March Joys!

At this time of year it can become exceptionally difficult to remain joyful.  You can sense spring, but yet it is impossible to see it beyond the slowly melting snow.   It’s still icy, and where it’s not icy, it’s muddy.  I am still finding places to take the littles where they can run and play and get some of their cabin fever alleviated.  Our last outing took us to Indigo (similar to Barnes & Nobel for my American friends) Cleverly this Indigo placed the Starbucks at the very center of the store, directly adjacent to the children’s section.  So we headed there for the morning.  I had the pleasure of thoroughly enjoying a steaming hot coffee and shared a cute little flower cookie with Peach.  Little Pea ate his pink birthday cake pop while pushing trains on the Thomas Table. I actually finished my coffee while it was HOT! We finished off the visit with a new book, who’s main character shares the same name as Peach (obviously Peach is not her real name) so of course it had to come home with us.  Books is where I almost never say no – I think she knows my weakness.  Peach also chose to spend her $3 allowance, hard earned by toy cleanup and bed making, on a new pack of scratch ‘n’ sniff strawberry stickers.  It makes me reminisce about my own childhood and my own collection of smelly stickers.  I walked out with a new book on Polyculture Gardening – in hopes that in one year it will be read, and I will have some more knowledge on the art of mixing pretty plants with hardy vegetables.

Spring also tricked us in the last week, with a spike in temperature to allow for an actual day at the park.  It was still snowy, but at nearly 10 degrees, it was lovely.  Little Pea got to sport his new adorable Fox hat made by my lovely friend who runs a little etsy shoppe.  Funny enough, these warm caps are crocheted in Barbados where no child would ever really need such an article! But Lana, the owner, is talented and creative, and kindly designed a fox just for us!

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We also had the joy of celebrating my mom’s 65th Birthday! She wanted to keep it quiet, so we abide her wishes.  The only request she has had for the last few years was a banana cake.  Not bread, cake! There is a difference! I followed a recipe I found on Pinterest, but then adjusted it a lot to suit my own personal, less sweet tastes.  So here it is; Banana Cake with Peanut Butter & Honey Icing. They were amazing – and will certainly be made again!

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Recipe: (yields 12 cupcakes)

  • 1/2 package white cake mix – any variety
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Free-range happy eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup light cooking oil, like canola
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup mashed up bananas

Directions:

Preheat oven to temperature recommended on the cake package

In a good size bowl sift together cake mix, flour & baking soda.  In a smaller bowl (with a spout is a bonus) crack eggs, and lightly beat.  Then add oil and milk and whisk together.  Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.  I used my stand mixer for this part, but you would not necessarily need to if you’re coordinated enough.  Once everything looks consistant and there are no lumps stir in banana with a wooden spoon.

If making cupcakes, line your pan with liners. If making a cake, cut parchment to fit pans, or lightly grease. Bake as directed on the back of the mix package or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from pan onto wire rack.

Recipe for Icing: (makes enough for 12 cupcakes)

  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter (salted or non – either works)
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter – any brand! If using natural add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp white sugar, and make sure it’s well blended before using!
  • 2 cups icing sugar

Directions for Icing:

In a medium bowl or your stand mixer add the two butter and blend them together until fluffy.  Slowly add icing sugar until the mixture will hold a soft peak.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Scoop out the icing into a piping bag or plastic zipper bag.  If using a zipper bag, snip a small hole using pinking shears in the bottom corner to get neat swirls.  Pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes or cake.

Happy Birthday Mom!

So long winter blues …

Winter JoyI told you I was quite distracted. Anyway, it’s now March and the sun is shinning making me think it may actually start to get warmer soon. Our daily high has been an average of a balmy -12 for the last seven weeks.  So we’re all going crazy from cabin fever! Having two children of rather different, yet similar ages has kept me at the Big M far too many days, and yet I am grateful, even thankful for their free coffee week and indoor play center.  It was a great chance to sit somewhere warm, drink surprisingly good coffee – for free! – and let the littles burn off some steam.  But now I am craving time outdoors to feel the fresh air on my face without risk of frostbite.  The weekly walks to our mailbox are not really cutting it.  You would figure that with all this time inside I would be the most productive person, wallpaper would be stripped, tape up, at lease the primer coat completed … but alas! No.  I have no energy to even contemplate moving away from the comforts of our sofa and king size fleece blanket of cozy doom.  Once you’re under its spell, it is difficult to break free! So I am about 87% through stripping the wallpaper.  Sadly it is not that easy-peasy dry stripping variety and the paper has left a lovely coat of paste over top of the vibrant purple paint.  Next step is to simply soak the walls with Fleecy and warm water.  That just seems like an incredible amount of work unfortunately. So I am wasting precious time, diddling on the computer dreaming of warmer days ahead when the sun’s energy will fill me with enough initiative to complete my ever-growing to-do list.

Not all my diddly computer time has been a complete waste though.  I have learned a lot about raising backyard hens, gathered some wonderful ideas for summer recipes and spent a lot of time collecting precious gardening tips for this new-to-gardening gal.

The best part about all this cozy time has been hanging out with my favourite littles though.  Yes, there are days when I would have preferred they scooted along and played alone, and there were days when they chose to do that.  But the days spent together, building blanket forts, jammin’ (if you can call it that) on the ukelele, colouring giant Minnie Mouse colouring books, pushing little cars down table tops, making up stories and just cuddling on the ever-so-dangerous sofa is where we are making our memories. I treasure these guilt free moments of joy with my littles.

I know the time is fleeting as Peach goes to school full time in September.  And although I do look forward to a little more freedom from her minutely requests, I know I will most certainly miss her company.  I am not going to focus on that though, as there is still at least half a year left to explore, create and just be together.  Then of course I will have to find a way to keep Little Pea busy.  I am hoping next winter is not as harsh, and we will actually get to see the great outdoors!
Oh – one other distraction – I have a blog-crush with A Wooden Nest. Just a lovely place to visit.  Lindsay’s photography and casual writing makes you feel as though you’re sitting across the table from her sipping tea and admiring her beautiful hens and kitties.  One lady I recommend following – especially if you’re feeling a little hurried in life.