Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hamilton Visit with Not-so-Small-Humans

On some of my sister's visits to Montréal, she (as she puts it) steals me for a week. This was one of these occasions. Although I do miss my Mother, and of course Patrick, have that time with my family is so wonderful considering all the years I wasn't even in the same country and was afraid my poor nieces wouldn't recognize me! Now we get to hang out together, I help with homework and watch as they learn their self defence moves at Karate and participate in various errands with my sister. It's always busy but I enjoy being a piece of movable furniture in their lives for a little while, helping where I can and just seeing what my sisters are up to in general. Although I didn't get many pictures from this past week these are the ones I did get.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Easter Gardens

This year, Mum and I volunteered to make craft kits for the Easter craft day at our church. I instantly thought of what we used to make at Easter in England. With the children's help we built an Easter Garden outside of Little Tew church, and Mum and I would build one inside Great Tew church. Using stones we'd find near-by, moss from the ground and flowers from the area we built "the way of the cross", and the hill of Calvary where Jesus died on the cross. The one obvious problem I could see with our little idea of making this craft with the kids here in Canada was the issue of snow. In England it's easy to build gardens outside in the month of April: no snow, flowers are out, and the ground isn't frozen and covered in salt. So we brought the outdoors indoors and put it into a shoe box! I assembled little kits including the ground, the hill, the crosses, the flowers, the stones and the shroud. On the day we brought along glue and green paint. The reaction from the kids was great! I loved seeing all the different variations the kids came up with. To how they laid their path, to where they put their hill and their flowers in the box. Every single one was unique, which made them all perfect!

All the kits on the dining room table... if only I'd become a teacher.

My sample that I brought along on the day to show the kids.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

And Finally, the Tree Moves...

This past Christmas, Mum had said she didn't want a real tree in the house. That when a good friend of our said "well, just put it out on the balcony". (Now why didn't I think of that)

So, half way through December Patrick and I headed out to the Arboretum, bought a tree, and schlepped it back to my house then up the outer stairs to leave it on the balcony. It took a while but I found and set up a stand, put up the tree, and strung the lights. Just having a real tree outside made all the difference I just wish I could have smelled it.

Christmas passed, and so did January and even February. Often during this passage of time Mum would look out at the tree and say "maybe we can start thinking about taking the tree down..." to which I would usually respond "maybe". I loved seeing the tree out there and watching the lights come on every night, I couldn't bear the thought of taking it down just yet. But alas, one fateful Saturday in March the time came. And as usual, it wasn't the only thing we had planned that day so our good friend Rhys got roped in to helping.

After launching the tree over the balcony, dragging it around to the front of the building, hooking it up to the car with bungee cords, I drove it out to a small wooded area and put it in its final home. And of course, Mum was there to document the whole thing!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Alien Easter Pig-Bunnies

Mum bought me this really great book called Cake Pops by Bakerella. This woman has taken a fairly easy, pre-existing idea and turned it into something wonderfully playful and memorable. She's been blogging the whole process and has been sharing ideas and changes she makes to her recipes. I just love looking at all the little creations and imagining either when I could make these little colourful bite sized cake treats, as well as thinking of designs of my own. I figured, however before I start making up animals and figuring out ways to make life-like faces out of cake I would see if I could master the basic principles.

Lent starts today, and the Sunday school at my church is holding a bake sale mid lent as a fund-raiser. Mum and I will of course provide our usual army of hilariously decorated cupcakes, however we thought something new would be fun too. Mum and I looked through the Cake Pops book, specifically looking at Spring themed pops. There were options like Easter baskets, chicks (or "chick-on-a-stick", or "chickie-on-a-q-tip" depending on whether you ask me or Mum respectively), sheep, and of course bunnies. I felt the bunnies would be appropriate plus I had most of the materials required already. That being said, I had never done something quite like this before so I took my time, reading the instructions, checking her methods and being prepared to fail... I have baked a cake, yes; and I have dipped candies, yes; however I've never ventured into the unknown realm of combining the two worlds. Here goes nothing!

I spread the steps over four days as follows: bake the cake; crumble the cake and mold into shape; impale with the stick and sip into grotesque coloured dipping chocolate (pastels); "glue" on ears and face with chocolate and draw on face with edible ink. I took one look at them, and before showing them to Mum described them to her as an odd cross between a pig and an alien, if they dressed up to look like bunnies. She agreed, once she stopped giggling. There is much room for improvement, and I intend to try again... never fear!

Don't laugh... I dare you.

I tried to give them all different expressions.

They're even a little pinker in the real.

I felt the need to point out a couple details. First, the green circle shows how I made the little blemishes and bumps in the chocolate coating work for me. This bunny was a little shocked. And secondly, the orange circle is a little homage to their pig-like appearance.

The blue circle is pointing out the little critter that reminded me of The Brain, from Pinky and the Brain. He's a little disgruntled.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Robbie Burns' Day!!

Today, we celebrate the birthday of Scotland's most recognized poet, among many other titles. Born on January 25th 1759 his influence lives on, and we can still see his works alive in our modern lives. Did you know he wrote and composed the music to Auld Lang Syne? Give a thought to "Rabbie" next New Year's Eve.

A traditional celebratory ritual on this day is to enjoy a certain Scottish delicacy some have a little trouble with; haggis. I first tried haggis when my parents came back from visiting my Mother's home-land, on the Isle of Skye, about 6 years ago. They brought a few of these odd looking balls of meat home, and popped them in the freezer. My father took great delight in seeing the look on my face as he described what was in it: Traditionally, the contents of haggis are encased in a stomach of an animal. Fear not, nowadays they used casing. Mixed together is a combination of offal (not awful as one could easily assume) including sheep's heart liver and kidney, aka: 'pluck'. These are then mixed together with onion, suet, oatmeal, spices, and salt. Once the meat filling is wrapped up tightly in the casing it gets simmered for 3 hours. Raised in a house where you at least gave one good try to everything on your plate, I of course was obliged to try this strange new food. I am not a fan of offal. I don't like the texture, but when it is mixed with spices the result is a fabulous round sausage. A hearty meal that would satisfy anyone who had had a long day at work, or just needed something comforting. So if you've never tried it and get the opportunity, don't turn your nose up straight away; give it a shot!

There are hundreds of books in our house (we can thank my Dad for that one) and most are in boxes, in storage or just inaccessible. However, I know where there's a small book of poems written by the Scottish Bard himself. Perhaps, by the fire tonight with Mum I'll read a couple. I don't think I could ever do my Father justice, but I'll give it my best.

Happy Robbie Burns' Day, enjoy your haggis!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy "National Anything Chocolate-Covered" Day!!

I don't feel this day requires any descriptions, or anecdotes from my life. Chocolate is fabulous... things are wonderful, therefore things covered in chocolate: bliss. Enough said.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Cat Herders Day

I'm not a cat person. So long as they are not mine, I'll get along well enough with them but my friends have heard me say once or twice before "evil kitty". I prefer dogs; when you leave them they tell you in their special way that they love you, and when you get back their life is complete. Cat's on the other hand, not so much. I heard a comedienne on Just for Laughs describe cats and dogs beautifully. I am paraphrasing, however it went something like this:
"When you leave your house, you dog circles around you as if to say 'you're going to go to work, and I'm going to wait here and when you come back we'll play and I'll love you and you'll feed me, and it'll be great!!'. Cat's aren't like that. A cat looks down at you in the morning and says 'you better get your ass to work.... and don't forget to feed me.' "

Needless to say I have no faith that a cat will let you lead them around, unless they're in the back of the Porsche you're driving at the time. So when I learned that today was Cat Herder Day... I was skeptical. How on earth could this even happen? Have you ever tried to catch/discipline/move a cat in any direction they don't want to go in? It's quite impossible. So how do you herd them? That's exactly the point.

I looked into Cat Herding Day, and that was the main thread. This day sheds light on all those impossible tasks, and shakes the hands of all those who accomplish these impossible tasks on a daily basis. Sometimes it's our job, or our personal life, or perhaps the little things like performing to a crowd or being able to be in a dark room. What ever your breed of "cats", no matter what size they are if you've herded them even in the least, then you've done a good job. You have accomplished something and today is for you!