Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mila's Daydreams

I found this blog and every time I look at it, I smile. I love her creativity and it is making me think of what I could do during Scarlett's naps. But without moving her, because my babe doesn't sleep like a baby. But then, I'm also sometimes sleeping during her nap, so who will dress me up? Then again, maybe we'll just think of awake time dress-up.

Mila's mom imagines what her baby is dreaming of during her naps, and creates the scene.


What do our babies think of when they sleep?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sourdough Bread

I have discovered a weakness for this sourdough bread. Love it!

And here is the recipe:
1 1/2 c. starter
2 c. milk (or water)
1/4 c. honey
2 eggs
3 c. flour for sponge + 3 c. flour for mixing + more as needed
2 tsp. salt
6 TBSP butter (unsalted, room temp.)
Be patient with me and with the recipe:
The night before you want bread:
Mix starter, 3 c. flour and milk. Cover. I found it helpful to start this in my food processor bowl. You can heat up the oven briefly (ie. turn on for one minute, then turn off) or use the oven light to help warm the sponge. This is the sponge.
In the Morning:
Mix sponge with honey and eggs. Add rest of ingredients. Mix with dough hook. Add dough if needed (dough should pull off side of bowl). Cover. Let rise 2-4 hours. (oven light or on/off oven as before).
Butter 2 9x5 pans. Pour dough in (the dough is springy and elastic-y if its going well). Cover. 1 1/2 - 3 hours with oven light or on/off oven heat.
Time to Cook:
Bread should reach to top of pans or slightly above. Take then out of oven. Preheat oven to 375. Slash top of loaves. Bake 35-40 minutes.
What I like about it is that the bread feels very alive-it is stretchy, elastic, it looks like it could just keep growing and growing, and it is your own mini science experiment in your kitchen. Yes, this starter is the "mother". Little did I know that I would one day be in awe of the "mother" that my real mother used to keep on the counter.
I left my loaves out-no bags, no fridge, and still ate it on day 6. No mold. If you choose to freeze or refrigerate, give it at least 24 hours on the racks or counter to help it mature.
Good luck and have fun!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Creative Process

We have been having fun adding more creativity to our days. (Creativity being my theme for July for those of you just joining me.) Many times it is more about the process and the experience than about the end result.
I started off with a stampede theme, and photocopied a cowboy hat for Scarlett to paint. That's the tiny brown hat, beside the big blue hat from Kids Day at Stampede.
Then there was this beautiful jewellery pendant made from sugar, water, and fruit loops. I used Nutri-Os (Scarlett would never eat them), with icing sugar and water. The "pendant" didn't turn out so I scrapped the necklace. You can envision a nice beaded strand of licorice or dental floss-beaded with Nutri-Os, of course. This Jello art looks so pretty.

The goal was to cookie-cutter the jelly into stars and flowers. We ended up with grape jello blobs. We still ate them and Scarlett enjoyed playing with the jello.

My attempts at Art Class with Scarlett make me really appreciate the Toddler Class we go to during the fall to spring period. The kids don their bibs. The teacher brings the art project all ready to go with safe glue or paint. Embellishments are passed around. Wipes appear. Within 10 minutes the art portion is done and we're all cleaned up. Definitely worth the cost of the classes. It takes me 10 minutes to figure out what we should do, not to mention the prep, activity, clean-up, etc. Right now, we are all about the process and we look forward to making pretty art in class in September.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday At Our House

Today is feeling like a lazy summer day. Since I am blogging so little, I thought I would share what we are up to, as mundane as it. On day one of my weekend. Warning: May be boring!

My teenager/toddler woke up at 10:45 today. I didn't have the heart to wake her earlier and somedays I just accept she is a little night owl.

I did nothing productive or motherly while she slept. I did have her fed, clothed, cleaned and out of the house by 11:30.

I figured two errands was safe. We started off at AMA taking back my plates and canceling registration on the neon. That trip was not necessarily worth it-it cost me $8 and I now get a cheque back for $19. Hmmmm. Is there a reason I just did that? Scarlett was good. The man helping me at the registry said, "oh, she's so quiet.". Hit and miss I told him.

Then to the Farmer's Market. I arrive with my bags, Scarlett, her two monster creatures, and money of course, but no list. I start thinking, I have a garden that is suddenly producing-lettuce and greens at least, meat in the freezer, most of the basics, veggies, why am I here? To find all the in season produce, of course! We buy eggs, tomatoes, cherries, blueberries, and by now Scarlett is energized by the crowds, kids, balloons, noise, etc and is running out of control. She's walking with and talking to little girls, kissing the Buddha statues and petting the frog lawn ornaments, and is captivated by the lobsters. There's my real reason for coming. A little bit of food and to wear my daughter out. I decide to tempt fate and share a gelato with Scarlett. On Scott's advice, I lure her into her car seat with it. (Thank You!). The rain boots that she wanted to wear now seem a little wrong with the sun and blue sky.

And we're back in the car. Really, two errands is it. Yes, I gave her sugar and somebody's nuts in the back seat.

We get home. Let the dog in the backyard and Scarlett insists on having her on the leash so she can lead her around. I pull weeds out of the garden. We get lots of Vit D as we are un-sun screened on purpose. Is anybody else confused how how much is safe sun exposure and when it is time to use the sunscreen? We're both pale, so I figure we need the sun.

Go inside. Eat second lunch of the left over bean salad, and blueberries. Scarlett starts playing with blueberries and is pouring them between cups and bowls. Have I mentioned we are just so happy when she eats, that she can get away with this?

I sneak in a diaper change, somehow she's ready for a nap and by 3pm, she's sleeping with no fight. Very nice. And here we are. This is truthfully, much easier than most days.

I must admit when I give up the schedule, some days are so much smoother. We'll see what happens with the rest of the day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Insurance Gods

Bye-Bye little neon. The insurance company now owns you, but I think you'll have a nice second (or third) life. You've been a good car for me over our 6 years together.

We've had a week of insurance, but all good things have happened after the storms have cleared. Calgary has been hit by a few hail storms, and in one of them, all of our vehicles were also hit. Whether I am really lucky, really smart, or really unlucky to have it all happen to me, I've started to realize that I'm really happy with my insurance.

Long story short, the neon was a total loss and the insurance company paid me out for it. Which worked well since we were wanting to sell it anyways and I'm happy with what they paid me. Especially since I've apparently been paying for depreciation add back something or other with my insurance. The neon's my second car that I've had to write off with hail damage-the first one was my first car-a Hyundai Pony, which I was also able to drive for a couple more years, then sell again to a neighbor who drove it for a few more years.

The neon was on its second life with me since it had once been stolen and then found, and then completely repaired before coming home to me (2 rental cars and a few courtesy cars later).

The neon came into my life after an unfortunate car accident that I was involved in 7 years ago. Again, my insurance company treated me very well.

How else have I used insurance? Credit card insurance replaced a lap top (Visa really did cover the loss since it was within 30 days of my purchase-I have been asked this one before). And my office liability insurance was again good to deal with after an office break in. (And by the way, there really is a CSI-like guy that arrives and finger prints all the surfaces). We now have guard dogs, alarms and video surveillance, as well. (I may be truthful, I may be lying, I may have some or all, but don't test me) I haven't needed any disability insurance, thank goodness, but a nice little rider on my policy returns a chunk of my premium after a number of years.

Today is my quick thank you to my Insurance Gods. I may be over insured. I may have opted in for too many optionals. I may own too many things spread out over too many places (I don't really-its just the office, house and cars). I hope to never need my critical illness insurance, my disability, my malpractice, my liability...and yes, I'm knocking on wood, but it's nice to know that you are there just in case. Add life insurance to the list of course. I am hoping that by my showing gratitude for all the wonderful ways you have served me, perhaps I won't need to use you as often. I am also thinking that perhaps I should buy more lottery tickets to add to the mix.

What about you? Are we over insured these days? Am I unlucky or is this level of insurance use the norm?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tourists in our Own Town

Yeehaw. In the spirit of Stampede, we thought we would go down to the grounds. Here we are lined up to see the Superdogs- since when do you need tickets? The show was fun, but our toddler only lasted for half of it. Why don't they just have a small corral for kids and puppies to play while the show goes on?

Here's the view from our lineup:

I still don't own cowboy boots or a hat after living here for going on nine years.

Scarlett had her most fun at Superdogs and at the Agriculture exhibits-petting sheep and horses. We watched a cow milking demo-the mechanized version had little to offer compared to my memory of watching my dad milk our old cow by hand. Our trip to the kids rides area was short lived and uneventful.

My favorite part was the peace and quiet of the Western Oasis. Paintings, Photography, Decorated Cakes, Quilts, and gentle water fountains of course. We also had some regular old stampede food, but skipped the deep fried oreos, pizza on a stick, and corn dogs. That was our stampede experience. No chucks or rodeo for us this year.

And to complete our touristy week, we also went to the Calgary Zoo. Much preferred. Scarlett is getting to a fun age for the zoo. She tried to pretend she was swinging with the monkeys and may have had a little conversation with a few of them. And it is so much nicer to set her free and let her walk or run beside us, without worrying that she will be trampled.

A shocking aside... we were at a birthday party last night and I met a woman who had a 16 month old and she had yet to take her to the zoo. And not due to finances or animal activists reason, just had not gone. Poor baby girl. I thought every Calgarian with a child made it there at least once a year. I don't find the picture books do it justice and we don't have any safaris planned in the near future, so I like to go to the zoo.

Despite our complaining about Calgary some days, it is pretty nice to have so many world class attractions and events in our own backyard. Speaking of our backyard, it may be calling to me!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sourdough Starter 2

For those of you anxiously awaiting the results of my science experiment, here it is.

Day Two, bubbles started to appear in my starter:

Day Three and it's bubbling like crazy:

And here's Day Three at night. The starter has started to separate from the liquid and the liquid looks dark. I poured off the liquid and fed the starter flour and water. What convinced me that this is working, is the smell. All of a sudden, my starter smells tangy, just like real sourdough bread.

Today's Day Four and there is no further change. I'm getting ready to bake in another day or two. I've heard that the sourdough will take longer to bake than regular bread-it sounds like close to 24 hours prep time...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sourdough Starter

A sourdough starter is supposed to be easy so let us see what happens in the next few days. This is part of my creative kick, as I've always meant to try a real sourdough starter, not just the mysterious ones that appear in my life occasionally. (And sometimes have way too much sugar). And since I love bread, but would prefer to cut my added yeast varieties, I'm trying this out.

What I just did:

1. Find one large, glass jar.
2. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 flour (I used whole wheat. Mix.
3. Cover with a napkin, help on with an elastic (so the sourdough can breath and trap bacteria I understand)
4. Keep warm. (Mine's on the stove, but hopefully we get some warm days soon).

And then I plan to add 1/4 c. water and 1/4 cup flour every 12 hours. When it starts to bubble, you can feed it just once a day and with much less flour and or water. If black gunk grows (it's supposed to), pour it off before you feed it.

There are a bunch of tips I have ignored-you can start with cooking water, you probably shoudn't use tap water as I am... so we'll see how important the tips are.

Here's the starter!

Wish us luck!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stampede Weekend

This may be slightly scandalous as I live in Calgary and haven't even been to Stampede yet this year. (gasp?)

But it was a busy weekend and it almost feels like a kids book: (Sorry for the grammar)

One kiddy wading pool waded in.

One Bowness Stampede Parade spectated.

Two pancake breakfasts ate.

One wedding reception ate and danced and laughed at.

Three gardens weeded.

Two hours of patients seen and adjusted.

Two hail storms survived.

And one lassie/smoothy with blueberries, strawberries, yogurt, almonds, honey, and almond milk, consumed-yum.

And that's all. Aside from the naps, meals, chores, play,etc. I now have some crafts prepped for the week, I have a napping girl and I'm ready for the online race for gymnastics registration tonight!

Our iPad can't read the photo cards yet, but my favorite thing this weekend was Scarlett in her beautiful special dress up dress for the wedding reception (white crinkled satiny material with blue embroidery) complete with a colorful Tibetan ceremonial hat with blue and red and yellow pompoms on a black embroidered hat. Dancing until 10:30.

Happy first weekend of Stampede. Yeehaw.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July's Theme

I just realized we're a week into summer "holidays", and I feel that I can barely catch my breath! What happened?!?

I had spent a day or two thinking how I should spend my July. I came to the decision that July will be my focus on creativity, along the lines of following the Happiness Project, and bringing more fun into my life. So yes, July is about creativity.

That loosely includes building sandcastles, piles of rocks, baking or cooking new items, painting, drawing, scrap booking, gardening, play doh, crafts, writing... so I may be cheating a bit since a lot of that is part of our regular life.

Once I committed to that, I've suddenly been run off of my feet at work all of this week. It's funny how the universe works that way, so I will also be working harder to create health with my clients. Not to confuse anyone, I am working as usual, but I frequently take advantage of the slowness of this month and just include more R&R in my spare time.

And we also got back from our holiday and found out our new iPad had arrived-yay! I'm exercising new parts of my brain to see if I can use this for blogging. So far so good, but I'm still adjusting.

To include the iPad in the creativity theme-amazing slideshow of our pictures. That alone could be a selling feature. And... Scott had Scarlett hooked up with a draw program this morning, so she can scribble on the screen with her finger and doodle on pictures. Not that it will replace the paper versions, but it is going to make traveling this summer so much easier.

I look forward to what things we will create in the next month. I have to take a drive to Michaels or the dollar store next!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blogpress test

Just a quick test of Blogpress.

It seems to be working okay.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Birthdays

First it was my birthday. So I took the day off.

Then it was Canada Day, so I had a ready made long weekend.

Between all of the cheesecake, cupcakes, visiting family and friends, making crafts and playing games at an outdoor festival, swimming, watching Scarlett in the sandbox and on the playground, and eating... I just never made it on to the computer. In five days! What a nice break. And did I mention sitting in a car? For 10 1/2 hours for a 6 hour drive, if that makes any sense. It seems that all my fellow Albertans love to travel the same places that I do.

Hopefully that explains my blogging absence.

I have made it back to work today. And Scarlett was thrilled to see all of her toys, dolls and stuffies at the house and at work that she forgot about for those 5 days.

And now it is summer in Calgary for a couple of weeks. I have never seen a city as influenced by the holidays as is Calgary. This city of ours is now officially on break so we will see how the week and the month unfold.