Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Small town rides, big time fun

On Saturday evening we went to visit Carey's parents who are camping about an hour away.  The town they're camping in happened to be having a little fair on the weekend, so we walked around and went on some rides.  Annika has been on a merry-go-round before (when she was 2), and she enjoyed it, but I wasn't sure how enthusiastic she'd be about the other rides (she's not exactly the most adventurous kid, but she's getting there!).  I think she surprised us all by going on 5 of the rides.  And I think she would've kept going, but we were out of tickets (and it was time to head home).  Here are some pics of our adventures.

Emmett and Grandpa walking into town.

On the merry-go-round.  Even though she's been on one before, this was her first ride of the evening, and I think she was a little nervous.

I took Emmett on the train, but he really wasn't a fan.

On the swings.

This ride seemed to go on forever!  Round and round and round...

Annika said the kangaroo ride was her favorite.

Emmett watching those rides with a wary eye (okay, I know he's a tall kid, but sheesh, he looks far too big for that stroller!!  Yikes.)

Annika sharing her ice cream with Emmett.  What a good big sister.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Little boy apron

As you may recall from this post, I wanted to make Emmett an apron because the last time Annika and I put on our aprons to do some baking, he went completely nuts.  This little boy must do, must have, must be exactly like his big sister.  It's quite cute, especially since I know that it won't last.  So, in order to appease my poor boy, I pinned a tea towel around his waist, and told myself that I needed to make him an apron.  And I did it!!  Here it is...

I wanted something "masculine" for him, and I think this fits the bill!  Originally I had wanted to find a print fabric with tools on it (hammers, screwdrivers, etc) because I want this to also be his "daddy's helper" apron, but I wasn't able to find anything like that (the lady at Fabricland told me "we used to have Bob the Builder, but it's sold out now.  We have cars though."  Ummmm, thanks, that's very helpful and not what I was looking for at all :P).  So I went with stripes, because I love stripes. ;)  I used this pattern to cut the body of the apron (it's size 3-5, so it's big now but it will fit for a while!), and then used an old apron of my mom's as inspiration for the rest.  I really like the contrast of the bias tape around the edges, and the pockets across the bottom (it's hard to see, but the bottom panel is sewn into 3 pockets) remind me of a carpenter's apron.  I got the idea of adding an applique of his initial from my cousin, who told me that her son has a monogrammed apron.

Here's a few more pics of some of the details.

I reinforced the corners by the straps so it would be sturdy enough for a little boy!

Like I said, sort of hard to see, but I stitched the bottom section into 3 pockets, perfect for storing all sorts of little treasures.

For the neck and waist straps, I just continued the bias tape, sewed it closed along the length and then sewed it over at the ends.

The applique of his initial.  Up close you can see my applique-ing technique needs some improvement, but from a distance it looks pretty good.

The apron in action (we weren't baking anything at the time, so he's wearing it while "cleaning")...

At first he really didn't want to wear it (he screamed bloody murder when I put it on him), so Annika and I put on our aprons, and then he was okay with wearing his. :P  I'm really happy with how it turned out, especially since this was my first time doing a project without a specific set of instructions (just a little inspiration for here and there and a picture in my head). 

Now on to other crafty endeavors...  a box full of little wooden peg people arrived on my doorstep yesterday.  Perfect timing! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Here we go again??

Please forgive my potty mouth - this post is about toilet training. ;)

Emmett will be 20 months next week, and I'm starting to wonder if he'll soon be ready for potty training.  WHAT?!?!?!?  I know, right?  I always thought that boys trained later than girls (Annika was 2 years and 4 months when she trained), but lately he's been giving off a lot of signals that make me think he might soon be ready.

For a while now he's been able to tell us when he has pooped in his diaper (he pats the front of his diaper), and lately he's also been doing it with pees (not always, but sometimes).  He's actually trying to say the word too - it usually comes out sounding like "bee bee", but I know what he means.  We've been spending a lot of time outside, in the kiddie pool, so he's been having a lot of "diaper-off" time lately, and it's funny to watch how he acts when he has to pee.  One time he peed in the kiddie pool, and that seemed to upset him quite a bit.  The next time, I watched as he got out of the pool, and headed for the house.  He seemed to be quite intent on going inside, and then I noticed him peeing on the deck (which also seemed to upset him).  But it was almost like he knew he shouldn't be peeing in the pool (or maybe I'm reading too much into things, which is quite possible).  No matter where he is, though, he seems to not like the feeling of the pee running down his leg, which I hope is a good sign for potty training. 

One other thing happened last night, which made me think that the time may be near.  After supper, I jokingly asked him if he had to go pee, and he headed into the bathroom and tried to lift the lid on the toilet!  So, he obviously knows what goes on in that room!  I actually got out the little potty for him (boy, I haven't missed that thing!) and he willingly sat on it for a few minutes, but nothing actually happened and I didn't push it.  I remember sitting with Annika in the bathroom, for what seemed like hours and hours and hours, just waiting for something to happen, so I wasn't quite ready to start doing that again.  Really, there's nothing that makes you want to pee more than waiting for a kid to do it (especially when you're also reading "I have to go!", which was Annika's favorite story to read on the potty).  But I left the little potty out, and I figure we may try again, if he's willing. 

I'm in no rush to go through potty training again, but I don't want to discourage him, if he's ready for it.  Of course, now that I've written about it, he'll probably stop doing it and not train until he's 3. :P  That's usually how it goes, right? ;)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tidal wave

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but for the longest time, especially after having kids, I didn't really have any hobbies.  In my free time (which is very limited) I would watch TV or go on the computer, and I don't really consider those hobbies.  :P  And while those activities still are a part of my life (sometimes more so than they should be), I'm glad to say that I've found other activities that I enjoy - sewing, painting, cooking/baking (this one is a bit of a love/hate relationship, but more love than it used to be), running, organizing, reading...  to name a few.  While I enjoy all of these things, usually I only enjoy them one at a time.  I'll get "bit" by the sewing bug and spend a few weeks with my sewing machine.  When I painted the wooden dolls for Annika, that was all I did, in pretty much every spare minute, for about 2 weeks.  I'll get absorbed in a good book (or if I'm lucky, a good series), but I'll finish it a week later or so.  And then there are times when I don't feel like doing anything, and I'll spend some quality time with my couch.  ;) 

This ebb and flow of inspiration (and motivation) works out pretty well, because there certainly aren't enough (kid-free) hours in the day to devote to all these activities, all the time.  However, right now I feel like I'm being hit by a tidal wave - I want to do everything at once!!  I've got a million ideas for some new wooden dolls (I'm doing some for friends, some for a charity auction, and it's never too early to start thinking about Christmas!!) and my big order of unpainted dolls should arrive in about a week.  But in the mean time, I've got a few sewing projects on the go (unfortunately I can't share what I've been making so far, because I'll be making something similar as a baby gift for one of my dear friends [who is a loyal reader], so you'll have to wait to see!) and I also want to sew an apron for Emmett.  I know, it sounds kind of girly, but the fabric and design I have picked out is very masculine. :)  He just gets so jealous when Annika and I put on our aprons - one time I had to pin a tea towel around his waist so he wouldn't feel so left out!  Plus I figure it can also double as a carpenter's apron when he's helping Carey.  On top of all this, I've got a long list of recipes I want to try out and a stack of books waiting to be read.  I requested a bunch from the library, figuring it would take a while till it would be my turn (and it would be unlikely that they would all come at once), but I ended up with 3 books ready at the same time!  I've also been wanting to do some stuff around the house, organizing and decluttering, but that may have to wait until the weather cools down (trying to enjoy the weather, even if it is really hot, and get out as much as possible these days!).

I'm not sure why the sudden burst of motivation (no, I'm not nesting), but I'm trying to take advantage of it while it lasts.  That's why I haven't been posting much lately - just recipes and pictures - I'm just too busy doing other things!

Friday, July 20, 2012

This moment - clomp clomp

"A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."
Okay, I know this is supposed to be wordless, but I just have to say, you have no idea how proud he was of himself when he figured out how to walk in those shoes.  My funny little guy. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

No-sweat summer cooking: burgers and homemade chips

Welcome back to my weekly "no-sweat summer cooking" post - meal ideas that are light and simple to prepare, don't heat up the house (or you!) and are hopefully delicious and kid-friendly.  Click here to see previous posts.

Okay, no points for creativity this week - summertime and burgers are pretty much a given, right?  Well, I never claimed that these would be unique meal ideas, just ideas. ;)  Also, I cheated a little - Carey did the BBQing while I was inside getting other things ready.  And.... I didn't get any photos of our meal this week - I'm not a food blogger, so I don't always think to take a picture before digging in!! :P

Carey always tells me how much he enjoys my homemade burgers, so the other day I made a batch and stuck them in the freezer so they'd be ready to go when we wanted them.  I'm finding that the key to easy summer cooking is really in the prep - with a bit of foresight and planning, things are much easier (hmmm, I guess that could be true for many things!).  Here's my burger recipe, handed down from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law (when Carey and I got married, his sister made us a recipe book full of "family favorite" recipes and it's gotten a lot of use!).  I've made a few changes (I don't add onions).


700-800g ground beef
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp each salt and pepper
A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Diced onion (optional)

Mix all ingredients, form into patties and freeze for future use or cook immediately.  I get about a dozen burgers from this recipe, but you could get more or less, depending on how big you like your burgers.

http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/microwave-potato-chips-11-copy.jpgWhile Carey was out BBQing the burgers, I was trying out a recipe I found a while ago for homemade potato chips - done in the microwave!  You can find the recipe here.  I was really intrigued by this recipe, as it seemed so quick and easy, and I have a love of homemade potato chips (not that I've ever made them before, but whenever I see them on the menu at a restaurant, I always get them).  I'm not sure what I did wrong, though, but my chips did not turn out like hers.  They were good potatoes (Emmett even ate some, and he's not a potato guy), but definitely not chips.  Not really crunchy at all.  Maybe I didn't slice the potatoes thin enough... cook them long enough... let them cool long enough???  I don't know.  If you try out this recipe and it works for you, please let me know what you did, as I'd love to know what I did wrong.  

Other than the "chips" being a bit of a dud, the rest of the meal was a hit.  The kids split a burger between the two of them, and they both really enjoyed it.  We even ate outside on our deck, and it was a gorgeous summer evening (again, wishing I had taken a pic...). :P

Do you have a "no-sweat summer cooking" meal idea to share?  Leave a link to your blog post (or to a recipe online) in the comments!  Thanks!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Homemade frappuccino

I LOVE Starbucks frappuccinos.  I love my coffee sweet and creamy, and on a hot day there's nothing like a caramel frappuccino (I like them all, but caramel is my favorite).  The only thing I don't love is the price - at 4 something a pop, this isn't a treat that I can enjoy too frequently (and I'm sure my hips are thankful for that!).  So I've been on the lookout for a homemade recipe to satisfy my cravings in between Starbucks visits.  There's a lot of recipes out there that claim to be "just like" Starbucks frappuccinos or Tim Horton's iced cappuccinos, but after testing some of them, I wasn't finding any that I was in love with.  So after a bit of experimenting, I've come up with my own recipe.  I won't claim that it's "just like" anything that you'd buy in a store (because I'm sure somebody would disagree), but it tastes good to me.  I resisted the urge to use Emmett's whole milk and made it with skim milk instead, to keep the calorie count a bit lower.  Next time I think I'm going to make it with decaf coffee, because I've let Annika try a few sips and she's quite a fan as well.  I guess she's got her mother's good taste. ;)

Homemade frappuccino


7-8 coffee ice cubes
1/2 cup skim milk
1 Tbsp chocolate syrup, or caramel syrup, or just a little bit of sugar (or sugar alternative) if you don't like it too sweet

Brew a pot of strong coffee (or make instant coffee) and pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze.  (I apologize for the fact that this recipe takes a day to prep, but I've found that freezing the coffee into cubes, instead of using coffee and regular ice cubes, keeps it from getting too watered down).  Once coffee is frozen, put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Enjoy!  Makes 1 serving (about 1.5 cups).

I didn't have any chocolate or caramel syrup on hand, so I used this recipe to make my own chocolate syrup.  I found it in an old 'compilation' cookbook in my cupboard (Cookbook!  Who uses those anymore?!?).  It was submitted by someone named Jasmine.

Homemade chocolate sauce


1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1  1/2 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan, stir together cocoa and sugar.  Add water and stir while bringing the mixture to a boil.  Allow to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, then turn to minimum heat.   Add the vanilla and continue to stir occasionally for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Can be used over ice cream or with milk to make chocolate milk (or to make frappuccinos!).

The recipe didn't say how to store the sauce, so I put it in the fridge.  It got pretty hard, so I had to microwave it for a few seconds to soften it up before using it.  

I also found a recipe for making homemade caramel sauce, but I haven't been brave enough to try it yet.  The recipe says it's not that hard, but somehow I just see myself ending up with a sticky, burnt mess.  I think I'll just buy some at the store for now! 

Enjoy your yummy summer drink!  Let me know if you try it out, and how you think it compares to the bought versions.

Friday, July 13, 2012

This moment: on the cob

"A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

No-sweat summer cooking: pulled pork and apple-raisin slaw

Welcome back to my weekly post that I'm calling "no-sweat summer cooking" - meal ideas that are light and simple to prepare, don't heat up the house (or you!) and are hopefully delicious and kid-friendly.  Click here to see last week's post.

Here's my meal idea for this week - pulled pork on a bun and apple-raisin slaw.

This meal is super-easy to prepare, but it does take a bit of forethought.  The pork is done in the slow cooker - you can find the recipe here - so it's not a last-minute kind of meal.  But it sure was good!  The recipe calls for pork tenderloin (which I did use, because I had some in the freezer for far too long and it needed to be used up), but you could also use a different cut of meat, because it's sure to be tender after cooking all day (in root beer!).  Then just pull it apart (it comes apart so easily!), add some BBQ sauce and put it on a bun.  This recipe makes quite a bit, so you can put your leftovers in the freezer and enjoy it again another day.  You can find the recipe for the apple-raisin slaw here.  I thought it was pretty good, although I think I may have put a bit too much vinegar in the dressing.  Oh well!  It was quite simple to make - took maybe 5 minutes to throw together (but I used bagged coleslaw - I guess it would take a bit longer if you were chopping it all up yourself).

The meal was a hit with the adults (we invited my parents over, last minute, for a belated birthday dinner for my mom), but not so much with the kids.  I thought Emmett might like the meat and the bun, but he barely touched anything on his plate.  A few bites of bun and maybe some apples and raisins picked out of the salad was about it (although it could be that the company was distracting to him).  Annika tried a bite of the meat and decided she didn't like it (it was barely in her mouth when she started to tell me that she didn't like it :P), but she ate a whole bun, the carrots and most of the slaw.

I'm not sure if I'd make this again for just our family, but it's a great meal to make for having company over because it's easy, it makes a lot and there's very little clean up afterwards.

Do you have a "no-sweat summer cooking" meal idea to share?  Leave a link to your blog post (or to a recipe online) in the comments!  Thanks!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Operation: dry bed - light at the end of the tunnel

It's been just over a month since we started "operation: dry bed" (that is, Annika not wearing a Pull-Up for night and staying dry at night).  You can see some of my previous posts about it here, if you don't remember what we've been through so far.

Despite a rocky start (that seemed like it would never get better), there now appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.  For the past two weeks or so Annika has been dry almost every night, with a few little exceptions.  I was doing the "dream pee" with her each night around 10:00 pm, which really helped (she goes to be around 8:00 pm and sleeps until 7:30 or 8:00 am, just for reference).  The past few nights we've skipped the dream pee, and she's woken up on her own at night to go pee (YAY!!).  However, she comes and wakes me up when she has to pee, so my sleep is still a bit disrupted.  I'm sure though, that it won't take too long and she get the hang of just getting up, going to the bathroom, and going back to bed.

We hit a bit of a road bump with being away for the weekends, but we managed it.  We told Annika that she would have to wear Pull-Ups while at the lake - just in case - which was something that she really didn't want to do (shortly after we started this whole thing she told me that she NEVER, EVER wanted to wear Pull-Ups again).  We talked about it a few times before going to the lake, and I expected quite a scene when it was actually time for her to get ready for bed, but it wasn't that bad.  I gave her the option of wearing her underwear under the Pull-Up,because she said she didn't like the Pull-Ups because they weren't comfortable, and she tried that out, but in the end she went with just the Pull-Up.  And she was dry each night (granted, though, she was going to bed a lot later than normal).

So, now it seems like this experiment is coming to its long-anticipated end.  I have no doubt that there will still be accidents from time to time, but we'll manage.  I'm just so thankful to be done with stinky, wet Pull-Ups, and I'm really proud of Annika and her determination to do this.

If there's anyone else who's contemplating trying this out with their kid, let me offer just a few pieces of advice (I'm no expert - these are just a few things I've learned from our experience):
  • Have patience!  Success may not come right away (and you may find it frustrating and extremely tiring), but if your child is willing to keep going with it, then persevere for another night (and another, and another).
  • Listen to your child.  I think this is a big one, and it's the reason why we are where we're at today.  Annika was very insistent on doing this (although it was our idea initially), so that's why we kept with it.  If it was up to me, I probably would've thrown in the towel (or rather, the absorbent bed mat) long ago, but I'm glad I listened to her.  On the flip side, if your child really doesn't want to do it, don't force the issue. 
  • Get the proper "equipment" - we've used disposable GoodNites bed mats, some hospital-type washable bed mats (borrowed from my mom) and I also bought a few washable absorbent bed mats from Walmart (which I don't like as much as the hospital-style ones, but they'll do in a pinch).  I've also seen ones online that have "tails" on either side that you tuck under the bed, to keep them in place better.  We have 6 mats, which meant that I didn't have to do laundry every single day when Annika was having multiple accidents in one night.  Also have plenty of underwear and several pairs of pajamas (I think Annika also has 6 pairs of pajamas) on hand.  With using the bed mats I didn't have to change the entire bedding, except for occasionally the top sheet if she had it under her, but if you decide not to use the mats, then you'll need several sets of waterproof mattress pads and fitted sheets.  I recommend "double-sheeting" the bed (mattress pad, sheet, mattress pad, sheet), so if one layer gets wet at night you can just rip them off and you've got another layer ready to go.  If you don't have already, you'll also want to get a night-light for you child's room, the hallway and the bathroom (or leave a light on in the bathroom), so they can easily find their way in the night, if necessary.
  • Experiment with what to wear at night.  Annika's tried sleeping with and without underwear, jammies with shorts and nightgowns (and for a short while - nothing but a t-shirt!).  Give your child options and let them figure out what feels comfortable to them.
  • Make sure everything is easily accessible.  We moved Annika pajamas into the top drawer of her night table, so that she could easily find a new pair in the middle of the night.  You may also want to designate a special hamper or laundry basket for wet stuff (we just told Annika to throw her wet stuff on the laundry room floor, which is just down the hall from her room).  I also put the extra bed mats and sheets in a drawer next to her bed, so that I wouldn't be fumbling around for stuff in the dark (Annika would change her pajamas herself, but always asked me to change her bedding).  Also make sure that there are no toys or stuff on the floor to trip on (or at least clear a path from the bed to the door).
  • Make sure your child is ready.  I totally believe that a child's body has to be ready for night-time dryness before this will work.  Sometimes it's hard to know if they're ready or not, and you may have to accept the fact that now is not the right time.

So hopefully this is my last "operation: dry bed" post, and we continue to have dry, happy nights. :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Another weekend in pictures

We just got home from our annual camping weekend with Carey's parents and his sister.  We had gorgeous weather for the weekend (really hot!!), and it was a great time of playing and relaxing.  Here are a few pictures...

Emmett was not a fan of the bike trailer at first, but once he got moving, he loved it and wanted more, more, more.

Love that smile :)

Annika zipping Aunti Jodi into her new tent.

What do you do when it's hot and you don't want to head back to the beach? 
Just add water to the campsite and break out the beach toys again!

We filled up our blue bin with water and the kids had a blast.  Emmett got really wet!

Annika took this picture of me. 
The kids slept in the camper with Carey's parents and Carey and I slept in the tent in the background - this is my once-a-year tenting weekend (and I survived!).

Annika is a pro at roasting marshmallows.


Taking two kids to the beach requires a lot of stuff!

Once again, Emmett was far more interested in playing than swimming.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

It's hot here.  Summer has officially arrived.  Today I think it was somewhere around 30 degrees Celsius (but it probably felt hotter with the humidity), and the forecast is for similar temperatures all week long.  When it's hot like this, my motivation to cook supper goes right down the drain (forgive the bad kitchen pun).  I have no desire to stand over a hot stove, or to turn on the oven and heat up the house.  Besides - who wants to be inside making supper when you could be playing outside (or sitting inside and enjoying the A/C??).  Plus, when it gets really hot, I find that my appetite changes and I don't really want to eat a big, hot, heavy supper.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like this - who else is with me here?

So I'm in search of light, easy, (kid-friendly) meal ideas that don't require a lot of cooking or prep time.  No problem, right? :P  I've decided that I'm going to try to do a weekly blog post with an easy summer meal idea or recipe, and I invite you to "play along" each week.  I'm going to try to have the post up on Wednesday mornings, but I'm sure you'll forgive me if I'm a bit late sometimes (after all, it is summer).  You can either share a recipe that you enjoy in the comment section of my post, or if you have your own blog you can do a post with your recipe/meal idea and leave the link to it in the comments.  That way we can inspire/help each other out, and spend less time sweating in the kitchen!

Here's my first meal idea (and what we had for supper today) - chicken caesar salad, with cheesy bread sticks (yes, I put them on the table in the bag, *gasp*!!) and raw veggies.

I cooked the chicken in my little George Foreman grill (a wedding present that has been quite under-used until now), and it worked really well.  It took just over 10 minutes to cook 2 chicken breasts and it didn't heat up the rest of the house.  You could also BBQ the chicken (one of my goals for this summer is to learn to BBQ) or cook it earlier in the day, when it's not quite so hot.  I kept the chicken out of the salad because I had a sneaking suspicion that Annika would want it "on the side" (and she did).  Also, there was some chicken left over, and now I can use it to make chicken quesadillas one day this week (a good tip for summer cooking - make "planned leftovers" so you don't have to cook as often!).  I took the easy road for the breadsticks (store-bought) and the salad (a pre-bagged mix) and the veggies (the carrots and peas were packaged, but I did peel and slice the cucumber myself!). 

It doesn't look like much, but it really hit the spot.  As for being kid-friendly, Annika ate a whole breadstick, a bunch of veggies and about half the salad and chicken that I had put on her plate (she doesn't mind eating salad, but it's not a huge fav).  Emmett ate a bit of breadstick, a bunch of veggies and maybe one little bite of chicken.  I'm pretty sure he didn't eat any of the salad.  However, this is pretty normal for Emmett - he's very picky and usually doesn't eat much for supper (but he always drinks all his milk - no worries about dehydration there).  Overall I think this is a good summer meal, and I'll likely make it again.

Tune in next week for my next meal idea, and I'd love to see what's cooking (or rather, NOT cooking!) at your place!

Monday, July 2, 2012

A long weekend in pictures

The new cabin :)

Annika and me eating "campfire cones"

Emmett enjoying the pancake breakfast
(love the retro highchair - it actually came with the cottage!)

Happy Canada Day!!

Meeting 3 Blue Bomber quarterbacks, thanks to a friend on the lake

Annika going kayaking for the first time with one of our friends

Helping Grandpa drive the pontoon boat

Our family

Another first for Annika - she swam out to the floating dock and jumped off (with her water wings on)

Emmett was quite content right here - he sat and played and played