Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Well, since the news hit Facebook this weekend I suppose I'm safe to post it on here: I'm pregnant! 13 weeks pregnant actually. And yes, I am blaming that fact on my lack of posts lately! It's incredibly hard not to write things like, "I was so sick today I could barely get off the couch," or, "I just found out that my stomach won't tolerate oranges when I'm pregnant!" So I decided I was safer writing just when I had something specific that I could talk about. So, blame the baby for the boring blog.
As it currently stands, I am showing, I'm getting healthier (slowly) and I felt the baby kick already (super early). It turns out that I don't really have an immune system when I'm pregnant (stupid hormones) so that at least explains my sinus colds and other illnesses over the past few weeks. And while this pregnancy has so far been much, much better than my first pregnancy as far as sickness goes, I'm still not at the point where I can eat whatever I want. Unless, of course, I happen to want theatre popcorn, apples and sour patch kids. Which I do, alot :) We managed to hide the fact that I could hardly eat from most of our family, which was hard considering we eat with them nearly every week.
I've also had to alter my Christmas baking plans in light of this happy little news. Considering that I can only stand for 15 minutes at a time before I get dizzy I haven't been able to have any baking marathon days. Instead, I've been substituting out some faster and easier recipes. For example, in place of truffles I made chocolate covered peanut butter balls (much less finnicky and I could do them over a span of 2 days). I made Matt some Earl Grey Tea Shortbread and today I'm making Hazelnut-White Chocolate chunk cookies that need time in the fridge before I cut them and bake them. That gives me a nice little chunk of time to sit down and stop my head from spinning before I continue. Tomorrow, I'm planning on making Sweet Pepper Jelly. I've got a fantastic recipe for it and I decided it would be faster and easier for me to give everyone a jar of jelly than a tray of cookies.
Wish me luck!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Not a sinus infection!

Good news! I don't have sinus infection. I think I was starting to get one but last night I spent a good chunk of time with a hot cloth over my face and today I feel mucho better. I also had a doctor's appointment for Gabe today with my GP so I got her to check me out while I was in there and she said I wouldn't need antibiotics (yay!) Gabe is doing great, too. He was adorable today and awesome at the clinic. He showed off all his best tricks and the doctor was pleased with how much he talks and how aware of everything he is. He didn't like the fact that I was getting checked out - which is funny. He was totally cool when the doctor's tools were poking his ears and nose, but not when they were poking me.
It's been a bit of a slow day otherwise however. I spent most of the morning getting Gabe and I ready to go to the doctors and then it was about 3:30 when we got home and Gabe's been napping since.
Good to know I'm not too sick though, eh?

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Stupid Sewing Machine...

Well, I spent an hour fighting with my sewing machine tonight with the end result of one finished hat. It's a small hat, too. About 3/4 of that time was spent by me fiddling with the bobbin trying to get it into the machine. I hate when you forget how to use a sewing machine... Oh, and it was my first time sewing with fleece which is a bit interesting. Anyway, I did manage to work out a half decent pattern for a hat. Just two square pieces, with cuts in the middle of the tops which I sewed into themselves. I did make a brim too. So, now that I have the bobbin successfully in the machine, next time I go to sew something it will take a lot less time.
I never mentioned before, but I decorated my tree this weekend. It's candy cane themed - or rather, it would be if I thought it would be safe to hang candy canes on the tree. As it stands, my dog would probably eat them all. So, while I would still like to hang some candy canes to fill spots on the tree, we're calling it done :) Matt got the lights up on the house and wired them all to a light switch in our front entry way. So last year every night we had to bundle up and go outside to unplug the lights. This year with a flick of a switch all of the lights turn off, including the two entry-way trees that we got.
Anyway, my husband and baby are home so I can finally get ready for bed - which I've felt ready for for a while now.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sick house

Well, Gabe's feeling better. He's done his antibiotics, his cough is gone, he hasn't had a fever in 5 days and except for throwing up on Saturday morning (too much crazy dutch food) he's mucho better. I, however, caught a cold. Saturday night I was sitting at home with Gabe and I got a fever. Sunday morning I woke up with a sore throat, a headache and a runny nose. By Sunday night I was feeling like death with another fever and even worse symptoms. I went to bed at 8, slept until 10 this morning and thanks to cold medicine I have hopes of being able to stay awake until 9 tonight! I was so sick last night I didn't even have energy to chew. I ended up eating a frozen yogurt pop and a SlimFast for dinner just from lack of energy. Anyway, a cold sucks, but I'd rather be sick than have Gabe sick anymore. Plus, being unable to stand means that I have a good excuse to sit on the couch and make my Christmas presents! Today I finished making my snowball decorations that a couple of family members are getting and they actually look quite good. I also managed to wrap Matt's presents and tonight I'm going to prep my fabric for sewing some gifts. I still don't have any patterns so I'm going to make my own :) Wish me luck!
My sister is way ahead of me on the Christmas baking score. Last night she made up a vat of Nuts and Bolts with the family recipe and she also made up a bunch of peanut butter balls - another family recipe. What she did that wasn't part of the family tradition was all the different toppings she put on the peanut butter balls. Our family usually did plain ones, coconut ones, chocolate ones or chocolate and coconut ones. She was creative enough to do candy cane pieces, nuts, white chocolate and a few other toppings. What a clever way to add some variety! I think I'll make up some peanut butter balls this year too. They're so yummy and so fast to make! Here's the Recipe:
Peanut Butter Balls:
2 c. smooth Peanut Butter
1 lbs Margarine
2 lbs Icing Sugar

Mix all together. Form little balls (ranging from 1 tsp - 1 tbsp in size, whichever you prefer) If using crushed, dry toppings (i.e. coconut, nuts, candy) roll balls in topping right away. Put balls on wax paper in covered container and freeze. If coating in chocolate, wait until balls are partially frozen before coating. Store in freezer!

I'm going to go drink another meal :) Ta Ta!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Once Upon a Christmas

Well, last I wrote you may recall that Gabriel was sick with an upset stomach. That complaint is long gone... and replaced by another. On Saturday night after spending a delightful day in Calgary, we just got in the house when Cash ran up and stole Gabe's toy out of his hand and Gabe started crying - although it wasn't his normal cry. It was hoarse and weezy and followed by coughs. His temperature wasn't up but his cough got worse through the evening and when we put him to bed we were quite worried about him. He woke himself (and us) up every hour through the night with coughing fits and weezing so badly we were really worried for him. He spent the rest of the night laying between us in bed and at least he finally got some sleep, though the same could not be said for Matt and I. We suspected croup based on a couple of his coughs and he started getting a fever on Sunday afternoon so I slept on the floor of his room Sunday night and kept an eye on him to make sure he would be okay through the night. In general he had a better sleep, but his cough was by no means better. We took him to the doctor's on Monday and were relieved to see 4 of our 5 most trusted doctors working the walkin clinic so we were a little at ease about any medications they might prescribe. The doctor we saw prescribed an antibiotic for Gabe, said it looked like in mild infection in the throat and chest and not croup. So now, after another night on the floor of Gabe's room and him having been on antibiotics for the past 24 hours, I am pleased to say he is looking and sounding much better. His appetite is sure back and he's been playing hockey all afternoon. Next to football, hockey is his favorite sport. Watching the Grey Cup on Sunday Gabe started imitating the players to the point of throwing his arms in the air and yelling touchdown and pretending to snap the ball between his legs.
Unfortunately, this little episode of illness has slightly hindered our fond rememberance of the fun we had on Saturday. If you remember, we were headed to Calgary to visit Heritage Park for their Once Upon a Christmas events. With 50% off tickets being handed out everywhere you go and regular admission only being $7 it was definitely a deal. We got to the park by 12 and then walked up the hill to the old village where all the seasonal happenings were. First thing we noticed was a horsedrawn wagon going by filled with little kids. Then we saw the carolers, and the candy store and the bakery. Our first official stop was in to see the model train display however. It was a beautiful Christmas scene that took up the whole billiard hall. We spent a good chunk of time in there looking at each figurine and model house or shop. After the trains there was a bit of a question about where to go next but we finally decided on seeing the reindeer. Real reindeer! And you could go right up and pet them! They were adorable. And small - they were a very small species. After oohing and aahing over the reindeer we went for a hayride and were serenaded by carolers while we waited. The ride was fun and the driver was very fond of his job and the horses. Once we got off the ride we were quite cold so we went into the Wainwright Hotel for their brunch which we were lucky enough to get into without reservations! The brunch was fantastic and we all would have eaten more if we didn't have a huge dinner waiting for us. We needed to do a bit of shopping after lunch which took us to 4:00 by the time we were ready to go. We then retreated to our cousin's house for dinner and a bit of play time for the kids. While we did get home later than we had planned it was very fun. I only wish Gabe hadn't gotten sick!
This week I hope to get our tree and have it ready to decorate by Saturday, and I really need to crack down on making my Christmas presents! It's almost hard to decide where to start...

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Black Friday?

Here are some things that have been said around our house lately:
"No Gabe, you've already had enough raisins, now eat your cookie."
"You can have water when you drink your juice!"
"Sorry Gabe, we can't brush your teeth right now, you'll have to wait."
"Maybe you can have a bath later bud, but we can't have one right now."
Do I have a weird kid or what? He hates juice. Refuses to drink it. Since he's been sick this week we thought we'd try again and try to get some apple juice in him. No go. Won't touch the stuff. He loves raisins, yogurt, cheese, squash, bread and bananas but we're hard pressed to get him to settle for a cookie for a snack. One of his favorite activities is brushing his teeth and if that holds the #2 spot, having a bath is #1.
Gabriel is feeling better, although he's still not himself. I was wondering this morning how he was feeling until he spilled a few cheerios on the floor by accident and he start bawling. That basically answered my question. It's weird having him like this... he's normally such a happy-go-lucky baby, doesn't fuss, doesn't think too much of bumps and falls. Over the past 4 days, every time he stumbles in the least he screams like he broke something. If he drops a toy he has a panic attack. If the music stops playing between songs he starts hyperventilating... I can't wait until he's better :) Oh, and he's being exceptionally defiant lately. Usually you say, "oh, sorry Gabriel, but we don't play with that." and he's content to leave it. Now you try saying that and he tries his darndest to break it. On the upside, he's sleeping really, really well! But I'd rather have my normal, happy baby, than one that gave me lots of down time. I don't mind being busy with my baby when it's happy busy, but when he's sick I just feel so bad for him.
I'm planning on leaving my house today for the first time since Sunday. I must say, I'm quite excited. Being housebound is hard, and fortunately it happened while it was -30 (or -45) out, but still, 3 days is enough. This weekend however I'm sure I'll make up for all my isolation.
So, Happy Thanksgiving to all ye Americans (or Canadians down in the States) and major kudos to my cousin for surviving her first turkey making experience :) One thing I've never understood about American Thanksgiving however is Black Friday. Why? Why, why, why? I have been known to take part in the occassional Boxing Day sale, but I have never lined up outside of a store, nor gone at any time before 8 a.m. just because there are good prices. And I've got to be honest - unless it's 70% off or better, I'm not likely to give a hoot unless Matt and I had been planning on investing a load of money into that thing anyway. 50% off of something that's $1000 is still $500. That's a big purchase. If it were $300 I'd be able to justify it if, say, Matt and I had been wanting one for a long time, or if it were Matt's Christmas present. And sure you can find some of those really good sales on Black Friday, but most of these sales are $10 off purchases, 30% off, or get something for free. Granted, I'm not the most preferred style of shopper in the retail world. I buy things when I need them and when they are on sale. So, say that I need a pair of jeans. That's my cue to start looking for sales. I'll hold off for as long as a month looking for sale prices and if something really good comes up in that time then I'll buy it. But just because jeans are $20 at some place one weekend, if I don't need them, I won't buy them. Also, 30% off is nothing compared to the deals you can find on last years' electronics or refurbished things from smaller businesses. Computer Trends is awesome for cheap, cheap prices and great service. It's true, you won't get the same warranty necessarily as you would at Best Buy, but Computer Trends will stand behind their products and if it conked within a certain time, they'll just give you a new one - a luxury which you have to pay an extra 10 - 30% for at Best Buy. So, would you rather buy a 40" LCD TV from Best Buy for $600, or the older model for $300 at Computer Trends? The answer comes pretty quickly to me.
Well, that was today's rant :) I'm spent already from it. I think it's time for Gabe to have a nap, and me to have a bath.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Here are some pictures of my christmas presents and decor! Hope you enjoy!


So, a funny thing happened yesterday. I've been getting these rashes on my forearms for the past few weeks and I had no idea why. It happened again last night and I was showing it to Matt when I realized this was the same reaction that my upper arm used to get when I would go down waterparks in tire tubes... and then I realized I'm allergic to my pants. Awesome eh? I have one pair of jeans that fits me well and isn't ripped in the crotch and I'm allergic to them. I have a severe allergy to rubber and apparently the spandex that is woven into my jeans to give them their stretch is enough to make me react. Now, the funny thing is that it's not doing anything to my legs - just my arms from rubbing against the jeans. So I'm going to continue to wear them until my reaction gets worse.
I have something else to confess (other than my ridiculous allergy that makes me react to clothing): I'm really excited about the royal wedding. I've always been a bit pro-monarchy and I think Kate Middleton is a peach. I'm actually reading articles about the wedding date being set and dress concepts that designers have drawn for her (my money is on something with a modest dip, a dropped waist and more form fitting than not). I think the fact that she's a commoner (granted, a commoner from a rich family), and that William apparently gave her lots of time to see what she was getting herself into so that she could back out before he proposed, is great. I also think it's great the idea they had of inviting 100 commoners to their wedding. I wish I were british just so I'd have a shot at being one of the 100. Granted, I wouldn't have thing to wear... But on April 29th, 2011, don't bother making plans with me. I'll be watching the ceremony on TV.
My day yesterday got a bit better and was much more productive than I thought it would be. I actually got Gabe down for an early nap (he was sooooo grumpy) and while he was down I cleaned my living room completely, tidied the kitchen and rewarded myself by bringing up all my Christmas decorations and going through them. I'm providing my sister with decorations this year as well and since she has a day-home she's getting my silver and blue decorations (most of which are plastic or styrofoam) and I'm using my green, red and gold decorations (most of which are glass). Gabe woke up and was patient long enough to let me change out the rest of my normal seasonal decor (book case displays, table tops, etc). I made a happy little village display on our friend's old record player that we're keeping in our living room for him and a treescape with gold balls in a bookcase cubby. This weekend, if the weather is nice enough, we might steal some time to hang up our lights and hopefully the week after we can get our tree! I've got some beautiful things to hang on our tree this year.
I spent some time this afternoon finalizing my gift list for everyone. By doing so I've also finalized what crafts I'm making. The teacup candles and bath salts I've already done (well, I need a couple more batches of bath salts but seeing as those take all of two minutes to make...) and I've decided to make some cute styrofoam snowball decorations for some people (Roll the glued-covered styrofoam balls in fake snow with a bit of clear and silver glitter in it - cute!) I'm only knitting things for my niece and I've only got one done so I need to knit at least 3 more things for her and maybe sew a few. Then comes the food... I've settled on Candy Cane Marshmallows, truffles or chocolate bark (still not sure on that one), biscotti (most of which I already have made and frozen) and tea! I had almost abandoned my hope of making tea this year because I thought my mint plant had died and while yes, I would need to dry my mint leaves, there's a difference between drying and dying. Anyway, turns out my mint has come back with a vengeance. So this Friday I'm going to hop over to our local dutch store and buy some fresh licorice root and I'll chop up some of that with the dried mint leaves and make a nice licorice mint tea! The best part? My mint variety is Chocolate Mint. mmmmmm...
Now that the fun stuff is over it's time to get down to business. Have you ever heard of www.onematch.ca? Well, now you have. OneMatch is a donor matching program for people who need stem cell transplants. And lots of people need stem cell transplants. Lots of conditions such as leukemia and aplastic anemia, as well as immune disorders may require people to have stem cell transplants. And these transplants are usually their last option. My church recently hosted a Stem Cell donor recruiting session which was spearheaded by a local lady who lost her 27 year old son last April because he couldn't get the right stem cell transplant. While her son was undergoing treatment she met a lady from Calgary whose 7 year old son was suffering the same condition and had already been told that he needed a stem cell transplant since he was no longer responding to other treatments. 60 people turned out which is awesome, but chances that any of those 60 people are matches for her son are extremely low. Apparently, whereas siblings are usually preferred donors for many things, with stem cells family members usually only make up 30% of eligible matches. So what does it mean to be a donor? Well, for lots of people it won't mean anything more than that your name is on a list. Some people will get called to be actual donors. 80% of those people will simply go through a process similar to giving blood. 20% will be asked to donate bone marrow. If you are asked to donate marrow, the amount they take from you will have replenished with 3 - 6 weeks. And for the person who gets the transplant? Well, you would have just saved their life. Now, I'm very pro donating. I've signed my organ donor card, I give blood, I give money and time to things I care about. Lots of people don't take the time to think about giving some things like blood. I mean, it takes a whole hour sometimes to donate and recover. My goodness! I've known people who have had blood transfusions and would have died without them - my brother-in-law included. So while I'm pushing one thing I'm going to push another. I believe that people should give blood. I really do. Lots of people have religious reasons for not donating blood. Fine. But my religion says that Jesus shed his blood for my life. And not just a pint - all of it. My religion is pro blood-donation. Many people may think that since so many people already give that they don't need to. Well, when it comes to stem cells, you don't have that excuse. According to the OneMatch website, even international databases with millions of names on them, sometimes they can't find a perfect match for some people. So if you register and are asked to donate, you may very well be the only person in your whole country, if not the world, who can save that person's life.
Now, I'm done ranting almost, but please, please, at least go to www.OneMatch.ca and read up on it for yourself. If you do want to donate they'll send you a swab in the mail so you don't even have to go anywhere to register. I'm going to.
Right now.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sick baby

Oh goodness. Well, my cleaning and decorating plans for yesterday didn't go quite as well as I had hoped. Within half an hour of posting on here yesterday, I picked Gabe up on my lap because he was being quite cuddly and I was telling him how much I loved him and how adorable he is... and he threw up all down his front. The poor little guy was so shocked. He had no idea what had happened. I managed to get him down for an early nap (apparently puking takes alot out of you) and got myself ready in that time but didn't make any real progress on cleaning before he woke up. In the afternoon I gave him some soup and that seemed to go down well, but then he kept putting his head in his hands, rubbing his eye and his forehead and whimpering. I think he had a headache. At that point I whipped out the tylenol and phoned everyone who was expecting me to do something for them in the next two days and cancelled - it's funny how I'd be so hesitant to do that if it were myself throwing up but the instant it's my baby that's sick there's no hesitation. Anyway, Gabe got all of my attention for the rest of the day, Matt went to Auxano without me while I got Gabe to bed by 8 (two hours earlier than normal for him). After 8 I did manage to get the kitchen clean while rocking out to some Nat King Cole Christmas music, but I'm not really any closer to decorating than I was 24 hours ago. Oh, and I made my stocking stuffer list for Matt this year! Stockings are something my family always did every year and I've carried that tradition into my own small family now, with some changes. When my parents did our stockings you could be sure of getting socks, a toothbrush, deodorant, bobbypins, etc. All those necessary things that you only get excited about because my mom took the time to individually wrap them. Well, our stocking budget for eachother now is $50, which means I usually put in some of Matt's favorite candies and chocolates, a fun pocket knife/fishing tool/etc, scratch tickets (another old family tradition on my side) and some bigger things like a magazine subscription, a bottle of wine or some of those sampler bottles of brandy or something, CDs, DVDs, Gift cards and anything else fun that I find while I'm out shopping. My stocking list (Matt prefers I write him a list) has things like Second Cup's White Hot Chocolate mix, Black Currant Tea, a new scarf, Guylian seashell chocolates and, of course, scratch tickets.
Well, even though today doesn't look much more promising for getting closer to decorating (Gabe's been trying to climb up on me all morning) wish me luck! Hopefully I'll get at least some stuff done!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas is Coming


You know how I can tell? I'm listening to Christmas music right now! Granted, if I had my way that's all I would listen to from September on... but I digress.
This weekend was a bit of a flurry with lots of commitments, lots of phone calls and a load of cleaning, but amid all that we did manage to pull out some seasonal decor and find my favorite Christmas CD (Nat King Cole). So while I haven't really decorated for Christmas yet, (no lights up, no tree and 6 boxes of decorations untouched in the crawl space) we do have our candy cane made of bells hanging on our door, our wreath is up and I've rotated out the decor in the main bathroom from orchids to mini presents and red berries. I also have a vase in the living room that housed rocks and a stem of fake orchids which now holds some frosted pine cones (which I bought for $3.50 on Saturday. Seriously, who buys pine cones?)
I'm not allowed to decorate until the house is clean (my rule, not Matt's) so fortunately, given the weather forecast, I'll have lots of time to do that this week. Incidentally, how do you explain to a child under the age of 2 what -30 with a wind chill means? All morning Gabe has been bringing me his boots asking for me to put them on so that we can go out. Not in this weather however. I'd be happy to not leave the house for the next two or three days, or however long it takes to warm up. If I am staying housebound however, I may need to track down a couple more Christmas cd's - mainly the Carpenter's Christmas and Amy Grant. Thank goodness for iTunes, eh?
I am pleased to say that I am nearly done Christmas shopping for Gabe, I have one of my three presents for Matt and only have one other person to buy for and other than that I've spent all the money I plan to spend this Christmas. The rest of my presents shall be, as I have mentioned before, inspired and homemade. I am getting a bit tight on time however, so I'll need to really crack down on the knitting and baking to get it all done. Fortunately, I have a habit of power baking once I get started so I'll probably get all my Christmas baking done in two days. Oh, and one of Martha Stewart's articles last month was on finding one basic cookie dough and manipulating it into a dozen (or more) different varieties of cookie so I might give that a go this year. I'll make 3 or 4 batches of the dough, do one up with earl grey tea, one with chocolate and maybe some nuts, one with a cherry swirl through it, and ice the other ones. Wouldn't that be fast and fun? Still, there are some things I have to make just because I only do them at Christmas: Peanut Butter balls dipped in chocolate and coconut, Shortbread, some type of toffee or candy and I might have to break down and bake my traditional 9 dozen sugar cookies (I freeze them and they do for the rest of the year, or until summer at least - it depends if Matt finds where they are in the deep freeze).
Anyway, I slept in today and haven't been very productive this morning (short of the normal productivity of feeding and caring for an 18 month old) so I'd best get cleaning, because when I'm done, I get to decorate! Yay!

Mrs. Vander Leek

P.S. This has been on my heart alot lately - particularly yesterday - "I will sing of Your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy - Hallelujah"

Monday, November 15, 2010

OPM and Ribbon

Something bothers me from time to time. I don't really know how to make chinese food. I must admit that the complex layers of flavours in some of the western-chinese dishes are beyond me. I don't like using store bought sauces to cheat and I can't figure them out on my own so whenever I'm craving chinese food, I order in. The reason this bothers me so much is that Chinese is expensive to order in (or rather, good chinese is expensive) and I crave it alot. And, we don't have an OPM in town so some of their absolutely fantastic dishes are out of my reach (or rather, an hour and a half out of my reach). I've already raved on here about OPM and some of their best dishes in my opinion: the mongolian beef, their chicken lettuce wraps, their drunken chicken... So I resolved last night to suck it up and learn how to make such dishes. My method: look for similar recipes online. The mongolian beef is the one that I will be most particular about because it's such a distinct flavour, and while I'm sure OPM uses cocoa in their's, the only recipes I've found so far use brown sugar but no cocoa. So, I went looking by sight and googled Mongolian Beef and looked through all the image hits and found a picture that looked most similar to what I've eaten at OPM. The image was from a blog that posted a recipe for Mongolian Beef that I fully intend to make sometime this week. Then I looked for a good Chicken Lettuce Wrap recipe which needed to include oyster sauce (I could tell that much from tasting it). I found one on About.com that looks promising and while I know I'll tweak and play with the recipes until I get them perfect, I think I won't need to do too much!
This weekend was a bit interesting. Things didn't quite work out the way I had planned them but I still managed to get some shopping done for Christmas crafts that I will be making. Ribbon was 50% off this week at Michaels so I got a bunch of types and today I set out to make ribbon ornaments as seen on marthastewart.com. I love Martha and all, but sometimes she forgets that some of us are incompetent. What she explains as being one simple step took me 30 minutes to figure out. And that was for one ornament (which didn't even work out by the way). I'm hopeful, however, that another style will be more user friendly for me, but that one does involve hot glue guns, so knowing my luck I'll come away with scars.
Did I mention we're selling some of our guppies? We have way too many in our tank right now and just had 3 more males mature this week, all with the same coloring. They're beautiful, but now we have 7 mature males and that's way too hard on the females in the tank, so baby production might actually stall because the females will be too stressed. So the simple solution is to sell some! I thought asking $10 for 1 male and 3 females was fair and they can have their pick of fish to a point. Obviously there will be some males that we'd rather keep for their colors. Then, once our tank is cleared out, we might get one or two new females with colors we don't already have and see what new colors we can get! Such a fun game!
This weekend we're having a South African themed meal with the inlaws and some friends. I volunteered to make a dish but I've got to be honest - I have no idea what counts as South African cuisine. Wish me luck!
Anyway, I've got a hat to knit today, groceries to buy and ribbon to torture myself with.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sprinkler System

What an odd couple of days I've had! Yesterday was, of course, Rememberance Day and every year I attend the ceremonies in town. My mom met up with me at my house and then we went down together. Of course, having to get there uber early to make sure we got seats meant that we had to sit in the unheated arena for an hour until things started. Why unheated, you may ask. Well, it becomes pretty apparent why when the poor cadets down on stage start dropping like flies from heat exhaustion despite the fact that it's both November and cold inside. Well anyway, at the ceremony we learned that Gabe really enjoys bagpipes and he especially loves clapping. He was the most enthusiastic one there! When I got home from the ceremonies I started planning for my sister and her husband to come and stay at our house this weekend (and their baby, and their dog). Since my house is still recovering from the stint I spent in Calgary when my Grandpa passed away I knew I was going to have to do a lot of cleaning. And since I hadn't bought groceries in a week I knew I was going to have to stock up. My sister's request for dinner was to have something that she wouldn't normally eat at my parents' place - where they normally stay when they come to town. I was torn between stuffed pork chops, stuffed manicotti or oven roasted ribs. I figured I'd wait until I was at the grocery store to decide. In the afternoon I heard what I could have swore was running water but could not for the life of me find the source of it. None of the appliances were running water, the hot water tank wasn't making any funny noises and the faucet on the one side of our house wasn't running. I even called Matt about it and told him what I was hearing and he suggested that maybe it was the chimney flap being blown about and sounding funny. I decided to try and forget about it and had a nap in the afternoon. When I woke up I could still hear the noise. This time I looked out into the backyard to see if I could see any water pooling, but nothing. I had to get Gabe ready for dinner at my parents' so I pushed it out of my mind until Matt got home. Matt hopped out of his truck and was coming inside when he took a detour to the far side of our house... at which point he spun around, ran inside and ran downstairs as fast as he could! Turns out our sprinkler line broke. It had been pumping water into our dog run all afternoon and I never thought to check that side of the house. So, the water was about 6 inches deep there and our water bill will probably be sky high this month :) I decided to put off grocery shopping until today and last night while I was lying in bed I wrote up my to do list for today: a trip to Zellers, buying groceries and a whoooooole lot of cleaning.
This morning when I got up the first thing I did was check my messages since the phone rang while I was still in bed. There was a message from my sister letting me know that they weren't going to be able to come on Saturday night. :( I was really sad about that but noticed it was snowing outside and thought that instead of feeling the need to get all my cleaning done today that maybe I could go Christmas Shopping. I started off going to Zellers where I had a list of things from their flyer that I needed to get, including a Christmas present for Matt. Well, turns out that Zellers, the morning that their new flyer deals come into effect, is the least organized place in the world. One of the things I needed to get they only had one of and it was opened with parts missing. A couple other things I couldn't even get to because of all the boxes and carts around. I ended up not buying a thing and Gabe was getting really fussy so that put a halt on any other plans to shop. I then hit the grocery store where I needed lots of staples and especially milk, as Gabe informed me of every two minutes. He barely let me unload the van at home before he was screaming for milk. So now, it's not snowing any more, I don't have company coming, Matt's working all weekend and today seems to be a bit of a flop. I do however have high hopes for tomorrow. I just got my Michaels flyer today so I'll head there tomorrow to stock up on some things I need to make Christmas gifts. I haven't been to HomeSense in a long time so I'll hit up there too and I'm determined to get at least some Christmas shopping done tomorrow.
Maybe I'll spend the rest of the day decorating for Christmas. I know it's a tad early, but it would so make me happy!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Christmas and Catch Up

Do you ever have those days where you feel like a horrible mother? That is, if you are a mother to begin with? Friday was one of those days for me. My sister and her family were coming to town for the weekend and we were all going to have dinner at my parents' house and I had volunteered to cook up a turkey. First thing Friday morning I spent a chunk of time cleaning the turkey, making the stuffing, stuffing the bird, seasoning it and just getting it ready to be cooked. Gabe was tolerant for a little while, but not very long. He was stuck up in his playpen screaming at me for the last 15 minutes of my stuffing and seasoning. I felt bad for this neglect and spent the rest of the morning playing on my hands and knees and doing whatever I could to make him happy. I took him upstairs with me to our guestroom/office/greenhouse while I watered my plants, which he loves to be a part of. Our dog Cash followed us up there too. When I was done watering I told Gabe and Cash to start heading downstairs and I was walking with them until I remembered that I had left the door to my plant room open and Cash would just love to eat some of my orchids, I'm sure. I turned around to close the door and just as I shut it I looked back at Gabe. He was at the top of the stairs, backwards, squatting down to start crawling down the stairs, but when Cash, who was standing next to him, heard the door click he jumped around to see what was going on and knocked Gabe down the stairs. I ran down the hall as I watched Gabe bounce down two of the 7 stairs and land on the bottom. I slipped as I was going down the stairs and slid all the way down myself, however, I'm not a baby and I didn't do any flips in the air. Gabe was fine, just really, really scared and I can't tell you what relief I felt when I heard him cry at the bottom. I'm a worst-case scenario thinker on a good day, so how much more so when my baby falls down a flight of stairs?? Nothing was broken and he stopped crying fairly soon (I was another story) and he went down for his nap shortly after. At about this time I realized I was feeling a bit sore... I hadn't stopped to think about the damage that I might have done to myself. I had a hot bath while Gabe slept and then assessed the damage: a bruise the size of my palm on my butt. Serves me right if you ask me. When Gabe woke up he had a bruise on the front of this forehead and on the side of his head, but they were mostly carpet burns. He's a little iffy about stairs now and so am I to tell the truth.
Anyway, we're all alright now. I know it's been some time since I posted anything on here. We had a loss in the family - my Grandpa passed away - and so most of last week I was actually in Calgary with the family. We're all doing well though and it was good seeing all of the family together too.
On a happy note, Gabe just successfully used his training potty for the first time today! He's been letting us know in advance when he's going to go for quite some time now but he was always really confused about what to do on the potty. Now that he's actually gone in it I think things will move along a bit quicker now.
When I was in Calgary visiting with family one of my dad's cousins informed us that they were going to be taking part in the Heritage Park Once Upon a Christmas festivities. For those of you who are unaware, Heritage Park is a historically preserved tourist attraction in the middle of Calgary and around Christmas time every year they have fantastic attractions including horse drawn carriage rides, gingerbread man decorating and a bunch of really unique shops. Well this cousin and her husband are avid model train collectors. I mean, whole levels of their home have been devoted to having these model tracks set up. They're part of a model train club in Calgary and have a display set up at Heritage Park every weekend from November 20th - Dec 19th. So Matt and I thought it would be fun to take Gabe there and my sister and her family are coming as are some of our cousins and their little boy who is quite the train fan! It's going to be awesome! Not to mention tickets are only $7 for adults and a ton of places are giving away 50% off coupons. I'm also really excited to see the Old fashioned bakery and they might have real live reindeer there too! I think it'll be just the thing to get into the holiday spirit! Not that I need much help with that... today I ordered one of Matt's Christmas presents from the Sears catalogue and a few presents for Gabe online too! I still don't know what I want my Christmas present from Matt to be. I was going to ask for the cello rental but when I found out it was only $40 a month I figured I could do that with my own spending money. I was also going to ask for some stuff for our house like new dishes but Matt would prefer buying me something fun. In a way, I'm kind of excited that I don't have anything I really, really want. That means I can ask for something strictly fun or uselessly pretty without feeling like it's a waste of a wish! For example, one store in town puts out a flyer every Christmas of the most gorgeous Christmas decorations - foot tall figurines hand crafted and inlaid with gold, or crystal pieces of loveable disney characters... I remember every Christmas growing up it was such an exciting time when my mom brought out the decorations that only came out for December and were so unique and so special: a Santa figurine on a turn top that was bending over trying to get his boot on, an 18 inch Frosty the Snowman candle that we never burned, a curvy, leaf-shaped, crystal candy dish strictly for Christmas candy and little bears peaking out of gift bags that we put up on the piano - a different bear for each of us kids. I want so bad to have special decorations like that that my kids look forward to and remember fondly. As it stands, decorating our house is wonderfully fun but that would make it more personal and significant in my opinion.
This year I have yet to decide if we will have one or two Christmas trees. I made a joke to a friend who has been storing stuff in our basement that I have more Christmas decorations than he has possessions, but it wasn't really a joke. I really do. Every year I alternate the color of the Christmas tree: red and gold, blue and silver, red and white, purple and blue, etc. and the color of the tree dictates the colors for the rest of the room. However, I believe this year is time again for a red variation upstairs and while that means that my red and gold stockings can stay upstairs this year instead of being sent downstairs, some of my nicest decorations are of the blue and silver variety and it's hard not using some of my decorations at least once a year. So, last year Matt and I agreed to take my grandparents' fake Christmas tree with the intent of setting it up in our basement. We didn't get around to it last year but if we decide to put it up this year that would solve a lot of issues for me. And honestly, yes it is more work, but who mind work when it's as fun as decorating? I could even have a decorating party! Invite over my sister-in-laws, make eggnog ice cream and homemade cider, listen to Kenny Rogers and Nat King Cole Christmas cds and decorate to our hearts' content! Doesn't that sound wonderful!
I'm about to get an early dose of Christmas spirit tomorrow. On Tuesdays, as you know, I go to the church and make lattes for the staff. Well tomorrow is their all-day staff Christmas party. At 4:30 they're coming back to the church to sing some carols and I'm going to have the latte bar open for them then, along with some special drinks we don't usually serve. I'm particularly excited to make Caramel Apple Spices for them!
Well, this has been a rather lengthy catch-up and my house is a mess considering how busy I've been lately. I'd best be responsible and clean. Maybe while listening to Christmas music?

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bye Bye Wedding Shoes

Thank goodness for Le Chateau outlet. I have one pair of jeans that fit me properly and unfortunately I tore the crotch out on them (so now I have to wear spandex underneath just to avoid scandal!) so I was planning on going to Calgary this weekend to stop by the Le Chateau outlet and pick up a new pair for $20 (or less!) Then when I got home today from another unsuccessful attempt to make lattes for the staff (the cafe was being rented out by a school group) I found three pairs of my dress shoes on the kitchen floor in various states of disrepair. Our dog Cash had pulled them out of our shoe closet, ate the heels off of my white strappy shoes that I wore to grad, he ate the toe off of my white lacey shoes from my wedding and he tore the sole off my black strappy pair. In one 1 hour block my dog successfully ate all of my dress shoes. Fortunately for me I can fix my black pair but my two other pairs are beyond fixing. I'm most upset about the wedding shoes :( The other white ones were affectionately named my "Devil shoes". So, when I'm in Calgary at Le Chateau outlet I will also be picking up some new dress shoes.
Today was a bit of an interesting day... Gabriel was grumpy beyond belief. At the church today we saw Matt's mom and Gabe actually pushed her away from him in the middle of a fit - something he has never done before. I could tell he was just overtired because when he wasn't grumpy he was super cuddly and affectionate, however his morning nap only lasted 40 minutes so the grumpiness ensued.
A friend from the church lent me her copy of the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice which I had never seen. Since I realized Gabe was not going to let me clean much today I popped in the first volume and got a good 50 minutes (and 1/5) of the way through! My immediate thoughts surrounding it were the following: Mrs. Bennet is much too sharp and not nearly motherly enough. Brenda Blethyn did a better interpretation I think. I enjoy the inclusion of all characters, including Mr. and Mrs. Hurst who were exempt from the later version. On a similar note, I enjoy the fact that when you make a 5 hour production you can include almost all of the original dialogue from the book. Lydia is wonderfully spoilt in a way Jena Malone never got screen time for. The actress who plays Jane is not exactly the breathtaking beauty she ought to be, and perhaps it's the difference between classic beauty and modern, but I'd much rather look at Charlotte Lucas than Jane. Regarding Elizabeth, some speeches are so remniscent of Keira Knightley's mannerisms in the latter film that I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Keira had studied the BBC version for her role. Actually, lots of transition scenes so far are paralleled between both versions and I think the people who did the 2005 version saw the merit of the BBC filmography and decided to copy a few details. And lastly, I really don't remember a bathing scene with Mr. Darcy in the book :) Yah, they didn't show much, but still, shameless excuse to have a shirtless Colin Firth? I think so.
Oh, and Colin Firth is a sweeter, gentler Darcy for sure, but Matthew MacFadyen trumps all. His unintentionally harsh manners making it all the better when you realize he's just shy with strangers and really a wonderful guy. Even his self-reproaching looks after he's been rude are so perfect.
Anyway, that was my Jane Austen rant for... well, the week. Well, actually, no guarantees. Let's just say for today :)
After I finally got Gabe to sleep for a second nap (and woke up myself after dozing off from cuddling him) I took an inventory of some craft supplies. I figure I can make a pair of teacup candles for three people for Christmas this year. I also found some jars my Grandma gave me that I can put some truffles in, and an old wool scarf that I'm going to felt a design on for myself!
After a late dinner Matt and I decided to go for a walk so we bundled up Gabe in about 40 layers and had a nice stroll!
Next week I'll need to get started on my Christmas projects. This week, I'll just look at pretty pictures of Christmas decorations and drool over them!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, October 25, 2010

First snow!

Well, the felting project was a bit of a flop. After a few hours in the wash the wool failed to shrink and felt properly. I blame the wool. So, what I have instead of a felted wool hat is a fuzzy looking wool hat. I need to get my electric de-fuzzer out and see if I can salvage it. I am not, however, overly disheartened. I should have perhaps started with a swatch and tried to felt that, so I think I'll do that this week and if that fails too I'll know it's just my wool being funny.
Today I woke up, looked outside and was pleasantly surprised to see snow! Now, some of you may question my sanity at this point, but my reasoning is that if the weather is going to be cold anyway, we might as well have pretty snow accompanying it! I've already been itching to dig out the Christmas music and I spent a chunk of the morning planning some homemade gifts that I will be giving out this year. Along with some homemade biscotti, syrups and truffles, I will also be making a variety of crafts off of marthastewart.com. I plan to make her Gilded Pinecones, Walnut Ornaments, Snowy Balloon Ornaments and some ornaments out of ribbons. Oh, and I have a few craft supplies kicking around from projects I've done before (Teacup candles mainly) so I'll do some of those up too. My only original thought that didn't come to me whilst looking at a picture of something was to use up some leftover vinyl from putting in new floor in the kitchen. I'm going to pick up some cork board and make coasters! I think they'll look great.
I may invite my mom to come have a craft day with me and we can make extras for her to give away to some of her friends too.
I'm excited for Christmas, can you tell? I get so excited thinking about decorating our house (with two Christmas trees this year!), baking dozens of treats, buying presents, listening to my Kenny Roger's Christmas cd that I got last year... I'm determined to host a Christmas wine tasting party this year. For some reason we've never been able to host one. And I really want Matt to be able to have some poker parties here too during the holiday season. He can have the boys over for beer and nachos and I'll have their wives over for homemade chai and baklava!
Before I get too excited however I must bear in mind that Matt doesn't tolerate excessive Christmas joy before December 1st. Actually, more like December 15th, but before the 1st he's a positive Grinch! So, while I may listen to Christmas music starting November 1st, it will not be in his company!!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Whoopsie! Apparently I've been a little preoccupied lately! Over a week since my last post and no good excuse... my bad!
I suppose I have been a little busy, what with family visiting, cafe stuff and trying to get our house fixed up. Not to mention Gabe is getting more molars in so he's a bundle of joy lately. But I think the main reason I haven't posted has been a lack of inspiration. We're still finishing our renos in the kitchen, which means my baking cart and stand mixer are still located in the living room. Obviously this is not very ideal for baking. Then we've been out alot lately during dinner time so our meals have been either not prepared by myself, or rushed to make sure we're out of the house in time to make it to our commitments. This week we've had Spaghetti and meat sauce and hamburgers at our house - and that's it! In the past few weeks (since the crazy biscotti baking marathon) the only things I've baked have been a Beet-Carrot Cake and last night I whipped up a loaf of Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. Oh, and for some reason, whenever I'm knitting and switch between a knit and a purl, I get this huge gap that I can't figure out how to fix. It's not tension and it's not how I put the yarn over, so I need to seek help, and until I can do that my Christmas knitting projects are on hold. That's another thing: Christmas. I'm excited for it and want to decorate my house but I'm not allowed to until at least the middle of November (just ask my husband.) All in all, I've been feeling rather unimaginative as a result of these things and every time I went to start a post I felt like I had nothing to say that would be worth reading. (pretty high up on myself to think what I normally say is worth reading, eh?)
Anyway, all that has changed as of today I have decided. You know what's changed??
Today is Martha Stewart Day :)
Yep, I got my magazine today and now the world seems bright again! When I first got it I skimmed through it and still felt blah, but when I took the time to actually read every article I realized the brilliance of the issue. There's a section on how to organize your front closet, your fridge and your table for having lots of company over and they had some really good tips in there! Another section I loved so far was the Follow Your Art section - a look at 3 women and how they made their crafts profitable. Oh, and one more noteable: To The Letter - a look at the art of note writing and a reminder that handwritten is an uber personal, super cute alternative to just sending off an email. I personally love note writing. At HomeSense the other week I found a box of 50 cute cards in different designs for dirt cheap and I've already used nearly 1/4 of them. Thank You cards, Birthday Cards, Just Because... there's almost always something that you can write someone a card about. When I was pregnant with Gabe I pre-wrote a load of cards for anniversarys and birthdays so that all I had to do was mail them at the right time. One of my items on my eventual wishlist is personalized stationary for my note writing hobby. I think it's nice when people get things in the mail other than bills and I like to contribute to that cause!
I have kind of overcome my knitting stall too. I simply changed my project. I'm knitting my first felting project! First, I'm knitting a hat using oversized needles and double strands of wool. Then I'll wash the hat and shrink it down to felt. Then I'm going to needle felt a pattern on.
Well, I'd best go pull some meat for dinner because as soon as Gabe's finished his snack we're going on a nice long walk. The sun's up, it'll probably be one of the last night days of October and I'm feeling inspired!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

I can see! I finally got my new glasses! I'd forgotten how far I should be able to see. You know, the world is much more beautiful when you can actually see it!
Anyway, yesterday I hit up the grocery store for some staples and saw that turkeys were on for 99 cents a pound. I picked up a 12 pound turkey for less than the cost of 2 turkey breasts. Matt and I had been fully planning on not having turkey this Thanksgiving - and not by our own doing either - so I had planned to buy a turkey and cook it up in November for a turkey dinner with my parents. We actually lucked out and were able to have a turkey dinner yesterday with Matt's parents, even though our actual Thanksgiving meal with them will be next week and we sure won't be having turkey. We'll actually be eating gourmetten. In case you've never had gourmetten before (and if you're not Dutch, the odds are high that you haven't) it's a make your own meal sort of dinner. You each have your own tiny little frying pan and burner and you decide what veggies, meats and sauces you want to cook in your pan. If you time things right you can be continually eating and cooking for the whole meal. It's a very social meal and it's fun to see what new concoctions you can think up! All that to say, I still did end up buying a turkey and it was a stinking good price. My sister is coming to town at the beginning of November so while we have a bunch of family around for dinner I think I'll cook up the turkey with all the fixings. And if we have leftovers, I know a number of bachelors who wouldn't mind some frozen dinners, I'm sure.
For the turkey dinner yesterday I whipped up some steamed brocolli and cauliflower, roast squash, apples and peppers and some cheese sauce for the brocolli and cauliflower. Well, the veggies were all eaten up but I was left with 3 cups of cheese sauce! That did solve the issue of what to have for dinner tonight however: Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese. It was a really quick dinner to make but it tasted awesome. Having the cheese sauce pre-made did shorten the time, but it still wouldn't have been that hard anyway. I'll give the recipe at the end of this post.
Today I was driving home from the church after making lattes for the staff and I was fuming over a couple of mishaps that had kind of made the time less enjoyable than normal. I had things going through my head like, "Great. This is just what my week needed," and, "When will things start getting better?" Just as I pulled onto my street a song came on the radio that at first I didn't recognize and then I realized it was my wedding song (in my defense, the radio was turned way down). The song we chose for our wedding was All I Ever Wanted by Brian Melo. At first I just sat and listened because of the fond memories from our wedding but then I actually started listening to the words again. The chorus starts off with the line, "This is all I ever wanted," and when I heard that it hit me that right now I have that. I have all that I ever wanted. You may question my use of the word "all" since I obviously have other wants, like chickens and a farm and to travel and to buy an early edition Jane Austen novel. However, when I was younger and I was trying to outline what I really wanted in life, it was to be married to a great man, to have children, to have a home that I could bake in and decorate and do gardening at, and, to use a catechism which asks "What is the chief end of man?", to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. I realized that I have that. All of that. My "when I grow up" is completed. Sure, I've set new standards and new things that I want to accomplish, but how can I be unhappy when I have so much going for me? I was grumpy last week because I didn't get my glasses soon enough (glasses which we had enough money to buy in the first place), because I couldn't rent a cello (but if I check back this week I probably can now), because I didn't get to see a friend (a friend whom I have had since our early childhood) and because I felt like nothing was going my way. I may be lucky and blessed, but sometimes I sure am stupid. Last week was still not the best week that I've ever had, but it definitely was not the worst. Not by a long shot. My Grandpa was hospitalized... and he pulled through and is stabilized now. We kicked off Auxano and it was an incredibly worshipful experience. My family stayed relatively healthy and I staved off my earache and my son was absolutely delightful the whole week! All in all, that actually makes for a pretty decent week.
Anyway, I've smartened up, for now. I just hope I've learned for next time life throws a few curves at me.
Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese Recipe:
Cheese Sauce:
4 tbsp butter or margarine
4 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
dash white pepper
2 cups milk
2 - 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 tbsp CheezWhiz

Melt butter in saucepan over low. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until doughy. Add milk all at once. Turn up heat to med-high and cook quickly, stirring constantly, until it thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar and CheezWhiz. Set Aside.

Cook up 1 pound ground beef with a little bit of oil in a frying pan. Drain off grease. Spread beef flat across the bottom of the pan. Using a squeeze ketchup bottle, make a big wavy line of ketchup across the beef, from one side of the pan to the other. Using a squeeze mustard bottle, make two smaller lines on the beef, one on either side of the ketchup line. Stir up.

Cook up 2 cups macaroni, fusilli, rotini or, well, any other type of pasta you think will work. Make sure you salt your water. Drain water once pasta is cooked but do not rinse the pasta!

Fold all of the ingredients together in a casserole dish and bake at 350 until the top is lightly browned!
Bon Appetit!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No Cello

No Cello. The place rented all their's out since I spoke to them 5 days ago. The girl seemed like she barely knew what a cello was and clearly never had anything to do with them, so I almost asked for a second opinion about what the status was on them all, but didn't. She did mention that they had one that was listed as "Repair" and that it had been that way for a while apparently but she didn't know what was wrong with it. So, while I was walking out and noticed a cello missing a string and leaning against a wall in the corner I was rethinking my urge to get a second opinion again. Honestly, if that's all that's wrong with it you'd think they could work a little magic for me? Oh, and she wouldn't take my name and number or put me on a wait list or anything. She just told me to keep coming in and checking if they had one in.
So, that's one more thing that has not gone well for me this week. And I still don't have my glasses!
This really is shaping up to be a sucky week. I had lots of things going on this week that I was really excited for, and none of them have really gone as well as I had hoped, save Auxano on Monday night, and granted, an hour of worship, discipleship and teaching does count for a lot, which I suppose is why I haven't been reduced to tears yet.
I still have things to look forward to of course. Things like finally getting my glasses, going to Calgary on Saturday to see my family and help get my aunt's new apartment ready for her, and spending all of Sunday in some joyful business that comes along with double-booking myself for cafe work and infant care at church.
I'm not actually feeling all that inspired right now - mostly just down. It's hard to blog when you don't feel inspired. It's probably best that I go read a Jane Austen now instead.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mid-week Weekend

My weekend has finally come! Not this weekend - last weekend. I was so busy on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday that there was no kidding myself that those were anywhere near days of rest. Friday - baking. Saturday - more baking, set-up and worship practice. Sunday - Ministry Fair. Monday - Auxano kickoff. Tuesday - lattes at the church and one awful meeting. Wednesday - sweet release!
So far this week has not, in general, been going the way I had hoped it would. Yesterday I was excited for a friend to come over, which didn't happen, and to get my new glasses, which didn't happen then either. Monday night rocked since it was the Auxano relaunch at its new location, but I killed my voice singing. Today I got up early and hoped to get lots done before Gabe woke up. Unfortunately, he got up early too. I did manage to make breakfast for Matt before he had to go to work but that was about it. We were at the church by 11:20 to make lattes for the staff and that was a little more hectic than usual. Lots of people kept coming up and asking me questions while I was trying to get set up so I wasn't as prepared as normal. AND I found a fly in a pot of hot water that a ministry group had just finished using and I was emptying for them. Sick. Anyway, I got my drinks made and my machine cleaned and then needed to wait around for an hour since I had a meeting at 2. Unfortunately, the meeting did not go at all the way I had planned it. It was supposed to be a planning session but it was more like a shoot down session for me. Everything I proposed was nixed by a party because of reasons ranging from "insurance claims", "we're not allowed to move those tables" and "I can't remember why, but you can't." By this time, Gabe was 4 hours past his usual nap time and was wandering aimlessly through the cafe while I tried to keep him reasonably corralled, to voice my opinion and to listen to all the decision making that I was really not a part of. It was frustrating to the extreme. I wanted to walk out but held my temper, and my tongue, and stuck it out. It was all I could do to wait until I got home to phone Matt and rant about how awful the meeting was. Oh, and Gabe finally got down for his nap at 4.
But all that is behind me now! Tomorrow I am determined to do as little as possible! Which will actually be quite easy since Matt has an evening meeting with dinner provided so I can eat whatever I feel like without worrying about anything too impressive. I'm hoping to go rent a cello tomorrow too! I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet, but I am determined to learn cello. It had always been a want of mine (always since I was 12 that is) and I had never done more than thought about it until a week ago. I was looking up barista training courses in Seattle and it turns out the ones that I would need to take to learn more than I already know cost upwards of $2000 for a weekend. I tried finding the Canadian equivilancy and it turns out, there aren't any. Well, not really. There is one in Calgary I could take but it has prerequisites which would be a waste of time and money for me. And I'm a bit worried that the only thing they would teach me that I didn't already know would be latte art - which, given enough time, coffee, milk and willing drinkers, I'm sure I could figure out on my own. That would cost about a grand to go through all the courses, not to mention a lot of time. So I'm at the top of what I can learn unless I have $2000 to shell out, not to mention flights and accomodations. Maybe someday, but not now. So, what does this have to do with the cello? That night I was watching The Big Bang Theory and Leonard was playing cello and it reminded me of how much I want to play the cello. So I decided I would. Not that I would think about it, or that I would someday do it, but that I would go out and rent a cello and learn. I called a local music shop the next day, found out that they rent cellos for $40 a month and have only held off on going and picking one up because I've been so incredibly busy. But I'm really going to do it finally! Yay!
Well, I'm going to start my weekend by going to bed in decent time. Being that it's almost midnight, I'm not doing hugely well, but it's a start!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ministry Fair Done!

It's over!!
The Ministry Fair is done!
What a fiasco today has been! Not only did I not sleep well last night, I woke up at 5 because Gabe lost his "boo" (soother) and then he took 45 minutes to fall asleep again and I was supposed to get up at 6 so I figured I'd just close my eyes for 15 minutes... and then I woke up an hour later. At 6:45. I was planning on being at the church at 7.
I rushed my little bum and got to the church by 7:30. I started making coffee and everything was going well considering I was a half an hour later than I had planned on being. And then I forgot to close the valve on a 50 cup coffee urn as it was filling... and it spilled all over the kitchen floor. It took me about 20 minutes to finish mopping up. Oh, and all the rolling kitchen carts were missing so I had to carry all the coffee urns across the church. They're heavy :(
I got all the coffee made and my booth all set up, made a latte for a very tired friend and then right as the Ministry Fair was starting I ran to the cafe to give some last minute pointers to my volunteers and ran back to meet everyone at my booth! Everyone loved the new Ugandan Relationship Coffee and they especially loved the biscotti. Unfortunately for me, we went through coffee at amazing rates. They ran out of coffee in the lobby before the break between first and second service was even half way done. I had to make Matt watch my booth while I ran and made even more coffee. Matt went to service then and I manned the booth myself until the second service ended and we got our second wave of people. Matt left shortly after and I was relieved of my duty at 1, at which point I packed up some stuff and got home to have some breakfast/lunch by 1:30. I ended up going back to the church by 4:30 since the Fair was supposed to restart by 5:30 and I needed to make all the coffee we set out in the church before then, but when I got there the door was locked and no one was around. I waited for 40 minutes outside. Lucky for me it was a nice day! At 5:10 someone opened up the door for me and I had 20 minutes to do what I had planned to take an hour to do. I managed - barely - and was at my booth in time to greet people and serve one of the helpers his 10th cup of coffee. Anyway, between meeting up with other volunteers, running the booth and all my other duties I stayed busy until it was time to pack up, which took me about an hour. I got home by 9 which was at least half an hour earlier than I thought I would.
My legs feel dead, I'm exhausted, my entire body aches, I barely ate anything all day and tomorrow isn't exactly a day off. But all in all, it was a good Ministry Fair. So, we'll say it was worth the pain :)
Tomorrow I've got a friend coming over and then Auxano kicks off.
I hope I'll sleep well tonight because I'll need to recover enough to walk tomorrow, which is looking doubtful right now.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Creamed Corn

I'm really surprised I didn't do more blogging in the past 24 hours... Last night I was up until 2:30. I'm on the brink of getting an ear infection and in an attempt to stave off the wretched pain I took Non-Drowsy Sudafed which keeps me awake. Stupid drugs. So, while I waited for myself to get sleepy I started looking up ideas for my brother's wedding. That was fun :) I want to get married again so that I can have the wedding I planned out last night! Although, I should emphasize that I would only want to get married to Matt again.
I was up around 8 today so I didn't get to sleep in much unfortunately and then I spent the whole morning emailing people. I had emails about Auxano, about printing things, about the cafe and scheduling and a whole bunch of other things. It was crazy how much I got done this morning without ever leaving the couch!
In the afternoon I packed Gabe up and we went to see my dad (or Bumpa, as Gabe calls him) at his work where we were getting some printing done for Auxano. As soon as I finished there we went and got groceries and I must say, grocery shopping is so much more fun with a little dude hanging around. He says "Hi" to all the grumpy old people that walk by in an irresistably cute voice, he tries to pound it with people in the line up and he points out everything in the produce section and calls each fruit either an "apple", a "Nana" or a "ball". He's so perfect!
We got home and I cuddled him to sleep while I watched Big Bang Theory. What a fantastic show. I have an official favorite episode (so far, we've only seen the first season and 1/4 of the second season). Anyway, Sheldon gets drugged and when Leonard asks him about a secret he says, "Mom smokes in the car. Jesus is okay with it but don't tell dad." He then claims he's Batman, then starts telling Leonard about how he drank some milk that tasted funny. Oh man, it's awesome. Jim Parsons is a seriously talented actor.
Anyway, once I finally got Gabe down for his nap (5 hours late) I started making dinner: Baked Pork Chops, Beets, Roasted Potatoes with Feta and Home-Made Creamed Corn. I've been meaning to make creamed corn for quite some time now but I never had enough corn kicking around, so this week I made sure I bought 4 ears and saved them until I had time to make it! The recipe I used was, more or less, the recipe from Food Network's 5 Ingredient Fix. You cook up 3 pieces of bacon, set the bacon aside and keep the grease in the pan. In the same pan you slowly cook the corn that you've scraped off the ears as well as all the 'milk' you can coax out of the ear. I used 4 ears for 2 people. Add salt and pepper and I added butter too. Stir, stir, stir to get the starches all milky (like a risotto) and in 40 minutes you'll have gorgeous, bacony creamed corn. The meal was a bit of an odd compilation for me. I typically only do 1, maybe 2 items per meal that take longer than 30 minutes to cook, but the pork took 40 minutes, the corn 50, the potatoes 40 and the beets 40 as well. Not to mention all the work of scraping off the kernels, prepping the beets and coating the pork. It was a rather labour intensive meal for being a plain meal. If we were having company over and duck was the main course I'd think nothing of the time, but since it was an everyday meal it was a bit much.
Matt's mom came and took Gabe to the pool and Matt and I were planning to go for wings. We used to go to the Toad and Turtle every Wednesday for wings (25 cents and they were great!) but since we've had Gabe we haven't been. I really wanted to go but I really wanted more people there. The place is crazy on Wednesday nights and it's not much fun as a date place, but great fun as a group place. Well, Matt forgot to call his buddies, so we had no one to go with, so we opted for dessert instead. We went to Montana's and were seated with a dessert menu until we realized they don't have their Chocolate Eruption anymore! I was heartbroken! So, we dropped a tip and walked out after being seated for maybe 2 minutes and not even having taken a sip of our waters! We walked across the parking lot to East Side Marios and each of us ordered a dessert... and then we switched because we liked eachother's better!
I'm going to bed as soon as I'm done writing this since I need to brace for my second marathon weekend of the month. Tomorrow I'm going to check out the new facility for Auxano and we'll probably hook up my laptop to make sure the tech side works and whip out the guitars to hear the acoustics of the room. I'll make the rest of my biscotti dough in the morning so that in the early evening I can finish baking it, and then in the evening I've got plans for coffee with a friend. Friday I need to go to the church to receive an order and maybe check out plans for renovating the cafe, then I need to bake 6 dozen cookies and finish my biscotti if need be. Saturday I need to setup at the church for the Ministry Fair and I believe Matt had plans for us to do something but I can't quite remember what. Sunday... well, Sunday is almost too scary to mention. I need to be at the church by 7:30 to set up the coffee and then at 10:00 the Ministry Fair starts so I need to be at my booth. Then at 10:30 I need to run out to the cafe and help out everyone and make sure my new volunteers know what they're doing, then it's back to the booth for a few hours. I'll be back at the church by 5:00 to do setup and staying there until 9 - at least. Monday I've got a friend coming over for coffee and then we have the Auxano kick-off which I'm helping lead worship for and running sound I think... Before then I need to find time to practice the worship songs with the rest of the team and try and learn a Johnny Cash song. Partay.
But then on Tuesday it will be sweet release, and I'll be back to my everyday schedule. I'm actually thinking I'll go rent a cello on Tuesday. $40 a month for a cello rental is really not bad. I think it'll take me about two months to learn to a point where I'd feel comfortable playing in front of people and then, if I really enjoy it, maybe I'll buy a cello myself.
But for now, I'll try and rest, keep popping pills to avoid a full blown ear/sinus/throat infection and take one day at a time.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Construction Theme

Well, I finally figured out how to make my booth theme appropriate for our upcoming Ministry Fair at church! The theme is "Under Construction" which did not work into my original plans for how to decorate my booth. I was going to make it all cafe-ish but couldn't figure out how to juxtapose the smooth cafe and rugged construction themes. I had a few brainwaves today that I think are really going to help. I'm getting Matt to make a sign for me that says "CAFE" that will be made out of boards nailed together. I was trying to find a woodworkers apron to wear instead of just my regular cafe apron but I couldn't find one, so instead I'll still be wearing the cafe apron, but a barista tool belt overtop. The toolbelt is going to have a hand frother, a gruppa, a travel mug and some coffee packs. I'm going to build a pyramid out of espresso cups and rope it off with some construction tape and best of all I've decided to make a kid's treat to give away too! I'm going to bake some brownies and put them in the back of a toy dump truck so that they look like dirt. I'm also going to display the biscotti in an old school construction lunch box!
Today I was getting Gabe ready to go to the church with me to make lattes and it started raining just 5 minutes before we had to leave. I got drenched in the amount of time it took me to get Gabe in and out of the car so I showed up at the church looking like a drowned rat. I made a load of drinks today and most of them came at the same time. It wasn't bad, it was just busy. Matt's mom took Gabe for the whole time so I didn't have to worry about him. I usually get there at 11 and lately I've been getting out at 1:30. On Friday I'm going back into the church to check over some plans they have to reno the cafe. I mentioned to one of the pastors that I suspected we didn't need such extensive work done and he wanted me to relook the plans. Saturday I'm going in to do setup for Sunday and Sunday itself will be crazy :)

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Stoves and Hotels

My weekend is just ending now! That's right - long weekend for me! Technically my weekend starts whenever Matt gets off work and ends when he needs to go back to work. Saturday Matt went out hunting so Gabe and I skipped off to the Farmer's Market. We actually got there later than I had hoped since I didn't really fall asleep after Matt got up at 5. When I finally did fall asleep it was 7 and I had hoped to be up at 7:30... it didn't work. Anyway, we got there and I picked up some small potatoes, beets, concord grapes, blackberries and cheese. When I got home Matt and I went out and ran some errands and then I volunteered at the church for a private function. They had a silent auction that night and I won an ice cream maker for $40! Woot! In the morning we went to the early service and then we left right from the church to Calgary to go pick up our new stove! We stopped for lunch at my sister's and then drove to my uncle's house. The stove is the same stove I've been wanting all along! My mother in law has the same type and it's the same type that I used at my old job. Oh, and it's black so it matches our new dishwasher.
We drove back to Red Deer just in time for Matt to drop me off at the church since I was running the cafe that evening. I hadn't eaten dinner yet and I had a lot of running around going on at the church. To be honest I was quite exhausted. However, the evening did end and lucky for me, Matt's mom was taking Gabe for the night so I had the rest of the evening off. Matt and I had won a gift certificate from a silent action for a night in a hotel and we'd never had a chance to use it just because we needed someone to take Gabe. So, we finally found an evening and when we finished at the church at 9:00 we checked in and then went out to a restaurant down the road for dinner. In the morning we went down for the continental breakfast, checked out and then did some shopping. I picked up my new frames and then went to my optometrist appointment. It turns out my eyes got better since my pregnancy. Sweet, eh? I'll have my new glasses by the end of the week.
Tonight we had an Italian themed dinner at Matt's parents' place with a buddy. I made an antipasto pizza, melon balls wrapped in proscuitto and pistachio ice cream I made in my new ice cream maker! Then Matt's sister came to pick up our old stove and we conned everyone into helping us move our new one in and our old one out. I think I owe our friend another meal now...
It's been a good weekend, and fun, but I really am exhausted. Tomorrow I'll be at the church making lattes and running errands in the afternoon. Hopefully I can fit a nap in there somewhere!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Botched Sushi

I was fortunate enough to have my husband home with me all morning! Well, 'home' may not be exactly accurate. We ran errands after we got up at 10:30 (crazy, eh?) starting with going over to Matt's work to drop off some bills. While he amused himself with paperwork, Gabe and I hit up Bed Bath and Beyond for the first time. I failed to find what I was looking for but found some great 400 thread count sheets for $50 (I didn't buy them, but good to know). We then went down to my dad's work for some cafe business and then went to check out some glasses for myself. I found a pair of frames that I liked for $140 which really isn't bad but I was hoping to find some for less. We were planning on going to Costco to check out some more frames but Gabe started getting super grumpy so we just headed straight home... just in time to see a friend of ours knocking on the door. He's keeping some stuff stored in our basement and came to grab some stuff. Matt accompanied him downstairs while I tidied up the kitchen and then made lunch for us. We had fun hanging out until Matt had to go to his golf tournament and buddy left. So, I tried my darndest to get Gabe to sleep since it was now 3:30 and he still hadn't had a nap. I took him downstairs and we rewatched a few Big Bang Theory episodes with no hope of him falling asleep. I needed to bake my first batch of biscotti tonight so I took Gabe upstairs, put him in his playpen and within 2 minutes he fell asleep. Lucky for me since I can only put one tray in the oven at a time without excessive browning. So, since each batch yields three trays and each tray requires 45 minutes of baking, it was going to take a long time. He slept through the whole thing, save the last 10 minutes of the last tray. Oh, and I made sushi for myself for dinner. Unfortunately for me, I started making the rice before I realized that my avocado wasn't ripe and my cucumber had frozen in the veggie drawer and gone bad. So, I made straight shrimp sushi but then I realized that I didn't have any sushi soy sauce. It's odd... for regular rice I need China Lily Soy Sauce but for sushi, only something comparable to Kikoman's is acceptable. I only had those crappy little packets that come when you order Chinese food and they sure didn't cut it. So, my sushi was not the best I've ever made. It seemed lacking.
Now however, I have finished baking about a third of all the biscotti I will need to make before next Sunday and I have officially exhausted all possible places in Red Deer that carry large steam jugs so I'll have to order one from Calgary.
Ooh! And additional good news! My uncle and aunt had their fridge conk out so when they went to buy a new one they decided to buy the matching stove and microwave too - despite the fact that their current ones were totally fine. So they're going to give us their old ones! I'm actually really excited to bake more than one tray at a time. Now all we have to do is get them from Calgary...
Matt goes hunting tomorrow morning, during which time I will bake another batch of biscotti, and then I'm volunteering for a function in the cafe tomorrow night. Partay!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chickens and Markets

I want chickens. Quite badly, actually. I've wanted some for a while now. Matt agrees with me too! But unfortunately, the city does not. Chickens are not permitted to be raised within city limits. There have been a few attempts over the past few years to change this, but nope, nothing doing. Can you imagine the bliss though?
Waking up every morning and walking out to your coops to grab fresh eggs with deep yellow yolks that will make amazing Soft-boiled eggs? Can you imagine how buttery those yolks would taste? And just picture how your baking would be affected with such gorgeously fresh eggs... I'd have different varieties of chickens with different coloured eggs and every week I'd give my neighbours a new basket of them. Sigh. I also want a goat. I could milk it and make my own cheese and it could mow my lawn. And I want ducks. Mmmmm... fresh duck 6 times a year. Ooh! And Geese! Only two of those a year though... we'll have lots of friends and family over for an Easter dinner of beautiful roast geese.
I got my Martha Stewart magazine today finally. Can you tell? And do you want to guess what her first article in this issue is about? That's right - chickens.
Incidentally, I also want my own hazelnut trees (see p. 138).
I just picture so much domestic felicity when I think of these things. I dream of having a huge farm where we'd grow cutting flowers, nuts, berries, fruit and veggies and raise all sorts of animals. We'd go to Farmer's Markets, or maybe even start our own market, and I'd bake biscotti and make syrups to sell along side our bags of hazelnuts, the baskets of blueberries and perfect bouquets of fresh flowers. Wouldn't that be marvelous? My kids would grow up learning where food really comes from and understanding the fruits of your labours and the time commitment would be nothing - 5:30 in the morning is my favorite time of day anyway! I'd love a good reason to get up at that time every day! We wouldn't even need a full farm. An acreage would do. Okay, maybe two acres since I wouldn't be happy with so much space and no horses. So that leaves an acre for horses, goats, chickens, geese, ducks and sheep (I'd never need to buy yarn again!), half an acre for a vegetable garden, and another half acre for our sprawling farm house complete with rows upon rows of flowers directly behind it. Now all I need is a million dollars and we're set :(
Realistically, I'd be contented right now if they would just change the laws an let me have six chickens in my backyard. I understand they could be noisy and dirty and we'd have feathers everywhere, but think of the eggs!
The fruit trees I was hoping to put into our backyard this year until Matt and I started talking again about moving to another house. There's no sense in putting in trees that I'll never get to eat from. I tried planting raspberry cuttings but Cash dug those up. I got one strawberry off of my 6 plants I put in this year and even though I planted my Bells of Ireland in good time and they had plenty of water and sun, they still only grew to about 4 inches tall. Next year I'll do some things differently, I know. But that doesn't help me much right now when I think of all the lucky people in Portland, Oregon who get fresh hazelnuts from the farm down the road. Or even of the lucky people in Edmonton who get to enjoy a real Farmer's Market all year round.
I ought to take initiative though. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were a buy-local, farm-fresh movement in our town? (Granted, my two most faithful readers live in Montana and New Brunswick) But we have, within a 50 km radius, some of the best cheese in Canada, game birds being raised and shipped off all across the province, buffalo, long horn cattle, lots of honey and veggies and meats and breads and yet the bounty isn't reflected well. Places like Edmonton and Calgary seem to have more and seem to display it better. What I wouldn't give for a little old fashioned market set up once a week where the focus really was on stuff right off the farm instead of on trinkets and junk items. We need a physical Etsy where, if it isn't edible, it's handmade at very least.
Alas, right now is not the time to introduce such a thing. Maybe I'll brain storm all winter and have some amazing new advancements for Spring?
I did make my biscotti dough this morning so I suppose that's something. Biscotti is such a wonderful thing to make. It's so simple, and the basic dough gives you so much room for experimentation. The baking is a bit tedious however... After rolling the dough out into three equal rectangles, you bake it and then cut it and then bake in again. I'm actually hoping to gain access to my MIL's oven. She has the perfect oven for these since it's exactly like the oven I first learned to make biscotti in, so the temperature will be exact and I can use the convection setting!
Tonight for dinner I think I'm going to make sandwiches. Roast chicken, asian pear, fig butter and brie sandwiches. Although, I may add some roasted red peppers as well.
Now all I need is some brie!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rock in the Grinder

My goodness I've been busy lately. Between the cafe, meetings for Auxano and Gabe getting his molars in... yikes. Monday we had an Auxano meeting in which I volunteered for more things (I know, I know.) Tuesday I went to the church again to make lattes for the staff. I think this time I made it clear to all of them that it's going to be a regular thing and I must say it was quite well received :) I got everyone their drinks before their teaching time started and then went in to join them until Gabe saw me across the room, crawled through a forest of legs and eventually found me. He sat quietly for 5 minutes after that and then I had to take him out of the room! I decided to grind some decaf and get my cleaning done while they were all in their meeting but after the first pulse on the grinder it caught a rock in it! I turned off the grinder right away so that it didn't wreck anything and then spent the next 35 minutes dissecting the grinder, shaking out all the beans, and using stir sticks to unstick all the packed up oil from the last 6 years of grinding. Yep, stir sticks. Oh, and Gabe was throwing water all over the floor and shaking sugar packs and screamed everytime he dropped one. It was a party. So, everyone got out of their meeting and I just got the little tiny rock out. Stupid rock.
Today was quite productive. I had the kitchen cleaned before 10, played with Gabe all morning, got ready while he had a nap and then we went shopping. I hit HomeSense in search of a tiny bristle brush and a large metal steamjug for the cafe... no luck. Nor did I have any luck at London Drugs. After I picked up groceries we came home and I cleaned the living room, did laundry, made tacos... it was good. Tonight Matt and I picked up Big Bang Theory season 1 and 2 at Walmart which we started this evening and I think Sheldon is amazing. I adore him. He's such a little kid. In the pilot Sheldon and Leonard are talking about a woman having a baby she expects to be smart but it turns out to be just a normal baby and Leonard said, "Well, she'll still love him." and Sheldon says, "I wouldn't!" Awesome.
Anyway, I have some menu planning to do and I'm starting my biscotti tomorrow. I should make my dough tonight!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Diaper Wipe Countdown

Well, today wasn't quite the magnificent day that yesterday was. I woke up feeling quite sucky and within about 15 minutes of being awake I had decided against going to the church to receive an order today. About 15 minutes after that I changed Gabe's first dirty diaper of the day and realized we had 5 wipes left. I spent a fair bit of time debating what I was going to do and I eventually settled on sticking to my plan of staying at home and going to Walmart tonight for wipes. About half an hour later Gabe had his second dirty diaper of the day. My confidence in my ability to stretch my 2 remaining wipes was waning. But, after a conversation with Matt my resolve held and I vowed to make it the rest of the day with only two wipes and I figured I'd resort to wet cotton balls if I needed to.
Yesterday when Matt and I went out for lunch there were hot buns at the buffet and Matt was raving about how good these buns were. He made me taste one and I couldn't quite agree with him about them being anything extraordinary. They were salty and had a fun taste to them, but I figured Matt liked them mostly because they were fresh and buttery. So I set out to make buns for him today. I whipped out my oldest bun recipe (Old School Better Homes and Gardens) and started making. And right away I screwed up. I was supposed to heat the milk until the shortening was almost melted. I failed to read the word "almost". So I kept heating until the shortening was completely gone and then I realized that I'd made the milk too warm for the yeast... but I realized that a little too late. So I ended up with a fairly tough dough by the time it had risen. I made clover buns, so I rolled 3 little balls per bun and put them in muffin tins, but I was too impatient to bake the pans separately and even though I know my oven to be finnicky, I thought I'd try my luck. My luck apparently ran out. At any time when there are any more than 1 cookie sheet, cake pan or muffin tin in my oven, the baking becomes very uneven and the bottoms of whatever I'm baking burn - or at least get very dark, very fast. I first noticed this when I was baking my annual 120 sugar cookies at Christmas our first year in this house. At first I thought I'd messed up and let the sheets touch eachother or the sides of the oven, but no. Then I thought I'd try to put one sheet up and one sheet down and switch them half way through - still no. The only thing that works is baking one sheet at a time. It's a real pain when I'm baking cakes. Anyway, as I said above, my luck ran out. The buns didn't burn but they did get extra brown on the bottoms, they failed to rise properly because I killed the yeast with my too-hot milk and they weren't as fluffy as they ought to have been, again owing to the hot milk. Smooth, eh? On the upside, they did taste a heck of a lot better than the ones at the buffet. Oh, and I made two dozen but there are only 8 left (Gabe ate four of them himself) so obviously they weren't the worst things I ever made.
I also made Millionaire's Shortbread for a family get-together tomorrow. I always forget how it should look when I make the dulce de leche filling so it kinda freaks me out everytime when it starts to chunk up a bit, but then it always works out in the end. I really ought to make a note for myself somewhere...
Gabe only had a half hour nap in the afternoon (and a third poop which cost me one more wipe and a few cotton balls) and I spent that time reading my bible instead of cleaning or cooking - which I can't really say I regret. But the result was that by the time my shortbread and my buns were done it was nearly 5:00 and I had nothing made for dinner. I called Matt and, much to my relief, found that he was still going to be a while yet, so I pulled out a Spaghetti Squash and got that baking. I also decided that I needed another dessert for the get-together, so I whipped up a boxed Devil's Food Cake to make a Black Forest In a Bowl (layers of cake, whipping cream, cherry pie filling and chocolate pudding). By this time I was quite exhausted since I had already been feeling lousy today and after dinner I collapsed on the couch. I lasted this evening for an epic trip to Walmart (the term 'epic' implies an expenditure of $200+) where we got everything from Sweetened Condensed Milk and Toothbrush to Diapers and new pants for Matt.
Oh, and after rewriting the cafe schedule for the 8th time I got an email back from one particularly hard to please volunteer saying that the second set of dates she gave me needed to be changed. Gah.
So, now I'm finally sitting down and relaxing now that Gabe has gone to bed nearly two hours late (he has a horrible diaper rash so those wet cotton balls weren't a bad idea anyway - oh, and just for the record, we used the last wipe on poopy diaper number 4 today right before we left for Walmart) and I'm excited for tomorrow but at the same time I'm pretty tired already and while the day will be fun, it will also involve a bunch of work. I'm going to need a lot of coffee.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Good Day

Today was a good day. I love being able to say that. I love looking back over the day and not thinking of anything that went particularly wrong.
Today I got to go out for lunch with my husband. He's been away the past two evenings and I was feeling like I never get to see him anymore so he phoned me this morning and asked me where I'd like to go for lunch with him. It was a nice treat. We rarely do that.
Today I knew I had company over and I didn't need to clean for them. It was already done! I did tidy up some cook books I had sitting on the table, and I washed some dishes, but there was no rush to get things ready and presentable. That was nice :)
Today I talked on the phone with both my mother and my sister. That's not exactly rare, but it has been a while. And they were both good, long talks - not just short little blurbs.
Today I volunteered for two more things. A little on the dumb side, but in my opinion, if you don't have to double-book to agree to something, you're not too busy for it. To be honest, I did sort of double-book for both of those, but one social thing we cancelled and one commitment we rescheduled, so I'm just getting to help out with more! And I really do like to feel useful.
Today I finished rewriting the cafe schedule for the 8th time and I think this is the best schedule yet. It made the best use of people, freed up some of my time and coordinated certain people with special events. I'm glad it's done.
Today I made a great dinner. I really did. And it wasn't just great because it tasted great (which it did) it was great because it was low stress, and nothing went wrong while I was making it. I made the Stuffed Chicken Thighs for the entree. I had to debone the thighs, which went off quite smoothly, and then I had to make the stuffing, which was easy. The hardest part was stuffing the thighs and it was a breeze! Just lay open the boneless thigh, put the stuffing in the middle, fold up the sides and hold it together with a toothpick! I had them in the oven at just the right time, and then I set about making my roasted veggies. I had some squash, a red pepper, some of those adorable silver-skin onions and some apples that I chopped up, drizzled with oil, threw in a crushed garlic clove, sprinkled with Alpine Touch (the ultimate seasoning salt) and a dash of salt and pepper. They were amazing! I made up a salad with green pepper, tomato and celery and found that I had a tiny block of asiago left in my fridge so I grated that over it and it turned a normal salad into a really good one. Dinner was supposed to start at 6:00 and at 5:50 my chicken was done, and then I got my dessert ready. Take Asian Pear halves, core them and dip the cut side in lemon juice. Put each half in the center of a parchment paper square, sprinkle some anise seeds in the middle of the half, drizzle with honey and fold up the paper. Pour a bit of cider into the pouch, twist the top to seal it, and bake for 45 minutes! They were ready just in time! And they were quite nice. I'll be making them again.
Today I agreed to cook dessert for a family get-together this weekend. Millionaire Shortbread should do I think. And that's just plain fun :)
Tomorrow I have to make a trip into the church, make my Millionaire Shortbread, maybe make my biscotti dough, and then make a romantic dinner for Matt - it'll be the first evening we've spent alone together in quite some time. That sounds like it'll be a good day too :)

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)