Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Halloween. Our pumpkins have been picked and carved. The house has been appropriately attired and the pumpkin scented candles have been burning daily for weeks. We've had our fill of pumpkin pancakes and roasted pumpkin seeds. We've been to a Halloween party, had a Halloween pajama party and did a practice run for trick or treating but.... and  it's a big but...we have a sick four year old! 

They called from school yesterday saying that she was listless with a fever. Poor thing has missed her two parties because of it. We are resting up today so that maybe... and it's a big maybe... we can go to a couple houses tonight! 




From our spooky house to yours--- Happy Halloween!! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weekend Fun- Family Time

First of all, can you believe we're at the 200 post point!? Thanks for reading everyone! And by everyone I mean  D, my parents, in laws, aunts, cousins, a few dozen friends and a handful of strangers :-)

We had such a nice family weekend. On Friday, Darin and I went out for date night--- I guess we don't do dates often enough since Cassia did ask us why we were going on a date as we're already married. We had trouble getting into a restaurant as I didn't make any reservations in Kitchener and Darin couldn't make it home to get to the place I had booked in Guelph we ended up going to this new restaurant in downtown Kitchener- we used to try all these new places before kids so it was fun eating at this new restaurant with its eclectic mix of food. And this place had no kid menu! We even had coffee and dessert like grown ups.

On Saturday, poor Anjali came down with a cold but we still went to a Halloween party at our local Kindermusik. So Shrek, a witch, a fairy and a pretty miserable owl  made their way to our music studio where both girls have Kindermusik classes for some games, snacks and music. Cassia loves dressing up on a  Saturday so Halloween is so much fun for her. She plans for months ahead on what to wear (with my prodding her to wear the same costume as last year). She was in her element.

Sunday was a perfect fall day- crisp and sunny. The perfect day for a long drive to Ajax where we got to visit with our friends Amra, Sean, Arissa and Aaron. We had lunch (and dinner), and hung out all day. Both girls fell asleep on the way home so D and I got to watch the best episode of The Good Wife ever! I mean seriously, best episode ever! A wonderful end to a lovely weekend.



Mummifying Daddy!

Seriously people, pictures now?

Want to share with a sista?



Shrek and Donkey



I've got the fairy!


And onto Sunday! 
Don't you just love parallel playing?


These two were enjoying "The Lion King"

Then they became three. 

And now there were four. 

My sweet girl

Their backsplash photographs well!

Amra looks great with three


Saturday, October 26, 2013

What's in a name?

As I mentioned before, my brother and his wife had a beautiful baby boy a few weeks ago. However, the length of time they took to decide on the baby's name was longer than anyone else I've ever encountered. My brother's name is Nilesh (pronounced "Nil" and "aysh")- However, most people throughout his life called him "Neel- aysh", a name he really disliked. It was for this reason, he wanted a very simple name with a very phonetic spelling. Enter my sister in law who wants an Indian name for her son. They also want to pay tribute to her sister in law who passed away last year under terribly tragic circumstances. With those three factors, they had such trouble deciding on a name. On three separate occasions we heard different names. I think they've finally settled on one-- and it is a lovely name- but as I'm not totally sure- I'll leave it a mystery for now.

I couldn't help but think back to how we named our kids. I now realise that we were fortunate in that it was actually pretty painless. From since I could remember, I've always wanted a daughter. Then in high school, I had this friend named Cassia and I thought the name was so beautiful. Since then, I decided that my daughter (if I was blessed enough to have one) would be named Cassia and that was all. 

When Darin and I first started dating, we were visiting a friend of his named Angelee (pronounced the same way as my Anjali). In the car, he said to me "I really like that name, Anjali. When I have a daughter,  I think I'll name her Anjali." I said nothing. I mean I thought it was a lovely name and all  but my daughter would be named Cassia. 

It's a good thing we had that second girl... We both got our wish :-)

What's your special naming story?




Mine

And D's.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween Pajama Party

Today, I'm linking up with  The Good Life and The Tichenor Family for a Little Ghosts and Goblins Halloween Pajama Party. 


These are my two cuties in their Halloween PJs. Cassia's is from Gap and it's glow in the dark. She put it by the window all day so she could see it glow tonight. In full disclosure, as you can see, Anjali's is from Carter's and not quite Halloween but I couldn't resist putting her in it as well. 

                                           

I can't wait for my fairy and owl to make their appearances next week!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mid week randoms

Just a few random pics and thoughts as we hit the mid-week mark. 

1- This is what happens when you let your four year old pack your cupboard. 



2- Here are the girls giving Daddy some love when he comes home from work. You would swear they haven't seen him since last month.



And some more love!



3- I invested in some Hunter Rainboots--- and trust me, it's an investment- from Shop Bop last week and they got here yesterday. It was on a 25% sale (and they forgot to charge me the duty) and the way I see it,  I would have paid almost twice the price here. They are the most comfortable shoes, made out of real rubber and so, so sturdy! I can't wait for rain.

Really, mama? Are you this excited about these things??!

4- Just a tip, always click on pay duty on receipt when ordering from the US.



5-  Our filing cabinet is in use and Operation Purge is still going strong. My little helper feels like it's Christmas when I pull all the stuff onto the floor and she gets to assist. 


Here she is having some fun with the label maker. 

6- Found this amazing recipe online for Black Bean Burritos that our family just loves. Little A was eating the beans by the spoon. Feel free to add other veggies that you have on hand like mushrooms and bell peppers, spice it up with cumin and taco seasoning and maybe take the hot stuff out like the jalapeƱos for the kids. 



7- I love A's expression in this shot when we were decorating for halloween- C is holding a witch and A's like: Really folks, we're posing again. 




Monday, October 21, 2013

I don't have a favourite kid but one is sometimes easier... the question is, which one?

A bit of a while ago, I wanted to do a blog post titled "The Fabulous Fours". Seriously guys, there are some stellar moments. It's that mixture of preschooler and kindergartener that's so cute... like when she says "Fudgy Apples" instead of "Fuji Apples" and "new-cus" as a fancy word for boogers instead of "mucus". She is the cuddliest snuggler and she enjoys some of the little things like choosing decorations, celebrating events, having the doorbell ring and making popcorn. Cass can totally get ready by herself and has started to do small chores like tidying up and washing some basic dishes. She articulates what she wants to say slowly but quite well and I am often in awe of her smarts. She asks me questions that I sometimes can't think of right away-- like why is water clear and the sky so high up. I love the smart, articulate, personable child she is becoming. She is amazing and sweet and we simply can't imagine life ever being as interesting.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Favourites on Friday- Soup Time

Brrr.... it's flipping cold! I guess 7 in October is par for the course at this time of year but we've been spoilt these last couple weeks.... the perfect time for some soup!

Our family of four loves soup in these colder months. I'm always trying new recipes. We've done broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin and hot and sour  to name a few but there are a few I come back to. I thought I would share those with you.

A few things to mention before:
1- I always do a big batch at the beginning of the week- say Monday or Tuesday. That day we usually have the soup for dinner and then Darin can usually take it to work for lunch the following day (in a thermos) and Anjali and I can have it at lunch time for two or even three days at a time.
2- I usually keep both chicken and vegetable stock  (MSG free) on hand as well as a variety of fresh and dried herbs  and spices that I can use.
3- As I am usually on some low cal meal plan, I try to cut the fat and calories when I can. I don't use fat free but use low fat stuff and sneak veggies in whenever I can. Hence the reason point #2 is so important.

So here we go, my favourite soups through the fall and winter:

Butternut Squash soup

Photo taken from Sun Warrior


I  made my own recipe for this after mixing and matching different recipes online.



BASIC Ingredients:
1 butternut squash
1 yellow onion (and whatever else you have on hand, I've used leeks, celery, older apples and pears)
32 oz. chicken (or vegetable) broth
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste-- and other flavours
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375F.
Slice butternut squash in half, poke about five or six holes  and place face down in a large pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Leave for 40 mins. Remove from oven, peel, deseed and cut into chunks. 
Saute the onion and other veggies in vegetable oil in a large pot.
Add the roasted squash. Let this simmer for awhile, add the broth ( I usually go veg)  and then have some fun with the flavours. Examples of spices you can use are cinnamon, sage, rosemary, curry powder, nutmeg, freshly grated ginger, parsley, chili powder etc. I've mixed and matched to my taste and usually use about 1 tsp to 1 tablespoon. I'm usually tasting as I am going though. I also added some other flavours like light sour cream, cream cheese or lite coconut milk-- but not all of the above at the same time. After about a 1/2 hour, puree using an immersion blender . I usually either serve these with rosemary crisps or some artisan bread. If you're really splurging, you can also add freshly grated parm cheese to the top.
As a sidenote, cauliflower, mushrooms, pumpkin and carrots are great add on vegetables that don't alter the taste significantly but add a nutritional boost. 


Chinese Chicken Corn Soup
Photo from ninemsn.com

I used to make this soup weekly when I first got married and eat it for days on end. I found this recipe online on Best Recipes that virtually mirrors mine.  A few changes:
  • I don't usually use the skin but instead use two chicken breasts that are pre-seasoned with soy, cilantro, garlic and onion. I save about 1/3 to 1/2 the shredded chicken for Anjali as part of a meal or for Darin in a chicken salad sandwich. 
  • I omit the cube to reduce sodium
  • I add mushrooms and sometimes cabbage to increase the vegetable content. 
  • I use four eggs-- maybe the 4 whites and 2 yolks
  • Fresh cilantro (if you like it) compliments the green onions as a topping really well.  



Trinidad Corn Soup

Photo taken from Caribbean Pot

Okay another corn soup technically but this one is filled with lots of veggie goodness and brings D and me back to having a cup of corn soup during the Carnival season at the side of the road after a fete. Love, love, love this soup but I don't make it often as it requires a lot of prep and takes a long time without a pressure cooker. This recipe also makes a lot of soup so I usually do it when we have company.  I found a recipe online on  Food.com that works. My changes are:

  • I add my potatoes and also a couple sweet potatoes at two stages- the first is the initial stage they speak about in the recipe. The second is in tiny cubes when you put in the corn as I like to bite into the potatoes.
  • I  use vegetable stock and only 3-4 pieces of corn.
  • Soak your split peas in hot water for a few hours before to cut down on the cooking time. 
  • I use whole wheat flour for my dumplings and make them into one inch flat pieces as my family likes it like that. 
  • You really don't need the coconut milk if you don't have it. 


Happy Soup Making!!







Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gobble Gobble


I really love our Canadian Thanksgiving. To me, it signals the beginning of fall and is truly a day for giving thanks and spending time with your closest family and friends. And also, my foursome loves turkey. Seriously, you should see Anjali eat turkey... like a dog with a new bone who hasn't eaten in five days... and it just doesn't taste the same when it's not Thanksgiving!

We had such a wonderful weekend. Darin spent time with the girls on Saturday while I did some shopping and ran a bunch of errands. We also went for a really long walk in the trails behind our house, crunching through the leaves, enjoying all the beautiful fall colours and then ending up at a neighbourhood restaurant for dinner.

On Sunday afternoon, we headed over to Darin's cousin Ammie's house for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a special Thanksgiving as well as it was her and her husband's first Thanksgiving in their new home.... ironically, they also spent our first Thanksgiving in our current home with us. Our aunt, uncle and other cousin joined us as well. We all cooked together and spent some family time having great conversation, delicious food and nice wine. We ended up spending the night there spontaneously also (and going to the local Walmart to grab some pjs!). A really wonderful evening.

On Monday, it was such a sunny day, we headed out to the Cheltenhem Badlands. It was such a cool experience and those badlands were kinda badass in all their spectacular coppery colour and sharp undulating formations. We took a scenic drive taking in all the fall foliage, stopped for ice cream and then came home to have leftover turkey...yum yum! 




Fall's definitely here!

A dad and his daughter.

A guy and my other daughter. 

Don't their colours compliment each other?

Everyone's hard at work

Check out their matching denim shirt-dresses


Yum!

I've got nothing

Turkey Time!

This baby saw my plate, raced up to me and starting chowing down (this  after having her own dinner)

Aunty, Uncle and Tofurkey

Cousins!

And now we're at the Badlands!

Sleeping Beauty Baby  



Cool right?! It was so nice out, there were so many people around...  the fall colours all around also added to the ambiance


Cass and Aunty Ammie

Ammie, Mo and their baby

Our foursome

Cutie pie!

Charlie Puggleston


<3

Very cool experience

Trust this kid to choose the most artificial ice-cream in the bunch.... for anyone wondering-- it''s bubblegum. I don't know why D didn't skip it while he was reading through the flavours for her. 

Poor A had an empty cone as one of her parents thinks she's too young for cows' milk products. 










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