Thursday, March 31, 2011

folding skills

the last day of march! good riddance, i say.
this year march has come in like a lion and gone out like one too.
last year it was in like a lamb and out like a lamb and that's the ways i likes 'em.

anyway, back to the GARAGE SALE...

blech. it's affecting my sleep. i can't get to sleep because my mind is going 90 miles an hour and then the boys wake up and i'm all - wait - no - please, just a few more minutes (oh heck, might as well make that 30 minutes or even an hour!). and then i'm groggy. and i want to sleep all day.
and then it's night and i think about all the things i need to get done and then i can't sleep. *complain, complain, complain*
it's a vicious circle, my friends.

but today my amazing friend Suzanne came over and watched the boys while i organized the garage and then we folded, categorized, priced and boxed all the children's clothing so that it's all ready to go.
she is amazing and i seriously could NOT have done it without her.

thank God for friends!

tomorrow my sister comes over for the day and is spending the night as well.
(heck YES i'm pumped!)

here is suz's amazing folding skills:

thank you, sweet friend!
(plus jude learned how to say suz's son's name: jacob. and it was the first word out of his mouth after his nap. really, ridiculously cute.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

on being productive

We've been all about packing, sorting, organizing and preparing for our BIG garage sale happening this Saturday.
As I was going through the office closet I found 8 pillows. EIGHT!
I tossed them downstairs and made a "bed" in the middle of the living room for the boys (Jude is sick and Noah's always happy to have a "movie day") and we chilled at home today.
I got some pricing done and some sorting but the way I work (is this the way it works for everyone?) is that it almost always gets messier before it gets cleaner.
So we're kinda living in chaos and disorder.
I realized something about myself recently - or perhaps I put into words and a distinct thought what I had always felt before - I can handle the mess and disorder but the outcome is that I am prone to feeling overwhelmed and I usually end up doing nothing.
An organized, clean house leads to a productive Vanessa.
And that is a good thing.
Now, to get busy "organizing".

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


today my mom came for a visit.
she comes about once a week.
i am so thankful for her.
for her visits.
for her love for my boys.
i did some garage sale organizing and she did my dishes and played with my kids.
and we talked.
i love my mom.
my boys love their gramma.

Monday, March 28, 2011

on finding my groove

today was weird.
i couldn't find my groove until about 4pm when i finally had a shower.

i started sorting and pricing for our garage sale this weekend. (insert anxious emoticon here)
so that was something.
and then we bought noah this sesame street numbers/letters/shapes computer game and i fear i have opened pandora's box (it's his first computer game).
but it's cute.
(and portable so we'll be bringing it with us when we move.)

i hope for more productivity tomorrow.
(and warmer weather for the rest of the week. and especially saturday.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011


they were $1.99 a pint (?) at the grocery store tonight so i picked up 2.
good thing.
the boys gobbled up an entire container within 5 minutes.
lord help me when they're teenagers.

thank you Jesus for money for food and ample, delicious produce readily available.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

and life goes on.

we went to a wedding in oshawa.
my childhood best friend's wedding.
i remarked to my mom that it's interesting how people grow apart. 
we were tight when we were little.
now i barely know her.
it's okay. that's life. 
and i don't know how much different either of us would have been had we not been in each other's lives. 
but i'm thankful for the years of friendship we shared together.

and life goes on.

(and i didn't have to buy a new dress or shoes - i opted for a new belt and i worked it, people.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

I want time to slow down....sorta

Noah's pants are too short. Most of them, anyway.
They're at that awkward stage where if I saw another kid with the same length pants on, I'd probably cringe and think, "Oh how geeky. Get some new pants for the kid, already!"
He's too big for size 3's (mostly) and too small for size 4's.

How'd he get so big, anyway?

He's got an appetite these days that could break the bank and endless questions and comments about everything and anything.

Yesterday as he was finishing his lunch and trying to get the last bit of food stuck to the side of his bowl he said,

Oh. It's on the wall. The bowl wall.

God, I love this kid.

And he still needs an afternoon nap.
Oh he can get through the whole day without one but come 4pm and he can snap and melt into a teary mess if he's angry enough or doesn't get his way.
Tonight as Jamie left at 6pm to get onto campus for dinner and the weekly meeting Noah wailed and cried for a good 20-30 minutes saying,

I need Daddy! I need Daddy!

over and over again.
Jude and I cleaned up their room and then Jude had a bath. By the time Jude was done his bath (and ready to wear his dragon house "coke" (coat)) Noah had calmed down and was ready for his bath but got all riled up again when I told him I had to wash his hair.

Oh my boy. I love you so much.
You are worth every single second of the hard times.

Dizzy Sailor

This is what happens when Daddy plays with the boys.

Dizzy Sailor from Vanessa Strickland on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What's in a name?

I've noted differences between Noah and Jude before, but I just had to make note of this particular difference.

Noah calls me either Mama or Mom. Very rarely will he call me "Mommy".

And Jude calls me Mama or Mommy. It's absolutely heart-melting to hear him call me "Mommy", I'm not going to lie.

It'll be interesting to see if Noah changes what he calls me and if Jude drops the "Mommy" once he starts talking more.

My siblings and I called our parents Mommy & Daddy for a very long time and I had to tell myself (I was at least in my teens...longer, possibly) that I had to start calling my Mom, Mom and not "Mommy" anymore. And same with my Dad, although "Daddy" still slips out every once and awhile. For some reason it seems more socially acceptable for a daughter to call her father "Daddy" even once she is grown.

I like that my kids call me "Mama", though. It's warm and nurturing I hope it stays in their vocabulary for a long time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Seconds, please Shepherd's Pie

It was the snowstorm from blech today.
I'm choosing to talk and think as little as possible about it in the hopes that it will quickly go away.


So what better than to hibernate and make comfort food?

This is a long recipe, but oh baby - this one's amazing.
My conversation with Noah went like this:

Noah: What's for dinner, Mom?
Me: Shepherd's Pie.
Noah: What did you say?
Me: Shepherd's Pie.
Noah: Ew, that's gross.
Me: Noah, that's very rude. We don't say food is gross. You don't even know what Shepherd's Pie is.

later at the table as I put his bowl in front of him....

Noah: Is this Shepherd's Pie?
Me: Yes!
Noah: I think I'll try this!
Me: (trying not to let my jaw hit the floor) That's a great attitude to have, Noah!

He eats it all.
I ask if he wants seconds.

Noah: What's seconds?
Me: It's when you get more of your supper because you liked it so much.
Noah: Yeah. I want some more please.

And then he proceeds to eat it all. Again.

So here's Shepherd's Pie. I don't know where I got the recipe from but I'd be happy to credit whoever it belongs to!

4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb of ground beef
2 tbsp butter
and whatever veggies you want - I used: 3/4 cup diced onion, 1 cup diced celery, 2 cups diced carrot
I would also add peas and corn next time too.
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
1 cup red wine (I discovered you can use broth if you don't have red wine and it works just as well - just not with that lovely wine flavouring)
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

1. Add 2 tbsp oil to a large sauce pan over med high heat. Add ground beef.
2. Allow excess liquid to bubble away; stir and cook until meat is well browned and crispy, about 10 minutes. This is an important step! It made a huge difference in my pie! Drain the excess fat using a colander.
3 Deglaze the pot with red wine (or your broth), scraping up browned bits and let reduce slightly.
4. In another large pot, add remaining vegetable oil over med high heat. Add onions, carrots and celery; cook until golden, about 7 minutes.
5. Add garlic, stir briefly and add tomato paste. Brown paste slightly and sprinkle in flour. Cook out for a minute or two.
6. Add in red wine/stock from deglazing beef, scraping up crispy brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
7. Add beef stock, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. Return browned meat to the pot. Simmer, covered for 20-25 minutes.
8. Remove lid and continue cooking for another 10 minutes; the liquid will reduce and thicken. Remove rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. (This is where I'd add the peas/corn next time). Season well with salt and pepper.
9. Add to the bottom of a 10 inch round casserole dish and top with mashed potatoes done however you like (I add lots of butter, milk and parmesan cheese - you can even boil your potatoes with some smashed garlic cloves and then mash it all up together - yum!).
10. Cover the mashed potatoes with a topping of parmesan cheese and bread crumbs (if you like).
11. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Bake on the middle rack until the top is golden and the filling is warmed through, about 20-25 minutes.
Let stand a few minutes before serving.

And while you might hope for leftovers, don't count on it.

**As requested, here's my recipe for mashed potatoes (it changes almost every time, but here's what I did for this specific recipe).

Mashed Potatoes
7 medium cooking potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/3 cup butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup cream or the highest percentage milk that you have in your fridge (I used 2% as that's all I had)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Add quartered potatoes and smashed garlic to medium pot. Fill pot with cold water just to cover potatoes; season cooking water well with salt (it should taste like the sea) and bring to a boil.
2. Boil on medium high heat until potatoes are tender but not overdone, about 15-20 minutes. Now I definitely undercooked mine this time (by accident), but it worked out and lent the "crust" to a more "smashed potatoes" type crust instead of the typical smooth mashed potatoes. It worked, thankfully. :)
3. Strain potatoes; let dry out slightly in colander before returning to pot. Add cream, butter, pepper, parmesan cheese and more salt if necessary.
4. Mash roughly with a fork or potato masher.
And there you have mashed potatoes for your Shepherd's Pie crust! :)

shelter from the storm

we all have storms in our lives. 
for some people it seems like the storm barely subsides before another one rages in.
for others there are many, many moments before the next storm.
but we all have storms.

today i looked out my window to see at least a dozen robins huddling in the branches of the tree in the corner of our yard.
poor robins.
they had no idea this wicked storm would hit just days after our balmy 10 degree weather.

i was forced out of the storm of good byes and packing and details of our move just today with someone else's storm. 
a scary, life-altering, family-changing storm.
thank you Jesus that you are the calm in all our storms - no matter what they be. 
and thank you that you provide shelter from the storms that shake us to the core of our being - especially those that come out of nowhere.

Dear Noah

When you smile at me with your head tilted and your eyes all squinty,

(And all you wanted was a few more Cheerios.)


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crunchy Tortilla Chicken with Avocado Dip

Heck to the yes this was delicious!

So the other day I found this book in the library called Bite me and was immediately drawn into the witty comments and preambles as well as the amazing food photography and mouth-watering recipes.
I signed the book out and today made this recipe from it that astonishingly had Noah eating chicken. I kid you not. The Boy Who Shall Not Eat Chicken actually ate chicken!

So I took a quick snap of it and wanted to share it with you!
Make this and enjoy!

adapted from Bite me cookbook

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups sour cream (I used whatever sour cream I had left and made up the difference with plain yogurt - either work fine)
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme (I only had the dried stuff, so I did a quick sprinkling of it)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
finely chopped jalapeno peppers to your liking

Avocado dip
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
2 ripe avocados, peeled and pit removed
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. for the chicken, place the chicken between 2 sheets of wax paper and pound to even thickness, about 1/2 inch thick (do this. it made a huge difference!)
2. in a large bowl, combine sour cream, brown sugar, chili powder, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic powder. add chicken and toss to coat, cover and let marinade in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
3. preheat oven to 425 degreesF. line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray.
4. in a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, tortilla crumbs, cheddar and jalapenos. remove chicken from marinade and coat each piece with the breadcrumb mixture, pressing down so coating sticks well to each piece. place on the prepared baking sheet and bake 20-23 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
5. for the avocado dip, place all ingredients in a food processor, blender or immersion blender-safe container (i used the immersion blender and it worked fabulously). blend until smooth.
serve alongside chicken but if you're not eating it immediately, place avocado pit in the bowl to keep the dip from turning brown (neat trick, eh?). cover and refrigerate until ready to use. this dip yields 2 cups.

i dream

i dream of:
sitting at a bay window, cozied up with a good book and a wool blanket
opening up my own bakery
- in Europe somewhere (or the beaches)
singing in front of small but crowded venues
being skinnier
being healthier
being closer to Jesus
adopting 5 (or so) kids
giving birth to a few more, too
living downtown Toronto
travelling across Canada (in one of these) and then down the west coast of North America
running a marathon
peonies, lots of peonies
acting again
owning a piano
the tattoo i never got
reaching out to my neighbours
making friends in uganda
doing something BIG
living on the east coast
living on the west coast
living in new zealand
sailing around the world
having a closet full of beautiful summer dresses
never having to shave my legs again
throwing caution to the wind

i dream.

what do you dream of?

*found this video (03.25.2011) and it fits so perfectly.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


last night and this morning we were in toronto, speaking at the church i grew up in; sharing about what's been happening in this last year and where we're headed next. 
it was a bit nerve-wracking (public speaking always gives me the jitters), but by the third service i felt a lot more confident and was able to really feel excited about what we were sharing.
some of these people have been praying for me since i was born! 
afterward, as we caught up with old friends and introduced ourselves to others, i said something to a friend;

i think i'm just starting to get a little nervous about everything. but ultimately i have never felt so sure or at peace of where God wanted me to be as i feel about us moving to uganda. 


i'll be clinging to that in the hard times, i'm sure.

there will be hard times. guaranteed. 
but i know this is where God wants us;
where He wants me
it's not the typical direction most people head in with two small children.
but i'm so excited to be taking these steps in the direction He's called us to.


Saturday, March 19, 2011


… nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough …
-Richard Feynman

Friday, March 18, 2011


today was little julia's 1st birthday! 
so i went over to chantel's with the boys today to (sorta) help chantel get ready for the family birthday that evening. 
the kids played.
i helped put frosting on some awesome rainbow cupcakes made by chantel.
jude kept stealing julia's snacks.
'twas a good morning!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


happy st. patrick's day!
i often stumble upon crafty, wonderful, yummy or exciting ideas online and want to follow through on them.
so this year i decided to do a st. patty's day party/play date with some moms from my church.
we had all-green fruits and veggies.
home made potato tots (like tater tots, but healthier. gotta have potatoes on st. patty's day!).
green and yellow veggie tortilla chips with hummus.
ham & cheese muffins.
zucchini muffins.
peanut butter and jam muffins/cupcakes.
jen brought some amazing green cake pops.
and jude LOVED eating his allocated two "pops" later on. he savours his "pops". 
little licks.
bobbing it in and out of his mouth until it falls apart.
such a silly boy and completely giddy to be eating "pop" after dinner tonight.

oh and the party was a blast. so many kids and so much fun! we crafted, chatted, ate food and watched this with the kids.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

my boy

i am so blessed to have noah as my son.
he is all-at-once a challenge and a joy. 
he is a growing-too-quickly boy;
a cuddly, sweet, tender boy.
last night my mom brought the boys back home after having them for all of monday and tuesday.
at one point i picked up noah and just carried him around on my hip.
i put him down to get him a drink.
once he got his drink he wandered back to me and asked me to pick him up again.
i willingly obliged. 

the boys are happy we've pulled out the crocs and both have been wandering around the house wearing them.
{...waiting for spring.}
after i helped jude with one of his crocs, noah came over to me;
now take a picture with ME in it!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


we have too much of it.
and i am one happy purger.
except it takes a lot of work.
and i hit a wall (figuratively speaking, that is) today and ended up taking a glorious 30 minute nap.
but i got some sorting done. and some clearing done.
this might not look like much to you, but i guarantee that it's so much better for our downstairs tenant to walk through the garage now (that's his only entrance). 
you can see the floor!
(ps that's his stuff at the front left.)

Monday, March 14, 2011


today the boys are at my parents while i take some time to do "moving" type things like work on sorting through and organizing our garage (what to keep and bring, what to keep and store, what to throw out and what to sell). 
i took a break this afternoon to do some baking because, truly, i love to bake but it is difficult sometimes with my sweet boys running around needing and wanting my attention. 
so i baked joy the baker's zucchini sweet potato bread and i had left over grated zucchini so i made zucchini muffins. i also got to use my agave nectar for the first time in these muffins.
the first batch is out and i already ate one two.

nothing beats a homemade baked good. (the bread smells AMAZING by the way. it's got 15 more minutes so the jury is still out on how it turns out, but come the baker? i bet it's ridonculously delicious.)

 edited the next morning: ps the bread? utter deliciousness. i want to eat it all.

you can find joy the baker's bread here.
and the weelicious zucchini muffins here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


every time we see Jamie's grandpa (the boys' great-grandpa) and nana, his grandpa usually hands me or Jamie a white box with a stamp on it that says

clarke's homestyle bakery

and inside are usually a few sugar cookies and always two chocolate chip cookies on sticks complete with happy faces iced on.

i usually try to limit the amount of sugar my kids eat if i possibly can, but i always save these "popsicle cookies" for them. it's a sweet gesture from jamie's otherwise stoic grandfather that shows his love and delight in his great-grandsons. 

so i gladly indulge his sweetness and let the boys join in too.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

earl grey

i know. another picture of cupcakes. 
today was my "free" day for this week (the one day a week i get to partake in sweets during the Lenten season).
i made these earl grey cupcakes with lemon buttercream for jamie's grandpa's 80th birthday.
there are a bunch leftover so it seems to me as if i'll be playing the part of porch fairy tomorrow after church. 
(i love playing porch fairy.)

*porch fairies are those who leave treats or goodies on the porch/front door of someone they know as a surprise

Friday, March 11, 2011


today i decided that i was done with noah's shag and told him that in the afternoon we would go get his haircut. 
i called the salon and made an appointment for 3:30.
he fell asleep at 2:25. 
i had to wake him at 3:10 and he was none too pleased.
i told him if he sat nicely and got his hair cut we'd go to lucie's (a lovely bakery next door to the salon) and he would get to pick out a treat.
so we went.
he was okay. he sat mostly still and though he was a bit grumpy, we survived and he came out with a decent haircut.
i suppose he actually did quite well because the woman beside us watched for a minute and then asked how old he was. we didn't get a chance to chat further but i'm guessing she thought he was doing well (that or she thought i was some extravagant woman for taking my 3 year old son to get his haircut at a salon - but people - i cannot cut hair. trust me.).

so now he looks like his daddy.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

big bowl of fruit

can i just say (of course i can, it's my blog) how happy seeing this on my table makes me?

so happy. 
jude calls the nectarines "apples" and noah called the kiwi fruit "those brown fuzzy ones". 
seeing this will also make jamie feel angst at the thought of all this fruit potentially going bad and thus being a waste. but when fruit is out and in plain sight, it gets eaten. 
end of story.
also, it makes me happy.

Dear loud whistler,

While your whistling skills were well-honed, your choice of "Teenage Dream" was quite unexpected.
As was the fact that you were clearly in your late 40's, possibly 50's.

Keep up the stellar whistling,


Wednesday, March 9, 2011


the past week i've found it difficult to stay on top of this picture taking thing. 
it's not that i haven't been doing anything worth photographing, it's just that i've been too busy to photograph it all!
yesterday we had jacob over in the morning, then naps, then ran a couple errands and then zipped off to elijah's birthday party at fun works in kitchener where we stayed and endured mad chaos with a bazillion children until past the boys bedtimes. came home, put them to bed, cleaned up.
oh, did i mention our dishwasher broke the day before jamie left us for 4 days? yeah. that.
so dishes. plech.
then today we did the Y thing, went to jen's house and stayed there 'til dinner, rushed home, cleaned up for the lovely ladies coming over at 8pm tonight, made cupcakes, cleaned up a bit more, rearranged our living room, had some of my favourite ladies over, they went home, iced the cupcakes, sent them back with jen, sorta cleaned up and gave up on the rest.

so it's been busy to say the least.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I love that there are people in the world who dream big and are creative and a little bit silly to even attempt to do something like this.



today i watched my friend suzanne's son, jacob for a couple of hours.
jamie commented to me,

three isn't so hard. we could totally do three

(my evil plan is working...)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

thoughts about lent

I didn't grow up practicing or participating or even really knowing about Lent. 
I'm not sure when I heard about it, but for the past few years I've started to look more into it and sometimes I give something up - or at least attempt to. 
For some reason this year my heart has been inclined toward Lent; to make it count, to prepare my heart and focus on Jesus and the suffering he took on for me
Upon doing some more research I found that there is more to Lent than just "giving something up". Wikipedia says that "there are three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent; prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbour)."

Recently the pastor at our church spoke about the discipline of fasting and how it's a gift to us as Christians to practice this and rely on the Holy Spirit. It's something that's assumed of us as Christians (Matthew 6:16 says "when you fast..." not if, but when.) and it's something that Jesus himself did. I don't regularly fast, but I'm seriously considering making it a part of my life whether on a monthly or seasonal basis, I'm not sure yet. But it's something I felt the Holy Spirit saying to me, "Listen to this. Pray and seek me on this.". And so I'm going to. 

According to Wikipedia, justice (referring back to Wikipedia's definition of Lent) is the concept of moral rightness based on some form of ethics or law and that punishment occurs when there is a breach of those ethics. 
Romans 3:28 says that we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law so I know that I have already been justified, but I do like the idea of focusing on God, myself and my neighbour in a way that is more purposeful and deliberate.
So with all that, here is what I'm aiming for during this time of Lent.

I'm giving up sugar - nothing like giving up all breads or not eating fruit, but candy, sweets, desserts, sugary cereals or other sugary breakfast items will be what I'm focusing on fasting from.
I also really want to focus on my bible reading plan: for slackers and shirkers - I've been coming and going with it and I really want to make a concerted effort to stick with it, rely on God and seek him during this time for my contentment and fulfillment.
I want to be in prayer for specific things: 
1. God's will and plan for our family as it relates to expanding it. We're not there yet, but it's something I continue to think and dream about on a daily basis. I want to be at peace with whatever He has in store for us. 
2. the Orphan crisis and my/our role in it. 
3. my husband and my children. Especially for this next transition and phase in our lives. 
4. specifically for Noah and how incredibly strong-willed he is. how to teach and instruct him. for wisdom to take the necessary steps to guide him and to know what those steps are and for the Holy Spirit to bind the spirit of defiance and stubbornness in him but without breaking his spirit.

As for "almsgiving", I'm still not sure exactly where or what God would have me do during the next 40 days (Lent starts this Wednesday) but I think my eyes will be open and I will be praying for opportunities and I know God is always waiting to present us with opportunities to be His eyes and ears, his hands and feet and to speak words of Love and Truth into peoples' lives if we are only willing to be open and step out in faith.


oh jude. you are my little rascal.
today you:
learned how to put your hands in your pants pockets and proceeded to waddle around like a penguin. it made me laugh.
ate 4 large bowls of yogurt and got so excited when i pulled out the container, shouting "BU-BEH!" (that's blueberry in toddler speak - even though it was strawberry yogurt.)
rubbed peanut buttery hands in your hair right after dumping a whole bowl full of cheerios all over the floor.
got really upset when we took away the gigantic booster juice that jamie had purchased for me and him to share. you ran away with the cup in your hands in the middle of the mall, sucking up as much smoothie as quickly as you could.
did really well in the nursery at church - hooray!
jumped and flung yourself over both me and your daddy.
waved and smiled at complete strangers at the mall.
pointed to the camera and said "cheese!".
so we took a self shot.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


damn you, gently falling white fluff of doom!

today it rained all day. 
i guess the temperature tonight dropped enough for the rain to turn to snow. 
will spring ever arrive?

Friday, March 4, 2011

zuppa toscana

a few days ago a girl i follow on twitter linked to this recipe of a copycat of the olive garden's zuppa toscana soup. zuppa toscana - it's fun to say.
anyway, i knew i wanted to try it as soon as i clicked on the link.
so tonight i made it.
i've never cooked with kale before. 
it was delish!
a success - jude even perfected his self-feeding of soup skills.

olive garden copycat zuppa toscana
adapted from

1 lb italian sausage (i used mild and it was lovely)
5 small medium potatoes (or 2 large), sliced in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup bacon bits
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 cups kale, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 cup heavy cream

cook sausage in a 300 degree F oven for approximately 30 minutes.
cut the sausages into slices.
place onions, potatoes, broth, water, and garlic in pot and cook on medium heat until potatoes are done.
add sausage and bacon.
salt and pepper to taste although i forgot to add this and it definitely did not need any more flavour - the sausage added plenty!
simmer for another 10 minutes.
turn to low heat.
add kale and cream.
heat through and serve with thickly sliced fresh bread. 

noah called this "milk soup" and decided the sausage was "spicy". i told him he has a spice sensitivity like his grandma (who was sitting beside him). he had no idea what that meant and repeated that he still thought the sausage was spicy. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

goose egg

i do well when i have a plan for meals. without it i flounder and eat bad food and feel crappy because i ate bad food.
but when i have a plan - the outcome is usually really good.
today's lunch: wagon wheel pasta in a cheesey cream sauce with sauteed red peppers and onions, tossed with corn and cubes of ham. it.was.delish. (but apparently i was the only one who thought so as jude rejected it and noah refuses pasta in general. oh well. more for me!)
today's dinner: mini meat loves with creamy mashed potatoes and a large pile of steamed broccoli. YUM. the entire family enjoyed these. the original recipe says to put the meat loaf mixture into muffin tins but i pushed the boundaries of "mini" and put the mixture into MINI muffin tins. oh yes i did. and they were perfect for the boys. they each ate 3. jamie and i ate 2 regular sized muffin meat loaves although now jamie says he's never eating muffins that i make because all he's going to think about is meat. and meat + banana muffin is kinda disgusting. but i promise i cleaned them really well. also i chopped up about a cup of fresh spinach and threw it into the meat mixture. it was perfect and no one noticed. 
and then we all went out to marble slab for some ice cream to use an about to expire coupon for a free ice cream cone. i had a key lime/cheese cake coconut mixture. it was refreshing. jamie had his usual cheesecake ice cream with raspberry mixins and noah picked chocolate swiss with marshmallow mixins. jude sampled all of ours. 
speaking of jude, the little rascal just absolutely MUST walk everywhere. no more carrying. none of that, thankyouverymuch. today after i opened the garage door he had scooted underneath it and started barrelling toward the roard with nary a concern. until he tripped and fell and smashed his head onto the asphalt and got a goose-egg bump on his head. poor fella. thanks to some awesome arnica it's not as huge as it was this morning and hopefully it won't bruise too badly (but that's wishful thinking i know). 

share the love (week 3)

How's your Thursday going so far?

I hit the gym this morning with the boys (but only after Jude took off down the driveway before we even got into our car and got a huge goose-egg on his head because he tripped and fell - good times), made an early lunch (it was good, but apparently I was the only one who thought so) and read stories with the boys.

Speaking of lunch, I gotta say, every time I buy one of the Piller black forest style cooked/smoked hams I love them. You can do so much with one (well, the ones I buy are the half hams) and so far I've got a ham & potato soup and a red pepper, ham & pasta dish out of this one with much more left over! So when they're on sale, I buy at least one, sometimes two and freeze them. You really can't go wrong - plus the boys like ham.

And ever since the dreaded dentist appointment of 2011 and was told I have multiple cavities I've been taking dental care a lot more seriously. I mean flossing at least every other night, if not every night. (So I didn't use to floss. I learned my lesson. You should floss too!) Anyway, my dentist recommended an electric toothbrush so I went out and bought the Oral B Vitality and I LOVE it. It has a 2 minute timer on it and the biggest thing for me is that at night I realized I was so tired by the time I was brushing that I'd just do a quick brush and then bed, but the timer helps me keep brushing until the 2 minutes are done. It comes with a charging stand which I like (we'll see how this goes over in Africa, though). I like. It was ~$30 so about mid-range - not $10, but not $100 either!

And I'm fairly certain I've blogged about this before, but for goodness sakes, I love our sound machines. I started using a sound machine for white noise when Noah was about 4 months-ish and we haven't looked back. The white noise has been a familiar sound/thing that no matter where we go, it's somewhat comforting. Also, I know that neither boy need the white noise to sleep as they've fallen asleep without it, but it's helpful if we're watching something after the boys have gone to sleep and we know we don't have to worry about them waking up from our noise. It's comforting to us, too. Who knew?
We have two different ones; the Conair sound machine and the Obusforme Sound Therapy. I like both of them.

And as for music, I'm still loving Sweet Thing's Change of Seasons. I heard it on the radio awhile back and immediately really liked it.
After a quick google I found out that Sweet Thing is from Toronto which makes me like them even more. Love me some good hometown musicians. I love their harmonies and I like the lyrics to this song. Here's the live studio version of Change of Seasons.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

daddy love

lately noah has had an increased desire to be with daddy. it's a joy for me to see this as previously jamie has been the recipient of some disrespectful behaviour from noah which has been hard for me to see and hard on jamie as well (who is an amazing daddy and shows unconditional love and grace to his little boys). 
tonight jamie had a later day on campus and came home about 20 minutes before noah's bedtime and when we heard the garage door open noah raced down the stairs to see him.
much fun ensued.

ps this is noah being thrown up into the air, not jumping off the balcony.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


my personality, in general, is one of a researcher. when i'm insterested in something or passionate about something i research. i read, read, read - books, magazines, articles, blogs, anything i can find on that particular subject/thing/issue.
when i was pregnant with noah i read a lot. i read books on pregnancy, birth, and labour. i asked people for their birth stories and found some online too*.
i read books on parenting philosophies including everything from babywise to attatchment parenting.
jamie's nana even wrote out her birth stories for me which i absolutely and completely loved!
i loved hearing the horrible worst-case-scenarios and the oh-my-gosh-it-was-perfect stories. i wanted to know everything.
but at some point all the research combined with some PPD made for one overwhelmed, anxious and paranoid mama who didn't have any confidence in her own maternal instinct.
research is so great and valuable, but at some point you need to take what you've read, glean the principles and mold them to your situation. because your situation is completely unique in at least some way and it's going to look different for everyone.
it took me going across the globe to africa, away from all my precious books and dependable internet for me to learn how to trust my instinct and my God-given ability and privilege to be noah's mama. picked out specifically for noah and he for me. noah was 6 months old at the time and it was the best thing for all of us.
since then i've occasionally referred to books or online resources for different questions i've had but nothing like my initial frenzy of reading.
but now i find myself compeltely depleted of wisdom and knowledge of how to navigate these murky waters of preschoolerhood that i find myself in. so it's back to the books.
this time, however, i'll be able to take it all in with a grain of salt and figure out how to balance what i know of my child with the principles and ideas presented.

also, funny story: on my way out of the library as i'm wrestling to keep two very rambunctious, hungry and somewhat cranky boys under control i am sure the librarian was totally chuckling to herself as she scanned these books out for me. it also might explains why she was so helpful by putting my many books into my bag for me (never once has a librarian done that for me). regardless, i was thankful.

thanks to those so far who have recommended ideas and books to me. i'm likely going to at least skim everything i can get my hands on and then delve deeper into the ones that seem to hit it home with me. keep 'em coming!

*the blogs i've linked to are all ones i found around the birth of jude, not noah. but they're good ones. if you like birth stories, read 'em! the first link is hilarious (caution, much swear-age occurs), the second one is amazing and terrifying, the third one i love how she writes and um, also, the last one (nella's birth story) is absolutely heart-breaking. read with caution. i bawled. (i actually just re-read it and bawled again. so that's that.)

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