Friday, May 30, 2014

Toddlers Confuse Me

Sometimes I wonder how the human species survives the toddler years.

Babies are cute and adorable little blobs who give you gummy smiles and generally do their best to endear themselves to you.  It is a matter of survival, and they know it - they need you to feed and protect them.

Toddlers are defiant little blighters who need your help to survive but refuse to admit it.  As they are tiny humans who are still learning social mores, they do completely irrational things, and often get away with it.

For example, it is considered perfectly normal for a toddler to eat their dinner wearing nothing but a bib and their undies.
Also normal? Biting, hitting, kicking and screaming to express their displeasure with something.  These displeasing things can include daddy touching your shoes, having a broken cracker, eating the last grape, or not being allowed outside in a snowstorm wearing only your pajamas and snowboots.

I may have sprained a key portion of my brain related to thought in the last weeks.  Possibly on the day she laid down on the sidewalk and refused to walk, but screamed "I BIG GIRL" when I offered to carry her and then tried to bite me when I tried to pick her up anyway.  Her plan was apparently to live on the sidewalk forever.

Then she got distracted by a cement truck that drove past.

I've suddenly lost my main point in writing this, but I think it is that while I love my child dearly - and it is hard not to when she wraps her arms around my neck and says "I wuv you mama" - sometimes, her actions, words and attempts at logic hurt my brain.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Garden 2014: A Start

The raised planter and some of the pots.  There are so many seedlings in this photo!

Gardening - it is a thing that I do sometimes.  I'm pretty lazy, so I don't always weed when I should, or remember to water consistently, and I have a toddler 'helper', so it is generally not worthy of a magazine photoshoot.  However, it is something that brings me pleasure, especially the bit where the food parts ripen and I get to eat them.  Plus, the toddler seems to enjoy being outside with her little gardening tools, digging holes and yelling "I help! I do it!"

I've planted stuff out back in the last few weekends, laughing (carefully, while knocking on wood, just in case) at the prospect of a late frost.  As gardens are always a work in progress, especially when you inherit a space, we're still working out some placement issues.  This means that there are still seed packets on my kitchen table, and empty pots in the shed.

Here is a little list of what is already in the ground (most seeds and seedlings I purchased from Urban Harvest, although a few seedlings came from one of the convenience stores near my home).

  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Mountain Princess Tomato (it is a determinate, so it is in a pot.  We'll see how it goes)
  • Isis Candy Cherry Tomato (isn't that a great name?  Apparently, the individual tomatoes ripen in all different colours. Whee!)
  • a rainbow pack of carrot seeds (including: Atomic Red, Cosmic Purple, Lunar White, Scarlet Nantes and Solar Yellow)
  • Six Week Bush Beans
  • Sugar Daddy Sugar Snap Peas
  • French Breakfast Radishes
  • Watermelon Radishes (not yet planted, but these are neat.  They are green inside instead of white, so they look like little watermelons)
  • Lipstick Sweet Red Pepper
  • Onions - I planted Evergreen Bunching Onion seeds, but something dug up that patch, so I planted yellow onion seedlings in the same area.  Hopefully, I'll get both!
  • A 'Lucious Lettuce' variety seed pack of lettuces
  • Dwarf Nasturtium
  • potatoes, that I took from our produce delivery box
  • French fingerling potatoes 
  • A new second blueberry plant (one of the two I planted last year got attacked by local wildlife and did not survive)
  • Two new strawberry plants (about half the existing strawberry patch did not survive the winter)
  • A sunflower mix (not yet planted)

I also added to the herbs.  The chives, oregano, thyme and lavender all survived the winter.  New is:

  • garden sage
  • spicy globe basil
  • dark opal basil
  • cinnamon basil (what can I say? I'm apparently a sucker for basil) 
  • and an additional bit of lavender.

Are you planting anything this season?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Garlic-Spinach-Tomato-Mushroom Spaghetti Delicious

If you have small children, you'll understand the needing to get food into tiny faces before a certain time, else you face the wrath of a major toddler HANGRY meltdown.
So, yesterday, by the time we got home, we were seriously behind schedule.  I did not have a lot of time to throw something together for dinner, and judging from the behaviour I was facing, we were close to witching hour. Fortunately for me, yesterday was also the day we receive our weekly produce bin, so food was at hand!

I threw this together quickly, while distracting a toddler with crackers, and preventing her from breaking herself or the kitchen.  It turned out to be pretty gosh darned delicious, so I'm sharing my dinner win with you.

To make my tasty, last minute, Garlic-Spinach-Tomato-Mushroom Spaghetti, you will need:

spaghetti or other long noodles
3-4 large white mushrooms, washed & sliced (I only used 2 yesterday, but more would have been better)
1/3 lb spinach, washed and roughly chopped (ie. a big bunch of spinach)
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil
grated parmesan cheese

Get the noodles started as per package directions.  Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  When the oil is warm, add your garlic & mushrooms.  Stir occasionally so the garlic doesn't burn.  Let the toddler have a turn with the salad spinner full of just washed spinach while you do this so they let go of your knee.

When the mushrooms start to look a little bit cooked, throw in the spinach.  It will wilt down by a lot, so don't worry if the pan looks ridiculously full. When the spinach has all wilted down, so that there is space in your pan again, add the pint of cherry tomatoes, and then salt & pepper to taste.  Give everything another stir.

At about this point, your spaghetti will likely be done.  Drain your noodles, reserving 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the pasta water and toss the lot into your frying pan.  Toss everything together until it is all well mixed.

Serve with lots of grated parmesan.

I hope you enjoy!