Archive | April, 2011

Freshness!

29 Apr

I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner.

After spending close to a month at my parents’ house last summer before moving back to BC, I got kind of used to having fresh herbs in my food.  My mom has a flourishing herb garden and threw them in all our dinners with wild, delicious abandon.

I have always been intimidated by the idea of gardening, being the kind of person who can’t keep a cactus alive, but I finally decided to face my fears and risk the wrath of strata by drilling a couple holes into the side of our house and attaching a cedar herb planter.  Better to ask forgiveness than permisson, I always say (except to my kids).

I had told Carl a couple times that I wanted to do this, and he insisted he would build me a planter box as it was a silly thing to spend money on.  I raised an eyebrow or two but agreed that I would wait if he would actually do it.  He didn’t for awhile so I started to threaten very costly alternatives.

All of a sudden he got inspired after work one day.

His parents had some spare cedar siding around which he shaped into a beautiful box with holes in the bottom for proper drainage.  Then it was off to Home Depot for soil and gardening tools.  I requested gloves but the resulting laughter informed me I should simply add soap to my grocery list.

While he was picking up supplies he saw herbs and, not knowing exactly what I wanted, decided he couldn’t possibly go wrong with EVERY option.  He didn’t realize the spacing requirements for herbs.

So, into the planter box went rosemary, thyme, oregano and chives.

Into separate planters went parsley and mint.

Waiting inside for hotter days and warmer nights is basil.

I love how herb plants smell SO STRONG of herbs, and the fresh flavour is to-die-for.  It takes more fresh herbs than dried herbs to get the same amount of flavour but the smell and bright green colour is AMAZING.  We bought plants instead of seeds because we are impatient, and I can’t wait to watch them grow!  I’ve already used them in soup, quesadillas, pasta, and veggies…I’m sure they will be turning up in everything you can imagine over the next months.

There are times when having no screens is a great thing – I can open my living room window, reach out and grab my herbs!  And Gemma loves the idea that they will grow and then GO IN OUR FOOD and is constantly telling Carl this exciting fact, so hopefully that translates into actually eating them and not picking out the “green bits”.

If they do well I hope to freeze some and see if it works as well as the internets tell me it does.  Maybe some homemade pesto with that basil?  Homemade tomato sauces with that basil and oregano?  I think I am most excited about the oregano, since I LOVE pastas and lasagnas and omelettes and pizza and so many other things with a little or a lot of oregano, and if I don’t have anything to put it in I can just spend my days smelling it.  Chives are a close second though…yum.  And having parsley handy for recipes and garnishing things…ok, I’m excited about them all.

You don’t need much space or light or gardening skill for this, so pick a couple favourite herbs and plant away!  Even just so you can smell them!

Sisterhood of the non-travelling pants

28 Apr

This is a pretty exciting day for me, as my dear sister is moving back to the valley for the summer with her fabulous hubby and baby-to-be.  This means I will have TWO of my fab four sisters in my immediate vicinity, one big sister and one little sister.  Just a couple more to get over here now…

In honour of her move, I have to share my favourite story about her, and hopefully I get it right since this is based off my memory of her telling the story. This story makes me laugh every time I think about it so thank you, anonymous sister, for letting me share it.

First, there are a couple things you should know about both my sister and her husband.  She is a very fashionable individual, always keeping up with the trends and looking great in anything.  He is also extremely fashionable, and also neat – in fact, we once had to wait to go for a HIKE while he ironed his t-shirt.  You never know what kind of wildlife you might run into, and if something should go awry you certainly don’t want to be remembered on the news as “the rumpled hiker who ran into a bear”.  Also, and you will understand the humour when you hear the story, he is a soft-spoken fellow and a big proponent of modesty, as all Christian men should be, who supports fashionable, attractive clothing that also leaves plenty to the imagination.

It was just another day of going to work at her job as a graphic designer, and C. Huebert (full name withheld to preserve privacy) grabbed some clothes and headed out the door.  As she got out of the car at work she noticed something a little alarming.  You know how tights and nylons have that darker part at the very top, the control top or panty part?  (If you’re a guy, you may not know what I mean – see picture below.  No, this is not me or my sister.)

Anyways, when looking down as she got out of the car she realized that she could SEE that part of her tights. 

Indeed, she had forgotten to wear pants.

While this may sound like a silly bad dream, this is very much a true story, and a cure for many a gloomy days when you picture her (and hubby B’s) reaction.

We’ve all woken up and gotten to work in a bit of blur, and with the advent of leggings there is the constant question of whether shirts are long enough to wear with leggings or function as short dresses with tights.  At least, this SHOULD be a constant question, although a trip to the mall or a club or a concert will quickly reveal that not NEARLY enough people are asking themselves this question before leaving the house. C. Huebert is one who DOES ask this question, and firmly believes that tights are not pants, and even leggings do not count as pants, though she would’ve taken some leggings quite happily on the day in question.

There wasn’t much she could do about it immediately, so with a firm tug on the hemline of her shirt and a slight bent-kneed slouch to make her legs look shorter, she hurried to her desk to call hubby B.  The conversation went something like this.

C: Hey B, are you heading to school soon?

B: Yeah, pretty soon, why?

C: Do you think you could stop by my work on your way for a minute?  I forgot something at home.

B: Sure, but I wasn’t planning to leave for a bit.  What do you need?

C: (whispering into the phone, sneaking furtive glances over her shoulder to watch for over hearers) Um, pants.

 B: (and this is my favourite part of the story) Pardon?

C: (whispering) I forgot to wear pants.  Can you just bring me my black pants?

B: Pardon?  C?  Is that you?

C: (no longer whispering) Just bring me some pants, I’ll explain later.

B: What happened to your pants?

C: Nothing HAPPENED to them, they are AT HOME.  Can you please bring them here?

B: What are you talking about?

C: BRING ME SOME PANTS!!!

B: I’ll be right there.

…As soon as I put some pants on.


They really are a perfect pair.

And I can’t wait to have them living nearby.

I will have to buy some pants for their soon-to-be born.

Nothing about that Vancouver hockey team

26 Apr

I think that men are funnier than women.

It pains me to say this, but I think it is the truth.  Now, I know some very funny women, and also make myself laugh on a pretty regular basis, but on a professional, public level I have to give men the edge.  My theory is that women are funnier in person because they are quick and feed off good accidental lead-ins, and are maybe a touch more sarcastic in their humor.  But when there is time to plan jokes and you go in with the INTENT of being funny, men are better.

Look at stand-up comedians.  Do you know a funny female one?  I would like to hear about her.  The exception to prove my rule has to be Ellen…I know, I know, not everyone is on the Ellen bandwagon, but you have to admit, she is a smart and funny lady, and funny ladies are, in my opinion, few and far between.  Take this for example.


And if you aren’t convinced, maybe this:

And this:


I’ll stop there, but I hope you’re a little closer to the bandwagon now.

There are other funny women on TV, from Amy Poehler to Tina Fey, but as stand-up comedians go I am generally unimpressed.  What is it about men that makes us more willing to laugh at their deliberate joke-telling?  Why do they seem more natural at telling jokes?  Is it because women feel the need to be crude and offensive?  Do they fear dissolving into giggles at their own jokes if they get too relaxed?  Is the higher pitch of voice distracting us and throwing off the funny?

This video comes with a warning since it isn’t 100% appropriate, but seriously, her impression of the “typical” female comic is exactly what I think of when I think of female comics.



I would love to hear theories on this so we as women can improve on planned funnies…it’s hard to plan jokes, and the idea of sitting and writing jokes is funny in itself, but men are doing it, and doing it well.  I love stand-up comedy and want women to be represented as more than just those slightly odd acts between the funny men.  Come on ladies, we’re funny.  Let’s stop trying so hard so people can actually tell.

Happy (Easter) Cookies

21 Apr

Easter weekend!  

Easter is my favourite holiday, both for the Christian background and the totally unrelated candy choices.  Although, eggs = hatching = new life…so there is some logic I suppose?

Sadly, this Easter Carl will be out of town so I needed something to cheer me up (besides the eggs and Mr. Munchy bunny I have stashed away for Gemma and me to enjoy in his absence).  

So I made Happy Cookies.

I’m pretty sure that’s not the technical term for these cuties, but growing up we always called them Happy Cookies, I think because they were dubbed that by my baby sister, and the name is just so apt.  So cute, so tasty, so small you can eat a few…it’s like getting a cookie AND a chocolatey treat and you can decide what order to eat them in or, if you’re the type that doesn’t separate your oreos, eat it all together…either way, HAPPINESS!  Literally forced down your throat!

Make your dough and roll the balls in sugar.

Cook ’em for 10 minutes then immediately grab the cutest helper you can find (sorry, this one’s taken) and put them to work!  

Top them with whatever floats your boat…we did caramel kisses and, since it’s Easter season and they make Gemma happy, mini eggs (kind of looks like nests right?), but they’re also great with chocolate rosebuds, peanut butter cups, chocolate chunks, etc.  Something with chocolate though, that’s imperative.

HAPPY COOKIES

1 3/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup margarine, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus more for rolling balls in – mind, please exit gutter.)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla

About 50 chocolate kisses or other candies for centers (if using wrapped candy, unwrap while cookies cook and keep in the fridge between batches).

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350.

In medium mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder and soda and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat margarine and peanut butter on medium speed for 30 seconds, then add sugars and beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg, milk and vanilla and beat well.  Gradually beat in flour mixture until well combined.

Shape dough into 1″ balls, roll in sugar to coat and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned.  Remove pan from oven and immediately press kiss into center of each cookie (try not to burn your lips).  Remove and cool completely on racks.

Makes about 50 small, delicious cookies that freeze well.

Sittin’ pretty

20 Apr

K-fer’s learning to sit has led to great excitement and changes around here.

First, Gemma finally seemed to notice that this fixture that had come into her life was actually another person, not just “the baby” or “Kiss-o-fer”, but someone with whom to play and someone who also wants to grab her toys or her hair or her sleeve or whatever gets too close.

When he was first learning he couldn’t get far, and she would kindly bring him all kinds of toys to keep him happy.

And then she would watch dispassionately when he inevitably toppled over.

Now he is a sitting machine.

    

 

This makes my life much easier, as he loves to sit and play for hours on end and watch the goings-on around him.

This makes Gemma’s life much more difficult, as she IS the goings-on which he wants to watch.  He has mastered the switch from sitting to rolling, so if she gets too far away or holds something too interesting, *flop*, over he goes in a controlled forwards topple so he can roll/wriggle closer to her.

A couple days ago she simply gave up and started playing right beside him.  As you can see, he was overjoyed!

She is getting used to this sharing thing, and I love how evident her kind heart is becoming.

Of course, there are times she simply uses him for her dress-up purposes, and I imagine he will suffer through many more indignities such as this:

It’s ok son, real men can wear pink.

In other news, no one seems upset about the Facebook notifications OR the new look, so both will continue unchecked.

Also, hooray for an A in Linguistics….Psychology exam next week and let’s hope I follow suit o’er dere, as Carl tells me A’s are the only acceptable mark to justify paying for my edumacationing.  School, I will miss you this summer.  

Cool weather, I will miss you also, and already do miss you as allergy season seems to be here in FORCE this year and I was unsuspecting and unprepared after 2 allergy free years in Ottawa.  What do they PUT in the blossoms here??  And what is your best allergy remedy…preferably acceptable for breastfeeding individuals?

A new look!

19 Apr

Well, there are a couple changes in the air around here.

First up, a new look!  I loved the brightness of the old design, but green is not my favorite colour, and this might be a bit easier to read.  Thoughts?  Did you like it better before or is this acceptable?

Also, I’m thinking I’m going to disable the automatic Facebook publishing for future posts…do you find it convenient and want it to keep showing up, or are you finding, like me, that your Facebook wall is getting so cluttered lately with so many things, especially since Facebook seems to be being taken over by every business imaginable wanting you to “like” their page and then updating all kinds of things that show up in your feed?  I figured I should do my part to declutter as many news feeds as I could….thoughts?

If there’s a big response that you’re fine with cluttered Facebook walls I can keep it up if that’s the easiest way to go, but otherwise I do hope this won’t discourage you from reading!  I plan to keep blogging, probably even more now that my semester is wrapping up and I didn’t check my registration date in time to register for summer courses so I foresee much more free time in my future!

You can also subscribe on the right hand side if you want to be notified by email of new posts…or just check back regularly to see what’s new 🙂

Thanks so much for all your positive comments and reading time so far!

Zucchini Bread

16 Apr

Well, since my love of zucchini is well-established, I’ll just get right to it.  This is delicious zucchini bread, and even more delicious if you add a crumble topping of approx. 1 tbsp melted butter, 1/2 cup oats and 1/3 cup brown sugar…adjust to your taste, but don’t make TOO much since it will just fall off when you de-pan the loaves anyway.

(This recipe makes 2 loaves)

ZUCCHINI BREAD

1 1/2 cups white flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional…nutmeg gives me the heebie jeebies.)

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil OR melted butter

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini (or carrots, or a combination of the two)

1/2 cup walnuts and/or raisins (optional…raisins also give me the heebie jeebies.)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine first 7 ingredients.  Beat eggs in large mixing bowl and gradually beat in sugar, then oil and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients, mixing well.  Stir in zucchini, nuts and raisins.

Divide batter over 2 greased 8.5×4.5″ loaf pans. Top with crumb topping if using, lightly pressing topping down into batter.  Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove to rack to cool completely.

Freeze unneeded portions well-wrapped and unsliced to retain maximum freshness.


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