Wednesday, October 31, 2012

halloween ready

the pumpkins are carved. the costumes are ready. 

here's hoping the rain decides to ease up for a bit of trick or treating tonight.

happy halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

favourite things: pumpkins

it was rare that my parents came to school events. of course, they did all my school plays and graduations, etc. but they generally didn't do things like parent-teacher interviews or multi-cultural events. and i really didn't require them to. i was a good kid, a good student. and they were busy and tired from long days commuting and working. 

once though, i made my mom come to a mother-daughter event. i don't remember much about the event itself but i do remember that there was a little contest or interview of sorts where the question, "if your daughter was a vegetable, what would she be?" was asked.

on the transit ride home, i remember being curious enough to ask my mom what vegetable she thought i was. she answered, "a squash." and i distinctly recall a suppressed laugh. 

i was mortified. 

i was in my teens. and although i generally had nothing against squash in general, i didn't want to see myself in such tough, round, seedy, stringy, and well... squat-ish light. 

i don't know if i have the squash guts to ask my mom now what she was actually thinking then.  

in my late thirties, i have no quarrel with the notion of being seen as a gourd of any kind. i think gourds are beautiful and delicious. instead, these days, i celebrate the pumpkin!

in fact, pumpkin season at our house is now in full swing.

we didn't get to the pumpkin patch this year. but the boy didn't mind. extra large buckets of pumpkins are more than enough to set our babes' sense of wonder and occasion alight.

pumpkins at rest on my dining table are so beautiful to me. we'll be carving those tonight, in time for halloween.

i made pumpkin muffins using cynthia lair's recipe from feeding the whole family. (i omitted the cloves and cardamom and instead swirled in a mixture of cream cheese and egg. so good! and it gets better every day!)

and i made a pumpkin-coloured hat for an 8-year old friend at our co-op. he's a fan of the percy jackson series. i hope he likes it.

now, it's time to get to work. and then some last-minute halloween prep. which really means a lot more work than i think i signed up for.

happy tuesday!

Monday, October 29, 2012

favourite things: cardboard, tape, and scissors

inspired by a birthday party we just got back from, the boy wanted me to help him make a shield.

the happy consequence: quiet creative time with my boy (the girl was napping. she's awesome like that). the moment lasted at least two hours as he explored the materials we used. oh happy day!

i have no idea what he was doing to his orca. but he tells me that he was "doctoring it."

the rain is pelting harder than usual here. but the weather is mild and there is no wind. 

my thoughts are to the east where a monster of a storm has already begun to wreak havoc. here's hoping the experience and aftermath isn't as bad as anticipated. and if it is, that comfort and help find their way to all affected, faster than humanly possible.

keep safe and warm east coasters. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

knit parade: kid socks

i made the babes some socks.

pattern: most basic kids socks, heel based on susan b anderson's socks
his yarn: spud and chloe fine and madelinetosh sock
her yarn: sweet georgia cashluxe fine and spud and chloe fine

it's very difficult to take photos of them wearing said socks.

i'm just happy they deign to put them on.

they were fun to make but given how quickly they grow, i'm wondering whether the invested time and yarn is worth the length of time they'll actually be worn (when they deign to wear them).


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

recipe share: chicken stew

the girl and i are under the weather at the moment (seems to be going round in mommy blogging world as well as in my own real life surroundings). and in our home, i rarely ever skip a beat about making chicken soup the moment someone's nose threatens to drip. there may not be orange juice, broccoli, or strawberries in the house to boost the immune system with vitamin c, but i almost always have the basic ingredients on hand to make chicken stew.

whenever i make this stew - whether or not any of us is sick, upon eating, there is a collective sigh that suggests the recently fed were not only soothed of their hunger but soothed in spirit. last night, both babes were drinking the soup right out of their bowls. and the girl asked for third helpings. and then they both slept through the night. 

i make filipino chicken stew (tinolang manok)... or at least i think i do. i make it more or less the way i saw my mom do it: by throwing all the ingredients in a pot of water and boiling the heck out of it until the ingredients are cooked. 

growing up, my mom always made this with chicken parts.  in this stew, i leave the chicken whole and butcher at the table - which isn't any effort at all because the meat practically falls apart. i just use a pair of kitchen shears to separate servings.

i promise you, prep time is minimal (because who wants to stand in the kitchen prepping when you can be snuggling a sniffly babe or knitting, in my case?). though you do have to factor in at least an hour for the stew to simmer away on the stove top (cooking time will vary depending on how big your chicken is, after all).

served with your choice of rice, this is a simple, healthy, satisfying, and restorative meal: home cooking at its best.


1 medium onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 tsp whole black pepper
2-3 bay leaves
chopped coriander stems (optional)
1 whole chicken
fish sauce
soy sauce

your choice of vegetables (traditionally, filipinos serve this stew with green papaya and malunggay leaves (pepper leaves). i love it this way. but neither of these ingredients are readily available in my neighbourhood grocery store. so i often throw in whatever i have on hand - which can be any combination of small potatoes (whole), peeled carrots (halved), a cup of corn, greens (any one or combination of your favourite greens would do. we love kale, spinach, bok choy, swiss chard, and green cabbage) and chopped broccoli.)

coriander, chopped (optional)


in a large pot, throw in the asian trinity (onions, garlic, ginger), black peppers, bay leaves, and whole chicken. cover with water. add fish and soy sauces.

bring the pot of ingredients to a boil and leave to simmer for an hour or until the chicken is cooked.

at about 40 minutes into the cooking time, throw in your choice of root vegetables. 

about 50 minutes into the cooking time, throw in your choice of hardy greens. if you're using baby spinach and coriander, throw these in just before serving.

garnish with chopped coriander.

(see? told you. easy.)

condiment options:
i spoon a bit of either of these with nearly every bite. the kids do, too. the boy would drink either from the the dipping bowl if we'd let him.

fish sauce (just on it's own. my fave.)
fancy sauce (this is the wife's fave: 2 tbs fish sauce, 1 tbs soy sauce, 4 drops sesame oil, juice of 1 lemon or lime, chives, black pepper to taste)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

knit parade: a walk in the dusk with our hats on

the rain finally let up today. since i'm on a deadline and had to work all day, i didn't get outside with my family until after dinner, as the sun was going down.

dusk usually isn't my favourite time of day. twilight tends to give me a migraine, to be honest.

but in this city, one cannot take a reprieve from imminent downpour for granted. 

so i made the best of the waning light by attempting a knitwear photo shoot. (many thanks to the wife who made the babes wear their hats).

i made these acorn-shaped hats and i love them. were i not working from the stash, i would have bought some lovely self-striping yarn. but these will do.

i love the way they look on my babes.

the pattern was pretty fun so i can't wait to make more. this time, i plan to experiment with 'manual' striping from my scrap basket.

 but for now, it's lights out.

Monday, October 15, 2012

bright sides at knit city

so much from my fall plea.

it was a dreary weekend.

the light from the autumn leaves almost made up for it. 

but the rain would just not let up.
yesterday, however, the wife and i journeyed three bus rides from my home to east vancouver to attend knit city, vancouver's first fibre festival.

walking into the knit city venue was immediately pulse-quickening. all that yarn. some of my imaginary blogger and ravelry friends. all in one place. i almost didn't know what to do with my terminally shy, excitable self.

some of the offerings were just incredible. frankly, i was a bit too overstimulated to take photos of everything properly.

thank goodness for the wife, who kept both my personality disorder and my spending habits, in check.

i did take a photo how ribbons of lace are made using bobbins of fine thread. (dude, some people still make this stuff by hand!)

just check out this detail! 

here's the wife trying the basic lace bobbin stitch (assisted by one of our neighbours at the co-op who is rather proficient at the craft).

i also happened to make make real friends with three of my imaginary friends - truly kind and awesomely talented folk that i'm very likely to keep in touch with.

that's rebecca of nook, shannon from luvinthemommyhood, and 
me - minus my lovely wife and knitwear designer jane richmond (i have knit quite a few of her lovely, very wearable patterns!). (there is a pic of that includes my dear wife over at luvinthemommyhood. thanks shannon!)

the wife even tried on one of jane's samples and promptly ordered that i knit her this very sweater! (there is more jane richmond knitting in my future, to be sure. much more. she and shannon wrote a book together. and it was sold out by the time i got there.)

i made out of there with only 3 skeins of yarn to sample. (now i know i'm not supposed to be buying yarn. but one of these skeins is for a gift, the other two... i can't order online. so there.) more on those later. and i bought a book

i also took a class on knitting colourwork with kate atherley - which was honestly more than a bit of a revelation on how these things are done. she was fabulous.

needless to say, after wringing myself out of excess rainwater from the commute back home, i'm finding myself recharged, inspired, and even humbled by the many laps i made around the festival floor .

there's so much more to learn. so much more i want to knit. so much more i want to share, right here, with friends - new and old, and of course, with my loves.

and with this lovely image from my knit city walking coffee break, i wish you a fabulous week and a happy monday - whether or not your own city skies are behaving like a perpetually leaky faucet. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

an open letter to fall

dear fall.

i love you. 

my kids are wearing their knits again. 

in fact, you make me want to knit everything,

even patterns i've already knit, all over again.

which isn't really unusual. but the nip you bring to the air justifies my addiction hobby somehow.

you are a slow reckoning in vancouver: with trees that flame in syncopated sputters. 

you make the world so pretty, even as the flowers and foliage recede into the coolness of the earth.

it's my favourite, watching you unfold.

please make your farewell party of confetti leaves and light last a bit longer. i promise to find ways to get outside to soak it all in, while it lasts. i'll need the fortification for the next six months of wet and grey.

your #1 fan

it's been raining all day. apparently it's going to rain for the next five days. what is up with that? 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

practicing gratitude

our stroller got stolen a few days ago. from just outside our door. the stroller that carried the kids to the river beach every time we went; the stroller that carried large amounts of groceries along with our children to and from the neighbourhood amenities; the stroller that was pretty much our car. that stroller. was. suddenly. gone, from just outside our front door.

the wife found out that a member from a neighbouring co-op across the street saw the whole thing happen at 3am and tried to interfere - to no avail, obviously. apparently the thief is a homeless transient who regularly stalks the neighbourhood in search of recyclables. perhaps there was quite a haul that night and he found the perfect solution to cashing in on more than his arms could carry. or perhaps he'd been planning the theft for some time.

whatever the thief's choices - and ours - that led to our stroller's disappearance (which, we have left unlocked outside our door for well over a year), i am choosing to practice gratitude. 

in the grand scheme of life, if this is the worst thing that happens to our little family in this neighbourhood, i am grateful.

stroller theft is hardly harrowing. i have had a little experience of what harrowing means to me and i have been angry for a long time.

today i find myself exactly where i want to be. rather impossibly, to be honest. my life was very different before children - full of busyness and indulgence, but also painful and just a little empty in a lot of ways. 

i still have to pinch myself to believe that i have lived in vancouver for over 6 years (a dream the wife and i dreamed in our high school years). i have been a mother for more than four years (counting pregnancy). i get to be with the love of my life (without the angst or guilt that once upon a time felt like shackles). 

i can only repay the soul of the universe with gratitude and kindness: especially when the days aren't perfect, in times of need and greed, in moments of anger, pride, or sadness. 

i actively choose to practice gratitude as a daily discipline.

i have a lot to be thankful for. 

including friends and family both near and far, many of whom are the most thoughtful, generous, and understanding people i know. i'm rarely in the frame of mind to pick up the phone, write a heartfelt email, or throw a dinner party, what with the fullness of our days, but i am grateful for knowing that when we do come together, it will be as if we were continuing a conversation, picking up the discourse of getting to know each other, just where we left off.

i am eternally grateful for people who are kind to my children: the wonderful lady who watches them each day; the folks who wave back, return their 'hello,' or entertain them on the bus. everyone who bothers to take the time to understand them when they are being difficult. i'm their mother, and they're cute kids, but it's not always easy for me to be kind while i'm disciplining. 

it's also international coming out day, and so i am also very thankful for all the strangers we end up coming out to because they happen to interact with our children. by and large the reactions we get are positive, ranging from "you're so lucky to have two mommies" and thoughtful silence. such exchanges certainly set the stage for when my babes will have to come out to their own set of friends and strangers about their unique family. 

we celebrated canadian thanksgiving (or "nice-giving" as my son charmingly referred to it a few times) just this past weekend. i have hosted thanksgiving dinner in years past, celebrating the holiday with friends and family with as big a feast as we can make and ending the night groaning with full stomachs. this year, it was just the four of us and my godson, with a humble menu inspired by what was in the fridge, shopping only for the stuff we needed fresh.

i didn't facilitate the traditional round table exercise in which we each share something we were grateful for. my toddlers aren't able to articulate much more than their desires at the moment. but the collective gratitude around the table was everywhere evident. 

to my canadian family and friends, a belated happy thanksgiving to you. may your gratitudes always be plentiful.

to my fellow queers (good for you, you're queer!) and our allies, happy coming out day!