31 December 2007

Fondue and Lebanese Wine

A NEW YEARS EVE TRADITION
Broth Fondue, Hot Pot Style
I think I'm getting the hang of this tradition thing. Below is my variation on what I found on Go Fondue. It starts out as a fondue and finishes as a soup. It's both good and fun. We will definitely be making this again before next New Year's.

Broth
4 C. beef broth
3 green onions, chopped
4 mushrooms, chopped
2 T. cilantro, chopped
1 T. garlic, minced, prepared (found in Chinese food store or aisle)
2 T. ginger, grated, prepared (found in Chinese food store or aisle)
2 T. soy sauce
1 t. sesame oil

Bring Beef Broth to a boil. Add remaining above ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.

Prepare 2 Platters
1 C. broccoli florets
1 C. snow peas
4 bok choy leaves

AND
1/2 lb beef tenderloin, sliced in thin strips
handful of prawns, large
handful of rice noodles

Spear beef strips with fondue forks and cook in broth for 3-5 minutes. Spear vegetable strips and cook until tender. Dip cooked beef and vegetables into prepared sauces such as: teriyaki, hoisin + chili, barbeque, chutney etc

When the meat is finished add the noodles to broth. Add remaining vegetables and prawns and any small meat bits to broth. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve portion to each guest in a bowl. Enjoy!



And because the 31st of December is also our wedding anniversary we decided to share this special bottle of wine which is from Lebanon, bottled in 1999. I know, when you think of good wine, Lebanon generally doesn't come to mind. But that's the year we travelled there. And it so happens to be their best year. A coincidence I'm sure. It was fun to reminisce about our pre-baby times there ... the internet cafes in Beirut, the military checkpoints, skiing among the cedars, the deserted hotels, the anti-aircraft gun shots that made us drop to our knees, the crazy driving, the Roman ruins in Baalbeck with the tallest columns ever erected, the fantastic food, and the best wine you'll find in the Middle East. Á la santé.

UPDATE: The above links used to go to some of our travel stories posted on Rough Guides which has since been shut down. I wish I would have saved them.
: (

Oh! Wait! Update again! Oh wait! My brilliant husband found a link where the stories are being kept until they upgrade their site! Here they are in the meantime.
: )

30 December 2007

Foofy Drink Umbrellas ...



... become play house accessories! First the grown-ups play. And then the kids. Everybody's happy.

24 December 2007

Orange Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies



1/2 C. butter, softened
1/2 C. white sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. peanut butter, creamy
1 egg
1 t. orange extract
1 1/2 C. wholewheat flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
36 miniature peanut butter cups, unwrapped
1/2 C. white chocolate chips

Pre heat oven to 350 F. Combine the butter, white sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, egg, and orange extract. Mix until fluffy. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Roll dough and divide into 36 1-inch balls and place one in each recess of a non-stick, mini muffin pan.

Bake in oven 8–10 minutes or until lightly browned. When done, remove from oven and immediately top each cookie with a mini peanut butter cup. Cool in fridge for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Repeat until all the dough has been used. When all the cookies are baked, melt the chocolate chips in microwave and drizzle back and forth over the cookies using plastic bag with a slight corner snipped off.

Christmas Eve Tradition

I've never really been much about tradition. Looking back, about half my childhood Christmas's were spent away from home; San Francisco, Montreal, Toronto etc. And as it turns out, as an adult, I generally avoid routine. Even when it doesn't make sense to change it up. If I'm given the option of doing something the same way or a different way, all other things being equal, I usually choose the different way, even if it's more complicated. I even annoy myself in this regard.

After Spud came along though, suddenly, I felt like the keeper of his Christmas traditions. So, I've been practicing the last few years but since he's 3 now and quite aware of the Christmas business, I've made a list of what we're doing on Christmas Eve to keep us on track. I love lists. But I'm not going to lie to you, next Christmas Eve's traditions are anybody's guess. We'll see. My husband has plenty of traditions to draw from. And I pulled one from my own. Oh and the other thing I tend to do is try to put too much into a day ... even on regular days ... so we'll see how this goes.

1. Well the first one would have to be that Spud sleeps in until after 9 am. That is exactly happening right now, for some reason, and the only reason I'm able to write this. Obviously this one is out of my hands as far as traditions go though.


2. Bake cookies for Santa. This year will be Orange Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup cookies. Recipe in next post.


3. Make Clove oranges ... this smell IS Christmas to me




4. Make paper snowflakes




5. Go on a quick Christmas light tour of a nearby neighbourhood




6. Sing Christmas carols


7. Have an easy buffet dinner. This year the menu will include a cucumber salad, olive-tomato salad, paté, brie, salami, smoked salmon, pickles, and a baguette. The big deal dinner is tomorrow.


8. Open one present. This will help blow off some of that built up Christmas steam. We have a Cranium game under the tree that we can play with him a little before bedtime.

That is a full day! Other things that will no doubt creep in are TV such as Grinch or Rudolf. A bath. And about 3 loads of laundry and vacuuming [spud said yesterday "Mama, I think we need to vaccuum so there aren't so many crumbs on my feet". To which I cheekily replied "that's what slippers are for, sir". But he does have a point.).

23 December 2007

Instead of Just Stuff

5 SITES TO CHECK OUT FOR LAST-MINUTE GIVING
THAT ISN'T JUST A BUNCH OF STUFF

· KIVA "Loans that change lives"
This one is a little different from the following list because it's not a charity. No tax receipt for this one. You lend money to an entrepreneur in a developing country, and they pay you back. There's no guarantee of course that you will see your money again but they have a pretty good track record. And the fun part is you can give someone a gift certificate whereby they, themselves, can go to the site and choose which people they want to lend money to.


· WWF "Give the gift that makes a difference"
Adopt a polar bear for $40. This site takes awhile to load up but it's nicely done and worth the wait.


· OXFAM "Let them know the camels in the mail (sort of)"
The mildly irreverent tone of this site really caught my attention. Forty-five bucks can buy a family a sheep and a mere 18 bucks can buy a farmer a can of worms to improve his fields. And this can all be done with an e-card to your loved one!


· UNICEF "Gifts of Magic"
For 20 dollars you can buy a child "Art in a Box" and for $35 you can buy a child the Gift of Play which includes puppets, a soccer ball and other things. Check out other areas of the site for more traditional gifts of water, education etc.


· PLAN CANADA "ways for you to make a lasting difference"
Thirty bucks can buy 10 Mamma Kits ("A safe welcome into the world for newborns"), 60 bucks can buy Portable Gardens for One Farmer in Kenya ("Nourishing food and the potential for income") and a 100 can buy a solar powered well. You can arrange an "e-acknowledgement" (I'm not sure how I feel about that word) or a printable version of the card to present to your loved one.


Happy Giving!

21 December 2007

Mountain Babe



I've really missed going to the mountains and snowshoeing through the trails. I don't think we made it up once last year. Spud was just at an awkward age, I think. He was too big for the baby carrier, at a cool 40 lbs. And also too small to be expected to strap on some shoes and go for a hike.

This year, we invested in a plastic sled big enough to carry gear too. There is a wide range of types of sleds. And we saw all kinds of contraptions on the hill. In the end we spent 13 bucks on this bright orange beauty and hope that it will last this year and next at least.

The little guy wanted to have a little sleep on the sled about half way through our trek. It got a little too cold for him though. He was dressed warm enough but I think that lying that close to the snow just makes it chilly. Next time we'll line the bottom with a piece of foam and see if that helps.

20 December 2007

Free Audio Books



On a road trip or in the restaurant waiting for the food to arrive, a little Peter Rabbit can go a long way. I love Storynory for a nice variety of tales to download. Natasha on Storynory does a great job telling the stories, and in a charming English accent. And now my son does the same.

I've also subscribed to the podcasts on iTunes and found some other free ones to subscribe to. So far I haven't found any as good as Storynory. But nonetheless, these little ditties are a great alternative to TV and perfect for long road trips.

19 December 2007

Walkie-Talkies and Baby Monitor



TRAVEL GEAR
The Motorola T9500 2-way radios seem perfect for use on vacation and in places where cell phones won't work. Motorola claims they have a 40km range (25miles) and we are going to try the voice activation feature as a sort of baby monitor.

I wish we had this on our previous travels with baby. Now I look forward to spending some humid Cuban evenings with my husband on our balcony while wee guy saws logs in the hotel room. We can also use them to keep in touch with each other when we're out-and-about ... the resort, in town, the market etc. I'll let you know how it goes.

17 December 2007

A Case of Apples

THREE OF MY FAVOURITE APPLE RECIPES



A friend of a friend has an apple orchard and we acquired a huge lot of Pippins the other day. I made apple crisp last night. And I slow cooked apple oatmeal for this morning's breaky. This has barely made a dent in our stash. What are your favourite apple recipes?

APPLE CRISP
1/3 C. wholewheat flour
1 1/3 C. oats
1 1/3 C. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 C. butter, cut into bits
8 apples peeled, cored, and sliced

In a small bowl blend the flour, the brown sugar, the salt, and the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Peel, core, and slice the apples thin and in a 9 x 13" glass dish toss. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the apples and bake in a preheated 400°F. oven for 25 minutes, or until apples are tender and topping is golden.


APPLE OATMEAL
1 1/2 C. oats
1/2 C. wheat berries (or brown rice)
2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. vanilla
3 1/2 C. water
1 C. apple juice

Combine above ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or overnight. Serve warm in a bowl with milk.
Optional toppings: brown sugar, toasted nuts, wheat germ.


PUMPKIN-APPLE MUFFINS
1 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. all purpose flour
1 T. of the following in any combination: allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, anise
1 1/4 t. baking powder
2 C. sugar
1 C. pumpkin, pureed [or from a can]
1/2 C. vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 C. apples, peeled cored chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 12-cup muffin tin. Sift dry ingredients into medium bowl. Stir pumpkin, oil and eggs in large bowl until well mixed. Mix in dry ingredients and apples. Distribute evenly into prepared muffin tin. Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 25–30 minutes. Makes 12.

07 December 2007

Tasty Tuna Patties



1 C. bread crumbs or crushed crackers
1/2 C. hot water
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 eggs, beaten
1 can tuna, drained
2 T. butter, melted
1/4 C milk
1 T. parsley, dried
1/2 T. oregano, dried
3 T. olive oil

Combine all ingredients except oil. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Place a 2 tablespoon scoop of mixture into pan. Press down each scoop with back of spoon to form patties. Cook about 4 minutes on each side.

06 December 2007

Comforting Tuna Casserole

IT'S COMFORT FOOD TIME
This one of those simple, warm, cozy stand-bys, that my mom recently reminded me of. This particular recipe is one she remembers my nana making for her and my aunt, sans chips. And in turn my mom made this for me, also sans chips. So chips are optional too. But really, what's more comforting than some salty/crunchy goodness on top of a creamy warm casserole? I'm in.

2 - 3 cups cooked rice
1 can tuna
1 can mushroom soup plus 1/2 can milk
1 C frozen peas (optional)
1/2 large bag potato chips crushed

Add drained tuna, peas and mushroom soup to rice. Stir to combine. Place in casserole and top with finely crushed potato chips. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until hot.

What's your twist on this warm, winter staple?

05 December 2007

Black Beans for Baby



A FAVOURITE BABY RECIPE THAT TRAVELS WELL
2 t. Olive oil
1/2 C. green onion, chopped
1/2 C. orange/mango juice
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 mango, diced
Black beans, 15 oz can rinsed/drained or
rehydrated black bean flakes

Combine above ingredients and whiz in blender until the right consistency for your baby.

NOTES
Dried black bean flakes, found in bulk, are excellent for travelling ... they are light and you just add hot water! If you don't have access to a blender then try leaving out the green onion and red pepper. The remaining ingredients can be mashed nicely with a fork.

01 December 2007

Tree Ornaments



A bunch of buttons and sticks. Oh, and a lot of hot glue. Ta da! Tree ornaments.

28 November 2007

Friday Night Short: Quatchi, Miga + Sumi


My first mascot was Amik, from the Montreal Olympics in 1976. I loved him to pieces regardless of the fact that he wasn't the least bit cuddly and lacked any sort of personality at all. Since then, I've acquired [or more accurately, my son has acquired] one of the Athens mascots from a good friend who was living there during their Games. And one of Torino's mascots that I brought home after seeing the Games there.

And now I'm a proud owner of three more. I'm really smitten with these wee Vancouver critters. The video is beautiful. Stunning even. Check out video here. The plush versions are here.

26 November 2007

10 Great Vancouver Restaurants

Here's my list of some of my favourite adult restaurants in Vancouver that we like to go with our little guy. I didn't actually put them in order of preference, as you'll see, each one is so unique that it can't really be compared to the others.

1. HON'S WUN TUN HOUSE
1339 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC
604 685 0871
It's huge. It's fast. It's cheap. And it's the real deal. It's not always as clean as I'd like it. And the service is a little unreliable and curt at times. But if you can focus on the positives here, it's all worth it. Be warned, the menus may blow your mind. At first arrival they hand you a veritable library of them. And note that they will customize anything. As long as you are confident that any language barriers aren't getting in the way, your options are probably infinite. The bowls of wonton soup at the back of the main menu are awesome. You can ask for lean BBQ pork as an add on. Also note that they have two kitchens; one is strictly dedicated to their vegetarian dishes. A nice idea.

2. SHABUSEN YAKINIKU HOUSE
202-755 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC
604 669 3883
For all you can eat sushi and Korean BBQ this place is pretty good. I think the Burrard location is better than the Granville location. The portions are small enough that you can try a variety of things. Kids eat for about $1.50 for each year.

3. SUBEEZ CAFE
891 Homer Street, Vancouver, BC
604 687 6107
This has always been a favourite restaurant of mine. Since pre-baby. It's where my girlfriends and I meet up for a weekend brunch to hang out and chat up the latest with each other. It's very relaxed. It's arty. It's young. You'll see more piercings than you can shake a stick at. If that doesn't scare you, you need to try this place out. Why do I love it so much? The food is just damn good. Consistently damn good. And it's reasonable. The americanos kick it. The breakfasts never disappoint. The sandwiches are yummy. And I'm always pleased with the dinner entree special. Although you rarely see other kids here [except the wait-staff], I'm never worried about bringing our little guy. For one thing, it's loud. The later you go, the louder and darker it gets [you might want to keep that in mind and go earlier if you don't want to overdose on ambiance with your kids]. The music is soothingly, loud, though. So loud that if my guy spontaneously let's out a shriek, it will probably go unnoticed. I take pleasure in that.

4. DOCKSIDE RESTAURANT, GRANVILLE ISLAND HOTEL
1253 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver, BC
604 685 7070
These guys put on a killer brunch buffet. While it's not in everyone's budget at $25 CDN for adults and $15 for kids 6-12 it is worth a treat with high quality and an impressive variety of delights. Even the pickiest of eaters will find plenty to fill up on here. They also boast an enormous fish tank that grabs the kids' attention. And in the summer, the huge patio overlooks False Creek and gives the munchkins some small run around space if you get a table on the periphery.

5. GRIFFINS, FAIRMONT HOTEL
900 Georgia Street West, Vancouver, BC
604 662 1900
This is just plain good quality food. The dinner buffet [$30] will satisfy any seafood cravings you might have. And the macaroni and cheese will take your child to her happy place in no time. This is not a casual affair. It has cloth napkins, for example. And highly skilled, professional wait staff. Terribly rambunctious behaviour might be frowned upon. As such, we choose to dine early so as to avoid the busy time when it's full of couples dining by candlelight.

6. INDIAN OVEN TANDOORI RESTAURANT
2006 West 4th Ave [at Maple Street], Vancouver, BC
604 730 5069
It's affordable. The butter chicken is where it's at. The chef's background includes cooking for 20 years in some of New Delhi's 5 star hotels. He knows what he's doing. Enough said.

7. SALADE DE FRUITS CAFE BISTRO
1551 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver, BC
604 714 5987
I really love this place. Fantastic French food. Really charming service. Reasonably priced. This is a wee, little place that may not be made with children in mind but it's definitely worth trying to make it work. We time our reservations [recommended] with our little guy's golden times; when he's at his most charming and agreeable. Lunches are always more casual than dinners. Cash only. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

8. DIX BBQ & BREWERY
871 Beatty Street, Vancouver, BC
604 682 2739
Just a big, simple, casual place with good beer and good BBQ. This one is for the meat lovers. It hops so much on game nights, though, that you will have to show up at 5 or 8 in order to get a table. It's probably worth checking the game schedule for hockey and football since both arenas are within a short walking distance.

9. THE NAAM RESTAURANT
2724 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC
604 738 7151
At 30 years of serving Vancouverites vegetarian cuisine, this restaurant is an institution. The food is great. The atmosphere is very casual. The sesame fries with miso gravy [$6] are worth the trip if nothing else. And they make nice salads [$10]. If you're jet-lagged and don't know which way is up, this may be the perfect choice, as it's open 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.

10. CHOPPERS DINER
3298 East 1st, Vancouver, BC
This place is really good value. It serves large breakfasts, all day, for as little as $5. And they're pretty good. The atmosphere is biker/snowborder casual where little ones can roam about if they get antsy. Be warned though, the decore is a little sketchy and you should expect to wait an hour at least for your meals. My advice is to go at off peak times, and bring snacks and activities for the wee people. They also make a vegetarian breakfast that gets good reviews.

25 November 2007

The Best Seat in the House



THE SANTA CLAUSE PARADE
We parked the car on the parade route this morning, in parking lot facing the street. In the afternoon, when the Santa parade started, we set up camp, fully bundled up and with some warm beverages. The little sun roof in the back of our Element came in handy yet again, allowing us to poke our heads up over all the other spectators.

24 November 2007

"Tony Chestnut Knows I Love You"

Tony [touch toe, then knee]
Chestnut [touch chest, then head]
Knows [touch nose]
I [point to eye]
Love [cross heart with my arms]
You [point to wee one]



We tried our hand at roasting chestnuts on the BBQ. I love them. The flavour starts out quite bland. Immediately I felt little disappointed. But then the flavour became quite complicated and deep. A delicate combination of sweet and nutty. I would do it again for sure ... even if our little Spud was completely disinterested in them. I think they would compliment grilled root veggies nicely. And I might try them chopped up in a fresh salad next.

Here's what we did:
1. Cut an "x" or a simple slit in the side of each chestnut with a sharp knife [this will prevent any dramatic explosions].
2. Grill 20-30 minutes on medium heat, turning once.
3. Let them cool enough to handle. Peel and eat.

Serving them with salt is optional. If you are having troubles peeling they may be either overdone or underdone.

22 November 2007

Getting Messy



My wee guy is a bit fussy about getting stuff on his hands. I wanted to show him how fun it can be to get messy. We bought a cheap plastic table cloth and some cheap shaving cream at the dollar store. It took a little while to get him started but before long he was right into it, making mountains and volcanoes with his hands.

Next time I will try it with canned whipped cream. If I use shaving cream again I will be sure that I love the sent. It's surprising how long the scent of Old Spice fragrance can linger on ... making my little guy smell like an old man.

21 November 2007

Armchair Travel: Cuba with Child



WEE WANDERINGS: DESTINATION CUBA
We are going to Veradero for a one week in January. It will be our third time to Cuba. We went once BB [before baby], to Jibicoa. This trip included two daytrips to Havana. Love Havana! Our second trip, with child, was to Cayo Coco. We did one long daytrip to Trinidad from there. This time it is the touristy mecca of Cuba: Varadero. While we are independent travellers at heart, we have yet to do anything other than the all-inclusive there, with a few light forays, out and about. Nonetheless, I will enjoy journalling our experiences of r-and-r'ing with our 3 year old, in the new year. In the meantime, it's fun to do a little armchair travel. What follows are some links with tips and travel stories about travelling in Cuba with kids.

1. 6 Fun Things to do with Kids in Cuba Scroll to the bottom for a list of 6 kids books on Cuba.

2. Family backpacks Cuba with 2 year-old "Despite it being a challenging holiday, principally due to our new status as a family, Cuba was exactly what the psychotherapist ordered in terms of a plausible adventure for all of us."

3. Travelling Cuba en Famille "If you want more than a beach holiday, Cuba with young children needs careful planning. Compromise is the key: beach time for them, sightseeing for you"

4. Preparing for Cuba with kids and Parental Leave "Cuba seems a perfect destination for travel with kids: no rampant tropical diseases, a great health system, a reputation for being family-oriented ..."

5. Tips Avoiding All-inclusives Travelling Cuba with Kids "... stay in casas particulares (private houses that rent out rooms and usually provide meals"

6. Keeping kids busy on overcast resort days "Sketching local flora was one way to occupy a six-year-old, who had his heart set on building sand castles, in windy Cuban weather"

20 November 2007

Wee Travel Notebook



I made a little notebook for my little guy's day pack so he would always have something to doodle in when we are on the road. I made some extras for his buddies.
· I started with a cheap spiral bound note book
· I cut the felt to fit, ensuring I did so when book was closed to account for the binding
· Next, I stuck the felt to the book using double-sided tape
· Then I stuck self-adhesive foam animals to the cover
· Finally I tied a mini-pen to the coil binding using some fishing line

Next time I will probably use ribbon instead of fishing line and I will try something new ... maybe using googly eyes ...

19 November 2007

Hey, Mr. Socks-for-Hands...



"Daddy dressed me and first he put my shirt on my knee. And then he put my pants on my head. And then he put my socks on my hands ... look Mom!"

18 November 2007

Small Wee Books



Compact and light, these are perfect for travelling. At this size, we can bring a lot of variety so our little guy won't get bored, and just as importantly, either will we!

16 November 2007

Brown Rice Risotto



Easy and delicious. While this recipe doesn't have quite the creamy nature that its white rice counterpart has, it is full of flavour and very moist, and also doesn't require all that stirring!

· 2 cups chicken stock
· 1/2 C white wine [option: replace with stock]
· 3 T Olive Oil
· 1/2 pound assorted mushrooms, sliced
· 2 leeks, cleaned, sliced, white part only
· 1 cup long-grain brown rice
· 1 cup grated Parmesan
· Parsley

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add leeks and mushrooms and cook 7 minutes. Stir in rice, stirring for 1 minute. Add wine, if using, and stir continuously for 1 minute. Add stock, bring to the boil, and reduce to simmer, stirring often. Cover and cook 45 to 50 minutes. Fluff with fork. Stir in parmesan. Garnish with parsley.

15 November 2007

Hangman Tic Tac Toe Checkers Snakes Ladders



TOYS FOR TRAVEL
This tin box has it all. I think this would be great to bring for plane or train trips. Inside the metal box are several pretty cute games; each has a set of magnetic pieces that can be played on their corresponding game cards. The game pieces are less likely to get lost as they stick to the metal box and at the same time, they keep the cards in place. Unfortunately, It's a little old for my little guy so I'm putting it in that special drawer where I keep a few rainy day toys and books and stuff he has to grow into. I think I need a name for that drawer. I'll work on that.

13 November 2007

Cool Fun Games

GAMES FOR WEE ONES



I have become a great fan of Cranium. I was thrilled to find that they make games for wee ones too. Our little gamer loves Cariboo which is for 3-and-up-ers. It's a little educational. A little magical. And has a low emphasis on competition. It's just plain fun. I'm putting Sounds of the Seashore, another 3-and-up Cranium game, on my wish list for the holidays. I am pretty sure I won't have any troubles getting the kid to play with me.

12 November 2007

Coconut Oatmeal Cake



The chewy-crispy-coconutty topping on this cake really makes it something special. A dollop of vanilla ice cream compliments the cake nicely.

CAKE
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 C oatmeal
1 C apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 C butter, softened
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t salt

Pour Boiling water over oatmeal in bowl. Set aside. Cream butter and both sugars together well. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix. Stir in oatmeal mixture. Add apples. Turn into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350°F or until inserted wooden pick comes out clean.

BROILED TOPPING
1/2 C plus 2 T butter
1 C brown sugar, packed
6 T milk
3 C coconut
1 t vanilla

Measure all six ingredients into saucepan. Heat and stir to melt butter and dissolve sugar. Spread over warm cake. Broil 6 to 8 inches from heat until golden brown and bubbly.

11 November 2007

Visiting Some Wild Ones

ALTERNATIVES TO THE ZOO



OK, so my favourite runner-up animal, next to camels, are donkeys [hmmm, what does t it say about a person when they are so enamoured with beasts of burden?]. Today we saw, donkeys, squirrels, bunnies, guinea pigs, ducks, crows, herons, gulls, and countless other bird varieties. We visited a nearby Wildlife Rehab centre where we saw some pretty incredible animals and heard some pretty incredible stories, both heart-breaking and heart-warming.

There was the little sea bird that eats 1 prawn and 13 shrimp a day, among other things. And the lonely bunny who finally found a partner [spayed, of course]. The star of the show was the Barred Owl. It was such a pleasure to meet him, with his beautiful curiosity and mysterious cooing sounds. With only one eye and damaged wings, this guy is never going to be the wild, free owl he once was; he will always need to depend on people to look out for him.

Besides the animal stories themselves, inspiration lies in meeting the people behind these operations. The people who dedicate their lives to rescuing and healing creatures at their most vulnerable. Perhaps your nearby Wildlife Rehab Centre would appreciate a little visit from you and your wee wild ones and a little donation to help keep the operation going. Try googling one for your region.

08 November 2007

Yay for Wee Parts!

PLAYMOBIL NATIVITY SETS


Is it too early to start thinking about the holidays? I can't wait to get my hands on these sweet sets. The kings are awesome. I adore the little cook set. Do you think they are making felafel? And anyone who knows me at all, knows I have a special place in my heart for camels. I've always appreciated the detail that goes into Playmobil. It's toys like these that make me extra-specially happy that my little guy is past the choking hazard stage. Yay small parts!

06 November 2007

Scavenger Hunts

HONING OBSERVATION SKILLS



I created this photo list of items found in a park, in Fall. On the weekend, I'll take the little guy to the park and we'll check off all the items we see together. We did this last Fall too and it was loads of fun. Next, I'll make one for the beach and forest. And the market. Maybe more. If you'd like a pdf, send me your email address and I'll shoot it your way.

UPDATE: I have these pdfs available at wee printables. Help yourself!

05 November 2007

Carrot Applesauce Cookies



I replaced some of the butter and sugar with apple sauce in this cookie recipe.
1/4 C. Butter, soft
3/4 C. Sugar
1 Egg
1 C. Carrot, grated [or you can microwave them for a 3 minutes and whizz them for few seconds in the food processor]
1/2 C. Apple Sauce
2 T. Milk
1 t. Vanilla

2 C. Flour [I use wholewheat]
1 1/2 C. Rolled oats
2 t. Baking powder
1/4 t. Salt
1 t. Cinnamon
1 C. Raisins [or half and half raisins and small chocolate chips]

1. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Add carrot, apple sauce, milk and vanilla.
2. Mix in remaining ingredients. Drop 2 tablespoon-sized dough balls onto greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with fork.
3. Bake in pre-heated oven [375°F] until lightly browned, approximately 12–15 minutes.

Let stand a couple of minutes before placing them on a rack to cool. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

This time I used mini Smarties which my kid loves. I personally don't like the multi-coloured nature of the little cookies when they come out the oven though.

04 November 2007

Marble Mayhem

FRAMABLE KID ART





What You Need:
· A cereal box with one of the sides cut out
· Art paper which is a little smaller than the box
· A piece of tape to lightly keep the paper in place
· Marbles
· Paint

What You Do:
After placing the paper in the box, let your little one roll the paint-dipped marbles around in the box.

Tip:
The art is in knowing when to stop. This is probably where you come in. Simply whisk away the paper when it's achieved framability and slip in another for your little artist to continue his genius.



03 November 2007

Crochet Project Complete



I did it. I finished my second-ever scarf last night and here it is in action. In the end, it's quite long, going around his neck twice, but it's a little narrow I think. It only took me 2 in-front-of-the-tv evenings. I don't know why I thought it would take so much longer. It must be that my first experience of crocheting a scarf, took ... well ... it seemed like a lifetime.

02 November 2007

Maritime Holiday Photo Journal

KID FRIENDLY STUFF WE FOUND IN PEI AND NOVA SCOTIA
Extraordinarily long bridges [Confederation Bridge]




Boats to board [Halifax, NS]




Sea life to see [Mahone Bay, NS]




Theodore [Halifax, NS]




History [Lunenburg, NS]




Stunning beaches [PEI]






Dramatic coastlines and lighthouses [Peggy's Cove, NS]






"Cow's" ice cream [PEI]




Cabin life [PEI and NS]




And sometimes peace and quiet [PEI]

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