Friday, September 30, 2011

What I've been up to this week

This last week of September has been a busy one over here! On Thursday, my young charge E had her last day at our house (aside from much-anticipated future play dates) for awhile. I had been hoping to take the girls to the big park, but unfortunately the weather was uncooperative. So the kids played in the living room while I vacuumed the main floor, which was one of many things to check off my preparing-for-Cashew list.

The poor weather meant that there was also a LOT of knitting that went on this week. (I have a lot on that list, too.) I finished up three things, each of which could easily merit a blog post of its own. First, the long-awaited end of the aran sweater I started knitting for my dad last October. I folded down the arms in a weird way to show the detail that continues from shoulder to cuff. The construction was really neat, even if the process took me forever. It felt really good to cast it off, although it needs a good wash and some blocking.

Second, a blanket for my friend Jasmine, who taught me how to knit five years ago, and who just had her first baby a few weeks ago. We held a shower for her last weekend, and prior to the shower, everyone who knew how to knit (and even some who didn't, and even some who couldn't be at the shower) sent me 4x4 inch squares, which I sewed together and to which I added an edging. One of the most precious squares (the green one with the ladybugs) came from Jasmine's mom, who doesn't knit but learned how to. She lives several hours away, and couldn't be there in person, but she mailed me her square a few weeks before the shower. She also called me to find out how many stitches to cast on and how many rows to knit. Jasmine couldn't believe it when I told her that her mom contributed to our group gift! It looks a little motley, as you might expect when ten people knit things at different times and different tensions, but I think it's a beautiful keepsake, and the perfect size for a stroller blanket. Plus it's all acrylic, so it can be machine washed and dried!

Finally, the monkey hat. Close observers will note that this is not the same yarn I started with, which was far too thin for the pattern. I don't know why I thought I could make it work, especially given that I've never crocheted anything before. D was supposed to get it on her birthday next week, but she found it the morning after I finished it and put it on right away! That was before I added the pom pom. Now I'll be a sneaky mom and hide it on her. Before anyone suggests that I could make and sell these, I should mention that I did not enjoy the process and will not likely be crocheting again anytime soon. The crochet monkey hats just happened to be cuter than the knit ones.

Aside from all that, there's been a lot of laundry, cleaning and cooking. I've made and frozen two soups now for after baby arrives: turkey barley leek, and butternut squash. We got a utility turkey for 8$ last week, and it was good to us. Not only did we enjoy a pre-Thanksgiving turkey dinner, but I also made stock from the bones and had enough leftover meat for the aforementioned soup and an upcoming turkey pot pie (also to go in the freezer for later).

Tomorrow's going to be a busy day: my mom, sister and I are going to get D's flower girl dress, and run a bunch of other wedding errands while the menfolk (and D) work on finishing the basement. It's a project that's been in the works for some time, but just got off the ground this week. When it's done, there will be a bedroom, play room, bathroom, and laundry room, with a bit of storage space. I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Falling back into routine

We don't have much of a fall routine around here, except that W2W, the ladies' Bible study I attend, starts up again and we go every Wednesday. This is my third year there, and I was very much looking forward to this morning's kick-off. To my surprise, I turned off my 7am alarm and accidentally slept in until 8:45, which made it tricky to be on time for 9:00. By tricky I mean impossible. Still, D and I managed to get dressed and out the door in 20 minutes, and I brought a bottle of milk, a banana and some cheerios for her breakfast. I didn't have to worry about getting myself anything to eat because it was a potluck brunch, so that was lovely. We didn't end up being too late, rolling in at around 9:30. People were still milling around, getting food, catching up after the summer.

This morning we were all gathered in the gym for the aforementioned brunch and a special speaker, Yanci McGregor, who I love! She's married to the older brother of a good friend, and she's from Texas, and she's super funny. She and her husband are doing a church plant in Montreal, so she was talking about having hope in the midst of chaos and even despair. Yanci remarked that it felt strange to be asked to speak when she and her husband (and two boys, 2 and 5) had only just moved and were getting started, so there are no big church numbers or exciting reports to give. She's a passionate speaker, and I'm looking forward to hearing more about the church plant in the weeks and months to come.

The rest of the day was sort of fun and relaxing. D and I went to Babies R Us to spend a gift card that some awesome friends sent us, and I'm feeling much better prepared for Cashew's arrival. Then we went home, had lunch, and played for a bit before she took a nap. I managed to get some more knitting done on my dad's sweater... still about 4 inches to go on the body before decreasing and doing 3 inches of ribbing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A hearty meal for early fall

There's this recipe I had been meaning to ask my mom for, and I kept forgetting. It's for a simple chicken dish that we had growing up. This summer, a couple of my cousins put together a cookbook of family recipes for another cousin who got married, and I found the chicken recipe in there! One of my aunts had submitted it, so it's obviously something my grandma served to my mom and her sisters when they were growing up. Chicken thighs were on sale this week (6.50$ for ten!), so I decided to give it a go, seeing as all the other ingredients were also on hand. I used a pack of bone-in, skin-on, which is why they were so cheap; next time I'd opt for boneless skinless to avoid the time-consuming process of de-boning the thighs, although I'm using them to make stock. Also, instead of serving it with rice, we had mashed potatoes.

Chicken Thigh Sauté

2 lbs of chicken thighs
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp oil
1 medium onion, chopped (in the food processor if you have picky eaters)
5 large carrots, sliced (originally called for two, but we love carrots)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup hot water (I doubled it because I like the broth)

Stir together flour, salt, pepper, and thyme. Dredge thighs in flour mixture until lightly coated.

Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat; cook thighs for about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown.

Add onion and carrots to frying pan and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add soy sauce and hot water, and stir.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with rice or mashed potatoes. Steamed broccoli or green beans would also make great sides, if you have them on hand.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The loveliest of Labour Days

Our little fam has had a wonderful long weekend so far, capped off by a great day today! The only thing that could have made it better would have been for me to go into labour, but then I'd be 6-8 weeks early in delivering Cashew. Here's what we got up to today.

D and I started off the day with a visit to my dear friend Julie (Auntie Ju-wee to D); we had snacks at her apartment, then went down the street to visit her parents, then to an awesome park a block away, then back to her place for a yummy lunch of sandwiches, chips and veggies. On the way home, we had a couple of errands to run, then we stopped in to see if anyone was at my parents' house. As luck would have it, not only were my sister and her fiancé there, but my brother showed up, too! We talked wedding stuff (have I mentioned my sister really has her stuff together with the planning?), while D amused herself pottering around. She did that a lot this morning, too, and listened very well when I'd ask her to do something, or not to do something. Hubby and I have been doing a lot of disciplining lately, so I'm encouraged to see that it's having an effect (never having raised a kid before). D's also been quick to apologize when she does something wrong, too, which is great. Her manners are really coming along; she even said "thanks for having us" to Julie, and "love you guys" to sis & fiancé today!

We got home around 3 o'clock to find Hubby hard at work in the garage. With the winter fast approaching, he was keen to get the space tidied up so that we can park my car in there. He did an absolutely amazing job! All his tools have been put away, either on shelves or in the shed, and it's so much cleaner than it was when I left this morning. He even built some new shelves for the recycling bins! There are still a few things we're going to move elsewhere, like the big cooler and D's painting easel (she's a bit young for it). Hubby was very pleased with himself and had me examine his work a few times. That guy is endearing!

Sis and her fiancé were coming over for dinner, so I had to get to work preparing pretty soon after we got home. We had run out of potatoes and a few other things as we tried to stretch our grocery shop to next week, and I needed to get a bit creative. It would have been easy and simple to do a homemade pizza with cut veggies, but that's what D and my sister had on Thursday when Hubby and I had our date night. Instead, I checked the fridge and smittenkitchen, and came up with a roasted cauliflower and caramelized onion tart (quiche, really), and zucchini fritters. It was a particularly winning combination because I had bought cauliflower and zucchini at the farmer's market on Saturday, so everything was fresh and flavourful. Sis tested out red velvet cupcakes for dessert, and we all agreed that these should be served at the wedding. D was extremely pleased to lick one of the icing beaters; originally this was to be Hubby's job, but after a taste she asserted "D hold it", and later declared the icing to be "very yum". She was too cute for him not to oblige. Earlier, she had eaten her way through a decent sized bowl of applesauce (courtesy of our neighbour's apple tree) in the slowest way possible, sniffing every bite before devouring it, and explaining "it smell good applesauce".

Sis gave D her bath, Hubby cleaned up the kitchen, and we all relaxed in the living room for a bit before the engaged couple headed out. Now D's happily tucked into bed, and we'll be turning in as well, after a bit of knitting. I should mention that D has not had an afternoon nap since Thursday, and while this made for some unpleasant afternoons and evenings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it wasn't so bad today. No tantrums, and no freak-outs unless she hurt herself. We will likely instate some kind of quiet time in her room so that Mommy can nap or get things done in the afternoon, seeing as D doesn't seem to need her nap anymore.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Just in case it's a he

Hubby and I don't know what Cashew will be, but just in case we have a boy, I thought I may as well get some things that can be gender-neutral, and so much the better if they're on sale. We do have a lot of neutral sleepers and onesies and things, but past the 6-9 month mark, it gets pretty girly. I know from consignment shopping that pants and shorts are harder to find for boys (I've heard they're just a bit rougher on their clothes than girls are), so I got a pair of jeans (5$) and two pairs of shorts (5$ and 3$, respectively). We also found 5-pack of white onesies with dinosaurs on them for 8$. And if we have a girl, I could easily dress her in these, or wait and see if we eventually have a boy.