Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How do the rest of you do it?

Lots of people look forward to summer, some because they like the hot weather, for others it is time to spend at the cottage, but for me it's time off from work to catch up on life. I use my summer to try and visit all the friends I really do want to visit, but never seem to find the time during the school year. I finally clean all the cupboards that need straightening, like the linen closet and all the expired medicine that is in there - yech! I re-organize the basement, go through the clothes, get odd jobs done and on and on. I also plan fun activities for the family because we have time and energy to do them in the summer.

I am lucky that my husband actually likes his job. He has no qualms about going in to work while the rest of us potentially have a jammy day and watch movies all day or head out to the park for a picnic without him. He of course loves doing all these things, too and we try to involve him in some of these fun activities, but he doesn't whine and complain that he has to work while we have fun. He also doesn't expect the house to spotless just because I am home. He loves it if the kids and I have had a fun day and doesn't even fuss if he has to help do the dishes that night because I wasn't home to do them - what a guy... he's a keeper!

Last summer I made a list of activities and places that we wanted to go and things to do, but it was a little too big and we didn't knock nearly as many things off the list as I would have liked, but I also forgot about all the other playdates and holidays that we had scheduled. So this year I want to select a few larger adventures to do and one of them is to take the kids fishing. My friend Carol facebooked about her successful fishing day at Thistle Springs Fish Farm and that is definately on our To Do this summer list! If you live in the Ottawa area and have a unique adventure for a 3 and 6 year old please send me your ideas.

We've only just begun our holidays, but we have already had a swim at a friends pool, ran around at a splash park, attended 2 family barbecues, spend $90 at Chapters (well actually only $25 thanks to all my school kids and their year end gift cards - thanks!) and knocked a whole bunch of small errands off the list, too!

Here is to a great summer filled with adventures and fun, a family holiday in Chicago with my sister and her family, swimming lessons, soccer practices and much, much more!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Salad of the Week

I found tonight's salad online when trying to find something that used my garden cilantro - yum! I was completely disheartened when my mom told me it didn't last all summer and would go to seed soon, what a tragedy!

They called this Black Bean Salad, but that is pretty boring, so I'd like to give it a different name... how about ... "My Kids Did Not Like This Salad!" Ha! Actually they both ate 3 or 4 bitefuls, but neither wanted to eat anymore.

1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 cans kernal corn (I used 4 cobs fresh corn and cut it off with a knife)
8 green onions, chopped (I used 4)
2 jalapeno peppers (seeded and minced) - no wonder my kids didn't like it!
1 green pepper (I used yellow and orange)
1 4 oz. jar of pimento
3 tomatoes (I used yellow tomato)
1 cup fresh cilantro - yeah, baby!
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup italian salad dressing
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 avocado, chopped (I added this on top on our plates, so it wouldn't brown in the leftovers)

Combine all ingredients, toss and chill! Jay and I really liked this salad, a little bit of kick to it and refreshing with the cilantro. We used Farmboy natural tortilla chips to scoop the salad up and we also had a half piece of Santa Fe spiced chicken.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The rest of our week - last week!

We did survive all the business (busyness?, I'll have to look that up) of last week and here are a few more photos to prove it! Here is a shot of Devin and I in the pool on his last day of nursery school. He didn't love it, but he did come in and he did have some moments of fun! He starts his lessons in this very pool next week, so hopefully that will go well.
Jasmine had her ballet recital and it was very cute! They showed us all their fancy footwork and did have a little routine that highlighted all that they had learned.

Jasmine had her year end outdoor fun day and I did sneak up and take a few pictures. Above she is tossing water balloons with her friend Garnet and below she is running through part of the relay race. A fun morning for her!

While I had built in babysitters with my in-laws visiting, I took the opportunity to do some work in my garden and added 14 more bags of mulch.

The kids had more playtime in the yard with gramma and poppa. They got wet in the sprinkler and kiddie pool and had a grand old time! Gramma also bought the boys matching outfits - super cute!

Jay's parents took Uncle Greg out to buy him a matching Barmah hat, so they would all match, too!

Above Jasmine is waiting anxiously for her school play to start. She was Petite Chaperon Rouge or Little Red Riding Hood. She did a very good job and wasn't as embarrassed (I would say nervous, but she says embarassed) as she usually is. Her friend Garnet from above played Monsieur Loup (or the wolf) who ate her in the play - Gloup, Gloup! (or tried to eat her, not totally sure what happened at the end, as it was in French AND I don't understand French.) The beginning of many things I will not understand when it comes to my children's education!

Here is Jasmine posing with her teacher, Madame Abdelnour. Her teacher was recently absent for a week and Jasmine missed her very much. According to Jasmine, she makes her feel like a "big kid" because she says Jasmine brings a lunch to school as her snack is so big. The other teachers call it a snack and that makes Jasmine feel like a baby... who knew such a little thing could impact a child so much! Thanks Madame, Jasmine's French accent is awesome and her vocabulary is already matching mine with 7 years of core French under my belt!

Salad of the Week

Okay, it's not technically a salad, but it is a close as I could get. This is a mango chutney recipe that my mom and I found a few years ago when she was visiting. It is supposed to go on top of brie cheese on crustini bread, but that isn't really that healthy (although it is AWESOME!) I often use it as a topping for salmon, pork or chicken and I love it every time!

Chop a mango into small chunks, chop a red apple into small chunks, finely mince a small handful of fresh cilantro (makes a big difference if it is fresh and I was soooo excited to use my garden cilantro - it is growing very well and smells wonderful!), finely chop a ring of red onion, add a sprinkle of chilli pepper flakes, a tablespoon or so of Balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of sugar. It is supposed to sit in the fridge for an hour to meld flavors, but tonight we ate it right away and it was still awesome!
Tonight we had our chutney on top of a wine & herb salmon fillet with a side of broccoli.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A busy week

A week ago today, Devin's cousin Oli came over for a playdate (and he brought his dad with him, too). The boys had great fun and Olivier finally got his birthday present... the huge bubble blower. It was a great success, but unfortunately it had a short lifespan as it only worked the first time. I guess I will have to see if we can return it?
Gramma and Poppa Quirk arrived from Saskatchewan last Friday. On the weekend, we had some warm weather and the kids actually had a chance to run through the sprinkler - they both loved that!

On Saturday, we headed to Uncle Greg's for a family barbecue. Jay and I had a chance to play badminton. I do like that game... (maybe because I think I might be better than Jay at it - wink :) The cousins had a hoot in the sandbox and running around with the bubble lawn mower. Really, the best part was when they all got naked and had a jumbo bath together - couldn't be cousins without that ritual!

On Sunday, Jay and I got all dressed up to attend Jay's brothers convocation ceremony. He received his MBA after 3 years of night school. A lot of nights, a lot of papers, a lot of group work, a lot of not having any life but school, a lot of WORK period! Greg, we are so proud of you for achieving this goal.

The week continued with another graduation... Devin's graduation from Nursery School. No more duty days, no more providing snack for 30 cute children and no more wonderful help from his blessed teachers. Devin's teachers: Judy, Connie and Grayzna are simply the best! They taught him how to express his frustration in words instead of actions, they helped develop his speech, social skills and conflict resolution.... he has come a long way with their guidance and we are ever so grateful - thanks ladies! Devin also had his pool party this week, but since I was in the pool I have no pictures of that! (Gramma came to watch, so I am sure I will get some)
Tonight, we had Jasmine's year end ballet recital. A short presentation highlighting all the skills they learned over the term. She was pretty cute!

Tomorrow, I think we have a normal day - phew! We've done lots more this week, but I don't have photos of it all: The Quirks (Jay, his brother and parents) all got loaded last night. I think this is becoming tradition, Sherry makes a killer lasagna and serves it with many bottles of wine. They play cards and laugh the night away. I came home from helping my girlfriend pack her house (hi, Cynthia) and they were having a blast. Jay was liquored up completely - pretty funny actually! We ate supper out at Jack Astor's and Mongolie grill (Jasmine calles it "the white wrap restaurant"). The kids also went to Dairy Queen in a wagon ride and painted and played with play-doh, I added 14 more bags of mulch to my yard, Jay put together the new patio table and 8 chairs with the help of his dad and brother (they still have to be sealed before I set it up and take pictures) and... we've been doing the 12 days of father's day where Jay gets a gift every day for 12 days before the big day... man, we have been busy! And that my friends is why I forgot about the Salad of the Week - sorry!
To end, there is only 1 more week of school and then it is summer holidays - Woo, hoo!

BBQ's - can't beat 'em!

A week ago yesterday, we had our school Barbeque. It's a no brainer for us to go considering I teach their and Jasmine attends school their as well. The kids watched a play on Romeo and Juliet, listened to the school band, Jasmine had her face painted, we ate hot dogs, fries and snow cones and the best part was we got to hang out with lots of our friends, including Jasmine's daycare and kindergarten pal, Nasu and Adam, their long lost friend from their previous daycare!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

To my mom and dad

I find my mom and dad are getting a little ripped off in the mother's day/father's day department these days. We live in Ottawa and they live in Saskatchewan. We only see each other once a year and often longer than that even. Moving to Ottawa was not a hard decision, we were kids really (sure seemed like it anyhow), it was a new place and an adventure, plus they hired engineers here. Deciding to stay in Ottawa was a big decision and at times still haunts us. This weekend my two sisters were at home visiting my mom and dad and whenever that happens I always get little tugs to my heart - just wish I was there, too! This year my mom and dad came to visit and my dad helped build our new deck, which we just bought furniture for, blog to come soon once it is put together, anyhow... what did my dad get out of it ... a hug from me and a pulled shoulder muscle - how's that for appreciation?

It's not like it is real difficult to send a gift in the mail, but knowing what to get when you aren't at home very often is tricky. You don't really know what they need or have. (Although my dad was talking a lot about a trolling motor when he was here this year, sorry dad, we don't know anything about motors!) After saying all that, I wanted to send a shout out to my mom and dad and say thanks!

To my mom and dad -you are the best! I love it when we have time to catch up on the phone. I love it when you send me emails telling me what is up with you. I love it when we get little care packages with chiropractic balloons and advil samples. I love it when you talk to the kids or send them cool videos, especially when you are dressed up in costumes and have magic wands. I love it that the two of you still really love each other and enjoy hanging out together. I love it that you have 3 girls who have all fallen in love based on your strong example and all have their own healthy families. I love it that you only work 3 1/2 days a week and takes lots of cool holidays. I love that you enjoy life and try to help us enjoy our lives as much as possible, too! I love it that you have lots of friends to be with. I love it when you come to visit and I can't wait until you retire when you can come and stay for a whole month! I love it when you visit and do a bunch of work around here, like build a deck, clean the garage, sew curtains, paint a bedroom, fix a toilet, fix a door, make supper, plant the garden, take the kids on adventures... I love you both a lot! I hope you know that! Thanks for everything and happy mother's day and happy father's day! Sorry, all I gave you was this blog entry!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hi, ho, hi, ho a gardening I will go!

A few years ago we decided it was time to do something with the lawn that consistently died come summer weather. We didn't even have to dig up the lawn because honestly there wasn't any left. Making the garden was an easy decision, but a big job. Luckily I had help from my parents and they introduced me to the garden well. We would dig a large hole, throw a little compost in the bottom, fill it with water and then add the new plant. I have been using this method ever since and it works well! We orginally transplanted all the plants I had in the backyard and split the ginormous hostas into many, many smaller ones, same with all my sedum and iris's - this is what makes up most of my garden.

So, for 3 years these plants have been allowed to grow and blossom, along with my youngest child. Now that Devin is old enough for me to work in the yard I don't have to be constantly checking to see if he is on the road or running down the street and I can actually get some gardening done! The kids play on the swings, in the little playhouse or in the fairy garden they have been creating seen below!
I have added a few more interesting plants and ornaments to the garden and it is starting to take shape! I just put my rustic wheelbarrow in today to get a feel for what I should put in there and how I should do it - any ideas or suggestions? I need help on this one! Beside the wheelbarrow are a couple of stray gnomes... they aren't allowed near the fairy garden as fairies don't get along with gnomes! (Who knew?)

Below is a picture of the vegetable portion of our garden. We planted a few rows of carrots and green onions, as well as a tomato and some strawberries. It is our first year doing this, so we will see how that goes. (As I am looking at these pictures, I am realizing how dark it was outside - I'll post some more again in a few weeks to show you what I do with the wheelbarrow and make sure the light is better)

Below is my new cherry tree! It won't bloom this year, but it will get small whiteish, pink flowers in the spring and they are beautiful!

And most importantly, below you will see my gardening philosophy. It is staked right near the front of the garden, I only wish it was bigger!

Learning to Ride like Poppa!

For weeks now we have been practicing riding a 2 wheeler with Jasmine. She has come along way, but is having difficulty getting started and stopping on her own. Unfortunately this makes her non-street ready and so we practice down the block in a small parking lot.

Devin had been a little hesitant to get on his bike, especially since daddy had to focus on running behind Jasmine. Now that Jasmine can ride a little better on her own, I can help her get started and daddy can focus on Devin. Devin is a good little trooper, but going fast scares him. Jay told him to ride like Poppa and it basically became a mantra, "ride like poppa, ride like poppa!" I'm pretty sure riding a bicycle will never be as fast as riding a Harley, but Devin doesn't need to know that ;)

Salad of the Week

Okay, this salad sucked! Well, that is pretty harsh, it was fine, but not yummy or even that satisfying! I do however feel the need to prove to you all that I made and ate a salad this week! I simply bought way too many veggies last week and had many leftovers that just needed to be eaten. This must have been a 10 layer salad, lets see: spinach, alfalfa sprouts, feta cheese, mozza cheese, bbq chicken, cucumber, zucchini, mushrooms, celery, tomato, blackberries, cauliflower... oh, that makes 12 layers. The avocado and artichoke hearts from last week, just could not be used - we'll say a little overripe... rotten... fermenting... disgusting....

Jasmine not only set the table tonight, but also made her own supper and arranged it on her plate all fancylike (and then took her own picture)! Devin was in charge of putting croissants out and you can tell he likes croissants, as everyone was given 3!

I'm ready for some new salad recipes, so please send me some fresh ideas! Hope your salad was better than mine ;)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Scrapbooking - finally!

Last night Pam and I finally hooked up to do some scrapbooking! Who are we kidding, Pam and I chatted for about 2 hours and then when she left I started scrapbooking. Getting together with friends to scrapbook is great, but we don't always accompish what we would like. I know Pam didn't get as much done as she wanted, but that was mostly because all my markers are 5 years old and my gel pens kept crapping out on her - sorry, Pam :( Guess I know what to buy at my next scrapbookers club!

All of these layouts were ones I started at my scrapbook club with Linda at Stampin' Up! workshops. This one above, we learned how to make background paper using wheels. We also used the Big Shot to punch out all the snowflakes, applied glitter to add pizzazz to our title and she taught us how to make bottle cap embellishments - pretty cool! I scrapbooked Jasmine and Devin's first skating experiences. I figure by putting the 2 together I have saved myself having to do a second layout on skating!

In this layout we focused on using the new circle cutting tool and using designer paper. The first page of the layout always looks better, because that is the one I do at Linda's house and then I come home to create the second page on my own. It can be tricky, because often I have to use my own supplies and sometimes I don't have the paper too match, so I get to be extra creative! I love the title - Love Devin in the circle, it is awesome and of course I just love all the pictures of him with his Gramma and Grampa Shadbolts.

I started this one at Linda's, but I think I just did it on my own. She had shown us how to use chipboard in the Big Shot, so the "F" and "C" are made out of that. I also double mounted a lot of my photos and I love the look of that! I added the 2 pages seperately below, so you can really see the precious look on Devin's face when he is fighting for the pail. Who knew a pail, could cause such an uproar. We've got smart in our old age and now we have more than 1!

I love it when I get my butt downstairs and scrapbook. I hope this will give me the incentive to get down there more often! I have 4 more layouts to complete the second side of from my scrapbook dates with Linda. Can't wait to see how they turn out!