Project panda bread

Last weekend was filled with friends on Friday night and a friend's wedding on Saturday, which involved a panicked bride with a ripped dress and some emergency, on the spot sewing up. This weekend, however, I plan on kicking back and taking it easy. Other than cooking up a batch of waffles (my newest obsession) I also plan on trying out this panda bread. Has anyone seen this before? I saw it over on Perfect Pandas blog via Ohdeedoh yesterday and my heart skipped a beat. I had just watched Kung Fu Panda over the weekend and was already kind of in panda mode. How cute is this? Who wouldn't want a sandwich made out of slices of bread with panda faces? Although I don't have a bread machine I will try this in my Kitchen Aid mixer and report back next week.

Mommy Dearest

I was at a small gathering of ladies the other night, and we had this most intriguing conversation about 13-year olds. One of them was having a birthday this weekend, and her mum was anxious to get home and start baking the cake for the 3-tiered birthday cake requested by the birthday girl. The room was still with awe for this truly great act of love. I was even more shocked and blurted out, "Didn't she throw a shoe to your head recently?" She corrected me, and said it was a soccer cleat. I suggested she save herself a tier, but she just chuckled and asked me if she should hold that over her daughter's head forever, and I remembered how lucky I am to have friends who are fabulous mothers and who are able to role model better behaviour and attitudes than my own. In order to survive the teenage years, I think I will have to remember this well. And the youngest has been watching Annie again and singing "The sun'll come up tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun.", and they're all right. Tomorrow is a new day, and the soccer cleat was SO yesterday! Therefore, bake your cakes today, and smile. I think. : )


Summer Sox

My Summer Sox have been finished for a few weeks. They took about a month to lazily knit up.
I think they're quite lovely in appearance and feel. The pattern was easily memorized after one repeat. You gots to love Cookie A.
Pattern: Summer Sox by Cookie A. (free from the Classic Elite website)
Yarn: Regia Silk, 1.5 balls
Picture me taking a big sweeping bow.

Heat Rash

We're back from the beach, and while the scenery was pretty and the littlest had a blast jumping waves and building sandcastles, home is where my heart is. I've spent a good part of the day catching up on my blog reading and emails, and we hung out a little at the library, and I found an Adrian Mole book that I've never read. This is enough to make me want to bury myself in bed and read for two days straight. Speaking of beach reading, I polished off Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens. This book will force you to miss meals and stay up painfully late. I highly recommend you reserve a copy at the nearest library now. I know for a fact that the LPL has double-digit copies on their bookshelves at this very minute. Go. Now.


Bananas for bananas

As a child my dad used to make us all kinds of treats and snacks. He really liked making popsicles for some reason and would invent lots of whacky flavours (red bean and coconut anyone?). We always thought that they were really tasty and my sisters and I would spend the summers running the plastic popsicle molds under warm tap water to free them and see what he had made for us. One of my favourites to eat were frozen banana pops. My dad would cut a banana in half, stick a wooden popsicle stick into one end and flatten the banana with a heavy cutting board. This made the bananas flatter and easier to eat when they hardened after freezing. I make these now for myself and enjoy a drizzle of chocolate on them (hooray for Magic Shell!) and if I'm feeling really fancy I'll dip them in nuts or pretty coloured jimmies. But frozen bananas will always remind me of my childhood and of my dad's crazy frozen treats.

Photo above from the Heart and Stroke Foundation with a recipe for chocolate covered frozen bananas.

The Visitor

We have someone staying with us for about a week.
He's quiet, stays where you tell him to, will not touch anything unless told that he can and loves a good belly rub. I'll miss him when he goes back to our neighbours, who are on vacation but I must admit, pets are a lot of work, even this guy who's pretty laid back and probably the most well behaved little dog I've ever met. Mr. T and I feel like we have a small child around who is self sufficient most of the time but still follows you around the house, smells slightly and whines if he can't sleep in your bedroom. But who can resist this sweet face?

Cobbler Gobblin'

This here's the bestest cobbler recipe I've cobbled together. And it's ridiculously quick and requires little in terms of ingredients. So far I've topped it with slimey strawberries, freezer-burnt rhubarb, bland blueberries, over-ripe raspberries, sour peaches, bruised apples, and questionable blackberries, and EVERY single time, my dessert-eaters request a second serving. Do you dare to try it?
Here's what you need:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix it all up real good. Pour into a greased 9" round cake pan. Liberally sprinkle on your garbage fruit (2 cups of fresh, frozen or canned), and bake at 35oF for 50 minutes until golden around edges. Enjoy. Sit back and feel smug that you've managed to save that old fuzzy peach. It feels pretty magical, doesn't it?


Pictoral Evidence

This summer is a first in the sense that the girls are left to their own devices about twice a week. Let me start out with the oldest has taken the babysitting course nearly two years ago, and she is nearly 14 (gasp!!), and J is home, but asleep, since he gets home at 8 a.m. from a ten and a half hour shift. So should anything get out of hand, there is an adult close by to assist if need be. I can also be home in ten minutes. This childminding project can only work with a detailed outline of their entire day with plenty of activities and plans to avoid the two of them sitting comatose in front of screens. I have managed to control this by doing the following:
  • making theme days according to their interests (e.g. ninjas)
  • insisting they capture outdoor activity with a camera (as evidenced above)
  • interrogating them separately to confirm their stories (B never lies)
  • allowing time for screens with controls (online research and one predetermined movie - both in relation to theme)
  • leaving their favourite easy to prepare food (pizza pockets, mac & cheese)
  • writing down the obvious like brushing teeth and getting dressed (these daily to-dos need reminding when I'm around, so I fear the worst in my absence)
  • borrowing games and books and toys from local libraries (we're lucky to be members of a local toy library in addition to our city's public library)
  • giving some flexibility with clear, minimum expectations (these girls like chilling out a lot, so I need to respect that with sufficient quiet time, so I have suggested lots of quiet activities that can be done individually mixed with cooperative activities that will engage both of them)
  • throwing in an educational worksheet or two (more for the Bee, and I pick them to ensure success to increase her self-confidence, but challenging enought that she doesn't get frustrated)
  • keeping it light and fun (the list usually has a silly to-do that is sure to send them into a fit of giggles like 'brew a strong pot of coffee' 'cause mums should really know that 'little kids don't drink coffee', and this is a good place to use the word 'duty')
  • reinforcing verbally to the littlest that her big sister is not the mean one who says she can't watch tv outside of the designated video when in fact it is the mean mom who loves her to pieces, but doesn't want to see her little brain turn to mush

Week 2 is wrapping up nicely. The girls are surprisingly happy, and we have lots to catch up on when I get home. This is the opposite of when I get home during the school year. I never get more than, "School was fine." And even though I am sure there are some kerfuffles, those two girls have managed to work out everything on their own. El is learning how to compromise/negotiate with a 6-year old which is understandably quite a feat, and she is taking pride in checking off the list each day. The Bee is having lots of fun, and I'm going to have to watch that those two don't go being in cahoots 'cause I'm starting to see little signs that they're bonding and may have each other's back. But the biggest thing I've noticed is that after we clear off the dinner table, no one heads straight to the nearest screen be it the tv or computer. We've been baking, going to the library to play the summer reading game and getting the next clue, playing Traffic Jam Jr. quite competitively, and making more plans!

I'm also not so naive to think this will last all summer. After all, it's only been two weeks, but I can still soak it in for all its worth, right? : )


Short Stop

I finally found a handknit that the littlest will actually wear. I mean ALL THE TIME. And the funny thing is, I don't absolutely love it. It's just a mindless garter stitch triangle in which I started out with three stitches and increased one stitch at the end of every row until it was wide enough to fit around her head, and it's cotton, so it's super stretchy. She loves that its really comfortable and soft around her ears. AND she doesn't have to wear barrettes. I swear this kid packs her knapsack full of barrettes and buries them at the schoolyard, so I will NEVER find them. I need to look up a place that sells them wholesale.

The silly goose stole my sunglasses.

After the baseball game, the kids got to go down on the field and run around the bases while we waited for the fireworks. I had forgotten how much I loved baseball games. My sister and I practically grew up on baseball fields. My dad played on several teams over the years and sometimes simultaneously. My mum was the most excellent scorekeeper, and there was no question that she would tally up the runs at every single game. I swear we were at a baseball field AT LEAST every other night. That's a lot of scorekeeping. My sister and I also played little league every year to my embarassment. I am not a good runner, a good hitter, a good thrower, nor a good catcher. I would be positioned in the far outfield every game, and I would hope and pray something fierce that the ball wouldn't be hit in my direction. My lack of skill was not from lack of practicing 'cause we were always throwing the ball around in the yard and at the park. Thank goodness I never played in a competitive league. They would have thrown me out on my butt. However, I am a great rooter of home teams, and I can cheer with the best of them. And with that I'm declaring this our new Canada Day tradition - baseball games and fireworks!

On Patriotism

It's always a strange feeling every July 4th when nearly everyone in the city retreats to their cottages. I remember this happening last year when we decided to go to Chicago. The streets were eerily empty and that's what it's like in Minneapolis today. Mr. T and I are staying home this year since we recently returned from our honeymoon. It's been a really nice day and we've just settled into our sun room with the windows wide open and his and hers laptops. It's only 7:30 and I can already hear a few fireworks going off.

Our neighbours have a very sweet little girl who turns two today. They asked me to make her a birthday cake with red, white and blue flowers. It always surprises me just how patriotic Americans are. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just think that as Canadians we aren't used to seeing the flag on everything from front yards to t-shirts to tattoos. Canadians are definitely not unpatriotic, just much more laid back and not as serious about it. Anyway, I made the cake with red,white and blue flowers and added fondant figurines of the little girl and her dog.She's always trying to hug the dog and the poor dog, who is about thirteen years old, is always trying to get away from her grasp. At least they're getting along on top of the birthday cake!