Thursday, November 26, 2009

Swing

Eli's in his swing. He's finally at the age where I can plunk him down in it and he'll be happy for 10-15 minutes, just looking around and enjoying it. It's great! There are dangling teddy bears above it that spin - you would think he'd stare at those, but he doesn't. He stares at the red button on the side of the swing. He finds it fascinating, for some reason.

I think he's pretty great.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Experiments

So when you live way out in the country and stores are not readily available (other than the Irving, which couldn't BE more available, considering it's downstairs), you sometimes have to get creative. Take the other week, when I wanted to make popcorn but was tired of plain old plain old. I wanted sour cream and onion seasoning. So I made some! I found a recipe online, but I didn't have all the ingredients so I improvised. In the end, I think it was something like this. And it is FANTASTIC. It made enough for a small spice jar and we use it whenever we have popcorn now.

Emily's Own Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn Seasoning
2 T powdered milk
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp vinegar

I thought the vinegar was odd, but mixed it in dutifully and the seasoning turned out brilliantly, and it isn't clumping in the spice jar like I thought it would. Grand!

So then a couple nights ago I was going to make honey garlic meatballs. I always use good old VH Honey Garlic sauce. It's my favourite. One of my favourite late-night snack foods is white basmati rice with VH Honey Garlic sauce on it. Odd, but delicious. However, in a burst of creativity I decided to see if I could make my own replica of this deliciousness. So I pulled the jar out of my fridge, looked at the ingredients and tried to see if I could copy it. I tasted and added, so the measurements are guesses, but I tried to measure so that I could do it again!

Emily's Own Knock-Off VH Honey Garlic Sauce
1 cup brown sugar
2-3 T vinegar
3-4 T water
2 T soy sauce
2 T honey
6 cloves of garlic, minced
pinch of salt

I stirred it all together and let it sit in the fridge for several hours so the garlic could really get through it all. Then poured it over the cooked meatballs, let it all heat up and voila - fantastic. Cory was super surprised when I told him that it wasn't VH. PS... meatball trick that my mom taught me: form the meatballs, put them in the pan and then add an inch of water and boil them. That way, you never have to worry about them falling apart as you try to fry them, and all the fat boils off into the water and is gone when you strain them! You don't get that crispy brown coating on the outside, but if you really wanted to you could always throw them back into the pan with a little olive oil and crisp up the outside after they're cooked.

Conclusion? You don't always have to live close to a store to get your favourite items. Also, I need to come up with shorter recipe titles. The End.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A long day...

Today, I nursed the baby. All day. I did essentially nothing else. It was a very long, very boring day. The week as a whole, however, has been pleasant. I had ladies bible study at the house again Monday night, made a delicious carrot cake. I used the carrot cake recipe off PW as the base, but I threw in some nutmeg and cloves, and walnuts. I love walnuts in carrot cake! I really had no intention of baking that day, but I had made cupcakes on Sunday for lunch, and the icing recipe just made WAY too much, so what does one do with leftover cream cheese icing? Make carrot cake I suppose. What a sacrifice.
Yesterday I went to Mom's group at Grand-Bay Baptist again. I enjoyed myself, it's Eli and then virtually everyone else has baby girls, so Eli flirts with the girls and I can talk to some Moms and we have a good time.
Last night my handsome husband took us out for dinner. We went to Boston Pizza, "Pasta Tuesday" night. This means you can order the expensive pasta and it's cheaper! Hurrah! So I had shrimp and feta penne with alfredo sauce. And green onions. And mushrooms. And red peppers. And wow, was it good. I always find the portions are so big at restaurants that you really get two meals - that one and then lunch the next day too! Cory had the spaghetti and meatballs. He's not too adventurous.
It was fun going on a date with my husband, although the baby came along too of course. I think every stage of having children is going to be different, with its own difficult parts. It's hard having the baby, because you're always nervous he's going to start shrieking his head off. With an older child, you don't have to worry about that (unless of course you have spoiled your child to the nth degree). But with an older child, say a toddler, you need a highchair and food for them and to watch and make sure they don't fling said food. A little bit older would be even easier, but then it starts getting too expensive to take everyone out for dinner. And also too expensive for a babysitter, and then we'll just have to stay home all the time. I'm just going to resolve to enjoy each stage as it comes, and stop anticipating the next one! I've lived my entire life anticipating the next stage of it, and I know that needs to stop. I need to learn to be content in the circumstances I'm in now. I'll work on that.
Tangent: ever since we got our computer, every once in a while the keyboard decides that it's French, and then not all the keys line up. So odd! There's a button on the bottom right of the screen that you can switch the keyboard from US to Canadian French, and once in a while it switches, on its own. And then you type the apostrophe ' and instead get the accent ` . Why does this happen? So strange.
So aside from nursing ALL DAY today, I also made dinner. I made this polenta, but without the goat cheese because it's not something I generally keep in my fridge. I added some fresh parsley to it, and I absolutely loved it, but Cory was not a fan. Next time I'll just mash a potato for him and I'll eat it all by myself! We also had the first of our steaks from the hind quarter of beef we bought. It was very good. I let it marinate in red wine and garlic all day. Yummmm.
Speaking of wine, normally I just pick it up at the convenience store in Public Landing, because there's only one shelf there, and I just grab the cheapest bottle of red wine they have, because all I ever use it for is cooking. Last time I needed some though we were in town right by the liquor store on the west side and I figured I would just go in there. Big mistake. I was immediately completely and totally overwhelmed by the HUGE selection of wine they have there. AH! What to do?! I almost turned around and walked right back out but the nice sales clerk asked me if he could help me.

Me: "Ummm, I need some red wine. For cooking with."

Him: "Certainly, any particular year? Were you looking for a *insert fancy wine name here* or a *insert another fancy wine name here*?"

Me: "Er... just... something I can cook with."

Him: "What were you looking to cook?"

Me: "Anything that calls for red wine."

Him: "Ok."

He looked a little puzzled. I didn't really give the poor man anything to go on, but he chose a bottle and handed it to me. I have no idea whether or not I got a good deal, because at that point I would have purchased ANYTHING he gave me. The next time I need more wine, I am going back to the Public Landing store. So simple. One shelf. Red wine.

Last night Cory, Eli and I all took a bath together. TMI? Sorry, but Eli was just SO CUTE in his new little Swimmi that I got him (in "yellow pizzazz")! The kid absolutely loves the water, he just had a blast splashing and being passed back and forth. His favourite times of the day are diaper changes, there is nothing this child likes better than being as naked as possible, and preferably in water. If he's crying and I can't console him, I change his bum. Doesn't matter if it's dirty or not, that makes no difference to him. He just likes the chance to be naked. Such a boy.
After the bath we watched an episode of Monk together. I have the first season on DVD. Cory was trying to figure out which disk the episode he wanted to watch was on, so I told him to look at the back. I MEANT the back of the box. He looked at the back of the DVD. Nope, sorry honey... it won't tell you there...
Speaking of slightly clueless husband, the past two mornings he has been complaining that the alarm clock hasn't gone off. This is funny because it DOES go off, and he turns it off. This morning it went off at 5:30 as usual, and he hit the snooze. It went off again at 5:39, and he again hit snooze. At this point I poked him so he would get out of bed, and he sat up, (remember, the alarm went off about 30 seconds ago) and protested that the alarm clock must be broken because it's not going off. I told him he was dumb, he'd turned it off twice, and to get out of bed. I wasn't very nice about it I'm afraid. I apologized later. I'm not my most pleasant at 5:39 in the morning.
Alas, the babe is stirring in his swing. Looks like it's nursing time again.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Routine.


Eli's asleep. He seems to have settled into a real routine that I am very much enjoying. I didn't even try to fit him into one, he's just done it on his own (although maybe subconciously I helped him along). He usually wakes up for the day around 7:30, and, after being fed and changed, is just as bright and cheerful as can be. It's this time of day when I get the most smiles out of him. He falls asleep again somewhere between nine and ten, and sleeps for an hour or so. He's up for lunch, and depending on how long he slept in the morning, he falls back asleep between one and two, and then is usually out for most of the afternoon. Up again before supper (right when I'm trying to cook, always!), and awake for part of the evening. Back to sleep around seven, might be up for another hour somewhere in the evening but always falls back asleep on his own. I wake him up right before I go to bed, ten or eleven, and change him, feed him, and put him down for the night. He sleeps until around four, wakes up and I feed him, then is asleep again until 7:30.
It's really pretty great, I know I have it very easy. I'm just looking forward to him giving up his 4:00 AM feeding! At the rate he's going it might not be too long before that happens. Slowly but surely he sleeps for longer at night. Such a good baby! Praise God!

As for my latest culinary endeavours, tonight we had this for dinner. So fun to make! I really enjoyed charring the red peppers. There's something very satisfying about burning your food on purpose. I did salmon too, just to round out the meal. I love salmon. So. Much. I buy "salmon trimmings" from Superstore because A) they are WAY cheaper B) they come in small, two-people sized portions and C) I think they taste better. Oh, and D) frozen salmon is disgusting. Fresh is the only way to go. I throw the trimmings in a pan with butter, a sprinkling of salt, LOTS of pepper, and some lemon juice. Absolute perfection. And the best part about salmon? The fat is actually good for you!
Yes, I know salmon nowadays contains mercury, and I should be getting my Omega 3 in capsule form because it's safer. But salmon just tastes so dang delicious, I simply cannot stop eating it. Nope nope nope.
I also made Pots de Creme again. Talk about an easy recipe! Just throw some stuff in a blender, no cooking, baking, or effort involved.
Linking to that recipe made me realize that I forgot to put vanilla in my Pots de Creme. Rats. How does one miss an ingredient in a recipe that only has five ingredients?! Oh well, I'm sure they will still be delicious.

We went to the Remembrance Day service today. Actually, I believe it was my first time ever going to a service on Remembrance Day, other than a church service. It's a much bigger deal here than it was in Nova Scotia. You'd think where we were so close to the Greenwood base that it would have been more of a big thing, but maybe that was just the circle of people we were with. It's good though, I know how important it is to remember. Most of this service, however, I spent stressing out that the baby would wake up and shriek and how would I get out of the row, since I was on the inside and the chairs were SUPER close together. He slept though, so it was fine. Such a sweet baby! The cadets were there, handing out the wreaths. I never knew about cadets when I was a kid, but it seems like such an awesome program. Cory got the opportunity to do SO much when he was in cadets, he got to go to BC for shooting, the NWT for a canoe trip, Utah to do a survival course, and Ontario for his jump course to jump out of airplanes. And all completely paid for! Sounds a lot better than hockey or soccer to me... plus they learn so much. I know what Eli's extracurricular activities will involve when he's older!
Speaking of him, he's awake again. Well, half awake. Time to eat again!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday!

I'm chomping down on my last "gourmet burger" that was leftover in the fridge, the baby is happily playing with Daddy, and I decided to blog!
Sundays are the best days of the week. You get to see lots of people, eat a delicious lunch, worship God, it's the best! We had the Remembrance Day service at the United Church across the road today, and lunch at Guy and Holly's. I also discovered today that people actually read my blog (hi Brad!).
I made dessert for today. I've been eager to try PW's Coffee Cake Literally, but it's a fairly large cake and I didn't know what I would do with it after I made it. It's far too big for the two of us, and with flu season starting and kids still downing Halloween candy I knew that most of the parents in the church really would not appreciate me bringing their kids cake. So I volunteered to make Sunday's dessert. The cake turned out to be a big hit, it was delicious, but two things were weird:

One - the recipe says to bake for 20-22 minutes. I baked it for 35 minutes and it still wasn't really done all the way through when I took it out.
Two - it was kind of green. Why? I have no idea. But no one complained, and it tasted fantastic.

I also whipped up another Chocolate Sheet Cake. That's the third time I've made it, and we love it. It really doesn't hit its glory until a good two days after it's made, but it rarely makes it that long.

Our day continued with a walk down to Beulah to the park where the kids and Cory played. Eli slept in his stroller, but I think the kid is very blessed, when he DOES get big enough to play, his dad will be willing to play numerous variations of tag with him for hours! His mom on the other hand will be content to watch from the sidelines. But hey, I'll cook him spectacular food when he gets home! He can love me for that.

I often contemplate how blessed we are to have been given such a sweet-tempered, healthy, adorable little baby boy. So often people have difficulties, children with problems such as health issues, developmental problems, even just babies that are really cranky or have colic. God didn't see fit to give us any of that! Maybe he knew we're not mature enough to handle it yet. He's still ironing out our selfishness. Marriage was a huge step toward that, but having a baby is much, much more. In the marriage you depend on each other to do things for one another, but if you didn't do them the other person would still be fine. If I didn't feed Eli and take care of him, he would die. He depends on us for his very life. That quickly teaches you not to be self-centered.

On the flip side of that, Eli himself is SO blessed! He has a mom and a dad who love and adore him and each other, who will stay together and teach him about Christ and give him a good life. No we won't be rich... ever... but he's still so much better off than so many children in the world. God is so good!

And now... he's screaming for me. Enough rambling, must feed a baby!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Love Cooking. The End.

Today's culinary achievments include some absolutely FABULOUS hamburgers, and the best guacamole ever. Almost. I put too much lemon juice in it. But other than that, it was to die for.

Emily's Own Hamburgers
With your thawed ground beef, mix in one strip of bacon, cooked and crumbled, a clove of garlic minced up, a few teaspoons of worchestershire sauce, a dash of cayenne and some good old S&P. I don't do precise measurements, I just throw stuff in... normally I would say do it to taste, but you really don't want to be tasting the raw ground beef (I hope) so you'll just have to take a stab at it. Form this into burgers. I had fried some bacon already to go on top, so I poured off most of the bacon grease from the pan and then threw the burgers in without cleaning it to give them more of a bacon flavour. I like bacon. On the side I sliced up an onion and fried it in olive oil, then threw in a couple teaspoons of brown sugar to give it sweetness and a pretty brown colour. The burgers were served on PC whole grain thin buns (otherwise known as the only bun I will now consume), with mayo, ketchup, relish, mustard (if you're Cory, because I think mustard is only good IN cooking, not ON it), freshly sliced roma tomatoes, bacon, cheddar cheese and lettuce. Very, very messy but very, very good. I did sweet potato fries on the side. Or rather, McCain did sweet potato fries, I just baked them in the oven.

As for the guacamole, it is incredible, and currently calling my name from the fridge. I can't walk by the fridge without grabbing some torilla chips and digging in. Plus it's SUPER good for you! Don't ask me why it is, I just read somewhere that avacados were good for you. Speaking of avacados, fun fact: I absolutely despised and wouldn't go near them until I got pregnant. Then one day at about seven months I was at the Market going to get a wrap, and there was this chicken wrap with guacamole that for some strange reason just seemed to call my name, and I bought it and consumed it and have loved avacado ever since. Can't get enough of the stuff. SO GOOD.

Emily's Own Guacamole
Serves One Very-Hungry-Nursing-Mother: Cory won't go near avacado with a ten foot pole. Take one ripe avacado, scoop out into a bowl. Don't throw out the seed! Finely dice about half a roma tomato, throw it in. Add two cloves of minced garlic (but that's a lot, you could do one, I just LOOOOOOVE garlic), a squirt of lime or lemon juice, a diced up green onion, and a dash of tabasco or hot chili sauce or cayenne or whatever. I did hot chili sauce. Add S&P. Not too much S (the chips are salty), lots and lots of P. Mash all this up with a fork, grab the multigrain tostitos and dig in! Oh yeah, the seed, bury it in the guac to keep it from browning in the fridge. Please don't eat it.

That's it, I can't take this, I'm returning to the fridge.

Eli Update: We got LOADS of smiles today, and a few little giggles too. Much better than yesterday!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Alas Wednesday

Today, Eli has been cranky. It's been a long day. I couldn't get him to take a nap this afternoon, finally we took him for a drive and that knocked him out. However, because of his crankiness, I totally forgot about the homeschoolers Remembrance Day event we were having over at the church, and when we pulled back into the driveway I saw everyone's car already over there. We were supposed to meet at 1:30, I looked down at the car clock and saw that it was 2:45, and, being overtired and rather hormonal, immediately burst into tears. What I DIDN'T realize, and Cory informed me a few minutes later when he too realized it, was that we hadn't changed the car clock yet, and I was only 15 minutes late. That turned into half an hour once I fed the baby and tried to pull myself together, but I got over to the church and had a really nice afternoon after all. Eli finally fell asleep, and I got to meet the lovely Alisha M, whom I had anticipated meeting for a long time because she has nine-month-old twin boys, Henry and (ironically) Eli. Her boys are adorable, as is her older little girl Ella. It's fun to see what my Eli will be like in just a few short months.

I got home to find that my wonderful husband had done the dishes and the laundry. What a wonderful man! I had to hurry to get supper together before Cory had to leave for work, so I just did these quick pan-fried pork chops (or close to them). They were good, but I think I oversalted them a bit. I re-fried some leftover mashed potatoes from Sunday lunch and boiled some broccoli. Dinner in 15 minutes, done and done. If I'd had more time, I would have made a mushroom sauce for the pork chops - pork and mushrooms are just made to go together - but that will have to wait until next time.

Cory is going back on day shift next week. It's funny, when he went on nights I consoled myself by remembering that it was only for three weeks, but now that it's almost over I'll really miss it, I like him being on the night shift! It makes doing things during the day so much easier, and I get to spend more time with him. Maybe it will open up again, who knows.

Eli Update: More and more smiles all the time, and yesterday we got a real, genuine bonafide giggle, shook his whole body. Adorable.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Heaven is...

...cracking open a new tub of Scotsburn Hoofprints ice cream and digging in with a spoon.

Correction: Heaven is cracking open a new tub of Scotsburn Hoofprints ice cream and digging in with a spoon and not gaining weight or lowering my immune system so that I catch H1N1.

It all started when ice cream was on for $2.50 a tub at Superstore, and I bought some. Hoofprints. That started it all. Toffee ice cream with chocolate fudge swirls and - my personal downfall - the tiny, crunchy, perfectly sinful little caramel filled chocolate cups. Thunder thighs and swine flu, here I come. We ate it, it was delicious, and then we practiced restraint for a couple weeks. However, at seven months pregnant, restraint did not last long, and soon I found myself bringing home another tub of ice cream, rationalizing that after the baby was born I would return to my old, ice-cream-free ways. I got it home, opened it with great anticipation only to discover that it was half full. It looked like it had been scooped out with a spoon. Disgusting and disappointing. I returned it and got my money back, but then figured what the heck, I'll e-mail the company just to let them know. I didn't really think it was Scotsburn's fault, I had a mental image of frozen-food employees at Superstore in a back room clustered around a tub of ice cream.

"Guys, the boss is coming!"

"Quick, Joe, stash the goods!"

"Where am I supposed to hide it?!"

"Anywhere, just be quick!!"

At this point, Joe jammed his spoon into his pocket, wiped his ice creamy mouth off with his sleeve and stuffed my beautiful tub of Hoofprints back in with all the other flavours. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what happened.

At any rate, I thought Scotsburn should know about this. (After all, I got a $2.00 coupon when I e-mailed Nestle about my solid-chocolate Kit Kat bar. Which despite its lack of wafer, was still fantastic). Scotsburn, being the fantastic company I now know they are, send me several e-mails of apology and called me TWICE to apologize some more - once by a customer service rep and again by some head manager guy, even though they confirmed that it couldn't possibly have happened at the factory and must have been Joe from frozen foods. Not only did they apologize profusely, they also sent me four coupons for free two-litre tubs of ice cream. Tonight's thigh-inducer was free tub number three. I still have one more.
FOUR free tubs of ice cream! At the exorbitant not-on-sale price of $6.19 a tub, that's almost $25 in free ice cream! Surely God is good to me.

I just hope I don't get swine flu.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November

Cannot believe November is here already - this time last year I was just starting to settle into our new apartment and look for a job, and here I am with a seven week-old baby. God works very quickly sometimes.
It's been a fairly good Halloween weekend. I've never been a huge fan of Halloween, my family never celebrated it and most of my memories involve locking the doors of the house, turning off all the lights and curling up in my room with a book and a lamp, trying to ignore the doorbell ringing. It was creepy. Very, very creepy.
I made the mistake of going to Value Village on Friday, the day before Halloween. I like Value Village generally, but it is also HUGE and somewhat intimidating. Cory and I walked in, turned around and walked out again. There were way too many costume seekers, Eli was starting to squawk, and when Eli's fussing my brain shuts off and I can only focus on him. We went to Walmart instead. Slightly more expensive, but much easier to find stuff.
Halloween morning Eli and I went to the ladies breakfast at the church. I hope the poor kid doesn't have any long term trauma from all these all-women events I keep taking him to (ladies Bible study, ladies breakfast, homeschool mom meetings). I think he likes the attention though. Paula led a devotion on prayer at the breakfast. Paula's devotions are always convicting, she is a very good teacher. Sure I pray, I pray lots, but I am not at all organized in my prayers. I have no lists of people to pray for, no way of reminding myself who asked for prayer and what they need to have prayed about. I just pray as people come into my mind. I know God can work that way, bringing people to mind when he wants us to pray for them, but I think it's more of the exception rather than the rule. Generally speaking, I think I need to work on keeping track of the people in my life that I pray for. People ask me to pray, I send up a couple of quick prayers and then forget about it, and don't remember the details of their request a couple of hours later. That needs work.
Today was Sunday lunch at our house. We had I believe 14 people, not including Eli, and then Bill and Wendy showed up at the end. It was a nice day though, so a bunch of the boys went outside to skateboard so we could hear ourselves think! I wasn't stressed out really getting ready for it, at least not that much, but looking at the dishes afterwards just makes me feel tired. Oh well, leave them until tomorrow when I feel more up to it I guess!

Eli Update: He's discovered sucking on his fists, a new favourite pastime!