Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bad night.

First off, I've got a story about why my head hurts so much this morning. Last night, I had a dream about Friends - more specifically about Chandler dancing - when I woke up from that dream and heard someone rustling papers downstairs. Matt heard it too and all he could say was "no way..." Gabe was in bed with us because I had pulled him in to feed him about an hour before. I was freaking out and didn't know what to do. I told Matt to do something, or say something but he was just frozen. All he could say was "get out" and he could barely say it louder than a whisper. I started panicing even more so I yelled "get out" and the person downstairs yelled back "Kevin." Not as in "Kevin, let's get out of here!" but as in, "Hi, my name is Kevin." This freaked me out even more because it meant he wasn't planning on just leaving - so this time I just screamed "GET OUT!" ...and then I really woke up this time. Oh, and I woke Matt and Gabe up too. After I stopped hyperventilating I asked Matt, who was by this time really worried about me, to go check and see if anyone was in the house. I knew they weren't but I also knew I wouldn't get back to sleep until he went and checked. I put Gabe down in his crib (I really did have him with me) and then got back to bed the same time Matt finished checking the house - and there wasn't anyone in it, named Kevin or not. Man, I felt like an idiot! I started playing through in my head all the details of my dream that should have tipped me off that it was a dream. For example, there are no papers on our main floor that people could just flip through, the bedroom in my dream was taller and narrower than ours actually is and our bed was higher in my dream. But they were small enough details and dream Matt was agreeing with me about someone being in the house, so it was enough to really scare me at the time. Never mind the fact that Matt and I both check the deadbolts on our door every night, that our dog barks at the slightest sound in the night and that I can hear my baby breathing in the next room so how on earth is someone supposed to get in our squeeky front door without me hearing??? Well, that was 4:30 a.m. At 5:30 a.m. I was still awake. I figured I should probably just get up but I decided that I'd try a little bit longer to get back to sleep - I should've just got up. I did fall asleep but I was so exhausted that it wasn't good sleep. It was the type of sleep that no matter how long it goes on for you actually feel worse after than before. So now my eyes are dry, my head hurts and my kitchen isn't clean - which is what I planned to do if I had gotten up at 5:30 this morning.
Well, enough about stupid dreams and bad sleeps. Let me tell you about the fun that was last night! At some point yesterday afternoon I was sitting in one of my wingback chairs next to the fishtank and I just happened to look over and saw one of my guppies give birth! It was crazy! So I ran and grabbed a net and started catching babies. I caught a couple and then I left the net in the tank and went to get dinner started. Matt came in shortly after and recognized what the net in the tank meant and kindly informed me that there were two more babies in my net waiting for me to put them in the hatchery. It turns out the female decided the net was a safe place to have babies so she'd swim into it, pop a few out and then swim back out. Well, we had 14 babies before this - 6 bigger ones and 8 fairly new ones. Yesterday we caught 15 brand new babies. And there's still some in the tank, not to mention two more females who will probably have their babies today or tomorrow. Oh yah, and I got to see the female give birth 3 or 4 times more. It was pretty sweet.
I had my meeting last night with the rental company too. It sucked having to drive out in the pouring rain to get to the meeting, but at least it was at a Starbucks so I could drink coffee the whole meeting. The meeting went well and my clients will get a wicked awesome discount if they book through her. On my way home I noticed that some parts of the road looked more wet than others. I realized that one of the lanes was completely flooded and that the snow was getting heavier. Stupid snow. I was fine with the rain - really. I even like rainy days. No one likes a snowy day at the end of April.
Well, today I am finishing up the majority of my cleaning and doing some grocery shopping. Tomorrow I'll be doing all of my chopping in advance to make things as speedy as possible for Saturday.
I will post that recipe for the Black Bean and Corn Salsa that my sister made for my mom's tea party. It was so good that I'm making it for the baby dedication. I hate black beans and red onion and I loved this so if you don't think you'll like it, make it for someone else's party and taste a bit while you're there. It's amazing.
Black bean and corn salsa:
19 oz can black beans, rinsed
1 c kernel corn
1 avocado, diced
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1/3 c finely chopped red onion
1/3 c chopped cilantro
1/4 c fresh lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 to 3 tsp jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 tsp salt

If you are making ahead, don't chop and add the avocado until just before or else it will brown. Just toss all the ingredients together (except, I hate cilantro so I'll be leaving that out of mine!)
Well, I hope you all are feeling better than I am today and that the snow melts quickly for all of our sakes.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Curb Appeal

I was just looking through the Better Homes and Gardens website while I was taking a break from cleaning and I found a photo album of before and afters of houses that had remodelled their exteriors. Some of these houses were dismal before - just plain and boring - but all of the after pictures were fantastic! My first thoughts were, "Yah, if I had a load of money I could make my house look like that too," but my next thoughts were more along the lines of, "Wow, it doesn't take much to make a big difference," and, "I could do that!" I pulled up a picture of the exterior of our house from before we moved it. We've already added a load of curb appeal simply by cutting down some trees and putting up a fence, but there have been a few things that have always bothered me about our house. The first I'd have to say is the position of the front door. When we hadn't seen the house yet but had only seen pictures I thought that there was only one side door. The house I grew up in had a front facing door that left you no doubt of where to go. This house - not so much. The second thing about this place is the color. It's yellow. Not sickeningly yellow, but definately dated yellow. Matt and I had tossed around the idea of residing this house but we also were talking alot about movie into a bigger place, so it seemed like a silly investment.
Well, Looking at this album inspired me. I opened that picture of our house in Paint and, very primatively, drew on some additions: I moved the door, added a front walk-way, colored the trim... Things that would require some, but not a huge amount of work, and definately would change our house for the better. Now all I have to do is convince my hubby!
Actually, my sister's house is one example of how easy it can be to change your house. When they first moved in the house had faded grey stucco and blue trim. It looked like a barn. Last summer they painted the stucco a dark brown and the trim black and now it looks like a new house! With only painting! The difference to their place has definately been an improvement.
I'm watching my guppies in the tank right now and one of them is just about to have her babies. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to see them just popping out any second now. Then we have another female who will probably have her babies in a couple days, and another one due next week. Fortunately that tank at the hospital is large so that we can put any extra guppies we have in there!
I finished cleaning Gabe's room before lunch today and then I was fortunately enough to have Matt come home for lunch! We just had some soup, nothing fancy, but it was really nice seeing him in the middle of the day. Once Gabe wakes up from his nap we'll go upstairs to play for a bit and then I'll start cleaning our bedroom. I forgot that I have to make dinner tonight since I haven't had to in nearly a week, so I'd better figure that out. But I already know what we're having for dessert... wedding cake! We had kept the top tier of our wedding cake in our freezer and Matt suggested we pull it out today. I forgot just how gorgeous it was! I definately didn't forget how yummy it was though! I'm excited for it!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

God is Good :)

God is so good - you know? Like, really, really, unfathomably good. Monday night was an amazing night. Matt and I grabbed a quick dinner out for our anniversary and then we went to our bible study thingy called Auxano. All day Matt and I had been talking about something sort of disappointing that had occurred recently and it was weighing on us so heavy. The teachings that night hit the topic bang on at one point. It was insane! Then we went over to the pub we hang out at afterwards and talked theology with one of our friends and out of no where he came out and said something that was, again, bang on topic for what Matt and I had been struggling with and it totally reassured us. The thing is, this guy had no clue about what Matt and I had been talking about all day and he actually went off topic in our current conversation to say what he did. After that evening we totally felt reaffirmed, reassured and unburdened. Only God could craft things so amazingly.
Yesterday was Gabriel's first birthday! It's crazy to think that I have a one year old! And such a perfect one too! If you don't believe me just ask any of his aunts, uncles or grandparents :)
For Gabe's birthday I finally broke down and let him have wheat... in the form of a cookie! Well, not really a cookie. A biscuit. An arrowroot. Since there are some major allergies on my side we decided to hold off on all wheat, dairy and egg whites until he was a year old. He really liked the biscuit though and he nibbled off little pieces over the span of 15 minutes.
During the day Gabe and I played downstairs. And by that I mean he played and I cleaned. And I got it all done! One area down! 3 to go! Oh, and the weather is not supposed to be good for Saturday so somehow we're going to have the baby dedication in our house. I suppose we'll be moving the table into the kitchen to make more room for people to come in and sit and there may be some standing-room only for the service. Ah well, I'll feed them all well enough that they won't care where they sit (or don't sit).
Today I'm supposed to get the bedrooms cleaned. This one won't be very hard. The only mess we really ever have in bedrooms is laundry and all of it is clean so it's just putting it all away. The living room will actually be a shared venture between Matt and I. The largest part of the mess in the living room is reno stuff - materials, tools, paint, etc. Most of that stuff doesn't even belong in the house but actually in Matt's work van. So Matt will clean anything to do with renos and I will clean the rest. I really think I'm getting the better end of the deal!
Tonight I have another meeting for my event planning business. This time it's with a rental company. I think it will go well, I believe the girl running it is only a few years older than me, has young kids and even lives in the same district as me. We seem to have alot in common so we'll probably work well together. And hey, even if the meeting doesn't go as planned, it's at Starbucks so at least I'll get coffee out of the deal.
I need to get a perm again. On Monday night at the pub, somehow my hair managed to curl a perfect ringlet in the front which means over the next two months ringlets will start popping up all over at random times. The reason I get perms is to control how my hair curls. I've just been waiting for my hair to be long enough to get it done again and really, it's Matt's favorite way that I do my hair. I always found that so frustrating - I'd spend a couple hours doing my hair: washing, blow drying, straightening, styling... and then Matt would say, "Oh, why didn't you just leave it down and curly?" Which is how my hair dries when I don't do anything to it. I'm happy that he loves me the way I am without any effort to look better, but sometimes it's just frustrating!
Well, I suppose I should get cleaning soon since I've got to do some decorating today too - I want to have a decor display in each room for Saturday. In the bathroom I have shelves up that I change the items on them out each season and they're still stuck in winter, the living room will have a floral arrangement, the kitchen will have food (nuf said), the basement will have a manly display of bikes and hockey stuff, Gabe's room will have his toys set up all cute and fluffy and our bedroom will have something... I'm not sure what yet.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this wet and cold day and I sincerely hope that it does not snow.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, April 26, 2010


Happy anniversary to me! Two years ago today I married the man of my dreams :) It was an amazing day. We got married in the mountains out by Canmore. At 2:00 p.m. I started the 2.5 minute long aisle walk from the door of my chalet, down a rocky staircase with mounds of snow on either side, and up into the lodge. We took pictures in a park by the river with the Three Sisters in the background and then came back to the lodge for an amazing dinner of roast beef and lemon-mint chicken. My cousin made the cake which was huge and gorgeous, my bridesmaids and I made the bouquets and my friend Mike sang for us. We actually had quite the soundtrack for our wedding. The boys walked into Pachelbel's Canon D as played by Trace Bundy, an amazing guitarist with a very unique style. The bridesmaids walked into the song Butterfly by the Finnish group Rajaton - amazing song! I came in to the song "Your Hands are Cold" by Dario Marianelli from the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack. If you've seen the movie it's the song that's playing as Mr. Darcy is walking across the misty field coming to tell Elizabeth that he still loves her. It has this gorgeous swell filled with string instruments at 2 minutes and 11 seconds into the song and somehow, even though I couldn't hear the music since most of my walk as outdoors, I came into the lodge at the head of the aisle just as the music swelled. I think it as God's wedding present to me :)
Back to the song list - the song for our signing was The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face as performed by Johnny Cash. Then the recessional was Would You Go With Me by Josh Turner. I really wanted that song in the wedding - the words are so perfect:
If I gave you my hand ould you take it
And make me the happiest man in the world
If I told you my heart couldn't beat one more minute without you, girl
Would you accompany me to the edge of the sea
Let me know if you're really a dream
I love you so, so would you go with me?
I fell in love with that song the first year Matt and I were dating and it still made me giddy every time I heard it a couple years later. The last song of note was our first dance which was All I Ever Wanted by Brian Melo - again a perfect song lyrically:
Slow down make it last
I'm having the time of my life
So take a photograph
I don't want to leave this behind
What seemed so out of reach
We're holding it right in our hands
Let's give up everything
Let's jump in and never look back
It was such a beautiful day! Sure there were some things that didn't go as planned and our feet were sore and the poor boys necks were raw from the stiff collars in their shirts, and sure I made a poorly timed joke that ended up getting around at our church, but when the day was over I was married to my best friend and we could look back fondly on the day without having had anything crazy happen.
Matt unexpectedly got today off when his job fell through until tomorrow and that was a very welcome anniversary present! We got some painting done instead of cleaning the basement, so our bench seat just needs to dry overnight and then we can put the lids on and it's done! Then Matt and I went out and checked out the fish tank in the Peds unit at the hospital that we are assuming care of. Once a month we'll go in and clean the tank and we'll provide the fish - mostly cheap feeder goldfish but also any excess guppies from our tank. Which, we can donate one of our males for sure. We went to pick some stuff up for the hospital tank at Petsmart and I was showing Gabe the guppies and I saw a beautiful red male with black spots and shark-like fins. He was so pretty! So we bought him for Gabe's birthday present!
Well, in an hour or so Matt and I are going for a quick dinner before Auxano. Maybe I should go make myself look pretty for him!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Sunday, April 25, 2010


This was a good weekend! Not to sound too surprised, but at 10 a.m. on Friday morning I was rather worried about how it would turn out. But, as you may have read, my sister came, the food was great and everyone had fun. Now I have 6 days to get ready for the baby dedication and more and more people keep getting invited :) Tonight Matt and I went to get our anniversary present - a frame for our painting! Unfortunately, it won't be done in time for our baby dedication, but that's okay - we've got about 7 pictures sitting in our office just waiting for wall space. I have a painting of a couple in Venice going to a Masquerade that will look perfect in that wall space. When Matt and I were in the gallery picking out our frame we saw some art by a guy named Len Krenzler. His paintings feature WWII planes in battle with amazing detail and beautiful colors. Matt and I had decided a while ago that when we have a game room (some day) we'll buy a piece of his art and hang it in there. Well, the lady who was helping us said that each painting is actually based on a real life situation. The artist interviews pilots and paints the battle scene with the real numbers and artwork from their planes, then he gets the pilots to sign the art. Now we really want one! What a cool concept! There's one of a plane going right under the Eiffel Tower - the footnote on it says "Signed by Bill Overstreet - 357th Fighter Group - Spring of 1944" We totally thought that a scene like that would never have happened, but apparently it did and Bill Overstreet was there in the Spring of 1944. Here's a link to check out some of his work:
Speaking of painting, I painted all of our doors upstairs tonight. All of the wood in our house was a beautiful walnut color but as nice as it looks, we need it to be white now. So we've been painting doors and baseboards for a while and we just had those doors upstairs left to do. So now that they are done the whole house looks updated! Just don't open our office door :)
Tomorrow is our anniversary and we're still going to Auxano. We are, however, dropping Gabe off with Matt's parents earlier and going to grab a quick dinner before it starts. Then I have a bottle of our favorite wine that we'll crack into after Gabe goes to bed and we'll drink from our special Anniversary glasses! Yay!
Also, tomorrow is the start of my crazy cleaning week. I'm doing the basement tomorrow so hopefully Gabe cooperates so that I can get it all done. The hardest area to get ready will be the yard. Cash likes to get into our recycling and rip up the boxes and drag them all over the yard. So there's garbage all over it. That and I haven't planted my flower beds yet so I'll want to at least do that. Hopefully it only takes one day! Just in case though I might do that on Tuesday so that if I don't get it done that day I'll have lots of time to finish.
Well Matt and I are watching some Friends right now and then it's bedtime before a busy week!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tea Party Success!

Yahoo! Event #2 of 3 for this month is done! And it went great!
When people came in they helped themselves to pre-plated black bean and corn salsa with blue corn tortilla chips (which, by the way, was fantastic! I didn't expect to like it!) and some of the proscuitto wrapped apples. Then after chatting and waiting for everyone else to arrive we went to the table for tea, scones and more food. The Cream of Earl Grey tea was a really big hit. The cupcakes my sister made were amazing too. They were supposed to be lavender-honey poppy seed but you know what's really hard to find? Lavender honey. Fortunately I had bought a jar of raspberry flavoured honey in Kimberley on my honeymoon two years back and it finally came in handy. So we substituted the sour cream in the recipe for whipping cream and used the raspberry honey and they were light and mild and not too cakey. I really liked them. The watermelon cubes with feta and mint went over really well and they didn't even need a balsamic reduction to be great. Oh yah, and the sherbet is almost all gone. Even though we stuffed all of the guests the whole afternoon, nearly all of them wanted the sherbet at the end of the party. I nearly forgot about the tea cup favours but fortunately remembered before anyone left.
It was really fun! I was kinda stressed at about 1:00 when I still needed to change and make most of the food since it was a last-minute prep kinda menu, but we got everything cleaned up and plated before the party started so it worked great! I am however quite full of tea. We went through probably a dozen pots of tea between 9 women over 2 hours. Crazy, eh? I guess it's a good thing I didn't serve mimosas!
Matt got the bench seat built today so tomorrow we're painting it and then cleaning up all the reno tools and materials. Then each day this week I'm devoting to cleaning one area. First the basement, then the living room, then the backyard, then the bedrooms and bathroom and finally the kitchen. I have to leave the kitchen for last because of the amount of use it gets throughout the week. Although, this week won't be so bad in it. Besides making food for the baby dedication, Monday is our anniversary so we're having a quick dinner out before our bible study, then Tuesday is Gabe's birthday so we'll be over at my parents' house. Wednesday I have a meeting so we'll be having a quick dinner. Thursday and Friday aren't full yet but we might have one of Matt's friends over on the Thursday and whenever that happens I usually clean the kitchen the morning of and then clean it back up right after dinner while the men have their dessert and coffee (yep, that's how I roll). The menu is still pretty simple for Saturday - the grocery list even simpler. There are very few things I need to pick up besides produce and baguettes and that's the way I want to keep it. I can make a few things in advance - like the honey mustard sauce that is crucial to making the mini #5's. I do have to figure out decor for each room of the house which may be a task since I hadn't been planning on changing it until June but it will be a fun task at least! Ah yes, and I have to remember to buy a cake for Gabe. I almost feel like I'm cheating by buying an ice cream cake, but really they are so good! I particularly love the gel icing they use at Dairy Queen on their cakes. But maybe it's the cheating feeling that makes me want to make more food. And also since people are arriving at 2:00 and due to scheduling hiccups the service isn't starting until 3:00 and we didn't want to break cake out until after, so it's best to have food out for people.
I am being kind to myself in one major aspect - paper plates, plastic cups and limited serving trays. When Matt and I first got married he could never understand why I would cook the food in one dish and then put it in another one to bring it to the table, even on nights when it was just us. I've tried to lick that habit, especially on nights when he has to do the dishes, but this Saturday I'll be really good about it. Besides, I don't want to make a mess in the house I'll have worked all week on to get clean!
Well, Matt's playing Guitar Hero, Gabe's been asleep pretty much since we got home (he only had one nap today!) and I am going to go have a hot, relaxing bath. And read some Pride and Prejudice!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Weekend saved!

Whew! What potentially could have been a crappy day has actually been a really nice one. My mom called me this morning to say that my sister was sick last night and might not be coming to town to help me with the tea party! Suckiness all over! First off I would have had to make cupcakes and a dip myself and secondly - and more importantly - I wouldn't have had my sister to hang out with all weekend! Well, she came :) So we spent today playing cards, drinking tea and playing with babies. I just ran out to pick up some groceries and grabbed myself some sushi and when I got back Matt phoned to ask me what type of bubble tea he could bring me! I love him! My poor husband - he worked all day and I should have brought him stuff while he was working and then the first thing he does when he gets off work is offers to spoil me. Oh yah, and this morning when I got up I noticed on my chalk board (that I use as my menu board) that he had made a list of things that he loves about me. It was quite extensive.
I made my scone mix this morning so tomorrow all I have to do is add cheese/blueberries and water. Super fast! Then I have to cube the watermelon and stuff it with the feta and mint, slice the apples, wrap them in proscuitto and then fry them in the pan. I'm making my sherbet this evening so that I can make sure it freezes properly and then I have very little left to do in the morning! Yay!
The kids are being absolutely adorable today and saying a whole bunch of things - Gabe said "all done" (well actually, it was more of a "ah dun" but he did the gesture for the end of his meal too so we knew what it meant)
Well, I'm going to go start my sherbet since I have to stir it every half hour for four hours straight. I hope your day went well too!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baby Dedication Menu

Great - another second post day. Today it's because I'm bored and lonely. Matt has to work late so it's just me and the babe for another few hours. It kinda wears on you being home alone all day without anyone around for intellectual conversation. Then put on to that the fact that I have had a fairly productive day and so now I don't want to really be productive anymore...
On a happier note, I did figure out a menu, of sorts, for the baby dedication. I'm going to have crostini with a bunch of different toppings: BLT bruschetta, possibly smoked salmon, fruit salsa with chili yogurt and mini #5's. A #5 refers to the sandwich menu from City Roast Coffee in downtown Red Deer. The #5 has lettuce, ham, cheese and their homemade honey mustard sauce - which I happen to know how to make. I'll probably put some tomatoes on it too. Besides the crostini I may do some shrimp since it's been on sale so much lately that I now have 5 bags in my freezer. I'll probably have leftover proscuitto so I'll use the rest of that for proscuitto wrapped apples again, and I may - depending on time and leftover watermelon - make up some of those watermelon, feta and mint squares that I'm doing for the tea party - only this time I'll add a balsamic reduction. Then I'll have things like chips and salsa of course for people who don't like to venture into my realm for "worldly tastes" as my mom so neatly coined it. Of course, she did use that expression to describe bruschetta...
Well maybe I'll break down and do something productive - like make my sherbet or my scone mix for Saturday. Sigh.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Folding Laundry

I can't do it. I tried, but I just can't. I can't only have cake at Gabe's baby dedication! It's ridiculous! I'm going to have nearly 30 people in, and around, my house! What if some of them are diabetic? What if some of them just don't like cake? What if I get bored leading up to it because I'm not even baking one of the cakes - I'm just buying it! Well, the getting bored thing won't be too big of an issue because I have to have the entire house and our yard spotless so over the next week I have to even plant my flower beds - but nevertheless. I think it would be nice if I had more than just cake. So, in an attempt to be reasonable and not stress myself out, I'm thinking I'll just do things that may look fancy but really have only three or four ingredients. I'll be spending some of today looking up some ideas and drafting a menu plan.
Hopefully I'll also spend some of today getting some Starbucks in me. I was up til 2 last night with Gabe - he fell asleep at 10 and then woke up an hour later before Matt and I had gone to bed. Then he just didn't want to go back to sleep. So this morning I'm pretty tired and pretty out of it (especially since Gabe doesn't sleep in past 9) I was at Starbucks last night and probably had 4 shots worth of espresso - I could use that right now in one drink.
I had been hoping to plant my flowerbeds today but thanks to this wind it's not exactly good weather for bringing the baby outside. So instead I decided to fold laundry! We had a load of it in the basement that we haven't gotten around to so Gabe and I spent the morning in the basement, watching Friends and folding clothes. Well, I folded - Gabe crawled all over the folded laundry and kinda messed it up again. This afternoon I'm hopefully going grocery shopping for the tea party and if I leave the house it will definately involve a coffee run.
Oh and I need to decide on decor for basically every room of my house for the baby dedication! That's fun though :) That's what I'd do every day if Matt let me keep enough decorations to change things out daily!
Well, I'd best go and put Gabe to sleep so that I can find food for lunch.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Post #2 = Productive day! Well, semi-productive. As productive as you can get without having done any cleaning! I got outside a bit this afternoon with Gabe and Cash. Gabe loved the wind blowing the tree branches and I loved the sun :) Cash just loved the company. I also got through a few more chapters of Pride and Prejudice which I have been reading off and on over the past month (for, what, the 12th time?) Then this afternoon I did up another website. It's the third one now. The reason I've done up so many is that they are all through different webhosting companies., Tripod and now What I've been looking for is the site that will give me the best templates and the most professional look. The verdict is in, and that website is Wix does all flash sites with easy to use templates and a large library of stock images that you can use for free. It actually makes for a pretty good-looking website. The only issue I have with it is that I pretty much have to pay for a domain name because the web address that you get with a free account is too long to be practical. So it will cost me about $10 a month to register my domain name through that website - $120 a year. That's not bad, it's not great, but it is one heck of an easy site to use and make it look great fast.
Anyway, I made chicken fried rice for dinner, sans green onion because I didn't have any in the house (I never have any in the house unless I buy it for a specific recipe) and then I went to my meeting with my caterer. I had found this caterer advertising on kijiji and some of the pictures she had posted of her food were fantastic. Compared to the other caterers in town it was amazing actually. So I asked if she would be able to give my clients a discount and sign up for a vendor contract with me and she agreed to it! We met tonight and it went awesome. She was delighted that I knew what an amuse bouche was and I was delighted that she made them. So she's in and I'm happy that I've got a caterer lined up who can actually make gourmet food.
Well, now I'm home, Gabe's finally in bed and Matt and I are going to go fold clothes while we watch some Friends episodes! I love this life!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Pot de Creme

Will you look at that! My house is clean! Well, not all of it. The basement is still full of laundry that needs to be put away and Gabe's room is full of boxes full of clothes that need to go into storage - but other than that it looks pretty good! Those Pot de Creme I made yesterday? The recipe was for 4 of them and since I only needed 3 I used the extra one as a taste test (I don't like serving anything to guests without tasting it first) It was amazing!! Much less eggy than I was worried it would be. Much better than I thought it would be. It was basically a really thick chocolate mousse, or a really thick and super good chocolate pudding. I'm actually going to post the recipe because it was so good. And the odd thing is, it came out of my Better Homes and Gardens cook book. The new one, not my 50 year old one. The recipes in the old one are fantastic. The recipes in the new one I find as being rather hit and miss. Typically I make a recipe from there once just by following the recipe and then I write in notes for what to change about the recipe the next time I make it. There are pencil marks all over that book. Well these were perfect. I honestly will not be changing a thing about them. I also ended up making a white cake from the same cook book which, to my surprise, was equally as good. The white cake, as opposed to a yellow cake, used shortening and strictly egg whites (I had some leftover from making the pot de creme) The other white cake recipes I have tried in the past are usually too dense and dry. This was perfect! I was eating the edges off the cake all yesterday (I mean come on, you can't serve edges to guests, right?) It was flavorful enough and sweet enough that it didn't need anything else but not so sweet that strawberries and whipped cream wrecked it. So I had success with two pieces of baking yesterday. The other thing I "baked" was some oven-barbqued chicken for dinner. Unfortunately I used a barbque sauce with brown sugar in it and Matt was home late from work, so leaving them to stay warm in the oven overcooked the sugar in the sauce. It wasn't awful, but it was much better at 5:00 than 6:00. Gabe's meals lately have been more fun and everyday I'm grateful for my magic bullet. If you think that the magic bullet is just a lousy, dinky food processor, I may have agreed with you before, but not now. Once you start making baby food at home it is the most valuable kitchen tool you can find. Gabe's dinners lately have been some type of poultry, steamed spinach and sometimes cucumber, all pureed up in my magic bullet. Because I only make him one serving of his green "milk shake" at a time, there's no way a full sized food processor would do the job. Plus, I only need one dish - I can steam the spinach in the microwave in the plastic cup and reheat the poultry in it too, then I keep the water from steaming in, add the cucumber and puree and then feed him from the same cup! It's perfect! Honestly, I'm amazed at the things Gabe will eat. I won't touch mnost of it myself. Sweet potatoes, cooked spinach, squash... All things that I'm not a huge fan of and only really like when it's mixed with other things. He loves them all and I'm totally happy about that. If he'll eat healthy things I'll make sure they're always in the house.
Matt and I had a conversation a few weeks ago about raising kids and how we plan to do it. We decided that we won't have a tonne of rules but instead will have a tonne of alternatives. For example, I don't want our kids watching TV or sitting in front of a computer all day. So instead of putting a cap on how much they watch we'll organize activities, go out and play sports with them or encourage them in a hobby. Also, we don't want our kids to eat alot of junk food so while we don't typically have chips and pop in the house anyway, I'll still make sure that I make my kids breakfast every morning so that they eat a good meal instead of 5 bowls of sugary cereal, I'll make healthy dinners of foods that they'll like, and I'll even pack their lunches until they graduate if that's what it takes to encourage my kids to eat well.
Well, the sun is shining, birds chirping and for some reason I'm still sitting inside. I'm posting that recipe and then I'm outtie :)

Pot de Creme:
1 c. whipping cream
3 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/6 c. sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine the first three ingredients in a medium sized heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occassionally, until it comes to a full boil. In the meantime beat egg yolks in a 4 cup measuring cup. When the cream mixture boils, stir constantly until it thickens. Pour the cream mixture gradually over the egg yolks, whisking constantly until it is fully mixed (this is very important - if you don't, the egg will start to cook) Beat in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into small cups, 3 ounce ramekins or sake cups. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours. Serve topped with a dab of whipped cream.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Tonight is the night that one of the pastors from our church is coming over to talk with us about our baby dedication. He'll get to see the house in a before and after state. When he comes tonight the bench seat won't be done yet, there will be wood all over the living room and most of our doors are only half painted. When he comes back in two weeks it wil all be spotless and everything will be done! I hope! I wanted to bake up some peanut butter brownies for our meeting tonight but was a couple ounces short of unsweetened chocolate and didn't really have anything that I could substitute with that wouldn't affect the taste so I changed to Pots de Creme. I'd never made them before for some reason... Super easy though, so long as you whisk alot when you're adding the hot chocolate to the egg yolks. Oh, and so long as you don't walk away. I have a horrible tendancy to walk away while I am baking and go do something else for a while (ADD much?) and when you are making anything that resembles a custard, this is a really crappy trait. That's why whenever I make eclairs they are filled with whipped cream and not custard cream. The Pots de Creme are small - understandably, since they are so rich - so I'm probably going to whip up a cake of sorts or maybe some banana bread. And we just found out that Thursday we are having a friend over for dinner (not sure which one yet, but two people are vying for the spot) so maybe having a bit of leftover cake wouldn't be a bad idea.
I just looked outside before I sat down to write this and my neighbour's son and his friend are outside doing some yardwork and terrorizing my dog. These guys are my age, or older, and they still will lean over a fence to make a dog bark and tease him. And then they put their cat on top of the shed. Silly little boys.

There's a song I may or may not have mentioned on here before - I really love it - it's been on my mind alot lately. It's almost been my anthem for the past 5 months. It's called The Valley Song by Jars of Clay. Admittedly I used to skip over the track alot and go on to my favorite songs on the cd, until one day I forgot to skip it and I just started crying while I listened to the words. It was what I was feeling being played out on the cd. Here are the lyrics:

You have lead me to the sadness
I have carried this pain
On a back bruised and a nearly broken
I'm crying out for You

I will sing of Your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy

When death, like a gypsy,
Comes to steal what I love
I will still look to the heavens
I will still seek Your face
Though I fear you aren't listening
Because there are no words
Just the stillness, and the hunger,
For a faith that assures

I will sing of Your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy

While we wait for rescue
With our eyes tightly shut
Face to the ground, using our hands
To cover the fatal cut
Though the pain is an ocean
Tossing us around, around, around
You have calmed greater waters
And higher mountains have come down

I will sing of Your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy

This is the song that gets me through day to day when hard times pop up - which they continually do. The verses speak of our mortal weakness, of our flawed reasoning and our absolute wretchedness on this earth. The second verse talks about feeling isolated from God and relying on faith, while the writer's faith seems weak in that moment. But then comes the hope: I will sing of Your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy. He has calmed greater waters and brought higher mountains down. He will turn our mourning into dancing and even though we may not understand how or when Romans 8:28 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Good will come of our pain and our sorrow. A greater good. A good that none of us could have foreseen and maybe none of us will see, but God will know. His will, His good, pleasing and perfect will, carries out so much more good than our poor, selfish and incompetent will ever could. So while we may not understand, while we may not agree and while we may hurt and grieve and yearn and mourn, we may trust - we may hope and through that hope and through our faith we will be blessed and comforted.

I will sing of Your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy


Mrs. Vander Leek

Monday, April 19, 2010

Nothing Day

Today is my "nothing day". I'm doing nothing. Or, at least, as close to nothing as one can do with a baby and a puppy. I finished my event, I had a rough week last week and then a busy weekend so I think I deserve this. Especially since this week is going to be busy too. We have our bible study (Auxano) tonight, a meeting with a pastor for our baby dedication tomorrow, I am meeting a caterer on Wednesday to discuss a standing discount for my Event Planning business and then my mom's tea party is on Saturday so I've got to have everything ready for that!
Even though this weekend was busy, it was nice. Saturday, after I got up at 5:30 and waited until everyone else woke up, Matt and I went out for breakfast and picked up some more loose leaf tea. Fortunately I remembered that I also needed some for my mom's party before we left (I almost forgot entirely!). Then we ran a couple errands that resulted in Matt buying a router and we came home to get some work done. That evening we went over to Matt's parents' place for a fire and hung out with the family.
As a bit of an aside, why does everything at Earls have onions in it?? Seriously though - everything! Matt and I went for lunch yesterday after church with his siblings. I ordered the Dynamite Shrimp Rolls and the small house salad and Matt ordered Chili Chicken for us to share as a starter and the Hunan Kung Pow. well, first the Chili Chicken came with little bits of green onion all over it. Then my Shrimp Rolls came. They were tempura shrimp with slices of green onion rolled up in the nori and rice. Onion in sushi? Really? And then my salad was just saturated with onion and so was Matt's Hunan. It was really weird. We ordered 4 very different menu items and all of them were just overpowered with onion. I definately stank of onions for the rest of the day.
Anyway, at least we got to go out for lunch with people we love hanging out with, and everything tasted good in spite of the onions. Then last night we went over to my parents' house for dinner and to hang out. I got in a game of cards with my mom (and I won for once!) while Matt got to watch a movie with my dad.
I did manage to figure out with my sister what our exact menu for ma mere's party will be. My sister is making a black bean and corn salsa that we'll serve when people first come in as well as the proscuitto wrapped apples. Then when people sit down for tea we'll serve cheese scones and blueberry scones, lavender-honey poppyseed cupcakes and my amuse bouche which, thanks to my sister-in-law, I finally know what to do. She recommended that I stuff little melon balls with cinnamon sugar coated almond bits. Then I'll top that with my pistachio infused cream (I really want to make that for some reason!) Then, after tea, we'll serve a strawberry banana sherbet in little shot glasses. The teas we'll have are Red Rose (my mom's favorite), Cream of Earl Grey, Raspberry Honey and Amaretto Cherry.
I had wanted to serve mimosas with the salsa and the apples but I don't think it would fly with the majority of the attendees, so I told my sister I'd throw a tea party for her, because I know that party would appreciate it.
So this tea party won't be a Victorian tea. It'll be more eclectic than that. I'm still giving out the tea cup candles as favors and I'll have two centerpieces - one for the savoury table (the moss on the silver platter with my useless egg) and then a rose bowl for the tea table.
Oh, and Gabe's baby dedication will be the weekend after and we are now having three cakes. Yep, three. My mom is making an angel food, I wanted to buy a Dairy Queen ice cream cake and my Grandma made a birthday cake for my niece so she wants to make one for Gabe too. I may need to make something that doesn't have sugar - or, you know, run the risk of making all the attendees diabetic.
I do need to go grocery shopping today, if I happen to get a mild fit of productivity. Gabe is almost out of Cheerios! And I am out of coffee. Those are two very dangerous things to be out of.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

5:30 a.m.

I so could not sleep... I did for a little bit but at about 4:30 Gabe woke up and though I got him back to sleep relatively quickly, I laid there for an hour before I finally decided to get up. The downside to this story is that I am very, very tired. The upside is that I'm awake to see the sunrise and it's one of those sunrises that makes it look like it's 5:30 a.m. on a summer morning - my favorite time of day :)
Well, Matt and I talked over a couple plans about what to do today. Some were productive, some not so much. We finally decided on a semi-productive day. In light of that fact that two weeks from today our house will be packed with people for Gabe's baby dedication, Matt is going to finish our benchseat today while I clean, paint and bake. Then we might go and get massages! I am really feeling the need for one and Matt has a monster knot on his shoulder. Then I think we'll pick up some more Cream Earl Grey tea since we just ran out and we'll probably have a fire in our back yard this evening and maybe cook dinner over it. It's amazing how many things you can cook over a fire. Way too often camping food is limited to hot dogs and bannock (not that there is anything wrong with bannock, I'm just saying) So the last time we went camping with some friends, I was in charge of one of the meals so I brought some perogies! Boil them in a little water over the fire, maybe fry them up in a cast iron skillet after... it was great! I've made cheese buns over a fire too. You just have to wrap the bun in foil and put it down in the coals to get the cheese to melt. Then there are the limitless opportunities that come along with Pie Irons. I had never seen one of these until a couple years back when I was camping with Matt's family. They showed me how to melt the butter in it, lay bread down on one side, add filling, top with the other piece of bread and then stick it in the coals and cook to perfection. Now, as the name suggests, making "Pies" with these is a very popular task. All you need is some butter, bread and canned cherry pie filling and you've got a great little dessert. But we also did pizzas in them, and you can do eggs and breakfast sandwiches and all sorts of hot sandwiches. The next time we go camping I'm really hoping to branch out with these. And actually, maybe we'll whip them out for dinner tonight!
On the guppy front, we now have 4 new babies! It's definately not the first time our guppies have had babies since that original batch, but it's the first time we saw the babies before they all got eaten. Matt scooped three of them last night and I found the last one just now (between paragraphs). So hopefully the bigger babies don't try to eat the smaller babies. Some of our bigger ones are getting close to being big enough to have color. I'm actually really interested to see their coloring because maybe then we can tell which fish had them.
I love my puppy :) I think everyone should have a puppy. He got up at 5:30 with me and came upstairs and has been laying at my feet ever since. I think he was so excited that I was up he forgot for a while that he was still sleepy - he remembers now though!
Yesterday I made a small investment for my event planning business. A girl was selling all of her fake flowers and decorations - including a fake cake - from her wedding and I bought it all! It was only $30 and it came with a "wishing well" card box, candles, bowls, some books and as I said before, alot of fake flowers. Probably over $100 worth of fake flowers actually. It's all in fall colors, but alot of it is really nice stuff and now if I ever have a client who just wants anything that's cheap, I can lend it to them! And actually, I'd like to keep a little stock of a few different colors too so over the next few months I'll keep my eye on kijiji to see if anyone else is selling off everything from their wedding. I love my husband so much for letting me do this too. And actually, he was the one who finally convinced me to buy it all. I had been on the fence about it and he finally said, "Seriously, why would you not buy it? It'd be great to have!"
I love Kijiji. Some of the things you can find on there are outstanding. Last week I was looking on the Calgary Kijiji site and I found three 3-4 foot ceramic pillars for $30. $30!! That's crazy! Especially since they were gorgeous and probably cost $50 apiece originally.
Oh, I never ended up buying a hot red dress for my event - and it's probably best since the MC and one of the performers were wearing something similar to what I wanted to buy. I did however forget that I have a tattoo :) And while my tattoo is tasteful I do need to bear in mind that some events might require me to have it covered. I seriously forgot about it until we were at the event, lined up at the buffet and one of the planning committee members said she was surprised to see I have a tat. Whoops!
Well, I've been lazy for long enough. I should go make Matt some muffins for breakfast!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Friday, April 16, 2010


Well, my event is done! Yay! It's like such a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders! I've been thinking about this event for over a month now and to finally have all my planning come to a close is awesome.
Matt's family all ended up coming for dinner tonight (it was originally just his sister coming, then his mom, then his other sister, then his brother and finally his dad decided to join everyone) So since I wasn't going to be home I threw in a couple pork roasts this afternoon. I usually like to cook them just a bit rare and then slice them up and saute it with apple slices and sugar but since I wasn't going to be home to do that I went a slightly different direction. After I seasoned and seared the pork I deglazed with some white wine and then I made a little rack out of shallots and pears. I threw in some garlic underneath the roasts as well, poured on a little apple cider vinegar and then sprinkled it with rosemary! I covered it and threw it in the oven at 2 so I cooked it really low. The house smelled amazing! I love the smell of roasts in my house! It was really convenient too to just be able to say that dinner was in the oven, kiss my husband goodbye and go. When I got home I still had a house full of people - people who had cleaned my kitchen nonetheless - so I whipped up some coffee, tea and chocolate chip cookies :)
So now I am done my major headache event, sitting at home, drinking coffee and eating freshly baked cookies while my baby is asleep upstairs and my dog is asleep at my feet.
Oh, and my guppies had babies! So Matt's currently collecting them and putting them in the hatchery.
Tomorrow my sister had recommended that Matt and I do something really fun and relaxing that we don't usually do. She had actually suggested going to the Royal Tyrell Museum. I haven't been there in almost two decades. Pending hubby's opinion, maybe we will go and do that.
I need rest though. The last couple of days have been rough. They were stressful and then there were some curve balls that we had to deal with that were really hard, but now we've got time to regroup, relax and recover. So tomorrow, maybe before we go to Drumheller, I'm going to bake :) I find it very therapeutic!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Calm before the Storm

Well, it's now Wednesday, I have 2 days until my event, and I'm soooo not feeling well. My head hurts and my nose is plugged and it's been a long time since I've had a decent sleep. For some reason I just can't shut off my brain at night anymore. And poor Matt has to put up with the consequences :) A couple nights ago I kept him up talking about business cards with skulls and overlapping geometric designs on them. Only he could love me so well to not roll me off the bed when I do stuff like that!
It's the calm before the storm as far as the event goes. I made sure that I would have everything done in advance so that this week would be as least stressful as possible. Friday however will be crazy. I'm responsible for picking up keyboards, flowers, silent auction items... and I'm supposed to be at the hotel at 2:30 but I will have Gabe with me until 4! I don't really know how that's going to work. Even moreso, I don't know what on earth I am going to wear! This was another late night conversation Matt and I had - and by conversation I mean that I was talking and he was "uh huh"ing. Being in the role that I am as Event Planner, I need to let people know that I know what I'm doing. Now, I could pull a George Costanza and just seem really stressed all the time and then people assuming you're working hard - but I still want to come across as cool and collected. So I'm going with the idea of color psychology. Whenever the President of the United States comes on air to deliver bad or controversial news, he will be wearing a blue and red tie. Blue and red are a power combination - people see you wearing those colors and subconsciously they see you as powerful. Red is a strong color in general. You should wear blues if you want to look sincere. Tans represent neutrality and the "every-man" status. Anyway, for me, since I don't wear ties, I need to find dresses and necklaces that will give me a power look. I need to find a little red dress. Unfortunately, thanks to my post-preggo body, this is much easier said than done. The necklace should be easier. For business meetings I need to have a necklace that's bold and trendy and let's people know I'm confident in my abilities and that they should be too. I had one such necklace a while ago - the pendant was a large jade flower with red beads in the center. It got eaten though. So I need to find another such necklace.
It's funny how big my sigh of relief will be after Friday. The funny part is that I'll be no where near done my commitments for the next three weeks. I've still got parties to plan and host, cakes to bake, people to meet... but for some reason this event has more of a tendancy to loom than the others do. I'm being very good and refraining from taking on any more clients or contracts until May. It's actually kind of hard since there's another event planner (who can't even take the time to spell check her ads) who is trying to start up in town. I'm not exactly concerned over this person - I've got a gimmick and business skills. She has no gimmick and certification from a "Start your own event planning business" website. Plus, she advertises as a wedding planner. If you stick to just weddings you're missing out on a whole load of potential clients. You need to encourage people to think outside the box for their event planning needs.
Anyway, that was a bit of a rant, wasn't it? Sorry about that. How about a cute baby story now? This morning I set Gabe up in his bouncer while I checked my emails. He started fussing a bit and I just assumed he wanted me to hold him but I needed to finish my emails before I put a baby on my lap. He kept whining and fussing and finally I went over to him - he had his fingers stuck in a drawer. There's a barnwood table in our living room and his bouncer was pushed up right beside it. He had pulled the bottom drawer open and leaned over and stuck his fingers in. When he leaned over, the side of the bouncer pushed down below the drawer - but when he leaned back, while his fingers were still in the drawer, the bouncer came back up and pushed the drawer tight on his little fingers. I felt so bad! Here I was assuming he was just being grumpy and he had his fingers stuck and was hardly making a fuss considering! He was fine, by the way. His fingers were a little sore and had lines all across them, but he was fine.
well, I've got business cards to design, a website to build and a silent auction to prep so perhaps I should go be productive eh? Maybe.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, April 12, 2010

France (and florentines)

This week is going to be very stressful for me. I've kinda been dreading this week for the past month. My big Haiti event is on Friday and ticket sales have not been what we had hoped in spite of major radio plugs, discounting ticket prices, posters all over town and even going to individual businesses and trying to sell tables to them. So we're hoping we can still raise a decent amount of money for Haiti. And I'm hoping that more people come for sure. I'd hate this thing to be a flop. Fortunately our silent auction line up is awesome so we should make a lot of money from that.
It's been so long since I posted last! My goodness! Let's see... Well, I altered my wide leg fat-pants. I only did the inseam. I had intended to do that first and then the outseam after I tried them on again to see how much more I need to take in. It turns out that I didn't need to do anymore! They fit great! The only issue I have with them is that I started altering them halfway up the thigh and didn't bother undoing the seam at the crotch so the crotch looks funny now. Ah well, no one looks there anyway. But I can proudly say that they are no longer my fat pants!
Matt sold one of his motorcycles finally! So that's going towards debt and when our debt is all paid off then we get to buy a truck! He had to drive to Calgary to deliver the bike to the guy so he borrowed my dad's truck and took a buddy of his with him. And then they were nice enough to stop off at the Glamorgan Bakery in Calgary! Home of the world's best florentines! Wow I love that place. I used to live right across the street from it and the smell of the fresh baking every morning while I stood waiting for my bus to take me to work was incredible. So Matt brought me home some florentines so that I can figure out the recipe and his friend gave us some cheese buns from there which were amazing.
We got to see my sister and her family this weekend as well, which was great. We always love to spend time with them. It's always so relaxing and stress free.
On Sunday we went over to Matt's parents' place for some dutch food and company. They had some people over who all had ties to dutch heritage (it was a very lonely place for me, I'm telling you) and so we had nasi and a bunch of things I can't even pretend to remember the name of, let alone how to properly say the name.
We found out that two of the guys who came over for lunch along with Matt's dad and sister are going to France at the beginning of May! And man, I'm sooooo jealous! While they're there they plan to just see the sites and enjoy the culture and the food. Not to mention, the whole group is made up of people that Matt and I would be most suited to travel with. Matt loves traveling with his dad and they both really like seeing the actual way of life in the places they visit - away from the touristy spots. One of the men going is the missions pastor at our church who is a very intellectual man and could probably teach us a lot of things about France while we were there. The other guy going is the same friend of Matt's who accompanied him to Calgary to deliver his bike. He's done alot of traveling and is just an all around interesting guy. And last, but by no mean least, my sister-in-law is going as the only female in the group. Her and I get along great; she's one of my best friends and we'd have alot of fun being in France together.
But oh well. we won't be able to go so the best I can hope for is that my sister-in-law will bring me back some form of french pastry so that I can try and figure out the recipe.
Today is going to be a semi-productive day. Thus far I've been able to get some stuff done for my taxes that our accountant needed and I'm washing all of our bedding today. And it's a good thing too, cause Gabe just threw up in his play pen. The poor guy... I don't think he's feeling sick - he isn't acting like it - but maybe he just ate too much banana for breakfast.
Today I also have to get the living room sorted, pick up a couple more donations for the silent auction and clean the kitchen. Perhaps I should get started on some of those instead of sitting on the computer, eh?

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Ugh. I feel alot worse than I did yesterday around this time. My throat is still sore from the morning, my eyes burn... silly cold. Go away. No one likes you.
Today has been a rather slow day. It still feels like it should be 9, just based on what I've done today. Ah well, I need to just get over this cold and then I'll bounce back.
So my teacup candles yesterday? Some of them still made wells in the middle! But good ol' Martha Stewart came through for me yet again. Apparently you need to not trim the wicks until the wax is set and then poke shallow holes all around the wick and then pour a little bit more hot wax on top so that it will all be even across the top. Then you can trim the wick. So I'm going to top up the ones that didn't work this afternoon and hope that even though I trimmed my wicks already that they'll still be long enough. My fingers are crossed.
I did get around to stuffing and stitching up some pillows today. My original plan for the day had been to alter my wide leg jeans while Gabe had his morning nap - only it's the afternoon now and Gabe still hasn't slept! So I did what I could do without a sewing machine and fixed those pillows for my sister. Maybe during Gabe's afternoon nap I'll get downstairs to the sewing machine...
we're expecting more guppy babies fairly soon, and actually, we think one of the guppies had her babies last night and they all got eaten. She had been acting weird all day and hiding in the plants and behind the filter tube so I kept checking to see if she'd had the babies yet. And then this morning she doesn't look pregnant anymore. Great. But we've got two or three more pregnant females in the tank so this month we'll see at least a few more babies.
Matt and I were checking out trailers just for fun last night. We plan to buy one within the next couple years but first we need a truck, a cargo trailer and a minivan. But we still like to look! Man, there are some great deals to be had! 24 footers for less than $7000 in really good condition. And we wouldn't even want one that big. We both prefer to just tent, but when you have kids (especially babies) sometime a canvas tent just won't cut it. So we'd just be looking for something that we could stay warm in and off the ground. I even found some old 80's ones that were in sound condition, just really outdated. But really, isn't renoing a trailer the same as renoing a house? Just smaller and cheaper? So we'd have no troubles re-upholstering everything, painting, flooring and replacing sinks and stuff.
Well, I'm starving. I'm going to try and put Gabe to sleep so that I can finally eat.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Post #2 du jour

Wow, I've gotten alot done today considering how crappy I felt when I woke up this morning. I must admit, I am feeling alot better. My throat stopped hurting soon after I got up (it's still a little tender, but much, much better) and though my nose is still pretty stuffed my head feels almost normal. Hopefully I'll be able to kick this thing before the weekend.
Well, the candles are done! Yay! I actually redid a couple of the first ones I had made. I made the mistake of not soaking my wicks before I put them in the hot wax. So as the wax was solidifying, the wicks were soaking up the wax and there were indents in the top of each of them. A couple of them were really bad so I tried topping them up but couldn't get it to look smooth, so I just redid them all. I dyed my eggs too. The dye was 1 c hot water, 1 tsp vinegar and 20 drops food coloring and then I did a variety of shades to mix it up. I wish I had something other than large eggs in my house, but it's okay, they'll work. And I got to have scrambled eggs for lunch!
I've come to the conclusion that if I want to look good in clothes again, I may need to get handy with my sewing machine. I still don't own a pair of jeans that looks decent on me since having Gabe. I do have a half decent pair however. So perhaps I'll just take in the thigh and the calf on that uber wide-leg pair and maybe the calf and hem another pair I have. And I'm going to need some dresses for events this summer. My greatest shopping success story is how I found a dress at Le Chateau outlet marked down to $5 from $250. It was an extra large but because it was a halter top, the only thing I needed to really change about it was that I took in the back a bit so that it'd stay up on me and it looks great! Perhaps this should be the answer to all my clothing woes... Find the overly large, really cheap clothes and alter them so that they work on me. As it stands, everywhere in town has let me down for how jeans fit: Bluenotes thighs are a tad too tight, Warehouse One's crotches are way too low, Le Chateau is too rich for my blood, Stitches changed their sizes and while some styles fit sometimes it's really hit and miss there. But Value Village is my current supplier and if I put in the time and energy to fix up my own clothes, maybe I'll feel better about being seen in public again :)
I was going to go all out for dinner tonight and make a whole bunch of food, but then I remembered that whenever Matt and I eat rice bowls we get very full, very fast. So instead, tonight I will stick with the original menu and tomorrow night we will be having Panko-crusted shallow-fried turkey tenders and fried rice and perhaps a fun salad of sorts with cranberry sauce incorporated into it. I'm sure it will all work out well!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Blowing Eggs

Well, today we are contacting spas. Not for me though - sadly. But for the silent auction. I need to make a Canmore package and a His and Her's package. So spas it is. And what am I doing besides contacting spas today? Drinking tea, blowing my nose and taking a lot of vitamin C. I've got a cold. I could feel it coming for a few days now and this morning when I woke up my throat was killing me.
However, that is not actually all that I will be doing today. Today I will also be doing crafts. A number of them actually. You see, I am trying to do as much for my events as possible before I begin stressing about them. So, today I am making the rest of my teacup candles for party favors for the teaparty, I'm decorating eggs in a true Martha Stewart fashion to decorate the teaparty table with and I'm rehydrating the moss that I got yesterday to make my centerpiece! The moss, by the way, was simply given to me by a lovely florist who thought it would be insane to make me pay for it, even though she gave me what would cost $30 at Michaels.
And tonight I have a meeting at 6:15 so dinner will need to be fairly fast for me. We have some turkey leftover and some coconut milk in the fridge so I believe we will be having coconut rice and a spicy coconut turkey with sambal oleak. I figured we needed a change from the typical peach mango chutney turkey I usually make when we have poultry leftovers.
Oh, update on my teaparty menu: I shall be making strawberry sorbet. I'm not sure if this is my 'weird' thing or not. I mean, it's not very weird at all is it? So I'll buy the strawberries for it this week, chop them up and freeze them. I'll have to make it either the night before or the morning of and not much before that, but my scones I can make mostly ahead and just whip them up and bake them half an hour before the event, the cupcakes will be made ahead, the proscuitto wrapped apples take next to no time... so I think I'm still allowed to make one weird thing. My mom suggested I do chocolate covered strawberries as my "weird" thing. However, those are certainly not weird. Although, I could make the weird :) Coconut, Rice Krispies, Pop Rocks... Did you know that a few years back the most prestigious dessert in France was basically a strawberry mousse with pop rocks in it? But, I still don't know if that's the kind of thing I'm looking for.
Does anyone have any suggestions? If I could make it more savory I'd have a much easier time with this, but since I want to keep it kinda desserty but still really light I'm a little perplexed. I had thought about the stuffed lychee nuts with the pistachio infused cream, but I doubt I'd be able to find lychee nuts this time of year. Maybe something with cheese? Hmmmm I'll think on that one.
Well, Gabe just feel asleep so I'd best go blow some eggs (which, the last time I did, I squeezed one too hard while I was blowing in it and it exploded all over my lap...)

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I wish it were June.

Taxes are the bane of my husband's existence apparently. My taxes are always so easy... T4, charitable donation receipts and that's usually it. Well, Matt's self-employed so you can chalk up there all of his write offs and bills and receipts from everything you can imagine... It's an awful ordeal that we go through once a year.
Anyway, today has been a kinda iffy day all around. I'm starting to really feel the crunch for my Haiti event. The silent auction donations are not where I'd like them to be and every jewelry company in town has turned me down for donations. Add on to that the fact that I still don't have centerpieces for half my tables or flowers for any of my tables and we have a bit of a pickle. I was hoping to have that all figured out before the beginning of last week but it's not going quite as I would have liked. So I have set today aside to just get it done. Everything. This afternoon I'm going to the florist to talk in person and get a definitive answer. If they say no then I'm going to our back-up florist. I've already emailed a tonne of local jewelers off of Etsy to see if they'd be interested in donating this morning and I managed to find someone selling their wedding centerpieces on Kijiji and emailed them about borrowing them for one evening. I wish people would just answer me. Really, I don't care if they say yes or no - just let me know either way so that I can know if I need to ask someone else.
As much as I can say that the silent auction isn't where I want it to be, it'd still be awesome if I didn't find any more donors. We just got a Westerner Days family package donated and a whole load of tickets to the Edmonton International Raceway. Oh, and a three night stay at the Banff Gate Mountain Resort in Canmore.
I really want to get everything done for this event by the end of the week so that next week I can just worry about running it and doing the normal last minute stuff.
And then when this event is over I can finally start worrying about my other ones! I'm cheating with our baby dedication - I had planned on doing a whole buffet of tasty treats, realized how stressed I would be the two weeks prior and decided to just go with cake. Two types of course because I need to do something more than just a cake, but nothing else. Aren't you proud of me? You should be :) It was a hard decision.
Well, I should get back to work. Sigh.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Kettle Corn Revisited

Well today was fun and productive! Well, perhaps the morning wasn't, but the afternoon sure was! Matt and I went out to do errands at around 1 this afternoon and hoped to be home before 3 - but we sure weren't :)
First off we went to go pick up some clothes that I was trying to buy off of kijiji and we had tried to pick up on Friday but the store the lady's husband worked at (she was sending the clothes into town with him) was closed. So I just assumed she told me I could pick it up that day and forgot it was a holiday. No sweat. But today when we got there the store was open, the guy was there and there were no clothes. Apparently his wife had told him nothing about them! Great eh? So that's two trips downtown for no good reason... I give up.
Well, we went on to Value Village in search of more teacups for party favors for my mom's tea party (teacup candles) and a silver tray for my centerpiece. I found a tray (not really silver - it was silver plated copper) that was gorgeous and not stupidly expensive and I even managed to find teacups for less that $5 apiece. And they matched the ones I already had for the favors fairly well. Then we went on to Michaels so that I could look for moss. Well, they had some. It was dried and in a bag, and had a bug. Seriously. There was a little dried out larvae stuck in this bag. It climbed in with the moss apparently. I was a little grossed out. And a little appalled at the fact that I would've needed three bags worth of moss and each bag was $10. So I've decided that I shall find moss elsewhere.
We eventually went to Walmart where we spent alot. We got the usual: soap, toothpaste, vitamins, etc. and then we remembered that we needed a whole bunch of other things like a new razor head for Matt's electric razor, and shoes, and dog food. Speaking of dog food, I've heard that a good rule of thumb when picking out dog foods was to only buy stuff that had at least 2 meat ingredients in the first 3 ingredients listed. Well, we've been giving Cash Actrium Puppy Food since we got him and that fit the nutritional bill fine. But this time when we went they only had a Actrium Holistic. The first three ingredients were corn, rice and wheat. Great eh? That's a whole lotta filler. So we went down the whole dog food aisle checking every bag. The only one in the store that had at least two meats in the first three ingredients was Pedigree's Chicken and Rice. And they actually had three for three. Their puppy food didn't even have one meat listed in the first three. Actually, puppy foods are usually crammed full of fillers like corn to help make bigger puppy poops - which makes it look like your dog is growing and eating well. Anyway.
We got home and then went out right away for dinner at Matt's parents' place. We spent the evening with them and then came home and tried to get Gabe to sleep. Then I made some kettle corn! And it was a success! Well, almost...
You see, I made two mistakes. The very first thing I did and the very last thing I did were both wrong. The first was that I used canola oil. And I could taste it. Very clearly. I've seen recipes using olive oil but find it odd that I wouldn't taste that more than the canola. Peanut oil is used alot for frying foods and would hold up to the heat well so maybe I'll try that too at some point. The second mistake I made was a stupid one - I over salted. I have a little salt grinder filled with sea salt that I was planning on using but for some reason, when the time came, I grabbed our table salt from the cupboard and turned the little lid to the sprinkle section and hoped it would ration it appropriately. Man was I wrong. Now, it wasn't sickeningly salty by any means. It just wasn't the happy little je ne sais quoi that I find salt normally is in kettle corn. I think the harsh, almost chemically taste of the table salt had a negative effect too so next time I will most definately be using sea salt or kosher salt.
But besides the negative effects of the oil and the salt, the popcorn was light and fluffy - just the way kettle corn should be. And I held off putting in the sugar long enough that it didn't have a chance to caramalize.
Well, the popcorn is all eaten now and it's too late to go make more so I may as well go to sleep I suppose.
Nighty night.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday

What a busy, busy weekend! Friday was a gorgeous day - Matt and I woke up early and just laid around in bed for a few hours while Gabe crawled all over us. we eventually got up and went for a walk around the block and ended up at my parents' house. We dropped our dog off and then went home to pack and left town for Calgary shortly after! It was a nice drive and went by fast and we went straight to IKEA when we hit town. After 2 hours there we managed to spend only $50 - and wrote down names for about $2000 worth of furniture "just in case". Finally we got over to see my sister, her husband and our little niece. It was so good seeing them again after they had been in Maui for two weeks! My sister and I played cards, the boys watched the game, and we all went to bed fairly late. I had some trouble sleeping that night and even though I slept in until 9 I only got about 4 hours of sleep, but it was okay. We went to the zoo in the afternoon and met up with my gorgeous cousin and her husband who had come up from Montana! It was a great trip! I love seeing my cousin, especially since it happens so rarely lately. And she's great company at the zoo! Gabe stayed awake for most of the trip this time and only started nodding off at the very end. Matt and I came back home that night and got to hang out with his family a bit before winding down for the day. We actually got to do some cheese tasting with our brother-in-law's family. Guinness cheese, a semi-soft apricot cheese, spiced gouda, a soy jalepeno cheese too. They were all really good! And they had made some ciabatta which was amazing. Eventually we went home with tired heads and full bellies :)
Then this morning hit way, way, way too early. I'd had troubles falling asleep again last night but finally managed to around 1:30 - and then I had to get up at 5:00. Matt and I were both singing in our church choir this morning and we had practice at 7 a.m. Well, I had to get myself ready (tried to tame my hair even) and then Gabe woke up and I had to get him ready to be dropped off at Grandma's at 6:30. I had a whole line of baby bottles, water bottles and travel mugs on the counter just waiting for me to doctor them up in the morning. It actually flowed really well and we were pretty much on time. The choir practice went well and then we sang for 2 services and it went great! So much fun! And I joked to Matt that this was one Sunday we'd actually be on time for service. Well, after church we stayed for our church's Easter Brunch which was fantastic! They had the most amazing stuffed french toast. mmmmmm so good! After lunch we went over to Matt's parents' place and hung out with them. And by hung out I mean I pretty much passed out on the couch from exhaustion and unfortunately let my in-laws find out first hand that I tend to drool when I'm excessively tired! Ah well, they're good sports :) Then I got to hang out with my sister-in-law while the others went for a walk (the hour and a bit walk around the block followed by the two hour walk through IKEA on Friday and the 4 hour trip to the zoo on Saturday, not to mention the fact that when I worship I bounce on my toes the whole time, left my legs rather weak and wobbly) and we made some vanilla syrup because I was craving a Zen Tea Misto. At around 6 we went to parents' place for some turkey dinner which was great. I pigged out for sure. And actually, so did Gabe! He had a baby carrot, two big scoops of peas, a handful of cheerios, 1/4 c. turnips and some turkey too! The little piggy!
Well, as fun as this weekend was there were some stressers too so it's kinda bittersweet going back into Monday. However, even though I have to work tomorrow, Matt doesn't, so that means he can help me run my errands! And the biggest way he can help is simply by sitting in the car with Gabe, sipping his 'thank you' latte I'll be buying him, while I run into the stores to do my business.
Now, it is Easter and this Sunday was an amazing time to be in the choir at our church. It was the most worshipful experience I've had in a long time. There's something about practicing songs over and over again and singing the same words a million times that can actually make you finally think about the words for once. For me it was the song In Christ Alone today. The line was this:
No power of Hell
No scheme of man
Could ever pluck
Me from His hand
Til He returns
Or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

I'm not sure why that one hit me so hard. It might have been the sense of victory about it - after all, isn't that what Easter is all about? Victory over death; a promise of hope - of everlasting Life and never-ending love. I've chose my side and I choose life. I am Christ's. I am my Beloved's and He is mine.
So have you chosen? There's really only two options: Eternal Life and Eternal Death. You'd think it'd be a no brainer eh? But it's amazing how many people can say that they believe that statement and yet still sit on the fence. Amazing might not be the right word. Sad. Alarming. Devastating. Heart-breaking.

Til He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

I choose Eternal Life.

Your move.

Mrs. Vander Leek

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Burned rice.

Second post of the day. I previously said this only happens twice usually: when I've been really productive or when I haven't been productive at all. I need to add a third reason: when something flops.
So Matt's getting home late from work tonight and I wanted to make sure dinner was great for him and that I had everything perfect for when he got home. I wanted potatoes with dinner tonight but Matt really prefers rice - so I made rice. Then I decided to try and learn crocheting again. My mom taught me ages ago, I did it for about a week and then got bored and went back to knitting. Well, I was sitting in my living room with a cup of coffee, my baby sleeping in his playpen and my dog laying at my feet as I'm happily crocheting... and then I smell an awful smell. Burning rice. I jumped up, ran into the kitchen and hoped that it was just a little burned and that the top half could be scraped off and salvaged for our meal. Yah, there was brown poking up through the top. The whole thing was ruined. So I soaked that in cold water to stop it from burning and hoped the smell would go away and I went to make more rice. This time different rice. Coconut rice. Now, to make coconut rice one needs to toast the coconut in the pot before adding the rice and liquids. So I got the coconut toasting and decided that I was going to make the best coconut rice ever - mine was going to be made with coconut milk. So I tried to shake my last jar of coconut milk and of course the lard-like coconut was stuck to the top of the can and it wouldn't mix with the water underneath just by mere shaking. Well, I got a fork out and started mixing up this junk that was oddly reminiscent of badger milk off of The Animal (I still gag just thinking about that stuff) when I heard a sizzle. It wasn't a happy sizzle. It was a bad sizzle. It was the sound of my coconut burning. Apparently I used sweetened coconut instead of unsweetened and it burns alot faster. So it totally skipped the toasted stage and went right to the inedible stage.
That was it. I put the badger milk - I mean, coconut milk - in a tupperware container, picked up the phone and called Matt, asking him to bring home a loaf of nice bread and a salad from the deli on his way home. Great eh?
Well, my house still stinks but I dare not try boiling vanilla on the stove since we all know my luck today with burning things and I've smelled when vanilla boils dry and burns... it's right up there with burned rice.
Oh yah, and the balsamic reduction? Not happening either. I didn't have anywhere near enough balsamic vinegar in the house and I didn't have a chance to run to the store today. Although, it's probably for the best because I would've likely burned that too - and that stuff's expensive!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

A Pot of Coffee

You can kind of tell what sort of a day you're having by when you put on your coffee and how much you make. Like for instance, right now I'm brewing a full pot of coffee at 1:30 in the afternoon. Typically, that states that I've got a lot done so I feel like I deserve a break from the stuff I've still got to do in the afternoon. It's not a desparate situation since, after all, it is only 1:30; it's kind of a congratulatory pot. However, let's say that it's 11:00 at night and I just put on a full pot of coffee. That is a desparate situation. That says more of a "term paper due the next day" or a "I promised my boss I'd have this done for tomorrow." A pot of coffee at 3 a.m. speaks of ill children with no sign of immediate relief. A pot of coffee at 5 a.m. is iffy. A cup is safer. You see, if you make a pot of coffee at 5 a.m. that implies that you will be around long enough to drink that whole pot so you probably woke up from a dog barking or some thunder and couldn't get back to sleep. Making a single cup of coffee is safer since that implies travelling. Perhaps you're taking your coffee in a travel mug and needed to get up at 5 a.m. to travel to the mountains for a fun ski trip! I love early morning travel, so that's a good thing to me. A full pot at 7 a.m. is standard operating procedure. A single cup at 7 a.m. makes me think that you should give yourself more time in the mornings before you have to race out the door. Wake up 15 minutes earlier and you can get a latte from Starbucks! A full pot at 6 p.m. is wonderful - it means you have company! A single cup at 6 p.m. is kinda sad - you don't have company and you still have work to do. If you ever have doubts about the underlying message regarding the amount of coffee you are drinking and when you're drinking it, do the safe thing - drink tea.
I did some stuff done this morning to deserve my pot of coffee right now. For one I touched up some spots on our wall where we patched over after we had painted so now we can hang our gorgeous new mirror back up. Gabe just fell asleep for his nap about half an hour ago and only gave me about an hour of time this morning where I wasn't required to hold him. So I got all my emailing done - hopefully for the day - and in the hour I got to set him down I tidied up some stuff around the house.
Do you ever make your own iced tea? We used to make it at the cafe I worked at in High School. The secret is the sugar syrup. we would brew 4 tea bags in our coffee makers instead of steeping the tea. Less swill at the bottom. Then you let that cool in the fridge and serve it over ice with a shot of syrup. We usually did raspberry flavored or something to that extent so the syrups we added we usually berry or fruity at least. Vanilla is a safe one to do and if you want something more authentic do a black tea and lemon flavored syrup. I was planning on serving those at my house all last summer but the Italian Sodas kinda took over. I worked at another cafe in town a few years after I graduated and I was in charge of making up the specialty drinks each week. So in the summer I made two amazing italian sodas. Cremosas actually - italian sodas with cream. Well, the first one was a root beer float. They had root beer syrup there that had never been opened and they were just going to throw it away because no one ever ordered it, so I mixed it with some vanilla, added the club soda and topped it up with some cream and it was fantastic! The other one I did was a pina colada cremosa. Pineapple, banana, coconut and a twist of passion fruit - it was great.
For dinner tonight we're having a pork roast with a balsamic reduction. Matt and I went out for dinner a couple months ago and there was a balsamic reduction on the salad plate and it was so sweet, and so nice that I used my bread to clean the plate. I've been dying to make one at home ever since and I figured the pork would be a great pairing for the sweet, tanginess of the balsamic.
Our summer is looking pretty full already and it's only April 1st... Every weekend in April we are busy, and then three weekends in May are booked up already. June is swamped, July is hardly better and August - well, let's just say I'm almost looking forward to September. But, inspite of it being crazy busy, it will be really fun. We'll get out to Canmore, see lots of our friends, go to Panorama, a couple of weddings, a few parties... it's going to be a lot of fun. Just hopefully not too much fun :)
I just found out that I get to go to the zoo on Saturday! I'm so excited! I really love going to the zoo and I especially love taking Gabe. The last time he went he was 3 months old and he slept almost the whole time. He woke up when we got to the zebras and then he managed to stay awake to see the giraffes, the hippos and the fish. But he only really liked the fish. I'm not sure he even could tell that the giraffes were animals. I think he just considered them trees. In any event, this next trip out will be alot better because he'll be awake for it! And we get to go with my cousins whom I hardly ever get to see anymore.
Well, my coffee is ready and that means I'd best get back to work.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)