Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An improved room for two

My in-laws have been wonderfully helpful during their visit, as they always are; one of their favourite jobs has been working on the girls' room. First, the girls picked out colours (D-pink, M-blue) and the grown-ups figured out a way to make that look nice (pink walls and blue ceiling). While Hubby and his mum painted, he replaced their overhead fan with a better one that works properly and silently. Mum-in-law and Dad-in-law were keen to get some pretty curtains and wall decals to pull the room together, and that's where I was able to make a contribution. The blackout curtains they found were a vibrant purple; they happened to be on clearance, and they were two different lengths, both of which were way too long for the window in the girls' room: we have learned from experience that long curtains in kids' bedrooms are just asking to be pulled down. I am able to sew straight lines, so I offered to hem the curtains to a proper length. Once that was done, there was ample material left over for tie-backs and cushion covers, and I even had two pillow forms in my stash of craft things. I think I had meant to knit cushion covers at some point. Anyway, I used this tutorial to sew the covers, and while it didn't take me five minutes (more like two hours), it was easy enough for a novice like myself. Here's how the room looks now:

It's a great improvement on the pull-down blinds that had been there since we moved in, and not bad at all for 22$ worth of curtains! And the paint job was beautifully executed. Good work, everyone!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Marvellous meat pie

While I don't always make the best of leftover meals, I definitely did yesterday. The previous evening, we'd had roast beef for dinner, and I knew I didn't want the remaining meat to go to waste. I decided to make a pie out of it, like a chicken pot pie, but with beef. Or like beef stew with a pie crust lid. It was a big hit with everyone, although the girls took their sweet time finishing their plates. Here's the recipe, before I forget:

4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 can of corn
1 cup of peas
4 packets beef bouillon (or 2 cubes)
1/4 cup cornstarch
Leftover roast beef, cut into cubes

Pie crust:
2 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
2/3 cup chilled butter or shortening
1 egg
1 tsp vinegar

In a large pot, boil carrots for 10 minutes, then add corn and peas and cook for another 5 minutes.
Before draining vegetables, reserve 2 1/2 cups of the cooking water. Dissolve bouillon in the water.
Return vegetables to the pot, add bouillon and beef, and simmer on medium heat for 20-30 minutes.

While it's cooking, start the pie crust: in a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and sugar. Cut in shortening or butter with a pastry blender. Crack the egg into a measuring cup, add the vinegar, and beat lightly. Add enough water that the whole mixture measures just over half a cup. Pour into mixing bowl and stir until the crust comes together. Don't overmix, or your pie crust will be tough. This recipe is for a double crust, so you'll use half now and half later; I freeze my leftover half and use it for quiche or something later on.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Draw out 1/4-1/2 cup of the broth and whisk it together with the cornstarch. Return to pot, and stir filling until thickened.

Pour filling into a casserole dish. Roll out half your pie crust until it's big enough to top the casserole dish. Place on top, use a knife to cut a few slits in the centre, and do whatever you like to the edge of the crust.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve with some kind of potato side (we had leftover mashed potatoes).

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Getting ourselves sorted

My beloved in-laws arrived on Friday, which was the day I came down with the worst cold I've had this year. Sore throat, chills, hot flashes, headache, all the fun stuff. I was able to stay in bed from naptime through until morning, thanks to my parents taking the girls out, and a hardworking Hubby who cleaned up the house and got the basement all ready.

Five days on, I've still got this horrible sore throat, but my energy and appetite are slowly returning. Yesterday, I was able to hang up and later fold laundry, and get D ready for school. It took a tiny bit longer than last year, between labelling clothes and shoes, and cramming everything (bottle of hand sanitizer, box of tissues, ziplock bags) into her backpack, leaving enough room for her lunch bag. Her lunch was nothing notable; no cute bento boxes or cheese cut into artisanal shapes. Just crackers, cheese, a peach, some cucumber slices, a pickle, and a yogurt tube. Water bottle on the side. Like a nerd/affectionate parent, I did include a small note saying "I love you, have a great day!"

After our trip to the bus stop this morning, my in-laws took M on an outing, leaving now-sick Hubby and me at home. I had been wanting to sort through our bins of girl clothes ever since G was born, so this was my chance! (When did I become remotely fond of cleaning?) The girls' room was reasonably tidy, so I decluttered and reorganized their toy bins (tucking a few things away out of sight), and did a small toy cull. For the clothes, I decided to keep a few of the girls' baby things, just the ones I was sentimental about. And all knits, of course. I managed to pare three full bins down to one, and it still has some room for more clothes. I have two more bins to go, which are the things M is outgrowing and growing into, respectively. They can wait til tomorrow. The whole endeavour took about two hours (thank you, G, for sleeping! We'll say no more about the 4 am thing), and I am quite exhausted.

I'm looking forward to the return of my schoolgirl in a couple of hours, and hearing all about her day. No doubt one of the things she'll be most excited about is that now she can start planning her birthday, as it's about a month away. We had to put a limit on her talking about it, as it was becoming fairly constant by the end of the school year. Sorry, but you're not going to decide who's coming to an October party in June. I can't wait to find out who's in her class, and who her English teacher is (French is the same as last year, and is it weird that the school didn't tell me her other teacher's name?), and what they got up to today. And how she liked her lunch.