Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

Only two more sleeps until Christmas. It will look like I am posting this on Christmas Eve, but I'm really still finishing off a busy Friday. I hope to be in bed by two. I hope. Well, 2:30 am at the latest. I promise. And tomorrow I am so taking a nap. For once I would like to go into Christmas well-rested. Stop laughing. I'm serious.




We spent today delivering the White Chocolate Candy Cane Popcorn that we made (after the kids helped themselves to some) and some Christmas cards that didn't get mailed in time. I put off going to Sobeys until 9pm which turned out to be a great move, it was not busy at all. I stocked up on Egg Nog, Mandarin Oranges & didn't forget the Hollandaise ingredients for Christmas breakfast!

Miles, who lost his TV privileges, played with the dreidel that Seth gave him for a good part of today. He ignored all the rules and ate his gelt (Yiddish for 'gold' as my Jewish friend Teresa explained to me) within minutes & spent the rest of the morning asking if I had anymore 'goat'. I guess he's a little too young to understand Yiddish (no kidding).


We drove to Spruce Meadows to see the Christmas lights (they were beautiful) and then cruised around Calgary. We listened to Raffi's Christmas CD on repeat as the kids sang along in the back seat (Molly just goes 'Ho ho ho' and laughs).

I spent the evening finishing off a gift I made for my Father-In-Law. He is by far the most difficult person to buy for. And on our tight budget this year, all I can hope is that my home-made gift gets a smile. I'll be sure to take pictures, it was kind of a cool project.

Well, I am off to do dishes, put in a load of laundry & charge my camera battery. I am just now realizing how much work my mom did to make sure everything was ready for Christmas. I'm failing again this year, but by the time the kids move out I should be a pro.
Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hustle & Bustle

It's a busy time of year! It seems the older the kids get, the busier I get.
I am done Christmas shopping (not sure I can say teh same for Brian, who leaves it until the last minute) but my to do list is still growing.

On Friday we had friends over for a game of Horse Race. It must have been a good time because everyone stayed longer than they intended... although it might just have been all the baking. I was the first loser at the table, running out of nickles before everyone else... typical. I didn't go to bed until 2am which left me nice and exhausted for Saturday...

Saturday we ran errands. We stopped at Starbucks twice (!) and Miles indugled in a Hot Chocolate. To say he is obsessed would be an understatement. It's the first place he asks to go each morning...

He was sad I denied his request before school.... which has been an 'event' almost every day. He made gingerbread houses on Tuesday (I went along as a helper) and had a sing-along on Thursday. My little 'sweetheart' didn't open his mouth once, just scowled and wiggled his eyebrows (his new thing)


Just as I was running out of steam, it was time for me to slip into my LBD (Little Black Dress). I bought a new LBD in Washington in the fall knowing I would be wearing it to every Christmas event of the season. And I have. It was so nice not to have to figure out what to wear... We were invited by our Foodie friends Matt & Jess to their home for some home-made stew. It rocked (I had high expectations, and they were met!) and I met some interesting people, a lady in particular who was a fellow Jian Ghomeshi lover. I could have stayed all night but was pulled out the door by Brian and off to the next party....

Did I mention that the weekend before we went to THREE Christmas parties on Saturday night? Because we did. I hardly recovered from them during the week...

I spent Sunday night with friends from out of town & Yokozuna (I would sell my children for a Las Vegas Roll...) & Monday shopping with them at Chinook (I didn't buy a single thing!). I walked into Miles' room today (after getting home from the gym) to see his T-Rex had been tucked into bed before he left to school.. I was instantly jealous of the Jingle-Belled toy. I need to sleep.


And I almost can, guilt-free... I just have a couple more things on my list. So I'm meeting my friend Kacey for a late-night Wal Mart trip tonight. In honor of the giant retailers classiness, I am going to wear my sweat pants and suck loudly from the straw of my drink.

No more shopping. No more school. Only one more party (at Broken Plate tomorrow night...mmmm). No more baking...my sisters came over Sunday afternoon & we finished up with Peanut Butter cookies with Reece centers, Peppermint Brownies and Eggnog cookies.


Brian is on this way home with a Carrot Cake Jelly Modern Doughnut (What a star!). It's a donut shop downtown that I have started a love affair with. Thank God I went to the gym today so I can really enjoy it.. I can't wait... I am going to go curl up in bed & read. I finished two books last week, including Mindy Kalings (which was SO not funnier than Tina Feys book- girl at Chapters!) and an old Dick Francis collection of short stories. I started a new book called City of Thieves, I discovered it on my shelf so I thought it would hold me over until Christmas (Hoping Santa comes through with a Chapters gift card or a book on my Pretty Please list).

Hope you all are as satisfyingly busy as I am. I just love this time of year.
In case I don't get a chance to blog again,
Merry Christmas Everyone

Monday, December 12, 2011

10 Random... (+1)

Two words: People Watching. And the mall is one of the best places for it (2nd to the airport). A couple years ago I had such an interesting visit I made a tribute to the trip on my blog. I was extra aware today, intending to do the same thing.

Things I saw while Christmas shopping at Chinook Centre today...


1. A group of Muslim ladies (with their babies) waiting in line for Santa.... no one can resist that Jolly fat guy!
2.  Too many people who text & walk. Seriously. Watch where you are going.
3. A super-nice sales lady who helped me find a great gift for my SIL.... but she was my size. No wait...she was my size and wearing leopard print leggings with a short t-shirt. It didn't look great, but more than that I noted that she had the confidence to pull it off. You go girl!
4. A guy who was at least 7 feet tall. Wearing a basketball jersey, of course.
5. One thing I saw today was the window of William Sonoma. I always stop to take a look because that was a big part of my job as manager. It didn't look great. Apparently in the past year they haven't replaced the broken steamer, the tablecloth was wrinkly, again. It made me miss working there. I wanted to go in & instruct someone to fix it. And then I thought about all the stress I had, the time it took away from my family & the hours I spent telling old people why the Peppermint Bark is $42.00. (Not sure I still understand, but it's dang good.)
6. Victorias Secret. I forgot there was one at Chinook Centre. I started to walk in & then in the last moment I gave the stroller a sharp turn. It's for my own good.
7. Bad kids. And for once they weren't mine. Mine were angels today. Angels I tell you. But there were a lot of sick-and-tired kids, and I felt for their moms.
8. The Abercrombie & Fitch store. This is how I know I am old: Not only do I never go in, I walk far away from the entrance. The music is too loud & the place reeks of cologne. It reminds me of having morning sickness. I use to love that store. And now....no.
9. A lady who's daughter took a bracelet off the shelf & shoved it into her mouth. Wait, that was Molly. And that lady was me. I had to buy the bracelet, it was $1.00. I will be taking it form Mollys piggy bank.
10. I noticed the lack of human statues this year! Chinook Centre always had these characters who were all dressed up & stood still on pedestals for hours. It was amazing. Every once in a while they would move, but kids would taunt them & they remained still. Last year I saw a dirty old man telling Marie Antoinette dirty jokes (while his wife looked away, mortified)... Marie didn't move. She should have at least rolled her eyes.
11. A trail of Kernels popcorn through out the mall. Hey I said my kids were well-behaved, not clean :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hakuna Frittata

Hakuna Frittata, what a wonderful phrase!
That is what is stuck in my head the entire time I making a frittata. And this one, which I've had twice in the past month, is deserving of it's own song. From Donna Hay's fast, fresh, simple (pg.88) it's one of the best I have had. So I thought I ought to share it with you.

potato & bleu cheese frittata
(you must love bleu cheese to love this, luckily, I do)

12 small red potatoes, cooked and sliced (I left my skins on)
2 tsp rosemary chopped
S&P
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups cream*
110g bleu cheese crumbled

Preheat oven to 325 (I do 350) degrees. Place the potato, rosemary, S&P in an ovenproof dish (I use a pie plate). Whisk together eggs and cream. Pour over mixture & sprinkle bleu cheese. Bake for 30 mins or until eggs are set**. Enjoy.

* I use 1cup of cream & 1/2 cup sour cream
** I baked for 45 minutes as my family likes their eggs well-done.

__________

A little update on my baking list, I have been able to strike off a couple items this week. Peanut butter balls (chocolate dipped!) were easy but I seem to be missing half of them already, I'll look under the couch... because I am sure everyone has obeyed my DO NOT EAT note. Hah! It looks like I will be S.O.L on the giant pretzels (I'll try William-Sonoma at the mall tomorrow in a last ditch effort) so I am looking for a replacement, any suggestions?

My Over-Zealous Christmas Baking List Update
1. Banana Loaves
2. Molasses Spice Cookies
3. White-Chocolate Peppermint Brownies (New this year!)
4. Sugar Cookies (For the kids to Decorate)
5. Peanut Butter Toffee Pretzel Cookies (From Real Simple)
6. Shortbread Cookies (I've already made these, they didn't make it to the freezer! Oops!)
7. Chocolate Chip Cookies
8. Nuts & Bolts (New this year!)
9. Fiddle Diddles (A tradition. No Bake = Easy to Make)
10. Peanut Butter Balls (Also No Bakes but a little more work)
11. Martha Klassens Saltine Cookies
12. June Bars
13. Cinnamon Pull Aparts (For Christmas morning)
14. Lemon Jelly Squares
15. Granny Ruths Butter Tarts
16. Chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks

Nailed Nuts & Bolts!

I'm writing this while I wait for my Fritatta to bake. We're having 'breakfast for dinner' tonight. And it's late, but Miles & Brian are at the hockey game (Go Flames!) so it's just Molly, my company & I. By company I mean my Sister-In-Law and her fiance who are staying with us for the week.

Today I make Nuts & Bolts. I nailed it (pun fully intended)! I am so proud to write this because I had never done N&Bs before & until the guys got home and grabbed a hot handful, I wasn't sure. But the response was exactly what I wanted. Perfect. I was especially worried because I mucked with the recipe I was given a bit. Tomorrow I'm going to buy some Masons jars so I can portion it perfectly pretty with a bow & deliver it to friends. All part of my thrifty Christmas. I've been sewing and knitting like a maniac too!

I'll be snuggling up in an hour to watch Michael Bubles Christmas special (nerdy, I know) & then hitting the hay. Tomorrow is a long day of shopping (the only one I will get without the kids before Christmas). Wish me luck! Merry Christmas!





Sunday, December 4, 2011

Expecting Visions of Sugarplums

I almost forgot. But then I remembered... I missed out on 4 whole days of snuggling into my flannel Christmas sheets. I love my Christmas bedding. It was a gift from my mom (she also got me my Christmas dishes) and it has a tiny bit of robins egg blue in the plaid so that it matches my comforter perfectly.

Molly has inherited Miles Christmas crib sheets which are gorgeous. They were a gift from my friend JoAnn and I think of her every time I see them. I think I will buy him some Christmas sheets for his new 'big boy' bed as well...maybe that will be my mission for the week... then we can all sleep while visions of sugarplums dance in our heads... although I'm not sure what a sugarplum is. I'll be dreaming of visiting my parents in sunny Las Vegas, Brian might be dreaming of that too. Miles is likely dreaming of Lego men and Molly of Christmas cookies.

Looks pretty inviting hey? I can't wait to go to bed.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Snowy Days.

 I love December. Even on the snowy days. And the snow today looks beautiful. This week I bundled the kids up (took almost 30 minutes!) to go out & shovel the driveway. I had bought Molly a shovel for Christmas, but she got it early (I didn't want to listen to them fighting). I got loads of help...and by help I mean hinderance, but the kids had fun. And it tired them out, they napped for almost 3 hours!

I have great memories of playing outside in the snow when I was little. We live in a cul-du-sac full of kids but n the snowy days it seems no one is around! It was just the opposite when I was little. We spent hours playing outside, skating on our home-made backyard rink, sledding, making 'forts', snowmen, snow angels and footprints in fresh snow. My husband has the same memories, only his includes a lot of street hockey. I don't think it was any colder than it is nowadays (is that a word?) but it seems the kids are all indoors. Our kids have definitely inherited our love of playing outside. Miles begs to go out everyday. And most days he does, I let him wander around the snowy backyard. But it is hard, because Molly wants to go and she is too small to let me know when she's cold...so that means I have to go...and that means nothing is going to get done inside. I look forward to the day when letting them loose in the backyard means I will have a quiet house all to myself.

I'm trying to figure out when it's too cold to go out. -10? Is there some unwritten rule I don't know? Do the neighbors see Miles playing outside & think I am a bad mom? Of course I always check on him and feel his
hands, but I wonder if there is a general rule... When I use to run, I never ran if it was colder than -20...but I would never send Miles out in that cold.

It's been busy days here at the Ross house. I know I have been busy when I look at my nails & see that they have grown.... Sounds weird but I chew my nails (Eww. Gross. Gag. I know, I know.) and I haven't even had time to do that! And it seems that when my head hits the pillow I am done!

Tonight before Brian went to work we decorated our Gingerbread Village. The village is a great idea, each of the kids get their own house (Brian & I included). Miles was determined to use each & every piece of candy we had, so we added snowmen, trees and anything else we could think of.

A quick update from the baking front... I have been slowly knocking items off my list. Three things this week and I am still in search of jumbo pretzel sticks. I might have to abandon those.

My Over-Zealous Christmas Baking List Update
1. Banana Loaves
2. Molasses Spice Cookies
3. White-Chocolate Peppermint Brownies (New this year!)
4. Sugar Cookies (For the kids to Decorate)
5. Peanut Butter Toffee Pretzel Cookies (From Real Simple)
6. Shortbread Cookies (I've already made these, they didn't make it to the freezer! Oops!)
7. Chocolate Chip Cookies
8. Nuts & Bolts (New this year!)
9. Fiddle Diddles (A tradition. No Bake = Easy to Make)
10. Peanut Butter Balls (Also No Bakes but a little more work)
11. Martha Klassens Saltine Cookies
12. June Bars
13. Cinnamon Pull Aparts (For Christmas morning)
14. Lemon Jelly Squares
15. Granny Ruths Butter Tarts
16. Chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks


Monday, November 28, 2011

Get This.



I found this cool CD Packaging Kit at Winners today for $5.99 and had to share. I'm not giving it as a gift, but using it to make gifts for some of my looooved ones. For my parents I am going to burn CDs and for some of my besties I am going to make "mixed tapes". Sometimes it's hard to be thrifty at Christmas (because it's fun to spend and because I don't want to give crappy gifts) but I am confident these CDs & DVDs are going to be big hits if I pick the right songs... and they are so dang cute!

There were still lots left (by the till) at the Winners at 130th Ave (In case you were looking).
I am going to make one tonight for my Mother In Law who is in the hospital recovering from a recent surgery. She'll love it (as long as there is some Josh Groban on it! Heehee!).
So excited to give the gift of music!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

mmm Christmas.

Christmas is great on the senses. I love the taste, smell, sights & sounds. I got into the spirit early this year & it hasn't subsided, yet. Today, while the wind tore off our shingles & took down our neighbors tree, we cozied up for some Candy Cane Hot Chocolate & North Poles (below).
I bought these mugs (I have 12, all different) at Value Village when I was in college. I remember hating them, but I needed mugs & they were 10cents each. Now I love them and the fact that each one is different.


10 Things I love Doing Before Christmas (whew!)

1. Baking. Obviously.
2. Decorating the house.
3. Putting up outdoor lights. But only if it's warmer than zero degrees outside.
4. Wrapping. This year each kid is getting their own pattern. I thought that'd be cute.
5. Reading Christmas magazines. It's like Pinterest.. I'll never do even 10% of what's in those magazines, but it sure is fun to look.
6. Taking the kids to see Santa at the mall. Even if they cry, it's still fun.
7. Getting the kids all dressed up... they sure do clean up nice!
8. Shopping. Even on a budget, it's fun. And I am so happy with the couple of gifts I have picked up for people thus far. I know my parents are going to love theirs... and they are so hard to buy for.
9. Cleaning. My house is always so clean at Christmas, it's nice to spend time in a clean house.
10. Singing. We've been listening to Christmas CD's since the beginning of November. Miles is really getting to know some of the songs. The other day he was in his room singing "Old McJinglebells" - Nice try sweetie!



My Over-Zealous Christmas Baking List Update
1. Banana Loaves
2. Molasses Spice Cookies
3. White-Chocolate Peppermint Brownies (New this year!)
4. Sugar Cookies (For the kids to Decorate)
5. Peanut Butter Toffee Pretzel Cookies (From Real Simple)
6. Shortbread Cookies (I've already made these, they didn't make it to the freezer! Oops!)
7. Chocolate Chip Cookies
8. Nuts & Bolts (New this year!)
9. Fiddle Diddles (A tradition. No Bake = Easy to Make)
10. Peanut Butter Balls (Also No Bakes but a little more work)
11. Martha Klassens Saltine Cookies
12. June Bars
13. Cinnamon Pull Aparts (For Christmas morning)
14. Lemon Jelly Squares
15. Granny Ruths Butter Tarts
16. Chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks
 
Molly enjoying a present-shaped Sugar Cookie. I have hardly let them taste my wares... I'm saving it all for Christmas but she gave me such a look, I just couldn't say No.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Santas Little Helper

 I had already made my Fiddle Diddles and cleaned them up (and even blogged!) when Miles called me out on a promise I made to him. I had told him we would make cookies today. But then he napped & I seized the moment and made Fiddle Diddles without him. So I hauled back out my mixer and we got to work.
Miles is a great little helper. He can crack eggs, he loves to dump in all the ingredients & he especially loved that this recipe called for crushed pretzels. His favourite part was smushing the cookies with the fork before they hit the oven. Even Molly helped, well, tried to.
We made 2 dozen (and burnt one dozen!) Peanut Butter Toffee Pretzel Cookies. Sounds good right? They are. I got the recipe from this months Real Simple. It's a gooder! They have 30 different cookie recipes in this months issue.
I got a scoop of broken pretzel sticks (I am still on the hunt for full ones, if you know of a source please let me know.) at Bulk Barn for less than $1 & I had Skor bits already in the freezer!

Our finished cookies were divine! I thought the pretzels might be too hard but they actually seemed to get softer baking them. Here is our finished product...cooling off before they hit the freezer. Shhhh. No one tell Brian they are down there!


My Over-Zealous Christmas Baking List Update
1. Banana Loaves
2. Molasses Spice Cookies
3. White-Chocolate Peppermint Brownies (New this year!)
4. Sugar Cookies (For the kids to Decorate)
5. Peanut Butter Toffee Pretzel Cookies (From Real Simple)
6. Shortbread Cookies (I've already made these, they didn't make it to the freezer! Oops!)
7. Chocolate Chip Cookies
8. Nuts & Bolts (New this year!)
9. Fiddle Diddles (A tradition. No Bake = Easy to Make)
10. Peanut Butter Balls (Also No Bakes but a little more work)
11. Martha Stewarts Klassens Saltine Cookies
12. June Bars
13. Cinnamon Pull Aparts (For Christmas morning)
14. Lemon Jelly Squares
15. Granny Ruths Butter Tarts
16. Chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks

Fill 'em up!

Fill 'em up!
I've got 6 large containers waiting to be filled with Christmas goodies. Today I made 3 dozen Fiddle Diddles (you might know them as Haystacks). They're no-bake treats so they came together so well. I'm saving the baked treats for cold days when I need to warm the house up! Ha!


It's as easy as putting all the ingredients in a bowl (Cocoa, Coconut, Walnuts & Oats) and then pouring over the melted butter, milk & sugar. Mix, spoon & freeze. And I'm done! Another Christmas treat crossed off my list. I suppose Brian will come home one day soon & tell me it's Fat Friday (when everyone in his office bring home-made treats), this time, I'm ready!


I had to run out to Bulk Barn this morning where I spent a whopping $2.21 on walnuts (best deal in town!) and $1.28 on colored sugars for making Sugar Cookies later this week. I sound like a broken record, but I just love being able to buy only what I need. I rarely use walnuts so rather than buy a $10 bag, I got 1/2cup, just enough for my recipe.

My Over-Zealous Christmas Baking List Update
1. Banana Loaves
2. Molasses Spice Cookies
3. White-Chocolate Peppermint Brownies (New this year!)
4. Sugar Cookies (For the kids to Decorate)
5. Peanut Butter Toffee Pretzel Cookies (From Real Simple)
6. Shortbread Cookies (I've already made these, they didn't make it to the freezer! Oops!)
7. Chocolate Chip Cookies
8. Nuts & Bolts (New this year!)
9. Fiddle Diddles (A tradition. No Bake = Easy to Make)
10. Peanut Butter Balls (Also No Bakes)
11. Martha Stewarts Klassens Saltine Cookies
12. June Bars
13. Cinnamon Pull Aparts (For Christmas morning)
14. Lemon Jelly Squares
15. Granny Ruths Butter Tarts
16. Chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ready, Set, Christmas!

I had a fabulous weekend...
 Each year for my birthday my Sister-In-Law gets me a subscription to Real Simple magazine, it's the only magazine I read consistently. Anyway, it came in the mail on Friday & I have been devouring it all weekend. In fact, I revised my baking list to include some of the treats in this months issue.

Our lights are up! Brian had a bit of a Griswold moment (below) when he got all the strings out of the garage, but we finished them last weekend & turned them on this weekend. Is it too early for lights? Our neighbors have theirs on, so we're taking their cue. It was so nice to have the fireplace going & the lights on.


I checked a couple baking items off my over-zealous Christmas baking list this weekend. I made 5 dozen Molasses Spice Cookies & 2 dozen Banana Loaves. They turned out great & are in the freezer, ready for Christmas company to stop by. I know that I set my goal of 16 items (I've added one more since I last blogged) a little high, but we've been home-bodies for the past couple weekends to try & save money for Christmas, so baking has been the perfect way to keep busy.


My Over-Zealous Christmas Baking List
1. Banana Loaves
2. Molasses Spice Cookies
3. White-Chocolate Peppermint Brownies (New this year!)
4. Sugar Cookies (For the kids to Decorate)
5. Peanut Butter Toffee Pretzel Cookies (From Real Simple)
6. Shortbread Cookies (I've already made these, they didn't make it to the freezer! Oops!)
7. Chocolate Chip Cookies
8. Nuts & Bolts (New this year!)
9. Fiddle Diddles (A tradition. No Bake = Easy to Make)
10. Peanut Butter Balls (Also No Bakes)
11. Martha Stewarts Klassens Saltine Cookies
12. June Bars
13. Cinnamon Pull Aparts (For Christmas morning)
14. Lemon Jelly Squares
15. Granny Ruths Butter Tarts
16. Chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks

So. There it is. A little daunting. We'll see how it goes. Now I am off to finish decorating the rest of the house and have a warm molasses cookie. I am feeling so Christmas-y this weekend & am pretty excited for Brian's Christmas party this coming weekend.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

AOHT & 'Quite the Doll'

Photo of Molly by Michelle Gier

I can always count on two things to trigger Acute Onset Happy Tears (AOHT) (Yeah, I totally just made that up.). When I was pregnant that list was much longer, once a Telus commercial featuring a hippopotamus had me in tears for hours...and I hate Telus. But in my less hormonal state, only two things can really cause a bout of AOHT so terrific that I need to let it play out or it will just start up again in 10 minutes. Christmas & Vinyl Cafe. And yesterday I had a healthy dose of both which lead to the present Kleenex shortage in our home.
If you're not familiar with the Vinyl Cafe radio programme on CBC radio then you won't understand the mistake I made. If you are, then when you read this you'll be asking yourself "What did she expect?". Good question. As I put Molly down for her afternoon nap I had to acknowledge that I could hardly keep my eyes open. I was exhausted and not in the typical Mom way...more so. And I don't nap, I've never been able to, so as I climbed into bed I knew sleeping wasn't an option. I took off my glasses and scrolled through my iPod eventually selecting a (free!) podcast from Vinyl Cafe entitled ' Springhill'. Within minutes of hearing Stuart Mcleans voice I was sobbing. Not crying, sobbing. And rather uncontrollably. I find AOHT is like that. Its not as easy to stop as tears of sadness or frustration. You can't reason with it. Once the floodgates are open...watchout. So there I am, listening to the story of Dave, stuck in the laundry chute listening to his sister sing (Splish Splash was also a favourite of mine), thinking of all the trouble my sisters & I got into and sobbing. Thinking of my children and overwhelmed with hopes that they too have childhood memories similar to that of the character Dave's or mine.
If you have iTunes (if you don't what decade are you living in???) go & download a free Podcast of the Vinyl Cafe today. Or pick up the 'Family Pack' at Costco right now for $19.99. You will love it. Nothing makes me feel more Canadian, makes me more nostalgic or gets my priorities and values in check than listening to it. And I look forward to the concert every Christmas season when they finally come out west (December 1st!).

In case that wasn't enough for the day, at the prompting of a message from my cousin Leya, I decide to watch the Polar Express with Miles before bedtime. Short story short: I was bawling for the same reasons I was just hours earlier. I close my eyes and prayed that my children will be blessed with those same experiences I had that made my childhood so fantastic. I prayed that they will believe in Santa, or the spirit of him, when they are 30 like their mom. I prayed that they will be lifelong friends like Dave & his sister or myself  & mine. It was clearly a cry-fest. And I was clearly out of control.

Maybe some days you just need to cry. Maybe it's all inside you & needs to get let out at regular intervals. And maybe it reminds you that you are human and capable of feeling these awesome things. And maybe it's all part of staying sane & being reminded of the reasons you chose to endure.

And it seems there is always balance. Had I not been overwhelmed with positive emotion I might not have handled the days events with as much Calm, Cool & Collect as I did.


Molly has this doll. She was actually mine, my dad bought her for me on a trip to Hong Kong. I always liked her (she has a baby wearing the same uniform that straps to her back) so I kept her around. I guess because she's been around for 18 years I forgot that she doesn't look like most of the other dolls around here. Molly has really taken to her and I let her take her with us while running errands yesterday. At the grocery store the cashier, a woman in her 60's, looked at the doll, looked at me and commented "Well, that's quite the doll!". It wasn't what she said, it was how she said it. Like the doll was made of razor blades or crack-cocaine. It was the tone of her voice that lead me to believe it was a criticism and not just a comment. I'm packing my groceries, growing increasingly offended. So what if I let my daughter take her doll out in public? I can wash her! I use to take my Cabbage Patch everywhere and I turned out just fine! It is a bit germ-y but I don't let Molly drag her on the floor and ------------------------------ it hits me! My first reaction is that the comment is a criticism on my parenting but I think it was actually a racist comment! It SO was! The lady didn't approve of my daughters military-clad Asian doll. I must have looked like an idiot standing there with a dumbfounded grin on my face. I was shocked by her ignorance. Shocked. But I didn't flip out. I didn't lose my cool. I didn't dive into a lecture on Acceptance or Diversity because it would have been wasted energy. Instead, when I was buckling Molly into her car seat I told her to give her baby lots of kisses because someone had just hurt her feelings.... Maybe a bit dramatic but there's a part of me, still 8 years old, that secretly thinks my dolls might be alive & have feelings.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meal Planning & Pizza Soup

I spent the better part of the day meal planning. I think most people do this, some do it daily, I do it weekly (usually on Sunday night), and we all regret when we don't do it at all (but that's what Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is for!).  Meal planning has been a great way for us to keep on budget & to cut down on the number of trips I make to Sobeys & Costco during the week. It also stops me from having to throw out expired food. Before I started meal planning (when Molly arrived) I threw out at least $30 in food each week. Usually fresh vegetables & condiments. I also didn't mind making several trips to the store each week. Now I grocery shop weekly and today I came in $20 (and an extra jar of pickles) under on our weekly grocery budget which I state loudly (and repeatedly) to Brian until he pays me compliment.

Seven meals ready to go. They can be shuffled around, if I don't feel like roasted chicken tomorrow I can switch to pulled pork, but I know that I have the ingredients to make seven different meals in my fridge & pantry. If you don't meal plan I would suggest considering it as a New Years Resolution. Just try it.. honestly, when I do it I feel so much better about cooking & being organized in the upcoming week.


One thing I love is hunkering down with a stack of cookbooks to help me pick my meals. I am a bit of a cookbook addict but I use them all religiously. I bought the new Donna Hay at Costco last month ($20!) and hadn't cracked it open until today (I love that sound). I found loads of meals I would like to try but put just two (That's restraint!) into my weeks plan.

This weeks lucky seven
 1. Pizza Soup
 2. Garlic Roasted Chicken & Quinoa salad
3. Pulled Pork, Glazed Carrots & Mozzarella-baked Tomatoes
4. Cottage Pie
5. Turkey Chili & Spinach Salad
6. Orecchetti with Brussels sprouts and pancetta
(From my new Donna Hay cookbook...I'm so excited to try this!)
7. Potato & Bleu Cheese Frittata
(Also from the Donna Hay cookbook!)

If you noticed a trend, you are right. We will eat spinach twice, potatoes twice, mozzarella twice & carrots four times. If I repeat the ingredients I can still buy in bigger portions (saving money) but I have to work hard to make sure it doesn't feel like we're eating the same thing each night. I try not to double up on the meats we eat, and go meatless at least one day (Day 7 in this case).

If you have a meal plan that you love to follow, or tips, I would love to see it (post a link). I am a sucker for buying magzines that already have built-in meal plans (Real Simple has fabulous ones.).



Tonight we had pizza soup for dinner (above). I had been waiting all week to make it (I guess that's the downfall to meal planning). It was divine...as good as it looks. And it does look good doesn't it??? The main ingredients were vegetable broth (although the recipe called for chicken), mozzarella, carrots and crushed tomatoes so it was right up my alley. Super easy to make (about 25 minutes total) and an excellent way to break in my new stonewear! The recipe can be found in the Chef At Home cookbook.

Tomorrow Miss Molly & I are headed to the Children's Hospital for a procedure (she's fine everyone!). I just need to keep my emotions in-check so I am off to bed (with a full tummy) to get a good nights sleep... and to spend a couple minutes perusing the Sears Wish Book ( I can't help it!).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remember.

 This is a picture of my Grandpa, Paul Hopaluk. He fought in Italy in WWII. And I think of him often, but even more so on November 11th. When we were little my parents would take us to Wainwright to honor the veterans on November 11th. Because of Camp Wainwright this town (where my grandparents lived & my dad grew up) has a beautiful ceremony to honor the vets. They marched down main street and placed poppy wreaths by the town clock. I remember looking for my grandpa in a sea of silver-haired military men. When I saw him I felt so lucky and so proud of him as he marched in unison. He seemed bigger and stronger than the Grandpa who sat in his recliner at home. It was usually cold out & I am sure I complained about that but my parents made sure we were well behaved and we paid our respects in a moment of silence. As a child, it seemed to be an eternity with my head lowered watching each cold breath leave my mouth. I looked forward to the end when we would head to Legion to play under the tables while our parents visited but I knew why we were there.

There were approximately 45,000 Canadian Soldiers killed in WWII and another 54,000 wounded (my Grandpa was one of them). A good number of these men are now gone. They were sons, brother, dads, grandpas and freedom fighters (imagine being able to add that to your curriculum vitae!). I only hope that as they leave this earth that there is a lasting impression of the sacrifices they made. I will be sure to teach Miles & Molly of them (as my parents did). I hope my friends will do the same.

Tonight before bed Miles & I made some cookies. As we made them I told him about my Grandpa & showed him his picture. I know he's too little to understand & remember but I want to get into the habit of telling him. I told him my favourite things about my Grandpa & that he must have loved him family very much to be willing to go away from them for a long time ("A long long time. Far far away." Said Miles.) I told him that because my Grandpa did that today we were able to go to school, go to the park & make cookies. It sounds like an even bigger accomplishment when you break it down for a three year-old. I told him that I loved my Grandpa like he loves his Papa ("So so much.") and that is why we have poppies on our jackets. So that when we see those poppies we think of our Papa's that we love. He liked that.



Layout 271

I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.
- Pablo Picasso
It was beginning to look like The Molly Show yesterday for a while... little girls are so easy to scrapbook. But these pictures from Miles' first day of school were so full of color I couldn't wait to have a go at them. And when he gets home from school today he's going to be so excited to see this page (he loooves when he is on a layout).
Also, can't help but note I am at layout 271 as of today. I remember thinking it was impossible that I would reach 300 layouts by the end of the year but now I think it might just be attainable. The last half of the year is always so much more productive... We'll see...

Layout 270


If you could only see how this layout looked the first time I did it... I wish I had taken a picture. You know when you're trying to do something different for a change? But in the end you are left with something that is SO not you? Thats what happened. And I love these photos (they are blurry) of our stop at the Enchanted Forrest this pas summer. Molly had an amazing time & the original layout just wasn't getting that point through. So I redid it, in about 20 minutes. And I am so happy... LOVE this layout, just need to add my journaling (in the top of the circle).

Layout 269


I love love love this layout. It is linear, simple and so me. I love it. And once I figure out what to write in my journaling space (Me, at a loss for words? Never!) it will be all done. These are more pictures done by my wonderful SIL. If you need a great photographer (there are a million bad ones out there) then she is your gal. 'LIKE' her Facebook Page which is Picture A Memory Photography and she is giving away a free Christmas Time-Saver Session at the end of the month! You will love her work. I do.

Layout 268

Delightful by Haley Ross
This layout will forever make me smile. Firstly, the beautiful pictures of Molly that my Sister-in-law took and secondly because of the scenario I was in while scrapbooking these pictures. Generally I have committed to never fussy cutting anything... but I found myself to be alone with some time on my hands and this is what happened. Without making a peep I cut out all of these little outfits! So cute! And I went undetected through it all ;)

Layout 267

The Good Life by Haley Ross
I could never get enough of scrapbooking the random cabin pictures I take. I love each season & every shot I take. This layout actually sucks (boooring) but I have been so happy just to be getting things done.

Layout 266

Thirst for Adventure by Haley Ross

I spent yesterday (a Wednesday) with a friend. She is going through some tough stuff so I was there to listen & the scrapbooking was just a convenient medium. It was a great way to spend a day and turns out, it was exactly what I needed as well.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Possibilities.

I was out tonight to 'scout out' some Christmas gift options.
I haven't been to a mall in a long time. It was fun. I had both kids with me but they were pretty mellow & I was able to use the Lego store as a bargaining tool for Miles (he didn't get to buy anything but he loves to look at all the displays). I left Chinook Centre without any more ideas than I had going in. I have no idea what to get Brian for Christmas. I thought about it the whole way home, he is so hard to buy for.

So I stopped at Winners in Okotoks. The kids were pretty tired but I was going to push my luck. And I am so glad I did. Not only did I find the perfect present for Brian (my lips are sealed... he reads my blog once in a blue moon) but I found a little something for myself...
I've been wanting these Le Creuset stoneware ramekins since I worked at Williams Sonoma last year. And I found them today at Winners for just $10! I was so excited I practically ran to the cash register! We have a rule in our house that after November 1st we don't buy anything for ourselves but... but...I mean Brian will understand, won't he? He will when he is enjoying an individually served pot pie, apple tart or french onion soup. Yep! I have big plans for these little guys. I have been eyeing this pizza soup in the Chef At Home cookbook and there is a 99% chance that we will be having it for dinner tomorrow night! I am picturing bubbling cheese forming a perfect crust on top. Mmmm. Can't wait! I'll be sure to blog about it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Hate Monday.

...They're the worst.  It seems like every Monday my To Do list is a mile long. Today I felt so overwhelmed with it (and the state of my house from the busy weekend) that I decided to stay home & get a handle on it.

The only other option was to abandon it all and head to Chapters with a Peppermint Hot Chocolate in hand. And that just seemed irresponsible.

And I miss my husband. He seems like a distant memory during the week. I miss having a team mate.

The basket of never-ending socks to be paired (above) seems to have peaked. And on top of the regular list I am trying to get a head start on some of the Holiday tasks for the year. I am finishing up my Christmas Cards (ordering them, not even close to sending them out), working on the long list of people to buy for (What am I going to get my sister-in-law???) and putting together the missing pieces for our Christmas outfits (Brian needs a white shirt, I need a jacket... the list goes on...and on.). My poor little message board is almost full... and even walking by it stresses me out a little.



So. I hate Mondays. But the great thing about that is in less than 12 hours it will be Tuesday and all will be right with the world again (provided I get those socks paired.)

To cheer myself up I am going to make 3 dozen sugar cookies tonight to pop into the freezer. It will be a head-start on the Christmas baking I usually do with my sisters each year. I made my grocery list for baking last night, it's a big one this year. I have big plans to make 15 different things... stay tuned for the epic failure that will occur from knowingly setting this goal MUCH too high :)

I also had to share this page that I came across in Mollys coloring book. I posted it on the fridge. Made me smile (which is appreciated on Mondays).
Which one doesn't belong? Uh, in a Childrens coloring book? All of them!

Layout #265

Score by Haley Ross
Materials: Cardstock: Bazzill Basics; Patterned Paper: 7 Gypsies; Felt Embellishments: Basic Grey.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Not All I Have Left...

Last night I cleaned my sheets. And I will remember that forever. I replaced my pillowcases with these ones (I took this picture in the morning). And they smelled like my Grandma.
They were hers. And I'm crying knowing that last night was the last time I will ever smell her again. I took these pillowcases from her things. I chose them. She had actually made two other sets for me, but I when I was looking at her things once she was gone, I wanted these ones. They were hers.
I loved sleeping at my Grandmas. When they moved from the farm into town, I would sleep with the window open. I liked that you could hear the train go by. I loved the squeaky bed. I loved the hand-made linens. I loved the white lamp with the cheap shade that let off a yellow-ish light. I loved my Grandma. So much.

And so maybe chasing that memory of a good sleep at Grandmas house I chose these pillowcases. Grandmas laundry was always so clean. Her towels were the best. Her whites were so white. And they smelled so good. Not like detergent or perfume. And they weren't too starchy. They were just right. Something I didn't know I was appreciating as a child, but I was. I know that now.
So when my head hit the pillow last night (not even thinking that I was using Grandmas pillowcases) it all came rushing back to me. And I was up all night, breathing it in deeply, thinking about my Grandma. Soaking her pillowcase with tears.

She didn't smile for pictures. And the last time I saw her she was watching OLN and her hair was standing on end. But she was perfect. She was the kind of Grandma that made hundreds of hand-made perogies for my wedding, spoke so proudly of my dad & was a hard worker. She was a woman dedicated to her family and without ever hearing someone say that until her funeral, I knew it.
She is the only Grandma I ever knew and I loved her so much.
And these things aren't the only things that I have to remember her by. They are just things. They are pillowcases, a recipe card & photos. I have memories. Of her yelling at us to get out of her garden and stop playing the the rain barrels. Or going to Co-op with her in her big cushy car & being so happy to buy boxed cookies. To build an igloo in her front yard with my cousins. To wake up to her on Christmas morning. To see her fishing. Or crocheting. Or watching gameshows louder than a jet plane. I remember her baking bread. And her chirping clock. And seeing her cry last summer when I was talking about Grandpa, fifteen years after he was gone.


 Lucky me, to have all those things. All those memories. And those items. Lucky me to have been given one last night of that good sleep at Grandmas house I so loved without knowing it. Even after she was gone.


You were the best, Grandma. And I loved you. And I miss you. And I hope you know.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I've Been 'That Mom'

This afternoon we took the kids to the Calgary Flames Family Skate. We were lucky to get tickets from a friend. Miles was in awe. I think he said 3 words. His mouth was open & he was looking up, up up the entire time. I loved every minute of it.
I forgot my skates on the counter (Making sure everyone else's made it into the car. And helmets. And mittens. And jackets, snacks, water and warm socks...etc.). I was so bummed when I realized (in the parking lot downtown). But I thought it might work out well as Molly seemed to be getting grumpy.
While we were lacing up our skates the family sitting across from us made a sad discovery. One of their sons was short a skate. There was only one skate in the bag. I didn't know what was going on but when we were lining up to go on the ice, Brian filled me in, he was devastated (Brian). He was imagining himself as a kid, pumped to skate where Jarome Iginla (or Doug Gilmore in Brians case) skated...and then not being able to.
I felt bad for them. But not in the same way Brian did, he was concerned about the boy. But moreover, I couldn't stop thinking how his mom must be feeling. We all make mom mistakes. I make a million. And I've made them at some pretty big & important times. Luckily, today it wasn't my turn. It was hers. Just plain bad luck. And I knew it was probably killing her, even though it was an accident. I also knew Miles had about 15 minutes of actual skating in him (he hadn't napped long). So I offered up his adjustable skates when we were done (Plan B.).
Miles had his 15 minutes on the rink and then I explained to him we were going to lend his skates to someone else so they could have a turn. He was so into it. (I wasn't sure he would be.). The boy crammed his feet into the skates & hit the ice (probably embarrassed by the Toy Story skates, but willing to strap them on & have a skate with his brother) . Miles & I sat in the bleachers & watched for a couple minutes. Miles said to me "That boy will be happy, right mom?" I told him yes. "You made him happy. You got to be happy for a while & now he can be too." And Miles was proud of himself, I could tell. I almost teared up (PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER HALEY!). What an awesome way to get to teach him this lesson!!! He loves hockey so he knew what he did. At 3 years old, he just knew.
Miles did a couple more laps with his dad after Molly had her turns. I think he liked being zipped around the ice in his Dads arms better anyway.
What a great day. Great experience. Great lesson. Great life.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cozy Up.

I ran errands this morning. Which included going into Costco. I took in a $20 bill so that I wouldn't allow myself to go on a spending spree with money I dont have. I love Costco at Christmas... but it's not Christmas. Yet. So I can out with only the bread I went in for (and some photos I had to pick up). And now I am home and dedicating the rest of the day to being cozy with my kids.

10 Things to Think About While I am Cozied up on my Couch Today:

1. All the great things I have added to my Christmas list at Costco. 2 Cookbooks. Babybel Cheese. The Vinyl Cafe CD set. And there's more....
2. How much I love my sisters. I just got off phone with Kendra. I looked at the receiver and wasn't surprised to see we had been talking for almost an hour. I love that. And I know I'll talk with Carm at some point today. I love my sisters and would wilt away if I didn't talk to them daily.
3. The book I am reading. I need to finish it so I can start Mindy Kalings new book.
4. My Christmas cards. I am ordering them on Monday once I narrow down the pictures. I want to use them all but I don't think anyone would appreciate getting a Christmas photo album in the mail. I am ordering them from Vistaprint.com this year, $1.99 for 20 cards. You can't beat that.
5. What to get Brian for Christmas. The Kindle Fire isn't available in Canada...so now what?
6. Egg nog.
7. When I will haul myself & the kids out to black diamond to buy some firewood. I hate going but we need a fire to be legitimately cozy.
8. How sweet Mollys looks all bundled up. My friend gave Molly some adorable hand-me-downs to keep warm this winter. I can't wait to take pics (or ask Linds to take pics).
9. Smashing Pumpkins. Not the band. I had a great time smashing pumpkins at the community compost bin yesterday... I've never done that before but it feels great...no wonder all those little punks do it.
10. How pumped Miles is going to be tomorrow when he gets to so to Family skate with the Calgary Flames. I hope Brian gets some good pictures.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Layout #264

 I loved scrapbooking Miles first day of school pictures. They were mostly taken by my talented Sister-In-Law Lindsay (of Picture a Memory Photography). I was so grateful she happened to pop by that day.
 I  wanted to use all the pictures so the left side is a folder that opens and holds a smaller 10x10 page (pictured below). Love it.
I was so happy to use up some of this old Daisy D's paper. It was perfect for pre-school pictures!