Sunday, November 28, 2010

Save the Date!

Yuck. Wanna know how the last few weeks have been? Well it has involved trips to the doctor, trips to the Children’s Hospital, antibiotics for an ear infection, antibiotics for strep throat, and generally A LOT of feeling tired and sick. We are starting to feel better now (strep throat hurts like an SOB!) but productivity on the blog and otherwise came to a screeching halt.

Under all the sickness, the one part that brought me great excitement and happiness was the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton. I was OBSESSED with Princess Diana and it all started with her engagement to Prince Charles. I feel like I’m ten years old all over again, especially when I’ve been seeing the commemorative magazines showing Diana almost thirty years ago. God how I ate up everything she did; how she wore her hair and what clothes she wore. Whatever my ten-year-old self could copy of hers, I did. I also still have (somewhere) commemorative plates, cups, and spoons of their wedding.

Now I feel the same obsession starting over again with Prince William and Kate. So weird that I’m almost 40 years old and just as giddy as I was when I was ten. Thankfully Mike has embraced my reaction to the engagement with support rather than mocking!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


…is waiting for me upstairs. Quite frankly, seeing as how much I ADORE The Barefoot Contessa, I’m surprised that I’ve been able to restrain myself from diving right in after I bought it today.

But I want to enjoy it, savour it. Very much like I do with her amazing recipes.

I will take in every recipe, every description, every picture. I want to do this slowly and take my time. After all, it has been two years since her last cookbook was published and to rush through this new one would just be wrong.

Favourite TV shows will be missed, other books will be temporarily tossed aside, housework will be ignored, kids may or may not get bathed while I read this cover to cover. Such is the power of The Barefoot Contessa.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Well So Much For That

Four years ago when I found out I was pregnant with Big D, Mike and I bought our current home. I love our place. I love its proximity to downtown. I love that shopping and some great restaurants are nearby. I love that the neighbourhood is safe and quiet. I love that we get along with the neighbours on either side of us.

What I don’t love is the overall lack of neighbourhood spirit that I see present in other places. In fact, there appears to be a resistance to making this a friendlier neighbourhood.

Take, for example, a friend of mine who lives in Oakville, Ontario. Her, her husband, and their two girls moved there almost three years ago. Immediately someone on their street threw them a welcome party so they could get to know everyone. They are never without a standing invitation to head over to a neighbour’s house for a barbeque. The neighbours hold a block party every year where they close off the street and where adults and kids alike have a great time. It goes on and on.

Last year this friend told me about having “Been Booed.” I had no idea what she was talking about. It is like a Secret Santa for Halloween where neighbours secretly send candy and treats to two people and then those two people do the same, and so on. By Halloween almost her entire neighbourhood had “Been Booed” by someone.

I thought it was a terrific idea and one this neighbourhood could really use. It isn’t expensive or time consuming, it is just meant to be a lot of fun and perhaps, just perhaps, get people to be friendlier and more open to talking to their neighbours. And I shall be the one to make this happen!

Ha! Guess again.

I did up six bags of treats (if I was going to get this going I had better start out with more than the suggested two. As it happened I could only deliver three bags due to an unusually active neighbourhood the night I did my secret deliveries.) You need to attach the message from the website to explain the concept of “Getting Booed” so people don’t freak out when a bag of random candy shows up on their doorstep. Attached to the message was a sign that you are supposed to put on your front door indicating to any other would-be “Booers” that they should move on to someone else since you were already a recipient.

So out of those three homes, only one has put their sign up in the door indicating that they were getting into the spirit of the thing. The other two? Nothing. I mean, it is clear that it isn’t mandatory to participate in this but they could at least, at the very least, put up the sign that came with the treats to ward off anyone else who may have the same idea of trying to spread some seasonal good cheer.

If there is a Halloween equivalent of Bah Humbug, I would like to know because it certainly applies to my neighbourhood.

Friday, October 8, 2010

In Search of the Holy Perogy

It is Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and my week has been consumed by menu planning and thinking A LOT about food. And while we are having the traditional turkey, all these thoughts about yummy eats gets me thinking about my favourite comfort food of all time – cabbage rolls and perogies.

I grew up in Alberta where there is a large Ukrainian population. Cabbage rolls, perogies, kielbasa, and nalysnyky were common dinner-time items at our house even though my family isn’t Ukrainian.

When I was 18 my dad got transferred to Vancouver and finding proper Ukrainian food became a BIG problem. In fact, the lengths to which we went to find some took us to some, umm, interesting places.

We had been living in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia for a few months and could not get a lead on any restaurants that served the traditional food (such restaurants were easy to find in Calgary). Finally, we heard of a place near one of the Canada-America border crossings where we could get our fix – huzzah!

After my mom, dad, brother, and I got out of the car and into the restaurant it readily became clear why hardly anyone knew (or admitted to knowing) this place existed: it was attached to a peeler bar. And while the ambiance left A LOT to be desired, the food was amazing! While we (thankfully) couldn’t see the ‘entertainment’ from inside the restaurant we were treated to all the music and announcements and, shall we say, sounds of crowd appreciation.

Still, our desperate need for Ukrainian food drew us back again and again until it finally closed its doors.

Yikes – we were back where we started.

Then, by happenstance, I was reading the local community paper and saw an ad in the classifieds for the local Ukrainian church holding its MONTHLY dinner where you could gorge yourself eating-in or taking out. We were saved! How did we not hear of this before??

So the day rolled around where they were having their parish dinner and Dad and I got there to get some take out. We found it a bit odd that the “dinner” was from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. A bit early, no?

When we got closer to the church we quickly realized why it was so early. It was smack dab in the middle of skid-row. Going there anytime after 7 p.m. would have been very dangerous indeed. Hell, going in the middle of the day was dangerous.

The church was beautiful and, at one time long ago, was in a good area. All the power to the parishioners for not boarding up the beautiful building and abonding it for a better neighborhood when it started to change for the worse (think terrible drug problems and all the other societal-ills that go along with that).

Dad and I had a tough decision to make. Even though it was daytime, the area was such that you just wouldn’t feel safe at any time of day. We always had the clubs on our cars that deterred theft and we wondered if we should put it on the car we were driving (because if there ever was an area where your car would be boosted – that was it) or bring it with us to swing it at anyone approaching us. We laugh about it now, but it was a real consideration.

Anyhow, all the Babas in the kitchen making this delicious food by scratch made it all worth it. Every month we would get down there as early as possible to get our fix (and not the kind of fix others in the neighbourhood were getting if you know what I mean).

Nine years ago I moved to Ottawa and have been searching ever since for decent Ukrainian food, to no avail. Knowing this, whenever I visited my parents, they made sure they had bought extra perogies and cabbage rolls at the monthly church dinner to freeze for my arrival.

Sadly, my dad tells me, that the church ceased doing their dinners a few months ago. I guess as the Babas got older it became more of a chore to prepare all this food and the younger generations weren’t taking up the tradition in the numbers needed to maintain the monthly feasts.

So I am back to searching for my favourite comfort food.

I just need a lead. After all, I am willing to go pretty much ANYWHERE for it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Golden Moments in Parenting #42

This morning was one of those times that remind me that lurking under my usually calm exterior is a crazy woman. I was not at my best, shall we say.

Big-D entered Junior Kindergarten at the beginning of the month. Since we are too far from his school to walk he is eligible to take the school bus. However, as a family we decided that I would be dropping him off and picking him up. One of my main fears was he is too young and too easily distracted. I had visions of him not remembering which stop was his.

I changed my mind about the bus this week when it dawned on me that he is missing out on a valuable opportunity for socialization with other kids. So I overcame my concerns (or so I thought) and signed him up for the bus starting today.

Mike delayed going to work so he could help navigate the first morning catching the bus. I had been working myself up into a bundle of nerves since last night and by the time we walked to the bus stop I was fit to be tied.

I knew from dropping Big-D off at school that a teacher (not necessarily his) greets the bus and directs the kindergarten children into the playground while the older kids go directly into the school. I was worried that since he hadn’t been on the bus prior to today whomever was there to greet the bus wouldn’t know where he was meant to be.

So I started to quiz him on his class and his teacher’s name.

Big-D looked at me blankly. For the last couple of weeks he wouldn’t stop talking about how much fun he was having in Miss S’s kindergarten class. Today – the sound of crickets.


He got on without incident but I had a horrible feeling that since the bus driver didn’t know him something would go terribly wrong. So I did what any mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown would do – I drove to his school to see him get off the bus.

And then later I drove back to the school to see him get on the bus. Oh the shame.

Then, as if I hadn’t been stalking him all morning, I picked him up at the bus stop. At first I didn’t see him on the bus and got VERY worried that something had happened. Perhaps I should have followed the bus when it left the school instead of rushing away before the teacher could see me lurking the parking lot. But there he was – like taking the bus was no big thing. Yeah, right, perhaps not for HIM.

Poor kid. Today’s behaviour does not bode well for when he gets his driver’s license.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Just Peachy

It was a cold, wet, and dreary morning here in Ottawa. Just a few short weeks ago we were surrounded by heat and humidity. The summer here was amazing and we sat out on the patio for dinner as much as possible.

It was during one of those dinners that I let the thought of winter creep into my mind. The long and cold months of December to March can get so tedious, especially when it comes to mealtime. The selection of fresh fruit and veg just isn’t there and I get so bored of serving carrots, parsnips, cabbage, and potatoes.

The thought of facing several months without the sweet tomatoes I just picked off our plants in the backyard or not being able to go to the farmers’ market to buy amazing Niagara peaches prompted me into action. I will try canning and preserving!

I felt very homestead-y as I went about making jams and preparing peaches in syrup. I just wish I had started earlier in the summer so I could have preserved some of the early fruit like strawberries.

Nevertheless, I am now a convert to this old-school style of preparing and eating food. And hopefully those canned peaches sitting in my basement waiting to be opened in the middle of winter will bring back those lovely memories of the summer that just passed.

Niagara Peaches - one of the best things about summer.

Pictures taken by hubby who did a great job.

Jars warming in the canner.

In they go.

All ready for sterilization in the canner.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Best Laid Plans

I have the best of intentions when it comes to blogging this time round. I really do. But just as I got rolling we encountered “Hell Week” around here. Don’t get me wrong, most of what happened during that week was wonderful and exciting but it was a lot to jam into one week.

It all started with Mike’s birthday, quickly followed by his first day at his new job. Then Big D started Junior Kindergarten. Later that day my mom arrived from the West Coast for a visit. Thankfully Grandma was in town because the next day we needed a sitter so Mike and I could go out for dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Then the day after, we had a bunch of friends over for a BBQ in honour of C-Rex’s first birthday.

Perhaps calling it “Hell Week” is too harsh but saying I was busy just doesn’t cut it.

The only negative thing that happened during this crazy week was coming to the bitter realization that we have to buy a new car. We started looking for a new vehicle when we were told that the repairs we needed on our Jeep were going to cost twice as much as it is worth. Sigh.

Just as things were about to calm down Big D brought home his first cold of the school season and promptly gave it to me. And being all fuzzy on cold medication really isn’t great for blog posts.

The fact that I’ve been able to write this much actually shocks me considering how I feel. But more is coming soon – promise.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Return of the Ass Cheerio

Whether you are on maternity leave or staying at home with your kids full-time, many women I know, me among them, struggle to capture just a bit of how we looked in our former lives. Many of us were used to wearing suits, heels, and designer purses before we traded them in for jeans, T-shirts, and diaper bags. We try our best, with our limited time and energy, to stay presentable but I’d say we’ve had to lower our expectations somewhat.

In my case, I would like to think that spit up is the new black or pureed bananas all over my shirt is a new fashion trend. Necessity is the mother of invention, is it not? Or is it making a virtue out of necessity? Whatever it is, it still doesn’t change the fact that there is no putting a positive spin on the Ass Cheerio.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Then you don’t have kids. As all moms know, when our little ones start to eat finger food, the Cheerios we so often give them make a beeline for our butts. Just as mashed peas wind up on our tops, Cheerios wind up on our posteriors. And while we are able to see the peas and clean them up, an Ass Cheerio can stay with us ALL DAY LONG until the husband shows up from work and points it out (it is like NASA has had a hand in making Cheerios because once attached they can withstand almost anything.)

Based on the age of my youngest son, I’d say I have at least another year of dealing with the sneaky snack. So if you see me at the grocery store wearing cereal instead of buying it, please don’t laugh, just pity me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

So I'm Back

About three years ago I started writing a blog. Then about two years ago I stopped writing a blog. So why am I back now?

Is it because I've got a nifty new name for my blog? Is it because Blogger has cuter templates? Is it because I need a creative outlet? Yes, yes, and YES!

I really ran out of ideas for my previous blog. I was oh so new at it and thought you should stick to one theme and never deviate. Well no wonder I had major blogger's block. There were a few posts I wrote that I liked but I was too wrapped up in writing for others, rather than writing for myself.

So here I go again with a new name, new look, and new approach.