Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Orange Cranberry Muffins: A Recipe for Wintry Days

 Oranges and cranberries. They're a favorite pairing right now. Right along with sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. It may have something to do with the fact that it's the middle of winter and garden fresh vegetables robust with flavor are still months away. Oranges are in season right now along with all their relatives in their citrus family. My new favorite orange variety is the blood orange. The flesh is a deep red color, the flavor sweet and tangy. I feel all gourmet when I slice them up for an afternoon snack.

 Here in Northern Alberta, we have (to the best of my knowledge) two opportunities to stock up on fresh cranberries. Thanksgiving and Christmas. I missed the very small window in October and made sure I stocked up in December. I freeze the bags of tart, red berries until I want them. They make a lovely addition to scones, biscotti, or muffins.

I've tried a couple different orange cranberry muffins but I've never quite been satisfied with the end result. I want to taste the zing of the cranberry and the zip of the orange. And so I made modifications after modifications until the results tasted like what I had been trying to create. Kilmeny and I made these one morning during Khaira's nap. Kilmeny is just getting to the age where with a lot of patience (on my part!) she can actually be a help to me as I bustle in the kitchen. She can crack eggs with great proficiency, zest oranges, counts along with me as I measure, and is a top-notch dumper of full measuring cups. And she makes a great taste-tester!

                                                           Orange Cranberry Muffins
 (a vintage box creation)

2 c flour (I used a mixture of spelt, hard red and soft white wheat flours)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c cranberry sauce
3/4 c sugar
1/2  c unsweetened applesauce (if sweetened, lessen sugar amount)
1 orange, peeled and minced
4 T orange zest or peel of an orange
 1 1/2 c cranberries (fresh or frozen)

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together. Combine and add fruit, stir until moistened. Spoon batter (will be lumpy) into greased muffin tins. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 or until they test done. These are best served warm but they also freeze well, perfect for a little something with a cup of steaming tea!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Project 365 -Week 3

It's been a busy week, in fact it feels like a bit of a blur. I've been working a lot in the kitchen this week preparing food for clients which is fun but rather exhausting at the end of it all. I'm just so grateful for a husband who helps me wash mounds of dishes and for the fact that some of that kitchen work results in meals in the freezer for us as well. 
 Can I just say I love my iPhone? I have it with me all the time and use it almost all the time now to take pictures. I love how handy it is for snapping moments. 

1. This is probably one of my favorite pictures from last weekend and perhaps of this winter. Kilmeny has gotten so many comments on her bright red coat that we picked up for a few dollars at a thrift store. She's my little bundle of energy but with quiet moments like this one when she's enthralled with something new. 

2. We just got given a bunch of basically new cloth diapers and here's my little Khaira baby modelling one of the diapers. I do get the girls dressed each day but this was just too cute. 

3. Play dough at the kitchen table has been a sanity-saver this week. 

4. I love seeing Khaira's personality come out more and more! 

5. Kilmeny and Khaira. Kilmo's going through 'that stage' of faces for the camera, this one just makes me laugh. 

6. My little 'hope of spring' plant from Grama Ardron. I'm hoping I don't kill it off since I love ivy plants. 

7. We love Olivia books here, I've already started the girls a collection of the books by Ian Falconer. The simple illustrations and witty text gets me every time. 


Friday, February 24, 2012

Mountain Refreshment

We had a little getaway last weekend. We found a cabin in the mountains that had great winter rates and a wood burning fireplace. We had a long weekend and we retreated to the mountains. 
It was wonderful. It was what we needed. It was where we could breathe.

It was just a little cabin with a wood stove and stocked woodpile. The fire was burning nicely when we arrived, the smoke making silvery curls against the black night sky. I loved waking up there, seeing the snow-covered mountains against the brilliant blue sky, sipping coffee and snuggling with the girls on the couch. 

We explored Jasper one day, indulging in raspberry white chocolate scones at our favorite bakery and scoring a super deal on makeup at a little spa. But mostly we just hung out at the cabin. We took time to visit the horse and the dog and the cat which were definite highlights for Kilmeny. She loved to stand at the glass door, peering for any sight of the animals which she would then call for by name, at the top of her lungs. 

One afternoon we visited some friends, driving down a gravel road to their log cabin and being awe-struck by the beauty of the mountains and the snow. And being stopped by a massive herd of big horn sheep, we both whipped out our phones and took pictures, the sheep don't look that friendly where they are a mere foot from your (open) window and you can see all the details on their (massive) horns. 

We had time to be quiet, time to be refreshed, time to talk after the girls went to bed and our phones were turned off. No distractions, no subtle city noises, no to-do lists asking for our attention. We walked along the frozen river, we jumped on the trampoline, and we just chilled. Reading stories, watching the girls, sipping tea. We didn't read any of the books we brought or write down copious notes in our scratch pads. But our souls felt refreshed and uplifted, ready to continue on with the life that is ours. 

Where do you go to be refreshed?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Project 365 - Week 2

We spent this past weekend in a little cabin in the mountains. It was lovely, refreshing, a literal breath of fresh air. Just what we needed. In all the bustle of getting everything together I didn't get a chance to put this post up before we left so I'm doing it now. 

Week 2: February 13- 20

1. Khaira sleeping with her little rosebud lips.

2. Kilmeny sleeping. The girls haven't been sleeping all that well lately during the night, colds and upset schedules seem to be affecting them. Naptime has been slightly hit and miss as well so on one of the days when they both slept at the same  time, I had to take pictures. To remind myself of these days and to remember just how precious they are. Even when we're all a little tired. 

3. Kilmeny loves to be 'just like Mummy' and so she had to read some magazines I picked up from my midwife. She loves to 'read' anything she can! 

4. In a quiet and contemplative mood. For about 5 minutes. I love my little spunky girl!

5. A community Valentines party provided the perfect excuse to wear my red shoes. I just love them, they make me feel like a well-dressed lady. ;-)

6. A little Valentine's inspiration along with my to-do list to make my dinner plans come together on time on the 14th. 

7.  We  were out and about last week with a couple different play dates which provided some new scenery and good conversation over coffee. Khaira's totally into these duplo blocks, I would be as well, the colors are fantastic. 

8. And a little shopping trip brought us to a store that had a beautiful display of jasmine plants which I had to take a picture since it's my niece's name. =)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Blue Roses and Red Daisies

 It was my turn this year. It often is when we have a new baby in the house around Valentine's. With two little girls, the tradition isn't that old but it's still a tradition. It happened as all good traditions start, unplanned. One year we were enjoying a dinner cruise around the Sydney Harbor as newlyweds, the next we were eating dinner by the fire with a fussy baby who was not going to sleep by herself. Last year my husband surprised me with dinner and an overnight at a local hotel. And this year found us at home, enjoying each other's company and that of our little 6 month old baby. 

I purposely planned a simple menu taking inspiration from the Italian antipasto platters. My whole goal for the evening was quiet, relaxed, and simple. I knew I would want everything just perfect when my husband walked in the door from work but I also knew that he wanted a happy wife more then everything perfect. 

Decorations were simple (sensing a theme yet?)- pictures of us, a few scattered silk rose petals, and candlelight to give atmosphere and cover up all the little spots on the carpet and the dust on the shelves. 

 I framed our wedding vows and made them a focal point for the evening.  He brought home red gerbera daisies for me, he knows I love them more then roses. Earlier in the week, he bought me a single blue rose for the romance in the reality of life.

Kilmeny was fed, the kitchen was reasonably clean, and the dessert was finally put together. I had forgotten whipping cream and so sent Jared out to grab some, minutes after he got home. He's sweet like that. 

We nibbled our way through homemade focaccia bread, Romanello and Havarti cheeses, a winter salami, artichoke hearts and stuffed manzanilla olives. We dipped strawberries in chocolate, one of the few times I'll buy strawberries out of season is for Valentine's Day. Red and heart-shaped they are perfect for celebrating. 
We sipped tea and ate cinnamon meringue with chocolate mousse, topped with cinnamon whipping cream. We talked. We took pictures with our iPhones, they're still a novelty being only 2 weeks old. We talked. We made our baby laugh. We talked. We put our toddler back to sleep. We re-lived old memories. And we embraced this season of being parents to little kidlets and sharing in the reality of life. It's not always perfect and roses and stardust. It's hard, there are tears and meltdowns but it is beautiful and I really wouldn't have it any other way. 

linking up with Rebekah with  Dinner at Eight

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Counting the Gifts


short nights with a stuffed up little baby

lots of cuddle time during the night and the day

a toddler who keeps me moving all day long

the way she laughs and loves to help me with everything

the look of satisfaction and delight as she cracked yet more eggs "help you, Mummy!"

the vocabulary that is increasing on a daily basis for my Kilmo-girl

the humbling realization that I have two little people constantly watching me

my husband's grace when I'm short on patience and sleep

a community Valentine's party 

a chance to dress up and go out together

family close by to watch our little ones

 Starbucks coffee on a Sunday morning

stimulating conversation

seeing smiles through grief and hurt

a blue rose for all the reality and the romance of the life we share together from my warrior-poet

worship and letting everything else fade away 


Monday, February 13, 2012

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Your family will love you. Your guests will be impressed. You may not want to share. 

But you will. Because you can't keep all the warm, blueberry goodness to yourself.

My husband made this for our Saturday breakfast the other weekend. He also took all these pictures. He's rather amazing like that. 
Scramble up some eggs or make a frittata while you wait for it to bake. Or serve it up by itself, accompanied with some freshly ground, freshly pressed coffee.
We made it with whole wheat flour for extra nutrients, it was also the only flour we had in the house. It still tasted fantastic. You could even swap out the blueberries for some cranberries or raspberries or even strawberries to make a festive breakfast treat for Valentine's Day.  

She liked it. We all liked it. The last piece was split between all of us.

Find the original blog post for the cake here, it's not mine but it'll be made again and again in our home.

Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake (from

Serves 6-8
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar**
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup buttermilk
* 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
** This 1 tablespoon is for sprinkling on top
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.

4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

What's a favorite breakfast you've had lately?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Project 365 - Week 1

Project 365 is something I've been wanting to do for awhile and I just decided to jump in and start, right here in the middle of February. I tend to want everything 'just perfect' before embarking on a new adventure but that's kind of the point of adventures, you don't know how they're going to turn out. So here's to capturing 2012, one picture at a time! 

Here's a peek into this past week!

1. Kilmeny loves to run outside but she only likes it for about five minutes until she pulls her mittens off, eats some snow and realizes that is actually cold out. This is just after she started asking to go back inside.

2. Khaira has just started grabbing her toys, it is so fun to see her at this stage! 

3. We took an evening stroll through the Muttart Conservatory  Thursday evening and they had these gorgeous lanterns hanging amongst the trees. 

4. All dressed up and then bundled on the way to church.
5. Khaira-baby, cute, cuddly and wide awake at 10:15pm! I love these quiet evenings with her like this. 

6. Cousin time at Cafe O Play ! Kilmeny and her cousin, Kaden played so well together while their mums had some refreshing conversation about mum stuff, life, and all that good stuff. 

7. Kilmeny loves to help me whenever I'm busy in the kitchen so I try to be one step ahead of her and think of ways that she can help me. We both enjoy the process that way!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Little Mid-Winter Decorating

I've been doing a little decorating, a little re-purposing, and a little organizing lately.
This is the first house we've lived in where there's been an actual room to decorate and accessorize for Kilmeny and I've been quite excited about doing it. I like most peoplefind tremendous fulfillment in seeing an idea come to fruition.

Part of my purpose in doing this was that I wanted to get rid of the random baskets where I was storing her books, toys, blocks etc. Inspired by Pinterest I wanted to create a little nook for her to read and play. A place to spark her creativity and make her room an inviting place to spend time. As well as making it a little easier to keep tidy. 

The thrift store was the next stop where I got these three big pillows, intending to re-cover them at home. But that didn't really happen. They sat against the wall for a few days while I played around with different ideas. And then it was back to the thrift store I went to see what fabric I could find to cover them. I didn't find anything except a pair of pillowcases in the color I wanted. So I bought them.

Here's what I did:

Sorted through all the toys and books, putting some of the toys away in the closet and shelving some of the books.
Michaels was having a sale on baskets so I got three that would store the books, toys, etc nicely and that didn't scream 'kids room'.
I thrifted the pillows and the fabric. The ribbon is from my stash, I  had literal yards of the pink polka-dotted ribbon and have used it for everything. I used one of the pillow cases to cover a pillow, the other one sits forlornly waiting for another purpose.
I made the flowers one morning with Kilmeny 'helping' me which involved her emptying my fabric bin and thread and Khaira lying on the floor taking it all in.

Just to keep it all real, moments after these pictures were taken, the book basket was emptied, the cushions were in the middle of the room and both girls were quite ready to eat and have a nap. =)

Any projects on the go around your home?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Just Live

Every now and then grief hits. It hits hard. Your world gets rocked, shaken, and sometimes falls right apart so that you have to start all over again. 

I've been there. And I'll be there again. It's part of living in a world that was never meant to last forever. 
Grief didn't hit me this past little while but rather it hit people close to me. And its still hard. 
I went around for a few days in a bit of a fog. I did the things that were necessary for living but I didn't live. I was numbed by all the pain that I saw around me and I wondered when it was going to hit me. When would I be the one asking for prayer and pleading with God? 

And as I'm slowly learning to do, I left it all alone. I can't solve those big problems, I can't answer the questions that come when the house is all asleep, I can't make everything all better. 

I took some time this weekend to just be quiet. Inside. I let all the worry and the confusion and the fears go. It's a choice really. A choice only I can make.

I read this article earlier today and it helped bring some more perspective. Go ahead and read it, I'll still be here and it is worth the read. =) 

I have these moments, this day. I've been given life and strength. I don't know when something hard will come and shake me to the core, none of us do. But we each do have a choice to live the life that we have been given. To take the time to really live.


Love on those littles. 

Go for that walk.

Hug that husband. 

Send that 'hey, I've been thinking of you' email. 

Make those cookies and enjoy the messy kitchen, floor, toddler and self. 

Ignore the lists of stuff to-do and just play, read the books again and again. 

Just live. Embrace Today.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Peace. And a Little Something to Nosh On.

I curled up on the soft leather loveseat, breathing a deep sigh of enjoyment and opened my book. 
The girls were looked after, happily playing with their aunties and there were no pressing needs on me. 

It had been a long week.

I've sat in this space several times attempting to write and then foiled by little girls waking up much earlier then planned upon and then not going to sleep until much later then desired and  by simply not knowing what to say.
Everyone wants resolution and redemption. This week I didn't have any of that to offer. Tired. Busy. Overwhelmed. All of the above I could give you but I know that each of you has your own share of that in your own life. And so I was quiet. 

We spent the weekend with my husband's family. Out in the country. Away from the distractions and responsibilities of home.
It was for me, a little retreat. I brought a book and took full advantage of the time I had to read. I munched on freshly made cookies and flipped through cookbooks with my sister in law. We watched a movie in the evening, a girly movie since most of the guys were gone and it was utterly delightful. 

The time was quiet. Peaceful. And just what I needed. 

But there was a certain amount of bustling around home to get out the door and to remember all the little details for our family of four. My husband does the meals on the weekends and this weekend he decided to treat us to brunch at one of our favorite breakfast places. With all the bustling and hustling done by her parents and breakfast put off later and later, Kilmeny got rather hungry. And like any other toddler, she gets a little cranky when she's hungry. 
So we pulled out our current favorite snack for her to nosh on. It pacified her until brunch and I nibbled on it as well. It kept us all happy and maintained the peace. Which was kind of the point of the weekend. 


I know I'll be pulling this nibble out again before the week's over. Filling up her little plate, setting up a winter-time picnic in the living room, and enjoying some quiet. It's a great Monday snack. It looks especially pretty when served in a little glass bowl and tastes especially good when sprinkled with dark chocolate bits. =)

Kilmeny's Peacetime Snack 
2 parts almonds
1 part cransins

Optional add-ins: dark chocolate chips, roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, any other dried fruit, and nuts.
This is also one of my favorite go-to snacks paired along with a fresh apple or orange, since we're full into citrus season right now.

What's your favorite nibble for when you're feeling peckish?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...