Red Meals for Valentine’s Day

Red Meals for Valentine’s Day

It is already Monday and Valentine’s Day is this Thursday. My extra long training runs this weekend kept my mind off planning some fun on Valentine’s Day. If you’re like me, you’re still in luck! This post is all about red foods you can prepare for all your Valentine’s Day meals. Each meal is described below and be warned, this is oriented to kids and not to having a romantic meal with your partner. Best of all: NO FOOD COLOURING!!!

Breakfast

Breakfast is probably the easiest thanks to availability of berries. Whether you’re go-to breakfast is porridge, cereal, or pancakes, you can easily add some strawberries or raspberries on top to add some red to your meal. I’m going to serve crepes with strawberries and a side of watermelon.

Lunch

We’re in the midst of a cold snap and in light of this, I’ve filled my fridge with homemade chicken stock. I’ll put this stock to good use by using it to make a tomato soup. I never follow a recipe for soup. Instead I’ll wing it by adding pureed tomatoes and touch of cream to my stock. Add a few apple slices and we’ve got a red meal!

Shelby Hancock highlights Red Meals to enjoy on Valentine's Day for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Red Meals to enjoy on Valentine’s Day.

Dinner

For dinner I’ll be making tacos! I’m most excited for this meal and here is my menu:

  • Red hard shell tacos
  • Red salsa
  • Blade steak, bbq’d medium-rare (for the reddy-pink colour)
  • Red peppers
  • Reddish sour cream (add a touch of hot sauce for colour/flavour)
  • Red rice (cooked in boiled beet water)

I’ll be buying Fresh is Best hard shell tacos in the tri-colour pack since they make a red taco. My local grocery store also sells a sun-dried tomato soft tortilla shell that is red and would work for this theme. Salsa and red peppers are self explantory. As for the blade steak I’ll get my BBQ over 500F then throw on the steak for 3 mins, quarter turn, 3 mins, flip, 2 mins, quarter turn and off 2 mins later. I’ll let it rest for at least 8 minutes and then slice it up in strips for the taco meat.

For the reddish sour cream, I’ll only add a hint of hot sauce since I don’t want too much spice for the kids. Lastly, the red rice will be white rice cooked in leftover beet water. Since i’m making baby food I will simply boil some beets for the baby and save the water for when its time to make my rice.

If you use the hard shell tacos then this meal is actually gluten-free, as is the lunch!

My Super Bowl LIII Party

My Super Bowl LIII Party

Hi friends,

This Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday and that’s almost as exciting as Christmas in my house. My husband and I are big NFL fans and this year we are in the running to win our playoff pool.

Our Super Bowl party is different from others because we:

  1. Do not invite friends over.
  2. Get grandma to babysit.
  3. Eat foods inspired by the teams.

I’m a big New England fan and my husband is an “any-team-playing-New-England” fan. Last year my team may have lost, but I’m confident we will win again. I am also in love with Tom Brady – or as I call him, “my other Tom” since Hubby’s name is Tom.

I used to listen to sports talk radio on the drive to work so I was much more informed about the teams strengths and weaknesses and could annoy my husband by making Stephen A. Smith inspired remarks throughout the game. Now that I’ve been busy mommin’ two kids, I don’t stay up to date on NFL stats so I make Gisele Bundchen style remarks if New England has a bad game (e.g., “My man can’t throw and catch the ball at the same time!”).

No Friends

There are just too many distractions and not enough true fans if you watch the game with a big group. Some people’s priorities on Super Bowl Sunday are: (1) food, (2) commercials, (3) football. That’s just not us. We rank football top and this year while we’re calorie counting, food may be third. Also, [*TMI*] from our downstairs washroom you can still see the TV while you pee so you never miss a minute of the game.

So while we don’t invite people over, I also think people won’t want to come over after they read about our washroom door policy and that we’re calorie counting at the moment.

Grandma Babysitter

Our 3 year old is a good sports fan and has mastered her touch down dance this season. However, with a game of this magnitude, we need to call in grandma to help keep her occupied. I’m going to get the painting easel set up for her in the dining room. She likes it when I pencil something on paper and she can paint over it. For Sunday I’ll pencil in some footballs, goal posts, and some L’s and I’s for her to trace and paint.

I’m hoping for sunshine so grandma can play outside with the munchkin and she can practice her bike riding. Don’t worry, I’m not forgetting my baby – the plan is that the baby will nap during the game.

Ready for Super Bowl

Team Inspired Foods

We’re calorie counting to reach our weight goals for our upcoming vacation, but that won’t stop me from making foods inspired by the teams and the host city. Thankfully, California screams healthy foods unlike last year’s Philly cheese steaks! Below are my culinary plans.

LA Rams

My Auntarazzi [she is always snapping pics] lives outside of LA and I called on her for some LA inspired foods. I thought an afternoon kale and avocado smoothie was very LA, but thankfully she had some better ideas. My LA inspired food for Super Bowl LIII is:

  • Mini Fish Tacos with Guacamole

I am going to fill my tacos with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, squeeze of lime, and white fish. Add some fresh, toddler-mashed guac and these are going to be perfect. I can chop my veggies in advance and bake the fish in the oven so I won’t miss the game.

New England Patriots

If my mother is watching my toddler then it means my father will probably be on our sofa watching the game. He’s a vegetarian so for my New England inspired food, I’m choosing:

  • Boston Baked Beans [sans pork]

Boston baked beans have molasses and are more hearty than the beans I typically prepare with tacos. I’m going to modify the recipe so that these are taco-friendly baked beans.

Atlanta – the Host City

If a Super Bowl happens and you don’t eat chicken wings, did it really happen? Well, I don’t want to find out so my host city inspiration food is:

  • Lemon Pepper Wings

I am taking this inspiration from Rembert Brown who made a compelling case for lemon pepper wings as Atlanta’s signature food.

Have a Great Super Bowl

I hope you all have a great Super Bowl Sunday whether or not you’re a football fan or more of a commercial watcher. Let me know how you rank: football, food, and commercials in the comments below!

5 Tips for Planning Your Disneyland Vacation

5 Tips for Planning Your Disneyland Vacation

Recently I’ve had a lot of friends head south to Disneyland for a family vacation. Since Disney Parks are my jam I thought I’d post the top 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation. I remember going on a spontaneous Disneyland vacation as a kid and it was memorable, but the more planning you put into your Disneyland vacation the more you can get out of it. There can be fun in spontaneity, but these 5 tips will help ensure you get the most out of your Disneyland vacation.

Not What You’d Expect in a List

Below are my 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation and I’m well aware that these 5 words may seem odd in relation to a vacation. Trust me, I’ll explain each below and hopefully you’ll realize I’m not as crazy as my list sounds.

  1. Strategy
  2. Technology
  3. Food
  4. Expectations
  5. Lingo
Shelby Hancock of Mouse House Mom gives her 5 Tips for Planning our Disneyland Vacation
5 Tips for Planning Your Disneyland Vacation

1. Strategy

In order to maximize your time in Disneyland, you should have a strategy. Depending on your personality you may not want to take a vacation that requires a strategy. However, a basic strategy will help you manage the Parks. Each Park has multiple “lands” that you’ll want to explore with interesting attractions in each part. A simple strategy would be to pick a land that you want to start in and then decide which ride you want to do first (ahem, Peter Pan in Fantasyland) and then you could finish exploring nearby attractions in that land before moving to the next land. I find having a plan fun and I like to memorize it, which I’ll admit was difficult when I planned our trip in 8 minute intervals starting at rope drop.

Strategy Basics:

  1. Have a starting time and a starting point.
  2. Conquer each land instead of pinball’ng around the parks.
  3. Decide whether to watch parades or go enjoy shorter lines on rides at this time.
  4. Plan whether to eat your meals slightly early or late to avoid crowds at restaurants (i.e., more people in food lines equals less people on rides).
  5. Don’t forget about Disney California Adventure – it is an amazing Park for all ages (and serves alcohol).

I mentioned Rope Drop above and it is worth mentioning again. If you want to:

  • Beat the crowds,
  • Maximize your time in the parks,
  • Get a daylight castle pic with not many people in it.

If those appeal to you then you’ll want to find out what time Disneyland opens and aim to be there 45 mins to 1 hour earlier (and earlier if its a holiday or a Monday). This will give you time to get through security, the ticket gates and into the rope drop crowd on Main Street.

2. Technology

Even on vacation you can’t escape technology. First thing you must do is download the Disneyland App. You can create an account, link your tickets, buy additional items (i.e., MaxPass), make dining reservations, obtain and view your park photos, and even order food from certain places when you’re in Disneyland.

I’m Canadian and the wifi in Disneyland isn’t fully reliable. I actually had to rely on my mother’s iPhone back in October because she had a US data plan and I hadn’t bought one for our trip. I would suggest purchasing a US data plan so that you can use the Disneyland App.

With all this technology and the inevitable use of your phone as a camera, you’re going to need a plan for how to keep your phone battery from dying. As an iPhone user I suggest using the “low power mode” for the battery in addition to keeping a portable charger with you. Or use the tag team method and use one person’s phone until it dies then move on to the next phone.

Shelby Hancock of Mouse House Mom shares Disneyland Tips
Not too crowded at 3pm on a Friday.

3. Food

I love food and if you can’t indulge on a vacation then when can you?! Your vacation will not be complete without devouring some Mickey shaped foods, such as waffles or ice cream bars.

When we go on any Disney vacation (world or land) we always try to ensure that we have a sit down meal at least once a day. We have always been travelling with a child under 3 so we find a sit down meal important to slow the pace and give us all a much needed break. You can book your Disneyland advance dining reservations (or ADR as the cool kids say) at select restaurants up to 60 days in advance. Go crunch the dates and find out your earliest booking date and get right on it – there’s no time to lose! You can even change your mind later so book it early and change it if necessary.

Character Dining is expensive, but waiting in line ups to meet characters can be viewed as a waste of time by some. You’ll have to balance your budget so consider what option is best for you. My daughter hates characters and has continued this trend the last few trips. She finally warmed up to princesses last October. We ate at Chef Goofy’s and Goofy sort of snuck up on my toddler while she was eating a cake pop and she almost knifed him. So maybe don’t waste your money, unless you’re me and are hopeful that one day she’ll get over her fear.

I have found that Disneyland was more expensive for food than Disney World and if you want to keep costs down be aware that you are allowed to bring food into Disneyland. I normally bring snacks, but you could pack sandwiches and treat yourself to churros for a dessert.

4. Expectations

As a parent I’m constantly trying to manage expectations and that’s important on your Disneyland vacation. Before you tell your kids how amazing Splash Mountain is you’ll want to check if any rides are closed for refurbishments. This information can be found on the Daily Event Schedule on the Disneyland website. I was heart broken my baby missed out on It’s A Small World when we visited in October.

All the minimum height requirements are also listed in the Disneyland App (seriously, what are you waiting for – get this App!). We kept a growth chart for my daughter and specifically marked 40″ as “Splash Mountain” and now all the neighbour kids know they are tall enough to ride it when they do a Disney vacation.

5. Lingo

Not only do you need a strategy and technology for this fun family vacation, but you also need to learn the lingo of Disney. Are you sure you haven’t just signed yourself up for a business conference? All of this work is actually fun and your family will have no idea all the time and effort you put in behind the scenes to make sure this Disneyland vacation feels effortless.

You’ll need to decide if you’re going to be a paper-based (free) FastPass user or upgrade (for a cost) to MaxPass. This debate deserves it’s own blog post, which the Magic Kingdom Mamas have already done here so check it out.

Depending on your family dynamic you may be utilizing Rider Switch or Single Rider lines. I do not advocate for families using Single Rider lines to avoid waiting in the main line. Riding as a family is fun and waiting in line as a family can be fun too (there’s even an App for that).

Single Rider lines are for singles – like when I went back to the park when my baby and hubby were sleeping and I didn’t want to wait in line. Rider Switch is for when hubby and I can’t leave the baby unattended.

Other lingo you may encounter is listed below:

  • DCA = Disney California Adventure
  • DLR = Disneyland Resort (the hotels, Downtown Disney, and 2 parks)
  • ADR = Advanced Dining Reservations
  • FP = FastPass
  • GOG = Gaurdians of the Galaxy
  • AP = Annual Passholder
  • CM = Cast Member [employee]
  • PH = Park Hopper

That’s All Folks

Those are my 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation and it will certainly be a memorable trip. Remember that even with all the pre-planning, there will be meltdowns, there will be chaos, there will be surprises, but there will also be magical moments that make it all worth while. Have fun and please let me know how your vacation goes– I’d love to hear about it!

2019 Goals

2019 Goals

I’m a goal setter. I write it down and then I make a plan and I work towards crushing that goal. Pre-kids I would make short-term, long-term, and stretch goals. Now with kids I’m more of a planner and longer term goals have become plans. I have spreadsheets with details of vacation plans, races, club activities for 10 years down the road. Some [hubby included] think its crazy, but I love my plans. But let’s talk about this year and the next 12 months. I’ve broke it up into PROFESSIONAL, FITNESS, and PERSONAL.

Professional Goals

I’ll be heading back to work at my corporate job in mid-October and with only 2.5 months to contribute there, I don’t have a big corporate goal for 2019. My company is great and I even received a promotion when I was on maternity leave with my first child. So for 2019 my professional goal is for this BLOG:

  1. I want to make the VancouverMom.ca Top 30 Mom Bloggers list.

In order to even be eligible, I need to step my game up. I’m committing to having new posts weekly and to increase my social media presence. I want to be your go-to place when you want to read about running, Disney, or know that you’re not alone in this crazy parenting life that we’re going through together. So be a dear and leave me a comment if there’s something specific you’d like to hear about and I’ll try to make it happen.

Nominations typically take place in April so hopefully I’ll get a pulse check on this goals progress by mid-year.

Shelby Hancock's 2019 Goals
Shelby Hancock’s 2019 Goals

Fitness Goals

I’m a runner. Always have been and always will be. I remember running in kindergarten around the 3 soccer fields at school and feeling the runners high, which maybe was just excitement that I was the fastest kid in the class.  Whatever it was has kept me running for nearly 30 years. My 2019 fitness goals go together like salt, pepper, and cumin. My 2019 fitness goals are to:

  1. Run under 2 hour half marathon
  2. Run under 50 min 10km
  3. Complete the Fairy Tale Challenge with a smile.

A lot has changed since I ran my first half marathon in 2007.  I’m comfortable and proud of who I am today and I don’t want to be my old self, I want to be me: the runner mom with an unhealthy Disney obsession that knows she shouldn’t eat the nightly ice cream bar. 

I really do feel like these goals go together like salt, pepper, and cumin. The Fairy Tale Challenge is the cumin – a nice to have with little to no expectation and no limitation. However, I need a faster 10k time if I’m ever going to run a faster 1/2 marathon time. Long, slow distance makes long, slow runners. If I focus on some speed training and push myself in a 10k, then I can take that strength, power, and confidence into a half marathon and hopefully run my fastest post-pregnancy half marathon.

The Fairy Tale Challenge takes place February 23 and 24 with a 10k race on Saturday and a 1/2 (21.1k) race on Sunday.  I’ll be running it with my mom and as long as I cross those finish lines with a smile I’ll be happy.  

Personal Goals

My personal goals are:

  1. Read 3 novels
  2. Spend time away from my baby
  3. Take my Instapot out of the box.

I know what you’re thinking, “wow, Shelby, what a wild year 2019 will be for you.” I used to read a lot and it brought me joy, but since having my first child in 2015, I’ve barely read. I think I’ve only tackled the Crazy Rich Asian trilogy. Chic-lit is fine by me – no judgement – so hopefully on some upcoming flights with a sleeping baby I’ll put a dent into this goal [a girl can dream, right?].

My baby goes insane when anyone else picks her up and I want her to know she’s loved and safe with family and friends so hopefully I’ll be able to feel comfortable leaving her for an hour or two every once in a while. I’d really like to take my 3 year old to a movie and not have a massive amount of mom guilt over leaving the baby with her father or grandparents. I know its an attachment phase right now and as annoying as it can be it is pretty awesome knowing that to this cute little baby I’m the best thing since canned spaghetti. *

*Canned spaghetti is disgusting, but my Italian family has always used that expression and we find it hilarious.

Goal Crushing

I am excited for 2019 and all the new adventures that will be heading my way. Leave a comment about your 2019 goals!

2018 Year in Review

2018 Year in Review

2018, you were very good to me!

Shelby Hancock 2018 Year in Review
2018 Best Nine

The 1st quarter I was preggo and soaking up last moments as a family of 3.  I  stopped running in January as I entered third trimester and the sidewalks iced up. We celebrated Malia’s third birthday with a Moana party. I was healthy enough to work until the end of my pregnancy. I learned that a healthy baby in your belly doesn’t mean momma isn’t tired, sore, and uncomfortable!

The 2nd quarter was sleepless nights and fun filled days with a new baby. Born on a Tuesday and off to the trampoline park on Friday and swimming lessons the next day. We never slowed down when Abbey arrived and we still haven’t. I started running again at the end of May with a podcast and friend.

The 3rd quarter brought sunshine and playing outside with the neighbour kids all day long. I ran a 5km race in July and that accomplishment felt as good as running a marathon. It reminded me of my mantra: respect the distance!

The 4th quarter brought the start of 3 yr old preschool, a vacation to Palm Springs, and Abbey’s first trip to Disneyland! I could live in Palm Springs and float in the pool every day. The relaxed feeling of floating on my back and seeing palm trees and blue sky staring back at me is my new happy place. I still mentally visit that place a few times each day! I also ran two 10K races – 1st with hubby and next with my mom.

Christmas was magical (yet exactly like the Matt Damon SNL parent Xmas day skit) and today we are excited to say goodbye to 2018 and hello to new adventures in 2019!

To Black Friday or Not to Black Friday

To Black Friday or Not to Black Friday

The unofficial start of the Christmas season is fast approaching. As a Canadian, I have no attachment to tomorrow’s American Thanksgiving festivities. However, the American tradition that has migrated north in recent years is Black Friday.

My inbox is being bombarded with soon to be savings and deals and the paper delivered to my door is 90% flyers.

Do you get in on the Black Friday madness? I can understand being opposed to lining up at the mall, waiting in hours long queues, or skipping a family holiday to buy a TV. However, doing some online shopping in my PJs seems perfectly fine to me.

Last year I bought my parents and in-laws instant pots and cookbooks so they’d understand what their instant pot was. Had I not purchased on Black Friday there’s no way I’d have been able to stay within budget.

I say bring on the holidays!

Mouse House Mom is ready for the holidays!
Mouse House Mom is ready for the holidays!

 

Let me know in the comments below what you’re hoping to find on sale this Black Friday.

Why I’m Running 10K Races

Why I’m Running 10K Races

One week ago I ran my first 10K race since having my little baby munnchkin. Next Sunday I will also be lacing up my shoes and running another 10K race.

Pre-kids I planned out my races and mostly raced above 10k race distances. Now I’m willy nilly about my 10k races!

Hubby ran with me last weekend because at 6 months postpartum I’m lacking speed.

10k Race Info

These 2 races are both organized by MEC https://events.mec.ca/ and are only $15. You don’t get much for it, but all I’m after is a chip timed race.

The Real Reason

I’m pushing myself to run these races so I can submit a time for my upcoming Run Disney races in February. They have multiple corrals and place runners according to their anticipated finish time.  If you’re in a corral at the front you have short wait times when you meet characters in races and pose for pictures.

Tinker Bell and Shelby Hancock of Mouse House Mom at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
The star of the day!

In my first RunDisney race, while in line to get a pic with Tinker Bell, the runner behind me explained that you run hard and go for good times when you’re not at Disney so that when you run Disney you get to enjoy the faster photo lines and less busy course.

 

My 10K Race Goal

I don’t like talking about times anymore because I want to be running sub 47 minute 10k races, but I’m happy to be less than an hour!

This reminds me of my running mantra, “Respect the distance” as it applies at different times and different distances. Sometimes just a 1 mile run seems daunting especially when you have run a marathon. Or you wake up with a cold and your usual 8k route feels like an ultra. If you persevere and just respect where you’re at, you’ll get through it.

Summer Somethings To Do List

Summer Somethings To Do List

August is upon us now and while our family had some big summer Bucket List items to tackle on weekends, we are trying to avoid mundane weekdays.  The following list is what I’ve compiled as my “summer somethings” – they’re items not Bucket List worthy.  Summer somethings are activities you can do on weekdays.  If you’re like me, you find yourself making breakfast trying to think of something fun to do with the kiddos later that day. You may find some of these activities rather simple, but my hope is they help you get out of the house and have some fun without too much prep work or planning.

 

Summer Somethings List

  • Go for a bike ride (or scooter or pedal car ride)
  • Trail walk
  • Backyard kiddie pool or sprinkler
  • Go berry picking at a local farm
  • Library
  • Visit the zoo
  • Family movie at the local theatre
  • Spray park
  • Picnic in the park
  • Local rec centre drop-in activities
  • Park hopping in the city
  • Game On: play some street hockey or lacrosse
  • Build forts (inside or out)
  • Involve the kids in making homemade salsa
  • Water balloon fight
  • Chalk up some hop scotch squares
  • Farmer’s market
  • Water the garden with kids

Some of these activities are self explanatory, but I’ve expanded on some below.

Library

The Fraser Valley Regional Library is hosting a great summer reading program.  Check out the website for events and regular activities like Storytime and Babytime.

 

Park Hopping in the City

We live about an hour from Vancouver on public transit.  If we exit the Skytrain at Science World Station we can walk to a newly built park beside Science World.  From there we walk a fair distance (bring a stroller if your tot hates walking) to the Yaletown side of the Cambie Street bridge along the seawall.  Under the bridge is another park (Coopers Park) with some older equipment, but has plenty of slides.  From there you walk through Yaletown to Emery Barnes Park at Davie and Richards.  There is also a fourth park you could enjoy at David Lam Park if you continue along the water.

Fun at local Farmer's Market
Fun at local Farmer’s Market

 

Homemade Salsa

Anyone else growing cherry tomatoes? I love taking a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes from my plants, cutting them in half and mixing with some white onion, lime juice, a few cilantro leaves, and seasoning it all with salt, pepper, and cumin. I like a ratio of 1:4 for onion and tomatoes.

Mouse House Mom Fence Staining turned fun
Last year’s crop was much better.

Summer Summary

How are you planning on spending the rest of your summer?

One Year of Half-Hearted Devotion to the Blog

One Year of Half-Hearted Devotion to the Blog

Hi peeps,

Happy 1 year anniversary to Mousehousemom.com, my blog!  This isn’t really a cause for celebration since it wasn’t long after I began the blog that I got pregnant and wanted to sleep every minute when I wasn’t at work.

This past year we celebrated our first born’s 3rd birthday and a few weeks later we welcomed our newest addition, a baby girl, into our family.  I’m now 8 weeks in on my 18 month parental leave.

Shelby Hancock newborn babyPhoto credit: Cradled Creations cradledcreations.com 

 

In the weeks and months ahead, stay tuned for more frequent posts on the blog.  I’m in the midst of planning a Walt Disney World vacation, learning how to get back into running, and trying to figure out how to entertain a 3 year old while I nurse a baby during the day.  You’re fortunate that you can follow along on this journey without having to smell the inevitable spit-up in my hair or the horrible diaper changes that fill my days. Unless of course this is my own mother (who makes up 75% of my site views) reading this, then I apologize for the smell.

See ya’,

Shelby