Date Night – We’ve Officially Found a Babysitter!

I’ve been dreading and waiting for this moment all at the same time.

While it’s a huge load off my mind when a family member watches our kids, it’s also really stressful. I always feel like we’re burdening them. I’m sure they have better things to do than spend a few hours on a Saturday night trying to stop a two year-old and a five year-old from destroying our house, because THIS:

MessBut as much as I love cleaning up after my boys, it way better when I get to clean myself up…and the best part, blow-dry my hair *gasp*…maybe even put on some nail polish. Whaat? I know right? What’s next? A haircut? I dream BIG people.

We’ve already been to this restaurant two time this year, but I just can’t get enough. I know you’re dying to see our dinner so here we go:

First time eating at the bar. Same great food and service. Bonus: Lightning fast drink delivery!

At the bar

Seared Arctic Char with Caramelized Onions, Asparagus and Fiddleheads. My new favourite dish here, and that’s saying a lot since I’ve tried almost everything on the menu. I dove in so quick that I didn’t get a shot of the whole dish. I remembered right before the last bite! Guess I’ll have to order this again next time to get a nice photo for you.

Artic Char

Mushroom and Escargot Tart with Microgreens. The filling was beautifully rich and tender inside the crisp and buttery shell. A nice contrast to the light and bright fish dish we had before. Mushroom Tart

Mona Rose. A mix of Ginger, Grapefruit, Tequila, Cassis and Ginger Ale on ice. LOVED IT. Now I have two drinks I have to order when I come here.Mona Rose

Plus the bottle of wine.

Wine

It was a great night!

Oh! Almost forgot the dessert…

Dessert

So all that to say, WE”VE GOT A BABYSITTER! She’s amazing. We still made our dinner reservations for 6:00PM, but I’m kind of loving it. We’re home by 9:30PM, the kids are fast asleep, the house is spotless (seriously, she even washed the dishes in the sink!). She gets to go out with her friends and we still have time to rent a movie. I think this is going to be a regular thing. I’ll keep you posted.

A Little Scattered Today

These toes. I’ve munched on them at least a hundred times today. There are about twenty items on my todo list today and they’re all important.

Only, I’m not working on any of them. Instead I’ve been cuddling my twenty-month old. He doesn’t know why and while he giggles most of the time he’s getting to that “Mommy, stop with the kisses, I want to play with my truck.” place.

Last night too. I read my older boy his bedtime stories. Same as every night but this time with a few more hugs at the end. Until finally between cuddles and squeezes I heard “Mommy, it’s time to get papa. I have to tell him goodnight.”

There’s so much to take care of today, but I can’t. I just keep thinking about yesterday. That little boy waiting at the finish line to hug his dad. My heart hurts.

Stay-at-Home Mom?

I have a dilema.

In January I had no choice but to pull my twenty-month-old son out of the daycare he attended. I can send him to the daycare my five-year-old is enrolled in, but only when he turns two. That’s in September. I made the decision to stay home with him rather than leave him in a daycare I was unsatisfied with. As hard as it was to quit my job, my boss shocked me the following day. He offered to let me work from home four days a week as long as I came in once a week for meetings and returned full time in September. I convinced my mother-in-law to help me out once a week and called him back to accept his offer.

I thought I’d never be able to be at home full time. Being at home is about a thousand time harder than being at the office. Trust me when I say I’m not exaggerating. There aren’t any coffee breaks with the girls or peaceful lunch hour errand runs. You don’t realize how nice it is to be able to type an email without a curious toddler slamming your laptop closed over your fingers until that luxury is gone.

But here’s my problem. Tonight, for the first time in my career, I had a moment of dread. Tomorrow’s Monday. My day in the office and my immediate thought was I don’t want to leave him. But soon I won’t have a choice. I need my job. We’re not in a place financially where I can stay home with the kids. So my next decision becomes whether or not I start actively looking for a job that I can do from home. Sure I can do my job as a freelancer but I need clients. I need referrals. Then the avalanche of questions start. Do I need a website? How much will it cost me to work as a freelancer? Will I have to drive around the city? I need a whole lot of time do prepare these items that I already don’t have.

I have a lot of thinking to do, but I’m pretty sure my life will take a drastically different turn by the time winter rolls around again. Wish me luck…

Blade Roast with Brussel Sprouts

If I’ve learned one thing from my parents, it’s that food doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. This is my favourite “someone’s coming to dinner, what the hell do I make?” recipe.

Blade Roast 1

Both my kids and husband love this, which is always a plus. It also freezes well. I portion the leftovers into 1 cup freezer bags and pull them out when I’m in a rush.

My favourite ways to re-use the leftovers is in quesadillas, lettuce wraps or in a soft roll with mozzarella melted on top.

Blade Roast

  • 1 Blade Roast
  • 3 Yellow Onions cut into wedges, leave a bit of the stem intact
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Knorr Bovril beef stock concentrate
  • 1 Beer (I’ve used Coors Light, Corona and Molson and they all work great)
  • Reduced Salt Chicken Stock as required
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Seasoning blend (see details below) to taste

The trick to a perfectly seasoned roast really isn’t complicated. 24 hours before, I season the meat all over with a dry seasoning mix of rosemary, garlic, bay leaf, sage, oregano, parsley, marjoram, basil, and salt. You can probably find a pre-blended mix at the grocery store. Rub the roast with 1 tablespoon olive oil, seal the meat in a Tupperware and set it in the fridge to marinate over night.

Preheat the oven to 425°

Take your meat out of the fridge a half an hour before you’re ready to cook. You want to take the chill off before you get it on the stove. While you’re waiting, prepare the vegetables. Add the remaining olive oil to a dutch oven on medium-high heat and sear the meat all around. Remove the meat from the pot and set it aside.

Throw the vegetables in and sauté them for a few minutes, picking up all the caramelized bits at the bottom of the pot. Throw in 1/2 cup of the beer and pick up the rest. Push the vegetables to the side and place the roast back in the pot. Pour the rest of the beer in the pot. It should come about 2/3 of the way up. Let it come upto a boil and stir in the Bovril. Cover the roast and place it in the oven.

Once the roast is in the oven, it takes minimal effort to get a spectacular dinner on the table. Check the roast after 30-45 minutes and baste using the broth inside the pot. Make sure that the meat it always 2/3 covered with liquid. Add chicken stock as required. Cover the pot and drop the temperature of the oven to 375°. Check the roast and baste every 15-20 minutes for 3 hours.

Take the roast out of the oven and uncover. Remove the carrots and onions and place them in a dish to the side. Let the meat rest about 20 minutes before shredding and coating it with the broth.

Okay, I’m warning you, this sounds boring. When someone suggested I make brussel sprouts in the microwave I cringed. I don’t mind re-heating, Brussel Sproutsdefrosting or melting in the microwave but the idea of cooking in there made me hesitant. To be fair though, this is steaming, but they’re delicious like this and it’s one less pot to clean.

Brussel Sprouts

  • 1 pack Brussel Sprouts trimmed and cleaned
  • 1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place the brussel sprouts in a microwave safe dish. Break up the butter over top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap leaving a corner open for venting. Steam for 8 minutes on high. You might need a minute less depending on the size of the brussel sprouts package. Careful when you remove the plastic wrap as it will be very hot and some steam will still be trapped inside. The dish will be hot.

Serve with rice and enjoy.

Avocado and Citrus Salad

Like most people these days, I’ve been trying to prepare healthier meals for my family. But with a five-year-old and a twenty month old it can be hard to find things that are healthy, yummy and visually appealing, because let’s be honest, kids seem to decide whether or not they want to eat something way before the food hits their tongue.

Avocado Citrus 1I found the inspiration for this recipe on Martha Steward Everyday Food and decided to give it a try. It’s bright and fresh and a nice side when you’re pairing it with a heavier main like beef. Truth be told my husband and I have become strangely addicted to this salad and we’ve been eating it at least once a week. I know you’re thinking, a salad of grapefruit and orange? Why? But there something about the tart and sweet mixed together with the creamy avocado that’s beyond amazing. Try it and you’ll see. I made some substitutions from the original to suit my kids tastes.

Avocado and Citrus Salad

  • 2 Grapefruits (segmented, peel and pith removed) Juice reserved for dressing
  • 2 Navel Oranges (segmented, peel and pith removed) Juice reserved for dressing
  • 2 Avocados cubed
  • 5 Radishes sliced thin (When they’re large enough to handle I like to use a vegetable peeler)
  • 1 carrot shredded
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Toss together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

What can I say, I like my recipes tasty and simple! We’re all busy and tired after a long day. It’s nice to have a quick, healthy and easy recipe to turn to once in a while.

Tip: Sometimes when I feel like I need a bit more of a bite I add a splash of balsamic vinegar!

Bucket-O-Dreams

I recently read an article where someone implied we should get rid of the term “Bucket List”. Apparently it’s overused and no longer trendy.

I don’t get that. How can a list of goals and dreams to achieve before you die go out of style? Who decides this stuff?

20130325-111706.jpg

Not only do I have a list but I had to break mine down into categories…and I’m proud of that!

I have places I want to visit. Beautiful, peaceful, exciting, breathtaking and exotic locations that I’ve only dreamt about.

I want to sleep in a bungalow on the water in Bora Bora, and roll the dice in Las Vegas – to be honest, I would have loved to elope in Vegas but I’m about eight years too late on that one! A pub crawl in Dublin, Ireland, visit castles in Scotland. Can’t forget to hike up avolcano in Hawaii (this is seriously the only reason I’d attempt hiking of any kind). What about seeing Alaska’s Northern Lights, or eating a croissant and a macaroon at Pierre Herme Patisserie (Bakery) in Paris, and theGreat Barrier Reef in Australia and although I’m not exciting enough to do these two justice, maybe one day Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

I want to experience silly and fun things with my kids. The first is a biggie for me. One day, when they’re old enough to remember it, I’m going to take them toWalt Disney World. Sure, I’ll tell them it’s all for them, but I’m pretty sure my husband and I will find a way to enjoy ourselves too because we’ve never been either. But I want to do other things that I think will hold just as much magic. I want to catch fireflies with them. I want to bring them horseback riding.

I’d love to take a dip in a natural hot spring with my husband, drive through a redwood (you can actually do this!) and ride a streetcar in San Francisco.

I want to try street food trucks all over the USA. Pulled pork and tacos and desserts, the list is endless. Some goals are not as fancy but still fun! I’ve never eaten at Carl’s Junior, Jack in the Box, White Castle or In-and-Out!

Finish compiling my notebook with all of my favorite family’s recipes (photos included) and then share them with the rest of our family so we don’t lose all the wonderful and special traditions they brought back from Italy.

Lastly, if I work hard enough, I hope to be a published author one day. This one is just as farfetched as the rest, but no less impossible. I think all dreams start off on equal footing. It’s our job to find a way to make them happen. It all depends how bad you want them to come true.

I’d love for you to add to my list. You can never have too many dreams.

Bucket-O-Dreams.