Thursday, October 17, 2019

#tbt: Why I Keep...

We got our iPad when Sam was three and a half years old. Yes, as of the writing of this post (a few weeks ago), I have 4,765 pictures in my camera roll going back to June 27, 2013. I really need to delete some pictures and this is an ongoing project.

At the end of September, my friend, Bekah, blogged about her camera roll. You can read her post here. She found a list that challenged her to explain why she kept certain pictures according to their number in her camera roll. I thought it would be fun to show you all some super old pictures and do the same thing.

Since the prompts didn't go high enough, I picked the most interesting (fun!) pictures from different years, but still according to the number, if that makes sense. Also, the picture numbers were in random order and I kept them that way.

* Photo #4:
from July 3, 2013

This is the actual fourth picture on the iPad camera roll. It's a picture I took solely to post on Instagram. I had never used Instagram before but it seemed like a fun app. Now it's my favourite form of social media. Rachel had just turned two and she and Sam were "copying Mommy" and deadheading the daylilies in our yard. Sadly, they didn't know about waiting until the flowers were actually dead before snapping them off!

* Photo #72:
from March 19, 2015

This picture is from March Break 2015 and it's from our Southern Road trip. Sam was almost six and Rachel was a few months away from being four. They are walking with Tessa and Willem and we're at an outdoor museum on Hilton Head, South Carolina. I remember this day so clearly -- we all held weird animals. You can read more about that day here and here. This was such a fun trip.

* Photo #18: 
from February 3, 2014

This was during the Winter Olympics. My friend, Shirley, had sewn patriotic onesies for her entire family for Christmas 2013. When I asked if I could pay her to sew some for Sam and Rachel she said no, but she said she would help me make some. This was such a crazy day and Shirley went above and beyond in helping me get these done, including entertaining Rachel and sewing some sleeping bags for the kids' stuffed animals from leftover fabric.

Shirley taught me to do everything myself, including installing zippers, and the kids LOVED these pjs. I was concerned about them being too small, and let's just say, they could still fit into them a year ago (four years after I'd made them), so I was all worried for nothing. Ha!!!

* Photo #32:
from March 21, 2014

Do you all remember this?!?!? Dave cut his hand quite badly at our weekly church program. Oh yeah, it was also eleven days before we were leaving for New Zealand. This was an insane time for us. I don't know why I still have this picture. Thankfully, within a couple of months he was completely healed and you can barely see a scar anymore.

* Photo #9:
from January 24, 2015

This is before Dave had a work phone (because he took this picture and quite a few others) and before Target left Canada. We bought this shelf for Rachel's room (at Target) and Dave and Rachel put it together while Sam was at a birthday party and Janice and I were having tea. This shelf is still in Rachel's room but looks a little different now. You can also see that this was before we got our floors re-done because Rachel's floor still looks so dirty.

* Photo #103: 
from February 10, 2016

This is Sam's "100 days of school" project from Grade 1. Dave made a baseball diamond, I glued on 100 clothespins, and Sam attached 100 baseball cards to it. It was a HUGE project but so much fun to do!

So there you go -- a walk down memory lane with me. I should make an effort to reduce my camera roll because I feel like there is another post like this one in the making...!!!

And now I'm curious -- what's on your camera roll? Does yours go back as far as mine does???

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Daily Photo: October 8 - 14, 2019

October 8, 2019 -- I forgot to take a photo until ten at night so this is not the greatest picture of our sunflowers. The other option was a picture of our family calendar. Ha!

October 9, 2019 -- It was Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement). Two years in a row, Rachel has gone to the afternoon service with Dave while Sam has made curried potato and shrimp soup. I have to say, I like this tradition :)

October 10, 2019 -- We've been trying to take the LRT more regularly and I'm happy to report that taking it to Thursday night dance has been successful thus far.

October 11, 2019 -- I baked challah for Shabbat this day. Then we had a very restful (read: lazy) Friday night. Yay!

October 12, 2019 -- I was in bed before I realized I'd taken no pictures this day. I don't know why -- we had a full day of housecleaning, errands, and watching baseball. Phew.

October 13, 2019 -- We went for an afternoon walk and I took tons of pictures of the leaves changing. I loved how this one bush had all the changes -- from green leaves to red!

October 14, 2019 -- And this was our backyard yesterday. It was so sunny it was hard to get a good picture. This week I'm going to tackle the edging of the beds so Dave can mow. Also, you can hardly see it but our tree is starting to change colours. Yay! Another reason yesterday was perfection is because I got two loads of laundry hung out -- whoo hoo!!!

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Book Review: The Residence

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House 
image from here

I put this book on hold not knowing if I would like it or not. I started it while waiting for Rachel at dance. Then I came home, got the kids to bed as quickly as possible, and snuggled in. I almost finished this book that night. I think, especially if you are an American, then this book is a must read.

Kate Andersen Brower interviewed over fifty people who worked at the White House -- but they don't/didn't do the typical work you think of when the White House comes to mind. These are the people who keep the residence going and their job is to serve the First Family. In this book we hear from chefs, housekeepers, butlers, doormen, electricians, florists, and many others.

I found it fascinating the peek they give into the First Families -- from Kennedy to Johnson to Nixon to Ford to Regan to Bush to Clinton to Bush again, ending with the Obamas. I loved hearing how different families impacted the White House -- from the Kennedys and their toddlers to the Fords and their teenagers to the senior Bushes and their grandparent-ly ways.

Through their words you could tell which families the workers loved to serve and which ones they... didn't. And the kindness of the First Families to the workers doesn't necessarily end when the family leaves office. One former First Lady spoke at a funeral of one of the workers. Another worker still receives Christmas cards and e-mails.

The devotion of the workers to their jobs was either incredible (or unbelievable). They sacrificed family vacations, birthdays, and even marriages in their devotion to the White House. I found it both amazing and sad.

I also found it sad when workers described the events around Kennedy's assassination, Nixon's sudden resignation, September 11, and the revelation of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. These unknown people really had/have a front row seat to history, but a seat that is relatively unknown or heard from.

This book was such a unique perspective and a fascinating journey through recent American history. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Daily Photo: October 1 - 7, 2019

October 1, 2019 -- Lest you think that we are only excited about Blue Jays baseball, let me correct that notion. I was excited to watch the National League Wild Card game this day. And let me tell you, it was a wild game. Also, baseball is much less stressful when I don't really care who wins :)

October 2, 2019 -- Sam was home sick with a cold for three days last week. Boo. And he'd lost iPad for a week for not listening well. He did watch a baseball game a day but he also spent a lot of time looking at this piece of artwork we bought a few weeks ago. It was so interesting to hear his observations. It also made me think that a) I need to take iPad away more often and b) we need to buy more art!

October 3, 2019 -- I started this book while waiting for Rachel at dance. I loved it way more than I thought I would. In fact, I am writing a book review of it (maybe for tomorrow?). It might be my new favourite book that I recommend to everyone!

October 4, 2019 -- This was a busy day of volunteering, shopping, making challah, making supper, entertaining a friend, and a lack of picture taking. Boo :(

October 5, 2019 -- Sam decided he wasn't well enough for Religious School so he read almost all of our PJ Library books instead. He spent three hours doing an "at home" Religious School class :) (PJ Library is a Jewish program where they send you a book a month (for free) about Judaism geared to the age of your child. Over the years, we've accumulated a lot of them. Sam has been getting chapter books for over a year but still enjoys the picture books.)

October 6, 2019 -- My Instagram friend, Erin, talked about Apple Nachos about a month ago. We finally made them on Sunday and they were a HUGE hit. You can find her "recipe" here and I definitely recommend them. I wish I had a plate right now!

October 7, 2019 -- This is our yard at about 7:00pm last night. It was starting to get dark so I used "manual" mode on the camera and rested it on the railing. I'm excited with this (mostly) non-blurry picture. And now I think I will go mow the lawn. Ha!

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

In Which It Looks Like All I Ever Do Is Read

EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to write about one book. Ooops. I've added in My Sister, The Serial Killer. Sorry I missed you.

I don't know how but I managed to read eight books in the last week of September. Actually being sick with a bad cold and not having enough energy to do much, but also not being able to sleep well, probably helped a bit with that.
This book was described as a Muslim take on Pride and Prejudice. While it's been awhile since I've read P&P, I would have to agree. I really liked this book. It was fun. I like how it challenged assumptions (Should you have to change to make other people comfortable? If so, how much?) This was a quick read and I finished it in one night because I wanted to know how it would end. And while it was set in Toronto (a big city near where I live), I didn't struggle with the Canadian context like I did while read Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series. I don't know why though...
A woman in my book club recommended this book to me and it took me forever to get through because I would read twenty or thirty pages and fall asleep. It just didn't grab me. I finally did read the last 100 pages (of a 275 page) book in one night but 175 pages is a long time for me to get into a book. Honestly, I just about gave up on this book before I'd finished it and I rarely do that. Sadly, we're reading the other book by this author for our November book club so I hope I like it better. Ugh.
I picked this book up on a whim at the library. Halfway through I realized I'd read the author's other book (which he wrote before he transitioned) about his work on the Vancouver missing women's case. (This was a huge Canadian murder mystery and Shenher was one of the first detectives assigned to the case. Read Lonely Section of Hell: The Botched Investigation of a Serial Killer Who Almost Got Away by Lori Shenher.) I really liked this story of how Shenher fought his feelings of being a boy (in a girl's body) for most of his life until he transitioned at around age 50. However, it is sad to me that we have a society where people feel so caged. This story was so engaging that I sped through it in about two days.
I started reading this book in August at the pool. Then I had to put it down for a bit because I had books which were due earlier than this one. But I really wanted to get back to it. I took some time and finished the last third of the book this past week. I should have just read it all in August :) I would highly recommend this book. It's so beautiful and I loved it.

It reminded me a little bit of The Night Circus in that it was such a beautiful book. However, other than that, it is nothing at all like The Night Circus. Just the beauty of the book felt similar, if that make sense. I would also compare this to Where The Crawdads Sing. Combine those two books and you get this one. Ha! (Does this make you want to read it yet?!)
I flew through this book in one night. It was fun to revisit characters from The Wedding Date and The Proposal. I think I don't like how R rated these are though, especially the liberal use of the F word. Not that I'm against the F word but it's usage felt a little gratuitous in this book sometimes.
I waited a very long time for my library to get this book in. It was a very quick read but I have to say, the ending was a little ambiguous to me and I didn't like how Ayoola manipulated Korede. Although by the end of the book, it was hard to tell who was being manipulated. I'm glad I got to read this but I think this would be a good book club book because I'd love to talk about it with someone!
This book was okay. It was a romance told partly in the past (the summer the main character was sixteen or seventeen) and partly in the present. I think I need to stop reading romances now though because I just didn't buy into the "love at first sight" concept of this one. While I was never a counselor, this did bring back fond memories of my weeks at camp as a teenager though :) (Just to clarify, my teenage weeks at camp were much less wild than the ones described in this book.)
I picked up this book the other night, hoping to get into it a bit before I fell asleep and, the next thing I knew, I'd finished it. I've never read Gourmet magazine but now I want to find all the issues and pore over them. This book was so fun/heartbreaking to read. I'd heard so much about it from a few other people and, since I never read Gourmet, I didn't know if I would love it. I am now on the bandwagon telling you all, "READ THIS BOOK!" as it totally lived up to the hype.

Have you read any of these? Do you feel differently about them than I do? Have I inspired you to pick any of these up? You know me, I'm always up for talking about books!

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Daily Photo: September 23 - 30, 2019

It's been about two months since I've posted a Daily Photo picture. Although I am trying to get back into it, you can tell I wasn't completely successful this week :( However, here is my best attempt. Hopefully next week will be better...

September 23, 2019 -- On the first day of Fall, I captured this picture of my sunflowers surrounded by the "fall garland of pinecones" Rachel made at her summer camp in August.
September 24, 2019 -- Remember a few years ago when I found it hard to take pictures on our busy Tuesdays. Yeah, that might happen again this fall. Boo :(

September 25, 2019 -- I went to the library with my book club to hear our "One Book, One Community" author, Joanna Goodman, speak. The moderator was not that great so I was a little disappointed in the conversation.

September 26, 2019 -- It was picture day at school for these two. I didn't have a chance to capture one in the morning but they let me take this one in the afternoon.

September 27, 2019 -- I've had a problem lately with having all my baskets of laundry filled with clean, folded laundry to put away. I don't know why it's been so hard to stay on top of lately.

September 28, 2019 -- I was sick with a cold this day. Lots of dozing on the couch is not conducive to taking pictures. Who knew?!

September 29, 2019 -- This is the first pitch of the Toronto Blue Jays' last game of the 2019 season. If you look here you will see the "bookend picture," as it were!

September 30, 2019 -- It's been awhile since I've shown you our backyard. The summer flowers are gone and we are waiting for the leaves on our tree to change colour. And the lawn still needs mowing. Hmmm...

Friday, September 27, 2019

Eating Internationally: Country of the Week Recipes

As I've mentioned on the blog before, in January we started a Country of the Week (COTW) pilot project. It was started by a friend of a friend and he was looking for a small group of people to test out the idea and provide feedback. Being a family who loves to travel and explore other parts of the world, we enthusiastically jumped on board!

Every week the coordinator sends out a country sheet for the week's country and writes an e-mail introducing the country to us. He also sends out links to some videos to watch. These are all found on YouTube. (We have been specifically asked not to share resources, so I'm sorry I can't, but I want to respect the coordinator's time and work that he has put into this. Otherwise I would share some of our favourites here. The idea of adding food to the COTW project was mine and I found almost all of the recipes on Pinterest. You can see my COTW Pinterest board here.)

The first week, we were introduced to France and the video talked a lot about yummy French foods -- brie, baguettes, Napoleans, etc. The kids were curious about some of the food so that week at the grocery store, we picked up food for a French-inspired meal. The kids loved it.
Thus, the idea of eating food from the country we were exploring that week was born. Truthfully, the kids have not loved every meal, and neither have I, but it's been really good to expand the meals we eat from week to week. So I am going to share our favourite COTW meals here in hopes that maybe some of you will find some new interesting foods to add to your menu plans.
Turkmenistan Plov -- you can find the recipe here. I used veggie ground round because I think I also found a version which said ground beef could be a substitute. I also used olive oil because I didn't have any sheep's fat on hand. HAHAHA!!! I remember this meal being fairly easy to make and we all really enjoyed it. Plus there was the fun factor of dumping it upside down on the plate. I definitely want to make this again, although I haven't done so yet.
Mansaka and Oven Pancake from Denmark -- You can find the mansaka recipe here and the pancake recipe here. Mansaka is basically a potato-meat (ground round) - pasta sauce casserole. The oven pancake is one of the best things I've ever eaten. For the Mansaka, I don't like Swiss cheese so I substituted cheddar. The oven pancake I made as instructed.
A few weeks later we made this meal for friends of ours and while a little complicated, it worked fairly well as a company dish. And we made one meat one and one veggie ground round one. This would be a really amazing cold Winter dish. I would not make this in summer -- it's too filling and rich (in the case of the pancake).
Australian Meat Pie -- You can find the recipe here. This was a fairly time consuming recipe to make (and I used store bought frozen pastry dough) but, except for Sam, we all loved these. And they totally transported me back to Australia so there was that. Again, I made them with veggie ground round (and used boullion instead of vegemite - yuck), but other than that I made them as instructed.

I will definitely make these again when I have time and Sam can just eat a peanut butter sandwich. Ha!!!
Norwegian Potato Soup and Apple Pie -- The recipe for the soup is here and the pie is here. For the soup instead of making the meatballs, I bought veggie "meatballs" and added them in at the last minute so they could heat up. For the pie (which is really more of a cake than a pie) I did not add the optional raisins or pecans and I halved the recipe. It was delicious!
Brigadeiro from Brazil -- The recipe is here. I didn't change a thing. These are in the shape of a "10" because Sam was having his church friends' party and I realized I had not thought about any cake type item. The boys were playing outside and I whipped these up in about half an hour. They were a big hit.

Rachel wanted an "Around The World" theme for her birthday party and all the party attendees made these when we "visited" Brazil. I would highly recommend not trying to make these with a group of seven and eight year olds unless you have another adult present to help. Ha!
Rwandan pancake -- The recipe is here. This was a little time consuming to make, and Dave and I rarely deep fry anything so that was an adventure, but these were delicious! I don't know that I would make them again (due to the time and deep frying) but you might want to try them once. So worth it!
Jamaican Beef Stew -- The recipe is here. I LOVED this recipe which is why my bowl was almost empty before I remembered to take a picture. Now I don't have a slow cooker so I just made mine on the stove. I used vegetarian beef tips and added extra beef boullion for a "beefier" taste. I did not use hot sauce (or a Scotch bonnet pepper) and I only had regular paprika. This reminded me of a traditional beef stew but the spices were what made it amazing! It was sooooo good!!!
Snapper Barbados -- The recipe is here. In the background is a Barbados corn pie but I didn't really love it and the kids didn't either. However, the fish was ah-mazing!!! Sam ate as much as he could. I couldn't find snapper so I used tilapia and I didn't add the cayenne but the combination of parsley and lime was incredible. I would totally make this again.

So there you go, some new international recipes to add to your menu. Sadly, Dave and the kids have decided that they no longer want me to pair meals with our COTW nights so they are going to be a lot more boring. I might sneak a new recipe in now and again though, especially if I think it's going to be a keeper.