Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Birthday Extravaganza, November Edition

In October, of course, we had Canadian Thanksgiving and D's birthday. And this past weekend, we celebrated (albeit early) American Thanksgiving and Hubby's birthday! Our dear friends Mandy, Morgan and Sarah made the trek from Southern Ontario for this year's festivities, and it was a tremendous weekend. We included my brother-in-law because Hannah was in Toronto visiting for a conference (and sister time with Rach- yes, I was a bit jealous!), and also because he's a UW grad like the rest of our guests. 

M was nonplussed by my pigtail attempt
A good-looking bunch of people ready to tuck into a turkey dinner
Apples to Apples: which of the red cards would you choose to represent calm?
Mandy won the game by playing this card. And by winning 16 other rounds.
Hubby's birthday cake on Sunday
For this year's birthday cake, Hubby had seen a picture online of a cake he would like, which you can see replicated here. It's his usual favourite, rainbow bits cake with blue icing, this time with a candy exterior. I am very glad to say that this was all Halloween candy, and I did not pay full price. 

Our beautiful hutch!
And just because we didn't have enough going on that weekend, on Sunday when my parents brought over bagels for lunch, we got rid of our old bookcase and brought in a new-to-us hutch. (A patient of my dad's had been trying to sell it, and finally decided to give it away.) This meant sorting through all our books and getting rid of some older ones, a task I left until Monday. Considering that the old bookcase about as deep but not nearly as wide, we had packed a lot of books onto it! I much prefer this new display, and as an added bonus, M can't get into the drawers or cabinets, so she can't pull books off the shelves anymore. The middle drawers house our photo albums and yearbooks, and one side cabinet holds stationary and colouring implements. The other side is empty for the moment, but it won't take me long to hide some clutter in there.

The toss pile
My teaching books and binders, soon to be boxed up and stored in the basement

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Greatest granola of all

My new cookbook has now been in my possession for seven days, and it has yet to find its way into the cupboard. I've either looked at it, read it for fun, or cooked from it, every day. Today's offering: the best granola I've ever made! Although I prefer making granola to buying it, mine has tended to be lightly burnt and not very clumpy. (I don't like what it says about my kitchen intelligence quotient that I didn't previously think to lower the oven temperature, and not over-stir the mixture, as the cookbook advises.) Also, I very much appreciate that no more than two tablespoons of oil were used, and no more than half a cup of syrup. Granola need not be packed with fat and sugar. 

The whole house smelled amazing while the granola was in the oven, and it came out beautifully. I did my best to follow the recipe and not substitute anything (like spelt flakes for oat, or honey for maple syrup), but I didn't have any walnuts, so I used pumpkin seeds. I thought that, at worst, it would mean fewer clusters. Happily, it did not.

We had quite a delicious day, actually! The girls are both a bit sick, so we've been staying home most of the week. Today, they played fairly happily while I knit or cooked. Besides the granola (which we had with yogurt, and later with stewed apples), there were oven potato chips with fish sticks and peas, and butternut squash soup with honey-oat rolls.

Finally, if anyone was worried about my lost knitting, it has been located. This is not it...

...but that's some of what I'm working on these days. Neither of these things are for knitters, so I feel it's safe to show them on here. I don't think it's obvious to non-knitters what either one is. (Knitters, no spoilers, please!)

So, to sum up, I love my new cookbook and I am not good at finishing knitting projects these days. And I don't even feel bad about it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My favourite things

Yesterday was a beautiful day, too much so to sit and type. It was unusually warm, twenty degrees. I had heard the forecast on Sunday, so I planned to hang out a couple of loads of laundry first thing in the morning. Thanks to the high temperature, the wind and a bit of sun, everything was dry by sunset (at FOUR thirty, yikes!). I think hanging laundry is probably the only chore I really enjoy. I'd love to be able to keep it going this winter, albeit indoors. Maybe we'll even save money; apparently, whatever we saved by foregoing the dryer in the summer was spent on air conditioning (although it didn't feel like we used it that much).

My sister Hannah had the day off, so she came over to do some baking from my Smitten Kitchen cookbook, which arrived on Friday! I do love that blog. Hubby was kind enough to pre-order the book for my birthday, and let me pre-open it when it arrived. I'm glad I didn't wait for my birthday. It was very tough to decide what to make first. Hannah and I settled on leek fritters with lemon-garlic yogurt, and buttered popcorn cookies. We went for a nice walk to the drugstore and the grocery store to get cold medicine for the girls, and leeks, eggs, and butter for the recipes.

Hubby was home sick for the day, and he spent most of it in bed. By late afternoon, he was up and about, and volunteered to take the girls out to get us a pizza for dinner. I never turn down pizza. So we had a nice dinner, after which I helped get the girls ready for bed, and then headed out to knit night at my friend Jasmine's. I'm always so pleased to be able to go! (Nursing M precluded me from attending much this past year, but as of last week, she's fully weaned and I have my body to myself again. Or as much as is possible when you have two small children clinging to you.) Last night's attendees were the always delightful Diana, Darcie, Leigh, Shauna and, of course, our hostess, Jasmine. I can't post about any of the knitting I'm doing these days, unfortunately, but I will after Christmas. Suffice it to say that many of the things are pairs, and it's always a challenge once you finish the first item, having to knit an exact replica. In my case, I have misplaced the original one, and can't continue its mate until I find it.

Still figuring out her preferred method of bottle-holding
Meanwhile, preparations are underway for Friends Thanksgiving this weekend. Hubby and I decided that the basement bedroom needs to be properly finished, so last week we moved everything out, sanded the drywall mud, applied the final coat, primed and painted. We may or may not have time to do the trim before our friends arrive, but at least the room looks nearly done. On the cooking front, I've got two pie crusts and a batch of honey-oat rolls in the freezer, and the turkey out of the freezer, defrosting in the fridge. Dinner isn't til Saturday, but I've learned from experience that it takes ages to for a frozen bird to thaw in a cold environment. Which sounds obvious now that I've typed it, but there you are.