a peek inside the fishbowl

06 Mar, 2008

Let recognition be my ignition

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

There are so many fun and creative things I’d like to be doing right now, but I haven’t been feeling so hot. Mark has been home sick this week so I’ve been walking the girls to school in the morning. It’s totally messed up my schedule and so I’ve been skipping the gym. (I know!)

Forgoing exercise makes me tired, and hungrier, and I eat more bread products, which in turn makes me more sluggish and hungrier. It’s a cycle and I’m stuck in it right now.

I don’t know why, but scheduling stuff tends to work for me. I know I’ve talked about this before, and I don’t mean this to sound like I’m a total scheduling manic who has her Outlook calendar going off all hours of the day, it’s just that when I have it in my mind that something is “scheduled” … it somehow becomes easier to motivate myself to do it. This applies to a whole lot of things:

– Laundry is scheduled for Mondays
– A trip to the gym is (normally) scheduled for 8 a.m. M, T, W, F, and sometimes Saturday or Sunday
– The girls are scheduled to go to bed at 8:00.
– In an attempt to improve my fruit and vegetable intake I have recently scheduled a yogurt/berry smoothie for 10:30 every morning. (So far this one is working!)

I also schedule my writing/work. My best time is this time, morning. Everything else has to be scheduled around that.

(As I type this I am basking in the light of my LiteBook. I need to be more regular with it and SCHEDULE IT IN. Duh.)

Other things I need to schedule:

a) visits to the grocery store. This would require 
b) scheduled menu planning for more than one dinner at a time 

I have been negligent in this area of late. Let’s take last night’s dinner for example. We ate pogos and coleslaw and carrot sticks. POGOS for chrissakes. It’s CIRCUS FOOD. At least the slaw was broccoslaw. The other night we had french toast and sausages and fruit out of a can. A CAN. As for the sausages, I’m starting to rely on them a little too much.

Thankfully, I am close to getting a little bit of help in this area. I can’t reveal the details just yet, but let’s just say it’s good and very very timely given my slump.

I’ve had wicked cravings for something hot and spicy. Perhaps that’s what I need to help me wake up?

11 Responses to "Let recognition be my ignition"

1 | Soirenoir

March 6th, 2008 at 10:25 am


I used to have a bitch of a time with meal planning and menus. I’d make one on paper and print it out, (for two weeks) and sure enough, by the time we got to week 2, no one wanted what was on the menu.

Then… I went to Ikea and got a metal white board that hangs on the pantry door beside the fridge. It’s got magnetic paper notes, and I keep a cup of markers near by. I’ve divided it to have 1 column of “Groceries, and then beside that, I’ve got the menu. On the menu top I note what shift my partner is on (days or evenings), the dates covered and things like Swim, Yoga, Dance, Dr. Apt, etc that may affect who is home for dinner or not. Since I share a rotating schedule with my ex husband, it makes dinner on Monday/Tuesday wonky because often it’s just me :P

I like the white board because it adapts to change better than paper. IE: I’ve been sick for the last 3 days, the boy is on nights, and the ex has had the kiddos. Being the smart woman I am, I simply wipped off the last 3 days worth of meals, and wrote “SICK” instead.

I have the “week” start on Saturday and End on Saturday, and then Saturday morning when I’m doing the menu after breakfast (and before groceries…) I move the planned saturday meal up to the top, and start all over.

… it really cuts down on the “What’s for dinner mom?!” discussions. I’ll take menu ideas, but where it goes in the week is up to me. :D

… I hope I explained it clearly. It seems rambly :P

2 | The Veg Next Door

March 6th, 2008 at 1:18 pm


I love the comment about the circus food. :-)

I thought I was making The Pea a horrible dinner last night and she said it was the best dinner ever and that she didn’t know I could make something like that. Trust me, it was so simple and boring but it made me realize that kids love finger foods and nothing with pizzazz.

Just recently I came across an article on menu planning. The suggestion was to come up with 30 – 40 meals. Write them on cards and then every week pull out as many meals as you’ll need. Those are your meals for the week. Set the cards aside and then rotate them once you’ve gone through all the cards. I don’t know if this works.

What I tend to do is every week pick a cookbook and then pick out 4 recipes. That’s what I’m making for the week. By picking out 4 recipes then that gives me a schedule (I love, love schedules) but also gives me room for a night of take out or restaurant meal with Hubby, being creative and coming up with something from scratch (if time and children permit) and also, Hubby can cook too.

3 | Freakazojd

March 6th, 2008 at 5:01 pm


Wow, I know EXACTLY what you’re going through. Omelets are quick & easy, fairly healthy and you can incorporate lots of veggies. This week, I’m saying “Thank goodness for omelets and the japanese restaurant around the corner.” I have to fight the battle of the breads too. And the weight loss is going really well so far, so I don’t want the slump to go too far…
Anyway, I have a GREAT sweet potato soup recipe if you’re interested. It requires some chopping, but once you’ve done that, there’s nothing to it – just pop everything in the slow cooker for 6 hours and blend it all at the end. Yum.

4 | porter

March 6th, 2008 at 9:13 pm


I can relate to almost everything you’ve mentioned in this post.
I try, try, try to do the menu planning thing but I don’t think it works for me. First of all, I am a person who cooks what I crave and very often what I crave on Sunday isn’t what I feel like eating on Thursday. Some weeks I find that I save $$ by menu planning and therefore making less trips to the store, other weeks I feel like I am tossing food that has spoiled which is even worse. Once again The veg Next Door has a great suggestion….something worth trying?

PS-I just don’t imagine you as someone who would even have pogos in the house?

5 | The Veg Next Door

March 7th, 2008 at 8:46 am


Another suggestion is to set aside some time and make a big batch of tomato sauce and soups to freeze. When you don’t know what to make or your time is limited you can have pasta with some garlic toast or a nice bowl of soup full of veggies and legumes.

6 | andrea

March 7th, 2008 at 8:58 am


All good suggestions!

I thought about this a little more
I made chicken burgers for dinner last night (this recipe, without the cheese) and sweet potato fries (part of the recipe listed here) for dinner. Both items were things I’d made before. They didn’t go over great at the time but I thought it was time for another try. The burger and the fries were big hits. Yay! I love finding a “keeper” recipe.

The annoying thing about the whole “what’s for dinner” process is the sheer effort involved. You pour through the recipe books/websites, buy the ingredients, MAKE the meal … and then to have someone say they don’t like it? Well, it takes the wind right out of my sails.

The crux of the matter is this: what percentage of the dinners parents serve are “favourite meals” (tested and true) and what percentage is the “we’re-trying-something-new -and healthy-and-we-hope-to-god-you-like-it” meal ?

7 | andrea

March 7th, 2008 at 9:00 am


Porter, you should have know, MARK bought the Pogos! ;)

(I’ve been known to buy them too. But I have to admit, I like them. But we generally only eat them at SuperEx!)

8 | Sharon

March 7th, 2008 at 9:02 am


I used to be the QUEEN of shedualing. But now I don’t. And I know I should if I want to go back to school even part time. I’m at the point where if I don’t get help I’m going to need an organized mom’s intervention. ;)

You’ll get back on track. For as long as Ihave been reading you your are up there on my list of the superorganized mom’s I know!

9 | Jen_nifer

March 7th, 2008 at 12:41 pm


I read recently that shopping the sales, was a level higher than meal planning in the saving money on your groceries hierarchy. http://firefinance.blogspot.com/2008/02/top-5-ways-to-trim-our-grocery-bills.html points in this direction. But I can’t find the exact blog post I’m thinking of.

Anyways, it has made me feel good about my approach. Hubby and I both cook, and we’re doing pretty good with planning for about 3 dinners a week. This leaves other days to grab whatever out of the freezer to cook (yesterday was pizza) or do pasta, or have dinner out with one of the grandparents.

If I try and plan more than 3 meals a week I always get frustrated and have to throw food out. Either Hubby isn’t hungry because he had a late lunch, or we get invited out for dinner, or no one wants what was planned.

10 | Soire

March 7th, 2008 at 10:39 pm


In the debate of favorite vs. the cookbook, I try at least once a month, or once a grocery cycle to try 1 new meal – either from a book, or friend recommended.

That said, I have about 15 meals in my stack of standards that get an awful lot of rotation, or I’ll just write “pork chops” on the menu, and figure out WTH I’m doing with them as I go :P

Fake it till you make it!

11 | The Veg Next Door

March 8th, 2008 at 11:12 am


I know what you mean about preparing a meal to only hear, “I don’t like it!” from a three-year old who hasn’t even taken one bite. It sucks b/c I could put my feet up when the one-year old is napping instead of prepping dinner.

I have some go-to faves but I do like to try new things out. I think this topic is going to force me to make a list of the family’s fave and I’ll prepare at least one of those things once a week. Sometimes as the “cook” I make my faves and maybe that’s why they’re not always well received.

comment form:


Stay in touch

Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


Connect with me at these places too!

On the nightstand

All hail the mighty Twitter