Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Back in the Land of the Living

I have been missing in action for the past few days, stricken down with the flu.  I am just now starting to feel like myself again, it hit me pretty hard!  Thankfully, I don't get sick very often, but when I do it's usually a pretty sinister bug.  The worst thing about getting sick now that I'm a Mom, is that feeling of total helplessness when you can't even take care of yourself, how are you supposed to take care of your child?

In a funny way, I was actually glad for an excuse to get tons of sleep and rest for a couple of days.  I have been burning the candle at both ends for a few weeks now and had been thinking that I really needed to slow down and get more rest.  Funny how your body has gentle ways of reminding you to pull in the reigns when you've pushed it too far!!

Poor Sydney has had a boring couple of days hauled up in the house with me while I lay on the couch trying to entertain her.  This morning she woke up and exclaimed "Walk! Walk!", she really wanted to get outside for a walk!  I will have to make it up to her and get out and about a lot over the next few days so she can run off some steam!  I really couldn't blame her as it was the most amazing, sunny day today!  The sky was perfectly blue and it was cold and crisp!  I even heard a lawnmower today, mowing the lawn on November 30th, gotta love living in Vancouver!  At one point Sydney and I were actually lying on the carpet in a patch of sun shining through the windows sunning ourselves like a couple of cats!  It was pretty funny!

I have to say that during the past few days I have so felt the love from my Mom friends as I've gotten texts and e-mails as people were thinking of me while I was sick or offering to bring things by.  It is so nice to know that I have a community of Moms that are there for me during those toughest of days!

So, having lost a couple of days has set me back a bit, I had a lot scheduled this week to try and accomplish which has now all gone to pot...we'll have to try again next week!

In other news, I have just finalized all the details for our annual trip to Maui for the holidays.  I am so looking forward to the sun and sand and long, leisurely days soaking up that sweet Hawaiian air!

I am grateful to be feeling better and am hoping that between now and when we leave for holidays we can all manage to avoid any other bugs that are out there!  Tis the season!  Hope you are all healthy and well wherever you are!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sick Day

My baby is sick, it has been a rough day!  The day started out beautifully, we headed out to the Richmond Country Club for brunch with Syd and had a great meal together.  On the way home, we stopped at Paul's Mom's house for a quick visit, Sydney really loves visiting with her Bubbie.  She is so funny the way she interacts with her, it's very sweet.  Bubbie's caretaker Emma made me a delicious lemon loaf today, she is very sweet and usually bakes with Bubbie and sends us home with something freshly baked every Sunday.  She knows I love lemon loaf, so she made this special for me!

For about the past forty years since first becoming a Grandmother, Paul's Mom has had a candy cupboard stocked with sweets in her living room.  For years and years every grandchild has known to hit up that candy cupboard when they visit Bubbie and it didn't take Sydney long to figure out that's where she had to go to get herself a little treat.  So every Sunday we usually let her have a little piece of red licorice while she's playing at Bubbie's.  Problem was, today she ate way more than just a little piece when we weren't looking and started complaining of an "owwweee tummy" just as we were leaving.

Well, about a half hour after getting home, as I was trying to get her down for her afternoon nap she barfed up the licorice all over me and the bed.  That was the first of about four barfing episodes, one of which landed up all over the inside of the dishwasher full of clean dishes while she was standing on a chair beside it.....gross!  I ran the sani-rinse cycle more times than you want to know after that!

I was starting to think that she was coming down with the flu, but with no fever or other symptoms, quickly realized that she had probably just made herself sick with too much candy.  One of those tough life more licorice for her needless to say!

Her appetite came back with a vengeance around dinner time, I couldn't keep the food away from her, she woofed back yogurt, ravioli, crackers, a banana and some macaroni.  Poor kid was starving!  Let's hope that's it for this bout and that I have a puke-free night ahead of me!

During one of my quieter moments this afternoon, while Sydney was napping, I decided to whip up an apple cake, it turned out so well!  It is fragrant and delicious and so moist and yummy.  Next time I think I'll arrange the apple slices in a pattern just to make it a little more visually appealing.  Here's the recipe, it's super easy and requires very basic ingredients which you will likely have on hand!

Apple Cake

3 cups peeled and thinly sliced apples
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Grease and flour a 7 x 11" baking pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine apples, brown sugar and cinnamon, set aside.  Using electric mixer, beat eggs until light and fluffy.  Add sugar, oil and vanilla, continue beating until well combined.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to the egg mixture and mix at low speed until blended.  Pour half of the batter into prepared pan.  Add half of the apples, spreading evenly over the batter.  Top with the remaining batter.  Arrange remaining apples on top.  Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center comes out clean.  Serve warm or cool, if desired dust with icing sugar prior to serving.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Looking for Some Sunshine on a Rainy Day!

Today was the rainiest, gloomiest, darkest day ever outdoors.  It felt like it was perpetually 8:00 at night all day.  I could have called a pajama day before I even got out of bed, but figured that we may as well take advantage of the fact that we had a day together as a family and spend at least a little time out of the house!

I came downstairs early this morning with Syd to have breakfast and found that the amazing bouquet of Stargazer lilies that my friend Saskia had brought me earlier this week had magically exploded overnight.  They are an enormous arrangement of the most beautiful, fragrant, pink blooms!  It was such a cheery way to start what could have been an otherwise dismal day!

Midway through the day, Sydney and I were playing with toys in her room and she found a little blue plastic beach shovel in her toybox.  After five minutes of her pleading "Dig, dig, Mommy, Dig!", I put on her raincoat and boots and let her out in the storm to dig around in the garden for a while.  She was completely not bothered by the weather, dug up piles of dirt (exclaiming "dirt!" with each shovelful!) and happily moved her pinwheel from planter to planter.  She was as happy as a clam in her little slicker and rain boots out there in the garden!  It took some convincing to get her back in the house!

This week I got my CD in the mail with the pictures from Sydney's autumn photo shoot with Denise from Tiny Toes Photography.  They are absolutely amazing!  I ordered our holiday cards from Costco literally minutes after getting the CD, so we trekked downtown today to pick them up.  In fairness to everyone who'll be getting one of these cards, I can't give you a sneak peek here, but they are super cute!!

I have been feeling a little foggy all day after having gone out for a lovely late, wine-filled dinner with my Dunbar Moms last night at La Terrazza in Yaletown.  I sadly forgot to bring my camera with me, so I don't have any pictures of my own to share with you, but we had an amazing meal together!

I had a lovely gourmet piazza topped with arugula and pine nuts as an appetizer and a rib eye steak with green peppercorn sauce and fresh porcini mushrooms, it was cooked to perfection and absolutely delicious!  I couldn't even finish it all, so the server graciously packaged up the leftovers for me which I ate for lunch today and I was just as good as last night!  We ordered a wonderful 2008 La Frenz Cabernet Sauvignon, it went so well with my steak!  We shared their signature dessert to finish the evening off, a white chocolate cheesecake wrapped in phyllo pastry and served warm with raspberry coulis, like a little slice of heaven in your mouth!

It was such a fun evening out with the girls for a late birthday celebration for our friend Michelle.   The restaurant was so beautifully decorated for Christmas too, trees and wreaths all lit up, it was so cozy and festive!  A fantastic evening!

Despite the weather, all in all, it ended up being a pretty great day!  Bring on Sunday!

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Today while Sydney was at preschool, I spent an hour and a half wandering through Zellers, of all places!  I have literally not been to Zellers in years, but I had an idea this year of making up little gift bags of homemade goodies for a few of the Mom friends that I'm closest to, so I went on a search for some gift bags and bows that I could use for my project.

I had forgotten how much great, inexpensive stuff you can find wandering the aisles of Zellers, ended up picking up some cleaning supplies, a new ironing board cover, got all my gift bags and bows plus some generic ones for birthdays and other events to use throughout the year.  It was so fun!

I also got Syd these very cool dry erase crayons to use on the white board on her easel, can't wait to try them out!!

It has been such fun perusing my cookbooks looking for some great recipes for treats that I can make to include in my gift bags.  I have a day booked in mid December for my Mother's Helper to come for a few hours as I am planning a baking day to make all the treats and put the bags together.  It will be fun to have Sydney help me with the process and to go around with me to deliver the bags and wish everyone happy holidays. 

It was a fun way to spend my "me time" while Sydney was at school!  Can't wait to get the bags all together!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Sweetest Days

Sometimes I feel as though the sweetest days that I have with Sydney are those when I have nothing planned and the day just unfolds before us.  Today was one of those days.  We had a music class scheduled for this morning, but there has been a huge outbreak of Hand, Foot & Mouth disease amongst kids here in Vancouver, so I thought that we might skip it just to avoid coming into contact with any kids who might have the virus.

I kind of woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, felt crabby and edgy and was being a bit short tempered with Sydney for really no reason at all.  So, like most times when I'm feeling close to the end of my rope, I called my Mom to whine a little.  I felt better once I'd gotten off the line with her, she has a way of grounding me like no one else in the world!

So I decided that Sydney and I would have a day of doing nothing, so we did a lot of this:

And this:

Sydney loves to "read" the newspaper just like Mommy, for a good twenty minutes today she and I sat at the island in the kitchen having a drink and reading the paper side by side.

Then, just as she was starting to climb the walls a bit, the sun miraculously came out and started streaming through the windows, so I threw her in the stroller and off we went up to Dunbar for a walk.  It was just what I needed to really snap me out of my mood, some fresh air and exercise and a few friendly, smiling faces from my Dunbar neighbors.

So we managed to have a great day together, me and my girl. We even tried a new recipe for dinner, Whiplash Chicken (named that for two reasons, one it's super quick to make and two, it's super spicy, see recipe below!).  There was a moment in the middle of making dinner, when both Syd and I were in our matching Mom and baby aprons that I thought to myself, "these are the days I'm going to remember twenty years from now."  I really think that's true, it's the little moments, not the big events, that somehow have a way of settling into your heart and being the memories that you cherish and think back on in the years to come.

It was one of the sweetest days with my girl, I can only hope for many more.

Whiplash Chicken  - From Best of Bridge Grand Slam Cookbook

1 large onion thinly sliced and separated into rings
1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 TBSP water
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp garlic salt or 1 clove minced fresh garlic
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 - 14 oz can tomatoes
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 tsp instant chicken bouillon
3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces

In a large saucepan, combine onion, green pepper, mushrooms, water, oregano, red pepper, garlic salt and hot sauce.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until veggies are tender crisp.  In a blender or food processor, combine undrained tomatoes, peanut butter and bouillon.  Process until smooth.    Place uncooked chicken in a large casserole.  Top with veggie mixture.  Pour tomato mixture over all.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.  Serve with rice.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Another Day of Friends for Tea...

This afternoon after Syd got home from preschool, we had our friends Saskia and Myrtle and Andrea, Aaro and Hattan over for tea.  After having served apple crisp yesterday when I had my friend Brenna over, I decided I'd do it again and made up a Blackberry Apple Crisp this time, tossing in some blackberries that I had frozen in the freezer in with the apples.  It was so delicious!

I found these super delicious mini pumpkin spice muffins at Safeway today and served those as well, they are so melt-in-your-mouth moist and the cream cheese frosting is just sweet enough to give it a little kick.  Sydney loved the frosting, ate it off the top of three of the muffins this afternoon!  Funny girl!

Saskia brought me a lovely, huge bouquet of Stargazer lilies, they are quite possibly my favourite flower of all time!  They will be so amazing and fragrant in a few days when they all open up.  I have them in my kitchen and will enjoy them for days to come!

Andrea baked some delicious cookies today too and brought some to share, salted milk chocolate peanut butter cookies and regular dark chocolate chip.  Andrea is an amazing baker, the cookies were so good, I kept nibbling at them long after the ladies had gone home!

The kids had a great time playing together.  It's been a while since I've had some of the kiddies over for a play date, so it was neat to see how much more mobile and capable they were!  They had fun playing with playdough and colouring and hanging out in Sydney's room checking out all the toys and books there and playing in my very unfinished playroom in the lower level.  Seeing them play down there really motivated me to get cracking on my new year's project of turning that room into a full-fledged playroom so that the kids can have a dedicated place to play stuffed full of toys when they come over. 

It was so nice to reconnect with the ladies and catch up on what everyone's been up.  It's amazing how busy our lives are getting as the kids are getting older with preschool and activities planned and trying to get a few other things done we really don't find as much time to get together and just sit and have tea as we used to!  It really feels like a treat now to be able to get together, so nice to have two days in a row of visits with friends!

Monday, 21 November 2011

A Day With Friends

One of the things that I love the most about being able to stay at home with Sydney full time, is that I have the chance to connect with friends during the day when I would otherwise be stuck in an office!  Today was a full day of getting together with friends, it was fantastic!

This morning we had my friend Brenna and her sweet girls Elia and Bianca over for tea.  Brenna and I worked together at Mackenzie for years and know a lot of common people in the finance industry, so we always have a lot to chat about!  I was thrilled to have the chance to serve tea using my brand new tea pot and mugs that I got at the Circle Craft fair recently, they are terrific, I love them!

Being that it was such a cold, dark, rainy day today, I figured that I would whip up a warm and comforting dessert to share with everyone, so I made this yummy apple crisp which I served with a side of French Vanilla ice cream, it was delightful!

Here's the recipe if you're feeling like a little bowl of comfort:

Apple Crisp

6 apples, sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt


3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and mix with the sliced apples.  Put all in a greased baking dish.  Cover with the topping mixture which you have rubbed into crumbs.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the apples are soft.

This afternoon we headed down to the Vancouver Aquarium to meet up with our friends Mel and her babe Logan.  Mel and I have become "Aquarium Buddies" of sorts, we meet every few weeks for a play date with the kids at the Aquarium.  It's been neat to see how both Sydney and Logan are getting more and more familiar with the place and more confident in their roaming around!

Sydney spent a long time watching this giant sea turtle swim around:

In the new Children's Clown Cove they had starfish and other sea creatures in boxes of water for the kids to touch.  Syd wasn't too interested in touching them, or the water, just peered into the boxes at them!

In the Beluga area, they had tables set up so that the kids could get their faces painted.  Sydney opted to have her hand painted instead with, what else, a ladybug!  She was very proud of that painting, couldn't wait to show Dad when she got home!

Mel and I had a fantastic visit together, got caught up on what's happening in our lives and have decided that for our next play date we're going to take the kids to a toddler gym instead so that we don't have to spend so much time running after our two very active toddlers!

It really was such a good day, I love that I got to see two friends that I hadn't seen in a while and that Sydney had good fun playing with some of her little buddies.  Every Monday should be this good!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Christmas Cactus

When Sydney was born, we got some very lovely bouquets of flowers in beautiful shades of pink, such as this one from my friend Brandie, which came in a beautiful pink vase which I use all the time to this day!

And this one from my parents with the most beautiful, feminine pink roses.  I dried one from the bouquet and kept it, it's still gorgeous even two years later!

My sister gave me something a little different when she came to see Syd and I in the hospital, she brought me a Christmas cactus which bloomed beautifully about a month after I got it.  It was so nice to have something beautiful in the house during that rainy November in my first-month-of-being-a-Mom haze! 

Now, I would love to say that I have a green thumb.  Conceptually, I love the idea of nurturing and growing plants both indoors and out, but unfortunately I haven't been gifted with the ability to sustain plants very well.  Over the years, I've all but given up on growing gorgeous house plants, so I put this Christmas cactus in the window in the kitchen, watered it about six times in a year and was amazed when last December it bloomed again, even more beautifully than the first year!

I had all but forgotten about this poor plant until the other day when I was doing a little cleaning around the window sills and noticed that it has heaps of blooms ready to unfold over the next few weeks!  I proudly moved the plant to the bay window where I normally keep fresh cut flowers and have been watching it every day to see when the first flower will bloom.  This plant has been so kind to me even though I can't say the same back!

In retrospect, it was one of the loveliest gifts that I could have gotten around Sydney's birth as it's yearly blooming will continually remind me of those precious first few days and weeks with my girl, hunkered down at home during a dark and rainy November, happier than I'd ever been in my life!  Can't wait for it to bloom!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Vancouver Votes

Today was voting day for a civic mayoral election in Vancouver.  In years gone by, I often took for granted our right to vote and several times didn't even bother showing up to cast my vote, thinking that it wouldn't make a difference anyway.  Watching recent events in Egypt and Lybia has given me a new-found conviction for exercising my right to have my voice be heard through voting.  Knowing that there are those in this world that would give their lives for such a right, truly makes me feel very proud to be Canadian and live in a democratic country.

So this morning, I thought I would walk up to the elementary school at the end of our block with Sydney to model being a responsible citizen in choosing our new mayor.  Only problem was, we woke up to -3 degree temperatures this morning, everything was frozen solid and it was a bit too chilly to be taking Syd out for a walk!  So she and Daddy waited in the warm car while I went in to vote.  In the end, our current mayor Gregor Robertson, got re-elected so we're back to business as usual in Vancouver!

Paul and I were scrambling to think of something to do with Sydney today that didn't involve being outside, given the frigid temperatures.  I had gotten this coupon in the mail from the Gap for 60% off any two items just for today so we headed to the mall to see if we couldn't find a couple of things for Syd at Baby Gap.

I ended up getting her this super cute puffy winter coat and a new pair of skinny jeans.  So cute!  The coat looks so adorable on her, she looks like a little puffy snowman, so sweet!  Syd had a ton of fun racing through the mall, I'm thinking we may end up spending a few days there over the next short while as this cold weather continues! 

This afternoon I unpacked a little something I picked up at Costco the other day:

It's a cordless Electrolux Ergorapido Ultra vacuum.  I love it!  I have to say that keeping the floors clean, or at least crumb free, with a toddler in the house is one of my biggest challenges.  Over the last couple of weeks, both my Dustbuster and Shark electric broom bit the bullet, so my floors have been looking pitifully messy in between dragging the giant built-in vacuum hose around for a good clean.  I am so happy to have this new vacuum, it is super powerful and has a hand held vacuum built into the handle which you can remove for smaller jobs.   What a great buy!  It will certainly get tons of use around here!

Looking forward to a leisurely Sunday with Paul and my babe tomorrrow!

Friday, 18 November 2011

A Snowy Friday

 This morning we woke up to this:

The first snowfall of the year.  Almost an inch and a half of heavy, wet, slushy snow covering the ground.  I really hate snow.  I know that's an unpopular opinion and strange, seeing I grew up in Northern BC where there is snow on the ground for literally eight months out of the year, but I really don't like it.  I never did get why everyone was always so excited for snow, the chance to play and roll in it.  To me, it was always wet and cold, two things I really don't like to be!

My feelings for snow may be soon changing based on Sydney's reaction to it this morning.  She was thrilled to see it out the window and belted out "Snow! Snow!" several times today.  When we finally got around to getting outside into the slushy mess, I asked her if she wanted to touch the snow and she said "No!"  Maybe it was the scowl on my face, maybe she just didn't want to get her hands wet, either way she and I hightailed it for the car and didn't look back at the wintery wonderland that was our backyard.

We didn't let this sudden blip in the weather stop us from getting on with our day, went to gymnastics, ran a few errands, came home to play for a while and quick snack and then met up with my brother for lunch downtown.  We had a great visit together with my bro, Syd was such a good girl in the restaurant, sat in her seat for most of the time we were there just playing with whatever was on the table.  She spent a good amount of time charming the people at the table next to us too, it was very sweet!

This evening we headed to Danny and Heidi's house for dinner.  We had such a good time, great food, and great company.  This is their beloved cat Nellie who Sydney absolutely adores:

She followed this cat all around the house and sat on her cousin Nathan's bed with it for a long time just stroking it and lightly touching it's eyes.  It is such a nice cat, didn't seem to mind at all that Syd was getting in it's space, just put up with her for as long as she could and then hopped off the bed and went downstairs....only to have the little red head follow it....

This is Sydney's second cousin Issy.  Issy and Sydney spent a good amount of time working together colouring tonight, it was very sweet.  Issy loves art, he is very artistic and talented in many creative areas. 

He decided that he was going to draw a portrait of Sydney tonight and send it home with us.  This was his final result:

So cute! I love how the hair is super curly and crazy looking, very life-like!  I asked him what the giant circles on her face were and he said "her rosy cheeks".  What a doll!

It was a lovely evening with everyone, Sydney had a super time and dropped into bed exhausted within minutes of us heading home, she really was all played out!

That was our snowy Friday, it was a great day!