Monday, August 30, 2010

Cookie Safety...

This weekend was the weekend of the Peanut Butter Cookie...

The girls spent the night on Friday night and were up way too bright and early on Saturday. I think 6:30am should be illegal.

By 8am we had finished breakfast and were moving on to baking Peanut Butter Cookies. The girls love to bake. They also love to 'test' whatever we have made. We were testing cookies by 9 o'clock. Nothing wrong with cookies in the morning... Right?... Right?...

A good start on the Cookie Dough.
Fortunately I had butter and peanut butter at room tempurature. No sooner did I start putting the ingredients into the bowl then I realized that I didn't have a mixer. If they had been in the fridge, we would have been out of luck! So, once I finished pouting, I broke out the old 'Armstrong' mixer. It's above, in the picture... the wooden spoon, and my arm.

I did have some help with the mixing...


That didn't last long.

We got the cookies rolled into balls and on to the trays, then came the fun part!


Squishing the dough!!

In the oven they went, then we began testing them as soon as they cooled off a wee bit.

They were super! So super that I forgot to take a picture. Mind you, they were Peanut Butter Cookies, so they looked pretty much the same coming out of the oven as they did going in.

This is the recipe I used...

Aunt Suzie's Peanut Butter Cookies 
(not my Aunt Suzie, it's actually what they are called in the cookbook)

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
11/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/ tsp vanilla

Cream shortening and peanut butter. Gradually add sugars. Add egg and beat well. Sift dry ingredients together. Gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in vanilla. Roll batter into small balls, place on ungreased cookie sheet and flatten with a fork. Bake at 375F for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a rack. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

I sub'd butter for the shortening and added extra chopped peanuts.

Then, for my own safety, I sent the cookies home with the girls.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Projects...

Now that the summer is coming to an end I am starting to focus on 'inside' projects. Funny how the things you take on change unconciously. I just realized that I was planning an inside project all week, instead of a garden project for the weekend.

I do have garden projects for this weekend that need to get done, but I think these will be winding down and the inside jobs will begin.

This is my first inside project this year...

Ok, I am actually a bit embarrased to admit I have a room like this...


This room is commonly referred to as my 'Office'. It was supposed to be an office, but really it's just a room full of stuff. Projects I need to start, or finish...

I mean, really, how hard would it be to put up that mirror, or fold those blankets...

It has turned into a black hole. So, this weekend I am going to get a start on this. It will mean getting some things done I have been procrastinating on, and making some decisions on what I want and don't want.

Here is the starting list...

Take down the cardboard curtains
Sort through every single item in the room
Get rid of stuff I have not used in years
Re-pot plants
Get rid of things I don't need
Put the dining table and chairs for sale online
Put everything else online I am not willing to donate away
Sort out Christmas stuff
Scan family photos (there are only about 6 boxes of these)
List collectable books online
There is a box of cable and wires in there somewhere, that has to go
Fold the blankets and put them away, actually away
Figure out how I want the beige chair re-upholstered
Put the mirror and other pictures up on the walls
Take all the donation stuff out of the house and drop it off
Sort through the piles of paperwork that are hidden under the blankets

My plan is to turn this room into a guest room. I have two little girls here every weekend that love to sleep in the leather chairs in the family room, but when the weather changes, the leather chairs will be really cold... If I have a guest room, the girls can use it on the weekends and any company that comes will have a space as well.

It will mean a few new projects, like figuring out curtains, which I will be recruiting S. to sew for me. And furniture, like a bed. But these things will happen in due time. First, I need to get the room cleaned out.

So, tomorrow I will have my two little recruits helping me and we will get a start on it. I can't wait to get it done, not only will it feel gret to have it done, but the girls will love having a room of their own.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mazel tov!

Wow! Yesterday was an amazing day. 

The Bride's Bouquet
S. and A. were married in a beautiful ceremony.
It was amazing.
They were married on the farm of friends, M. and J. 
It was a beautiful day, a beautiful setting and a beautiful event.

The view from the Bride's receiving area
Before the ceremony,
the Bride (Kallah) and Groom (Chatan)
do not see each other for one week.
The first time S. and A. saw each other was during the 'bedecking' ceremony. 
This was jokingly explained as the time when A. would make sure he was marrying the correct woman, he then covered her face with a veil before the wedding ceremony.


Mother and Daughter
P. walked her daughter down to the Chuppa to meet her Chatan.
After the bedecking, the Chatan must prepare himself forthe wedding.
Once he is ready, he is escorted to the Chuppa to wait for his Kallah.


S. and A. during the ceremony
S. and A. were married under a Chuppa supported by their friends and family. 
Rabbi C. officiated and took the time to explain the ceremony to everyone. 
There were about 200 people present for this great event. 

Everyone had an amazing time and the Kallah and Chatan
are now off on their Honeymoon.

I wish them all the best.
I am sure that they will be happy for many years to come.

Mazel tov!

Friday, August 20, 2010

What a difference a day makes...

This morning I woke up ready to head back to bed.

The last week has been just ridiculous.
We are in the middle of our busiest 3 months of the year at work, I am helping S. with her Wedding on Monday, I have the kids overnight tonight, the house is a mess, the semester at school is ending - Eek - exams, I have a million things to do...

Don't get me wrong, I am happy to do each and every one of them. 
Sometimes my planner just gets a bit overwhelming.

For the last few days I have been dreaming about getting on my bike and going for a ride. 
Dreaming of not having to think or worry about anything. 
Just for a few hours. 
My bike, the wind and a few hours of nothing. 

Yah, that is soooo not happening. 

It's funny how a stressful week can really change your outlook on your day.
We all know this, but you just don't realize it all the time.
This morning on the way to work I saw this guy...

I decided that I was going to Blog about this, because it bugged me. 
He ended up being on the radio and everything. 
Turns out he bought a laptop from a buddy, who said he had bought it at Staples.
It broke. He has no receipt.
Staples will not fix it for him.
So, really?! Dude, what did you expect?
Go to work. Get off the corner. Stop being an idiot. 

My plan was to rant and rave about this and how silly I think he is.

Then I picked the kids up after work. 
We came to the house, made pizzas for dinner and sat in the tent on the deck and ate them.
Mmmm....
After dinner the girls were loaded into their pajamas.
All three of them started playing in the living room.
They were insane. 
I laughed so hard I cried.
R. laughed so hard, he cried.
Then I laughed at him, and cried again. 
It was hilarious. 
Seriously. 
 Check this out...


video

This went on, by all three of them, for about an hour. 

Now, I couldn't care less to Blog about that guy on the corner with the sign. 

Oh, and, if the question is asked about why I let this sort of insanity prevail until after 9pm...

This is why...


9:30pm. Out like a light.

I am not far behind them. With a smile on my face, and a certainty that 
I will survive the next few days no worse for wear. 
I will get that ride in.
Next week. 
And that's ok.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dinner and Sanity...

Tonight was my usual Thursday night dinner.

It was one of those meals that you like and dislike at the same time. Some weeks I will have this dinner up to four times. Those are the weeks I dislike it...

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have school, and some Mondays and Wednesdays as well. On these nights, dinner costs me $3.75. It would be nice if this was a meal in the cafeteria, but this is not to be, as my classes are in the evening, after the cafeteria is closed.

So, what do I have for dinner, up to four times a week?...

Sun Chips

and...



a bottle of water.

Yup, that's dinner.

There is a reason I have this on school nights.

Sanity.

You see, right now, I am busy. Really busy. Work. School. Volunteer stuff. The Kids. Gardening. Life... I just don't have time to pack a dinner on school nights. And, really, what would I pack that I would want to eat 12 hours later?

I have this system worked out. I park my bike in the back lot, go through the door at the top of the stairs, down the hall, and in the seating area there are two 'dinner' machines. Then down the other hall to class. Chips and math are a good combo.

There is no worrying about packing a dinner and forgetting it in the fridge at work until it looks like a scary science experiment. No taking the time to figure out what to have. No special groceries. Dinner is ready for me when I get there.

This lets me cross one more thing off my list each day. And believe me, lately, it's one heck of a list.

For lunch at work I have a similar system. I keep granola bars in my desk and yogurt in the fridge. No worries about lunch either. Do I mind having the same thing for lunch all the time? Nope. Not at all. One more thing off the list.

Sanity.

Sometimes it's good to figure out the easy way to do things. The important part is to not feel guilty about it. Why feel guilty about doing something that works? I don't need to worry about making something for lunch and dinner every day when I can use my system. It works. It keeps me sane.

Sanity. And dinner...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hot Sunday Salad.

Tonight I decided to make an Orzo and Roasted Vegetable Salad.

Yup, roasted vegetables on a day that hit 37 degrees. I am not sure what I was thinking.

I started by halving red and yellow Cherry Tomatoes into a dish, coating them with Olive Oil and sprinkling with Kosher Salt and Frech Cracked Pepper. These went into the oven to start roasting. Then I chopped Red Onion, Baby Potatoes, Garlic, Green and Yellow Zucchini and Baby Potatoes. Again, coated with Olive Oil and sprinkled with Kosher Salt and Fresh Pepper.

I loved the colours together on the corner of my cutting board.
While these were roasting I boiled up the Orzo. This went into a large bowl with a teaspoon of Sweet White Onion Honey and about a tablespoon and a half of Poppyseed Dressing Seasoning. Then I waited... and waited... for the veggies to finish roasting. The tomatoes smelled amazing.

Ready to go into the oven.

Once the veggies came out of the oven they went into the bowl with the Orzo. Everything was then mixed together with a bit of Olive Oil.


I can't wait to dig in at lunch tomorrow!

It smelled amazing! And tasted amazing too. I will be making this again.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy Picnicing

Today was hot. Very hot.

The kind of hot where you have no patience and everyone is tired. Our thermometer hit 34 Celcius today at the house. Hot.

I decided that the kids and I needed to get out of the house, for our survival. While breakfasts were being eaten, I threw together a picnic lunch and decided that we would find some shade.

Here is my recipe for a hot day picnic...

Cooler,
Lots of Water - in refillable bottles, of course,
Baby-Bel Cheese,
Mini-Go or Yogurt,
Green Grapes,
Pear, cut into slices,
Matzo Crackers with Butter,
Almonds,
Plums,
Bananas...

We also found some great Apple Cider (at the Superstore). We took this for when we ran out of water. It is very tasty and the only ingredient is Apples. No added sugar, preservatives or other junk. Just Apples!

Find a nice shady picnic table. Ours was at Fort Rodd Hill, we didn't even go into the park, we found a spot close to the parking lot and stayed there.

E. enjoying grapes at our picnic.
R. having a plum.
Open the cooler, and enjoy!

This was certainly a better idea than staying home and turning on the stove.

We all enjoyed our lunch in the shade, it was nice to have smiles all around and a relaxed meal.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sweet Dreams...

Oh... to be a child again.

To be a rosy cheeked, yawning toddler again would be great. To have that stagger of exhastion and plaintive cry of ''but I'm not tired...'

To be tucked in, comfy and kissed. Within 3 minutes... Sweet Dreams.

E. tucked into her 'sleeping chair'.

Then the 'Adults' have time to get the 'Adult Things' done, after the children go to sleep.

Tonight, I am going to be a child. I will be tucking myself in, comfy, with a child's kiss still on my cheek. 

It might only take 3 minutes for me as well. Then I will have sweet dreams of my own

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Battle of the Blackberries

Blackberries.

Our yard is full of them. I have been doing battle with them since we moved in here in April. I have ripped out more Blackberry than anyone has a right to. The fun part is throwing them over the fence to go to the burn pile. The fence is right beside the cow pen and they love to stick their heads out through the rails and try and grab the Blackberry leaves with their tounges.

Now I am doing battle with myself. And Blackberries. As I am cutting them out, I keep eating them. Mmmm... They are amazing! I love Blackberries.

Mmmmm.....

Tonight when I got home from work I decided to spend an hour in the yard to get the work day out of me... It ended up being two hours, and I got a fair bit done!

Today's task. Bye bye Blackberries.

I managed to get all the Blackberry out of the area to the left of the Hawthorne Tree. I also took the clippers to the tree. Who would ever want a tree with big spikes on it? I don't. So, I cut everything out below six feet. Thats my rule for all the trees in the yard. Anything below six feet is gone. I am only five feet tall and if I have to worry about getting bonked in the head, it's too low!

This area of the yard, the other side of the driveway, will be done soon. It's going to be simple. Basically as it appears here, but tidy. I think I may plant some Mint in this area. We can't fertilize here as it is over our well, so I need to plant something that will take care of itself.

My big Mint. This will soon have a new home.
This is the year of 'prep' work in the yard. I don't have the gardens the way I want them this year, but I am getting them ready to be great next year. I don't think they have been worked, or even seen an shovel in at least three years! I am spending this year tearing out Blackberry, turning soil and transplanting. By spring I will have everything ready to go.

It is alot of hard work, but definately worth it! In the last few months I have learned so much about my yard. I have had hours of great excercise outside. And spending time in the yard is good for my soul.

Today, my soul is in good shape.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cakes by Rosalyn...

Rosalyn is someone I work with who amazes me on a regular basis. Not only is she funny, kind, entertaining, and a skinny bitch, she can bake like there is no tomorrow...

I mean BAKE!

Like, 'Why do you work here?' kind of bake.

She has found something that she loves to do, not only that, but she ROCKS at it!

Rosalyn has made cupcakes for a meeting I had, as well as cakes and cupcakes for bithdays and weddings for people she knows, or knows through people.

Good. Seriously good.

This is the kind of stuff that you eat with your eyes first. Then you almost don't want to eat it with your mouth because it's just so pretty. But when you break down and take that bite you fall in love. With Rosalyn. Just a little bit. Each bite.

I mean seriously, who gets their baking blogged about on a book site?! Shouldn't they be blogging about books? Nope. They were blogging about Rosalyn, and one of her cakes.

http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2010/04/30/the-importance-of-cake/

Now everyone knows. Rosalyn, you rock. And your cakes rock.

Steak Cake by Rosalyn. Steak Cake. Really. She made it. A steak out of cake.
I like baby potatoes... warm, cold... fondant... Wait! What?! Fondant?! You mean these aren't actually potatoes? The potatoes, carrots and peas were made by Rosalyn.

Adventures in House Sitting

For the last 10 days I have been house sitting for my former landlords, D. and M. They have a cat named Sylvester who has had to go from an indoor-outdoor cat, to just an indoor cat. I have been running back and forth between my house their house, about 15-20 minutes apart. It has been an adventure for sure.

Like on Friday, I had been riding my motorbike all week, but because I was picking up the kids Friday after work, I switched to my truck on Thursday night. And left my keys for the office in my bike jacket. At my house. 20 minutes away. I was going to go in early to get some extra work done, but after having to run out to my place and back to get my keys, I wasn't as early as I wanted to be.

Or on Thursday... I was getting ready to go to bed and heard the weirdest noise ever. Having lived in this house before, I knew that this was not a normal house noise. I went in search of said noise and found Sylvester doing laps in the bathtub. Laps. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen, or heard. I laughed and laughed, and he kept doing laps.

Sylvester doing laps in the bathtub.

Today I was waiting outside for S. to pick me up, we were heading out to my house to pick up some stuff that I am giving her for her wedding in 2 weeks. 2 WEEKS!!! Anyways, I was outside checking out the front yard and just making sure that the gardens got enough rain yesterday, then sitting on the steps waiting. As S. pulled up the neighbours from across the street came over to find out what I was up to! I guess D. and M. forgot to tell them that I was staying here. They were coming over to make sure that I was not breaking in, or up to other general badness. It was kinda funny. And good. It's good to have neighbours that care enough to check when they see something they are not expecting.

Fortunately there has not been much other excitement the last 10 days while I have been taking care of Sylvester. I have enjoyed my time back in the city. It has re-enforced my love for living where I live now.

The rest of Sunday was be spent tidying up at D. and M.'s and then heading back out to my house and unpacking and playing in my gardens. Heaven.Who would have ever thought that I would think that playing in my gardens would be heaven? After spending my life in the city and turning my nose up at dirt and bugs and all things garden related. I guess you have to try things and be willing to be surprised by what you learn about yourself. I have learned that I love waking up to cows mooing, deer eating my plants and playing in the dirt.

There is nothing cuter than a baby cow! This little one was born on July 25.

Summer Phlox and my front yard.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

'Chicken Thursday!?' - How about Hernandez' Friday?

Last week I really wanted Sushi for lunch for Friday, so on Thursday I sent out an email to the Department that said something along the lines of...

'Chicken Thursday! I think that Sushi Friday sounds better!' Anyways, we ordered in from Chikara Sushi, and it was great as usual.

This week I wanted to try something non-sushi. I am so addicted that I could eat it every day, but I also know that I should not eat Sushi every day. Right?

I had been online earlier in the week and had read a bunch of great reviews on Hernandez on all the usual local food review blogs. I tried this for dinner on Tuesday and it now may have surpassed my sushi addiction...


Hernandez


I figured, what the heck, lets give it a shot for lunch. There were 5 of us that ordered and, well, the only picture I managed to get was the one below. It's of my empty Burrito Wrapper.

Yah, it was good. Really, really good.

Next time I will try and grab a shot of it before I polish it off...

Anyways, go there. Eat good food. Doooo it!

What is left from lunch from Hernandez. Next time I will have to get those little drips...

Baking with Cashews and Munchkins

Welcome to my first Blog Post!


Today is a rainy Saturday. Rain. Saturday. I would be not impressed, but it hasn't rained since July 1 and we need it. Badly. And now I don't have to water the gardens today.

So instead of having a day in the yard, or out and about with the kids, I am stuck in the house listening to the rain on the roof. And a million 'Why?' questions. Like... 'Why shouldn't I pull the cat's legs in different directions?' Actually, my answer to that one was... 'Really?!... Keep doing it, you will find out soon enough.' It was the cat that bites...

Anyways, to pass the time and allow everyone to survive the day, I decided that I would put the Strawberries I found in the Deep-Freeze to good use. Yes, frozen strawberries in August. I know, I am going to Hell for using frozen strawberries in the summer. I didn't plant any this year. I know. Hell.

So the kids and I made Strawberry Crisp. I had to be selective in the recipe I chose as I have no milk, and limited margarine supplies, as well as needing many other staple items. There is only marg because it was left over from when Mom and Dad were here, otherwise we would be totally out of luck! I haven't been here to buy groceries and I certainly had not planned for an indoor day of baking.

E. and O. helping stir the 'Crisp'.
 I chose this recipe...


Ingredients:
1 c Uncooked oatmeal
1 c All purpose flour
1 c brown sugar
1/4 c Chopped walnuts
1/2 c butter or margarine
1/2 c sugar
3 c Sliced fresh or frozen Strawberry

Mix together oatmeal, flour and brown sugar. Add nuts. Cut in butter or margarine until crumbly. In another bowl, mix strawberries and white sugar together. Grease an 8" square pan. Spread half the crumb mixture on bottom. Cover with strawberries. Spread remaining crumb mixture over top. Bake at 350 deg F oven for 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or topping.

Ready to go!
I sub'd double the Cashews for the Walnuts, because...

1. I have Cashews,
2. The kids and I love Cashews, and
3. I am allergic to Walnuts.

I also used about 4 1/2 c Strawberries, 3/4 c sugar and added a bit of cinnamon to the fruit. I baked it in a deep round dish as well. I like to have more fruit than topping in my Crisps...

Now that this is baking, the kitchen is cleaned up and the dishwasher is running, we are sitting here with Scooby-Do and sniffing the yummy strawberry smell coming from the oven. Torture.

15 minutes and 43 seconds left on the timer... Waiting and sniffing...

You wouldn't believe the smell...

And... the Crisp is out of the oven and into our dishes. The only thing I have heard in the last 5 minutes is O. say 'It's sooo good.' They are both quiet, it must be good. Actually, I have tried mine too, and it is awesome! So good that we have not missed the Ice Cream or Whipping Cream that is not on top. I really need to get some groceries...

Leftovers... not for long if I have anything to do with it...