Weekend at Home – In the Kitchen

I love to cook, I love to bake. If you know me, or if you read this blog, you know this. But sometimes I find that cooking gets a little tedious for me. If I haven't planned ahead, it's getting home at 5:00 pm through the week, and thinking to myself, what the heck am I going to cook? What can I throw together to get supper on the table fast?

It loses something like this. The passion goes out of it and it becomes a pain in the ass. Then the weekend comes and we go out somewhere, or you just don't feel like it, so you just eat whatever. It's not always like this, but sometimes that's the way it goes.

This weekend the weather has been BAD. I figured that we weren't going anywhere and that we wouldn't be seeing anyone. I got up Yesterday morning and thought to myself: I feel like cooking! I feel like baking! A quick trip out to the store (once the laneway was shovelled) and I was good to go. I thought I would share some pictures of some of the things I made. Though if you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen these. ūüôā

 

The beginnings of Italian Wedding Soup

The little meatballs that go in

The finished product

Homemade spaghetti sauce at the beginning stages

A few hours later, all done.

Tasty lemon loaf

A meatloaf – last nights supper.

This morning I made a banana bread.

 

I had a lovely weekend, home with my family.

Now I have to figure out what to cook for supper tonight. I was thinking a nice teriyaki chicken…stay tuned!

 

10 Things I Want to Teach My Kid

School
Off to school to learn stuff. But there is so much that I want to teach him that you can’t learn in school.

We are only on this earth for so long. ¬†We only have so many opportunities to learn from life, and we learn so much from our parents, and older relatives, and those that are supposed to be smarter than us. ¬†It’s human nature. ¬†We learn from and emulate those that set examples for us. ¬†Those that we love, those that we trust, those that raise us. ¬†Sometimes we learn about the type of person that we want to be, sometimes we watch them struggle with things and resolve never to have to deal with their issues ourselves. ¬†Either way you look at it, either way it goes, it’s still learning something.

I have a 5 year old son. ¬†I love him to pieces. ¬†He is the most important thing in the world to me. ¬†People come and go in your life. ¬†But your children come from you and they will always be yours. ¬†You will always bear some type of responsibility where they are concerned, and it is up to us as parents to do everything we can to give them a good start. ¬†Good values, the ability to see what is right from what is wrong, and to be able to prioritize things in life so we don’t let trivial things get in the way of what is truly important. ¬†We need to give them the tools to have good relationships, to treat people with respect and dignity, and to grow up to be aware individuals that will contribute in a meaningful way to society.

In order to do this, we need to teach them things. ¬†By example and by just plain telling them and showing them how. ¬†If I leave this world tomorrow if I get hit by a bus, or 50 years from now from natural causes (what I’m hoping for) or anything in between, there are things that I want to teach my kid before I go. ¬†Lessons that I want him to learn from me, and from my example.

The top 10 things, in no particular order are:

1. Take risks. ¬†Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. ¬†If someone gives you an opportunity to do something, don’t stand back shaking your head because you’re scared. ¬†Take the plunge and do things that are out of your comfort zone. ¬†You’ll have a lot more regrets in life because of the things you didn’t do because you were scared than the things you did do.

2. Be responsible.  This ties in closely with taking risks.  Every little thing you do has an impact.  It impacts your life and the lives of those around you.  Always think about how your actions may reflect on others.  Think twice before you speak.  If it looks negative, think twice about it and tread very carefully.  Rely on your basic knowledge of right and wrong (which hopefully I will have taught you) when making decisions.  When you take the risks above, always be responsible and safe, never putting a whim ahead of your own safety or that of others.

3. Believe in something. ¬†I’m raising you in the Catholic faith, as I was raised and your father ¬†was as well. ¬†I have you in Catholic school, take you to church, and pray with you every night. ¬†This is my gift to you. ¬†As you get older, your beliefs may change. ¬†You may take different paths, begin believing in different things. ¬†You may meet a girl (or boy – who knows?) that shows you a different way of life, a different type of faith, and that’s okay. ¬†As long as you have something to believe in, somewhere to go, someone to pray to, a community to support you. ¬†A good, solid belief system and set of values to live your life by, that teaches you to treat others as you want to be treated.

4.¬†Look after yourself. ¬†There may come a time in life where you may be alone. ¬†You may move away from your family for a job or school, you may just live on your own sometime, doing your thing. ¬†Know how to look after yourself. ¬†Learn how to cook, how to do laundry (including how to properly fold a fitted sheet). ¬†Learn how to properly clean a bathroom and remember to change your sheets once a week. ¬†These are all important things that some people, men in particular (sorry guys, but it’s true!) never learn to do. ¬†They wait for others to do it for them. ¬†They eat out 4 days a week and survive on ramen noodles and Kraft Dinner the other days. ¬†Learn to do things for yourself and you’ll never have to rely on others.

5.¬†It’s okay to ask for and accept help.¬† This ties in with the above point. ¬†While you should know how to look after yourself, it’s absolutely okay to ask for and accept help sometimes. ¬†Sometimes you just can’t do it all alone. ¬†Sometimes you just don’t want to do it all alone. ¬†It’s okay to let someone you trust in to share the burdens life brings, both mental and physical. ¬†There is no shame in it. ¬†And chances are, those that love you will be more than happy to help if you only ask.

6.¬†Never lose sight of who you are. ¬†You will meet people in life that want you to change. ¬†You know what? ¬†Sometimes that’s okay. ¬†Sometimes a change of behaviour is needed. ¬†You’re not always right about everything. ¬†There may be a better way of doing things. ¬†But if someone asks you or tries to make you become someone you are not, or do something that goes directly against what you believe in, don’t be afraid to put on the brakes. ¬†Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in and who you are and say – “I am who I am. ¬†If you don’t love me for it, then love me in spite of it. ¬†But don’t try to change the essence of me, because I’m worth being me.” ¬†Healthy relationships are wonderful, but never let someone else define who you are.

7.¬†Money isn’t everything.¬† We’ve all heard it before, and we’ve all rolled our eyes at it. ¬†Sure, money doesn’t fix your problems but it sure helps to make life easier. ¬†Which is true. ¬†I’ve gone through financial difficulties, and I will admit – life is a lot easier to plan when you don’t have to worry so much about where your next dollar is coming from. ¬†It’s important to plan for your future. ¬†It’s important to be responsible enough to make sure your bills are paid and you’re saving for retirement. ¬†But it’s also important to live life. ¬†Treat yourself to indulgences every now and then if you can. ¬†Have fun. ¬†Do things. ¬†Don’t wait until you’re 65 and filthy rich to start living life. ¬†Live it every day and don’t have regrets.

8.¬†Stay in school. ¬†Education is everything. ¬†It gives you opportunities, it opens doors. ¬†Even when things get hard, find a way. ¬†Finish. ¬†If the opportunity is there, learn more. ¬†Always keep your mind open to learning new things. ¬†Read, read, read. ¬†Read anything you can get your hands on. ¬†Books, magazines, online or in print. ¬†Worlds can be opened to you by reading, and it’s often free. ¬†Always remain a student – in the classroom or in life.

9.¬†Work hard and give your best in everything you do. ¬†If you can look back and say “I did my absolute best” you will never regret not trying hard enough. ¬†When you work hard, people see it and you go can places because of it. ¬†Your work ethic and reputation will precede you wherever you go. ¬†Work hard and live up to it.

10.¬†Love DOES conquer all. ¬†Love people. ¬†Allow yourself to be loved. ¬†A safe, healthy, loving relationship is one of life’s greatest gifts. ¬†Don’t shut yourself off from those who love you, no matter how easy it may be to do so. ¬†Sometimes love is hard. ¬†Sometimes it’s about loving someone so much that you realize that you need to let them go in order for you both to be happy – because together it just doesn’t work. ¬†Don’t be afraid or shy to show your love. ¬†Love your friends, and tell them you love them. ¬†If someday you are blessed with children, make sure they know every night when they rest their head on their pillow that they are the most precious thing in the world to you. ¬†Give love freely, and accept it freely…….especially from your mother. ¬†ūüėČ

Just 10.  There are so many more.  And so many more that he has taught me or reminded me of in his five years.  Maybe that will be what my next post is about.

Summer Vacation – First Update

 

 

Good Tuesday Morning! Second official day of vacation, but technically, I've been off since Friday. It feels good. It's nice, because for the first time in recent memory, Joe and I have vacation at the same time.

So what have we been up to? Keeping busy I guess. The weather has been so so up to this point, but I'm hoping it turns around. Saturday was Nicholas' last day of soccer and it was downright cold. Yesterday we went to visit our friend Jolene in St Catherines and went all tourist to Niagara Falls. I haven't been tourist there for many years unless you count when Joe and I went in October for our anniversary, and we didn't really do anything touristy then. Nicholas has never been to Niagara Falls before, so we thought this would be a good opportunity for him to experience some of it.

Needless to say, he thought it was pretty cool. All our talk about the “big waterfall” didn't really prepare him for how big Niagara Falls is. Even after seeing it as many times as I have, it still fascinates me.

One thing I never got to do in all the times I have visited Niagara, is go on the Maid of the Mist. I did the Journey Behind the Falls as a kid with my family, but we never made it on the boat. Perhaps because every time we went growing up it was in the summer time, and the waits were too long. This time, I did a bit of research about it and decided that we were going. I wanted to see it, and I wanted Nicholas to see it. I knew he would love it.

So we did. It was awesome.

The wait wasn't too bad. Maybe a half hour or so. The view while we waited was pretty great.

 

 

And the boat ride itself was amazing. Nicholas loved it.

 

You really don't realize how massively fantastic The Falls are until you see them from this angle. It makes you realize exactly how small we are compared to this natural wonder.

It was pretty amazing. I highly recommend it.
So yesterday the weather was crap, and after a busy weekend, we pretty much took it easy. We vegged out, and I watched most of a season of How I Met Your Mother – which I have just discovered, and am totally loving by the way.
I love vacation. Whether we do everything, or absolutely nothing at all, it's pretty great. And sitting here on a Tuesday morning, with most of the week still laid out before me, the possibilities are endless. We'll see where we end up.
I'll keep you posted. ūüėČ

 

Summer’s Here

Copyright 2013 - Aaron Pellerin
Copyright 2013 – Aaron Pellerin

I’ve spent some time away from this blog. ¬†I’ve been journaling a bit lately, but that’s it. ¬†There’s lots of stuff going on, but at the same time I feel like I don’t have anything to write, and I don’t want to put stuff out there unless it means something – at least to me. ¬†

So summer is here. ¬†Beach and pool season is upon us. ¬†Time ticks on…it literally seems like yesterday that it was Christmas, and a week ago that my son started school. ¬†Now we’re into July, his first year of school is over, and he’ll be entering Senior Kindergarten in September. ¬†Full days, every day. ¬†It’ll be a big adjustment for him, and for us. ¬†I think we’ll all do fine though.

Summer is my official favourite time of year.  I always used to say that Fall was my favourite season, and it is definitely up there, but in the last few years, my family and I have started frequenting the beach, and I have to say Рsummer has stolen my heart.

The beach never used to be a big deal for me. ¬†I hated the sand caught in everything, the having to walk and carry everything from your car parked a mile away down to the water, the semi-clean lake, the buff bikini bods prancing around everywhere making you wish you had brought more towels to cover yourself with. ¬†Also, most of the beaches we went to got deep fairly quick so I spent the majority of the time listening to my mother shout: “Bring it in Danielle! ¬†A little closer to shore!!” ¬†I’m quite a strong swimmer, but she is not, so it definitely worried her when I was too far out of her reach. ¬†Even as I got older.

All that has changed in the last couple of years. ¬†Nicholas was born in May, so honestly, he didn’t get out into the pool too much during his first year. ¬†Since you’re not supposed to put sunscreen on kids less than 6 months old, I spent the majority of that first summer in the shade, making sure his sensitive baby skin wasn’t overexposed to the suns rays. ¬†His second summer was a little better, we spent some time in my parents’ pool, but again, he was so little, that the majority of the time in the water was spent with me holding him and the rest of the time was spent with me worrying that he would fall in the water. ¬†Very nerve wracking. I was identifying with my Mother and how worried she always was about me.

The last couple of years though, we have discovered the beach. ¬†One Saturday we just packed up the car, and took a drive out to Kettle Point to spend the day. ¬†Now let me tell you a little about Kettle Point that makes it perfect, and how it gets past some of the crappy beach stuff that I listed above. ¬†First of all – the sand thing – well, it’s a beach, so there’s no really getting rid of that. ¬†But it’s harder packed sand, so it does cut down a bit on the sand getting into everything.

Another nice thing about this beach is that you drive right up to the water. ¬†A totally new concept for me, you just simply drive your vehicle across the sand, and up to the water. ¬†Pop open your trunk or hatch filled with all your beach stuff, and badda bing, badda boom, you’re done! ¬†No carting all your stuff for miles before you get to the water. ¬†It’s great. ¬†It’s also filled with lots of families, not just the young, buff, “look at me” crowd.

The best thing though, and the reason why I love to take my son there, is that it stays shallow forever. ¬†There is no sudden drop, and you can walk out quite a while before the water even hits your waist. ¬†This is awesome for kids, and I can sit comfortably by the water’s edge and let my son play (luckily he doesn’t venture too far on his own yet) without worrying that he is going to fall into the pool. ¬†I still make him wear his PFD and I along with whoever is with me watch him like a hawk, but he is perfectly content to play in the shallow water and play with the waves as they come in.

The beach has become a source of great joy for me and for my family.  I can literally sit for hours in the non-humid climate, letting the breeze hit me and soak up vitamin D.  The sound of the water is so soothing for me, it is truly my happy place.  Last year I took a vacation day from work, and I spent the entire afternoon at Kettle Point, all by myself.  I sat and read, listened to music, watched the water, swam a bit, probably nodded off a bit.  It was awesome for me and I totally plan to do it again this year.

We’ve made it to the beach once so far this year, and have several plans to go again. ¬†Nothing beats that first breath of air that hits you when you first step out of the car onto the sand.

Do you love summer?  Are you a beach or pool person?  Or would you rather be snowshoeing? Please feel free to hit up the comments.

Have a great summer – and don’t forget your sunscreen. ¬†The sun is awesome, but we must respect it the same way we do the water.

Trifle – Tiramisu Style

TiramisuI love this recipe. ¬†It’s beautiful to look at, and as Paula Deen always says – “we eat with our eyes first.” ¬†It’s also delicious, which helps as well. ¬†It’s slightly adapted from a Kraft Canada recipe. ¬†I love the Kraft website and magazine. ¬†It’s filled with recipes that are quick, tasty, and have ingredients that are¬†accessible.

This is more of a trifle than actual tiramisu Рas the traditional tiramisu has mascarpone and lady fingers, etc.  This is quicker, cheaper, and a little milder than the traditional recipe.

I made and served this on Saturday night.  It was a perfect compliment to my Chicken Marsala, and was quick to whip up on Saturday afternoon.  Highly recommend.

Ingredients

1 block cream cheese, softened

2 pkg of instant vanilla pudding powder

3 cups cold milk

2 cups cool whip

1 pkg – Mr. Christie Nilla¬†biscuits – you won’t use the whole box, but they’re great for snacking.

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee. I brewed a Tassimo disc of espresso and then just topped up to the 1/2 cup with hot water.

2 squares semi-sweet chocolate – coarsely grated.

raspberries for garnish

Directions

Whip cream cheese with a hand mixer in a large bowl until smooth.  Add the powdered instant pudding mixes and cold milk.  Continue beating until thickened and smooth.  Add cool whip and fold in by hand.

Line the bottom of your trifle bowl with the Nilla wafers, and stand them up around the edge of the bowl too, so you can see them from the outside. ¬†Drizzle half of the coffee over them. ¬†Add half of the pudding mixture and spread out evenly. ¬†Sprinkle the top with half the chocolate. ¬†Do another layer of biscuits, coffee, pudding mixture, chocolate. ¬†Garnish the top with whole raspberries. ¬†The recipe on the website calls for more cool whip on the top, but I leave it off. ¬†I find it overkill and don’t think it’s needed. ¬†Without it you can see how beautiful the chocolate and raspberries are.

Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

I hope you enjoy, it’s a favourite in our house. ¬†Great to take to a potluck, and a good recipe to have on hand at this time of year with all the entertaining that we do.

Countdown to Christmas

ChristmasAh, Christmas.  Truly one of my most favourite times of year.  Growing up, Christmas was always big in our family.  Pepere loved Christmas.  He really got the true spirit of what it is supposed to be about.  I am so grateful that he passed this on to us.  I know that it is because of him, and in turn my Mom, that Christmas is such a special time and that it means so much to me.  I hope that I can pass this on to my son and someday to my grandchildren, so that the spirit of Christmas stays alive in our family.

I know that some people don’t like Christmas because of how commercial it has become. ¬†I agree that for some it has become more about what you need to buy, and what you have to do. ¬†I also think that Christmas – like most everything else – is about what you make it. ¬†Yes, it’s commercial, but in my home, it’s still about the same old thing: ¬†getting together with your family, eating and drinking lots, listening to some Christmas music, and exchanging a few gifts. ¬†The commercial part of it only gets to us and bothers us if we let it. ¬†The spirit of Christmas is alive and well in our home as we sit by the tree and enjoy a glass of eggnog.

I also know that Christmas can be a very tough time of year for some people. ¬†Those that have lost a loved one, those that have loved ones that they can’t be with. ¬†Those that don’t have the money for gifts that wish they could buy tons of things for their loved ones but can’t. ¬†I remember the Christmas of 1996. ¬†Our first Christmas without Pepere. ¬†That was the hardest Christmas ever. ¬†The thought of sitting around the tree celebrating when the focal point of Christmases past was no longer with us – seemed like a crazy thought to us all. ¬†I’m sure my mother would have taken a sleeping pill and slept through the whole thing. ¬†None of us were ready. ¬†So the whole family up and went to the Dominican Republic for a week that year. ¬†And two weeks the following year. ¬†Was it nice? ¬†Of course. ¬†Did we have fun? ¬†You bet. ¬†Was it Christmas? ¬†Well…..kinda, but not really. ¬†It was great, but when Christmas came around the following year, I think we all knew it was time to face reality, and to have Christmas continue on. ¬†I wasn’t married yet, but I had started seeing Joe, and I knew that I would want my children when I had them to experience Christmas as I had growing up – and not decorating a palm tree with lights. ¬†Not that palm trees and sandy beaches aren’t great for some, but it wasn’t Christmas to me. ¬†I knew that if I wanted my child(ren) to experience the wonderful type of Christmas I grew up with, it was up to me to give it, just as my parents and grandparents had given it to me.

So here we are, December 2012. ¬†Some of my shopping done (much of it online now – thank God). ¬†I have plans to do my baking this week, I’m doing a craft with a friend this weekend and having folks over for dinner and doing a family Christmas too. ¬†We’ve written and mailed Nicholas’ letter to Santa and the decorations are up. ¬†I’m excited. ¬†I’m excited to watch my little guy get excited about Christmas, and talk to him about the Advent wreath and light a candle with him each week. ¬†I love the lights, and the smells, and the feeling that comes with finding that perfect gift for someone that you love.

I hope you all have an amazing Christmas season. ¬†If for some reason you’re not loving it, or you’re hurting at this time of year, or missing someone, or bah-humbuging about something, I’m sorry. ¬†I hope that you will find joy in your own way. ¬†Be thankful for what you do have, for the people in your life, for the joy in Christmases from the past. ¬†I learned a very important lesson back in the Christmases of 1996, 1997 and 1998: ¬†we all have in mind what Christmas is supposed to be. ¬†Sometimes things happen in life that just don’t make it possible. ¬†In order to be happy, I think we have to try to work with what we have, and be willing to accept that things change, and we need to change with them. ¬†I know that I will never, ever have the Christmas that I had growing up again. ¬†But that’s okay, because I’m not supposed to. ¬†As a wife and a mommy, it’s now my job to make it the best it can be for my family. ¬†That may not be exactly what I had growing up, but aspects of it will be there, along with special touches of our own.

Love to all this Christmas season.

Peace.