Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Weekend Recap

On Friday E celebrated Chinese New Year at school, they did Tai Chi and had a parade around the school with their homemade instruments.  When he got home from school, he was tired so he relaxed on the couch to watch some Dinosaur Train.  I took this picture because I wondered where this teenager had come from. 

Our new babysitter came over (she lives on our street!) to look after the boys while Dave and I went out for dinner.  We had some gift cards for the Keg so we went to the one on King West.  I ordered my usual prime rib and it was so yummy!

Selfie with the CN Tower on our way home.

Saturday morning came quickly but we were up and at 'em for skiing.  Dave skied in the morning and then I skied in the afternoon with E.  He is skiing so well, it was much less stressful than I thought it would be.  It also helped that we were with other kids and parents so we could follow them down the hill. 

Dave and E coming back to the lodge after E's lesson

Ready for the slopes

Dave and Q took a walk over to see us at the lift and snapped some photos.

Snuggled up, nice and cozy, when we got home

A little Jolly Jumper action before going to bed

On Sunday morning, we decided to skip church since E and I were both feeling a little under the weather.  While Dave went for his run, we watched The Parent Trap (with young Lindsay Lohan).  It was pretty cute and I think E enjoyed it.  Then he and Dave hopped on the subway to go to Monster Truck Jam at the Skydome.  Dave had kept it a surprise so E was pretty excited when he found out where he was going. 

E's favourite truck

While they were gone, Q napped and I did some tidying around the house.  Then we went to Walmart (my favourite place, especially on a Sunday afternoon #sarcasm) to get some stuff for our trip, like sunscreen, baby wipes, etc.  We had planned to go out for supper after the monster truck show but Dave and E were both tired so I whipped up some macaroni and cheese and took some sausage rolls out of the freezer for a cozy supper.  We finished our evening with the Raptors game and an episode of Mr. Selfridge. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

What to do?

When the Olympics are happening, since I follow a lot of athletes and Canadian journalists, my Twitter feed is full of tweets about the Games, and when I see a Tweet that isn't about the Olympics, then I am almost confused like, "what could they be talking about? Isn't everyone else as obsessed with the Olympics as I am? How could they be carrying on with their normal lives?".

I feel the same way now - I follow a lot of like minded individuals on Twitter, and have weeded out some non-like minded ones, and so my Twitter feed is filled with condemnation of Trump and his executive orders, support for the protests, and a sharing of information needed to navigate this new world we have found ourselves in. This was especially true on Saturday evening as travellers (some holding US Green Cards no less) from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, etc. were being detained in airports across the United States and regular people were doing everything they could to get them released.  We sat and scrolled through our feeds, refreshing the trending hashtags and reading what people were doing.  A lot of people on my Facebook were also posting on the topic and even some things on my Instagram were relevant to these events.  Like during the Olympics, when I would come across a post about something not related to this, I would be confused for a minute, "what are they talking about?".  Right now, bad things are happening in the United States and we need to pay attention to them.  They are a powerful nation, a large nation, both geographically and by population; what it does affects the entire world, we cannot underestimate this.  Canada stands to lose a lot from policies enacted and carried out by the US.  I was proud to see our Prime Minister and some Premiers explicitly welcome all people to our borders.

I know I held onto some hope that Donald Trump could not do too much damage, that he was only one person in a large organization with checks and balances, that he was all bluster and he would fall into line once taking office.  Sure, he would push the Republican agenda, but it wouldn't get out of hand.  We have seen that this is not the case.  In addition to this ban on travellers from Muslim countries, there has been a freeze on the Environmental Protection Agency, a gag order for governmental agencies, and of course the appointment of individuals to executive positions that seem like jokes since they are so completely inappropriate, but they sadly are not jokes, it's all real.

However I do still have hope, as shown by the millions who marched on day after the inauguration and those who went to airports across the country on Saturday night, and those who post messages of support for those protesters, and the judge who granted the injunction, however temporary, and the list goes on.  Good people are out there and they will continue to do good things,  but we cannot sit by silently, just living our lives and pretending this isn't happening.   We have all read this before:

I can't remember if it was a tweet or a poster from the airport protests but it said: "First they came for the Muslims and we said, 'Not this time, motherfucker!'".  Let this be our thought this time.  Don't hide your head in the sand and just carry on.  I mean, yes, carry on with your life, but be aware of what's going on and do what you can.  I don't know what that is for me yet, and it may be as simple as challenging comments I see. I don't expect to win the arguments, but I don't want to let these things go anymore. There is a campaign out there that says "make it awkward".  When someone makes a bigoted, sexist or racist comment or something, call them out, don't be silent.  People think that because of Brexit and Trump that this language is acceptable, it isn't, don't let this be the norm.  Speak up.  Stay woke. 

I entitled this post "What to do?".  I don't know what to do, but doing nothing isn't an option.  

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Favourites

Linking up with AndreaErika, and Narci for Friday Favourites.

E had skating lessons this week so Q and I bundled up to watch.  I had forgotten how cold it can be in the rink.

Tea and popcorn is always a comforting treat.  In one of our favourite books Bear Snores On, the characters pop corn and brew tea in the storm.  And when we were in Peru hiking the Inca Trail, on the day I could not get warm after our hike, tea and popcorn rallied all of us.  I enjoyed some Cardamom French Toast Tea from David's Tea and some Chicago Mix earlier this week on a damp day. 

I talked about these pizzas we made last weekend but I made this little collage to email to Chirp magazine to show them (Yes, I cut off part of his face, but I wanted to make sure I got the star shaped one in the picture).

We celebrated Chinese New Year last night by making some lanterns and eating homemade Chinese food (with chopsticks...and then a fork).

My aunt and uncle gave E this book for Christmas, it's from Indigo.  We use it for our library books.  I returned E's books this week and picked up a couple for myself to take with me on vacation.  

This is my favourite Starbucks coffee (Casi Cielo) but I haven't seen it to buy for a couple of years, glad I was able to pick up a bag to enjoy at home. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Monthly Goals - February

My goals for January were:

Swap out Q's clothes with some bigger sizes.  Done.  We have moved into the 6 month clothing, Q is growing like a weed. 

Get our vaccinations for our trip to Jamaica.  I did not do this.  It was really just laziness on my part, but I'm also just hoping for the best because we will be at a nice resort and not planning to leave it.   I know that hope is not a strategy, but here we are. 

Go for a run or two.  I went for one run and it was good.  Since I go to the gym three days a week and then we have skiing on another day, my days to run are limited.  I'll try again next month. 

Try some new recipes from the cookbooks I got for Christmas.  Done.  I have made several meals from Jamie Oliver's Family Classics cookbook. 

Get a babysitter and go out for dinner with Dave.  We are going to The Keg tomorrow.  Our babysitter lives in the neighbourhood so it is super convenient.  Hopefully it will work out well and we can go out at least once a month.  

Clean the light fixtures in our house. Done.  They were so dusty but now look so shiny.  

For February, I want to do the following:

1. Do something special for Valentine's Day for the whole family.  
2. Start putting together some ideas for decorating our living room.  With the Christmas decorations gone, it looks like we are moving out. 
3. Take E out for lunch on a school day. 
4. Plan a girls' night out with the ladies in my neighbourhood.
5. Go for two or three runs.
6. Plan our summer.  Registration for camps is in March, so I will need to figure out what camps E will go to and if we will take any trips.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What's up Wednesday

It's time for another instalment of What's up Wednesday (linking up with ShaySheaffer and Mel)

What we're eating this week...
Sunday - Homemade wings and nachos
Monday - pork chops with apple, roasted potatoes and carrots
Tuesday - Salmon and salad
Wednesday - Korean pork lettuce wraps
Thursday - Homemade Chinese food to celebrate Chinese New Year, Beef stir-fried with snow peas and mushrooms and chicken fried rice
Friday - Dave and I are going to The Keg, and E can have a quesadilla or something
Saturday - not sure yet 

What I'm reminiscing about...
As we are getting ready for our trip to Jamaica, I am reminiscing about past trips down south.   I've been to all inclusives in Cuba and Dominican, and the Four Seasons in Nevis and Punta Mita, Mexico.  I was pregnant the last time we went on a beach trip, so although I loved the virgin piƱa coladas, I am looking forward to having some more fun drinks this time!

What I'm loving...
I really do love being off work for mat leave.  I know I will go back to work but I am enjoying my time off.  I like starting my day off with some morning television and coffee, and then spending the rest of the day cooking, cleaning, working out, doing errands, and sometimes napping!  And Q is a great little buddy to do all of these things with.  

What we've been up to...
Skiing on weekends, taking E to swimming and skating lessons, trying to get out of the house at least once a day for a walk or to go to the gym. Dave has been running and looking after the various repairs in our house (the thing about having a house built in 1928 is that the jobs are never done). 

What I'm dreading...
It's not exactly dread, I am just hoping that everyone stays (or gets) healthy for our trip, and that there are no issues with the food and water when we are away.  

What I'm working on...
Getting our packing list ready for our trip and then figuring out what we need to buy - I will need to restock our first aid/medicine kit, and I think E will need new flip flops and a new sunhat.   

What I'm excited about...
The Academy Awards.  I'm hoping I can see a few more movies before the awards.  All the talk is about La La Land which I've actually seen.  On Saturday Night Live last weekend, they did a skit where Aziz Ansari was interrogated for not loving La La Land, it was cute, especially if you have seen the movie (I can't link to this clip, but see if you can find it).  That also reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine didn't like The English Patient (another Oscar winner). 

What I'm watching/reading...
We are watching The Affair, Mr. Selfridge, Homeland, Workin' Moms.  I'm watching The Bachelor and This is Us.  Dave is watching A Series of Unfortunate Events. 

I'm reading a book called Discipline without Damage.  I felt like we were yelling at E all of the time for not listening and being slow and general silliness and I thought there must be another way.  I'm only halfway through but it has some good advice so far.

What I'm listening to...
Well, I'm not listening to any podcasts, and I miss that.  I used to listen to them on my way to work and back.  I could listen when I go for walks but I always forget my headphones.  I've downloaded a few so I'll try to remember next time. 

What I'm wearing...
My new necklace from Stella and Dot.  I got some credits from the online party I had in November.  I picked an arrow necklace that I could layer with my cross.   I also got two silver charms with the initials E and Q. 

What I'm doing this weekend...
Skiing on Saturday and Dave is taking E to the monster truck show on Sunday.  He hasn't told him what they're doing yet, he will be so excited!

What I'm looking forward to next month...
Our trip to Jamaica! Valentine's Day, and more skiing.

What else is new...
Not much else!

Who is your favourite Bachelor?
The first one that came to mind was Andy Baldwin, he was the naval officer who I think was also a doctor.  But of course Sean was also a favourite.  He drove me crazy when he kept Tierra (sp?) around but I loved Lesley and of course Catherine.  I did meet Juan Pablo in person one time, but he was not a good Bachelor. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Show and Tell Tuesday

Linking up with Andrea for another year of Show and Tell Tuesday.

The first topic is Steal and Splurge - What we save on and what we splurge on.

I found this to be a hard topic to talk about, I don't really try to seek out deals and I'm really terrible at not knowing how much anything costs (Dave will concur).  I'll be excited to read what other people have to say in this link up. 

When I think of saving, I think about the money we put aside each paycheque for various things.  The old adage of "pay yourself first" is alive and well in this house, thanks to Dave. 

I don't really think about it as saving money but I guess that's what I'm doing - I only get my hair done about twice a year, and I don't get regular pedicures or facials.  I don't buy a lot of clothes for myself.  We don't have a cleaning lady.  We cook most of our meals at home and buy coffee from Starbucks or other coffee shops only every couple of days, not everyday.  Dave does a lot of repairs and other things around the house himself, but that's not really to save money, it's more because he enjoys it. 

We like to spend our money on travelling and food.  We put money away each paycheque for travel and when we go away we stay at nice places (not extravagant, but not budget), and we don't worry too much about what we spend on food, etc.  We worried about money when we went on our honeymoon and I think we would have had an even better time if we hadn't.  

We buy our meat at the butcher, which is definitely more expensive than the grocery store, but worth it to us.  I usually buy the name brand for other groceries as well.  Occasionally the store brand will be acceptable but rarely, and when I do try it, I remember that it is better to just go with the brand name (like for ketchup, spaghetti sauce, plum sauce, etc.). 

We buy the nice toilet paper.  We buy our coffee beans at local coffee shops or Starbucks.  I've started spending a bit more on wine at the liquor store.  I've decided life's too short to use cheap toilet paper and drink bad coffee and wine.  

Stay tuned for these topics coming up this year:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Weekend Recap

As predicted last week, our winter weekends will be relatively the same, and that's fine!  On Friday afternoon, Q and I headed up to get some food and other things.  This is us in the elevator at Shoppers. 

We made some pizzas.  This month's edition of Chirp magazine included some recipes from around the world.  For Italy they had pizzas that you could cut into shapes using a cookie cutter or knife.  We just did regular shapes cut with a knife.  We're going to send the photos to Chirp and see if we can get mentioned in a future edition. 

On Saturday, we headed to the hill again.  I skied in the morning and Dave stayed inside with Maya Angelou Q.

In the afternoon, Dave took E out for some runs.  Dave's Garmin watch tracks their route, they were all over the place!

We were all tired when we got home.  I made a yummy meal of a chicken and potato skillet and then it was time for bed.  A few attempts of some photos in bed, this is the best I could do.

Dave and I watched Deepwater Horizon, the movie based on the BP oil rig explosion and leak, it was pretty good, better than expected.

On Sunday morning, we did our usual routines of a run for Dave and church for the rest of us.  Afterwards, we had some lunch at a new coffee shop up the street, picked up some groceries, E bought me a cupcake from Bake Sale, and then he got himself and Dave pastries from Ana's Bakery. When we got back we watched the Green Bay game (insert sad face here), and after the boys went to bed we watched the Raptors game and Girl on the Train. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Favourites

Linking up with AndreaErika and Narci for Friday Favourites.

I'm loving the new show Workin' Moms.  I don't know if you can access this online anywhere in the US, but it's on CBC on Tuesday nights for you Canadians.  It is a creation of Catherine Reitman who also stars in it.  It's funny and real and I think most moms can relate to this stuff.  Plus I love that it's filmed in Toronto.  

Q's new favourite thing is sucking his thumb.  He has had a soother since he was about 3 weeks old but he has recently been chewing on his hands and then found his thumb.  I am trying to encourage the soother over the thumb, but I don't think I can abolish the thumb altogether.  I'm really not happy about this, but maybe I'm worried for nothing. E never sucked his thumb so I didn't have to think about this before.  I'm torn between wanting to constantly remove his thumb from his mouth and give him his soother instead, and also not always be depriving him of something that he likes. I guess it could be useful for times when we are driving and can't get his soother back in his mouth, he can just find his thumb instead.  But I don't want to encourage this habit. Am I overthinking this?

I saw La La Land on Monday and thought it was pretty good.  I love Emma Stone, I love Ryan Gosling, I love Los Angeles.  It was a big winner at the Golden Globes, but it's not your typical dramatic Oscar film so we'll see how it does.  The movie made me want to go back to LA.  Here we are when we visited in 2009.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich is one of my favourite meals.  This week we stepped it up a bit with this recipe (substituting gouda cheese for the gruyere).  I like Campbell's Tomato Soup as much as the next guy, but if you have time, make your own, it's so tasty.  

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Kitchen Tricks

I like reading of little tricks you can use around the house so I thought I would share some of mine in case you learn something new.  And feel free to comment with a tip of your own.

One of the yuckiest, but necessary, things in our house is the organics bin, and what is worse than dumping something gross over top of some other gross thing and having the little flimsy bag fall down inside the bin? We use an elastic band around the top of the bin to keep the bag in place.  The fun part is trying to remove the elastic band when you've got a full bin, but it's doable.

I used to worry about finding a suitable way to store and display our spices, but now I just put them in the drawer and write on the top of them to see what is inside.  This method also eliminates the need to buy matching bottles.  When the top is black, I've identified it with a small piece of masking tape.

Speaking of elastics, we use these to close most of the bags in our cupboards from flour and sugar to rice and pasta.  Rather than using a flimsy twist tie or a fancy clip (although we do have some of those too), an elastic fits on everything.  We have an abundance because our cloth diapers are delivered bound in groups of ten with an elastic, but you can save elastics from flyer and mail bundles and produce.

For food in a box, like cereal and crackers, we will clip these closed too.  I used to throw out tons of stale crackers and cereal because I would just sort of fold down the bag before closing the box, but now everything stays fresher for longer.

Storing nuts, coconut, cornmeal, and graham cracker crumbs in the freezer is a good way to make them last longer.  I don't use these ingredients a lot and even though they do last awhile in the cupboard, the freezer is better, since they can go off a little bit in the heat of the summer.

When we buy berries, which we do a lot in the summer, I always rinse the entire box in a water and white vinegar mixture (I don't measure but a splash of vinegar in a bowl (big enough to fit the berries) full of water.  It won't taste like vinegar and this helps to clean off any sort of bacteria that might be starting to grow.  Then I just scoop them out of the water and let them dry off on a paper towel.  The ones we don't eat I put back in the container they came in (not trimmed if you're doing strawberries) and cover with plastic and secured with an elastic (of course!).  This also gives you an opportunity to weed out any that are too soft that could turn the whole container.

This isn't really a food storage tip, but still related to food, when a recipe calls for red onion that won't be cooked, like for a salad or sauce, soak the cut onion in ice water for ten to fifteen minutes before draining it and adding it to the recipe.  This will cut the strong flavour of the onion.