Monthly Archives: January 2013

Three reasons I’m glad January is over

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Weathered

Weathered (Photo credit: Jon Matthies)

We still have a lot of winter to get through but at least January is over…31 days that felt like sixty. Here’s my list of things that made the month seem much longer.

1) the weather – I love winter but -22 degrees one week and +10 a few days later?! Too cold to go outside for more than 10 minutes at a time and then freezing rain and inches of wet slush to wade through. Crazy-making and exhausting checking the weather channel every morning before I leave the house to make sure I’m dressed for the daily weather experience.

2) spring clothes in the stores – it will be at least 4 months until I wear a short-sleeve shirt without having to wear a fleece jacket over it.  I’m looking for long underwear and a heavy sweater, not flirty skirts and sandals. Even if I was considering a new outfit for spring, I’m wearing so many layers that trying things on takes forever. The few winter clothes that are still available are picked over and too big, too small or really ugly.

3) public transit – heavy winter clothes, crowded buses and unpredictable weather is a recipe for extreme collective crankiness. And that’s when the buses are running on time. Two more months and I can get back to riding my bike to work.

I’m looking forward to a few days of steady below-zero temperatures and several inches of fresh snow. I’ll put on my long underwear and warm socks and go for a long walk.

 

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Powered by pancakes

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Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Chocolate Chip Pancakes (Photo credit: EffingFoodie)

Not only is M a selective eater, he doesn’t tend to eat a lot. His lack of appetite can be attributed, in part, to his meds, as one of the side effects is appetite suppression. At school, he often gets distracted and forgets to eat his lunch.  As we’ve pointed out to him on numerous occasions, he’s more likely to have  trouble making good choices on the days he doesn’t eat his lunch.

Because I’m never sure how much of his lunch he’ll eat during the day, making sure M eats a good breakfast is  one of my priorities, at least  on school days. He’ll eat cold cereal without milk (Sugar Pops are the current favourite), but not a huge amount – 1/2 to 3/4 cup at the most. He’ll also eat frozen toaster waffles, but I’ve never been convinced that they have much in the way of nutritional value.

Next to pizza, M’s favourite food is pancakes. I used to make them regularly on weekends, but they seemed like a lot of work for a weekday breakfast. However, I discovered that with a little planning, pancakes are an easy breakfast, any day of the week.  Best of all, since M will eat at least 5 pancakes every morning, he leaves the house with a full tummy. No matter how little he eats throughout the rest of the day, I know he’s started the day with a “full tank.” For M, this can often be the difference between an “ok” and a “great” day.

There’s no shortage of pancake recipes out there, but as far as I’m concerned, the Joy of Cooking’s is the best – hands down.  although the original recipe calls for regular all-purpose flour, I use a mixture of white and whole wheat flour. I also omit the extra sugar, since I throw a few chocolate chips on each pancake as they’re cooking, which makes them sweet enough. I figure the nutritional value of whole wheat flour, whole milk and eggs more than compensate for a teaspoon of chocolate chips.

Pancakes

1 – 1/2 cup flour (any combination of whole wheat and all-purpose)

1 – 1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp white sugar (optional)

1 – 1/2 c milk

1-2 eggs

3 tbsp margarine or butter, melted.

Mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk liquid ingredients together. Add dry ingredients and stir, until ingredients are just combined – batter should be a little lumpy.  Pour the batter into an electric frying pan or a skillet. Cook until bubbles appear in the batter – turn over and cook until golden brown.

If adding chocolate chips or blueberries, place them on top of batter, on the uncooked side, before you flip the pancake. You could add them to the batter, but I’ve found this makes flipping pancakes challenging. Not to mention very messy.

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The beauty of this recipe it calls for even amounts, it’s easy to make a smaller batch. If I’m only making 1/3 of the recipe, I use 1 egg and 1/2 cup of milk. Two-thirds of a recipe will make at least 2, possibly 3 M-sized breakfasts (using 2 eggs and a full cup of milk).

I usually mix up the dry ingredients on Sunday night, If I’m really organized, I’ll  also combine the eggs and milk and store the liquid in a separate container in the fridge overnight. On Monday morning, I melt the margarine in the microwave and add it to the milk/egg mixture and then mix up the dry ingredients into the batter. Pour the batter onto a pre-heated electric frying pan and voila! Fresh pancakes in less than 5 minutes.

The batter keeps in the fridge for at least 3 days. It may look a bit darker on Tuesday morning, but I just mix it up again. Since M’s never complained about the taste, I figure it’s just how the ingredients react together.

I use this same recipe when I make pancakes for myself. Since I don’t eat dairy, I use unsweetened soy milk and vegan margarine. Last week, M’s dad accidentally made chocolate chip pancakes using soy milk batter. M ate them without saying a word. I guess a few chocolate chips go a long way.

Unexpectedly unplugged…

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One of my goals for the New Year was to get back to blogging on a regular basis. However, I didn’t count on our laptop computer dying.

Computer troubles

Computer troubles (Photo credit: sermoa)

It worked one day and the next day, it wouldn’t start. At first we thought it might be the battery, since a little light came on when it was plugged in.  My husband and M trekked halfway across town on a Friday night  to the only store in town that actually had the right battery in stock, only to be told the problem was likely the motherboard.

I know very little about computers and how they work, but even I know that the motherboard is a vital part of any computer. So the computer went off to be evaluated. The tech did tell us that if the repairs ended up costing more than half the original cost of the computer, it wasn’t worth it. The computer turned out to be repairable, but it took another week to fix it.

During the first couple of days our computer was out of commission, I was a bit concerned about how M would react.  Most days, he makes a bee-line for the computer as soon as he gets in the door. But between the Wii, his Nintendo and his iPod, he kept himself entertained. Most nights, he actually shut whatever game he was playing down the first time he was asked (if I’m lucky, he’ll get off the computer after I’ve asked him 3 times – usually it’s closer to 5 or 6 “requests” before he complies).

Since my husband has an Android, he could still access the internet and his email. But I didn’t have access to my home email account, nor could I blog. I was surprised how cut off I felt. After M’s gone to bed, I’ll often check out what’s new on my favourite sites. Without the computer, I had to find other things to do. I finished up one jewelry project and started a new one.    One night I read two books (they were both short). I even went to bed early at least two nights.

So now the computer is back from the shop and all is right with my world. But just in case the computer goes on the fritz again, I’ve got a big pile of books beside my bed and a new knitting project.

New year, new goals

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New Years

New Years (Photo credit: Cary & Darla)

I’m having a bit of a slow start to the New Year. Between traveling and visiting family, we had a busy Christmas. It was nice to see various grandparents, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins, but nice too to be back home, sleeping in our own beds. Once we got home, we spent several days tidying up the house, including putting away all the Christmas decorations. We put our tree up in early December – it wasn’t quite at the Charlie Brown tree stage, but it dropped needles every time I took off an ornament.

By the time the house was back into shape and we had food in the fridge, it was time for me to go back to work.  Not a great deal of time in between for much self-reflection.  I’m not a big fan of resolutions, as they seem to be more about quick fixes, than substantive or meaningful change. I’m not sure the bandwagon approach works – although the gyms are packed right now, most of them will be empty by mid-February.

After a week of mulling a few ideas over in my head and a long, lovely cross-country ski in the woods earlier today, I’ve decided upon four goals for the upcoming year:

1) Learn to sew – After years of watching my mother, I can sew a little bit, but I want to be better. Luckily for me, an independent fabric store recently opened and they are offering monthly sewing classes. I wasn’t interested in making a tote bag (Level 1) or a pair of pyjama bottoms (Level 2), but I did want to make a dress, so I signed up for the advanced class. We’ll be making a cute summer dress from a Collette pattern. I haven’t picked out my fabric yet, but the shop has a lovely selection of cottons that aren’t available anywhere else in town, except by mail order over the web. And the shipping costs on fabric are so high, that it almost isn’t worth it. But now I have a local source for Japanese prints. Liberty cottons and other treasures.

2) Visit my mother more often – while I see her every few weeks at the cottage during the summer, during the winter months, our visits are much less frequent. For one thing, she lives 5 hours away and for another, I always seem to have things to do on the weekends. But my mother has had some health issues lately.  One of my brothers lives near her, but he already does a lot for my mother. So I’m going to go and spend a weekend with my mother at least once a month during 2013. It means a little less time with M and my husband, but given everything my mother has done for me, it seems like a small sacrifice. I’ve already made my travel plans for January.

3) Meet new people – Maybe because I’m an introvert, I tend to have a few close friends. But as often happens, my current friends and I seem to be at different stages of our lives and don’t see each other very often. I’m pretty busy, but sometimes, it’s nice to go out for coffee or to see a movie (especially a chick flick your husband wouldn’t be caught dead at). Unlike dating, there aren’t any websites or services to help people find new friends. It isn’t easy to find people who you really click with. Since I want to encourage M to expand his social circle, I figure I need to set a good example and put myself out there a bit more too. So today, I went cross-country skiing with a group of people I didn’t really know well. I did know one of the women, but we haven’t seen a lot of each other in the last couple of years. They were good skiers and it was a challenge to keep up with them. But I guess I managed because I got invited to join them next weekend.

4) Keep blogging – I started blogging almost a year ago, on January 17, 2012. For the first seven months, I blogged regularly, but by September, the frequency of my posts had dropped off significantly. My primary motivation in starting blogging was to share my experiences in parenting M. While M continues to have some challenges, compared to previous years, 2012 was a triumph for him. Even so, I didn’t have a shortage of ideas for blog posts. But as I know from making jewelry and cards, the more I do, the more ideas I have. The reverse is also true and once my muse stops being a frequent visitor, it’s hard to entice her back. My husband suggested that I shouldn’t worry so much about writing something meaningful and erudite and just write. Good advice, but sometimes I get caught up in trying to explain the larger significance of a particular event or incident.

So for the next few months, I’m going to focus on writing shorter but writing more. I have a number of projects on the go, so they’ll be a few more Random Acts of Craftiness. I expect my sewing lessons will provide some fodder for a few posts. I’ve got a few more ideas for a semi-regular feature, but since I need M’s help with it, I need to talk to him first. Plus, M will start middle school next fall, which will no doubt be accompanied by a few challenges. And I’ll report back periodically in terms of how I’m doing in terms of meeting my goals.

So better late than never, here’s to 2013.