Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy halloween


isn't it about time for some baby pictures?

Those are his eyelashes catching the light!


It's tricky to get this guy to hold still long enough to take a decent picture! But look at those eyes!

lightning jar



I love these wired glass jars. I have several of them (mostly from Frenchy's), but I think this recent one from Value Village is my favourite. I had never seen one that says 'lightning' before. 'Ball', 'Atlas', yes, but not 'lightning'.

kitchen sink




Washing dishes isn't my favourite thing in the world, but I've surrounded the sink with things that I love, which makes it a little bit more bearable. A friend bought me the sweet plant pot, which is sprouting basil, and we dug up the tiny jars while doing yard work. I love the metal soap dish, with unscented bar soap and a wood nail brush, and the dish soap in a glass bottle from an antiques place. So much more beautiful than plastic!

A note on the photos: I meant to overexpose them, but they look way lighter on my screen while in blogger than they do in iPhoto. I hope they look appropriately exposed on your screen!

honey scrub



Adam let me play with his camera today, and I had so much fun! There are lots more pictures to come.

We buy semi-local honey in large tubs from the health food store, and we just got to the end of this tub. At the bottom, there is a layer of beautiful crystallized honey. I've washed my face with runny honey and really liked it, so I thought I would try this as a scrub. Perfect! It's a bit rough, so I scrubbed gently, but my skin feels extremely smooth and well hydrated. I put a very small amount in a tiny jar in the shower so it will be used up quickly, as it doesn't keep well in the humidity of a shower. Bonus - it tastes delicious!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

401 sock and glove

Item the first: Holy smokerels, folks! My last post was number 400! Wow, I think that deserves some sort of acknowledgment.

I'm laughing out loud right now, because as I typed that last sentence I heard Phillip in his crib in the next room rather noisily fill his diaper. Rather than have that be the only acknowledgment, let's do something a little less E. coli ridden. How's about this... submit a comment about something you love about November. It's right up there with February as my least favourite month, so any positive thoughts about it are welcome. The winner (I'll randomly draw one name on Saturday) will receive a specially selected item from (where else?) Frenchy's! We'll get in touch and I'll find out what you'd really like to have. Oooooh, that's a good idea, especially given the name of the blog.

Item the second:
I've been trying to avoid plastic as much as possible, especially when it comes to L.M. (Little Man). I love many of the 'softies' (handmade soft toys) on Etsy and other people's blogs, but am kind of intimidated at the thought of making one or more. Then I saw this book mentioned on futuregirl's blog. (Above is the Japanese copy, picture from here.) And promptly requested it from the library, with lofty plans to make one of the oh-so-cute elephants. Eeek, the cuteness!

Item the third (and last): Mother in law bought us this great stroller bunting bag thingy at Value Village. I love it and can't wait to use it when Phillip's a bit bigger. I just saw it mentioned on Apartment Therapy: Nursery for $195! Jackpot!

Monday, October 29, 2007

new look and other allsorts (mmmm, licorice allsorts)

What do you think of the new look? With lots of help from Adam, the blog is finally a bit more customized, complete with local eggs. Mmmmm. Phillip and I went to visit the egg farmer's house on Saturday and had a lovely visit. We also picked up some local apples, some of which are now dried. Delicious. We figured out how the dehydrator fits together properly, so the apples dried more evenly than the cranberries.I found this lovely wool sweater made in England at Frenchy's this morning. I loooove it.
Phillip wore his new hoser hat on our walk today. I almost collapse from the cuteness when he wears it.
And look at his hair! It's growing in nicely, and looks more like a real head of hair and less like baby fuzz.

the boy

I love our boy. He is beautiful, and completely amazing. But as I sit here at the computer at 3:17 am, the world is looking like a much darker place, and I'm thinking of the things that have changed since he arrived. Translation: the things I miss.

Number one is, of course, sleep. We've been doing the Baby Whisperer thing, and for quite awhile, Mr P was sleeping through the night, almost every night. That felt good. For the past few weeks, he's been waking up through the night, sometimes wanting a full feed, sometimes just wide awake and wanting to play, sometimes needing a fresh diaper. He's also discovering his voice and screeches in this terrible high-pitched, full-body yell when he cries before falling asleep, which makes me want to cry, too. He's been chewing like mad, and practicing rolling over at every opportunity, so perhaps all of these new things are affecting his sleep. I used to be one of those people who would be in bed by 10:30 at the latest and absolutely needed a full night's sleep to function. Naps were always welcome, too. I am exhausted.

I miss being able to complete a thought or task. Even if the interruption isn't to attend to an immediate need, a part of my brain is always on Phillip and wanting to know that everything is fine with him. Naptimes are pretty good now, and I can expect to have nice little chunks of time to get things done, or take a nap if I'm about to collapse. But the necessary housework usually takes precedence over the things I just enjoy doing, so some days I feel ripped off.

I miss being able to decide to go somewhere and be out the door and on my way in a matter of minutes. It's hard to imagine that getting such a tiny person dressed and in a fresh diapers and out the door could possibly take so long, "especially for someone as efficient as me," I think. But it does. Everything has to be planned taking nap times and feeding into consideration (although breastfeeding certainly makes that easier) and then when you finally get to your destination, you still have to keep the little one and everyone else happy. While your arms are tired from toting him around all day and you're happy to let someone else hold him for awhile, there's a fine balance of letting people know that you don't mind them holding him, while knowing that most people are uncomfortable holding someone else's crying baby.

After listing those things, though, while Phillip's been murmuring to himself in his crib, I'm forced to think of the things that I have learned, and what we have gained by having him. It sounds cliche, and I would have thought it was condescending if someone had told me this pre-Phillip, but a person really has no idea what this crazy, overwhelming sense of love and protection for this tiny being is until you have a child. It takes a little while, in between the frustration of trying to interpret cries and meet the wee one's needs and getting over the initial shock of the birth business. But then, all of a sudden, you realize that this baby is yours, for keeps. And rather than being overwhelmed and wishing you could send him back, you feel as though you are the luckiest person in the course of history, and there is no possible way that any other person has ever felt so fortunate. Maybe that feeling will return in the morning.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

curried squash soup


This is my all-time favourite soup, and is perfect for this time of year. It's from Vegetarian Comfort Food by Jennifer Warren.

Curried Squash Soup

This soup is uncomplicated, but the earthy squash and curry seasonings make for a rich, elegant flavour. Beautiful with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt floating on top. Serves 6.

1 tbsp. butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 6 cups)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
6 cups vegetable stock
sour crem or yogurt for garnish

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and carrot, and saute for 5 minutes, adding a little stock if onions start to brown.

Stir in the curry powder and cumin, and saute, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Add the squash, bay leaf, salt, and 1 cup of stock. Simmer, partially covered, for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is completely soft.

Add the remaining stock and simmer gently, partially covered, for 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and transfer the soup to a food processor or blender - you will need to do this in two batches so as not to make a mess. Puree until completely smooth. (OK, I'm adding a tip - a stick blender works perfectly for this step!)

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt in the center of each portion.

Edited to add: Oops, I forgot to mention Stefani's Season of Soup fantabulous soup list! Check it out!

dried cranberries



To dry blanched cranberries:
(From Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook, ISBN 0-688-13024-0)

1. In a heatproof bowl, pour boiling water over the cranberries or submerge them in a pot of boiling water off the heat. Let sit until skins pop. Do not let the berries boil. Drain. (My note: My cranberries were frozen, so I had to pour the boiling water over twice in order for the skins to pop. You can see in the first photo how they split - they also make a very fun hissing sound when this happens.)

2. If desired, coat the berries in either light corn syrup or granulated sugar. (My note: I used about 1/4 cup organic cane sugar and about 4 cups of berries. A bit less would be sufficient.)

3. Transfer berries to a baking sheet and place in the freezer for 2 hours. Freezing also breaks down the cell structure, thus promoting faster drying.

4. Arrange berries in a single layer on mesh sheets on drying trays. Place trays in dehydrator and dry for 10 to 16 hours, depending on the make of dehydrator, until chewy and with no pockets of moisture. (My note: I've had them in the dehydrator for about 23 hours, and there are some berries that have shriveled to almost nothing (these seem to be the ones closest to the centre), and some that are still intact (you can see one in the left on the bottom photo; it's probably because their skins didn't split in the boiling water). So it would be wise to shuffle them around a bit during drying, and to make sure that all skins have split.)

It's that easy! I don't usually buy books for myself (I'm a big fan of test-driving them at the library) but I liked this cookbook so much after borrowing it from said library that I ordered a copy for my very own (used, of course - www.abebooks.com is the best!). It has everything you could possibly need to know about dehydrating, and all of the instructions you could ever want. Happy dehydrating!

Friday, October 26, 2007

there has been...

reading: I just finished the worst book I've ever read. Really, the worst. Why did I finish it? Because it was mindless and I wondered if the terrible and predictable end would be what I anticipated. It was. The book was 'The Devil Wears Prada' by Lauren Weisberger. The movie can only be better - there's no way on earth it could be worse. One of my favourite terrible lines? "The cappuccino was almost too hot, but it felt fantastic on that chilly, wet day." Good grief.

planting: one of my favourite things in autumn is the planting of fall bulbs. It shows that you really believe that after winter, spring will come again. If your bulbs don't rot, of course. We planted New Baby Daffodils, Monte Negro lilies, Minnow Daffodils, Hyacinths, Tulips, and Alliums. Yay!

walking: lots of walks with P in the stroller, in some stunning October weather.

eating of Halloween candy: why, oh why did I open the box?

laundry: as always

dehydrating: I've got a separate post coming up about my first real shot at dehydrating cranberries. They're in the dehydrator as I type, so my fingers are crossed that they'll turn out well!

Thanks for the idea, Jessicah!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

fall




Fall is in the air! It certainly wasn't yesterday - it was over 20 and sunny. It's windy and dark this afternoon, and Adam's been doing all kinds of little chores around the house in preparation for winter. Phillip and I have been hanging out and having a good time together looking at the LLBean holiday catalogue (he likes the red things) and making chicken & rice soup with local, free-range organic chicken from the farmer's market. A perfect fall supper!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

cosmetics database update

Awhile back, I posted about the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetics database:

"Skin Deep: I've been telling lots of people about Skin Deep, a fabulous resource from the Environmental Working Group for finding out about the health and beauty products you use. I'm not trying to scare anyone, just give you a great resource for information. The ingredients in these types of products aren't regulated, and there are some nasty things in many products. There are also better alternatives! You can search for information on specific products you use (there are over 25000 on the database), and browse products if you're looking for a low hazard item. Items are rated on a scale of 1-10, and when you click on an item, you can read the explanation for the rating. Definitely worth spending some time perusing! My goal is to have all products I use rated 5 or under."

I just discovered a feature which is really handy - you can enter any product's information into the database, and it will give you a report on that particular product immediately. I couldn't find SpectroJel face cleanser listed, so I tried entering the info. I'm happy to report that it's a 3. Results aren't added to the database, but your report is saved for you (I think you need to sign in in order to use this feature, and you can return to the report). As for my goal to have all products I use as a 5 or under? All but two jars of Avon moisturizer (day & night) which are both high hazard (I think they're both 10). I've started using The Body Shop's Aloe moisturizers, which are 1's, and am alternating those with the others until the Avon stuff is used up.

mmm, tasty

Mother-in-law took this picture of Mr P last weekend. Mmmmmmmm.

Friday, October 19, 2007

spices


Between diaper changes, naps, and other miscellany of the day, I managed to clean the spice drawer. I printed these labels and alphabetized the jars in the drawer. A little neurotic, but much less clutter, and also much easier to find what I'm looking for.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

thoughts on america

Since this past weekend was my first time in the United States of America, I have some thoughts to share.

On the Imperial system: Ick. And it doesn't make any sense.

On moose: there really are moose in Maine. We saw one on the side of the highway on our way back, and were very glad that it stayed on the shoulder.

On construction: road signs are a much brighter orange.

On trees in Maine: Evergreens in Maine look like they were all trimmed as Christmas trees. They're beautiful and straight and evenly bushy, unlike their scraggly counterparts in Nova Scotia. I enjoyed them very much, and drove Adam crazy with all of my exclamations about how lovely the evergreens were. And cedars along the side of the highway were surprising. The rest of the trees were changing colour and were stunning. They made the drive even more enjoyable.

On WalMart Super Centers: There is one immediately next door to my sister's apartment, and I needed to scoot in to pick up a few items. There is a beer department, close to the baby department, and the milk. I found that odd. And the store was a mess! Maybe it's because I was there at 7:30 on a Sunday morning, but regardless. Some stuff really is significantly cheaper there.

On LL Bean's Bangor outlet store: Mmmmmmmmmm.

On State police cars in Maine: they're powder blue.

On Americans encountered in various places: generally extremely friendly, although a bit more forward than Canadians. The exception was the employees at various gas stations and stores: many were surly. Surly with an American accent. (Speaking of which, I found it very odd to be identified as the one with the accent.) Not all of course, and especially not those at LL Bean. They were great.

On the whole: we had a lovely trip and I definitely enjoyed my time. We'll head back for sure!

wedding details




As mentioned in the previous post, we were recently travelling in the States (this was a big deal to me, more to come on that front) for my sister's wedding. Here are a few pics from the day - everything was beautiful, including her. (That's probably the only time she'll ever hear that from me, heh heh.) Of course, I had to include a picture of Phillip, dressed for the event. Unfortunately, the dress pants didn't even last until the wedding. About two minutes before it began, there was an explosive incident in Phillip's pantular region, and Adam had to whisk him off to the car for an emergency change. So they missed part of the wedding, but were back in time for the vows. The wedding was held outside at Frost Farm under an apple tree on a gorgeous sunny morning. Congratulations, M & E!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

trees


We're home after travelling to New Hampshire for my sister's wedding. We couldn't quite see Mt Katahdin for the clouds on our way back, and we drove through torrential rain on the way there, but it was a splendid trip nonetheless. I'm having trouble uploading pictures right now, but there will be more soon!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

tree climbing


young yeller

video This is what Phillip's been doing this week. Yelling and rolling. Happy yelling, usually directed at a zebra or elephant.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

pillowcase bag


I made this bag last night for a friend's upcoming birthday (sorry, JBG, it's not for you. ;)). I found the patten here, and I'm happy with how it turned out. All that you need to make it is a pillowcase, which I have in abundance in my scraps. It would look great with two complimentary fabrics, too. If you want a quick, easy, cheap and satisfying sewing project, try it out!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

4 months


Phillip had is 4 month checkup on Friday. He's now 27 inches tall, and weighs 16 pounds, 8 oz. His height is in the 83rd percentile, and his weight in the 79th - way to grow, P. B. G.!

squish squash


Before I mention anything else, a very warm welcome to our friend's baby girl who was born this morning. What an amazing and appropriate Thanksgiving gift. Welcome, baby W! We can't wait to meet you.

With another squash from the farmer's market, this time a spaghetti squash, I made a delicious new recipe. Cheap, quick, easy, vegetarian, and healthy (not to mention yummy), it's one I will definitely make again. The original recipe is here, but the modified version which I made is below.

Spaghetti Squash

* 1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
* 3/4 cup cubed cheese (I used havarti and mozzarella)
* 1 tsp dried basil (or more fresh, if you have it on hand)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook only until tomatoes are warm.
4. Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the sauteed vegetables, cheese, and basil. Serve warm.

This would also be good with something added with a little kick - jalapenos, sundried tomatoes, or olives (which are called for in the original recipe, but we're not big olive fans around here). Enjoy!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

thanksgiving

The pumpkin cookies I wrote about a few days ago turned out very well. Rather than using canned pumpkin, I made them with a roasted local pumpkin from the farmer's market. The colour is a bit lighter than when made with canned pumpkin, but they taste pretty much the same. I simply roasted the pumpkin whole (with seeds removed), scraped out the flesh, and used my handy-dandy stick blender to make it smooth. You can find the recipe here.

I have one of those friends who has the ability to think up fabulous ideas. The latest one which I participated in was a brunch & swap this morning, as a sort of Thanksgiving celebration. Everyone took stuff with them which they no longer used, needed, or wanted around the house. We ate fabulous food (thanks, host!), had a good visit, and then swapped stuff. We drew cards and chose what we wanted, highest card first, one item per round. I spent the week cleaning out the house, trying to get rid of all of that extra stuff which isn't needed or used, and had pretty much a carload by the time it was all packed up. It felt so good to get rid of it, and a lot of things were useful to other people. I came home with a few things I really wanted or needed, like this food dehydrator, which I'm very excited about. I also got a literature holder for the toilet similar to this one, an ObusForme back support similar to this one for use while driving when I go back to work (phooey!) and a shoe rack, which we needed for the porch.

This afternoon we took the wee one for a walk on some of the lovely new trail that has been made from former train tracks around Yarmouth. We also made a quick stop at a beach for a breath of fresh air on a very summery October day. All things considered, today gets an A+.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

weekly fix of mr p

"Ooooooh, something new to play with."
"Let's see what it tastes like. Arhmmmmmm."
"Oy, my eye! That was supposed to go in my mouth."
"Forget it. Hands taste better anyway."

Holy smokes, folks! It's been over a week since I've posted any pics of wee-P Graham. I apologize if any of you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. I took these ones this morning as Phillip was playing with his new teething ring. (Aside: I wasn't going to give it to him until I knew for sure what type of plastic it is made from. I couldn't find the information online (!) so I e-mailed the company and am hoping to hear back from them soon. I decided that a few days of it probably won't do any serious long-term harm, in case it does turn out to be something scary. And nope, cold or frozen washcloths wouldn't cut it (heh, heh - little teething pun there) today. Maybe tomorrow.)

pumpkin



I roasted a beautiful pumpkin from the famer's market last evening. I'm planning on making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies with it, which should be interesting, as I've only made them with canned pumpkin before. I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

unplanted tomatoes


We added our own compost to our little vegetable plot this summer, and early on we noticed a couple of tomato plants which had popped up. We decided to leave them alone, never dreaming that we would get this bounty of tomatoes! I didn't think there was any way they would have time to produce fruit withour having been started indoors. What a pleasant surprise!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

the quarterdeck







Anderson Gallery is a lovely contemporary photography gallery in Lunenburg, which Adam read about in the Globe and Mail recently. He was intrigued, so we went for a look-see. Definitely worth the 2 1/2 hour drive! We met Mariette Roodenburg, whose photographs are nothing short of stunning. And she was very nice, too. On the way there, we stopped at the Quarterdeck Grill, an amazing restaurant on Summerville Beach. What a beautiful spot! There are villas (pictured above) which are open year-round, and we ate our lunch more or less in the Atlantic. I had vegetable spring rolls and summer greens with curried dill dressing (yum!) It was a delightful day, despite Phillip's explosive diaper incident when we were only 45 minutes into the trip. Out came the emergency pants, sigh. We did discover, though, that it's much easier to change him in the trunk of the car than on any of the seats. It must have looked strange to passers-by, who were no doubt wondering why we had our baby in the trunk of the car.