Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Flag Day

One thing leads to another...a mission for a strawberry rhubarb pie from the farmer's market lead to a chance encounter with the local MP, who was handing out miniature Canada flags. I should have asked for two, but I was lugging a pair of cantaloupes and a dozen ears of corn on one arm while holding the pie aloft. It was hot. I wanted to go home. Henry claimed the flag for his room and Stella sulked, briefly, before deciding to outdo him and create a personal United Nations of paper flags. Using kebab skewers, scrap paper, tape and crayons, she made flags of countries we've visited and flags of the grandparents' places of birth. Pretty clever I thought.

It kept her busy for a good hour while I put the kebab sticks to another use: threading veggie and chicken skewers for the barbeque. I was completely taken with August's Martha. It's hit and miss for me with that magazine, but I thought this issue was great. I made the chimichurri recipe - which called for just 5 or 6 ingredients, all of which I had on hand, miraculously. Chimichurri is as good a reason as any to give the herb pot a much-needed trim, and it elevated simple kebabs into something finger-licking good and guest-worthy.

This could very well be some sort of copyright infringement, but the recipe is too good not to share and I cannot find it on the MS website. So with accreditation but no link here is the chimichurri recipe from the August 2010 issue of Martha Stewart:

Whisk together chopped:
1/2 cup parsley (Martha calls for flat leaf, but I used curly)
1/2 cup fresh oregano
2 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp coarse salt

Drizzle over kebabs. Bon appetit.

Monday, July 12, 2010

All Aflutter: Butterfly Crafts!

It's butterfly season 'round here. Fluttery, plentiful and definitely not shy black and orange butterflies have been gracing our garden for the last week, delighting us by landing - ever so briefly - on a shoulder or tabletop or a book. I've never understood why I have a mortal fear of moths but butterflies make me smile.

We are a crafty family. Not everything turns out photo perfect. Not every project is worth sharing. I've learned that it's the process of creating and crafting, together and independently, that counts far more than the actual thing that's created. I don't mind white glue on the dining table or watercolours on clothes and hands. I don't worry too much if I don't have it all down pat. We make do and substitute. I do keep a basket of crafty basics at the ready so we are prepared to make stuff when the mood hits. To non-crafters it all seems a bit much, I suspect, but if you're wondering what's in our craft cupboard these are my must-haves:

white glue
tape (regular translucent, masking, packing)
paint brushes (cheap, abundant, all sizes, bristle and foam)
google eyes
pipe cleaners
paper (construction, scrapbook/patterned, plain white copy paper)
wood clothes pins
watercolour palette

On that note, a round-up of butterfly-themed crafts for you to enjoy.

The classic paper coffee filter, three ways:

1. This coffee filter butterfly project uses mere three supplies (watercolours, a pipecleaner and coffee filter) and can be done by preschoolers on up:

2. Same basic idea, but using painted clothespins and crowd-pleasing googly eyes:

3. No paint? No problem. Markers work just fine too: 


Everyone loves handprint crafts:


Wonderful felt butterfly mobile would be a good craft for two or three to work on together. You'll find a great tutorial (and printable butterfly template) here. The project will work with heavy paper if felt isn't on hand:

A simple hand-sewing project with lots of possibilities. The tutorial specifies a safety pin or brooch pin, but I immediately thought magnet, hair clip or head band. If sewing the buttons is too advanced for younger crafters, glue would be OK too. Cute tied to a gift.

Wondertime (how I miss you!) has a nice little activity/craft that lets kids drink like a butterfly. Henry tickled my funny bone when he came home from preschool one day telling me all about the butterfly's proboscis and how they use it to sip from flowers. Printable butterfly colouring pages are simple and fun.

For parties, Martha has this  butterfly-themed loot bag tutorial. If you can't find the little butterflies, a commenter wisely suggested printing and cutting out butterfly images as an alternative.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Keeping Company

Is it really only Wednesday? The first full week of summer holidays and we have been busy making hay while the sun shines and the humidex is 42 degrees. 42! Oh Toronto, you can be so hard to love. With the asphalt in the driveway softening beneath our feet I was sure tennis camp would be canceled, but the Russian matron who runs the program informed me (I swear with a hint of mockery) that tennis players - even seven-year old ones - are a tough breed. Camp is on. Which is good for us because I've discovered that the key to keeping my lot happy is to always be busy and, ideally, to have other kids around. In addition to morning tennis camp we've mixed it up with neighbourhood kids, school chums and family friends, chez nous, because we have a pool. A huge turquoise 1970s rectangle that has absolutely no redeeming aesthetic quality. Nothing. Zip. Zero. It's hopelessly out of scale with the yard. It's perilously close to the house one one side and you have to do an awkward sidestep lest you take an unintended dip while carrying a tray of barbeque fixings. Ahem.  I admit that I have a love-hate relationship with my big blue rectangle - except when it is 42 degrees outside - and then it's the best pool. Ever. And thus with a trail of wet footprints on the floor, a succession of wet bottoms on dining room chairs and endless rounds of Freezie tube snipping, I have been running a small, noisy and highly unprofitable day camp for the past week. But everyone tumbles into bed with warm skin and wild hair smelling of chlorine and sunshine and I wouldn't have life any other way.

Teri, of KuKuNest and Giddy Giddy, has written a lovely family mission statement centred on seeing the world together. It's wonderful food for thought, even if travelling to the far reaches of the world isn't on your agenda. I especially liked this thought:

"Throughout the year we remind ourselves and our girls that we are saving up for our next family adventure. Things like newer cars, home remodels, newer appliances, shiny toys, etc all take a back seat to the more enduring family memories that we forge yearly."  

In that spirit, I declare a truce on homely swimming pools, vinyl kitchen floors and worn-out dining room chairs. Happy summer.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Food: Making Lemonade

When you've got an unruly and persistent patch of mint in the garden and it is also melt-the-asphalt hot outside, there is really only thing to do: make a pitcher of Arnold Palmers. Preferably with homemade lemonade. Here is my recipe, which deviates slightly from the Boca Raton classic:

juice of three lemons
1/2 cup sugar (or to taste) dissolved in warm water
litre bottle of carbonated water
whizz in a blender until frothy

Mix in a pitcher to a ratio of 1:1 with not overly sweet iced tea. Add a big bunch of mint leaves, stems and all. Serve in a tall glass with great chunks of ice. I heartily recommend it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Baby Hears Mom's Voice for the First Time

It's Friday. The sky is blue, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. We are three days into summer vacation and life is grand. My friend sent me this video link today (it's making the rounds - with good reason) and if you could use a little dash of extra-happiness as you sail into the weekend, you should watch this video of eight-month old Johnathan as his cochlear implant is activated and he hears his mother's voice for the first time. Dad is filming this sweet, magical moment.

Happy weekend.

Home: Typography As Art

I'm smitten with the idea of a large words-only art piece. I adore Linzie Hunter's style. This is part of a series of typographic works based on the subject lines of spam emails. Inspiration is all around:


Another by Linzie Hunter:

Making my own oversized graphic print hadn't occured to me, but then I saw this homemade piece with the awesome quote by Isak Dinesen:

And followed a link to this post where I realized I too can do this:

Off now to peruse my junk mail folder...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Canada


It doesn't take much to make a party, according to my kids. Any gathering of folks outside our little foursome constitutes a party to them. On long weekends in the summer families on our street gather together to watch fireworks in someone's driveway. Someone brings wine, someone else brings snacks, we brought glow bracelets and necklaces and this patriotic dessert. Which tastes better than it looks. And looks better from a distance. I must have been drinking when I placed the side berries all wonky like that.

I made a couple of minor adjustments to the Kraft Kitchens recipe, which called for Cool Whip and pound cake. I used real whipping cream and a store-bought angel food cake. I'm not a Jell-O fan and, without knowing why, I feel slightly guilty about allowing my kids to eat it. I used it in today for the sake of the recipe and due to my not having a yummier alternative at the ready.

I downloaded and printed out the Maple Leaf template from here. You'll want to hit "print preview" first and change the default setting "shrink to fit" or it will print too small for the cake. 100% worked fine for me.