Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gone camping

We've never gone camping with the kids and to be honest, even before kids we were not the rough campers you might imagine many Canadians to be. Hubby and I did tent camp in the past and I liked it, however, I usually did not appreciate the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements and the inevitable bug bites.

This past weekend we decided to go on our first camping trip with the kids. However, I did not want to have all four of us squished into a tent with forced bed time for everyone at 8pm. So we upgraded to some 'luxury'  and booked a small cabin on a camp ground.

So, technically we were not camping, but we spent two nights on a camp ground, cooked our food on the fire, made breakfast on the provided BBQ (that's the luxury part), the kids slept in sleeping bags on bunk beds and all four of us shared a room. You can tell that we were able to drive up to our spot - again, no roughing it here either, but we did have to go to the main washrooms, get water at the hook-up and fight mosquitoes with OFF- so there you go...that's pretty rough, right?

The kids loved running around with flash lights, collecting branches and rocks and eating hot dogs and fire roasted marshmallows. They also swam in the freezing cold lake (I did not!) and got their share of bug bites. We named below chipmunk Norman and there was also a Sally and Lightning. I did not capture the raccoon that sauntered past our camp fire and I did not name the frogs we found down by the water.

We had a great time despite the cloudy weather and I think this was the perfect first 'camping' trip with little kids - not too rough for mom either.  Do you go camping with kids?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One photo a week - 26/52

Summer officially started this week and we are enjoying the longest days of the year. This week I went outside after putting the kids to bed and captured our flowers at dusk. I find they almost glow in that special light - what a difference from a picture of the same plant in January!

PS: The ISO was on 200 in this shot and I forgot to adjust it, but I kind of like the 'noise' it's creating...It's shot at 2.5 ap with 60 shutter speed...I can't get enough of the 'blur'.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Books as art - Buecher als Kunst

This was a guest post I wrote for Menschenskind in Germany. Most of Melanie's posts are in German, but she just started to write in English as well. Check it out.

Vielen Dank Melanie dass ich einen Besucher post bei dir schreiben kann.
Thank you so much Melanie for a chance to guest blog all the way in Germany.

Ich liebe Buecher, ich liebe Kinderbuecher und wie dekorativ sie sein koennen. Fuer Kleinkinder kann es aber manchmal schwierig sein die Buecher ins Regal zu stellen - oft kippen sie um und fallen auf den Boden. Zudem kann man die wunderschoenen Illustrationen die auf dem Buchdeckel zu finden sind im traditionellen Regal nicht sehen. Mein Sohn hat seine Buecher im regulaerem Regal und meistens stapeln sie sich ganz hoch und taumeln dann regelmaessig zu Boden.
I love to read books and I love children's books and how decorative they can be. For little children it can be difficult to keep books on a shelf though - they have a tendency to topple over and slide off to one side or another. Also, when kept in a traditional shelf you don't see the pretty covers. My son's room has a regular shelf and his books end up in big piles that fall to the floor on a regular basis.

Fuer meine Tochter haben wir ein Regal gebaut dass eine Austellung erlaubt. Auf diese Weise bleiben die Buecher besser verstaut, sind einfach ersichtlich und sind zudem dekorativ. Wir haben die Anleitung von Martha Stewart benutzt und es war ziemlich einfach zu konstruieren.
For my daughter we created a bookshelf that allows the books to be displayed. This way they stay in place much better, are very accessible for little hands and really decorate a room. We used instructions from Martha Stewart and it really was an easy project.

Zudem finde ich dass dieses Regal mit dem Kind waechst und sich veraendert - es wandelt sich von Baby Buechern zu Kleinkind Buechern und man kann das Regal auch fuer Spielzeug und andere schoene Dinge benuetzen. Es ist eine Galerie.
I also find that this shelf changes with your child - you move from little baby books to toddler books and you can add toys and other decorative items. It's a living canvas.

Falls kein Bedarf an selber bauen besteht kann auch ein Teller Regal benutzt werden oder Bild Regale die bei IKEA erhaetlich sind. Hier ein paar Beispiele wie Buecher im Kinderzimmer toll aussehen.
If you don't want to build your own shelf you can buy a plate rack or use picture ledges that are readily available at IKEA and other home stores. Here a couple of examples on how great books look when displayed in a child's room.

Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Things I want my kids to know

A couple of weeks ago I was leafing through 'Things I want my daughters to know', by Alexandra Stoddard. The title caught my attention because I've had many conversations with my husband as to what I want to instil in our children. Reading some of her captions makes me want to share our own infinite wisdom with you :).
  1. Hold the door open for people behind you - it's polite, it's the right thing to do and no, it's not old fashioned.
  2. You are smarter than you think and you can achieve most anything if you really want it.
  3. Travel as much as you possibly can - it will expand your horizon, show you the unknown and will give you insight to the people around you.
  4. If you like doing it - stick with it!
  5. Be on time (not only because you are part Swiss, but because it shows respect)
  6. Learn how to drive a stick shift - it will make your life easier!
  7. Make an impression.
  8. Make your own money.
  9. Don't try to change people - take them as they are, or move on.
  10. Learn the basics in running a home - cook a meal, do the laundry, sew a button, hammer a nail.
  11. Respect your elders - they probably do know more than you do.
  12. Cursing is a habit that makes you look either unintelligent or scared.
  13. Don’t let your appearance (good or bad) define who you are as a person.
  14. Laugh, laugh, laugh.
What a list! I think we have a lot of work ahead of us...and we need to write a book...How about you? What would be in your book?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

One photo a week - 25/52

After a couple of practices we finally raced on Saturday - it was a beautiful sunny day, excellent time spent on the water. While our first race was less than stellar we pulled through and won our second race! Although paddling is hard work, it's fun and the event is something to be seen.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pizza on the BBQ

In the summer we make pizza on the BBQ in order not to heat up the house. People have asked me how we do this and it's pretty straight forward. Some fancier BBQs come with special pizza stone inserts, but we just spread the pizza dough (home-made or store bought) on two round cookie sheets, add all the ingredients as usual and pop them on the BBQ. My daughter really likes to participate in getting everything ready.

A few things to consider:
  • Heat the BBQ close to the temperature you normally bake pizza in the oven (about 400 F to 450 F). 
  • If your BBQ is big enough you can fit two sheets next to each other - ours is not, so I put one pizza on the top rack. Because of this we need to take the one directly on the fire out earlier so the crust does not burn. 
  • Generally I need to bake the pizza a couple of minutes less than in the oven - about 12-15 minutes. 

There you go - homemade pizza on the BBQ, even on a hot day! Do you use your BBQ just for burgers and hot dogs?

I have not tried this with frozen pizza, but I can't imagine why it wouldn't work.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A lick of paint

So this is actually hard to illustrate as the photo is not capturing the new colour as well as it should. But look, we painted our original cedar siding!

The new colour is Benjamin Moore Kingsport Grey and it complements our brick a lot better than the sage colour the house was when we bought it.

From this view you'll also see other improvements we made in the last 1.5 years:
  • Replaced garage door (old one broke the first week we moved in)
  • Removed plastic shutters
  • Rebuilt chimney
  • New roof
  • Restored front door and painted door trim
  • Replaced house number, mailbox and lights

A few more things we want to do going forward:
  • Paint trim around garage door dark brown to blend in with grout colour as we did around front door (will be done in next week or so) 
  • Paint foundation other colour than hideous greeney grey
  • Replace railing and/or redo access stairs to house
  • New driveway
  • Replace windows - all 19 of them. 16 are original 1950s aluminium windows and the 3 front and centre stage ones are newer - but what's up with the jailhouse look? We will be replacing them with dark framed windows and that will happen once we save up the substantial dollars needed.

All of this is still a work in progress, but trust me, the new paint really makes a difference. I like it much better than the old paint - so YAYYYY to a lick of paint!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

One photo a week - 24/52

This week we celebrated my grandmother's birthday. I made these Lemon Meringue Cupcakes which turned out amazing. I had never made lemon curd before, or meringue, so this was quite an adventure. They take a bit of time and a lot of dirty dishes, but the end result was very yummy - a perfect cupcake for a lemon meringue pie loving birthday girl.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hubby love

It's not our anniversary yet, but I just wanted all of you to know that my hubby is indeed the best there is (I know, so you might argue that you have the best one). Since having kiddos we don't see enough of each other or have the time to appreciate our own company, so this is a shout out to him and how great he is.

We took this photo at my office party a couple of weeks back. We don't go out very often and when we do it's usually a movie or dinner - both things we really enjoy. That night we went full out (yeah right!) and had some fun with the Mexican party props. My hubby was such a good sport that he wore that mustache all night!

So here's to the best guy a girl could find - it figures that I had to pack up and cross the Atlantic to get him.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Herbs and Veggies

On Sunday we finally tackled the garden. We planted a good selection of herbs in pots. Basil is the most obvious one to plant and is probably the one we use the most. I'm also hoping to use mint this year in drinks or in fruit salads. Technically a herb, I believe, I've never actually used lavender in cooking - I think you can use it for baking. I really like the scent they give off once they start blooming and find they attract butterflies. I also added some petunias for a little colour in the pots.

We also planted some more peppers this year and a variety of tomatoes - less than last year though as our crop was just too a plenty and I was all 'tomatoed' out at the end of the season. I'm trying cucumbers for the first time. It's a great summer veggie that M loves to eat, so I'm hoping they'll do well.

I planted the herbs in containers so they are accessible from the kitchen. This way I also keep the mint under control which is a creeper and can pop up all over your garden if you're not careful. The lavender in pots I'm hoping I can bring inside over the winter, they don't do great with the super cold we get here, so I decided not to plant them right in our flowerbeds. Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we get the right amount of sunshine and rain to get the garden growing - there is nothing like having fresh veggies and herbs on hand for cooking!

Do you grow an edible garden? What works well for you?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

One photo a week - 23/52

I had fun taking a couple of pictures of our first cherries. I love cherries - their shape, colour and sweetness. Their season is short lived, so I grabbed a bunch today and we enjoyed them at lunch.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Top heavy tree

I have a little problem - actually my tree has a problem. The poor little guy has grown incredibly top heavy and is having great trouble standing straight. We planted this sugar maple last Fall. We got it as part of our city program that gives each household a free tree. As our corner lot lacks a tree and I eventually want my dining room to get some shade, we eagerly signed up for a fast growing maple.

Now I'm not quite sure what to do. Do I trim a couple of healthy limbs on top to alleviate the weight and reduce the strain on the still skinny trunk? Do I leave all the top limbs and stake the tree to protect it from growing crooked?

I know I need to cut any dead branches or branches that interfere with others, but I have not seen this happen before. Any suggestions? He's looking pretty sad, isn't he?