over potato mixture and mix until everything is evenly coated. Adjust mustard and seasoning according to personal taste.

The perfect BBQ side dish!


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Clean Campers

The one thing I hate about camping (we're talking real camping...not camping in an RV with water/power) is that there is no dishwasher (I love my dishwasher) and no sink for washing hands and general cleanliness. I always feel like I'm dirty and that nothing really gets cleaned when you're camping so here's my take on camping cleanliness - cleaning for dishes, dirty hands, and general cleanliness when there's no comforts of home!

For keeping the dishes and food prep clean and healthy, I've got two basins (Rubbermaid) that I keep on the picnic table and an expanding dish rack (IKEA) for washing dishes. They all fit nicely together and go in the bottom of my Camping Essentials Bin. Hot water from the kettle and some dish soap help to kill germs on dishes. Don't forget food safety even when camping!

I use one of those Rubbermaid bins for hand washing before & after meals and any time during the day. It just stays on the table the whole day. Hand soap and a towel are close by! I also keep hand sanitizer for those times when water isn't available or when you've just changed a messy diaper in the middle of making dinner and water & soap just don't seem like enough!! Those little kiddies can get mighty dirty playing outside too - that water is usually black before dinner! Just keep a kettle on the camp stove and quickly warm it up every once in a while if you want warm wash water.

I also have a toilet kit for bathroom cleanliness as I find a lot of our more rustic camp grounds do not have a water supply conveniently near toilets or are lacking in toilet paper. I've used an idea I saw on Pinterest  (can't find the original idea, but there is the link to the post I saw) and added my own little touches...

...some hand sanitizer and a flash light for those late night trips to the toilet. The lid fits on nicely over everything to keep it together & dry.

Then there's general body cleanliness - get rid of the body stink when there's no showers (or no lake to wash it off!). Easily solved by a rub down with baby wipes or a basin of warm soapy water. My mother used to call them little "bird baths" when I was a kid - almost as good as a shower in the morning! Especially great for those longer camping trips. For little ones, I usually fill the basin (or fill one of my camping storage bins for the bigger kids) and give them a sitting bath to keep them smelling a little better and keep the diaper/sweat/heat rash at bay! And don't forget to wash feet at the end of the day - nothing worse than a tent full of foot stink while you're trying to sleep!

Remember to refill your little camping soap containers with biodegradable soap (I like Dr. Bronner's) to keep nature happy & healthy!

If you want to know what else I pack for a camping trip with kids - here's my Camping with Kids Packing List.

You really can be clean while you camp (if you want to be)!


If you would like to see my other ideas for camping with kids check out my Camping Page.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Low Country Shrimp Boil

Low Country Shrimp Boil

12 cups Water
1 Onion, quartered
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 bottle Beer
2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning (cajun seafood seasoning)
2 lbs Nugget Potatoes
4 Corn on the Cob, halved
1 ring Kilbassa (smoked sausage)
400 g Shrimp, shelled & de veined
Lemon Wedges

In a large stock pot, boil water, onion, garlic, beer and seasoning. Add potatoes & cook for 15 minutes. Add corn and sausage and cook for another 10 minutes. Check that potatoes & corn are done before adding shrimp. Add shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes until pink and hot all the way through. Drain. Serve on a large platter or newspaper and sprinkle with additional Old Bay Seasoning. Serve with melted butter for dipping and lemon wedges.

Perfect summer feast for camping or backyard BBQ's. 


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Monday, 17 June 2013

Sweet & Sour Pork

Sweet & Sour Pork

4 Boneless Pork Chops, cut in 1" pieces 
2 Tbsp Cooking Sherry
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1/2 cup Flour
2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 cup Chicken Broth
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Rice Vinegar
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Sweet Red Peppers, sliced
2 Sweet Green Peppers, sliced
1 medium Onion, halved & sliced
1 stalk Celery, thinly sliced
1 & 1/2 cup Baby Carrots
1 can (8 oz) Pineapple Tidbits (undrained)

In a bowl, add sherry, 2 Tbsp soy sauce & sesame oil with the pork chunks. Let marinade for 20 minutes. 

In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt & pepper. Coat marinaded pork chunks with flour mixture and fry in 2 Tbsp cooking oil until browned on all sides. Add Veggies and cook for 5 minutes until everything is cooked but crisp. Add any remaining marinading sauce and pineapple (with juice) and let cook while making the sauce.

In a bowl, mix chicken broth, sugar, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and soy sauce. Add to meat & veggies. Cook until sauce is thick.

Great with rice or chow mien noodles and an Asian Salad. Can substitute chicken or beef for pork.

For big cook days I usually marinade the pork and freeze. If you want to use this as a slow cooker meal it's possible to put just the meat & sauce in a bag & freeze and for the meal, cook (8 hour on low) with the veggies only in for the last few hours, but I personally don't think the finished product is as good with the slow cooker.

A healthier alternative to ordering Chinese take out with all that red dye!

For more Freezer Friendly ideas for your Big Cook Day, check out my Freezer Meals page.


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Personal Profile and Emergency Information Sheet

So this post makes me seem like an overly paranoid and cautious parent, always expecting the worst, but I'm really not. 

Experience has taught me that it's good to be prepared for emergency situations. 

I have worked in the Caregiving industry for years and one of the staples of every outing was this sheet that we packed around with us in case we had a missing client or if we needed to make an emergency trip to the hospital - all the information we needed was right there on that sheet. Sometimes that sheet came in really handy!!

I thought it was a great idea to add to my binders. We already have one for Uncle Ladybug and Ms. Ladybug, so why not have one for Lady and Bug as well! They are a great addition to my camping binder and family info binder. It's easy to take this sheet (or the binder) with you when your kid breaks their arm while camping away from home...

Each profile sheet includes the following information:

  • Full name and nickname
  • Recent picture
  • Current address
  • Home/emergency contact (my phone number!)
  • Date of birth
  • Height, weight, eye colour, hair colour
  • Medical card number
  • physician's name & number
  • Dentist's name & number
  • (any other medical professionals that your child might need to contact in case of emergency)
  • Medical conditions
  • Current medications (include all names & dosage)
  • Allergies (list suspected allergies too)
  • Emergency contact information (parents - home, work & cell #'s and 2 others that can be contacted in case of emergency e.g. grandparents)

Well, there's my paranoid mommy moment - hope it helps you!

Here is a Blank Personal Profile and Emergency Information Sheet just in case you don't want to make up something on your own!


If you want to see more of my ideas for camping with kids - check out my Camping Page.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Organizing Camping Gear

Ready, Set...

Our first camping trip of the year is coming up this weekend, I'm so excited to be outside and to get out of the city (ok, they're really the country suburbs, but it feels like a city to me).

I've been working on organizing my camping gear and my garage over the past few weeks - getting everything ready for the camping season, so I thought I'd share how I organize and store my camping stuff.

I have 3 bins that fit perfectly in to the back of our vehicle. It's a game of Tetris to get everything in, but these bins have been a huge help to me.

The first bin has outdoor toys, life jackets and other kid's stuff for the beach. Everything in here is specifically for camping, we don't bring their regular toys along - only special things just for camping. They stay in the bin in the garage because they get really dirty and gross! It's super handy to have a bin that I just put outside the tent and the kids can choose the activity they want to do or pack the whole bin down to the beach when it's time to swim. 

The second bin has camping essentials: the clean campers kit, string for the clothes line, hammer & pegs, lighters, axe, newspaper, flash lights, extra batteries, and all of those little things that you need when you go camping. I keep this bin stocked so we have the ability to just pull it off the shelf & go rather than looking around for things we need. 

The third bin is the kitchen stuff. All the dishes, pots & pans, table cloths, and anything else I need to get people fed. We usually make it to a camp site right before dinner time, so this bin is very handy to just pull out quickly and have everything I need to prepare dinner without looking through everything. If I add anything to this bin it gets my signature drop of green nail polish.

Besides this, I have a cooler, water jug, camp stove, tarp (which you can see folded on top of the bins), tent, chairs, sleeping bags, & mattresses all stored on the shelf above. It's as easy as backing the vehicle up to the garage, loading, and we're off. The only work I have is to make sure we have our clothes & toiletries packed and the food. It takes a little organization and some space to make this happen, but it saves so many headaches when you're packing to go. 

These are the basics in the bins, I still need to consult my camping with kids packing list! I add in the other things we need depending on our destination, who we are camping with (why bring doubles??), and what the weather will be like.

We always re-stock if anything has run out or needs to be replaced at the end of each trip so that it's ready to go for the next one. Each Spring, I take a careful look through each bin to see if anything needs to be added, replaced, or removed.

Now we're ready!


If you want to see more of my ideas for camping with kids - check out my Camping Page.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Day Out with Thomas

Day Out With Thomas

Not everything goes as planned in the Ladybug house...

On Saturday we went to the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish, BC  to have a "Day Out With Thomas".

It should have been a great day of fun with Thomas, riding trains and what can only be the best day of their lives...instead is a disaster!

We managed to leave home on time for our 1 & 1/2 hour journey to visit Thomas in Squamish, but the second we hit the curves on the Sea to Sky Highway, Lady mentioned that her tummy didn't feel good. 

I gave her Gravol, like a good mommy, and we kept going. 

We were almost in Squamish when she said that her tummy hurts again and blah...she pukes everywhere. All over her clothes, her blankie, & her carseat. Me, being a great mommy, forgot the diaper bag with the extra clothes in it, so we cleaned her up the best we could and stripped her down. Thankfully I did have their swimming stuff in the car and her jacket so I could put something on her and we searched the town for some new clothes. 

She now owns more expensive jeans than I do because that was all we could find for pants that fit her! (we later found a walmart...oh well, we shopped local...right??).

Once we got to the rail yard to see Thomas Bug's meltdowns started (man do I ever hate the 2's...can't wait until this stage is over!!!). He couldn't understand that pushing the stroller around (by himself of course..."NO I do it!") is not ok in a really crowded place where he runs over everyone. So meltdown #1. Seriously, the only kid in the place who is having a meltdown while Thomas is coming in, so Lady gets to have pictures...

Eventually we calm Bug down and he gets in one:)
Then we take the train ride and have a snack. It's a pretty disappointing ride (for the adults at least)...

Then we go see what the rest of the site has to offer and Bug has another meltdown in the middle of the train tables area because he can't understand why he can't have all the trains on the table (Seriously, why would you do that to parents...these kids can't share yet!).

Mommy's done...time to have lunch and go home. So much for a fun family day out! Thankfully I'm too busy managing meltdowns and puke that I don't have pictures of the bad times!

Lessons learned...
1. Give gravol to children who get motion sickness before you leave.
2. When they say they have a sore tummy, stop and let them out for a bit.
3. Always bring a change of clothes for each kid.
4. Bug is obsessed with pushing the stroller, so just don't bring it...we don't really need it any more.
5. Don't take them to a public train table where they have to share trains with other kids...just avoid it altogether!
6. Don't's not worth the drive, the time, or the money! If you do go, don't buy tickets, just go see the sights and skip the lame train ride - the train was the only time they checked the tickets!


Saturday, 8 June 2013

Greek Salad

Greek Salad

1 English Cucumber, chopped
2 Tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 slice red onion, diced (about 2 Tbsp)
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
1/2 cup Olives (Optional)
Greek Salad Dressing (as desired)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more to let marinade. The perfect side to Greek Chicken. Yummmmmmm!


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Friday, 7 June 2013

Greek Salad Dressing

Greek Salad Dressing

1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Greek Seasoning (I use Cavender's salt-free seasoning)

Mix all ingredients together and pour over salad as desired. Keep refrigerated. Also a great marinade for chicken.

My favourite salad is a Greek Salad and of all the dressings I've tried, this is my absolute favourite!


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Lemon Iced Tea Concentrate

It's hot out again! Yay for our bi-polar weather...

My family loves iced tea.

We go through a lot of containers of mix so I decided to save myself some money and start making my own. Super easy, I can control the sugar & ingredients and don't have to run to the store to get it!

Instead of making iced tea daily, I make a concentrate that I freeze in portions perfect for my jugs and just add ice & water when it's time to serve.

Lemon Iced Tea Concentrate

12 Tea Bags
2 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
2 Lemons, sliced
4 cup Boiling Water

Mix ingredients together in a container that can handle boiling water (pot or heat resistant bowl). Let sit for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags & let cool. Pour into 1 cup storage containers or small ziploc bags to freeze.

To mix: Add 1 cup of iced tea concentrate to a jug and add 3-4 cups of water (depending on the strength you like) & ice.

Enjoy the heat. Happy sipping!


For more great food ideas check out my Recipes page

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Easy Way to Mark Your Dishes

We usually camp with other families, and we've noticed over the years that we seem to have the same taste in camping dishes (or we all shop at superstore & walmart). I have tried to keep all my dishes the same teal colour to make it easier for me, but others have the same idea, so I've had to come up with a new way to identify which dishes are mine after the family potluck or communal camping meal. 

I decided to mark all of my dishes & cutlery with nail polish. I got this lovely mini bottle of green polish from a pedicure and it's not exactly a colour I'm going to use regularly, so I have marked all my dishes & cutlery with a little green polish dot to help me identify what's mine. The best part is that it doesn't rub off in the dishwater like permanent markers do!

Now I can go camping and come home with all my own stuff!


If you want to see more of my ideas for camping with kids - check out my Camping Page.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

6 Chicken Breasts
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Greek Seasoning (I use Cavender's Salt Free)
1 tsp Rosemary

Combine all the ingredients together in a bag. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes (I freeze mine this way and let it marinade as it's defrosting). Pre-heat the grill. Cook chicken 4+ minutes on each side until chicken is cooked all the way through (check with a meat thermometer). Serve with rice or potatoes and a delicious Greek Salad!

This is one of my favourite dishes, perfect for a warm summer evening or BBQ with the family.


For more Freezer Friendly ideas for your Big Cook Day, check out my Freezer Meals page.