Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A Day of Goodbyes

Shortly after Sydney was born, I started to wonder how I was ever going to get a haircut or bikini wax again.  I hadn't really thought about how difficult it would be to take a baby to the spa or hair salon where other patrons were quietly enjoying themselves and paying big bucks NOT to hear a baby crying!

I was so relieved when my friend Sarah told me about her friend Lulu at Butterfly on Burrard.  Lulu is the one and only esthetician at her spa and loves kids, so she is only too happy to have me bring Sydney along when I come to get my services done.  So, once every three or four weeks from the time Sydney was a few months old, I have packed her up and headed to Lulu for my regular maintenance, hair removal galore and a pedicure.

All was well until about a month ago when Lulu sent out an e-mail to tell us that she had sold her business and was moving to Saltspring Island after an extended trip to Turkey to visit her family.  So today was her last day at the spa and my last time to see her.  It was so sad to say goodbye to her.  After seeing her on such a regular basis I felt as though we had become friends and was sad that we wouldn't be having our long chats over hot wax and nail polish any more.  Plus I now have to find somewhere new to go....a daunting task.

Right after saying goodbye to Lulu, I drove home to say goodbye to our nanny Beth as it was her last day with us.  I am still in denial about the fact that she's not coming back, I don't think it's really going to hit me until next week when I wake up on Monday morning and realize that I can't do my usual routine of errands and exercise with Sydney in tow. 

So it was a day filled with goodbyes and while I'm at it we may as well say goodbye to summer as tomorrow it will be September and it is definitely feeling like fall out there.  There...all my goodbyes are out of my system...onwards and upwards!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Music With Marnie

Today was the first day of a three day Music with Marnie camp that Sydney and I are taking at the Kits Community Centre.  Sydney and I have taken several sessions of music classes with Marnie over the past two years.  Her classes are so fun, lots of dancing and musical instruments and at one point she fills the entire room with bubbles and sings her famous "I Love Bubbles" song.  The kids go nuts racing around the room chasing the bubbles, it's awesome!

Sydney was so funny this morning, all the other kids were up jumping and dancing and she was sitting quietly in my lap just observing for most of the class.  I kept trying to convince her to get up and participate but she would always return to her seat on my lap within a few short minutes.  It didn't dawn on me until later that she was simply doing what we had been doing at another music class for the past few months.  We took a break from Marnie's classes to try something new and went to a class where she was required to sit quietly on my lap for the full 45 minutes....Needless to say we both hated the class and were so glad to see it over with but it was funny to see that Sydney was trained to stay on my lap during the music.  Hopefully we will retrain her over the next couple of days of camp and she'll be up boogying and singing with the rest of the kids!

Marnie and her Rock and Roll Band do performances all over the province.  It was fun to see her again today and to hear all of our old familiar favourite Marnie songs.  Looking forward to the next couple of days with her!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Final Cake Day!

Today was the final day of my four week Wilton basic cake decorating course.  We had such fun today, learned how to write iced letters and to make roses from icing before decorating our final project cake. I decided that I wanted to make the traditional rose bouquet cake from the Wilton instruction manual. In the end this is what my cake looked like:

I made each and every one of those roses and leaves myself, I'm pretty proud of them!

When I got home, I decided to add a few more yellow rosettes around the side and as a top border just to balance the cake a bit more.  I'm not sure which way I like best, they are both great!  I haven't quite gotten to the point where I've been able to cut into the cake to eat it, it was a lot of work and I want to have one more day to admire it before letting my family devour it! 

It was such fun seeing the creative cakes that everyone came up with in class today.  I've learned so much over the past four weeks and am feeling inspired to put all of my new tools to use and bake some cupcakes and cakes to share with friends!  I have a whole new appreciation for the amount of work and effort that making a beautiful cake takes! 

It was fantastic to unleash some creativity again and to learn something new!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

My Nightly Routine

I feel as though I spent most of today getting ready for the week ahead.  Baking and preparing for my final cake decorating class tomorrow, doing laundry so we'd all have some clean clothes to wear, getting paperwork together for our nanny's last day on Wednesday.  It was a much busier Sunday than I would have liked!

Every night after I get Sydney off to sleep I have a nightly routine that pretty much never changes.  After taking a few minutes to check and reply to the day's e-mails and doing my daily blog entry, I head down to the kitchen to clean up from the day's meals.  I wish I could say that I clean up the dinner dishes but to be quite honest, I usually haven't had the chance to clean up from breakfast yet, so it's a bit of a monumental task by that point.  After cleaning every last dish and picking up countless numbers of toys and shoes and dirty laundry, I set Paul's breakfast out on the island so it's ready for him in the morning.

Yes, yes, I know, he's spoiled.  I have been doing this for him for years along with making him a sandwich every single night so that he can take it to work for lunch the next day.

I have to admit, that after years of doing this same routine, I was finding it a bit tedious. So tonight I was trying to think of ways that I could make it a little more inspiring.  I thought that maybe what I could do is write a little inspirational sticky note to Paul every morning and leave it with his breakfast. 

I do so appreciate the fact that Paul works so hard for our family and that Sydney and I get to stay home together and have such a wonderful life all because of him. There have been many mornings where I have felt a little sad that he had to trudge off to the office while we had a day full of fun things planned!  So I figure the least I can do is make sure that he's fed and watered throughout the day and maybe add a little joy to his morning with a note reminding him of how much we love and appreciate him.

Plus it makes my nightly routine a bit cheerier thinking of something funny or meaningful to write for the next day's sticky.  Hope everyone has a good Monday tomorrow!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

It's the Little Things

Wow, today was a scorcher!  I'm pretty sure that it reached 30 degrees Celcius in Vancouver by midday, it honestly was the hottest day that we've had all summer, hard to believe that it's going to be September next week!

Today was one of those days that reminded me that when you have kids it really is the little things that count.  We had a completely free day today,  no appointments, no agenda, just a blank slate to fill.  We had breakfast together with Daddy and headed out to run a few errands.   While we were out, we walked past a store on Broadway that has a bunch of garden pinwheels on display.  Sydney loves that store!  Every time we walk past, she points out the pinwheels excitedly to me and asks to spin one around.  The last time we drove by the store I promised her that I would buy her one, so today we did.  This is the one she chose:

It actually looks very cute in the backyard, all bright and cheerful.  She played with it for almost an hour in the garden today, sticking it in containers and the dirt, spinning it round and round and just carrying it about proudly.  It was so sweet to see how much joy she got from such a small thing.  We could have spent hundreds of dollars on a toy for her and not gotten half as good a reaction.  She so sincerely loves this pinwheel.  She can see it from her bedroom window, so later this afternoon when she was peering out of her window, she saw it and squealed with delight.  Too cute!

On our way home from errands, we stopped a block away as our neighbors were having a block long yard sale.  There was more kids stuff for sale that you can imagine, I could have bought a ton!  In the end, I got just one cute toy for Syd, this little wooden croquet set:

It is so adorable, the hoops are little chicks hooked together with rope:

Sydney thought the mallets were garden tools and spent the better part of the afternoon digging in the garden with them.  I tried to show her how to bang the little balls around with the mallets but she was more interested in digging so we left it at that!

We headed up to Kerrisdale for their annual Kerrisdale days later this afternoon.  It was a blast, tons of stuff going on, bands, carriage rides, prizes and balloons for the kids galore!  We got a fairly good helium balloon collection for Sydney only to have most of it fly out the sunroof on the way home!  In the end, only this one lone red Vancity balloon survived but it was all Sydney needed.  She has always loved balloons and the colour red so she was more than happy to have it alone when she got home!

Such a good reminder that the little things in life truly are what matters and that we can get so much joy from learning to appreciate even the most minor things in a day.  For all the teaching that I think I've done with Sydney, today I felt like she taught me more!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Talk to Me

From the day Sydney was born, I have chatted at her non-stop.  I remember when she was just a few days old, I propped her bouncy seat up on the kitchen counter while I was making dinner and gave her a play by play of everything that I was doing while I chopped and diced, sauteed and steamed.  To this day, Sydney loves to stand on a stool beside me while I cook dinner and watch what I'm doing.  Something tells me she's going to me Momma's right hand gal!

I naturally assumed, because I spoke to her so much from such an early age, that she would be an early talker...hasn't exactly turned out that way.  Many of her friends the same age have enormous vocabularies compared to her and are already stringing words together.  It seemed like Sydney could only say the same dozen words forever until just this past ten days or so.

Every single day for about a week now, Sydney has said at least one new word.  It is amazing how quickly she is picking words up and saying them with such clarity.  She is so proud of herself when she says something new or repeats something that I say, the look on her face is priceless.  I'm sure the huge amount of praise that she's getting from me and Daddy is helping her pride enormously!

Today was a perfect Friday, we spent most of the morning at home playing together and getting some housework done, went to our fitness class together at the park, had lunch outside together and a nap and then off to my friend Sally's new house for a visit with her and her sweet boy Ollie.  We topped the day off with a barbecue and dinner outside with Daddy.  Perfection on a beautiful, sunny summer day!

While we were dining outside for lunch, a swarm of bees starting attacking my food.  I was trying to stay calm while swatting them away without irritating any of them to the point of wanting to sting me or Sydney.  While I was frantically flapping my arms around protecting our food, Sydney stood up on her chair and yelled at the top of her lungs "Bee, Bee!"  It was too cute, the first time she'd ever said 'bee' and boy did she wait for the right moment! 

I can't wait for the day when she and I can have full blown conversations, I am so curious to know what she's thinking and hear her questions about the world.  If she's anything like her Mom, by this time next year she'll be a regular Chatty Cathy!

(By the way..for those of you wondering, these pictures have nothing to do with the post today per se but were taken at Point no Point Resort on Vancouver Island while on holidays last year with my Mom and sister.  Thought they were so beautiful I just had to share them!)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Stacking Rings

I love Etsy.  For years I have spent hours pouring over the hundreds of amazing hand made items for sale on this site and used it often as a source for inspiration when looking for the right gift for someone, or ideas on something hand made that I could do myself.  Funnily enough, I have never ordered anything from this site until just last week.

These stacking rings are made by NY Light Metals, which is owned by Regina Peirallini.  Regina makes vintage handmade jewellery from gems that she rescues from abandoned treasure and the results are amazing.  Check out her website here.  Her pieces are amazing and prices very reasonable! 

It was such fun to get these rings in the mail today, she wrapped them up beautifully and they were everything I expected and more.  I wore them all day today and loved them!  I already have my eye on two or three more items of hers that I would love to get for myself!  Let the shopping begin!

Fresh Salmon

Last weekend, Paul's receptionist, Tamara, and her husband went salmon fishing at the river in Hope.  They caught a ton of sockeye salmon and she brought some to the office for Paul and I to enjoy this week.

I rarely cook fish, mostly because I live in a house of carnivores and everyone's usually hungry after only having fish for dinner, so it was a real treat to have fresh salmon.

I thumbed through my recipe book to find a simple recipe where I could bake it in the oven and found this one for Herbed Balsamic Salmon that I had clipped out of a Chatelaine magazine years ago.  It was so easy and really delicious!  The balsamic vinegar really added a nice zing to the dish.

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

Herbed Balsamic Salmon

4 salmon fillets
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, mint or cilantro or a combination of them

Lightly oil small baking pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place salmon in baking dish.  Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over salmon.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 20-25 minutes until salmon flakes easily in the center and is cooked through.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Friends for Tea

Today started off a bit on the slow side.  Sydney woke up a bunch of times last night for whatever reason, so I was feeling pretty foggy when she decided to get up for the day at 6:15am!  We spent the morning getting a few things done around the house as we were expecting friends for tea in the afternoon.

I am organized to a fault.  One of the things that I have really had to let go in having a baby is being able to plan and anticipate everything that's going to happen in advance so that everything runs perfectly smoothly.  It still feels painful to be spontaneous and flexible sometimes! 

Today was one of those days that didn't quite go as planned.  I had envisioned Sydney going down for her usual nap around noon and being able to whip up a batch of banana bread, get the snacks and tea set out for everyone and do a quick once-over of the house to straighten it for company.  All of that went to pot when Sydney decided not to nap at all today!  I spent the better part of two hours trying to get her down only to give up, completely frustrated as I had to fly around the house to get things ready in twenty minutes!

In the end, it all got done and we had a lovely visit with our friends Lori and Michelle and their babes Weston and William.  The kids had fun playing together and the Moms decided to stuff the tea all together and crack out the wine to take the edge off our day! 

Michelle brought me a lovely bouquet of bright and cheerful Gerbera daisies, they are so lovely and really brightened my day!

Lori found a great recipe online for homemade granola bars, super healthy, and brought a bunch to share with us.  They were delicious and Sydney gobbled down an entire one too so they were definitely a hit!

So from a slow start, the day actually ended on a very nice note.  It was lovely to catch up with my two friends and hear about their summer adventures.  Here's hoping tomorrow starts off a bit more smoothly...

Monday, 22 August 2011

Cupcake Day!

What a fun morning I had!  Today was the third class of my cake decorating course that I've been taking at Michael's craft store.   We learned a variety of different techniques today, especially how to make the coolest flowers with icing and a piping bag!  I could seriously whip up a batch of a hundred cupcakes right now and not run out of ways to decorate them!  Such fun!

In the end, we filled the cupcakes with chocolate cream (okay, mine was Nutella, ran out of time to make anything!) and ended up with eight decorated cupcakes:

I especially love this one with the rosettes and leaves:

This one is called a Shaggy Mum: (I have to admit sometimes I feel like a shaggy Mom!)

And this is a pom-pom flower, also one of my faves:

These two I just made up on my own, but liked the way that they turned out never the less!

I am feeling inspired to make cupcakes for Sydney's second birthday which is coming up at the beginning of November!  It is such fun to do, there is really no wrong way to decorate a cupcake so you can unleash your creativity and come up with whatever you'd like!  It's fabulous!

Looking forward to our final class next week where we decorate an entire cake from start to finish using all the techniques we've learned, should be a blast!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Weekend of Babies!

I got a text early Friday morning from my cousin Sharlene to tell me that her water had broken and that she was in labour.  After many trips back and forth to the hospital, she ended up delivering her precious baby girl by c-section at 1:46am today.  It was so awesome to be able to be in contact with her throughout the many stages of her labour and to think back to my own birth experience with Sydney.   It was the best day of my life, I can honestly say I have never been the same since, so it was especially meaningful to share the experience with Sharlene over the weekend! 

Just to add to the joy of the weekend, my friend Andrea, who was almost two weeks overdue, texted me this afternoon to tell me that her babe had finally arrived last night, a little boy, Hatton Grey.  Hatton's big brother Aaro is one of Sydney's best friends, so we are dying to get to meet the newest member of his family and share in the excitement of Aaro becoming a big brother! 

So it was a weekend full of babies for us!  Paul and I managed to get out for a date night last night too which was lovely, went for dinner at Romer's Burger Bar on Fourth Avenue, then for a walk and coffee.  It was a lovely, relaxing time together and nice to have some one-on-one time!

Looking forward to meeting both of the new babes and introducing Sydney to her newest cousin!

Friday, 19 August 2011

An Evening to Myself

Yesterday night Paul was out for dinner with some friends to celebrate his friend Jeff's birthday.  I took full advantage of the fact that I didn't have to cook dinner and decided to pop open a bottle of wine and order take-out.  This is my stack of take-out menus:

Too many took me half the night to decide what kind of food I wanted to eat and then where to order it from!  In the end I settled on sushi from Sushi Hachi, a great little restaurant in Kerrisdale that delivers right to your door! 

I poured myself a glass of wine, cuddled up at Sydney's little wee table with my girl and we had a sushi party together.  It was too cute, I gave Syd her own roll and she did not too bad with it.  Didn't seem to fond of the seaweed, but that is an acquired taste! 

It was a lovely, relaxing night! 

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Banana Spice Ring

You know those recipes that you clip out of a magazine or newspaper and tuck away and somehow over time they become one of your tried and true recipes that you make again and again?  That's how I feel about my banana spice ring recipe.  I clipped it off the back of a flour bag years ago and have made it literally dozens and dozens of times. 

It is my standard banana bread that I make when having people for tea, or visiting them, or if someone's sick or if there's a potluck.  It seems to pop up for all occasions, partly because it uses up some of the millions of frozen overripe bananas that I have in the freezer, partly because I could make it in my sleep, but mostly because it tastes so good and looks really cool when you bake it in a bundt pan. 

A couple of weeks ago my friend Barbara was having her annual baby pool party and invited us to come.  It is always a blast, the babies soak in the pools while the Moms fill our faces with delicious food and drink wine in the sun.  It has become a favourite summer memory of mine two years in a row now!  I was struggling with what to bring for Barbara and then just plum ran out of time to make anything amazing, so I quickly whipped up a banana spice ring that morning.  It was a huge hit with the kids at the party especially, so I was glad in the end that I made it!
Here's the recipe, hope you try it! The combination of spices make it especially delicious!

Susan's Banana Spice Ring

2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about four medium ripe bananas)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 2.5L bundt pan or a 9 inch springform pan.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add sour cream and vanilla.  Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, spices and salt.  Fold into creamed mixture alternately with bananas.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Turn cake out of pan and cool on rack.  Dust with icing sugar.