Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life Marches On

So we survived Hurricane Igor with not even a power loss. It seemed like ours was one of the few streets that didn't have the power go out - most people lost it for at least a day! I feel pretty lucky.
Life continues to move on, with me staying at home and Paul going off to the school every day - he's trying to get all his schoolwork done on a 9-5 basis so that he can be home on evenings and weekends without worrying about papers and readings. We call it "work" to G, just so it's less confusing.

I am trying to be more organized with staying at home. It's so easy just to let the days get away from you and then the whole day is gone. One of my goals is to bake at least once or twice a week.

This week was one of my favourite Autumn recipes - Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins. I love the ones at Starbucks, but since the closest Starbucks is a good half hour walk and the muffins are expensive, I try to make my own. They're pretty similar.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

1 package of Cream Cheese
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar (I reduced this a bit to 1 1/2)
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cloves
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs

Oven: 350
Paper or grease 12 muffin cups (this recipe claims to make 24, but that must be small ones, cause I barely got 12 - I like big overflowy muffins, I think)

Stir together dry ingredients. Beat eggs and stir in pumpkin and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just till combined - cause they're muffins and you always do that with muffins.

For the cream cheese: You can either roll it into a big log and put it in the freezer, or you can just do it the lazy way like me and just take it straight out of the package .
Put a small spoonful of batter into each muffin cup, add a little chunk of cream cheese (like... half a tsp), then put more batter on top of that. Make another chunk of cream cheese (maybe a little bigger) and press it into the top of each muffin. This way you have cream cheese all the way to the bottom of the muffin, which is the best thing ever.
Bake for 20-25 min, or until a toothpick comes out clean, blah blah blah, just don't burn them.

My dream is to be able to put the candied pumpkin seeds on top like they do at Starbucks, but I haven't found them/haven't had the energy to make them.

Ginny enjoying her muffin

G gives it her seal of approval.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Weather, it is not good.

So, it's Hurricane season. Hurricane Igor has hit the Avalon Peninsula and while it seems like St. John's is not getting the brunt of it, we're certainly in the middle of a rainy windy Atlantic Storm. Out my window, the trees are  blowing and the rain is going sideways.  I spent most of the day inside yesterday and I was hoping to go to the drop-in gym this morning with G - as we do every Tuesday, but it was cancelled due to the crappy weather. I'm definitely not used to rain being a reason to cancel things. Snowstorms are the only reason anything ever gets called off in the prairies (and even then!).
So Paul decided to stay home and work today, since he doesn't have class. He's holed himself up in the bedroom working on school stuff. I have been coming up with my best toddler rainy day tricks. So far, I made playdough (which didn't turn out all that well without the cream of tartar or food colouring), we had a picnic on the floor for lunch, we played a "throw the sock ball in the bin" game and then G decided of her own accord to play dress-up.
She looks hilariously unhappy in this picture, but she was quite excited to be wearing layers and layers of clothes. She's wearing a t-shirt and overalls with another shirt over top, a dress that won't do up because of all the layers and two different coloured BabyLegs legwarmers on her arms.

That's a little more happy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Funny things

Staying home with G means I'm privy to all of her funny sayings much more then I used to be. It's definitely a perk of staying at home.
Some recent examples:
G is obsessed with nudity. She refers to the state of being naked as "all noonies" (nudies). Lately, she's noticed that other random objects can be "all noonies" as well. When I took the paper off of her muffin the other day she said: "No more muffin pants! Muffin is all noonies!" She has also referred to a coffee cup without a lid as "noonies" as well. 

She has also really noticed that we pray before meals, and she has started to be able to say the grace as well. Her typical prayer is "Thank you God for tatoes (potatos), ham, water, that one and that one and plate and blue plate and... mommy and daddy and... AMEN." (I should note that all meat is called ham and anything that remotely resembles a potato is a potato). It's very cute that she prays, also that she rambles. 

One liners:
"Mama crazy!" - after I muttered to myself that cleaning the sticky stuff off a desk was driving me crazy.
"Not daddy, not daddy, not daddy, birdie, not daddy, doggie..." -naming all the things she sees out the window while waiting for daddy to come home.
"Come out! You can play with Puppy!" -to the baby in mommy''s tummy

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Church Seeking (a bit of a ramble)

It is so complicated to find a new church. We loved St. Margaret's so much and it is a very unique church that we are well aware we won't find another church like it.
Do we want to remain in the Anglican church? For now, I think the answer is yes. We love the liturgy and the church year and we are familiar with how it is structured. It's comforting for me. 
We have attended a church for the past two Sundays (and will tomorrow as well), our arrival at which was a complicated one. D&J, our friends from Winnipeg came here to St. John's 3 years ago for surgery on their daughter. They stayed near the cathedral with the people from that church. They put us in touch with him, but he had since moved away from St. John's. He gave us the email addresses of a few Anglican churches and we essentially chose one at random. We emailed the rector of St. Michael's and All Angels only to find out that they are currently without a building (they are constructing a new one). He mentioned they were meeting in a funeral chapel on Sunday mornings. When we moved here, we noticed there is a funeral chapel at the end of our street. We thought "Wouldn't it be neat if that was where they met?" Well, sure enough we found out it was! 
Tonight, Father Sam invited us to his house for dinner -along with another couple from the church. All of us have young kids (G was the youngest), so it was a bit chaotic at times, but luckily they had a basement the kids could escape to in order to play. It was great to be invited into someone's home so soon after moving here. Both couples were very friendly and so nice.

However, I just don't know if this church will become our church. The church has split a bit between generations. The family oriented service meets on Saturday afternoons and the regular service is on Sunday mornings. The Sunday service is entirely gray-haired- save for the rector and his young family. They were so excited to have us with them, but I don't know if it is the place for us. This is where it gets complicated. Is it better for us to find a church that fits all our needs (if such a place exists), and is catered to us, or is it better to go to a place where it's possible that we are the ones who are needed? Would this church benefit from having a young family attend not just the Saturday service, but Sunday as well? Because, no matter what, Paul and I just don't like not going to church on Sunday morning. It just feels...wrong somehow. Also, G's nap has moved to pretty late in the afternoon, so mornings actually work out quite well for us (though we'll see how we feel after Boogaloo is born). 
I am inclined to think we should go where we are needed, but it is a difficult choice to make. I dream of finding the perfect church for us, but I am also well aware that such a place does not exist, or that is does, but it is not a perfect church, it is just where we are most used by God. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nightly Rituals

As Paul posted earlier, moving has been a good motivation to start some healthy habits. One of our new rituals is an after-dinner walk. G's bedtime has gradually moved to 8pm in the last couple of months, so we've ended up with this nice space of time between supper and bedtime to fill with a family walk.

The Zip-up

Our apartment building is part of a four building complex, surrounded by grassy hills, perfect for running and climbing (or in my case, huffing and puffing). G's latest favourite toy is her pull-toy T-Rex on wheels (creatively named Dinosaur) and it is very cute to watch her drag him all around the neighbourhood every night.
Going uphill

Our walk also tends to coincide with others in the neighbourhood walking their dogs, which always makes for much excitement. G is a huge fan of animals of all kinds - cats, dogs and birdies make her so happy.
So, as long as it's still light out and relatively warm, we plan to keep going for a walk after dinner. There is nothing like a worn-out toddler for falling asleep instantly!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

So, as we are waiting for some income to start flowing in from various sources for the upcoming year, we are living on a bit of a shoestring for a couple of weeks.
BUT! It is good for us. We tend to make bad habits of going out to eat ("Why, hello Extreme Pita just a block away! Yes, please."), but with a tight budget this month, there's no room for eating out on a whim.

So, we went to the farmer's market and stocked up on yummy veggies and I made a meal plan (which I try to do even in the best of times). Some highlights were a pot of fresh herbs to grow (parsley, thyme, rosemary and oregano), and multi-coloured tomatoes (which we made into salsa yesterday) Today I made a fantastic and very delicious meal that I totally invented, so I thought I'd share it.
I don't know how often I'll post recipes on here (a la The Mama), but I may post a few that I'm particularly proud of.

Summer Squash, stuffed with Split Peas 

I picked up some small round yellow summer squashes at the farmer's market, I'm still not sure what kind they are, but they're pretty similar to a yellow zucchini.

3 Summer Squashes
1/4 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup split peas (I used yellow, but I don't think green would make a difference)
2 tsp chicken bouillon
Bay Leaf
dash of oregano
sprigs of rosemary and thyme
2 Tbsp Sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp crumbs (bread or cracker)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut the squashes in half scoop out the seeds  and discard and then scoop out the majority of the flesh and set aside, leaving barely a quarter-inch thick walls.  Lob off the bottom bit of each half so it sits flat.

Boil the peas in about 2 cups of water, add boullion and all other spices. Cook until the peas are fairly mushy and have absorbed most of the water. You may need to add more water if the peas get dry while boiling them.
Meanwhile, boil the flesh of the squash in some salted water until soft.

When everything is cooked, mix together rice, peas, squash flesh, sunflower seeds and some more salt and pepper - maybe a bit more spices as well. Scoop the filling into the squash shells and sprinkle on the crumbs.
Cooking in our (tiny) kitchen
(this is also a view of our tiny kitchen)
Bake at 350 for about 10-15 min, changing the oven to broil for a couple minutes at the end so the crumbs get toasted.

Serve and enjoy!
Eating Stuffed Squash

G loved it, she kept saying "Yummy!" and ended up eating two of the littlest ones (an entire squash!). She has gotten pickier lately, so it was great to have her love something so much that she ate every morsel.

Stuffed Squash and Beet Greens
I also cooked up some beet greens and made a peanut sauce to go on them. I don't think I've eaten the greens on beets before, but they were similar to chard, but maybe a bit more bitter. The peanut sauce really helped with the bitterness. We got a HUGE bunch of beets at the farmer's market for only $2. The greens were this meal, and I think the beets themselves might last at least two more meals. Pretty sweet deal!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

St. John's Paul and Winnipeg Paul

Moving to St. John's is a pretty extreme change, and I'm hoping to use it as a motivation to change some things about myself -- a new context to establish new habits.

Winnipeg Paul bought pop and a snack from the convenience store at least once a week, maybe more.
St. John's Paul doesn't drink pop at all, and when he wants a snack, he chooses fruit.
Winnipeg Paul stayed up late every night and slept in every morning.
St. John's Paul is in bed by 11 every night and up by 7:30 every morning.
Winnipeg Paul watched tv when he was bored.
St. John's Paul doesn't even have a tv.  He bakes something or tidies the apartment when he finds himself needing something to do.

St. John's Paul goes for a run once a week, and he's slowly gearing up to more.  He makes the bed every morning and he doesn't go to bed if the dishes are still dirty.  St. John's Paul will always be on top of his readings, and will plan ahead so that when final papers are due he's not in a crisis.  He'll bring lunch to school instead of buying it.  St. John's Paul does evening devotionals with St. John's Jan every evening, and he won't let that peter out the way Winnipeg Paul would.

Maybe it's naive to think that moving to a new city can really make me a better person.  But that kind of negative thinking is exactly what Winnipeg Paul would say.

Also, St. John's Paul looks like this: 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It's the little things

When we actually get to know some Newfoundlanders, I will have a couple questions. One of the big ones is: What is the deal with the fitted sheets and/or nets over your garbage? Is it so the wind won't blow it away? I noticed when I was walking down the street not long after getting here that a couple of houses had a fitted bed sheet sitting on the lawn. I thought "Odd, but maybe just one escaped from the clothes line." Then a couple days later I noticed that practically every house on a block had one. Wait, what? Paul had noticed as well, but unlike me, had seen that people were putting them over their garbage, as well as sometimes people had a special green net (looks like a volleyball net) over their garbage.
What's the deal? Anyone else heard of this?

Another thing: there are buckets of navel beef in every grocery store. I have since found out that it's salted beef, based on what sailors ate. My question is: Do people buy this? It seems to be everywhere, so they must buy it. What do they do with it?  Should I buy some just to try?

Other little things that are different: there are lots of kinds of Crush pop here! Lime, Pineapple, Birch Beer... it's kinda cool. Lay's Fries and Gravy chips are also around and Paul seems to think that they offer gravy in more places (I don't agree). There has been nothing I can't find yet, but I'm sure that'll happen soon.