Carob Chip Cookies



I always like to give a little something to Paul's clients when they move into their new homes, as a housewarming and a thank you. I usually go with cupcakes because I want to try every single recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World but surely my blood sugar level can't handle it. This way I can sample a SINGLE cupcake and ship the rest along. Okay, maybe two. Sometimes I can fit only 10 in the cupcake boxes I buy from Bulk Barn. It's never occurred to me to buy a bigger box. Hm.

While I would have loved to continue my journey into Cupcake Land (I'm thinking boston vs brooklyn cream pies are next!) I picked up some extra hours at the clinic and had a very important meeting with my thesis committee that I had to prepare for, and thus had no time for adventures of the cupcake variety. I still wanted to have something to give to Paul's client (aside from a case of beer) and so I decided to bake some carob chip cookies. Who doesn't love cookies?!

Because Isa is my baking queen, I pulled out Vegan with a Vengeance, the very first vegan cookbook I ever bought. It had been a long time since I had flipped through the pages and I found myself earmarking like CRAZY. It is an old cookbook and has been on the market forever, but there are so many recipes in it that I have yet to try. I bought it years ago, at a time I really didn't like cooking and tried to avoid the stove as much as possible...I just buzzed through the easy recipes, got discouraged with the more difficult ones, and then forgot all about it.

Among the recipes I tagged was one for chocolate chip cookies, which Isa assures are not healthy in the slightest (see...even vegans can have some junk food fun). I didn't have chocolate chips so I used carob. And of course, I sampled a couple with a glass of rice milk before packaging the rest up (come on, I had to make sure they tasted alright and weren't poisonous or anything!).



A word to the wise though, the measurements are VERY specific. Be sure to have the exact amount of vegan margarine that the recipe calls for. I skimped a bit and had to moisten the batter with a bit of soy milk to get it to resemble cookie dough rather than powder. It turned out fine and cut down the fat content, but if you want the true results make sure you measure properly.

I sure hope there will be a copy of Isa's soon-to-be-released Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar under my Christmas tree this year!

P.S. The batter itself is fantastic. FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. If only I had had some Rice Divine vanilla ice cream kicking around, it would have made a killer cookie dough sundae.

What a busy weekend! Colin and I are so exhausted, but we had a great time. The Ottawa Valley Food Co-op had a site on the Rural Ramble, a few of the online vendors came out. We had decent sales and made lots of great connections. Saturday, we couldn't have ordered a better day. It was sunny and warm, without being too hot. Good sized crowds too. Miss Ella came out for a brief visit too. She was having a weekend at Grandma's and loving it. Ella's not the sit and be quiet all day kind of child, so I don't even try to do things like this with her. Ella and Grandma love having time together anyway.

Colin did a wonderful job decorating our area. Everything came from our farm. We had the nicest tent :) How do you like his pumpkin? Colin comes up with such great ideas. I don't even try to do them any more. We now sell "pumpkin teeth", they are pretty neat and glow in the dark. They were quite popular this weekend.

On a homeschool note, seeing the kids out and about this weekend and I have no worries about "socialization". Man, public school kids are little brats! We even had one that was trying to gouge out the eyes of our pumpkin. Meanwhile, my little pumpkin just ran around visiting the other vendors, chatting and being wonderful.

Sunday started out rather dismal. When we arrived at 9:30 (10:00 start) and didn't even unpack the pork. We really thought we would just pack up and go home. A few adventurous souls came out so we set up again. By noon it was starting to 'clear' (as in stop rain, not sun) and we had a half decent turnout, especially since it kept 'showering' off and on all day.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable day. I like talking with people about our farm and our life and dispelling a lot of the misconceptions out there. Especially about pork production.


Very tiring weekend. I'm looking forward to getting back to normal this week.

Monday:
leftovers from last night's dinner out :)

hot chicken sandwiches

Tuesday:
macaroni and cheese

zucchini casserole -from Amish Cook at Home

Wednesday:
meat perisky -still trying to give this new recipe a try

roast beef -not sure how, will decide later

Thursday:
hamburgers

leftover casserole

Friday:
tuna casserole

hot beef sandwiches

Saturday:
grandma's soup -also from Amish Cook at Home

spaghetti and meatballs

Sunday:
French toast

honey lime chicken legs

Head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for more ideas.

Fried Eggplant Sammies



It's estimated that 0.5-1% of the North American population identifies as vegan. That's (unfortunately) kind of a low number. You know what's even lower? The number of self-identifying vegans that also like country music. I'd estimate that as 1% of the original 1%*. Veganism and country music are not-so-much of the same cloth.

I, however, kind of like country music. Kind of a lot...as an extension of my liking all kinds of music. But don't worry, I am aware of the inherent anti-vegan message in a lot of mainstream country these days. All the same, I like a good party song, and they tend to provide.

Zac Brown Band had a song this past summer called "Chicken Fried". As much as I like them, I obviously do not endorse such a message...and so if you caught me driving down the freeway over the last few months singing at the top of my lungs it probably was something along the lines of

"A little bit of TOFU fried...cold beer on a Friday night...a pair of jeans that fit just right...and the radio on"

Well, now that these sandwiches are in my life I'm going to have to modify my lyrics to "a little bit of EGGPLANT fried".

I can't take credit for these little gems. My mom graciously made us an eggplant lasagna plus several little fried eggplants to eat as leftovers because my school schedule has been making me a little more than scattered and exhausted lately. She also made the buns from scratch. We basically just cut some tomato slices, grabbed bunches of spinach and spread jalepeno hummus on the buns. So really, we did nothing. But I had to share a picture of these sandwiches because they were so so so so good and tasted like they just came from a cold deli somewhere.



*I really have no idea about this statistic. Quite frankly, I made it up. Me = worst Master's of Sociology student EVER!

BON VOYAGE


Before I even got out of bed this morning, I switched on the television, watched the news, and smiled as the weatherman predicted a cooling trend for next week mingled with rain and wind. Usually this revelation would bring on melancholy as I ponder the fact that fall is here and winter not far behind it but not today. No, not today.  It could snow next week for all I care.  Tomorrow I will drive to the big city, get on a plane, fly to Rome, then climb on board a ship for a Mediterranean cruise.  I can hardly wait.

Still Working Away
















This is how the smoke shed/house is coming along. The cement was a job and a half and Andrew and the boys were so happy to see the last pour happen. But it is getting there.





Our initial inspection will begin on October 5th. This date is coming up quick but hopefully we will squeek under the wire. The inspector told us to be prepared for 2 more visits after the first one.





We are back doing some markets. We had too for some of the things we need are pricey and the bills needed to be paid. Our e-mail will be changing shortly. Maybe next week we will be coming out of the dark ages and getting high speed internet. But we need to put up a 40 foot TV tower first. The challenges of being in the sticks.





It's nice to be back doing something we enjoy doing though. The weather has been not to bad as of late and autumn is beautiful. The leaves are changing and like always our area will be on fire with all the yellows and reds.





Our pups are growing up. Very shortly they will be looking for homes and mom couldn't be happier. (they have teeth)





We are booked to attend the Picnic at the Brickworks again this year. Looking forward to it and should be a lot of fun and mighty fine food.





Hope you enjoy the pictures and I hope you are finding time to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.





Had my ultrasound and CT scan today. As usual, no one can tell me anything. I think that is the most frustrating part of all this. As expected the u/s was outside and in. The CT was ok, the IV only involved minor hysterics. Please don't anyone tell me to get over myself and act like an adult. I assure you the panic/hysterics are completely beyond my control. Do you think I enjoy looking that stupid? The tech. was wonderful and really did a great job putting in the IV. The scan itself was fine. Just like a large doughnut, not the small tube I was expecting. Now I have to wait until the 13th to see the OB/GYN. I'm expecting him to say I didn't need these tests and will order a whole bunch of other ones. Colin said my hip bones looked good :)

Monday Miss Ella started her dance class. She was so excited. I'm excited because I don't have to buy her dance wear, the teacher said her jumper was fine. I couldn't believe the price of little ballet slippers! Mommies weren't allowed to watch. Next week I'm going to try going out to the ice level and see if I can see up into their room. This is a picture of Ella's entire class :) The other little girl is 4 1/2, guess my girl is tall. Ella's teacher, Miss Christy Anne seems so young. But I guess I shouldn't make too many comments. Mom used to get comments like that when I taught figure skating. Parents would complain to Mom (in charge of learn-to-skate) about the little kid teaching the class. She would turn to them and say 'that's my 16 year old daughter' and then they would sort of slink away. My sister and I couldn't help it if our students were nearly as tall as we were :)

Ella was helping Daddy with the pumpkins on Sunday. She had so much fun driving around the yard with her tractor and trailer. Unfortunately the trailer isn't meant to have any weight against the tailgate and kept popping open. Daddy being a farmer, just pulled some baler twine out of our truck (yep there are yards of it in there) and tied the trailer closed. Made for a much better ride.

Found a yummy recipe for goulash. It's called Potato Pork Goulash. When I make it again, I will put more pork in:

1 1/2lbs pork -I cut up shoulder chops and will use close to 3 lbs next time
1 tsp caraway seeds, crushed (didn't have any)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2T paprika
salt & pepper to taste
2lbs potatoes -I will peel next time
2 onions, diced
2T butter
2T vinegar
3 c beef stock
14oz diced tomatoes -I used homemade tomato sauce
chives and sour cream to garnish

Cut pork into bite size pieces and sprinkle with 1T paprika, caraway seeds, garlic and salt & pepper. Let sit while you wash and cut the potatoes into bite size pieces. Melt butter in a large pan and sear pork bites over high heat. Add onions and cook until softened. Add everything else and simmer for about an hour. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.


Once upon a time, I loved me some boxed macaroni and cheese...especially at 4 in the morning after a night out dancing (and perhaps a bit too much Jose Cuervo). My old bones rarely make it out to the bar these days, but sometimes comfort-in-a-bowl is all I want.

In order to stand the authenticity test, vegan mac and cheeze has to be two things: 1) Delicious and 2) Convenient. Because let's face it, the majority of people don't eat mac and cheese because it's the greatest food on the planet. They eat it because it tastes alright, it's done quickly, and it probably reminds them of a simpler time in their lives. I've posted about my mac and cheeze casserole which fulfills criteria #1, but not so much criteria #2 as it involves making a roux and then 30 minutes in the oven before you can eat it.

There is no way I'm doing all that work at 4am...that mac and cheeze casserole is reserved for lazy Sunday evenings and nothing more.

As such, I've been patiently devouring teh internetz for a mac and cheeze recipe that is both delicious and convenient (bonus points for taste-authenticity). I've seen the boxed of soy-based mac and cheeze varieties in health food stores but I just can't bring myself to try them. I really, really don't like the taste of fake cheese and I just can't get on board with it (no matter how many ways I've tried it), so I figure the boxed stuff will be similarly disappointing. Besides, homemade is always better!

I have about a dozen mac and cheeze recipes saved on my computer that I'm making my way through and so far, Susan V's daughter-approved mac and cheeze is the winner.

This is what I like about it:
- It tastes really good
- It even leaves that cheezy orange residue on your fork like the real stuff does (I couldn't resist including that in the picture for this entry)
- It has, like, 300% of your daily intake of B12 (or more, if your dairy-free milk is fortified - just be sure to buy the right kind of nutritional yeast!)
- The macaroni goes in the pot...the sauce ingredients go in the blender. Andddd you're pretty much done.
- No creepy orange powder-in-paper-packet required!!!

We really loved it on its own but I think it would be absolutely awesome with some chipotles in it (because we put chipotles in pretty much everything). I think next time I make it I'm going to throw in some chipotle baked beans (extra protein, ftw)..yum!

P.S. If you're not already a follower, check out This is Why You're Thin (vegan food porn at its FINEST)...my lentil-ball sub is currently being featured!

WITHDRAWAL


It seems like all summer I have been running at full tilt planning showers,weddings, dances, and then helping three kids pack up and move out. After months of having a full house and cooking for a crowd, I now find myself an empty-nester. Hmm ... now what do I do with myself? I've read a few books, cleaned and organized a few rooms. I bought a label maker and labeled things. (Ange, you would be proud) I even impressed my husband by removing channels we didn't get from the guide. I admit I was starting to get a bit bored but I didn't realize I was addicted to party planning until last night when I received an email from a friend who is helping her friend plan a wedding for January. She asked where I got my paper lanterns from and I immediately started to form ideas in my head as to how they could decorate and then went on the internet to garner even more ideas. This is not a good sign. I have nothing to do with this reception. My name is Fionna and I am a party planning addict. Please help!

Wow, we're at the 21st of September already! We did pretty well last week sticking to the menu. We've all got a head cold (thanks to the hospital tests!). We're feeling better now and hopefully will be able to catch up on cleaning and baking.

Monday:
cowboy casserole

steak and rice -Ella's first night at dance class

Tuesday:
grocery day

stuffed chicken and German potato salad

Wednesday:
pizza or calzones -depending on my time

potato pork goulash -new recipe -yummy

Thursday:
ultra sound and CT scan, over the lunch hour so who knows what/when we will be eating

Roast chicken -350F for 25 min/lb (unstuffed) till thermometer says it's done.

Friday:
pizza/calzones

leftover goulash

Saturday:
This weekend is the annual Rural Ramble in Renfrew County. We'll be at the OVFC site with our pork and pumpkins. Who knows what we will be eating this weekend.

leftover chicken

Sunday:
more Ramble

hopefully supper out, because it is an exhausting weekend.

Don't forget to hop over to I'm an Organizing Junkie

JUST CALL ME MARTHA




I was in what I like to call a Martha-esque mood when I made a cake for Daniel and Olivia's little mini reception. That basically means I was at my creative zenith , willing to spend ages fiddling with tiny little details. The result was awesome and the complements that followed went straight to my head. I was quite pleased with myself. My reason for this post is not to brag (okay, maybe a little) but rather to save me time in explaining how I created this masterpiece. After sending out three emails last week with directions (silly me didn't think to copy and paste) I thought I would just post the directions on my blog and direct enquiries here.
The cake is simple to put together but does require some time. Trust me, the adulation you receive will be welll worth it.

First, you will need to pick about 100 or so small leaves off a bush or tree. Leaves that look similar to those of a maple tree work best.
Wash and dry the leaves then paint the back of the leaves with melted coloured chocolate. I bought the merkins buttons at the bulk food store and spent $4.oo total on all the buttons and I had some left over.
I used my finger to spread it over the leaves (don't worry, I washed my hands thoroughly first). I put the leaves in the fridge to set and then carefully, and I mean carefully, pulled the leaves from the chocolate. Unfortunately, quite a few broke. I was able to hide some of the broken ones behind the good ones but alas, some just had to be eaten... ahem... I mean... discarded.
The acorns were made from caramels rolled into balls then flattened a bit on one end which was then dipped into a bit of melted chocolate and dipped again into little chocolate sprinkles.
I iced the cake with regular chocolate buttercream icing and then starting form the centre working out, layered the leaves.
I told you it was simple.


aka Late Summer, meet Early Fall


I don't know how it is everywhere else in the world, but around here it's cheaper to buy a basket full of peaches than to buy two people's worth. This creates a bit of a problem around this time of year, as we have peaches coming out of our ears. At this point I'm getting kind of sick of them, as we're on our third basket for the summer..but I couldn't resist squeezing one more in before peaches are gone for yet another year.

We ate a couple and then decided it was time to do away with the remainder. I had such high hopes for myself that I was going to bake a pie from scratch for the first time in my life...or perhaps try Susan V's sugar free peach muffins but alas, the cobbler won out because of the ease with which it goes from raw ingredients to digesting nicely in my belly.

However, last night I was quite content wrapped up in blankets watching Big Bang Theory dvds on the couch and thus was too lazy to make even a simple cobbler. Paul made it...I give credit where credit is deserved!

The weather here has been so strange. You can still rock shorts and t-shirts in the afternoon, but the second that sun goes down you'd swear it was late October. Our cobbler was done around 9 when it was already quite chilly, so we decided to do up some Mexican hot chocolate to go with it. Nothing feels more fallish to me than a cup of piping hot cocoa, and serving it up with the peach cobbler made for a nice juxtaposition of the seasons.

And if you haven't ever had hot chocolate the Mexican way (sprinkled with chili powder), I highly, highly recommend it.

Peach Cobbler

3lbs of fresh peaches, thinly sliced
1/2 cup organic or beet sugar
1/2 tbsp corn starch

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder, sifted
1/4 cup organic or beet sugar
A hearty sprinkle of salt
6 tbsp Earth Balance Spread
1/2 cup rice or other nondairy milk

1) Preheat the oven to 375F

2) To make the peach filling: place the peaches and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the corn starch and stir to combine. Cook until the mixture thickens a bit (8-10 minutes or so).

3) Lightly grease a pie plate or casserole dish and pour in the filling.

4) To make the topping: Using a mixer, food processor, or your two hands, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar until well mixed. Add the Earth Balance and process until the mixture is crumbly and add the milk very slowly until the mixture holds together (may need a tiny bit more or a tiny bit less, depending on how it feels). The mixture should hold together but not stick to the sides of the bowl.

5) Pull and flatten pieces of the dough with your hands and place on top of the filling, overlapping where you can (but if there are small portions of the peach peeking out, that's okay). Sprinkle with additional sugar, if you'd like, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

3 cups of rice (or other nondairy) milk
3 tbsp cocoa
6 tbsp raw cane sugar
A good pinch of cinnamon
A good pinch of chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and warm over medium heat. Stir often until heated through.


P.S. A quick thanks to Clare of Accidentally, Kle for helping handle some administrative details with regard to This is Vegan over this past weekend. Much appreciated... be sure to check out her blog!

Sunny Day in Gig Harbor, WA



What a perfect September day it was in the Harbor yesterday. The berries on a wild blackberry bush outside our front gate are just waiting to turn to a luscious black, but seem to be hanging on till the last minute to do that. Some of the deciduous trees are just about to turn to gold, yet the lovely evergreen trees are just that - ever green. All year round.

I was walking around the head of the actual harbor at low tide and captured a couple of images. I am always excited to see The Mountain "out." That's the expression around here when you can see the magnificent Mt. Rainier from miles away in every direction. If The Mountain is "out", it's sure to be a beautiful day. Locals can tell everything about the weather by looking to The Mountain. If he has a ring of clouds around his summit, that means rain is coming, for example. Northwest American Indians knew the mountain long before European explorers reached the waters of the Pacific Ocean. For generations, they knew the mountain as Takhoma, Tahoma, Ta-co-bet and several other names. Many of the names mean 'big mountain' or 'snowy peak', or 'place where the waters begin.' For those who enjoy a bit of data... Mt. Rainier is...
  • 14,410 feet high.
  • the highest point in the state of Washington.
  • a part of the Cascade mountain range.
  • topped by glaciers (the most famous are Nisqually, and Emmons Glacier).
  • climbed by more than 2500 people every year.
  • an active volcano.
As I drove home through the village of Gig Harbor, The Mountain loomed very large at one point. It seems to depend on the angle from which one is viewing this mountain. Around one corner it's far away, like in the photo above, and then just round another corner, it's an enormous spectacle. Very mysterious, mystical and marvelous.

Knitting a bit ...


I gave my hands a bit of a treat and a workout. I started re-knitting a vest with some gorgeous New Zealand Wool-Pak yarn. Oh the fun of writing up a list of the various rows to create a nubby texture for what will be the center back panel of this garment. Writing the pattern down in my own heiroglyphics and checking each row off is the only way I know to keep things organized. The second image shows the start of some fingerless mittens. One of them was already made and put aside as my hands got crampy before I had my recent surgery. On this garment I'm using the method of two pairs of circular needles instead of the more traditional four needles to knit something in the round. Check Cat Bordhi's video on Youtube for this method here. Once the lightbulb goes off about her method, it's pretty darned nifty.

I jumped the gun a bit to start knitting again. I am now patiently waiting for the incision scars to heal up a bit more, but how lovely it was to get sucked into the rhythm of knitting again.

My next bit of "therapy" will be to thread a needle with some pretty thread and see how it feels to do some hand stitching...


The calendar says fall doesn't start for another few days, but for eternal students such as myself summer ends on Labour Day. Even though I'm no longer a student in the traditional classroom sense, something in the air changes between Labour Day Monday and the following Tuesday.

I love fall. Not just because it's beautiful here in southern Ontario, but amidst all the chaos of back-to-school, Thanksgiving, Halloween and our beloved Oktoberfest, I garner a sense of calm out of the season because every year is kind of the same. Chaotic, yes...but a nostalgic chaos as we (finally) give in, pull on our knit sweaters, turn on the heat and prepare for all of these events.

It is also the time of year where I am reminded of how awesome squash is (only to become irritated by it in mid-winter when all I can think about are fresh tomatoes and green beans). Squash may wear out its welcome here in the great white north (I know that it is illogical to think that winter is somehow longer than all the other seasons combined...but why does it always feel that way?!) but at this time of year I embrace it in all its quirky varieties.

Throughout the summer I've been emailing myself squash recipes found around the web for fall dinner experiments. Just think of me as a cute lil squirrel hording nuts for the winter. This one here actually found me (I'm on the Vegetarian Times mailing list) so I gave it first dibs on squash-based dinners at our place. Here is the recipe.

It calls for a kabocha squash, which I couldn't find. Our local market had GIANT standard issue organic pepper squashes - I'm talking the size of pumpkins - so I went with that. As an aside, are acorn squash and pepper squash the same thing? Some websites say they are, some don't...anyway, it's not relevant, I'm pretty sure you could use any kind of cube-able squash you want in this.

The filling is made up of diced tomatoes, chilis, corn, bell pepper, pinto beans, spices and of course the squash. This filling is sandwiched between two layers of polenta.

The recipe gets fancy with the polenta, which I was far too lazy for. They wanted 40 minutes for it to cook in a double boiler...they wanted it smooth and thick. I've been eating polenta since I was in diapers and I've come to learn that it pretty much tastes the same no matter how you do it. I know having lumps in it isn't the right way to do it and may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, but I cannot see myself fussing with it in a double boiler for 40 minutes. 5 minutes on the stove in water (or broth) and it's done and tastes exactly the same. Maybe it's just because I was raised on this less fancy style of polenta, but I honestly like it better with the lumps..speaking of nostalgia, it tastes like my childhood!



I should admit that if you make the polenta the way I did it won't make for nice perfectly square pieces of the casserole, so if you are trying to impress someone I'd suggest following the recipe's demands. I tried to cut squares out to take a nice picture (and failed), annoying Paul to the point of grabbing a soup ladle and shoveling it into a bowl for himself.

I know people taste with their eyes before tasting with their mouths, but life gets busy and it's okay to cut corners sometimes. As you can notice, however, I did NOT include a picture of how messy it got during this 'shovel the casserole into bowls' step but trust me it tastes the same (or even better if you like a little texture). In the words of Randy Quaid via Christmas Vacation, it was "goooo-ooood".

Aside from the fussiness (which I avoided entirely), this recipe gets two wins from our neck of the woods. It is hearty and filling and the ingredients are relatively cheap and disposable in the fall and winter months.

Ameliaranne and other stories ...




Here a few of some dear old book friends. There they were, sitting patiently on a bookshelf, not much visited of late.

I wonder if any other people remember the stories about Ameliaranne Stiggins who is described as "a pale child with black hair, which she wore in curl rags from Friday night till Sunday morning." She is the oldest daughter of a mother "who took in washing." There isn't any mention of a Mr. Stiggins in these stories. Ameliaranne has five little brothers and sisters.

The books were first published in September 1920. The versions I have were published in 1947. The story I remember the best was "Ameliaranne and the Green Umbrella." Ameliaranne and her siblings had been invited to tea at the Squire's house - which was why she had been wearing her her hair in rags, so her hair would be curly for the special event. The little brothers and sisters got terrible colds. Ameliaranne goes to the squire's house by herself, taking a green umbrella which she hides under the table. She doesn't eat all the treats that are served. She secretly puts them all into the green umbrella. This fact is discovered by a snooty grownup who tells the Squire what Ameliaranne has done. Here's what Ameliaranne says to the Squire: "Oh sir, I'm glad you saw, 'cos I didn't take a bit more'n what I could easy 'ave ate; and the five of them's got colds in their 'eads, and when I left them they was all howlin' somethink horful, and I couldn't bear to go home and tell them everything and them not 'ave a bite, as you might say." The kindly Squire makes sure that baskets are filled with more than enough treats for the whole family. Ameliaranne has won the day for herself and her family.

It was such a treat to read this book again at my vast age. I remember being so intrigued by so many children in the same family, being an only child. I think my father would read this book aloud to me and do all the different voices of the characters in the book to bring it alive for me. The Stories are "told by" Constance Howard and "pictured by" Susan Beatrice Pearse. There are very few words, lots of expressive illustrations both of which conveyed so much information about a time so long ago.

I also found some rather more rare Beatrix Potter titles in my "forgotten" collection published in the 1940s and a much-loved copy of Alison Uttley's "Little Grey Rabbit's Birthday." I liked that the illustrator's name, Margaret Tempest, was published boldly on the front of my edition of this book.
I forgot to tell you about a very yummy recipe I found the other day. It's for oatmeal brownies and I found it over at 'Our Plain and Simple Life'. They are so good and are staying so nice and moist. It's more cake like than my usual brownie and I'm tempted to ice them and call it 'snack cake'. Next time I'm going to try the applesauce for butter suggestion. It would be great if I could get some "healthy" cake for this family. It's amazing how dark and chocolaty they were, with only 4 Tbsps of cocoa.

UPDATE: I tried it with the applesauce and we did not like it. I found it rubbery. Colin wouldn't even eat it, and I think he would eat anything if it was made of chocolate. Try it if you want, but you've been warned :)
Well I'm back from the RNP and I'm not sure how much further ahead I am. The u/s found a cyst that isn't "simple", i.e., part of a woman's natural cycle. But they have no idea what it is. The RNP said because I'm only 30 (update: don't know what I was thinking, I'm really 38) it's "probably" not ovarian cancer. That's not much of a reassurance.

So now I still have to have a new u/s and the ct scan. I don't have to drink junk for it, it goes in by IV. That's even worse news. I have such needle issues (though I can now get one by myself). When I had Ella I had to have one -even wanted one because I was tired of throwing up every time they made me have a drink, I finally refused to drink anymore. I'm not exaggerating here: it took 2 attempts with 4 people holding my arm for the nurse to get it in!!! Luckily, Colin isn't too busy and will be able to come with me. He can help hold my arm and explain to the nurses.

It's just something I can't control, no matter how hard I try. I had to have allergy testing done when I was 3. It involved waaaaay too many needles. Mom said I was fine with needles before then, but after ... In the past I've jumped so hard needles have come out and gone in again. One time I had to have a tb test done (for school) and I had my arm so tensed the nurse couldn't get the needle to go in my skin :) Needless to say, my wonderful Mom never made me get immunized at school, we always did it at the doctor.

So that's my news that isn't news. The annoying thing is that if I had of kept my mouth shut about the u/s tech comments, none of this would be going on because I feel fine. I'm even pretty healthy as far as I usually am. On top of it all, I caught a headcold from being at the hospital with all the sick people. I just hope it stays in my head, it's too early in the year to start with my post-cold, 3 month long, asthma cough.

I am not sleeping

These little posies begged to be photographed.
My fingers and fingernails are black and split and my time is eaten up with running stitch - which is duller than running on the cross trainer, but does give me time to think or listen to the world news and The Archers on the BBC. To top it all off, I hate the feel of the synthetic wadding, but the look and variety of the little blooms is well worth the suffering! I do believe.
Moving swiftly on...

A Short Summary of my Life at the Moment

So here I am again. I know I'm a lazy blogger these days, but it's just life and it's craziness. I tried to keep going all summer, but there's something about everyone else doing nothing that makes that hard. So I'm continuing with the stuff I continued with, but I'm 'back at it' in a way, working harder, and feeling like I'm into it now. So, now it's the great race to my Grade 10 RCM piano exam in January. I'll be ready, but there's lots to do! And music history... eek! Not sure if that's actually going to be ready for December, but we're trying!!! Choir started last night, and, as always, it is absolutely amazing and fabulous. I do seriously belong to the best choir ever. And we all know it. :-)

Back to work as well, starting this afternoon, and it looks as though I have a lesson set, which means I get to teach kids to swim every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon for the next 4 weeks. Yay! and Eek! at the same time! I just hope I get good classes, then I'll be happy. Oh! And I started voice lessons back up yesterday as well. :-) And, sadly, I'm down to one piano student from 5 flute and piano kids! But it's alright. All is well.

On Saturday a bunch of us from work went to a fabulous giant obstacle course way up high through the trees, which was lots of fun, though I was a bit lonely. It was my 3rd time going, so I had fun challenging myself. We had an inservice at work on Sunday, and they actually brought someone in from the Lifesaving Society (Canada!) to work with us. So lots of fitness swimming, learning about guarding with an aid, (The LS BC/Yukon branch is the only one that doesn't do that. I think guarding with and without an aid are important, depending on the situation), and did a lot of emergency simulations. It was actually a lot more fun than I expected, so that was good. :-)

And there's my short summary of life at the moment.

Hugs,
Sheila
Yesterday was my...(sigh) 26th birthday. I have never really been a fan of birthdays, even as a kid...something about the passage of time gets under my skin and makes me lose sleep at night. One of my many psychological dysfunctions.

It was kind of nice though, as Paul and I both had the day off and so spent it a bit indulgently. I thought I would share some of the deliciousness that came our way.

We went and had lunch at The Duke Street Muse, a vegetarian cafe. I had the vegan quesadillas:



Paul also tried their vegan chili and said it was absolutely incredible...I can't wait to get that next time we go. We were really impressed by not only the quality of the food but the kindness and enthusiasm of the staff that was working and will definitely return.

Duke Street Muse
6 Duke Street
Kitchener, ON, N2H1A3
(519) 342-0550


For dinner, Paul arranged a little gathering of our friends at Ben Thanh, a vietnamese/thai restaurant. I had the crispy gluten rolls to start:



And then the thai green curry vermicelli bowl for my main:



And, my dearest husband slaved all day in the kitchen to make me chocolate mint cupcakes (recipe found in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World) which served as a birthday cake in the restaurant:



Ben Thanh
500 Fairway Rd S
Kitchener, ON N2C 1X3
(519) 742-3338


Having a wonderful birthday with great food and great friends definitely makes the passage of time that I find so unsettling a bit more easy to manage. Thanks to everyone who came out or sent well wishes!

Menu Plan Monday-14 Se[tember 09


This should be a better week. My MIL is home and doing great, thank the Lord. I've never seen anyone recover so quickly. I just hope she's not over-doing things. But at least I can be home doing my own things. It's amazing how dirty/messy a house can get even when you are only home for a couple hours in the evening. Oh well, my little helper likes to dust.

Monday:
hamburgers

roast beef -likely in the crockpot so I can get more work done

Tuesday:
crescent dogs -one of Ella's favourite lunches

stuffed chicken -these were on sale last week and are so yummy without the trouble of trying to stuff and bread chicken breasts :)

Wednesday:
French toast

hot beef sandwiches

Thursday:
spaghetti

pork chops on the bbq

Friday:
beef sandwiches

honey lime chicken legs

Saturday:
delivery day for OVF

potato pork goulash

Sunday:
??

bacon and eggs

Head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for more great ideas.

TOTAL AWESOMENESS

As if I haven't had enough to do this summer, I decided to hold a mini dessert reception and dance for Daniel and Olivia last night. Out came the candles, tulle, and paper lanterns again. Fireworks were also purchased for the occasion. Awesome!
The boys were put in charge of setting them off. Red, green, and yellow stars lit the sky and we were all enjoying the show when all of a sudden an explosion lit up the bush behind the guys. At this point I am thinking "uh oh, I hope it doesn't catch fire" when the next thing I know, another bolt of explosives heads straight for a group of guests watching at what we thought was a safe distance. The group of girls I was standing with all started laughing at this turn of events , that is until a streak of white headed in our direction. Three girls took off in all directions, screaming at the top of their lungs, while I was left doubled over unable to move an inch in fear of laughing so hard I would wet my pants completely. Total awesomeness!!!!!!

I'm a bad "bloggy Mommy", I forgot to take my camera to the fair last night! And I missed out on some really great picture moments. Ella had a really good time. We even had the best weather ever for Renfrew Fair, it is usually cool and damp. There were two rides that she could go on all by herself -made her feel like a big girl. She even took Daddy on a couple rides. It just melts my heart seeing Daddy do stuff with Ella :)

We had another beautiful day today. Daddy and Ella decided to try out her kite. She had lots of fun, even though the kite didn't last long. We're going to count the money in Ella's "money pig" and see if there is enough to go buy a decent kite. Our local ice cream store has a great selection, and put them on sale at the end of last year, so hopefully they are on sale again.

And this is our "I don't want a picture Mommy" face. Still cute.

Pay-It-Forward

I've seen some blogs doing a "Pay-It-Forward" but have never participated. When I saw one over at Our Plain and Simple Life, I thought I'd give it a try. So here it goes:

I need three people to leave a comment saying they would like to participate. I will then send out a special handmade gift, nothing too big, but made with love. Then the recipients will make a post on their blogs, offering a "Pay-It-Forward" of your own.
I mentioned to Daniel that I was so going to enjoy his wedding because all I had to do was show up when his lovely bride to be piped up and told me I was giving a speech. What???? I thought only the fathers did that? So much for my free ride.
I decided to forgo the usual advice giving , welcome to the family, speech and came up with a top ten list.
So here's the TOP TEN REASONS I AM GLAD DANIEL MARRIED OLIVIA

10. We wear the same shoe size. (smile)
9. I won't have to stay up late and chaperone any more. (I still stay up late and I actually didn't really need to chaperone. They weren't teenagers)
8. It's good to know that there is actually someone that takes longer than my daughter in the shower. (Didn't think that was possible)
7. She can actually put up with Daniel. (didn't think that one was possible either.)
6. Did I mention we wear the same shoe size? (she has left her shoes at our house on numerous occasions. They may or may not have been worn by me.)
5. They are going to provide beautiful grandchildren for me. ( I like this one the best)
4. I've always thought it would be cool to belong to a big Italian family. (this one was changed at the last minute after Olivia suggested I not use the word Mafia. There were about 100 Italians in the room so chances are...)
3. Daniel can try to teach Olivia to be on time. ( She was an hour late for the wedding rehearsal the day before. It frustrates Daniel to no end and provides a great deal of amusement for the rest of us who have had to wait for Daniel over the years.)
2. She hooks me up with some serious bling. (At this point, I put a huge necklace on. It was a big yellow and black caution sign that said : Beware Mother-In-Law. Olivia did actually give it to me.)
1.I now know for sure that it is possible to love someone else's child as much as your own. (This produced a collective awwwww from the guests and tears from my new daughter-in-law. I almost cried too.)
When I got back to my table, feeling quite pleased with myself, my brand new son-in-law and fairly new (3 years) daughter-in-law were not happy. "NOW you know for sure? You didn't know before?????
Oops, sorry!
For the record, I love them too.

Have I told you guys about "Knit Night"? Some of the homeschool girls get together (with others) at the library on Thursday nights, they sit and knit and chat. I've been invited to join and have met some lovely ladies. Well we had a really good chat on Thursday, and I feel so much better now (that and lots of prayer of course). Colin is going to come with me to the RNP and if these tests are just "being thorough" and for no good reason, he will get them stopped. He's much more forceful with the 'doctors' than I am.

This is what late summer/early fall looks like in my neighbourhood. We'll be fogged in until nearly noon. This is our "front" yard. What you can't see is the train tracks just on the edge of the fog, then the 50 acre field, then the Trans Canada Highway, then the 200 acres or so, and finally the line of trees at the back of the next "concession" road. I'll try to remember to take the same picture later today.

Renfrew Fair started on Thursday. Ella is patiently, well kind of, waiting for this afternoon to arrive. Daddy is taking us to the fair. He wants to go before the crowds get busy, people just don't look where they are walking and Ella's not that pleased with crowds. Grandma is coming too and she'll take Miss Ella home later. Daddy and I will stay to watch the livestock auction, he likes to see how his pigs (shown by Kurtis) do.

And here's what our yard looks now, it's 12:01pm and we can see all the way to the horizon. Of course, my little pumpkin wanted to be in the picture too.

Whole Wheat Zucchini-Banana-Carob Loaf



I was recently the lucky inheritor of an extremely massive zucchini from my grandma's garden:



I love zucchini as much as the next guy, but there's only so many dinners you can revolve around it before you never want to see it again. Let me tell you, several dinners throughout the last week didn't even make a dent in this sucker and so it was time to call on the oven to do away with what was left.

I rarely bake, because neither Paul nor I are capable of restraining ourselves when it comes to sweets. This bread did nothing short of proving that point tenfold. I made two loaves with the intention of either giving one to my in-laws or freezing it for later deliciousness...and out of those two there is but one lonely half-slice of bread sitting quietly in our refrigerator. The rest has all succumbed to the unyielding power of the butter knife and glorious amounts of softened Earth Balance buttery spread...shameful.

I'd never made zucchini bread before, but I do make muffins every now and again so I kind of just made up this recipe as I went along. It turned out to be pretty awesome and so I will share it:

Whole Wheat Zucchini-Banana-Carob Loaf

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini

2 ripe bananas, mashed (I'm talking almost black...not only did I have zucchini on its last legs, I also had banana)

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil*

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce*

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups raw cane sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup ground walnuts

3/4 cup carob chips

*I like using as little oil as possible and even though googling 'zucchini bread' made subbing in unsweetened applesauce for part or all of the oil sound nothing short of blasphemous, it turned out great with the applesauce (and I will do it again...and I'll probably double the applesauce and skip the oil altogether, like I do when I bake muffins).

1) Combine all dry ingredients and mix well.

2) Beat together zucchini, banana and vanilla (it's okay if it has lumps, just make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed).

3) Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, mix and then add the carob chips. Mix well.

4) Pour into a lightly greased loaf pan (I actually used two). Fill about half way to the top of the pan, as the bread will rise as it bakes.

5) Bake at 350 F for 45-60 minutes (using my oven and two loaf pans it took 45 minutes dead on, but stick a toothpick and make sure it comes out clean before pulling the pan(s) out of the oven). Allow 5 minutes to cool, and then remove the loaves from the pan, allowing them to cool on a cooling rack for an additional 30 minutes. Enjoy!

[Also, just like when I make muffins, I filled an additional loaf pan with water and placed it on the lowest rack of the oven, to keep the moisture locked into the oven and therefore the bread].


Give it a try...you'll thank me for the way your house smells while it bakes (it's really starting to feel like fall!).

I will be making this again. Sooner than later probably, because believe it or not I have inherited a second massive zucchini from my grandma's garden. This time, it is going in the freezer....maybe.

I am so frightened...

Ok, back history. When I was pregnant with Ella our maternal serum came back positive for spina bifida. Thank the Good Lord it was a false positive and she was perfect. But the doctor said the test could also mean she might stop growing. So I had an ultra sound every few weeks for the remaining 20 weeks. A couple times I was asked by the u/s tech. if I had ever been told I had fibroids. When I said "no", they would just say "ok" and continue on. I made the mistake of telling my RNP this when I had my annual check-up this year.

Flash forward to today. I've had a full pelvic ultra sound. They call in the doctor a couple times. He tells me I have endometriosis and a ovarian cyst and will need a reference to an OB/GYN. Fine. People tell me not to worry, the doctor I saw just likes to be thorough and sends people for tests all the time. Next thing I know, I'm hearing from my RNP's office that he also wants a chest x-ray and a pelvic CT Scan. AND I have to do the u/s again because it's at a different hospital. And I have to drink some kind of crap (pardon my language) for the CT scan and be there for 3 hours.

I'm just beside myself. I'm home alone. I don't know when Colin will be home. I'm terrified it's something terrible and I will die. I don't want to leave Ella and Colin! Ella wouldn't even be able to remember me. I know God will take care of everything, but I am so frightened.

As requested, here's a picture of one of our blue pumpkins. I forget the official name. It looks a little more slate blue in person.
We have a variety of heirloom oddities. You really can't see, but the one under my hand is called "Cinderella" and is shaped like Cinderella's carriage. They get so orange they are almost red. The 'warty' ones in the middle are very weird looking. I'm taking a relish-making break to pose with Daddy's pumpkins, hence the coverall apron. I love these aprons, they are the Edwardian ones from Sense and Sensibility.




At first glance this is a cute picture of Ella and her Grandpa. But on closer inspection you see Ell riding her tractor with Grandpa on his riding mower, cutting grass. Attitudes like this is why farm children have a 90% higher chance of dying at home than city kids. Obviously I got over-ruled and Daddy let her do this. We won't be taking her tractor over there again, any time soon.
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