October 30, 2008

The Great Pumpkin Carving Adventure

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

My photos and their photostory shall by combined this week by way of captions. Yay!

I know you're probably tired of pictures of Jack O' Lanterns. But today is Halloween and this year, at our house, the Jack O' Lanterns are special... This year my boys designed the faces for their Halloween Jack O' Lanterns all themselves. They drew them on paper first, then they transferred the pictures onto their pumpkins. The level of excitement here while we were carving our pumpkins was not to be believed... It was great.

But first, we had to de-goop the pumpkins.

Monkey gave it a try...

And dove in with both hands.

Buddy had a slightly different experience.

He gave it a try...

And got totally grossed out.

Mommy to the rescue.*

Ew! Super-goopy!

Monkey drew on his pumpkin.

Monkey's Jack O' Lantern design.

Buddy drew on his pumpkin.

The artist at work.

Buddy's Jack O' Lantern design.

"Cut them, Mommy! Cut them!"

Watching the carving process.

Monkey's Jack O' Lantern. It's a dinosaur.

Buddy's Jack O' Lantern. He has ghosts on his cheeks.


Lit up.

Ooooh! Spooky!

The boys checking out their work.

A silly picture.

Two boys with the Jack O' Lanterns they designed themselves.

Didn't they do a great job?

* The photos below the asterisk were actually taken by Hubby, but since he helped me write this post I think they still count :).

For more photostories click over to What Works For Us or My Chaos My Bliss.

Want to play along? Get the rules by clicking the Photostory Friday logo at the top of this post.


What I Found Yesterday Morning

I like snow.

At least I like snow in Winter.

But snow before Halloween should be illegal.

Despite the ridiculousness of pre-snow-season snow, on Tuesday night we had a snow storm. When we headed to bed, it was so windy that it was actually snowing sideways.

On Wednesday morning, we woke up to a new world.

7 AM... Pre-dawn and pre-coffee (all is dark).

Post-dawn-ish and Post-coffee (the world seems a brighter place).

The tree in our front yard wears snow well.

My boys looked oddly puffy in full snow gear

Slush, mess and traffic on our way to school

More pretty snowy trees

Despite our freak snow storm... Tomorrow, for Halloween, we're supposed to have no snow left and temperatures in the mid-teens (Celsius - not too cold, just about right for Trick-or-treating).

Well, I'm off to carve some pumpkins with those oddly puffy boys (now all de-puffed, out of their snowsuits). Should be fun...

Happy Halloween Eve/Boxing snow day!!


October 29, 2008

Got Overripe Bananas?

If you follow June Cleaver Nirvana's weekly potluck, then you know that Holly has some overripe bananas in her fruit bowl. Today Holly's It's Not Me, It's You post has a "what's for dinner" theme and a request for recipes. In honour of Holly's open call for dinner help and her overripe bananas I'm going to share some of my favourite banana recipes.

Bananas are the world's most popular fruit. According to the Banana Fruit Facts website (can you believe there's such a thing as a 'Banana Fruit Facts' website?), "Bananas and plantains are today grown in every humid tropical region and constitute the 4th largest fruit crop of the world." Bananas ripen very quickly so they must be eaten within a few days of purchase, or they go brown. Bananas are not as tasty when they're overripe.

But there is some hope for the lowly overripe banana. Overripe bananas can be used in recipes, or peeled, sliced and stored in the freezer to be used later in baking or smoothies.

Here are some ideas to use up your overripe bananas:

Nanny's Banana Bread Recipe

3/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup margarine or oil
1 egg
3-4 bananas (the more, the better)
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Mash bananas well - until they form a sweet banana paste. Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Mix well. Add egg. Mix well. Add banana. Mix well. Grease pan with margarine. Bake for about 1 hour. When poked with a tester needle (Nanny uses a knitting needle), the needle should come out clean.

The banana bread can be frozen and used later. Wrap in tinfoil, then cling wrap and freeze.

Serve sliced, with or without butter or margarine. Nanny's banana bread is also delicious with ice cream.

Hubby enjoying a piece of Nanny's Banana Bread

Banana Muffins

The Nanny's Banana Bread recipe can also be used to make banana muffins. Simply use a muffin tin, rather than a bread tin. Cook at the same temperature, but because they're smaller, they'll cook faster; so check the muffins with the tester needle after 40 minutes.

Banana Nut Pancakes

Another great way to use overripe bananas is to add them to pancakes.

Make your pancake batter however you usually do. (I use President's Choice Extra-Fluffy & Complete Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix; it's not fancy, but it tastes great.)

Mash the bananas well - until they form a sweet banana paste. Add to pancake batter, stir well. I also like to add nuts. I like to use pecans, but walnuts work well too.

The bananas make the pancakes a bit doughier, so take extra care that they're cooked well through.

These banana-nut pancakes are flavourful enough to be eaten on their own. They are also great served traditionally, with syrup and butter or margarine. I also like them with peanut butter.

Banana Smoothies

Combine a fresh or frozen banana with some vanilla yogurt (if your banana wasn't frozen, I recommend using frozen yogurt) and a generous splash of skim milk in your blender, blend until smooth and enjoy. If neither your banana nor your yogurt were frozen, you can crush some ice in the blender before adding the other ingredients.

Optional additions to your banana smoothie: Peanut butter, chocolate, ovaltine, cinnamon, other fruit. The possibilities are endless. Let your imagination go wild...

What do you do with your overripe bananas?


Wordless Wednesday - Waterfalls and Big Guns

Another Sunday, another family day at a park...

What did we see?


And big guns:

What else did we do?

We had a snuggle

We enjoyed a strawberry bagel

And we made a wish or two.

For more Wordless Wednesday, go to 5 Minutes for Mom.


October 28, 2008

I'm Not Very Good At This

Note: I wrote this last month and forgot about it... I just found in in my Drafts and I thought it was kind of funny - it showcases my social awkwardness rather nicely, I think.

I just got back from "meet the teacher" night at the kids' school.

I met Buddy's teacher. She's very sweet. She's very effective. But, it was really weird. The weirdness was all my fault. I had no idea what I was supposed to do.

I arrived at the school and there was coffee and cookies. I didn't want coffee or cookies so I followed a bunch of parents to the gym. There were chairs set out in the gym, but it didn't look like enough chairs for everybody so I was worried that we weren't supposed to go to the gym first. I wandered back out into the hallway to look for someone I could ask. I didn't see anyone I knew. I took a cup of coffee so that I wouldn't look like I was standing around because I didn't know what to do. After another look around I wandered back to the gym and sat down. The chairs were filling up but I was still very much in doubt whether I was supposed to be there or at Buddy's classroom. I wandered back out into the hall again to look for someone to ask. Where all the familiar fellow-parents were, I don't know; unfamiliar faces as far as the eye could see. Finally, I found Buddy's x-kindergarten teacher from last year. I asked him if everybody was supposed to go to the gym. He said, "Yes, I think there's a general meeting to begin with in the gym. No one will be in their classrooms yet." Then he looked at me with something close to pity in his eyes and said, "I think I have an extra agenda if you'd like to read it."

The sad thing is I'd already read the agenda... and I couldn't remember it saying anything about the evening starting with a meeting in the gym. I remember it saying that I was supposed to go to Buddy's classroom to meet the teacher at 7pm. I have it here now and it does indeed say, "7:00pm - 7:15pm Welcome (gymnasium)." Proving once again what should be painfully clear to me by now: That I'm a moron.

Anyway. I went back to the gym and managed, against all odds, to get a seat. The principal gave a very dull introduction to all the teachers and then they showed a slide show which, for some inconceivable reason, consisted of pictures of students who were no longer at the school because they'd graduated last year.

Then we were told to go to our child's class and meet the teacher. We all stood up and filed slowly through the tiny opening at the exit; shuffling along like cattle, stepping carefully to avoid crushing each other's feet or bumping into the people around us.

I went up the stairs to find Buddy's class, but it wasn't where I remembered it being. I turned around and searched from class to class and finally located it. Inside, parents were milling around awkwardly unsure of what to do next. I joined them and found Buddy's seat. There was a handout on the table in front of it with his name on it. There was also a tiny girl sitting at his seat, playing with the handout. I didn't want to take it away from her, so I stood by and waited for her to put it down. When she did, I reached down and picked it up. Her mother noticed and said, "Oh! Sorry!" I said, "No problem." I wandered over to the other side of the class where I saw some drawings on the wall. None of them had Buddy's name, though. So I stood around and waited for my turn to talk to his teacher.

She finally turned to me with a big smile and said, "Hi!"

I smiled back, "Hi," I said.

An awkward moment passed...

"So... How's he doing? Is it going okay?" I finally managed.

"Yes," she answered, "But he's having a bit of trouble with the French. I think it's because he only started in May last year. But he's catching up, I don't think it's going to be a problem."

"Oh, really?" I said, nodding.

"Yes," she answered. "Today I told him to go 'tracer et d├ęcouper son dessin' and he said, 'that means cut!'"

"Oh, that's good," I said.

We smiled and nodded some more.

I asked, "How is he getting along with the other kids?"

"Oh!" she replied, "Really great. Yeah. He's well-liked."

"Well that's good."


More smiling...

And then I said goodbye and left.

I'm just not very good at this.


October 27, 2008

Picture, Picture

I've been tagged by the marvelous Amanda... Here's what I'm supposed to do:

1.) Go to your Pictures folder on your computer
2.) Go to your 4th folder
3.) Get your 4th picture
4.) Tag four people

This is my niece and nephew, who I call The-Fabulous-Miss-J and BAM! here in blogworld. Aren't they dolls? This picture was taken while we were on a river cruise during a visit home to NB in August. In the background you can see Granny's back (pink shirt), the top of Monkey's head (blue hat), my lower body (white-ish shorts/black top, chubby knees), bags (containing swimsuits, towels, dry clothes, snacks and a kitchen sink or two) and the river (blue-green-silver and ripply).

Yay! Thanks for the tag, Amanda... That was fun.

Hokay... I'm gonna tag:
Quirky is a Compliment
Working Mum
And Fat, Frumpy and Fifty


Party Punch Recipe

No, no, silly!
Not that kind of punch...

This tangy punch can be enjoyed all year long; its combination of fruity flavours and fizziness is a refreshing addition to any gathering.

Combine the following frozen juices in a punch bowl, do not add water:

1 can of Bacardi Strawberry Daiquiri Mix
1 can of 5 Alive Tropical Citrus (the one in the purple can)
1 can of Pink Lemonade 1 can of Orange Punch (make sure it's the punch, not the juice)

And: 2/3 of a 2L bottle of 7 Up, Sprite or Ginger Ale
1/4 of a 1L bottle Pink Grapefruit Drink (the fizzy kind)

Stir well and refrigerate until needed. This can be made a bit in advance of your party, but not too early or it will lose its fizziness.

Immediately before serving, add a 375ml bottle of champagne.

If you're making the punch for children or anyone who doesn't drink alcohol, you can replace the champagne with more 7up and pink grapefruit drink.

To decorate, place a piece of seasonal fruit in each section of an ice-cube tray, fill with water and freeze. Add to the punch right after adding the champagne. It will look pretty and keep the punch cold, and your guests can take one of the cubes in their glass if they wish. If you're hosting a fancier occasion, like a wedding reception, you can also buy a round, doughnut shaped ice tray, called an "ice ring". It makes a good-sized ring of ice. Place seasonal fruit in it, add water and freeze. It makes a very pretty decoration for your punch.

That's more like it!



Wish Maker

What would you wish for?


October 25, 2008

A Giveaway and a Prestigious Award

The Secret is in the Sauce is having a November giveaway... They are giving away a

Bissell Healthy Home Vacuum!

I know you want a piece of that action, so head on over and leave a comment on the giveaway post in order to take part.

And I have been awarded an "I Love Your Blog" award by Melissa at Life With 3 Boys & A Little Lady.

I'm excited about getting this award because I've seen it all over the bloggyverse, but I didn't have one yet and, more importantly, because Melissa (as far as I know) is a fairly new reader. So, thank you, Melissa! Yay!

Along with the award, I'm supposed to link to the person who awarded it to me and then pass it on to seven blogs that I love... I want to award:

I *Heart* You
Meg Fowler
ScrappySue at My Home Wellingtown
Sass E-mum at One Strangely Lush Mother
Amanda's Life
Ami at Writing: My Life
Random Acts of Goofiness

It's so hard to choose, there are so many blogs I love! I chose these seven because I love their blogs. Do you read these? If not, click over and check them out - they're all great.

Hope you're having a good weekend!


October 24, 2008

Me and Mom

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

It's already 2pm. I'm so late joining in with Photostory Friday this week! I figure better late than never, though.

Here's the photo:

Me and my mom

And the photostory is: My mom and I haven't had much of a chance to take trips together, just us. Last winter, though, we grabbed a weekend and travelled to Ontario to scope out a place for Hubby, the kids and I to rent when we moved to our new town. Mom and I had a great time together and, despite her never-ending reluctance to have her picture taken, I managed to snap this shot of the two of us. We look happy, don't we? We were happy and enjoying each other's company. The trip was so successful that we've promised to do it again sometime when we don't have to spend so much time apartment hunting.

For more photostories click over to What Works For Us or My Chaos My Bliss.

Want to play along? Get the rules by clicking the Photostory Friday logo at the top of this post.


October 23, 2008

Too Much or Not Enough?

I'm feeling lazy and not really myself today. So, in the absence of words, I'm taking the easy way out.

Memes: Easy blogging.

Here's one I found at Poetikat's Invisible Keepsakes:

1.My uncle once: took me for a ride on his Harley.

2. Never in my life have I: tried Sushi, although I want to.

3. When I was five my parents took me: to the beach on Easter Sunday, it was that warm that year.

4. High school was: silly.

5. I will never forget to: pick my kids up at school.

6. Once I met: my future husband.

7. There’s this boy I know: who refuses to eat his Thai leftovers.

8. Once, at a bar, I: drank screwdrivers with my brother.

9. By noon, I’m: hungry.

10. Last night I: ate Thai food, cleaned the kitchen and went to bed. Partay!

11. If only I had: my Christmas shopping done, I could relax.

12. Next time I go to church: I'll be very surprised to be there.

13. What worries me most is that I: won't get into the Masters program and also that I will.

14. When I turn my head left I see: that my bookshelves need organizing again.

15. When I turn my head right I see: a wall.

16. You know I’m lying when I: am trying very hard not to smile.

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is: gel bracelets.

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare I’d be: the comic relief.

19. By this time next year I will: either be in school or trying to figure out what to do now because I didn't get in.

20. A better name for me would be: Um... Giggles McLaughs-a-lot or Chuckles McLoves-to-laugh.

21. I have a hard time understanding: closed-mindedness.

22. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: get my Masters of Information Studies.

23. You know I like you if I: can be myself.

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be: my husband.

25. Take my advice, never: mess with Moms, especially where their children are concerned. They will take you down.

Also, ages ago I was tagged by Barb at Spotlis on the eight facts meme... Thanks, Barb! Sorry it took me so long to get to it...

Here are the rules:

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Okay then.

8 Random facts about me...

1. I was an art geek in high school. At lunch time, I hung out in the art room with the other art geeks.

2. Now I'm an internet geek. But then, you'd probably already figured that out.

3. I tend to assume everyone else is smarter, more accomplished and more talented than me.

4. I don't like rodents, including bunnies and squirrels.

5. I don't mind reptiles, I think they're kind of cool.

6. There isn't a particular genre of music that I'm into. I tend to like a little bit of just about any type of music - Usually, I like the catchy songs.

7. I own nine pairs of jeans.

8. I'm a rule breaker and to demonstrate my rule breakiness, I'm not going to tag anybody on this meme. See? I'm such a maverick.


October 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Fun with Panorama

My cell phone has a fun panorama feature which combines three pictures into one by blurring the edges. It's meant for taking wide landscape shots, but I like to use it on people, often with delightfully odd results.

For more Wordless Wednesday, visit 5 Minutes for Mom.