Saturday, July 30, 2011

a wonderfully fine weekend

I hope that you all are enjoying this wonderfully fine weekend. Up here in Canada we are lucky enough to have a long weekend which means that Ed gets to hang out with us for 3 days instead of the usual 2 - hurrah! What makes this weekend even better is that our only plan is to go to a birthday party and then eat some barbequed deliciousness.

Today we popped over to my sister's house to bring by some vegetables from the garden and take pictures of their new baby. Thats right people - there is a new baby in the family, Little K arrived last week and was the reason we were so busy. I was lucky enough to be in the room when Little K was born and he was super cute from his very first breath. The week that followed Little K's birth was filled with us running around town and visiting Little K at the hospital while visiting the rest of my family that had come in to town to see him too. My sister and my niece flew into the city and in between visits we took a trip through Kensington Market to pick up some delicious food.

Buzz doesn't have much interest in Little K  yet, although he was thrilled that he could see pictures of him on the camera. 

On our way home we stopped at Starbucks to enjoy a nice cool drink, Buzz amused himself by making faces in the mirror. 

Tonight we're looking forward to going over to the garden and ripping out the last of our peas from their plot, we're going to attempt to grow some late carrots as our others have turned out so nicely already. In other garden news we now have a couple fully open sunflowers. These sunflowers are really pretty, a rusty reddish orange colour and standing about shoulder height.

Alright, time to get back to enjoying our leisurely weekend. Ed is snoozing on the couch and Buzz has climbed on top of him and is smooshing Ed's face, I think I must save him.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What I love Wednesday : Hot Evenings and Cool Arenas

A quick 'What I love Wednesday' before I go to sleep. I love love love sitting in a cool hockey arena watching Ed play hockey when it is crazy hot outside. The past couple of weeks Buzz and I have made the trek to the arena with Ed despite the fact that his games were well past Buzz's bedtime. The evenings have been totally worth it, last week the heat was intolerable and Buzz slept for the entire game leaving me to chat with Alexis (she tagged along so that she too could partake in the air conditioning) while crocheting - the evening was blissful!

No photos this time around, the house is silent and Ed and Buzz are sound asleep, I would love to stay up to crochet but alas I too am tired.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

This week has been busy busy busy for us (more on the big reason it was so busy later) and a crazy weekend wouldn't be complete without a visit to the farm. 

Ed's parents run a dairy farm outside of Peterborough and we visit often enough that Buzz is finally becoming familiar with the place. During this trip up he climbed towers of hay bales, showed no fear of cows, and went down a very tall slide, his courage was amazing. (In the picture Ed is attempting to get Buzz down from the bales, he got up with the help of a cousin).

I am pretty in love with some of the cows, they can be surprisingly lovely animals if you take the time to scratch behind their ears, this time I fell head over heals for a little jersey cow in the stall at the end of the row. She was smaller then the holstein cows and her face was incredibly sweet. While she was milked I pet her ears and she seemed to like that, sadly she is on loan and so we may never hang out again, but it was nice while it lasted. 

If you live in the city then take a weekend to get out to the country, while not everyone has a farm in the family, most people can take their family to the farm. If you're not sure where to look for a farm near you, start asking around especially at farmer's markets, someone there is bound to have a farm that you can visit. If you are in the Toronto area check out Brook's Farms, you can pick berries, feed some chickens, take a ride on a zipline, and play with all the toys on their giant lawn, they're located outside Newmarket. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Buzz is having a nap today and while he was sleeping I made a holder for his cars and small toys. I would love to provide a full tutorial, but I didn't take quite enough photos, no worries though, I'm hoping to give you enough of a run down that you can make your own.

I used a sturdy red fabric for the back piece of the holder, this was a scrap piece that I happened to have and was already just over 10" wide. I cut it so that it was 40" in length and then folded it in half so that it measured 10"x 20" . This piece could be any size depending on the size of the holder that you want to make and the amount of fabric that you have available.

I cut three pieces of grosgrain ribbon (with polka dots). I trimmed the ends so that they wouldn't frey, folded them over and sandwiched these three pieces between the ends of the top of the large red piece. These pieces are going to become the ties on the top of the holder,  you may want to use more ties if the holder you are making is very wide. I sewed the edges of the red piece being careful to leave a space open to turn the piece right side out.

I cut three pieces of rainbow fabric measuring about 8"x14". I folded them lengthwise and then sewed the long edge and one short edge. I then turned these three pieces right side out and top-stitched a long side on each of them. I attached these pieces to the large red piece by cutting pinning  and then sewing the short ends to the red piece, be sure to get them even, measure them if you have trouble eyeballing them. These pieces are going to look too large but they are supposed to be that way. Find the middle of the rainbow piece and sew it down along the centre line of the red piece. I created the pockets by folding the excess over on either end to create pleats and then sewing across the bottom of the pockets.

Once I sewed the all of these pieces together I attached pieces of elastic in between. I used wide elastic to better hold the cars, be sure to use a long enough piece of elastic, probably 13 or 14 inches, so that there is plenty of room for the cars. If your elastic is super stretchy then use a little less in length, if the elastic is not terribly stretchy, use a little more.

I hung up this car holder in our living room on a rail that we purchased from Ikea. We have a couple containers hanging on the rail as well and Buzz's toy box sits underneath. This car pouch would also work well on the back of a seat in a car.

I surprised myself with the ease in which I finished everything. I usually mess something up along the way, but the hanging car holder turned out wonderfully. I will definitely be taking this on future road trips, I love that I can simply untie it while its full of toys and tie it to the back of a seat in the car.

oh. joy.

It is 3:30 in the a.m. as I am sitting here at my computer writing this. I haven't seen 3:30 a.m. in quite a while, or at least not while most mostly coherent.So why am I up?

Is it Buzz?

No. He fell asleep while sitting up on the couch tonight and while he isn't sleeping all that well due to heat (what I wouldn't give for a/c tonight, or at the very least a sleeping porch), he is currently sprawled out and sound asleep in our bed.

The reason we are up (yes Ed is wide awake and standing by the door as I type this) is due to the copious amounts of water coming through our ceiling. Yes, you read that correctly, WATER COMING THROUGH MY CEILING. Most of it is coming through the vent however there is a small contingent of drops clinging to the ceiling which has now become damp to the touch.

The superintendent has come over and looked at it, he was as confused by it as we were. He had to go and knock on the door of the people upstairs with the really big dog. I've yet to hear their dog bark however apparently they have an inch of water on their bathroom floor with no idea where it came from. 

Maybe their dog is on vacation, its a very big dog with a very deep bark, maybe the dog heard the knocking and thought '3 a.m..... I'm sleepy, no way am I barking when I should be sound asleep. Damn humans.'  I'm sure that's what their dog thought, its pretty much what I'm thinking.

Well, 45 minutes after our not so welcome wake up and the water has slowed to an almost stop, we are heading back to bed. Ed must get up for work in 3 hours, I will hopefully be sleeping longer than that. There is no solution to the mysterious appearance of water, the water upstairs has been mopped away and hasn't again appeared. I suspect that when it gets light out there will be some sort of resolution to the issue of the water. Maybe the building is trying to tell us that it is simply too hot, I agree, too hot. Too hot for this.

I kinda wish I was on vacation with that dog.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summertime Weekend

The temperatures have reached new heights here in Toronto and we are doing our best to stay cool. Today that meant chilling out in our apartment and then heading to Chapters once the sun hit our windows. Buzz had fun playing at the Thomas table, Ed and I browsed some books, and we all enjoyed some cool Starbucks drinks. Buzz's drink of choice is a kids sized milk with whipped cream on top, he is delighted by the whipped cream, it makes his drink extra special!

Yesterday we attended a grand summer tradition - the backyard bbq/birthday party. The afternoon was hosted by my friend N and her partner M and was complete with mini sliders, a pool for the kids, tons of friendly people, and of course - cake! Buzz is a little behind with his vocabulary so every word for us is a celebration, yesterday was no exception when he proclaimed "more cake!" and then "please!" he was justly rewarded with more cake. It was delicious cake, whipped topping, lemon filling, yum yum yum. 

The best part about yesterday was seeing friends, lots of them, all with children Buzz's age. Despite the sun beating down on us we all had a great time, and at the end of the day Buzz fell asleep in the car and continued to sleep through the night - a sure sign of a good day. 

The party was great, N and M kept it simple with a couple of salads, mini sliders, freezies for the kids, and lots and lots to drink. If you're looking to host a party on a hot day be sure to have plenty to keep the kids and adults cool. Also check out this awesome way to decorate - balloons pinned to the clothesline - super adorable, super easy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What I Love Wednesday : Wading Pools and Splash Pads

It is hot hot hot here in Toronto and we don't have air conditioning. Our apartment stays pretty cool but when we step outside we are often met with a wave of heat and humidity, thus we are always looking for a way to cool down while enjoying the sunshine. In the Toronto area many neighbourhoods are lucky enough to have a splash pad or wading pool in one of their local parks, we have one of each close to us. Access to all of these locations is completely free which means that if we want we can go every day of the week. While Buzz is not great in a large pool (we took him swimming last night, he was not as enthused as I was), he loves playing in the knee high water of the wading pool.

Wading pools in Toronto.

Splash pads in Toronto.

There have been some recent changes to the amount of time a wading pool can be open before it needs to be drained and re-filled. The new regulations mean that a pool has to be drained and refilled after 4 hours of use, keep this in mind when you go to visit  your local wading pool. This recent change in regulations is a little annoying, for most of the wading pools this means that they close one hour earlier which is frustrating for a lot of residents. If you have an issue with the new rules I would urge you not to get angry at the supervisors of the pool, they are just following the rules, instead call the city of Toronto and complain to them.

The Toronto Zoo has their own splash area which is a great break in the day and a wonderful way to cool down. Plan on stopping by the splash area if you're going to the zoo on a hot day, even for just a few minutes of playing it is well worth the hassle of getting into swimsuits.

Some tips for going to the splash pad or wading pool;

-Wading pools are checked and filled every day but splash pads are not, water shoes are usually a good idea. We don't worry about water shoes in the wading pools as much, but Buzz is always wearing footwear at the splash pad, even if he is just wearing his garden clogs.

- Be sure to wear waterproof sunscreen and cover up! When Buzz goes to the wading pool or splash pad he usually wears swim shorts, a sun shirt (unless its very cloudy like in the picture), and even a hat.

- Keep in mind that if there are older kids around they tend to rule the splash pad (the wading pools are often occupied by younger kids), don't be afraid to speak up if they are being too rough and are knocking down little ones in their wake.Also, if you go to a splash pad there is a good chance that your little one will get splashed in the face, if you don't want to take that chance, then go to the wading pool instead.

-Take snacks, you can stay at the wading pool all day if you want, so be sure to bring snacks and drinks so that you don't have to go home prematurely.

-Get involved, walk around the wading pool, and step in the water at the splash pad, even staying near to the splash pad can keep you coo, it feels great!

Have fun keeping cool!

Monday, July 11, 2011

We have beans! We lifted some of the leaves from our rather prolific bush bean plants and discovered a wonderful surprise - ready to pick green beans! We brought home this batch yesterday in the hopes that there will be more beans ready to be picked on Tuesday or Wednesday.

I'm planning to make a big batch of dilly beans this week and so I will probably pick up some beans from a farmer's market as well. Last year we canned 2 batches of dilly beans and they were all gone by Christmas, this year we want to fill our cupboard so they will last us much longer.

The recipe that we used last year was this one from Canadian Living, the beans were spicy, crispy, and amazing.
The summer is in full swing around here and we're getting the most out of it that we possibly can. The winter this year was long and cold and so Buzz and I are going to soak up every bit of sun and warmth that we possibly can. Over on Ohdeedoh they featured someone who has a summer to do list and I love the idea so I'm working on creating one of our own. We don't have a large chalkboard on which to put our to-do list (creating a chalkboard is on our list), but I do have a checklist in a notebook. We are about a week into July and we have already knocked a number of items off the list, this past Thursday we tackled a big one : jam making!

We started out our Thursday by meeting up with my sister (I have two sisters, this one lives in Toronto as well), and heading up to Brook's Farms. Brook's farm has been around for over a century and we are lucky enough to know a couple of the Brook's family members.

While on the farm we met Georgie, a rather unconventional farm dog. Buzz took a picture. This is it.

By buying from the farm directly you get a chance to see exactly where your food is coming from, you can ask questions, and even pick it yourself. We decided to pick raspberries and strawberries.

Buzz, not surprisingly, chose to run and wander, he seemed to enjoy that everything was in tidy rows. He did manage to pick some raspberries, although he was less impressed with the strawberries. The strawberries were abundant and bright red, the whole field smelled incredibly sweet. I ended upheading home with a full container of strawberries, some raspberries, and some pecan butter tarts. We ended up eating all of the raspberries by the next morning, the butter tarts didn't make it home.

I had looked up jam recipes the night before and so I had a good idea of the amount of strawberries that I needed. I would definitely suggest that you look at recipes before you go berry picking, even take the time to write down amounts so that you don't come home with too few berries.

I picked up some rhubarb from the garden (everyone has too much and so they are eager to give it away) and made myself some strawberry rhubarb jam. I used a recipe from Canadian Living, they have a great assortment canning recipes and I defer to their website often for ideas.

The strawberry rhubarb jam turned out wonderfully, the colour is beautiful and the taste is pretty awesome as well. There is something incredibly satisfying about making your own jam, we ended up with 10 jars, most of which we will probably give away. If you haven't tried to make jam before you should definitely try it out this summer, check your local farms for pick your own berries, or hit up your local farmer's market. All 10 jars of jam cost about $17, that includes the jars that we picked up at the Goodwill store, for $1.70 a jar we have some amazing jam and the satisfaction that we made it ourselves.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

neighbours and friends

There are times that I lament about not having a garden in our own backyard, or rather not having a backyard in which to put a garden. It would be lovely to have a space right outside our door to call our own, in which Buzz could run and play while I garden. In the midst of my lamenting though I then remember the wonderful people that I've met while gardening at my community garden plot and I realize how thankful I am to have met them. 

This evening at the garden we had a potluck dinner, people brought dishes of food that were delicious. Wonderful desserts lined the tables and there was pink lemonade for all. As the evening wore on the food and people kept coming, we sat and ate, then ate and sat, wandered the gardens with Buzz, and spoke to met new friends. 

I made cupcakes.

Buzz ran with new friends and was covered with dirt from head to toe.
I am so thankful for the people that we have met while tending to our garden, they dote on Buzz and are some of the most welcoming people we've met. The term community garden is so apt because the people there have created their own community within the large city that we live in. We may not live next door to one another, but we are neighbours, ones who garden together, share advice, and trade produce.

Monday, July 4, 2011

We've been gardening for two months now and I can't believe the difference in our garden. When you see the garden day by day you don't always notice the difference, but then there are those other days. Once in a while we show up and I would swear that overnight the peas have grown another foot, or that there are way more carrots then there were the day before. This weekend we had one of those types of visits. This week it was the peas. Peas! Tons of them! All of the sudden they appeared and boy are they wonderful, two types are ready to eat, our sugar snap peas and the snow peas. The sugar snap peas are incredibly sweet and crisp, not at all like the waxy tough snap peas you get from the grocery store.

Once again Buzz could not be convinced that he should try them, but he was enthusiastic about harvesting them. He didn't quite understand the process as he ripped off a fist sized chunk of a pea plant, but its all good, he's learning and growing in the garden and isn't that what its all about?

I love to watch Buzz become more comfortable in the garden, he runs between the plots and seems to know the lay of the land, even though most of the fences are above his head. As much as we are constantly improving our garden with supports to help our plants grow, we are adding toys to the garden and improving the area for Buzz as well. He is always excited to go to the garden and once he is out of his car seat he quickly runs to our plot and our neighbours to gather the bulldozers so that he can start working as well. An area without plants quickly becomes a teeny construction site, complete with teeny boulders and plenty of mud. We also added a xylophone/piano this to the garden fence this week, Buzz was quite excited to see Ed attaching it and he loved playing it. This toy was really very annoying and loud in our apartment, but it sounds great when its outside and the notes are floating in the wind.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

We stopped by the garden tonight and I am so glad that we did. I hadn't noticed before but it seems that we have peas! Snow peas and snap peas are everywhere, sadly I didn't bring my camera with me and I have no pictures. I will be sure to take some photos tomorrow as they look lovely, they taste great as well!

While we were there one of my neighbours offered me some dill. She has so much in her garden that she can't use it all, so I was able to bring some home with us. We have planted dill but it hasn't grown very much yet so this was a welcome gift, we gave her a couple heads of lettuce in return. This a wonderful and rather common theme at the garden.

As I wasn't  planning on cooking anything tonight with the dill, especially this much dill, I decided to freeze it. The whole process is very easy and will come in handy when I don't have fresh herbs in the kitchen. 
Wash and dry the dill, I shook it as dry as I could, then cut the roots off and separate the leaves from the main large stem. From what I've read you can use both, but I figured it would be best to freeze them separately as I will use the stems in soup and the leaves with potatoes or in sauces.

 Chop up the dill.

Put the dill in ice cube trays and top them up with water before popping them in the freezer. Once they are frozen pop them out of the ice cube trays and into a freezer bag or a container and they are good to go the next time you want dill in whatever you're cooking.