Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Joy of Baking?

I am told that women over 40 should really focus on weight lifting instead of aerobics. I am convinced that baking bread is enough. I was kneading my bread the other day and I set the timer for 10 minutes. I wanted to do this recipe just as indicated. I was kneading way in my kitchen, looking out the window, humming away. Surely I am almost near the end? Nope. 2 minutes 45 seconds in. That was it. I almost died.
So I kept kneading away and finally gave up at the 8 minute mark. That is when I had Athena take over. Pioneer women must have been mighty tough!

My bread looked good. All was going well. We went out for a walk while it was in its final rising stage. When I came home the dough was one inch above the top of the pan, just like the book said. I baked it and it flopped. It came out square, like a sandwich loaf. Oh help! Why can't I make a decent looking loaf of bread. It tasted wonderful but my husband said it was too dense. One would think that having a husband who was a BAKERY MANAGER at Safeway for 10 years I could get a little guidance!

On to cookies. Which I don't really eat but I have a little one and a big one who do. Why are my cookies always as flat as a pancake? Flatter than a pancake actually. Side note: I do make good pancakes. My daughter so lovingly sent me a picture of the cookies she baked today. They were a mile high. Brat.

So today I made loaves. I broke out my Whole Foods Cookbook and tried two new recipes. The one was banana bread with dried cherries and dark chocolate chips. The other two were pumpkin bread.

They look really nice and were easy to do. No Kitchen Aid necessary, just the good old wooden spoon. Again, my hat off to pioneer women! Like I said, these loaves look amazing. They will probably taste horrible. After all, they do have whole wheat flour in them. We'll find out soon. As soon as they are cool enough to cut.

PS If you have any bread baking advice for me or any great recipes, I would LOVE to hear.

Monday, March 28, 2011


The only green you will see around these parts

are the leaves of my house plants.

 It is rather depressing. It is snowing again.

And it will snow tomorrow.

And there are heaps of snow three feet deep on the lawn.
I am not kidding.

On the bright side, my Granddaughter Eden came over
on the weekend. Athena tried tacos for the
very first time in her 7 years of life.
The picture tells the story.

Oh Spring, gentle spring,
where art thou?
Please come soon lest we all despair.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

If You Are Looking For Me the evening, this is where I'll be.
On my "new to me" chaise lounge.

It doesn't quite fit in my daughter's new house.

Unfortunate her.

Lucky me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


How about this goofy face?  

Or this one?

 Or what about this domino house she built?
The kid never uses toys or anything else for that matter
in the way in which they were intended.

I found this little picture on the front room carpet
long after she had made it.

If you look closely though, you will notice
 that all of the numbers line up. 
I was quietly impressed with this house
I must say.

Thanks Jill for the dominoes. Straight from
the Dominican Republic!

Monday, March 21, 2011

If Spring Won't Come To Us...

If spring won't come to us then we will come to it. Today was a bust for home schooling. About 45 minutes into her lessons she put on her "stubborn" and just sat there, gazing into space. For some reason I told her that she lost her television and computer privileges until Friday. Oh man, more of a punishment for me I think. ( In truth, it was a great afternoon. She actually chose to read books on her own, made a bird from Styrofoam and feathers and played with her horses until dinner. Not bad.)

The sky was a dismal grey all day. The wind is howling as I type this tonight and there is a promise of 10 to 15 cm of fresh snow tomorrow. So what did I do with my afternoon?  I made pillow case dresses of course.

I got these vintage pillow cases from a thrift store for one dollar each. I REFUSE to buy Athena summer dresses from Old Navy for $26.50 a piece. I barely pay that for my own dresses.I have long wanted to make these easy dresses for her. They are exactly what the girl needs for summer and they sew up oh so quickly.

I could have bought new cases from the store but there is no way I could get these funky patterns today.
They scream vintage, just what I was going for.

She couldn't have been happier with the result. Soft, roomy dresses. No lace or scratchy fabric. Just free flowing summer goodness. If, that is, summer ever comes.I am sure you will find me complaining about the heat in just a few months time, but we are forcing spring to come in these parts.

Have you totally forgotten about us Mother Nature?

And speaking of spring, I just have to share this cute exchange Athena and I had the other day. We were coming out of the hair dresser and I noticed a few sparrows on the curb. I said to Athena: "Oh look at those sparrows fighting." Athena says: "Where?" I respond: "Down there, on the road. Oh wait. They are not fighting, they are trying to make a baby." And she replies, in her seven year old innocence,: "Out of what? Sticks?"

And I'll leave you with that as I anticipate a day of shovelling snow. Happy first day of spring!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lost Adventures of Childhood

I very rarely watch television so it was totally by chance that I learned of the CTV Documentary: Lost Adventures of Childhood. I took an hour out of my Sunday afternoon to watch it too! The show was all about the loss of free play for children and what it actually does to them socially, emotionally and developmentally. All negative I assure you.

Psychologists, teachers, doctors, scientists all agree that today's over-scheduled, over-regulated, over-stimulated children do not do as well as adults as those of us just one generation removed who were allowed to play outside without being watched every minute by our mothers.

I stand convicted on some counts. When my older girls were little, even Athena's age, they played outside all of the time, away from me, roaming the neighborhood, playing at 'the bumpy park' or 'the little park'. And outside of my view and earshot. Can you imagine? And now, Athena plays outside all the time, 'tis true, but I am constantly looking out the window, calling her, checking on her, and this is IN MY OWN YARD!
I messed up here somewhere.

We are good on not over-scheduling. I remember a lot of my childhood driving from skating lessons, to dance lessons, to Brownies, baton twirling. Volleyball practice, basketball games etc... If I wasn't on the way to MY lessons, we had to tag along in the car for my 4 sisters lessons or my brothers stuff. Not all of the time but a good chunk of time. (In defense of my parents, we likely asked to be in all of these extras.)

When I became a parent I knew that I would NOT put my kids in a bunch of stuff and I didn't. So I score okay on that front. But where did this excess worry come from now? According to statistics, the world is actually SAFER for children now than it has been in generations.

I let Athena go to her friends backyard last week. I let her go for a half hour. I wondered if she'd slip on her friends backyard rink. I wondered if she'd watch for cars crossing the street. I mostly paced by the front windows for the full half hour. Ridiculous. She was home exactly on time and the next day, out of the blue, she told me how happy she was that I had let her go on her own. Goodness me, she is 7 years old for Pete's sake and we live in a town where no one locks their doors, most people know each other and they leave their keys in the ignition of their cars. What is wrong with me? Maybe because she is an only child, I don't know.

But I hereby resolve...
to let the child play in the neighborhood... out of the yard
 to let her and Eden or Abby go to the park by themselves (yes, Jen and Jill)
to let her develop necessary skills by problem solving and testing herself
 to let her grow up just a little
 to let her explore her world like I was able to and those who came before me were

It might be hard but it is a lesson I must learn sooner than later.

The documentary should be available to view online soon. I suggest you check it out.


*And on this same topic some suggested reading:

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy

Under Pressure by Carl Honore

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Slipper Pattern

As requested, I am posting the pattern for the slippers on the last yarn along. It was my Mother's pattern, not my Grandmother's like I said. She made these for us all the time.
When I make these slippers for myself, I find that the ball of the foot wears easily so I continue with the first part of the instructions, skip the ribbing, and then decrease the last three rows. It looks kind of neat and I find that they wear better.

The kids slippers don't wear poorly in the original pattern so feel free to use it. Athena wears size 13 shoes and I make the teen size as printed for her. If you want the slippers to last FOREVER then use that old fashioned plasticy Phentex. :)

*Note the old fashioned typewriter I used to copy this pattern way back when? Even this makes this pattern more endearing to me.

No Words Needed

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Great Guinness Incident

Let me first say, or dare say, I think Spring may finally be upon us. I hope I didn't jinx it. The temperature finally rose above freezing today. Athena and Eden spent the better part of the afternoon outside. Of course, Athena fell out of one of our spruce trees, only 5 or so feet up. Good thing there was still snow to cushion the fall. She landed flat on her back. She later told me the branch wasn't strong enough to support her weight. She cried a bit but didn't want to come back inside. Good sign.

Paul is away again most of the week. He was out of town last week as well. He was back Friday and shortly after supper and coloring (see proof below) he got a call out for a motor vehicle accident on the highway. A fatality...again. So I didn't get to see him that night. He came home long after I was in bed.

Next morning, 7am, his pager goes again. This time it is a barn fire. Gone for several hours of the morning. We did head to the city for lunch and a bit of shopping so we got to spend a small amount of time together.
And this, dear readers, is what a full grown man does when he spills a freshly poured Guinness on the table.
I had to take a picture so you would believe me. Can you believe this? Guinness must be THAT good.
Brave Fire Fighter/First Responder by day. Licking Guinness of the table by night.

And today, he is off again. Yes, on a Sunday. Some sort of  Pump/ Hydronic show in Banff. He is away until Wednesday evening. Another week of just me and the girl. Some days I wish he had a regular job. A job where he was away all day and home every night. I don't see that in our future but a girl can wish can't she?Well can't she??

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Yarn Along

Wednesday's Yarn Along Post, hosted by Small Things.

So I have been knitting in every spare moment this week. Big plans. Secret gifts. Spring Equinox is on the way so I have more to do. Not being of the Christian persuasion anymore, (long story) I have been celebrating non-christian events over the last several years. Summer Solstice BBQs, Winter Solstice celebrations, Autumn Equinox, Spring Equinox and the like. Much more suitable to me. Much more tangible and real. No disrespect intended to the many Catholic women who may pass by this way today. None at all.

I have been knitting little slipper socks for myself, my daughter and my three little Granddaughters. They have no idea and I sure hope I am guessing their foot sizes correctly.

I was going through my yarn stash  and I realized that I have so many bits and pieces left from past knitting projects so I decided to use them up. Dish cloths here and there, wash cloths for my little for her nightly bath and slippers for the lot of my littles. I made Abby and Josie's to match. Something I think they'll enjoy.

I haven't started Eden's yet but I'll have them done before she comes for a visit on Sunday. (just noticed that the picture link to Eden's name was from last year at this time. They could not sit on the deck this year for the heaps of snow. Oh geez!)

Luckily these slippers are quick and easy to make. Slippers in spring you might ask? Ah yes, dear reader, 'tis Saskatchewan after all!

And the book I am reading is Momma Zen. Only one chapter in but it holds promise. As you may or may not have read previously, I am studying Yoga more in depth this year, as a gift to myself. This book is right up that alley. I expect good things. I have several books out from the library right now and next on the list is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which I have been looking forward to reading for quite some time.

I have some secrets to divulge about farming and the Arctic Circle but those will have to wait until another day. Happy knitting!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Dishwasher Broke Down!

My dishwasher broke down... in early December. NOT the best time what with all of the extra cooking, baking and entertaining that accompanies the festive month. My husband took it apart and tried to fix the noisy beast. He found some olive pits, a toothpick and some pieces of broken glass stuck in the soft food disposer part. He thought he had solved the mystery of the loud grinding sound that rang through the entire
house each time we turned it on.

Turns out, he was wrong. So, he called an appliance parts store only to discover that the new part he needed cost nearly as much as a new dishwasher itself. Can you imagine? Things got busy for him and so he put off either trying to secure a part and fix it himself or actually buying a new dishwasher.

These are my observations about the whole thing:

* The plates/glasses/bowls that I am in need of are
  always at the ready because they are always clean.
*We have added drying breakfast and lunch dishes to Athena's repertoire of jobs to do and she quite likes it.
  One time she asked if she could "wet" the dishes instead of always drying.
* Great conversations are to be had standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes in the evening.
*We always have cutting boards, knives, wood bowls and wine glasses to wash every night anyway so
  the sink was already being filled.
* I do not miss the sound of the dishwasher running.
*It takes much less time to wash, dry and put away the dishes than it does for a load full to run through.
*One of my worst things was going to load the dishwasher after supper only to discover that I had not
  unloaded the dishwasher from the last run through, so this has eliminated that frustration.

So we are three months dishwasher free and I must say, I love it. I am thinking maybe put one of those built in wine racks in its place but then I think, will the boxes of wine we buy fit in the slots???