So blogging has been sporadic and today I realized I hadn't posted anything since the beginning of January. I wish I could say it was because I was doing so much "finishing" but we've had illness, a broken toe, stitches, provincial exams, sports, girlfriends, a visit from my dad and work and life.
March 1 was a bittersweet sports day for us. Colin was playing in the Burrard Cup and Adam was playing in the banner game. Both were up against teams they knew were going to be hard to beat and both boys' teams lost. What made it a tough day for me is that it was the last day of me being a soccer mom and a hockey mom. Colin has decided not to continue with soccer and commit his time to school volleyball, fencing at his club and judo, which is his new love. For Adam, this was his last year of Midget hockey. Twelve years he's played for Richmond Minor! I know he will continue to play in some sort of way because of his love for the game but it won't be the same for me.
So luckily the stars aligned and we were able to watch both games. Colin played his heart out, as he always does, but this time with a broken toe and six stitches in his fingers. There was no way he was going to miss his last game and he went out strong. Proud of him, his perseverance and determination.
Adam's team played really well and at some points, we thought a win might be in reach but it wasn't. Regardless, we talked to Adam before the game and told him to just enjoy it, take it all in. Adam plays with such joy. He has said he loves the first glide on the pure ice and I thought about that today as he skated on to the ice for the game. He skated by and smiled a few times during the game, which is pretty typical for Adam. I watched every face off - thinking each one might be Adam's last...this was the one that was.
And his last skate off the ice...
At the end of the day, I was a little nostalgic. I am going to miss being a soccer mom and a hockey mom. I just love watching them play and am thankful for all the years I was able to do that!
It has been such a beautiful early spring. The cherry blossoms have been in bloom since the middle of February. Blue skies, sunshine.
The boys have had some good news. Colin rocked his Math 10 Provincial and Adam has received acceptance to UBC. Proud of our boys!
Lots of things to celebrate this month, including a little 49th birthday for me!
So there's a little update on our lives, as we transition into spring break and some "finishing"!
Last year my one little word that I focused on was strength. I drew upon more inner strength than I knew I had and will continue to focus on other aspects of this word this year. My shoulder is still not fully recovered and I am not sure that it will ever be but I need to get stronger physically and feel like myself again.
We've abandoned new year's resolutions for years now over here and talk alot about goals during different times of the year. Short term goals work best for all of us it seems. For several years though, I have thought about goals that I will want to focus on over the year, knowing that some may not be a focus until the summer and others are very short term and others more gradual. A word usually emerges from these goals. My history with one little word can be found HERE.
This year, a word did not come to me. I brainstormed some and looked through my file of quotes for inspiration. I thought of my mom and tried to channel some of her optimism and positivity.
And then I asked the boys and Neil and they "jinxed" each other as they said unanimously - FINISH.
A very clear message - they need me to wrap some things up.
As I let the word FINISH rattle around and percolate within, I made other connections. I have not always been a great finisher - I am a starter, a dreamer of dreams, a planner, a thinker of ideas and then somewhere along the way I lose interest and abandon ship. I am also much more of a story or journey girl - I relish the journey and the story that come from the process more than the final product or achievement.
Saying that, there are short term finish lines that I have crossed that provided me with fulfillment - things like trying or learning something new, completing the Sun Run, visiting new places, reading a book, seeing a movie, creating something in the kitchen or making a quilt. All of these things have a definite "finish" but in some way, stay with you. Maybe that is the change in perspective that I need - that the finish is not a definitive, it is just another step so that you can continue on your journey. That the finish line is just the start line of a new race.
Kind of rambling here as I sort out my thinking on this but I am beginning the year with a glass half-full attitude - optimism and positivity abound.
Some things that will come to an end, have closure or "finish" in 2015 -
1) a few projects, some big, some small
2) Adam's grade 12 year and his graduation from high school
3) documentation of a year of milestones and changes during 2015 through Project 52
and for some levity, I completed my first lemon meringue pie on Sunday - a very short term goal!
So here's to crossing a few finish lines this year!
Eighteen years ago we welcomed Adam to the world. His arrival caught us by surprise and we re-tell the story every year so he knows it well. This year, being his eighteenth birthday and all, seemed significant. I pulled out his baby books and albums and we looked through them together this morning. He was only 4 pounds when he was born and it always takes me back to the difficult emotions of the first few weeks of his life when I look at his baby pictures. But looking at the young man he is today, with a very bright future ahead of him, I am happy and proud and content.
This year I created a bit of a birthday boy shrine with photos forming a timeline from the day Adam was born til now. For those of you that know how many shelves of photo albums and scrapbooks, not to mention the digital files I have...it was an exercise in conciseness just choosing a few photos.
almost two weeks old
Adam's first birthday
January 1 2015
Dinner out at the Boathouse
Here's a two-minute overview of Adam's life from the day he was born til today!
My mom made birds nest cookies every year at Christmas and they were treasured because they were a small batch cookie and once they were gone, they were gone. Over the years, the nuts my mom used for the nests changed. Traditionally, she always used chopped walnuts as those were readily available in grocery stores. Once my parents started spending their winters in Arizona, with pecan trees all around them, mom switched over to pecans, as she often made her Christmas cookies in Arizona and then brought them home in tins for the holidays.
This family recipe comes from my mom's mom and is one that my sisters and I are all making this year.
Birds' Nest Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, separated
1 cup AP flour
pinch of salt
chopped nuts or coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar. Add beaten egg yolk. Mix in flour and salt. Roll into small balls (about half a tablespoon) and dip in beaten egg white and then in chopped nuts.
Place on baking sheets and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and press "thumb" (or end of wooden spoon) in the centre of each cookie and bake for 10 more minutes.
Fill with jelly, jam or marmalade and cool.
This year I used Richmond raspberry jelly and my blackberry jelly, made in September, inspired by my mom.
And that's it for this year's holiday treat week...I am ready with recipes for the next round of baking and treat-making closer to Christmas.
Merry Christmas and wishing you happy holidays with family and friends.
I have made this Cranberry Eggnog loaf before and it was a hit. Nice and moist and festive looking. We had a little holiday celebration at work last Friday and I made a loaf to take with me.
The original recipe is found on Canadian blogger Angie's site, Echoes of Laughter here.
Cranberry Eggnog Loaf
1 cup sugar
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup cranberries (frozen or fresh)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray the bottom of a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, eggnog and melted butter until well mixed. Add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg and then fold gently into wet mixture until just mixed. Stir in the cranberries. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes (depending on your oven and loaf pan). Check the centre of your loaf for doneness with a cake testing stick (wood or metal skewer). If batter is still wet and sticking to the stick, bake for a few more minutes and check again.
Cool loaf in pan for about 20-30 minutes and then turn out onto cooling rack to completely cool. This year, I added and eggnog glaze to finish off the top of the loaf. I sifted about a cup of icing sugar into a bowl and added small amounts (teaspoons) of eggnog until I got a thick spreadable consistency.
I always like having a roll or two of frozen cookie dough ready to bake when a batch of fresh holiday cookies are needed. This year, it will be these toffee bits shortbread cookies.
Original recipe is an Anna Olson one found here on the Hershey's Canada site.
Toffee Bits Shortbread
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup Chipits Skor Toffee Bits
Beat the butter for a minute and then add the icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about one minute. Add vanilla. Beat in flour, cornstarch and salt until mixture comes together in a ball. Stir in the toffee bits.
Shape the dough into two 25cm logs, about 4cm across. Wrap logs tightly in plastic wrap and chill for about 2 hours, or freeze.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap and slice dough into 0.5cm thick cookies and lay out on baking sheets with space around each cookie. Bake for about 15-16 minutes, just until the outer edges begin to show a bit of colour. Cool cookies on baking sheet.
These were sweet and buttery and are a new family favourite.
Last summer I worked on mastering homemade caramels but for the holiday season, I was looking for the same luscious taste but quicker and less chemistry-involved! I've been following Rebecca Cooper's blog for years and had pinned her recipe for microwave caramels and have been meaning to try it for awhile. Although not a fan of micowave cooking, I will make an exception for caramels. Rebecca's blog post about the caramels is here.
Another great gifty treat.
Easy Peasy Caramels
2 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar (I used Best Brown)
1 cup butter (I used unsalted)
1 cup light corn syrup (I used Crown Lily White_
414 ml sweetened condensed milk (I used Eagle Brand - converted from 14 US ounces)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Butter a 9x13 pan.
Melt butter in microwave. Add rest of ingredients except for vanilla.
Mix thoroughly and microwave for 4-5 minutes. Remove and stir thoroughly with a whisk. Microwave for 4-5 minutes. Remove and stir thoroughly with a whisk - this time my mixture was starting to boil. Microwave for 4-5 minutes. Remove, add vanilla and stir thoroughly with a whisk.
Pour into buttered pan and set aside to cool for 1-2 hours.
Cut wax paper into 4x6 inch rectangles and cut caramel into log-like pieces. Wrap in wax paper, twisting ends.
I microwaved the mixture for the full five minutes each time. I guess you might have to adjust this depending on the strength of your microwave. I could tell that my mixture was going to set up the last time I pulled it out but you could check using the drop of mixture in a glass of ice water method to see if it firms up.
Apparently wax paper is not sold in Safeway here anymore. The woman I talked to thought that it wasn't even made in Canada any more! She found an already opened box of wax paper tucked away in storage for me. It really is the best way to wrap the caramels - parchment paper is too stiff and plastic wrap is too sticky.
I sprinkled Pink Himalayan Salt on half of the caramel and I really like the texture and saltiness that it adds.
Welcome to another year of my Holiday Treat Week. Posts and recipes from previous years can be found by clicking on the "holiday treat week" link in the word cloud in the right side bar of the blog.
First up is cinnamon sugared almonds. I've actually never made seasoned nuts before but am often given them as gifts during the holidays and they always get eaten up around here! This recipe was found here.
When I read the recipe, I didn't really believe the syrup would dry and crystallize the way it suggested it did, so I was happily surprised when it all worked out.
Cinnamon Sugared Almonds
1 cup white sugar
1/2 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup water
3 cups raw almonds
Add sugar, cinnamon and water to a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat and stir until sugar dissolves and syrup starts to bubble.
Add nuts and stir to coat with syrup.
Keep stirring for about 6-8 minutes and sugar syrup will dry and crystallize on the almonds.