Monday, December 31, 2012

Going Forward

       Our week that started off so great has ground to a screeching halt- One by one this delightful flu that is making the rounds has struck members of our family down. This means New Year's Eve- the biggest party of the year- will be spent in a much more quiet manner. Gone are the plans for the ski hill celebration- enter in sitting around in our P.J's and sipping ice water through straws. My Mr. and Miss Lo are laying low today while The Boy is recovering after a trip to the ER yesterday- he is fine just some respiratory problems- I would just like to sleep for a few days straight!

      I think I am pretty good with this change of plans- we had such a great week- playing in the snow, eating non- stop and snuggled up to bon fires. Our last day in Peachland we stopped by the lake and snapped these shots at our favourite summer swimming spot- significantly more chilly at this time of year but non the less beautiful. It was so perfect- the roads had barely been driven on and the clouds were down low to the lake- big fluffy snow flakes falling and all was quite.

        This week has been a week of big ups and downs for us- I am ready to go home- move forward and start thinking about what I want from 2013. I think I can say with out a shadow of a doubt 2013 will see some big changes in our life- lots to be excited about!

    Friends- I hope weather your New Years finds you totally glammed up at some swanky party, out on a ski hill or snuggled up in your jammies- that you are right where you want to be. That you are surrounded by love and regardless of attire that when the clock strikes midnight you are happy- what more could one ask at the end of a year?

Friday, December 28, 2012


      This week is quickly drawing to a close and we have been spending as much time as possible soaking in the outdoors as well as our family. Hiking, snow fights, bonfires and lots of wool layers has been our reality this week- next week sitting back in the city I will hold onto this feeling- the quiet punctuated by the squeals on kiddos flying down a hill at top toboggan speed!

      I am a super lucky lady- Christmas morning I found a box under the tree just for me which contained this lovely nubby wool blanket that I have been eyeing at Le Marche for several weeks. This will be my new go to wrap for chilly evenings out on the deck or on the beach. Yesterday I took this yummy blanket for a test drive by the fire and found it does the trick!

      Yesterday found us once again headed to the woods across the street from my parents house - these are the woods that my sister and I played in when we were kids and later I spent a great deal of time working on earth installations for a sculpture class. The Littles trooped up the path complaining the entire way- it has been decided that perhaps they are not so fond of hiking in the snow- they would like some skis please!

       So into the woods we go- Daddy, Poppa and the Littles pausing in a clearing to build a snow man and roll around in the snow- I continued to hike up to the top of the hill and just stood in the clearing listening to the quiet. The forest swathed in snow is the quietest place to be- just for a moment watching the pattern of the trees and catching a glimpse of Okanagan lake in the distance.

     We have one more day here at my parents before we head back up the valley to my In Laws for a few days. We are going to have one more bonfire this afternoon with home made marshmallows and lots of chocolate for the Littles- Hot Buttered Rum for the adults. 

     Friends it is Friday all ready- I am not sure where this week has gone to- the sort of week that you sort of emerge from and wonder if you have been through some sort of time warp. It doesn't really need to be said how much fun we have been having these past few days- but I will say it anyways! Not only is it the end of the week but also the end of the year draws nigh- a very special day of the year for my Mr. and I - the night he came back into my life all those years ago! This weekend we will be taking it easy- again- enjoying our last few days of vacation- Friends may your weekend be full of light, love and laughter- you know... cozy!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Let It Snow!

       One of the things I miss most about living in the Okanagan is the snow- granted I don't drive and so I never really worry about that side of things- but I miss seeing it- the variation in tone, the undulating softness of a backyard transformed. Don't tell my parents but I even miss shovelling it- for a gal who is none too fond of exercise an hour shovelling the driveway was a perfect way to keep fit. Of course what I miss the most is playing in it- the winter is so much fun when you have snow to play in!

      Since my sister and I were small I can remember being bundled up and thrown ( OK ceremoniously escorted) outside- I can remember after reality set in (that mom was not going to let us back in) we would find so much fun out in the snowbanks. Digging tunnels through our front yard the one year the snow was as high as my shoulders, building forts out of the huge piles at the end of our driveway, trying to balance precariously on top of the crust of snow to see who could walk the furthest. Those were some good yet cold times!

      Some things don't change- as I sit here typing this in my warm wool socks, my trusty hot latte at my elbow, the men folk of the neighbourhood are all coming out like small boys to shovel the driveways. I watch them one at a time peak out their door, go back in to grab their gloves or a hat and then head out- of course these are boys with toys now and I can see a few snow blowers making fast work of last nights snowfall. I wonder if when clearing the driveway they feel like they are a kid again- outside in the fresh snow?

       So, yesterday, when one is faced with such a gift as a backyard full of fresh, untouched powdery snow we did as any "good" Canadian would do- grabbed the toboggan and headed out for some fun! Even Momo and Poppa got in on the action going down the run a few times- Miss Lo has decided she prefers to be pulled on top of that snow rather than walk and I can't say that I blame her!

       Yesterday it snowed and snowed- had we been at the Coast it would have just been one of those rainy days that you tuck in and watch movies, read and build forts- but here at this elevation it turned into a magical day. We have big plans for the snow today- a bonfire with cousins, another walk in the forest and of course more tobogganing!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Days

   Our Christmas weekend has drawn to a close- we are still on holiday for a few more days- but the really, really big show is over. Our days are filled with snow- navigating through it in the car, shovelling it, sliding down it, rolling it and of course throwing it! We started off at my Sister In Law's
house on Saturday night with snacks and a house full of laughter- followed by tree trimming and lots of sledding the next morning. I am not sure who had more fun- our Littles or the adults- AKA big kids!

       This is simple and honest fun- the sort you get when there are kids around- no need to get dressed up in anything but very warm and dry clothing- I find it is usually the lack of warm clothes that leads to a miserable experience outside so I pile on the layers and head down the hill a few times on the toboggan too! My nieces are both home- which is oh so much fun- they are the heart of the fun on this day- leading the sledding and snowman building!

       Christmas day it's self we played pretty low key- getting up very early in the morning and leaving my In law's house for my parent's house at the opposite end of the valley. This drive is one of my favourite Christmas traditions-  fresh, hot coffee in our travel mugs, Christmas songs blasting from the radio, our breath hanging in the frosty air- we are one of a few to venture out onto the roads this morning. Cruising past familiar sights- marking off the landmarks as we get closer to Momo and Poppa's house.

       We announce our arrival as always with loud toots of the car horn on the hill behind the house- Momo and Poppa now know we are close! We have a few hours with just us and my parents before the cousins arrive- then all the best type of craziness breaks loose- enough time to go for a short nature walk in the falling snow, have a few adult beverages and open our stockings.

      Looking out the window of my parents house I gaze upon a view that is ever so familiar- I have sat looking at that lake view for many an hours while growing up. To me this view means I am home and all is well- my troubles falling away- and at Christmas I think that is the best gift possible.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Let the Celebrations Begin!

     Tonight we celebrate the Winter Solstice- our family celebration of the seasons . As previously mentioned we always try to head home to the Okanagan to be with our family at this time of year- they mean so much and we miss each of them dearly- this journey while important to us means we have rarely spent a Christmas morning in our own home, in our own beds, with our stockings hung in our own special place. 

   When my Mr. and I were first living together we started our first Holiday Season off with a celebration for two down by the ocean by the light of the moon. The weather is usually co-operative with the rain holding off long enough for us to sit and drink a bottle of wine and talk of new plans for our future. The years we were pregnant the wine was replaced with hot chocolate and cheese cake but non the less the tradition ensued. Our celebration has now moved inside and has evolved into more of a feast but non the less it is important to us to have this day to celebrate and centre our family in our home- where ever it may be!

     So I am winding down the sewing- something that is more fun than chore for me- all the making of beautiful things to give to people I love. One of my last projects yesterday was a bit of screen printing this length of fabric to use in a couple of items- no matter how often I use this print it never gets old- one of my favourites! What a treat to be printing on Belgian Linen- Oh how I love this fabric- sturdy and organic with loads of personality!

     Our Littles have been hard at work as well learning to sew- they were thrilled to finally have a needle and thread in their own hands- they have been watching Momma and wishing to do the same for ever so long! Now they know how- and of course these Littles of mine are oh so productive and wanting to do everything "all by myself!"- only coming to Momma when they need a knot tied or more thread.

     Of course The Boy needed to make something- he is very much a linear thinker like his father- he needed a goal and outline of sorts for his first sewing project- and so he drew on a little house to follow his stitches with. I- being the sentimental sort who also loves to make an item- added a little loop of ribbon and quick as a wink sewed this first project of my boy's into an ornament to be treasured.

    Miss Lo was much more free flow in her approach to her sewing project- I have an inkling that this girl of mine might be a natural with a needle and thread. I am in no way trying to brag but I will admit that it thrilled me to watch her carefully pushing the needle in and out of the fabric- oh this girl of mine what you will make in your life time with those hands!

      We have been so incredibly blessed this year- we are surrounded by the love of friends and family that I don't take for granted one little bit- thank you for joining me on my journey! I will be stepping away from this space for a few days- I may be back with a post on Wednesday- Boxing day- although I may also be enjoying a cask of wine with an old friend. For those of you wondering a cask of wine is what fine boxed wine is referred to these days! My wish for you dear friends is that where ever you are in this world may you be surrounded in light and love on this the shortest day of the year- with a cask of the finest wine at your side! Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Making New Traditions with Deadra Berkan

    Today I am so pleased to bring a different voice to this space- my dear friend Deadra Berkan- who blogs over at The Tweedles- all about finding her tribe and creating new traditions in a new place. She graciously agreed to write all about the annual cookie swap she attends with her friends- hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  Nearly seven years ago my husband and I made the pilgrimage from the frozen north to a wet, yet sunny land, the mecca for the geeky engineer types, Silicon Valley.  Then two years later we welcomed our first baby into the world, and everything changed, in the most amazing wonderful way.

        Trixie was ten months old for her first Christmas and I spent a lot of time in the months leading up to it worrying and plotting which traditions we would impart onto our burgeoning family.  I had some growing up that I hold near and dear to my heart, like the family breakfast of smoked kippers on Christmas morning, our long drawn out ritual of opening presents (one at a time please!) and the over consumption of carbs for dinner.  I wanted my children to have a similar connection to Christmas, where we celebrated family.  So I plotted what we would do to create our own traditions.  I felt this pressure that if I didn't instill them that first Christmas with her, then they wouldn't happen.  Looking back now, I stressed too much, now I see that traditions that come about much more organically are better and more cherished   Our Christmases now are full of tradition, some are pretty concrete (mimosas for Mama please!) and some are evolving each year, (Yorkshires at dinner, made by Daddy- the only thing he cooks all year.)


     An interesting tradition that happened on it's own is one of my favourites.  Since we live in Silicon Valley we have no extended family around us, as do so many other of my friends, so we've created our own adopted families  and we celebrate together, rely on one another.  It's really amazing how we've all adopted each other and created this amazing support network.  Without these mamas I would be so lost and alone, but they have made living here so worth while.  One of the things we've done together, every year since our nearly five year olds were born was to have a cookie exchange.  First it started out as a family event, Daddies and babies in tow, we'd all sit around, chat, snack and sing some children's songs with the mostly immobile babies.  Then the next years, there was less sitting and chatting, more chasing toddlers and playing toddler games, amidst the cookie exchanging.  Then this year we made it a mom's night in, where we exchanged cookies and had a white elephant gift exchange, and went back to the snacking and chatting.  It was heavenly and we all agreed that all future cookie exchanged would be sans children.  We all came away with a couple dozen cookies, a lovely gift and a lovely buoyed feeling from spending an evening with women we've known for years now.  

This has become one of my most cherished traditions.  These mamas mean so much to me and I really appreciate being able to include them in my holiday in some manner.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Going Christmas Crackers

        I have so many great memories of the Holidays when my sister and I were kids- one main memory is our annual tradition of loading into the car on a frosty Christmas night and travelling over the hill to my Grandparents house for dinner- Grandma always had the most exotic of items on her table- black olives, smoked oysters, Coca Cola and Christmas Crackers. With the funny tissue hats, off kilter jokes and crummy toys- our Christmas Cracker tradition was one of the time of year we  kids really saw the adults act silly. I vividly remember my Grandpa Henry sitting at the table in his western attire- once a cowboy always a cowboy (and he was the real deal- but that is a story for another day)- with a red crown tilted slightly askew and the relish dish at his elbow.

      For several year it was really difficult to find Christmas Crackers- they virtually disappeared off store shelves. Then I think Martha did a project and everyone was back on board- the Christmas Cracker was fun and trendy again. Last year we took store bought crackers to Christmas dinner and I felt really let down- not only were they very expensive but the quality of goody inside was severely lacking. This year I was quite excited to see the snapper bit at our local craft store and they were very inexpensive and I thought to myself "self you can do this"!

What you will need:

Snapper inserts
Tissue paper about 6x10 pieces- 2 pieces for each cracker
a variety of toys and favours (the kids thought people might like pom poms)
"fortunes" or jokes- we wrote our own- they will delight people!
Toilet paper tubes

  Get the kids practicing their letters by helping write out fortunes and jokes- The Boy can only really write his name so he signed each slip of paper. Stuff each tube with a slip of paper, a small favour and the snapper- with even ends sticking out on each side. Glue one side of the tissue to the tube and roll- secure down the end bit with a dab of glue.

      Tie ends with ribbon or string- add a doily or decorative paper over the seam to hide  the cut edge. Embellish your Christmas Crackers as you see fit- we used some sparkly letters that I have been hoarding away for a few years- making each one personal.

      The favours we chose for the Christmas Crackers are an eclectic - a few, like the mini watercoulor boxes, we bought- but most are scavenged from around our house- cute little heart barrettes that I don't wear, a joke mustache and my favourite the tiny squirrel. So take a look at what you might already have and go from there. I can assure you that for only a few dollars you can make much better crackers than can be purchased anywhere!

      I think it is not necessarily the quality of goodies inside that makes our version of the traditional Christmas Cracker better than a store bought one- I think the afternoon spent with my Littles thinking up funny things to write down- and there are some doosies I assure you- is where the magic lies. The giggles as we think about Aunty Heather is going to say about her fortune- planning who would like what favour. We are making new memories with an old tradition for our Littles- I can not control what from their childhood sticks in their memory into adulthood- but oh I can only hope they remember a bit of this day!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Goodies For Gluten Free Friends

     So many people I know are going gluten free these days- it just seems that gluten intolerance is on the rise. One thing that I have been quick to note at parties or when grabbing a snack and a glass of wine with those gluten free friends is a lack of a good cracker and so in honour of and for a dear gluten free friend of mine I ventured into the world of gluten free baking- to make her a cracker to eat with her brie!

    Turns out baking for the gluten free is a tad trickier than first anticipated- I had visions of flakey crackers dancing in my head- in reality what I got was slightly more chewy and if forgotten in the oven (ahem) hard like bricks. Luckily thanks to this super cute cloud cookie cutter from Herriott Grace this recipe turned as cute if not as flakey as I had anticipated.

The Goods:

2 cups gluten free flour mix*
1 tsp salt
1 tsp psyllium whole husks
3 tbsp cold cubed butter
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup ice cold water

The Deal:

- combine dry goods
- cut in cold butter
- add cheese and dijon
- Mix in apple cider vinegar and ice cold water
- roll out dough between parchment paper- now this is critical- I discovered if you"flour" your counter and roll out it makes for a very dusty cracker- so use the parchment
- cut out with cookie cutter
- bake in a 325 degree oven for 12 min- turn pan and bake for another 12-15 min

*All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix

300 grams super fine brown rice flour
250 grams sweet rice flour
150 grams tapioca flour
100 grams sorghum flour
100 grams potato starch
100 grams cornstarch

P.S. both recipes- for the crackers and the flour mixture come from Gluten Free Girl- a great website chock a block full of yummy recipes

P.S.S. according to gluten free sources these crackers are pretty good- especially when paired with an entire wheel of Brie and a bottle of wine!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lying Low

      Pretty much anyone I have talked to or overheard this weekend has expressed a feeling of being deflated and sad after the terrible events that happened in the States on Friday- I admit to feeling pretty helpless. To top all that off I have come down with my annual bout of laryngitis- so I also don't have a voice and just generally feel terrible. This combination of one- two punches led to us really lying low this weekend- sticking very close to home- even missing soccer and ballet.

     The upside of an unexpected weekend in was that I finally finished writing our Christmas cards- this has been riding around like a monkey on my back for a couple of weeks now. It is something I really like to do but just haven't had enough time- until today.

      To go along with all that quiet time and card writing I made up a big batch of Coconut Curry Butternut Squash soup with bacon and green beans. Sounds complicated but really is very easy and satisfying. I started off with a batch of regular Butternut squash soup and then started looking through the fridge- I want no left overs when we go away! So if you have this gross cold that is going around or are just feeling a bit blue- I suggest making some soup, cuddling up and watching a movie- it will work wonders!

The Goods:

1 small onion diced
2 large cloves of garlic sliced
2 stalks of celery diced
3 small carrots diced
3 pieces bacon diced and cooked
1 medium butternut squash baked
2 cups stock ( I used veggie)
1 can coconut milk
curry paste to taste
a handful of green beans
2 cups cooked rice

The Deal:

-set the oven to 400 degrees, slice squash in half and lay out on baking sheet- bake until squash is nice and soft- just poke at it with a knife- about a half hour

- meanwhile in a soup pot saute bacon- once bacon is cooked remove it and add in all the  diced veggies to saute- saute until onions are transparent. Add in soft, cooked butternut squash (out of the skin) and add soup stock. Blend with either an immersion blender or let cool and transfer into a regular blender. Once soup is blended add in coconut milk, curry paste, rice and green beans - let simmer for a bit,  add bacon back in-serve, enjoy and feel better!