Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Grandma's Salt & Pepper Shakers

Sydney really loves to help me in the kitchen.  Whenever I am doing anything at all on the counter top, she wants to see what's going on, and pushes a kitchen chair up against the counter to climb up to see what's happening.

Most of the time, I find this quite cute and love involving her in whatever I'm doing, but there are those odd days where I'm in a big hurry trying to get something done, or am knee-deep in raw meat that I don't want her to touch, where I find myself getting annoyed that she's right under my feet watching what I'm doing.

At times like these, I've resorted to giving her my container of rice and a scoop and bowl and letting her scoop all of the rice from the container into the bowl and back again.  This usually keeps her busy for about fifteen minutes or so, just long enough to get the raw meat into the pan and sharp knives out of harm's way.

Lately, the rice trick hasn't been holding her interest as much, she's much more interested in doing what she calls "Salted Pepper", which means she really wants my salt and pepper shakers.  She takes great pleasure out of shaking the heck out of both of them until they are emptied into a bowl and then stirring the mix up with glee.

My salt and pepper shakers belonged to my Grandma.  When she passed away, some 13 years ago, my Mom asked me if there was anything in particular that I wanted from Grandma's house.  One thing that always reminded me of Grandma, that I knew I'd love to have, were these precious salt and pepper shakers, not because they were valuable, but because they sat on her kitchen table and I have countless memories of she and I sitting at that table and they were always there in the background.  If those shakers could talk, they'd have a lot to share I'm sure!

So, I reluctantly hand over the shakers to Sydney when she begs hard enough for them, with a stern warning that she has to be so careful with them because they are so precious to me as they belonged to my Grandma who's in heaven now.  I actually didn't think she was even listening to me until today when she pointed at them and said "Salted Pepper, Mommy special Amma."  Oh yeah, she got it, they were special to Mommy from my Grandma, my girl was listening all along!

I'm sure my Grandma would be so pleased to know that my daughter is spending hours in the kitchen with me, just like I did with her growing up, enjoying her salt and pepper shakers.  Thanks Grandma, for the memories and for passing those precious shakers along!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Lunch with the Cousins

Today my cousins Melanie and Sharlene and little baby Kaylee came over for lunch and a visit.  It was so great to see Sharlene's baby again, I hadn't seen her since September and she has changed and grown so much.  She is such a sweet little thing, we had tons of cuddle time together today.

Kaylee has inherited a bunch of clothes from Sydney and it was so great seeing her wearing some of Syd's sweet outfits today!  Right before she left for home, Sharlene changed Kaylee into one of Sydney's old sleepers, it was one of my favourites ever, made me feel so wistful for the days when Syd was just a wee babe!

It was so fun to have a visit with the girls, Sydney loved having them here and playing with the baby.  She doesn't have many cousins her own age, so it was neat for her to be able to spend some time with Kaylee today!

The other day, I was thinking about a moment about a month or so before Sydney was born, when I was driving along and suddenly, this song started playing on the radio called "A Baby Changes Everything".  I remember chuckling to myself, thinking how silly it was to say that, how could one tiny baby change everything?  It defied logic.  Then, Sydney was born, and I quickly realized that yes, a baby really does change everything, mostly all for the best, but there are things that you loved about life before that never quite feel the same as they do after you have a baby. And while you would never, for even a moment, give up having this precious angel in your life, you sometimes wonder if anything will ever be as it was before.

Sharlene and I were talking about this very thing today and it really comforted me to know that every Mom in the world probably feels exactly as we do and just continues to journey on, because this thing about becoming a Mom quickly defines who you are in a way that nothing else can.  It inherently changes you in every way and yet there are still parts of you that are who they've always been.  There's a tension, a balance, that is forever trying to be achieved.  We are mothers, wives, friends, sisters, daughters, so many things to so many important people.  We want to neglect no one, and yet this one tiny little person supersedes everyone else, she is your trump card, she always wins, sometimes to the detriment of the relationships that matter the most to us.

It is something you never think about when you are having a baby and is hard to articulate to someone who hasn't yet experienced it, but the experience is universal.  No one has all the answers to how to achieve the perfect balance, it looks different for everyone, and try as we might, there always seems to be one ball that we can't keep in the air.

I was so grateful to have a visit with the girls today and to share the ups and downs of motherhood with Sharlene.  It was a great lunch with the cousins!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Jack's Elmo Party


Today Sydney and I went to a birthday party for her little friend Jack who just turned two.  His party was at the Creekside Community Centre in the new Athlete's Village in False Creek, what a great venue!  The kids had an entire gym full of equipment to run around and play on, they so enjoyed themselves!

Jack's party was an Elmo theme.  Sydney is crazy about Elmo, she was so thrilled to see him everywhere today!  Jack's Mom, Christina, made the cutest Elmo cake and cupcakes:

And she handmade each of the goody bags too to look like Elmo:

Jack's older cousins were doing face painting for the kids so Sydney had her hand painted with, what else, Elmo!  She loved it, kept looking at it and exclaiming his name throughout the party. 

We so enjoyed seeing all of our friends from the Dunbar Moms group at the party, it seemed like forever since we'd connected!  What a fun way to spend a rainy, cold winter afternoon in January!  We are so glad to have some friends who are a few months younger than Syd so that we have birthdays to go to during a different time of the year other than the fall when most of Syd's buddies were born!

We came home with an Elmo cupcake, which Syd devoured in the car, and a loot bag filled with a colouring book, story book, box of crayons and Elmo sippy cup.  I love how the theme was carried throughout the entire party!  So fun!

Happy Birthday Jack!  Thanks for sharing your day with us! 

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Friends for Dinner

Tonight we had our friends Mike and Sarah and their daughter Emma over for dinner.  Emma is Sydney's best friend, they really love each other so much and Paul and I enjoy Mike and Sarah's company so much as well, we really had a great evening together!

I decided to make my favourite rack of lamb for dinner, it is such a great and easy recipe cooked on a bed of cherry tomatoes and turns out perfectly every time!  Sydney, of course, wouldn't even try the lamb, but Emma absolutely loved it, ate each rack like a popsicle, it was awesome!  Syd and Emma had fun playing in the new playroom, I love how they are interacting so much with each other now that they are a bit older.  Something tells me these gals are going to be great friends in the years to come.

Sarah and Mike brought the most delicious bottle of wine tonight to go along with our lamb, it was so yummy!  They also brought me a bottle of olive oil that they bought from a new store, Vancouver Olive Oil Company.  This store lets you do tastings before you buy a freshly bottled jar of olive oil.  Sarah chose a rather bold flavoured olive oil for me from California, I can't wait to try it!!  What a fantastic hostess gift!  I use so much olive oil in cooking and to dip bread in that it won't last long around here!

We also inherited a bag full of clothes and shoes that Emma had outgrown!  Emma passed along this very cute furry jacket and fleece and sweater dress, love the pom-poms!

I served angel food cake with strawberries and kiwis and whip cream for dessert, it felt a little like a birthday party as that's my go-to cake for birthdays!

It was so fun to have some friends over for a visit today, looking forward to many more fun nights with Sarah and Mike!

P.S.  Tonight marks my 200th blog entry!  Quite exciting to think that I have shared that many days online right here with you!  Thanks for reading!  xo

Friday, 27 January 2012


Since becoming a Mom, I have become a bit of a pack rat. Okay, a bit more of a pack rat.  I guess I've always loved saving things.  I have such a hard time getting rid of anything that belongs to Sydney, or reminds me of when she was a sweet little baby.  I never really understood why parents were like this before I had kids, thinking it was funny to save an ash tray that your now 30 year old kid made you twenty five years ago, when you've never smoked a cigarette in your life, but now, I understand.

Paul is quite sentimental when it comes to things from his son, Zach's, childhood.  For years, he has had a closet in the basement stuffed with Rubbermaid containers filled with old toys, books and artwork of Zach's that he just couldn't bear to part with.

Tonight after dinner, Paul and I were hanging out downstairs with Syd in her new playroom, and Paul decided to pull out a Rubbermaid container stuffed to the brim with wooden Brio train tracks, trains and accessories that Paul's Dad had bought for Zach when he was a little boy, some 25 years ago.  Paul spent the better part of an hour building an elaborate maze of tracks for Sydney.  She was absolutely thrilled!  She kept saying "More choo-choos!" as she pulled train after train out of the container.  Once it was all set up, she played with her new train set for the longest time.  I had no idea she was going to love it so much!

It was so neat to watch her with the trains, she totally got how the magnets worked to hook them together and loved sending the trains over the bridges, through the tunnel and working the drawbridge.  The look on Paul's face was so awesome while he was watching her play with it, you could tell that he and Zach had many good memories together playing with the trains that were still fresh in his mind.

I was so happy that Syd could make use of Zach's old toys, or at least borrow them until Zach has kids of his own and we pass them along for another generation to enjoy!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Scrapbooking Day

Before Sydney was born, I decided that I was going to create a scrapbook of her first year of life, month by month.  I had visions of setting some time aside each month to work on a page or two that highlighted that month in her life and wistfully looking at the completed project on her first birthday, marveling at how far she'd come in such a short time.  Looking back now, I think it was funny that I had such great aspirations for what I could accomplish during that first year of Motherhood!

So during my last few weeks of pregnancy, I got started on the scrapbook.  I had taken several courses to learn different techniques at Scrapbook Warehouse, and had loaded up on piles of pink paper and stickers to create my masterpiece.  The first few pages included all of my belly shots that I had taken with Tiny Toes Photography when I was seven months pregnant and all of Sydney's ultrasound pictures.  Funnily enough, at just the moment that I was finishing putting in my last picture of Sydney's ultrasound, my water broke and I went into labour.  I'll never forget what I was doing the moment I went into labour!

So here we are, 26 months later, and today, for the first time since that fateful day, I am finally getting around to completing Sydney's scrapbook.  This kind of happened by accident, to be honest.  This afternoon I had a new Mother's Helper, Nadine, come by for the first time.  Now Sydney is very much a Mommy's girl and doesn't take quickly to other people, especially when she senses that they are there to take care of her and that Mommy might be going somewhere.  I had no expectations at all today of getting anything done while Nadine was here, I totally expected that Syd would be clinging to me like a koala bear and that the three of us would just hang out to give her and Nadine a chance to get used to each other.

You can imagine my surprise, when five minutes after Nadine arrived, Sydney was marching up the stairs asking her to come and see the toys in her bedroom!  She absolutely loved Nadine right from the get-go and played outside with her in the backyard, did some artwork and played Barbies in her playroom.  She could have cared less where I was!  It was fantastic!

So I thought that I'd pounce on the opportunity to get something done that I had thinking about, and intending to do, for, quite literally, two years!  I dragged out all of my scrapbook supplies and set out to get as many pages completed as I could.  I couldn't believe how quickly it all went once I got started!  I guess all that time I'd spent thinking about how I wanted to see it come together really made the process happen a lot more quickly than usual!

It felt so good to get it done!  I still have a few more pages to do, will try and get them done next week when Nadine's here again, but I made such headway today!  Yet another thing I can scratch off my New Year's Resolution list!  Hooray!!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Root Beer Barbecue Sauce

I made one of my famous Shredded Beef roasts for dinner in the crock pot tonight.  This dish is always a hit served on buns with sweet peppers for dinner and is so easy to prepare in the morning to make dinner time effortless!

I was thinking that I wanted to kick up the flavour of the beef a bit tonight, so thought I'd try my hand at making my own barbecue sauce.  I searched through my recipe books and found a recipe for Root Beer Barbecue Sauce that I had clipped out of Bon Appetit magazine years ago.

The sauce turned out so well, it had a lovely smoky, sweet flavour and was thick and tasty!  I tossed the beef in it and then drizzled more on top of the meat once the sandwiches were assembled.  It really added an amazing element to the beef, it was just what I was looking for! 

I had forgotten how much I loved Root Beer as well, it's been years since I've had it and I so enjoyed finishing off what was left in the bottle after making this recipe.  It totally reminded me of my Grandma who used to make us root beer floats as a special treat in the summer time.  What a lovely memory it evoked!

This recipe makes about two cups of barbecue sauce and can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.  Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try:

Root Beer Barbecue Sauce

1 cup root beer
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1.5 TBSP packed dark brown sugar
1 TBSP molasses
1 tsp liquid smoke (can be found in the bottled sauce section of most supermarkets)
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 1.5 cups, about 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cool slightly.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.  Can be made up to 2 weeks ahead.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


Today after preschool, Sydney and I jumped in the car and drove down to Bellingham to do a Trader Joe's run.  I had been dying to do a grocery shop there for so long and just hadn't found a day to make it happen, it felt great to finally get it done!  For those of you who haven't been to Trader Joe's before, you really have to go, they have the most amazing food and tons of organic things at a fraction of the cost in Canada, it's amazing!

The weather on the way to Bellingham was absolutely insane today, raining sheets and wind so hard that it literally pulled my car across the center line of the freeway several times.  It was scary!  Luckily, we made it there safe and sound with Sydney fast asleep in the back seat, oblivious to the storm that we were in!

Trader Joe's never disappoints, I came home with a ton of my usual fare.  I would love to try everything in this store at least once, they have such great, interesting things that you can't find anywhere else!  I got all of my usual standbys today and came home with a couple of new things to try.

Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning is meant to be amazing, it's a blend of spices that you can use on everything from soup to nuts.  I've never tried it before, so I picked up a bottle today, can't wait to give it a try!

I also got Sydney some natural gummy bear multivitamins which I had been wanting to get for her for a long time.  Syd is not the best eater, she is definitely eating way more lately and better than she ever did, but I always worry that she's lacking some essential minerals or vitamins because she typically eats such a narrow diet.  She loved the vitamin gummies, in fact she cried when I put them up high and told her that she couldn't have more until tomorrow!  It makes me feel a bit better about her nutrition knowing that she's getting at least some of the essential nutrients every day!

Syd was up to her usual trick of filling my basket with things that she was randomly grabbing off the shelves, it was funny!  One thing she did grab, that I let her keep, were these freeze dried blueberries, could make a fairly healthy snack to pack in my diaper bag!

Right next to Trader Joe's is this amazing consignment store, Wee Ones Reruns.  I always pop in when I'm in the neighborhood, so today Syd and I took a few minutes to see what they had.  I ended up buying this super cute pink tutu for Syd...I'm thinking I may have to let her wear it to her dance class next week.

I also got this shelf for her playroom with hooks to hang the art smocks on, I had been looking for something like this for the past few weeks and was thrilled to find it in the primary colours that I was looking for!

Right before we headed home, we stopped at Panda Express to get some takeaway.  Paul and I discovered Panda a few years ago in Maui when we were desperate for a takeaway dinner late one night.  It is delicious Chinese food, just the right amount of spice and always fresh and tasty!  It was nice to not have to worry about dinner by the time we got home late this afternoon, we totally enjoyed our Chinese takeout!  We were laughing at the irony of us living in a city with a zillion Chinese people and having to drive to Bellingham to get decent Chinese food....kind of funny!

It felt so good to get away to do a little shopping today with my girl.  Sydney was such a good girl the whole time we were away, we really enjoyed the day together!