Monday, February 28, 2011

Sourdough Started

I have recently become obsessed with making bread. There is just something about bread making, rising, baking and smelling up the whole house that just feels like real life. It feels motherly! And I like that feeling a lot these days! As it stands, I have not ventured too far away from traditional yeast, but recently came across a website on making your own sourdough starter. I remember a few years back, Ashley, one of the guys I work with, was telling me all about capturing wild yeast floating around in the air and using it to make sourdough bread- I of course thought he was a liar (he has been know to toss around a fib or two... always using his charm on us gullible girls!) but then was introduced to the website complete with a video and step-by-step instructions on making your own sourdough starter! Obviously I had to give it a try, so tonight we started the first step in the several day process.

here are the basic directions:

* Step 1. Mix 3 ½ tbs. whole wheat flour with ¼ cup pineapple juice. Cover and set aside for 48 hours at room temperature. Stir vigorously 2-3x per day.

* Step 2. Add to the above 2 tbs. whole wheat flour and 2 tbs. pineapple juice. Cover and set aside for a day or two. Stir vigorously 2-3x per day. You should see some activity of fermentation within these 48 hours. If you don’t, you may want to toss this and start over

* Step 3. Add to the above 5 ¼ tbs. whole wheat flour and 3 tbs. purified water. Cover and set aside for 24 hours.

* Step 4. Add ½ cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 to 1/3 cup purified water. You should have a very healthy sourdough starter by now.

Breadtopia states "Baking bread from scratch is satisfying in its own right, but when you’ve also had a hand in the creation of one of the most fundamental components, the leavening agent itself, you’ll feel an even greater satisfaction and connectedness to the process." Well- You cant really argue with that! I will keep you posted on our progress and, hopefully, our first loaf of sourdough!

*Obviously not my bread, but SO pretty!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sweet Friends

I am feeling a little blue tonight as I went to a going away party for my dear friend Ami and her wonderful husband Patrick. They are moving to New Zealand for the next year, and away from Calgary indefinitely. A few months back, another great friend of mine, Paula, moved to Salt Spring Island- a slightly easier pill to swallow being that BC is MUCH closer and thus, easier to reconnect or visit when time permits. Also, a substantially less expensive phone call.

Ami, Paula and I worked together at Green Calgary. Ami and I shared an office for most of our careers there, and as a result, so many stories, ideas, giggles and gossip- too many fun times to recall. Paula and I worked really well together. We spent hours using each other as a soundboard for endless ideas and constant shoulders to lean on for moral support- Truly a great match. When I went on Maternity leave, the hardest part for me was not being able to see the amazing friends I had at work every day, and an underlying fear of losing my close connections with them- Ami and Paula were my main 'rocks' and the two that I always looked forward to seeing most, so having them both leave is, well... hard. The thought of heading back to work after a year off and knowing they wont be there is making an already difficult transition a little more difficult (and the evening a bit of a teary one.) I don't mean to sound selfish- They both have amazing things happening right now- great adventures on the go and new dreams to explore, and I couldn't be more excited and hopeful for them. Just a little sad for me. I hope they both know how grateful I am to have them in my life- That they are such an extraordinary part of so many memories that I will forever cherish, and I hope there are many many more to come. I love you both dearly and wish nothing but happiness for both of you- even if that means leaving me here by myself. ;) I can't wait for our paths to cross again soon and to see what our futures have in store. You will forever be in my heart as sweet friends! XO

* below is a sweet photo of us three that my dear PB sent in reply to this post. love it and cant wait for new summer adventures!

Friday, February 25, 2011

This Moment

A sweet little blog called SouleMama has a once a week feature of a photograph, a moment, that was special. I've been inspired to do the same.

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{this moment} - A friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I have an obsession with jars- Actually, I'm not sure if I love jars or just HATE packaging. No- It's definitely jars! I love organizing, storing, canning, collecting... pretty much anything jar related is my cup of tea. I look at them every time we go to a store that might have them and absolutely LOVE searching my favourite website, etsy, for vintage beautiful looking ones of all sizes. (check how amazing these ones are!) I especially love mason jars- so much so that one day when I get married, i want only mason jars with candles in them filling every table! Cheap, easy and so beautiful! Anyways, it is fair to say I have a few jars kicking around our house, the largest collection of which belongs to my baking/ cooking essentials, so when I stumbled across a website that would print custom labels for these jars, I HAD to oblige! They arrived in the mail today, so I got to work- reorganizing the pantry and making sure all the important things had a clean jar and now, a new label! I think they turned out pretty cute!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Little Dumpling with your Noodles?

What a Differnace 318 Days Makes

Finn at 1 day old, and 318 days old (10 months 12 days)
Don't ask how I got him to fit into the same onsie. It was VERY short lived! :)

Finn's Birth Story

I know this is kind of late, but I started this after Finn was born, and just got around to finishing it now, so I figured why not share it! (or an edited version of it. :) )

Dear Finn Nathan Kyle,

When I found out I was pregnant with you, I immediately knew I wanted to have a natural, unmedicated birth with midwives here in Calgary. The Previous year, the province of Alberta started covering midwifery care under the provincial health care plan (previous to this, the cost was upwards of $3000 to have a birth under the care of midwives) and because of this, the few number of midwives in the city were very quickly booked up. The day we found out we were pregnant, the first think I did was contact all the midwives in Calgary and request to continue my pregnancy under their care. At the time, there were four midwifery practices in the city, and all were completely booked solid. They did however put me on their wait lists in case anything came up. I also went as far as to contact midwives in Cochrane and Canmore- also being added to their wait lists. Every week I would call or email to see if any spaces had opened up and to make sure I remained fresh in their minds should anything become available. Around the six month mark, I got a phone call from the Briar Hill Midwives saying they had an opening for us on one of their teams! This changed everything! We were ecstatic and beyond joyful to meet our wonderful midwives: Shannon, Luba, Aisia and Savanna! We had talked about home birth, but being that we live in a rather small condo, I was nervous about that idea. We eventually settled on the plan of using the Arbour birth centre- a homelike setting set up with large birthing tubs, and a lot of the amenities of a hospital.

During our first visit to the midwives, Shannon took my blood pressure and noted it was a little higher than what was considered normal. We chopped it up to nerves! I had been looking forward to this day for months and was so anxious to begin care with them. The following few visits, my blood pressure continued to read on the higher end of things, and they began to become concerned. They had me monitoring my blood pressure through out the day, and I had to let them know of any higher readings. We also put a major focus on relaxing, not feeling stressed out and taking time off of work when we needed a break. We went for a lot of prenatal massages, and met a wonderful acupuncturist named Dr. Katie who gave us many treatments to try and lower my blood pressure and calm me down. Finally, towards the begining of March, Luba took my blood pressure and it was VERY high! She immediately sent me to the hospital to meet Savanna and run some tests. We ended up being there ALL day. They monitored your heartbeat, took my blood pressure every 15 minutes, and did some blood work. Everything was normal and you were still happy and healthy! They consulted with a doctor at the hospital, and she advised that I start taking some medication to lower my blood pressure. I was really uneasy and upset about the idea of taking drugs with you in my belly, but the other option was to induce me and deliver you right there and then, and I thought you would be better off staying in there to grow a little longer. I was told I would not be able to work anymore and was ordered to stay on bed rest for the next month until you were born.

Bed rest was REALLY boring! I wanted to get out and do things, clean the house, set up your room and shop for the final things you would need, but I also knew I needed to relax and keep my blood pressure down to make sure we were both safe and healthy. I cheated a little bit and would walk over to the mall once and a while. I figured some fresh air and a little exercise would be good for us both. I remember once about a week before you were born, I walked over to the mall to get a few things I needed for your upcoming birth, and I got to the furthest end of the mall and was suddenly exhausted! My feet were so swollen and I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk all the way back across the mall and then home again! I stopped at the book store and had a lemonade and rested for a little bit and it was just what I needed to give me a burst of energy to make it back home. Needless to say, after that I made our walks a little bit shorter.

Every week I had to go to the hospital and have tests run to make sure things were still normal and you were ok. Each week they gave me an ultrasound to ensure you were still growing and that my high blood pressure wasn’t affecting you at all. Again, I was really uneasy about so many ultrasounds and so much monitoring, but I felt like it was a safer alternative than being induced and delivering you before you were ready. Around the first week in April, they started talking about planning my induction. The only way to cure my high blood pressure was to deliver you, and so even though things were still looking fine, they were worried that something could happen quite suddenly, and they didn’t think it was worth the risk. They decided that when I got to 39 weeks, they would induce me- about one week before your due date. Because of the induction, and the risk of my high blood pressure, we were told we would have to deliver at the hospital, and we were not able to move forward with our birth as planned at the birth centre. I was really sad about this, but was reassured that regardless of the location, we could still have a wonderful natural birth like we wanted.

The days before they were going to induce me, I tried everything I could to try and start labour naturally. We went for acupuncture with Dr. Katie several times. She also showed us some pressure points to use that were known to stimulate the uterus and start contractions. We went and had some special adjustments with our chiropractor, Dr. Jeff (he would later give you your first chiropractic adjustment when you were just 1.5 weeks old!) and we had a wonderful massage with our friend David. The night before the induction, I felt some cramping and a few mild contractions. You were definitely moving, but labour did not start.

Bright and early on the morning of Thursday April 8th, we packed up and drove to the Foothills hospital to once again meet Savanna. We were excited, nervous, and a little scared of what was to come. The hospital was VERY busy that morning. We waited a while before we got a bed in triage, and they weren’t sure if they would actually start the induction as there were no available rooms for us. Savanna checked my cervix and I was 2cm dilated, but not effaced. Finally, at around 11:00am they decided to get things under way and I was given a dose of Cervadil, an internal drug to help ripen my cervix and start the induction process. We spent the rest of the day waiting for something to happen- eating yucky hospital food, going for walks in circles around the hospital hallways and talking about how excited we were getting to finally meet you. At around 4:30pm, we were walking the hallways and I started to have some contractions. They weren’t very strong or long, but it was a start and I was excited! We walked A LOT to try and keep the contractions going. That afternoon a big snow storm started- we had had beautiful weather up until that point, but I remember having one contraction and looking out the window to see this gray snowy blizzard. I was happy to be warm inside and spending my last few hours with you in my tummy. At 11:00pm, the nurse told us that your Dad would have to leave for the night. That we both needed our rest and it was better for him to go home and sleep well and for me to try and rest- they said they would call him if I went in to labour. I was really sad about this, but knew it was best for us to both get some rest. Your dad said it was strange being in the house alone. Chapeau (our dog) was staying at your Auntie Stephanie’s house, so your dad had the whole bed to himself. It seemed as though as soon as your Dad left, the contractions got much harder and were consistently coming every 30 seconds. I wasn’t feeling very well and the lady beside me was eating fried chicken. The smell was disgusting! I spent most of the night in the bathroom as to try not to wake the lady beside me, and to get up off my back. I was thankful that the bathroom had a cold air vent at the perfect height to blow cool air into my face as I rocked back and forth to try and ease the pain. Around 3am, I was getting cold sweats and was feeling really sick. The midwives had left so I was under the care of the hospital nurses. I called the nurse to make sure everything was normal. She said everything I was experiencing was a result of the Cervidil, and offered me Tylenol and Gravol to take the edge off and hopefully let me get some rest for when real labour started. I agreed and was grateful to be able to get a few hours of sleep.

In the morning, your Dad came back up to the hospital around 7:30am and my contractions had completely stopped. I ate breakfast and waited for Savanna to come back and check on us. She stopped by around 9 am, checked to see how we were doing, and said I had only dilated to 3 cm. I was a little sad as I had had a rather rough night of contractions, and thought I might be further along, but was still excited that soon we would get to meet you. She gave me a second dose of Cervidil and again left us, saying to page when the contractions got really long and close together. Grandma Lenover came up to visit around lunch time. She brought sandwiches and cookies and when she arrived, papa decided to jet out to the bookstore to grab a book as he figured we would have another day of sitting around the hospital waiting for things to get going. I was about to take a bite of my sandwich, when I suddenly got the strongest contraction yet. It took my breath away! After that, they started coming fast and furious. They were so strong and very painful! By 2:00pm, the contractions were 15 seconds apart, lasting over a minute and were VERY intense. Your Dad showed up right as they were starting to really get painful and I told him to call the midwives right away. A nurse came by to check on us and shortly after, Savanna arrived. She checked us out and we were quickly transferred to a labour and delivery room. I remember she asked if I thought I could walk, and I knew i couldn't. I dont remember much about the wheelchair ride from our room to labour and delivery, but I can still feel every bump we hit and trying to sit still while the contractions kept flooding over me. It was the longest wheelchair ride of my life!

Once in the delivery room, Savanna got me in the shower. The hot water felt nice as it pounded against my back. We brought in a birthing ball and I sat on the ball and let the water run over me. I remember bouncing just a little bit on the ball and feeling my water break. Shortly after I wanted to get out of the shower. We moved to the bed and I tried to breath and focus through some of the intense contractions. I could feel your head very heavy and low in my pelvis- right against my pubic bone, and moving from position to position or walking around was very painful. I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom, but remember saying I was worried I would start pushing- I was feeling the urge. Savanna drew me a bath and helped me to get in it. Once in the tub, I relaxed and closed my eyes. It was a lot easier to relax in and breath through the contractions in the hot water. Savanna said if I felt the urge to push, I should go with it. She offered to check my dilation if I wanted just to be sure I was fully dilated, and I was happy to let her. She held back a lip of my cervix for the first push and we were ready to go. I had dilated from 3cm to pushing in 2 hours. It was good being in the tub- the room was dark and quiet and when I think back to that part of the labour, it was definitely the least painful and most relaxing. At some point, Aisia, our second midwife arrived and I moved from the tub back to the bed. We tried a ton of different positions all of which felt uncomfortable. Moving from position to position was difficult, as you had now dropped down even lower. Finally after 2 hours of pushing you were out!! 8:25pm on April 9th, 2010!

Apparently papa said to me “it’s a boy” but I have no recollection of that. I also had no idea that the midwives gave me an injection in my leg of oxytocin to ensure that excessive bleeding didn’t happen. I agreed to this before hand, but didn’t even see or feel it happening- I must have still been in a daze. I remember I looked up and said quietly to myself “it’s a boy!”. As soon as they laid you on my chest, all the pain just dissolved. I couldn’t even recall any of the struggle I had just gone through- it was the neatest feeling. Grandma Lenover was off to the side, and I remember calling to her to come see. I held you against my chest and just stared at you for what felt like hours. You had SO much white hair and your little eyes were so blue. Your skin was perfect. You were perfect! I snuggled you and tried to get you to breastfeed. You quickly got the hang of it and started sucking away. It was such an amazing moment. The room quickly quieted down and we cuddled as a family for a while. The midwives filled out paper work and we just sat in awe and utter delight. Eventually, Savanna took you and Papa aside to do a few little tests- she had Papa change your diaper and dress you. Aisia helped me to the bathroom, gave me lots of juice and helped me get dressed. We didn’t know what we were going to name you, so we just called you ‘Panda’ for the first little while.

The midwives asked if we wanted to go home, or stay the night in the hospital. I was so eager to go home, and couldn’t fathom spending another night in the hospital alone while Papa tried to sleep at home without us, so we quickly jumped at the opportunity to go home. Three hours after your entry into the world, and we were in the car listening to Bob Dylan on the way to Grandma and Grandpa Lenovers house! We spent the first few days with them so that we could all get some rest and Grandma could help with little things we weren’t sure about yet. It was so nice to have your family around you.

It was nice that a lot of things from our birth wish list came to fruition. I was SO very happy we were able to avoid oxytocin and other drugs and have a birth without pain medication. It wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for, and looking back, there were a lot of things I wasn’t truly happy about, but I honestly think that considering the alternatives and where things could have ended up going, that it went pretty well- And we had you! A perfect, healthy, happy little man! What more could we ask for!?
We love you, sweet little Finn! We are so grateful you came into our lives! XO

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sick Boys

Someone in our house has been sick pretty much non stop since Christmas- It just keeps bumping around between the three of us. Today was particularly challenging, as Jeff has been fighting a nasty cold for the last few days, and last night (or rather at 2AM this morning) Finn woke up with a bad fever and a new tooth. He was having a hard time getting back to sleep, so we made a blanket fort on the couch for Jeff so he could get SOME sleep in hopes of healing, and Finn and I spent the rest of the early morning snuggling, snacking and trying to coax each other back to snoozing. Both boys spent the day in their jammies feeling crumby, but looking cute as ever. My poor little guys. Feel better soon, my hearts. Fingers crossed this doesn't hit me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Soul Warming and Baked with Love

Jeff's wonderful cousins had a baby on Thursday afternoon, a perfect little prince named Scott! They already have a 3 year old son named Jackson who is one of the sweetest monkeys ever, so we were really excited to hear of the safe arrival of baby #2! I know I was particularly grateful for all gifts of food when Finn was first born, so I was so excited to be able to make them a little 'Welcome to the world, Scott' love meal to take over to their house in hopes of easing some of the stress and exhaustion those first few weeks can bring. I decided to tackle two of my favorite soups- Potato Cheese Chowder, and African Yam & Peanut (an adaptation on a soup my dear friend Stephanie made us for dinner recently.) I also have become obsessed with making bread since the start of the new year, so I was thrilled to be able to bake up a few loaves of my current favourite, french bread (especially because we were able to keep a loaf for us to nibble on!) I also made some mini chocolate chip cookies from a cookie recipe book sweetly inscribed by Jeff's Mom on his 20th birthday. Coincidentally, tomorrow is Jeff's 26th birthday, so the timing was perfect in bringing back some special memories for him.

Congratulations Sean, Shannon and Jackson on the arrival of baby Scott! We are so very excited for you all!! XOXO

Potato Cheese Chowder
2- 3 large potatoes, cut into small cubes (I like to leave the skins on)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Water as needed
3 cups of milk
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp flour
1 brick of sharp or old cheddar, grated (about 2 or 3 cups depending on how cheesy you like it)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy soup pot, add potatoes, onions and enough water to just cover them. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Bring water to boil, cover and simmer until potatoes are soft and well cooked
Do not drain any of the liquid, and mash the mixture with a potato masher
Stir in milk and bring back to simmer
In a small bowl, combine melted butter and flour and add to pot
Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly
Remove from heat and stir in cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.

We have added chopped carrots, a can of corn and other random veggies to this soup to mix it up a but and it has always been awesome. I have also thought it would be really yummy topped with fresh thick cut bacon, but being that we have a (mostly) vegetarian kitchen, I have never got around to trying it. Reminds me of potato skins.

African Yam and Peanut Soup

2 large yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 small jalapeno, chopped finely with seeds removed
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp each of ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar
8 cups of vegetable broth (two 1L tetra packs work great!)
3/4 cups of natural peanut butter (unsweetened works the best)
1 large can of coconut milk
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a soup pot, melt coconut oil. Add onions, garlic and jalapeno and saute until onions are translucent.
Add in spices (coriander, cumin, cinnamon, pepper flakes) and brown sugar, and stir to coat the onion mixture and release all the yummy aromatics!
Add cubed yams and veggie broth to the pot. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until yams are fully cooked.
Add coconut milk and peanut butter- stir and continue to heat until peanut butter is well melted and all is nicely mixed.
Remover from heat and blend all with an emersion blender (you can use a food processor or blender for this step, but immersion blenders are much easier!)
Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Both these soups will keep in the fridge for upwards of a week and freeze really well for much longer!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentines Day! XO

Finn wanted to make up a few Valentines this year for some of the special friends in his life. We had a fun time trying to get him to NOT chew on and destroy the paper hearts in these pictures. It made for an entertaining afternoon!

We were listening to CBC the other morning, and they were talking about what Valentines day means in other countries and what traditions they have. It was neat to hear stories of it being a day to express love and gratitude for everyone in your life, not just that 'special someone' - that in some places, it's a lot more like thanksgiving, though everyone gives thanks for the wonderful relationships and love they have in their lives. As much as Valentines day has become so grossly over commercialized in North America, I think the general idea of it being a day to tell the people you love in your life that you love them, is a really nice thing, and though I want to show Finn that you express that love throughout the year and whenever possible, not just on the 14th of February, it's is also nice to have that one special day to be able to really lay it on thick. I'm excited to create our own little St. Valentines day traditions!

*A special 'thank you' to Finn's BFF, Theo, for the super cute valentine he gave Finn! We are so grateful to have you guys in our lives and so excited to see many many more years of Valentines swapped between these two monkeys!

So Serious

Friday, February 4, 2011

3-D Skateboard Movies with Papa

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

We had such a wonderful day today- the weather has been unusually nice (though i hear that's coming to an end tonight) so we decided to dig out the stroller (we have exclusively been using our ergo carrier lately) and go for an epic walk. We journeyed from our house, down through Stanley park and up 4th street to 17th ave SW. We popped into Reid's Stationary and got some supplies so Finn can mail out Valentines to his special Grandma's and most favouite cousin, had a coffee and scone at Cafe Beano, swung on some swings at the park behind Papa's work, and then stopped by the pet store to get Peau some much needed treats. We were gone for quite a few hours and opted to hop on the bus for a few stops to make the walk home a little quicker- by the time we left downtown, it was starting to get pretty windy and chilly and Finn was definitely ready for dinner, a bath and an early bedtime. It was such a great day though. Awesome to be outside, amazing to see all the changes in our neighbourhood, great to run into some good friends around town but mostly so nice to spend the day as a family. I wouldn't trade days like these for anything.