Monday, September 22, 2008

Can We Make a Pumpkin Pie Mommy? (Recipe Included)

I have discovered that, as my child ages (she's now 3) her expectations of me also increase. It is fall and along with these cooler days comes seasonal decorations that include pumpkins. Gorgeous little pie pumpkins that are a perfect size for my daughter to hold. Accompanying this gesture of veggie affection is a a complementary vocabulary - for example "can we make pumpkin pie Mommy?" Imagine, if you will, my facial expression the first time this is uttered... Make pumpkin pie...hmmm...sure honey!

What am I thinking? I'm no baker and am quite honest about this culinary deficit but when your own child looks you in the face with such glee and you, yourself, have very fond memories of your own mother baking up sheer masterpieces, you wish to give this same dessert foundation experience to your own offspring. "Sure honey - let's make pie!"

Then comes a good 5 to 7 days of frenzied requests to friends for a recipe and/or a frantic search through your own mental rolodex of "can't-do-it" excuses. No excuse seems sufficient and you've got to keep the "big ones" for situations that truly merit them (example - "no we can't have Christmas at Grandma's house this year - how will Santa know where to deliver surprises?")

Alas, if any of you are crazy enough to commit to such obligations, I thought I could at least provide you a recipe. Let me know how your pie turns out...

Pumpkin pie (from fresh pumpkin)

2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin
12 oz Carnation milk
2 eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt

PREHEAT OVEN TO 400F 1/2 pumpkin, scoop out seeds and stringy portions. Cut into chunks and boil in about 1 inch of boiling water, Drain, cool and remove peel. Mash, drain well again. Roll out crust and transfer to pie pan. With mixer on medium, beat pumpkin with evaporated milk, eggs, brown sugar and spices. Mix well. Pour into crust. Bake 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean

Servings: 8

Thank you to for providing the recipe :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Random Marble

I just stepped on a marble as I was walking across the floor and I’m not sure if it’s one that my daughter left behind or, perhaps, one of the few remaining ones lost from my own head. Either way, I picked it up and put in my pocket. You can never be too safe.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Miss My Period

What!? What??? Does this imply good news? A great surprise? A sick sense of self-loathing..?? Close that thought - wipe your mind clear of any preconceived notions - and consider this. I miss the period at the end of my sentences.

What?! This woman's ticking nuts - what the pink twill does she mean?

I waited a long time for my toddler to talk. At least it felt like a long time because she came out of the womb frustrated that she didn't have full expressive language! Until she could begin to express herself verbally she was a wailing, screaming dervish and once she began to articulate words, her dervish dropped off significantly and a collective breath of relief passed through our household instead.
Throughout this extended phase, a number of veteran parents would say - "first you are praying for them to talk, then you are praying for them to be quiet". Yes, indeed.

Now, my daughter is a toddler - in fact, moving into her "preschool" years and her chatter is welcome but incessant. There are whole days in which I've not heard the end of a single sentence that I've started - and I miss my period. I would find that punctuation-of-pause a relief - "yeah, a finished thought!" My daughter's mind, and now her mouth, runs from thought to thought enthusiastically and it's not so much about the individual thought itself but more about the opportunity to explore so many thoughts in toddler "real time". "Toddler real time" is - for every one adult second, there are 4.2 toddler seconds and for each toddler second there is an independent and unique thought. Within our one second or one effort to speak or respond, our toddler is already onto another thought - or 4.2 several. We are left with our mouth hanging open or our tongue bit in frustration and a slightly louder voice with our next barely-there response. Sigh...

It's fun to sit back and simply watch our little one's brain at!! Slow down!! Child, you're going to self-destruct with the infinite possibilities playing tennis in your head! In the meantime parents, know that you will (eventually) and with great patience and repeat interuptions, teach your child social graces - like allowing a person to finish their sentence - period!

Know what I mean? Leave a comment below - I won't interrupt I promise.

Friday, September 12, 2008

How Do You Recharge?

I'm wondering if that is actually my own drooping eye-bags that I feel resting against my cheeks...

It's been a busy two weeks of transitioning back to school along with all the normal "crazy-ness" and I'm wondering where I'll find a moment to recover some of my waning energies. Each day feels as though I am beginning a packed-full day on a half-full tank. It is not a complaint - I lead a full and productive life. I am merely pondering - as my lower eyelids rest comfortably on my face - what can I cram into an already busy lifestyle that is purely self-indulgent. A hobby perhaps...

It's got me thinking - why not think something so simple as a hobby to death - that I wonder what other people do for fun, to unwind, or to give yourself a moment (or several) of simple pleasure.

Do you scrapbook?

Enjoy a glass of wine?

A nice cup of tea?

A jog?

Some rock wall climbing?

Read a good book?

Catch up on some blogs?

My mind literally becomes overwhelmed with possibilities and I'm left unmotivated to start any one of them...where would I begin? I'm seeking a way to form a new habit that is purely meant to sooth and nurture my spirit, so I can appreciate this life's journey a little more - feel like I have a say in it rather than feel that I'm being pushed around by it. How do you begin a new hobby? Give me some ideas...

I'm a firm believer (read previous posts) that breaking tasks down into simple steps is an easy way to get things done - without excuses that "there's no time!". But I need some inspiration so I ask you - the reader - this...

1) what can you suggest as indulgent hobbies? something you've enjoyed or, perhaps, something you've always been curious to try?

2) what has stopped you from finding and participating in a hobby?

3) what advise would you give me to get started?

I'd like to see your comments. This could be a grand starting point as a motivational tool in all of our crazy, overworked lives!

I gently push my saggy eyelids back into their rightful place, take a deep affirming breath and click "post"...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cheers to the Apple Season - Recipe

In the 'Spirit' of Apple Season
Did you think it was going to be a back-to-school lunch box or dinner time recipe? We've enough of those I think - now, let's raise a glass to the season and a couple more gray hair earned in the transition -

Sour Apple Martini Recipe
3 oz. Lemon Lime Juice
3 oz. Apple Juice
1 oz. Dekuyper Sour Apple Pucker Schnapps (R)
1 oz. Absolut Vodka (R)

Directions: In a tall glass with ice, add two alcohols and then the apple juice and soda. Stir and enjoy!

Have your own martini recipe? Send it to and we will post it on the blog

Friday, September 5, 2008

Transition Back to School

Guest Blogger - Andriana Mantas, Collaborative Minds

September brings along many changes with children attending schools or child care programs. Whether this is your child’s first year of school or re-entering the same school in a different classroom, many emotions and events are occurring both for you and your child. Some of these might be: will he/she socialize? Will the teacher be receptive to my child’s needs? Will he/she be able to acclimatize? Children naturally gravitate to other peers as part of the stages of play development. Having open dialogue with your child’s teacher is important. This can occur at the end of the day or you may choose a communication book. Regardless of their age, prepare your child and allow them to bring a favourite item from home.

How to ease the transition from summer holidays to school mode? It is important to create a consistent routine or schedule of events. First and foremost, establish routines that can be easily implemented for you and your family. Routines cater to the needs of the family offering good communication, identifying items of importance and promoting a sense of togetherness. Routines help families to organize themselves as in morning drop off or evening pick up. Children appreciate the consistent activity and predictability that routines provide. Begin by setting up an after-school routine which ends with bed-time. Try to include low key activities towards the end of the day and provide warnings as the family moves into the next activity. For example, “after this game, it’s bath time.” Keep routines consistent and follow them daily, even on the week-ends.
And if you have yet to find suitable child care arrangements, what options do you have? First decide if you prefer a location close to home or place of work. Some options are a child care centre or nursery school, home care provider, and nanny.

When deciding upon a child care centre or nursery school, conduct telephone interviews, inquire about availability, age range, teacher-child ratio, teacher qualifications, understanding the program schedule outlining the schedule in more detail, nutrition, number of years in service, licensing and hours of operation, then go out for a visit. More information can be found at If a home care provider is preferable, the search can be made via an agency or on your own. By visiting the home and meeting the provider, ensure that the learning environment is supportive and conducive to your child. Having a Nanny could also pose a viable solution. There are agencies that represent Nannies or the selection can be done independently. Once again take the time to meet and interview all potential nannies who will be able to meet the needs of your child.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Knock, Knock...Socks Here

Perish the thought - am I jumping ahead a little? I packed my daughter for her first day of school today and, fortunately, it is a beautiful sunny day and sandals were our footwear of choice. As I was strapping up, a moment of forethought brought the realization that our sandal days are numbered. Soon, fall and, perish the thought, winter will be upon us, and sandals will be retired or, if worn as intensely as mine, discarded entirely. Sock drawers will be rummaged through - a sigh exhaled over the tired selection and shoes will be withdrawn from their closeted hibernation. Subconsciously, as I write this, my toes have stretched themselves in unusual directions as though already escaping the confines of sock and shoe. Let's pause for a moment of reflective, toe-polished silence...

Now, I believe in getting my life organized in small reasonable chunks. In fact, I have learned this method through years (and years and years) of watching my mother, myself and most friends that I know, experience intense and heart-pounding moments (ney, days) of frustrations because we "can't get it all done", "can't get caught up", "can't get enough help", "can't ________(you place your own complaint)". We can go for years, perhaps our entire lifetime, of not realizing that it's not, in fact, the time/help/circumstance factor that is causing such chaos and disorder in our lives - it is only us. Yes, you. Know that this is no criticism - I don't believe in kicking someone when they're down - it is meant to be the pep talk that I think we've all needed at some point in our lives - as we weep over the mountain of laundry that appears to clone itself, as we curse over the piled up bills that won't file themselves and as we wail to any victim passing within earshot and yet unable to hear. My suggestion, as it pertains to the transition from sandals to socks is this - don't go into the closet believing that the closet needs to be "cleaned up", that the winter clothes shopping needs to be done 'right now!" (save that as a reward for later) and that the bag of donations must be delivered today or the poor sods will freeze - otherwise, this simple transition has already taken on astronomical proportions and your heart rate has already gone up in a non-positive fashion. Busy families can grab 5 minutes at a time, at best, so work with that...

Enter the sock drawer and purge. I am laughing out loud as I realize I knowingly wore mismatched socks last year. A charcoal gray and a light gray pair each lost their respective partners but I said to myself "there's still plenty of wear left in these close friends" and I kept the darn things. With a summer's worth of distance between myself and that stupid decision I can now enter my drawer, locate the not-quite-right pair and toss 'em. But don't stop there - bring the garbage can with you - purge the unsightly, holed, mismatched socks from each drawer in your home. It shouldn't take you more than 5 minutes if you keep yourself focused. Don't even think about opening the t-shirt drawers or, heaven forbid, your undies. Keep your eyes on your feet and plod on...

When you are finished, walk away - know that you have completed a part of the seasons preparatory tasks in a very reasonable time frame.

Break each step of this foot-garnishing ritual into 5-minute challenges. Get the kid(s) involved (if it will help the process rather than hinder it). Set a timer to add extra motivation to keeping it to five minutes and whether the task is done or not, walk away when the timer dings. I enjoy a favourite song rather than a timer because I find myself singing / dancing along and quite enjoying the moment - I walk away when the song is done. If you hit 'repeat' on the stereo, consider that you may have an obsessive-compulsive flaw and should possibly seek professional help.

Suggested 5-minute challenges to get the 'big task' done:
* Empty current closet of all summer wear discarding those too-worn sandals (please don't make me look at them again next year - are you trying to evoke pity from friends?) and keeping the in-good-shape ones in the closet still (gotta wear something until you pull warm shoes out, right?
* When you are next out on errands and anywhere near a clothing retailer (ex. getting diapers at Walmart) then swing around and pick up the socks that you need for the family. Don't get distracted - this is only supposed to add five minutes to your errand.
* Pull out warm footwear and purge too-ratty pairs from each member of the family - make mental note of what needs to be replaced. Give a vacuum or a sweep from their seasonally ignored location.
* When it is now consistently too chilly to hang onto the sandals, grab a laundry basket, pile the summer gear into it and dump about 2 feet away from the winter gears home. Transfer the winter gear into the basket, play a game of toss and match in that deep-closet location with the summer stuff and take the basket of the winter stuff to the most active closet and deposit it. Unless, your family is vigilant about lining things up (again, consider professional help) leave the darn things in a reasonable pile. There is a good chance that is the same pile you will see - and successfully retrieve - your own shoes from for the upcoming season and everyone else seems to do just fine too. Really, you must pick your battles and learn to let the small things go...

For the sake of variety in a day, you can incorporate a couple five-minute challenges from different parts of your home - winter clothes, packing away the outdoor furniture, clearing out the no-longer-used toys, etc so that you feel as though you are making progress in a few areas. As long as progress is made, stop beating yourself up over your unreasonable desire to get-it-all-done. Recognize your strengths - that you are attending to everything in an organized and do-able fashion - pat yourself on the back for that success and grab a coffee.

Send your sock drawer pictures to or post a comment below - and why not send in your own 5-minute challenge idea?