Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Plans and These Present Moments

If last week was one of those weeks, then the weekend was one of those weekends. And today is Monday. 
I love Mondays for the redemptive qualities of picking up the house after the weekend busyness, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, and all the other little household tasks that need to be done to keep it all running smoothly.

We had great plans for our weekend. We planned out our errands, printed out coupons, and made sure we had our gift card to a favorite tea shop. But the van that had just gotten a complete check-over and fix was making some weird noises. And they got weirder the longer we drove around. So we cut our list short and drove home. And re-arranged the rest of our weekend plans.

My husband drove (cautiously!) to another mechanic before work this morning. And mid-morning the call came. The lug nuts on our front tire were loose. In light of all what could have happened and didn't, the upset of our weekend plans seems pretty minor. We're all here. Alive. Healthy. We have this moment together.

And I'm counting my gifts again. Stopping and realizing what I have within these four walls, this present season.


a simple dinner party to cook for

long morning naps and quiet toddler to make the cooking much easier

the absolute fun and delight of creating new recipes

long walks through the River Valley

free Starbucks to warm us up

 my little toddler's delight at being able to walk in the snow

the way she calls to every dog, "come, Ginger!"

how safe and secure my baby is, worn in the Ergo

coupons for stuff that I was actually going to buy

the way Kilmeny smiles and shivers with delight when I tell her we're going shopping

trying on clothes just for the fun of it

a new shirt for a few dollars

the fun of house-sitting for neighbors with a hot tub

learning again (and again and again) the patience needed with little ones

in-house dates with tea and chocolate cheesecake 

having both of us home when both girls cry and need

staying up late, walking the floor and trying to get the baby to sleep

listening to her breathe as she finally drifts away

 fresh milk and coffee (!!!) delivered to our door by my father-in-law

the way Kilmeny serves tea to each of us and delights in the sharing of her tea set

 the way Khaira absolutely adores Kilmeny

hearing them giggle together

texts from my husband and lunchtime phone calls

 inspiration for long winter days

a van that runs and a trustworthy mechanic

I'm blessed. Really and truly.

What moments from your weekend are you taking into this next week?

Friday, January 27, 2012

One of Those Weeks

It's been one of those weeks. You know, the ones where each day feels like an eternity and bed is your favorite place except that the baby doesn't want to sleep. 

I've had this philosophy about child-raising and it has been tested this week. I think we all came through okay. 
 It's just this: I have a two year old. 
And I'm not going to go through the terrible twos with her. Nor are we going to have 6 year old battles or troublesome teen years. 
For me (as most people), when I label something, it becomes that. 

My eager, creative, exuberant, energetic, curious, adorable two year old becomes terrible?

I don't think so. 

But there were some moments this week where I almost caved. And I share these in the interest of keeping it real, being transparent, and offering a big shout out to all my fellow mums who no doubt can relate. You can, right?

I had these grand plans of re-doing Kilmeny's room, organizing, sorting, and making new toy boxes this week. It sort of happened. It was one of those times where the idea was great - spray paint boxes and then cover with fabric for storing her toys, teddies, books and blocks. Except that the diaper boxes I cut down to size didn't take to the spray paint. I should know, I used up a whole can. 

And the fabric that I was going to make adorable matching cushions with is still sitting on her dresser waiting for to get inspired again. 
My little take-the-world-on girl loves playing with it and I let her. Sometimes I clean it up, sometimes I work with her to clean it up. Once or maybe more I just left it and all the other mess that is in the process of being organized and closed the door. 

We had a little quiet time at Starbucks this week. My errands were done and Jared wasn't quite done work so we chilled at Starbucks. I was happy with my chai tea, Kilmeny was happy with her biscotti (that I bought because she thumbed through the packaging while it was on display), and Khaira was just happy.  
We sat there, smiling back at all the nice people who smiled at us and were enthralled by my little winking, smiling, staring girl. 
 We counted to ten and signed the entire alphabet. It was beautiful. 
But then it was time to go, I thought we should really give the slightly-awkward-first-date couple some space. Kilmeny was still enthralled by them so I gently gave a her a few tugs to get her off the chair which I then knocked over with Khaira's carseat while trying to avoid cramming the couple with our little entourage. I nearly did the same to the water bottle display but managed to avoid that one while still holding onto Kilmeny. I pushed the door open just as a gentlemen reached to grab it for me and I proceeded to spill my tea all over my jacket. And then Kilmeny took off running towards the street. It wasn't my best moment.
But I just smiled at the all the business people who were walking home from work and headed to the van. 

The quiet time that I thought I would have to write has been eaten up by a little girl who seems to think she doesn't need a nap anymore but carries on the most fantastic conversations with her dolls instead and my other little-er girl who has gotten another cold and will sleep sometimes and sometimes she just wants mummy. 

And I find that as I focus on enjoying these crazy, busy, tired days rather then enduring them, it does help. I have two beautiful children, a hard-working hottie of a husband, and a lovely little home to call mine. And a loaded Starbucks card for some quiet, time. ;-)

What has your week looked like? Got any crazy, beautiful moments to share? 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Family Weekends and Buttermilk Coffee Cake

Sometimes we have lovely weekends where family comes to visit. We stay up well past midnight both nights, fueled by the quiet and invigorating conversation, brownies, and Starbucks. And the littles play and run and tease and scream during the day. 
They had places to go and people to see. We had great plans as well but our van didn't. It instead got towed to the shop. So we stayed home and wished them well. And Jared made coffee cake. 
We sipped our tea, nibbled on cake, and worked on projects.
Our guests returned and we visited and enjoyed watching the children interact. I got my camera out, determined to capture some moments but all I got were the two tinies. The others were a blur of almost constant motion. 

We talked late into the night while the candles burned low and continued our conversations over an delicious mid-morning brunch. All too soon they had to leave with promises of other visits. 

Sometimes we have not-so-lovely Mondays. There is laundry piled everywhere and a million different things to tend too and I ask for wisdom to know what is the most important to tend too. And my baby cries and just wants me and my toddler is fussy and whiny and wants to eat. 
And I bring out the coffee cake, served up in her own little plate with her own little cup. She is quiet. 

And then Tuesdays come and I feel more ready for the day because everyone slept well but both girls wake up crying and they both need food and I just want coffee. Breakfast is coffee cake with fresh Jersey cream and more peaches. And I know that this day will be good, one moment at a time. 

Buttermilk Coffee Cake (from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook) 

2 1/2 c all purpose flour (or a mixture of soft white whole wheat flour and spelt flour)
1 1/2 c  b. sugar (or less) 
1/2 salt 
2/3 c butter
2 t b. powder
1/2 b. soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/3 c buttermilk
1/2 c chopped almonds

Combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside 1/2 cup. Stir b. powder, b. soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg into remaining crumb mixture. 
Combine eggs and buttermilk. Add mixture all at once to flour mixture, stirring until just moistened. Spoon into greased 9x13 pan. Top with reserved crumb mixture and nuts. 
Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until it tests done. Cool slightly before serving. 

We like it with a drizzle of heavy cream and sliced peaches (or whatever other stone fruit or berries you have). Serve it up plain for an afternoon snack or serve with eggs for a more complete breakfast.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Flowers and Tea Parties

We made some flowers this week. It's been frigid cold, too cold to go outside for any length of time so the girls and I created our own fun inside. I've seen these flowers all over Pinterest and decided this would be the week to make them. I used several different tutorials to get ideas from and then created my flowers based on the fabric and embellishments I had here at home. I was so pleased with how they turned out! I left them all just as flowers with room for a bobby pin or hair clip or safety pin so I can use them in a variety of ways.

The brown flower with the wooden beads is the same white fabric as the other flowers, I just dyed it with tea! I soaked the circles of fabric with several tea bags for about 24 hours and got a very nice brown.

The blue plaid flower is cotton flannel. And the floral white pattern flower and the green flower are cotton as well. All the others are tulle and white sheer, leftovers from my wedding dress. I made 14 flowers all told, and they really did come together rather quickly.

The tutorials I used:

Fabric Rosettes

Using Sheer Fabric

And just for fun, some more inspiration!

Ribbon Headband

And some creative uses for all the flowers!

  It's been a week long project but I've had so much fun and so have the girls. Khaira's been on my lap while I sewed or sleeping. Kilmeny has emptied the entire contents of my fabric, counted the beads, drawn on everything including her dolly with the permanent marker, and has decided what flowers belong to whom. And we have drunk tea. Lots of tea. And maybe had a bit of chocolate too.

Are you staying warm and creative?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kilmeny Turns Two!!

 My little Kilmo-girl turned two! We got to celebrate with Jared's family which was very special. It was, as everything else was this Christmas, a rather low-key party as even the birthday girl wasn't her usual exuberant self but it was a celebration. From the day she was born, it's been very important to me to make Kilmeny's day a special day not just leftover from Christmas which being right after Christmas can be a bit of a challenge. Kilmeny had no clue what was going until the cupcakes came out and she blew out the candles. 
Now if you ask her if she is two, she replies with 'birfday' and will probably start singing Happy Birthday.

Fairy cakes made by my mother-in-law. This was very special to me. I really wanted to make these for Kilmeny's birthday but spent the whole day sick on the couch. Jared's mom stepped in and had all kinds of fun making these. Aren't they darling?

When Kilmeny heard the title of this book, Grandma Loves You, she started kissing the cover. So cute!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Black Forest Trifle: A Winter Dessert

My Nana is the queen of chocolate cake makers. Seriously. Her cake has the right amount of chocolate, sweetness, and moistness. That may be due to the fact of the coffee which gives a hint of its flavor in each bite. This was probably the first cake I ever made. It has been made for all kinds of occasions and situations. It is perfect. 
 And so when I needed a cake for my black forest trifle I knew exactly which recipe to use.

It is a generous recipe. It makes enough cake for a trifle for a dinner party, two individual trifles, and random snitching which may or may not have been a family affair. 

Nana's Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 c flour 
2 c sugar
3/4 c cocoa 
2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder 
1 t salt 

2 eggs 
1 c coffee
1 c sour milk
1/2 c oil
1 t vanilla 

Combine dry ingredients. Add rest and beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Pour into greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes. 

And then for the trifle. A delightful and very forgiving dessert. It's best if you make the cake a day ahead of time and let it sit uncovered on the counter. Trifles are traditionally made with stale cake. 
This is a great fall or winter dessert as the cherries can be canned or frozen during the summer, please, promise me you'll do that next summer. You won't regret it. I'm already wishing I had done more. To taste summer and sunshine in the winter is a delightful sensation.

If you're like me, then the first step will be to empty your trifle bowl of the pine cones it held over the Christmas season and  wash it out thoroughly. If you don't have a trifle bowl, any large glass bowl will work just as well. Punch bowls or little jars for individual servings also work well. 

Black Forest Trifle (inspired by this

1 chocolate cake, torn into bite sized pieces
3-4 cups canned dark cherries in syrup, I pulled a couple bags of cherry pie filling from my freezer to put this together.
4 cups whipped cream 

Layer the cake, cherries and cream in your bowl of choice. Top with cherries and shaved chocolate for garnish. Chill in fridge until ready to serve. 
Enjoy with coffee and stimulating conversation! 
 P.S. Thank-you all for your comments about my new adventure, you have no idea how encouraging it is to read how you are cheering me on. So grateful for each of you! 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Food: The New Adventure

I am kinda obsessed with food right now. I am pinning food pins all the time on my Pinterest boards.  I am thinking up food combinations all the time. And this is one area that I can overspend very quickly and very easily. 
Words like prosciutto, risotto, Gorgonzola excite me. And I love shopping at our local Italian Centre. I just need to brush up on the whole shopping with heels and looking glamorous with two kidlets thing. 

There's this scene on Julie and Julia where Julia Child says to her husband (as she's trying to figure out what she will be doing in France), " I just love food." The first time I watched it, I teared up. I could so identify with her at that moment- my life seemed to be full of huge question marks, nothing was for certain, and the one thing I did know was that food made me happy. Not the eating of it but the preparing of it. The thinking about it, the creating art with it. The satisfying feeling of having people eat what I've made and say 'mmm, this is good'. 

My life isn't so unknown as it was last January.
But I still love food. 

And it looks like I'm going to have an excuse to push myself into my food goals even more this year. A couple weeks before Christmas, a co-worker of my husband's inquired if he knew of anyone who would cook dinner for her once or twice a week. Um, hello, play with food and get paid for it? Yeah! And so has begun this little adventure of mine. It's not been all sunshine and roses, preparing food for other people is a little different then your own family. And there's this little thing called balancing all the roles in my life.
But so far, it's been working out well and I'm catering my first dinner party on the weekend! I'm slightly nervous and excited.

I've always wanted to open my own cafe and now it looks like the door is opening a lot sooner then I ever dreamed and it's looking a little different as dreams tend to when they come in contact with reality. I was going to open the little cafe with my sister but we live in different provinces so I text her a lot about my ideas and she gives me the feedback and encouragement that I need. 
I can cook but I feel super shy talking about my food with other people, especially trying to sell it to them. But I have a husband who excels at marketing and talking to people. Plus he crunches all the numbers for me which he loves doing and I hate doing that. We make a great team. He is also my biggest fan and has (almost) always thought my cooking was great. Let's keep it real, there have been some epic failures. ;-)

And the other members of my team, well, one of them can stir a bowl of whatever really well and she makes a great taste-tester. And the other one provides lots of cute inspiration and her giggles are an important part of my kitchen. 

I'm a little nervous about this new venture, I'm not one to jump in and embrace something new right away. I tend to test the waters a little at a time, and then give it my all. But I'm all about learning and being pushed and growing.
What new area are you delving into this year?

all photos credit to my husband, the camera and I are having a little hiccup in our relationship and besides he takes WAY better food pictures then I do. =) 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bits of Stuff

I had high hopes for this blog and I this year. I had lots of great ideas I wanted to try out, new avenues to explore, and a blog overhaul that I wanted to happen. 
But here it is, January 12, 2012 and none of that has happened. 
And actually I'm okay with that. 

The picture that will not be gracing everyone's fridge this year but it makes me laugh. And we all have these sorts of photos, right? (Don't worry Mom and Dad, we got some good ones!)

Life has been happening instead and I've been pretty quiet for awhile in this little space of mine. Christmas and New Year's were quite memorable this year, we all got sick. All meaning all of us four in this little family and basically all of my husband's family. We were all spending Christmas together at his parents' house, and we pretty much all got hit with a nasty bug. All 30 of us. Yeah, we made some memories. 
We actually did travel south to my family's for New Year's which was very special. I made the decision to go based on the theory that just hearing your mum's voice makes you feel better, being with you should definitely make you feel better. And it worked. The girls and I stayed while Jared went back to work and I just rested and let my Mum take care of me. It was really wonderful. I haven't been that sick for several years and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I'm just so grateful now to have some drive and motivation back! 

I have a few goals for this year. Actually I have lots of goals but I'm not really a post-everything-on-my-blog kind of person so you'll find out about them over the year as I pursue them. ;-)
The one phrase that seems to be a theme for this year is embrace the moment. I know, I write a lot about that here. But I want to live in each moment this year. The lovely ones where we read stories and snuggle on the couch and go to the park and the sun is shining and we are so happy together. And the not-so-lovely ones where the questions keep coming and I don't know the answers and I wish I was 6 when life seemed so simple and why does it always seem so dark sometimes and the house isn't clean, the laundry isn't done, and I feel like I haven't gotten anything accomplished all day.
Embrace each moment. The beautiful imperfection that is life. In my house and in me. 
So tell me, do you have lots of goals for this year? Do you have a word or a phrase that is yours as you anticipate the new year?


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