Browsing the blog archives for August, 2010.

Marriage Challenge Round-up

Domestic, Marriage

In this post, I’m participating in Completing Him Challenge and Marriage Mondays.

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I lost my Grandmother in the last few weeks and stepped away from the blog for a bit. Though I wasn’t blogging, I was still participating in the marriage challenge. 🙂 My Granny loved my husband and always thought he ‘had a good head on his shoulders’, which is a phrase I hold dear because only my Granny, my parents and my husband ever say it and when they do, the person they’re talking about is always special. I’ll recap the weeks I missed here, and then thoughts on the whole process.

I last posted on week #5, which was priorities in marriage, and making sure mine are kept in line with his. The conversation was very helpful, and surprising that it was actually, because we routinely talk about every item on the list, I just always had them in a different order!

Week #6 was about following your husband’s lead and his vision for your family. Depending on how this is worded, the idea is received differently. The very concept of a wife following her husband’s lead simply because he is their husband is so foreign it even seems wrong to some people. I tend to think of it more like, I picked him as my husband 10 years ago because, among other reasons, he is a good leader and is a smart, level headed guy. I would not have married him if I didn’t think I could trust his judgment. While he’s figuring stuff out, he’ll bounce ideas off me, we talk about possible plans and I’m usually part of the brainstorming process, but to me it’s not the end of the world if I’m not. Very few times have I been hesitant to do something he’s planned to do, but since his decisions keep end up being sound, I haven’t had any reason to be!

The week 6 challenge suggested we talk with our husbands about their goals for the family in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years. We love talking about this stuff so we do it often. I already knew his vision for our family, and I am totally on board. <3

Week 7 was about respecting your husband, and asking what it is you do that makes him feel disrespected. Sometimes it really is little things that we do that can have the biggest impact. Think about the little things that bug you about your husband – do you think he even knows? My husband reaffirmed a few things I already knew, like eye rolling, information overload when he gets up, bugging him to hang out, and not keeping up with the house or going horribly off budget. He also mentioned a few things I didn’t think would be on the list, and I am thankful for the heads up.

I think it’s important to be mindful of the things I do that bother my husband, if for no other reason than to have a peaceful home. How much better is everyone’s day if I’m not part of whatever happens to contribute to a rough day for him? Plus really, he’s respectful to me, so why wouldn’t I be??

Our last week was my favourite as any regular reader would know. Week 8 was about sex, mainly focused on being open to having it as much as our husbands want it. In my marriage we have the opposite issue where I bug him for it more than I probably should. As I mentioned in my post on priorities, my husband says ‘there are more important things’ – it has been suggested that he feels this way because he knows I’m always into it so it’s not something he ever has to stress about. Having said all of that I know we still fit into the ‘often’ category, so it’s not like I’m horribly neglected. 😉 The overall goal of this challenge though was to get on your husband’s wave, either way. If you happen to be in my shoes instead of the more often written about ‘SAHM is exhausted and husband wants to get it on every night’ situation, it’s just as important that we lay off our husbands as it is the tired new mommies put out. You dig?

I really liked this challenge and I’m sort of bummed that it’s over. I’m going to take everything I’ve learned and be mindful to apply it to daily life – where it really matters. I would love to get in on more group challenges like this one. Even when I’m left shaking my head and not sure exactly how I’m supposed to handle the situation, I just love him like when I was 18, so I want to do the best I can. <3



Canada Day Celebrations


I know it’s been more than a month since Canada Day, but I don’t want to ignore the amazing themed food I made for my usual suspects that weekend – prepare to be schooled. I made a dish from each of three provinces that I have a connection to. My father’s heritage is what I love to call ‘painfully Canadian’. It’s true that both his mother and his father’s families go back to Scotland and England, respectfully, but the first few generations back are from Saskatchewan and Quebec. My father is one of four siblings, three of them born in Ontario, plus my husband and his family are from Ontario as well. One of my oldest and dearest friends is from Northern Ontario and Miss Talea is from Saskatchewan as well and actually supplied the recipe I used! My grandfather’s entire family was from Montreal and the surrounding snobby French towns, so that’s my third!

Ontario obviously is at the top of the list, being the only province I’ve ever called home, and though my husband has lived in two other provinces, he was born in here and has spent the most time here. The farmers association in Ontario is called Foodland, and there is even a chain of grocery stores (only in small towns – mind you they’re in every small town) by the same name. There are way too many different fruits and veggies to pick a real ‘staple’ of Ontario foods, but we have an abundance of apples and cranberries, plus apples and cranberries are probably my favourite locally grown foods, so I went with Ontario Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie.

Ontario Apple Cranberry Crumble – from Foodland Ontario

Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal (not instant)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 medium Ontario Apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges
1 cup Ontario Cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C). Thaw pie shell for 10 minutes. Set on a baking sheet to catch any drips while pie is baking. To prepare streusel, combine oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add butter cut into cubes. Using fingers or a pastry cutter, cut butter into oatmeal mixture just until fine crumb consistency. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, stir together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine apples and cranberries until mixed. Stir in sugar mixture and coat fruit well. Spoon into pie shell. Sprinkle streusel topping evenly over top. Bake on lower shelf in centre of oven for 10 minutes. If topping begins to brown too quickly, cover loosely with a piece of foil. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F (180° C) and continue to bake until apples are tender, filling is hot and topping is a deep golden brown, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand at least 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.


So so so good. Foodland suggests serving it with vanilla ice cream. I served it with this Ice Salad from Saskatchewan.

I can’t possibly explain why a general rule of thumb in the prairies is that anything with more than three ingredients served cold is called a salad. It’s not a rule I’ve ever heard from anywhere else and it’s certainty met with raised eyebrows, so I have confirmation that it’s not just me that thinks this is weird. Also, the prairies have a thing for Jello. They love it in an unnatural, 1950s sort of way. My Saskatchewan dish combines the two in a family recipe from Talea for Ice Salad. The recipe she gave me was for this pineapple-orange version which I loved but not everyone else loves pineapple as much as me.


Saskatchewan Ice Salad – from Miss Talea

One 14 oz can of crushed pineapple
One 3 oz package of lemon jello powder
2 Cups of vanilla ice cream

Drain juice from pineapple. Add enough water to juice to make one cup. Heat to boiling and add jello powder. Add ice cream and stir until melted. Add crushed pineapple. Refrigerate.

I modified the recipe a little and made these pink ones, a strawberry-raspberry version. I followed the same basic guideline and used vanilla ice cream, but I used raspberry jello instead of lemon and because I ditched the concept of fruit bits, I didn’t have the juice, so I used strawberry fruitopia. Yum!!


When thinking about food from Quebec, the very first thing most people think of is poutine. I’m just really not big on the whole cheese curds situation. Aside from poutine, the only other thing out of Quebec would be tourtiere. It’s a meat pie, traditionally made on Christmas Eve.

Quebec Tourtiere

2lbs lean ground beef
5 cloves garlic
1 onion
1/4 cup parsely
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp savory
beef stock
1/4 brick of marble cheese
your favourite pie crust
1 egg

Make your crust (mine is 3 cups flour, 3/4 cups butter and 5 tbsp water) and line it with thin slices of marble cheese. But not cheese slices, you dig? Then sauté your onions and garlic in a bit of butter and mix in and cook your ground beef. Mix in the corn and pour into your (cheese-lined, uncooked) pie crust.


Mix the egg with a bit of water to make an egg wash and brush over the top crust of the pie. Bake it at 350 for about 45 minutes, check on it about halfway and brush with the egg wash again.


I also served Tim Horton’s coffee of course!! Next year I want to make nanaimo bars (for British Columbia), maybe some beef stew (for Alberta) and some kind of seafood (for the Maritimes).

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My Granny

Crafty, Domestic

The first time I sat down to write this post, it opened with ‘my granny died 10 days ago’, and that was three weeks ago. I’m still not sure if I want to write about her just yet, but I do know that I want to write and I also know that I wont post anything else until I write about her because I can’t just ignore that she’s gone.

She was 87. 87! That is seriously old and she didn’t squander those years either. I don’t know if I can put it to words in a way that would do justice to her life, but I don’t want to cop out before I’ve started so I’m going to try. Just know that she was a force to be reckoned with.

Even her quick bio is a little awesome to me. She was born in 1923 – think about that for a minute! The town in Saskatchewan that she grew up in had a population of 600 – she even rode a horse to school and that horse’s name was…wait for it…Maude. If I was reading this blog and I didn’t know my family I might not believe that, but it’s true. Her mother died when she was a young girl and she moved with her sisters and brother to Winnipeg where she did most of the cooking and baking for the whole family. She joined the army at 18, was stationed in Montreal and eventually met my Grandfather as a result – he was also in the army and Montreal was his hometown.

After marrying my Grandfather, they had four children. My Uncle Bob was born in a hospital in Montreal in 1947, my father was born in a hospital in Toronto in 1949, and by 1952 my grandparents had moved to the middle of nowhere, on the northern tip of Lake Superior where my Granny gave birth to my Uncle Glenn in a cabin in the woods with no running water or electricity. A few years later they had moved back to Toronto and my Granny gave birth one more time, to my Aunt Wendy, at home in their apartment – so quietly that no one else in the building knew she had a baby!

Grandpa, Uncle Bob, Grandma and Daddy, 1950

She waitressesed her way through her 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, (with a brief break in her late 20s when they lived in nowhere land), and worked hard until she she retired. And even then, she was still up at dawn every single day. When my mother went back to work after I was born, she and my Grandpa not only took care of me and walked me back and forth to school but she taught me real life skills and lessons I may not otherwise know (I can make all the tricky stuff in the kitchen because of her). The very first pie she taught me to bake was Lemon Meringue, how convenient that would turn out to be one of my future husband’s favourite pies! We made a lot of bread, muffins and cakes and HEAPS and HEAPS of cookies. Man, she loved to bake cookies. To me pie represents what I think cookies must have represented to her – the ultimate domestic staple. I’ll even add bread to that catagory, if my house smells like either it just feels so right.

When my aunt and uncle bought a neighbourhood restaurant, she baked all the pies, tarts, muffins and other treats from scratch. Every inch the typical Granny in this way, she’d always go to bed by 10, when everyone else was still having fun and get up while it was still dark to do her baking before the rest of the house even woke up!

There are so many things about her that I aim to emulate, she hosted Sunday supper every weekend without fail from 1975 till the weekend before she passed (though to be fair, my aunt did all the actual work in the last few years because my Granny couldn’t). What a wonderful legacy! There are 35 years of weekly memories created because she wanted to be sure we all stayed connected to each other. It worked. We have always been, for better or worse, one of the tightest families I’ve ever met.

Grandma and Baby May, 1980

Rando facts that I find endearing:
-she loooooved Glenn Miller (so much that she and my Grandpa named one of my uncles after him) and Christmas music (year round)
-she hated wee one #3’s name when we picked it before she was born, and then she kept forgetting it after (but never forgot the names of the other two wee ones)
-from the time I was wee until I got married, we would go to Fabricland together and pick out patterns for dresses or skirts and heaps and heaps of placemats and napkins, I loved it
-she always buttered both crackers and bread before putting peanut butter on and when asked would always say ‘you can’t just put peanut butter directly onto the bread/dry cracker‘, and give a stink eye like you had 10 heads
-when I was a teenager, she’d send me to the store with way too much money and let me keep the change

I thought this would be easier but tears are trying to break through and it’s biting. I am so thankful for the time I had with her, but I am also so bummed with myself that I had even more opportunity to hang out with her that I didn’t take. It’s easy to say that I have a busy life, but it’s not right to use that as an excuse.

Grandma and 4 Year-Old May, 1984.

My eldest uncle passed this March, which I have no doubt had a serious effect on my Granny’s health, and I felt the same way after his funeral. So I’ve been proactive about it I think. I make sure I check in with my folks everyday and my aunts and uncles hear from me weekly. More importantly, I go hang out and insist they visit us as well. It’s important that I stay in touch, of course, but it’s just as important that my kids nurture the bonds they have with every member of our family. For that, naturally, we need face time. <3