Friday, June 13, 2008

30 Kisses.

Just a quick post today because I just can't stand to let another day go by without posting anything. It makes me feel too guilty. Why? I don't know. I think I must like to flatter myself that there are all these hundreds of people whose days are just not the same without a new blog-post by myself. {kidding!}. So, I just want to explain that I have a whole whack of things on the go right now. I'm working on a top secret project for Maddie's teacher, and I am trying to get caught up in my landscape design course, and I have another little all-encompassing thing going on which I can't even talk about yet...and it's kinda' all I want to talk about! So, all these things together are conspiring to make my blog pretty quiet lately. Please bare with will become more lively soon. Promise.

I can tell you this much, though...

I did get 30 kisses from Jamie yesterday.

This is pretty incredible because Jamie is pretty darn stingy with her kisses. Maddie will lay one on ya' any old time, but not Jamie. She'll just present you with her cheek...if you are lucky. But, yesterday, before Dave was even home from work I was already up to 10 kisses. She pointed this out to him very matter-of-factly,

Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. Mommy has gotten 10 kisses today.

He didn't even believe it so she went on to kiss me 20 more times right there and then just to prove it.

I wonder why I was so far into her good books yesterday? Was it the multiple games of "Shoots and Ladders"? Was it the finger painting that spread far past the paper and all over the table? Was it the Play-doh that got all mixed up together, filled with hair, and dropped into little bits and pieces all over the floor that then ended up embedded in my shoes before I could sweep it all up? Was it the marathon (almost 1 hour) bike ride that I spent hunched over and pushing her because it was getting too hot for her to bother with pedaling anymore? Was it the sidewalk chalk drawing? The horsey rides around the house? The flower collecting?

Who knows...but it was a lot of work to earn those 30 kisses.

Worth it, though...and at the risk of sounding overly mushy...better than any other pay cheque I've ever gotten.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chicken Souvlaki Dinner

Here's another recipe from "The Good Food Book For Families" which I really like. Nice, simple, easy, family-friendly recipes and it is a Canadian book so you know you are going to be able to find all the ingredients, and they are going to be called what we call them here.

Chicken Souvlaki Dinner


3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 squeeze of fresh lemon juice
4 to 6 whole wheat pitas
1 cup Tzatziki (Recipe for that to follow!!)
10 leaves romaine lettuce, shredded
3 tomatoes, diced
1 sweet green or red pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, oregano and lemon juice
  3. Cut chicken into 3/4-inch cubes and toss with marinade
  4. Line a cookie sheet with foil and place chicken on foil. Bake until chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes (Wrapping cookie sheet in foil facilitates easy cleanup).
  5. Warm pitas in oven or microwave until softened
  6. Place 3 to 4 pieces of chicken on each pita and top with tzatziki, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and onion (if using)
  7. Roll souvlaki. Wrapping the souvlaki in a napkin or foil will make it easier for little hands to grasp.

Tzatziki Recipe:


1/2 English cucumber, grated (approx. 1/2 lb)

1 cup Balkan-style plain yogurt

1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. With clean hands, squeeze cucumber to remove excess liquid
  2. In a bowl, combine yogurt, cucumber and 1 clove garlic to taste and mix thoroughly. (1 cup of yogurt usually requires 1 1/2 cloves of garlic.) You want to taste the garlic, but it should not be overpowering.

Dave and I both really enjoyed this and it was so easy to make! I was super impressed with myself for making my own home-made tzatziki and I had no idea how easy it was to do! The girls didn't want to eat theirs all wrapped up, so we just cut the pitas up for them and gave them the chunks of chicken and slices of red pepper and tomatoes for dipping. They decided they would rather not dip them, though...saying the tzatziki was too "spicy" and just ate all the ingredients by themselves.

Definitely one to put into steady rotation. A nice change from the tacos, or fajitas, we always make.

For more recipe ideas please check out What's Cooking Wednesday and feel free to post one of your new favourites, too!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Piece of Cake.

Last night my friend Shan graciously agreed to have both my kiddos over at her place for a play-date. This was so nice of her because, let's face it, at the end of a long day who is really jumping out of their socks to have 2 additional children running around their house. But, Jamie was sure excited about this. Jamie thinks Abby is her best friend now, too, and she is always telling me how she loves "little baby Maya". When Jamie found out she was getting to go over to play, too...she was just so excited...and she asked me continually throughout the day if it was time to go over to Abby's house, yet.

One of the added benefits of having them both invited to this play date was the great source for negotiations it created. Their toy room has been a mess for days and they just were not cleaning it up. I think they are both big enough to keep that area clean by themselves now so I am really trying not to bail them out so often anymore. I told them in the morning that they could go to Abby's as soon as the toy room was cleaned up so when Maddie got home from school the two girls went quickly to work tidying up. It's amazing how quickly they can actually get it done when they have a little incentive. I discovered a few days ago this works for eating, too. One of their little friends from down the street came to call on them, but they were in the middle of picking at their lunches. I told them that he could come in to play as soon as they were done eating. I hoped this would encourage them to have a few more bites at least, but I was shocked to see them hoover in their entire plate of food in record time.

Since Shan and her charming hubby Mike were so kind as to take in my two girls for the evening I offered to bring over some dessert. Jamie helped me make it. It was the biggest cake (not served at a wedding) ever seen! I got the recipe from Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade desserts and it was a devil's food cake with home-made chocolate ganache icing and a middle layer of cookies and cream ice cream. Sandra didn't say how big to make the middle ice-cream layer and I think I made mine too big. I couldn't even fit the lid on my cake carrier and had to walk the cake down the street just on its base. One of the neighbourhood boys saw me and yelled out, "Is that a cake?!" I think he was hoping to score a piece. Then a car pulled over and the man inside asked if he could have a piece. Dave told me I looked like an idiot walking down the street with my huge cake but, so what, I'm a yahoo...what can I say?

After a lovely visit with my friend we headed back home with our tired two in tow. Jamie fell on the sidewalk and scrapped her knee. She cried all the way home. When I got her home I asked her if there was anything I could get for her - a cold cloth? a band-aid? a kiss?

Can I have a piece of the cake I made? she asked.

Oh, no honey. We left the cake at Abby's house to thank them for having you guys over, I said.

You should have seen her face.

But, I didn't even get to have a piece. I was playing. I for-gooooot!

Oh, dear.
I didn't think to save her a piece. I felt so bad.

But, after a few minutes of consoling I brought the recipe book over to Jamie so she could pick out something new to make. She picked out the "Raspberry Crescent Ring", and felt much better. I told her this time she could eat the whole thing.

I hope she won't remember that I said that.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Culture Club

Maddie's class had something called "Culture Day" the other day at school. They were supposed to bring something in to their class that would represent their culture and speak a little bit about their culture. I was a little bit dumb-founded on this one to be honest because, well, we are Canadian. There aren't really any big cultural symbols for our family, or special rights-of-passage, or major traditions that are terribly different from anyone else's, or anything like that. I was so confused, in fact, that I made Dave call his mom (former grade school teacher) to see if she had done something like this in her class before and to find out just what, exactly, were they looking for?? Of course, she wasn't home and, of course, I had waited until the last minute to deal with this one.

So, I figured...I guess they want Maddie to speak about her heritage...?

Well, I know that a majority of my ancestors came from Ireland (although my grand-mother was born in England) and my maiden name was Irish. The majority of Dave's ancestors are also from Ireland and my married name is also Irish. So, I guess I'm looking for a shamrock. Although, what my poor child is supposed to say about the whole deal is really beyond me.

I found a pair of gold, shamrock, earrings that my mother gave to me a long time ago and I quickly showed them to Maddie as she was on her way out the door to catch the school bus.

Here, honey. Take these. They are shamrocks. They are Irish. Your ancestors were Irish. Can you remember that? And, if they want you to talk about traditions, just tell them what you do for Christmas and Thanksgiving and stuff. Oh, and St. Patrick's day. You could mention St. Patrick's day. That's an Irish holiday. Ok. Ok? Remember...Ireland. Ok. Get going. Have a good day! I love you!!! Bye Sweetie!!!

That was Maddie's 15 second lesson on her ancestry, and her culture.

I don't know.
I wanted to send her with a maple leaf.
Dave wanted to send her with some beer and a potato.
Not a shining moment in parenthood for us, I suppose.

So, anyway...

I asked Maddie how it went and what she ended up saying, and she said that she told the class where we were from and she told them that I make really good dinners.

Oh. Okaaaay. Well, thanks sweetie.

Then she asked me if I lived in a straw house when I was little.

A straw house?!

No, honey. I lived in a brick house...just like the house we have now. Why would you think I lived in a straw house??

Because you lived on an Island.

An Island?!??

{short pause of silence while I try to decipher what my little kiddo could possibly be thinking}

Not and island, honey...Ireland.

I have a feeling that being a fly on the wall during these "Culture Day" presentations would have been hilarious.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Whole Lotta' Vegetarian Chili

For this week's What's Cooking Wednesday I bring you the biggest vegetarian chili you'd ever want to make. The recipe is from the book, "The Good Food Book For Families" by Brenda Bradshaw and Cheryl Mutch, M.D. The intro. to the recipe warned me that "this recipe is designed to be made in bulk and frozen to provide convenient family meals" and when they say "bulk" they mean "bulk": my big, 5.6 quart Jamie Oliver stockpot wasn't even big enough to hold all the ingredients (but, luckily, I had totally forgotten about the cauliflower - so I was able to fit in all the stuff I did remember). Now, really, don't let the beans in the recipe scare you. There is so much else going on in this dish that you don't even notice them - so this is a great way to get all your veggies, and still get all your protein, in one nice, spicy, bowl of yumminess.

Here is your ingredients list. Get comfy.

1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup canola oil
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 sweet yellow pepper, diced
2 zucchinis, cut in half and sliced
12 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 can (19 oz.) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (19 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can (19 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 1/2 cans (28 oz. each) diced tomatoes
1 small can (5.5 oz.) tomato paste
1/2 head broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 carrots, peeled and cute into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup chili powder (you may want to add a bit less if serving to kiddos)
3 tbsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 bag (70 g) fresh spinach [optional] --I didn't use this, either.


Shredded Cheddar cheese
Green onions, sliced
1 cup plain yogurt or low-fat sour cream.


In a stockpot [and they should really say, "very big" or "probably at least a 6 quart stockpot"], saute onion, celery, garlic and ginger in 2 tbsp of the oil over med. heat until onion is translucent, approx. 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the oil, along with the peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and eggplant and cilantro and continue to saute, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms and eggplant and cooked and soft, approx. 15 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients with the exception of spinach and toppings. Mix thoroughly and bring to a boil.

Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat, add spinach (if using) and stir.

Serve sprinkled with cheese, onions, and either low-fat sour cream or plain yogurt.


Dave is a big baby when it comes to vegetarian food so he ate a few mouth fulls and then got up, went to the fridge and pulled out a huge sausage he had left-over from the day before, and started dunking his sausage in the chili. Ya, very funny honey.

The girls ate a bit of it, but once they ran out of cheese and sour cream on the top it started to get too spicy for them.

I loved it. Very nummy. So good with nice whole grain bread dipped inside. I ate it for the next 3 days for lunches and snacks and I still have vats of the stuff in my freezer. Very good chili - but I think I'd like to divide all the ingredients by about 4 before I make it again. It just makes toooooo much!

For other recipe ideas please check out The Fairy BlogMother's site and all of the What's Cooking Wednesday posts. And, are welcome to join in! The more recipes, the better!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Beautiful Day.

I haven't done much blogging lately. I've been a bit preoccupied, to be honest. But, more on that another day. In the meantime, here are some pics. from my latest adventure with Jamie James. I think it's called "The Dutch Mill". You'll have to ask Maddie. She knows the name of it. I can never remember. It's a really beautiful place, and so much for the kids to see and do!
They can see the llamas.

And the chickens.

And the goats.

{Mommy just loves goats. I want to have one. Do you think they allow pygmy goats as pets? Do you think Dave would allow me a pygmy goat as a pet? We have a big yard. I saw a lady once walking her two pygmy goats into PetsMart. So lucky.}

And, maybe even feed some sheep.

{While we were there the man and woman who take care of the animals started to feed all the sheep and the two little ponies and Jamie just flew over to them. "Can I help you? Can I help you?" she asked. So the man gave her some hay and she spent the next 10 minutes bonding with this little sheep.}

{When I was in school, I got to see a bunch of baby lambs being born. Very cool. The sheep weren't very friendly, though. No personality. Not like the goats. Love the goats.}

When they are done visiting with the animals...
{or "am-i-nals" as Maddie still says. Is it wrong that I don't ever correct her? I just think it is so cute and, basically, the one last baby-thing she has left...that and her love of Hippo...I'll be so sad the day she says, "an-i-mals"} they can play on all the cool, wooden, trains.

But, wait...there's MORE!

Jamie had so much fun, in fact, that Mommy didn't even get a chance to look at any of the lovely plants, or country-style-stuff, they had for sale inside the building. That's okay, though. We'll just have to go back again...right Jamie?
She said, "yes". Actually, it was more like "YyyyeeeeeEEESSS!"