Friday, January 27, 2017

Chinese New Year!

Hi everyone! Gung Hei Fat Choy! (Cantonese) Gong Xi Fa Cai! (Mandarin) Saturday, January 28 2017 marks the new lunar year, the Year of the Rooster.

How do we prepare for the new year? The house needs to be clean, out with the old and in with the new. I do my best, but it's tough with the rugrats, what was clean last week (heck, yesterday) is not necessarily clean any more. No cleaning on New Year's Day, we take in the new luck and rest that day.

I have some new year decorations already, but decided to buy a few more. Before we could only get them in Chinatown, but they're so much more accessible. Nevermind at T&T grocery store, mine are from Wal-Mart or Superstore! Red is lucky and auspicious.

We get the lucky money ready, lai si in Cantonese. Married people give the money in pretty envelopes (traditionally red and gold, there are also cool ones that include licensed characters like Hello Kitty, Mickey Mouse, and Anna and Elsa) to the young folk, be they my children or my younger brother and his wife.

We don't have a lot of children's books about Chinese culture, but we do have the one below by Karen Katz, author of the cute lift the flap baby books that my daughters loved. Unfortunately this one isn't a lift the flap, but it's pretty cute and pretty informative.

My daughter C participated in the lion dance at the school's Chinese New Year assembly. So cute watching the little second graders! Happy Chinese New Year!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

7th Birthday Party

Hi everyone! It's already Wednesday! It was another busy weekend. Swimming in the morning, came home to shower and have lunch, and then off to Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre to check out some Chinese New Festivities. For dinner, we went to my daughter's favourite restaurant, Shanghai 456 so C could happily eat dumplings at her family birthday party, which was just us and her two sets of grandparents.

On Sunday, we had C's friend birthday party at 4 Cats studio. It was so much fun! I've dropped off C there for a birthday party in the past, but have never hosted one there. It was really cool in there, I enjoyed looking at all the artwork, and the paint and colors were so pretty and cheery that I had to take a picture. I should have taken a picture of the splatter room, that's where they tape canvas to the wall and you just throw balloons filled with paint on it to make abstract paintings. S said that's what he wants to do for his next birthday.

We had 10 little girls in total, and they made dragons. After the sculpting, S and I got the girls snacks and cupcakes. Michelle the instructor was good with the kids. A was the youngest one there and did really well, even the instructor commented that A would be fine by herself for a drop off party or class. And I even got the chance to make one!

I made cupcakes for C's party, but I've never been good at icing, I don't have the patience nor finesse. Since the girls are little, I figured I could distract them from the imperfections with sprinkles and unicorns, haha. It seemed to work. I took the easy way and made the cupcakes from a cake mix, and even got fancy and got the kind with confetti sprinkles within, The kids were pretty impressed. Mmm, I love cream cheese icing.

C's real birthday is Friday, so I'll probably go pick up some cupcakes from the local bakery for her. 

Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

More Sweets

Hi everyone! I've never intended this to be a cooking/baking blog, though I enjoy these past times when I'm in the right mood. But I'm a simple cook and baker, the easier and quicker the recipe, the better.

I've decided to talk about these Butterscotch Confetti squares. My sister in law had made some the last couple of Christmases, and I've become addicted. Even though I'm supposed to make an attempt to eat healthier in 2017, I couldn't help but make another batch. I was craving them! After they were ready, I cut them into small squares so at least I wasn't eating a big square. I also froze half and gave a quarter of the tray to a friend. (I've since taken out another quarter. In my defense, the husband and C have also been eating them too.)

My sil had given me the recipe, but then I found one that I had on hand too, and it used less ingredients, so I kind of combined the two. My recipe was from a grocery store flyer (maybe Sobey's?) from over ten years ago, because it also has what has become my go to banana bread recipe, I may share in a future post.

I'm not usually one for marshmallows, but mixed in with the peanut butter sauce, it is so.good.

Butterscotch Confetti Squares
*adapted from an old grocery flyer recipe

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 package butterscotch chips
1 250 g package mini marshmallows

1. Line 9x9 pan with wax paper.
2. Combine butter and peanut butter in saucepan over low heat. Add vanilla.
3. Stir in butterscotch chips and marshmallows. 
4. Stir well and pack into pan. 
5. Refrigerate for an hour and cut into squares.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Ginger Snaps

Hi everyone! Hope everyone had a good weekend. It finally warmed up and the weather was beautiful. Our weekend was pretty busy, lessons are back in full swing for winter term, so we had swimming and skating. C had taken swimming lessons a few years back, had a love/hate with it which eventually went to be a hate with it, so we stopped the swimming lessons. I'm happy to say that after her first one this Saturday, she was very enthusiastic and has already told me numerous times that she can't wait for her lesson next week. A did well in swimming too, though I think she needs to work on dunking her head in the water, I think she was just lightly doing it, since her bangs didn't seem very wet by the end of the lesson.

Lunar New Year is also in full swing, with festivities starting in the city this past weekend. Last minute we decided to head to West Edmonton Mall to check out the market (fa si, originally for flower market). It was busy, and the usual type of market with vendors selling stuff, and Chinese performances such as martial arts and dancing. We ran into a few friends there, and then headed to T&T after (Asian supermarket) where it was crazy busy. While waiting for S to pay for some groceries, I took the girls out into the hall where there was a lion dance going on. Great way to start the upcoming New Year! More festivities in the coming weeks to attend.

This would be the perfect segue into a Chinese recipe, but alas, I don't have one to share, so I'm going to talk about ginger snaps, which I've mentioned before in past posts. 

These ginger snaps are my go to cookie. I've been making them for years now, and I got the recipe from a coworker who had made them for work. Recipe is from a Company's Coming cook book. Delicious! 

Company's Coming Ginger Snaps
3/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Cream butter & sugar together, add the egg and molasses.
Mix dry ingredients together and add to the wet. Roll into 1 inch balls and then roll in sugar.
Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lost Friends

We haven't lost too many stuffed animals. C has lost 3 friends and surprisingly, I don't think A has lost anyone, though she has lost a good number of hats.

Let me preface this by saying that almost all the stuffed animals in our house have a name, and his/her own little personality.

The first one we lost was Magnus the Moose. My brother was working in Sweden while I was pregnant with C, and brought home a moose for her. He was about six inches tall, and wore a little knit sweater with the flag of Sweden on it. I think I was still on mat leave when we lost him, and I had taken C out. Guess where we lost him? We were at Ikea. We had just gotten in the the store and up the escalator when I noticed C didn't have him any more. I even back tracked, but he was gone. I guess Magnus thought he was back home in Sweden, and took off when he saw all the Swedish names in the store. I'm sad we lost him, but it makes for a funny story. I wonder if someone found him and thought he was one of the toys in the stuffie area, and if anyone went so far as to try and buy him, since, you know, he looks like he could be an item that could be sold at good old Ikea. (Side story: C used to be really excited whenever we drove by Ikea, and would scream out "Blue yellow, blue yellow!" when she was around 2 years old. I think the idea of the building excited her more than the actual inside did.)

Purdy the Hedgehog was the next one. He was actually my doll, given to me by one of my friends back in high school for either Christmas or a birthday. Purdy could fit in the palm of my hand, and was named Purdy in honor of the chocolate hedgehog. C had taken Purdy out to an extended family dinner, I think it was my great uncle's since we went to a Chinese restaurant in the north side. I think he just got left on the table and because he was so small, no one noticed him when we left. C must have been around 2 years old, I don't think we had A yet. Or maybe we did, honestly, I can't remember, but it was a good few years ago.

Silver the Cat was one of those TY stuffies, and I think her TY name on the tag was actually Silver. I believe one of S's friends bought her for C, I think as a welcome baby present. Silver was the flavour of the month and even made it into C's two year old professional pictures. I think we lost her soon after the photo shoot, while we were out and about. I thinkshe got dropped on the way to the car, I want to say at Superstore, but am not sure.

*Tiny the Triceratops. Okay, I know this is the fourth one, and it comes with a disclaimer. He is missing, but I think he is in the house somewhere. He is another tiny stuffie that can fit in the palm of your hand, and was actually purchased by myself when I was a teenager, I think at the dinosaur show that took place on Grierson Hill near across from the Shaw Building. Or maybe he was from Drumheller. In any case, he was an old toy picked up from my parents house. He was another one of C's favourites, last seen last Christmas break, 2015. He's so small that I think he will turn up one of these days in a coat pocket, purse, toy purse, toy box, back of a drawer, who knows. A also has been caught hiding C's toys, so who knows if she hid Tiny somewhere in the house. He'll probably pop out ten years from now.

We've had a few other near misses, but strangers are very kind about kids dropping their toys and there were several times where someone would tell us that one of the girls had dropped their little friend. This is also why the favourites aren't allowed out of the house and thank goodness we've never lost the cow or a dot dot.

Have a great day! :)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a good Christmas break. Mine was good, really busy the first half (and a lot of eating) and then slowed down a bit towards the end. The kids went back to school today, and I'm glad to get back on regular schedule.

It's been cold and snowy again for the past week. Our driveway is quite long, so we bought a snowblower a few years back. We didn't really need it last year as it was a pretty dry winter, so this year of course, we haven't been able to get it going. The husband got it going once at the beginning of winter, but it's been no go since. As long as the accumulation of snow isn't too much in a short period, I don't mind shovelling too much, it's a way for me to get some exercise, especially in light of all the holiday eating.

The holidays may be over, but it is going to be a busy month! My oldest daughter, C, is turning 7! I can't believe my little big headed preemie (at 7 lb, 7 oz!) was born almost 7 years ago. Have I ever mentioned my birthing story of C? Maybe I'll tell it in a future post. Let's just say it was a doozie, and whatever birthing plan we may have had went out the window. Sometimes it seems like an eternity ago, and most often it seems just like yesterday. Such a big girl now and in grade 2. I finished her invitations over the break and she's supposed to pass them out today.

Also, Chinese New Year falls early early this year. C's birthday is actually on New Year's Eve, so it will be busy times, between family dinners and New Year's festivities with school. It will be Year of the Chicken. I know of a lot of chickens, my little brother is a chicken, so it is his year this year, though I guess he's not so little any more since this means he will be 36. I have a couple little cousins that are also chickens, as well as one of my bestie's daughters, all who are turning 12 this year. Full cycle already! Instead of doing a family birthday party for C at our house like we usually do, we'll just take her to her favourite restaurant so she can eat to her heart and stomach's content of xiao long bao, woh teep (both types of dumplings), green onion cakes and whatever else she wants.

Have a great day and stay warm! I'm going to do some writing, and after that, probably some knitting. This is more of a post script, but a friend gave me some knitting looms, and I'm proud to say that I have successfully made 3 toques! This is great for me since I don't know how to knit or crochet. Happy Monday!