Browsing the blog archives for June, 2012.

Our First Video (& Some Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Domestic, Kids

So, you know how I feel about children in the kitchen. I strongly encourage it and I really think they can learn so much. Obviously, they learn about cooking or baking and they might learn a bit about the dish they’re making, but they also learn a lot about fractions when we double of halve a recipe and they learn a little baking chemistry as well! One day, I’ll gift wrap brand new copies of The Cake Bible and The Pie and Pastry Bible for them to learn all kinds of crazy kitchen chemistry. In the meantime, I’ll assault them with information as we bake. I’ve also noticed that random questions about life pop up when we’re all relaxed and enjoying each other’s company in the kitchen – and that’s always a good thing.

All of the kids love to be in the kitchen. Wee One #2 likes big bakes mostly, like cakes and pies and breads. Wee One #1 likes to cook more than he likes to bake. Wee One #3 though, she shares my affinity for small, quick batch baking. Cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and the like. ‘Teatime Treats’ is usually the chapter of baking books she gravitates towards. When I announced that I wanted to bake up some cookies, she was my first volunteer and this video is the result.

I have tried other chocolate chip cookie recipes, but my Granny’s is just always, always better!

This is her recipe:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg
1 cup chocolate chips

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes!

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Work in Progress Wednesday #11 – Hedgerow Socks


Work in Progress Wednesday #11 - Hedgerow Socks

I have been knitting a lot more lately, and I even managed to finish sock one and get about 1/4 of the way done sock two on this pair – let’s ignore that it’s been two weeks since my last WIP Wednesday. Homeschooling and visitors and exploring and all that good stuff gets in the way of knitting, you know! Also, I had to rip the first sock back 3 or 4 times after I turned the heel. Total Nightmare. However, this second sock is well on it’s way to being done by next Wednesday so I can finally send it off to the birthday girl (whose birthday was in April)!

Do you love my new knitting basket and the so cute it hurts notebook? I know, right? I go the basket when I was out thrifting with Vanessa and the kids on the weekend (I should do a post on their haul they made it home with, I’m impressed with their choices), and the lovely notebook was a gift from my girl Emerald. She picked it up for me when she was in Hong Kong (ooooh, fancy pants – thanks Em)! The pages are lovely and each section is done in a different color, the best part though is the back cover, it says ‘where troubles melt like lemon drops’. Ha! I love random stuff from Hong Kong (that’s another post I should do soon, she brought back a lot of cool stuff).

Annnnyhoo, I sincerely hope these socks are done by next Wednesday and I’ve casted on for my fifth pair of socks for the year. With a goal of 12 pairs of socks this year, I’m already a pair behind if I want to knit one per month. Maybe I’ll knit a pair of ankle socks in there somewhere!

Work in Progress Wednesday #11 - Hedgerow Socks
Work in Progress Wednesday #11 - Hedgerow Socks
Work in Progress Wednesday #11 - Hedgerow Socks
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Menu Monday and Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake

Domestic, Kids

This week, I’m linking up with The Organizing Junkie and The How To Mommy for Menu Monday!

Happy Monday!!

Monday has become a day of celebration around here because we try to only hit up the pool in our complex when we know it’ll be empty. We’ve been here for a little over two months, go almost everyday and we’ve only ever seen other people there four times! During the week, we go during our lunch break from home schooling and unless we go around dinner time, we don’t go to the pool on the weekends. Most weekends are filled with Daddy time and having fun with our awesome new friends (thanks for taking us thrifting and hosting a kiddie bbq!) so we are all generally too wiped out for the pool anyway. We didn’t go anywhere near the pool (or the ocean) this weekend, so when we take our mid-day break (somewhere between math and reading) we’ll break in our new pool toys!

After two weeks in a row of out of town visitors (we miss Brigitte, Hal, Lindsay and her mom already!), we are visitorless this week and we will likely be catching up with each other – which means we’ll cook together a lot and go for walks and probably stay up late making paper dolls and playing video games. 🙂

Menu Monday is one of my favorite bloggy days because I love to see the week in food laid out in front of me, even if I totally abandon it for whatever Martha is raving about in this month’s magazine (I can’t be the only one that feels compelled to make some ridic creation rightnow). This blueberry swirl coffee cake is not only amazing any day of the week, my 6 year old makes it pretty much by herself! She’s a pint size domestic goddess, but I swear it’s not hard. Recipe after this week’s menu!

This Week’s Menu (June 11 – 17)

Monday – Spaghetti and Meatballs with Garlic Bread for the fam, Spaghetti without Meatballs for me and Nanaimo Bars for dessert

Tuesday – Cheesy Breaded Chicken with Bacon Mashed Potatoes for the fam, Crack Wrap for me and Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake for dessert

Wednesday – Breaded Haddock with Pilaf and Beans for the fam, Veggie Potstickers with Pilaf and Beans for me and Chocolate Chip Muffins for dessert

Thursday – Chicken Bacon Wraps with Sweet Potato Fries for the fam, Black Bean Burrito with Sweet Potato Fries for me and Banana Pie for dessert

Friday – Homemade Calzones for all of us and Black Bottom Coconut Bars for dessert

Saturday – Beef Stroganoff with Basic Bread for the kids, likely some Black Bean Burrito leftovers for me and Apple Pie for dessert

Sunday – Roasted Chicken with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes and Corn (& gravy oooof course) for the fam, probably more Veggie Potstickers with Pilaf for me and Chocolate Buttermilk Cake for dessert

I have been eating these vegetarian pot stickers I’m totally hooked on and I’d eat them everyday if I ever made enough so my menu this week is a little pathetic. Also, notice that Mondays have become Spaghetti and Meatball day and Fridays have become homemade pizza and/or calzone day. The kids make their own and are incredibly happy to eat what they made!

Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake

Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake – adapted from Betty Crocker’s Best Christmas Cookbook

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 21-ounce can blueberry pie filling (or whatever kind you like)
1 cup icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake
Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake
Set oven to 350F, and grease a jelly roll pan (or use your trusty 9×13 pan). Beat sugar, butter, shortening, baking powder, vanilla, almond extract and eggs with an electric mixer (or a whole lot of elbow grease) till smooth and then stir in the flour – make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl!
Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake
Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake
Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake
Spread two-thirds of the mixture in the bottom of the pan. Spread the pie filling over it. Then dollop the rest of the mixture over the pie filling by tablespoonfuls. Bake for about 45 minutes! Mix the icing sugar and milk to make a quick and yummy glaze to drizzle over top of the coffee cake while it’s still warm.
Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake
Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake
Blueberry Swirl Coffee Cake

Searching for the Perfect Picnic Basket

California, Domestic, Healthy

Today I’m linking up with Dandelion House, Happy Go Lucky Blog, and Chubby Cheeks Thinks.

I have had a love for all things vintage and slightly chipped and worn and almost matching for as long as I can remember. I used to beg my department store-loving mother to take me downtown to Toronto’s Kensington Market so I could hunt for treasures from my favorite thrift stores. The concept of used clothing totally skeezed her out so most of the time my dad and I would go together – and more often than not, he’d find a treasure himself!

My husband however, is not so down with vintage stuff. I’m not going to get all psychological here, but he’s defo the kind of guy that likes new and shiny things. He likes sets of things that match. He likes new and matchy things even more than I like vintagey things, so a very long time ago (over a decade ago anyway) I stopped bringing random old cups and mismatched plates home and instead started hitting up Ikea and Pier 1 and if I’m totally honest there may have been some Crate & Barrel and even some Pottery Barn going on as well. Last year we bought a very pretty house in the woods of Central Ontario and we were slowly filling it with catalog wish list goodies. Then my husband was offered a situation he couldn’t refuse in Los Angeles – so off we went!

Fast forward to a few months later. We came down here with just a small trailer of absolute necessities. We packed light for two reasons – we didn’t think we’d be here very long and we knew we had to declare every single thing we were bringing aka ‘importing household items’ for CBP. After some bitching about how lacking my LA kitchen is (and truthfully the rest of our apartment is equally lacking), my friend Vanessa brought over some thrifted cups and cutlery for us to use because she’s super sweet like that, and one of those cups is now my husband’s hands down favorite cup of all time. He oddly likes that there isn’t another one of them in our little collection, which of course spawned a conversation about the possibility of creating a vintagey apartment down here and it was like 1000 Christmases rolled into one when he said he was totally down with it. All I’ve thrifted since that convo is a zebra print plate and a Little Miss Chatterbox cup, however last night? Oh last night I spent hours on Etsy looking for just the right picnic basket.

I proudly found this $60 wagon at a streetcorner ‘yard’ sale for $15 a couple of weeks ago and can now pull my two smallest wee ones to the farish park that’s perfect for picnics. Vanessa and I took the kids there for a picnic once already but picnics are always better when you’re rockin a beautiful picnic basket, right? Right?

These baskets are all amazing. I adore them and once I complete my actual shopping list of things I need for our new place I’d love to get a couple more and start a collection. I’m not including the basket that I picked in these pictures, I’m going to wait until it gets here and show it to you on a picnic!

Vintage wicker picnic basket with wood double lid
Retro Picnic Basket
This is one of the first ones I fell in love with. It’s $50 but there’s no domestic shipping on it! The fabric inside it melts my heart and I absolutely adore the double lid.
I crossed this one off my list when I decided that I had to have a double lid, otherwise this was a strong contender because it’s so roomy and I’m always packing a picnic for at least 4!
Vintage Jerywil WOOD PICNIC BASKET Wov-N-Wood Interior Pie Basket Androck Dishes Olive Green Tulips
Vintage bent wood Picnic Basket with wooden pie stand. Wooden Pie Basket
The charm of this basket is that it comes full of goodies (4 each; large plates, saucers, coffee cups, drinking glasses, forks, knives & spoons). I came thisclose to picking this basket and it’s dishes.
Are you kidding me?! A pie basket?! I love this!! I think it might be a bit too small for us though and again, as sweet as this one is the one I picked is even sweeter!

In this Etsy adventure I also found a really adorable little something for my sister – shipping on it to Canada is the same as here, so I could even have it shipped right to her so I’m not paying shipping twice! I also came across a lot of really painfully cute plastic picnic baskets from the 70s for the kids, but I’m not sure I can justify getting one for all of us and then another one! There is one more picnic basket that was in the running that I’m not going to post because it is perfect for patio picnics and I can’t wait to show it to you – on my patio!

Obviously, I’m obsessing over all things picnic (summer has officially hit LA, but of course coming from Canada even their ‘winter’ is official summer to us) and all things vintage (getting the thrifty green light from my husband has me totally over the moon with excitement). I apologize to everyone who reads this blog and loves all things shiny and new because I have a pretty good feeling that all of my Window Shopping Wednesday posts are going to focus on all things slightly worn. 😉

I will leave you today with some vegan picnic inspiration, courtesy of Mama Pea. I haven’t coughed up any recipes from this book yet because I really think it’s worth picking up – but Mama Pea gives you this recipe on her blog.

Peas & Thank You's Picnic Tortilla Pinwheels

Peas & Thank You's Picnic Tortilla Pinwheels

I’m aware that I used a piece of bread and the recipe clearly calls for a tortilla. Since I snapped this photie, I have made them properly and they amazing either way. They’re perfect picnic food too and will absolutely find a place in my new basket. <3


Grilled Cheese Rolls & Some Thankful Thursday Love

Domestic, Kids

Today, I’m linking up with Kate Says Stuff, Obviously Marvelous, and Saved By Love. Check out some of the other blogs linking up, they’re full of great ideas!

Why my children prefer these rolled up grilled cheeses over classic grilled cheese sandwiches, I’m not sure. I mean of course growing up with me as your mother you’re going to go for whimsy instead of standard fare and that’s cool with me but man…they loooooove them.

For someone who loves to experiment with food and flavors and styles of cooking, I have a somewhat resistant family. Only somewhat in that most of the time Wee One #1 will try just about anything and if it’s a sugary baked good that doesn’t involve coconut he’s usually happy with it, the other two wee ones are usually down with variations on their favorites but not so into totally new things. My husband is supportive of my kitchen experiments but not always down to actually sit down to eat them. So I try to keep that in mind when I absolutely must switch something up and try a new take on something they’d eat everyday (possibly all day) if it was offered. These grilled cheese rolls were an instant hit and I’ve been making them several times a week now!

Today on Thankful Thursday over at Kate Says Stuff, we’ve all (yes you too) been invited to talk about how awesome we are. These grilled cheese rolls have me feeling pretty awesome because making something decently healthy (if you get sneaky with your choice of ingredients of course) for my kids and having them asking for more is pretty rad. I’m also feeling pretty amazing because I made a tray of four different kinds of cupcakes yesterday for a friend who hadn’t celebrated his birthday in years (wha?!?!) and he went on and on and on about how great they all were and that I should get into catering and my domestic ego was polished to a shine. Lately homeschooling has been a lot of fun and that makes me feel really awesome because at first I wasn’t sure it was a good fit for us – we just needed to find our groove!

I’m going to tag a few awesome people as well. For the record I’d tag my sister and my girlfriends because they’re all pretty amazing girls – very talented and while some of them are kind of badass they’re actually really sweet – but they aren’t blogging at the moment. Their awesomeness shines the brightest when I remember how present they have always been for me even where there is a whole lot of distance (and now time difference) between us.

My dear friend Romi has written and (as of today) has published two books. They are amazing. You can buy her new one right now, here -> Last-Minute Love (Year of the Chick series). She’s always been up for skipping dinner for wine and cake even when going back to her place was a bit of an epic journey. She’s extremely driven and talented and smart and funny and oh Romi, you’re amazing.

My girl Sammie over at The La May Bakery is probably the sweetest person I know. I mean, damn. Not only is she super sweet and cute and always, always looking on the bright side (even right now when her husband is deployed and she’s 16 weeks pregnant with Wee One #2), she’s a good friend and is always there to listen and help figure things out. She’s also a great long distance kitchen buddy and more than once we have cooked the same thing for dinner – coincidentally! So so so awesome.

If I’m talking about awesomeness, I absolutely MUST include Mutant Supermodel. For two years now I’ve been watching her amazing journey in single parenting and amazing, wonderful advice on budgeting. She is a very strong woman but also someone who can chill out and just be a real person. Ah. Maze. Ing.

And last but never least, I’m going to add Erik of Diary Dad to this collection of awesome because he’s such a dedicated and devoted dad! The world would be a better place if more dudes jumped into parenting with both feet! He engages his kids in everyday activities and ‘dadventure days’. Cuuuute (and awesome).

Now, back the ‘recipe’ today, it’s barely a recipe, all you need is bread, butter and cheese slices. If you’re sneaky, like me, you’ll use whole grain bread, vegan ‘butter’ and veggie ‘cheese slices’. Shhhh.

Grilled Cheese Rolls

Grilled Cheese Rolls
Grilled Cheese Rolls
Cut the crusts off the bread and win instant points with wee ones everywhere! Then flatten the life out of them with your rolling pin.
Grilled Cheese Rolls
Grilled Cheese Rolls
One slice of cheese per slice of bread (more gets messy, trust me), and roll those babies up! I brushed a wee bit of ‘butter’ on each side so they’d look browned and pretty.
Grilled Cheese Rolls
Just cook them as you would normally, except make twice as many!
Grilled Cheese Rolls

Menu Monday – Without the OCD

California, Healthy, Kids, Marriage

I’m editing the site today so if something is wonky or broken, it wont be for long!

This week, I’m linking up with Organizing Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday and The How To Mommy’s Meal Planning Monday.

For years and years and years now, I have been a planner. Both in the ‘knowing whats for dinner next Tuesday’ kind of way and in the ‘I keep a notebook of running ideas I add to my calendar’ kind of way. This way of thinking and planning had ingrained itself in me pretty deeply. So deeply that not knowing exactly how long we’d be in California was stressing me out before we even left Canada. It bothered me that as I was reading through blog posts of neat home decor projects I didn’t know when or where I’d be able to work on them, or that I didn’t know what my routine would be like with homeschooling so I had no idea when I’d be blogging or how much time I’d have for baking. I’m not kidding, it honestly stressed me out to think about not having the info I needed to make solid plans and even worse that there was no way for me to find out that info because it just didn’t exist yet. So I packed up our most loved and used treasures, helped my husband change the oil and tried not to freak out about it too much.

yarn, my hair dryer, makeup and my cherry apron - all set!
changing the oil before we head out

At first, about a week before we left when we were still looking at apartments in LA online and trying to pack up the last of our ‘must have’ list, I started to let go of the idea that I’d know exactly where we’d be living. I rationalized to myself that it was ok to not know yet since I’d like to see the place in person before deciding to move there anyway. So leaving Canada without having picked a place in LA ushered me into letting go of planning, which made it a lot easier and honestly a lot more fun for all of us to just enjoy our 2700 mile road trip! We totally did too! It was so so so much fun!

crossing over into Michigan
happy happy and relaxed!
driving through the rockies in Colorado
road trip love in Utah!
Arizona is beautiful
almost in Nevada
after 11 years of talking online and on the phone I finally met my dear friend Nichole in person!
palm trees make me incredibly happy
there was a lot of Starbucks snacking going on

After that, instead of pressuring my husband and rental-unit-finder person (what’s that job called?!) into getting us a place ASAP, we moved into a really cute extended stay suite with a wee (but sweet) kitchen and spent some time finding a great place for us. Ever since then, I’m pretty breezy about plans. I mean yes I still menu plan, but that’s a sanity saver more than anything else – and I rarely actually make these meals in order (plus down here there is a lot more popping out to Chipotle and tossing all plans aside). Of course there is homeschool planning to do, but really I just read ahead in the homeschool books at night so I know what I’m teaching the kids the next day, I don’t obsess over exactly what needs to be taught each school day and exactly what needs to be on each review for each unit. I will roll with it.

So now that I know that we are here for a while, I’m not freaking out about exactly how long or when we’ll upgrade to a bigger place or if we even upgrade to a bigger place and man – this feels so good! So here’s my tentative menu plan for this week – and yes I’m aiming to make these fudgy snowballs twice because they’re uber simple and a serious hit with the whole fam (even Wee One #1 who is not big on dates).

This Week’s Menu
Monday – Spaghetti with Meatballs and Breadsticks for the fam, Spaghetti without Meatballs for me and Cinnamon Buns for dessert

Tuesday – Scratch Hot Pockets for the fam, Mushroom Soup for me and Fudgy Snowballs for dessert

Wednesday – Breaded Sole with Corn and Rice Pilaf for the all of us and Cocoa Brownies for dessert

Thursday – Scratch Chicken Nuggets and Fries for the fam, Tofu Nuggets for me and Vanilla Cupcakes for dessert

Friday – Mini Chicken Pot Pies for the fam, Mini Veggie Pot Pies for me and Fudgy Snowballs for dessert

Saturday – Homemade Calzones for all of us and Chocolate Cupcakes for dessert

Sunday – Beef Stroganoff for the fam, Crack Wrap for me and Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert

Fudgy Snowballs

Fudgy Snowballs – via Skinny Taste

15 pitted dates
2/3 cup cocoa
1 cup whole roasted unsalted almonds
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp + water
3 tbsp icing sugar

Fudgy Snowballs
Fudgy Snowballs
Grind up the almonds into almost dust and add the dates. I pre-chop mine a little so they don’t gum up my food processor! Then add the honey, cocoa and water and process till it holds together.
Fudgy Snowballs
Fudgy Snowballs
Now scoop out small balls and roll them tightly. Just like this, these treats are perfect but to make them snowbally, you need to roll them in icing sugar.
Fudgy Snowballs
Voila! Simple and pretty healthy (especially if you leave off the icing sugar).
Fudgy Snowballs

My Poor Kitchen


I complain about lament the loss of my kitchen pretty frequently, I know I do. Most of the time when I write or talk about it, it’s the size and beauty of it that I miss. Other times, it’s the pantry. Man, I had a pantry! On a daily basis though, it’s the kitchen things I have collected over the years that I didn’t think to bring with me that I miss the most. Mainly because I wasn’t entirely sure how long we’d be here. I know that the opportunity to live here in Los Angeles is amazing, I am so incredibly thankful for my husband’s job and our cute little apartment in our sweet tourist-free neighborhood. But daaaamn, there’s a whole lot of stuff I just didn’t think to bring. Juicer? Nope. Juice jug, even? Nope. I recognize it’s a ridiculous first world problem to have, that I can’t make my own juice so I have to buy a carton of juice. Oh poor me. How will I ever go on?

Do you hate me? I know, I’m sorry.

My new homie Vanessa lent me a bunch of must-haves from her kitchen (some utensils, a small saucepan, kitchen towels, and the cutest mugs there ever were) – that helped. I was smart enough to bring my pie pan, waffle maker, two best aprons, food processor and Kitchen Aid with me (but dumb enough to bring the sausage packer with me and leave the grater at home uuuugh), so that helps – a bit. Oh and my granny’s rolling pin – but I didn’t bring her cookie cutters with me! My wonderful and handsome husband was kind enough to ignore that my Target shopping list was eerily similar to my ‘things I can live without’ list written in Canada and he picked up knives, kids dishes, serving bowls, oven mitts, a brownie pan, muffin tray, cookie sheet, measuring cups and spoons and some tupperware.

I feel sad for my kitchen that I was so pumped for the long-awaited and heavily wished for bucket list in Los Angeles that I totally underestimated what I’d actually need in my kitchen. I looooove to mess around and whip up treats as much as I love to make a dinner everyone loves, so how I managed to gloss over the importance of my kitchen is beyond me.

Also neglected around here is the living room and our bedrooms. I did pack all my fave hair do dads and bangles and make up – and I did bring all of our favorite clothes! Since none of us really watch tv, we all (even our 3 year old) watch Netflix or stream tv shows from our laptops, so the living room is a big carpeted square where we sit on the floor in front of the flatscreen and play XBOX.

We’re calling it ‘minimalist’ but it’s hilarious.

Some days I can hardly believe we traded a beautiful house that we worked so hard to own for our little patch of Los Angeles, but at the same time I can hardly believe we can sunscreen up and take off to the beach any time we feel like it. So that, combined with the farmer’s markets and new friends makes it a pretty fair trade.

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