from sunday morning

Rachel over at Buttons Magee posted a recipe for a supremely simple Six-Minute Sponge Cake (aren't her plates beautiful?) a little while ago, and I made a mental note to try it. So I did on the weekend, and it's awesome. The only strange thing about it is that it's baked in the microwave. And you need to be careful about the time, so it doesn't get overcooked and rubbery. But if you can soar over those hurdles, you're ready to go.

If it's Sunday afternoon and some friendly relatives call to say that they'll be arriving in ten minutes, you have time to whip it and a berry sauce up and they'll think that you have your act together. (Just grab some fresh or frozen berries or fruit - my favourite's raspberries - and heat with a bit of sugar on the stovetop while the cake is 'baking'.) One of my favourite things about this cake is that it holds the shape of the bowl it's cooked in, which makes for a pretty and unique presentation.

But perhaps best of all, the picture above shows what you can do with it the next day - cut it into thick slices, spread with butter and toast it in a pan. Top with fruit salad and yogourt or whipped cream, and you will be one seriously popular family member.
Phillip helped cut the fruit for the fruit salad, and he couldn't have been more proud of himself. (See the tongue? He is focused.)

Happy Wednesday, folks!



Whenever he's concentrating, Phillip's tongue is out. When I took this (a few months ago; I just stumbled upon it again) he was working on a project that he was completely absorbed in. I think he was making those cards with glittery numbers for all of the kids in his class. So cute.

I've been super busy with teaching lately, and I don't think it will slow down before the end of the school year. June 29, here I come! It's all good work that I enjoy, and the beautiful weather makes me glad that I get to travel around our beautiful end of the province. I have much to be grateful for.

Speaking of things I'm grateful for, on the weekend I got to spend a lot of time with the boys while Adam did a couple of shoots and piles of editing, and we had such a good time together. I went into the weekend knowing that I was on kid duty and consciously made having fun with them my priority. And it worked - I enjoyed them so much more than if I was trying to get anything else done. It also helps that we're all healthy (another thing I'm thankful for) and everyone was pretty darn cooperative.

Exciting news: thanks to Sarah (thanks, Sarah!) I have a kombucha SCOBY starting to grow! We did a little swap, and I sent her some soap in exchange for some proper kombucha. It's sitting in the dark cupboard, working its magic. I am waaaaay too excited - it looks exactly as it should!

The inspection sticker makes a happy shadow, no?

I have been seriously enjoying Stacy's blog Seattle Seedling lately. Check out the mosaic wall that she designed and made completely on her own in her garden - it is beautiful. She also does little gardening videos every now and again, which are fun to watch. She posted a tour of her garden last week which is a great reminder of how much food can be grown in an urban backyard.

Deodorant update: the recipe that I tried during which the glass measuring cup blew up in the microwave isn't my favourite. It's intended to be in a deodorant stick tube and swiped on, but since I didn't have any tubes, I poured it into a tub and scrape off a little bit to rub in. It's okay, but doesn't seem to work terribly well. Plain clay sprinkled on was recommended to me, so I'm going to give that a shot. Or maybe a spray?

Okay, I'm signing off. I have an ebook from the library on my iPod that I need to finish before it expires and a cup of chamomile tea waiting for me. Good night!


half full / half empty :: in which I catch up on everything

Inspired by Amanda at The Habit of Being and her half full / half empty posts (if you haven't read her blog, I'll bet you'll love it!)

Warning: I'm feeling kind of rambly.

Half full:
- warm sunny evenings that bring us outside after supper until bath time

- the same evenings that have the windows open and let in that summer
night smell

- listening to the Deconstructing Dinner podcast while driving for work - I can't say enough about how much I have learned / how much it inspires me. (They aren't currently producing new episodes, but all of their archives are available. Episode 20 made me feel a little bit like a new person - Joel Salatin and Judy Rebick are featured. Swoon!)

- Speerville Flour Mill - I'm picking up part of a group order tomorrow with some seeds to sprout and other goodies. Yum! I love, love, love their foods and philosophy. (There's a Deconstructing Dinner podcast about them, actually!)

- feeling good about work this week and getting lots of good things done

- the word 'ought'. I love it.

- handfuls of woodland hyacinths on the table

- an explosion of herbs in the garden - anyone need some oregano? Parsley? Lemon balm?

- feeling inspired and excited about the terrific local food options we have at this time of year, and excited for the market on Saturday.

- feeling rested and relaxed after our little bit of time away

Half empty:
- losing patience with a boy so tuckered out that he's wound up at bedtime and pushes all of my buttons

- trying to plan a fun, relaxed birthday party without thinking about how other people will think about it, which is something I don't usually have a hard time with at all but seem to be this time around. We've invited a bunch of people we don't know too well, so maybe that's it. Also, I don't want P to be focused on the gifts (and I secretly hope he doesn't get a pile of 'stuff'), but I also want him to have his special day without me insisting on people bringing donations for the food bank and no regular gifts, because I don't want that, either. Sigh.

- having a measuring cup explode in the microwave (full of ingredients for my new deodorant recipe which didn't seem to work super well today)

- I think the birds ate a bunch of my peas, and I need to plant more.

- The second hand lawnmower wheels need to be adjusted so the lawn doesn't need mowing every six minutes. (Which is something Adam will look after, so I don't even need to be thinking about it.) The dehumidifier in the basement died. There are a bunch of spots in and on the house that need paint touch ups. Etc. Some hired help would be nice to have around. Something like Downton, maybe? A driver, gardener, cooks... that sounds nice right now.

On another note entirely, the boys had their first beach afternoon today with Adam. School and the beach in one day! I read a post last week about a term new to me - 'afterschooling'. In theory, I think I like the idea. Well, wait - maybe I don't. Or maybe I do, but not the classical variety. It seems too structured and planned, especially done in addition to 'school school'. I like unplanned learning. Maybe when kids are older and if there are specific areas they're interested in / lacking in school. Thoughts?

There - thanks for letting me empty my brain. So glad that tomorrow is Friday!


some time away

I'm back, and I missed you! I was away for work last week, and we had a lovely long weekend in New Brunswick, with the most perfect weather one could hope for. Lest you imagine that we were camping and spending every minute in the woods, these pictures are actually from my in-laws' yard, right in the city. I had a wonderful time, and am ready to settle right back in. Which starts with laundry and food, of course. I hope that you had a lovely weekend, too!


mother's day

I took this picture of our hanging basket and streetlight one evening during all of the rain we had last week, and I kind of love how it turned out.

Thanks so much for all of your comments on last week's post about height! Of course people shouldn't be judged by their height or any other feature, but I do think that it happens. Think of expressions that we use, like 'to look down on someone', 'belittle', and 'small-minded'. Maybe it's more of an issue for short men than women? Being short can be framed positively for women, by saying 'petite'. I don't think there's any such term for men. Any more thoughts? Also, yay for Rachael, Teresa and I being exactly the same height! *high five* (Or should I say *high five + 3/4"*?)

Miscellany: In my laundry frenzy during 'the sick', I washed a load of towels on the 'sanitize' setting and inadvertently tossed in a pair of dark, dark jeans. So now almost all of our formerly white towels are blotchy, dingy, sad-looking things. (The rest of them are mismatched in a variety of colours, and many pre-date our wedding, which was 10 years ago as of Friday.) It's my dream to someday (probably after the boys leave home) walk into a store, and buy an entire new set of white towels, hand towels, and face cloths. Right now, I can't imagine spending that much on towels when the old ones 'work' fine. First world problems.

It was our tenth anniversary on Friday. I can't say enough wonderful things about Adam. There's nobody else I'd rather live this happy life with. Ten years have flown by.

Still no movement on our house. When I was visting those absolutely perfect, adorable, sweet, wonderful goats this afternoon at my aunt and uncle's homestead, I had a lovely sense of 'this is what I'm waiting for'. But in a good, 'it's coming' kind of way, not in an impatient sense at all. All in good time.

I hope that you're having a good weekend. Mother's Day can be awful for so many people who have lost their moms, who don't have good relationships with theirs, or who desperately want to be mothers. I'm thinking about you guys today, too.

you remember Dorothy...

You remember Dorothy, from last summer? Well, she had her first Mother's Day today, three times over. On Tuesday, she had triplets! Triplets! And I got to hold them, watch them, and laugh at them today. Prepare yourself - the cuteness might overwhelm you.

Really, there's nothing I can write that will top the cuteness, so I'll stop now. Happy Mother's Day.


fabric bags, and how tall are you?

The very sweet Austen (hi, Austen!) sent me two of these amazing fabric storage bags that she made awhile ago, (follow this link for the tutorial) and we've been enjoying them so much that I wanted to share. I had been looking for something to toss the play food and dishes into that looked nice in the pantry (check!) and was easy for the boys to move around (check!). The bottoms are round, so they stand up when they're full, and aren't they cute?

Isn't that a lovely yellow stool in the first picture? Some friends made and gave it to Phillip for his birthday last year. I love it, and probably use it as often as he does - I'm not a tall lady. In fact, I'm a short lady. I was told not too long ago that I 'don't act like a short person'. Which I think was meant as a compliment, but makes me wonder what the general perception of short people is - childish? Shy? Are shorter people more likely to be spoken down to, 'babied', or otherwise made to feel as though that's their place? Is there a way that we short people are expected to act? What do you think? So as an informal survey to satisfy my curiosity: how tall are you? I am 5 feet and 3/4" tall. And Adam is 6'3". Yes, that's a significant discrepancy, and no, I didn't 'steal him from a tall girl'. It also seems that I have a lot of tall female friends. As in 5'11" and taller. (I can think of four immediately.) I'm curious where you all fit? (Perfectly, of course. You look wonderful today, by the way.)

Good news: Phillip finally perked back up today, and I'm still not sick with the ick, so I *think* I've dodged this one!


'free' celery

I saw this idea over at 17 Apart and thought it would be fun to try with the boys. It couldn't be much simpler: just take your grocery store celery, and chop off the bottom (root) end. Put it in a little bit of water, not too much, and you'll see some new celery growing up from the middle in a few days. When the little roots appear, stick it in some soil in a pot, and see what happens! Don't forget to check the water level and change out the water every few days.

Sick update: things are looking up, and I still haven't had the worst part of it. (My fingers are crossed that I won't get it.) I'm still not feeling quite right, though. Hrm. Thomas is fully recovered, P is almost there, and Adam is much, much better today. Things are looking up!


may 5

"The piece I had been missing slid into place and I saw my life before me. Not as a finished project or grand achievement but as a daily ritual. Rising up to welcome the days as they come, each in their mysterious way the same as the last and yet, somehow great things occur under the false cloak of monotony. Forests grow, streams flow, people meet and fall in love and become families with great histories of tragedy and triumph, new life and eventually death. All in a day." -Steve Soule (Taproot magazine, Issue 1)


may 3

A few pictures from today, another day at home with plenty of germs and unhappy bellies. Ugh.
Thomas snuck out the back door while I was hanging out some laundry (oh, the laundry!). He was so gentle when he touched the tulips and muscari. He's feeling quite a bit better today, sweet kid.
 I love the light in our room.
This boy did not have a great day. He worked on some puzzles for a few minutes, but that was about all that he 'did'. Poor kid.

In unrelated news (yes, please!) I have a couple of things to share with you. Firstly, what you see above is a reCap Mason jar lid. I supported the KickStarter campaign and received two lids. They are awesome for a few reasons; firstly, they are leakproof, and secondly, they have that perfect little pour spout! It's absolutely perfect for mixing, pouring, and keeping homemade salad dressings.

Also, I posted about my Cuppow awhile ago, and had a few people e-mail me asking where they can be purchased in Nova Scotia. So I asked them, and have an answer! They're available at the Uncommon Group stores in Halifax, for $10. Or you can order them directly.
And lastly, I am enjoying my first issue of Taproot magazine! Adam bought me a subscription for my birthday, and I love it. (Incidentally, those nightstands which I picked up at an antiques place are the least functional and the awesomest looking ones, ever.)

Speaking of birthdays, the very, very best birthday wishes go out tomorrow to both my sister and my mother-in-law! I hope that you both have wonderful, perfect birthdays and get lots of love on your special day. (And, ummm... we'll get some things sent out once we're up and running again. Ahem.)

I have some tea steeped and the boys are asleep. My fingers are crossed for a quiet, uneventful night, unlike many have been lately - I'm really hoping that tomorrow is healthier!


purple, and on the mend

It's Tuesday, but it feels like Monday. We all stayed home and had a very quiet day yesterday, as poor Thomas has a stomach bug and Phillip was fighting an ear infection. (It's always. something.) At several points during the day I thought I might be getting it, too, but so far, so good.

I think I've mentioned Phillip's ears before, and his tendency to get ear infections with almost every cold. He's been on antibiotics several times since September, and I really don't want him to take more if he doesn't absolutely need to, especially since the doctors and pharmacists are having a hard time choosing one that he hasn't had recently or that doesn't give him awful stomach side effects. After his last bout, I decided that I was going to be proactive and come up with a plan. Teresa recommended HerbPharm's Garlic Mullein ear drops (no, this is not an ad and no one paid me a cent!) which I ordered after his last infection, along with an otoscope. He woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday, crying in pain, so we used some Auralgan drops to numb the pain so he could get through the night. We didn't know that those drops existed until his last infection, and the pharmacist recommended them. They are amazing. They numb the ear almost instantly, which is a wonderful thing in the middle of the night. He slept through until morning, when his ear hurt again and I looked at it with the otoscope. It was definitely red in there. I used some garlic ear oil drops in his ear three times yesterday, and twice today. I don't know if that's why, but his ear hasn't hurt since yesterday afternoon. I don't know if the garlic drops worked along with his body to fight off the infection, or if his body just took care of it, but this was certainly the best results we have ever had. Every other time that it's gotten to the point where his ear hurts, it has turned into a full-blown infection. He was thrilled to stay in his pyjamas all day, and he and I both had significant naps in the afternoon. Bonus: he smells like the most delicious garlic bread.
This morning, everyone was much better, and things are looking up. Phillip bounced out of bed and was excited to get dressed and get to school, and I was back at work where my home visit was cancelled because that family is sick, too. Hard to avoid, those germs. Thomas still isn't quite right. I'll spare you the details, but he's better than he was. Poor little guy.

So that's what I've been doing for the past few days - you? I hope you're having an uneventful week where everyone's free of pain, food is staying in and taking its usual route, and you're enjoying this first day of May.