Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A granola and beans kind of day

Another day with simple goals: making granola bars (not for Christmas, it's just sensible to keep them on hand at all times) and trying out a slow-cooker recipe for baked beans. And can I just say, the internet is an amazing thing! I didn't have bacon, so I couldn't make traditional Boston baked beans, and when I realized I didn't have tomato paste, I checked for an alternative. The first item that came up in the search bar as I was typing in tomato paste? Tomato paste substitute. I reduced a can of tomato sauce and used that. The granola bars are cooled and cut, and the beans have another couple of hours to simmer. I'm interested to see how they turn out; I think we'll have them on baked potatoes, or with eggs and toast.

While all this kitchen business was taking place, D was mainly entertaining herself. Now, a quiet toddler generally means one of two things: either something disastrous is taking place, or something hilarious is taking place. Fortunately for me and my sanity, it happened to be the latter in this instance. D had just asked me to take off her nightdress, and she proceeded to remove her matching "night-pants"on her own. Here's what wandered into the kitchen to greet me:

Yes, she dressed her own self in fleece monkey pyjamas from the dirty laundry hamper. Here's a transcription for those of you who don't speak D's particular dialect of toddler.

Me: Daphne, what did you just do?
D: I put them on.
Me: What did you put on?
D: This on, and this on.
Me: And what are those?
D: Pyjama pants, and my night shirt and my night pants.
Me: Very good. It's too bad they were from the dirty pile, right?
D: They're not dirty.
Me: They sort of are, because you already wore them this week. But that's okay, you look really good.
D: Can you pull this-
Me: Can you say "Thanks, Auntie Morgan"?
D: Tanks, Auntie Mogan!

In case you're interested, here's my granola bar recipe, adapted from my good friend Mrs. Mac.

2 1/2 cups oats (rolled or quick)
2 cups other grains (spelt flakes, wheat germ, oat bran, ground flax)
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups mix of chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut
2/3 cup melted margarine
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup peanut butter (skip this in case of allergies, and add more honey or molasses)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients.
Grease a rimmed cookie sheet, spread out granola mixture and pat firmly with a spatula. Bake for 20 minutes, remove and pat down with spatula again. While bars are still hot, cut them with a pizza roller, then pat down the messy edges with spatula again. Cool completely, and remove from sheet.

I keep mine in a cookie tin, separating the layers of granola bars with parchment paper so they don't all get stuck. These make a great afternoon snack with a cup of tea!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pre-Christmas productivity

Are you ready for Christmas yet? I never am, at least not until about midnight on December 24th. We're pretty close to ready, though. Here's some of what we've done:
-decorated inside the house and out (that was late November)
-got all our presents (I speak for myself, not Hubby)
-updated our family & friends' addresses
-taken our Christmas photo
-printed our Christmas cards and labels
-written and mostly mailed our Christmas cards (again, I don't presume to speak for Hubby)
-finished our Christmas baking (Mars bar-Rice Krispie squares, glazed mint brownies, shortbread, monkey bread for Christmas morning with the fam)

Here's what remains to be done:
-finish a gift for my recipient in my crafty friends' exchange
-wrap our Christmas gifts
-mail the remaining Christmas cards

Today was one of those serendipitous days where everything works out. My goals were to get the laundry put away, and finish my Christmas baking. I went out to get a few groceries with the girls; D was pleasant and chatty, while M slept the entire time. My mom came over to help us with the baking (which largely entailed keeping D occupied), and although my shortbread didn't turn out as well as hers, it was okay. The other baking turned out fine. I got some knitting done while the girls napped, and put the laundry away when D woke up, thanks to Grandma cuddling her and reading her stories.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Festive weekend

Now that the Christmas season is upon us, we have ample occasion to spend time at special events with family and friends. For instance, here was our weekend:
-Christmas fair-trade bazaar at my aunt's church on Saturday afternoon (my mom and I took D and M)
-The Singing Christmas Tree at Bethel Pentecostal on Saturday night. I go every year, even last year I took in an early performance before leaving for Australia; this was Maeve's first time going, and she was a champ! She was quiet and even slept through some of it, although she waited until the pastor's brief wrap-up at evening's end (i.e. the quietest part of the performance) to have a very loud bowel movement.
-Visiting a Christmas tree farm on Sunday afternoon with my parents; it was so much fun! We had a hay ride out to the field, walked around enjoying the beautiful weather and chose a tree, and had hot chocolate upon our return. This would be a fun tradition for any family, I think. We saw families of various stages there, from newborns (okay, just ours) to teenagers to grown children (like myself).

-The children's program at our church on Sunday night; D and her 2-3 year old compatriots were singing Away In A Manger, complete with actions (in the photo above, D is rocking an imaginary baby Jesus). The practice on Saturday morning was a gong show, with only a handful of kids actually singing or doing the actions, never mind combining the two. But on Sunday night, most of them had it together, including my beautiful daughter, who was a vision in her flower girl dress, this time with a red bolero. The kids were adorable, singing their little hearts out about baby Jesus. Kudos to the organizing moms, Bethany and Victoria!

Of course, all this made for a very exhausted family, mostly D. She went to bed at 7:30 and slept in til 9 the next morning, and has been having very long naps this week, probably to make up for what she missed on the weekend.

I am a mom, so I took a video of D practicing her song, just in case she chose not to at the actual performance. Appreciate the subtleties of the discordant harmonies she improvised.