We've been away...

...and now we're back! We went to my hometown of Orangeville. It sure beat driving back and forth for Stu's preaching engagements in Grand Valley, Orangeville and Fergus. It was really cool to be close to family and old friends (sorry we didn't get to visit all of you.) We wish we could have, but it was just so busy! Having a little sick boy dosen't help matters much, either. It seems like his cold is here to stay. Stu says he'll get better in May. Heehee.
I was so happy to get back to our own house I was practically giddy. I think Callum was pretty exited too. It didn't take very long for him to have each of his toys exclaimed over and then scattered over the entire living room. We loved coming back to all the Christmas cards that came when we were away. I know, some of them on the fridge are old, because I seem to have misplaced the ones I recieved last week!
I wish you all Happy New Year, since I won't be seeing you 'cause you didn't invite me to your party. None of our friends did. *sniffle* Nobody loves us.
Oh well, we have some Chardonnay and some 2 year old Canadian white cheddar to go with that whine...I mean, wine. And I picked up a tin of those PC chocolate biscuits (boxing week blowout sale!!) so we will be having a nice quiet New Years party. Just Stu and me and Wii.
I should not complain. Spending New Years Eve in a hospital would not be the most fun either. We're thinking of you, Brian and Mel!
Also, my beloved fmws sisters probably do not have it easy either, being so far from their homes! I suppose that we should get used to having just family time on these sort of days, hey ladies?
Wishing you and yours the Lord's blessing in the new year.
Love, me.
p.s. Next post will be Christmas pics, k?


Wild Rice with Hazelnuts and Cranberries

Wild Rice with Hazelnuts and Dried Cranberries

1 cup long grain wild rice
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
1 cup soy beans
½ cup sliced toasted hazelnuts
1 cup sundried cranberries
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan over medium heat melt the butter and gently sautee the diced onion and bay leaf.
Add the wild rice and stir for one minute.
Add three cups of water, a good pinch of salt and a twist of black pepper.
Bring to a gentle simmer, turn down heat and allow to cook for approximately 35 to 45 minutes, stirring gently from time to time. You will know that the rice is fully cooked because it will pop like pop corn and be soft and tender to the bite.
Remove from heat, add the soy beans, toasted hazel nuts and sun dried cranberries.
Stir gently and keep hot till ready to serve.

Makes eight to 12 servings.

Simmered Steak

Simmered Steak

One 2 to 2.5 pound simmering steak
A couple of tablespoons of flour
Salt and pepper
3 Tbsp canola or olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 cups puréed tomatoes (canned or fresh)
2 teaspoons each of fresh thyme, sage, marjoram, or 1/2 teaspoon each of dried

1 Rub flour into both sides of the steak. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a wide, shallow (3 inches), covered pan to medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp of oil to coat the pan. Place the steak in the pan, and cook for a few minutes on each side, enough to brown the steak.
2 Remove the steak from the pan and set aside. Add onions and garlic to the pan and another tablespoon of oil. Cook the onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes, using a metal spatula to scrape up any steak drippings, mixing them in with the onions. Add half of the herbs to the onions. Return the steak to the pan, placing it on top of the onions. Crowd the onions around and on top of the steak. Sprinkle the rest of the herbs on top of the steak. Add the 2 cups of puréed tomatoes to the pan.

3 Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Use a high lid if available. A high lid will help circulate the steam and moisture from the cooking juices and keep the steak moist. Bring the steak in the tomato purée to a simmer and then lower the heat to the lowest heat possible to maintain a low simmer.

4 Cook for about an hour, turning the steak every so often. To check it, you can poke it with a fork. The meat should be quite tender. To serve, remove the steak and slice it on a carving board, or shred with two forks and serve on rice with the sauce. Serves 4-6.

Quinoa with Raisins and Onions

Quinoa with Raisins and Caramelized Onions

2 tbsp olive oil
3 large sweet white onions, halved and thinly sliced
½ tsp brown sugar
1 ½ cups quinoa
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup golden raisins
½ tsp dried tarragon (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and brown sugar. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft, 25-35 minutes. Sprinkle quinoa over onions and cook over medium-high heat until quinoa begins to toast and pop. Pour liquid over, stir and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until liquids are absorbed. Add raisins and tarragon after 10 minutes. Before serving, add salt and pepper to taste.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard with Bacon and Garlic

2 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound Swiss chard, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh garlic
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels. Pour off fat.
Cook chard in the skillet over medium heat until it begins to wilt. Add garlic and cook and stir for 2 minutes.
Place chard in a lightly greased baking dish and sprinkle with bacon and Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.



1 large zucchini, cut into ½ inch slices
½ large eggplant (or 1 small) cut into large dice
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, cut into 1 inch dice
4 cloves garlic
1 can diced tomato in juice
2 tbsp tomato paste
Olive oil
Chopped parsley
Bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

Stir fry onion, zucchini, and eggplant in a deep pot with olive oil for 2 min. Add garlic and peppers, and stir fry an additional minute. Add tomatoes, paste and herbs and bring to a boil. Turn down to minimum and simmer for 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Alternatively, place pot in the oven at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving!

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

1 2 to 3 lb roasting chicken
1 cooking onion, finely diced
½ lb button mushrooms
2 red peppers, large dice
1 zucchini, large dice
1 tbsp minced garlic
½ cup white wine
4 cups pureed stewed tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Butcher chicken into 8 equal parts. Mix 1 cup flour with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper in a bowl. Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, turning to coat. In a deep pot, brown chicken on all sides using ¼ cup olive oil. Remove and set aside chicken. In the same pot using the residual oil, brown the onion and garlic. Add mushrooms, zucchini, and peppers, stir frying for about two minutes. Add wine, and scrape up any bits in the bottom of the pot. Add basil and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reintroduce chicken and simmer for 1 hour until chicken is tender.
Season with salt and pepper and serve with pasta.

For a lower fat recipe, use skinless chicken breasts!

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

1 – 2 lb top sirloin
½ lb mushrooms, sliced
½ cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
1 sprig rosemary
1 cup sour cream

Slice sirloin into strips ½” thick and brown it in a frying pan in small batches. Set meat aside, and drain excess fat from pan. Add wine and stock to the pan and bring to a boil. Add rosemary and reserved beef. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add sour cream and season with salt and pepper. Warm through and serve with noodles.

Pesto Sauce


2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp salt
½ cup olive oil
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper

Place basil, pine nuts, garlic and salt in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil until blended. Scoop out into a bowl and stir in the cheese and season with pepper to taste.

*Add 1 tbsp of pesto for every serving of pasta.

*Use instead of tomato sauce on pizza dough and top with grilled chicken, tomatoes, onion and feta cheese!

Barley Pilaf

Barley Pilaf

1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, small dice
1 cup pot barley
2 cups mushrooms, small dice
2 ½ cups beef stock

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan melt butter on medium heat and fry onions until translucent. Add barley and stir until coated. Add stock and mushrooms and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, turn down to minimum and simmer for 45 minutes. Great wholegrain side dish for any meal!

Cinnamon Snickerdoodles

1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup almond, walnut, or pecan haves

In a large bowl, beat butter with 1 ½ cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Stir in butter mixture until combined. In a small bowl, combine1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon; set aside. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, roll in cinnamon mixture. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Press nut into the top of each ball. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden on the bottom.
(Unbaked dough and baked cookies freeze well!)


First Haircut

Yes, it was time for those gorgeous curls to go. His hair was getting into his eyes and his bedhead was getting to be worse than his daddy's. But don't worry, they will be back! I wanted to cut it short the first time so I would get a decent length of lock for my shadowbox (photos to follow upon completion). Next time it will just be a trim, I promise!He did not like the clippers at first, but got used to them quickly! Hey, lookit all that hair!Finishing up...In this photo he reminds me of my cousin Julie...certain faces he pulls have that effect

Itchy hairs... The result is...well, my baby dosen't look like a baby any more. *sob* He looks so different and much older. It's hard to recognize him from the back! :)

Relaxing after getting rid of all those itchy hairs in the bath


Seiously. Cute. Shoes. (Really.)

Someone please teach me how to sew and/or crochet? Please?
Northwest Mom Finds is giving away a pair of these adorable shoes on their blog. Check it out!

These adorable infant shoes are handmade from natural wool fibers by the
team behind Knot Sew Cute. Felted
until they become soft and snug, they are perfect for keeping tiny feet cozy
during the winter months. And how cute are those buttons? The British Columbia
shop is stocked with crochet patterns galore, but owners Kim and Tara also make up
finished products like these for the less crafty among us.


For Moms

We all know at least one Elastigirl who virtually springs back into shape quickly postpartem. Here is a website for moms who are insecure about their body image. An excerpt gives you an idea of what the site is about:

It is my dream, then, to create this website where women of all ages, shapes,
sizes and nationalities can share images of their bodies so it will no longer be
secret. So we can finally see what women really look like sans airbrushes and
plastic surgery. I think it would be nothing short of amazing if a few of our
hearts are healed, or if we begin to cherish our new bodies which have done so
much for the human race. What if the next generation grows up knowing how normal our bodies are? How truly awesome would that be?

-The Shape of a Mother


Harsevoort Sinterklaas

...where I forgot my camera, so I'm directing you to Lisa's Place. Heehee.

Thanks for the pics, Lis. And thanks for the gifts, Pietermans! I'll be posting a video of him on his rocking horse! :)


An interesting article by The Soft Landing:

Get Your Phthalates Cheap for Christmas at a Store Near You Fire Sale on Toxic Toys
Your friendly neighborhood retailer wants you to stock up now so they won’t have to suffer so darn much under the burden of the recent phthalate ban. The CPSC has given them one last chance for a reprieve by extending the ban implementation deadline. Fantastic - now they can unload those toxic toys on unsuspecting parents looking for a great deal on Christmas presents during these tough economic times.

The Squeaky Wheel
As my Grandpa always said, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” Toy makers are complaining that it’s nearly impossible to know which products contain phthalates, so they would have to spends $1,000’s in testing the toys on their shelves. Why, sometimes they don’t even know what materials are used in their products because they aren’t labeled (insert high-pitched whining inflection here). That’s kinda the point here - label this stuff already!
USA Today reveals how this sneaky change is taking place:
… legal counsel at the Consumer Product Safety Commission says that the phthalate ban doesn’t necessarily apply to toys made before Feb. 10. In a letter written Monday, the commission’s general counsel says the law lacks a “clear statement of unambiguous intent.”
Retailers and manufacturers may sell off their existing inventory of dolls, sippy cups and other children’s products, according to the letter from the commission’s general counsel, Cheryl Falvey. Neither stores nor toymakers are obligated to label which products meet the new standards and which don’t.

And the squeaking continues . . .
The Washington Post points out that chemical companies such as ExxonMobil, which manufactures the phthalate most often found in toys, have also argued that banning the compounds could force toymakers to use substitutes that pose greater risks. The article goes on to note that several alternative chemicals used to make toys for the European market have been found to be safer than phthalates. The chemical makers are also complaining that the safer alternatives are not as cheap or versatile as phthalates. Are you kidding? I think the health of our children is slightly more important than your deep pockets.

Tips for Safe Christmas Shopping
So how will you be able to tell which products are safe? You won’t. We recommend you handle shopping this year by following these tips:
Avoid soft, squeezable plastic teethers, rattles, duckies, plastic books and other toys. Wait to buy these items until the ban actually takes effect on Feb. 10, 2009.
Only purchase products specifically labeled as phthalate-free, or better yet, as PVC-free. Remember when we talked about how PVC Free = Phthalate Free? Just don’t forget that it doesn’t work the other way around: phthalate-free does NOT mean PVC-free.
Go with USA Today’s recommendation and buy from responsible retailers who do their homework, like The Soft Landing


It's been a while...

A little while ago Stu and I decided to have some ice cream after dinner. Naturally, Callum loves to have what we have so I gave him a bite. From the look on his face, I guessed he wasn't expecting ice cream! So I said, "Cold, eh?" to which he replied, "Coh..." The next morning I gave him his juice cup right out of the fridge at breakfast time. He grabbed it with both hands, then looked up at me and said "Coh!" I was surprised that he learned a new word overnight! It never ceases to amaze me how quickly he learns.

Don't you hate it when you grab your camera to capture something cute, and then they stop doing whatever it was....I'm still waiting for him to pick up his little stuffed cow rattle and wave its tiny arm and say "Bye!"

Exploring Light

This past weekend we went to my parent's place to help clear out the basement for pending renovations. I forgot to take any "before" pictures, so...here are the after...

"We're all here!"

"Can I help?"
First snowfall (that actually stayed) happened on Saturday after lunch and continued overnight. It was pretty the next morning...
How's this for a Christmas Tree? :) These windows are a perfect height for a curious boy. A new discovery, and a new word! Snow!

On Sunday we visited my cousin Tanya and her family. It's been a while since we hung out with them. :) Cassandra and Callum had a lot of fun playing together! He missed his buddy when she went to bed. He stood calling "TaDANda!!!" when her mommy took her down the hall to get ready for bed.