2019 Recollections family planner review

I was able to snag the Recollections 2019 Family Planner from Michaels for $15 as part of their black Friday sale. Its normal retail price is $39.99 CND.

Its a fairly large planner, measuring a full 8.5 x 11 inches.


It starts with a plastic zipper pouch and identification page.


Then there is a 2019 and a 2020 calendar.


Followed by another 2019 calendar – this time spread out over 2 pages in a different layout.


Then there are 2 pages for important contacts.


And there is a lines page and then 4 pages of stickers.


After the stickers there is a double sided pocket.


And then come the months. Each month has a divider,


followed by a monthly calendar,


and a very unique weekly view.


After all the months there are several notes pages.

Overall I really like this planner. The paper quality is really nice, and I find my pens don’t bleed through the pages. I like the weekly page layout and how it has multiple sections for each day – 6 compared to the 3 I’ve seen in a variety of other planners. Due to its size there is  plenty of room to write down everything you need to remember or plan, but its not very portable. Its a good desk or counter planner but not something I would be taking with me. I think this plannerr would work well for moms or people with multiple projects or areas of responsibility that need to be taken care of at once.

Stay tuned for a post on how I am utilizing this planner for my family and my life later in January or February once I have a chance to fill it up.

What do you think of this planner? Do you think it would work for you?

— Mama the Zookeeper


Grocery haul and meal plan – December 29, 2018 to January 2, 2019

Our monthly grocery budget is $700 for the 5 of us plus the dog. That works out to be $125/week plus a once monthly $200 Costco stock up trip. Here is what I got this week and my meal plan.

Grocery Haul (total – $117.89)


  • Grapefruit – $3.97
  • Kiwi – $3.47
  • Banana – $1.24
  • Blueberries – $3.97
  • Squash – $3.61
  • Carrots – $1.97
  • Potatoes – $4.97
  • Broccoli – $3.27
  • Orange juice – $3.97
  • Whole milk (x2) – $10.58
  • Boneless smoked ham – $8.97
  • Chicken thighs – $5.46
  • Jane’s chicken strips (×4) – $19.52
  • Classico pasta sauce (×8) – $20.00
  • Garlic toast – $4.47
  • Green giant japanese mix (x2) -$5
  • Bread and English muffins – $10
  • Pasta – $1.77

Meal plan


  • Peanut butter and jam toast with fresh fruit and milk
  • Grapefruit and buttered toast
  • Cheerios and milk with fresh fruit


  • Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup
  • Kraft dinner with a side of carrots
  • Crackers, cheese, fruit and carrots
  • Leftovers


  • Roasted chicken thighs with rice pilaf and Greek salad
  • Ham, scalloped potatoes, broccoli and squash
  • Stir fry
  • Pasta, garlic bread and salad
  • Beef and barley soup with garlic toast
  • Eggs with sausage patties, roasted sweet potatoes and fresh fruit


You will notice that not everything from my grocery haul is being used up this week but that’s because the items were on sale or able to be price matched so I am stocking up now to save money later.

What’s on the menu at your house this week?

— Mama the Zookeeper


Oreo truffle recipe

If you are looking for a simple no bake treat to make this holiday season look no further! These 4 ingredient oreo truffles have been a family favourite since I first made them 4 years ago.

The recipe will make about 28 truffles and they should be stored in the fridge or freezer until they are ready to be eaten.


  • a package of oreos
  • a package of cream cheese
  • some chocolate chips or melting chocolate and
  • some sprinkles for decoration.



  1. Crush the oreos up finely in a food processor or blender.
  2. Mix crushed oreos with the room temperature cream cheese until well combined. You can do this in the food processor or by hand.
  3. Roll them into tablespoon sized balls and pop in the freezer for 20 minutes to harden.
  4. Using a double boiler (or a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water) melt some chocolate chips or melting chocolate. Roll the frozen oreo truffle balls in the melted chocolate, set on a tray on piece of waxed paper, and top with sprinkles.
  5. Once they are all done pop the tray in the fridge until the chocolate sets.

2018-12-21 07.58.54

What is your favourite holiday treat?

— Mama the Zookeeper



Grocery haul and meal plan – December 16 to 22, 2018

I am always trying to reduce our families grocery budget while still providing tasty and healthy food options for my family. One thing I like to do in order to get new ideas is look at other people’s grocery hauls and meal plans, so I thought I’d share ours in case it would help provide inspiration to anyone else.


This week I bought:

  • 2 packages double stuffed oreos
  • 3 packages cream cheese
  • Yellow sugar
  • White sugar
  • 2 packages icing sugar
  • 2 blocks of mozzarella cheese
  • 1 block of cheddar cheese
  • 18 eggs
  • 2 jugs of orange juice
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 4 tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Lettuce
  • Cake mix – 1 devils food, 1 rainbow bit, 1 golden
  • Tortillas
  • Cranberry cocktail
  • Total cost: $82.39

Normally I wouldn’t have nearly as much dessert stuff, but with Christmas coming up next week I figured it was time I got our baking supplies. That being said I’m depending a lot on what we already have on hand for dinners this week.

This week’s dinners:

  • Refried bean tacos with all the fixings
  • Spaghetti & meatballs
  • Honey garlic sausages with mashed potatoes and red cabbage
  • Wing steak with homemade sweet potato fries and corn
  • Roast chicken with rice pilaf and a tomato and cucumber salad
  • Taco chicken salad (using up the leftover roast chicken)
  • Waffles and frozen strawberries

Breakfasts will be our standard peanut butter and jam toast. Lunches will be something easy we have on hand like eggs and toast, grilled cheese sandwhiches, kraft dinner and leftovers.

I hope this provides you with some inspiration for your meals this week should you need it. What is on the menu in your house this week?

— Mama the Zookeeper

The mom cold

I am pretty sure everyone has heard of a man cold, where a man acts like he’s on his death bed and can’t do anything all because of a few sniffles and a cough, but have you heard of a mom cold? I saw a post on Instagram (can’t remember who posted it and I can’t find it again) describing a mom cold, ‘like a regular cold except no one cares’. I think that goes double for a stay at home mom with kids at home. Unless its a weekend, working parents can typically call into work sick and still send the kids to daycare so they can rest.  When your “job” is to take care of your kids and there is no one else to help you take care of them, well you aren’t getting much rest are you?

With all 5 of us currently battling a cold I can say for a fact the mom cold is a thing. Even though I am a stuffy, sneezing, exhausted mess I still need to make sure everything is getting done and the house is running smoothly. Luckily for me Lion is just coming out of his man cold as I’m coming down with it so he is helping watch Giraffe and Monkey while I take care of Turtle. This makes my life a bit easier since I can rest a bit when Turtle naps off and on, but I still need to worry about meal planning and grocery shopping (thank godness for online ordering and grocery pick up!), cooking and laundry. These worries don’t seem to occur to anyone but me until it is time to eat or get dressed and there is no food or clean clothes. There obviously are a lot more chores that need to get done but I’m ignoring them right now until I feel better. At least I’ll feel accomplished seeing the transformation when I finally get around to tackling them! For now I’m just trying to get as much rest while dealing with this mom cold as I can.

Hope you all are feeling better than me!

— Mama the Zookeeper

What its like being a stay at home mom

I recently heard the best analogy about what its like to be a stay at home mom that I just had to share. 

Imagine you are at work and you spend all morning working on a report or proposal or something. You get up from your desk to use the bathroom and someone comes by and deletes everything you just did. When you get back to your desk you redo all your work, get up to get a cup of coffee and someone comes by and deletes all the work you just redid. You do everything all over again for the third time, leave your desk to use the bathroom, and yet again someone comes by and deletes all the work you just did. That is what its like to be a stay at home mom!

— Mama the Zookeepeer