Thursday, March 29, 2007

pantry press

Because of the limited amount of cupboard space in my kitchen I tend not to have many gadgets.
I try to keep it simple.
good quality knives
good quality pots and pans
several pairs of tongs
food processor
various cutting boards
a good blender and hand mixer
a decent toaster
nice mixing bowls, measuring cups etc.
this winter I purchased my first crockpot and have no regrets.
but lately I've been really into my krupps Panini press.
I love that thing.
It makes an ordinary grilled cheese seem so much tastier.
I love using different toppings to make delicious pressed sandwiches.
these are a few of my favourite combos

ham, pear & gruyere
smoked turkey, apple & chutney and brie
boconcini, arugula & roasted peppers with pesto
parma ham, artichoke, sundried tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella
tuna, cheddar and sliced tomato
old cheddar cheese with a hot bowl of tomato soup
blue cheese with roasted onion soup
and finally- Lulu's personal fav. just cheese with a side of ketchup.

On a more personal note,
I seriously can't believe another week has come and gone and that March is almost over.
Poor Lulu has been going though a bit of a clumsy stage, and has suffered yet another mouth injury.
I think this is #4.
She was trying to do her version of pilates on her "swiss ball" (her bouncy outdoor ball) like mummy,
but rolled off of the ball and did a complete face plant onto the deck outside.
There was lots of blood and tears and a nice fat lip to top things off.
This, just after her bruised cheek finally faded after she fell into a hall table while dancing last week.
notice the lack of lulu photo opps lately.
her face had more grill marks than the sandwich pictured above..
Just to make things worse, she's had a bad cold all week (me too) and is really going through hell with the teething thing. (me too)
despite all of this, she is still as sweet and affectionate as ever and told me I was "gogeous" the other day while stroking my cheeks softly.
I could get used to this.
my own little ego booster.
But she had a bit of a meltdown today during a playdate at the coffee shop and was inconsolable when she accidentally let go of her balloon (that I got her to calm her down after the coffee shop meltdown) and it went floating up into the sky.
meltdown #2.
I may have gone through an entire box of Kleenex today.
I finally broke down and gave her some Tylenol to help take the edge off and help her sleep, which seems to be working so far tonight..
could this be THE night that she finally sleeps 12 hours straight?
I can only hope.

Despite the colds, sleepless nights and serious teething issues, much was accomplished this week.
Stupid things that felt really good to cross off my To Do list.
went to the dentist. Look ma no cavities!
had the car fully detailed. those goldfish crackers really do a number on car interior carpet. feels like a new car again.
had a lovely date night with big daddy (despite the sniffles and coughing) we went to tutti matti again and everything was delicious.
we shared the Antipastio della casa-Insalata caprese with bufala mozzarella and a selection of imported cheeses, cold cuts, marinated vegetables served with crostini
we also shared the Carpaccio di manzo- Beef carpaccio served with fresh arugula & parmigiano

and I had the Tagliatelle con funghi-Fresh saffron tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, truffle pate, garlic and Tuscan extra virgin olive oil..mmm.
If you go, try the olive oil ice cream for dessert, sounds weird, but was fantastic. creamy and very sexy.
as usual the service was impeccable and even better the chef and owner came to chat with us about food, wine and Italy.
what's better than that?
hmm. oh yes we got a new roof this week. looks great and gives the house a completely different look.
I finally threw out all the dogwood evergreen outdoor arrangements and changed them to something more..alive.
oh yes, we had my parents over for a nice dinner.

nope I guess this is not going to be the night where Lulu sleeps straight through.
guess I can't cross that off of my list.
I just spent 45 minutes of back rubbing, rocking, humming lullabies, and still she ends up in the bed next to me.
maybe tomorrow will be the night.
I swear, we have been more sleep deprived than when lulu was a new-born.
Is this normal for a 23 month old?

Monday, March 26, 2007

blast from the past

I'm one of those people that when she sees something to eat, she must go and find that specific something and eat it.
Thank-god for Rogers on Demand (tivo), no more commercials for me to watch=no more food temptations.
But while reading the Saturday morning paper, I came across an article about Montreal Smoked meat.
Aargh-there's no escaping food temptations.
As soon as I put the paper down I was on a quest to find the perfect Montreal smoked meat on rye,
but in the city of Toronto.
Okay, well maybe not the perfect sandwich place, but somewhere close by, respectable and preferably child friendly.
We figured we would go to a deli on Yonge st. near the Eaton's center.
Kill two birds with one stone as I had some stuff I had to return to Old Navy.
(Lulu is officially now a size 2T...who knew?)
So we do the returns, and find ourselves in front of Mr. GreenJeans in the Eaton's Center.
Now, this is probably the last place I would ever consider as a place to go to eat.
I mean the last time I ate there I was in high-school, using fake I.D. to order Black Label beer and calamari (no id necessary for the squid) which seemed oh so exotic back in 1987.
But the place has had a face-lift, and was bright and quite nice (for a mall restaurant)
The service was excellent, they had highchairs and a kids menu, it's in a super convenient location, had a nice view and the food was surprisingly good.
really good.
Big daddy had the burger with a side of mac & cheese (+$2) for little miss lulu.
I had my Montreal smoked meat sandwich on rye with a side salad.
Was it as good as Schwarz's or Ben's (which is sadly no longer) in Montreal?
hell no.
But it's as good as it could be,
They don't call it "Toronto" smoked meat after all.
Another food craving satisfied.
Well that is until I flip through Delicious magazine this month..

Friday, March 23, 2007

blue skies

nothin but blue skies...
ahh, finally the weather feels like spring.
In the words of little Lulu- "hip hip hooray!" her new favourite catch phrase.
Unfortunately, along with the lovely weather, both Lulu and I have a wee bit of a head cold.
It's probably my fault as I tempted fate and said something stupid about managing to go the entire winter without getting sick.
I swear as soon as you put a notion out there in the universe, it's like it is listening and makes it happen.
In addition to the sniffles, Big daddy and I were talking about a couple we know recently and wondering what they've been up to as we hadn't seen or heard from them all winter (and they live on our street) sure enough, that day they called to say hi.
Then we were discussing work stuff, and were wondering about a particular client that we hadn't worked with in well over a year, sure enough, they called to book big daddy the same day.
I'm a firm believer, that if you put a certain energy out there in the universe, it is listening.
at least that's been my experience to date.
this goes for positive and negative energy.
All the more reason to be positive.
So while on my way home from the health food store to pick up some
oil of oregano for this cold that I am going to no longer have come tomorrow morning-(did you hear that Universe?) I passed by a convenient store with a Lotto 649 sign out side that read $20 million. I imagined what I would do with the cash.
I concentrated.
I focused.
I sent it out into the universe.
But then I thought about what I would really want from the universe.
Health, happiness, family and love.
good enough for me, I don't really need $20 mil to be happy.
though it sure would be nice.
did you hear that universe?
Sure would be nice..
Just puttin' it out there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

breakfast is served

Oh the things I won't do to ensure that Madame Lulu gets enough fruit and veg each day....

The following is a current list of "acceptable" foods for her particular palate these days.
Probably of no interest to anyone but me, so if you don't want to die of boredom you might want to cease reading now.

avocado- all time fav.
ham- deli sliced black forest with no skin
cheese- pref. havarti or Parmigiano Reggiano
flax pita
yoghurt- mapletons organic or liberty organic vanilla
oranges and orange juice- doesn't like apple juice
smoothies with ground flax, fruit and soy milk
occasionally will eat apple sauce
pasta-Sgambaro Farfalline w/homemade tomato sauce
presidents choice vegetarian Bolognese tomato sauce
steamed rice with and without soy sauce
whole wheat bagels
soba noodles
tofu (soft almond flavour)
sweet corn casserole
peas (baby-food still)
roasted red peppers
white kidney beans-NOT red, I only had to make that mistake once.
dark organic chocolate
lemons-loves to suck on them
fruit bread-must be warm-from EPI or Cobbs bakery
chicken hotdogs dipped in ketchup
mac & cheese-Amy's-with some finely chopped broccoli mixed in
not much into cookies, crackers, grapes, raisins or snacking in general. still working on that.
That's all I can think of at the moment, but now that I see it all in print, I realize that maybe she's not such a picky eater after all.
especially considering she still only has 10 teeth so far.
so if you're still reading and didn't fall asleep, (and if you have kid in the house) what kind of quirky foods do they eat/or not eat?

Monday, March 19, 2007

dinner date

Finally..a night out with just big daddy.
No lulu, no relatives, just the two of us.
Unfortunately we only had a couple of hours as my parents had to drive back to NOTL in a snow storm, which took over three hours..(normally it's about an hour and 10-20 minutes..)
But we so appreciated being able to have an uninterrupted dinner date.
We were in dire need.
So since we were in a bit of a time crunch we booked an early seating at Cava.
They actually said they would need our table at 8:15 for a second seating which worked out well.
It's tucked away in a bit of an obscure location, but was really great.
I'm loving the whole Spanish tapas trend that seems to be finally making it's way to Toronto.
It has an extensive menu of small plates range in price from $3.50 to $24.00.
The small-plate menu features eclectic flavours that range from Spanish, Italian and French.
Cava’s in-house cured meat program features artisanal, house-made chorizo and salami, as well as dry-cured ham from eastern Italy and Northern Spain.
Over 20 wines are offered by the glass.
My kind of restaurant.
I started out with the Cava cocktail which was delish- though the sangria on the table next to ours looks mighty fine as well.
We then had the PINCHOS OF MOROCCAN GREEN SAUCE & HOUSE-CURED HOMBRO kind of like bruchetta, and very good.
We then moved onto a half litre of RIOJA CRIANZA BERONIA 2004, but should have just ordered a bottle as we ended up having two, plus an extra glass or two-which the waiter free-poured at our table complimentary..
gotta love a free glass or two of wine.
so back to the food.
we then shared the CHARCUTERIA(see above photo) it was our favourite,
we finished off with the cheese plate which was good.
There is a bunch of other things I would love to try the next time we eat a Cava, because there will definitely be a next time.
It could become one of our new regular spots to eat.
The only thing I would critique is the decor.
It was designed by 3rd Uncle and for the most part has potential, but they really need to either put some art on the walls or perhaps a long mirror on the wall above the banquette so it reflects all the action at the bar, and the lights really needed to be dimmed.
Other than that, I would highly recommend Cava for a casual yet unique dining experience.
Saturday we went for a long walk and ended up at the book store and had to stop into a pub for a pint of Guinness-for big daddy and a lime & lager-for me while Lulu slept for almost three hours in her stroller.
Could this weekend get any better?
we shared an order of fresh cut fries and gravy with lots of malt vinegar- I seriously can't remember the last time we did that.
We went home with a nice warm beer buzz, lit the fire, put on some good music and I made an Irish stew for dinner.
hey, it's St. Patty's, had to do something festive.
Sunday I did a yoga class fist thing and then we checked out the St. Patricks day parade on Bloor st, Lulu loved all the ambulances and green balloons.
We happened to be near one of our favourite dim-sum restaurants, so we had to indulge.
Then a little shopping in yorkville while Lulu napped in her stroller for another two hours.
I have to say that it was such a great weekend.
Tapas, wine, pints, Irish stew, fries and gravy, shu mai, tea..mmmm.
Could it be any better?
It's so nice to indulge from time to time.
But it's salad and water time all week.
A little cleansing is in order.
well that is until next weekend..

oh and incase your'e in need of a little Tapas

1560 Yonge Street
Toronto ON
Phone: 416.979.9918

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

melrose and cRoc

Well I must do a little gloating and say that Lulu's vocabulary is developing at lightning speed.
It's really amazing listening to her string her sentences together quite easily and without too much frustration.
Most people are a bit surprised when they find out how young she is when they hear her speak.
But where she excels in speech she lacks in teeth.
The kid is the slowest teether on the planet.
Hello teeth, are you in there teeth?
The doctor and dentist have assured us there is nothing to worry about, but it makes chewing solid food pretty difficult for the poor thing.
Not to mention all the 3 a.m. wake-ups for big daddy and I.
I wonder if they make dentures for toddlers?
Anyhow back to bragging about her ever increasing vocabulary..
In addition to her ability to chit chat, we are starting to think she can spell.
Whenever big daddy and I don't want her to hear a specific word we spell it.
Yes we do that.
Oh how I remember my parents doing this when we were kids and finding it oh so patronizing
(then again we were probably sixteen at the time)
The other day I asked big daddy if he had lulu's b.o.t.t.l.e. before leaving the house.
you can't mention "the bottle" otherwise she wants it, and we are trying to stick to one in the morning and one at night these days.
But she knew exactly what we were talking about and blurts out "bottle!!!"
She's done it a bunch of times and with different words.
what's up with that?
is she going to be one of those kids like in the movie "Akeela and the Bee"?
not that there is anything wrong with that, but big daddy and I might just have to brush up on our pig latin soon.
She sure as hack deosn't git it frome mi sidee of the familee.
But the one sound she hasn't quite mastered yet is her "R's" & "L's."
okay, big deal she's not even two yet right?
well one of her favorite books at the moment is Melrose and CRoc.
but when she wants to read it, it's more like "Melwose & cock okay?"
Or when describing her new pink rubber croc shoes, it's more like
" I wear my pink cocks okay?"
she also has a fixation with clocks these days.
She is constantly changing the time on my Big Ben alarm clock beside the bed.
(that's my excuse for getting up late and I'm sticking to it)
She's always asking "what time is it?" then proceeds to tell me
"go get big cock mommy" I wish..
just kidding big daddy ;)
anyhow she has yet to do this in public, but lord help us if we are anywhere near the Lacoste store on Bloor st, or anywhere near the watch counter at the Bay..
That's cLLLLLLLLLock sweetie, not cock.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

happy belated to me

What a difference a year makes..
I am not the best person when it comes to remembering birthdays and certain dates on the calendar.
Anyhow, as per my usual forgetfulness, I forgot to post a one year blog anniversary post.
March 11th was when I started this thing and I'm really glad that I did.
I guess I started it for a bunch of reasons, and this is what I came up with.

reason #1. initially it gave me something to do while Lulu napped during the day and I was trapped at home.
and since I really don't like talking on the phone or watching daytime t.v. I figured it would be a more productive way to kill some time.
These days I tend to post at night after lulu is in bed, I've had a glass (or two) of wine and American Idol is playing in the background (is it just me or is it super boring this season?) or basically whenever I can slice out a tiny bit of "me time" during the day.

reason #2. I love to take digital photos and wanted somewhere to put them (besides on a disc buried in a box somewhere)

reason #3. Creative outlet. I'm not a writer-nor claim to be, but it feels good to get stuff out of your head and in print, even if it's just some boring play by play of our lives, it feels good to get it out there.

reason #4. Originally I wanted to post primarily about food, recipes and great places to eat, as this is a true passion of mine, but somehow along the way it became much more about so many other things for me.
Much more personal.
Again, it feels good to get it out, and document how I'm feeling these early years of being a mother. I'm hoping I can look back and be able to laugh at myself and maybe even give myself a pat on the back for actually taking the initiative to put all my feelings into words. I can barely remember what it was like when lulu didn't know how to walk or eat solid food, so I'm glad I'm doing this.
Who knows? maybe someday I can share this with her.
I would have loved to read what my mom & dad were doing (and how they were coping) when I was 23 months old.

reason #5. I've always kept a journal, and alot of them are filled with a bunch of "woe-is-me" rhetoric, but by putting my thoughts and life out there in the cyber public, it makes me much more aware of what I actually do have and how great my life is (most days) so I guess what I'm trying to say is when writing about my life I try to have more of a "glass is half full" kind of attitude because really, who likes a whiner?
then again, nothing wrong with a little whining from time to time.
Did I mention my aching lower back? wha. wha.

reason #6. I have met some really cool people through this blog, and I find their lives interesting and funny. I love when I've been out all day I get home and check my email and, ding- a nice comment from someone.
It really makes my day.
even if it's just a quick note or in some cases, some great pieces of advice and support, which when you are a new mother- goes a LONG way.

So thanks for stopping by and saying hello from time to time.
It means a lot.
Hopefully I'll have a bunch of new and somewhat interesting things to write about during this next year..
or not.
At least I can get it out of my head, which it's really all about anyhow right?

new carpet

I never thought I would get excited by carpet.
But I am.
Finally repainted the basement and replaced the carpet with the wool sisal that I wanted.
mm..smells like a new house now...
Now if I could just convince Big daddy to replace all the creaky wood floors that we just had redone three years ago....

sunday brunch

The weekend seemed to fly by.
It was nice to be back to a bit of a normal routine this weekend- the first time in weeks.
Just the three of us at home.
For the past month we have been away out of town each weekend, and being at home in my own bed never felt so good.
We passed on going out Friday night as per our usual thing and opted on cooking at home instead.
We are all a little restauranted-out.
I made a nice tofu & broccoli with cashew nut stir-fry with lots of extra Lee Kum Kee chilli garlic sauce, which was better than any take-out I've had in a while.
I was counting sheep by 10 p.m. catching up on some zzz's- haven't done that in a while.
Must go to bed earlier more often..
I managed to finally go to a Yoga class on Saturday morning, and my body has been thanking me ever since.
I was in desperate need of a nice hour long stretch.
Must do more yoga classes..
Went for a nice long walk and picked up some more groceries.
Saturday I made a delicious roasted Cumbrea's organic chicken rubbed with lemon zest, fresh thyme, garlic and olive oil with roasted potatoes and kalamata olives.
We lit the fire and enjoyed several glasses of Vineland estates Cabernet Franc.
errr. or should I say "I" enjoyed several glasses of Cab Franc.
Big daddy just kept filling my glass..
hmmm..I wonder what his motives were?
Anyhow the morning was a bit rough, and I was feeling a tad fragile.
After drinking one too many I woke up in the middle of the night-parched-searching blindly for the the glass of water I usually leave beside my bed, drank it like I had been stuck in the Sahara for a week.
unfortunately I was unable to get back to sleep.
damn alcohol.
You think I would learn after all these years.
must cut myself off after my second (and a half) glass of wine...
Anyhow we had brunch plans with my good friend JB.
Her place looked beautiful filled with gorgeous spring flowers, a lovely table setting and filled with the smell of home-cooking.
My queasy stomach did a few summersaults, but after a mimosa (or two or three) aka hair of the dog, I was ready to tuck in to a delicious brunch.
JB made not one but two different Frittatas (one dairy free), spinach salad, roasted potatoes, peameal bacon, my favourite- croissants and some fresh pressed coffee. mmmm.
everything was so tasty and it was really nice to be invited over.
Lulu was really well behaved (that's my girl) and made us proud.
I was a little worried that she would trash JB's cool modern downtown condo.
Only it was actually me who spilled my mimosa on the white shag carpet.
nice one mommy.
What can I say? I talk with my hands.
Only I forgot I was holding a glass at the time.
damn alcohol.
must talk with hands in pockets or folded in lap..
And JB thought she would have to "childproof" the place..
more like "mama-proof".
But a big thank-you to the lovely hostess and her new handsome beau for a fun day.
Must enjoy brunch with friends more often..

Saturday, March 10, 2007

spring forward

Well it's hard to believe it's time to change the clocks again.
On que, the temperature is mild and all the snow is melting away.
This winter really seemed to fly by.
Then again we were away for what seemed the worst of it.
Which helps.
I'm grateful for the change of scenery, but I have to admit, I'll be happy if I don't have to go to another airport for a while.
(Sheena I don't know how you do it??...)
I'm in nesting mode, glad that I'm home for a while, and really glad that spring is around the corner.
The clean freak in me can't wait to get my freak on.
Or more accurately: Windex the windows, garden, open all the windows and let the fresh air in, clean out all the closets, dry clean all the drapes, paint all the base boards....oh the list could go on...
but the bottom line is I can't wait for the first blooms of spring to appear on the trees outside.
Ahhh spring.
new beginnings.
fresh starts.
Crazy that Lulu will be two this spring.
It's seems like yesterday that I could barely put my own boots on, had THE worst heart burn of all TIME, had to sleep on my side, had to walk like a duck, was winded when going up the stairs, was SUPER anxious about giving birth at any given moment...oh the list could go on....
But now I have a tenacious 23 month old, saying things like "stop mommy" if I'm talking to big daddy too much during dinner,
"no like it" to pretty much everything on her plate except for avocado, cheese, yoghurt and ham.
But also grabs my cheeks with both tiny hands and sais "lub you mommy"
oh so worth every bit of heartburn, back ache, acid refux, round ligament pain, weight gain, anxiety, sleeplessness..
oh the list could go on...
but it's true, she's worth every bit of it.
But could I do it all over again?
That is the million dollar question.
I really don't know.
big daddy & I are seriously leaning towards just keeping it at one child.
should we put the bugaboo on Ebay?
sell the crib?
get rid of the Oeuf chair?
Ditch the baby Einstein books??
oh the list could go on...
But really who knows what the future has in store for us.
well except for an hour less of sleep tonight.
great at 6 am. I'll be hearing "mommy...moooooommmmmmy..mmmmoooooooooooooommy, daddyyyy, moooooooommmmy, mooommmmmmmmmmmmmmy, maaaaaammmmy, mootttttherrrrrr, mmmmottttheerrrrr, mom, mom, mom!!!!"

"lub you"
but oh so worth it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

viva Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas.
Or more accurately "whatever happens in Vegas, comes back with you from Vegas"
i.e.. 3-5 extra pounds....
So we just got back from a long weekend in Las Vegas visiting my in-laws.
Their second home.
They don't call my M.I.L. Bingo Betty for nothin.
She absolutely loves it there and has been going there several times a year for the past forty years.
Big daddy practically grew up in the various casinos in Nevada.
Okay, a slight exaggeration, but not too far off.
But he has nothing but fond memories from all those trips in the seventies and eighties with his wacky family.
I love hearing all the hilarious stories from his childhood in Vegas.

My family was totally the opposite.
We were big nature lovers and spent most vacations on road trips camping, hiking or canoeing across North America.
My parents aren't gamblers at all.
Big daddy was really looking forward to reliving his childhood, by taking Lulu and I there to experience it.
It was a really fun weekend, though a bit of a whirlwind.
We got really lucky on the flight down and back by getting the last available free seat for Lulu.
In a few more months we'll have to start buying an extra seat for her.
My in-laws booked us all a huge suite at the Mirage which was perfect.
Well except for the cigarette smoke everywhere, but other than that it was super fun.

I've never been a big fan of buffets, but I must admit, it really came in handy with a 22 month old.
Not that she ate much, but it was a great way to try to get her to sample a bunch of stuff.
No sitting around waiting for the food either, which is also super convenient.
The food was really great, but all the selection was pretty overwhelming.
I was actually really good and didn't go overboard and eat too much.
The trick is to always start with a big salad.
It's shocking how much some people can consume.
The amount of wasted food and gluttony is pretty crazy.
We did manage to go to a nice a la carte Italian restaurant, but the portions were over the top.
I love American restaurants for the most part.
They do it right in the States, excellent service & great ambience, but man, the portions are always such a shocker.
I ordered a half order of Linguini with a red clam sauce and still only ate maybe a quarter of it.
It was pretty awesome though, even if I was stuffed to the max when we left.
Thank god for yoga pants..
Lulu was really sweet while we were there, kissing her grandma and grandpa, and saying "Luv you" to both of them.
It was really adorable, and it was really nice to watch.
I was a little nervous that she would be a bit shy around them, seeing as she has only met them twice.
Once when she was 10 days old and last summer when she was around 14 months.
But she was great.
We went to the "secret garden" at The Mirage, and she watched the dolphins and lions and cheetahs.
She loved that.

We also took her to FAO Shwartz at Caesars where she got to be totally spoiled by her grandma.
I think she did get to a point where it was a bit of sensory overload.
I could relate.
It's so much noise and action for a little person, but all in all she was so well behaved and I think she had fun.
She was pretty excited to get on that plane last night though, and kept saying "home" "home".
It was really nice to visit with big daddy's parents in a different environment with just the five of us.
When we visit them at their place out west it's always a bit hectic, trying to fit in visits with other brothers and relatives.
So it was great to finally be able to have some one on one time with them.
Big daddy is the youngest of four boys so I have alot of respect for his mother.
I find just one child to be overwhelming some days, I can't imagine four BOYS!
I admit it's taken a few years to get used to her quirkiness, but now I actually find her to be pretty hilarious.
I also love that I can talk to her about pretty much everything, this woman shoots from the hip and isn't into B.S.
I find that really refreshing.
But mostly I'm grateful to them for raising such a great son.
So who knows, maybe we will have to continue the tradition and do an annual trip to Vegas.
as long as we off set it with some trips that involve maybe the odd bit of fresh air..