Monthly Archives: September 2009

4 Ingredients — episode 2

It’s okay, you’re forgiven for thinking that I’d given up (again!) on the idea of teaching myself how to not suck at cooking.

My first post on this topic sparked comments from readers that reassured me that I am not the only female lacking in such talent. Instead of mocking me, these lovely folks were sympathetic and encouraging.

This propped me back up because despite it being an age of so-called gender equality, people do tend to go on and on about just how lucky I am that my husband cooks for the family. I wonder if my husband’s male friends go on and on about how lucky he is to have a woman that does the dishes every night? 

While my husband has been working his way through the complicated recipes in the latest Food & Drink magazine (and people wonder why I can’t keep weight off), I have worked my way through the 4 Ingredients cookbook.

Okay, so not really. But I did do one more recipe. Sure, it was another chicken recipe, but it was a recipe. And no, it didn’t work out like it was supposed to, but it was edible.

Here’s the recipe I picked:

Chicken with Lemon & Honey
1.  1 chicken, cut into pieces
2.  2 lemons, quartered
3.  2 tbs. honey
4.  2 springs of rosemary

And here’s how it went:

First of all, I didn’t have a whole chicken. This is just too much for a squeamish, former vegetarian. Instead, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts that magically grow in plastic packages at the supermarket. (I was nervous about this switch but checked with hubby and he assured me the recipe would still work.)

Then the next hiccup was a lack of rosemary springs. So I just pretended that they were not a part of the recipe and went about my business.

The result was a fresh tasting chicken that the whole family deemed enjoyable. My husband did remark on the lack of rosemary, saying he’d been thinking about the delicious combination of it with lemon. I explained I didn’t that we didn’t have any. He explained we had some growing on our deck. Who knew.

The ratings: Hubby gave it an 9/10, Stella gave it an 8/10, and I gave it an 8/10. It’s easy and the mild taste goes down well with the younger set.

The cookbook I’m using for these posts was written by two Australian women. It’s readily available in Australian and in the U.K. since it’s been a huge hit. And here’s why: (1) All recipes have 4 or fewer ingredients, (2) All can be measured in terms of cup, tablespoon and teaspoon, (3) The methodology is explained on average using 4 sentences, and (4) All recipes use ingredients mostly found in your pantry or fridge already. If you’re one of my Canadian or American readers, fear not, you too can get a copy! Here is a link it on and here is one for



Filed under Books, Family, Fitness & Food, Learning, Living, Media, Shopping, Tales

Overheard at the bus stop

Father:  “That used to be Mommy’s church.”

Son: “You mean she owned it?!”

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According to plan

I had a great day planned out for yesterday.

It’s been 7 months since I’ve returned to Canada from Australia and in all that time, I still haven’t had a playdate with just me, my 14-month-old son, my sister-in-law and her 17-month-old son. While we were in separate countries, we both gave birth to boys — cousins! — just a few months apart.

This kind of playdate is exactly what I pined for during moments of homesickness in Australia. Somehow though life just ran along at break-neck speed, and we had yet to get together. Until yesterday.

On Thursday morning, we would meet after the boys’ morning naps and let them visit with the baby animals at Valley View Farm.  

So, here is how I envisioned this day to go …

8:50 am:  Wave Stella off on the school bus.
9:00 am:  Put Max down for a morning nap.
9:10 am:  Enjoy peaceful, long hot shower.
9:30 am:  Blowdry, dress, make-up.
10:00 am: Check e-mail.
10:15 am: Replenish diaper bag, pack lunch.
10:30 am: Wake Max from nap.
10:45 am: Drive to Valley View Farm.
11:00 am:  Meet SIL and nephew for playdate! 
11:15 am:  Enjoy the farm and its animals.
11:45 am:  Picnic lunch.
12:15 pm: Chase the kids about the play yard.
12:30 pm: Take great scrapbook photos of the cousins.
12:45 pm: Say good-byes.

And this is how the day actually went …

8:50 am:  No one is at the bus stop. Apparently, the bus came early.
8:55 am:  Pack both kids into car and drive Stella to school.
9:00 am:  Unpack both kids from car and walk Stella to the school yard.
9:05 am:  Re-pack Max into his car seat.
9:10 am:  Arrive home and put Max down for nap.
9:15 am:  Max doesn’t want to settle. Make and give him a warm bottle.
9:30 am: Max settles into a nap.
9:35 am: Answer phone that has been ringing off the hook.
9:40 am: Check emails and feel panicked by rush request from client.
9:45 am:  Max is woken up from his nap by construction noise outside.
9:50 am: Find some toys and bring to bathroom to occupy Max so I can have a shower. Shower while trying to convince Max not to climb on toilet.
10:00 am: Get out of shower and dig through laundry basket for clean clothes.
10:10 am: Take another phone call. While on phone, ensure diaper bag has diapers and wipes. 
10:30: Realize Max has wet through two layers of fresh clothes. Change onesie and pants.
10:40 am: Put shoes on and leave the house with wet hair, no makeup.
10:45 am: Realize I forgot to bring drinks and lunch. Decide not to turn car around and instead hope there is food available to buy at Valley View.
10:50 am: Get distracted and take a wrong turn.
11:05 am: Arrive late to meet SIL and nephew. Greeted with happy smiles.
11:10 am: Enjoy seeing Max’s expression at first sight of animals.
11:15 am: Kick myself when I realize I didn’t bring my camera.
11:30 am: Feed Max scraps from nephew’s lunch. Feel like bad mother.
11:45 am: Let kids run around in the sand and play yard. 
12:00 pm: Realize it’s super sunny and I have not put sunscreen on Max. Plus, no water. Feel like bad mother again.
12:15 pm: Enjoy nice chat with SIL in between chasing after the boys.
12:30 pm: Max is visibly exhausted due to no morning nap.
12:45 pm: Say our goodbyes. Promise to do this again soon.

All in all, the morning had such great moments. But according to plan? Ya, not quite.


Filed under Family, Living, Ottawa Fun, Tales

Glee-ful reminder!

gleeDon’t forget — there’s something good on the tube tonight! Check out Glee. It premieres tonight on Fox at 9/8c.

Edited at 10:05 pm to add: Did you like the premiere as much as the pilot? When I watched the pilot, it seemed so fresh, so hilarious. But the premiere, not so much.


Filed under Media, Television

SIGG: not so super, afterall?

Sending back my Siggs

Sending back my Siggs

We’ve been using Sigg bottles for ages. And that really says something, since we don’t spend our money lightly on fads. We’re talking $30 for a water bottle to put in a child’s lunch box. When there’s a plastic alternative that’s less than $5, we’ve clearly drawn a line in the sand.

Why? It’s enviro-friendly not to be constantly purchasing plastic water bottles all the time. Sigg bottles are also extremely tough and survive even the worst treatment — from my husband’s camping trips to the disaster that is the back of my car. And last but not least, we didn’t want any chemicals to be leaching into the water we drink.

Naturally, then, I was surprised to find that the inner liner of my Sigg bottles contained BPA. Thinking back now, I can’t actually recall ever reading that Sigg didn’t contain BPA, but I had somehow linked the Sigg brand with safety.

Sigg is now fighting the PR battle of its life. And it all started with a proud announcement that it had developed a new liner — the EcoCare liner — which is apparently 100% BPA-free. This caused many existing customers who’d been using the older models to step back in alarm: “Huh? That means my old liner was not 100% BPA-free?” (Here is the letter from Sigg’s CEO explaining the whole mess.)

Yep, that’s right. Sigg may not be so super, afterall. I’ve recommended these bottles to countless friends. And frankly, the levels of BPA potentially present from the old liners is hardly anything to worry about. (Here is an independent study on BPA levels, published by Z Recommends.) But still … I feel like I was duped and I feel silly for pushing these pricey bottles on my friends.

Sigg is now voluntarily replacing (note: this is not a recall) customers’ old bottles for ones with the new liners. If you’d like to send yours back, go online to and click on the menu item “Exchange Program.” Be sure to download the shipping label for Canadian customers.

Naturally, there are many who will refuse to use Sigg products again. They’ve simply lost trust in this brand. If you fall in this boat, here is a comprehensive review of alternative BPA-free bottles for you to choose from.


Filed under Family, Fitness & Food, Gadgets & Goods, Headlines, Learning, Living, Media, Shopping

Food for Thought

the-peachMy husband never fails to be disappointed with the produce from our local grocery store. Well, to be fair, it’s not just our local store — it’s any grocery store.

After dinner, he’ll look longingly at some peaches he picked up that day at the store. He’ll pick one up, roll it around in his hand, maybe even give it a sniff. Then he’ll sink his teeth into it.

“Ugh,” he’ll pronounce, then put it down and push it aside in disgust. “It looked so good,” he’ll say, “but it’s just pulpy inside. No flavour, terrible texture.” The thing with him is that he’s a perpetual optimist and he’ll be just as hopeful for a juicy peach next time he buys one from the store. And so it goes.

I have always attributed this disappointment of his to the difference between eating a fruit right off of a tree to eating one that’s had to travel goodness knows how many kilometres in a truck. You see, he grew up on a fruit farm in Australia.

The September/October issue of Mother Jones magazine gave me some further food for thought on this issue. Science and environmental journalist Heather Smith explains that today’s hybrid crops “are often bred for size and color, not nutrients.” Her article “Looks Great, Less Filling,” then goes on to compare the nutrient value of fruits and vegetables from the 1950s to today’s counterparts. It’s pretty alarming, really. Or at least interesting.

For instance, according to Mother Jones and USDA data, today’s broccoli offers 52% less vitamin A, 60% less calcium, and 27% less iron. And a honey dew mellow provides 68% less calcium and an astounding 84% less iron. 84% less. Wow, that’s some serious change.

With this kind of radical change in nutrients, can one deduce that there would also be a change in taste? Perhaps that’s why today’s peach doesn’t taste as peachy as it did when my husband was a boy.


Filed under Family, Fitness & Food, Living, Magazines, Media, Shopping, Tales

Don’t stop believin’!

I’d given up television.

On the one hand, we have the serial dramas. But I just don’t think it’s good for a person’s psyche to become immune to watching murders in slow-motion, detailed autopsies and horrific abuse of children night after night after night after night after night. Okay, you get my drift.

On the other hand, we have reality-television serials. I’ve noticed a slew of new ones added to the stock standards of “American Idol,” “Survivor” and Big Brother” (I digress: I was horrified to learn recently that my best friend and her husband watch every episode of Big Brother 11. Every. Episode).  These latest reality entries include “16 and Pregnant,” “Supersize and Superskinny,” and “I didn’t know I was pregnant.” I’ll freely admit that I’ve tuned into these new ones purely because of the titles. I mean, who could resist? It’s like the National Enquirer shouting “Baby born with 3 heads!” at you while you’re bored senseless in the grocery aisle — you just gotta take a look. But after a moment or two, I just start to feel all wrong about it. Why these people allow television cameras in on their lives’ most intimate moments is beyond me.

But there’s always HBO, right? Oh, except when one’s satellite provider’s only package with HBO is the most ridiculous, 1,000-channel option that is three times the price of my basic pack.

So, I’d given up.

But on Wednesday night, I encountered “Glee.” If you saw this show, you know how absolutely darn gleeful I am right now! And if you haven’t, this posting is a public service announcement for you: don’t miss the next episode! Glee will continue to air on Wednesday nights on Fox.

It combines high school angst, tunes a la Air Supply genre and some fabulous twisted humour. It’s from the genius that is Ryan Murphy, creator of “Nip/Tuck” (also twisted, but in a much different way).  And it goes like this:

An optimistic school teacher decides to resurrect the Glee club (i.e. a singing club). His principal agrees on the proviso that he, the teacher, pay the school the $60 fee that the school could otherwise garner for renting the rehearsal space out to the public. Mr. Optimistic agrees, despite worries about how he will pry the $60 from his meagre budget, already stretched to the limit supporting his wife’s Pottery Barn ‘Christmas closet’. The kids in the Glee club are a stereotypical mish-mash of high school misfits. They’re the underdogs. And who doesn’t like to root for the underdog?

The theme song of Glee is an 80s’ classic: Journey’s “Don’t stop believin’.” I just can’t get it out of my head now. So go to YouTube and get a listen. It’ll get your day going on a great note. 

(P.S. I know, I should have embedded the You Tube video for you, but I can’t work out how to do it in less than 2 minutes. I’ve got deadlines — you know, those things that pay my bills — to hit, so this is a short coffee break. Have a great gleefully delicious Friday my friends!)

Sept 5th am: Now cross-posted on Blissful Buzz.


Filed under Media, Television