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It's that time again... Back to School Lunch Ideas!

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Back-to-school is a bitter sweet time for many parents, educators and students alike. We all love the routine and normality of day-to-day schedules, seeing friends and being more social in general. Yet we'll miss the relaxing long summer days and especially the sleeping-in! Many parents start off the year with great intentions (I do... each and every year!) and lots of inspiration when it comes to lunches for their kids.

Having had a break from preparing lunches over the summer, it is fresh and fun again... for a while, I realize this seldom lasts, but while we have the creativity and time, let's look at some of the tasty options there are for making lunches and snacks for our children going back-to-school.

Below is a wonderful collection of recipes and ideas for back-to-school lunches from a bunch of Canadian bloggers, whom I am proud to call my friends. Hopefully they will give you some ideas and get you back in the lunch packing mood. Be sure to bookmark this page for later on in the year. I know myself the fun will fizzle out and my children will be requesting more than the same old lunch day after day. :) back-to-school-lunch-ideas

This list has something for everyone no matter how picky they are! Plus, it should keep us moms inspired for a few weeks at least... :)

A special thanks to Tales of a Ranting Ginger for helping me with my blog this summer, she is a true friend and I appreciate her love and support daily.

EASY Nutty Frozen Chocolate Banana Pops | #WhatsCooking

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The other day I was wondering how I would get caught up with all the work I have on my plate. It's hard to blog when you've been in the ER for 14 hours, or when you've been trying to get through 10 hours of intense vomiting after the first Chemo treatment...  

I was so touched by some of my Canadian blogger friends when they reached out to me and asked how they could help me, practically, through this time. One quickly and kindly offered to help me catch up with my recipe posts. I am so grateful for such great community!! 

Thank you Katie!

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As you know things in Shannon's world have not been going as we would have hoped this summer.

While she is off taking care of her family, just like she should be doing, I thought I would stop in and share a tasty recipe that will have your kids (young and old) asking for more.

These Nutty Frozen Chocolate Banana Pops are easy to make, so that your teen can whip them up all on their own for the whole family to enjoy on a hot summer day.




What you'll need:
  • 3 Tbsp Peanuts, finely chopped
  • 1 Pkg (4 serving size) Jell-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
  • 1 1/2 cups Cold Milk
  • 2 Bananas, fully ripe and mashed
That is it! I bet you have most of not all of those ingredients in your house already



What you'll do:
  1. Place 1 tsp of nuts into 9 - 3oz plastic cups to cover the bottom of the cup in a single layer
  2. Beat pudding mix and milk in a medium sized bowl with a whisk for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the bananas. Spoon or pour the mixture into cups. Insert a wooden Popsicle stick in the center to make a handle
  4. Freeze for at least 5 hours or until firm
You can find the little plastic cups at your grocery store in the section with the disposable dishes and if you are having trouble finding Popsicle sticks check any craft store. Try some variations with this recipe too, you can use mini chocolate chips instead of peanuts (or better yet mix them together).



Now get your kids to whip up a batch of these while you browse all the other Easy Summer Frozen Dessert ideas from Kraft Canada. Hopefully you can enjoy these and a few more yummy treats to help keep you cool the rest of this summer.  

Contributed by Little Miss Kate & Co – Connect with Kate on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. You can find more kid-friendly recipe ideas on her website as well.

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I can't express my gratitude enough to Kate for being my friend, stepping in and helping me get through this summer. I am thankful for her friendship. She is truly a genuine and kind person who has always been sunshine to me. ~ Shash

How our lives turned upside down... #CancerSucks

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With the help of my sister's blog post.... here is what our family has been facing over the last few weeks. 

I called my parents to see what they were up to on Father's Day - they were out for my sister's birthday which was the next day.  My mom casually mentions that dad saw the doctor that day about a hernia that popped out that week.

The next morning my sister's OB/GYN, who happens to be building a house next to my parent's home, saw dad and told him he should go in to the ER because of the pain levels my dad was experiencing.

He went in... they did a cat scan and saw a golf ball-sized growth on his liver and a mass in his colon. My grandma, dad's mom, died at 78 years of age from liver cancer and his only sibling, his brother, died a few years ago at the age of 69 of colon/rectal cancer. It's fair to say panic set in.

My Dad got in to see the surgeon the following Monday and was told that he needed a colonoscopy. Dad had been loosing weight and yet his stomach was growing. He contributed the weight loss to all the work he'd been doing on his house, which was a good thing in his mind.

Trouble is... since Dad's fall last summer where he broke his hip, he has had a few bouts of health issues for pretty much the first time in his life. He had severe bronchitis twice and both required antibiotics over the winter (which I found out about well after it happened, the problems of living nearly 5,000 klm away).  Then about 2 months ago he developed an infection in his blood, his elbow popped out like a baseball. They couldn't figure out what it was or why it had happened, he was on I.V. antibiotics for a week.

On June 25th Dad went in for the "double," a colonoscopy and that procedure where they go down your throat... they also took a chest X-ray.  The mass they'd seen in the cat scan of his colon was GONE! An answer to prayer ... but they did see some damage in his esophagus due to having pretty bad acid reflex over the last decade or so.

On Monday the 29th Dad saw the surgeon and for the first time we heard the word CANCER. They saw multiple masses / tumours in his abdomen but were unsure where the source was... more tests were needed. By this time his abdomen had grown so much that he looked 9 months pregnant with twins, he was very uncomfortable and in severe pain. He was pale, a little gaunt, and not eating much.


June 30th I booked five one-way tickets to Vancouver. I told the kids to pack up, I canceled my oldest's Summer School math class, canceled the kids Summer Camp trip. Found someone to take our newest cat, Lynk. My sister-in-law would watch Mitzi. We weren't sure when we'd be back. 

July 2 Dad had his abdomen drained and at the same time they took 4 biopsy's of the tumours. In all, they drained 10.5 litres of fluid, which is pretty unprecedented, 4-5 litres is considered the norm.



Monday July 13th Dad met with the surgeon again and we received the official diagnosis, Peritoneal Mesothelioma. It wasn't genetic. It wasn't hereditary. It wasn't what took his mother or brother young. It was cancer from Asbestos exposure. I was stunned. A TOTAL SHOCKER! Actually, I was even more pissed off than expected! My dad was an architect/design consultant in the 60's & 70's, named one of Canada's top 10, and he wasn't one to sit behind a drafting table for long, he was often on site at many of the Reno's of old homes and commercial buildings... and no one wore a mask!

Tuesday July14th we finally met Dad's Oncologist. The Doctor talked a lot about Dad having a WCB claim, like most of our time with him was about making a WCB claim... he briefly talked chemo... and then he mentioned a HIPEC surgery that only one Specialist does at Vancouver General Hospital, but downplayed the possibility of Dad getting on her radar. She removes as much of the tumours as she can and then injects chemo directly into what she cannot. Again he told us she is VERY picky about who she sees, there are strict guidelines and there might not even be enough time at any rate but he's put in a requisition anyway. He wasn't very positive to say the least. I pushed him for a best guess timeline... he said maybe a month. I felt like I was going to faint. I couldn't hear the nurse ask me if I needed a tissue. My sister said, "well ain't that a kick in the teeth!" We were again in TOTAL SHOCK!


July 6th we decided to join my sister and her extended family on their week long camping vacation in Pacific City, Oregon. It took some convincing but we did it, Mom and Dad joined us for 5 of the 7 days. It was amazing to just BE together... one evening we sat on the beach watching our kids play football together and cried (well we've done a lot of crying, a lot) and my sister said, "look at what Dad did... these kids are here because of one man... what a legacy he has!" Dad has 4 daughters, 13 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.


How in the world does my Dad only have a month? How does he go from being "fine" and then 6 weeks later he is given an expiration date?! HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN??!!!

And then people rallied, people from all over the world, via social media, email, text, phone, etc.

It's been comforting to see and hear all the love pouring in... the words of encouragement and some Faith filled people speaking life over my dad.

My dad wants to live. I want him to live.

He wants 19 more years... that is what he is believing for! I want 19 more years with him.

He wants NO negativity only the Word being sung and spoken over him. That's hard when he looks at you, 20 + pounds lighter than he was two weeks ago and asks you what you think of all this. My answer... I'm scared. I want to shake my fist at God and yell WHY HIM??!!!!

The next afternoon he finally saw his family Doctor. He was gentle and kind and said quite frankly, "this is shitty."  He talked about palliative care, he told us that the HIPEC surgery we were told about was Dad's only hope, save God. He said this is a nasty nasty and painful disease. He told my sister what we are doing is good - to keep doing it, to hope for this surgery and for us to remember there is no cure but only a prolonging.

my sister entertaining Dad in the hospital, bringing him some laughter
By July 15th Dad's abdomen had grown again, the tumours are constantly weeping, the fluid builds up again. The pain was extremely bad so he went in to the ER to be drained again, this time they drained 8.3 litres, still double then whats normal. The problem with being drained is it also takes out valuable and irreplaceable cells and proteins, but to live with it is too much... it's a catch 22.

God we need a miracle!

Later that evening, my Dad told me that he needed to see something change, a sign... some bit of hope to help him get through the day. He'd slept on and off most of that day, it was hard to be motivated to move after hearing all that news from his Doctor.

My sister, her husband, my husband and I decided to go out for dinner that night. We were low, to say the least. It truly was a "shitty" day. Just before our meals arrived my mom called me, she got an email from his Oncologist, the surgeon at VGH was on holidays but she saw dad's file and wants to see him. Our dinner took a turn for the better, we had goosebumps... we had hope. For us it came at the right time to lift our spirits and feed our Faith more.






It was what I needed to hear in order for me to be able to take this whirlwind trip to New York I'm on right now with PayPal. When I saw how proud he was of me, how he told every Doctor he saw and even the nurses about this trip, how could I not have gone? Most of the time I don't believe in myself, but 100% of the time he believes in me.



Dad has to go for a few more tests and another cat scan, he sees his Oncologist on Monday July 27th and we will continue to do what we have been doing since before the word Cancer was spoken.

We pray
We believe that God has already done it by sending His son to die on the cross for ALL of our sins and ALL of our diseases
We stand for 19 more years for dad
We speak TRUTH over dad.

This is what he says, "So it's true that I have been diagnosed with Cancer, I don't deny that it is true, BUT the TRUTH of the matter is that by His stripes I was healed... so what is true can never change what is the TRUTH but the TRUTH can always change was is true."

See?! He has incredible Faith... we are in awe of him. The peace of God which passes ALL understanding has surely made camp over his house.

So that's how our lives have turned upside down in such a short amount of time. Someone recently asked me how long I am planning on staying in BC... I don't have an answer. At this point, I can't head back to Ontario and something happen to my Dad. I can't. I can't imagine leaving and never seeing him again. I told them and my Dad that I will be here until he gets well, and however long that takes... only God knows.






Until then... I lean hard on God for He is my rock and my shield. The God of Angel Armies is always by my side. He goes before me, He stands behind. He is our fortress and nothing formed against us shall stand.


During this trying time with my Dad's health, I'm holding on to His promises. He is faithful!

Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork | #WhatsCooking

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I'm so thankful to be a part of Kraft Canada What's Cooking Ambassadorship. I love the new recipes I get to try and share with you and not just for the compensation I receive.  All of my family participates when it's #whatscooking time! :) 

Why is it when you make an elaborate meal you're more than willing to share the recipe but when you find a shortcut, which tastes sometimes even better... you feel less than when you tell people... it only took one ingredient?!

I am all for a shortcut, a new approach, time-saver tips, or a "food-hack" in order to save my precious time from making a delicious dinner for my family.  Time is money people!! And the older the kids get, the less time I feel we have for supper together and for us, dinner time is so important. It is vital to how we want to raise our kids.

Our family's schedule...
  • Sunday AM church
  • Sunday PM youth church
  • Monday PM (in season, teen's volleyball practice)
    • Off season, teen boys' Bible study
  • Tuesday PM (in season, teen's volleyball practice)
    • Off season, teen girls' Bible study
  • Wednesday PM adults Bible study
  • Friday PM in season boys' night out at the Kitchener Rangers
    • Every other week is Junior Youth for our tween.
  • Saturday (in season, volleyball games)
You get the drift.

I recently made a batch of BBQ Pulled Pork. The family raved and raved and raved. My husband compared it to his favourite restaurant in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. That's a huge compliment.



It's super easy. A few steps and BAM, it's yummy in your tummy.

What you'll need:

1 3-4 lb Pork Shoulder Roast
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 bottle of Kraft BBQ Sauce with Brown Sugar



That's it! Seriously. Nothing else needed.

What you'll do:

Put the pork shoulder roast into the crock-pot, salt and pepper the roast, add 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Cover. Set to low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours. Turn the crock pot (slow cooker) off. Pour the bottle of Kraft Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce over it, cook for an addition 15 mins. Let set for 5-10 mins, set aside extra large chunks of fat from meat before pulling the meat apart with two forks. Serve. 

That's it! I'm not joking.

I serve it on a Kaiser bun with freshly made coleslaw on top of the pulled pork. That crunch and slight tang of the coleslaw is the perfect compliment to the sweet softness of the BBQ Pulled Pork.

ENJOY!

If this doesn't fit your fancy, check out Kraft's easy BBQ recipes & ideas. That site inspires me almost daily! One of our family's favourites is... Grilled Bruchetta Chicken. I recommend stocking up on Kraft Sun-dried Tomato & Oregano Dressing. :) I make this recipe almost all year round!

The time I exposed myself to a room full of strangers...

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Back in May I was introduced to a FAB-U-LOUS bra while at Mom 2 Summit, a conference for bloggers, from one of the sponsors, Vanity Fair Lingerie.  I knew I was deeply in love when I sprinted back to their suite the next day, pulled down my shirt and exposed myself while yelling, "I LOVE MY BRA!" 

I may have been a tad excited.

But seriously, 
 have you ever owned a bra you didn't want to WHIP OFF 
the moment 
you got home at the end of a long day?!

Me either.

Until now!

This is me now...  in my dreams

Body Caress Full Coverage Underwire Bra

When I crawled into bed at midnight the other night, I realized I still had my bra on. It is complete comfort and the girls are extremely happy!

Other bonuses: I no longer have back fat and the full coverage in the front means no more boobie muffin top. You will no longer find me readjusting my straps in public. Everything stays where it's supposed to.

I must have left an impression with those ladies in the Vanity Fair suite at Mom 2.0 because just the other week, two more bras showed up on my doorstep! See what happens when you flash someone?! (this is not an endorsement to do so) 

Beauty Back Smoother Full Coverage Bra


If you're in the US, you can purchase these beautiful and comfortable bras online, try Kohl's right now, buy one get one 1/2 off. You could get one in every color, I wouldn't judge.

What's also really cool about Vanity Fair is their #GiveBack nature.

Vanity Fair + Dress for Success Partnership 

Dress for Success – Brightening the Lives of Women across the World. They are dedicated to promoting the economic independence of disadvantages women by providing professional attire, career development tools and a network of support. They noticed a need for more intimate apparel to provide to its clients. Vanity Fair saw a welcome opportunity to lend its expertise, resources and extensive product offering to help replenish the lingerie of the non-profit organization. Through this partnership, Vanity Fair hopes to provide women with the support they need to be successful.

Dress for Success Facts: 
  • 850,000 women served globally since the inception of Dress for Success in 1997 ​
  • 9​0 Dress for Success Affiliates across the U.S. 
  • Approximately 50,000 women served through the Dress for Success program in 2014 
Through the effort of the Vanity Fair LiftTOUR in 2014, Vanity Fair was able to donate more than 5,000 brand-new bras to the non-profit organization.

In 2015, Vanity Fair’s goal is to donate 50,000 brand-new Vanity Fair bras to Dress for Success with the goal of providing one to every woman who walks through their doors in 2015.

So you feel great TWICE when you wear a bra from Vanity Fair Lingerie. 

Mmmmmmm Meatballs!! | #WhatsCooking

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I'm so thankful to be a part of Kraft Canada What's Cooking Ambassadorship. I love the new recipes I get to try and share with you and not just for the compensation I receive.  All of my family participates when it's #whatscooking time! :)

Meatballs are one of the easiest things I can make. They don't take much preparation and they can take even fewer ingredients, it's all about your taste-buds.

Before it gets to warm to use your oven (we BBQ more in the summer, keep the heat outside), seriously give these recipes a try. Our kids LOVE them and they're easy enough for them to make them themselves. That's even better for this full-time working momma of 4!!!

My Mmmmmmm Meatballs! 

 What you'll need:

1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 package of Stove Top Stuffing*
1/3 cup milk
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

What you'll do: 

Mix ground beef, egg, Worcestershire sauce, chopped onion, stuffing mix, milk and cheese into a bowl. Shape into 12 (2-inch) meatballs. Place on foil-covered rimmed baking sheet.

Bake 15 mins. or until done.

*I've used Stove Top Stuffing instead of plain crackers or bread crumbs for over a decade, it comes with all the seasonings you'll need too, the perfect mix.

I often toss in a can of diced tomatoes (Italian or Garlic/Basil seasoned) and sprinkle it with Parmesan before serving for supper to my family. 

If you're not a big Beef or Pork eater (sometimes I mix 1/2 beef and 1/2 pork for my meatballs), try these super-easy-to-make Turkey Meatballs.

"Hail Caesar" Turkey Meatballs

What you'll need:

1 lb. Extra Lean Ground Turkey
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup Kraft Creamy Caesar Dressing

What you'll do:

Heat oven to 450F.

Mix turkey, onions, bread crumbs, egg and dressing just until blended; shape into 12 (2-inch) meatballs. Place on foil-covered rimmed baking sheet.

Bake 15 mins. or until done (165F).

Serve with Caesar Salad.

ENJOY!
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Cool Mom of 4, Married to the Preacher Man, but at times I'm a little more Sass than Saint! [Shannon Mischuk] (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ycq3lF9Vc2c/VS_0yrZDnWI/AAAAAAAAKEI/BGjRSm5zvX8/s1600/ShashersLife.png)