This Sweltering Season

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The heat wave is still upon us, and it’s turning the once blissful summer season into a vengeful whore,much like her bitch of a sister, winter. Were living all the extremes around here. Last night a massive light show and house rattling thunder gave us a breath of air and a quick but serious downpour. It was lovely. That is, until the power went out and suddenly the cool brreze of the ceiling fan died down and became the stagnant sauna air that swamps our home. My kingdom for an air conditioner!

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None the less, I am doing my best to be out and about and enjoying the brief though sweltering season. We’ve dipped our toes in the river, collected rocks and made huge splashes. We’ve picnicked and camped. We’ve gone swimming, enjoying a cool reprieve. We’ve run through the….hose (Peps loves the sprayer on the hose but is kinda over the sprinkler). We’ve watched too much tv, somehow, flat on the floor, tongues hanging out of our mouths like overheated dogs.

We’ve foraged and found fresh local produce, always at its most delicious peak right now. Huge, fresh strawberries from the local gardens, bursting with juice and an utter mess to consume, half of them eaten by the time we arrive home. Crisp mixed lettuce and spinach from our own greenhouse, cherry tomatoes (a coveted item, each time we pass, Pep reaches her little hands up for more) and soon enough, cabbage, carrots and green beans. Were lucky enough to have loads of saskatoon berries on our property, and our attempts to include Pepper in picking leads to a violet hued mouth and hands and possibly a lifelong love of summer. Jams and pies will abound, if ever the house cools enough. Soon we’ll be flooded with apples and crabapples, and liquer and syrups will be concocted, and sour cherries will come pouring in, later to be turned into pies and cherry lemonade.

This week at the local gardens, I couldn’t resist a lovely crisp bundle of rhubarb. Crunchy and tart, with a glorious fuschia color, I’m drawn to the flavours of rhubarb. I recall dipping raw stalks in sugar and chewing it until my jaw was sore, spitting out stringy pulp. The pounds would be turned into sweet and sour rhubarb pie, perfect topped with cold vanilla ice cream.

Well, as my husband points out, I’m a maniac, and I saw fit to turn the oven on in, what at the time, seemed like the cool morning hours. I gave Pep a bowl and a spoon, a butter knife and a stalk of rhubarb, sidled up her high chair and plunked her in to ‘help’. Together we built Cinnamon Rhubarb Muffins.

Spiced and moist, thanks to a hearty dose of cinnamon and a generous portion of greek yogurt, these muffins are hearty and satisfying, perfect for breakfast or on the side of a cup of tea. Maybe on the side of an iced coffee. The sharp bite of rhubarb is refreshing, and still the sweetness shines through.

Cinnamon Rhubarb Muffins

1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped (toss with a sprinkling of granulated sugar and leave to sit while preparing batter)

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

cinnamon (add a lot or a little, to taste. I never measure cinnamon and no one ever complains)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup melted margarine

1 cup plain greek yogurt

2 eggs

a splash of vanilla (see my rules on cinnamon)

Preheat your oven to 400F ( fellow maniac)

chop rhubarb and toss lightly with sugar, allow to sit while prepping other ingredients

in large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.

in medium bowl, whisk together wet in gredients. Gently mix in rhubarb.

add wet to dry and gingerly combine just until flour is mixed in. Don’t go too crazy mixing, it toughens up the texture.

line or grease a muffin tin.

Spoon generous portions into each section. I piled my batter so it was mounded slightly over the top of the tin, you can make yours a little smaller if you like.

if you’re feeling crazy, mix together a few teaspoons of brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle atop the cupcakes.

bake about 20 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.My oven always needs a few extra minutes.

Let cool a few minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack.

enjoy warm! ( and store in refrigerator)

so it seemed, ‘what I’m feeding my kid today’ wasn’t particularly healthy, but I did get her involved! Pep loves to stir along with me and attempt at chopping ( with a butter knife). In my defense, for dinner we had cumin/ lime tilapia with garlic zucchini and coconut rice. Not too shabby.

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here’s to maniacs heating up the kitchen in the name of deliciousness!

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Oh Canada or How I spent my 30th birthday

Fitting reminscence on this, the 148th birthday of my home country, the great white north. Happy Canada Day! Peps is having an early snooze in an effort to make the parade ( which generally consists of about fifteen kids wandering about throwing candy and a fire truck). We’re having reprieve in the form of a cool drizzly day in the midst of a sweltering heat wave ( have I mentioned before that most Northern Albertans live sans AC??), which means during this nap time I am able to actually sit under a light throw blanket ( gasp!) and peruse photos of our recent camping trip to the mountains.

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This trip fell on the weekend of my 30th birthday, and while I know such a milestone is a fearsomeone for many, I felt utterly lucky to be celebrating it with the two most importatnt people in my life, in a place surrounded by beauty.

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here’s to you, Canada, and your gorgeous scenery, free health care and ten years of legal same sex marriage ( nice try, everyone who complained ‘I’m moving to Canada’ without doing research #lovewins).

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Love Thy Self

Did I just teach a child self hate?

Okay, I might be overreacting……it all began as I walked through the front door of my Bro in law’s house. Snowflakes adorned the walls, blue and silver twinkled from all corners……..winter is coming.

Rather, the house was Elsa-fied in honor of my neice’s Frozen themed fifth birthday.

Balancing Pepper on my knee atop bar style chairs as watermelon juice ran down her chin and into my lap. I multitasked and wiped Pep’s face and rationed snacks and attemoted to contribute to the conversation. Birthday girl’s older sister pulled up a chair and joined in.

Sis just had her own birthday party, a ninja turtles bash. She’s a girl who wants to play and get dirty, who has no time for the book work of kindergarten, who gives exactly no shits about what six year old girls are about. She is who she wants to be.

The ladies began chatting about hairstyles, remarking on one little girl’s rad pixie cut with one side buzzcut short. She chose her own style and loves it. I mention that I’ve always wanted to cut my hair that short, but I don’t think I could pull it off as my head is monstrously large.

And suddenly I had set off a wave of women comparing the things they hate about themselves.

And I caught big sis’s eyes, following the conversation around the room, and taking it all in. The look on her face instantly struck me as that of a child who never considered not doing something because of the way she looked. Who never cared what people thought of her hair. Who never once thought that people would or should inhibit themselves and their happiness because they feel bad about themselves.

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Who never thought that women dislike how they look. Who never thought that this how women interact, by picking out their faults and comparing them. Who watched us all reinforce eachother’s behaviour by smiling and nodding and relating to the next woman’s insecurity.

Who maybe just learned that she’s not supposed to like herself.

Who may have just had life long seeds of doubt planted into her innocent little mind.

Who is absorbing more than we realize.

who might be my own child in a few years.

I don’t know how to teach myself self love, let alone teach a child. I’ve never felt comfortable in my own skin, and it’s really only since being pregnant that I’ve at the very least cared less what other people thought. But on bad days, tired and grumpy days, I can be found muttering to myslef in the mirror as I struggle to wrangle my hair into something resembling a style. I can be heard to grumble, ‘I look disgusting/fat/gross/ugly. ‘

I don’t lnow how to love myself more, but I think I need to learn. And the first step is to keep my insecurities under wraps, to rise above them and not give them any of my coveted energy.

I know that self love is a valuable attribute, but can it ever really be unconditional?

“A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.”
― Madeleine L’Engle

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On the Menu

As we’ve switched onto whole cow’s milk, there’s been a struggle to find balance. Pep would drink a gallon a day, if I’d let her, but the more she drinks, the more of her dinner splats on the floor. She’s quite the jackson pollock with yogurt. It took me a while to realize that my, until this point, good eater, was just not hungry.

well, I scaled back the milk, and, lo and behold, Pepper is back to at least consuming some of her veg and decorating with a little less.

on the menu today, a creation for the sad zucchini lingering in the fridge: zucchini fritters!

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these beauties whip together so easily. A little grating, a little mixing, a quick fry and a drizzle of ranch or sour cream, or even plain greek yogurt. Bam! You can actually build this meal while the kid is awake ( so long as you have a bowl and spoon for her to pratice her stirring in, too).

I had two small zucchini, and, grated and compact, it amounted to close to a cup. Be sure to squeeze out all the liquid you can! You can glob the zucchini on a clean dishtowel and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.

2 small zucchini (grated and squeezed)

1/3 cup grated romano cheese (parmasean works)

1 egg

pinch salt

dash of pepper

1 clove minced garlic

a handful of finely chopped green onions

3/4-1 cup AP flour

mix first seven ingredients until all are combined

gradually add flour until a thick batter forms ( pancake batter consistency is good)

heat a little oil in a skillet

add a tbs of batter to the hot oil, flatten a little with a spatula ( you want the, fairly thin so they cook through. If they’re too thick, they’ll be doughy inside)

cook about 1-2 minutes on each side.

let cool and serve!

they’re crispy and warm, and the zucchini keeps thfrotters amazingly moist. The pop of garlic and onion combines with the cheese for a delightfully savory meal component.

Pepper devoured them with a serving of salmon!

I have dreams of creating a sweet apple version with a drizzle of honey and a few leaves of thyme.

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Two Years

A Summer, Gone

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A summer, gone, with stormy skies

weighed on my shoulders, weighs on my mind

two years passed since I felt a heart

beat below mine, a running start

a tiny life that ceased to grow,

that stopped, and my heart didn’t know.

two years since my body held another

two years since I was made a mother

two years, a child I didn’t meet,

a still spot where a heart should beat,

a grief, a lasting shattered place,

a tragic loss I couldn’t face.

Days spent in shadows, comforts gone,

and all the while, the world kept on,

Though mine was hurt beyond repair,

by a tiny life no longer there.

I sobbed, I ached, I whispered, why?

I tried and tried to say goodbye

Two years have come and gone since then,

I’m in a different space again,

a child that lived, that fills my heart,

now eases the sting of being apart,

my heart aches as summer storms fall, still,

and though healing now, it aways will

how strange that two years have slipped away,

since a soul defining day,

simce I was not invincible,

since I suffered pain, formidible,

beyond any other, beyond belief,

two years since I slipped into grief.

Two years, since from the ash, I rose

Two years of time I’ve had to grow,

two years have led me to this space,

a much more balanced, peaceful place,

the storm I travelled slowly through,

shows me now how much one life can do.

Two years have passed since my first pregnancy ended at 17 weeks gestation. I felt a loss like no other, and a pain I had never experienced. I don’t talk about it much, anymore. It makes most people uncomfortable, they seem to think it’s gone, it’s over, it needn’t be addressed. But, beyond the loss of that little life, the loss of security, hope and the blissful feeling that things will always work out. I can never get that back.

I haven’t forgotten that tiny child, that tiny life, who’s ‘birthday’ looms. Summer’s start will, likely, always dredge up feelings of unease and loss. I will try to embrace my time with my rainbow girl, and not wallow in the memory of hurt, but I will recall the growth I felt as a result of her life, the new person I’ve become, thanks to my brief time with her.  I will try, to remember, with gratitude, the way I managed to regain my strength and embrace life, all because of a few brief moments, the flutter of a tiny heart, and the moment that heart stopped.

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Mirth and Laughter

My frosting melted.

And then my resolve melted.

I am a terrible host, I put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself, and, like a fool, ran about the house tidying, cooking, cleaning and organizing, then realized, at lunch, I had missed breakfast. I had a brief meltdown about runny frosting, but managed to salvage the icing and my day. Thank God, for the husband and his good sense to just start helping without being directed.

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Miss Pep was a bit panicked at first, but out came the watermelon and she cheered up in a hurry. We ate more than we needed to, and fanned ourselves lazily in the sweltering heat. The house is a mess and my feet are somehow covered in filth (flip flop season, huzzah).

My big girl is one, and I survived her first birthday party. I didn’t even do fancy themes and games and favors and all that charming pinterest stuff. But no one went away hungry, and Pepper smashed up the cake, just as she was meant to.

Now, here’s hoping I get better at this with time, and maybe I can learn to have a little more fun with the prep. After a week of preparing for our trip and then a week spent regrouping after said trip and organizing for this party, I am exhausted and it feels like it’s been ages since I chilled out, played with pepper, and actually focused on what we were doing.

I miss the girl, a little, in fact.

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here’s to a summer of experiments and sensory play, baking and cooking and swimming, scratching bug bites and muddling mojitos, messy paint play and strawberries. Here’s to cuddles with Pep, and a little less cream cheese frosting in the days to come.

Here’s to me chilling out a bit and embracing my giggling girl attempting to figure out wrapping paper. Here’s to a girl in a party dress in a pile of dirt. Here’s to left over rice krispie squares. Here’s to my girl on her belated birthday, and here’s to learning to be better at all this kid stuff.

Here’s to many more birthdays.

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
William Shakespeare

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Hazy Days, Not So Lazy Days (the flight of the bumblebee)

One.

She’s one.

My tiny girl, my wonderful little daughter has turned one. And somehow she’s suddenly become taller, wiser and more sophisticated overnight. She’s rather interested in walking backwards aka falling down and getting mad.

we were far from home on her birthday, away on Vancouver island for the wedding of one of my best friends, for which I was a co-maid of honor. Thus, Peppers fist birthday was spent with her dad, largely. I admit, I cried when I left her that morning. The rest of the wedding party certainly thought I was nuts, tears in my eyes as we met for our style appoinments. I bounced back quickly, and Pepper had a lovely day splashing about in mud and salty water with her dad.

I’m not sure why it hit me so hard, somehow it felt integral that I be with her on that day….i know that day, as Pep’s birthday, will be hers for years, with parties and gifts, sleepovers and sugar highs. But for now, as she’s yet so little, she’s still mine, in my eyes, and that day is ours. It’s the day I remember when my eyes first met hers, when I first heard her angry little scream, when I first kissed her cheek, when I first held her hand, when my heart swelled beyond belief and my world became brighter. When she became my world.

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It tore my heart a little being away from her that day, and as i stood up next to my friend as she was married to her best friend, I scanned the room and then likely ruined some photos smiling goofily at Peps up on her dad’s shoulders.

we had a good trip, Pep slept and ate and napped like a champ, and only stRuggled with the tinkling of glasses and racous applause at the wedding reception. My homemade cheese crackers were a huge hit and amazingly convenient on airplane rides.

we’re having a BBQ this weekend for Pep, mostly because we have large families and feel obligated to host a party. I’m rather socially awkward and uncomfortable with hosting events, but we’ll make it work. Homemade carrot cakes with cream cheese icing will be on the menu, though I’m already dreading turning on the oven. In northern alberta, we go straight from spring to summer, and,as our winters are so long and dark and cold, we all forget what sunshine os, and no one has AC.

for now, I’ve got roasted peach BBQ sauce simmering on the stove, and I must get started grating carrots while the girl naps. When she wakes up, I’ve got a distraction bin f leaves, sticks and pinecones ready for play. Now, off to rescue a bumble beethats gotten trapped in the house (and by rescue, I mean run around the house with a container and a piece of paper, and scream quietly so as not to wake the girl.)

summer has begun.

(as a side note, I hate using my ipad to post on wordpress, it inexplicably jumbles everything and improperly spellchecks……and I cannot get that damn photo to move)

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