Friday, December 17, 2010

Jumbled Mind

There is still a lot going on around here, so I'll just lump them all together so you know what's on my jumbled mind.

Every season I can't wait for the next season to come because it will be "so relaxing". Umm, yeah, that's not really the way my life works.

I order seeds and plan the garden and finally get it in all in a rush in May. Once the garden goes in, I'm busy with summer camping and maintaining the garden. Then I wait for school to start so that I can relax. But that's when the canning and preserving and getting the garden out starts in earnest and I anxiously wait for snow to fall and things to slow down. Then I take on a project (like the lovely bathroom) and Christmas prep is in full swing. Yes, the snow gently falls and the sounds outside are lovely and muffled or non-existent, but my mind is so loud it doesn't register. Once Christmas is done, maybe things will slow down. Well, no. I've got two birthdays in January and a host of other birthday parties that the kids attend. And the plants get started under the lights. With spring comes the garden again and all of the end of school activities and the year starts all over again. And so on and so on and so on....

It's interesting that I started this "year" with spring and the gardening activities. I guess that's where my mind is even in the middle of a snow storm.

Anyway, here's a bathroom update. The floors are down and with it came new knowledge of compressors and hardwood flooring, tile adhesive and grout. It's lovely though. I've got some paint touchups to do, seal the grout and put up the baseboards and buy a new heat register. Next week the fixtures go in and bath gets out of the living room! Yay!

This wall of the bathroom has slipped to the back of mind to do after Christmas.

I have a door that needs some work, aluminum backing to go in and shelves to figure out. And it's only been primed so far. It's not a show stopper though, so it doesn't stress me out at this point. It'll happen and it's much-needed storage space.

Yesterday Beth made me this Christmas card. (See the upside down bath in the background? It's a suitable illustration for this segment of the post!)

And this is what it says inside. At first I thought it was a copied poem from some cards the teachers might have offered as examples, but no. This is a Beth original.

Dear Mom,

Have a wonderful Christmas and a great time.
I hope you enjoy this little rhyme.
Have a wonderful Christmas, I did the math -
14 days til you worry about the bath!

I'm not sure when she did the math, but I think she's referring to the fact that I was going to get a bunch done on the bathroom this week, but then I'd stop until after Christmas.

Christmas stuff is going on as well though. After all, life's not all about the bathroom.

We had two concerts going on at the exact same time on Sunday. I went to Alice and Beth's musical play while Yvon went to Laura's choir concert. Both were awesome! Laura's is definitely of a more serious nature and I'd heard every recital since September, so I let Yvon see the real thing.

However, while Alice and Beth rehearse I'm rehearsing with my own choir and hadn't seen much of theirs. It was very professionally done and really good.
Beth sang a lovely solo and Alice was just Alice. I heard lots of comments about them after the show. Typical comments: "Beth has a great singing voice. She's perfectly in pitch and not nervous at all" and "I love watching Alice - her big yawns just make the show and her hat covered her eyes through most of it - so cute!" She's still the second youngest in the show and she knew all the words and actions and did actually watch the director throughout the show (when she could see!), so I was pretty proud of her. Do you remember Amy Grant's "Fat Little Baby" song from the 80s? That was part of the production and Alice got to dance with a feather boa through it.

This week was also the school's choir concert. I went to the afternoon one and Yvon went to the evening performance while I went to my own choir rehearsal. Logistics of this time of year are getting to be a lot of fun. Or a nightmare, but we're making it work.

This weekend is my choir concert and party, and we cancelled Beth's piano recital because it was at the same time. We can't do everything and it start taking away from any enjoyment in the holidays.

Today is the kids' last day at school until the New Years, so we spent some time last night making gifts for all of their teachers and student teachers. They had so many student teachers this year. We made marshmallows (using this recipe) and hot chocolate on a stick. And then Beth joined the scene a bit later and dipped some of the marshmallows in melted chocolate for her teachers. Although I vowed not to buy any gift wrap this year and use cloth bags for everything (using stash fabrics only), I did find these cellophane bags from many years ago in the house.

I didn't take any pictures, but Beth gave me very late notice that she was supposed to provide something for the bake sale at the school concert, so on Tuesday night we made a bunch of very yummy caramel. We packaged some up in some gossamer fabric bags and some were sold individually.

And I will leave you with this picture of the cutest Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus I have ever seen. For some reason, my eyes well up whenever I look at them.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Goopy White Stuff

My day has been full of it. Goopy white stuff.

White grout.

More white drywall compound.

White bread dough and gluten-free bread dough.

Did I tell you we've been experimenting with no-wheat? This bread looks gross, but it's actually not too bad. I'm sure that's another post, but it was goopy and white dough.

A new batch of laundry detergent. Borax and washing soda makes a white jello substance. It's kind of cool.

120 sugar cookies. Although not goopy anymore, the dough was quite sticky and white. And they are not for us. There's a community league event coming up that promises to be quite fun and cookie decorating is involved.

And supper was made by wrapping veggies in slimy rice wraps. Fun and yummy. Dessert ones were also made with combinations of Nutella, bananas and pea butter.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to lay some flooring in the bathroom and finish the grout on the walls. More goopy white stuff.

Friday, December 3, 2010

What's on my mind...

Rhonda-Jean at down-to-earth asked her readers to post a picture of what's on our minds, so here's mine.

Flannel -- God's gift to babies. This is a shower gift for a friend this weekend. You can never have too much flannel.

Progress Report

Here is our report card so far this term.

Effort A
Performance B

There are still a lot of things to be covered before we complete Bathroom
Reno 101 this term. A time extension has been given once again to
accommodate children's activities and parental volunteerism. Management is
only concerned about the need for stress-reducing baths and how this may effect
the end result. Please do not rush in an effort to sit in your tub!
You need to live with the results for 20 years, so they must be pleasing to
the eye.

Last night we learned how to tile. Is it perfect? No. Are you perfect? Maybe, but you weren't here to help so we have to live with this. And it's good.

Painting of the green is complete, and once I paint the white trim areas I can hang my revamped mirror and show how perfectly it goes with our new light fixture. This makes me happy.

Today's schedule: Pack for the weekend Girl Guide trip where I will be head cook for 25 people. Visit the Festival of Trees and listen to my girls sing there. Rush to the school for 10:30 to help prepare and then serve Christmas Dinner to the school. Rush to Fabricland for flannel to finally work on something I feel competent at: sewing. This time for a baby shower on Sunday, where we will land immediately after the Guide camp.

Aaargh! Better go!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Prairie Pie

A few weeks ago, because we're both wanna-be farmers, Rosa and I went to FarmFair, an event held in conjunction with the rodeo. We saw bit of rodeo activity, tasted local foods, played kids games meant to teach kids about animal treatment and once again saw a fellow blogger in real life.

I recognized Apple Jack Creek by her hand-felted wool boots. I was looking at the ground at the time and it's not common to see green felt boots.

We chatted and admired her ability to spin wool. I would love to be able to do that, but really, I need to learn to knit and crochet better in order to make use of the wool and I don't really have time to spend at it at the moment. I've got it on my "learn to do" list, right alongside with quilting and playing the cello.

I did learn one new thing at FarmFair that needs to be shared because it was awesome.

This is Prairie Pie, like Shepherd's Pie but with more local ingredients. If you are like Apple Jack Creek and can consider lamb to be within your 100 ft diet, you might want to use lamb. Most of us eat a lot more beef though.

I thought I hated parsnips, but I was wrong. Sometimes you have to try things again in another context and be surprised. Next year I'm going to grow some for variety.

I've changed the recipe somewhat to suit what I have in the house, but the spices and chutney were unique to me. I have them in the house but wouldn't have thought to put them all together.

Prairie Pie

1 Tbsp curry
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 Tsp minced fresh ginger (I keep mine in the freezer and grate it as needed)
1 green apple finely chopped or shredded
1 lb lean ground beef
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries, sundried or roasted tomatoes
2 Tbsp rhubarb chutney (it called for mango, but that's not in my pantry)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp ketchup or tomato sauce (I used Julie vanRosendall's recipe)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten

3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and cubed
2 parsnips, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup butter
4 green onions, minced (I used dried chives)
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper

Chop everything you need so that you can boil your veg topping while making
the ground beef part of the dish.

Combine potatoes, sweet potato, carrot and parnip in a sauce pan.
Cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 20-30
minutes. Drain well and mash together until fairly smooth, or rustic and
chunky. Saute the onions or chives and ginger in butter for 2-3
minutes. Stir into mashed veggies with milk, salt and pepper.

While the vegetables are boiling, combine curry powder, cayenne pepper,
tumeric, salt and pepper. Heat canola oil over medium heat and saute the
spices for 30 seconds. Add onion, ginger and apple and saute until tender
and beginning to brown.

Add ground beef to pan and cook until browned. Drain any excess
oil. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in remaining
ingredients and spread in a shallow baking dish.

Spread the mashed veggies on top of the ground beef. Bake at 350 for
45 minutes or until filling is hot and topping is golden brown. Cool
slightly before serving.

Serve with another scoop of chutney on top or jelly. Don't
forget this part. The sweetness was great with the slightly spicey