Thursday, April 30, 2009

Photo of the Day April 30

Today was one of those crazy "days off" that make you feel like you need another day off to recover from it... we had so much running around to do, so many errands... it felt like the clock was ticking by at super speeds today. One of our errands (sandwiched between getting passport photos taken and going to the Children's Hospital to drop off the final Change Bandits donation) was to get Sophie's hair cut. We take her to Max & Oskars, one of those fun "kids only" hair salons equipped with funky chairs, balloons, and a selection of cartoons for children to watch while they get their hair done. It sure makes for a painless visit for all involved, and Sophie loves the experience so much that she'll often ask if we can get her hair cut if we happen to be out and we drive past the place! Today was a laugh-riot as always, with Sophie and her hairdresser Miss Gloria sharing a laugh over their Toopy and Binoo video.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Photo of the Day April 29th

Today is one of the final days for the Change Bandits campaign, the annual fundraising initiative to support London's Children's Hospital. Chris has been collecting pledges for about two months now and has done a great job drumming up donations, so we popped down to the offices of local radio stations CJBK & BX93 for the "Change Bandit Bash" this afternoon. There were people dressed as bandits, lots of balloons and goodies, and even an appearance by a giant teddy bear mascot from the hospital named Doctor Bearygood (shown here cuddling with Sophie). In the short time we were there I'm sure we saw 40 or 50 people dropping off their change sacks full of money. Many of those dropping off money were children, which struck me as particularly touching... kids giving back to support other kids. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Photo of the Day April 28th

I'm off to Tecumseh Public School this evening to teach a card-making class... it's a parent & child class, where kids will work together with a parent to make four "Special Occasion" cards. What you see here is one of the projects we'll be making tonight... a super-cute Mother's Day card, opened by pulling up on the flowers to reveal the message inside. I hope everyone attending has a good time - I know I always have a blast sharing my obsession with others! Speaking of sharing, if you'd like to see more of my card samples I invite you to visit my crafting blog at!

Photo of the Day April 27th

On my way to NIA class this evening I had to take a moment to inspect our little garden at the back of the yard... it's just a tiny thing, but with the daffodils already in bloom and the tulips on their way it's such a lovely little area. The sun was getting lower in the sky as I set out, and this sweet yellow daffodil appeared to be stretching towards it to catch those last few rays...

Photo of the Day April 26th

About a week ago Sophie and the rest of her preschool class planted Morning Glory seeds in old yogurt cups and brought them home so we could watch them grow. Sophie's been taking such good care of her little experiment, which I repotted in a clay pot once it started to sprout... every morning the very first thing she wants to do (even before getting out of her nightgown or brushing her teeth) is go check on her Morning Glories to see how they've grown. They're doing great, getting taller, and I'm sure at some point will bud into little flowers - I can't wait to see her reaction to that stage of their little flowery development!

Photo of the Day April 25th

Last year Ridout Street (which runs directly in front of our house) was torn up to install new water and sewer pipes under the road, and while the construction was underway the side of our yard was also torn up to replace the water pipes leading into the house. Add to that all the shrubs that were pulled up last year and the damage done by people walking across our lawn to get around the construction - you can imagine how bad the yard has looked this year. Good news though - we finally have sod laid down over the sea of what was mud next to the house! With careful watering it should cover up much of the damage done... 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Photo of the Day April 24th

Unless my trend-watching eyes deceive me, cupcakes are the "big thing" right now... they're finger-lickingly fashionable and stylishly sweet, and as a result there are cupcake shops popping up all over London. I stumbled across the "Hey Cupcake!" shop purely by accident yesterday, and popped in to take a peek at their offerings. I couldn't resist walking away with a pretty little offering they called the "L'il Princess", a vanilla cupcake with strawberry pink buttercream icing sprinkled with confetti. Can you guess who I bought it for?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Photo of the Day April 23rd

As if you couldn't tell from all the photos of food on this blog, Chris and I are long-time addicts of Food Network Canada... we tune in to drool over the creations of everyone from Jamie Oliver to Rob Rainford to the warriors over at Iron Chef. Lately Chuck Hughes, the owner/chef at Montreal's Garde Manger and host of Chuck's Day Off has been a regular on our TV, and although the episode hasn't aired yet we decided to recreate one of the menus featured on his show last night. "The Beer Show" to be exact - how could you go wrong with recipes from a show with that title? Above is our version of his Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing and Spicy Beer Nuts... for the recipe along with a bonus photo and recipe for the accompanying Fried Haddock Po' Boy, click here!

Photo of the Day April 22nd

We've been making an effort to include a few hours a week of strictly "family time"... no phone calls, no computer or TV, no distractions (so spending time chatting with Chris and Sophie while I clean the bathroom doesn't count!) Today we booked some of that time for a trip to Museum London, our local art gallery (Sophie & I are posed in front of it above). Sophie particularly liked the exhibit by Walter Redinger called "The Ghost Ship and Maps of the Cosmos", which featured a giant almost skeletal ship that appeared to be made out of bronzed driftwood branches but was actually fiberglass. We stopped briefly at the exhibit called "Cultivating Care: Life and Treatment at London's Asylum", but decided to leave Chris there to investigate while Sophie and I moved up to the third floor and away from the recreated hospital rooms and lobotomy tools (shiver...) With that slightly creepy exception we had a great time, and wrapped up our afternoon with a coffee date at Starbucks, where Chris and I enjoyed some free Pike Place Blend coffee (a promo for Earth Day when you brought in a reusable tumbler) and Sophie sipped chocolate milk. I'm already looking forward to our next family time...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Photo of the Day April 21st

Lucky, lucky Sophie... her Aunt Laura is so much fun to be with! Laura was over last night to help look after Sophie while I was at a Stampin' Up meeting and Chris was attending a lecture - and she told Sophie about the special "date" they were going to have at the London Regional Children's Museum today. What an impression even just the idea of going to the museum had on Sophie... she woke me up at 4 am to ask if Aunt Laura was here so they could go to the museum yet, and then mumbled something about the dinosaur cave before falling back to sleep! We weren't picking Laura up until after lunch and I'm pretty sure I fielded about 50 questions about the museum between breakfast and lunch alone. Thankfully her afternoon with Aunt Laura was everything Sophie was anticipating and more... if it hadn't been closing I'm pretty sure she would have wanted to stay at the Children's Museum all evening.

Photo of the Day April 20th

I've been munching on the leftovers from our raclette meal for lunch over the past couple of days, and was just amazed by the colour of these baby potatoes. They have a lovely purple skin, and when I first cut into them during our dinner I was surprised that they weren't white-fleshed as I was expecting (I've had purple skinned white potatoes before), but purplish-coloured instead. Imagine my shock today when I cut into one to find it had deepened in colour to this beautiful, jewel-tone purple. How regal these little potatoes look! I'm hoping I can get a hold of more of them to make a soup with - wouldn't it be fun to sip on bright purple potato & cheese soup for dinner one evening?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Photo of the Day April 19th

Part of my day today was spent preparating for the Stampin' Up Quarterly meeting I'll be attending tomorrow night. We're always offered the opportunity to "swap" at these meetings - to bring a stack of cards (all the same design), and trade them for different cards made by other demonstrators. It's a wonderful source of ideas and also a great opportunity to bring home cards made with stamp sets I may not already own... although I usually end up wanting those sets once I see a card made with them, so maybe it's not so great after all! I decided to use a stamp set I just received this week called Rustic Rooster for my swap cards... here's the little guy all watercoloured up and ready to cock-a-doodle-do his way to the meeting tomorrow. If you'd like to see the full card along with a bonus "father's day" modification to the completed card, you can visit my crafting blog at


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Photo of the Day April 18th

Sophie spent last night enjoying a sleep-over at Aunt Mary's house, which left Chris and I to our own (quiet!) devices for the evening. After dropping Sophie off we wandered down to the Covent Garden Market and picked up some fresh veggies, meat, fish and cheese - the perfect recipe for a raclette dinner. "Raclette" is the name of a semi-firm salted cheese, but is also used to describe a Swiss-made layered grill that's used to both melt raclette cheese and cook the potatoes and meats traditionally served with the cheese. We tend to "think outside the box" when making raclette, using different kinds of cheeses (last night featured Emmental & Asiago along with the Raclette) and lots of different veggies and meats. Here you can see wine and herb marinated salmon grilling up alongside mushrooms, asparagus, and thinly sliced onion - right below the grill are small trays with cheese working its way towards melted perfection. Combined with a few glasses of wine and great company, it's a delicious and unique meal to remember.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Photo of the Day April 17

Okay, I officially feel safe saying it now... Spring IS Here!  Gosh it was nice getting outside today... both Rhys and Rowan were here and while Rowan recharged with a morning nap, Rhys and I went  to pick Sophie up at preschool. A fascinating walk, since much of our street is torn up due to the yearly bout of construction... we got to watch a large backhoe dig up the street and dump lots of dirt and gravel into a dump truck - very cool! After picking up Sophie we came back home and spent an hour or so playing out in the yard. As usual Sophie suggested that she and Rhys pretend to be animals, and after some discussion they decided to be fruit bats who live in a cave (the garage) and come out to eat insects (the chives from our garden). Here they are in mid-flight from their "cave" to where I sat holding out a chive in each hand for them to grab with their little bat paws. You've got to love the imagination of a three-year-0ld!!!

Photo of the Day April 16th

This afternoon just called for a latte... as I'm sure many of you know (especially those of you who've given me gift cards for Christmas or birthdays), Starbucks is my "happy place". I love the music they play in the cafe, I love the Baristas and how friendly and chatty they are, and of course I love the coffee.  Truth be told, a regular cup of Starbucks coffee is a tad too strong for me, but their chai lattes are to die for - and add their Toffee Nut syrup to anything from a latte to a frappuchino and I'm in heaven. I have my wonderful "Barista Centre" (thanks again, and again, and again Mary!), but there's something about the atmosphere of my local Starbucks cafe that my kitchen just can't match... 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Photo of the Day April 15th

I received a large Stampin' Up order yesterday, and with five more stamp sets needing to find a home in my creative corner it was a perfect time to utilize some of the organizational accessories Chris installed for me this week. I pour over craft and scrapbook magazines for new ideas and have always loved the different styles of inkpad "caddies" available, but as most of them are table-top spinning designs they don't really fit my limited space. While preparing for a spring yard sale I came across an old cassette tape holder in our basement and had a flash of inspiration... and was thrilled when I tried my inkpads out in the cubbies and they were a perfect fit! It's now mounted on the wall by my desk, and another re-imagined space saver hangs below it: two metal cutlery racks from Ikea. They're meant to be used with "S" hooks to hang flippers, stirring spoons and other kitchen gadgets - I have two of these fantastic things helping me avoid cutlery clutter in my kitchen right now. It turns out that when mounted they're also the perfect size to act as punch holders, making them easy to see and (happily) up out of the way on the wall. Mmmm organization... having my craft supplies easy to identify and pull out makes me want to get busy making something right now!

Photo of the Day April 14th

I don't normally keep fresh flowers in our house, because our crazy cats seem obsessed with eating them. That said, the onset of the (finally!) warm weather and Easter weekend led me to disregard that rule. At the market on Saturday I picked up three bunches of fresh cut flowers (including this Gerber Daisy, which is my favourite flower) and trimmed the stems down to arrange them in an old brown betty teapot for a table centrepiece, and my sister-in-law Mary surprised me with another bouquet on Sunday. So our table is flush with flowers, and I'm flushed from shoo-ing the cats down before they destroy them!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Photo of the Day April 13th

I turned Easter leftovers into a whole new meal this evening, taking the Curried Spinach, rice & lentils we served along side ham and veggies last night and letting it inspire a proper curry dinner. I was quite taken by the lovely pink-orange colour my slowly frying onions turned once I added Tandoori Marsala seasoning... I find that eastern spices have the ability to add not only wonderful flavour to a dish but lovely colour as well. I've included the recipe for both the shrimp and the spinach, rice and lentils here - if you're a curry lover I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Photo of the Day April 12th

Happy Easter Everyone!

We had fun, fun, fun on our Easter Egg hunt this morning... we hid eggs all over the house, each one with a tiny note attached giving Sophie a hint about where to find the next egg. She was so excited to run from room to room, discovering what the Easter Bunny left for her! The yellow egg she's holding here was hidden on her window sill, where (according to the note) the Easter Bunny basked in the sunshine for a few minutes before moving on to Mommy & Daddy's window to leave some treats for them. It was nice to see that we weren't forgotten on this super-sweet and chocolaty morning!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Photo of the Day April 11th

The stores around London were a madhouse today... we noticed it first thing in the morning when we enjoyed a family trip to the market - it seemed the crowd had doubled or tripled from the week before. After dropping Chris and Sophie off at home I completed a list of errands that had me at the mall (which was crazy!) and the LCBO (even crazier - I waited over 10 minutes in line at the cash register just to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner!) I was relieved to return to my jostling-free home this afternoon for some quiet time with Sophie and Chris. It's Easter weekend, which gave us lots of themed activities to choose from for our quiet time... we went with dying Easter eggs for tomorrow morning's breakfast. Sophie picked the colours and I mixed the dyes while Chris cheered us on and offered us all manner of helpful egg-dying utensils (who knew a pasta spoon was such a perfect egg-lifter?) Here are the results of our efforts - I hope they taste as good as they look at breakfast tomorrow!

Bold & Bright Easter Eggs
  • Hard boil your eggs while preparing the dyes so they can be transferred almost immediately from pot to dye.

  • In a non-absorbent cup (ex. no plastics or ceramics with hairline cracks), combine 1/2 cup of water, 1-2 Tbsp of white vinegar, and 20-25 drops of liquid food colour. Stir gently with a fork to blend.

  • Remove the eggs from the boiling pot and rinse quickly if foam has developed in the water (ex. if an egg leaked).

  • Gently drop one egg in each cup of dye and swirl it around, then let it sit for 3-5 minutes swirling occasionally to ensure even colour. The longer the egg sits in the water, the bolder the colour will appear.

  • Remove the eggs from the dye and pat them dry on a paper towel.

  • Apply a small amount of vegetable oil to a paper towel, and gently polish each egg. Use a clean dry paper towel to remove any excess oil before placing eggs in a bowl.

  • Refrigerate until ready to eat!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Photo of the Day April 10

Happy Good Friday all...
Due to an unexpected change in our schedule we found ourselves with a free day today, and the sunshine drew us outside for much of the day. In the afternoon Sophie and her cousin Courtney went to the movies to see Monsters vs. Aliens after which we took a field trip to the Marble Slab Creamery for some special ice cream treats. Sophie had lots of energy afterwords, which she used in part to run around on a stretch of decorative rocks pointing out how different if felt on her feet than the regular sidewalk. You know, observations like that are one of the greatest things about parenting a young child - they experience the world in ways that we've forgotten during the oh-so-important business of growing up. What a lovely way to spend a sunny day... 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Photo of the Day April 9th

My Uncle Alan just arrived from New Brunswick, giving us an opportunity to both to enjoy time with him and take a family trip to Wallaceburg to visit my Grandmother. We've established a bit of a tradition on our visits, taking a walk together around the Fairfield Park Nursing home as a group to look at and discuss the assorted birds and fish living there. Sophie claims Grandma's lap for the ride, while one of us older folk take pushing duty... and everyone seems to enjoy the experience (even the birds!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Photo of the Day April 8th

Chris and I enjoyed some "us time" this morning after dropping Sophie off at preschool... we dealt with some appointments and then went out for breakfast and for a walk downtown. One of the highlights of window shopping in downtown London has to be Novack's, an amazing store that's crammed to the rafters with fascinating outdoor equipment, travel gear, and general oddities. Where else but Novack's can you get your very own bright yellow curved plastic carrying case called a Banana Guard? I'm not making this up - if you don't believe me, click the link! Before heading in to discover what wonders were "in store" today, I snapped this shot of one of their many display windows... I was fascinated by the shoes with the separated toes. I bet my cousin Sandy would like these cool barefoot alternatives called Vibram Five Fingers since she loves toe socks!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Photo of the Day April 7th

Today passed in a flurry of activity, and one of the highlights was a research study that Sophie took part in at the University of Western Ontario. The study looked at preschoolers' development in the areas of parent-child relationships, emotion regulation and thinking, and was made all the more interesting by the fact that both Sophie and I were hooked up to monitors to record our heart rates and breathing while we participated. We did activities together (playing games, watching videos) and separately (completing picture and word quizzes, surveys), and Sophie handled herself wonderfully in all the situations and tasks presented to her.  In fact, she went to bed this evening still talking about her favourite part of the study, when we opened a cupboard to reveal a monkey mask that talked to her about her day... I was so worried she would be frightened, but she was completely delighted and wanted to go back to the cupboard again and again, despite that element of the study being over! We've been told to expect a DVD in the mail soon with excerpts from our session followed by the overall study results when it has been completed (with the understanding that could be over a year from now). A fascinating way to spend the morning, and certainly a memorable one for Sophie!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Photo of the Day April 6th

I spend roughly one evening a month in the company of a wonderful group of ladies (affectionately known as "The Gertrudes") when my book club meets. We were together last night at Tracy's home discussing the novel "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle", and our conversation was fascinating as always. The differences in our perspective on both plot line and character is always intriguing and it's interesting to watch how throughout an evening we can influence each other's overall opinion of the book we're discussing. Up next: we'll be talking about "Loving Frank" at my house near the end of the month - I'm looking forward to another great evening of thought-provoking conversation and kinship with The Gertrudes already!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Photo of the Day April 5th

While I stayed home to teach an Easter Card-making class, Sophie and Chris enjoyed a drive to Stratford this afternoon to attend the Annual Swan Parade. It's an event that marks the start of spring with the release of Stratford's swan population back into the Avon River, complete with a pipe band to accompany the birds from their winter quarters down to the water. A truly unique event not to be missed (unless you're teaching a class I guess!)... to get a real sense of the event, click here for a YouTube video of the pipers and parade.

Photo of the Day April 4th

Chris's mother Shirley goes to the Trails End Farmer's Market most Saturday mornings, and we've been meaning to join her for quite a while - today we finally made it! Chris got off work at 7am (about the time Sophie and I were getting up) and Shirley arrived shortly before 8am, so we hopped in the car and headed out for a family Market trip. An hour or so later we left with some lovely produce & fresh herbs, some kielbasa and pepperettes from a local meat shop, and honey produced at Clovermead, an apiary just outside London. Here you can see full-of-energy Sophie and her poor sleepy Dad checking out a vendor in the meats & cheeses area of the market.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Photo of the Day April 3rd

When preparing dinner tonight I got out the bamboo steamer we picked up in Montreal's Chinatown last summer when we were visiting my father. It's a many-layered device, allowing you to steam an assortment of veggies, dumplings and/or fish all at the same time - as you build your meal you likewise build a taller tower of steamer baskets. This evening I chose to use only a single layer to steam Basa, a firm whitefish. Served with roasted green beans and brussel sprouts and a very simple noodles Romanov on the side, it was a simple and delicious meal. Click here for the recipe!

Photo of the Day April 2nd

This afternoon was so beautiful, and finally spring-like in temperature. We took advantage of the day to do some quick running around (oh, the excitement that is grocery shopping!) and rewarded ourselves with a nice long trip to Thames park afterwords. Sophie and little Rowan both burned off lots of steam running up and down the climbers, whizzing down the slides, checking out the ongoing construction of the new Thames Park pool & splash pad, and as you can see here enjoying the swings.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Photo of the Day April 1st

Happy April Fool's Day everyone!
When I awoke this morning after a not-so-good night's sleep, I looked outside and saw grey... grey sky, wet grey pavement, and grass that's more grey than green. Sigh. I clearly needed something to brighten up my morning (aside from Sophie's smiling face of course), so I pulled out my favourite happy-place mug and filled it to the top with coffee we brought back from our Dominican vacation. As I've mentioned in a previous post, my old friend Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas never fails to make me smile... it's an awesome movie, and there's something about the dark colours and crooked lines of the animation that just make me feel good (odd perhaps, since I think Tim Burton was going more for "quirkily spooky", but whatever...) I think perhaps there's some deeply buried part of me quietly longing to be a goth girl!