Monday, April 26, 2010

not me monday: banana bread edition

— I was not too lazy to mash the bananas by hand for the banana bread I was making last week. I didn't just stick them in the Magic bullet and puree them to a liquid.

— I did not start making banana bread with the thought that it would be a healthy snack for my baby-growing belly, and then end up peppering it with mini chocolate chips.

— I have not already packed pretty much everything but our toothbrushes in our current apartment, even though moving day is still four sleeps away. As a result, I did not make the banana bread batter and then find myself without a bread pan.

— The fact that this once-healthy banana bread snack turned into a chocolatey banana cake does not mean that I eat much bigger servings with plate and a fork. I have lots of self control, and it really doesn't taste that delicious anyway.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

cookie #1

Editor's Note: This is the first instalment in my quest to make the best chocolate chip cookies. Please feel free to leave recipe suggestions or tips in the comments below. All related posts can be found by clicking the "in the kitchen" label on the right side of the page.

In an attempt to broaden my chocolate-chip-cookie-baking horizon, I Googled "best chocolate chip cookie recipe" ... I know, you're totally impressed with my ingenuity.

The first search result was the Best, Big Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (*Note: I used milk chocolate chips because I had them on hand, but I feel the recipe would've been better with the semi-sweet.)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. (*Note: I line mine with a silicone baking sheet and I love it.)

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart. (*Note: I did not drop a 1/4 cup of dough for each cookie. I probably used half of that because I didn't want the cookies to be ginormous.)

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the edges are lightly toasted (*Note: I hate it when recipes are vague about cooking time. I know oven heat varies, but how do I know that my idea of "lightly toasted edges" is the same as any other baker's?).

Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

In general, this was your standard cookie recipe in terms of ingredients and prep. The only real issue I had was knowing when they were done to perfection. Each pan was in the oven for a different amount of time.

There are a few things that can really alter the structure of a cookie recipe. First, American flour and Canadian flour are not created equal. My Mum and Grammie always told me this, because I grew up on the border of the U.S. and we sometimes bought groceries in the neighbouring state. This can also affect your Googled recipe if it was intended for bakers from another country.

For each recipe of my ultimate chocolate chip cookie quest, I will ask anyone in chewing distance for their opinions and average ratings based on three criteria: taste, texture and overall deliciousness (read: is this the best cookie you've ever had?).

Best, Big Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Taste: 4 of 5 stars. These cookies are yummy. I wouldn't change a think. Husband prefers semi-sweet chocolate over the milk chocolate, but the rest of the cookie had a nice, light, buttery taste.
Texture: 2 of 5 stars. It was really hard to make these cookies turn out chewy and the ones that were soft only stayed that way for about a day. This recipe doesn't have a great shelf life.
Overall: 3 of 5 stars.

Grammie made a good point to me last weekend, when I made my first potato scallop. She said it takes several tries to get a recipe just right. So I may give these cookies another try to perfect them.

Have you tried this recipe? Any suggestions?

buy the book?

I recently finished reading The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy.

While this book isn't going to give you all of the hard, medical facts about all 40 weeks (and doesn't claim to), it definitely sheds some valuable light — and all the good, bad and ugly details — on the nine (10) month experience. Not to mention, it's pretty hilarious. I definitely recommend this book to any first-time mom-to-be.

Now I'm on to the next chapter:

It's never to early to start reading up on what to expect when the baby actually arrives.

And I'll note that I checked both of these books out of my local library. When I first found out I was pregnant, I was thrilled to start buying books, but take my advice — don't. If you really have the urge, go to a used bookstore because books on pregnancy and motherhood are usually only read once or twice, so used copies are often in like-new condition for a lot less than the cover price.

Also, I am very fortunate to have lovely friends and co-workers who have given me many books, hand-me-downs and otherwise, and I look forward to being able to pass these books on to others. Check in with friends who have had babies to see if you can share/borrow their references.

Lastly, search the Internet first. As long as you're reading reputable sites, like the What To Expect When You're Expecting site that pretty much provides you with all of the information from the book for free, you're all set. Most of these sites encourage you to make a profile, and you should. I receive two or three e-mails each week from the sites I subscribe to, including What to Expect, The Bump and Baby Centre, and I get all of the baby status updates and friendly reminders I could ever need to monitor the progress of my pregnancy between doctor's appointments.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

try it tuesday

For this edition of Try It Tuesday, I wanted to make something to prepare for Baby B, but that's easier said than done when we're still nearly a month away from knowing his/her sex.

Rather than trying to make something entirely unisex, I decided to try something that is more for momma.

I ventured over the border to Maine when I was home over Easter and picked up this amazing fabric for $2.99/yard. Quite a steal, compared to Canadian fabric stores.

It's not actually double sided, I had just laid them front to back on the floor. I got one yard of the pink and one yard of the blue because these fuzzy flannels were just too cute to leave behind. I considered making double sided bibs or burp cloths, but I wasn't set on an idea.

Then I remembered — at lovely friend HH's baby shower recently, she received a pretty, handmade nursing cover.

I cut a strip off the ends of both fabrics for the strap, and then sewed the pieces together, good sides facing in, and then flipped it inside out so the pretty sides were facing and added another seem for a more finished edge.

I created the strap using the same method and stitched it on.

Et voila ...

... my two-sided nursing cover to keep momma and baby cozy and concealed for all of those feedings that will inevitably take place while we have company.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

let there be cookies

I'm having a Monica Gellar moment here.

I love making cookies and trying new recipes. I usually alternate between my Better Homes & Gardens recipe and the Nestle Tollhouse recipe. I'm not terribly exact about my measuring, so the recipes often turn out a little different each time.

But now, with Baby B on the way, it's time for me to get my chocolate chip cookie making down to a science, don't you think?

Starting this Wednesday, April 21, I'll be posting a recipe a week for as many days as it takes to select a winner.

If you have recipe suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Comment below with your favourite tried-and-true chocolate chip cookie recipes and I'll add them to my quest.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

colour dilemma

What do you do with pink kitchen countertops? It really isn't as tacky as it sounds. Here's what I mean:

This is the kitchen in our new apartment. Do you love it as much as I do? If you've ever been in our current kitchen, I think you understand why I'm swooning. The only real drawback, however, is the dusty rose counter. More specifically, the biggest inconvenience is that my kitchen is currently decorated with dark red accents. Not a good combo. So I have to re-think how our existing decor is going to work in our new place.

Here are the pieces to the puzzle:

This photo shows the framed art with the red star on the wall, our very red toaster, and you can sort of see the trivet mounted above the stove with red cherries on it.

Then there's the B that once was brown and then became red and now must change again:

Now that I have to stash all of the red, what would be a nice accent colour for the new kitchen? I was thinking chocolate brown, but all of our countertop appliances are black and stainless steel. See my dilemma?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

sole support

I am a serial Old Navy flip flop girl. From early June until around the end of September, they're pretty much all I wear. I think I currently own them in seven different colours.

But Husband has put his own flip-flop-wearing foot down about my shoe situation. Even beyond my sandals, most of my shoes are flats. Flat flats. No arch support. No support of any kind, really. And that's just not going to work when I'm carrying around an extra person with me all summer.

Luckily, since this was Husband's brilliant idea, he's willing to foot the bill (pun totally intended) for me to get some supportive shoes. Hooray for shopping with someone else's money!

I started by looking at the sandals that a few of my lovely friends swear by — the Birkenstock.As much as I know these babies would feel amazing, they're not terribly versatile when it comes to all of my work and play needs. And for nearly $150, I think they'd be my 24/7 choice. I can't help but think that there must be other alternatives out there for a little bit cheaper?

But I have no idea where to start. Can anyone suggest Canadian brands or stores for supportive, attractive shoes and sandals? Clarks? Ecco? Hush Puppies?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

spring cleaning 101

For us, this year's spring cleaning has become spring-clean-your-butt-off-to-get-the-whole-damage-deposit-back sort of situation. Not that our apartment is terribly dirty, but in addition to the regular seasonal freshening and cleaning, we'll also need to tackle a few little home improvement projects to ensure that our apartment is in tip-top shape for our move-out inspection with our landlady.

And I don't do anything without a specific game plan. Here's what's up between now and the end of April:

— Repair a few small chips in the stove surface.
— Patch an area in the carpeted baseboard where the kitties have scratched it up.
— Have the carpets shampooed.

And lastly, but certainly not least:

— Repaint the bathroom.


It seemed like such a great idea at the time. We were newlyweds and excited about finally having a new place to call our own. Our domestic bliss seems to have clouded our better judgement, and now we are left to either repaint, or have the cost of repainting extracted from our damage deposit ... and who knows how much our property management company will gouge us for that.

T-minus 20 days until the move. Do we have our work cut out for us? I think so.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

so it begins

We've officially started Baby B preparations with our first big purchase — this lovely glider rocker and ottoman.

After reading many, many advice blogs about babies and parenthood, we've decided that the glider will reside in our living room, rather than in the nursery. The baby's room is fairly small and we'll likely spend more time in our open-concept family space.

We also have a hand-me-down swivel chair that will provide seating in the baby's room, once I decide how it will be covered. This is the general style, but it's currently a dusty rose colour. Definitely needs an update.

Any thoughts on upholstering versus slipcovering?

Friday, April 9, 2010