Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No Sleep

Gah, I wish could sleep! It's nearly 2a.m., I have a lot of work to get done tomorrow and I'm really not feeling tired. I think part of the reason that I'm not tired is that my brain is still going a mile a minute. Aside from thinking about the cafe, stuff I need to get done before we go on vacation, a sick grandparent and finances, I'm also thinking about a couple more things I volunteered to do. Auxano is having a camping trip September long and I kind of agreed to plan it. Everyone will be arranging for their own food and stuff, so its not like it will be extremely complicated, but I am still going to try and figure out a few fun things for the weekend. I also agreed to help lead worship at Auxano in the fall. I love music, I love playing and singing, and I love helping, so its not like it's a burden on me. The only issue with all these things is the time commitment. September long weekend is also the first weekend that the church cafe kicks back up with the lattes and smoothies. I may very well be expected to be there, as well as at the camping trip organizing things. That Sunday is also the first week that our church is doing a third service in the evening. Now, in order to free up as many volunteers for morning shifts, I'm agreeing to take on nearly every evening service shift running the cafe as possible. So I may need to drive back into town from camping on Sunday morning to oversee some things, drive back out to help with the camping stuff and then drive back in to run the espresso machine. Oh ya, and drive back out again. Fun, eh? So needless to say, I have some scheduling things to work out.
Today was a decent day. Over the past couple days I've already read the first 2 books in the Harry Potter series, and kept my house clean. I also went for a very long walk today. Probably about an hour and a half. Gabe loved it. I boiled myself. And made my farmers tan even worse. Ah well.
Anyway, perhaps I should try just laying in bed and hoping to fall asleep soon. This ipad is keeping me awake me thinks.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, July 26, 2010

YouTube Party

Busy, busy weekend! I'm glad it's Monday just so that I can have a break!
Saturday morning we had plans to go to the Farmers Market before working around the house all day, but when some friends invited us over for coffee that morning we happily skipped the market in favor of chatting with them and seeing their gorgeous new baby boy. We spent most of the morning there and none of us seemed to realize just how long we had been there. Just before noon we left with an invitation to come back later that night for a get-together. We rushed home and started tackling our to do list. My list was full of housework and Matt's list was full of yard work. With Gabe cooperating I was able to clean the kitchen, the nursery, the living room, tidy our bedroom and do a whole bunch of laundry. I had finished by mid-afternoon so we took advantage of the nice weather and I hung out with Gabe on the lawn outside. The freshly mown lawn might I add since Matt was making good progress on his list too. One of the big things that Matt was trying to get accomplished was the build a dog run on the west side of our house. It was this incredibly awkward space that had only ever been used by the previous homeowners as storage space. It has two bushes in front of it so you can hardly see it from the front but it was completely blocked off from the back by a metal trellis and a lilac bush. Oh, and our water meter is back there so our poor meter readers had to crawl through our bushes to get to it. Well Matt started building a fence piece to put at the front of the space to close it off but he didn't have everything he needed so instead he just got everything ready for it to be built on Sunday and we headed back to our friends' house. The get-together they were having was a really neat idea; it was a YouTube party! They had a screen and a projector set up in their backyard and all evening people just recommended funny clips that they've seen on YouTube. A few highlights of the evening: Extreme Sheep LED Art, Test Your Awareness: Do The Test, Everythings Amazing &Nobodys Happy (some language) and Hotel Crazyness. Those are the titles off YouTube, spelling mistakes and all! Well, we watched videos until we all had to get our kids to bed, which was pretty much everyone there. It was nice hanging out with other people with kids!
Sunday morning I had to get up bright and early, after going to bed nice and late, so that I could start my training for the cafe manager position at church. I went in to help set up the coffee before church started and the lady I'm taking over for showed me some other things about the position which was awesome. As soon as the early service finished we loaded into the van and drove to Calgary in search of a dress for me to wear to my cousin's wedding this weekend. We hit up the Le Chateau outlet across from Chinook Mall since they seem to have the best selection of dresses. I couldn't find the same yellow one as before, but they did have the same dress in a vibrant blue. So I tried on that dress and a dozen others and narrowed it down to 2 of them - the blue one and a strapless faded purple one. After much debating I got the purple one. It was more flattering, $10 cheaper and the color was such that it could pass as a winter outfit too, whereas the vibrant blue definitely could not. Matt ended up buying a vest for $40, my dress cost $30 and within half an hour of getting to town we were ready to leave it. We swung by my sister's house on the way out of town to say hi, and we picked up Wendy's in Airdrie, but beyond that we just went straight home! We were back in Red Deer by quarter to 4. Matt still had to finish the dog run but I didn't really have anything to do so I was just sitting down to figure out what my evening would look like when Matt's sister phoned to say that they were in Calgary, would be passing through town on their way home and were wondering if we wanted to join them for dinner! Since we are all trying to save money we decided to have dinner at our place so I had to get working on dinner right away, which answered my question of what to do with myself all evening. Fortunately last week I rediscovered a company sized portion of pork ribs in my freezer. In a crunch I always prefer to make ribs because I boil them anyway before I barbecue them so I never need to worry about defrosting them. I got those boiling and then tried to figure out what to make for dessert. My sister-in-law is allergic to citrus which naturally ruled out a lot of options for me, especially since I have a case of blueberries in my fridge that I wanted to put a dent in and for me blueberries normally go with lemon or orange. Well, I decided on a blueberry peach cobbler - something that I make a lot of in the winter months. I wanted it to taste different this time from how it normally does though so I used fresh blueberries, fresh peaches and maple syrup. I'd had this syrup in my cupboard for a year and a half and I was always wanting a good reason go use it. I poured the syrup over the fruit, added some cinnamon sticks and some sprinkled cinnamon and put the crumble on top (oats, brown sugar, a bit of flour, a pinch of salt and melted butter to hold it all together). I started it in the oven and it was done just in time for dessert. I also made up a salad with cucumber, green onion, apple slices, roasted red pepper and fennel and I whipped up some garlic shrimp. The shrimp was a bit of a puzzle too. I normally make my garlic shrimp with lemon juice and white wine, but no citrus for my sister-in-law, and no white wine left because Matt drank the little bit I had saved for cooking posed a bit of a problem. So what did I use? Rum. Not just any rum. Good, dark, aged rum. It just rounded out the flavor. Well, the ribs barbqued perfectly, the salad was great with then fennel fronds in it, the shrimp was super sweet (FYI, when you can it's better to buy frozen raw shrimp than to buy frozen precooked shrimp. Yah, you have to thaw them and peel them before you cook them, but the taste is way, way better.) but the best part was the cobbler. The fresh fruit made it better than ever and the maple syrup was a perfect touch. After coffee our guests left and I was yet again trying to figure out what to do with myself. I called my mom to see if she wanted to go for a walk and she agreed to it so we set off on a hour long walk with Cash and Gabe. Once we got back it was nearly Gabe's bedtime so I got him ready and waited for him to fall asleep, which admittedly took a while.
Now, this week will be busy with seeing family, packing for our trip and then seeing more family, but aside from needing to fold laundry and put away clean dishes, my house is fairly clean so that won't demand too much of my time. I also need to get in touch with some people regarding the cafe and figure out some details with that, but all in all life is going to be less-stressful and chaotic this week than it has been in a long whole! And you know what that means... More baking!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Emma and Rice Pudding

Wretched thunder, scaring my baby and my dog - and it's only just started! The rain hasn't even hit yet! I'm cuddled up in the basement with Gabe watching Emma. I couldn't fall asleep last night so I had a bath and finished reading the last third of the book. It made me want to watch the movie again because I always seem to think Mr. Knightley so much more serious than he really is and the movie does a good job of portraying him I think. I love his outfits. I wish Matt could dress like that. All men should dress that way actually. I really love who they chose to play Mr. Knightley in the movie. He is a superb mix of everything proper and in love. I also love how he has the two funniest lines in the movie: "try not to kill my dogs" and "I rode through the rain." the thing I love about that second one is how he says it in such a boyish way.
Anyway, having read through four Jane Austen novels in the past month I have decided to take a break from them. Mostly just to give me time to forget the details and make the next reading more enjoyable. So I realized that I haven't read the Harry Potter series in a long while and I'll go through those books again before I come back to the Austens.
I made that rice pudding last night and it turned out being the only part about dinner that worked. I boiled the ribs and started barbquing them, but then I got on the phone with my mom and sister to sort out accommodations for the long weekend in Panorama and I forgot about them. So they burned on one side but the other side needed to be seared so I flipped them and came back in a few minutes - and they were on fire. Oh, and I went to makeUp some green beans but apparently my veggie drawer is too cold and they froze and consequently ruined. And I was so worried about the rice pudding that I forgot to make a carb for dinner so I basically had burned ribs ready when Matt got home (late) from work. Poor man was starving! Fortunately I'd had a craving for fish and chips last week so we still had some French fries in the freezer and I pulled some green beans from the freezer too, which is nearly sacrilege in the summer, but at least we had something to eat. It was stupid hot in the house so we decided to have the rice pudding cold. That, as I said previously, did work out. I couldn't find my aunt's recipe, and the other one I normally use is an eggy, baked one, but I really wanted a creamy, stovetop one, so I hit up my Martha Stewart cookbooks and found her Creamy Orange Rice Pudding recipe. Rice, milk, vanilla, lemon and orange zest, salt and sugar - cook it up like risotto, stirring it a lot, then add the cream at the end. I wanted almond flavor so I threw that in at the beginning to. I also whipped up a raspberry sauce with some leftover berries in my fridge and some honey. It was really nice!
Well, Matt was working late again tonight but he should be home any minute now and after he works a 15 hour day I think I'd best meet him at the door with a cold beer and a hot dinner.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Parade Day

What fantastic weather today! It's a nice change from the rain we've had lately. Having said that, however, I do believe the weather forecast called for showers tonight. But at least the weather was accommodating for what activities I had planned for today!
First thing this morning I took Gabe to the parade! I had taken him to it last year when he was only 3 months old and he slept through most of it, so I wanted to take him again when he'd be able to appreciate it more. We sat in front of my Dad's work so 'Bumpa' (as Gabe calls him) held Gabe while I went and got some coffee. When the parade finally made its way toward us it started out with horses so Gabe was neighing and pointing at them. Then some motorcycles came by and his attention was divided between them. He also loved seeing all the balloons, the dogs and a giant beach ball. We came home and Gabe had some lunch before I packed him back up in his stroller, put Cash on his leash and we walked over to the park. I laid out a blanket for Gabe to sit on while I alternated throwing the frisbee for Cash and blowing bubbles for Gabe. They both had a fantastic time until Cash stopped listening when I called him and had to go back on leash, but Gabe loved crawling through the grass and pulling up dandelions. Gabe was a bit restless when we got home so I sat him up on my lap and started reading some of Emma aloud to him. That put him out! He's actually still asleep!
I've got pork ribs boiling on the stovetop, just waiting to go on to the barbque. I'd been talking all week about doing up some ribs for dinner, but I had been planning on roasting them in the oven due to the sucky weather, but today it's beautiful out so I can cook outside and when I barbque them I always boil them first so it didn't matter that they were still frozen! Oh, and as I was walking past my table I got a whiff of something that smelled an awful lot like my Aunty Rhonda's rice pudding, which, incidentally, is the best rice pudding in the world. So now I think I'm going to whip some of that up for dessert! Gabe has been eating tapioca at my parents' house all week so I wanted to see what he'd think of rice pudding. I really haven't done much cooking lately, partly from going out for dinner a lot and partly from not really feeling up to it, but I'm feeling better today than I had been feeling for the past 3 weeks so I think I shall be doing much better this coming week.
This weekend Matt and I are going to be doing some yard work, Sunday morning I'm doing some cafe training, and then the plan is to drive to Calgary and go buy a dress from Le Chateau! Hopefully they still have the one I wanted, but if not I'm sure they'll have something that will work. Oh and the issue of it not zipping up all the way has been taken care of - I hope. Partly by exercising more, partly by eating breakfast more often and mostly by avoiding ice cream at all costs, I have definitely lost weight the month. I just hope it was in all the right places!
I have been doing more work on the cafe stuff and I've pretty much got figured the full menu for September, the ad for the church newsletter, and the mission/vision statement for the cafe! Pretty good for only having this position for two days so far, eh? My plan is to overthrow Starbucks as the primary coffee provider on Sunday mornings, because even though there is the cafe right in the church, most people still go to Starbucks instead, myself included. So I'm going to make the cafe worth going to!
Well, I suppose if I am serious about having rice pudding for dessert that I'd better go start making it, and really, now that I've started thinking about it, I'm really craving it!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cafe Manager

Woohoo! I just got back from a meeting and guess what??? I am the new cafe manager at my church! And apparently they were hoping to line up someone for the job who could bring in new ideas, so I basically have been given free reign of changes as far as menu items, decorations and anything else that I think will help! This is so sweet! I know what to start with too - job description binders. Handiest things ever when it comes to cafe settings. It will be so awesome running this cafe. A nice time filler until I get one of my own.
The next thing I will do is an ad campaign for the cafe. They are hoping to draw attention to the fact that the cafe will be essentially under new management and that there will be some new things to check out, so they suggested I put an ad in the upcoming church newsletter - The Crossing. Well, how's this for a slogan: Family. Friendship. Fellowship.
I'm getting a few friends to give me their opinion of it so I'm still test driving it, but that would encompass the vision for the cafe.
Oh, and I will be changing the menu. Not extremely. People typically don't appreciate extreme change. But I will be tweaking some names, some feature items and some recipes. For example, we will be adding a Chocolate Chai drink to the menu, as well as renaming what they currently call their chai latte to a chai misto because it is basically a tea bag in milk. Oh, and to offer more options and save money at the same time I might make some of my own syrups in the church kitchen and use them in the cafe.
I'm so excited to get started with this and I just hope things run smoothly as I transition in and the current manager transitions out.
I'm actually going to keep this rather short because quite honestly it is hard to type on an iPad and it takes a long time and I want to go to bed :) But rest assured that I will keep you filled in on the progress of my new cafe 'project'!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Oh yay! I'm writing this from my ultra brand new iPad! This is so cool!
We had to take our computer in to the shop because the charger wasn't working and turns out we won't be getting it back for about a month. Not cool. So Matt broke down and decided to buy me my birthday present early!
I did end up getting my tattoo yesterday and it's awesome but the day didn't quite work out like I had planned. I was so pumped about walking down to the farmers market and then getting my tattoo done by noon and then having the whole day ahead of us. Well, on my way to the farmers market Gabe spat out his soother and when I went to pick it up I accidentally squeezed my coffee cup and the lid popped off and I spilled coffee all down me. I didn't buy anything at the market because I figured produce wouldn't hold up in the van on such a hot day while I was getting my tattoo. At some point Gabe threw away his soother and I didn't notice, or bring a spare. Oh, and it only took me 45 minutes to walk to the market, walk around and look at every booth, and then walk back. So I sat around downtown for a while waiting for 11 so that Matt would be done his meeting and we could go get my tattoo. Well, when we got to the tattoo parlour at 11 there was already a full sheet of names on the walk in list. Turns out that they open at 10 for putting your name on the wait list even though they don't really open until 11. Well, we put my name down and the girl said it would be an hour wait. Sure wasn't. It was a five hour wait. And we sat in the lobby with Gabe for the majority of it. When the artist was finally ready for me it only took five minutes to do the tattoo. But oh well, at least it looks great! Then we got to hang out with Matt's aunt and uncle before they left town which was sweet. Oh, and Gabe slept through the night two nights in a row so we are pretty stoked about that!
Man, some of the apps on this thing are sweet. For instance, I have already downloaded the iBook app and got a free copy of Pride and Prejudice, Sherlock Holmes and Wuthering Heights! And I also downloaded a free piano app that is pretty sweet. There isn't quite the selection that you would have with an iPhone but I've definitely got enough to keep me happy!
Well, I had best go whip up some dinner for my family! I wonder if there are any free recipe apps for this thing?

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sweet vs Savoury

If you could only choose to eat one or the other for the rest of your life, would you choose sweet or savoury?
About a month ago now a friend and I struck on this topic. We were having wine and cheese and he made a comment about how he wished he could live in a wine store with a cheese store attached. I agreed but added, "Oh! And a pastry shop too!" And, to my absolute surprise he said, "uhh no, not really for me." He said he could eat only savoury for the rest of his life and I told him that I could not fathom that. Then last week I asked my sister-in-law and her husband the above question and they both answered "savoury." I started looking at my favorite savoury foods: honey garlic chicken wings, my Uncle Doug's Spaghetti sauce (with brown sugar), Chili Chicken from Earl's with their sweet thai chili sauce... Almost all of my favorite savoury dishes have a very sweet component to them. That's not to say that I don't like any foods that are strictly savoury. I love bread. Freshly baked bread. If I could, I really would live on bread alone. However, the bible advises against it, therefore, we must tread outside the realm of bread. I love steak, I love trout, I love sushi (which granted, does have a sugary component in the rice)... Green beans I am definately a fan of and I would never turn down a full turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, stuffing and the like. So, I do definately like the savoury aspect, but, I think there are alot of savoury dishes I don't like because of certain ingredients that I don't like. Mushrooms, onions, cilantro, black pepper, tomato sauces typically... And that makes up a whole load of savoury components. People who like savoury foods typically enjoy mushroom caps or sauteed onions or caesars. I, on the other hand, do not. So anyway, while I can't say that I really love cakes or rich desserts or super sugary things, I still think I'd have to cast my vote on the eternal commitment to sweet over savoury.
So, in light of this epiphany, not only on my behalf, but on my friends' as well who all cast their vote towards savoury, I have decided to revamp my cooking a bit. While baking is my delight, and baking by nature is often more sweet than savoury, I am going to strive to make more savoury dishes for these friends of mine who are most prone to dine at my house. In fact, now that I think about it, everyone who is most likely to eat here would probably say "savoury". Save, perhaps, my one sister-in-law who is very similar to me in tastes. But anyway, if you look at one of the last big meals I made for company: Teriyaki Duck Rolls, Duck breast with Prune Coffee Syrup, Duck Breast with a sweetened Balsamic Reduction, Coconut shrimp, mango slaw and a pesto pasta salad. That's a whole lot of sweet. I mean, clearly it's a whole lot of good, but our friend who is particularly savoury oriented was over that night. So the next time I have people over, perhaps I'll do Rosemary Roast Chicken sandwiches with a roasted red pepper cream sauce and artichokes, puff pastry pinwheels with crab filling and a ratatouille salad. And my desserts can be more savoury-friendly too. I think I briefly mentioned wanting to make up a dessert lasagna recipe in a previous post. Today I kinda more definately mapped out what that dessert will look like. The strawberry sauce in lieu of the meat sauce will be stewed strawberries with limoncello, lemon basil and mint. The layers will be phyllo, the strawberry sauce, brie and asiago on top. Yummy eh? And not too sweet! And perhaps I'll get back into my poached pear phase. There are infinite possibilities with poached pears!
Anyway, today has been kinda sucky again due to another night of crappy sleep and still feeling sick. We're coming up on 3 weeks now. I'd really ought to go to the doctor's, but I just plain don't want to. But that's okay, I'm going to have an awesome day tomorrow - sick or no! And for dinner tonight - pancakes!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Sigh. No super sexy swimsuit for me. Matt and I ended up going out for dinner tonight and then out to HomeSense to check out the swimsuit. Turns out that they had two styles on the same rack that were nearly identical. The first style I tried on ($29.99) they didn't have a bigger size in and while the one they did have looked fantastic on me, the torso was really too short and it made the whole suit a bit more scandalous than it ought to be. The second style was $10 more and they didn't have a larger size but I tried on the equivalent size to see if it fit differently. Well, it definately fit different, but that wasn't a good thing. While the first one was hugging and sexy and flattering the second one was frumpy and awkward and disapointing. So we left it and I'm still wishing my torso were just a little bit shorter so that I could fit into that first swimsuit.
Have I mentioned yet that I am super excited for this weekend? Matt and I were just talking over plans for Saturday and it looks fantastic! Matt's meeting a buddy Saturday morning at 8:30 for coffee downtown, so I'm going to drive Matt down, grab myself a coffee and then walk over to the Farmer's Market a few blocks away. Then the tattoo place I'm going to is just down the street from the cafe so once I'm done at the market I'll meet Matt at the cafe, pick up another coffee perhaps, and get my tattoo done. Then, after another refill, we're heading over to the nature center to show Gabe all the displays and then to go on a walk. Then back to our house for yard/housework for the rest of the day, which is fun in it's own way. That night we're hanging out with Matt's aunt and uncle who are still in town from the grandparents' 50th anniversary last weekend. They're globetrotters so whenever they are in town we love to see them before they go again. Sunday we're helping in the nursery at church, which is always fun, and then perhaps hanging with my parents! It'll be a nice lax finish after the busy Saturday.
Anyway, I'd best get going. It's almost 1 already and I'm sure Gabe will wake himself up again from coughing tonight so I'm going to need all the sleep I can get.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

HomeSense shopping!

Oh, how I love HomeSense! Seriously - most amazing store in the world! I'm actually amazed at how little I spend there considering how much I find that I really love. Today's purchase was only $5, but it could've been alot more. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First I need to explain why I ended up at HomeSense today. Last night we got Gabe to bed a little late and went pretty much straight to bed ourselves once he was asleep. I wasn't exceptionally tired however (my body was, but my mind was racing) so I had trouble falling asleep until 1:30. During that time that I couldn't sleep however I had to check on Gabe 3 or 4 times. He got my cold so he kept coughing all last night and his nose was super plugged so he wanted to keep his soother in his mouth but then he couldn't breathe so he'd start crying in his sleep. Anyway, as I said, I eventually fell asleep at 1:30, but then I was woken up by Gabe screaming at 2 a.m. Apparently he coughed himself awake and then was really upset to find that we weren't beside his crib, waiting to comfort him. Well, I brought him into our bed in hopes that the pillows would make him so comfy he'd fall back asleep (he's a very cuddly boy and any soft surface usually makes him fall asleep super fast). The only problem with this plan was that he really wanted to be upright. I think his chest was congested and that he was having some trouble breathing while he was laying down. Well anyway, I finally got him propped up in a position that required me to be sitting upright but he eventually fell asleep - and then I had to go pee... I tried to wake Matt up to get him to hold Gabe upright but in the bustle Gabe woke up - screaming. Well, I went pee and then scooped Gabe up and took him into the guest room to sleep on the futon with me. For the next hour he just wanted to lean against me in an upright position so he kept me awake while I tried to spot him but I think I finally fell asleep again at 3:30. Then he woke up again a couple more times through the night from his coughing. So I did sleep in this morning a fair bit - although I'm sure it still only worked out to 6 hours of sleep. But sleeping in that long always makes me feel like my day is really short and that I've got nothing done. Since my own symptoms relapsed a bit in light of my lack of rest I didn't feel like power cleaning, which meant that my kitchen wasn't clean enough to bake, so I decided to take Gabe out shopping. We first hit up Old Navy in search of a hat for him and while I didn't find a cute hat I did find a Flames shirt for him and a scarf for me (for only $1.47!). Well, after Old Navy I didn't feel like going home yet and I was debating taking Gabe down to a splash pool downtown or for a walk at a park but he hadn't had a nap, or lunch, yet so I decided against it. Then lo, across the parking lot, I saw HomeSense! The first place I typically go to in HomeSense is the book aisle. They have so many awesome cookbooks there and a whole bunch of different hobby books. I always check there for presents for people and, well, for myself too :) I saw lots that I liked but none that I loved, or at least, none that I loved that were ridiculously priced. So my next stop was the home decor clearance aisle. Bingo! Gordon Ramsay's Maze for only $5. $5!!! Regular $35! I couldn't pass that one by. Next I went to the baby section to check out their clothes and I almost did what I said I would never do: buy designer baby clothes. In my defence though, it wasn't full price, and it wouldn't necessarily have been for my baby. I can't remember one of the brands but they had CK, Polo and a couple other gorgeous designer outfits. They were so cute! Sweatervests galore! Ooh, and then I found this swimsuit that was so adorable (for me, not Gabe) and so sexy and so well priced... and apparently I have a very long torso. I might go back to Homesense another time when I don't have to push a stroller around and see if I can't find a different size but I'm afraid that if I go up in size to get it longer that it'll just be too big on me. As it was, it looked gorgeous but it was "precariously perched" if I may. And it was a slimming one piece style that totally rocked my post-baby body, which, while it is getting better is still nowhere near the body I had before. So anyway, if I hadn't resisted the designer baby duds ($30 - $40) and if the swimsuit had fit just a little bit better ($30) I would've spent a fair bit more, but as it was I only spent $5 on the cookbook! Yay me! I'm so cheap when it comes to spending. Matt actually had to encourage me to spend money a few months ago and I'm still very hesitant to spend more than $20 on any one thing. If it's under $20 I feel justified, but if it's over I have to really need it (like a new swimsuit or a hot dress for my cousin's wedding) to feel good about spending that money. Apparently a lady I was behind in the line up at Old Navy today didn't feel the same way. She spent $550. I didn't even know you could spend that much at Old Navy! The guy actually offered to help her out to her car! She said "I haven't been shopping in a long time." And obviously she's not planning on doing so again for an even longer time.
Tonight for dinner I'm really not sure what's going on. I had thought about making oven roasted ribs but I never pulled them and by the time I got home from shopping and thought about making dinner it was already 3:30 and that wouldn't have left enough time to slow roast them. I did make a jar of lemon butter yesterday so maybe we'll work that into a dessert, but then again, maybe I'll see if Matt wants to go out for dinner and then hit up HomeSense and check out that swimsuit with me! Going there twice in one day isn't too excessive, is it?

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pork Vs Beef

Today was the first day in a while that I got up before Matt to make him breakfast before work. It wasn't from feeling particularly well, or from any real burst of energy that I did this, but more so from being tired of being sick and sleeping in. I did get to bed in reasonable time last night though. My parents came over for dinner and after we ate my dad and Matt went to pick up Matt's van from the shop and I ran and got some groceries while my mom watched Gabe and Cash. Once everyone got back from their errands it was 7:30 and my parents left. So we hung out for a while and then Matt went to do some studying and I gave Gabe a bath and got him into bed. I started reading in bed out of habit but decided against it one page in so I shut my book and went to sleep! I think that actually threw Matt off. He was kinda worried about me since if I am reading in bed I normally stay up much later than him.
Oh, about the dinner. I didn't want to go to any real trouble for it and since Matt had our family van for work because his was in at the shop, and since the rain was crazy, I couldn't get to the grocery store before dinner time so I had to only use what I already had in my house. I decided on a pork roast, a salad with apples and peppers, corn, rice and beans. Oh, and we finished off some of the cheeses and dips from this weekend too. Well, when it came time to carve my absolutely gorgeous roast I thought it smelled funny... beef funny. Yep, again I forgot to label my freezer bags and mixed up pork and beef. Last time I thought I was making roast beef and it turned out to be pork roast, this time the other way around. Well, it was super tender beef! And I typically roast my beef and my pork the same save two key differences: the color of wine and the seasonings. I did white wine and rosemary but had I known it was beef I would have done red wine and onion powder with a touch more garlic. And maybe some thyme. I actually noticed when it was cooking that it didn't smell as sweet as normal but I thought it was just the fact that I'm all stuffed up from being sick. Ah well, it really did taste great so I didn't worry about it.
Did I mention I'm hoping to get a tattoo this weekend? On my wrist. It'll be a small one, just with the text "yahweh". I'm calling this afternoon to see if I can book an appointment for Saturday. Due to the nature of the tat, they shouldn't have any troubles getting me in since it'll be a 15 minute job.
I have no idea what to make for dinner tonight. It's been such a sucky-weather week which is why I wanted to make pork roast last night but my fridge is full of summery foods. I could maybe make a cream soup which, if done properly, can be summery and warm at the same time. I think I'm going to pull pork ribs from the freezer tonight and make oven-roasted ribs for dinner tomorrow, but that still doesn't help me for tonight! And don't worry - I only ever buy pork ribs so I won't accidentally grab beef ones :) Perhaps I'll make something remniscent of sloppy joes. Matt will love that!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer ideas!

I skipped out on Auxano tonight again. I was feeling wretched all day and while Gabe was perfect the whole time I just felt like I needed a break. Well, now I've had my break, I've drank 3 cups of tea, I've had a bath and I've finished my book. I'm ready for my family to come home but they still won't be back for another hour :( So, in the meantime I have decided to post a list of summer activities! All of these things I intend to do this summer, if I have not already done them. Last summer I didn't get to do nearly as many activities as usual simply because I had a little, itty-bitty baby. This year, I want not-so-little, not-so-itty-bitty baby to experience as much as possible so we're doing it all! Anyway, here's the list!
#1 - Go Fishing! Seriously, so much fun! Significantly more fun when you catch something but even if that doesn't happen it's still nice to get out with family. A couple tips: remember to bring your bug spray, valid fishing licenses and bear in mind that Alberta is barbless so all the barbs on your hooks need to be bent down and broken off. I highly recommend Grotto Pond outside of Canmore if you are in that area.
#2 - Volunteer! Particularly if you are a stay-at-home mommy such as myself. Volunteer with your church, with a local not-for-profit or at the hospital.
#3 - Watch a Meteor Shower! On the night of August 12th and the early morning of the 13th look to the northeast to see the Perseids Meteor Shower. Pack up a couple of blankets, a thermos of coffee and your sweetie, drive out to the country and set up for an hour or so. It's best for viewing after midnight.
#4 - Go to the beach! Sounds so simple, eh? Pack up a picnic lunch with some waldorf salad pitas, pretzels, fresh fruit and drinks. Also pack a volleyball, a frisbee, suntan lotion and money for ice cream later! Get there early so you can get a good spot! (Get on the sand and you can build a sandcastle!)
#5 - Golfing! Lots of courses give discounts for booking early tee-times on weekdays. Get exercise, play a game and get a tan all at the same time!
#6 - Walking With Dinosaurs! ... or something to that extent. There are lots of awesome shows that tour around the world. This one is something I have been wanting to see for years now - robotic dinosaurs put on a documentary style show. Apparently very realistic. This year was also a Star Wars prop and orchestra touring which Matt wanted to see, but you can also look for things like the ever-popular Cirque Du Soleil.
#7 - Hit up your local attractions! Museums, zoos, art galleries, nature centers, historical buildings and attractions... Lots of these places have regularly changing displays so you can go fairly frequently. We're taking Gabe to our local nature centre this weekend, the next time I'm in Calgary for a day trip I hope to go to the Glenbow and the zoo is always fun.
#8 - Check out the local festivals! Some examples of what's around me? Jazz festivals, country music festivals, rodeos and county fairs galore... Lots of these things have free admission, or simply paid parking.
#9 - Go camping! This seems like a simple statement but "camping" looks different to everyone. For me, we get our tents out, rent a campsite near a lake or a river, get in some cards, some volleyball, and lots of cooking around a campfire. Not big on tents? Check out websites such as or for people renting out their cabins for weeks at a time.
#10 - Have an outdoor party! Weiner roast over your campfire! Need something more elegant? Wine and cheese tasting. Too elegant? Tapas with homemade gelato and freshly brewed iced tea with berries floating in it!

Well, I'm cutting myself off at 10. Maybe I'll do a part two someday because I have a lot more ideas, but now my hubby is due to be home!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Cafe Manager

Well, the weekend is over and it didn't end a bit too soon. It was an awesome, fantastic weekend, but I am bagged. Matt's sister and her husband came down from Edmonton and stayed at our place (in our new guestroom!). We were all together to celebrate Matt's Grandparents' 50th anniversary so we had a couple dinners for that and saw alot of family. Saturday morning I got up early and made breakfast for everyone - french toast, scrambled eggs and back bacon. Then we went to get pictures taken with the family but it was unfortunately rather crappy weather outside so we all got a little wet, albeit, some a bit more wet than others. The four of us (and Gabe) then went out for lunch, stopped by Matt's parents' place and then went home for some board games until we had to get back into our formal wear for the dinner that evening. After the dinner we came home and cracked open the wine and the cheese and man it was good! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I picked up a English Sticky Toffee cheese to try and it was better than I thought it would be. I knew it would be interesting but I was worried it would taste processed and overly sweet but the cheese itself was aged and fairly sharp so it worked really well with the cinnamon, the raisins and the caramelized sugar throughout it. The Cranberry cinnamon goat cheese was my favorite that evening though. That was really fantastic. Sunday we went to church and then over to Matt's parents' place for lunch and to watch the soccer game (stupid octopus was right). Then Matt and I skipped out and went home to have some time to ourselves before the weekend was over. We ended up washing the dog and mopping the floors thanks to two very dirty dogs who were left outside after it had rained. We locked them in our kitchen when we went out Saturday night so there was mud all up my walls, up the cupboards and all over the floor. But I cleaned it all up yesterday so it's all better now. My house is actually cleaner overall than it has ever been. Now that the office is cleaned out this is the first time that every room in my house has been useable. It's a nice change :)
This week will involve a little bit of tidying from the weekend, a bit of reorganizing my craft table, a trip to the midweek farmers market and visiting alot of people. Lots of Matt's family is still in town this week from the anniversary party so we want to get together with them before they go back to their respective homes.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention this before, but Matt and I are not getting a cafe right now. We priced out the costs of starting a cafe from the ground up and it actually worked out to be $15,000 less than the asking price for the other cafe we were looking at. And since there were lots of things we'd have wanted to change about the cafe we decided to just wait until we have some money saved up and then we'll start our own. In the meantime, however, I did volunteer to be the cafe manager at our church. They have a cafe that serves lattes and smoothies before and after services and they need someone to take care of the ordering, the scheduling and the training. So I threw my name out! I'm also planning on making lattes one Sunday a month there too.
Well, I'm feeling kinda blah today so I think I'm going to go make a cup of tea, cuddle up with Gabe and read the rest of Sense and Sensability today.

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Guest room!

Well, my office is now a guest room. And it only took 5 days. The only things left in there that ought not to be are a couple of massive mirrors and our desk. Our bookcase is converted into a bedside table with family photos, my pretty wrought iron lamp and a basket full of pretty soaps and new towels. Yesterday I worked my little butt off cleaning Gabe's room and the kitchen before I took Gabe on a walk over to the grocery store. We got back and I blew bubbles for him and Cash (they both loved it!) before I went on to clean our bedroom and the bathroom. Then I quickly made dinner: pitas! The pita I'd had the night before was so great that I was craving more so I grabbed pitas when I was at the store, I made some bruschetta up and I barbqued some chicken. I ended up layering feta, cucumbers, chicken, orange pepper and bruschetta and a tiny bit of Roasted Red Pepper salad dressing. They were awesome. After dinner we quickly ran out to pick up some things and then came back to keep cleaning. I folded laundry while Matt sorted through all his binders from high school, tech school and college that he had been storing in the office. Once those were taken care of Matt watched Gabe and I set up the futon, put sheets on it, made the room look pretty and vaccumed the whole upstairs.
Today I had a list of a whole bunch of things I was supposed to do to get ready for company and I'm really thinking I'm not going to do them. After giving Gabe a bath, buying more groceries and not getting to eat breakfast until 12:30, I'm pretty spent. The house looks decent - at least it has recovered from us cleaning out the office - so I'm going to leave it.
When I went for groceries today my shopping list was: cheeses, breakfast foods, flowers and snacks. I got some back bacon, some flowers for the guest room, cereal, blue corn chips to go with the black bean salsa I'll make this afternoon and, of course, lots of cheeses. I got an aged smoked gouda, a cranberry cinnamon goats cheese, a Red Hot Chili Pepper Jack cheese and a England Sticky Toffee cheese. That last one was fun to find. I had the other three but was wanting one more to round out the selection and then I saw that and it was perfect! I am excessively partial to hard cheeses than soft, so hopefully one soft is enough for everyone else, but I think they'll enjoy everything. I don't know when we'll have our cheeses since it's going to be a crazy weekend for us, but maybe tomorrow night.
Well, I'm going to at least go do dishes and then I'll be completely happy with leaving the house as-is. And I'm going to go drink alot more water. I definately have not been doing enough of that today!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Persuasion and Lemon Grass!

I have been busy, busy, busy all day! Well, most of the day. The first half of the day I let Gabe sleep in and I read "Persuasion." That is my second favorite Jane Austen novel. I think her hero in that book is one of the most desirable heros in all her books. I mean, Mr. Darcy will still reign supreme because of his shy manners and perserverance, but I like Mr. Wentworth even more than I like Mr. Knightley. Near the end of the book Mr. Wentworth writes Anne a letter and his language in that letter is more passionate than all the dialogue of all the other Austen heros combined! My only issue with Persuasion is the last chapter of the book. I feel like that book had loose ends, which isn't typical of an Austen. All her other works were very meticulous about ensuring everyone was addressed and every principal name in the book had been dealt with. Mostly I just feel that Mr. and Mrs. Croft were left hanging. Anyway, enough about that. By noon I started really going to work. I started the laundry going, cleaned up my living room, compiled papers and garbages, chipped away more at the office... That took me until about 1:30. Then I played with Gabe and Cash for a while, fed Gabe more food and got myself ready. At 3 I decided that I would take in all of our bottles to the depot today. It's been probably a year now since we took in bottles and because Cash likes to chew on milk jugs and pop bottles we've been storing them on our deck so that he can't get them. Well, the deck was full and we have company staying in the room that the deck juts off of this weekend so we needed to clear those out. I first had to throw all the bags down, then line my van with garbage bags so that it wouldn't get ucky and then load up the van. Before I took off to take those in I brushed my dog. That was a long time coming! He was starting to leave clumps of hair behind him everywhere he went! Well, I could have made a pomeranian with all the hair I got off of him - and that was just a beginning. Tomorrow I'll do it all again. Anyway, I left at 4 to take the bottles in and it was 4:20 by the time I got to the depot and had filled the carts with my bags of bottles. Yes, Carts. Plural. I needed 2 Costco-sized shopping carts to hold all of my bottles. So I pushed one of the carts in then ran back out to get Gabe out of the van and push in the other cart with one hand. When I came in, two of the workers had already started sorting my bottles and taking the lids off. They actually did it all. I didn't have to do anything other than stand there holding Gabe. 25 minutes and $66 later I was out of there. I tipped those workers though. I've never tipped a bottle depot worker before but they were great to me. Anyway, I had to pick my mom up at 5 from work because we had plans to spend the evening together, so I got there just in time and we went for dinner - Pitas! I got food poisoning from a pita place when I was in Grade 10. I remember it vividly... it was two days before my then-boyfriend's grad and the day before my choir recording session and I was up all night vomitting because of cross-contamination. I was so ticked. And, as it turned out, I was turned off of pitas for, oh, 7 years. But I've recently been able to start eating them again, and I'm so glad! Tonight I had a Bruschetta Chicken pita with feta and balsamic dressing! mmmm!! Once we were done dinner we walked over one block to our local mid-week market. Our Saturday market is no longer a "farmer's" market, but a "public" market. The markets is packed with people selling bracelets and art and antiques and stuff - which is great, but that's not what I go for. I go for the food. So, this mid-week market is an actual Farmer's Market and it is tiny! I think there weren't even 10 stalls there, but lots of great stuff! There was a bison/elk/moose meat vendor, a bakery, an herb vendor, some honey and lots of produce! I ended up getting a big basket of raspberries and one of cherries, as well as a Lemon Grass plant! I looked all over the Saturday market for one. I checked 4 or 5 different places that were selling potted herbs. One place had them, but they were only selling mature plants with only two stalks! Oh, and they wanted $7 for it! The plant I got today isn't mature yet but it had tonnes of stalks coming up and it was only $4. Much better! I'm hoping to go to that market every week because I'd much rather buy farm-fresh produce than what I get at my local grocery store, which, I must admit, is better than most places even. After the market I drove my mom around to a couple places, we stopped at Starbucks for a Frappaccino for me (soooo hot out!) and then I went and got the van washed for Matt. That was something he had wanted to do earlier in the week but he had never had a chance to do so I wanted to surprise him by getting it done myself! When I got home I started cleaning. I took all of the garbages to the curb, threw in another load of laundry, cleaned out my fridge, filled up the dishwasher and washed the rest of the dishes by hand. Matt got home just before 9 and relieved me of my duty! And now, I am sweaty, dirty, and happily exhausted. Perhaps I'll get Gabe to bed and read Sense and Sensibility while I have a bath?

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, July 5, 2010


I've always been a magazine addict. Home and garden and cooking magazines mostly. However, I never fully appreciated them until I bought my first ever Martha Stewart magazine and read it just after Gabe was born. Gabe was fussy one day and I couldn't do anything but hold him and the magazine was the only readable thing within my reach so I made sure that I read it the entire way through - every page. The first article was about Martha's trip to Prague and everything that she did and saw seemed so interesting to me! Even her Q&A pages were fantastic. Since then, I have become a subscriber to Martha Stewart Living and it has inspired me to take up sewing and knitting again, to take up felting and to make a whole load of food. Martha Stewart Living has been my favorite magazine since then but slowly Better Homes and Gardens has been growing on me too. While I don't appreciate every single article the way I do with Martha's, BHG has fantastic tips sometimes. The current issue has a whole bunch of money saving tips with a whole insert of money saving websites. I'd never even heard of most of these and I'm the type to keep my eyes and ears open for such websites. One of the websites that I've checked out thus far is There's not a lot on the site, but the prices are amazing. It sells open box and as is products. I'd never buy electronics off of it, but home decor items and the sort could be great from it! The other website I checked out is even better - If you are looking for something on Ebay and can't find it, don't get discouraged, just check out this website! Their selection in the home decor catagory is breath-taking. So many gorgeous pieces... And great prices of course. The only problem I've noticed so far is that I've now seen 5 different things that I would have bought in a moment except that those sellers didn't ship to Canada. Sigh. It's probably for the best... it's saving us alot of money.
Today was a bit of a hectic day. I meant to wake up early, go for a run, shower and make breakfast for Matt... none of that happened. I didn't wake up until Matt came and kissed me goodbye as he was leaving for work. I got up a bit later and then realized we had nothing for Gabe's breakfast. I normally give him some combination of yogurt, bananas, baby cereal, whole milk, cottage cheese and peaches. We had none of those. So, after giving him some makeshift breakfast we ran out to the grocery store to get some staples. Unfortunately, I had apparently not fed him enough because when we got to the canned fruit aisle and I picked up some fruit cups (super convenient for when we're out and about over lunch time) and he recognized them as food he normally eats (in the fruit section he just thinks that everything is a ball). Anyway, he started screaming, it was messy and I had to wrap up the shopping a bit soon. I got into the car and realized I hadn't picked up any meat for dinner, which was one of the big things I needed to get. So we drove across town to Superstore. I hadn't shopped there since before Christmas and I've heard from so many people so many different things that I need to go there for: clothes, chicken wings, baby toys... Well, when I got there I fed Gabe a banana in the car and then went to get a car seat. It unfortunately had just started raining so I was scrambling to keep Gabe dry while trying to find a shopping cart with a working seat-belt and then I noticed they were all wet. I didn't want to get Gabe's bum wet so I decided to just carry him through the store. Well, that didn't leave me much carrying ability. Plus, I found Mum-Mum's on sale - 2 for $4. Couple that with buying steaks for dinner and I was pretty much done. So, I forgot to get chicken wings, I barely looked at clothes, and I didn't even get near the toys.
Once I got home I few Gabe more and I tried to get him settled down for a nap - which totally didn't work. So I started uploading pictures from my crazy long weekend and then started scheming a bit. Matt put together our new bookshelf last night and it looks fantastic but it does not go with our old dining room set. So, we're selling our table, chairs and china cabinet! We have another table - a pub height one that my parents bought us for our wedding - that we'll now be bringing upstairs. It has been working as a sewing table for me but it'll be easy enough to find another one of those. Anyway, we're thinking we can get $300 for our dining room set (I saw one that was almost identical, just less pretty, for $400) and that will pay for our new bookshelf, a new sewing table, and we'll still have over $100 left over! I loaded up the bookshelf today and it holds all of our cookbooks, textbooks, magazines and other books. Oh, and it's organized in catagories: text books, classic novels, world history and languages, fantasy, theology... oh, and Jane Austen has her very own shelf :) For dinner I made a steak salad (we'd had one last night at Matt's sister's place and it was so good I was craving more) and the steak was the best one I've ever barbqued. It was perfect! Oh, and we used our Grizzly Paw Brewing Company barbque sauce which is my new favorite barbque sauce. I stayed home from Auxano tonight just to have some time to myself. I had a bath, read my magazine and now I'm doing this :)
But Matt's home now so I'm going to go hang with him!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Well, we had an interesting wake up call this morning... just after 5 a.m. our sprinklers went off which woke me up a little but I was still half asleep. In this half asleep state I heard someone walking around in our back yard yelling and grunting. I thought it was just a dream until he started rattling the door knob of our back door and pounding on the door yelling, "Let me in!" Great, eh? Matt ran down and opened the window on the door and asked the guy what was wrong. Apparently the guy was dripping wet and had his pants pulled down almost all the way. The guy kept slurring his words and Matt couldn't really understand him but kinda got that the guy wanted in to crash for the night (he was yelling the whole time and sounded very angry). Matt said, "The night's over dude." and then called the cops. While he was on the phone with the police we could hear him pounding on our neighbour's door - our 80 year old neighbour's door. The cops came within a minute of us hanging up the phone and picked the guy up. It was really, really creepy though. We think he was sleeping in our backyard or under the trees in our driveway and got woken up by the sprinklers. We also think he was high or drunk, or both. Plus, what if our door had been unlocked? He tried getting in! He could have just walked into our house! At least now I feel justified in my compulsion of double checking the locks at night...
Anyway, because of that little episode we ended up sleeping in and didn't leave for Edmonton until about 10:30. As soon as we got there we hit up Le Chateau outlet to find my super-hot dress... unfortunately they didn't have it. It hardly had any dresses at all compared to the store I'd been to in Calgary! I was really sad to not get it today but tomorrow I'll call my sister and see if she can just go pick one up for me. I doubt I'll ever find a dress that hot for that cheap again.
We left Le Chateau and drove to Matt's sister's house where we hung out long enough to decide that we were all hungry so we hopped in our van and drove to OPM. We'd heard about OPM from a few of our friends who raved about it and we're so glad we finally got to go. It's a high end asian restaurant with amazing food. We got their Cantonese Lettuce Wraps to start and then shared their Drunken Chicken, Mongolian Beef and Coconut rice. Matt doesn't share food well so he got his own Buddha's Lunch Box of Sweet and Sour Chicken. I must admit, I was worried about the Cantonese Lettuce Wraps. They had mushrooms (which I hate), Water Chestnuts (which I can do without), onions (which I'm totally indifferent to) and a few other things that I'm not crazy about. I seriously thought I'd really hate them, but they were amazing! They bring out pieces of lettuce and a bowl of filling that you roll up in the lettuce pieces. Man, it was incredible. The Drunken Chicken is a dish they usually recommend and it too was better than I thought it would be. The Mongolian Beef was probably my favorite dish. Man it was good... I totally recommend going to that restaurant with a group of 4 people and getting some menu items to share. For the record, we had leftover food.
After eating our fill (and Gabe dumping a full glass of water on me just at the end of the meal) we went to IKEA! Matt and I have been needing a full sized bookcase for some time now so we finally broke down and went to get one from IKEA. We spent probably 2 hours in that store, mostly just debating what shelving unit to get. We finally decided on one of their Expedit bookcases - the ones with the cube shelves. And we even fit it in the back of our van! Granted, I had to crawl out of the trunk to get out of the back seat, but it fit. After shopping we hung out for a while, drank tea and beer (girls had tea, boys had beer) and then made some dinner. Oh, and we have been enlightened. Apparently my brother-in-law decided to barbque some President's Choice chicken wings a few weeks back and he said they taste infinately better when cooked that way. They were right! They cooked some up for us and while I usually hate frozen chicken wings because they always feel so slimy and make my stomach upset, these tasted restaurant grade.
Well, now Matt and I are home, putting together our bookcase (or rather, Matt's putting it together and I'm blogging). This week will be a fun one for me. The same couple we hung out with today are coming to town next weekend and staying in our guestroom... which is not yet in existence. So all this week I will be organizing, cleaning and decorating to make sure it is guest ready. I'm also going horseback riding with my mom at some point this week and to the Farmer's Market on Wednesday. It's going to be another great week!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cafe Ole

I was too tired to post yesterday, so hopefully I can remember all the details today! Yesterday morning we headed out to Drumheller as soon as the gas tank was full and the Timmy's was got. On our drive out I saw an antelope! I didn't even know we had those in Alberta! As soon as we got into town we headed straight for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. We spent probably 45 minutes in the first section, reading the plaques and looking at some of the largest, most intact fossils the museum has. And then my sister showed up! :) She had been scheming the day before about bringing her family out to meet us but we kept it a secret pretty well so when she arrived she walked up right next to my mom to make a comment on some fossil and shocked the heck out of her! So Gabe got to see the rest of the museum with his cousin Elli! It was a really great time and Gabe wasn't the least bit scared of the dinosaurs. He thought most of them were dogs.
After we finished at the museum we headed over to Boston Pizza for lunch where I ordered their Thai Chicken Bites and a side caesar salad. If you've ever had Earls' Chili Chicken appetizer you'll know just how amazing that dish is... sweet chili sauce on breaded chicken bits with green onion and crispy wontons... Fantastic. I was curious to see how Boston Pizza measured up and while it wasn't as good - and was clearly a ripoff of the Earls' version with crispy noodles, green onion and carrot - it was better than I was worried it would be. I'd definately eat it again. But, having said that, if I'm craving chili chicken I'm going to Earls.
After lunch we checked out a couple more fun locations and then went over to visit my friend's cafe: Cafe Ole on South Railway Ave (attached to The Brick). I've never been to Drumheller to visit my friend in all the time that she's lived there, much to my shame, and I knew I couldn't be in the same city without looking in on her. Plus, I really wanted to check out her cafe. It was gorgeous! It had a beautiful atmosphere and they made great drinks. Not to mention, killer cupcakes! My friend makes all the cupcakes herself and her strawberry icing is made with real strawberries and tastes sooooo good. Cafe Ole in Drumheller people - it rocks.
Speaking of cafes, today I was doing a bit of price searching in anticipation of maybe owning one myself in the not too distant future. The first thought it my head was IKEA. I mean, obviously they're cheap. I figured plates, bowls and cups from them would by far be the cheapest alternative. However, it turns out I was wrong. While Matt and I were running errands today we stopped in at Homesense where they had just got in 12 packs of beautiful, square dinner plates for $20. At Ikea, the cheapest option for large plates was $4 a piece. That's more than double!! So it turns out that when the time comes for me to find dishes for a cafe, I will be skipping IKEA and going straight to Homesense to see what deals they have that month.
Today was fairly laid back... Matt and I cleaned alot and now you can actually open the door to our office all the way. We just need to get a bookcase and sort some papers and then it is done. Tomorrow we are skipping church (we're heathens, we know) and going to Edmonton to see Matt's sister and her husband and to do some shopping. I'm going to take Matt to Le Chateau outlet up there and he can decided whether or not I get the bombshell yellow dress that won't quite zip up all the way or not.
But for now, I will simply retire for the evening, do some reading, and maybe some more scheming, and most likely drink some tea!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Wow! Today was amazing! And full! And wow! I just realized I didn't blog yesterday so I have to play catch up!!
Okay, first off, we didn't get our van on Tuesday. We signed some papers for it but because they were going to fix some stuff on it for us we weren't going to be able to get it that day. So, on Wednesday when I went to Calgary I just took my car. I left town at about 8 and I didn't get to my sister's house on the north end of Calgary until just before 10. Stupid construction. We jumbled carseats and then went to the zoo to meet up with my darling cousin from Montana, my aunt and her two adorable kids. The first thing we did was go to the brand new carousel they just put in. Instead of horses, the figures are all different types of zoo animals: bats, red pandas, giraffes - that sort of thing. Well, I went to go put Gabe on one and he freaked out. There was too much going on and too many lights and sounds. So I sat down on a seat on the ride with him and he started to calm down - and then we started moving. He cried almost the entire time we were on it. And not just a little bit crying - he was screaming in terror. And they didn't stop the ride. Thanks guys. The only time he stopped crying was when I pulled his hat down over his eyes so that he couldn't see everything going by so fast. well, throughout the rest of the morning we grabbed some food, Gabe got to see a bear, he loved watching the elephant and we all got alot of exercise and sun. Once we'd all had enough we booked it back to my sister's house where my cousin and I switched back to my car and we went shopping. What should have been a 10 minute trip down south took half an hour, again, thanks to construction. I wanted to go to the Le Chateau outlet there to find a dress for my cousin's wedding at the end of July. Well, I found one. It was yellow and tight and hugging and sexy and it looked absolutely fantastic on me... but the zipper wouldn't do up the last inch. Oh, and did I mention that it was marked down to $30 from $230??? I didn't buy it because I was feeling rushed and I didn't want to make a bad purchase, but when we go to Edmonton on Sunday we're hitting up the outlet there and I'm going to get it. Seriously, I looked so hot in it. Anyway. I dropped my cousin off at her parents' place and then headed straight out of town. The only problem with that plan was that there were two accidents on Deerfoot just before I got on it. It took me half an hour to get two kilometers. I left my cousin's place at 4 and I didn't hit Calgary city limits until 5. By then I was mentally exhausted from stalled traffic and I knew that I needed coffee so I stopped off in Airdrie to hit up the Timmy's but because it was now after 5 that was lined up through the whole parking lot. I ended up getting a milkshake from Wendy's and then rushing home. I got back to town by 6:20 but I was supposed to have been home by 5 to go get the van. Fortunately the dealership was open until 8 so we dropped Gabe and Cash off with my parents, got the van, ate dinner by 8:30 and then visited Matt's parents to show off the van to them.
Now, on to today!
First thing this morning I went over to my parents' house for breakfast (waffles with whipped cream and strawberries). Once the coffee was finished off we packed up and went to Heritage Ranch. We bought a pony ride for Gabe and since we were pretty much the only people there we spent a fair bit of time just petting the horse (by no means a pony) and letting Gabe get used to seeing a real horse for the first time. When the time came for him to go on he got cold feet - it was the carousel incident all over again. The ranch hand said that when this happens they usually get the parent to go on and hold the kid for the ride - so I got to get in a tiny horse ride today too! Gabe totally wanted to be on the horse but was overwhelmed when he was on there so I had to face him towards me for almost the whole ride. He gradually started to figure out just what it was that we were doing. He has a rocking horse at home (that looked remarkably similar to the brown and white painted pinto we were on) and we always sing a song to him "So rides the lady's horse..." and so when I sang that to him while the horse was bumping and rocking us he kinda put two and two together. By the end of the ride he was waving to people, barking to the horse and pointing out the other horses in the nearby field. After petting the other horses for a while longer we went home to grab a quick bite before we went out for some golf. We hit up a tiny little par 3 and pushed Gabe around the course in his stroller. He thought it was fantastic! I didn't play great (my putting has really gone downhill) but it was really fun anyway. We then shot a bucket of balls at the driving range (my best clubs are my 5 wood and my 9 iron) and then went home and lazed about until Matt got there. Then we started dinner :) The smiley face is because of what dinner was: bannock and steak strips. Bannock is a fairly sweet dough that you wrap around a stick and cook over a fire and then you roll it in butter... mmmmmm. We also cook up steak strips over the fire and season them with this seasoning salt called "Alpine Touch" which is the most amazing seasoning salt ever. Once we were done steak, bannock and roasting mini marshmallows (that was painstaking) then we went fishing. The mosquitoes were murderous however so that only lasted for about 40 minutes, even though the fish were biting really well and jumping all over the pond. We got back to my parents' place by 10:30 and we were all pretty bagged so we decided to call it a night. On the drive home Matt and I were able to see the fire works going on from the Canada Day celebration, so that was cool.
Tomorrow will be another early day; we're leaving for Drumheller by 8:30 so I'd best get some sleep!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)