Monday, November 5, 2012

sweater season

Has it really been 4 months since I last posted/since the poo-in-the-tub incident? Wow. I really have no time and cannot recall where time has gone. I finished this sweater project a couple of months ago (not to mention several other projects) but have no time to blog about any of it. 

I really appreciate how much time people put into their blogs. For me personally, I struggle to find a few minutes in each day to commit to crafting and finding the extra few to document/write about/photograph/edit it is nearly impossible! My life is as ADD as my much disorganised input, several things going on at once, utter chaos, missed appointments, forgetfulness, incomplete thoughts and sentences. etc. I once heard that your external world is only as organized as your internal one...which explains everything for me. But I digress...

Admittedly, blogging has been put on my back-burner. Well, it always sort of was, but now it's been put on the backest of back burners. Having chosen to home-educate my pre-schooler, a lot of my free evening time is spent researching activities for us to do, usually in the theme of a letter of the alphabet. Although it eats up a lot of time, I do enjoy the task. I love finding new ideas and then sharing them with my son. I have observed that his desire to learn is long as I am creative and present the material in a fun, non-traditional-school-type way. Books are his strongest passion, we can sit and read forever it seems. But he loves alphabet activities, numbers and art. And he loves learning about new music, thus far his favourite being Louis Armstrong (about whom he learned when we were doing the letter A-themed activities).

Because he is only 4, formal teaching is kept to a minimum, but our entire day is spent with education in mind. There are always opportunities to talk about numbers, basic reading stuff, basic science, history etc. And he eats it up. Play is of utmost importance; however, with our recent dump of snow, my concern is keeping him active indoors as he quickly becomes a whirlwind of crazy if he doesn't burn his endless stream of energy. Again, activities have to be fun and appear spontaneous; any hint of careful planning and/or inflexibility evokes his counterwill and a firm refusal of the activity. Emotional intelligence is something else we work on, which I am learning right along with him given that I have a lot of emotional maturity to do myself. 

Anyway, back to the sweater. The above photo features a sweater made out of sock yarn (i.e. it took forever because the yarn is so fine), a gorgeous shade of pink that I could not refuse when I saw it at the local yarn shop. Here's the link to the designer's blog. I made the sweater a bit too big, a common theme in my sweater knitting. I deliberately increased the length somewhat so as to cover my bottom when paired with leggings. Overall a comfy and satisfying knit, though I do wish I knit the smallest size so that it was a bit more fitted. Ah well. It will do!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You Can't Make This Up!

Oh my goodness, what a night. I'm beat and am having one of those am-I-fit-to-be-a-parent days. It often happens when I haven't slept (the heat is keeping the babies up) and have cramps, which is today.

So my mum and I ambitiously take the kids to the lake today which was fine...did the hotdog and snacks thing, and the kids loved it. But then I saw it happen: the twitch that occurs in my almost-4-year-old son's eye when he transforms from his sweet little self to this little tyrant. The kind that does everything you ask him not to, pesters everyone until they're blue in the face, and even hits with almost no provocation. For no apparent reason except that I think he has this pent-up energy that needs to be expended in a productive way but the heat and my lack of energy prevents that from happening. Plus my husband is between night shifts so he isn't readily available. 

This behaviour continues all day and at the end of the day, I'm at the end of my rope. I angrily tell my son that I no longer want to be around him if he is going to continue pushing everyone away so I go outside to cool off. Meanwhile, he seems to understand that I mean business and all is ok...until the bath. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the ultimate parental nightmare. It goes something like this...

The kids are behaving and having a grand ol' time. Co-operating, laughing, splashing in the water like puppies romping in a puddle; like baby unicorns prancing in a field of pansies. I'm even starting to smile for the first time in the evening. I say to the kids with love in my eye-lash-batting eyes..."be back in 10 seconds, I just have to get the towels!" and off I go cheerily down the hall thinking "sigh, what was my problem today? I love kids. I love parenthood. Bring it on world."

I come back to my son rocking the water back and forth like a giant wave-pool. A minor irritation but something that can be easily cleaned up and I'm done battling so I just watch lovingly as he and my 16-month-old daughter are laughing in the waves. "ok, i say, enough water mess, let's get you guys dried off!". 

Then my son says "oh mum, I forgot to tell you that sister pooed in the tub."

I stare, unblinking for a few moments...the whole world has come to a stop, i step off my little cheery merry-go-round, the birds in my head cease their sweet sweet song.

"WHAT THE FUCK???!!! when???"

"just before you went to get the towels."

So the whole time he's swirling the water around, spraying the walls, the floors, me, everything...he's been swirling the excrement around with it! I imagine pieces of poo oozing into every nook and cranny in the bathroom and am desperately fighting off a panic attack because my husband is at work and I have to keep my shit together. I gasp, curse, yell, panic in horror and throw them in the shower to clean them off and of course they hate showers and think I'm deliberately torturing them. No amount of rationalization can convince them that the shower is for their own good. 

During their snack I bleach the shit out of my bathroom. And put the soiled toys in a bucket to deal with later once I've emptied the dishwasher...big mistake. Because later while I'm flossing my son's teeth on his bed, my daughter has snuck into the bathroom and brings a couple of the toys over to us and dumps the water inside them on us. Onto round two of changing, clothing etc. I'm serious, this all happened just like this. 

Anyway, I've tried to keep my blog free of ranting but I had to share this. Because I know there's parents out there who will laugh and reflect on their own similar experiences, and others who shudder to think it might happen to them. My childless friends will probably gag and think "I couldn't deal with that." And it gives me the opportunity to just share it with others and also provides me with a record of the event to which I can refer when I'm older and need a good laugh about the good times with young children. Good grief! Glad the kids are asleep. Going to indulge in some Haagen Dazs Coffee ice cream and pack for my first camping trip with the kids. That should be interesting. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

creamy mushroom pasta

This recipe is a staple of mine that I've turned to for years when I am struggling to think up a meal. My version is adapted from a Canadian cookbook, the name of which escapes me. This pasta is so delicious, sophisticated and EASY. And my picky son even eats it, which speaks volumes. 

Couple cups of pasta
2 tablespoons butter...more or less to suit your taste. sometimes i add twice this amount
couple glugs olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced onions
4 finely diced garlic cloves
4-5 portobello mushrooms
3/4 cup tomato sauce
heaping tablespoon dijon mustard (i hate this stuff EXCEPT in this recipe)
1 teaspoon sugar
a few splashes red wine
half cup cream (or equal amount of coconut milk)

Heat butter and oil on medium heat and add onions and garlic; cook for a few minutes until veggies start to get tender. Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes more. Stir in tomato sauce, dijon mustard, sugar and wine. Allow sauce to boil gently a few minutes; add cream and allow entire mixture to simmer slowly for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Toss pasta in the sauce and you have dinner. 

Just a note: these measurements are approximate as I always just throw the ingredients together and hope for the best. You may want to add some salt and pepper; you may want to add some herbs when you add the onions (i've added thyme in the past with excellent results; basil is great too but usually I keep it simple). You may want to add more garlic, add chunky tomato sauce, etc. The wine really makes this recipe special though, don't skip out on that unless you have to for whatever reason.

Goes great with garlic toast, green salad and chicken breast. 

OH and I posted on facebook today but thought I'd share it here as well...I finally finished the "Song of Ice and Fire" series (the first 5 books). It took me several months and I read several thousand pages...the majority of which was read in the middle of the night when my daughter needed time in the rocking chair to re-settle. I actually feel low-grade anxiety at the moment, enough that it's bugging me because I don't know what to do without it! What will I read tonight as i groggily stumble out of bed at 3 AM with the little one? My heart is beating irregularly just thinking about it. And with no release date for book 6, I feel even more ill. Is Jon going to make it? What will happen with Dany and her dragons?  And the Stark kids...what of them? Ack!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

peanut butter cup brownies

My kid wont sleep. She's 16 months old and has never slept much...she just doesn't need it the way other people do. The only way she'll sleep through the night (and by sleeping through, I just mean that I don't have to get up with her for two hours while she rocks out on the rocking chair...she still nurses every few hours) is if I deprive her of a nap by wearing her on my back so she can cat-nap. 

So for example, I'll plan an outing that involves walking and/or bussing and at a certain point in the day, she'll sleep. And then my son and I will do something quiet like throw rocks in the river or practice phonics while riding the bus home while she's blissfully passed out and drooling in her nest on my back. And most of the time, the lack of a quality long nap doesn't even phase my baby. She wakes up ready to go and goes until bedtime with little fussing. She just doesn't need to sleep.

Tonight is no exception. She's teething and has been crying and it's 3:30 AM, I've been up since 2 AM and I've been doing this for several nights and I'm fucking tired! Usually I read the Song of Ice and Fire series but tonight I'm up in the rocking chair with her trying to fall asleep on my chest and I'm posting about brownies I made the other day. 

I came across this recipe and HAD to try it. A sucker for chocolate and peanut butter, this recipe spoke to me with it's peanut butter batter, chocolate AND whole Reese Peanut Butter Cups! I changed up one thing slightly: I bought high quality milk chocolate, broke it up and tossed it in instead of the chocolate chips.

My only complaint about the whole process was the bulk bag of Reeses cups that I bought, which was impossible to open. I hadn't had coffee, hadn't slept the night before and I had my son begging me to go on the trampoline with him so I didn't cope well with packaging that wouldn't budge. Try as I might I couldn't rip the stupid bag open, so I transformed into this loud, angry, rabid-foaming-at-the-mouth cursing baboon/Larry David/Lafayette-as-demon type character for a few moments until I finally thrashed the package opened/tore the whole thing to shreds.

These brownies performed exactly as I'd delicious, so rich, so satisfyingly fattening. My good friend N came over that night and we ate these tasty treats and had tea with the children. Yay summer holidays. 

Ok baby girl, go the fuck to sleep. You know what's crazy? It's 3:47 and the birds are already chirping outside. Don't they know it's time to sleep? Sleep everybody. If there is any mercy in this world, GO TO SLEEP! Or I swear, I'm going to turn into a loud, angry, rabid-foaming-at-the-mouth cursing baboon/Larry David Lafayette-as-demon type creature again. I mean it!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

apple sauce muffins

Last autumn Shawn's friends were kind enough to give us a huge box of their back yard apples. So I made apple sauce, apple sauce and more apple sauce (these tart apples that grow up here make the best apple sauce and pies) and canned it all. I canned so much that we hardly made a dent in the collection by the time spring hit. 

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and one of my favourite things to eat in the morning is freshly baked muffins, so naturally the excess apple sauce burning a hole in my cupboard fit perfectly into this picture. I found this recipe on pinterest and tweaked it a bit. 

Dividing the recipe into two, I substituted the suggested 1.5 cups white flour with 1 cup whole wheat, half cup white; instead of 3/4 cups of white sugar, I did closer to 1 cup; and I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla as well as increased the cinnamon. I did not use walnuts, but I'm sure they'd be great. When combining the dry and wet ingredients, I folded gently until JUST mixed, which creates the light fluffy muffins that I love. 

The end result: delicious, flavourful, and most importantly moist muffins ever. These easily rival my famous banana bread (muffin) recipe and the best part about that is that apples grow right here in our own back yard. Yum. Best enjoyed with fried eggs, lots of fresh fruit and fresh ground coffee. The stuff that dreams are made of! I rate this recipe a 5 out of 5!

Friday, June 22, 2012

the best loaf of bread ever

I've been baking sourdough for a while now, regularly feeding this lovely culture of a bacteria laden flour-water mixture for almost a year. Over the course of a year, I've been learning more and more about the finicky nature of this little much and how often to feed it, the ratio of flour to water when preparing the dough, how to properly knead, the correct temperature to make the creature happy as it ferments all day, and the length of time to get it right without the end result being too sour, not sour enough, risen enough etc. You'd be amazed how much goes into the ancient art of sourdough bread. And I'm glad to say that I had achieved the point of effectively make a beautiful loaf of whole-wheat sourdough just about every time. 

But I was getting bored. Until my friend showed me the book Tartine Bread and my whole outlook on sourdough has changed forever. Dramatic, yes I know. Amazing. Basically you use an immature sourdough starter (one that doesn't smell sour but rather, fruity) and you use way more water than in conventional recipes. What you get is a a very moist loaf with lots and lots of big air pockets, is super chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. I also cook the bread in a dutch oven now to cook with steam...the results are as close to a professional bakery as I have ever reached. I'm so excited! Here's some photos of my first attempt with the new method. I know you're drooling. This recipe is the "country white", which uses mostly white flour (which has been digested by the sourdough, making it more nutritious than regular white bread) but also has some whole wheat flour added.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Ugh, I'm so tired of being sick. It's going on two weeks and it's getting to be a bit ridiculous. What started out as a cold led to a laryngitis-type thing and is now a dry hacking caugh! grr. Anyway, enough about that. Over these last few weeks of survival, I've been reverting to headbands to take care of hair that I have no time for so I thought I'd share! The first one I sewed a couple of weeks ago out of a chocolate brown jersey knit fabric and is awesome for summer. Sometimes I just don't have time to deal with bangs so that's where this stretchy piece of fabric folded over a few times comes in handy. 

The second two with the lace I finished knitting several weeks ago but haven't had the opportunity to show off yet. I love them. Here's a link to the pattern. I initially knit one for my girlfriend and I liked it so much that I knit one for me. The aran weight yarn makes it a bit heavy for hot summer days (which is where the stretchy headband comes in)but works great on cold days any time of year.

There's nothing like a head band for covering up bad 3-day-unwashed hair, for growing out hair, for covering up bangs you don't feel like dealing with or adding some interest to an otherwise routine day. I plan on making more once everyone is healthy and sleeping again.