Saturday, January 26, 2013


As my maternity leave is drawing to a close, I've been thinking about the things, aside from parenting my child, that I've managed to accomplish while I've not been working. 
I have spent a whole lot of time at the library over the past few months.  The library, in fact, as been an amazing resource while I've been off.  They run a program called "Baby Time" where caregivers & babies sing songs and nursery rhymes and the librarian reads an age appropriate book or two.  It was a little dorky, but fun - plus it is always nice to get out of the house for a bit!  Plus, you can borrow books and movies and things.

I thought it would be neat to see how many books I've read while I've been off, but unfortunately, you can't track past checkouts. 
While I have read a fair amount of parenting and baby related books in the past year, I've also managed to fit in some for fun reading too.  I also borrowed a lot of kids books to read to the baby.

Here's a brief, incomplete list of what I've managed to cram into my brain the last few months.

For Fun books have included:
The Fresco by Sheri S. Tepper
Singer from the Sea by Sheri S. Tepper
Ghost Story by Jim Butcher (a book in the Dresden series)
The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook & Eat by Bee Wilson
If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley (there's also a BBC miniseries based on this book, starring the author and it is pretty awesome)

Parenting or Baby Related Books:
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger
Parenting Inc: How we are sold on $800 strollers . . . by Pamela Paul (this one has a super-long subtitle, and I can't be bothered to write it all out, but I found this book to be an interesting read)
Bringing Up Bebe by by Pamela Druckerman (this book I didn't like so much, the author seemed to think that doctors and lawyers living in downtown Paris, France were 'middle class' and it went downhill from there).
Buy Buy Baby by Susan Gregory Thomas
Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood by Susan Linn
The Case for Make Believe by Susan Linn
The Baby Book by Dr. Sears
The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp

Currently on the table, I have a ton of books I need to get through & give back to the library before they're due!
The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? by Jared Diamond
    I'm about halfway through this book and it is really interesting.  This author also wrote Guns, Germs & Steel, so if you liked that, I think you'll enjoy this one.  I am so far!
Dodger by Terry Pratchett
Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld
Simplicity Parenting by Dr. Kim John Payne
Interworld by Neil Gaiman

I know this list makes me seem like a super-nerdy granola hippy parent, but I'm trying to do what works best for my family, and so far, this seems to be doing a pretty good job.

Since I have a 45 minute to hour long commute to work on public transit, let me know if you've read anything good lately!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inspired Butternut Squash

Tonight, unsure of what to make for dinner, I ended up being inspired by the Pioneer Woman and her recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto.
It has been a while since partner & I made anything risotto-like, and I happened to have a small butternut squash waiting to be turned into something delicious.  I had been thinking soup, but the internet changed my plans.

I didn't bother to have the recipe open as I went, so I basically made it up as I went along.  I didn't take a picture, as the orange colour combined with the lighting in my kitchen on a winter evening isn't the greatest.  It most likely would have looked like mud, which is unappealing.

half of 1 small butternut squash, peeled & cubed
half of 1 medium onion, diced
1 parsnip, peeled & sliced
1 carrot, peeled & sliced
1 tin white navy beans, drained & rinsed
Some cubed havarti cheese (although a smoked gouda or cheddar would have been nice too)
1 cup rice
half 1 tetra pack of tomato soup
1 1/2 cups water
ground ginger
chili powder
dried thyme

I started with some oil in a saucepot on a medium to medium high heat. I added the squash and cooked it while I diced the onion, which went in next.  The parsnip and carrot followed.  I then added the spices and gave everything a stir and let it cook for a few minutes until the veggies started to soften.
I then added the rice and a half cup of water.  When the water was mostly absorbed, I added half the amount of soup and some more water and the beans.  When about half of the liquid had been absorbed, I added the rest of the liquid and let everything simmer away while I made the side dish.  Right as the rice was finished cooking, I stirred in the cheese.

Since risotto is a fairly consistent smooth mouth feel, I ended up making a green salad with romaine, celery and a little bit of carrot for our side.  I also made Garlic Breath Salad Dressing.  It was a good contrast with the sweetness of the risotto.  Everything together made a nice dinner - although I did wish we had a nice crusty baguette. 

Has anything around the internet inspired you lately?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Liebster Award!

The lovely Skwishee over at Just a Mum? has given me a Liebster Award!  Woo!

As with many blog awards, there are things I have to do in response:

“The Liebster Award is for bloggers with under 300 twitter followers (I don't twitter) and the rules of the award are that the nominee must link back to whoever awarded them, write 11 random facts about themselves, answer the 11 questions from the award giver, and then nominate another 11 bloggers and make up 11 questions for them to answer. It’s a great way for new and undiscovered bloggers to meet new people, get more followers and find some blogs that they want to follow.”

So, to start, here are the 11 random facts about me.
1. I currently have some germs trying to take over my sinus cavities.  Not enough to say I'm sick, but enough to be annoying.
2.  My partner bought me a TARDIS teapot for a going back to work present! Nerd girl squee!
3.  My new teapot will go nicely with my new TARDIS Christmas tree ornament that I got this past Christmas.
4.  I don't do Twitter as I think I already spend enough time goofing off on the internet.
5.  I've never been to Europe.
6.  I had delicious Mexican food for lunch today, during which the baby decided to mush avocado into her pants.
7.  I'm currently reading the most recent Harry Dresden novel.
8.  I really wish the Dresden TV series had cast James Marsters (otherwise known as Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).  Maybe then it wouldn't have sucked so much and not gotten itself cancelled.
9. Way back in the day (like when Star Trek TNG was still airing new episodes), my 7th grade self and my good friend called Patrick Stewart being the only choice to play Professor Xavier of the X-Men, should a movie or tv series ever get made.  We were so right!
10.  I've discovered that it is really hard to make and drink a cup of tea without it getting cold & gross when you have a small child.
11.  I plan on attempting to make my own yogurt in the near future.

Here are Skwishee's questions and my answers:
1. If you could learn any one skill overnight, what would it be and why?
This is a tough one.  If telekinesis was real, I'd say that 'cause then I could turn off the annoying baby toys that endlessly play music without touching them.
2. What music do you listen to when you're feeling down?
Grunge (usually Pearl Jam, because Eddie Vedder) or metal (because I am usually more rageful than sad when I am down)
3. When's the last time you were stupid happy?
During that brief window after the baby was born but before the reality of never getting a full night's sleep again hit.
4. If I gave you a t-shirt with a picture of bacon on it, would you wear it?
Maybe.  What's the bacon doing?
5. In your opinion, what is the perfect food?
6. Go to a party, or stay home with a book?
Hrm.  The parties that I usually go to are pretty awesome and chillaxed, so I would go to those.  If it was a stereotypical party as portrayed in mass media, definitely stay home with a book.
7. Who would you most like to be trapped in an elevator with?
The vending machine guy, so long as he's got his dolly full of snacks & drinks.  No hunger or thirst while you wait!
8. Do you watch the news? Why, or why not?
No.  I get the newspaper and read that in order to justify doing the daily crossword.
9. Servers start singing Happy Birthday to you at a restaurant: Do you cringe and endure, or sing along?
Cringe & endure while being secretly pleased.
10. Name a singer/song that you're embarrassed to admit you love.
I dunno.  There isn't that much music that I like that would be embarrasing.
11. If you could be doing anything right now, what would it be?
Sleeping, alone, wrapped up in *all* the blankets, with a book in case I woke up and needed to read a bit in order to settle back down.

My nominees are:
MOV at Mothers of Brothers
Jen at My Adorable Smalltown Life
Marilyn at (Shumgullion)
And anyone in my list in the sidebar over there who wants to join in too!

My questions for you are:
1. Vanilla ice cream: a cop out instead of getting real ice cream flavours or truly fantastic on its own?
2.  Are you one of those people who can only wear black socks, or do your feet get to have some fun colours and patterns?
3. What is your preferred method of caffeination?
4. If you had to choose a domesticated animal as a house pet and could not choose a dog or a cat, what would you pick?
5. What do you want science to create in an easily commercially available way first: teleportation a la Star Trek or hover skateboards a la Back to the Future?
6.  Unicorns or centaurs?
7.  Favourite food that tastes like purple?
8.  Which do you believe is the better movie trilogy: original Star Wars (pre-Lucas mucking things about) or Lord of the Rings?
9.  What is your favourite childhood song (eg. Down by the Bay, The Cat Came Back, etc)?
10.  What do you usually have for breakfast?
11.  Pancakes or French toast?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Veggie Sloppy Joes

I love sloppy joes.  I think it goes along with my love of condiments and sauces.  After all, what sandwich is messier than a sloppy joe with all that sauce?

Being someone who doesn't eat animals, getting a good sloppy joe that I can eat is not always easy.  A lot of recipes either veer so close to meat as to be unappetizing to someone who hasn't eaten any in years, or so far from the original that I don't think it is fair to call them a sloppy joe any more.

Sometimes good quality soy ground round is a decent substitute, but it can often have a lot of sodium.

So, the other day, craving a sloppy joe, I came up with the following recipe on the fly. 

You will need:
1 can lentils
1 small to medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 cup strained tomatoes
tbsp prepared horseradish
dash or three of worchestershire sauce
a squirt of ketchup if you are so inclined
salt & pepper to taste

Begin by frying your onions in a medium to large frying pan.  When the onions have softened, add the garlic, carrots & celery.  When the vegetables have started to soften add the lentils and other remaining ingredients.  Let everything simmer until you get the desired consistency.  If you let it cook down farther than you intended, you can always add more strained tomatoes.

Serve on toast or nice crusty buns with a salad or your favourite steamed green vegetable.

Both partner (a definite omnivore) and kiddo thought these were delicious, so don't be afraid to try them with meat-lovers!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Randomly, the New Year: Hello 2013!

Once again, the days have slipped by me, and we're a few days into the new year.

I actually managed to complete four homemade presents this year!  I was very impressed with myself.  I usually only manage one homemade present. 
I made my dad a bunch of spice blends and sauce/soup bases.  My brother got a homemade scarf knit in a Shaker rib, which should help keep him warm this winter.  My lovely cousin-in-law got a crochet infinity scarf that I'm quite proud of, only I forgot to take a photo of it!  Then, my other cousin-in-law's three kiddos each got a little amiguri-style blob alien-monster.  Those I did remember to photograph!

Aren't they cute?  They were super quick, easy and the pattern was free!  The little cousins seemed to enjoy them too.

Of course, this being the new year means that I'm that much closer to returning to work and let me tell you I am freaking out.  We're still in the process of confirming daycare arrangements for the wee one (which is in itself a stressful endeavour.  It makes me wish for a return to Medieval or Renaissance times when most peasants worked out of their homes with the kids underfoot).  Things, of course, have changed at work while I've been away the past year.  I've changed while I've been away from work the past year.

I'm going to have to adjust to talking to grown-ups for most of the day.  Grown-ups who won't be easily distracted if I lose my train of thought mid-sentence by my singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" or blowing zerberts on their bellies.  Well, they'd be distracted, but they'd probably think that I've lost my mind.  Which I fear I may have done.  Eep.

Everyone tells me that it'll be fine.  Fingers crossed that the adjustment will be a smooth one!

In any event, I hope that you all had a lovely holiday season and I wish a better world for us all in the coming year.