Friday, March 29, 2013

clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose

Oh, how I love a long weekend. Four whole days off, what a nice little break from the doldrums of winter. Pharmacy chocolate and roasted lamb, here we come! (I know Easter is about more than chocolate and roasted baby animals, I promise.)

We started the festivities with a neighbourhood egg hunt. Vi was pleased with her haul, and I was pleased with the sunshine. What a great start to what will hopefully prove to be a great long weekend. I love days when Violet is weepy at supper because she has run her little legs off all day. I can so deal with that sort of a tired girl.

On another note, Jeff and I started watching House of Cards last night on Netflix, have you seen it? I didn't love it right away, but now that we are a few episodes in I am totally into it. In fact, my sweet husband is beckoning me to watch an episode as we speak. He is deep in study mode so I have to take advantage of every moment I get to spend with him (never mind the fact I almost always fall asleep when we watch anything past 7:00 pm -- no joke.)

Have a lovely evening friends!

Here is some scintillating reading for all your spare time this weekend:

Egg white mcmuffins? Terrible idea. If you are going to go for it, really go for it. 

Freeze your own pizzas 

I've never had banana cream pie, but this sounds so good

Why can't we be happy for other women? 

I'm obsessed with this article 

I've heard this series is like Gilmore Girls. Must watch ASAP.

Useful baking tips. Thanks Kristen! 



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

spirited girls

Everything I will love about my daughter when she is twenty is driving me crazy while she is four.

I admire women who speak their mind, stand up for what they believe in and know what they want and go after it. However, these qualities in a pint-size ball of energy and emotion are actually really trying. I would have said they are annoying as all get-out, but my daughter might read this someday.

I try to remind myself that having a spirited daughter is exactly what I want. My girl knows what she wants and she isn't afraid to say so. I'm sure her confidence, conviction and drive will serve her well in the not so distant future, but right now they seem to be resulting in a lot of time-outs. Why listen to someone tell you how to tie your shoe when you are certain you've discovered a better way to do it? Why not tell your mum she isn't as pretty as your Barbie? It is just a fact. Why not try to skip learning the alphabet and move straight to chapter books, alphabets are for babies anyway, right? For the record, being like a baby is just about the worst thing ever when you are four (except for when you feel too tired to walk, eat or go to bed. In those cases being a baby is awesome.)

Truth be told I'm actually loving the pre-school years. I am a talker and now that Violet can communicate with me we have so much fun. (She has actually been talking for eons now, but recently her vocabulary has surpassed my own.) We've just had a rough patch the past few weeks which I, like any good parent, blame entirely on external factors (my sister moved to China -- sorry for the guilt trip Lou; my parents were away for a long trip, Winter will never end and we haven't seen the sun since last  September; etc.). The problem couldn't be my daughter or I, that is impossible.

So if you see me in the next few weeks and I seem a little frazzled and my eyes start twitching when my daughter screams, NO!, please remind me that that is exactly what I will want her to be saying when she is twenty.



Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring in a pan

{Vermeer light mis-en-place}
Yes, I did just compare my underexposed photo to one of the greatest Dutch painters of all time.

And what?

Can you even respect yourself if you read on...

So, I think it is safe to say that this spring sucks so far. This past Saturday it was grey and freezing, the usual, and I decided that I had had enough. I was supposed to take more pictures of food for my photo class and I tried to think of something fit for spring as an antidote to both the weather and my mood. I wanted to make something using rhubarb, but let's be honest, rhubarb is not a spring fruit in Canada. Nothing east of the Rockies comes out of the ground for at least a couple of months. Scratch the rhubarb idea. Instead I decided to make lemon loaf. I know nothing about when lemons grow, but they taste light and fresh and they are the prettiest colour of yellow. Sounds like spring to me!

I used Ina's lemon loaf recipe. It is easy, reliable and (wonders never cease) it doesn't call for butter, rather a combination of full fat yogurt and oil (which is basically health food for the Contessa). I love baking in my super narrow loaf pan because it ensures the middle of all my loaves cook evenly. Anyone who has ever under-baked banana bread knows what I am talking about. This long, narrow pan makes cooking loaves a pleasure (and it is pretty to boot).

The lemon loaf lifted our spirits this weekend and I was able to take a few (read four million) pictures of the process, some of which I actually like. Lemon loaf doesn't have the pizazz a chocolate cake does, but it is pretty in its own pared down, simplistic way.

We must do what we can to get by this time of year, no?



Friday, March 22, 2013

a rose between two thorns

{my girl enjoying the warm(er) weather yesterday}
A rose between two I am not talking about myself in relation to my family...

(Thank you for thinking so though, you are so sweet.)

I'm talking about yesterday in relation to the snowstorm on Wednesday and the snowstorm outside my window right now. What gives? On Monday when it was -20 I thought this must be the end of winter. Turns out, I was wrong.

Yesterday afternoon I picked up Violet a little early and we headed to the Dingle park to play. Fifty minutes and 20 frozen toes later we got all of our wiggles out. I love that little park. We were the only ones there, so we called the outing a girl date. Throw the word "girl" in front of something and Violet's enjoyment doubles!

Is anyone else going a little shack wacky in all this inclement weather? All I want to do is stay in bed and watch movies, but instead in an hour I'll be braving the elements with the rest of you on my way to work. (Trying to be grateful for a healthy body that lets me walk to work and a toasty warm office that will welcome me on the other end of my journey. I'm having varying degrees of success with this (depending on whether or not I can see out the window at any given time).)

Be brave out there this morning Haligonians. I stand by my promise that March snow never lasts. I just wish it would never fall.



Monday, March 18, 2013

the weekend we ate chocolate cake (and took a million pictures)

{Beatty's chocolate cake: my favourite shot}
This Saturday Violet and I had two items on our agenda: bake a chocolate cake and take pictures of it. The cake served two purposes. We were planning on going to our friends house that evening and we had offered to make dessert. I had also proposed to my photography teacher that I would take photographs of food for my final project. This will be so perfect I thought. We'll bake a cake -- what could be yummier? I'll take pictures of it -- what could be prettier?

Well, as it turns out having a four year old as a sous-chef and photography assistant is about as fun as it sounds.  (Not fun.) The baking went relatively smoothly (for once), it was the photography that completely bored Violet and completely frustrated me. Violet likes being a sous-chef (there are bowls and spatuals to be licked), but she was not digging holding up reflectors. I can't imagine why not.

I'm pleased with a few of the shots I got. I totally have to stop myself from thinking I would be better if I just had a better camera and more equipment! I'm sure those things would help, but unfortunately the person behind the camera makes a difference too! I feel better about these pictures than I have of my previous assignments, so that is progress right?

Now, if only I had a large marble slab and a soft box I could really make this cake pop...

Here are my unedited photos, the best of about 200. For real. Violet hated me by the end.



ps -- You can find Ina's recipe here. It really is the best chocolate cake ever. You'll think you've ruined the batter when you add the cup of coffee, but you haven't.

pps -- I am on a first name basis with the Contessa.

{sous chef}

{layer one}

{chocolate patterns}

{voila, the cake}

{up close}

{there are a lot of angles from which one can take a photo}

{these shots are so much better in theory}

{not staged}

{this is how we snack on Newton Ave...}

Friday, March 15, 2013

The ides of March

^^ I could use more of this weather and less rain/snow, you? (thanks for the photo Jules!)
The ides of March have come...and I literally cannot wait for Spring (you're welcome for the adaptation Bill)

Did anyone else feel like stabbing someone when they woke up? Just me?

The day has gotten better since then for the record. The snow that was falling when I woke up (gross) has turned to the classic Halifax snow-rain combo that is awesome both for the mood and the hair....maybe the day hasn't gotten better!

This week flew by. I was busy trying to figure out what I want to do for my photography class project. (As an aside, please remind me not to take anymore night classes.) Big decision, I know. I did find time to make two recipes (1&2) I pinned a while ago and they were both delicious. It turns out you can trust a women who starves her children to help you make dinner...

So we have a big weekend planned as usual. Movie night tonight obviously and we are sticking with PC pizza. Hey, it works and maybe with the money we save I can buy a wood fire oven and we can make our own amazing pizza with just the right amount of sauce every time. I'm still bitter about Salvatore's. I'd say by next week I might be ready to give it another go. I've always been a sucker for punishment. We also have a photo shoot (ha!), a BBQ with friends and a Sunday afternoon brunch planned (I know brunch isn't supposed to be in the afternoon.) Should be fun.

Have a great weekend friends. Meet you back here on Monday? Go grab a bloody ceasar tonight (too far?), and remember, mid-March snow never lasts.



Links for fun:

Drama in Russia? That's unusual...

Want to run fast?  Run more. Pretty straightforward.

I always thought Charlie was kind of cute, at least I think I did (obsessed with Girls)

Why are rom-coms so bad? These answers make sense.

The best song for St. Patrick's day. I love this band.

Monday, March 11, 2013

don't jinx it

Do I dare say it? It was actually kind of nice out yesterday. Less so today, but the sun did come out late in the afternoon. A little bit of sun is so welcome this time of year. Growing up in Wolfville, I remember the students on days like today. I would be in my snowsuit (my mum always made me wear it), and students would be lying on the roofs of Victorian houses in various stages of undress. I was so jealous. 

A little warm feels a lot warm in March, no? 

We've been doing a lot of biking over here on Newton Ave. Specifically, Violet has been doing a lot of biking and we've been doing a lot of walking/running/chasing. Fun times. It's actually cool getting to see Violet improve. There is less drama with each outing (there is always drama, just varying degrees of drama). 

I always take my camera with us, heaven forbid I miss a moment of Violet's development. I was supposed to take portraits this week for my photography class, but whenever I get Vi to pose she does this really weird child star/ toddlers and tiaras face. It is cute, but it isn't her. My goal is to figure out how to get candid pictures where Vi just happens to be staring sweetly into the camera. Wish me luck with that.

Come on Spring. We're all up early, waiting for you to show your sweet green face. Don't disappointment. 



Friday, March 8, 2013

clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose

Well, we made it (barely). Another Friday. Hallelujah. Jeff is officially back in study mode so Vi and I are back in girl time mode. We like it, but we miss our third musketeer. Oh, big news, we've slightly modified our Friday night routine. (Hell just froze over.) I never thought these words would cross my lips (or that I would type them): Salvatores has been going down hill lately. Too much sauce. Salvatores sauce is amazing, but the sauce to cheese ratio has been totally throwing off our family night. Has anyone else experienced this? We ate the same kind of pizza every Friday night for two years and loved every second of it and now this is how we are repaid? Too much sauce? Well, I never. Foodies close your ears, we have actually started having frozen pizza, Presidents Choice no less. Judge away, it is delicious.

Quick aside: how dreamy is Galen Weston?

So frozen pizza, rented movies (people do still rent movies in 2013) and the three musketeers for a night. Not everybod's idea of a good time, but there is nowhere I would rather be.

Unless of course you have plane tickets to warm destinations on offer. I would rather be a few other places...



Here are some images of my child doing mostly mundane activities. Doesn't it just warm the cockles of your heart?

ps -- Precious Jules took almost all of these pictures.

pps -- there are fun links after the million pictures of Violet. Double you're welcome ;)
{out of focus, but I love this for some reason}

don't mind the recycling and broom in the background ^^^^^

{thanks for my ipad Nanny and Poppy}

Linky Loos:

Three cheers for the happy girl 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

three oh

{say cheese, you're old now}
Tired but happy. That is how I feel. That is how I feel I look. I guess now that I am thirty I better get used to it.

I actually don't think thirty is very old, and I haven't worried too much about the big day. I've got an update for you on my "to do list" (which I did pretty terribly on), but I need a tripod before I can get the pictures I want, so you'll just have to wait. (I know your breath is bated.) Why do all my hobbies require equipment with such specific purposes? So much gear, so little space. Such a short attention span.

So the big day was fun, not too traumatizing. Jeff and Vi spoiled me with thoughtful gifts (including my first ever little blue box of the Holly Golightly variety) and a nice dinner at the restaurant of my choosing (it took me all day to decide on aMano. Rationale: a recently turned four year old could be as loud as she wanted and no one would hear her, plus the food is really good. I always get the zarzuela, you should try it if you like eating delicious things). Jeff then ducked over to the Bicycle Thief to pick up two delicious desserts which we shared at home directly out of the tin foil take out containers because we are fancy like that. I tried the coconut cream pie Nic -- life changing!

All in all it was a good day, fingers crossed for a good decade.



Monday, March 4, 2013

Rainbow Bright

{trapped rainbows}
Violet wanted a rainbow themed party this year. I may have planted the seed after seeing the cutest cake in tarnation on pinterest some time ago. As the date of the party got closer, the idea of making a seven layer cake became less appealing. The idea of a bunch of pre-schoolers hopped up on food colouring was also a little disturbing (it was mostly the difficulty that deterred me, if we are being honest).

A rainbow themed party is fun, easy and allows for pretty much anything brightly colored to be involved. I highly recommend it. It also allowed me to squeeze in a healthy dose of fruit and veg (an antidote to sprinkle cake). Our apartment is small so the kids crafted and ate on our dining room floor, but despite my apprehension it all worked out.

We kept the food and decor pretty simple, but I don't think the kids noticed... Here are a few pictures from Vi's big day. Lots of the shots were taken by my sister-in-law Julia (aka Precious Jules). She was my right-hand woman on p-day. If you ever need a party planner, give her a call.



{such easy decorations}

{getting ready}
{rainbow cookies}

{pretty healthy, no?}

{craft time}

{it was kind of hard}

{the present huddle}

{le cake}

{yippee, you're four Vi!}