Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recipe Tuesday - Blueberries & Pancakes

It's hard to believe that I used to swear up and down that "Yes, I had tried blueberries" and "no, I did not like them."  I don't actually recall ever actually having tried them I just always had this firm sense and almost religious belief that there was no way that I would like them. 

What's more it is incredible that this belief held until I was in my thirties. That's right.  Thank goodness for me that my children are fruit fiends.  My kids do not scream for cookies in the cookie aisle, they scream for strawberries, blueberries and all things fruity.  It's also a good thing  I can't help sampling a few of their fruity treats here and there or I would never have known how delicious these nutritious little berries are. 

Lately I had been curious about making my own berry syrup.  I bought a large cart of blueberries on the weekend (they were on sale) and so I began my search for a recipe.  Only it seemed like all the recipes I could find used frozen blueberries until I stumbled across the blog of The Well Seasoned Cook.  There it was, a recipe for fresh blueberry syrup along with a recipe for healthy pancakes from her husband. (note I did not make the healthy pancakes as I didn't have the ingredients on hand)

Even if you don't try the healthier version of pancakes, you can't go wrong using this fresh blueberry syrup recipe.  Did I tell the kids to hold back on the syrup? No way, they could pour away to their hearts content.  It was nice knowing that they were actually putting something extremely healthy into their bodies instead of the usual Aunt Jemima butter flavored brand we typically buy. 

Here is the recipe exactly as written on The Well Seasoned Cook. 
Fresh Blueberry Syrup - Susan's Recipe


Ingredients
3 cups fresh blueberries, washed and sorted to remove any wrinkled fruit
2 cups water
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown or white sugar (optional)


Method
In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer the berries until they break open and are completely soft (about 10 minutes). The berries will turn a dark reddish violet. Pour the berries into a large metal strainer positioned above a large bowl. With a large, sturdy spoon, rub the berry solids through the strainer. There will be very little waste. The skins thicken the syrup and provide the maximum amount of antioxidant benefits blueberries are known for. Serve warm or chilled. Makes 2 cups. --

 
My take:  I followed the recipe exactly as is.  The syrup was not quite thick enough for my taste and so the only change I'd make the next time I make this is to add a wee bit of cornstarch to the berries when they are boiling.  Other than that, it was fantastic and my kids really enjoyed it. 

I still had lots of left over syrup and so you'll have to wait until next Tuesday to find out what I did with it.

BTW.. if you have a chance check out The Well Seasoned Cook.  She has a ton of great recipes and her photos of her food are works of art in themselves. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hyper Parenting - Internet to Blame?

My mom and I have been discussing the roles of parents in their children's lives a lot lately.

Both of us had been listening to some news documentaries on this new phenomenon of over parenting our children which they call Hyper Parenting.  Children are not allowed to walk to school, play in the front yard unsupervised and are shuttled from one adult instigated sport or activity after another.  We were told that today's threat of abduction has actually decreased only with the heightened media awareness we think it's gotten worse instead of better.

Of course, this hyper-parenting is not just about kidnappings, it's also about trying to make sure your child grows up with great self-esteem and has been exposed to as many opportunities as possible to develop academically, athletically etc.  We are told that if our child attends music classes at a younger age, we increase their brain power.  That if we catch them young enough we just might have a prodigy on our hands. 

But what about the negative effect all this over concern into their health and well being.  Could their really be a negative effect? Apparently many of these teens and young adults have grown to be selfish, irresponsible and unable to self-motivate themselves without their parents pushing them.  College open houses are now chock full of parents doing all the information seeking and fact finding, while the prospective student follows docilely along behind them. 

I can see the truth in this.  We work with young adults and high school students all the time.  We have parents calling in sick for their kids and some times, even negotiating raises or questioning us as to why we had to fire their precious child.  When I was a kid, my mom made me call in sick myself. If I was going to inconvenience my boss and coworkers by not going in, I had to at least do them the courtesy of calling in myself.  Nothing like to that to make you realize you're not really that sick.  I had to get myself to work and was expected to do a good job.   These days, the young people we hire seem to be only concerned about their pay cheque and how much they are going to get paid an hour.  They turn their nose up at the minimum wage when it really is an easy job.  Then they complain that they aren't getting enough hours  but at the first opportunity ask to go home early inconveniencing everyone else.  I know not all young people are like this, it's just really hard to sort out the one who do have a good work ethic. 

My mom thinks that the Internet is a lot to blame along with all the self help books etc.  When she was a young parent she had to fly by the seat of her pants and do the best she can.  She admits that she wasn't perfect and she made mistakes. A time was when you enrolled your child into a sport or activity for the sheer fun of it.  It wasn't supposed to be competitive.  Birthday parties were meant to be good clean fun, not to see who can outdo the Joneses.

(In this one report a mom spent over $4,000 on her child's first birthday. Her 1ST birthday. I kid you not.  She had a real Cinderella attend, fancy princess cake, decorations etc.  She wanted it to be the most memorable time for her child.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  We're talking a one year old here... you know the ones who would rather play with a box than the toy that was in it!)

Okay, I know.  You know you're getting old when you bitch and moan about the younger generation.  HAH!

Still you would think my mother would appreciate the Internet and the fact there is just so much parenting advice available to me but she doesn't. In fact, she sort of makes fun of me.  She feels that there is too much information out there, especially medical information and worrying about insecurities and growth development seems like a foreign concept to her.  Which is strange because she's taking a psychology course and she really enjoys it.   She literally told me that half the stuff I talk about never occurred to her as a parent and hey she didn't do that badly.

I can see where she is coming from completely, but as I was tidying up the house this morning I started to think that maybe it would have been nice if she had made more of an effort to understand where I was coming from or the reasons perhaps behind my behaviour. 

You see I struggled with being called "moody" all my life.  It's only been later in years that I was able to figure out that my moodiness stemmed from my inability to communicate my needs.  By being quiet and withdrawn, I was hoping to get attention and even asked what's wrong. In some instances I was afraid to communicate my needs because of a fear of rejection.   A technique I used on boyfriends later in life.  This was so natural to me that I was unable to stop or correct my behaviour.  Can you imagine how much it hurt to be labeled as being moody without so much as a single question as to why I might be acting that way? 

It took years and a bout of depression to work my way through this communication problem. Something my mother has not even a clue about because we can't talk on that kind of level.  She had a hard childhood and often she seems emotionally cut off from us.  I know she loves us but it's the kind where you have to accept it as a fact because you aren't going to get reassured of it any time soon. 

I still struggle with being moody and holding on to grudges.  But these days I am better able to shake it off.  I may get quiet for a while but I am way quicker to just turn the conversation and tell myself that I'm not going to let this ruin the day.  I am so glad I have come this far. 

So the point is... if I read a book that says that maybe E's attention getting antics may mean that she only feels she belongs in the family when she gets attention, then I am going to consider this and try to think of ways to make her feel more involved and connected with us.

I do think that the wealth of information we have these days is good and useful.  There are no smooth and fast ways to proper parenting. Sure it can be overwhelming. We just have to glean out the useful bits that may be helpful to our situation and chuck all the rest.  And we need to watch out for "hyper parenting" by being careful to instill a sense of independence in our children.  To not feel the need to shower money down on them via expensive activities, trips and material things. 

I had always thought of myself as being selfish for not wanting to drive my kids to activities every day of the week. I had witnessed the crazy lives of too many mom friends (who had their kids before me) and always swore that I didn't want to be the "soccer mom" like that. I don't mind taking E to a class a week and this summer all three of them will be going for two weeks of swimming lessons but I scheduled all their lessons together so it's one drive a day and then we're done. My family jokes about enrolling the girls or O in hockey and I always joke back no way. They are in part serious but so am I. Nothing wrong with hockey but I've seen how busy my brother's family is. Every weekend is tied to the rink, if not in our hometown then travelling hours up and down the island for competitions etc. Then after hockey is lacrosse and there they go again until July.


My husband tends to be very protective, okay not just him, me too, probably too much so.  Thanks to these news reports we have been able to discuss ways of helping E be more independent and how to retract our parenting claws just a little.   The results of this will, of course, trickle down to the younger two. 

Life goes too fast as it is. I want the slower pace of afternoons in the backyard, playing in the pool, picking ripe raspberries and peas, rolling on the grass. 

I want my kids to be kids.  I don't want to be their social secretary.  I want to be their mom.

What do you think about Hyper Parenting?  Are you one?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Crayola Kidszone - Review Pip-Squeaks





Well it's time once again for another Crayola Product Review.  As a member of Crayola's Canada Mom Advisory Team, I am lucky enough to receive crayola products to try out with my children.  As you can imagine when that Purolator man shows up at my door I have three extremely excited children.





Pip-Squeaks Colour Writers:  "Small in size but big in colour! Pip-Squeaks are easy to hold and with their super fine tip, they write just like a pen (4+, $5.49) "   I have to admit that I had my doubts about this product.  Basically they are small felts that can fit in your pocket.  They have a cap on the end that you pop open and shake out the felt.  It then extends to the size of a regular felt pen only it has a fine tip.  I thought that for sure my children would have that felt tip destroyed as soon as it hit the page.  Only it's not a soft tip, it's hard.  I tried it out myself and sure enough it worked wonderfully and my oldest in particular really enjoyed it because she used these pens to do the outlining and fine details that she likes to add to her drawings.  It says 4 and up but there was no way I could not let my 3 year old use it and use he did as he quickly scribbled off three pictures for me.  I actually like this felt better for him because he could not over push the tip, the colour flows evenly and best of all he didn't have a ton of felt all over his hands.




Pip-Squeaks Wacky Tips: "16 unique marker tips provide kids the opportunity to create cool effects (4+, $5.49)"   These were fun too.  Each felt has a different shape on it to make a cool pattern on the page. This was a lot of fun for the kids as they tried to outdo each other making rainbows.  The colours are very vibrant. 












Marker and Watercolor Pad:  "60 sheets of premium Marker Watercolour Paper (1+, $3.09)"  Of course, what better to have with all those felts and paints but the right paper for it. It is actually a rather large pad of paper for the price and definitely worth it when all those lovely colours from their drawings don't actually run through to the table below.  As you know, children colour hard and often rip their paper in the process and depending on the surface, sometimes the colour doesn't go away.  This paper more than stands up to the test and works wonderfully well with water color paints as well.






Body Art Henna Design: "Quick and easy application of multiple varieties of face and body art designs. Each kit includes 8 sheets of pre-perforated shapes, 1 body art crayon and 1 instructional guide (8+, 10.99)"   Now mom probably had the most fun with this.  These body art designs were absolutely lovely and amazingly easy to apply.   The kit included designs in brown, copper and red.  True to their word, they washed off easily with soap and water.  The only design I saw that stayed a little longer was the red colour.  You do have to be careful to apply it in a place where it is not going to be rubbed by clothing or by little hands, which is why this is really an 8+ project.  My little ones couldn't resist rubbing their designs and so they were gone fairly quickly.  Still, there are a ton of designs in the kit and because of the amount of paint on each design, I was able to use it once on the kids and then once on myself.  Thrifty mom that I am. ;)



Color Wonder Stow & Go Studio: "Provides both mom and kids with mess-free, fun, creative activities that fit their "on the go" lifestyle. Separate marker storage and book storage allow children to change marker colours without opening the entire tote (3+, $13.49)"  This is really a great idea.  The coloring book stores inside along with four colour markers.  It's flat surface makes it easy to store in the pocket on the back of the seat, under the seat or simply tucked in between.  The best bit is because they are colour wonder markers, you don't have to worry about what else the little darlings might be colouring in the back of the car. 



As always we were really thrilled and pleased with the Crayola products we received. 

Check out Crayola.ca for printable colouring pages, make-your-own cards and activity ideas.



Thanks to Crayola.ca for the opportunity to review these great products.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Recipe Tuesday - Repeat Applesauce

Today's Recipe is a repeat.  My children are still sick, although not throwing up today thank goodness, so I haven't had much time to prepare an original post.  I thought this one was appropriate since it is generally recommended you follow the B.R.A.T. diet when kids are sick.  (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast). And I actually whipped up a small batch since I was stuck at home.  No way was I taking three vomitting children to the store. ;)

Secondly, I don't know if you have heard the recent recall of a variety of juice products due to high lead content.  Yes lead.  Mostly apples.  While we haven't purchased many of those types of juices, we just finished a batch of Mott's Applesauce and Mott's juice products was on the list.  So it just goes to show we need to get back to doing things from scratch.  Read full article on ModernMom

Recipe Tuesday - Applesauce



The nicest thing about homemade? You control the ingredients. No chemicals, no preservatives, no artificial flavours, no food colours.


My kids actually like this better than the Mott's fruit cup I usually buy for them. It takes a small bit of extra effort because you have to peel your own apples and chop them up but it's worth it.





So here is homemade applesauce a la Zeemaid:

Ingredients

* Water
* Chopped or grated apples (11 medium apples makes four cups)
* Approx 1/4 cup lemon juice
* 1 cup of honey or 3/4 cup sugar
* Optional: Cinnamon

Directions:

  • In a large pot add a skiff of water, enough to cover the bottom of the pot and for the apples to sit in. Add lemon juice. Set on medium high heat.
  • Chop or grate your apples. Grating your apples allows them to cook and break down faster. If you like a chunkier texture to your sauce then I'd recommend chopping. I chopped mine.
  • Add your apple slices to the pot as you go, pausing to stir once in a while to ensure that all the apples get covered with the water/lemon mixture. Keeps apples from browning.
  • Keep the pot at a low simmer. Once the apples seem to have started to break down and soften add the sugar or honey. I used honey because it's supposed to be better for you. Add the sugar at a half cup at a time. Taste it and see if you want to add more. Depending on how sweet your apples are you may need more or less than what I've written here. Also, do you like sweet or more tart apple sauce?
  • Test the apples with a fork, are they soft enough to mash? If you want to add cinnamon do so a tthis stage. Then take a potatoe masher and mash apples in the pot. Allow the apples to continue to simmer for a couple of minutes until it's the consistency you are looking for. If after mashing you find that maybe the apples are not soft enough, add a little water if needed and continue simmering until you're happy with it.  Remove from heat and cool before serving.

I didn't add cinnamon to my batch because it tends to make the mixture a browny color which can be nice but I wanted a nice golden apple sauce to appeal to the kids.


This is basic recipe that you can add on to and tweak to your heart's content. Add peaches or berries and you have a nice mixed apple sauce.

I used freezer jam plastic containers to "jar" my sauce and freeze. I even started to add a spoonful to their dinner plates. They really like it and it's helped them eat their meat more. I just tell them to dip their meat in the sauce and voila no complaints.


Little tip:  Have any of those plastic cups for freezing breast milk left?  They will work as well.




Monday, June 21, 2010

Mystery Poo

Just when I figure it would no longer be appropriate to rename my blog "The Poop Diaries", you know because my kids are getting bigger and are all potty trained, something comes up to make me seriously consider it again.

To say we've had an interesting weekend is putting it mildy.  But no, we'd have to go back further than that to say Thursday.  On Thursday, when I had come down from putting laundry away upstairs I discovered that O had pooped his pants.  I was admittedly to embarrassed to post about my morning spent shampooing the carpet because I felt strangely responsible for his lapse.  After all, surely I must have traumatized him in some way for him to regress like this.  I sort of equated it to when your pet gets made at you, the only way they can get you back is to crap on the floor.  And I had denied him yet another snack so surely it must have been my fault.

Then Saturday afternoon, I'm gone for not five minutes from the room when sudden disaster strikes again. K had just come inside and I heard him talking angrily to the kids.  The smell of poo has even wafted all the way upstairs.  I come down to see my three little moppets all sitting all in a row on the couch quiet as can be watching a show.  Only for some strange reason, poo is smeared all across the back of the couch, into O's hair, all over the toy he is holding in his hand, so much so that even the wheels are full of it.  There was streaks of poo on the floor and even in to J's shoes sitting by the door.   ?!?!?!?

Does anyone know where this poo came from?  No.  It's not from O's bum.  We checked him and all the others deny any knowledge of having seen poo.  Was he playing in the poo?  Did he actually run his choo choo through poo?  I just don't know.  Needless to say I'm not cleaning that toy.  It went straight into the garbage.  The carpet got shampooed for the second time in as  many days. 

Then we were awoken to O being sick in the night.  At 6:30 a.m. we were up shampooing the carpet in the hallway because he didn't make it to the bathroom.  Again, if you don't have a carpet cleaner.  Invest in one. Believe me, it's worth it. 

Course, O wasn't doing that badly in the morning.  He didn't eat breakfast but he was perky enough so we still went out to the lake to visit with family.  Little did we know that the motion of the van would make him more sick.  Poor little guy.  By the time we had gotten out to the lake, we had pulled over 3 times.  The rest of the afternoon was spent with him on one of our laps.  When he wasn't throwing up he was dozing.  If we had of realized he was that sick we wouldn't have bothered going.  Still the girls got to out with their uncle in the boat so they had fun.

I was relieved to get him home and settled onto the couch with his own blanky and pillow. Only to have the diarrhea kick in.  It was so sudden that the kids don't even realize what's happening.  After the second change, I clued in and got out the goodnights and slapped those on him.  Better to go back to pullups than to clean poo off the couch. 

It only went downhill from there, by 7 pm that night, J was now upchucking and it seemed only E, who had been sick earlier in the week was going to get a good nights sleep.  Not so.  We must have been up every half hour.  If it wasn't one kid throwing up, it was cleaning up diarrhea poop off the floor and stripping the bed of the other.  E is actually still sleeping now.  I've checked on her 3 times just to make sure she didn't vomit and choke. Although their tummies are so empty, I doubt that would happen.  They can't even keep so much as a sip of water down. 

It's gonna be one of those days.  Two of them are currently zombified on the couch watching treehouse and I'm about to join them... maybe I'll get to snooze a little in between holding the buckets under their heads. 

To top it off... I just know the chances of us not getting sick from them is pretty small. 


Still, I did manage to get in a special breakfast for K for Father's Day and he showed what a great dad he is by pitching in and helping clean up the mess.  This will be a Father's Day to remember sweetie!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

And the Winner is?

*Drumroll please*    The Winner of the Tv Series Hawthorne is Ronnica.  Ronnica has 48 hours to contact me with her information. 

Thank you to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for providing this opportunity.

Zeemaid

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Phew, A little Shock from the Past

I'm not really a Facebook fan.  I am registered, under my real name, because I wanted to see information about our High School Reunion.  Was that only last year?  I believe I've posted about this poor at how amazed I was at suddenly how many "friend" requests I had. I think out of all of those only one or two actually sent me a message.  I had to chuckle as I got great satisfaction out of "ignoring" a guy whom I knew for a fact thought I was the biggest "B" in school ever.  Still... the reunion is over, I never went mostly because of  my "apathetic friends" and so I rarely ever check my facebook page. 

Still, I have to admit I did try a couple of times to look up old boyfriends.  Heh heh.  Of course, I was annoyed that because I wasn't friends with them I couldn't check out their profiles and get a sneak update on their lives.  Did they get married, did they have children etc?   And no way was I going to lower myself to requesting friend status.  After all, there was no way I wanted them to know I was curious, right?  There is a reason why they are exes.  

So I was surprised today when I was compelled to log on to my facebook page so I could comment on another site to discover a friend request from an old boyfriend.  I have to admit my heart pounded a little.  No, not because he was the "one" as in the one boyfriend that sometimes infiltrates my dreams but just from the shock of it.  The break up didn't end well, I sued him over a computer which I was embarrassed over later, and we never spoke again since that last settlement conference.  Some 15 + years ago. OMG it was actually more like 18 years ago.  I am so getting old.

The more embarrassing fact was that around a year or two later, I was alone and lonely having moved back home and of course with Rose Coloured glasses on started missing him.  He really was a great guy.  I met him while I was on rebound from the "one" and we hit it off and before I knew it, we were living together.  After a while though I realized that I didn't really "love" him and wanted out and the rest is history. 

Anyways, the embarrassing part was that I actually stooped to calling him. Instead of getting him though, I got a woman who informed me that he was his fiance and when I explained to her that I was just an old friend calling, she had never heard of me.  Oh that put me in my place.  I quickly got off the line, unplugged my phone for a couple of days and tried to put it out of my mind. 

So the big question did I respond to his friend request?  Yes I did.  Mainly because he actually sent me a message although it was only to ask if I was indeed who he thought I was.  Now I have no idea how he stumbled across my profile as we have no "friends" in common and live completely separate lives six hours away from each other.  And secondly, it was 18 years ago and you would think I could be mature enough after all this time.  I said.... you would think.  ;)

Facebook can be so frustrating though.  As his "friend" I was at liberty to poke around his site a little and so far I have seen one kid in a photo but no photos of a possible "wife".  Oh well, I guess I will have to wait for his reply to find out how he's fared all these years.


Please enter my giveaway for a 3 Disc Set of Hawthorne. It ends Friday

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hawthorne TV Series 3 Disc Giveaway

Hawthorne Season One is being released today on DVD.  I am excited to tell you that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has offered to give one of my lucky readers his or her own 3 disc set.

Haven't seen Hawthorne yet?  This amazing new drama series stars Jada Pinkett-Smith who plays Christine Hawthorne a recently widowed nursing director and mother to a teenage daughter.  Christine Hawthorne tries to juggle her career and family while struggling to "hold the middle ground in a battle between bureaucratic administrators, heartless doctors, and apathetic colleagues who are caught up in a system that’s forgotten whom it’s there to serve."

More than just a medical drama, it shows the struggle we women face when trying to balance our careers and our family life. 

So to enter to win this TV Series, leave a comment sharing how you maintain your hectic life.

For an extra entry Tweet about this giveaway and let me know @Zeemaid

Giveaway ends Friday, June 18th 6 pm

For more information check out Hawthorne's Official DVD Site

Like to see an Episode clip, check out  Healing Time

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend Update, Garage Sale & Unexpected Sadness

We've been fairly busy this weekend what with getting ready to have the mother of all garage sales Saturday morning.  Untrue to form, we actually got ourselves up at 6 am and were fed and out the door by 6:30 to start setting up well before K's parents even arrived. 

It seems that we were incapable of caring for three kids while conducting a garage sale at the same time so they insisted on showing up to help.  Which when you consider the amount of mess they left behind, as apparently they needed to use every dish in the house to serve three kids breakfast and the fact that MIL insisted on having the blinds all the way up so the kids could stare and cry over every toy they saw being carried away and that E and J ended up with us anyway having a lemonade stand... you can see how useful their presence was.  Bitter much?  Not I.  Could I turn this into a Not Me Monday and claim that I never get offended by the fact that they fail to acknowlege we are grownups and are capable of handling ourselves?  Oh no, they don't insist on treating us like children.  They never once admonished my husband not to clear out the gutters on his own.  He did not have to wait for their presence and assistance before doing so.  Do I need to remind anyone that he is 37 years old? 

Okay, I got that bit of grumbling out of the way.  The main thing is that the garage sale was a success.  We made over $500.00 and most of the big stuff sold.  It was a little disheartening to bring a lot of stuff back into the house but then I figured that stuff was mostly junk anyways. That and the fact that we had no tables so a lot of the great things like all the great sheers and curtains got over looked.  So we'll donate it or recycle it.  One or the other. 

That was Saturday.  What I did not expect was that last night as we lay in bed, I suddenly recalled the pooh couch and asked Hubs if it had sold.  He said yes it had.  To my surprise, I started to cry and said I hadn't really wanted to sell it.  Which I hadn't.  It was something that hubs had added to the pile last minute and although I had said okay at the time I hadn't really had time to think about it as we were busy.  Then I started to recall all the other neat toys we had sold and started to cry as well.  Why? He asked.  Well those particular toys had a lot of great memories.  I have tons of photos of the kids curled up on that couch and the games they played with it and the turtle sand box... well that was given to E for her first birthday.  It's silly and unpractical.  They were outgrowing those toys anyways but still... for the first time I felt like a truly mean mom.  After all didn't my daughter stand up in her bedroom window and sob through half of the sale?  My husband, practical man that he is, pointed out that she got over her sadness pretty quick when we set her up selling lemonade. 

Still, I sort of wish I knew who had bought the pooh bear couch so I could ask for it back. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Wiggin Out

It's just so sad that we as moms find so little to amuse us in this job that we have to create our own amusement by torturing our children.  You might want to check out my mom or super spy post.



For the record, I can't remember who actually put the wig on her but still...
it was good for a chuckle at the time. ;)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Recipe Tuesday - Cheesy Italian Tortellini

This week's kid approved recipe comes from Tracy Stallard over at Allrecipes.com.  The great thing about this recipe, like most of the recipes I recommend, is that you can take it down to the bare bones and then adjust it as much or as little as you'd like to your own family's tastes.  Again, I was surprised that my children liked this.  Now when I serve it I actually get exclamations of  "Oh I love those noodles, mommy". 

First here are the ingredients and instructions as outlined in the recipe.  Direct Link to photos and recipe here.

Ingredients

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 (16 ounce) jar marinara sauce
1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (9 ounce) package refrigerated or fresh cheese tortellini
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions


1.Crumble the ground beef and Italian sausage into a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain.

2.Combine the ground meats, marinara sauce, mushrooms, and tomatoes in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on LOW heat for 7 to 8 hours.

3.Stir in the tortellini, and sprinkle the mozzarella and cheddar cheese over the top. Cover and cook for 15 more minutes on LOW, or until the tortellini is tender.
 
 
Now for Zeemaid's take on the recipe. 
 
 #1.  I generally use ground turkey and mild Italian ground turkey sausage if we have it on hand. If not, I just use the ground turkey.  My children are not keen on spicy dishes anyways.  So make it mild if you need to.
 
#2.  My children don't like mushrooms so I omit that.
 
#3.  This does not have to sit and stew all day.  I've actually started it mid afternoon and still had a wonderful dish by 4pm.  You can opt to just use marinara sauce if you like.  If you're not adding in a can of the undrained diced tomatoes.. then add a small can of water to the pot for extra liquid.  I've used different kinds of marinara sauce and even made my own four cheese sauce by adding different cheeses to it while it cooked.  Yummy. 
 
#4.  I always boil my tortellini first. The first time I made this I added it in as per the directions and we found that the tortellini was not cooked all the way through.  So I boil it and then add it to the crock pot for the 15 minutes.   It has never been overcooked.
 
 
This was even a great and economical dish to serve friends when they came over.  One package of family sized tortellini and one package of ground turkey served 7 people.  Excellent dish to serve with salad. They absolutely raved about it and asked for the recipe. 
 
Like this recipe there are many more great recipes like it over at AllRecipes.com

Spoiled Milk er Coffee

Okay so I got this lovely Mini Keurig Brewer and I've been enjoying lovely cups of coffee with it.  However, as I said I only received about 10 sample cups and there's two of us drinking coffee so it is a somewhat precious commodity around our house at the moment.  That is until my order comes in sometime next week.  So we're trying to be very sparing with the coffee so as to make what we have last. 

So I make myself a lovely cup of coffee yesterday afternoon and take it outside with me to supervise the children.  I get called to do something as invariably happens when they see me and I set my cup down on the porch, there being no table there at the moment.  About fifteen minutes later, I come back to.....


Believe it or not... I actually did contemplate for about five seconds whether or not I could still drink it. 

Sigh.  Why O would think it fun to bounce his very dirty golf ball in my cup I will never know.  It must be a 3 year old thing.  Sigh.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My New Prezzies - A Mini Review

I am so thrilled.  I finally ordered and now received the only two frivolous things that I purchased with the money from the sale of my store.


My Kitchenaid Mixer in lovely Empire Red 





and since I was smart enough to shop the deals on Amazon.ca, saving $100.00, I went ahead and bought
one of these also in a lovely shade of Empire Red. 


I went for the Mini Brewer because not only is it about $90.00 cheaper, it was in Red and I figured it would look nice having two red appliances on my counter.  The only real difference that I hadn't realized was that it takes 3 minutes to make a coffee instead of instant.  Yeah, yeah, the expensive one has other features but I didn't know about those anyway and as far as I can tell, for a simple coffee drinker, I won't miss them.

I had been shooting for a different colour Mixer originally for my mixer but obviously some colors are less popular as this red one was $100.00 cheaper than say Apple Green or Blue.  So it was with great excitement that I picked up my giant box from Amazon.  It was a good thing I brought hubby along, it really was a big box. 

Of course, this means I had to get baking to prove my mixer worthiness to my husband and so far I have made one batch of muffins, mixed ground meat in it for hambugers (worked great BTW), made K's dad's birthday cake for tomorrow and have yummy delicious smelling cookies baking in the oven as I type. 

Needless to say, my husband definitely feels that I mixer worthy. 

My only complaint about the mixer so far...  The knob for switching speeds is stiff and the first time I tried to switch it on, I ended up flipping it way too far and so flour poufed out and it actually dug into my finger a bit so I had a small dent and it actually hurt for quite awhile.  I was a little more careful pushing the lever after that. 

As for my Keurig Mini Brewer.  I am so far loving it.  Unfortunately, in the sample coffees included there was only one flavoured coffee (Hazelnut) and I am definitely a flavoured coffee fan.  Still, I went online and ordered some more.  Hello variety pack.  

I was surprised when I went to register my machine online; and this may be interesting for those of you purchasing a brewer or if you have already and haven't registered your machine with Keurig.com:  definitely do so.  If you do, you get a code so that when you order four boxes of coffee, two of them are free.  This works for Canadians as well.  Being from Canada, I had to pay a $9.95 charge to cover their administration costs etc for processing through customs, but other than that shipping was free and apparently there is no duty on coffee, hot chocolate or tea products.  In other words, if you're Canadian, buy your machine in Canada and then register on Keurig and get the deal. 

I felt it was worth paying the $9.95 charge because I was getting two boxes free and it only cost me $35.00 USD to buy 4 boxes.  Otherwise, there are a couple of other Canadian companies out there that will provide free shipping if you order four boxes, however, that would have costed me $55.00 plus taxes.  So I figured I got a great deal for the first time around.  If it turns out I was wrong and there are more costs than I had expected, I will let you know. 

So here I am brewing and baking like crazy.  Gotta love it!  Now all I need are some of those cool attachments you can get for the Kitchenaid like the pasta maker or the sausage stuffer. 


BTW:  This is Not a sponsored post.  Just two prezzies I granted myself from the sale of my business and I thought I'd share my truly honest opinion about them. ;)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Play Date Dilemma

Okay shouldn't playdates be simple?  Kids get together, they play, they go home. 

E has made a friend at the new school. Unfortunately, however, it's a boy.  A nine year old boy.  E is 6 (turning 7 soon).  We'll call him T.  Now, I wasn't sure about this from the start.  He's older and he's a boy.

Call me oldfashioned but I'd prefer her to make friends with the girls.  I don't mind if she has boy friends, I just would like her primary friend to be a girl.  Why?  I guess it boils down to girls play similar games, think about the same things, talk about the same things and when they get older I won't have to worry about anything inappropriate going on.  As both hubs and I experienced abuse in our childhood, we are completely paranoid with this. So when E started singing about how she loves T and that he's her boyfriend and T wants to take her out on a date etc.. that set off alarm bells in my head.  She's only 6 for crying out loud. 
Which is probably why the whole older boy thing bothers me. Still I allowed her to go to his birthday, despite the fact that she was the only girl invited.  Because it's not about the special needs factor, it's not.  He's a sweet boy, polite and while he's a little rambunctious most 9 year old boys are.  So hubs scoped out the house and the mother and told me he thought it was fine.  Okay then.  Since then E has been a little less gushy over T and I thought maybe it was waning a little.  Either that or she knew it was irking us when she'd proclaim her love for him so she stopped doing it. 

He'd been calling for a playdate. Finally, I worked out a time that was convenience and we invited him over for a playdate.  At first he said yes then his mom called back and said he changed his mind, that's what he does.  E was crushed.  She actually cried because he had changed his mind.  Then they called back about 15 minutes later, he wanted to come after all. 

So T comes and plays and the only real hitch is that every time he's a little annoyed with E, he tells her he never wants to see her again, he never wants to play with her again etc. and he seems more interested in playing with O than E at times.  Well, O is a boy.  E said that T quite often says things like that to her at school.   While we assured her he was either joking or not serious it still was hurting her feelings and spoiling the playdate for her so she didn't want to go and play with O and T.  Well, we aren't comfortable leaving a relatively strange boy play with our 3 year old so we encouraged her to go back and play. (See the paranoia I was talking about). 

Finally, I had to step in and explain to T that he was hurting her feelings and to stop saying those things etc.  He said sorry and from then on the rest of the visit went just fine. 

So it's two days later and there's an event at the school. We all go, it's crowded and we see T.  He says hi over and over and over again to us and we say hi while trying to still look at what we're doing.  He said hi to O and O shy in crowds drew back a little and you could tell T didn't understand why O wasn't all enthusiastic to see him etc.  I see T's mom in the hallway and I smile and say Hello while I'm trying to manoeuver my kids through the crowd to the gym.  While there, T climbs up in the bleachers behind us, we smile but we're focussed on our kids and watching E's class perform. 

A little lengthy I know, but I am going somewhere with this.  Later on when we got home, I received a phone call from T's mom wanting to know if I was "pissed" at them.  ?!?!  Pardon me?  Well, she said it seemed like I was a little pissed with them and wondered what T had done at our house, if he didn't behave etc.  I was flabbergasted.  I was very firm with her when I told her that not only had I said hi to T repeatedly, I had also smiled and said hello to her as well in the hallway while I was trying to herd my three children through a very crowded room.  That I was sorry if she thought I was being pissy but I was focussed more on keeping track of my kids.  She backtracked a little and then said well T kept asking her if E's mom was mad at him etc. and that she said hello to E and E didn't say hi back.  Give me a break.  She was in her class line-up walking into the gym, she was probably more focussed on trying to find her parents in the crowd than saying hi to T's mom.  Still, she does have a tendency to be off in her own little world. You think she's aware of someone but she really isn't and I have to prompt her to answer. 

We ended up chatting a little, making conversation. I assured her that T was fine when he was over.  Did mention to her about him saying not wanting to be friends frequently and she affirmed that he does do that.  That's it. 

I've only met this woman once when I dropped E off at the party.  It's not like we were in the habit of seeing each other. So I don't really know what she expected of me.  Did she expect that I would stop and have a little chat with her?  In my mind, really, I was trying to get the kids into the gym so we could find a seat to watch E perform.  That's it

After talking to K, he's completely changed his opinion of the situation and is now against letting E go over and play.  Partly because earlier in the day we had a message on our answering machine asking if we'd seen T.  Apparently he had gone to someone else's house after school and his mom couldn't find him.  He rides his bike to and from school and is fairly independant that way.  So he should be. He's nine.  E, however, is not and the worry is if she goes to his house, will his mother let them go and do anything they want?  E has a hard time remembering her address and phone number so if she got lost, she'd be at a real disadvantage. We're working on the whole memorization thing but it just takes E a little longer to get it.  So now I'm both paranoid and controlling. 

Anyways, this thing just totally bothers me that this woman would call me up like that.  On the one hand, it was good she cleared the air but on the other hand, it makes me want to draw back from the connection completely.  She may be being overly sensitive on behalf of her kid but still usually you give the benefit of the doubt and see what happens the next time you meet.   As my mother would tell me.. it's not always about you, Zee.

Am I totally crazy and oldfashioned in not wanting my daughter to really play with an older boy?  Was she completely off her rocker to put me on the spot like that?

I don't know.  I guess I'm going to have to let it fester a little and hope he doesn't call this week.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stupid Mommy Moments

This post could alternatively be titled..

Mom Tries to Teach Son a Lesson But Instead Learns One Herself

Let's set the scene... Mom (moi) has vacuum out, toys all over floor as usual.

Here's mom vacuuming merrily away, la la la la la... oh look mom sees red checked cowboy hankerchief lying on the floor... mom gets to close it sucks slightly into hose... mom thinks aha teaching moment for O, holds up the vacuum hose as she's about to say "look O, see what happens when you leave your toys on the floor, they get sucked up."  Of course she's not able to fully this pithy observation because as she lifts hose in the air, it promptly sucks the entire neckerchief into the tube. 

Bravo Mom!

20 stressfull minutes later after taking apart the hose, wrestling the metal piece off the plastic piece so I could jam a broom handle up the hose, to twisting and grasping and pinching my fingers together to try and pull it which is now jamed and stuck into the curved plastic part of the other end of the hose (the end the broom wouldn't go up) and finally I have one slightly crumpled neckerchief.  I then look at my dismantled vacuum and hope and pray I can put it back together again without having to leave it for hubs and thereby having to admit that I was a complete dope.  Somehow I managed to get the plastic piece over the metal tube again.  It actually took less time to get it on than it did to get it off.   I have to say my hands hurt quite a bit now from wrestling with the darn thing. 

Chalk one up the annals of Stupid Mom Things I've Done and thank God the kids had no clue what was really going on so they aren't likely to tattle on me. ;)

Wordless Wednesday - Taking a Potty Break


Even ballerinas have to go potty.  Think she's having a tough time going
or just mad at mommy for taking her photo?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Very Short Movie Review from Date Night

So clever those of you who figured out we wouldn't go see Shrek. While I am a fan of the series, it is simply not a great enough film for the very rare date night.  Other movies like Ironman 2 and Robin Hood need to be seen on the big screen.

So we went to.... drum roll please

Ironman 2

I wouldn't have minded going to see Robin Hood as I have always been a fan of the whole story and anything medieval is pretty cool.  However, I was disappointed to find that Russell Crowe played Robin Hood, not a fan of Russell. Anyways, I had been wanting to see Ironman 2 for a while now and it is definitely a movie to see on the big screen.

The Verdict?  All in all an entertaining film.  Lots of action, lots of drama.  I have become more and more of a Robert Downey jr. fan these days.  I just wish there was a little more romance between him and Pepper, that he was less of a smoozy womanizer and I have to admit the action part in the end did have me getting to the point like.... c'mon let's get it over with already.  I can only watch so many droids get smashed, if you know what I mean.  Mind you, that could be because my butt was going numb.  The seats were less than comfy in the theatre.  The theatre film quality was so poor that we constantly saw lines through the film.  Hubby says that must be the theatre lens.  We finally move to a city that actually has it's own theatre and we don't have to drive 30 minutes to get to it and we're stuck with a crappy one that hasn't been updated in over 20 years.  Sigh. 

And there was one part in the film that was sort of confusing like I had missed something from the first film. Now it's been awhile since I saw the first Ironman but I know I've watched it twice.  Can anyone tell me if there is a reference to the "Shield" in the first one? 

Later at home, I was reflecting on how it would have been nice to have been brought a cup of tea in the last half hour of the film and thought.... I really am a homebody. *L*   I am starting to see the advantages of building my own home theatre. 

I DON'T WANNA BE RESPONSIBLE!

I hold the threads in the family. 

And by that I mean that I am the one who has to keep track of the birthdays, plan playdates, meals and family outings.  I am the one who sorts and organizes all the laundry, keeping a running list of what each child is going to need in my head, the mender of and fixer of everything from broken toys, bruised knees and torn jeans.  I am the one who is supposed to remember phone numbers and somehow know exactly where E sat her stuffed puppy down. 

Can I tell you something?  I don't like it.  I don't want to be responsible for everything. 

Is it stupid crazy that I can't stand it when my husband asks me to tell him our friend's phone number EVERY time he calls them.  The # is on the fridge.  He's too lazy to look.  No matter what it is that I am doing, I have to stop and rattle off the numbers for him.  It drives me crazy.

I don't want to be responsible for planning every meal.  I'm out of ideas people.  I'm living in a veritable cuisine dry land.  I try and sit back and make it so he has to come up with lunch on the weekend but guess what? He doesn't bite. HAH.  He hems and haws and looks in the freezer, the cupboards, the fridge and then gives up.  Enter mom who breezes in, whips up a bunch of sandwiches, cucumbers, carrots and grapes and voila the kids are fed. 

As for birthdays, I refuse to be responsible for his family.  Yes, I might nag him to buy a card and make the obligatory phone call but if he doesn't do it, I don't care.  It's his family.  Although, I know this ticks off his mom because she sees it as my responsibility. 

I don't want to be the hunter of toys.  If they'd put it back where it was supposed to go well... you get what I'm saying.  What's even worse is when they ask you where something is and I honestly answer that I don't know (I'm usually in the middle of cooking supper too) they freak on me.  Like I took their toy and hid it.  It DRIVES. ME. CRAZY.

And it occurred to me today, while I was cleaning the toilets that perhaps my discontent, if you will, stems from the fact that I'd like to be taken care of too.  I'd like someone to plan the meals for me, remind me to take my pills and fuss over me... just a little.  Then it occured to me that perhaps this was due to the fact that I was the baby of my family and K was the baby of his family and here we are two babies, wanting to be taken care of...only by default, I got stuck with having to take care of him because I am the woman.

Maybe there is something to this whole birth order thing.  What do you think?

Don't get me wrong.  I love being a mother and love my children very much.  I just wish the responsibility was shared more. 

ALSO, something else I need some help with figuring out.

When we first moved, my hours were cut back to two days a week and since May 1st, I've been a fulltime SAHM.  Well it seems like since we've moved, 95% of the responsibility for caring for the home, sorting and organizing etc, has fallen on me.  He even stopped making the bed until I pointed it out to him and requested that he do this one thing for me.  He's gotten better.  But really, he used to help with laundry and dishes all the time. Now it seems like all that stuff just falls on my shoulder.  He gets up from the table, leaves the dishes on the table and goes and plays with the kids.  When he comes home, he greets me and then goes and sits down.  Some times, he may even ask if I need a hand but it usually comes at the point when I'm almost done making supper.  He does help serve out the food and he does vacuum.  In fact, it seems like the only thing he is interested in doing is vacuuming.  Occasionally, he will put laundry in but it almost never makes it to the dryer never mind folded and put away.  He leaves his mail and doodads all over the place and I have to figure out what to do with it all on top of everything else. 

So my question is... do you think this is because I am no longer working outside the home and somehow even subconsciously that 's what he expects?  Really, if I told him right now that he doesn't help as much around the house he'd be floored.  When I talked to him about the bed making thing, he was very defensive and told me he made the bed all time when in reality he had made it twice since we moved. 

Am I being unreasonable to expect him to do more when, in fact, he is the one going out to work and I'm home all day with the kids?  Part of me feels like I should approach this just as I would any job but the other part of me feels that there has to be more to life than cleaning. 

If you are a fulltime SAHM, I'd love to know what your thoughts are.