Thursday, December 30, 2010

Post Christmas Blues

 Little One is not the only one who is suffering from Post Christmas Blues. She misses her cousins. I miss all the laughter, the hugs, and the togetherness that the Holidays bring. I miss seeing my toddler holding hands with her older cousin and playing with her twin cousins. The end of the holidays always makes me feel sad that we live so far away from my family.

I'm sad that Little One doesn't get to play with her cousins often enough. It makes me feel like we should contemplate having another baby just so Little One doesn't grow up alone.

It's not that she's "alone" alone. She really isn't. She gets lots of interaction with children her age. We have play dates, play groups, parties, get togethers, and outings with other kids. She just doesn't have a sibling...yet. Part of me thinks we should just have another child. The other part worries about having another preemie and the scary experience we had with my pregnancy with Little One.

 Then I think of how amazing it would be for her to have company all the time. True, we give her all the attention and love one child could ever want. She just doesn't have that special bond siblings have.

In the meantime, she's got her horse, her dog, and her blankie.

 I thought it was so cute how she piled her security blanket and her stuffed doggy onto her rocking horse with her.

Steven and Chris...and a Toddler = A Slight Adaptation of a Delicious Recipe!

Okay, most of you know that I am a farmer's wife. More precisely, a beef farmer's wife. This is quite funny, considering the fact that I was a city girl, and a strict vegetarian for much of my adult life.

I'm always on the look out for beef recipes, because...Well, we've got a lot of beef!

I happened to "half catch" some of Steven and Chris when the toddler distracted me. You know how much I luuuuuuuv Steven and Chris, right? Anyway, the original recipe for Jen Low's Braised Beef Short Ribs and Sour Cream Biscuits called for short ribs. Duh! The name of the recipe is pretty self-explanatory, but I pulled out a rump roast instead of ribs. Too late to figure out something else to do with the hunk of meat, I decided to attempt a slight variation to the recipe...substituting short ribs for a roast. Hmmm.

The reason the recipe caught my attention (or "half attention" since the toddler was threatening to tear apart the house) was because there was mention of olives and raisins added to the recipe! Yes! Olives and raisins with beef, red wine, garlic, and onions! What an unusual combination of sweet, salty, and savory! Intrigued, I had to try this recipe out.

Another thing that piqued my curiosity was that Jen Low said she had a "Five Minute Bread" recipe! Any meal that has "minutes" instead of "hours" is perfect for me!

Copied directly from the Steven and Chris website, here is the recipe for
Braised Beef Short Ribs
Makes 4 servings Olive & Raisin Beef Short Ribs.


3 cups beef broth
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup red wine (optional)
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk and its leaves fresh parsley -- this is not just a sprig, but the whole stalk (or 2 tsp dried)
1/3 cup sliced green olives
1/3 cup raisins
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
a few grindings fresh black pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
8 beef short ribs (1.5 kg), trimmed of excess fat
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Coarsely chopped parsley to garnish

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Into large (lidded) oven-proof pot, mix beef broth, tomato sauce and red wine (if using). In cup, mix water and flour until smooth, whisk into broth mixture. Add onion, parsley, green olives, raisins, garlic and black pepper to pot. Set aside.
  • Mix chili powder and cumin. Sprinkle on all sides of beef short ribs. Heat vegetable oil to medium in large non-stick skillet, brown ribs in batches. Put browned ribs into pot of broth mixture.
  • Cover and bake on middle rack of oven 1 hour or, if you have time, you can cook them for 1 1/2 hours for even more tenderness.
  • Uncover and skim off any excess fat. Discard parsley stalk. Stir to blend sauce. Plate ribs, spoon sauce over top. Garnish with chopped parsley. 
Now for the Quick Sour Cream Dinner Buns:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk (any kind)
2 tbsp mayonnaise (regular)
2 tbsp sour cream (regular or low-fat)

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In medium bowl, mix all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  • Add the milk, mayonnaise and sour cream to the bowl. Stir until soft dough forms. Use a spoon to drop into 5 or 6 mounds onto prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake on rack above your pot of short ribs, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly golden (if you are baking these buns on their own, you could also bake them on the middle rack).
  • Makes 5 or 6 Quick Sour Cream Dinner Buns. 
Serve with salad of your choice. I added some dill into the dinner buns for a little bit of yummy freshness.
Even though I didn't use the right cut of beef (and I totally forgot to make a slurry!), the recipe was AMAZING! I will certainly be making this dish again (and again, and again)! Even the toddler loved it! She kept asking for more beef and olives!

By the way, the photo of the braised short ribs and the dinner buns look much more appetizing on the Steven and Chris website than they do here. The toddler hid my camera, so all I had as my cell phone cam.

This Christmas Was Extra Special Because...

 Our family was together for Christmas this year.  Since Middle Bro got married, he and his wife started alternating Christmas with his side of the family and her side of the family.  Hubby and I got married a few years later, and adopted that tradition.  This year, it was Christmas with my side of the family.

Christmas is my favourite time of the year, because that's when we all get together. Baby Bro lives in Toronto now and Middle Bro and his family live in K-town. To visit my brothers, it takes 6 hours to Toronto and 8 to 9 hours to K-Town. We made the trip to K-town with Little One and my ESL student in tow.

I was a bit worried about how Little One and her cousins would make out, since they only see each other once or twice a year. They got along amazingly well! They played together nicely, and there was no fighting at all. They all shared their toys with each other, and no one tried to dominate. I was in complete and utter shock. It was so nice to see the cousins so happy together. The laughter, smiles, kisses, hugs, and holding hands just melts my heart.

I really wish Little One could see her cousins more often.

 Lola and Grampy got Little One a tricycle for Christmas. Check out our big girl!

 Yes, family photo time and she's on the phone!
 My friend from England celebrated Christmas with us this year.
 My cousin and his wife announced that they are expecting in May!
 The twins, my nephew, and Little One made gingerbread men. Little One just wanted to lick the icing off of the cookies.

 Middle Bro made me this birthday cake!!! I was so surprised, since he said we were having "Christmas cake"! Of course, I believed him! Thanks so much, Middle Bro! :) You are so thoughtful!

 My parents really wanted photos of them with the grandkids. This was photo #21 out of #38. Not bad. Only two children seem unhappy and the other two are tolerating the photo shoot.
 The guys taught my student how to play poker. It was too funny. Apparently, the concept of having a "poker face" is somewhat of a difficult thing to grasp. :) I shouldn't say anything, because I don't have a poker face at all either.

Situation: A King on the flop and Dad says to my student, "Do you have two kings?"

Student: Yes.
Guys: (Roaring with laughter) I FOLD!! (in unison)
 Little One really enjoyed hanging out with her cousins.
 It was good for Hubby to spend time with "the men folk". They had a great time bonding over poker and assembling various children's toys. I am a firm believer in already-assembled-ready-to-play-with toys! Who knew toy kitchens could have a million and one parts and required assembly with a real screwdriver? Yes, as opposed to a fake screwdriver, much like the one Little One got in her toy tool kit! Yes! She received a tool kit for Christmas and absolutely LOVES it!

 Some of you have been asking me how Little One fared on that tremendously long, excruciatingly painful and treacherous drive from nowheresville to civilization and back. Well, this is pretty much what she did for the entire drive.
 I kid you not. She slept for most of the drive...which was about 12 hours since we had to drop my student off in Ottawa and then pick him up on the way home from Montreal. Oh, yes! We also went to Montreal to see the rest of my family after we left K-Town!

12 hours in a van. She played, she "read" her books, she sang, she chatted, she ate, she slept...
Yes, it was terribly painful traveling with her. I'm being sarcastic, of course.

Things that shocked me on our trip:
1. I was actually shocked that Little One fared so well in the van for so long. When she was a baby, she traveled really well. However, she is 2 years old now and doesn't like to stay put for long. She did very well!

2. Who knew that one could get lost in Pembroke, Ontario for an hour?!?! We couldn't find our way out of that place! All in the name of finding a Tim Horton's for a coffee (okay, so I could change Little One's diaper)!

3. Some people are not shy to speak their mind. We stopped at the McDonald's in Sturgeon Falls (I needed to get some milk for Little One and change her diaper). While waiting I was waiting in line, a woman stormed up to the service counter.

Manager: Can I help you with something, M'am?
Customer: Yeah. Your 7Up tastes like @$$.
Manager: (surprised) Oh, okay. Would you like something else to replace it with?
Customer: Yeah. You bet your (Bleep! Bleep! Bleep!) I do! Make that four Cokes, will you?

Wow. I was beyond shocked. Firstly, I was shocked at the customer's behaviour. Secondly, I was impressed by the way the manager handled the situation. I guess it's her job to handle things so well. She was cool, calm, and collected. I probably wouldn't have been so polite if someone spoke to me that way. Then again, maybe that's why I'm not in that line of work. That would be difficult to deal with.

Anyway, we finally returned to the Island. Our friends came over to greet us a belated Merry Christmas and gave Little One this amazing present!!!
 Our friend handcrafted this spectacular rocking horse for Little One. Everything is from recycled material. The wood is salvaged wood (from their old barn).
 It will definitely be a present Little One will treasure forever. Little One is too young to understand the meaning of Christmas. I would like to teach her (when she gets older) that it's not about the presents and the partying. I wonder when I should introduce her to the true meaning of Christmas? She is only 2 years old.

 For now, she knows that she has just spent some special time with her cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More Awesome Gift Ideas

I have to admit that I have a very strange love of fabrics, materials, textiles, patterns, and colours. Okay, I just love all things pretty! I can't seem to get enough of beautiful fabric. I'm like this with paper products (like stationery and origami paper) too. I know. Weird.

Anyway, there's  nothing I love more than beautiful fabric. Well...except for my daughter, of course!

I discovered Kiokko Baby Boutique many months ago and have lusted over some of the beautiful items on the website. I thought it would only be fair for me to share the love.

I'm not saying this because I recently won this from Kiokko Baby Boutique:
You'll find the most adorable gift items for new moms, baby showers, birthday presents, or any other special occasion. They carry items like bibs, nursing covers, burp cloths, blankets, pacifier clips, eco-washcloths, and so on.

 Don't you just love the patterns and designs? I know I do!

Hop on over to Kiokko Baby Boutique and check out their gorgeous baby items! While  you're at it, you  might want to check out their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter!

Looking For Last Minute Presents?

My sweet husband picked up on my hints for what I wanted for my birthday a few days ago. Okay, so my hints were pretty audible. Okay, they were loud.

I wanted something like this in turquoise:
and Hubby picked up on my cues and got it for me! It's beautiful stunning! There's a funny story that goes with my original Mo'Lovely necklace. I had been lusting over one of the lariat style necklaces for months. I kept mentioning it to Hubby, but never got a response from him. What did I do? Well, I went and bought myself one! I was sad because Sophie (the very talented jewelry maker/artist) said she'd have one especially made for me in turquoise, but when I went to see her, she didn't have any! I ended up purchasing an equally beautiful one for myself in different shades of brown. I was still a little sad that I didn't get my turquoise one though.

I asked Sophie if there would be any available soon and she just said, "Maybe if you're nice, Santa will get it for you." Hmmm...Cryptic.

Needless to say, at my surprise birthday party (thanks to my wonderful husband and fantastic friends!), my husband presented me with the necklace I had wanted! It is gorgeous!

Mo'Lovely has a wide arrangement of stunning pieces. Check out the Mo'Lovely Facebook page for a full view of designs and styles.

Check out the FB page and you'll find gifts for all occasions! Christmas, birthdays, showers, graduations, friendship, or "just-because".

If you're a last minute shopper, you can find some pretty cool gifts at Sophie's! I just have to insert here that by purchasing Mo'Lovely pieces, you are supporting a local Manitoulin Island business. Just sayin' :)

Proof That I Am THE WORST Mom EVER!

Is it wrong that I think this is the most hilarious photo ever?
I know, I know. Bad Mommy!

For the past few weeks, Little One  has been really interested in Santa. Last year, she had her photo taken with Santa and didn't seem to mind. This year, however, a completely different story!

She patiently waited in line, smiled at Santa, yelled "Santa! Santa!", waved, and blew kisses at him. As soon as I placed her on his lap...


There was no consoling Little One. She totally flipped out.

My only consolation was that the six kids ahead of us bawled their eyes out too.
Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Husband and My Friend Have Secrets from Me

It's been going on for about a month now. Random phone calls, unexpected visits at odd hours, and general weirdness between my husband and one of my closest friends. She never calls to talk to him and all of a sudden she's only calling for him. They'd utter something about her car being fixed and that sort of thing, so I never really gave much thought about their recent conversations.

My friend took me out for coffee (well, a Chai latte with soy milk) yesterday and made me go on some running around/errands with her after we finished work. When we got to my place, there were lots of cars in our lane way.

When I entered my house, I was greeted with this...
Everyone was wearing togas and the house was transformed into what looked like the Greek Acropolis. My friend's husband slaved all day in the kitchen, preparing all of my favourite Greek dishes. He even marinated olives! Amazing!
My husband, my friend (and two other friends of ours) managed to pull off the most amazing surprise party ever. I have no idea how they managed, because I'm usually in the know about everything! They did a spectacular job!

My husband also got me a gorgeous piece from Mo'Lovely Creations. I had been lusting over a particular necklace for a while now...and he got it for me!

 Yes, there was even a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN!!! Heaven = A seemingly endless flow of chocolate along with all the fruit and other edible items to dip!

 Even Little One donned a toga (which sort of looked like a cape on her)!
My amazing birthday cake was made by Ultimately Chocolate. It was a total hit with everyone! Some people even asked for a second serving! YUM!
To think, I was worried about turning 35. 35 isn't that bad after all. In fact, 35 is pretty amazing. Thanks to everyone involved in making my birthday a very special and memorable one.


I'm officially in another age bracket.

You know, when you fill out surveys and questionnaires and they ask you to check the box that corresponds to your age group? Well, I've officially graduated to the next box. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Truth be told, my thirties have been the greatest. My twenties were fun and exciting, but my thirties are even better.

Here are 35 things you may not know about me.

1. I'm one of those paranoid, must double check, confirm and confirm again girls. I check three times to see if my front door is locked before I leave my house.

2. I can't sleep with anything covering my feet. My toddler has picked up this quirky little thing from me and can't have anything covering her feet when she sleeps either.

3. I am a grammar nut. One of my favourite websites is the Grammar Girl site.

4. I secretly get really annoyed when I'm out and hear whiny, tantrum-throwing, screaming children. The shrill sounds of toddlers and kids screaming in protest or because they don't get their way just pierces my ear drums. Please don't hate me for saying this!

5. I feel the same way when Little One whines and cries for me. I know she misses me and wants my attention, but when I have taught from 9AM to 3:30 PM, it's exhausting to come home to her wanting to hang onto me all the time. Cooking supper is hard with a toddler clinging to you. I love her so much, but the whining...ack!

6. I used to be pretty laid back and chilled out. I need to learn to chillax more.

7. I picked out my new glasses while totally doped up on cold meds and right after the optometrist put drops into my eyes to dilate them. Needless to say, because I was doped up and practically blind at the time of picking out my new glasses, my new frames are totally funky and totally purple. Totally not "me", but they are pretty cool!

8. I never know how amazing it would be to be a Mom! I love watching my Little One play when she's not aware that I'm watching her. I also love that when I ask her to throw something in the garbage, she actually does it! :)

9. I never knew how exhausting it would be to be a Mom! Whoa! Seriously? Nothing anyone tells you can adequately prepare you for motherhood :)

10. I sometimes feel like I need a time out!

11. I'm obsessed with Sharpies. I secretly think my handwriting looks better when I write with Sharpies!

12. I need to use medium point pens. Everything else just feels so wrong.

13. Hate, hate, hate fine and ultra fine tip pens.

14. I like chocolate ice cream. I like strawberry ice cream. I like vanilla ice cream. I just don't like them all together. For some reason, Neapolitan ice cream grosses me out and I cannot bring myself to eat it even when all my favourite flavours are combined together.

15. It really bugs me when people say "Napoleon" ice cream instead of "Neapolitan" ice cream.

16. I'm addicted to word games like Scrabble and Wordscraper.

17. I'm only a little bit competitive at games.

18. There was a time when I used to be able to watch horror movies in the dark, at midnight, in the myself.

19. Now, I'm afraid of horror movies.

20. I get freaked out if I'm at home at night and Hubby's away.

21. My toddler amazes me. She teaches me new things every day.

22. I recently learned that toddlers have selective hearing.

23. I have a million cookbooks.

24. I love collecting cookbooks.

25. I rarely follow recipes and end up throwing meals together from taste.

26. I'm obsessed with pillows. Pretty pillows.

27. I have 9 pillows on our bed.

28. My husband wonders why anyone would need 9 pillows on their bed. He sometimes doesn't even use one!

29. I love throwing dinner parties.

30. I need to surround myself with people. I thrive in that environment.

31. I also love having alone time.

32. I rarely have alone time.

33. I need more alone time.

34. I'm a mom of a toddler. I probably won't have alone time for a LONG time.

35. That's okay, because I love, love, love my munchkin.

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About the Blog Author

City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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Life on Manitoulin: Just a bunch of ramblings from a city girl gone country!

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