Tuesday, January 31, 2012

recipe share: apple and cheese muffins

Apple and Cheese Muffins
i make muffins all the time. they're quick and easy. most of the ingredients are always on hand. and we eat them pretty much throughout the day. 

i make these particular muffins at least once a month and my family devours them!

this recipe is adapted from ana olson’s original apple date cheddar muffins but i’ve fiddled with them enough to make them my own by cutting out the refined sugar quotient and nixing the dates. but by all means, use what you have on hand and keep the dates if you like.


1 egg
¼ vegetable oil
1 cup milk
½ cup honey, maple syrup, or sugar (add up to 1 cup if you like your muffins on the sweeter side)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour* (Or 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat or whatever combination you wish; I sometimes even add ground almonds to the mix)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda (optional – i just think adding this yields lighter muffins)
1 cup apples, grated or diced (we like granny smith)
1 cup grated sharp cheese (we like a combination of dubliner and parmegianno reggiano)
flaked almonds for topping (optional. you can choose to top with some cheese instead)

  1. preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  2. mix the egg, the oil, the milk, and the honey together. 
  3. mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. 
  4. four the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. 
  5. fold in the grated apple and cheese. 
  6. divide the batter according to the greased or lined muffin tin you own (ours makes 12). 
  7. top with flaked almonds. 
  8. bake for 30 minutes. you will know when it’s done because the muffins will have risen, the almonds will be slightly browned, and the muffins are well set. 
  9. enjoy warm - with or without butter any time of day. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

afternoon at the beach

it's been some tough parenting days, let me tell you. i'm not sure if it's the position of the moon, something in the water, or what. all i can say is that it's been mighty challenging.

although the weather really hasn't been helping, the soul of the universe afforded us one glorious day of sun last week.

which we spent in a movie theatre.

where we took turns watching the movie.

after the movie, we went for a walk on the beach.

you wouldn't know to look at these photos just how many disagreements there were. 

we were both so grateful to be able to take a breath away from ourselves to look around and observe all there was to see, to smell, and to touch. 

"imagine we were having this day at home..." i would say. 

and all the wife could do was nod and smile and attend to whichever babe needed one of us first.

gorgeous moments did abound as you can see.

which is just how i want to remember this day. 

because i know that when the toddler days have passed and when we begin to fight about all things we're going to fight about in the kindergarden days, the tweens, teens, and beyond - these are some of the moments i'm going to really miss.

now if only i could only find a way to curb my temper. and theirs.

Friday, January 27, 2012

{this moment}

friday ritual i've adopted from one of my favourite mama bloggers, soulemama

each week, she (and others she's inspired) shares a single photograph, without words, of a moment that merits savouring.

here's this week's photo.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

humility lesson

i discovered something about myself yesterday when i found myself ripping out an entire ball's worth of knitting.

i knit like i approach everything else in my life.

i start off, excited. not fussed about the details. raring to go. 

then, i plow ahead. without much regard for the details. i want to discover what's ahead. i'm willing to make mistakes. i'm even more willing to go the distance to meet and exceed whatever goal i've set for myself. 

sometimes this works for me. the story ends in triumph. success. accolades. cheering. all of which is in my head. the point is, i feel good about myself. which means i'm encouraged to repeat this courageous approach to the new and exciting. 

but every now and again, courage and willingness alone does not serve me well. 

for the love of knitting for myself, i cast on for an oatmeal pullover: my very first attempt at an adult-sized sweater. 

i cast on well enough. read the instructions and knitted away. it was such a quick and satisfying it, i was already fantasizing about modelling the sweater for you all next week.

at around the third step, i relied on my memory of the pattern rather than double-checking the instructions. disaster. if i had continued, my right arm would have been pointing to my left shoe, were i to attempt to wear it. 

i've started over since. i know there's no harm in starting over. especially when the consequences can potentially be detrimental.

but the lesson has stuck. in my personal, professional, and knitting life.

sometimes it is important to carefully go through and appreciate the process. most times, double-checking and triple-checking the facts really pays. 

i know, right? duh.

so here's to making a mindful effort to take my time. at everything. and see where this new approach at life takes me.

just because i live with toddlers, it doesn't mean i should think like one (all the time, anyway).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

knit parade: accessories for everyone

i'm fairly new to the knitting world. but because of ravelry, i have come to the realization that there are all kinds of knitters: sock knitters, sweater knitters, etc. i am what they call an advanced beginner. but also, i seem to fall in the “accessory knitters” category most of the time because i am all about instant gratification. I plan to diversify anon.

but for now, i want to show you some of the things i've made recently.

for the wife
i surprised the wife with this last-minute gift in her stocking this year. she has barely taken it off since she got it. which means she can be guaranteed more knitted gifts in her future.

i loved knitting this cowl. it required very little yarn and it was such a fast knit. i see more of these on my needles in the future, for sure! the yarn was so soft and supple to work with. really delicious and definitely on the “want-to-knit-with-again” list.

pattern: bandana cowl
for the girl
thanks to the generosity of friends and neighbours, the girl is not wanting for sweaters. but I was thinking of keeping her core warm in spring when I saw this pattern and how adorable she would look in her very own baby shawl! i knitted the larger size because growing is just what she does. and it’s love. it’s sizing quite a bit larger than I had hoped, so I just might knit her the smaller size anyway because it's such a fun and fast knit.

for me!
I knit for my family all the time, but I’m gonna let you in on my dirty little secret. I love knitting for myself. like a lot. alotalotalotalot. such a silly and wonderful indulgence, but there it is.

this is my second simple pleasures hat.

the first hat was a knit for me but the wife loved it so much, she stole it. so this hat, i knit for myself. because she would never wear these colours. heck, ask anyone who’s ever known me. i have never worn these colours. but vancouver winters are so dreary, i've found myself injecting bits of yellow and green in my home and in my wardrobe of late.

pattern: simple pleasures hat
yarn: malabrigo lace and knitpicks aloft held together

i felt so clumsy knitting with lace weight yarn but the results were worth it. the hat is light and airy but so warm. and it has the perfect slouch. plus, the texture that happens when you add a “hairy yarn” to the mix makes it “pettable.” yes. you would pet my hat if you saw it. it looks that soft.  i have to say though, i am not really a big fan of knitting with hairy yarn (aloft is the hairy yarn. the malabrigo was lovely. malabrigo is always lovely). it sometimes felt like I was knitting with cat hair, to be honest. but the hat, i am in love with. and it feels nothing like cat hair when you're wearing it. 

i also made myself a pair of mittens.

i am so. in love. with these mittens. such a wonderfully simple pattern that will always yield unique and beautiful results depending on the yarn you use. i'm already itching to make another pair. i knit the mittens longer than required because i wanted gauntlets to wear with 3/4 length sweaters. i didn't do a great job. i typically fudge a few things here and there when i'm knitting something new. but i'm alright with the results. my favourite yarn of all (so far in my knitting life) is not only snuggly and warm and downy and bouncy - has a hand-spun quality that is slightly irregular, add to that the fact that its hand-dyed, malabrigo worsted forgives mistakes by its very nature

for the boy
I made this scarf for the boy, at his request so that he could match the dog he insisted on taking home with us one day.

the boy won’t wear it.  that is all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

the rain don't get us down

my wish for snow has been thwarted by what appears to be the arrival of early spring.

in vancouver, this means steady and unrelenting rainfall. like full on dark and stormy days. and when it’s not dark and stormy, it’s misting steadily. and when it's not misting steadily, it's all cloud, with no silver lining in sight.

it can all get pretty depressing.

but we choose to rage against the dreary, we do. 

we dress the kids in super-warm clothing. we throw them both in our best stroller. and we prepare to get really, really wet.

 if only to run a few errands.

like buy an umbrella.

because there isn't any point in all four of us bouncing off the walls together on a rainy day.

Monday, January 23, 2012

date night

on saturday the wife and i went on a date.

the restaurant was mediocre (but not terrible). the process of getting ready, leaving the kids, and then journeying downtown was just a tad epic.

but the time we gave ourselves to remember what it was like when it was just the two of us, to reconnect, to reflect on the path we've taken, and to plan the days ahead - was not only worth the trouble, it was necessary.

we talked. we talked to each other and not at each other. we talked about the fact that we are not perfect people. we commiserated about the fact that we are not perfect parents. 

we agreed that it was just as important that our kids understand that our imperfections exist. 

we rag on them all the time about so many things. because we want them to be safe. because we want them to be good people. because we want them to be happy. 

but then too many times we get impatient. or we happen to be cranky or tired. we forget to really listen and pay attention to what our kids really need because we want something else for ourselves. because we're human too.

and that, right there, beyond don't carpe diem, is the lesson i want to continue to embrace as i raise my children. 

i am not a perfect person.

i won't ever claim to be a perfect mother.

but i am determined to share that part of my self with my children too. 

i already apologize to my children every time i overreact or do something outside of my own expectations. and so does the wife.

for so many reasons: so that they will learn how to apologize freely, on their own, when they make their own mistakes (someday). so that they can see that giving way to humility can strengthen their own sense of pride. so they'll know that making mistakes is part of growing up. and that growing up is a process. that growing up doesn't stop. 

that perfect doesn't exist.  

once i apologized to the boy for snapping at him because he was whining. he really wasn't misbehaving. he was impatient. and i didn't respond to his request. he's only nearly 3. he doesn't know what considerate looks like. and i'm 12X his age. it's my job to show him what considerate looks like. whatever the reason for my own brand of cranky, all the boy knows was that he asked for something and i then snapped. so he cried. hard. ashamed of myself, i hugged him and whispered an apology in his ear. i told him i was having a bad day and that i was grouchy. there was a beat. and then he said, "what happened, mommy?" which was enough to break my heart.

i answered him honestly: "i'm sorry son. sometimes i get cranky for no reason. just like you. it's not your fault. okay?" and then he nodded. i took a breath, and then we played together.

mothering, for me, has been a constant battle between reconciling the person that i am (the things i want for myself) and the mother i want to be. sharing some part of my own journey in self-awareness has given me permission to go easy on myself and show my children the respect they deserve.

and i fail. 

we fail our own expectations constantly. but all we can do is rally mindfulness and get better at patience and parenting, for our children, each other, and ourselves.

yes. these are the things we talked about on our first date night in 2012.


the wife returns to work next week. life as we know it, and as we've just gotten used to as a family, is going to change once again. this means cranky children and cranky parents for a little while. 

the best we can do is take each step one at a time and choose to recognize the gorgeous moments when they do happen.

and when we can no longer distinguish the gorgeous moments from the ugly ones, we are resolved to work together to change the situation and start again, with as much grace as we can.


for the record, there was a heck of a lot of ugly and gorgeous today. just 30 minutes ago. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

{these moments}

this is a friday ritual i've adopted from one of my favourite mama bloggers, soulemama

each week, she (and others she's inspired) shares a single photograph, without words, of a moment that merits savouring. 

this week, i have a few moments to share.

photo by the wife (but i was there)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

wishing for snow

much of the west coast has been experiencing snow storms. 

and i have snow envy.

the snow we get in south vancouver is equivalent to the snow that heralds spring in toronto.

i have been wishing to wake up to a pristine blanket of white outside my window every year since the boy was old enough to appreciate the idea of building a snow man.

as it is, we've had to go up a mountain to enjoy a bit more full coverage.

and we do embrace the snow we get.

but being that it's only january (and at the risk of friends who believe that snow should only be enjoyed up a mountain)...

i will keep wishing for just one day of gorgeously soft, slow-falling, flaky confectioners' sugar snow. 

we promise 
we'll watch the snow fall
build a snow family
make snow angels
throw snowballs
go tobogganing 
let the girl crawl around in it
drink really good hot chocolate
eat soup

photo taken by the wife 

don't get me wrong. i love living in vancouver. i love that it rarely ever gets as cold as it does in all the other provinces. 

but the first real snowfall of the year where the entire world looks freshly iced? that i really miss.

plus, i'd really like an opportunity to show my kid that there are far better, more hygienic ways to enjoy snow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

knit parade: experiments with colour

pattern: toddler vest by sam lamb
i originally  made the vest for the boy last april. i meant to knit a longer sweater vest so that it would fit him for a while. alas, according to the wife, the sweater was far too "girly." i disagree. but it so happens that the sweater vest/dress suits the girl much more than it suits the boy after all. and it should fit for a while so i am mighty pleased.

yarn: diamond luxury superwash with noro kureyon stripes
both yarns were nice to knit with but a bit scratchier on the skin than i would like. the diamond luxury yarn is already pilling. but knitting with noro is always fun because the colours always reveal themselves unexpectedly. i think i'll try noro silk garden next time.


pattern: tulips for baby
inspired by yarnharlot, i bought this pattern as a kit at lettuce knit when we were last in toronto. i accidentally went 3 needles sizes up, which meant that the sweater came out larger than intended. which also, happily, means the girl will be able wear the sweater well into next year. i would probably rearrange the colour if i had to do it over again though.

yarn: dream in colour classy
the yarn feels good in the hand to knit. lovely semi-solid colourways. machine washable. minimal to no itch. what's not to love?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

progress report

when i dropped him off at preschool yesterday morning, he didn't kiss me be goodbye. 

he didn't even look up to watch me go. he was far too busy sharing the contents of his backpack with his new friends (a dolphin and an elephant, if you must know. and the card of a police officer we met over the weekend). 

there was neither embarrassment, nor head butt. not even a kiss.

he believes us now. we will always be back for him.

moments like this: proud-making as they are heart-breaking.

photo taken by the wife

Monday, January 16, 2012

storming and norming

it's incredible when at last, it happens.

when the younger babe is strong enough and has the wherewithal to stand up and purposefully walk towards wherever her older brother happens to be: just to see what he's doing and to find out just what there is to explore in the vicinity.

then, there is the older babe - who is not only strong enough to roll all over/push/hit his little sister or grab whatever she's holding out of her hands (because he can)- but also has the autonomy, vocabulary, and self-awareness to say things like: 

"sister, don't do that!"
"sister's breaking my dolphin!"
"don't eat that, sister!"
"sister's hurting me!"
"momma, take sister away, please?"

and then there are more miracles.

sometimes these miracles last up to 10 minutes: the promise of a budding 'frien-emy" and ultimate loyalty that comes from growing up together and weathering the tribulations of being raised by their moms.

but these days, mostly, i cling to the hope that i can someday
cook a meal 
clean a bit
read again 

- without having to resort to turning on the television (more than "necessary" anyway).

Friday, January 13, 2012

{this moment}

this is a friday ritual i've adopted from one of my favourite mama bloggers, soulemama

each week, she shares a single photograph, without words, of a moment that merits savouring. 

this one's mine.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

10 minutes to gratitude

walking home from dropping the boy off at preschool has become an unexpected gift.

i get 10 minutes.

to listen.
to notice.


to remember 
what it was like,

to put one foot
in front 
of the other,

to be 

whatever state of mind i began with,

it's a 10-minute gift
to walk home 
and find myself

even if i still have the morning grumpies.