Fun Friday

Last weekend we managed to get tickets at the last minute for a great play.  Fred Penner was in town with his premiere of “The Cat Came Back” play.

Photo via Vertigo Theatre

If you grew up in Canada you likely know “the cat came back” song and NFB film.  If not check it out here.  I grew up in Winnipeg and so have a fond place in my heart for Fred.  I have all the old tapes that I play for the kids and was sure to buy all my favorites off iTunes so they can enjoy them as much as me.  So when I saw that he had a play here in Calgary I jumped at the chance.  I am not sure who was more excited.  Me or the kids.  Either way they were looking forward to it.  It was listed as age 4 and up but since my 3 year old knows the song and likes cats it was a good choice to take him along.

The play itself was held at Vertigo Y stage which I had never been to – it was a nice set up since the kids could see in front of them without adults blocking their view.  The play was all about Mr. Johnston from the song who blames Fred for making the cat come back after he keeps singing “that” song.  There’s lots of music/singing in the play and a storyline that works nicely with both the song and the NFB film but adds more to it.  At 50 minutes, it was the perfect amount of time for the kids to watch and as usual with Fred Penner he had them all signing along (adults too).  The best part of the play was actually after.  They had cookies and juice for the kids and Fred came out and mingled with people.  Not sure again if the kids understood the awesomeness of such a celebrity making time to talk to them all, autograph memorabilia and have pictures taken but I sure enjoyed the moment!  As a Winnipeg transplant I was ecstatic to see that Fred had made his way out West and that the kids had a chance to see him and enjoy the same magic I enjoyed as a kid.  So Fred if you ever want to make another trip out to Calgary for performances we will for sure be there!!

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What’s up Wednesday

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I got a new cookbook for Christmas and am loving it!  Well actually there’s two that I got and love.

The first is a Canadian Living cookbook.

Photo via CBC Store

I find that instead of googling epicurious or all recipes dot com I turn to Canadian Living.  The reason is that most of the recipes are with Canadian ingredients or at least things I can find in Canada and secondly because I really do trust the Canadian Living approval rating of the recipes – I have yet to find one I didn’t enjoy.  I picked this one up at Costco but you can buy it through the CBC store as well or catch episodes on TV or browse some of the recipes online.  The salmon salad is actually one of the kids favourites!

Second, I got this Thomas Keller one.

Photo via Amazon.ca

I love this one!  It has what I would classify as gourmet meals but that are reasonably easy to make.  My favourite recipe so far is the lentil sweet potato soup that the kids can’t get enough of.  I also have to admit to loving the look of this book – it’s coffee table material (although mine is splashed with food that it remains in the kitchen).

Library Trip Tuesday

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I’ve been good about getting the kids to the library lately and we’ve found some great books.  We head over to the Signal Hill Library and I love the new renos – the kids section is great with little seating areas which my son always settles into and piles up the books to read.  I let the kids do all the picking, the only thing I do is glance through them quickly to be sure it’s not a book they won’t sit and listen to (If there’s more than 3 paragraphs on a page it doesn’t make the cut at their age).

This week we found some great finds:

1. When Chico went fishing by Robin Tzannesfind it here

Photo via Google Books

This is a great book!  We have the Winnie Witch series and the kids love them – they are humorous and have beautiful illustrations.  This book is about a little boy who goes fishing and most of the story is in the drawings.  It’s also a super funny story that left the kids laughing.

2. Dragon Stew by Steve Smallmanfind it here

Photo via Google Books

Another hilarious story!  This is a great rhyming book – the kids love guessing the next words in the lines and the pictures are colourful.  The story is funny and really great for boys (think potty humor).

3. Ice by Arthur Geisertfind it here

My son always finds the best books.  I am not sure how he does it since he simply goes through the shelf and randomly picks them out.  This is one he insisted we take home.  There are no words in this book but simply has a story all in pictures of a little island of pigs and an adventure they take.  This is great if you want to have the kids tell the story.

4. Tiger who came to tea by Judith Kerrfind it here

Front cover image

This is an awesome book!  I actually picked this one out since I remembered it as a child.  It’s a silly story which the kids love but an even better story for the parents.  Trust me and then use this excuse with the husband when he gets home and you’ve had a crazy day with the kids!

5. Slobcat by Paul Geraghty

This is one of those that my son picked out and wouldn’t let me leave the library without!  It is the tiniest book and I have to admit to be worried about losing it.  It is seriously funny though.  It’s a about a cat named slobcat since the family thinks he’s so lazy but really he’s so tired from his adventures.  It’s great for kids with pets who wonder what they do all day while they are at school.

So there you have it.  Those are the ones we enjoyed the most this visit (we pick 10 when we go).  If you have a chance to pick up copies of them they get a 2 thumbs up from my kids!

It’s a new year…

…and I am behind at blogging again!  I am happy to report it’s mainly due to being so busy with the family.

What have we been up to?  Well we visited Winnipeg over the holidays and had a great time with the kids and grandparents.  Since we’ve been back we’ve been busy getting back into the grove with lessons and all.  K is back at art class (her request).  I wasn’t going to do it again this term feeling like i might be overwhelming her but she’s loving classes and really looked forward to returning to art.  She also got into skating and we’ve been amazed at her progress.  3 classes and she’s able to skate!  She’s been too scared of everything lately (I think the idea of falling freaks her out) and so we were quite shocked seeing her take to this!  We just may have found a sport for her.  The kids both start swimming next month.  It should be interesting since W has only been going to the potty for the past 3 months.  It’s his first class on his own as well which should be an experience.

We’ve been out practicing the skating on the weekends and had the kids try out their skis on the front lawn a couple weeks ago.  W actually did pretty well with it so there’s hope we can do x-country ski trips in the future!  2 weeks later and K had her bike out practicing – the weather has been incredible with yesterday hitting 12 degrees!  Yes 12 degrees and that’s only a short time after a massive snow dump!  We headed out to K-country today and enjoyed a skate and sledding at the village.  We tried a short hike but with a cougar warning on the trail the day before and W screaming most the way we decided against it and turned around (although I am sure any cougar would have taken off after hearing him!).  We’ve come to the conclusion that he needs to be fed to keep him happy.  Belly full=Happy W.

So now that the craziness of the holidays is over I am back to reading and hoping to soon get into the some sewing projects.  I got 3 books for Christmas and also got into e-reading finally.  I have 4 books down since the holidays which makes me feel like I actually have some time to me!  One of the books I got was the Happiness Project.  I’ve decided to read this month by month as the book is written.  It gives me about a month to mull over each chapter and decide how I can apply it or whether I think I need to.  So far I am enjoying it.  I have cleaned out closets, started to tackle the basement office and started making lists of my to dos and wish to dos.

Hope you’re all enjoying the new year!

Homemade gifts

I usually try to get some homemade baking done over the holidays for gifts and last minute items to take along to parties.  This year I’ve tried out a few things so far:

1) Creamy Double Decker Fudge from Bits of Everything – this looked so easy and it actually was!  It tastes good and the kids liked it.  I also like that it uses reese peanut butter chips so I don’t find it too peanutty (although obviously it still is!)

2) Fig & Balsamic Jam from Bitchin’ Camero – I LOVE this recipe!  I made it last year and it’s absolutely fabulous on sandwiches.  It’s also so easy to make.  Last year I processed them so people could keep them longer but since everyone ate it right away I decided to just make it and throw it in the fridge this year.

3) Spicy Cookies from Deanna’s Daughter – I had these at her place and they were so good I HAD to try them.  I’ll be trying a second batch though since I don’t think I added enough pepper and cayenne – there just wasn’t any spice to them.  The kids loved them though so still worth making!

4) Marshmallow Snowballs – my MIL makes these every year and are my husband’s favorite Christmas treat.  They are time consuming but definitely a favorite!  My MIL makes them with large marshmallows and then once set cuts them in half since they end up very large.  This year I also tried it with mini marshmallows.  I really like the bite size version but it sure does take more time!!  The kids helped em make this and though it was messy we all had a lot of fun.  Here’s the recipe which can also be found here:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 1/2 cups flaked coconut
  • 32 large marshmallows (I also used mini marshmallows)

In a saucepan, combine the butter, milk, cocoa and vanilla. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat; stir in cracker crumbs and 1-1/2 cups coconut. Let stand until cool enough to handle.This part is so important.  I was impatient last year and tried while it was still warm – it was a mess and they never set!

Using moistened hands, wrap about 1 tablespoon of mixture around each marshmallow (dip hands in water often to prevent sticking). Roll in remaining coconut; place on wax covered baking sheet. Cover and freeze until firm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. May be frozen for up to 2 months.

Monday Moments – Growing

Joining in Capital Mom’s Monday Moments.

It has happened in what really does seem like a blink of the eye.  My babies are gone and they are growing.  This past year my 4 year old has gone through the biggest growth spurt – everything we pulled out that was miles too big last year is too small.  Her shoes size jumped from 8 to 11 which I still can’t figure out how.  Her ski pants are riding up her shins and she suddenly doesn’t seem so short.  My son went through the same thing only 6 months ago.  He caught up to all his friends in height and can now sit at the big boy table without a booster.  How did this happen so fast??

We measure the kids every 6 months or so on their charts.  They love watching how they are getting taller by the day.  And every time we tell them of how their dog also grew like them.  Only he is now all grown up.  The first day we brought him home he sat on our tile floor and we noted that he was one tile long.  He was 12 inches long.  He now is a full grown retriever.  On the small side mine you but still well over 4 tiles long now.  The kids are amazed when they try to imagine that.  They have only known him as 4 tiles long.  They are in awe and hardly believe me.

All I can think is that I can hardly believe the same of them!

A break from the holidays

Well ok not quite a break but rather our family way of kicking it all off!  K had her party this past weekend – seeing as her birthday is so close to Christmas we make an effort to have it all birthday and not mix the too.  This year she chose Hawaii as a theme.  She’s still asking if we can go back there and so was so excited to hold a Luau for her friends.

We found great items at the dollar store for decorating – yes even at this time of the year!  I had collected stuff all summer for the loot bags – for example fun straws and lunch bags with beach designs.  Keep an eye out all year long for the end of season sales since you never know when you can use it!  I also raided the Michael’s $1 bins for notepads with initials, pens etc.

K wanted quite the cake for her party but in the end I had her compromise and I went with the old fashioned doll cake which was so much easier to make and the kids enjoyed.

I made a red velvet cake for the dress and iced it with swiss buttercream icing.  I added graham crumbs to the board to look like sand.  Good ‘ol pinterest was full of ideas for the party!  I made vanilla cupcakes with turtles seen here.  And then chocolate cupcakes with icing and umbrellas and little candy sticks as seen here.  I tried out the sea aquarium from Martha Stewart here.  I would simply use jello next time.  The kids did not like the taste of this one and I can’t blame them!  It also proved to be very difficult to find gummy fish this time of year so we settled on real fruit sea animals.  Daddy had a go at the watermelon carving from here.  It turned out pretty cool!

We didn’t do a bunch of games – this was the first party where parents left their kids and it was so nice to just let them run and play with the toys in the house (since really that’s all the kids want to do anyhow isn’t it?).  We did have a quick limbo dance though where we got a broomstick and had the kids line up and take a try at doing the limbo under it.  They were all pretty good at it too!

Next up – the seven seas for a certain little boy!

Crazy Weather

Calgary is known for unpredictable weather.  I learned that pretty quickly when I arrived here.  But I still can’t get used to it!

We’ve had some pretty brutal weather this year – well what we’ve all thought to be brutal.  I took a look at environment canada’s weather numbers for the month of November.  We’ve actually had a fairly average to better than average month this year from what I can see.

Of course this is with the exception of the wind on the 27th (which isn’t in this data).  And really it doesn’t seem to matter if the average days are warmer or with less snow, we only remember the bad days.  Funny how our minds work that way.  I do think these people will remember it for a long time after all!

The Holiday season is upon us

Christmas in the post-War United States

Image via Wikipedia

Birthdays, Christmas, it all starts now!  I have been baking up a storm the past week.  For K’s birthday I have made a cake & cupcakes, I need to get on a snack to send to preschool to celebrate the occasion and I usually like to send something to the day home too.  I also have a cake for daddy to finish and then I NEED to get into the Christmas baking!

The shopping is done which is nice to have that off my list and the lights have gone up on the house so now it’s just time to plan what we are doing as a family together.  We love going to Heritage Park, the CP Holiday Train and getting a fresh tree from the junior forest rangers lot.  What about you?  What do you over the holiday season?

Home

I recently got back from a work trip to NY.  It was a whirlwind of a trip.  It started with never ending flights – I saved money on an air Canada flight through TO where I was to meet a colleague and travel with her to Newark.  I got there to find they had changed my connecting flight and not hers which was frustrating!  Luckily she ended up on a full flight and was able to take a voucher to get put on my flight and in the end we both were upgraded to first class on an earlier flight. That was about the only easy part of the trip!  I didn’t get to see much of NY.  Every morning our meetings started at 8 and we needed to take a 20-30 min subway trip there and then by the time the meeting ended at 6 it was dark and so it limited views of central park and most shopping opportunities 😦  The work meeting itself was great and I did manage to see the everyday life of New Yorkers as we traveled during the peak hours.  I sure missed home.  NY had it’s interesting places and it was pretty neat to see places we see over and over again in movies and TV shows.  It seemed rather surreal!  But I really do love the cleanliness of my city.  I guess sometimes you have to get away to appreciate it.  I love that we have garbage bins and that we don’t pile them high on the sidewalks.  I mean really.  My training in epidemiology just screams Public. Health. Issue!  I love that I see grass on lawns and I don’t live that far from downtown.  I wasn’t staying downtown but other than Central Park there was just concrete everywhere.  I also finally appreciate how spread out our city is.  I mean I am all for denser housing for the over social well-being of our city but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of claustrophobia with all the tall buildings and it wasn’t until taking off in the plane that I felt a relief and calmness.

I do hope to go back and visit for a longer visit and see everything fun there is to do in the city of New York but I sure am glad to be home.