Life Lately


Nicky can stand!

I made some quartz crystal tiaras for my friend to sell at a music festival next month, and this week I’ve been working out how to package them. I settled on dyeing some muslin bags black and putting together some labels for them. I’m going to print the labels onto iron-on fabric and iron them onto the bags, which I think will work well. I’m like 90% sure I’m going to keep making these to sell in my shop soon, I just need to figure out the best way to ship them; they need to be protected but the way I was doing it before was really complicated and it actually took longer to pack them up than it did to make them!

How does Gwen’s Garden Grow

At the end of June I was offered a raised garden box for myself & the kids. My neighbourhood had received a grant to build some for people who can’t access any of the community gardens for whatever reason, so it was totally free and even came with all the dirt it needed! I’m notoriously terrible at gardening but I figured WHAT THE HECK and said yes. The garden box was built and left in the part of the yard I’d specified, and over the long weekend Gwen and I went to pick out some plants. We got two tomato plants, a yellow pepper, a green pepper, one pumpkin, a strawberry, a blueberry, sage, parsley and chives. I put Gwen in charge of watering them and she’s very diligent about doing it every day.

We’ve had our garden for two weeks and amazingly, not only have I managed not to kill any, some are even starting to bear fruit! The pumpkin seems like it might not be long for this world, and I have my doubts about the blueberry (which is basically a single twig with some leaves that squirrels have dug up twice, but I dearly want it to live and grow because it is actually a PINK blueberry bush) but everything else is growing and thriving. The tomatoes especially, but the yellow pepper looks like it’s ready to blow up, and the sage and chives are doing well enough to use in meals already.

night & day

At the beginning of July, there was a huge change here at our house, and the difference has been like night and day… because it literally is! After fourteen years Taylor is no longer working nights. This was a change I pushed for, by which I mean I sent him a series of texts with all the awful health problems you incur from working night shifts. He put in a request to switch to days, and we were expecting it to take some time to get approved (we figured they’d need to find a new night person to replace him) but to our surprise the change was effective the very next week. He’s been on days for two weeks now and it’s been really great.

Now instead of being home alone with the kids in the mornings, he’s here so one of us can get up with the kids while the other sleeps in- or even goes for a run! That’s right, I FINALLY got some use out of all the new workout clothes & shoes I bought at the beginning of the year. We’ve been taking turns so I can go running Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and he goes Tuesday and Thursday. It’s also nice that one of us can take the dogs out while the other stays at home with the kids because me trying to get Gwen and Nicky dressed and fed and out to walk the dogs before I start work at 8am was NOT easy!

He’s working 8-4ish, so he usually gets home a little earlier than I would wake him up in the evenings, which means he has more time to spend with the kids then as well, or help with dinner. He no longer has to go to bed early Sunday afternoons before his Monday shift and can spend the whole weekend with us. And of course the best part is that instead of him leaving at 11pm to go to the office all night, he gets to sleep in the bed with me at night (which means he also gets more sleep). We’ve never slept in the bed at night together for more than two weeks in a row for the entire 10 1/2 years we’ve been together, so it’s pretty amazing.

Of course, such a big change coming so suddenly has not been without its upheavals as we get used to our new family schedule. Now instead of Taylor being home during the day to look after the daycare kids in a pinch when we have doctor’s appointments, dance classes, or speech therapy, I have to figure out how to do it by myself. Gwen has ballet class two afternoons a week, a class I chose specifically because it was during naptime so Taylor could easily supervise the sleeping children while I took Gwen alone. Now I have to take her, and Nicky, and the daycare kids with me. It’s not far, about a 15-20 minute walk, but when I have three or four kids under five with me instead of just one… it takes a bit of doing.

However, none of that matters if it means I get to spend time with my husband during NORMAL hours, and for years longer than I would have been able to if he kept working nights. Working nights for so long can increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, mental illnesses, early onset dementia and certain cancers, so as I like to remind Taylor, by pushing for this change, I saved his life!

five faves

This is Real Art and I refuse to hear otherwise.

Reading this feels like a punch in the gut.

I know I’ve posted this dress before but it was out of stock for a long time and now that’s it’s available again I’m more obsessed than ever.

I’d love this (in blue!) to add to our collection of cast iron.

This is a great project (and almost fully funded!).

Caring for our Cast Iron

Earlier this year Taylor and I got rid of our old, damaged & unsalvageable stainless steel and non-stick frying pans and replaced them with cast iron. We started a small, 6 1/2″ skillet Taylor got in his Christmas stocking. This little skillet is ideal for making perfect fried eggs (I’ll share my tips’n’tricks for that in another post) but obviously isn’t suitable for cooking a whole meal for the family! So we’ve expanded our collection to include a huge 15″ skillet, a 10″ square grill pan, a pig-shaped bacon press and the real workhorse of the group, a 10″ skillet that I use for EVERYTHING.

There are a lot of opinions on how to properly care for your cast iron. Taylor prefers to scrub the pan with just a little kosher salt and then wipe it out, but since I use the pans to cook foods both sweet and savoury I like to be a little more thorough. I’m just leery of trying to bake a dutch baby in a pan that still has an oniony vibe from last night’s dinner! After some trial and error (by error I don’t mean damaged pans, just needing another scrub) I’ve developed a method that keeps our cast iron clean and well-seasoned while also satisfying my need to scrub everything until it’s sparkling (cast iron never sparkles but when I’m done it does gleam).

You’ll need:
• kosher salt
• mild dish detergent
• cooking oil*
• sponge
• paper towel and/or clean, dry cloth

First, I like to use paper towel to wipe out the excess grease or any loose bits of food still on the pan (if necessary). Next, depending on the size of the pan and how dirty it is I sprinkle about half a tablespoon of kosher salt and squirt about half a teaspoon on dish soap- I uses Mrs Meyers Clean Day- into the pan. With a damp sponge, I scrub the soap & salt all over the inside cooking surface of the pan. Once the pan is scrubbed clean, I rinse it in the hottest water from my tap and dry it immediately all over (inside, outside, the handle, the bottom, and in all the little grooves and crevices of the logo) with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel. The last step is rubbing the entire pan all over (again it’s inside, outside, the handle, the bottom, and in all the little grooves and crevices of the logo) with a couple drops of cooking oil. That’s all, and it keeps our pans looking (and cooking) great!

* we use canola oil but you can use one of your own preference; you just want to make sure it has a high smoking point.

Nicky at Nine Months

Nicky is nine months old today! It’s also 39 weeks and 1 day since he was born, so he’s now existed in the world longer than he’s existed in my body, so good job, Nicky. Way to be alive 🙂

Nicky is very mobile and his army-crawling has reached incredible speed. He will pop up onto his hands and knees to rock back and forth but hasn’t yet mastered actual crawling yet. He can now getting into and out of a seated position on his own with no head bonking, and has started pulling himself up into a kneeling position on the couch and toy shelf, which he delights in emptying all over the floor.

He is definitely getting at least two teeth on the top, possibly three. It’s been slow going and while he continues to be mostly ok with teething his emotions are a little hair-trigger at the moment. He’s liable to go from happy and smiling to screaming and crying at the drop of a hat, and he’s been waking up at night more frequently.

His favourite toys are his foxy & dolly that he has in his crib. He is still loving every kind of solid food we give him; this month it’s been a lot of multigrain cheerios, grilled chicken, broccoli stems, cucumbers and bell peppers. And donuts, I guess!

(don’t worry, I didn’t let him have all of these)

June

Hey my blog, long time no post.

I haven’t had much interest in blogging this month; I’ve had ideas for posts, but between life and parenting and work there just hasn’t been any time for it. Work has been especially difficult- for the last year one or the other of the kids I look after has always been part-time, but this month they’ve both been full-time and it’s been exhausting. One of the kids is leaving for a group daycare in July and I have a new one starting who will be part-time, thank goodness! I was thinking yesterday how it didn’t seem this hard when I had more kids in care, but of course that was all pre-2012, when I only had one kid of my own who was in school all day. Having two little kids of my own + two daycare kids is a LOT more work, somehow, than four daycare kids. Anyway. I’m taking next week off work and I’m going to just hang out and relax for nine days. I hope. I hope!

crazy eights

I should have posted this yesterday but I forgot how many days there were in May? My brain is just straight up mush these days y’all.

Nicky is eight months old! At eight months he is a busy little buddy and army crawls around the house at great speeds and sits unassisted for long periods. He eats everything I give him with his two teeth, especially enjoying broccoli stems, chicken and sliced pears. After a few weeks of having a mixed-up schedule he is back to napping twice a day and sleeping through the night, although we have been putting him down a little later in the evenings. He loves spending time outside in the Ergo, in his stroller or on a blanket on the ground, but he HATES car trips and yells through them non-stop. He doesn’t have a favourite toy at the moment (any toy he can put in his mouth will do just fine) but loves playing Round and Round the Garden and being sung to.

it’s fair

Last year when we visited Taylor’s family over May long weekend we took Gwen to a small fair and since then she’s been obsessed. We usually go to the Fair at the PNE in the summer and go on a couple rides, but last August I was so pregnant & we were so busy we didn’t manage to do it, so Gwen has been waiting a whole year to go to a fair again. We went on Saturday and she was SO EXCITED. She’d been talking non-stop about going on a ferris wheel so I was happy to see they had one, and that she was tall enough! I took her on the ferris wheel and she went on a couple kiddie rides with her cousins and by herself and had a blast. She probably could have done more (and definitely wanted to try the bumper cars) but it was getting late so we had to leave. I’m happy that I will have someone brave enough to go on rides with me at the PNE this year though (Taylor and Sym are total chickens and literally will not go on a single ride with me).

Nicky did not go on any rides but it was incredibly hot that day so he very much enjoyed eating ice from my sno cone.

shorty

I have been confused all week about what day it is. Gwen has speech therapy on Tuesdays and so on Tuesday I knew it was Tuesday, but I thought it was Wednesday. When we got home (from her Tuesday speech therapy appointment) Sym was here and I asked her “what are you doing here???” because on Wednesdays after school she goes to her dad’s. Then yesterday Gwen had a hair appointment and I knew it was on Wednesday because I scheduled it for Wednesday, but on our way home we stopped to get a burger for her dinner and Taylor asked if I wanted one I said no, because I thought it was Thursday and we always get poutine on Thursdays so why would I spoil that with a burger???? But it was WEDNESDAY and there was no poutine and I also missed my opportunity to have a burger. I also thought today was gonna be Friday and that I only had one more day of work left this week, how cruel.

Anyway, Gwen’s haircut. She told me she wanted to “see her neck” (I think she was very inspired by Sym’s cut a few weeks back) and after a couple talks where I explained that once it was cut if she wanted it to be long again it would take a long time to grow again, I made her an appointment. She was so well behaved at the salon and I can’t get over how cute the result is! She loves it so far as well.

(Those curls aren’t natural btw, she requested our stylist “curl her hair a lil bit,” again like Sym.)