August 19, 2014

Trout Lake Fun

One of the best things about living on Commercial Drive is the proximity to Trout Lake. It’s perfect for feeling a bit tucked away from the busy city. From our house, it’s a pleasant little walk, mostly along the Central Valley Greenway. We had my baby shower there, and we will have B’s birthday party there.

B is just barely old enough for playgrounds, so we’ve just begun to explore the local parks to find our favorites. So far, even though we live very near a smaller, less crowded park, I like the experience of Trout Lake much better. There’s a little beach, two playgrounds (one with a very baby-friendly area), ample grassy sections, and there is always something going on to stop and watch.

We made a trip there a few weeks ago when it was super sunny out. I love being able to get out in the sunshine, but I wish B would tolerate a hat! He always looks a bit disheveled when he’s slathered in sunscreen!

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Enjoying a swing at the Eastside Playground

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Contemplating at the beach

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B thinks wheels are the coolest right now.

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The mud pit at the Westside Playground was the greatest, but marked the end of our visit!

August 19, 2014

Stanley Park Exploring

August 19, 2014

Back From Blog Maternity Leave

We’re back! After an extended hiatus at the end of my pregnancy and transitioning to motherhood, I’ve decided to pick up the blog again. So we have lots to catch up on, which means I have lots of material for posts!

A brief overview:

Baby B:

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Little B

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Big B

We have a baby! Our son B was born August 2013. He was just a little guy, but has grown up plenty, and is now a bustling 1-year-old.

Being a mom puts all your habits under a microscope. You see the purity of your child’s personality, and you fear how both you and the world will damage it. And you want your child to learn the best things possible from you, so you suddenly become hyperaware of all the bad habits you possess. You also become aware of your strengths – what you want your child to admire about you. Motherhood has brought out my adventurous spirit, and I’m still learning how to let go of some of my anxieties so I don’t pass them onto B.

Ger:

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Home:

We’re still living near Commercial Drive in Vancouver and couldn’t be happier. Our street is full of kiddos, and there’s lots to do within a short distance. Our space is definitely crowded with all the baby stuff, but for now, I love our little home.

Fitness:

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Having a baby really changed how I view my body. I realized the power it has, and the value of taking care of it. Parenthood also makes you want to model the behaviors you value, and Nick and I both value fitness and health. I’ve been hiking, running, and doing lots of yoga, as well as things like neighborhood walks and swimming lessons with B! Nick has taken up hockey, so we go watch him play when the games are early.

Cooking:

I had some degree of nausea for my entire pregnancy, so cooking fell a fair bit by the wayside. Now, since B is fully into finger foods, I’m learning to cook meals that all 3 of us can eat. I haven’t done much gluten-free baking, since sleep-deprivation has killed my ability to do the math and complex ratios that recipe-making entails. I’m hopeful to get back to it a bit more as B starts sleeping better through the night (which will hopefully happen soon!).

That’s an update on where we are for now. More to come in the near future.

May 9, 2013

Moving Tips

budget-truck-moving-tip

I have pretty much become a pro at moving now. I hope to be in our current place for awhile, but I know another move is likely in our future. Hopefully several years from now.

Here are some tips for if you’re moving! I’ve learned things that are important for if you are moving now, have an impending move in the near future, or are pregnant.

If you’re moving NOW:

1) Label ALL THE THINGS

Seriously, moves are chaos. Even if you are moving across the street, at some point shit is just going to get thrown together in panic. The better you organize what goes into boxes and make it easy to find, the smoother things will go.

Label your boxes in detail. Include all the items in each box. Include where it came from if it is something you don’t use often. Be Martha Stewart and tape colour-coded construction paper to boxes based on room or category (however works best for your space). Have a separate colour for those things you will want to unpack immediately. Tape the code to as many visible places in your new space as possible for people lugging boxes.

2) Pack in the opposite order you think you should pack in.

The last 10% of your shit will take the same amount of time, if not longer, than the first 90% of your shit. Trust me, it is always this way. Everyone things they are in great shape because their kitchen and books are neatly packed and all that is left is their wall decor, their sports closet, and their clothes and shoes. You know, all the shit that doesn’t fit into neat, orderly little boxes.

If you do this, your brain will be so fried by the end of the move you will curl up in a little ball, cry, and then end up throwing this stuff in garbage bags that will explode all over your moving vehicle. Then you will cry when you have to unload. I speak from personal experience.

Pack your clothes, coats, and shoes first. Keep out only what you need for a few weeks, and keep it in a separate back pack or duffel bag. Pretend you’re going on a vacation.¬† Pack your other clothes in tubs you can somewhat access, and group them by things you definitely won’t need soon (i.e. snowsuits in the middle of summer) and things you may need for unexpected things (i.e. a dress for an unexpected semi-formal event).

Closets and cupboards should be packed early because they hold the most shit. You will find boxes and boxes of shit you forgot you had at the back and top of your front closet. Properly disposing of it takes as much forethought as packing it. The kitchen and bookshelves are the most straightforward thing to pack. You also need a lot of it until right before you move. Save it till last because you can just wrap and zone out.

3) Pack small, pack light.

Remember, you will be lugging tons of these things around in a short period of time. Would you rather lift 1000 boxes of tissue paper or 100 boxes of encyclopedias? I know my answer. You will inevitably have some things that are light and some things that are heavy; mix them if possible.

Liquor store boxes are a good size for heavier things. Large plastic tubs should be reserved for light things like clothes, shoes, bathroom toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. When packing books, pack the box halfway then fill with pillows, linens, writing supplies, or other light items.

If you’re moving SOON:

1) Cleanse

Lose all the shit you don’t need. Be brutal. Clothes you don’t like anymore, hobbies you no longer practice, cords and old cell phones take up boxes you are going to open and go “WHY?!” later on. You want to open your boxes later and remember why you love all the shit you’ve collected. Get rid of it if you don’t love it or desperately need it.

2) Get your shit together

The best thing I did at my last place was only half-unpack my stuff. Anything that was in a permanent box, like a plastic tub or a decorative box, and was grouped well just got thrown on a shelf. When it came time to pack, It just needed a few more things to fill it up, a lid, and to be taped up and labeled. Easy peasy. Then, when you get to your new place, you can just open those boxes, remove the few things that need to come out, and put the box in its new location. Done, unpacked.

If you have time between now and your move to get things into bins, boxes, and baskets, DO IT. Not only is stuff easier to find, it is easier to pack. Cabinets under sinks, food stuffs, clothing accessories, and hobby supplies are big targets for this.

3) Make friends with landscapers, construction workers, bodybuilders, etc.

I wish I was kidding. Friends with upper body strength and stamina are the best when you move. We had to do an emergency move once out of a 4th floor walk-up (thanks fire!). Our friend that landscapes and rock climbs was INVALUABLE. Bribe these people to be your friends with beer and witty conversation skills.

If you’re moving PREGNANT

1) Sit DOWN

Seriously. Now’s the time to call in those bodybuilder/construction worker friends and let them do the work. Sit in a chair and point where you want things. Get yourself a director’s chair if it helps set the mood.

Unless you are having one of those earth-mother-birth-goddess perfect pregnancies with glowing skin and boundless energy, you will need to take eating, drinking, and napping breaks, even if you are just sitting and pointing. Build this time into things. Remember: you are living with a parasite that is leeching energy, fluid, and calories from your system. No one would expect someone with an intestinal fluke to keep up with a healthy person. Don’t expect to operate at normal capacity.

2) If you can’t sit down, rent a dolly

Sometimes you don’t have friends to call in. Sometimes you just gotta do.

Moving lists always say “hire a moving company” or “rent a truck”. Kudos if you have that extra few grand kicking around. It is a worthy thing to spend your money on. However, moving while pregnant usually means you have a big expense or two already on the horizon. The cheapest favour you can do yourself is to rent a dolly or hand truck. This may seem like a luxury or a frivolous rental. THIS IS NOT FRIVOLOUS. Get one of those hand trucks that you can load as much onto as possible and push.

If you do have a few hundred dollars kicking around, Frog Boxes are a good option. You pack them, and someone else does the heavy lifting. If you can’t call in friends, these are economical friends to purchase.

3) Case the joint

If possible, know ahead of time roughly where things will go in your new place. Add notes to closets for people moving things. Pregnancy brain is real, and you will get flustered and overwhelmed with the amount of stuff. Designate at least one room or corner as the “I Don’t Give A Fuck” space, where stuff can go for you to sort through later.

Case your new neighbourhood as well. Know where you can get food and drinks easily (this includes liquor for your helpers). Find one or two places near by that you can order somewhat healthy food from. I’ve been fine with just pizza and fast food during other moves. This one, with the heart burn and the carb-fatigue, I wanted light, healthy meals and felt like shit eating otherwise.

Know where your local hardware store, dollar store, Costco, etc are if you will need to go get specific things like hooks, nails, TP, soap, or other odds and ends. If you are moving far away, know where you local hospital/medical care facility is. God forbid you should need it, but if you plan for it, it won’t happen.

April 23, 2013

Announcement and Changes

There are some big changes coming around here – mainly prompted by some pretty ginormous life changes!

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Yep, Hubby and I are expecting a baby in September! We are very excited for this new adventure. The Dahg will be a great big brother to his future sibling.

We have also decided to move back into Vancouver. New West is a lovely suburb, but suburban life is not for us. The commute to work is killing us, as is the distance from our friends. We will be moving to Commercial Drive – a slightly different part of our old East Van Hood. It is very family friendly, and we have several friends within walking distance.

This means a few things for the blog. First, my morning sickness explains the lack of cooking posts from the last few months! Second, we’ll have some home decorating projects to share. Third, and most importantly, you will probably see some baby stuff pop up around here.

That is all for now – I hope you are as excited as I am for the upcoming changes!

December 18, 2012

Snow!

First snow of the year in the Lower Mainland. The Hubby woke me up with the news, and I knew instantly I would have to take advantage of it. The Dahg and I walked him to the Skytrain on his way to work this morning. Then we stopped at Starbucks for an eggnog latte on our way to the Hume Park off-leash area. He was a very happy dog in the snow!

happy dahg 12-18-12

Nothing makes me happy the way snow does. It is one of the major things I will miss about Montreal. I was so stoked to put on all my snow gear this morning. Here are some of my favourite snow pictures from last year to commemorate!

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December 11, 2012

Almond Sugar Cookies: a pictoral

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I am a junkie for almond flavouring. When I went to Starbucks as a kid (I’m from Seattle. We went to coffee shops as children in the 80s/90s, okay), my mom would order a latte, and I would order a steamed milk with almond flavouring. The almond flavouring went out of vogue a number of years ago and not all coffee shops have it anymore. Another childhood favouite was poppy seed muffins, and yes, I mean the giant ones you buy in bulk at Costco. I hold no shame in saying those sticky, oily things are freaking DE-LICIOUS. Why? Because they use almond extract instead of lemon. I don’t think I can rant long enough about the UNHOLINESS that is LEMON poppyseed. They almost exclusively sell lemon poppyseed muffins now, and I just can’t with them. Gluten-free poppyseed muffins are a project for another day though. Today, because it’s Christmas time, it’s all about cookies.

My mother baked the best sugar cookies when I was a kid. They always had this distinct flavour that was different than anyone else’s sugar cookies. When I was learning the artistry of cookie-baking, I tried countless recipes trying to get the right taste. I finally figured it out: the key ingredient is almond extract. Most sugar cookies call for vanilla extract. Almond, though, is so much better. It’s warmer, cozier, richer.

I leave you with a simple recipe for almond poppy seed muffins. Don’t let the tiny half-teaspoon of almond extract fool you. With the addition of almond flour, these pack a cozy punch. Add too much more, and they unfortunately suffer from the twinge of bitterness that comes with too much extract. Moderation is key to almond flavouring.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
October 4, 2012

Whiskey Sour Cupcakes

I have found my passion for baking again. Now that I’m starting to get a handle on gluten-free flours, I am really excited to launch some new baking projects with flavours one typically doesn’t find in their desserts.

For celiacs, there is some debate on how safe whiskey is. It has to do with how much of the starch is converted to alcohol, and if it meets the 20 ppm standard for foods considered to be safe. I tolerate it just fine, unless I’m having a particularly celebratory night, in which case how I feel after could be equally attributed to a hangover!

Anyways, back to baking. One of my favourite fancy cocktails is the whiskey sour. Often times bars don’t have a great selection of sipping whiskeys, so a whiskey sour is a good mixed drink if the selection isn’t very tempting. I can also attribute my love of whiskey to gradual introduction by a slow combination of the whiskey sour and occasional sips of the Hubby’s expensive, peaty whiskeys.

I thought the combination of lime citrus and earthy whiskey would lend itself well to a cupcake. When combined in one bite, the spice of the cupcake and the tang of the frosting are a delicious pairing. The combination of flours used results in a moist, bubbly mixture that I was surprised to find in a gluten free combination. The cake texture and flavour had rave reviews from all tasters!

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup tapioca or potato starch

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp xantham gum

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup applesauce

1 1/2 milk

1/2 cup whiskey

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

nutmeg and cinnamon to taste

For frosting:

I used a basic buttercream recipe such as this one. Replace the traditional vanilla with either 2 tsp lime extract or the juice of 2 limes.

Instructions:

Let all ingredients sit out until room temperature. This is especially important for the eggs. Room temperature ingredients rise more quickly when introduced to heat. Since it is hard enough for non-gluten batters to rise, this step is important to allow for as much rising as possible!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients, minus the sugar in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter, eggs, and sugar together until thoroughly mixed and light at fluffy. Add the dry ingredients gradually, and then add the rest of the wet ingredients. Spoon into a muffin tin with liners, filling each cup 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting.

For frosting, cream the butter and sugar, and then gradually add milk and lime until the frosting reaches desired consistency and flavour. This will be a bit of a trick, as you don’t want the frosting too watery or too sweet. I found it easier not to chill the frosting, but as you can see, my frosting technique leaves something to be desired! Garnish with some lime zest or fun sprinkles.

October 2, 2012

Cabin Weekend

Cabin Weekend

Jigsaw chunky sweater
$155¬†–¬†jigsaw-online.com

Angie tribal top
swell.com

BDG button down shirt
urbanoutfitters.com

Theyskens’ theory wide leg jeans
$385¬†–¬†farfetch.com

Current/Elliott boyfriend jeans
$225¬†–¬†farfetch.com

Helmut Lang elastic waist pants
$200¬†–¬†flannelsfashion.com

Going to the family cabin for Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend! I am so excited. Thanksgiving and good family times are all well and good, but what I’m most excited about is crisp beautiful fall weather! It has been getting colder in our temperate region, so I’m hopeful that the weather in the Cariboo will be crisp and bright with everything tinted with gold and mustard and bronze.¬† The above was me playing around on Polyvore, working out what I’m going to pack for a cozy weekend of sitting by the fire, chopping lots of wood, and cooking up a feast for the holiday. This weekend can’t get here fast enough!
September 5, 2012

5 Things For: Organization

Programming note: I’m introducing a new regular feature I’m calling “5 Things For”. It will be products and links that are unified by one theme. I’ve been inspired lately to organize my new home, and here are some things I have found helpful!

1. The All Out Of Pad by Knock Knock Stuff. It makes your grocery list for you! Love it!

2. Boogie Board Rip by ThinkGeek. An LCD writing tablet that clips to your fridge. I have the original Boogie Board, but this one has a much-needed “save” feature.

3. OXO POP Containers. These are perfect for storing all my various foodstuffs, especially my flours. It also works well for rice, coffee, and dried pasta.

4. Pot Lid Organizer from Fresh Finds. Pot lids are the bane of my kitchen organizing existence. This seems like a pretty good solution.

5. Knodd Bin from Ikea. I plan on getting one of these to serve as a laundry bin for cleaning rags and dishtowels, to keep them separate from our clothing. They could also be used for wastebaskets, umbrellas, or cleaning supplies. I love the yellow and aqua colors!

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