Friday, October 31, 2008
This year I got myself a costume. As a kid I loved it when I saw parents dress up for Hallowe'en and often wished my parents would do that. I vaguely remember my mum or dad sometimes wearing a goofy hat but never a full-blown costume. So I decided that from here on out I would be a parent with a full-blown costume and Emily LOVED it.
Almost as much as she LOVED trick-or-treating.
This was Hope's first year out there and she got the hang of it after the first house. She even said "Trick or Treat!" (more like "tik or teet") almost every time with a resounding "tanks!" afterwards. It was so darn cute I almost couldn't stand it.
We did our side of the U of our crescent and that was enough for Emily. "I'm all done trick or treating" she said. I love that she knows when she's had enough. She was happy with what she had. There was no greed there.
We sorted the candy, had a taste and now they are in bed. I wish I could say they were slumbering peacefully but of course Hope is crying at having been left alone in her room. We're so evil.
I must say as well that my pumpkin carving skills are getting better every year (thanks to some internet stencils!). Happy Hallowe'en all!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I love the sapling maple in the background still holding onto its brilliant yellow leaves.
As much as I feel this is too early for my liking to have the white stuff on the ground, I also have to say that I LOVED playing outside with the girls this morning. And as I pulled the sled along the path and listened to them laughing and saying "Faster, Mummy, faster!" I was so thankful again that it was me doing this and not someone I was paying to do it for me. I'm so thankful to be living these moments with them every day rather than wishing I was.
And, miraculously, it actually made me feel a lot better about the coming winter even if we get a lot of snow again this year. We made snow angels and I towed them around on the sled and even took them down a small hill. We had a lot of fun. Hope didn't want to go in at the end of it all.
Which is a stark difference from last year and the reason, I think, that I'm feeling so much more optimistic about the coming winter than I did yesterday. Last year, Hope whined most of the time we were outside. She had a lot of trouble walking through the snow. She wouldn't leave her mitts on and cried whenever snow touched her skin. I forced her to join us regardless but I always had to put up with a lot of whining each time we went outside to play. Today would indicate that this winter could be a lot different.
Emily also loved playing outside, although she did last year too. However, today was made extra special for her because one of her favourite fruits of the season just hit the stores: pomegranates.
The evidence of the massacre after the pomegranate met its ugly fate:
I even have a recipe to share for What's cooking Wednesday after all this but it is late and I have a book calling my name and a warm bed to get into. Perhaps next week.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Apparently we're in for a humdinger of a storm... at least for this time of year. The weatherdudes expect Ottawa to get up to 20 cm of snow by tomorrow morning.
I'm not going to go on and complain (as is my usual modus operandi) about the snow, how crappy Ottawa winters can be, how it is too damn early for this, etc etc etc. Instead I will tell you that I just spend the last hour putting away all the gardening tools and toys and other crap that was littering the back yard assuming the weather would hold a little longer.
It's a step up from last year when I just left it all there and then cursed myself in the spring when I had a number of cracked plant pots and deflated balls covered by icky stuff.
I guess I'm getting the hang of this home-ownership thing. All right!
And now I will wrap my frozen fingers around a large mug of tea and head back out there to get Emily from the bus. But I'm not complaining! Nope, not me.
Monday, October 27, 2008
So as November approaches I'm getting apprehensive and pining already for spring because last November the snow arrived and didn't go until late April. This weekend was filled with fun and seasonal events but also, for me, a bit of sadness knowing that Hallowe'en is the last of the fall celebrations.
On Friday night we picked out the pumpkins for Hallowe'en. We went cheap this year rather than getting the experience of pulling the orbs out of the patch ourselves. Next year I promised Emily we'll go to a farm rather than a farm market. That was fine but what wasn't fine was the fact we were only getting four. I know, I know, what a nasty piece of work I am only letting my kids have four pumpkins. Truth be told, you could hand her a fuzzy puppy and tell her it was hers for life and she'd burst into tears because it was the wrong colour or wrong smell or wrong fluffiness. That's Emily lately. She cries about the unexpected.... and the expected. The reality is that she still needs to nap. Afternoon kindergarten puts the damper on that and she flatly wills herself to stay awake on weekend afternoons. The result is tears almost on an hourly basis and that is not an exaggeration.
Her tears dried up when we decided to go out for pizza for dinner. She was stellar, snarfing down an adult-sized portion of Hawaiian pizza. Hope ate about 3 strands of spaghetti, after crying (of course) at the sight of pizza. We abandoned ship and headed home, defeated and also agreeing that we pulled a rookie move by trying to go out to dinner with two very tired kids.
Saturday, the rainiest day of the fall so far, was the Hallowe'en party at The Farm. The kids had fun in between the bouts of Emily's crying for various reasons. They decorated their pumpkins, ate some caramel apple pieces, visited the calves and pigs and sheep and enjoyed wearing their costumes a few days early.
On Sunday afternoon after both (BOTH!) refused to nap I took them to the playground and library. The ominous sky and high winds were truly the sign of the end of fall for me and probably one of the last trips to the playground for this year. At least without hats and mittens.
Goodbye fall. I do love your visits and miss you when you're gone.
Hello winter. You suck.
Friday, October 24, 2008
I would have had a better sleep last night if she was a newborn I think. At least I would expect her to be up, she would be fed and back in bed faster and up less frequently.
I don't know what the problem is. Maybe her last molars are coming through. I haven't approached the bear's mouth to poke around. She isn't exactly in a good mood this morning and I don't want to chance losing a finger.
Three nights ago she was up twice. We thought she was cold. Two nights ago she was up three times. We figured she was hot as we'd turned the heat up a bit which turned her small room into a little sauna. Last night the temperature in her room was fine all night so... huh?
At this rate I'll be pulling an all nighter tonight. Not something I was expecting to do at the age of 36.
There is a coffee with my name on it in the kitchen. Toodle-oo.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I don't know about you but I love it when I get one of those Simply Homemade pamphlets in the mail. Yeah, they're all about marketing certain brand-name baking products but I don't care. I always have the ingredients it seems and the recipes are sinfully delicious for the most part. The recent edition is no exception. So far I've made two of the recipes and they were both gone lickety-split. Here is the most recent I made and although it isn't exactly low-calorie it is delicious and does have some definite nutritional elements to it.
Sweet and Salty Granola Bars
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds (I used pumpkin.... mmm, good)
1 cup raisins (would also be awesome with dried cranberries)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup shortening, melted (I might try and use butter next time but I'm not sure it will crisp up the same way)
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chips, melted
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper making sure to overlap sides to allow for easy removal and cutting of squares. Combine all ingredients for bars in large bowl. Mix well. Press into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly.
Combine melted chocolate and kosher salt. Drizzle over bars. Allow chocolated to harden. Cut into bars.
This recipe makes a lot, but it will be gone quickly. I love the Nature Valley sweet and salty granola bars. These are better and don't have that mystery "yogurt" topping which is a plus. I don't have a photo but Simply Homemade has a website with a video of these.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I really thought that would come later than Junior Kindergarten. At this point, I assumed they would pretty much all be the same and Emily wouldn't be absorbing too much from the other kids, mainly because they have so little time to talk about things outside the classroom.
I'm so naive.
On Thursday, Emily wore her new blue rain boots to school since the ground was pretty wet from rain earlier in the day. At the end of the day she piped up out of the blue "N realized my boots are boy boots." I said "You're boots aren't boy boots, Emily. Anyone can wear blue. I'm wearing a blue sweater. Hope wears blue all the time and we aren't boys." Emily's response was perfect "I'm going to tell N she's wrong."
N, by the way, is, from what I can tell, Emily's current closest friend in her class. N is in the Senior Kindergarten half of the class and from what Emily says, they play together all the time. N sends home princess pictures every day with Emily that N coloured for her the night before (rather cute, I know). Emily doesn't really feel like colouring pictures for N. I asked. Ooh, bitch slapped.
Anyway, on Friday, Emily walked in the house and said "I have makeup on!" And you know what, she did. Lip gloss anyway. Sparkly, shiny lip gloss. That's more make up than I wear 95% of the time. I said "Wow, you do. Where did you get that?" "N gave it to me." I went into my makeup-is-for-grownups speil. John kept giving me the eye to ensure I didn't put N in a bad light but I admit it was hard not to say STAY AWAY FROM N.
I know that seems like an over-reaction but something is just rubbing me the wrong way and here is what I've come up with: N is clearly into girly things, things Emily has so far mostly stayed away from and that is something, I realize now, that makes Emily so extra special for me (aside from the obvious fact that she's my daughter). I love that Emily doesn't show much attention to princesses, makeup, fancy dresses (although she does love dresses), fancy hair dos, etc etc etc. I'm not saying she has no interest in these things. She has a little. But only a little. She is much more interested in running around outside, playing store, helping cook and bake, doing crafts, playing soccer or golf, collecting leaves, reading books. You get the idea. However, she is also susceptible to influence and if her current friend is into something, she'll want to get into it too, at least to a point.
In the end, John and I told her it isn't healthy to share lip gloss with another person because of germs. She got that. I also told her I'd get her some of her own. I found some Burt's Bees Lip Balm that goes on clear but looks pink in the tube because of the pomegranate that's in there. The perfect dupe. She LOVES it. However, I've demanded that she stops calling it her makeup and refers to it as lip balm. So far she is complying.
My real uneasiness is coming from the fact that N is swinging my daughter, my amazingly insteresting and cool daughter into things that I personally find less interesting and less cool. That's personal preference, I know. And I also know I'm trying to influence her to my way of seeing the world and I see the irony there. But damn it, I'm her mother and that's my right after 20-odd hours of labour, isn't it?
Of course, I also realize that trying to make her think that her mum's views are cool and interesting is probably a mistake because that won't work for long. It won't be long until she's thinking I'm a middle-aged loser who doesn't know what she's talking about. So, I don't want to be pushy about all this. I just want her to come up with the realization that these kinds of things like princesses, clothes and makeup don't matter in the big picture. There are way more interesting things to spend your time doing, playing and reading about.
Man, I really never thought I'd be struggling with these weird feelings 6 weeks into JK.
Am I crazy? Should I just let it play out and not worry about it? I haven't said any of this to Emily of course and won't. But I'm struggling with it a bit and wanted to hear what you all thought.
Am I over-reacting? Probably. When I read back over the post, it sure sounds like I am but at the same time outside influences are probably the things we worry about most when it comes to putting our kids in school. How do you or will you deal with it?
Edited to add: Okay, I've taken a breath, talked to my good friend, Shan, and realized what I knew before: this is not a big deal and I need to chill out. There are far worse things she could be doing or being exposed to. I'm not normally prone to insanity about things that are fairly insignificant but hey, every mother gets her chance. Today was mine.
She doesn't exactly wake up delicately for a non-morning person like me. She wakes up like a shot screaming MUMMY over and over and over. If John goes in instead, she completely flips out and and continues to flip out for the following 15 minutes or so. Or as long as it takes to get her in front of Dora. In other words, I almost always go in because it really isn't worth waking up everyone else.
I remember that Emily was an early riser at the same age but with me going to the office at the time it didn't really matter that much. Also, she let John get her without as much protest as Hope.
I sure hope it comes to an end soon because seeing the sunrise every morning is getting a bit played.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
|The meatball part:|
|1lb||(500 g) medium ground beef or turkey|
|½ cup||(125 mL) bread crumbs|
|¼cup||(50 mL) onion, very finely chopped|
|1tsp||(5 mL) salt|
|½tsp||(2 mL) pepper|
The Hawaiian part:
|1 14oz||(398 mL) can pineapple chunks|
|¼cup||(50 mL) brown sugar|
|2tbsp||(30 mL) cornstarch|
|½ tsp||(2 mL) ground ginger|
|1tbsp||(15 mL) soy sauce|
|3tbsp||(45 mL) vinegar|
|1||green pepper cut into large squares|
|1||onion cut into large squares|
|1.||In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper. Squish it all up with a fork or clean bare hands until well mixed. Form into 1-in. (2 cm) meatballs, rolling them between your hands so theyre nice and round. (Be sure to wash up immediately after this step even small amounts of raw meat can be unsafe if accidentally ingested.) Place meatballs in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 375°F (190°C) for 15 to 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through baking. Scoop the meatballs off the cookie sheet, leaving behind the fat that has seeped out of them.|
|2.||Drain the pineapple chunks, pouring the juice into the measuring cup. Add the brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger, soy sauce and vinegar to the juice in the saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce is clear and thickened. Add the cooked and drained meatballs and let them simmer in the sauce for 5 minutes. Add the green pepper, the onion and the pineapple chunks, bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes more. Serve over plain rice.|
Sorry there is no photo. It was eaten quickly and, as I mentioned yesterday, my camera isn't cooperating.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
For every vote cast, the party that receives that vote gets $1.75 or close to it for funding. So, even if, like me, your vote seems like a whisper in a crowd of shouts (not that I have anything against David McGuinty; I actually think he is a very good MP and very effective in the House; it's just that I use my vote to support a party that is very effective in the House and has policies I consistently stand behind. However, if there was a chance that the Conservatives would take this riding I would definitely vote Liberal to save the riding from the Conservatives. And that my friends is called digression), there is in fact a point to voting. And when I'm sometimes wondering if anyone cares that I voted for some Carleton student who was clearly told to run for the NDP because the NDP will never win this riding, I think about people who never can vote, or vote under duress, such as what we saw in Zimbabwe earlier this year that absolutely turned my stomach. I don't have to sneak out a back door to hide who I voted for. I'm thankful for that. And so if my vote seems insignificant, I do it for those people who vote in fear and then still know that their vote isn't counted, that it didn't matter, because their voices are never heard.
Get out there.
My only complaint is the freaking long drive it is to get to St. Catharines from Ottawa. I'm saying that as if I didn't know it before this weekend. Of course I did. And yet, I still complain.
Due to some unexpected circumstances - heavy traffic, broken DVD player, tantruming two-year-old, child who needed to pee, slow service at the Swiss Chalet, the drive down took about 8 hours. It should take about 6. On the way back, it took about 7.5 due to heavy traffic and a bad accident on the 403 that close two of the three lanes of traffic. Yikes.
Aside from all that, we had a great weekend. The weather was unbelievable. I actually wished I had shorts on yesterday. The colours of the leaves were gorgeous, the sun shone the whole weekend, we were outside a lot. On Saturday, John and I went to the St. Catharines Farmer's Market to get the veg for Sunday's feast. Later that day our little family went to Ridgeville to have supper with my Aunt Sharon and Uncle Dave and my cousin Janet and her husband Terry. We spent about an hour playing outside on their property that used to be an orchard. John drove the ride-on lawn mower and towed us in a trailer behind up through the fruit trees. It was really fun. After that the girls played in the old tree house.
On Sunday, the girls played with Omi, pretty much all day, and their cousins who arrived around lunch while John and I prepared the turkey and fixings. It was a great day of chats, visits, wonderful smells and laughs. The dinner turned out great with lots of veg and lots of pumpkin pie. Mmmmm.
On Monday morning we all headed to the Port Dalhousie Carousel, still 5 cents a ride and the best carousel around - so smooth and horses are lovingly maintained originals from about 1920 I think. I've talked about it here before. Hope really loved it this year. Almost as much as her Uncle Steve who rode it more than any of the kids.
As my camera is officially on its last legs (yet again - really in cameras I'm starting to think that you get what you pay for. That, or maybe don't let your kids pretend to be Karsh like I do) so I don't have many photos to show. I'm going to rely on my relatives to email me photos and then I'll post them as I get them. For now, here are some carousel shots.
I hope your weekend was as great as ours.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving filled with family, friends and a honkin' turkey!
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Beth is now boarding the plane to Toronto before getting her flight to Austin so it's time to get caught up on the last few days.
On Sunday, we continued our agricultural theme by going to the Central Experimental Farm (The Farm as we refer to it). We checked out all the cows and sheep and pigs and had a ride on the horse drawn wagon that took us through all the fields, most of which have been harvested now.
From The Farm we went to Dim Sum, a must when Beth is here. It was really busy but we managed to get a table and then went to town on the shu mei, pork buns, calamari, pickled cucumber, thai chicken, etc etc etc. It was awesome.
On Monday, we stayed close to home and went to the playground. In the afternoon the girls were all playing in the backyard having a great time. Hope was, typically, not listening as I corralled her from wandering too far on her little car. She kept disappearing down the path. As she headed out of sight once again, I ran after her and as I reached for the back of the car, she stepped on the gas Flintstone-style causing her to go over the front of the car and land, mouth first, on the bumpy asphalt path. I grabbed her immediately, started hugging her, blood was spreading across her bottom lip and inside her mouth. Her teeth were all still there but some of them had punctured her bottom lip on the inside, and later I discovered, on the outside too. There was a lot of blood and a lot of crying for at least an hour. And a lot, A LOT, of mummy-guilt. The swelling was formidable and she looked just like Jamie Oliver after the blood was cleaned up. Her pouty bottom lip was a replica of his. Kind of cute although gruesome. The photo evidence, from the next day, is below.
On Tuesday we got on the bus again, then the train and then went to something I've been waiting for for a long time: the Carleton Butterfly Exhibit. I love this one week a year. The biologists at Carleton release gorgeous butterflies into the greenhouses and offer entrance for free (!) for the week. I have no idea what happens to the butterflies after this week. I meant to ask but forgot.
It is hot in those greenhouses and we were all sweating after a few minutes which resulted in three kids complaining but before the complaining started we were able to watch (and even hold) the butterflies for a while. This year was the best yet, I think. There were tons, they were really active and it was a beautiful, sunny day for a visit.
That night we walked over to Emily's school for the Meet the Teacher BBQ. Emily was thrilled (that should be THRILLED) to show us around her class, show us her cubby hole, and generally be the centre of attention for a couple of hours. I really liked having more time to get to know and talk to Mrs. B. Beth and Kate came too of course and Emily loved showing Aunt Beth her class. I loved being able to walk there and home again. It was a beautiful evening and reminded me how nice it is to live close enough to walk to school (at least occasionally).
Yesterday we walked over to Chapters for what we thought would be a relaxing, chai-drinking morning while the kids played with the train set. It didn't turn out that way. A slightly wayward child pushed over my chai, the caregiver didn't offer to replace it, Hope and Emily were a bit out of control and then we had to rush home to get Emily to school. After that I had to rush to my class. But the day ended really well with some more great backyard playing (and no face plants), leaf-jumping and an awesome cheese fondue that Beth and I made. Knitting together in the evening finished up the visit.
I'll miss you, Beth. I wish we lived so much closer.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
We had plans, as you heard, to go to the Butterfly Exhibit at Carleton until I realized that the exhibit didn't start until today (Saturday). Instead, we jumped on the bus and rode it down to the Byward Market area. Our first shop, as it often is when Beth is in town, was The Tea Store. We both love that place. Their range of loose-leaf teas is incomparable. We also love their Tea for Two. The scones they served us with that were about as big as Kate's head, or so it seemed. My girls had hot chocolate and ate buttertarts and brownies. Or wore them anyway.
From there we perused the amazing vegetable displays for sale in the market right now. The colours were beautiful and we bought gorgeous broccoli and cauliflower and brussels sprouts. I would have bought even more if we didn't have to carry it all on the bus.
Kate took a giant three-hour nap yesterday while the rest of us chilled out. My dad and Donna arrived in the afternoon. With all those adults around, John and I took the opportunity to go out for a late dinner of Indian food. It was, simply, great.
Today was a big day. A really fun day. This morning we all headed out to the Metcalfe Fair. Metcalfe is a small farming town just south of us. This year was the 157th year of the fair. It is very agricultural. There were countless cows being preened, primped and hairsprayed (no joke) getting ready for show. We watched sheep being shown by their 4H members. We surveyed the winners of all the homecraft categories (I plan to sweep them next year). The kids went on a couple of kiddie rides. We watched the steam powered machines. Emily sat in a fire truck. We had tea and squares at the Women's Institute tent. All in all, it was a perfect morning doing something I've wanted to do for a very long time: revisit a fall fair in a rural setting. It totally takes me back to growing up in Niagara and going to the Niagara Regional Exhibition every fall. Metcalfe will be our new fall family tradition.
The rest of the day was lazy. Tomorrow we plan to go to the Agricultural Museum (what we simpy call The Farm) and then out for Dim Sum at lunch.
Seems that farming and all things agricultural is quickly becoming a theme of the week.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Today we were SUPPOSED to go to Carleton's awesome butterfly exhibit but then I happened to be on Carleton's website for an entirely different reason and noticed that the exhibit starts October 4, which I also realized is not today. So, a new plan is being hatched that will likely entail a bus, train and bus ride to the Market. Should be fun. We'll do the butterflies on Monday instead.
Time to brush some unruly hair and head out. So to speak.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
In a quest to end my repeated laziness regarding Shan's What's Cooking Wednesday, for which I have been a long participant but have been lax lately, I've stockpiled a few new recipes I've made over the past week or two so that I have no excuses any more, damn it!
I have to admit that I've been making too many desserts lately and eating too many of them too. This falls into the former part of that admission but not the latter because I did not like this dessert. John, on the other hand, went gangbusters all over this cake. He kicked this cake's ass! Hah, take that cake! I rule you, he exclaimed!
The reason I didn't like it is because I don't like the texture of soft popcorn. To me, it is like chewing on styrofoam, or what I imagine that would be like. However, I did really like the combination of the salty almonds and sweet Smarties kept together with marshmallowy goodness. Are you intrigued yet?
This recipe was overseen by Emily out of one of her library cookbooks: Emeril's There's a chef in my Family! by Emeril Lagasse. We've had a lot of fun browsing and making a few of his recipes and as a rule, they pretty much rock but you're not going to be losing any weight making any of these. They're darn tasty though.
Miss Hilda's Popcorn Cake
- 2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 12 cups popped popcorn (plain, unsalted and unbuttered) [I used 8 instead and that was more than enough]
- 2 cups M & M candies [I used one bag of Smarties because, hey, I'm Canadian, eh?]
- 1 cup lightly salted cocktail peanuts [I used roasted salted almonds, and OMG were there good. I would definitely do that again. Made it taste like Crunch N' Munch.]
- 1 stick unsalted butter [half a cup for those of us who don't use sticks]
- 1 pound marshmallows [equal to one 454g bag]
Grease a large tube or bundt cake pan with 2 teaspoons of the oil, and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the popped corn with the M & M candies and the peanuts. [And he means LARGE.]
In a small saucepan, melt the butter, remaining 1/4 cup of oil, and marshmallows over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When melted, pour over the popcorn mixture, and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared cake pan, pressing down to fit. [Use a large metal spoon dipped in cold water to prevent sticking. Really press on that sucker! Otherwise it'll never fit.] Cover with aluminum foil to keep moist and let rest until firm, 3 to 4 hours.
To serve, invert the cake pan onto a large cake plate or platter. Shake gently to release. Serve at room temperature. [Shake gently.... yeah, right! I had to pry and shake hard. It came out eventually and still looked very pretty.]
As I said, this was not my favourite to say the least. Emily, John and Hope loved it. Especially John who loves anything marshmallow. That was my other issue. I like marshmallows roasted over a campfire or baked into certain kinds of squares. Beyond that I'm not a big marshmallow fan. I liked the combination of marshmallow here with the almonds but I didn't like it with the squishy popcorn. Too marshmallowy. To be honest, my idea of a cruel death would be having my mouth filled with marshmallows out of the bag. The texture immediately makes me gag. Ugh.
Still, it was gone in about a day with no help by me. Although I may have picked out a few almonds and Smarties along the way. John will not be thrilled with me telling the blogosphere that he went nutso all over this cake. Usually that's my job in this house in regards to baked goods.
I was happy to let him have that role for one day anyway. And then came the Maple Sugar Apple Pie and all was back to normal.