Sunday, 25 December 2011

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Jingle all the way

Around these parts we've been getting ready for Christmas in all the usual ways: holiday baking, tree and home decorating, present wrapping, and lots of Christmas story book reading. Last week we even braved the mall to get our turn with Santa... twice! 

We got ready Saturday morning nice and early and headed out to the closest mall, only to be greeted with a long line up of eager kids and wary parents. 'Five minutes per family' the kindly Santa Helpers promised, except that we were about 50 families back, so we soon abandoned that attempt and tried our luck again the next morning at a mall farther outside of the city. Sure enough there were far less people and we were the third family in line.

I was excited! The outfits were picked out, shirts all neatly ironed. Last year when Jake was just 9 months old he sat dutifully by our side as we all huddled up to Santa for a family photo.  The Santa Helper jingled her bells and like magic a perfect dimpled smile appeared on my boy's face.

Family Christmas photo 2010

I thought this year might be different, considering he is older and less easily fooled, but he's been enthusiastic about Santa so far and bounced in my arms when he caught a peek of the magical Father Christmas from our place in the line, so I remiained optimistic. I should have known better. As soon as we took our places on the big chair Jake started crying.  No bell jingling or candy cane bribing would console him.

So this year's family photo yielded a slightly different result:

Although, if you really use your imagination it kind of looks like it could be a smile, right? 

 Nevertheless, Merry Christmas Everyone!

Love, the Boyds

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Raining Christmas

I'm biased I know, but this is my new favorite song:

Raining Christmas by MaffewBoyd

It's been stuck in my head for days. I'm lovin' it, and the guy who sings it too.

'Tis the season everyone! enjoy.

Jake getting his groove on.

Side note: it hasn't actually been raining much hear, in fact it has been quite perfect. Clear, crisp and beautiful.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Samichlaus Tag

It's December 6th, and in my neck of the woods this is a very special day for two reasons. One, it is Grandpa Boyd's birthday, and since we all love Grandpa Boyd very much and he is a very special man for a great many reasons, this is definitely a day worth celebrating. Secondly, it is Samichlaus Tag, also known as the feast day of St. Nicholas, which is a holiday vastly celebrated in the part of Switzerland where my parents are from.

Every year growing up I have looked forward to this day.  Digging out our special Christmas bags, hanging them on the front door nob, anxiously waiting all day for that moment after dinner when we got to check to see if Samichlaus had made it to our house to fill our bags with sweet mandarin oranges, sugar dipped ginger cookies, whole peanuts and Swiss chocolates.

It's an old European tradition, one most of my friends growing up never even heard of, a sweet tale of an old Saint who came to children's homes on the evening of December 6th and filled waiting shoes or bags with special winter treats. My parents continued the tradition on all through our childhood, much of our adulthood, and now for their grandchildren. It is a special day, made even more special by the look on my nephew's face as he pulls open the creaky old front door of my parents' place to check the bags, and the gleam in Jake's eyes as he pours out a bag full of nuts, fruit and chocolate meant just for him.

I hope one day it will be my grandchildren opening my door checking to see if Samichlaus has made it to see them.

My sister made these.  I love them.

Happy Samichlaus day to you all!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Duck feet Mondays

There is a little craft shop in our neighborhood that sells adorable handmade things for babies and children. Often, whenever I am in need of a gift for a new baby I make my way over to this little shop and nine times out of ten I find exactly what I am looking for. 

Take these cuties for example:

I have bought at least ten pairs of these duck feet over my years living in this neighborhood.  The first time I saw them I wanted to buy the whole basket full. They've been a favorite baby gift of mine ever since.  Naturally, I had to buy a pair for my boy, and lucky for me he loves wearing them.  Thinking about him running around in them shouting "duck feet, duck feet!" gave me the Monday smile I needed today.  It's just so darn cute seeing him scurry around with these two yellow slippers.

Other weekend memories that made my Monday tolerable included, playing in leaf piles.

Peek-a-boo at dinner (though I wasn't so happy at the time. He was supposed to be sitting in his high chair diligently eating every last morsel of his meal - it never happened that night).

And welcoming Advent.

Yes, he is decorating the tree with his choo choo trains.

Happy Monday everyone! 

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Baking with my boy

The other day, late on a cold, dark and rainy afternoon, I was looking for a way to entertain Jake in our apartment. We had played with every toy we own and read at least a dozen books before I remembered this little gem of a cookie recipe that I had never made but was always meaning to try.

Jake has never baked with me before, but I thought this was as good an afternoon as any to introduce him to the joys of cookie baking, and I am happy to say he passed with flying colours!  He stood on his little stool and dumped in measured out cups of flour and sugar, and stole dough covered cranberries out of the mixing bowl when he thought I wasn't looking.  It was a great first experience, and with Christmas cookie season just around the corner I am sure it won't be his last chance to wield a spatula this year.

Here is the recipe: Orange Cranberry Drops

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon orange zest (I just used the zest of one orange)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried craberries

1. Pre-heat oven 375 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheet
2. In a medium bowl, cream togetehr the sugars and butter. Stir in the egg, orange juice, extract and zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix into the orange mixture. Stir in cranberries. Drop cookie dough in heaping teaspoonfuls on the prepared cookie sheets.
3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are browned.

Delicious I say, and the flavors are a perfect compliment to the season that is fast approaching. So far they've been favored by all who've bitten into them, especially this guy:

They say things always taste better when you've had a hand in making them yourself.

Happy weekend everyone!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Just another long weekend

Last week my Boyd boys were sick.  It was hard. There was fever, tylenol, very little sleeping, even less eating, more tylenol, rashes, and one oatmeal bath after another.

I was lucky enough to avoid getting sick, but somehow it was worse seeing my two guys out for the count for more than a week.  There is a very helpless feeling that comes when your family is sick.  Other than administering fever suppressants and making homemade chicken soup, there was nothing more I could do but watch them listlessly flop from one couch to another, uncomfortable and hurting.

It was unpleasant indeed.  But late last week the worst of it was behind us and a long weekend loomed ahead.  Healthy again, we set out to create some long weekend memories that left our week trapped indoors and on the couch in the dust.

It included walks through magical, dewy forests.

Romps in the fallen leaves on windy beaches.

A visit to a train museum that was full of wonderful surprises.

Like a ride on their mini train, and an up close look at the Royal Hudson steam engine.  She might be retired but let me tell you, she's still got it.

But most of all this weekend included one very happy and healthy boy.  Which was the very best medicine of all.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

When life gives you lemons....

Autumn windstorm at Spanish Banks.                               
Make lemonade.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Chocolate cravings and the view outside my window

I realize the Muffin Monday posts have kind of hit the fan.  I am vaguely disappointed in myself for not making it through Fall as I intended, but keep hope alive that I will one day be organized enough again to bake on a weekly basis for an entire season.

Today however, as I was lounging on the couch in one of those rare moments of solitude, the spirit moved me in the form of a deep irresistible chocolate craving, so fierce and demanding that no amount of left over halloween candy could satiate it.

This is what resulted:

And the recipe for these babies my dear friends is as follows: grab wallet, head to nearest grocery store, buy a box of chocolate brownie mix, go home, make cookies out of it.

Shameful I know.  It's not that I am not against baking mixes as a rule, it is more that since I had a child I want to make an effort to fill his childhood with memories, scents and tastes of wholesome and homemade baked treats. Muffins and cookies and cakes that he'll long for in his college years and look forward to every time he comes back home for a visit.  There is just something about things that are made from scratch, and in your mama's kitchen, that are good for the soul, and my goal as Jake's mama is to fill his childhood with as much of these as possible.

But today there would be no organic carrot muffins, or orange cranberry cookies. Today was all about getting my chocolate fix.  And I can happily say that this indulgence was worth every last unpronounceable ingredient on the box.

On another note, Autumn is glorious here today.  All bright skies, and crisp earthy air. The colors are on fire now, with yellow and orange and burnt reds saturating the view out of our living room window. 

Spectacular. Really.

Monday, 31 October 2011

And the "worst costume of the year" award goes to....

My husband, who decided to go out as a "hipster" robot this year. He made it himself, can you tell?

Warning: photo posted below may not be suitable for small children, or sensitive adults.

Because I don't want anyone to have nightmares tonight, I will follow this up with a much less frightening photo.

Spooky dreams everyone!

Happy Halloween!

This evening we caved and decided to take Jake trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.  At first we weren't going to for a few reasons, including trick-or-treat time was cutting it close to his bedtime, he wouldn't be allowed to eat (much of) the candies anyway, and he's sort of at the in between age where he gets it but he doesn't really get it so we figured he wouldn't know any different either way.

But yesterday we went to a halloween/birthday party and all the kids were dressed up in their costumes and having way too much fun, and my husband and I thought what the heck 'tis the season, we might as well let him indulge in the experience.  So today after we got home from work we ate a hearty dinner and fished out Jake's old Easter basket we improvised as his treat bag and headed out the door.

J and I at the birthday party. He's the lil engineer, in case you were wondering :)

And we're off!

And we are very glad we did, because our boy had the time of his life.

I didn't know what to expect from my boy. I thought he might be shy, or maybe have a bit of a meltdown or two because he was getting tired.  What I did not expect was for Jake to bound up the stairs dragging us up behind him to knock his little fist on doors, and dig into the offered candy bowls with the vigor and enthusiasm of a kid who appreciates good candy. He had smiles for everyone, and left each treat sight with a hearty "Bye!"  It took maybe a house and a half before he decided that trick-or-treating was definitely worth his while.

We didn't go far, we didn't have to. Hitting half the houses on one side of the street on our block resulted in this:

The final loot. No bad for half a block, eh?

I am still not sure what to do with it all. To be completely honest the Mr. and I have already made a good dent in the goods, but whatever happens to the candy I am glad for the family memory.  It brought a smile to our boy's face that stretched from ear to ear, and it made my husband and I feel like we were 8 years old again.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A few of my favorite things

So far the crisp, cool days of Fall have been good to us, filled with a great many adventures from carousels to pumpkin patches.   But for all of these big and exciting moments we've had recently there have been just as many, if not more, lazy days around the neighborhood and at home just soaking in these shorter, quieter days.  And these times have been just as special.

A few of my favorite of these moments recently have included trips to the Farmer's Market, where baskets of fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers stood out with vibrant colours of Fall.

 And taking breaks between playtime and naps to munch on snacks and rehydrate.

Then there are those perfect evenings that consist of little more than cuddles and worn out books on the couch with dad.

Or the spontaneous dinners at Oma and Nonno's, where surprises are always lurking.  Last weekend it was my brother's old horse that my parents dusted off and presented to Jake, who went completely wild with happiness and joy.

Who could blame him?

 And on this last visit Jake was lucky enough to get one on one story time with Oma.

So while it might be darker outside, colder outside, and rainier outside, inside it's still been darn pretty good.