a minute

As in, it’s been one. May was such a trash fire of a month, it seemed to drag on FOR EV ER (seriously, why was it so long????) with more and more shitty things happening. After the stroller was stolen we all got sick and missed work, two of my current clients gave notice, and then near the end of the month Georgie was viciously attacked by a big dog in the park; she’s fine now but she definitely could have been more seriously injured, and as it is I had to spend over $1200 in vet bills after a huge section of the skin on her back where she was bitten went necrotic and had to be cut away and Frankensteined back together. She honestly could have died and I myself am so traumatized I had to go to the doctor for anxiety medication.

Now that we’re in June (DEEP June) I’m over dwelling on all these negatives (which might just be the meds talking but OH WELL).

School is almost over for the summer and I have two whole months of no drop-offs and pick-ups to worry about, and in addition to my single and double strollers my neighbor leant me a triple she had in her storage room (a gesture I very much appreciate but at the same time WHERE WERE YOU IN SEPTEMBER). Once school starts up again Gwen will be in the first grade and I’ll be dropping her off and picking her up outside the building- no more dragging three toddlers up and down endless flights of stairs every day!

I already had a meeting with a potential new client to fill the space left by the people who are leaving that went really well.

I’ve been doing some cleaning and sorting around my & Sym’s room and found some treasures, like the rest of my collection of Lvnea perfumes, some Fool’s gold and a grow-your-own cat grass kit, which I’m sure Mark Fluffalo will appreciate.

Georgie’s back was shaved by the vet and she looks a mess so this week I have an appointment for her to get her first haircut at the groomers in her whole life (ten years!) so watch this space for an all-new Georgie coming soon. I definitely prefer the look of a fully-fluffed Pomeranian but again, I’m trying to be positive about it.

Gwen lost her first tooth and has a second loose one.

The little kids have become OB SESSED with My Neighbor Totoro and watch it twice a day (no shame in my mommy game), and it’s honestly such a sweet and gentle way to begin and end our days.

I’m hoping the rest of this month will continue to be calm, cute & drama-free <3

sunset beach

Sunset Beach last Saturday.

Gwen asks to go to the beach every sunny day, and honestly, it’s so close WHY NOT go all the time? This was Nicky’s first visit to the beach since he started walking and he had a blast running around int he sand, throwing rocks, and getting windblown. Whenever he got tired he’d climb up in his stroller and sit and stare out to sea. Gwen really wanted to build sandcastles but the waves were so cold and choppy and we didn’t bring any towels, so we didn’t go down to the water. Next time though! I know I say I’m going to take the kids to the beach all the time every year, but this year I REALLY mean it.

five layer pink ombre cake

Gwen’s Thursday Lego Club is over, but she now has soccer after school on Mondays so Treat Day has moved up in the week. Monday is typically a nice, easy day for me as Taylor takes Gwen to school and Sym picks her up from soccer, meaning I don’t have to walk down the hill with the daycare kids AT ALL. Except this week Taylor was sick int he morning and Sym was sick in the afternoon, so I had to do it all anyway. Thankfully I started baking early enough in the day that I was (mostly) finished this cake before I had to run out.

I mostly made this as a treat for Gwen; I recently baked a white cake with pink icing and she keeps requesting I make it again, but instead I switched it up and made a pink cake with white icing!

The get the different shades of pink for the ombre I divided the batter evenly between five bowls (using a kitchen scale, each bowl had about 200g of batter) and used white, pink and a little purple food colouring in the following quantities:
– 5 drops white
– 3 drops pink + 1 drop white
– 6 drops pink + 1 drop white
– 9 drops pink + 1 drop purple + 1 drop white
– 15 drops pink + 3 drops purple + 1 drop white

I also added a few drops of white colouring to the frosting because the butter + vanilla gave it a slight yellow tint and I wanted it REALLY white.

I baked the layers in my 5-layer cake pan set for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Once baked, cooled and removed from the pans, I cut a sliver off the top of each layer to level it (I should have levelled them more tbh) I assembled the cake. I put just a small amount of frosting between each layer since I knew there would be plenty on the outside, plus with 5 layers this cake was already tall enough! I crumb-coated the outside, chilled it in the fridge to set it and then frosted the final coat. It might not look like anything special but the best crumb coat I’ve ever done is under there!

These are my go-to recipes for white cake and buttercream icing. My small cake stand (the perfect size for a 6-inch cake) is from HomeSense.

a little gratitude

After my stroller was stolen last week I posted about it all over social media, hoping it could be tracked down. While I wasn’t as lucky as this woman, I had so many people searching the city, people I don’t know at all driving & biking around the DTES, keeping their eyes peeled, asking me for updates, doing their best to help. I’m so grateful to every one of them. I’m grateful to everyone who shared my post on facebook and reached out to me there. I’m grateful to my landlord’s office who copied my flyers for me for free. I’m grateful for my husband who quickly ordered the inexpensive double stroller I picked out. Even though I think Jeff Bezos is a monster (REDISTRIBUTE YOUR WEALTH, GUY, NO ONE NEEDS THAT MUCH MONEY) I’m grateful for Amazon one-day delivery. I’m grateful this cheap stroller even EXISTS, like it’s not going to be suitable in the long-term but I can’t afford a better quality one right now, so if I can just get through to the end of the school year it will have done it’s job well enough.

I was never optimistic about getting the stroller back and at this point I’m reconciled to that fact. Like, even if it was found, at this point, would I want it back? It’s probably completely filthy and no longer suitable for use in a childcare. So rather than dwell on it I think it’s better to just move on. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do with regards to getting a more suitable replacement stroller (like… not just where am I going to get the money but also whether I’m going to get the same stroller or a similar but less enormous model or a totally different one, if I’m going to buy new (more expensive) or used (cheaper but no receipt to write it off for my taxes)) but for now I’m just going to not worry about it.

what’s with this week, this week

I’m not sure which retrograde planet is messing with me right now but can it like… stop already? Thanks, I’ve had enough.

On Saturday I really wanted to take a quick trip out to Ikea, just to buy a shelf and a light. I didn’t want to ask Taylor to book a zipcar (it would have cost more for the car than the stuff I wanted to buy!) and it had been so sunny all the previous week so I thought it would be fine to take the kids on the train. Unfortunately it was raining, but we decided to go anyway. We made it onto the train without incident but after a couple stops it started waiting longer and longer at each station and finally there was an announcement about a technical problem. We were told to “transfer” but like… there is only one route on that line and it was stopped in both directions so transfer to where??? Nicky started getting REALLY fussy (he doesn’t like sitting still in his stroller) so we ended up giving up on Ikea and leaving the train. We were stuck on the south side of the city, and the lineup for the bus back downtown was at least 100 people long and stretched all the way around the corner. Rather than try to take some circuitous route home we walked up to the nearest mall and waited out the train problems but like… what a waste of time!

On Saturday night I got sick with a terrible cruddy cold that Taylor had had the previous week and I’ve been miserable ever since. I spend all day coughing and sniffling, but the evenings are the worst; I’m so tired from work and that combined with the cold makes me just fall apart and I can’t do anything but lie on the couch. I also have terrible trouble sleeping at night, making me more exhausted and run down every day. (More on this later!)

On Monday I tripped over the retractable gate between the foyer and playroom and snapped one of the support hooks in half. Luckily I was able to find an extra one in a box of hardware to replace it, but it wasn’t an ideal situation. On Tuesday I tripped over the retractable gate between the kitchen and the hallway and pulled one of the support hooks completely out of the wall, drywall anchors and everything! Luckily I already had a second set of hooks installed in the middle of the hallway and was able to move the whole gate since I can’t put the hook back up this time and will just have to take the other three hooks down, fill all the screw holes and repaint (this is the part of the hallway I JUST painted btw).

On Tuesday I finished work feeling truly awful, like I was considering calling off of work the next day which I almost never do unless one of us is UNBELIEVEABLY sick. I’d been outside with the kids in the afternoon and after the last daycare kid was picked up I brought Gwen and Nicky inside to watch cartoons while I made dinner. I left my big four-seat stroller parked at the top of the stairs by my door like I usually do after work; it’s so big and heavy and awkward to maneuver down and fold up and put away that I usually wait until after the kids are in bed and there is less going on before Taylor or myself drags it down. This night though I was so sick and tired and still had so much to do around the house that I just plumb forgot about it. And guess what? It was stolen.

On Wednesday morning Taylor went out to take the dogs for a walk and immediately came back inside asking “where’s your big stroller???” Sometime overnight (one neighbor told me he heard a ruckus between 3 and 4am and another said his dog was freaking out barking at 4am so probably then) someone crept into the backyard and snatched it, and now I’m fucked. I can’t afford to buy a new big stroller to replace it; I couldn’t even afford to buy that one myself when I did, I actually used GoFundMe to raise the money through donations when my old double stroller (which I’ve since gotten rid of, leaving me with just Nicky’s single stroller) started breaking down beyond my ability to repair it.

Nicky cheesin’ in the big blue stroller on Tuesday afternoon, twelve-ish hours before it was stolen

I’m just… so mad and frustrated about the whole thing. Mad at myself for not bringing the stroller down from the yard and mad at the person who took it. There’s no way it was taken by someone with more need for it than me; it’s not like it was a parent with four children to push around. Right now it’s most likely being used to haul empties to the bottle return depot (which is the fate of most stolen strollers in the city) or possibly abandoned after one use and soon to be on its way to the dump. I’ve posted it on craigslist lost & found and in a lot of local facebook groups, I’ve put up and handed out flyers (not a lot though as I am working all week and I can’t go far from the house with the kids because SOMEONE STOLE MY STROLLER). I’ve asked everyone I know to keep an eye out for it in the parts of the city it’s most likely to end up but honestly… I’m not optimistic about ever getting it back. This actually isn’t even the first stroller that’s been stolen from me; someone took Sym’s jogging stroller her dad bought when she was a baby and we never saw it again. Back then we were able to get a new one at cost because the owner of the store where he bought it was a friend of his who gave us a deal, but somehow I don’t think I’m going to get the same consideration from Bed, Bath & Beyond where I bought Big Blue.

Since I now only have a single stroller, yesterday I picked out the cheapest double stroller with one-day delivery on Amazon I could find and Taylor ordered it; hopefully it will arrive in time today for me to be able to assemble it before I have to get Gwen from school. Yesterday I only had one daycare kid but today I have two, and with just a single stroller pick-up is going to be harder than it usually is. There’s only two months of pick-ups and drop-offs left this school year, but now that the weather is getting nice I had SO many fun plans for the summer. Having the big stroller with enough seats for all the kids to ride meant the city was wide open; I could have taken them anywhere to play. Now I’m constrained by the walking radius of a two-year-old which means no trips to the beach, or the seawall, or further-flung (ie better equipped) parks and playgrounds. Our whole summer just shrunk down to just this neighborhood.

A few people have reached out to me and said they’d be happy to donate to a fundraiser to get me a new big stroller but like… I JUST did that. I just raised funds what, three months ago? And I can’t do it again, I can’t ask people to give more than they already have. I’m just going to do my best and muddle through, and hope that none of my other strollers get snatched anytime soon. It’s just… it’s going to be really hard and I honestly burst into tears whenever I think about it.

OH AND THEN! On Wednesday night, after a truly miserable and upsetting day, Taylor and I had tickets he purchased last week to take Sym to see Avengers: Infinity War. He’d sprung for the DBOX seats that shake around but guess what? THEY WERE BROKEN. Our expensive seats were just… seats. REGULAR SEATS. We got courtesy passes afterwards for future use, but it was just a disappointing end to a rotten day, you know? Adding insult to injury! Can just one thing not go wrong me right now??? So Universe, please don’t throw any more problems at me this week, because I don’t think I can take it.

life lately

I put up this gallery wall in the play room and I’m pretty happy with it. I actually measured everything and laid it out properly rather than just sticking everything up randomly. I think I got a good balance even though the four big frames are all completely different sizes! I still need to find/make some arts to put in three of the small frames though.

The “cheese” sayer has logged on.

For our garden box this year Gwen said she just wanted flowers, so that’s what we did. I’d moved all the herbs out already (see below) so all that was left was one strawberry plant. A few weeks ago I took her to buy plants and let her pick anything she liked, then told her if we did a very good job of planting everything fairies might move in.

I’m in the middle of having some custom light shades made for the bedroom; these are the first prototype pieces.

I bought some of these little greenhouses from Ikea at the end of last summer and finally just got around to putting plants into them! I wanted an indoor herb garden so I could grab what I needed for cooking without having to go outside. I transplanted the sage, chives and parsely from the garden box, and bought peppermint, oregano, thyme, nasturtium (not an herb but an edible flower so) and fennel plants.

Now that teething is over (for now) Nicky has reverted to being the happy-go-lucky kid he was before he turned one. I was so used to him being cranky all the time and sleeping poorly, the six months between 12 & 18 were a real struggle for all of us. Now his real personality and sense of humour have an opportunity to shine and he’s honestly a delight. Except for when you wash his face. Or hair. Or butt! But the rest of the time, he’s all sunshine.

family dinner

Taylor and I still haven’t gotten fully back into the swing of meal planning, but after A LOT of takeout & delivery + one meltdown (from me) about not having the time I needed to cook a poorly-planned meal that resulted in carrots being thrown down the hallway (also by me) we were like… we need to do this!! I also need to REALLY embrace the slow cooker more as sunnier days mean I’d rather spend the afternoons outside with the kids playing and gardening rather than slaving over the oven while they was too much Paw Patrol. Our current cooker is great but only holds 2 quarts so I think it’s time to get a bigger one. I’m leaning towards this model (good reviews and v v cheap, the larger model of our current one is OVER TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS wth) but if you have any recs I’d love to hear them!

Friday: okay this was last last Friday but I made chicken & pepper tacos for the family & my sister and they were GREAT. The only problem was not having enough so next time I’m going to ramp up the quantity! I used this recipe for the chicken and this recipe for the peppers, and topped them just with some fresh cilantro and cheese.

Sunday: rosemary garlic roast beef with Hasselback potatoes and grilled asparagus with lemon & parmesan. I bought a Hasselback potato frame? mold? thing to put the potatoes in while you cut them so these may happen more.

Monday: chicken with bacon & white wine sauce, served with fresh bread and spicy honey glazed carrots. This chicken takes FIVEEVER to make but it’s so good it’s worth it! The kids all liked the bread best though, which is like… quite the compliment because they DO NOT like any “weird breads.”

Wednesday: sweet & sour pork with rice. I left the carrots out of this dish because Nicky has… digestional issues if he eats to many, and was already suffering after Monday’s carrots. Overall it was good, the pork was DELICIOUS but the sauce was a little too sour and not quite enough sweet. I think if I made this again I’d decrease the amount of vinegar in the sauce and increase the sugar.

Friday: Pizza is back! I made two pizzas (pepperoni and goat cheese & basil) and they both turned out well in spite of a few snafus: I divided the dough too evenly (one of my cast iron pans makes a large and the other makes a medium but I cut the dough right in half without thinking), and I forgot to put sauce on one until AFTER I put on the cheese and the toppings! This is particularly embarrassing because I have clear rules about making pizza and the order in which to top them: sauce-cheese-toppings-cheese. However in spite of this they both turned out delicious.

a to zed

This afternoon I went to go put some art up in the playroom (the walls have been pretty bare after repainting) but I can’t find my alphabet poster. I still have the frame but the posted is who knows where. Luckily I still have all my old designs from my 2013 diy (I can’t believe it’s been FIVE years since I made this) so I quickly adjusted the colours to this pretty blue and ordered a new one from Staples. You can download this new version here, or check out the original post for other colours/styles.

five faves

Hey everyone, longtime (sort of?) no write. Something something blogger cliche about being busy, too busy to blog. I mean I guess I actually have; we are in the first week back at school after a very long spring break and it’s been hard to get back into our regular routine and I’ve undertaken a bunch of projects around the house that are really taking up a lot of my time. But I’ll get into that in another post; for now here’s a few faves for your Friday morning.

A friend posted this article on her instagram stories this morning; it’s an oldie but very fascinating to me because I love buying weird food at HomeSense (Canadian branch of TJ Maxx).

I haven’t bought a new bathing suit in a long time but I just got this two piece (top, bottom) and I’ve never had a high waisted bikini before but I kind of love it?

image via Zara

I don’t generally go for shirts with graphics of messages but this one really spoke to me.

I really want to get some of these INTENSELY CREEPY mother-of-pearl hands to use in a crystal tiara but they are a little pricey. I did buy some tiny golden skulls last weekend so we’ll see what I come up with.

Taylor and I have been watching Wild Wild Country on Netflix this week and if you haven’t yet, you should because it is BONKERS.