Life… and a Book Review: The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett

I meal planned this week… and not a single meal went to plan so far. We’re going with it. Monday, Kev brought home samosas that we paired with spring rolls. Last night, he decided to pick up pizza. Tonight, I prepared dinner for 20 teens that I had conveniently thought I didn’t have to do for another few weeks. (Meatball subs using frozen meatballs for the win… I mean, I did heat up the meatballs first.) I have a few meatballs in sauce left… so tomorrow night won’t go according to plan either. Whatever. We have food in our bellies and extra supplies for next week. Not a big deal.

My boys are finally home again and I’m so happy! Do parents feel like this when their kids are my age (30-something…) and decide to pop in for a visit? Do you ever lose the excitement of your kids coming “home” if you haven’t seen them in awhile? Asking for a friend… Just so you know how much they missed me, while I was in the middle row of the van my mom was driving to go visit my niece yesterday, both boys took off their shoes and put their disgusting smelly socked feet in my face. So yeah… I feel loved and cherished.

While the munchkins were gone, I read ALL. THE. BOOKS. (Not really… but I put a good dent in my NetGalley to-be-read pile and have to catch up with all the reviews.) One such title was Simon Brett’s “The Liar in the Library.”

Unwittingly, when I requested the title, I was not aware that it was the 18th book in the Feathering Mystery series. It didn’t make a huge impact – I could figure out who characters were and what was going on without having to dig up 17 previous titles. But really, who starts reading a new series at Book 18? Something about that bothers me… I have my issues.

It was a classic Whodunnit, throwing one of the key protagonists into the spotlight of suspicion. I wasn’t blown away by the mystery or the writing, but it was a cozy piece of crime fiction set in a quaint British seaside community with not entirely loveable characters.

Again… this novel was of those titles that’s just a midpoint rating from me. It was easy to read and a good little escape, but didn’t leave any particular strong feelings or impressions one way or another.

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Publisher: Black Thorn Books

Publication Date: June 16, 2019

Meal Plan Monday: March 18th Edition

My meal plan last week was geeat in theory, but we didn’t follow it very closely. I definitely prepare healthier food or follow better eating habits when the kids are home. On our own, Kev and I tend to do a lot scavenging and fend for ourselves.

The boys are home tomorrow. (Oh how I’ve missed them…) Even our meal tonight didn’t go to plan. I had a healthy veggie noodle stirfry planned – topped with cashews for crunch and texture – and Kev came home with samosas from a new restaurant that opened in town. Who am I to complain?

I actually prepared a plan for two weeks this time. Next week’s plan is subject to change as I have only done groceries for this plan.

  • cashew stir fry and spring rolls
  • rice, farmers sausage, and spinach salad
  • potato soup
  • korean beef sloppy joes
  • crepes and fruit
  • burgers
  • tortellini with pesto, spinach and broccoli
  • mac & beef casserole
  • veggie loaded pasta and garlic bread
  • corned beef, potatoes, carrots corned beef on rye with tomato jalapeno soup
  • italian sausage meatloaf with buttered bowties and broccoli

Does anyone have some great budget-friendly, time-friendly school lunch ideas? I don’t know how my oldest isn’t tired of his go-to lunch box formula…

Meal Plan Monday: March 11 Edition

I am here at home enjoying surviving the gloomy, overcast pre-spring weather phenomenon of snow one day, rain the other, mud and puddles everywhere. My boys are off enjoying sunshine and swimming pools complaining that they have sunburns.

As it’s just the two adults at home this week, our meals are fairly low effort (because as stated last Monday, I’m lazy… especially when I know Kev *could* fend for himself if need be.)

I didn’t put a thorough meal plan together, but will rely on the contents of my fridge and pantry. In no particular order, some of the meals we’ll be enjoying are:

  • ham & veggie omelettes with toast
  • burrito bowls (PC From Our Chef’s Ready… Set… Stirfry Meal Kit)
  • General Tso stir-fry bowl (PC From Our Chef’s Ready… Set… Stirfry Meal Kit)
  • peanut chicken with rice and veggies
  • ribs, sweet potato, and salad
  • grilled cheese and soup

Is anyone else ready to dig in the dirt and get their lettuce and tomatoes in? I’m craving bruschetta with fresh herbs and tomatoes from the backyard! Pasta with pesto. Zucchini fritters. Salad with handpicked boston lettuce. One of my favourite reasons to garden is the grab and go flavours right there to choose from (but maybe not the weeding.) C’mon spring, you know you want to be here!

Monday Meal Plan: February 25 Edition

This weekend felt like a whirlwind of activity and not a lot of productivity. I hate weekends like that. If I’m going to be busy, at least let’s get things done! It looks like the next two weeks may be following the same trend, but productivity is a key component of the busyness – breakfast meeting tomorrow, some client catch ups, clinic appointments, office hours, school commitments, etc.

Our week started off with a gong-show of a Monday morning. Ontario has been hit with some blustery (don’t-blow-away) winds and wintery whiteout conditions. Certain regions are closing ALL the roads, pulling their plough operators off the roads, and multiple-car pileups are being reported. We were lulled with winter’s ease so far and it decided to boldly remind us that yes, it is still actually snow season in Canada in February. Spring? What spring.

One of our local zones had buses cancelled and then fortuitously, I decided to check whether our bus route (not in the affected zone) had been cancelled as well. I (along with most other parents on this route) felt a little confused because we had just been sent a notification that our buses were running… but our route had been nixed for the morning. Eventually, the other routes in our zone were cancelled as well, and I say good call on this one. It’s miserable out there. It did, however, end up being a quietly accomplished day in the office (and there was no one home to tell J to turn off SpongeBob.) Win.

So keeping in mind the chaos and commitment that is our life this week, here is my anticipated meal plan.

  • Coconut Lentil Soup with veggies and toast on the side.
  • Sweet potato pork shepherd’s pie
  • Dinner Out (date night!)
  • Burgers in Toronto (weird, right? We have an appointment at SickKids, but we get a per diem to take the kid out to eat the night before and they put us up in a hotel so we’re not fighting traffic to make the early clinic time.)
  • Peanut Chicken Stir Fry or Chicken Satay – something like that
  • Salmon Burgers (because I still haven’t made them…)
  • Brocolli penne alfredo

Here’s a related question for you… what food bloggers or recipe sites do you recommend? Are you following them on Facebook? Instagram? Pinterest? Share your favourite places to find new inspiration!

Veggie & Goat Cheese Puff Pastry

Our dinner tonight was a quick fix using a ton of veggies on their last legs. Omelettes, pizza, flatbreads, and puff pastry are great ways to use up ingredients you want to get rid of.

Tonight’s puff pastry was light and flavourful – chock full of veggie goodness. Most of the veggies were local grown – bonus points in winter!

I started by caramelizing an onion, then sauteed some frozen leafy greens. I chopped some red pepper and vine-ripened tomatoes and seasoned all of the veggies with Epicure’s Chimichurri seasoning, a pinch of kosher salt, and some fresh ground pepper for depth of flavour.

After coating the thawed puff pastry with olive oil, I topped it with the veggies. My favourite topping – and the one that pulled it all together – was a generous layer of herbed Ontario goat cheese crumbled all over the top. So creamy and savoury.

Finally, it was all baked in the oven at 400° for about 20 minutes. The centre of the pastry was not as flaky or puffy as the sides, but it was all delicious!

Of course, the oldest child refused to eat it (and had already had some frozen pizza for dinner. He didn’t starve.) The youngest has still been living off soup, but surprisingly helped himself to a piece after we had finished. So kid approved? Maybe… just depends on the kid!