Friday, July 31, 2009

summer holidays

Dog days of summer. It seems unusual for our neck of the woods but back in time (ie my childhood) these are the days of summer I remember. T and I went on the road for a couple of days - visiting Grampie. Along the way we stopped at Butterfly World and saw butterflies, fish and tortoises.

It was too hot for the goats to be on the roof of the store in Coombs as we passed by. Ah. But Cathedral Grove was lovely and relatively cool and once past the trail heads, not too crowded. The forest is changing, fewer and fewer of the old, huge trees remain but the big Douglas Fir is still there, as is the tree you can sit inside.

Monday evening we all went down to Kye Bay and T and I went swimming. T didn't like the taste of the water. I had to explain it was the ocean so salty. He sat and played trucks for a while and collected shells before we made our way back to Dad's. Tuesday I took T up to Miracle Beach - he found a little friend and they played trucks together and waded together and then made a big sand and seaweed crocodile with the friend's Dad - made for lots of trips in and out of the water picking up the seaweed strand by strand.

Wednesday morning back to the beach - first playing in the playground and then playing on the beach, a bit of swimming and then T found some more boys to play trucks with.
We took the afternoon ferry back and had dinner at Auntie K's. Thursday was beach with Uncle Mike - swimming, digging on the beach, covering up people's feet with sand, watching a backhoe take out and then put in a new bench. Fun.
Today we stayed home and played with the water hose and the water snake and all the new trucks in the sandbox (thanks Grampie for the stash of new/old trucks!)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

summer storms

We had a big thunder and lightening storm last night - it knocked out our power for a few hours so D and I watched the lightening and listened to the thunder. There was a very wierd orange glow to the sky during the worst of it and lots of sirens all around. The garden really needed the rain. It is still muggy this morning but sunny now. It's unusual here to have such a long storm, but it reminded me of being back east. I remember sitting on the deck of a coastal schooner on the Maine coast watching a lightening display light up the night sky for about 1 1/2 hours - me and my crush at the time listening to Altan's Red Crow.

Yesterday was a bit of an off day. I had a dentist appointment and D left to work at the store for a few hours to cover an emergency. Fortunately K came over to look after T - took him to the park and for ice cream just ahead of his own dentist appointment! I took T to his appointment - thankfully he opened his mouth for the dentist this time (unlike last time) and had his teeth counted (20 teeth). Then they were painted purple (like a dinosaur) to show me what a bad job we're doing brushing his teeth. Great - so now I feel like a bad mummy!

Came home to discover D had tried to dry my moonblush tomatoes some more (he thought they were mushy) by heating them briefly in the oven. It worked a bit so I thought I would put them back in the oven for a while. So I preheated the oven and put them back in but in my tired, distracted state (yes that is my excuse - T was up at 5AM so I was tired...) I forgot to turn the oven off. About 20 minutes later I smelled something burning - I had carbon pucks instead of tomatoes - disaster. I think that my adaptation of Nigella's recipe goes like this (the first batch worked really well - ) cut cherry tomatoes in half and place in a baking dish cut side up. Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp dried thyme. Preheat the oven to 400 deg, when heated pop the tomatoes in the oven and TURN THE OVEN OFF. Leave in the oven overnight or longer (18 hours for very juicy tomatoes).

After some rest and grocery shopping, I decided to tempt the cooking gods again. As I had some raspberries that were a bit past their prime, I tried making a lemon raspberry buttermilk cake from It turned out great and yummy. Phew!

I took some pictures while making dinner - my attempt at being artistic. I made calabrese salad (D's favorite) using local tomatoes, our own basil and mini boccanchini.

A drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and yum.

I followed with spagetti tossed with fresh peas (homegrown), garlic scape and artichoke pesto from the market, lemon and parmesan cheese.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

listen, I tell you

T has taken to making pronouncements - usually accompanied by holding his pointer finger in the air and moving it either just in front of his nose or almost along side it. "Listen, I telling you something", he begins. Lately this has been followed by the contest rules at dinner. Last night it was the "concert" rules which slightly confused D and I until we clarified that T meant "contest" rules.

He is starting to notice the difference between boys and girls and said the other day that he could only be friends with boys. He almost immediately had to ammend this as we were on our way to visit his friend Caroline (and her train set) at the time but it makes me wonder what those boys talk about at daycare.

We're having lots of summer fun - with the hose and bubbles. Almost every night, watering the vegetables becomes a water spray fest, usually ending up with T naked, soaking wet and shrieking with laughter. Tonight that was followed up with a bubble contest (yes, another contest) - the bubble gun vs blowing bubbles with the bubble hoop. I can win that one as it results in streams of bubbles all over the garden, which delights T. Too bad the bubble solution all accidently fell out of the bubble wand (I was in the kitchen when that happened) but it made a huge, soap snake when I hosed off the patio which entertained T for a while.

As I write this, my orange cherry tomatoes are in the oven, hopefully becoming yummy "moonblush" tomatoes. We'll see how they turn out tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

bugs, zuccini and water slides

T has become the bug police. Yesterday T made me phone D on his way home to report a bug in the house. Whenever I leave the back door open, T rushes to slam it shut - "no bugs in the house". At night time he now reports he is scared. When I asked him what he was scared of, he told me "mosquitos". A couple of nights in a row last week, he got a mosquito bite. I had to dole out superman bandaids to make them better and now T is afraid they are going to bite him again at night. Last night he wore his dinosaur pj's so the dinosaurs could eat the mosquitos for him. I guess the trucks on his other pj's will have to be trained to do the same thing.

Apart from that, home grown zuccini have arrived. First from a guy at work who showed up with two giant ones on Friday and our own first two which I picked on Sunday. So dinner lately has been somewhat zuccini loaded.

Friday - zuccini and goat cheese/sundried tomato pizza - good but a bit disappointing. Likely cause was T helping me with the pizza dough by adding almost half a bottle of oregano to the dough. I tried to get it out of the bowl but the dough had a distinctly green cast to it and I think the oregano overwhelmed the rest of the flavours. The pizza dough recipe is a family one - 2 cups flour, 4 tsps baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/3 c oil and 3/4 c of milk - mix and roll out into pizza shapes - makes 2 thinnish pizza crusts (12") - bake at 350 for 25 minutes after you have added your toppings.

Saturday - dinner out with D (!!!!!!) - thanks to Auntie K

Sunday - roasted potatoes, onions and zuccini served with organic beef and blueberry sausage with a blue cheese sauce (1.5 oz of butter, 1.5 oz of flour and 500 ml of milk - whisk together over medium heat until combined and butter melted - heat for 5 minutes and season. Add cheese to taste - this is from Delia Smith's Basic's Book 1)

Monday - dinner creek side at L's with the kids - we had grilled black cod with lemon butter caper sauce, grilled asparagus, rice and greek salad - the kids had giant turkey dogs. Then the kids played on the water slide until they were exhausted, grassy and soaking wet - fun! It was funny watching an 8 year old trying to boss two 3 year olds.

Tuesday - chicken strips, roasted potatoes and spinach, onion and mushrooms with balsamic vinegar and feta cheese.

Tonight - potato salad (adapted from a Tomato Fresh recipe - made with sour cream, grainy mustard and mayonaise), greek salad (D loves this!) and what was supposed to be zuccini fritters. It was more like a hashy frittata - maybe I added to many variations to it - corn and ham so maybe next time I'll try with just zuccini and do a thicker, pancakier batter. It was still yummy so no harm done.

Lately T has been into eating contests. When we sit down at dinner, he announces the contest and for the past couple of nights, tells us who is to win that night. He got very annoyed with D tonight as he cleaned his plate first and I was supposed to win. D was to be the "afterwinner" tonight. So we ate more salad and I won the second time around.

Glorious summer weather continues. The tomatoes are coming on - have a batch of orange cherry tomatoes ready to pick - I'm thinking of trying Nigella's Moonblush recipe with those (drying in the oven at night..) I've picked a few peas over the past week and T has obligingly eaten most of them - when he beats D to the punch.

Last weekend was lovely. Saturday morning in the garden, followed by a small boy's birthday party with trucks, water guns, cake and ice cream,

then T went swimming with Auntie K while D and I went shopping for lighting (long story!) and then had an early dinner before picking up an exhausted boy. Sunday T and I slept in (!!) and then went off to the market, followed by playing in the park with trucks for T while I visited with a friend, then home to the garden and playing with the hose and playing with trucks when D got home from work and family supper.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ah weekend

Saturday morning 6:15AM (I checked) was woken by an enthusiastic T "Mummy, Mummy - wake up"! Shortly followed (as I didn't move apart from checking my watch) by little fingers prying my eyelids open (yes, they really do do this!) Thankfully after a few stops and starts, he settled down with some breakfast to watch "his" TV. Note "his" TV is Knowledge Networks Kid's programs - not "your" TV which is anything else that happens to be on. The only good TV is "his" TV unless there are fire trucks or backhoes. Anyway - I got to sneak back to bed and sleep for a bit longer (thanks Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder).

Another sunny hot day. Made Red Current Fool with lovely red currants I picked up at the fruit stand on the way home Friday. Red currants remind my of my mum, who loved currants. We even grew them for a while - one black currant bush and one red currant bush.

Red Currant Fool
1 c red currants
1 tbsp sugar

Heat gently until the sugar dissolves and the fruit can be slightly mashed.

1 c heavy cream, whipped (T helped me with this - he discovered the joys of the electric mixer- yikes!)

Fold the fruit into the cream, leaving marbley bits of fruit in the cream. Serves 4 or in D's case 2-3. This can be made with any other fruit - I love it made with blackberries. With sweeter fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc just reduce the amount of sugar.)

The garden is looking good.

T asks every day if the potatoes are red yet. He means the tomatoes. So far he's only picked three green ones. A couple are almost ready. Two zuccini are growing well.

T helped me water the plants which, since I bought a new spray nozzle for the hose means, at some point, T will strip off to his naked boy self and run around the yard shrieking while I spray him. Great fun!

Had lots of basil so harvested some leaves - see here

and made pesto.

6 c basil leaves
~ 3/4 c toasted pine nuts
~ 1/2 c parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
a couple of grinds of pepper

Mix together in a processor until blended. Add olive oil in a stream until the desired consistency is reached. I got 4 1/2 small pots of pesto.

After lunch, we went shopping at the Italian grocery store so we stocked up on goodies like roasted red peppers, dried mushrooms, giant jars of olives and assorted pasta. Then we took T to feed the ducks. The duck pond was full of algae and not many ducks although there were a couple of mummy ducks with babies. Then T took us down to the beach to collect shells and throw rocks.

Sunday- early start - T bounced in at 5:30AM. Was already tired after noisy party at house down the street kept us awake - that ended with a skunk we think. We smelled the skunk spray and suddenly everything went quiet! Market day - we bought raspberries, veggies, lemon-raspberry loaf and a chocolate cookie for T. After some playing at the diggers in Ambleside park and the fire hydrant sprinklers, T and I came home and made cake. Blueberry Boy Bait from T helped with the mixer again (I've learned to unplug it every time I have to get another ingredient to add). He also helped with the topping so the sugar/cinamon was a tad lumpy on the top. No matter - it was/is delicious. It makes a huge cake so you can share! A quick tour of the garden yielded our first pea!

Auntie K came over and played trucks, etc with T. Dinner was chicken in mushroom sauce with couscous and market ratatouille.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

happy list

Things that make me happy ( in random order):

- time to read and a great book. A recent find is "The Tenth Gift" by Jane Johnson. A thought provoking book I read recently is "Three Cups of Tea - One Man's Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time" - Greg Morteneon and David Oliver Relin

- dinner in the freezer after a busy day. Perogis are a great example and homemade ones are delicious and tender.

- giggles and hugs from T. There is something so uplifting about a child's laughter.

- a husband and son who love to clean (especially vacuum)

- quiet, sunny mornings in the garden - bees and butterflies in the lavender.

- a growing garden (and a small boy who wants to help!) Today T was falling into and out of my garden "tubby" which was full of tomato plant leaves. I have 2 zuccini growing!

- clean fresh sheets on the bed

- time for a cup of tea and crossword puzzle

- good friends to laugh with

- finding boy clothes my boy will wear in his size. I wish I could talk to a boys clothes buyer and explain - not all boys like sports or camoflauge, some boys are all about trucks or dinosaurs or other things. And boys come in all sizes - not just 2 and 6. (Ok - so that is a pet peeve - going into a store and finding racks and racks of girls clothes and one rack of boys clothes with little choice in style, colour or even size - pretty much you are supposed to take whatever is in your boy's size)

- the sound of D's car in the driveway and his key in the lock - he's home!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

a story

The Story of a Shell

The truck was collecting shells and putting them on the flatbed. It was a big load. The truck was going to the beach. It's going to dump them at the beach then go get more shells. Its at the beach over here, over here. Look at this putting shells on the truck then taking them off. The truck is going through the shells on the table. Puts the shells inside each other. So he loads up the truck. It then dumps the shells at the beach. Then dumps the shells puts more on then takes them home. Then the dinosaurs are at the beach looking for food. This truck dumped all the shells out.

Story by T - aged 3 1/2

The truck in the story is Isabella - T's new truck. A reward for being a good big boy and wearing big boy underpants for a whole week and trying really hard. A few accidents but he's doing so well - we're so proud of our big boy.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

at home (sort of)

Last night I finished making perogies with my new perogi "zipper" bought during my quick trip to Winnipeg. The dough is easy:

4 c. flour
1 tsp salt
1tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 c warm water

Form into a dough ball and let stand, covered, for an hour.

Roll out into strips about 1/8" thick.

Make a filling - mine was mashed potato, browned onion, a couple of sausages ground up and some grated cheddar cheese.

Place a tsp of filling on the dough at ~ 2" intervals and fold over the dough to form the perogi, press the dough together pressing out air pockets. Using the perogi "zipper" cut and seal the perogi.

I used my pasta machine up to setting 4 to form the dough strips - I went up to setting 5 for the first ones but the dough was a bit too thin. Actually the perogi started to remind me of condoms so I had a fit of giggles for a while. It took me back to the days when I worked in a lab and the company acquired the license to sell a well-known brand of condoms and we used to sit around and think up testing devises for them. In the end we didn't end up doing the testing and had to be content with the regular pills and suppositories that were our lot. But I digress. I now have a few big bags of perogi in the freezer waiting to be dinner some night. Her's a picture of some of the perogi and the perogi "zipper".

A lazy morning this morning and I actually got to sleep in a bit - a rarity with a 3 1/2 year old boy but he was content to play quietly and watch "his" TV this morning and let mummy sleep. We got up and spent some time in the garden - T riding his tricycle and playing in the sand box and me thinning out green onions. It was thrilling to see the tiny green onions, smelling all oniony - I cut off the root ends and they'll be like a chive topping for green beans with feta and vinagrette for supper tonight. It was lovely in the garden, sunny, quiet with big, furry bees humming in the lavender flowers and a couple of butterflies flitting around. T tried to catch them.

I picked a few cherries that hung on our side of the fence, from our neighbours tree. Yum! T helped with the watering and I set up the sprinkler for him to run in. (Well I was prompted by T taking off all his clothes and announcing he wanted his pool set up).

I picked a few of our blooming roses, they smell divine!

Here are some more pictures of the garden - tomatoes and zuccini. T and I watered and then all the unstaked tomatoes promptly fell over so I ran around trying to find sometime to stake them with. And good news, the basil I thought was finished is reviving slowly.

Then T and I rushed off to attend a birthday party. There were 2 birthday parties at the Gator Pit so it was very loud with kids running everywhere. Eventually T settled down and played trains on the train set - although that was fraught with pushing, not sharing and tantrums. The kids had lunch - T didn't eat any hot dog but did eat grapes, cucumber, watermelon, apple and chips. Then came the birthday cake which T had been asking about all day - it turned out to be an ice cream cake so he tucked right in. Then he joined the other kids in climbing and sliding around the play structures until I dragged him out and we came home. I'm exhausted. He's playing with his balloon and new truck.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

milestones, etc

Tuesday was a banner day at our house. It started innocently enough, a request by T to wear underpants instead of a pullup. When I picked him up at daycare, Sherri reported that he had stayed dry all day! (Thanks Sherri!!) So I made up a reward chart for Isabella (the truck). One week in underpants and T wins Isabella. Only a couple of accidents so far and T is trying so hard. Our little trooper is determined to get Isabella (finally!). Gummy hippos helped out over the past couple of days as well - when the lure of Isabella weakens, gummy hippos can help motivate a trip to the bathroom. Ok - so maybe I'm a bit obsessed with this.

The garden is growing. Tomatoes have appeared on all of our plants and so far T has only picked one. It's killing him to wait for them to be the colour on the labels. But he's a keen helper, loves to help with the watering, especially now that he has his elephant watering can (thanks L!) and worries about the plants overgrowing the path in the main garden as he doesn't want to step on any of the plants. I have one demise so far - a basil plant looks beyond redemption. Most of the others are doing well, time to make pesto this weekend.

Elephants are a theme this week. Yesterday I dug out our picnic basket to fancy up a backyard picnic, and discovered an elephant ornament swing that T is now fascinated with.
I have it out on the kitchen counter and he sits and pushes the pendulum so the elephant swings wildly back and forth. The timing is funny - one half of the couple who gave it to us as a wedding gift recently passed away. Rest in peace Doug K.

It's a wierd week, with the holiday in the middle of the week (Happy Canada Day!) - T had fun with his uncle yesterday. It involved lots of water, an inflatable caterpillar and a wheelbarrow as well and as usual with Uncle M and T - lots of trucks. T was a very tired boy last night.