29 October, 2008

You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!

Seriously? A thunderstorm in Northern Maine in October? What the crap? It's just not right!
You know I can't stand thunderstorms. The second I saw that lightning through the blinds, it was like two months of general weatherly complacency vanished.


I pull the blankets up to my ears with just enough air to breathe and stuff my fingers in my ears realizing that a thunderstorm is a bizarre time to discover that maybe I need to clean my ears a little more often.

This is no ordinary 'heavenly' "furniture moving" or "baseball game." This bowling tournament started with a strike (yay, team?).

Everything is still and then the heavens unleash their watery fury and the storm continues with rumbles that sound like a microphone amplifying my stomach rumbles right before Christmas dinner.

My breathing is laboured and panicky. Mr. J. just slumbers on.

The wind is howling and I'm sure the roof is going to start peeling back at any second.

More gasping, more panicking.

Great, just great. I have to go to the bathroom.

I nudge Mr. J. "I have to pee. I'm turning on my lamp."

"mmmmmmmmumble, mumble, mmmmmmm"

I scurry to the bathroom wondering when the Little Goat will wake up or if she has inherited her dad's knack for sleeping through nearly anything.

'Please don't wake up now, please don't wake up now,' I silently plead.



Luckily, I'm already sitting on the toilet.

I race back to the bed, not caring about missing the creaks in the floor, pausing just long enough to sit on the edge of the bed with my ears plugged for another crackle, then jam myself back in my blankety cocoon.


Then the wind picks up again and the crashing continues. I am the only one awake....and my mind turns to theological questions: I shouldn't be afraid. I should have confidence and faith that God will keep us safe. But I'm sure many people of faith have been affected by tornadoes and hurricanes and severe weather before. Does that make God less sovereign? No. Does it mean He loves me less? No.

The verse comes to mind: "Cast all your cares on the Lord, because He cares for you." In light of the storm and the frightening wind, those words seems somehow inadequate. I need a voice from the deep like Moses with the burning bush. Or a chorus of angels to my poor scared shepherd.....

Then my thoughts shift to other important questions:

What if the LG wakes up? Am I going to have to go in there and rock her back to sleep during the storm? By myself?

More gasping.

How will I control my fear when our kid(s) are actually old enough to grasp the palpability of it? How will I be strong for them so they won't be afraid?

Jess and Torsten are getting married on Saturday and I think their pictures are outside - what if the weather is stormy?

Then just as suddenly as it started, it stops. The wind, it temporarily dies down...and the baby awakes with a start.

But we are safe.

27 October, 2008

Let the Guessing Begin

The contest is now closed. Thanks for entering!

Here we are again - it's Bloggy Giveaway time!

It seems like everybody around the blogosphere is sick or getting sick these days, or if they're lucky, in recovery from some sort of sickness. That begs the question: why aren't you people making more chicken soup? (Okay, it maybe doesn't exactly
beg the question, but maybe at least one of you was wondering.) We love to cook around here. Mr. J. is particularly gifted with savoury dishes and all things sauce-related; I would prefer to bake. Our Little Goat is, as yet, a bit small to actually help us do much, but she's learning to stir like a pro and if any food needed tossing, she'd be our girl! I can hardly wait until she is big enough to help though. I have some good memories of baking with my Mom, and my Grama helped me enter my very first country fair 14 years ago where I won a whopping $18 in premiums, plus coupons, ribbons AND a fridge magnet.

Moving on to the prizes. Let me start by saying I'm no seamstress. I've been known to hem a pair of pants now and again, but not if my Mom is around to do it for me. I had all these plans to sew the Little Goat some very cute dresses when she was littler, but you can guess how well THAT panned out and I'm sure the patterns are too small now anyway, and...I think I gave them to my Mom. Ahem. Anyway, I've been working hard on these prizes for the past week and suffered only minor injuries, which should make you proud.

This contest is open to bloggers and non-bloggers with a mailing address in Canada or the US. There are two prizes to be awarded to two separate winners. Each prize consists of two aprons: one for you and one for your little helper.

To enter the contest:

a) You MUST have an email address where I can reach you. If you have a blog, you're fine as long as your comment links back to it; otherwise, leave an email address in your comment.

b) You MUST answer the following question: How many times did I stab myself with a pin while completing this sewing project? (The two closest guesses win; if there are multiple correct answers, the LG will draw a name.) One of the two winners will receive an extra little something extra (see photo) depending how closely they guess another sewing project question to be determined.

c) Contest closes at noon on Saturday, November 1st. Only one entry per person unless your blog name is over on that list on the side - then make sure you leave two guesses!

If I have no way of contacting you or you don't answer the question, then sorry, but you're automatically disqualified.

Here are pictures of what's up for grabs with thanks to the LG for condescending to model the littlest of the aprons for you.

Leafy aprons 1

Leafy aprons 2

Bonus prizes!

Our LG, modeling a leafy apron and practicing her fake-pouring skills for her guest, Penguin.

To enter hundreds more giveaways, check out the Bloggy Giveaways headquarters by clicking here!

24 October, 2008

It's Coming! It's Coming!

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Next week is the Fall Bloggy Giveaways carnival and I am so excited! The prize-making process has not been without injury so come on back next week and you can read all about it.

In the meantime, I've gotten quite behind on updating the list of blogs I follow, which you can see over there in the sidebar. Here are a few new ones I've added in the past few months. Go take a gander, okay?

ABC - Life at the Beginning of the Alphabet: Abbey, a 29 year-old mom who came back to the US from Italy just a few months ago to have their second baby, a boy! She hasn't posted in a few weeks, but hello! New baby! I'm sure she's been busy.

Definitely RA: RA and her husband JG live in PA with their little Westie, Ted. Recipes, funny stories, and just good writing.

Hibby & Hubby: This one is brand new to me too. Hibby, a gal from MN, transplanted to Los Angeles with her brand new (and Canadian!!) husband. They have a lamp that used to be John MacArthur's office!

Meg Fowler: She's Canadian, living in Vancouver, Queen of Lists, and hilarious. What more do you need to know?

Minnesota Mom: MM lives in MN with her husband and their one-year-old. MM has her own photography business and writes about all kinds of things. Her unabashed posts about politics and faith are usually my favourites. Oh, and our daughters have the same name - how cool is that?

On the Flipside: Started just a few months ago by Kellan over at On the Upside, OtF is a place for women (mostly) to share opinions and ideas on a variety of post topics. Lots of good discussion!

Stuff Growing: E.G. won my very first bloggy giveaway and it's been fun to keep up with her adventures with her husband and her Little Man. EG sometimes posts videos of the LM that our LG loves to watch over and over and.....

The Sky is Only Dark Between the Stars: Okay, what can I say? Jodie and I have bonded. She's a 29 year-old mom of three living in Louisiana. She's Cajun AND hilarious and always thinks the things we cook sound good. Plus, her poor children have never seen real snow, so simply for that reason you should go over there and show her some love.

Two other blogs I read have somewhat recently had name changes: A Ratdog's Ramblings is now Send Your Fire, and The Ones With the Baby is now Life as We Know it.

So you have lots of new reading to do this afternoon. I hope you'll check out these blogs and maybe even like them as much as I do.

22 October, 2008

Feeling Fallish

Well you'll never guess what it just finished doing here? Yup, snowing. Snow. Dastardly snow! Already! I have a serious love-affair going on with Fall and I just can never seem to get enough of it. It's generally nice during the day and cool at night. I don't have to wear shorts (ugh!) but I also don't have to wear a winter jacket (argh!). These past couple of weeks we've had some gorgeous fall weather - brilliant sunny days with nary a cloud anywhere! It's made for some perfect walking weather. Alas, today, with the snow - that put quite a damper on our morning walk; but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny, and in fact, the sun is trying to shine just now too....

The Little Goat is getting a cold. Her nose is running like crazy today and I'm sure I heard her snoring this morning. Today we're trying to learn about blowing our nose, but so far it's not working very well.

It is times like these - in sickness and in cold - that my heart turns ever more to fall foods - all things pumpkin and root vegetable and slathered in sauce (be still, my thighs). Mrs. E., my best friend's mom, is, next to my Grama and my Mom, THE BEST cook I know. This woman is gifted in the kitchen! I HATED cauliflower until I had it in Mrs. E's veggie casserole. Now I live nowhere near her, but I DO have the veggie casserole recipe and you should know that I am about to share it with you and this is a very serious matter. Guard this recipe with your life because it will be the star of many a potluck to come. I promise.

Oh, before I give you the veggie casserole recipe, I'm going to give you a few links to other recipes we've been trying lately. Last Saturday, I modified this recipe for Chai-Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake so that it only used one package of cream cheese and I could make only four servings in four little ramekins (we had company Sunday night). It turned out really well and if you don't have cardamom, don't bother making it because it won't taste at all like Chai. If you're interested in my ever-so-slightly modified recipe, let me know in the comments and maybe I'll post it later or at least email it to you.

We also tried this Easy Pork Curry last week and it was equally fall-ish and super tasty. We'd highly recommend it.

Monday afternoon I made the Watkins featured recipe: Pumpkin Butter Cupcakes, only I just used regular canned pumpkin. They're relatively dense for a cupcake but get this: I was actually OUT of regular white sugar. Mr. J. was shocked! So I had to substitute in some brown sugar, add a little extra flour, oh, and make my own baking powder because I didn't have enough of that either. I used this browned butter (they call it "caramel") icing and it is heavenly. A perfect fall combination.

Finally, we whipped up this Moroccan Braised Chicken on Monday night and aside from the fact that you should double the veggies if you make it, it was excellent. We ate it over couscous as that seems to be our grain of choice these days.

Moving on, here's the Veggie Casserole recipe:

1/4 cup butter
one small onion, finely diced
1/4 flour
S&P to taste
1 1/2 cups milk (we almost always use fat-free or "skim")
1/3 cup shredded cheese (we used 2% sharp cheddar)
4 cups cooked veggies (such as: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
3/4 crushed buttery crackers (something like Ritz)
2 1/2 T. butter, melted

Cook veggies in a large casserole dish in the microwave, drain off some of the liquid and set aside.
Over medium heat, melt butter, add onions and cook until softened. Stir in flour, then add milk. Stir until thickened, then add s&p and cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Pour cheese sauce over veggies in the casserole and stir until all the veggies are sauced. Mix the melted butter and cracker crumbs together, then spread evenly over the cheesy veg. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until edges are bubbly.

Oh goodness it tastes so good! Make it this week and then come back and thank me, and then I'll pass along your thanks to Mrs. E, okay? O-K!

17 October, 2008

15 October, 2008

Our Family, In Pumpkins

Notice 'my' pumpkin is rotting from the top down...I keep hoping that's not some sort of foreshadowing.

13 October, 2008

Smells Like Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends! I hope this finds you well and stuffed full of turkey - or ham....because ham is better than turkey. Any day.

And now I present to you a Thanksgiving Game. From the following three pictures, choose the one that does not belong.

Things I am thankful for:

If you guessed the third picture, you're right! Give yourself 10 points!

Remember when I told you several months ago that we had a family of groundhogs living under our shed? Yeah, well, they moved out and we are entirely less besotted by our new tenants.

10 October, 2008

Soup Weather is Upon Us

While my parents were here visiting, we didn't try a lot of new recipes, but we did make a lot of old ones. Mom and I made lots of pies - lemon meringue, rhubarb, pumpkin, and butterscotch meringue. Mom made two batches of butter tarts (PERFECT, MOM, PERFECT!), two batches of cottage cheese perogies and a big ol' batch of cabbage rolls. So one whole batch of perogies and all but three of the cabbage rolls are all in the freezer to be consumed, oh, probably within the next month because we can't stay away from my Mom's cooking for too long.

A week or two before Mom & Dad got here, I set out to make squash soup per Beck's post here. First, I realized that I totally didn't have enough time to use the crock pot so I was just going to make it in a pot on the stove. Then I made an even bigger realization.

We bought one of these:
This is a butterCUP squash.

instead of one of these:

This is a butterNUT squash.

Oops. Turns out it's a common mistake. Even when we were searching online to figure out which was which, we found a lot of people making the same mistake. At any rate, we made some soup and I added curry and chili powder and it turned out great and Mr. J. even had seconds (he's so full of self-control - he never has seconds) and remarked how we should make it again soon. So last week we purchased the CORRECT squash and I decided to try again. Since it worked well to make the soup on the stove top the first time and I was a little pressed for time, I decided to wing it again. Therefore, I present to you the following recipe (sans picture, because I just ate the last of the soup that didn't hit the freezer last night), which Mr. J. would have but did not have time to eat seconds of and also commented we should make again because it turned out that good!

Savoury ButterNUT Squash Soup

1 average-sized butterNUT squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (this is easier than it sounds)
3 celery stalks, finely diced

1 medium onion, finely diced

4 T. butter, divided
2 chicken-flavoured oxo cubes plus 4 cups water OR 4 cups chicken stock
1/4 t. rosemary
1/4 t. thyme

1/2 t. salt
pepper to taste
1 t. paprika

4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese (optional)

Directions: Melt 2 T of butter in a soup pot and cook celery and onions until soft. Remove from pot and set aside. Melt the second 2 T of butter and cook (and slightly brown) the squash until its soft. Add the oxo cubes and water (or chicken stock) and spices and let simmer for about 20 minutes on med-low heat (if the soup has cooked down quite a bit, go ahead and add a couple more cups of water - it won't hurt it). If you're using the cream cheese, add it now and stir until it's mostly melted. Then use an immersion blender* and puree until soup is smooth. Serve hot with crackers or biscuits or whatever you like to eat with soup.

*Or use a regular blender and puree in small batches. BE CAREFUL with hot liquids in a blender and make sure your small children aren't standing too close!

08 October, 2008

Wherein I Eat Lobster.

Well since I've posted last, the bushy wall in our backyard has lost almost all of its leaves and I've had far too many of those moments when we drive by now nearly-naked trees, our hearts silently begging them not to give in to the tentacles of frost creeping up their branches during the night.

My parents left at 5:30 yesterday morning and we're very slowly getting back to our regular 'routine' (if you can call it that). I also realized a couple nights ago that I couldn't even remember what my blog looked like and I MISS YOU GUYS! I am so far behind on reading blogs I couldn't even bring myself to peak at my Google Reader list yesterday. But what can I expect? Just because we go on 'hiatus' doesn't mean all of you should too. Or wait. Maybe you should! Yes, that's right, Internets! Bend to my every whim.

Or not.

I have this long list of all the things I want to blog about (Jodie, you'd be proud!), but in the absence of my parents I am now required to provide three times the amount of attention and entertainment necessary to satisfy our Little Goat. Our teething Little Goat, might I add. Yes, Friends, she has cut six (I know! SIX!) teeth in the last week, so in addition to cooking up a storm with my Mom, golfing with Dad, and playing more Skip-Bo and Phase 10 than we have in the last year, sleep has been rather elusive. Last night we had a breakthrough though and she only had one 'false alarm' in the night that I didn't even have to go in her room for. It might've helped that I drank my cup of tea much earlier in the day too.

At any rate, first on my list to tell you about is our trip to Eastport. We had one day between my parents arrival and our departure for The Ocean, so we packed up stuff for the weekend and went through all the bags of goodies my parents brought - mostly Canadian honey and snack food that we can't get here (Oh, Old Dutch, how we've missed you!).
Last year when my parents visited, we went down to Bar Harbor for a weekend. It was quite warm and we all ended up with sunburns. This time, however, it was quite a bit colder, though still as beautiful.

We rented a little cabin with a perfect ocean view. We could see Canada across the bay and thanks to the LG, I almost caught a sunrise one morning. The LG slept TERRIBLY the entire weekend but we will chalk that up to the fact that it was so cold in our cabin despite the crazy (fire hazard) gas heater. A couple mornings, we even put the four burners on the stove on just to try to heat up the place.

Eastport itself doesn't have much to offer. We ate out once at a place called The Happy Crab and indeed, our own little crab could hardly stop laughing the entire time we were there. I think most of the patrons were relatively amused. At least she wasn't screaming. How can a laughing baby make people grouchy? The other thing Eastport is famous for is Raye's Mustard which is the only place in America still manufacturing stone-ground mustard. Hard to believe for such a tiny place, but we had a little tour and sampled almost every flavour they make and got lots of little 'made in Maine'-type souvenirs, including some really fabulous goat's milk soap that has eased the LG's skin irritation considerably.

We went down there on a Friday and stopped at this restaurant called Grammy's along the way (they're famous for their portion sizes) where I attempted to conquer the biggest plate of poutine I've ever seen! (I couldn't do it.) On Saturday, we took two cars over to New Brunswick. Mr. J. and I stopped at the Ganong chocolate factory and got some very tasty little fruit chews (yes, FR
UIT chews - how very unlike me) and two of the most amazing truffles we've ever tasted. My parents took the LG for the afternoon and Mr. J. and I went for 'high tea' at the Fairmont Algonquin in St. Andrews (by-the-Sea). It was really nice. Not quite as fancy as when we went for tea at the Empress in Victoria, but still nice. It's always weird to us going out places without the LG. We feel a little naked and almost somehow....not as 'special' because we don't have the cutest baby in the room. But it IS a good opportunity to practice our adult-conversation skills. Haha.

The rest of the time, we spent playing games, drinking hot drinks, trying to figure out how to use a really old gas oven, and just relaxing. It was great to be away for the weekend with not much to do. And because I know that pictures are worth a thousand words and you all want to see the weekend in pictures, I won't deprive you. I love you THAT much! *grin*

See you soon!

Almost sunrise outside our little cabin. (And then I went back to bed.)


The Little Goat and her Grampa.

Beady little eyes.

Having tea at the Algonquin.

Some of you may know about my 'Never Eat Crustaceans' Policy, but I broke it because that's what one does when one is paying $50 for high tea (once on each coast; we're done now). Those little sandwiches closest to the front have lobster in them. It was awful. Weird.

St. Andrews by-the-Sea.

Mr. J., me, Grama, Grampa and the LG by-the-Sea.

The LG by-the-Sea.Mount Katahdin at sunset.