Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bucket list cowl

so happeee

Two weeks ago, my mom and I went to San Francisco, just the two of us, for a long weekend of fun for her birthday.  This is a big year, and I had offered to take her to Paris, thinking she'd want to celebrate in grand style.  She did...but not in Paris.  She admitted that she had always wanted to go to San Francisco, that it was on her bucket list, and if we wanted to give her a trip, please let's go there.  I had no idea she even had a bucket list, so we definitely made it happen!

freezing on the cable car


taking the audio tour

The trip was wonderful!  The weather was typical San Francisco: foggy, damp, windy and cold (a huge change from the horrid heat wave we'd been having on the East Coast).  I was frozen, but Mom was in heaven.  We took a tour of the city, visited Alcatraz, rode the cable car, enjoyed treats at the Ferry Building...and made some requisite pilgrimages to yarn shops, knitters that we are.

One yarn shop was strange, strange, strange and moderately unfriendly (made all the more obvious since we'd walked miles to get there, sigh); the other--Imagiknit--was fantastic and fun and...tempting.  I had been so good about not buying more yarn for the past several months (a real addiction!), but I was cold and the shop was warm and this cowl only needed one skein to complete it (which I foolishly assumed I'd start and finish before the trip was even over--ha!).

It was a shop pattern, free with the yarn, requiring just one skein of Madelinetosh tosh vintage.  One of my favourites.  The vermillion colour....oh la la.  Cowl raveled here.

bucket list cowl

bucket list cowl

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tomato pie

The CSA (community-share agriculture) box included a big bag of very ripe tomatoes this week.  Score, right?  Not so much.  Although this may cause the Italian side of my family to reject me, I do not particularly like tomatoes.  It's a texture thing.  Fried green tomatoes?  Heck yes!  I knew just what to do with the three big green beauties in the box, but the five red ones?  Hmm.  The idea of tomato salads was out.  Tomato sauce is too boring (and hot).  What to do?

I went to my favourite cooking blogs and typed "tomato" in the search bar.  Tomato soup, tomato sauce...and then Simply Recipes yielded this gem: tomato pie.  I was fully prepared not to like it, but then I read the description.  Elise was speaking my language when she said, "Think pizza meets cheesy bread and they make out in a pie crust." Hello!

tomato pie

Oh, she was right, my friends.  Trust Elise.  Trust me.  This was amazingly delicious.  I served it on its own (remember, I was prepared not to like it and had back-up pasta ready to prove it), but toss a green salad on the side and dinner is served!  It is good enough for guests, and its laid-back flavour could go just as well with a beer as it could with wine.  Lemonade popsicles for dessert.  Make this today!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Life recipe

Digging through the blog where I sourced the mojito pops recipe, I stumbled onto the about page and this beautiful, inspiring video of the couple's "life recipe".


Do you have a Life Recipe?
I bet you do.
Not written down, yet.
Not thought out, yet.
But it could be.

What would your recipe include?



We bought a Zoku popsicle maker. Those things freeze popsicles in less than 10 minutes, meaning we can have popsicles when the mood strikes. Hooray! Today, it was chocopops (inspired by these).

Mix together:
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup Nutella
handful of chopped chocolate

  someone is excited

Don't tell the kids, but tonight I plan to try out blackberry mojito pops.  I can't let the fresh blackberries from the CSA go to waste.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

For all the mamas

I don't normally share ads, but this one made me teary (I'm a bit of a sap). I hope you enjoy it too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sneaky mama's chocolate milkshake

I don't know about you, but my popularity directly correlates to the favorability of the foods I serve, especially snacks.  Generally, the sweeter, the higher the rating.  I admit I love a good review, but what to do when one of your eaters is excessively selective and has hardly eaten anything meaningful all day?  It's time for the Sneaky Mama's Chocolate Milkshake.

Don't even think about calling this decadent, nutritional motherlode a "smoothie."
Terminology is almost as crucial as taste.

sneaky mama's chocolate milkshake

Sneaky Mama's Chocolate Milkshake

4 ripe bananas
1 cup natural plain yogurt
1/4 cup unsalted peanut butter
1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder

Place ingredients in a blender and puree until silky smooth and icy cold.
Pour into a glass.
Top with a straw.

Watch the ratings roll in!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back to school supplies

Do you enjoy fun school supplies as much as I do?

Project time!

 Some of our favourite things for school are:

  • sticky name labels from Mabel's Labels.  Nearly five years ago, I made my first order with our family name printed on them for general use and easy hand-me-downs.  Those labels are still well in place, not faded or loose (I have read someone stuck one inside their dishwasher to see how long it would last and it was still there 2 years later)!  Now that each of my girls will attend separate schools for the first time, I ordered new ones with their own names and also a set of shoe labels for my wee one.
  • PlanetBox stainless steel lunch boxes.  We have the Rover System for my girls, but I just ordered a Launch for my big kid (AKA Hubby).  We used to use Laptop Lunchbox and loved its versatility, but I wanted to get away from food in plastic.  Hubby doesn't like the size limitations of the stainless steel sets, but it just takes getting used to and my girls don't eat "normal" lunch food (sandwiches, etc) anyway.
  • In Australia, I bought the girls' backpacks from tiny me.  Their school required labelling and no cartoon characters were allowed.  These were perfect: cute, personalised and acceptable.  The medium backpack was the perfect size for a 5-6 year old and still fit in the cubby.  Bonus: these backpacks also fit the PlanetBox lunchbox inside, which was fantastic.  Since we left at the start of the school year there, these backpacks are still in great condition for the coming year here, though experience tells me they won't last more than one school year.
  • If you have a littler one going to school (Montessori kids start at age 3), I found the SkipHop backpacks to be the absolute perfect size.  These hold up much better than the tiny me bags, I have to admit.  It still looks almost new after a year of use.  The PlanetBox does fit in if you leave off the carrier bag.
  • Need a pencil case?  I couldn't simply buy a plain one.  Oh no.  I had to go here.  Free shipping in the US and Canada and only $4.95 to other countries.  Go crazy.

The fun has only just begun.

Monday, July 23, 2012


While chatting outside the Lucky Lab in Portland, I spied a bird nearby with similar markings and colours to this finch I just found online. I hadn't seen one before, so I asked my friend who has lived there for 6 years what kind of bird it was.

He peered at it seriously for a moment, turned and replied, "Um, I think it's a bald eagle."

Relaxing weekend

A toast to our first weekend "home" that was not full of must-do errands and massive to-do hassles!  It was long and slow and oh-so-appreciated, even by Hubby who still twitched a bit with all the downtime (engineers don't idle well).

Sauvie Island

This photo was taken on Sauvie Island during our Portland holiday.  Our friend took us to the river beach there to play.  If you are headed to Portland and would like some fabulous tips, Alicia's recommendations kept us smiling and full of yummy food.  The croissants (and everything else!) at La Petit Provence were amazing.  Must try the blueberry cheesecake waffle at the Waffle Window.  Alicia didn't mention Salt & Straw, but if you can get in, order the ice cream flight, because who can choose just one (unless it's sea salt and caramel, which is fabulous)?

Friday, July 20, 2012


I have moved every 2 to 4 years my entire life (there were a few less-than-a-year moves in there, just for extra crazy), but this past one seemed exceptionally hard.  Homesickness (for a place that was not set to be a permanent home) is an entirely new feeling for me.  The quality of life we had in Perth was better than we could have imagined, so the transition to anywhere else was bound to be hard.  I left behind some of the best friends I have ever had.  Although it has been a few months, I haven't written to most of them because just addressing the envelope has been enough to make me teary (I'm sorry, friends!).  The one letter I have written was composed in a grocery store cafe on scrap paper I had in my purse, because I knew I was unlikely to break down and cry there.  Every time I walked in the door at this new house, I found the endless to-do list suffocating.  My stress level was so high that I ceased to notice it.

reflecting on Kings Park

The greatest gift from our holiday was a shift in perspective.  When I returned this week, I felt the shift away from "moving" to "living."  I don't feel suffocated.  I feel we did enough before we went away that the undone items on the list can wait.  It's time to start living where we are now.  I even hope to use my nice stationery for some letters soon.  They are long overdue, and the connections are worth it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

There and back again

One look at the Weather Channel will tell you that life on the East Coast has been less than spiffy of late.  Hot, hot, HOT and humid.  Blurgh.  Add to that an old house with completely inadequate (though fully functioning) air-conditioning, and you have a recipe for a long, cranky summer...unless you beat the heat and run away to the West Coast for 10 days or so, which is exactly what we did!


The girls had their first experience playing in the snow on Mount Hood near Portland, Oregon.  They loved it!  What's not to love about throwing snowballs and sliding around in the snow, having a blast, and not getting cold because the air temperature was around 80F?

the hilarity!

 We may have to move.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

S'mores from the oven

In honour of the 4th of July, I bring you the classic American summer treat: s'mores!

yum, s'mores!

If you aren't from around here, you might be asking yourself, "What are s'mores?!"  Simply put, they are treats so oozy, sugary yummy that you'll eat one all up and announce you want some more (s'more!).

What do you need to make them?
  • Graham crackers
  • Hershey's chocolate bars
  • large marshmallows (or mini marshmallows or, as in the photo below, special s'mores stacker mallows)

Traditionally, you skewer your big ol' marshmallow on a stick and toast it over an open flame until it is melty and slightly brown and oh-so-gooey-licious.  Then, you sandwich the marshmallow between two halves of a graham cracker cookie with a bit of Hershey's chocolate bar in there too.

If you have little children, the open flame may not be your best bet.  Or maybe you simply don't want to go there.  Either way, you can still enjoy your s'mores!  Microwaves work too.  Build your s'more sandwich with marshmallow inside and then zap it for 10-15 seconds or so, until the marshmallow gets soft.  
No microwave?  Use the oven (that's what we do)!  Set it to 350F or 160C.  Place one graham cracker on a cookie sheet, the bit of chocolate on top, and the marshmallow (or mini-mallows) on that.  Bake until the marshmallow gets soft or lightly browns, if you like it that way.  If you watch through the window, the marshmallow will swell, so you know you can pull them out.  Put the other graham cracker on top, press down lightly, and prepare for some messy goodness!

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Daily dose of cuteness

sleeping kittens

Sleeping kittens.

Raining like magic


A week of too hot, too humid, too gross.
This afternoon, it rained.  Thunder, lightning and glorious, soaking rain.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

8 years ago, today

Our girls with their girls


Because life wasn't crazy (or cute) enough, we adopted two kittens this past Wednesday.

Our girls have been asking for "real" pets for at least two years now.  In Australia, we had a fish and a canary, but sweet as our canary was, there was only so much you could do with him.  The girls wanted cats or puppies, and Ellie's fear of dogs and their young age meant dogs were not the best choice.  Throw in a newly assessed cat allergy, and cats weren't the best choice either...but they are low maintenance, fully accepted as "real" pets and should pass the allergy radar as long as we are vigilant about them not sleeping on our beds.

These kittens came from a home where a woman had found the mama cat and her newborns in the barn.  The woman brought them into her basement and took top-notch care of them for the next several weeks.  When we picked them up, they were 8 weeks old and totally healthy.  We weren't sure how they would handle the transition from older woman's basement to two extremely excited little girls, but we are lucky.  The kittens have fantastic dispositions.  You can see how snuggly they are when they are sleepy, and they play like crazy when they're wide awake.  The girls are over the moon, especially our little animal lover Stephanie, who often has both of them in her lap, purring away.

  our little maia