Sunday, 25 January 2015

(Another) Easy Baby Toy

Iris is at that stage where she loves to pulls things out of other things. Toys out of baskets, clothes out of drawers, dog toys out of Gus' mouth, but her favourite is probably kleenexes out of the box. The first few times she did it, I got all goo-goo eyed because it was just so darn cute! But now I've realized that I've created a monster and must keep all kleenex boxes out of her sight.

If you have a baby you probably have an empty wipes container lying around somewhere. I just cut up a few scraps of fabric and threw those inside with a few baby socks and face clothes and let her go to town! Granted, I am still the one to pick up all of the fabric once she's pulled them all out, but at least it's not wasting kleenexes anymore.

Friday, 23 January 2015

365 Photos (Week 3)

1. Rascal found my phone between the cushions
2. Solo date at the library
3. Lazy morning dances
4. Iris finds amusement in the oddest of things, this is the pizza stone carrier
5. Just a little bit of tea and knitted socks
6. I may have eaten this as a breakfast dessert
7. Pulling out all the kleenex while I try to get a few more minutes in bed post nap time

Monday, 19 January 2015

Cake #10 (Spiced Pumpkin with Candied Pecans)

Halfway! Can you believe I actually wanted to make this a 40 cakes project at the start?! Good grief what was I thinking? Anyway I've been liking not-too-sweet cakes lately (maybe because I'm eating a lot of cake lately), and had a can a pumpkin still in the pantry from the fall so a pumpkin cake it was! I just did a simple vanilla cream cheese frosting and then candied toasted pecans to go on top.

I recently learned how to candy nuts and am candying all the nuts in my freezer now. You literally toss some nuts in a pan on medium heat and sprinkle some brown sugar and salt over them. When the sugar starts to melt you stir for a few minutes and then pour them on to some parchment paper to cool. Thats it.

I'll admit Dave and I ate 90% of this cake ourselves in 2 days. Very minimal sharing with others this time.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Thrifted Things

Lately thrifting has been my go-to solo time activity. I am very adamant about getting my solo time in at least every few days, sometimes every day. I must have it! Don't get me wrong, getting to stay home "keeping house" and hanging with Iris all day is a pretty sweet deal, but man can it drive me stir crazy, especially in the winter with no car. An hour or half hour out of the house by myself is all I need to recharge. And a happy mama is... well a happy mama, so I try to make it a priority.

Here are a few things I've found in the past few weeks:
1. Babycakes Cookbook $4
2. Soft grey sweater $6
3. Vintage cake stand $3
4. Various balls of yarn for weaving $2.50

I'm starting to try that whole "one thing in, one thing out rule" when it comes to buying stuff.  I want to make sure I don't turn into a budding hoarder, which is probably Dave's worst nightmare, being a strict minimalist. So in these came and out went a few old tops I haven't worn in a long time, and my old glitter cake stand.

Happy thrifting!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

365 Photos (Week 2)

1. Practicing the art of baby wrapping with Mary (and Des)
2. Morning hangouts in bed
3. A baby-free friend date at the Antique & Flea Market
4. Dave will sit Iris on his lap and let her strum the ukulele while he plays, but obviously someone is very tired
5. Bundling up before we walk over to visit Papa
6. Our weekly (baby friendly) movie date which was Taken 3 for some reason
7. Early morning hoar frost

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Lost Art of Dinner Parties

Now I could be totally wrong here, but I feel like dinner parties aren't really that common. Especially among people in my age group. (Or I'm just not being invited to any... hmmm.)  Anyway the few (ok one) that I've been to was so fun! There was food and drinks and babies and music, what's not to love? I would love to do this more often.

Then the other day I came across a really great article.  The author pretty much talks about how with a young kid and working from home, she was starting to feel kinda isolated. So her and her husband decided to start a new tradition of having people over for spaghetti and meatballs every Friday night. Here's what she posted on her Facebook to start it off, I love it:

"So here's what Joe and I have decided to do, in my 33rd year, to make our lives happier: we are instituting a new tradition we call Friday Night Meatballs. Starting next Friday, we're cooking up a pot of spaghetti and meatballs every Friday night and sitting down at the dining room table as a family—along with anyone else who'd like to join us. Friends, neighbors, relatives, clients, Facebook friends who'd like to hang out in real life, travelers passing through: you are welcome at our table. We'll just ask folks to let us know by Thursday night so we know how many meatballs to make. You can bring something, but you don't have to. Kids, vegetarians, gluten-free types, etc. will all be taken care of. The house will be messy. There might be card and/or board games. There might be good Scotch. You might be asked to read picture books. You might make new friends. We'll just have to find out. This is our little attempt to spend more time with our village. You're invited."

What a brave and awesome idea! Here are some other highlights from the article:

"The response was immediate: I was inundated with 'likes' and comments from down the street and across oceans. I showed Joe and he raised an eyebrow: "We're going to need more chairs."
In the weeks that followed, we got used to hosting. It became less of an ordeal. We got more chairs. More wine glasses, too. We began making meatballs ahead of time and freezing them. We capped the guest list at ten adults and as many children as can play well together without too much supervision. And we stopped worrying about making everything perfect. Our parents and grandparents, we realized, hadn't made a big deal about hosting family dinners; it was just something they did. It was normal. After a few weeks it started to feel normal for us, too. I jettisoned any visions I might have had about cloth napkins and Pinterest crafts and began to relax.
Part of the fun of hosting a weekly dinner is the rotating cast of characters. We have our beloved regulars, but the mix is always different. Seinfeld's George Costanza famously flipped over his "worlds colliding"—friends from one sphere of life mixing with friends from another—but today, social media has our worlds colliding on a regular basis as coworkers, college friends, and conservative uncles argue politics on Facebook threads.
This isn't a new idea by any stretch of the imagination, of course; Shabbat dinners, Sunday suppers, Ramadan iftars, and the like are cherished all over the world. But in late-capitalist America, it can be hard to find community. The institutions that used to provide communal social life, like churches and unions, have long been in decline. People work long hours, often with long commutes or multiple jobs. An increasing number of us are freelancers, working from home without company. Social events aren't always hospitable for families with young children, and those who don't have kids can go years without even interacting with them. And with an economy that's really only recovered for a wealthy few, many Americans are more likely to down a burger in the drive-thru on the way to a second job than to sit down around a family table.
Friday Night Meatballs is intergenerational, kid-friendly, low-key, and cheap. You don't have to join anything: the biggest obligation it asks you to shoulder is showing up with a dessert or a bottle of wine. And it even has a hashtag."
What do you think? Do you think this is as cool as I do? Or is this one of those things that people have been doing forever that I just haven't picked up on? I think things like this should happen more often.

Photo from Kinfolk Magazine

Sunday, 11 January 2015

No-Knead Bread

I remember when I was working at the Early Years one winter I overheard a mom and her 4 year old son chatting while they were getting ready to leave:

"Mom, what are we gonna do when we get home?"
"Well today we're going to go home and bake some bread."

I remember thinking "This woman makes bread? With her kid?!" That is super cool. I totally wanted to be that kind of person!

So a few years back I came across no-knead bread. I think at the time it was one of those trendy food things, like cronuts, or bacon in desserts. It was everywhere. But it promised amazing bread without kneading (hence the name). 

Here's the recipe from the NY Times that I use.

No Knead Bread
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • warm water

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

My brother who doesn't own any kind of large lidded pot actually made one out of tin foil and baked the bread in that and the bread still turned out amazing!  It really is fool proof, you should give it a go!

Happy baking!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Why I Journal

Confession: I've been journaling since I was 12. That's 13 years now! Granted, it hasn't always been consistent, sometimes I've gone months without writing anything but as of now I have a nice tall stack of notebooks and journals in my hope chest. It's funny how you can tell so much about who I was just by looking at the journal I had chosen. My 12 year old self had a neon plastic spiral-bound notebook, the 19 year old me had a red Moleskine when I was all academic and "mature" and now I have a big hardcover sketch book (what this says about me now I'm not quite sure).

Recently I found a small stash of journals from when Dave and I had first moved in together. I loved looking back and remembering the small things that made that time in my life so special: Dave and I figuring out how to live with one another without going crazy, people who I was close with during that time that I don't see anymore, even arguments we had then now seem so funny!

When I was a teenager I found an old journal/scrapbook of my mum's from when she was in highschool. She had pictures of cute movie stars cut out of magazines pasted in there,  movie ticket stubs and notes that were passed in class with her friends. My mum suddenly felt so relatable, so much like me in that moment.  I think it would be so awesome for Iris to have all of these journals of mine to read when she's older too.

But that's not the main reason why I journal. Mostly it just keeps me sane and gives me a chance to acknowledge both the great, the boring, and the bad things going on in my life.

Do you document your life in any way?

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

365 Photos (Week 1)

Week one is done! I gotta say, this project is pretty easy, and I'm loving it so far!
1) Sick baby cuddles, we've been pretty attached (literally) this week
2) Please don't ask what that thing is used for
3) Freezing rain
4) Breakfast chats with Laura. Lots of tea (me) and coffee (her)
5) Red nose!
6) Getting groceries, a slightly stressful errand to do on your own
7) It's a pajamas and baby backpack day (see 1)

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A New Love: Looming

Wait, did I just pick up another crafty hobby? Erm, yes. I've been swooning over weaving lately (see here) and my lovely Dave picked me up a loom for Christmas! He's a total enabler. Most lap looms can be quite pricey but a great less expensive alternative is the Melissa & Doug loom. Yes, it's made for children and I'll admit I may have laughed when I first opened it, but it's great! Currently I'm just practicing using the leftover balls of yarn from various failed knitting and crocheting projects, but I'm really liking how they turn out! So far I have 2 up in the apartment. Dave and I joke that soon we will have woven wallpaper.

I'm hoping to learn some new stitches and experiment with some different designs. I've also seen people weave pillows and rugs. Oh man. The possibilities! Could this be my next Happy Mail Project?

Monday, 5 January 2015

365 Photos Project

A new year, another project! I've been seeing this one floating around the internet for a while now and thought it would be a great opportunity to work on my photography skills. Basically you commit to taking a photo a day for a whole year. Some people choose to focus on something specific like self-portraits, or their kids, but I think I'm gonna keep it pretty open for myself.

I've always wanted to be one of those people who had their cameras on them at all times because I feel like I miss out on so many great photos when I'm out and about. Lucky me, I happened to receive an epic leather camera bag/satchel/diaper bag (yes they actually make bags in those combos!) for Christmas. Now I'll have no excuse not to have my camera on me.

I'm pretty excited about this project. I've already started and I think this will be pretty easy to maintain throughout the year. I'll be sharing the first week's photos soon :) Wish me luck!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Let's Call This a Hygge Moment

Ah bedtime! It doesn't always look this cozy but there are some nights where we all crawl into bed and read a story together while Iris sleepily plays with something or I feed her and it's just perfect. Last night it was the Velveteen Rabbit while the humidifier hummed in the corner (oh my poor sick little baby!).

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Cake #9 (Toasted Coconut Cream)

This year I offered to make the birthday cake for my BIL's family get together. Mostly because the more cakes I bake the sooner I can finish my cake project but you know baking things for people is nice too ;) Unfortunately this particular BIL is a notoriously picky eater, so I knew for sure that this cake could not have pineapple or any kind of filling, especially jam filling. So after some investigation I figured out he liked coconut so a coconut cake it was.

I found this recipe in The Orange is the New Black Cookbook of all places and it was great! The original recipe was called Easter cake or something like that and was topped with plain coconut flakes, but personally I think toasted coconut is way better. The icing was just coconut cream, whip cream and a bit of sugar which I've never done before but it was super light and not too sweet.

It also looked very pretty with candles! I will definitely make this one again.

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