Tuesday, June 29, 2010

nothing like a little trauma on a tuesday morning

The scene: Our bedroom. Some ungodly hour this morning.

Husband: Wife, wake up!
Me: [Immediately sitting straight up in bed as if the house is on fire] What?! What happened?!
Husband: Where's Ellie?
[Husband then sticks his hand out the window, showing me that there is no screen.]


After a brief, yet frantic, search around the apartment, we realized that Ellie (our tiny, white, couldn't-survive-on-her-own-if-her-life-depended-on-it kitty) was definitely gone.

We put the pieces together. I'd woken up in the night and opened one of our bedroom windows, which unbeknownst to me has no screen. Around 5 a.m., Husband let Ellie into our room and she got in bed with us, so Husband went back to sleep. By the time he got out of the shower an hour later, he noticed she was gone.

We did several walks around our house and yard, calling her name. We even jumped in the car and circled around the neighbourhood. No luck.

Husband: Don't worry; cats have good instincts. She'll come home.
Me: Have you met Ellie?!

Ellie is a scared-y cat. If she does venture to put a paw or two out on the patio when the door is open, she quickly retreats at any sign of movement or noise. She's also a spoiled princess (Remember Husband getting up at 5 a.m. to bring her into bed with us? Yeah, that's right.).

I quickly e-mailed our neighbours (the owners of our duplex) to let the know what had happened. They're familiar with escapee-cat drama of their own, so I knew they'd be sympathetic.

By 6:45 a.m., Husband had to leave for work, so I was left to worry on my own — frantically drafting copy for a "missing cat" poster and trying not to imagine Ellie anywhere near rush-hour traffic on the nearby highway — until ...


The doorbell.

Our fantastic upstairs neighbours were on the case as soon as they received our e-mail and found our little one hidden on their deck, but couldn't get her out. I quickly ran to her rescue, and there she was, hiding and completely traumatized, cowered under the tarp covering their patio furniture, and completely soaked from nose to tail.

Way too early for so much drama. Needless to say, that bedroom window is now locked tight and there's a cup of very strong coffee with my name on it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

cookie #6

Editor's Note: This is the sixth 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.

Husband: Whatcha makin'?
Me: Cookies.
Husband: What kind?
Me: Chocolate Chip.
Husband: With no weird stuff?
Me: With no weird stuff.

Husband was particularly excited that this recipe is a classic. No oatmeal, nuts, peanut butter or other miscellaneous ingredients. And when it comes to a chocolate chip cookie quest, who would be more of an authority han one's own grandmother? Lovely Grammie B sent along this favourite recipe, so I had to see if I could make them taste as good as she does.

Grammie's Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 C flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
(Sift together)

3/4 C veg. oil
3/4 C white sugar
3/4 C brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. water
Add 2 eggs

Add wet mixture to dry mixture. Add 2 cups chocolate chips.

Drop and bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes (11 minutes per pan worked perfectly for me).

Simple. I like it.

Me: Husband, taste this. [Handing him a warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie].
Husband: Looks like a chocolate chip cookie. [Sniffs] Smells like a chocolate chip cookie. [Raises his eyebrow].
Me: Oh, just eat it.
Husband: [Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.]
Me: Well?
Husband: Mmmmmm ...

Success! Husband approved.

Grammie's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Taste: 5 of 5 stars. These are the genuine, real deal.
Texture: 5 of 5 stars. Soft and chewy.
Overall: 5 of 5 stars! This may be my go-to recipe — delicious!

Friday, June 25, 2010

friday 5: breakfast

Thanks to a fellow blogger (Amy), I found Friday 5 — a great little site that assigns you a theme of five questions each Friday. Fun and simple. This week's topic: breakfast. Remember, I was just saying how much I'm loving breakfast? It's fate.
  1. Oh my goodness! You have to run out the door right now and you haven’t eaten! Before dashing out, what do you grab to wolf down on your way? If I don't have time for breakfast, I usually take an English muffin and juice box in my bag and make it when I get to work.
  2. What’s a popular breakfast you dislike? Eggs and bacon. What's that you say? What else is there? Oh, there's pancakes, waffles, yogurt with granola, fruit salad, hash browns ...
  3. You’re going out for breakfast anywhere you want, and someone else is treating! Where do you go and what do you order? Cora's for the Fruit Magic — a delish Montreal bagel with cream cheese accompanied by a huge parfait cup full of fresh fruit and English cream.
  4. What do you have when you need a simple, healthy (or healthy-ish, for those of you who just don’t do healthy!) breakfast? Ask Husband to make me a fruit smoothie. He's the Magic Bullet king.
  5. You’ve been invited to a breakfast potluck. What are you most likely to bring? Homemade muffins or coffee cake. And a bag of freshly ground Just Us French Roast.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

29 weeks

Several of my favourite mommy & mommy-to-be bloggers post semi-regular updates of their pregnancies. Since Baby B is taking up so many of my thoughts these days, it seemed to make sense to fill you in on our progress.

How far along? 29 weeks.

How big is baby? Depending on which references you follow, Baby B weighs about 2.5 pounds and about 16 inches long, give or take some ounces or inches. No wonder my belly seems to protruding more and more by the minute.

Total weight gain: Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 16 pounds. Since my BMI was in the "normal" range when I started, I'd like to try to keep the weight gain in the 25 to 35 "ideal" range.

Maternity Clothes? I told myself from the beginning that I wasn't going to spend much money on maternity clothes. If you've ever browsed through Thyme or Motherhood, you know how pricey these specialty items can get. However, I had never, until recently, experienced the omigod-nothing-in-this-entire-closet-fits-me meltdown. So, I have compromised over the past six months and picked up some essentials, including yoga pants, jeans and super long tank tops. This past weekend, I splurged on a couple skirts, a pair of capri-length leggings, a tank top and a tunic-style shirt. Aside from the belly bands that accompany most of the bottoms, I have chosen pieces and styles that should be somewhat wearable after the babe arrives.

Stretch marks? None! (Knock on wood)

Belly button? This has been a subject of amusement for Husband and I for weeks. Is it in? Is it out? I'm ready to officially say that I am now sporting an outie.

Sleep: Some nights are better than others. I toss and turn quite a bit to stay comfortable, which means being an a semi-awake state fairly often throughout the night. I still manage to wake up rested, thankfully. Now that I'm in my third trimester, I've regressed back to my first trimester peeing pattern, which means staggering blindly in the dark toward the toilet at least twice per night.

Movement: I was ready to start kick counts this week, but it really isn't necessary, because this guy is a mover and a shaker. I rarely go five minutes without feeling a roll or a jab. His movements used to be more kick- and punch-like, but now it feels more like stretching and twisting as he has less and less room to move.

(Completely obvious disclaimer: No, this photo isn't of me.)

Food cravings: People ask me this question a lot and for some reason I usually say that I haven't had any. Not true. Remember the chicken burger incident? We may or may not have had a small repeat of this somewhat insane vegetarian behaviour on Sunday night while Husband munched on a club sandwich. I've also been loving breakfast food at all times of the day, which is odd for me. Pancakes, bagels, hash browns and cereal with bananas. And now that it's BBQ season, I can't get enough of veggie hot dogs heaped with the works. Must. Stop. Talking. About. Food.

What I am looking forward to: Obviously I'm looking forward to many things, but right now I'm actually really looking forward to the busy summer ahead. Husband and I will be visiting with lots of friends and family, and enjoying lots of time together before the bambino arrives.

Milestones: Tomorrow I have an appointment with Dr. K, when we'll have our first chat about our birth plan. Ohh my, how is it possible we're ready to talk birth plan already? 11 weeks, and counting!

Oh, and THIS: Heartburn. And if the old wives tale is true that mothers with lots of heartburn have babies with lots of hair, then this boy is going to be born with a fro, I swear.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

father's day

We woke up early today and called Dad, Step Dad and Dad-in-law to wish them all a very special day. They are all pretty terrific and we consider ourselves pretty lucky.

But Father's Day is different around our house this year.

It started with some homemade waffles piled with strawberries and whipped cream and it's ending with the final holes of the U.S. Open on TV. Today was Husband's day. Even though we're still weeks away from diaper changes and middle-of-the-night-omigod-i'm-exhausted feedings, Husband is already an amazing Dad. He spent his first Father's Day working on a nursery project and taking me and Baby B for a swim at the local pool. And the fun day hasn't gone unnoticed. Baby B's been kicking and rolling like crazy, and Husband has loved every minute of it. I can't wait until they get to meet and spend many happy father's days together.

Happy Father's Day, Husband!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

what a cin

When I saw this Our Best Bites cinnamon bun recipe, I couldn't resist. They looked so delicious.

I think the best part of the recipe was this little tip. Even if you use the sharpest knife you own to cut the cinnamon log into little cinnamon rolls, they inevitably get squished. Instead, try this — score the log with a piece of dental floss so it is divided into 12 equal pieces.

Wrap the floss around the roll and pull tight at each score mark. The floss slices through perfectly. Why didn't I think of that?

And this was my first try at homemade icing, too:

Here is the final product from Our Best Bites:

This is what mine looked like before they went in the oven:

Nice, right?

I'll spare you the finished version. Not so awesome.

Something weird definitely happened here. I think it was the yeast. Even though it hadn't passed the expiration date, the buns didn't really raise as much as I thought they should've and the result were dense, doughy rolls. Also, the combination of the butter-sugar-cinnamon mixture and the gooey icing basically drowned the buns in liquid sugar, which wasn't so bad when we sampled the first ones fresh from the oven, but they turned into glorified sugar cubes once they were cool.

I'm so stubborn curious about why this happened. I'm sure it's not the recipe's fault. I'm picking up some fresh yeast and trying this one again.

Help me feel better? Tell me about one of your recent recipe fails.

Monday, June 14, 2010

not me monday

Husband and I did not grab our raincoats and venture out at 9 p.m. to the grocery store tonight.

I wasn't convinced that the vanilla ice cream we have in the freezer just. isn't. good. enough.

I did not circle the store until my shopping basket was filled with fudge brownie frozen yogurt, chopped peanuts, hot fudge and bananas.

I am not sitting on the couch, with a belly full of hot fudge sundae and a huge smile on my face.

pregnancy milestone

Father and son's first chest bump ...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

30 things

The middle of June is sneaking up on us and I nearly faint every time I look at the calendar for the coming months. Husband and I have only three free weekends between now and the time Baby Boy will make his arrival in early September. Where does the time go?

Even though our schedule is jam-packed (all fun things, I should add, like weddings, baby showers and visiting), here are 30 things I plan to do this summer:

1. Celebrate the wedding of friends J & A and stay in a cottage with brother- and sister-in-law B&C.
2. Spend many early Saturdays at the Farmers' Market with Husband.
3. BBQ all the time. We just invested in a barbecue, since this is our first place with outdoor space, which still feels like a huge luxury.

4. Take the time to sit out on our new porch often with a cold drink and a good book.
5. Go to a drive-in movie. I've never been to one before and Husband has been wanting to take me for years.
6. Have at least one more prenatal massage before Baby Boy arrives. Did you know there's a round belly insert that they take out of the table so you can lay on your front? I love it!
7. Have a short, but sweet, visit with lovely friend A for the first time since she moved away in March.
8. Continue our prenatal classes until July 6 in preparation of our upcoming arrival. Read all of our "expecting" books.
9. Have a girls night at our place with lots of yummy food and lovely company.
10. Solve my design dilemmas.
11. Keep playing "Name That Baby" until we finally have a winner.
12. Take in a Joel Plaskett concert with Husband on PEI later this month.
13. Try not to look absolutely ridiculous at an outdoor, rain-or-shine concert with a 7-month pregnant belly.
14. Make a few DIY accents for Baby Boy's room, like these:

15. Start stocking our deep freezer with meals and snacks for our post-birth days.
16. Maintain the little garden I have planted on our front patio. Better wish me luck on this one — it's my first real attempt at outdoor gardening and I'm known to be a bit of a brown thumb.
17. Make many trips to the library to enjoy the wealth of books and movies that are just around the corner.
18. Take many leisurely walks around our new neighbourhood with Husband.
19. Take more pictures. I've let my scrapbooking habit fall by the wayside, but there's no reason why I can't do a better job chronicling all of life's fun moments, even if the photos just end up in a plain album.
20. Take videos! Husband and I recently treated ourselves (thank you, tax refund!) to an HD Flip video camera. It will be perfect to take quick shorts of the babe to send to friends and family.
21. Finish Baby Boy's nursery.
22. Celebrate the wedding of friends R & J in the Valley.
23. Go to many more prenatal yoga classes. I hope I'm still able to attend when I'm 37 or 38 weeks pregnant like some of the lovelies in my class!
24. Spend Canada Day on the boardwalk and enjoy the fireworks.
25. Celebrate the wedding of friends S & N in CB.
26. Make at least a dozen new recipes.
27. Celebrate Baby B's pending arrival with two baby showers, one in CB and one in NB.
28. Spend a week at home in NB visiting family, and lounging by the lake and pool.
29. Go to the beach as much as possible.
30. Read at least one of my lovely classic novels.

This post was written with inspiration from one of Mama Kat's weekly Writer's Prompts.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

cookie #5

Editor's Note: This is the fifth 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.

Recipe #5 on the list was highly recommended by my lovely cousin C. She makes them with raisins, but said they would work well with chocolate chips, too.

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin (or chocolate chip) Cookies

3/4 cup vegan margarine (Cousin C's roommate uses half peanut butter, half margerine, which sounded pretty delish to me, so that's what I did)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup soy milk
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional) (Husband and I both have a sort of allergy to walnuts, so I used pecans instead)
1 cup raisins (I'm not a raisin person at all, so chocolate chips it is)
3 cups rolled or quick cooking oatmeal

Beat together the sugar, brown sugar, margarine/peanut butter and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Add the milk and mix until combined.
Add the flour, baking soda, salt and spices, and stir until well mixed. Add the remaining ingredients. Batter will be very thick. (Note: Try not to be intimidated by the three cups of oatmeal at the end. I was very skeptical that it would all combine, but if you work at it with a wooden spoon for a couple minutes, it works in quite well).
Drop onto cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees, or until done. Cookies will still be slightly soft and chewy.

These were quick and easy to put together and score extra points for only using one bowl, which makes clean-up easier than with some other recipes I've tried.

I took cousin C's advice and baked them at a lower temperature (around 320) so they wouldn't get overdone in my super hot oven, and it worked perfectly. I cooked each pan for 14 minutes and they turned out very lightly tanned on the outside and chewy on the inside.

I'll admit that my own preference has taken over in the ranking of these cookies. Unlike me, Husband didn't care for these cookies as much. He's a chocolate chip cookie purist and usually doesn't approve of changes in taste and texture. Lovely friend T approved, noting that they're more of a granola bar or breakfast bar texture than a traditional chocolate chip cookie. Creative Partner C liked them a lot too, and she and I brainstormed lots of yummy combos, like switching the chips and nuts for dried cranberries and white chocolate, or using crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth.

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin (chocolate chip) Cookies

Taste: 4 of 5 stars. These are so good! They taste more like a hearty granola bar than a cookie. The slight peanut butter flavour is so good that I think I might try them with all peanut butter and no margarine next time. Since I make them with chocolate chips though, I'll leave out the spices in the next batch ... nutmeg and chocolate isn't my kind of combination.
Texture: 5 of 5 stars. For me, these are perfect. I love the added crunch of the nuts and the texture of the oatmeal. They're chewy, but not greasy, so there's hardly any guilt involved when you decide to have seconds or thirds.
Overall: 4.5 of 5 stars (the highest rating yet!)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

new home design dilemmas

If you've been following along, you know that we moved into a new place this month. A whole-lotta new place, in fact. We're talking 750ish square feet to 1,400ish square feet. With this much extra room, I'm faced with a handful of design dilemmas and I need your advice.

Design dilemma #1: Spare bedroom shelf
This shelf fit nicely in the back of our walk-in storage closet in the old place. It's a pretty basic, boring wooden shelf, but now that we're sans huge walk-in, it has to be out in the open. What to do? Leave it as is, maybe declutter it a bit? Cover it with curtains? Go back to the drawing board and search for a new or used piece of furniture to occupy the space?

Since initially starting to write this post, I make a trip to Fabricville with lovely sister-in-law C and picked up some nice, thick canvas to fashion curtains for this beast. Mum suggested putting rods a the top and bottom to keep the curtains taut, but the fabric I ended up getting has enough weight to stay in place on its own. A diy shelf curtain post is just around the corner.

Design dilemma #2: Nursery dresser
I love this dresser and I'm so excited that it's going to be in Baby B's room. It belonged to my mother and then belonged to me. It has wonderful sentimental meaning, not to mention it will also double as the changing table. It does, however, show as many years of love in its worn finish. What to do? Paint it? Stain and/or varnish it? Change the hardware or keep the originals?

Design dilemma #3: Master bedroom larger-than-life blank wall
Well, what can I say? Blank slate. We have a lot more wall space in our new bedroom and out small wall hangings seem to get lost in the vast space. I'm considering doing a collage of art or photos but I can't seem to settle on a theme. Thoughts?

I'm inspired to try something like lovely friend HH did in her own master bedroom, using miscellaneous frames.

Design dilemma #4: The bathrooms
These new bathrooms are a little strange, design-wise. Both have dark forest green tile in the tubs. Weird.

The main bath has a blue-ish-green tile floor. The master bath has a similar shade of blue-ish-green countertop.

See how mixed and matched it is? Even Husband noticed and said, "Maybe we should get some new stuff for our bathroom."

Since our budget is still feeling the generally the restraints of moving into a bigger, more expensive place, I'd like to try to do these projects on the cheap. Do you have any innovative and inexpensive solutions?