Thursday, 29 December 2011

Play Dough

Play dough by SashaWarner
Play dough, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
It is cold here. Winter was slow getting here, but it has arrived. There will be no lingering play dates outside this week. Its more of a get out, get the fresh air, shovel the very short driveway, "oh look, I think your sister might be on the verge of frostbite," go back inside kind of week. So, to pass some of the time this morning, I made play dough. I know, this isn't a novel post--I've made it before, you've made it before--but its still a classic, easy, creative way to pass the time. Just in case you've lost your recipe, like I had, here's a great one from Mommy Footprint.

Play Dough Recipe
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoon cream of tartar (find it in the spice section)
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
food coloring

Mix first 4 ingredients in a pan. Add water and mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 – 5 minutes. Dough will become difficult to stir and form a “clump”. Remove from stove and knead for 5 minutes–add food coloring during kneading process. Play dough will keep for a long time stored in a covered plastic container or plastic sandwich bag.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

Merry Christmas 2011! by SashaWarner
Merry Christmas 2011!, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Have a very happy Christmas! We hope today finds you with good food in your belly and special people to share it with.

(Thanks to Crystal over at the Mess in Messenger for the idea to do our Christmas card with Picnik this year.)

Friday, 23 December 2011

Reese's Squares

Reese's Squares by SashaWarner
Reese's Squares, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
This morning I was reminded (or invited to depending how you look at it) of the annual staff potluck at work. I love food, and its about time I started getting used to going into work, so we made the trip. The five kilometer round trip in the snow with a stroller with deceptively small wheels. I love food that much. It was so worth it... everyone was so happy and hyped about Christmas. It reminded me that I have a great job that I am lucky to go back to when it is time.

I whipped these squares up quick this morning before I left. I thought I'd share, just in case you've left everything until the last minute, including the Christmas dessert. They are no-bake, have minimal ingredients and really do taste just like Reese's Peanut Butter cups. If you don't make them for Christmas, bookmark this page... you'll want to try them at some point.

Reese's Pieces Squares
Base:
1 cup peanut butter**
1 1/3 cups icing sugar*
1 3/4 cups graham crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
Combine and press into a 9x13 casserole dish.
 
Topping:
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cups peanut butter**
Melt the chips and pb together on high in the microwave, checking every 15 seconds or so. It should only take about a minute.  Cool slightly and pour on top of base.

Refrigerate 1 1/2 hours and cut into squares.

* If you don't have icing sugar on hand, I have substituted white sugar. It just gives the base a grittier texture.
** Use the cheap peanut butter, NOT the all-natural stuff.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Things kids say: Nap Time Greatness

The Warner Residence, 1300 EST.

Nevin: Mommy, come to bed with me.
Mommy: Do you want me to tuck you in?
Nevin: No.
Mommy: Do you want me to lay in bed with you for a minute?
Nevin: No.
Mommy: Do you want me to give you a kiss night-night?
Nevin: No.
Mommy: Okay. Night-night, Nevin. You're a good boy.
Nevin: No.
Pause.
Nevin: I'm a GREAT boy.

(The picture is totally unrelated, but I took it of Scarlett today and wanted to share.)

Monday, 19 December 2011

Putting together toys

The Christmas circuit has officially begun.  Yesterday, we Skyped with Santa in the morning, had a nap, then headed over the Nana and Papa Bear's for dinner.  Just as Santa promised, there were lots of toys waiting at Nana's for the kids.

We opened the presents before dinner.  We told Nevin he couldn't open his new Thomas & Friends megablocks train set until we got home.  He asked to go home.

So we knew we were in for a late bedtime when we went home.  That was okay.  I got Scarlett ready for bed and left the boys to put together the train set.  Now, I understand that the the manufacturers of the Thomas & Friends megablocks train set designed it with four-year-olds in mind, but that megablock set was tough.  Call me a megajock if you want, but I'm telling you, Baby Jesus himself couldn't put that thing together.  After an hour and a half, we decided we needed a new plan.

It was time to put Nevin to bed and get the creative juices flowing.


That's not water.  An hour later, it looked like a team of astrophysicists had come for a visit.


I love my husband.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Craft Sale Season

On Friday I received this email from a local radio station:

"Congratulations!


You have won admission for yourself and 1 guest to shop before the doors open to the public, this Saturday morning from 9a-10a at the Originals Christmas Craft Sale at Lansdowne Park!


Your name will be on a guest list – please be sure to bring a piece of photo ID.

Enjoy coffee and donuts while you shop, and Santa will announce over the PA system lucky winners of a $100 Originals Christmas Craft Sale gift certificate every 10 minutes throughout the one hour Shopping Experience, and one lucky shopper on site that Saturday morning will win a $500 gift certificate to the Originals Christmas Craft Sale!"

My mom is a huge fan of craft sales, and I like looking for inspiration, so I called her up.  Not only did she accept my +1 invite, she said she would bring along my Dad to watch Nevin.  When we left on Saturday, I was feeling great about life.  I was going to get an hour without the toddler, I had on a pretty cute outfit that didn't involve any yoga wear, and there was the promise of donuts awaiting my arrival in Ottawa.

You know how shopping experiences can get a little nuts around the holiday season?  Well, not when you have VIP pass to an event closed to the public.  It was calm.  It was inspiring.  It was toddler-free.  I had my two donuts, Mom had her free Starbucks coffee, we got our fill of crafty inspiration, and when the clock struck 10am, we were ready to be on our way, completely satisfied with the experience.  And then a cheery voice came on the intercom:

"Thank you to all of our VIP Majic 100 shoppers.  The winner of the $500 gift certificate is Sasha Warner.  Again, Sasha Warner, could you please make your way over the the courtesy desk to collect your prize.  Merry Christmas everyone."

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO MEEEEEEEEEEEE!  I may have shrieked.  Do you understand that that is more than a month of groceries for us?!?  $500 guilt-free dollars that had to be spent in this little piece of crafty heaven, that couldn't be put towards food or the children's education funds.  Guilt-free.  Guilt-free!

I got a present for my mom and my mother in law.  I did buy some groceries... $50 worth of almond and hazelnut butters..Yum.  And, normally, Shawn and I don't exchange gifts, but now there are presents under the tree for both of us.  Actually there are four gifts under the tree for me.

What a fantastic day!  I am so lucky, in so many ways.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Not from Scratch Week: Big Boy Cake

Big Boy Cake by SashaWarner
Big Boy Cake, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Today was a thrilling day in my house. I can't wait to tell you about it tomorrow, but for now, I'll leave you with the final installment of Not From Scratch Week.

This recipe is so easy that my two year old made it. Its the first thing he has made by himself, so we had to take a picture. Doesn't he look so proud? And, as per classic two year old, he insisted it was his birfday for the rest of the afternoon because he had a cake.

Big Boy Cake (a.k.a. Quick and Easy Cobbler)
(From Jennifer Low)
2 apples, peeled and cut into large dice
1/2 540-mL can cherry-pie filling
1/3 cup (75 mL) vanilla cake mix
couple pinches of cinnamon
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
1/4 cup (50 mL) melted butter
vanilla ice cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
2. Spread apples in an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking dish. Dollop pie filling over top and spread out; filling doesn't need to be perfectly even.
3. Sprinkle cake mix over top, squeezing out bigger lumps as you go. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of cake mix.
Mix together water and butter. Drizzle over top of mixture to moisten cake mix (Mommy did the cinnamon and butter/water sprinkling).
4. Use the handle of a spoon to poke mixture every couple of inches to blend in liquid slightly. Liquid doesn't have to be perfectly mixed in. If there are some little bits of dry cake mix left on top, that's fine.
5. Bake for 40 min. or until top is golden and edges are bubbly. Scoop and serve with vanilla ice cream.

p.s. The best thing is that you only use half of the pie filling and half of the cake mix, so you can make it again later in the week.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Luscious Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake

Yesterday afternoon, both kids slept at the same time.  I celebrated by making ham and scalloped potatoes with Luscious Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake (their name, not mine... "luscious" takes it a little over the top in my books).  The meal involved not one, but two whole bricks of cream cheese.  You know a meal is going to be good with ingredients like that.

All that delicious food and what did the two-year old eat off of his plate?  A banana.  Sigh.  Almost one-year-old demanded seconds though.  Porker.  (I'm punny... and I hope you're smiling)

This may not be from scratch, but it does require a little bit of effort.  Honestly, though, your efforts will be rewarded.  Its delicious.
Photo from Kraft Kitchens... I liked the taste a lot better than I liked my photos of it.
Sidenote: I finally got out the Advent wreath on Monday, so last night we lit the candles while we ate.  In Nevin's mind, candles are for birthdays, so I told him these candles were for Jesus' birthday.  When I went to cut a piece of cake for myself, Nevin called out, "Mommy!  Don't eat all the cake!  Santa is bringing Jesus later!"



Monday, 5 December 2011

Toddler Art Wall

IMGP6685 by SashaWarner
IMGP6685, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Monday is Shawn’s day off, so Honey, we got a lot done today.
We put up the Christmas decorations. We hung an art wall (read more about that below). We sat through and hour of a town council meeting, to watch a two minute award presentation to Grandpa (he helped save someone last summer). We had dinner with the in-laws. Now I’m even blogging. Big successful day.

The inspiration for the art wall came from here. I got a bunch of frames from the REAL Deal Store for 25 cents each (it’s a second hand store dedicated to salvaging things that would otherwise go to the dump). I used paper clips to hold the art. Now Nevin can be extra proud of his crafts. I love how it turned out… I hope you do, too. Now we just need to make a few more appropriately sized seasonal crafts to complete the collection.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Not from Scratch Week: Peanut butter oreo brownies

I've seen a couple of inspiring recipes that involve box mixes over the last couple weeks, so I am hereby declaring this "Not from Scratch Week." Who has time for making things from scratch this time of year anyways, right?

Peanut Butter Oreo Brownies
(From here - If you want to see step by step pics, click on it.)
1 box brownie mix, 8x8 inch size
24 Oreo Cookies
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 muffin cup baker with paper liners.
2. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.  I had to add an extra 1/4 cup of water to my batter to make it runny enough... it'll depend on the brand you use.
3. For each cupcake cup spread 1 teaspoon of peanut butter over 2 Oreo cookies and stack them on top of each other. Place oreo stacks into the cupcake lined muffin cups. Spoon 2 tablespoons of brownie batter over each stacked oreos and let it run down the sides of the cookies. If you have left over brownie batter, bake separately in a separate baker or muffin tin.
4. Bake cookies and brownies for 18 to 20 minutes, until brownies are cooked through. Let cool completely then serve.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Listening with the Two-Year-Old

Christmas Kisses by SashaWarner
Christmas Kisses, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Nevin, with eyes wide, excitedly: "Listen!"
Sasha: "I'm listening."
Nevin: "Can you hear it?"
Sasha: "Can I hear what?"
Nevin: "Christmas is coming! Can you hear it? Its just o'er there. Its coming!" (He points to the end of the street)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry christmas by SashaWarner
Merry christmas, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.

Is it December yet?  No?  So close.  Its time to discuss Christmas.  December, schmember... Advent has started, and the liturgical calender is more suitable for these sorts of things than the Gregorian calendar anyways, right?


What better way to start the season than to celebrate a totally awesome gift?  Check out the picture of the banner.  One of my awesome neighbours made it for me out of cardstock and red and white twine.  Simple, beautiful and carries a strong message.  Just like me.  Kidding.  I do love it though.  


Not to worry.  She didn't slave over cutting out the letters - she has four kids, a gazillion pets, and no time for such mundane tasks.  She took it to the local library and used their letter making machine, which apparently whips them out in a jiffy.  Brilliant.  And rumour has it that anyone can use library letter cutter outers.  Especially if you have little ones learning to read.  Who knew?  That's your little tip of the day: seek out a local library letter cutter outer and use it!


(As a happy little side note - Nevin has finally taken an interest in little letters, thanks to the sign.  I love it when things unexpectedly become teaching tools!)


Hooray for great neighbours!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Too much?

Blurred from embarassment by SashaWarner
The identity of the victim has been blurred for her safety.

I've been around the baby block before, but not like this. It was the blue and green and red and orange block with khakis and polos and little argyle sweater vests. The kind of block you would find in Southampton. This time around, with a girl, its more of a New York City block. And some days I feel like I'm teetering on the edge of Park Avenue, only one sequined headband away from Broadway. There are so many patterns, textures and glittery things.

How much is too much for little girls? Animal prints with pink velour bows? Faux fur with coordinating flowers half the size of their face? Sequined headbands? All of the above combined in all their glory? (As evidenced in the picture?)

Or is it all just so over the top that it becomes irresistibly adorable?

I swore I wouldn't do it, but now that its done, I think its kinda cute.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Pumpkin French Toast Bake

This is yesterday's post.  Yesterday I was too tired at the end of the day to write it.

Scarlett was up at 4am to eat.  No big deal, but then she decided to stay up until 5am.  At that point, I was awake and my tummy was begging for breakfast.  And I was way to jazzed up about the first snow fall outside to settle back in under the covers.

Solution?  Pumpkin French Toast bake.  a.k.a. a quick and easy way to split a loaf of bread with your husband.  Yowza.  I got that going, popped it in the oven, did a pilates video, and then enjoyed.  What a great way to start the day.  Even if it was an early start.
Photo from Trudy's Kitchen (My picture had whip cream on it, but it got deleted...)


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Apple and Potato Soup

I am tired.  And cranky.  Nevin is tired.  And cranky.  Scarlett is... nine months old.  It hasn't been a great combo of people today.

But, as you know if you are a regular reader, food can really turn my day around.  So this afternoon, I'm making myself my favourite soup and homemade buns.  Taking my destiny into my own hands, so to speak.

From here on out its going to be optimism and hugs.  Wish me luck.

Photo via Softpedia


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Easy Caramel Popcorn: Family TV Night

Family TV Night by SashaWarner
Family TV Night, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Today, "our show" -- you know, the mindless one that you watch with your hubby that spurs random conversations -- was on an hour early. As in, over the entire get-the-kids-to-bed hour. Neither of us wanted to miss it, so we threw out the routine and invited the kids to join us.

I know its something so little, but it was so much fun. You know that feeling you got when you were eight and did something you knew you weren't supposed to do, but knew you were going to get away with it, so you could enjoy it, guilt free? That's what it felt like. Like eating stolen Halloween candy under the covers in the middle of the night. We were giddy.

We made caramel popcorn, got into our jammies and cuddled on the sofa. Well, at least three of us did. Scarlett spent half the time crawling around in circles, chasing the poor dog (who just wanted to curl up at Shawn's feet). Nevin had the time of his life - apparently he's never seen popcorn pop before, so you can just imagine.

Cheers to doing little things out of the ordinary.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Squash Potato Skins

Squash Potato Skins by SashaWarner
Squash Potato Skins, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Last night, I learned two life lessons.
1) Anything topped with bacon, green onions, cheese and sour cream tastes better.
2) Anything topped with bacon, green onions, cheese and sour cream makes life feel better.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Cinnamon Bun Muffins

Today I made Cinnamon Bun Muffins. To celebrate. Because its Friday. And because Scarlett finally had a decent nap for the first time this week.

I highly recommend them, but I also highly recommend you take my advice at the bottom of the post.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Homemade Tortillas

Homemade tortillas by SashaWarner
Homemade tortillas, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
I had boat load of salsa left over from Shawn's party to eat up, and no tortillas, tortilla chips, or inspiration.

Solution? Make tortillas. I had no idea tortillas were so easy.

Since the rest of the meal was kind of blah on its own, the homemade tortillas made the meal exciting.  I basically made instant rice with half water and half salsa, added a can of black beans and a sauteed onion.  I know what you are thinking: who makes homemade tortillas and then stuffs them with instant rice?  I do... it was a pantry kind of meal, and that's what is in the pantry.  Stop judging.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Shawn's Birthday

Shawn is awesome by SashaWarner
Shawn is awesome, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.

Friday was a big day.  We had people over.  And we had junk food and a drink (me) or two (Shawn) ...


Shawn is officially 30, so I planned a small surprize birthday party for him. 


I set the scene by making a sign for him to see when he looked in our window when he drove up to our house.  Who doesn't want to see their name in lights at some point in their life?  A little bit budget-friendly (read: white-trashy), but a little bit awesome.


I also made a budget friendly banner that further instilled the message that "Shawn is awesome."  Everyone who attended agrees.  Shawn IS awesome.  And so are our friends.  Especially the one who brought a growler of bog water.  What?  You don't know what that is?  Yeah, neither did I until I overheard him say, "I'm thinking of cracking the growler of bog water,"  and one of the other girls asked if he was speaking english.  Because we weren't sure.   Turns out its a big special jug of big special beer.


The next morning, since we are parents, and children don't care what their parents do the evening before, we were a little tired.  While I was in the shower, the following conversation could be heard:


Shawn lays on the bathroom floor beside the toilet.
Nevin:  What you doing, Daddy?
Shawn: Daddy doesn't feel well.
Nevin: If you sit on the potty and go pee, Mommy will give you a treat and you will feel better.


Priceless.


Below you will find the recipe for Shawn's Beer Dip, which was a hit at the party.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Pumpkin Pie Spice

My last posted recipe included Pumpkin Pie Spice.  Just in case you were wondering how to do it yourself, here's the ratio of spices to make your own.  I had it in my porridge this morning.

Image via The Fresh Fridge
Pumpkin Pie Spice
(from My Baking Addiction)
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves

Combine spices in a small bow, mix well to combine. Store in a small jar or spice container.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

I love Mondays!  Shawn get Mondays off, so its like our little extra Sunday that no one else gets.  I love it!  This morning whilst I prepared a little Halloweeny snack, Shawn hooked us up with some Ghoulish tunes.  It was great.  We danced like crazy people - okay, I danced like crazy person and Nevin bopped his head to the beat - and at the end of it, we ate our snacks to the Devil Went Down to Georgia.  Not totally Halloween, but much better than Thriller, Nightmare on my Street and the Adams Family Theme Song, according to Nevin. 

The recipe for Pumpkin Cream Cheese is below.  Do yourself a favour and give your bagel a little Halloween love.

Image from www.sideofsneakers.com



Sunday, 30 October 2011

Raking Leaves

October 30, 2011 by SashaWarner
October 30, 2011, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
Today was fall clean-up day. While Shawn worked on getting the garage ready for winter (in other words, finding room for the car), Nevin, Gwennie and I raked leaves in the back yard.

I forgot how much I love raking. Probably mostly because our yard is so small and there is only one large maple tree. It makes me nostalgic for living in the forest as a kid and all the games we used to play.

I snapped a picture with my shadow included, very purposely, because I had this on my mind.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Scarlett's Butterflies

Scarletts Butterflies by SashaWarner
Scarletts Butterflies, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
I made a little collage in Scarlett's room. I do not want her room to be very girly, but I can not resist some feminine touches.

The butterflies are cut out of card stock. To make nice clean folds, I scored the folds with a ruler and exact-o knife prior to folding the wings. I used putty to attach them, which is holding fast so far.

The project cost less than $5 dollars, and took less than one nap time.  That's our kind of project.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Emilie's Shower

Its a official.  My big brother is a parent.  This was an extra-crazy-special year for our family - all three of us had babies (or, in the case of my older brother, is spending most of the year waiting patiently for a baby).  How often does that happen?  I have to admit, its pretty cool to go through all the same celebrations and hurdles at the same time as your siblings.  I'm already looking forward to dealing with teenagers together.

My older brother and his wife are the last ones to hop on the baby train, and we are all so excited to welcome them to parenthood, so we held a baby shower for them yesterday. 

It was a collaboration between my mother and I.  My mother, the oh-it-sparkles! oh-it-says-baby-on-it!  oh-it-has-booties-and-pastel-abphabet-blocks! lover, and me, the every-one-knows-why-we're-here-were-don't-need-the-decorations-screaming-reminders-at-them! lets-step-away-from-pastels! stick in the mud.  It made for an interesting preparation, and more than one "I know its pastel, but it was only five dollars!"  In the end, I think it came together well, I was proud of my mother's restraint.  And I covered the "BABY!" table cloth with as much food as I could find.




(How'd this get in here?   Pre-game snack)
Made by Emilie and Grandma Whitson
Well wishes poster

Baby Taylor is lucky!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Healthy Double Chocolate Brownies?

Shawn: "Just a heads up, on Thursday I'm going to start being healthy and getting in shape."

Sasha: "Oh no, not one of your health kicks again."

Shawn, shaking head: "You are the worst for this. I love how you are so supportive."

Sasha: "But this means no more pie.  I can't eat pie by myself.  Its like a pieaholic, it means I have a problem."

Shawn: "I'll still eat pie, just maybe not for breakfast and snack.  I never did that until I met you."

Sasha: "So like maybe a pie will last more than 12 hours?  Okay.  I think I can live with that."

Thursday is quickly approaching.  We need healthy desserts, stat, before Shawn goes over to the dark side.  So last night I got out another handy Government of Ontario recipe publication (seriously people, that's really where are taxes are going) and tried the most ridiculously healthy dessert I could find.  And you know what?  It was good.  It tasted even better today, the next day, which as you can read above, means I am being supportive because it has lasted more than 12 hours in the house and I didn't have any for breakfast.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Lazy-Day French Toast

This morning everything went exactly according to plan.  They did exactly what I wanted them to, without me even asking.  In other words, they all slept.  I was alone in a quiet house. 

It all started with Scarlett waking up exactly one minute before my alarm was set to go off.  A quick feed and she went back to sleep.  She went back to sleep.  A banana snack later and I was off to fitness class. 

I got back and they were all still asleep.  I put the french toast in the oven (I prepped last night) and sat at the kitchen table reading while I waited for the french toast to bake, hoping that child #1 wouldn't wake up, demanding "french toast NOOOOOOW!"  He didn't.  I just read.  Quietly.

They all woke up, at the same time, without my help, a half an hour later, just as the french toast was coming out of the oven.  Life never, ever, ever goes that way in my house.  It was divine. 

So was the french toast, so I'm sharing the recipe.  It was on Steven and Chris last week.  You prep it the night before, so its easy-peasy in the morning.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Name Plaques

Today, it was raining, so we did a project I've been wanting to do for a few weeks.  We invited over the neighbours and made name plaques.  I got the paints and letters from a yard sale.  We've got enough letters and half empty paint bottles to make name plaques for the entire town.  Nevin made a huge mess and did a really good job. 


Confessions....

This was day two of my near perfect mothering, from the outside.  Yesterday, I took the kids to the library for Toddler Time, which is basically stories, songs and rhymes for two year olds (never to early for literacy!), and quickly followed that up with playgroup, which is facilitated by a early childhood specialist and finishes with more circle time.  Home for lunch, Nevin to bed, then I turned around and returned to the library activity room for Baby Picasso with Scarlett (never to early to foster right brain thinking!).  And did I mention I walked to all these places?  Just trying to reduce my carbon footprint and leave a healthy world for my literate, right-brained children! 

Sound too perfect?  Ummm, yes.  I can't keep up with the cliches.  By the end of the day, I was exhausted.  And when I went to bed at 10:30, after an intense boot camp session (because perfect moms always find time for themselves!), I was sooo ready for a good night's sleep.  Scarlett woke up at 11:30.  If frustration was a noise, it would be the cries of a baby interrupting a deep, perfect sleep.  I got up, went downstairs, grabbed a blanket, layed on the couch and put a pillow over my head.  I was literally hiding from my child.  Or, more accurately, from my duties.  It lasted about three minutes, until Shawn woke up, and started looking for me.  Turns out she was just hungry and went right back to sleep after a snack.  Five minutes of crying/screaming could've been avoided.  Turns out perfect doesn't exist. 

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Cheap Family Fun: Canada Agriculture Museum

Thursday was a big day.  We went to the Agricultural Museum in Ottawa.  In other words, we went to a farm.  Admission for kids under three is free and teachers are free, too, so we only had to pay for Shawn, which was $7.  We also packed a picnic lunch, so it really was an affordable way to spend some family time in a toddler wonderland.  When some of your relatives own farms, I guess $7 doesn't seem like such a deal, but Nevin is a bit uneasy around close-up livestock, so this saves us the judgmental glances from locals. 


Tracker simulator... a two-year-olds' dream!




To round out the cheap fun, before we went home we went over to the airport, parked and watched the planes take-off and land.  Sometimes, the best things for toddlers really are free.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Pumpkin French Toast

Shawn is on holidays this week, and Scarlett has decided to stop sleeping like a normal person.  As a result, we are a little down and exhausted, but we have the time to do something about it.  I wanted to start today off right so I took the pumpkin loaves I made yesterday and made french toast.  Just what we needed.  It might be just what you need on Monday morning after your Canadian Thanksgiving extravaganza on Sunday.  Consider it the Hair of the Dog of the food world.

Stop judging.  I like my pink flannel pajamas and green house coat.

You'll find the recipe below (the loaves were the same recipe as the muffins I made a couple of days ago.)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Squash Week: Pumpkin Muffins

Yesterday was one of those days.  The kind of day that one is so happy that one's mother lives close enough to come over and help.  Except when one's mother is vacationing in Europe.  Then one is up the creek, without one's paddle.

Scarlett spent a better part of Friday night crying, apparently for no good reason, because when she decided to stop crying, she proceeded to play for the next hour and a half.  Shawn and I didn't get much sleep.  I ended up sleeping on the couch downstairs with Scarlett in the baby swing next me, while Shawn, who works Saturdays, went back to bed.  At 6a.m. I awoke to a very loud thump-thump.  I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say the house shook.  I layed on the sofa for a moment going through in my head what furniture could have made that kind of noise on the second floor.  There was only one thing: it was the sound of someones head hitting the floor.  Obviously worth getting up for to check on.  When I got up stairs, I found Shawn sick to his stomach and sweating profusely.  He had passed out.  I need not remind you that that is a 6 and a half foot fall for his head - I think it bounced.  I value Shawn's head and his ideas most days, so I thought it was worth going to the hospital to double check on.  Except we have children.

Enter the neighbours.  Not only do I have a fantastic Mom, but I also have great neighbours.  Since her kids like to start the day at 5am, my neighbour was up, and was more than happy to drop everything, bundle up the kids and have a pyjama party at my house.  We are so lucky to be surrounded by such kind people.

Off to the hospital we went.  Happily, Shawn's head is as tough as it is smart.  Besides a bit of a headache, he is neurologically as sound as he was before the incident.

The neighbours were very deserving of a HUGE thank you - the best I could do was bake some muffins.  Here's the recipe.

image from Love from the Oven


Award-Winning Pumpkin Bread Muffin Recipe
(Adapted from Cindy on Chowhound)
* I doubled the recipe and made 24 muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cups whole wheat flour
¼ tsp. double-acting baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup apple sauce
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling), I used homemade
1/3 cup water
½ cup craisins (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter or line 12 muffin tins.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.
3. In another bowl beat together the eggs, oil, pumpkin puree and water.
4. Add to the flour mixture and beat until the batter is combined. Stir in the craisins (if using). Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins.
5. Bake in center of preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Go cougs!

I'll let the pictures do the talking.  Possibly a crafting crowning achievement.  The girl, or the leggings.
Cute, obviously, but look a little closer....

Go Cougs!!!
Fight, fight, fight for Washington State and victory!

(I made these from old toe socks that given to me as a gift back in the college days.  Instead of making them with a frill on the bottom, like I did here, I folded over the raw seam, put an ouchless ponytail elastic in the hem and sewed.  You don't have to use the elastic, but I wanted them to be gathered a bit at the bottom, like old school jogging pants, so they wouldn't be longer than her ankles.  Since the people who set the shipping rates on everything WSU related seem to have a thing against Canadians, I am thrilled that she has something thrifty to wear for game day.)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Squash Week: Pumpkin Nutmeg Soup

The forecast here is calling for rain through Sunday.  Potential for wet snow on Saturday, says the weatherman.  Cool, rainy autumn days beg for soup.  And so, I'm going to recommend to you what we had a few nights ago:  Pumpkin Nutmeg Soup... if pumpkins could hug you, this is what it would feel like.



Pumpkin Nutmeg Soup
(From the Ottawa Citizen, a couple of years ago)
1 pie pumpkin, about three pounds *
3 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup coffee cream or plain yogurt

1. Cut pumpkin in half, remove seeds, brush with butter on cut side.  Place on baking sheet, cut side down, and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour, or until pumpkin is tender.*
2. Ub a karge saucepan, heat remaining butter and saute onions on low heat, covered,for ten minutes.  Add pumpkin, stock, and season with nutmeg.  Cook for 10 minutes.
3. Working in batches, puree the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth.
4. Reheat soup and season with salt and pepper.  If the soup is too thick, thin with more stock.  Stir in cream or yogurt  to serve.

* I roasted three pumpkins last week, and kept the mash for all the recipes this week.  I used 3 cups of pumpkin mash.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Squash Week: Amazingly Creamy Pumpkin Penne

Tonight we have swimming lessons (Yay!  Scarlett's first time!), so we'll be having leftovers from last night.  I made a new recipe that turned out really well, so here it is.


Amazingly Creamy Pumpkin Penne
(Adapted from Cara's Cravings)

4 oz penne pasta
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 75gm)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
about 2T chopped fresh sage*
2 links cooked chicken sausage, sliced**
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup nonfat milk
pinch of nutmeg
5oz torn spinach, thick stems removed
grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, optional

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook gently for about 10 minutes, until softened and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic, sage, and chicken sausage; continue to saute.
2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.
3. In a blender, combine combine pumpkin, cottage cheese, and milk. Blend until no lumps are present. Add to sausage mixture in skillet and continue to cook over low heat. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
4. Drain pasta and return to pot over low heat. Add sausage mixture and baby spinach, and toss together. Cover for a few minutes to let the spinach wilt. Serve with parmesan cheese, if desired.

* I didn't have any sage, and it tasted great.
** I used honey garlic pork sausage, because that's what was on sale at the grocery store, and it tasted great.
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