Friday, August 31, 2012

Bits 'n' Pieces

This week has felt extremely uneventful. We have had more beautiful weather and many slow and quiet days.
Zac has officially figured out how to ride his bike all on his own. Taking the peddles off so he could learn to balance was complete genius! When we popped them back on he had everything figured out in about 5 seconds. Easiest way to teach a kid to ride ever. I will be recommending this to anyone who will listen for years to come.
I finally completed my first mini book which I am super excited to share (shortly!), and picked up more yarn... because there is no such thing as having too much yarn!
We made it out to the beach on quite possibly the coldest day we've had all week and all froze. That said I adore the picture of the boys in the water, it captures their personalities to the letter. Zac is watching from the beach considering the risks involved in getting any closer and asking how cold it is, while Eli ran like mad without a care in the world and could not get deep enough fast enough.
Happy weekend folks.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


I can not believe there is only one more day left in August! Where on earth did the month go?
That said, August was an accomplishment filled month.
I managed to:
Drink my weight in Ice Caps
Made a rag doll for the bean
Tackled my "mend" pile (except for the button sewing part)
Completed 2 books, and started 3 others
Drank water daily (not 8 glasses though... have you ever tried to do that while a person is squishing your bladder? not pleasant my friend... not pleasant...)
Made a rag quilt
Packed my hospital bag
Found the perfect recipe for chocolate cake, from scratch
Made my first mini book
Played in the water
Repurposed an old baby blanket into a new one
Made a mushy bunny
Made some exciting life decisions
Discovered that it is way more comfortable to sleep on the couch then my bed at the moment...

and that's really only naming a few. I still have a giant list of things I'd like to accomplish before this little miss arrives but I am accepting that not everything may be completed. I have the determination though that over the next few weeks I will craft myself silly, read myself into a coma and possibly clean... the cleaning is not high on the list though...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Eli is my little PBandJ monster. He asks for it everyday at lunch, and then excitedly requests it again at supper. I don't often let him have it days and days in a row, much to his disappointment, but to avoid the inevitable freak out when denied I decided to whip up some Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars that he could have as a snack.

They are super Peanut Buttery and delicious! Pour yourself a glass of milk before you start eating them because you will need it!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 - 2 cups jam/jelly
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (or salted if you prefer), chopped - optional

Cream the butter and sugar together then add the vanilla, eggs and peanut butter and mix until completely combined.
In a separate bowl combine the flours, soda and salt, then add into the peanut butter mixture and mix until just combined.
Spread 2/3's of the dough into a greased (I parchment line mine) 8x8 pan (for thinner squares try a 9x13 pan). Spread the bottom layer with the jam and ensure that it is completely covered. Add the remaining dough on top of the jam, the easiest way to ensure coverage is to drop small blobs of dough all over the surface, they will spread out while baking, and then sprinkle with the chopped peanuts if using.
Bake in a 350 oven for 40-45 minutes until the top has started to turn golden brown.

Adapted from this recipe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

14 days to go

It's official, only two weeks left until I am holding this little one in my arms instead of my belly.

(probably my least favourite picture ever taken of myself, with horrible lighting, but it does show the belly and my "grandness" quite well...)

All in all, I am feeling a little larger then life right now and I am so very ready to be done with this pregnancy. Growing up my mom always said that pregnancy is 9 months long because by the end of it you don't care what you have to go through to finally be done. I would agree with this thought with all of my being at this point.

Due to some complications with Zac's birth Eli was a planned c-section and because of the previous section my dr has voiced his preference to section me for this little darling as well. I can honestly say I am more nervous about this surgery then I was for Eli's but love that we have a date that we can pretty much rely on. So only 14 more days of being a family of 4, and a mommy of 2, September 11 - here we come!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bits 'n' Pieces

This week has been an odd week. I have been in a bit of a fog, or my own world, overly effected by pregnancy hormones and a mass of impatience.
Zac is determind to ride is bike without training wheels so my mister has taken the peddles off his little bike to help him learn to balance. Have you ever heard of this? It's something he just saw and thought we'd give it a try.
It has been lovely weather this week which is a nice change to the rain we've been having so we have been spending most days out and about the yard, the boys playing and me reading.
Fingers crossed for the weekend, but we hope to finally make it out to the beach.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Boys

Do you ever wander through your photos on the computer and find some wonderful gems you simply can't remember taking, or possibly seeing?
I did that just the other day and found two of my current most favourite pictures of my boys.

Zac is preparing to start school in a few short weeks and I really can't accept the idea... he still seems like such a sweet little boy to me that it melts my heart thinking of releasing him to the world.

While Eli is, quite frankly, a challenge. If it weren't for his chubby little cheeks and hilarious sayings I can honestly say this kid would drive me loopy.

I can't help but look at my two sweet boys and wonder what this little bean will look like when she comes out. The time is nearing and we are getting so excited to see her little face and count all her perfect fingers and toes!

A jumble of words for your Thursday reading but what can I say... my head is a jumble of thoughts...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

I have decided to embrace healthy choices these days... sort of. I refuse to give up butter and my baked goods require all kinds of sugar, but I have recently started adding whole wheat flour to pretty much everything. While it's not turning everything into the healthiest choice I can't help but feel it's a step in the right direction which is all I'm going for...

Blueberry Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs
2 sticks melted butter
1 cup blueberries

Mix flours, baking powder and soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon together. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and set aside. Mix the milk, eggs and butter together. Pour wet ingredients into the well of dry ingredients and mix together, while the mixture is still lumpy and not completely combined add blueberries and fold into the muffin mixture taking care not to over mix. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

Recipe slightly adapted from the Tri-Berry Muffins found in this delicious book. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Musical Monday: JJ Heller - Boat Song

I do so enjoy JJ Heller.
Happy Monday folks! Here's to a good week.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

He's Back!

Well, my mister has officially returned from his time away and we all survived.
It was not especially graceful, I will admit to that. I lost my temper more then I usually do. I lost more sleep then I usually do. I caved and allowed more TV then I usually do... but all in all, we made it. Funny that I have never found the idea of single parenting a daunting task before however lop in an 8 month pregnant belly and all that goes with that and I become a bit of a whiney baby.
We are spending the day together as a family letting the boys get their fill of daddy loving and then I am going to bed for the rest of the weekend!

(yes, yes, I confess, this picture is a year old. Apparently I don't take many pictures of the three of them together... or nice ones of my mister for that matter... look how teeny tiny Zac's little butt is though! ah! I could eat it up!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Banana Cake

It has been so hot and humid here these past few days (could it be weeks? they all meld together...) that it has been near impossible to keep our bananas from turning brown. Generally speaking we have horrible banana luck anyways as they always seem to turn brown the second we get them home, but with this weather we just can't eat them fast enough.
Of course, the one nice thing about ripe bananas is all the baking options! My boys love baking so when the mister is away and the days are long I will always try and find something we can whip up, even if it means turning the oven on and escaping the house to drown ourselves with water from the hose while it bakes.
I felt like trying something other then banana bread this time around though so I opted for a Banana Cake found in this lovely book. It's not moist like banana bread and has a fairly dense consistency but the flavor is just right. I would consider this a cake you would pair with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon when you need a little "pick me up"... it works well with an Ice Cap too...

Banana Cake

1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (approx 2 bananas)
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease an 8x8 (or 9x9) pan, set aside.
Sift together flour baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.
Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugars together until light, roughly 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, bananas and milk just until combined.
Slowly add the flour mixture into the banana mixture in two additions until just combined. Fold in pecans.
Spread evenly into your prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Sprinkle with confectioners sugar, cut into 9-12 slices and pour yourself a cup of tea.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap

I love doing laundry.
I realize this makes me slightly odd, but it's true. I don't understand why people hate it. It's not an especially hard task, all you do is dump the clothes in the machine add a little soap and walk away. I suppose it's the folding that gets most people, but I also don't mind that. I love how the smell of the nice clean clothes gets all over you and how you can just rub all over the softness of a clean shirt... yep, I know... total freak... but I'm not ashamed of my strange love.
I've recently started making my own laundry soap and I must say, I love the stuff. It's cheaper, better for the environment and in my opinion washes cleaner (our clothes are so much softer using this then they were with store bought liquid detergents) and it's super simple to put together.

You'll need:
Washing Soda
Natural Soap (such as Ivory or Dr Bronners)
A container/jar to mix everything up in.

The ratio for the detergent is 1 part washing soda - 1 part borax - 2 parts grated soap.
Because the mixture is based on a ratio scale I like using the jars with measurements right on them...

less thinking you see... mine was a spaghetti sauce jar that was thoroughly washed after we ate the sauce...

As my jar had the measurements on it, I added 4oz of washing soda and 4oz borax...

Grate your bars of soap all up and then dump into the jar.

Give it all a good shake and then check out your measurements as the levels will have decreased and you'll need to add more soap until you have your final 1-1-2 ratio completed.
(pre shake-age)
(post shake-age... I totally rocked your world right there didn't I?)

And voila!

I used Simply Aloe scented Ivory soap (it took 2, 90g bars) and it makes me swoon. It's not a strong scent but it's very clean smelling without being perfumy. There are many recipes out there for "homemade laundry soap" and I have tried a few but this one is most definitely my favourite, I would assume that goes without saying though considering I'm doing an entire post solely dedicated to it... Some include baking soda and while I understand the thought behind this I really found it didn't improve the quality of the detergent and just added an extra expense to the mixture. That said, if I ever feel my whites or colors are not as lovely looking as they could be, I would add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the load. I've also read that adding 1/2 cup right before your final rinse can work as a natural fabric softener.

That's all fine and well I hear you saying, but how much do you use per load and how long will this last you?? ah, excellent questions my friend! I have a top loading washer and I use 2 tablespoons for a large (super) load, 1 tablespoon (and maybe "a bit") for a medium load and just under 1 tablespoon for a small load. The amount that I made here yielded me 16oz which worked out to be roughly 22 tablespoons, so approximately 11 large loads, which in my house is about 2 weeks worth of laundry. That said, make a bunch and it will last longer... get a bigger jar and you can make more at one time... I like the size of this jar due to easy shake-ability but I often add it into a bigger container I keep near my washing machine.

And there you have it... you could even make this a family event having the kids help measure out the powders, dump in the soap (perhaps it would be best if you did the grating... depending on the age of your kids of course) and then have them shake... you do virtually nothing!!

Like I said I honestly love the stuff and am a true convert. Do you make any household cleaning items? I've decided to try and start going "natural" with my cleaners and would love some ideas!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Musical Monday: Elton John - Your Song

Ah, Elton... again...
Elton circa 1970, I'm sorry I just can't pass it up!
Happy Monday!

and don't forget to take note of the new web address which, in my opinion, makes so much more sense!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bits 'n' Pieces

This week has been one of those weeks... Looking back it seems like so much happened, but actually participating it felt like nothing but rainy days and bored boys.
I've been uber prepared the last week and a bit with meal plans and daily activities to entertain us all and make life a bit more organized... I excel with a plan.
The boys have crafted, we have baked, Zac showed off his mad pattern making skills and I finally started a mini book that has been on my list for way too long.
The next few days are shaping up to be busy and friend filled, it will be a nice change.
Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bible Reading

For the past few years I have had a reoccurring goal every January... to actually read my bible cover to cover over a 365 day time frame.

I have yet to complete this goal.
In my humble opinion reading, understanding and walking away enlightened from your bible does not come easy to all, which is why when I stumbled upon this post over on Urban Nester I was so excited.
I can't wait to start putting some of Molly's suggestions into practice.
Do you read a bible? How do you absorb something that you may not find easy to absorb?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

July Books

July was a good book month for me. I tend to "cluster read" before I have a baby and pound back as many books as I possibly can in the last few months. I did it with both of my previous pregnancies and seem to have gotten the bug again with this growing bean... I think it's all out of fear for the lack of time once the little one arrives, something tells me having 3 kids ages 4 and under will keep me away from a good book for awhile!

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I had heard a lot about this series of books and they kept popping up everywhere so I decided to join the band wagon and see what this book was all about. As expected it was full of good vs evil stuff as that seems to be the trend these days. The short version of the story line is that (the main character) Clary can see Shadowhunters who are invisible beings that rid the earth of demons... sounds a little hokey, possibly cheesey... but a well written easy read. I quite enjoyed this book actually and will probably continue to read the others in the series.  

The Birth House by Ami McKay is a wonderful book, this was a reread for me and although I didn't enjoy it as much the second time around as I did the first I still highly recommend it. It's the story of Dora Rare, who is schooled in the ways of midwifery for her community (in Nova Scotia Canada none-the-less, yay Canada! oops... sorry, too much Olympic fever maybe?). Not a deep thinking book but cozy in every way.

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is sooo not the type of book I would normally read. It's about a young writer in 1920 Barcelona who is commissioned to write a book so compelling that it is treated like a religion and people would live or die for what it says... yaaaahhh... like I said, it was a little out there for me and I did have some troubles getting into it simply because I just couldn't quite get on board with the story. It was well written but I wouldn't want to read it again and if you were to ask, in person, my opinion I would probably shrug and say "meh".

What are you reading now? I have another month and half to go... perhaps another 5-7 books?