Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oh Fudge!! The results!

This is one serving size, right?


So mostly a success! The fudge should have been cut while it was still soft so it crumbled a bit when I cut it up. Perhaps in my panic I beat up the fudge a bit too much. The recipe is super easy, I'd definitely make this one again. I give myself a B+.

Hooray! No more Flubber!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oh Fudge!!

I am a lover of fudge. Of any kind really. When I went back to Banff the first thing I wanted to do was go to the fudge store. They have at least 25 different kinds of fudge. I remember my Grandpa making it when I was a kid. I think it was the only time he actually did anything in the kitchen. That and maybe open some cans of tuna for the cats. I prefer fudge when it's smooth, not granular. The smoothness gives it an extra little oomph.
All this to say, I suck at making fudge. The few times I have tried, it's been a disaster. Shouldn't I have some sort of fudge making gene from my Grandpa, or is it recessive? The last time, it was just plain nasty. I don't know what I did wrong but it wasn't quite solid, not quite liquid either. Flubber! That's exactly what it was. Tasty flubber fudge that was good for spreading on toast.
My friend gave me an easy fudge recipe. It's good, but it's got the granular thing going for it. That and I don't think fudge is supposed to have icing sugar in it.

My husband, the geek, after trying the Flubber Fudge sent me this, the science of fudge:

I chuckled at first but then when I actually watched the video it was quite helpful. I know where I went wrong last time. So, I made fudge tonight. I think I may have succeeded too! I've been typing this as I let it cool, then went back to it to stir it up. The recipe says to beat the mixture for a few minutes and that it will go from glossy to opaque and thicken up. At first I'm whipping it into a frenzy and nothing is happening. Oh crap! Was I supposed to use an electric mixer? I debate taking out the mixer and risking waking Alex up, but I check the recipe again. Hmm nothing about mixer speed. It must be by hand. I go back to the bowl and start mixing again. You guys, it was magical. I could see it starting to crystalize and become opaque. Suddenly it was the consistency of peanut butter cookie batter. Did I really get the fudge to work?

I'll post the results later, when it cools. For now here's the recipe for Incredible Brown Sugar Fudge.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The mail made me cry today...twice.

As I waited for my sister to show up at my house so we could go out to breakfast (second breakfast that is), I went to check the mail. Oooh! A puffy envelope! It must be the fabric I ordered from Etsy I thought to myself. No, that's not right. I only finished the transaction on Sunday. Hmm, who is it from then? I checked the return address and then blurted out "that turkey!". You see, the package was from my friend Mommy By Day. She sent me a Christmas card and a little something for Alex. I had sent her a gift for her daughter on her birthday (who was born just 12 hours after Alex). This person I've only been in touch with over the internet, who I've never met in person (but would like to some day) sent my son a gift. The friendships I've made online (and in real life as well) this past year is something I never could have predicted. So when I opened the package I started to cry. Natalie had sent me these delicious winter booties for Alex. Very sweet and greatly appreciated. Thank you for the boots and for our talks Natalie.

Oh and they fit perfectly by the way, he was just mostly naked when he tried them on :)

After second breakfast and shopping and a short while after my sister left, I got a call from my nephew.
He called to tell me he got the birthday card I mailed him. Well, sort of mailed him. You see I did something boneheaded. Almost 2 weeks ago, I went to mail that card, with Mr. Puffpuff Snowsuit in tow. We walked the four long blocks to the mailbox to mail the card (and return a movie to Zip). The envelope is prepaid, so I completely forgot about the stamp on the card. I was dealing with a weeble wobble toddler who kept tipping over and the short walk took forever. I get to the mailbox and shove in the two envelopes. It was just as I shut the door to the mailbox, did I remember that the card had no stamp. No postage of any kind. Aaaaarrrrghhhhh! The worst part was there was a 50$ gift card in that envelope.  I was hopeful that I'd get the card back in the mail, but my husband was convinced that card was gone for good. So when I got off the phone with my nephew, I cried again. You see, today is the anniversary of my mom's death. I sometimes feel like she's watching over us, but when stuff like this happens, how could you not? So thanks Mom, glad you're still looking out for me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Colours! A felt book for Alex.

I haven't been posting as much because I've been busily working every evening on this felt book I've made for Alex. I started it, hmm let me think, the beginning of October? Maybe September? I can't believe this book is finally done! I had seen the felt book at my friend Crafty Mel's house. She made the felt book for her son, and it was beautiful. I wanted to make one too! She lent me the pattern (sorry copyright!) and slowly I collected what I needed for the book. I started making a few pages from the pattern, but then deviated from it. About a third of the book is from the pattern, the rest I did on my own, making images that Alex would recognize. I tried to make it interactive, giving Alex stuff to do on most pages.
It took about 30-40 hours to make but it was a lot of fun. I did some hand sewing, machine sewing, embroidery, a quilted square and even a tiny bit of needle felting.

Alex loves fire trucks so this was a no brainer. The ladder is a working zipper.

Orange. This one was from the pattern. The goldsfish come out of the tank.

Banana! You can peel the banana. Meh, not my favourite page.

Another one partially from the pattern. The little bird comes out of the nest.

Whale! When I started this Alex didn't know whales, but now he says Whale. The airplane is a button.

This was supposed to be grapes. I'm happy with the butterflies. There's a second butterfly that comes out from the cocoon.

Watermelon. It's pink. There's an ant. Doesn't do anything.

Who is that squirrel sharing an apple with?

A friend!
 I needle felted the white around the eyes during an unusually long nap.
This page makes me very happy! I love the squirrels!

What do you think?

Easy Peasy Crafting: Mini Stocking for gift cards

 I hate giving gift cards. I much prefer picking out presents for people. For some people though, like a teenage boy, gift cards are the perfect gift. I guess I could just put the gift card in a card, but it seems like a of waste, especially if this person already got a Christmas card from us. I've seen little card holders, some quite cheesy at the Dollar store, and others, equally cheesy for several dollars elsewhere.  I was inspired by Wombat and her use of reusable gift bags she made. So I've made some cute little stockings that can hold gift cards, candy canes, little notes, or some chocolates. They're also reusable. I used some fabric I got from a friend and some yarn I had lying around the house. 

So to start, you take your fabric, fold in half (right side facing in) and trace a stocking (or any shape really) using a card as a guideline, making sure that there's enough fabric for a seam allowance.

You then do the same thing to the second fabric. Take the fabrics and put the two opposite colours together, with the toes facing in the same direction like this.

 Then stitch the two boots rims together with the fabrics facing right sides together. Once you have two weird two headed boot things, place those together, right side facing each other. Then stitch all the way around one boot, and most of the way around the second boot, leaving a space open at the bottom. (Stitching using photoshop to demonstrate, not actual bad sewing).

Oh if you want to add a string, insert it so it's facing the right sides of the fabric in the stocking with just the end sticking out. If you add it right at the middle point between the fabrics it makes the stocking reversible!

And this is the result! (Made with other fabrics)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Come on it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride...

Alex woke up super early this morning so I decided to take him out in the sleigh to tire him out before trying to put him down for a nap. This was the result:

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I am currently watching Love Actually and I started crying before the opening credits even finished. Oh the sad irony that is Liam Neeson burying his wife in a movie, then losing his wife so tragically in real life. Why do I do this to myself?

I've been spending my evenings half watching movies that I've already seen many times before. I'm working on a handmade book for Alex for Christmas and I like the background noise. Hopefully this book will finish soon enough. I feel like I've been working on it forever. I'll post some photos when it's done.

My cat, Daisy, the slightly intellectually challenged one, is staring at me. She'll do this for 20-30 minutes at a time. Really quite creepy. Shoo kitty shoo!

Alex said what sounded like his first sentence tonight as I put his pj's on. It was "Dodo, No, no. Elmo!". Sorry Alex. No Crackmo before bed.

Billy Bob Thornton is both scary and perfect as the president of the United States (in Love Actually).

Creepy staring cat, still in place.

Work today was mostly uneventful. I went to get a coffee for the boss lady, and had to order some complicated latte for her. I told the guys, it's for the owner of the store next door. Ah they said, and they knew who I meant. Her store that she works in is in the same building as the coffee shop. But her other store that she owns, the one I work at, is across the street, diagonally. The coffee shop dudes insisted that she always takes her coffee in a mug. Yes, but she's across the street today. No, no. She takes the mugs across the street. There was no way I was going to cross the slushy windy street with my lunch in one hand and a hot latte in a MUG with the other. What the french toast?

Oh and then there was this:

The new Christmas paper at work. Cute right? Trees, and presents and cute little santas. But wait, what's that? A witch? Flying over Christmas presents (upper right corner). Huh? Some graphic designer seems to be a bit confused. Witchy Claus creature flying over people with presents.
Daisy still perched at my feet. Sigh. I guess I should let her hop up and get lovies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Collaborative art: Toddler edition

Alex is really getting into drawing. He seems to like it. This makes me very happy. I keep going back and forth about introducing finger paint. Hmm. Maybe I'll wait a bit longer. He refuses to draw on a blank white page I call it Colouring Book Syndrome (not that he's ever seen a colouring book).

Fox in fall foliage. Crayon on paper.
(The fox, by the way was supposed to be a zebra. My drawing is a little rusty)

Northern Lights at the North Pole. Pencil on paper.

Detail of Northern Lights.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A day in the life of Mr. Chicken

Not impressed. Not with the snow or the amount of clothes he has to wear.

Catching snowflakes on his tongue. Notice the robots on his snowsuit.

Just Chillin'. Maybe snow is not so bad.

Walking back home. The three block round trip took 45 minutes.

I'm here for the Cat Sitting job you advertised...

Helping mom make cookies.

Expert taste tester.

After his nap he came to the balcony door to look out the window.
 I said it's snow. He said "NO!". I feel the same way.

Doing a little vacuuming before dinner. His word for vacuum is "dah gue".
(Oh and it's the same day, different outfit.
 He was playing with some water in a bowl like he normally does,
 but stood in the bowl, and then tossed catfood in the water.
 I was too busy with damage control to take a photo of it)

and then off to bed. Rinse, repeat.

Friday, December 3, 2010

NaBloPoMo Report card and a recipe for Rum Balls....

a.k.a All this writing has driven me to drink...

So I ended up with 24/30 days of posts. Not bad, some days were harder than others. I have come to the conclusion that whoever thought up this NaBloPoMo idea does not have a life. Some times I was just to tired or brain dead to come up with a post. It definitely got me thinking again though. So there is that. I'm hoping to keep up my momentum.

Ok, now for the good stuff.

My Christmas baking itinerary always includes these delectible little alcohol-imbibed treats (except for the past couple of years where I was too queasy/spent to even think about baking)

Rum Balls (makes about 3-4 dozen depending on the size of your balls...hey oh!)

6oz (185 ml) of chocolate chips
1/2 cup of sugar
3 tbsp corn syrup
1/2 cup dark rum
2 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1 cup of fine chopped walnuts
a small bowl of sugar for coating

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Take it off the heat and mix in the sugar and the corn syrup. Then add the rum. Add this mixture to the graham crackers and walnuts in a bowl. Roll into small balls. Coat the ball in the sugar.

  • You'll need to compress the ball before you roll them in your palm otherwise they fall apart.
  • It's easy to make but the balls take some time to roll (a batch and a half took an hour to roll)
  • Your palms with get very sticky, it's actually easier to continue rolling if you don't wash your hands in between
  • You will want to eat some as you make them. DON'T. Seriously. You'll taste it and say this was totally not worth the effort. They need to ripen at least overnight in the fridge.
  • They keep well in the fridge or freezer.
  • They are not for kids, obviously. (A friend once left them out on the counter with all the other Christmas cookies she had made and didn't warn her 14 year old. The girl popped it into her mouth, thinking it was a Timbit*. She bit into it and thought it was rancid. Snort.)
*donut hole for you Americans

Oh and it takes about 18 of them to equal one ounce of rum so go easy on them and so don't ball and drive.

Hello, my Precious.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Diary of a SAHM: Morning Edition

I had lots of ideas swimming around in my head last night but couldn't get anything out to post, so instead I browsed apartments on Craiglist that we can't afford, and added 14 items to my cart on Etsy that I won't purchase. I went to bed around 11:30 pm and then Alex woke up around 12:30am. He went back to sleep easily.

Too bad he woke up again at 5:20 am. Five in the morning is the imaginary line where MORNING begins according to my son. If he wakes up before then he'll go back to sleep, but after 5 am all bets are off. So he's tired and slightly whiny. He followed my husband around as he got ready for work, making this woeful sound like a wounded animal in a trap. Luckily I was able to distract him enough that he didn't melt down when Daddy left for work like he sometimes does, pounding on the door crying like a jilted Bachelor contestant after not receiving a rose. I distracted him with the iguana, oooh look she's lying there motionless! He spotted the spray bottle and holled for it. I handed it to him and he quickly figured out how to spray it. In his face. But hey, it was making him laugh. Whatever works, right?

I managed to make breakfast, but not before the usual commotion. All of my cupboards are above my head so I regularly need to get the step ladder out. No matter how quiet I am, SpideyChicken hears the ladder coming out and usually climbs up while I'm still standing on it. Every bite of his banana at breakfast had to be "dip dip" in my Nutella on toast. At least he's eating. And he's just in a diaper from soaking his Pj's with the spray bottle so he's easy to clean up

Now I'm blogging and drinking my coffee while he wanders around grunting. Yeah, you know, THAT.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Old New Baby Smell

Smell is the sense that has one of the most direct links to memory. You smell something, like apple pie and it brings you back to your grandma's house as you eat the apple pie with a big head of vanilla ice cream from those delft blue bowls of hers. There's this study that showed that students exposed to a scent while studying and then the same scent during a test did better than other students without the smell-enhanced memory.

I've switched Alex's shampoo a few times, trying to save a bit of money. One bottle was supposed to be "lightly scented" which apparently means "old french whore perfume". I missed how he used to smell. So I went back to the expensive stuff. I smelled his head tonight as I fed him the bedtime bottle. Mmmmm, that's better.

 Before Alex was born I remember buying the baby shampoo and thought I might not even need this shampoo for months. My baby could be bald. Hoo boy I was wrong. He was born with a full head of dark hair. That was such a shock when I first saw him. All that hair! It was completely unexpected. He had his first haircut when he was six weeks old. Silly baby was pulling his hair in his sleep and then waking up and crying because someone was pulling his hair. The more he'd cry the more he'd pull on his hair. Silly baby! He's had four haircuts already. If we hadn't cut his hair he'd be sporting a head full of elastics and sparkle hair clips.

So getting the old shampoo did the trick. I remember holding my freshly washed teeny tiny baby. Wrapping him up in his hooded towel that's now way too small for him.  Being terrified of giving him a bath because he was so small, such a bobble head, so slippery. Having to move the baby tub into the big bath from the kitchen counter because his splashing was soaking the whole kitchen.

New baby smell is the best. Even if the baby isn't so new anymore.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Toddler tales!

So, it seems that my baby is much more toddler than baby. I know he hasn't been a baby for a while, but today cemented that fact. This morning I wanted to go out with Alex to the park but worried about the cold. It went below 0C today and it was windy. My dilemma was keeping the mittens on mister Whee-Look-How-Fast-I-Can-Pull-Them-Off!!! I posed the question to my facebook friends. There was more than one mention of duct tape. I also got a lead on some crazy long mittens or ones that are like a shrug with mitts attached. Seems kind of crazy but still not as bad as this the device to strap your baby to the bed to prevent SIDS. I have a lock on my fridge, I need to install the one on the toilet, we had to move the coffee table away from the window, I regularly have to stop Alex from pulling the cats around by the tail, and now one more thing to worry about. Cold hands. Freezing cold hands. So until I order those mittens that go up to his shoulders I need something, anything. My temporary solution? I safety pinned the mittens to his hoodie and then put the hoodiemittens on him. Hmmm. Hoodiemitt? It could be the next Snuggie! I then put his coat over the whole hot mess, securing the clothing. I then had spend the next seven minutes reassuring him that "hey hey! Lucky you! You've got MITTENS!". It worked! The only real snafu was the damn spiderman ball that he spotted underneath the stroller. Poor kid, desperately trying to pick up that ball like someone with greasy hands picking up a wet uncooked turkey.

Later today we went out to the grocery store, which was uneventful. I released him from the stroller as we came inside the apartment. Instead of his usual climb upstairs, he lingered on the first floor and entertained a neighbour as she left the building. Then he wanted to go head first down the stairs to the basement (since the basement door is always open). Umm no. UPSTAIRS. He was not impressed and started crying and even pulled a wet noodle as I tried to pick him up. Really? Isn't too early for this kind of behaviour? I hauled him upstairs as he flailed, leaving the groceries downstairs while I got him to settle down.

Now, tonight while I made the bedtime bottle he was drawing with his crayons with Daddy. Then he was in the hallway next to the kitchen. Wait. What was that sound? Crayons being scribbled on the wall since it's so much easier to draw standing up. Mental note. No more crayons. Must buy Magic Eraser type substance.

Oh and the constant furniture climbing? Stressing me out.

Mama: 1. Reluctant mitten clad toddler: 0.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On being motherless

My mother died when I was 14. It's been almost 21 years since I've seen her. I am not completely motherless (is anyone really?) but I have now spent two thirds of my life without a mom. It's not something that one "gets over". You know what it's like? It's like having a large gaping wound. It heals over, you can cover it up but you still have a massive scar. It's like losing a limb.

As horrible as it is to lose my mom at such a young age, I am thankful (hmm not quite the right word but I'll leave it) that she didn't die when I was younger. I was fairly self sufficient, I got myself to school, did my homework, made meals on my own. I can't even imagine what it would have been like had she died while I was still in elementary school. My personhood was in progress. I knew the importance of finishing school. I knew how to treat others. There were other things though that I had not learned. I never learned to drive, or make a roast beef or fold fitted sheets. I call my sister for many of these queries. A couple of weeks ago I found out the "secret" ingredient in Shepherd's pie (flour!). Googling how to videos helps too. Stupid questions that your mom would answer easily without scoffing at you for asking such a thing.

When I was pregnant with Alex, I had many questions, some that had no answer. Was I early, on time or late? I asked my dad but his reply was "I dunno, all I know is that I was on the night shift". That statement right there pretty much sums up our relationship. When I asked my sister what I was like as a baby her reply was "you cried a lot". She was six and a half, so it's hard to say how accurate that is. I'm sure from her perspective as an only child for 6 years, I was quite noisy. I have no baby book telling me of my milestones, of when I got my first tooth. Alex is missing a grandmother that would have adored him. I would have had someone to call in the middle of the night when Alex had been crying for four hours straight.

I once complained to my sister that Alex was such a picky eater. She laughed at me and said "YOU are surprised that YOU have a kid who is a picky eater!". I hadn't thought of it that way. Yes, I was an incredibly picky eater. It's that darn nature versus nurture again. Anyway, when she said that I felt horribly guilty for all the meals I refused. My mom, probably desperate for me to eat anything would make separate meals for me. I'm sorry mom. I'm sorry I was bad at doing my homework (I only got marginally better at deadlines). I'm sorry I was a shitty moody teenager when you died. I wasn't a person yet. I didn't know any better.

So now, I can make roast beef (thanks to Nigella Lawson), I can bathe my baby (I was terrified to give Alex a bath) thanks to my sister. I still don't know how to fold fitted sheets (I'm sure I can find something on YouTube) but does it really matter? I get by, by pretending I'm an adult.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Alex had his first professional photo shoot on Friday. It was a charity event where you get a 20 minute photo session and one professional photo (or more if you pay for each photo) and they donate the proceeds to the new children's hospital they're building (a couple of blocks away from my house, constant dump trucks on parade for Boy's enjoyment). It was in a shopping mall but it was a really slick setup. Two studios, a viewing area with a few computers and a lounge area. It had leather couches, red walls and even a couple of black chandeliers. I had booked the first appointment on the first day, not intentionally, so it was pretty quiet when I got there.

The photographer was very sweet. She said she was a little nervous because it was her first time (uh oh I thought) but then explained she did it last year. Some of her poses were great while some seemed a little forced. She kept telling me to kiss Alex on the cheek but he wanted none of it. Those photos were, um, awkward with me making a big kissy face while Alex avoided and made a stink face. Nice. There were also a lot of Alex pointing photos that got nixed right away because I can only handle so many of those. The twenty minutes went by very quickly. I asked for a couple more shots because I wanted Stanley the sock monkey in some too.

We went back to the lounge and were given cookies and juice while we waited! The photographer chose the best photos and then I got to choose from there. My intention was to get one or two photos but there were so many I liked. It's a bit of a splurge but I've wanted some nice professional photos forever so I caved, and well the money does go to a good cause. I'm really happy with the results. A bit more expensive but way better than some stilted Sears portraits. Oh and there was no Photoshopping done. Pretty cool.

He's got that rockstar swagger.

Blue Steel
Mama hugs!
Who me? It was the monkey!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

SpaceCamp, Monchichi and scratch n' sniff stickers....

What am I doing on this chilly friday night? I'm watching SpaceCamp. Oh yes, in all of its cheesy goodness. Joaquin Phoenix as a kid who is too smart for his own good, a braless and heavily shoulder-padded Kate Capshaw as a spunky airforce pilot, Lea Thompson who was in every movie that Molly Ringwald wasn't, and Kelly Preston as a permed bubblehead looking for aliens. Mmm hmm, 80's movie at its best. I remember going to see this in the movie theater with a friend of mine. We pooled our money but we didn't have enough for snacks. We had just enough money for a drink OR popcorn, so we opted for a massive Orange Crush. Just as the movie started, my friend grabbed the drink off the floor from the lid. The result? The drink turned into an orange Niagara Falls, flowing fast and furious towards the front of the theater. We saw the progress of the tidal wave as the people in the rows in front of us freaked out with the gush of sticky sticky liquid at their feet. Oh the fear of being busted mixed with uncontrollable laughter. I loved going to the movies as a kid. I saw Back to the Future six times in the movie theater.

Working at a toy store we always get requests for the trendy toys, the IT toy of the moment. The twelve year old (ok maybe not that young, but she might as well be) that I work with mentioned some crazy toy that she had as a kid (what? last year little miss Paris Hilton?). I had never heard of it. The toy store is always one step behind in terms of trends. I mentioned that back in my day we had scratch and sniff stickers that we illicitly traded in the playground at recess. Then next it was the Goomie bracelets ( like Madonna wore). The latest craze is very similar to those bracelets. They're called Silly Bandz which are basically shaped elastic bands like this:


I overhead one girl complaining to her mother when she was denied yet another purchase "awww but mohhhhhhmmmm I only have 97 of themmmmm". Wow.

The 80's seem to be popular again. I guess because all of us children of the 80's are parents now so we can pass our legwarmers down to a new generation. At FAO Schwarz we saw an entire wall of Monchichis like this:

Sometimes the 80's should stay there. In the past. Like bad perms and baby blue eyeliner. Oh and as for SpaceCamp, cheesy eighties at its finest. In one scene the lovable robot character deciphers the morse code signal from the stranded space ship and Tom Skeritt says to the robot Jinx "I'm gonna buy you a can of oil when we're done here". A classic.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Seperated at birth?

Alex seemed to think so. The only difference was his cow wasn't driving the tractor.