Welcome to the Workshop

Welcome to the Workshop

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When In Toronto...

So. This is today. 

A wet day with a child at home. She isn't really that sick, just needed a slower day than usual to catch up. We braved the weather to get some milk, jumped in some puddles and then decided that pancakes were the best way to warm up. We ARE living in Canada, after all. AND we have a vat of maple syrup in the cupboard just begging to be emptied.

So, here's my recipe (a deviation from pikelets, it's nice to change things up)....
1 1/2 cups of plain flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, melted

So, combine the dry ingredients, sift them if you feel inspired. Make a well in the centre and then add the dry ingredients. Whisk it up. It will look something like this. Thick and gloopy.

Heat up a heavy-based frypan and melt some butter in it. Once it's hot, drop 1/4 cup serves of the pancake mix into the pan. When bubbles form on the top it's time to flip them over, (you can drop in some fruit before flipping them if you like, but Poppet likes them simple). Keep an eye on the temperature of your pan and add a little more butter from time to time as you cook them all. And then you can just eat the fluffy goodness. Warning, this recipe will use up most of your 'vat' of maple syrup.

Poppet then proceeded to tell me she had a tummy ache and it was my fault because I gave her too many pancakes. Yup.  Can't win.

She's passed out in front of "Monsters Vs Aliens" now and I'm going to crack open a book. 
Or finish hemming those jeans I bought in October. Or clean up the kitchen. Or the bathroom.
Maybe I'll just have another pancake.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum...

...wie treu sind deine Blatter!  (sorry, no umlaut!)

One of the few things I remember from 6 years of German study at high-school are the lyrics from "O Chrismas Tree". Useful if/when I finally visit Deutschland, as long as it's at Xmas time!
But I can't even look at a fir-tree without hearing that song in German. In English, I think the lyrics go something like this...
"O Xmas Tree, O Xmas Tree, O Xmas Tree, O Xmas Tree, O Xmas Tree, O Xmas Tree..." 
I should probably work on that.
I've spent the week deciding on some new Christmas Carol downloads. To this date, I've only had the funkier Xmas muzak on my Ipod, but I've realized that Poppet doesn't know the lyrics to anything except Jingle Bells. It's time to do something about that. As much as I love the really full-on choral stuff, I didn't think it would grab her. So we've compromised with Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby, Judy Garland to come later (thanks for the tip, Ange!)  Though I'm still searching for some classy music with a kids' choir, if anyone has a tip.
So with 'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" and "Good King whatshisname" playing, we got our tree set up this weekend. It's tricky, as I've always wanted a 'real' tree and haven't been able to have one as our cats have always climbed our Xmas tree and chewed it to bits. Bless. NOT!
This year we had the chance to go out to a Xmas tree farm and cut one down ourselves and drag it back home. Sounds like a dream come true. But when I thought about the logistics of that - the size of our car versus the size of the tree, the patience of all concerned, watering the tree every day and dealing with the needles it will inevitably drop as it dies slowly in the corner... well, it just seemed to make more sense to go with a fake. Sorry environment...
I did splurge on the fake, but couldn't do a 7-foot tree as we wouldn't have been able to fit the star on the top! Poppet helped me choose the tree (meaning, she came along and was completely bored by the whole thing) and we brought it home for Daddy to put up. It's a good imitation fir with a slight icicle thing going on at the tips. And, it's pre-lit. Too easy.
We actually put up the tree together for the first time in years. Daddy hasn't always been into the whole tree thing, but this year he seemed to enjoy it and even managed some Bing Crosby crooning! I guess even the greatest Scrooge will melt at the sound of your child saying "I love you Daddy", "this is the best day ever" etc....
So, here are some pics from our day. Please forgive the slight blur to them, I forgot to charge the battery on the camera. Again. Just imagine you're looking at them after/through a couple of glasses of Eggnog. (On that note, I am seeking a great recipe for Eggnog if anyone wants to share!)

It looks rather nice at night, casting pretty shadows on the walls. We've started some other Xmas crafts, and will do the gingerbread house soon. Probably, we'll do something to the exterior of the house, as the landlords don't seem to mind. They live downstairs and put up with our decorating whims very nicely.
The day was rounded off with a viewing of "Arthur Christmas". Great film, pity about the 3D. 
And so, it IS beginning to look a lot like Xmas. We should even get some snow flurries soon! 
Can. Not. Wait.
Have you done your tree yet? Are you driving your family nuts with Xmas music yet? 
I'm doing my best, that's what I'm here for.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

About A Giraffe.

We have a giraffe in our family. I don't think I've introduced him. He's particularly well traveled and an absolutely crucial part of our lives. There have been a few incarnations over the years, a few name changes and I wouldn't live without him. Not for one single day.
This is Cumbly. 

If you are familiar with my kid, you may know him better as Bishy. The names are fairly hard to explain, as they always are when children come up with them. In fact, my grandfather was called 'Gump' because my sister couldn't pronounce the word 'Grandpa'. I think 'Bishy' is derived from the word 'Horsey'. But don't quote me on that. My own red giraffe from childhood was called 'Camel'...

So. When I was pregnant I bought some soft toys from a baby store. As you do. The little blue giraffe had a rattle in him and I thought that would appeal, so he was the first toy in the cot when Poppet arrived. I don't think she's spent a night without him since. I say 'him', when in fact there were many giraffes to begin with. When I realized the giraffe was a winner, I swiftly went out and purchased a few more. For washing. As I'm sure you know, these baby toys get more than their fair share of wear and tear, and vomit and dirt...
To my delight and relief, this particular toy could handle the washing machine and the dryer without losing his rattle. Possibly he has lost a little hair over the last seven years, but that hasn't been a major problem.

We moved to Brazil when Poppet was about 18 months old. Boy was I glad to have spare giraffes. They were constantly being dropped on the street, run over by the stroller and covered in god knows what kind of germs. I am not a complete freak about germs, but still...Brazilian germs were a little more intimidating. (Note that Poppet was the only member of our family not to contract a stomach virus of any description whilst living there. I don't want to say it out loud that she's really never had one, because it's Murphy's Law that she'll wake up with one in the morning...but I've said it now. She's got a cast iron stomach, apparently.)

So, we washed him and loved him and he has been an immense source of comfort and relief to our little darling throughout many, many, many hours of transit between Australia and Brazil, and beyond. Possibly the longest 'haul' we did was around 40 hours. They really know how to delay a flight in South America!

Around this time, Poppet started sucking her thumb. She learnt to self-settle by holding onto Bishy's horns or ears and sucking her thumb. No problemo. I don't care if she sucks her thumb when she's twenty if it helps her go to sleep! These days she can settle fairly well without the thumb, but NOT without the giraffe. But last night was different. Last night, she dreamed of children having their heads and hands and feet cut off. Anyone want to explain a six year old having dreams like that?! Yowsers! The giraffe and the thumb meant a fairly quick return to slumber. For all of us.

Bishy has become pretty well known to our friends and family. One of the 'spare' giraffes now resides in Brazil with our nanny's son. I believe he still sleeps with it. Another one is living in Hong Kong with some cousins. They get around...
And when did 'Bishy' become 'Cumbly'?

Upon our return to Oz, Poppet figured it all out. She was onto us. She'd found the Bishy stash. 
And she didn't seem to mind. She just had more blue love in her arms! But there was one giraffe she didn't seem to like so much. He was, apparently, a bit 'Cumbly'. This was a derogatory term at the time. But something changed. By the time Poppet was in kindergarten, this 'Cumbly' had wormed his way into her favour. He became top giraffe. And he retains that title to this day. 

I think we have still got four blue giraffes rolling around upstairs even now. But only one of them can give her the calm and resolve to carry on throughout the relocations she's endured. Cumbly. I salute you. You are certainly looking pretty 'cumbly' these days but you are the first belonging I would save from a fire.
Thanks little blue guy....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Movie Night

We've started a new tradition in our house. Put simply, it's movie night. We have always been real sticklers for bedtime, and Poppet has been in need of that. She's a very early riser no matter what time she hits the hay, and there's usually plenty of tv for her during the day as well.
But now that she's almost seven (?!) she is old enough to enjoy films which we like as well. Sorry, but movie night with Barbie isn't really our cup of tea. Poppet has also been experiencing some pretty decent separation anxiety lately, so we felt a bit of quality time was in order.
We chose a classic for our first movie night.

picture found here

It's such a great film, still very funny to us old fogies but cute enough to entertain Poppet as well. In the past she hasn't been able to handle things as 'scary' as the shrieking eels, but she's starting to get over that. It helps when we explain that they're just puppets like in Labryinth, one of her favourite films.
So, whilst I prepared the hotdogs (vego for me!), Poppet and her doll got ready. 

They donned their pyjamas, brushed their hair and brought some pillows to the sofa. Here is a picture of them all ready for the big event. 

The doll is called Tilly. She is an American Girl doll, and if you're not familiar with them you can follow the link. Tilly is a fairly constant companion for our only child and Poppet is becoming very excited about visiting the enormous American Girl store in New York when we visit next year. 

A cuddle on the sofa, a little bit of dark chocolate, lots of giggles and it was bedtime. It is such a simple idea, but I found that my kid was genuinely excited by the prospect of a movie night together. She had our undivided attention (no computers,  mobile phones or crochet allowed) and felt like she was staying up 'late' like a big girl. We are trying to decide what the next film will be. Possibly, she isn't ready for The Goonies, Dark Crystal or The Neverending Story. We'll have to come up with something in between. Suggestions welcome!

For now, I'll leave you with our favourite quote from the movie...

"Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die".


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For The Love Of Books.

Suffice it to say we are a book family. We started reading books to Poppet when she was six weeks old. Every time she had a nap, she had a book first. By the time she was a year old she knew which way to hold a book and how to turn the pages. She pretended to read them and is now reading chapter books, age almost 7. 
Her babysitter thinks she's hilarious as she gives all the characters in a story a different voice. It is still one of her favourite things to visit the bookstore.
On the weekend we visited this one. 

A promotion out front for the launch of Christopher Paolini's new book. If you're into that sort of thing, which I am...

The giftshop.

More giftshop.

This Christmas stocking got us all excited about ice skating!

 It is, frankly, huge! The square footage it takes up would rival Ikea and a third of it is dedicated to kids. 

 Sigh. Oh, and there's a Starbucks inside the bookshop, so you're never far away from a triple-shot latte...
This bookstore is one of the things I really missed when we left Canada last time. It's great to be able to visit it again whenever we feel like a 'treat'. More expensive than ice cream perhaps, but so much better for you...

There are some great local bookstores around these parts too. I'm very happy to say we are spoilt for choice!
No doubt we'll find a reason to go back there again soon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Slightly Less Crazy Antics.

Now that the Fall fun and frivolities are done with, it's a little quieter round here. But that suits us fine, we are in need of some downtime. On a slower weekend we've still been to playgrounds, and video stores and out for brunch and ice cream (and I've been to Walmart again, lucky me).
Poppet had a super-nice sick bug on Friday and stayed home from school. After some Ibuprofen, she dressed herself up as a 'pony' and did a crazy dance for me before passing out on the sofa when her fever returned. I spent the night in her bed (it was hot in there!) and then she was just...better. Her throat is still a little red, but she is currently driving her father crazy, wrestling on the sofa. It's almost bedtime. For sure.
I managed to finish my first Canadian-made poppet, after promising my kid a piggy one in March. Quite the wait, but she seems to have decided it was worth it. And now that I'm happy with the stuffing I've found (from Walmart no less - eco friendly, biodegradable and hypo-allergenic), it's full steam ahead. Poppets are being assembled at varying rates, depending upon my enthusiasm levels (and whether a school mum has offered a coffee date) and slowly but surely Pikelet Workshop is rearing it's funny little head.
So, these pics are from Friday 'sick' day. An up and down and cuddly day...

On Saturday, we decided on a trip to the lakeshore for some climbing. Well, Poppet climbed, and we froze our ears off. It was a lovely sunny day but probably about 5 degrees down there...

And today's highlight was ice cream. We wandered down the main street to The Film Buff. The local video store, which serves great ice cream and coffee as well as some film noir. Perfect combination. Poppet chose the blue ice cream, named 'Ice Cream Cake'. Apparently that's exactly what it tasted like. I had the chocolate and peanut combination and Daddy had espresso. Check out the prices! We had three ice creams for 5 bucks. I'm sorry, but I don't know of a place in our hometown that serves great gourmet ice cream so generously or cheaply as that. No videos borrowed today, we'll save that for a snowy day. Or two.


And on the way home I admired the view of my peeps. I love them. They are lots of fun. Even with a MAJOR meltdown from Poppet during the day (she is very tired!) it was another lovely day in Toronto today. It's also nice for Poppet to have some Daddy time, as he's off to scenic Ghana soon for work. Blegh!

And now I need to spend some time with that guy too. I may even let him leave the American football on tv...


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