Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Wednesday's Soundrack

After a series of particularly rough sleeping nights, the snow caught me by surprise this morning, The cold air and swirling white really blows the stink off of a Girl after a challenging night. I love getting to work feeling like I was physically challenged. It makes sitting all day a little easier to take.

I'm finally warming up thanks to tea and this Wednesday soundtrack. Just in time for the ride home. I sure hope poor Miss Marlowe has a less...engaging night tonight.

Monday, December 03, 2012

It's coming people.

It's that time of the year when we have to eke out every possible minute outside while the sun is up and it's not raining or snowing.  We're in full Christmas preparation mode right now and are expecting to finish all the gift shopping by Saturday this week.

YEAH! I SAID IT!!

This is a huge win given that we have to bike around town on the weekends to do the 'out of the neighbourhood' shopping.  I feel like the supreme ruler of organization. Online shopping completed this week. Local shopping completed last week.
I'm picking up the last of the stocking stuffers this week and Jason's on wrapping paper duty so we can start wrapping and finishing up.  KAPOW!

The outstanding made gifts are causing me some stress and there ain't no nothing that can be done.  I'm slow and until someone adds another 6 hours to the day I'm powerless. Besides, at this time of year, they'd be dark hours anyway and I'd probably just want to drive my bike into Lake Ontario to end it.
 
The days are so short now that all I want to do is hibernate, wrapped in a blanket on the couch with something sweet and delicious in the oven.
Anyone worth their weight in winter road salt knows that's the fastest way to a good dose of Canadian Winter SAD and so we make an extra effort to get lots of outdoor exercise and adventure.
Besides, just the exposure to the gold leaves that are barely hanging on reminds me that Spring will be here and this place will be full of the green that feels so sweet on my eyes.
Until then we enjoy the warm days when we have them.  I really do love the look of a sweet man in a classic pair of rubber boots.  Yum.

All the while, this is happening behind my back. Marlowe singing and laughing is enough to get a sister through the dark dark days.


Solstice is on December 21st, Fenner and I have started looking at different kinds of lanterns we might make this year and I think we're going to go tin can

It was a magical night last year and I'm looking forward to enjoying it again this year. We'll light the candles, the girls will go to bed and I will visit with my old crones and some knitting.

C'est bon.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Victory hangover

Rob Ford got charged with conflict of interest this week and the judge ordered him removed from office this week.  By Tuesday I was feeling post-elation fatigue.

This soundtrack is getting me through the week.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Family Learning

I don't know everything.

There. I said it. I work really hard to overcome the feeling that I should know everything because it's crazypants. I am also a slow learner. Ask me how long it took me to learn that I didn't have to know everything and that no one expected me to know everything...

I am also biker.

We have two kids and no car so we are heavy users of public transit and bike lanes. I bike to work all year long.  The exercise has become necessary to my mental health in the winter and to my physical health since I sit at desk all day. I've been doing this for about three years but I have never tuned my bike myself except to apply oil to the chain weekly during the salty season. I've always spent $50.00 - $70.00 at a local bike shop to get it tuned.  As someone who seems to pride herself in making from scratch - it was a bit embarrassing that I didn't know what to do with my bike.

When I blew a flat last week I knew that it was time for me to learn how to take care of my machine.  I had to wait a week before I had the time to learn.  Jason knows how to do all these sorts of things but I have a really slow learning brain and I get annoyed and impatient with him while he tries to help me. It makes us both happier when I seek help elsewhere.

I really don't want Fenner and Marlowe to think I know everything - the pressure shakes me up. I want them to know how and whom to ask for help and what better way than to show them.  Fenner came with me to Bikesauce as an experiment in family learning. It could have been a disaster but instead we both learned how to change my tire and break pads with charm and dignity, in large part due to the amazing Bikesauce team.

Turns out Fenner is a wizard at finding the holes in the tube, using an allen key and pumping up tires. Turns out that I am a lot more patient with folks teaching me how to do stuff who aren't my family.

The sign doesn't lie, Bikesauce is a completely volunteer run, donation based organization. We got there after lunch and their cook had just finished putting out a huge spread for the volunteers and first timers like Fenner and I.
That craggy Dude is Andrew, he taught Fenner and I how to use bike levers to remove my tire from the wheel. Then he talked Fenner through using a standing bike pump to pump up my old tube and find the leak. He was practicing the Oven Mitt Challenge on her.

The sweet faced Dude in the white T-Shirt here is Jonathan and he talked Fenner and I through removing and replacing my well worn break pads on my bike.

Photo credit: Fenner
That's when we discovered her mad skillz with an Allen key.  We were both so proud of ourselves by the end of this adventure. She is a fantastic partner in crime, it's amazing how much pain can be avoided when your PIC tells you she's hungry and thirsty BEFORE she's having a temper tantrum.

After a lunch break, Fenner took my camera on a tour of the small but efficiently used space.  She was enamoured with all the wheels hanging from the ceiling.



Wheels by Fenner
I was enamoured by the fact that they had all the tools and equipment we needed to replace - tubes, break pads, anything.
While we were there we saw at least a dozen different folks bring their bikes in, fix them up and leave.
Brad here seemed to be managing the shop on Saturday and made sure that we had everything we needed, including food.
Cost? $20.00 for materials and a donation for the support. I paid $40.00 which was less than I pay at MEC for a tune up. It was a great way to learn how to fix my own bike and by the end of it Fenner knew how to ask how to use different tools in an assertive way.

A great way to spend an afternoon with Fenner too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

And lo, Wednesday has humpethed....

I left the house with three pools of baby barf in the kitchen and an overwhelming sense of gastrointestinal doom.

Monday, November 19, 2012

What a Tangled Web We Wove...

This week's Village Valeur score: One intact Fashion Weaving Loom with "Fluffy Yarn" for $2.99.


The fluffy yarn is as meltable as it sounds. Fenner *loved* it and can now warp and remove her own weaving. She's got it completely under her power.

The Christmas Party season kicked off at our house this weekend. I had two parties and Jason took the girls to the Santa Claus parade.  The parties reminded me how careful I have to be during the holidays not to drink too much or stay up too late. 

Want to gain efficiencies in ruining the holidays? Exhaustion and hang overs - they don't make any of us better people.

Although I did have Rosee d'Hibiscus beer from Dieu du Ciel and had it was so good it made the late night worth it. Refreshing, light, romantic. Divine.

Jason and I have started weekly list making - baking cookies and preparing foods so that when our families are visiting we don't have to spend the whole time cooking.  The shopping is behind but we have time to remedy that and our handmade gifts are right on schedule. I will not cry this Christmas!!

We made our first ever Challah this weekend. I made the dough and a savoury filling but got super frustrated with the dough weaving and had J not been available, I would have tried to bake it looking like a brain. Instead he had a go and I was only a little annoyed with the perfect job he did...

Honestly, Jason...
what a Jerk.


While this beautiful work of first time luck was baking,

our long lost friend Will came for a play date and a visit.  I think we only saw him for about 15 minutes and he was wearing Fenner's gladiator helmut while she was sporting her Fireman's helmut. He had a busy visit but they managed to get to every single planet in the solar system.

Turns out Venus was overrun with pigs!

It was the best part of a great weekend. We love that guy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Friday Friday Friday

When this is what's happening when you leave for work in the morning...
and this is what the neighourhood gardens look like as you walk to the streetcar stop.

It's hard not to be so excited for the weekend.

There is lots of cool fun things going on this weekend so I'm glad last week was full of restful evenings and quiet chill time with my knitting.

Last night my sister and I went to Deb Perelman's cook book release. A knitter  I had met through the blogosphere and Lettuce Knit almost 10 years ago (!) recommended the Smitten Kitchen to me. Jill Taylor are you still out there?

I still love it and her story. Making beautiful things in a tiny space in Manhattan, doesn't know how to use photoshop, has a lovely three year old, has help to look after him because she works but sometimes she still naps with him in the afternoon....

It's all so normal and  moderate. I am immediately in love with any woman who tells the world that her family and her job are so important that she hires someone to make sure her family is safe while she focuses on her job but is still at home with them.

I worked from home after Fenner was born and always had someone to take care of her while I worked, it was an amazing luxury that she never felt that she was less of a priority because I had split focus. I could eat with Fenner and play with her and on the lucky days nap in the afternoon with her and she never felt like she was my second priority because there was someone to play and go adventuring with her while I had to work.

[Edited for clarification:  I do not in any way believe that my work is as important as the health and welfare of my family but it does pay for our basic needs; food, roof, clothing and so establishes itself in my triage calculations. My family and my work are so important to our overall well being that I refuse to do them at the same time. I just can't parent and work at the same time and meet my own high expectations....] 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Practicing for the Christmas Recital

I wish I could take credit for my hand balm recipe but the recipe is from Weekend Handmade .  I will say that the Sage infused balm wasn't as romantic as the lavender and mint.  It was a great exercise in empathy for a Christmas turkey getting basted. I like to think that the Sage version was made purely to fluff my joke file.

We've been reading a lot of poetry here at la casa de hibernation.  Fenner is feeling the Dennis Lee and Shel Siverstein love right now, Marlowe is digging on Stevie Wonder, and I am enjoying A Mind Like This.
Introducing poetry to our reading has reminded me to vary my literary diet as much as our actual nutritional diet. It's been inspiring lots of improvised songs and memorization.  I'm sure there are long term benefits to this right? She can now recite almost all of Alligator Pie and my mind is fairly blown out because of it.

Alligator Pie

Dennis Lee
From:   Alligator Pie. Toronto: Macmillan, 1974.

Alligator pie, alligator pie,
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna die.
Give away the green grass, give away the sky,
But don't give away my alligator pie.

Alligator stew, alligator stew,
If I don't get some I don't know what I'll do.
Give away my furry hat, give away my shoe,
But don't give away my alligator stew.

Alligator soup, alligator soup,
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna droop.
Give away my hockey stick, give away my hoop,
But don't give away my alligator soup.

Our annual Urban Family Christmas party is coming up fast.  We missed last year's party due to wee babiness and nesting mother syndrome so I am stoked for this year's recital. I just haven't decided what my act is going to be...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Settling down to our winter rhythm

The heat of Fall change has cooled, as has the weather and life has slowed down accordingly. Our evenings are finding a rhythm that allows for some quiet night time activities together and apart.

Jason has found his feet throughout the day. His proficiency at parenting and taking care of business at home gives us so much time and space in the evenings that we are able to enjoy ourselves without sacrificing dinner or quality.

I started making our handmade Christmas early this year to try and respect this unspoken priority to make our evenings as calm and kind as possible. Over the past month I've been infusing olive oil with Lavender and Mint from my garden at home and at The Rail Garden. I added grated beeswax,warmed the oil and beeswax up in a pot and the first batch of hand balm was complete.

It was so easy to make that I may never go back to expensive store bought balm. 
My hands get killed by gardening, knitting and winter so I need balm for recovery and this is the perfect texture.
New evening alphabet games are thematic to our after dinner time. Fenner is in French Immersion and she hadn't quite gotten the hang of her letters in English so we've started playing alphabet games at night.  This is our English iteration but given the 'improvised' nature of the game we'll be playing it in French too.

Jason is a good cartoonist and so is Fenner. Me? I'm good at making it a game for everyone to play. We pick the letter (Capital and Little) of the night and then Fenner names as many words as possible that start with that letter, I write the word carefully and Fenner names the letters and writes them down.. She and Jason draw them.

It's just a start but I think it will help build a schoolwork time into our nights and integrate her job at school with our job as parents.
Marlowe hangs out with me when I take a break - she is starting to stand and climb like a monkey.  Making funny faces and stacking blocks only to knock them down.
She is taking her job very seriously and practicing every day. I am taking my commitment to not lick her eyebrows off her face very seriously and so they remain - expressive and delicious.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chasing the Dragon

Guys, we just had the perfect family weekend after a week of recovery.  It was the kind of weekend that keeps a Girl chasing the dragon.

Slow mornings with coffee and reading on the couch. Knitting with Fenner in the living room. We made and delivered thank you cards to all the businesses that donated to The Harvest Dance. Walks, kitchen dance parties, baking and unscheduled tasks. It ended with a surprise trip to the Danforth Music Hall to see Rob Delaney.

It was a perfect first weekend in our nuclear family blackout phase. Here's my Monday morning soundtrack to continue the sense of well being.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

And so, we danced.

 It was our last big community dinner and dance last Saturday night. These events have raised all the money we needed to build The Rail Garden and buy our equipment but more importantly they raise all the community support we need to keep the garden growing (see what I did there?)

This event was our biggest yet. One hundred and seventy friends, family members and neighbours joined us for dinner and a little bit of two stepping.
Kids ran amok while their parents ate and chatted with friends. This fall has been particularly busy for so many people that street side chatting and chance encounters at the grocery store have fallen by the wayside as everyone rushes to get to classes, activities, work and their family's schedules.
 
 The band played, the kids danced and the parents enjoyed a beer and some great community.
My Garden cohorts and I decked out our local legion hall. We baked and cooked plannedfor a couple of weeks to prepare the food.

A member of our team is moving and will be leaving a huge shoe to fill behind. We are a team of four so a loss like this is going to be crippling.  She's a personal friend as well so both my heart and my pragmatic side are a seizing up a bit.

Her story is bigger than this post though and so exciting that it is worthy of it's own space.


On to the food.  There was pie: pumpkin, pear, apple and for a very few lucky guests a single beautiful  lemon meringue pie (not from our kitchen :)

There was baked beans. Vegetarian (not pictured here) and my now famous all day baked beans made with a personally smoked ham hock from my amazing butcher.

 Our local garden centre donated end of season flowers, gourds, pepper plants and a discount on hay bales.  Hay bales.

They lend such a beautiful, county feel to an event but at 11:45 when an inebriated guest ripped one apart so she could take a 'roll in the hay', I cursed them...and her a little bit.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cook, clean, write or knit. The nightly debates

The title of this blog is the theme of our nights right now. I can choose only one of these things every night before it starts to eat into precious precious sleep time. I've been writing this post over the past week. Slowly gathering pictures and my thoughts.

Over a week without a post is something I've been trying hard to miss but since we closed the cottage life has been running us a merry chase.

This little bun turned five last week.
It's hard to believe this little baby
has turned into this big girl in what feels like a blink of my eye. It's been a fun and crazy ride.
She asked for a repeat of last years cupcake extravaganza.  We tried a new pumpkin spice recipe this year and they were delicious after a rainy day treasure hunt in the local ravine.


The day after Fenner's birthday we gathered in The Rail Garden to put our gardens, community and personal, to bed. We had already postponed the event and were getting worried about the weather never cooperating so we pushed it on Sunday.
In the rain, we moved the last of the mulch. Cozied the strawberries, planted bulbs and covered what we could with straw. It was a cold wet day.

I brought our fire bowl and firewood up to the garden and got a big bonfire going. I can't lie - I was pretty proud of getting the fire going in the rain. Makes me feel like we'd do ok in the zombie apocalypse.


Now we have the final community dinner of the year.  The Harvest Dance. Our house is a frenzy of nighttime baking, donation accumulation and planning.  Each of the four committee members has committed to baking pies for dessert, cooking the mains and contributing to the decorations.

This shit is real people. We sold out this event in less than two weeks. 170 people, live blue grass music - Meat and Vegan main courses, salad selection, cheese/fruit platters and sides.  There are only four women on this committee and we all have a priority commitment to making the experience of these dinners a beautiful, fun and delicious one. Thank god for volunteers helping us wash the dishes!
Last week I started preparing my contributions to the dinner. I don't have time to do it all in the last few days so everyday J and I make a list and do a little bit every night. Baking the desserts at night and freezing them. We've had a surplus of seasonal food from our Good Food Box so we've been using the surplus to literally, feed our neighbourhood which I love in about a million ways.

These are just a couple of the pies ready to be warmed in the oven and served hot on Saturday night.
We are collecting Fall related decorations on our walks and rides to and from school/work and the final to do lists are getting finalized. I've picked up the meat from Kyle and Lorraine our local butchers. Kyle is  smoking ham hocks for me to pick up on Thursday night me to make my all day baked beans to complement the veg baked beans.

I am just so proud to be part of the team that puts these events on. I'll be more excited on Saturday night when the prep is done but you should stay tuned for pictures. This is what our first dinner looked like and we didn't know what we were doing back then.

Cool eh?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Goodnight Cottage

Goodnight summer
Goodnight lake.


 Goodnight rock.
Goodnight trees.
Goodnight mushrooms and moss
Goodnight lichen
Goodnight little cottage in the woods
Goodnight canadian shield
and goodnight canoe.
Goodnight water pressure
and goodnight water.
Goodnight dock
and goodnight dock spider.
Goodnight leaves
and goodnight paths.

Goodnight firewood
and goodnight sky.
Thank you Grandparents
and thank you Family.
Hello Babies
 
and another year is done.