Archive for June, 2011

June 24, 2011

Ready for shabbat!

by Decemberbaby

Well, almost. I still have to make the quiche (but I’m using a premade frozen pie crust, so it’s pretty simple) and pick the snap peas, but everything else is done.

Have a look at the lovely flowers K picked from our garden:

Shabbat Shalom!

June 24, 2011

Call me Martha Jewart

by Decemberbaby

I learned something about entertaining a couple of weeks ago. A beautiful finishing touch is all you need to make people think you’re completely ready. When I had my family over for Shavuot, everyone focused on the adorable napkin rings and nobody noticed that I hadn’t yet put out any water or wine glasses!

Look how nice these are:



I cut strips of textured scrapbooking paper (about 1 1/4 inches wide) and tiny tags of white cardstock. Then I made a ring out of the scrapbook paper and secured it (and the name tags) with small brads. Voila! I think the whole process took 10 minutes to make 8 rings… and my family commented all night on how well-prepared I was for this dinner.


June 22, 2011

Work-in-Progress Wednesday – June 22 edition

by Decemberbaby

First things first: hats off to Lisaleh for sticking with WIP Wednesday! Check out her beautiful new deck chair (protected from the elements) and take a look at the awesome bins she’s going to be organizing with this week.

Envious of our productivity? It can be yours for the low, low price of posting about it on your blog, and then linking back to this post so your readers can check out other WIP Wednesday posts and get inspired.

And now for my projects:

Completed: Chalkboard Makeover

I stupidly forgot to take a “before” picture, so imagine a large chalkboard with a black metal frame, and the slogan “Amster’dam good beer” accompanied by the Amsterdam beer logo. We found the thing on the curb two years ago and stashed it away, thinking that it would be great for K to draw on. This summer I decided to put it outside so that her love of sidewalk chalk need not end at the sidewalk. Needless to say, I didn’t think a beer slogan was a great thing to have on my kid’s chalkboard, so I embarked on a spray-painty makeover.

Here’s the finished product:

I tried to think of something clever to write or draw across the top, but I couldn’t. I figured that “creative work in progress” works on so many levels: the work on the board will be a constant WIP, the child drawing it is a work-in-progress, raising my kids is a creative work-in-progress, and so is our backyard.

As soon as it stops threatening thunderstorms I’ll mount this chalkboard on a fence (or maybe the side of the porch?) in our backyard, add a hook for K’s bucket o’ chalk, and pronounce this project completely and absolutely done.

In progress: photo editing and printing

I’ve bought into a great deal on photo printing: 1000 4×6 prints for $99. The downside? I have to drop off the USB key (included in the deal) by next Thursday. I’ll be spending a lot of time going through our photo archives and printing absolutely everything that looks remotely good. At least now I feel glad that I haven’t printed any photos of the kids since 2009.

In progress: fabric book covers

In the end I chose to contribute to a group gift for K’s teachers, but I just wanted to give them something a little more thoughtful than a gift card, y’know? So I figured… most teachers love to read, and summer is coming up, and it’s nice to be able to take your book along and not keep losing your bookmark and not worry about getting dirt or ice cream on it. Right?

I’m designing and sewing book covers for K’s two teachers. Each cover is going to be re-sizable (thanks to strategically placed snaps) and will feature a sewn-in ribbon bookmark, carry handles, and a spine labeled with the teacher’s name.

The catch? The last day of school is Friday, as in the day after tomorrow. Yikes! I guess I’m spending all of tomorrow in my workshop… good thing they’re calling for rain.

So that’s it. Don’t forget, no project is too big, too small, too outrageous, or too mundane for WIP Wednesday. Join me and Lisaleh and feel inordinately proud of yourself for doing stuff you probably need to get done anyway!

June 22, 2011

The Menu Plan… late.

by Decemberbaby

I’m pretty sure it’s too late to link to Menu Plan Monday this week… but we do need to eat, and I need to grocery shop, so here goes:

Wednesday – Lentils in wine sauce (with a chunk of leftover pot roast for added flavour), basmati rice, roasted carrots

Thursday – Moroccan grilled chicken breasts, citrus-nut couscous

Friday – Quiche, israeli salad, sugar snap peas (from our garden!), corn, challah, carrot-ginger soup

Saturday – Wacky mac in the park

Sunday – Homemade pizza

Monday – Pasta with “meat” sauce

Tuesday – Baked chicken, sweet potatoes, corn

Wednesday – Shawarma-spiced chicken (with leftovers, of course) with pita, hummus, grilled eggplant and fried onions

Thursday – Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs with feta, bagels, cream cheese, orange wedges

Friday – Shabbat dinner at my parents’ house

Saturday –Deli meat sandwiches, pickles, maybe chips 🙂

Sunday – I have no idea. Maybe I’ll just take Mr. December out on a date and let my parents feed the kids.

Monday – Hot dogs on the BBQ, buns, corn, watermelon

Well, that looks like a plan. Now off to write the shopping list!

(are you still planless? Check out organizing junkie for other Menu Plan Monday submissions.)

June 21, 2011

what the flat tire taught me

by Decemberbaby

The flat tire has been fixed, actually replaced with a kevlar-lined tire that is 80% puncture-proof. I’m not quite so annoyed as I was yesterday, and I’ve had some time to reflect on the whole flat tire incident.

After discovering that my tire was flat, I went into the school office to call Mr. December and let him know that he’d have to pick us up from our playdate at the park. I figured I could make it the five blocks from the school… turns out I couldn’t. On the upside, when I dismounted just 50 metres from the school entrance, another mom stopped and offered assistance. I sent the two girls to the park in her car, walked the bakfiets to my parents’ house (two blocks away) and hitched a ride back to the park with my mom (plan b was to put N in the baby seat on my mom’s bike and cycle to the park). Problem solved.

It would undoubtedly have been easier if I’d had my cellphone with me. I could have called the other girl’s mom and explained the situation. She could have met us at the school and driven all of us to the park. I could have called Mr. D at the exact moment I wanted him to come pick us up. But you know what? I found a solution (with the help of members of the community) and everyone got where they needed to go.

What I realized was this: these days parents send their kids off with cellphones, secure in the knowledge that if anything unexpected happens their child can call them for help. What our kids might be missing, though, is the opportunity to learn about problem-solving. Will they know what to do if their cellphone battery dies, or if the phone is lost or stolen? Or will they sit down helplessly and cry about it? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not sending my kid out armed with a cellphone and nothing else. Before K and N are allowed to venture forth on their own, they’re going to need to understand how to access help in our community.

Community. It’s the operative word in this post, isn’t it? Our school community helped me solve a problem. Community is a safety net for us and our kids, but only if we actively build and nurture it.

June 20, 2011

Why it’s the city’s fault that I’m getting fat and lazy

by Decemberbaby

Our bakfiets has a flat tire. Again. This is the third flat in as many weeks.

I was biking the kids up to K’s school to meet her friend for a playdate when I realized that my turns were feeling sluggish. Sticky, almost. I got off and took a look… totally flat. Not a slow leak, not any warning, just flat.

Did I mention that I was supposed to be picking up said friend and riding her to the park where her mom would meet us later? Yeah.

We made other arrangements, and everyone got to the park. The bike is safely stashed in my parents’ garage, and the offending wheel is waiting in the trunk of my car. I’ll take it in for repair tomorrow. But boy, what a nuisance. And once again, the city has put me out of a bike for a few days.

The city? you ask. How? I’ll tell you:

Bike infrastructure in Toronto is no great shakes. Some streets have bike lanes, which frequently get blocked by delivery trucks and even police cars. Most streets have nothing. Bikes over a certain size (so functionally, all adult bikes) are considered vehicles and thus it is illegal to ride them on the sidewalk. That leaves cyclists to bike on the shoulder of the road where all the debris collects: shards of glass, stray nails from construction sites, bits of metal from auto collisions past. Oh, and don’t get me started on the potholes, which don’t seem to deserve repair if they’re less than a metre and a half from the curb. All of these things are a recipe for flat tires.

I try to ride on side streets as much as possible, not because I feel unsafe on major arterial roads (I don’t) but because I can more easily swerve to avoid potholes and debris. That just doesn’t fly on Bathurst Street, especially not in the narrow, dark, poorly repaired section that passes under the 401. And there is no way to cross the 401 (i.e. to get from south to north) except by traversing the tunnel.

So I must conclude that it’s the city’s fault that I keep getting flats. Of course the situation could be improved if our city recognized the need to keep the shoulder of the road in better repair, or if street sweepers were sent out more often and did a more thorough job at the edges of the road. Or, you know, the city could actually construct and maintain proper bike lanes so that cyclists could have a little freedom to move over when confronting a pile of broken glass. But only the folks whom Don Cherry called “bike-riding pinkos” could get behind a plan like that, right?

Bottom line: it looks like no biking for me for the next day or two at least. I’ll be in my car getting fat and lazy, courtesy of the city’s lack of infrastructure.

June 17, 2011

On the road again…

by Decemberbaby

We’re about to start getting the kids into the car. I had to swap our Yaris hatchback for my mom’s SUV, and let me tell you, that SUV is full. It looks like we’re leaving for a week. To be fair, the trunk is half full with our bedding and the backseat is full of musical instruments that we don’t have to bring, but I just don’t get that may opportunities to haul out my djembe, so in it went. Still, there are diapers and an infant pool float and a small wagon (in lieu of a stroller) and God knows what else.

I don’t believe in portable DVD players for cars. We’re going to talk and perhaps listen to music. And then we’ll be in the warm, buggy, woodsy countryside and I’ll be able to release the kids into the wild. I can’t wait!

June 16, 2011

Weekend plans

by Decemberbaby

We’re going out of town tomorrow for a synagogue retreat. The programs sound really good, and there are kids’ programs as well. I’m looking forward to it.

Not fun, however, is the amount of packing and preparation we seem to be requiring. Clothes and toiletries are done. But then there are diapers, musical instruments, towels… and do we need to bring bedding? The brochure doesn’t say. It does suggest bringing toys for the kids… but I’m loathe to pack anything else. I think I’ll take a book for K and a teething toy for N, and then they can play with sticks and pine cones outside if they feel the need.

Just waiting for the cloth diaper laundry to be done, and then it’s off to bed for me.

Oh, shoot, I have a dentist appointment tomorrow morning. Just remembered. Fun.

June 15, 2011

Work-in-Progress Wednesday – June 16 edition

by Decemberbaby

Is it still Wednesday? Phew!

It’s not that I’ve been working under the gun here. It’s more that it was such a beautiful day today, and the flat tire on our bike is finally properly fixed, and I just didn’t have the heart to sit inside on the computer. But here I am, after dark (and after kicking Mr. December’s butt at Agricola), and I finally have some time to sit and tell you what I did this week.

I still have faith that we can turn WIP Wednesday into a multi-participant weekly feature, by the way. Don’t let me down! For starters, post in the comments that you’re going to participate. Then post about it on your blog, with a link back to this post.

Anyhow, here’s mine…

Completed: Calendar corner

Remember the before? No? Here it is again…

As they say on Sesame Street, some of these things just don’t belong here. Things like, oh, the IKEA lantern that needs a new battery, a cellphone that we don’t even have a plan for, a comb, hair accessories, a threaded needle, pieces that got ripped out of a lift-the-flaps book… and those are only the things I can see in this picture. Also, who needs 30 writing implements at the ready? Things had to change, and they did. Here’s the “after”:

See what I did there? Instead of a jumble of clear containers that showed all the mess, I corralled the incoming mail in my back-painted glass vase so that you can’t see the whole jumble of envelopes and papers inside the vase. I also culled the pen collection to the essentials and put those in a small clear vase so that I’m inspired to keep it looking neat. The knitted basket holds notepaper as well as my camera (along with its battery charger and USB memory card reader) and my cellphone. The coloured pens are still stuck to the wall next to the calendar for easy access, the calendar is the same, and I have pretty clips attached to the wall for things like invitations, important paperwork, and cheques to be cashed. Oh, and I wound up the cord for the phone charger and stuffed it inside its own base.

Anyhow, this is the sight that greets me when I walk into my kitchen in the morning. Sigh – I’m loving it, and it’s already inspired me to declutter a few other crazy kitchen counter corners.


Completed (well, sort of): Personal info binders

So, I’ve changed the plan a bit and done one binder for all three kids (K, N, and “little… expecting”) instead of one binder each. They just don’t have that much paperwork yet, and one binder is obviously easier to store. I bought the binders, put in the index tabs and labeled them, and added plastic pockets for card-sized things (like, you know, SIN cards and birth certificates…). But I haven’t actually filled the binder yet, nor have I made one for myself and Mr. December. Nevertheless, here’s the kids’ binder in all its brand-new never-been-used glory:


In Progress: Outdoor chalkboard

We’re going off to a synagogue retreat this weekend, so I’m reluctant to commit to anything big. I’ve got a little project in mind, though.

We have a chalkboard that I saved from the curb on garbage day. It’s obviously from a bar, since at the top it says “Amster’dam good draught”. I plan to paint over the slogan and its accompanying logo, paint the boring black frame, and mount it on one of the fences in our yard. I might even make a little mini-mailbox type container next to it to hold the chalk. Or, you know, I could buy a cheap mailbox and spray-paint it.


That’s it for me, and it’s still Wednesday for another hour and ten minutes. What are you up to this week?

June 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday – June 13 edition

by Decemberbaby

It’s Monday again? Already?

Last week went really smoothly, what with having a plan and all that. It’s a trend I’d like to see continue. Anyhow, here’s our week in dinners:

Monday – Pasta salad with pesto, chicken, olives, and tomatoes (either sundried or cherry, still haven’t decided)

Tuesday – Lentil soup, falafel, hummus, pita, Israeli salad

Wednesday – Pot roast, vegetarian kishke (baked in muffin cups for the kids and for future bentos), roast potatoes

Thursday – breakfast for dinner: pancakes with fresh fruit

Friday – away at synagogue retreat – yay! someone else is cooking!

Saturday – still on retreat 🙂

Sunday – BBQ, either at home or chez in-laws

Monday – Quick n easy vegetarian chili

I guess that’s it. Gotta run – it’s threatening rain and the diapers are still hanging on the line!

(oh, and if you still need menu inspiration, head on over to organizing junkie to see all the other Menu Plan Monday contributions.)