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]

01 November 2007

Sushi-ness



For an elegant Green Tea Party, this little wooden block set by Melissa & Doug, is so so so charming.

Or learn how to make your own little faux sushi treats out of candy on notmartha.

And there is endless faux sushi goodness right here ... Sushi Erasures. Sushi Clocks. Sushi Kitchen timers. Sushi Wind-up Toys. Sushi Pillows. It just doesn't stop. Check it out.
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