Sunday, 31 July 2011

Punch Bowl

Today was a lovely leisurely Sunday with Paul and Sydney.  We woke up this morning and decided to take Syd to the park, she has a new-found love of swings, so I thought it would be a great way to start our day!  On the way home, we walked past our neighbors who were having a fund raising garage sale in support of education for girls in rural China. 

Being a garage sale junkie, I had to stop by, but what really drew us there was the fact that they had a little pony tethered to a tree and Sydney absolutely had to see it! It was adorable, it's name is Sunny and our neighbor Chloe rescued it when it had no home and it now lives in a little barn in her back yard!  She said we could feel free to come by and visit the pony anytime, apparently it's a bit of a hit with the neighborhood kids.  I have the feeling that we'll be stopping by quite a bit now that Sydney know it's there!

Before we said goodbye to Sunny and Chloe, I took a quick peek at their wares and ended up buying this awesome vintage punch bowl set for $5!  I love it!  The shape of the bowl is so cool, I can think of a thousand things to use it for besides punch!  I am having some Moms for tea in a couple of weeks and am thinking that instead of tea, I'll whip up a huge batch of punch and we'll have that instead!  I may even pull out my vintage punch recipe that has ice cream floating on top (remember that from the 70's?)

So we not only made a new friend out of our neighbor and her pony, but also got a great new find to add to my ever-growing kitchen collection!  A great day!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Gardening Day

Today was a very productive day of getting things done around the house.  Paul was up super early this morning and out gardening at 7:30am.  One of the many things that I admire and love about Paul is his amazing work ethic and the fact that he keeps our home and garden in meticulous shape!  He spent three hours toiling in the garden this morning trimming and weeding and digging.  When he finally came into the house he was exhausted, sweating like a dog, covered in dirt from head to toe and had gashed his knee open on a branch ~ poor guy!

At the end of it all he ended up with a dozen piles of clippings this size:

The garden looks amazing, we were out admiring it this afternoon, everything is perfectly shaped and pruned.  I was teasing him saying that it looked like a giant bonsai garden!  Check out these perfectly shaped cedar bushes, all done freehand by Paul this morning!

It felt great to get all of the outdoor work done, I was smiling to myself tonight thinking about the other day when I had my friend over for tea and as she was leaving she commented on how nice the garden looked and asked who my gardener was.  I smiled and said "It's this guy named Paul, and he's fabulous!"  :)

Friday, 29 July 2011

Okanagan Wine

Today Sydney and I had two lovely visits with friends.  The day started off with a trip this morning to my friend Brenna's brand new home to meet her new sweet baby girl, Bianca.  It was awesome to hold her as she slept in my arms and Brenna and I enjoyed one of my favourite wines from Naramata, Joie Noble Blend even though it was only ten o'clock in the morning!

We spent the afternoon lounging in the backyard at my friend Saskia's with our friends Barbara and Andrea and their babes.  It was such a lovely time sipping wine, eating yummy snacks and catching up.  I could have stayed there all day! 

This time of year is especially exciting if you love Okanagan wine as most of the wineries start their releases.  In the past couple of weeks I got cases of wine from two of my favourite Okanagan wineries, Burrowing Owl and Laughing Stock.

This year I ordered the Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris, a lovely, crisp summer sipper which I will be sure to enjoy over the next few weeks.  I got a few bottles of their Syrah as well which can stand a few years sitting and just seems to get better and better.  I'll tuck these ones away for a few years down the road!

The Laughing Stock vineyard is owned by David and Cynthia Enns.  Like me, they both worked in finance for many years and decided to give it all up and buy a plot of land in Naramata and open a winery.  They were the "laughing stock" of their friends and family, hence the name of their winery.  It is a double entendre as the stock market is the launching pad on which they market and name their wines as well.  Their signature wine, Portfolio, is a bordeaux blend, perfectly balanced like any good portfolio is.  This wine is amazing, I have a standing order of it every year and always look forward to my case arriving.  Notice how their labels look like a ticker tape, the stock prices on the outside of the bottle are those of the exact day that the grapes were harvested for that particular variety.  Neat hey?

This year I ordered some of their Blind Trust, this wine is truly blind, as the winemaker has full discretion over the blend, you don't know what it is comprised of until you peel back the seal on the top of the bottle which will reveal this year's blend.  I can't wait to try it!

I rounded it off with a few bottles of their Pinot Gris as it is consistently good for summer sipping.  Look forward to sharing some bottles of this with friends in the back yard this summer!


Thursday, 28 July 2011


Aimee is my hairdresser.  She has been a huge part of my life for years, has seen me through career changes, pregnancy and motherhood.  Years ago, she "retired" but kept some of her favourite clients and sees them in her home, I feel very fortunate to be counted amongst one of her favourites!  I love going to see her, not only because I leave feeling so much better about myself with my hair nicely cut and coloured, but also because she always lifts my spirits.

Yesterday I went to see Aimee to have my hair cut.  When I got there, I was feeling a bit bummed because the weather was so crappy for the millionth day in a row and I was feeling unmotivated to do much of anything.  Aimee loves hearing all about Sydney and what she's up to, and as a Mom herself to three grown children, often offers gentle advice or stories from her own experience.  We started chatting about Sydney and what she was up to and I was sharing how I'm finding this age quite challenging.

Aimee wisely smiled at me and said, "Susan, you have been given this gift of time with your daughter without any pressure to work outside the house or do anything but be a great Mom, enjoy every minute of it!"  It really was the gentle kick in the butt that I needed.  I don't often think of this time as a gift and lately had even been feeling a bit restless and as though I needed something more than just being at home with Syd.  Aimee's simple, yet oh so wise, comment really made me look at things from a different perspective and be grateful for everything that I have, and mostly for this gift of time to spend with the most important person in my life.

So thank you Aimee, not only for taming my crazy tresses yesterday, but also for encouraging me to be a better Mom, you're the best!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Cupcakes for Melanie

Today is my cousin Melanie's birthday.  This past Monday, Sydney and I had the chance to celebrate with her when she came over to spend the day with us.  We went to the Thai House for lunch, it was Melanie's first time having Thai so, being the seasoned pro that I am, I ordered up way more food than we could possibly eat so that she could try a variety of my favourite dishes.  We enjoyed every mouthful and had plenty of leftovers to take home!

After lunch we came back to our place for cupcakes and tea.  It was a very fun time celebrating together.  I feel very blessed to have Melanie as my cousin and my friend.  We have had a close friendship for as long back as I can remember.  For many years before Sydney was born, Melanie and I would have a once monthly "date" and meet up to go for dinner at a great restaurant or do something fun together.  It was a good excuse to try new places and always offered the opportunity to stay connected.

Melanie is also a very special person in Sydney's life.  She is the only babysitter that Sydney has ever had, and I can honestly say that I never think twice or worry in the least when Melanie's looking after Syd.  She has always been great with kids and Sydney is no exception.  Mel has graciously offered to babysit many times since Sydney's been born so that Paul and I could get out to spend a little time alone together.  I will never forget when Syd was about two months old, Melanie came with me to the spa so that I could have a facial and held Syd while she slept in her arms the whole time we were there.  As an exhausted new Mom, that day meant more to me than I could express!

So Sydney and I had fun baking these cupcakes for Melanie.  Syd loved the icing part, ate almost as much as she put on the cupcakes and covered the entire kitchen in little sprinkles but had oh so much fun doing it!  It was a blast, I look forward to many more days baking with my little girl! 

Happy Birthday Mel, we love you! 

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cozy Coupe

When Sydney was a few months old I decided to cash in my air miles and get her a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe car.  I tucked it away in the basement and nearly forgot about it until the other day when I was straightening up a few things and uncovered it!

So I decided that I was going to surprise her by putting it together one night after she'd gone to bed, and have it waiting for her in the kitchen when she woke up.

Now you'd think after years and years of buying un-assembled furniture from IKEA, that I would be better at putting things together, but fear still grips my heart every time I open a new box and see step by step picture instructions detailing how to assemble it.  This is what it looked like when I opened the box, a pile of plastic pieces, a giant box of small bitties and no less than thirty one step by step instructions...

It took me three nights to get this thing to look anything like a little car and twice I had to call Paul downstairs to help me figure something out....easily the most frustrating toy that I have ever had to put together!!

In the end it was so worth it, it is such a cute toy and she was thrilled this morning when she saw it in the kitchen.  She jumped right in, slammed the door and started driving around and honking the little horn.  I thought that it was very meaningful that the Cozy Coupe's 30th anniversary was the year that Sydney was born, 2009.


I did have a few mysterious pieces left over after I finished putting it together, hoping that I didn't miss anything too important and that the entire car doesn't come apart one day when Sydney's driving along!  :)

Monday, 25 July 2011

Potty Time

For the past several weeks, Sydney has been giving me every indication that she is ready to start potty training.  She asks every day to sit on the toilet, asks for some toilet paper, wipes her bottom and flushes the toilet.  She even knows to wash her hands right afterward!  The only thing she hasn't figured out, is what to do when she's sitting on the potty, although I'm pretty sure that that will come in no time as this morning she told me that she had a dirty diaper and pointed to the bathroom.  Smart girl!

The other day when we were at my friend Rachel's house for a visit, I took Syd into the washroom with me before we left for home.  She was thrilled to see a little potty in there and immediately sat down on it, as though she'd done it a thousand times before, which is strange, seeing I don't have one for her!  She then proceeded to carry it around the house like it was her new favourite toy. 

The cutest part was watching her run back and forth from the bathroom fetching toilet paper to put in the potty!  She loved it so much that Rachel sent it home with us as her little guy wasn't interested in it at all!  Sydney was thrilled and absolutely loves sitting on it every time I am in the bathroom.  The other day she was sitting on it reading a book....she's like her father in so many ways.....

So without being mindful of it, I think I may have started potty training Sydney.  My baby is growing up!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my Mom's 65th birthday.  I have been thinking about her all day, wishing that we could be together today....and everyday for that matter!  It's hard living five hundred miles apart!! 

My Mom is an amazing person, she is steadfast and loyal, hardworking and determined.  She loves us all fiercely and is an incredible Mom and Grandma.  She has taught me so much about loving people unconditionally, working hard at all times and maintaining a positive and no-nonsense attitude.  I am so grateful to have her for my Mom!

Among her many talents, my Mom is a great seamstress.  She even made her own maternity clothes when she was pregnant with us kids!  I swear I would have worn a sheet with a hole cut in the middle like a tent if I had to make my own!  The last time my Mom was here to visit, I had just finished redecorating Sydney's bedroom.  I was having a hard time finding a toddler duvet cover in the pattern that the nursery designer had recommended so my Mom graciously volunteered to sew one using a fitted sheet.  Not only did she have to search high and low to find a zipper the right size for it, but she drove two hours out of her way to get some edging to make it a little more feminine.   A small example of my Mom's bottomless love for us all!

So thank you Mom for everything that you have given us, both big and small.  We owe you everything, I can honestly say that I wouldn't be the person that I am today without you!  Love you!  xo

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Neighbourly Help

The day before yesterday was kind of a rough day.  I had a great day planned, gymnastics with Sydney in the morning, home for lunch and nap time and a visit with my friend Brenna who has just had a new baby.  The day was going to be topped off by dinner out with my friend Paula on a patio sipping wine.  I had been looking forward to it for days.

Unfortunately, that morning Sydney woke up really not feeling herself and both Paul and I agreed that we should take her to the doctor to get her checked out.  The only time the doctor had available was in the late afternoon, so we had to cancel our planned visit with Brenna and the new baby.  I was disappointed about missing the visit, but knew that we would reschedule soon so got on with my day. 

On the way home from the doctor, I stopped quickly at the hardware store to pick up some Mason jars for a pickle recipe that I had been wanting to try.  When I got home, Sydney and I got into the house, I plugged in my cell phone to charge it, knowing that I'd be heading out for dinner shortly with Paula.  It was then that I decided to go and get the case of Mason jars from the car in the garage.  Normally Sydney follows me around like a shadow, so I assumed that she would want to come with me, but for whatever reason, this time she didn't.  So I quickly ran out to the garage and back to the house while she was playing in the living room...I was literally five feet away from the door when I saw Syd's impish little face smiling back at me as she slammed the door shut, locking me out and herself in the house all alone. 

So here I am, in the backyard with no keys, no cell phone and Sydney now looking out the window wailing because I won't come in the house to be with her.  I have to say that it was probably the most panicked that I have ever been since she was born, I had no idea what to do.  We had no spare key hidden and I had no phone to call Paul or anyone else to come and help me.  I tried to calm Syd down through the window, talking and singing to her as my mind is frantically racing, thinking what I can do. 

I knocked on three neighbor's doors to see if I could use their phone, no one was home.  Just when I was starting to lose hope, a man smoking a giant cigar and walking his dog came around the corner.  I called out to him to ask him if he had a cell phone, which he didn't.  "I've just locked my baby in the house!"  I screamed hysterically.  "I live just a block away," he said, "let me run home and get my phone for you!" 

So this kind man ran all the way home and back to our house, panting and sweating, and handed me his cell phone.  By this time Sydney is looking as though she might just collapse, snot is running down her little face, her eyes are red and swollen and she's crying harder and harder and yelling "Mama, Mama!"  It was heartbreaking! 

In the end, I got a hold of Paul, he directed me to a secret location of a hidden key (would have been a valuable piece of information 45 minutes earlier!) and I got into the house to get Syd.

I was so grateful for this man, Andrew's neighborly help.  Not only for running a block away to get me his cell but for also calming me down as I was about to lose it and for watching and entertaining Sydney through the window while I fetched the spare key so that she wouldn't be loose in the house and risk hurting herself.  He was a Godsend! 

So today, Sydney and I took this bottle of wine and thank you card over to his house to say how much we appreciated him helping us.  I only hope that one day I can repay the favour by being the same, kindhearted neighbour that he was. 

Friday, 22 July 2011

Homemade Raspberry Jam

I love picking berries.  I have many fond memories of summer after summer berry picking with my Grandma, saskatoons, huckleberries, wild blueberries and raspberries in the patch in her garden.  Even now, 12 years after she's left us, when I'm picking raspberries, I somehow feel Grandma here with me!

Sadly, I don't have a raspberry patch of my own so I had to settle on buying them this year to make my annual batch of homemade raspberry jam.  I've used the same recipe out of the Certo box for years now and it's foolproof, as long as you follow the directions to a tee.

It turned out great, I got eight jars in total and tastes awesome. Always a nice way to preserve a little bit of summer in a jar! 

Here's the recipe if you want to try making a batch yourself:

Raspberry Freezer Jam

3 cups raspberries
5.25 cups sugar
1 box Certo fruit pectin crystals
3/4 cup water

Crush raspberries one layer at a time in a large bowl.  Use a liquid measuring cup to measure out 3 cups of raspberries once crushed.  Add sugar, mix well and let stand for 10 minutes.  Combine 3/4 cup water with Certo in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil for one minute stirring constantly.  Stir this into fruit mixture and continue stirring for a full three minutes.  Pour into clean plastic or glass containers with tight fitting lids, no larger than 2 cups in capacity.  Fill containers up to 1/4 inch from the rim.  Cover and let stand at room temperature until set, usually about 24 hours.  Store in freezer or if using within 3 weeks store in fridge.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Sydney's New Dollhouse

I have an ongoing list of toys that I want to get for Sydney as she gets older.  The list seems to be growing longer and longer and the items getting progressively bigger.  I'm starting to think that this could get costly, so I once again turned to Craigslist to see if I could find any of the items that I was looking for and hit the jackpot this week.

This awesome wooden dollhouse from Kidcraft is well over $150 brand new but I got it for a mere $40 and it is in perfect condition.  Apparently the little girl who had it, got it as a gift and never really played with it.  I was only too happy to take it off their hands! 

So Sydney and I drove downtown this week to pick the dollhouse up.  Only thing was, I didn't look super closely at the dimensions and when I got there was shocked to see a towering three foot high structure, it's literally taller than Sydney is!  It was awesome!  I had to have it, only problem was, how were we going to fit in in the car to get it home?

The poor Dad who was selling it and I struggled for half an hour to jimmy-rig the thing into the car and at long last found one way only that it would slide into the trunk.  I had visions of splinters of wood everywhere when we closed the trunk lid, but made out okay.  It was too funny in hindsight, like something out of a bad sitcom!

Sydney was so excited when we got it home!  Check out the little chandelier!  It came with a few pieces of furniture but I am going to get her more and maybe a Barbie or two to fit inside.  It was exactly what I was wanting for her and hopefully she will enjoy it for years to come!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Cookies for A New Baby

Yesterday Sydney and I drove out to West Vancouver to visit my friend Rachel and her new, sweet baby boy, Asher.  He was born three weeks early and is the teeniest-tiny sweet pea ever!  I could have held him all day!  It was like holding a feather compared to packing Sydney around.  It was so strange to think that Sydney was once that small!!

Rachel had the most amazing spread of food out for us, lovely fresh berries and treats.  I brought some homemade cookies along, tried a new recipe as I was looking for a way to use up an open jar of apple sauce that I had in the fridge.  They actually turned out really well and were quite flavourful with all of the spices.  Plus they are pretty healthy, so I didn't mind that Sydney ate about six of them in the car on the way home! 

Here's the recipe if you want to give them a try:

Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg whites
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease baking sheet.  Mix flour, baking powder, spices and salt.  Beat margarine and sugar until creamy.  Add egg whites; beat well.  Add dry ingredients.  Stir in oats, applesauce and raisins or dried cranberries.  Drop by level tablespoons onto baking sheet.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool on rack before serving.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A Trip to the Dollar Store

This past Saturday, Sydney and I had a bit of time to kill while Paul was getting his hair cut so we headed to the dollar store down the street from the barber shop.

I had been wanting to get Sydney some small canvases to paint pictures on so that we could give them as gifts to her friends along with a birthday present.  We have lots of little buddies who will be turning 2 over the next few months and I am trying to think of unique things that Sydney can make to give them.

So I picked up a few different sized canvases and she painted this yesterday.  I love it!!  In fact I may keep it for myself or put it on a little plate stand in her room.

We also got this cute little purse for her, couldn't resist!  She loves filling it up with stuff and then just zipping up and unzipping the zipper.  Simple pleasures!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Working on the House.....

We are having the exterior of our house painted this summer.  It has been a very long project!!  This is the start of the third week of having the painters here.  The fact that it has been raining every other day hasn't helped either!  It turns out that our house is quite difficult to paint because of all of the angles and stucco that sucks up paint like a sponge....all these things you never think about when dreaming about a freshly painted house!

At the end of last week, as the painters were nearing the end of the second coat on the house, one of the guys had the misfortune of leaning a little too far to reach for something while dangling 35 feet in the air on his ladder and fell to the ground.  Thankfully, he wasn't hurt at all, but to make matters worse he had a five gallon can of paint attached to his ladder which spilled everywhere....all over the freshly painted house, entryway, garden....I could have was a setback I really could have done without.

Because the project has not been going as smoothly as initially anticipated, Sydney and I have been spending lots of time at home keeping an eye on our new-found painter friends.  Syd has been climbing the walls wanting to get outside, unfortunately the backyard looks like this most of the time, so it isn't exactly the safest play area:

Just to add to the fun of the past few weeks, we decided to have some french doors replaced too.  I feel as though I have a new career of managing home improvement projects!

In the end, it does feel good to get these long-awaited projects off of our "to-do" list and the house is looking great!  I do have to say that I will be glad to have our house free of workers and back to normal though!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Happy Birthday Emma & Faith!

This morning Sydney and I went to a double birthday party for two friends who were both turning 2 years old, Emma and Faith.  The party was at Westside Family Place, a wonderful facility for hosting a party or taking the kids any day of the week!  After seeing what a great place it is, I'm thinking that we'll become members for sure!  The weather held out for us despite the coldest, wettest July that Vancouver has seen in years, so the kids were free to play with all of the great outdoor toys. 

Sydney loved being in the sandbox, digging and filling the backs of Tonka dump trucks, sliding down the many slides and playing in the playhouses.  It was a blast!

A few days before the party, I was getting the gifts for the girls wrapped and asked Sydney if she would like to make birthday cards for her friends.  She immediately ran over the the drawer where I keep her paints and pulled them out and in the end she created these masterpieces:

I'm really enjoying Miss Monet's summer series!

 We left the party with a goody-bag filled with bubbles and this very cool puzzle.  Sydney played with it for most of the afternoon, she really loved it!  It was a very fun day celebrating with our friends, Happy Birthday Emma and Faith!

Saturday, 16 July 2011


One of my favourite times of the day is bathtime with Sydney.  Every night, she and I jump into the bathtub together and splash and play in a mountain of bubbles before bedtime.  It's a wonderful way to end the day with her.  She loves playing in the water, often if I'm having a particularly rough day with her, we'll jump into the bath together midday just to play and relax for a while and she always seems easier to handle after a little soak in the tub!

Because tub-time is such a fun time, we have gotten a ton of great bath toys for Sydney since she was born.  One of our faves is this floating xylophone that my Aussie friend Sally gave us for Sydney's birthday.  It comes complete with song sheets so we often have a little bath-time sing along while Sydney bangs away! 

Another great toy is this set of eight whales all with their own floating rings.  They hook together to cover the length of the bathtub and when you blow into their tails they whistle and wail, such fun! 

But despite all of the great bath toys that Sydney has, her absolute favourite is this:

Yup, it's my bottle of shave cream.  More specifically her favourite toy is the purple lid on top.  She clutches to that little lid like there's no tomorrow for the whole time she's in the bath and fills it up and dumps it out a thousand times!  It's kind of like when you give your kid a really expensive present and they spend the rest of the day playing with the wrapping paper on it!  It was a good reminder to me that kids don't need fancy toys, something that fits just right in their hands can provide hours of entertainment no matter what it is!
Splish, splash!