Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ginevra @ 9 Months

Hey Humble Readers...

It's official.  Ginevra has now been 'on the outside' as long as she was inside.  So amazing!  She's had an eventful month, and I really hope you enjoy the pics. 

First up, she had her first haircut.  We went to one of those places that specializes in doing kids cuts because I wasn't sure how she would react.  She did great!  So much better than the little boy at the next station who was freaking out and crawling all over his dad.  It really was just a trim to even everything up, but they gave us a cute little certificate with a lock of her hair attached.  It was so fun.
First Haircut!
This month had us hanging out with my Beloved's family a lot.  August is the usual month when his brother and sister from far away travel to see us, my Beloved has his birthday, and we remember the loss of my Beloved's dad. Ginny got a lot of time to hang out with her 'little' cousin Thor.  It's hard to believe that he was born 7 weeks early, he's gotten so big!
Ginny and Cousin Thor
Another big event this month was the appearance of her first tooth.  Front bottom right... and she's so proud of it, she shows it off constantly, except for when I want to take a picture of it or when I want to check and see if its neighbour has shown up yet.  She's totally ok with having her tooth brushed tho, which I think is a little funny.
Come 'ere baby!
She also went to the park for the first time this month.  Due to the fact that we only have one vehicle, and the closest park with baby-friendly swings is too far to get to on foot, combined with the totally crappy weather we had all of spring and early summer meant that we just didn't get there before now.  We had a blast, even tho she wasn't sure about the slide.
Ginevra's first trip to the park
Not so sure about the slide
Lovin' the swing!

She's so mobile it's frightening sometimes, and she's determined to give her mother a heartattack before she get's to her first birthday.  Ginny especially loves to hang out in the kitchen with Mommy, which just isn't a good idea.  I am hopeful that it might indicate an interest in cooking... I can dream right? :)

Me?  I'm not up to nothin'...
Due to the layout of our condo, there's really only one spot for the baby gate, so keeping her corralled is a challenge, but it's pretty fun too.  It's become a game to keep her from sneaking down the hall.  And I swear she can tell time... every day at 5pm, she heads to the entryway and waits for her Daddy to get home. 
Woohoo!  Mommy left the gate open!
She's getting closer to understanding that some of her sounds have meaning.  There have been a few times when she has looked right at my Beloved and said 'dada'.  'Mama' is seeming to be a harder connection to make.  Baby sign still isn't really connecting for her, but I'm going to keep trying.  Ginny's also becoming aware of people and things around her, especially other kids and babies, and dogs.  She's obsessed with doggies. 
A tisket, a tasket, a baby in a basket!
She's managed to stand on her own without holding onto anything, but as soon as she realized that's what was happening, she fell to her butt. 
Hangin' with Auntie P
Ginny's growth has totally plateaued.  At least weight-wise.  She's still only 18 pounds.  She's grown almost an inch and a half though over the summer and is now 28 inches tall.  The result is that she still fits into some of her 3 month shirts and dresses, and 6 month pants fall off her.  (seriously, she crawled out of the pants I put her in today)  For summer, it's okay, but I'm wondering what we're going to do when the cooler weather comes for good.  Any pants that fit her waist are going to fall off her little behind.
Ginny & Thor, trying to stay warm at the campsite
Ginny totally hates her playpen and her bouncer seat.  She basically hates being restrained in any way shape or form.  She's generally a very happy, content little girl, but restrict her movement and she turns into the she beast from h-e-double hockey sticks. 

All in all, a busy month for the wee girl.  I love her so much!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Very Merry Birthday, My Beloved!

Hey Humble Readers!

Today is a special day in my little hobbit-hole.  Today my Beloved celebrates his 40th birthday! 

My wonderful, patient, sweet, ent-ish, unflappable Beloved...

He puts up with my mercurial moods and is amazing with our wee sweet girl.  He cheers me on in whatever I attempt, and quietly, humbly makes our world work. 

I love him so much.  How did I get so blessed?

The sunburn is getting better, slowly.  That itchy crawly stage has set it... Ugh!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Who's A Dumbass?

Yeah, that would be me, Humble Readers....

I spent way too much time out in the sun this weekend, mostly today, and now I am suffering the effects of a wicked sunburn.  Face, neck, arms, ears, chest, and scalp. 

The hottest week of the year and I forget to pack along the sunscreen.  Ugh.

So here I sit in front of the fan, drinking gallons of water, wishing for some aloe vera, and moving a cool cloth from burning spot to burning spot.

I'd smack myself in the head, but that would probably hurt too much.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Foodie Friday: Super-Sticky-Caramelly Monkey Bread

Hey Humble Readers...

Summer has finally arrived on the flatland, and because it's been super warm this week (warm for us is probably luke-warm for some of my readers further south, but without a/c, I'm just a big ol' puddle) I haven't been doing a lot of cooking.  So, that means you all are getting a recipe that I've been hanging onto for a while. 

This is super yummy with breakfast, brunch, snacking, or dessert, and it's so simple you wouldn't even believe it. 

You can use whatever basic white bread recipe you like.  If you have a bread-maker, just throw all the ingredients (in manufacturer's recommended order) use the dough cycle and let the machine to do the hard work.

Super-Sticky-Carmelly Monkey Bread

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup water

1 1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup raisins, soaked so they are plump

Place all bread ingredients into the bread-maker in order suggested by the manufacturer (mine is liquids on the bottom, then dry, topped with yeast).  Run a dough cycle.  When bread machine is almost finished, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon, and keep stirring until sugar disolves.  Add raisins to sauce and remove from the heat.  When the bread machine cycle is complete, remove dough to a floured surface.  If the dough is a bit sticky you may need to knead it a few times with a sprinkle of flour.  Tear or cut into 1 inch chunks.  Dip chunks of dough into butter sugar sauce to coat (your fingers will get sticky!).  Layer the chunks in a greased bundt pan.  When all the dough has been chunked, dunked, and stacked in the pan, pour any remaining sauce evenly over the dough.  Allow the dough to rise in a warm spot for 15-20 minutes, then bake in a preheated 375F for 20-25 minutes until golden.  Remove from oven and invert onto a plate.  Serve warm.
You can also throw some nuts into this recipe, if you like.  It's super yummy either way!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On The Nightstand: My Vicious Cycle

Good Evening Humble Readers...

So, the last couple of weeks have found me in a a vicious cycle I often get into when it comes to reading.  I currently have four books on the go, and I'm not making much progress in any of them.  This whole thing used to work when I had a book that I read at work, a book that I read on the bus to and from work, and a book that I read at home. 

One of the books in the stack is one that I was really looking forward to reading, but I have read the first ten pages three times now, and I just can't get into it.  I totally believe that there are seasons for some books, for example, I can really only get into the Lord of The Rings books in the winter and Harry Potter is totally for summer.  I was just stoked to read this book, and I borrowed it from a friend and eventually she will want it back.  I hope its season comes soon.

Because of the aforementioned vicious cycle, I actually only have one review for you all.  Hopefully I'll get back in the book groove soon.  The books on my nightstand seem to be breeding, as they are multiplying almost daily. 

Here's the review...

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (five out of five hairy hobbit toes) - This was my second time reading this book, and I have to say I really do love it.  The characters are so genuine and believable, even in their appalling prejudices.  For those of you who have been living in a box and haven't seen the trailers for the movie that was released a couple of weeks ago, it's the story of several women from a small town in Mississippi in the early 1960s.  The main character wants to write a book of stories from the perspective of the 'coloured' maids... about their lives cooking for, cleaning up after, and raising the children of the well-to-do white women of town.  The danger that these women put themselves into to share their stories is mind-boggling.  The depth of the ignorance of some of the white women was truly shocking, especially when I know that there were people in my family's history who believed things like those women.  *** A Warning *** There is a character who's dealing with recurrent pregnancy loss.  There are some fairly graphic scenes as she deals with the loss of a pregnancy.  This book won't be for everyone. 

Currently Reading: Lonesome Dove, It All Began in Vauxhall Gardens, A Discovery of Witches, & Arranged. 
Soon to be Started: Room

The Help isn't pictured because I lent my copy to my MIL on the weekend.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Words of Wisdom

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." 
- Jack Layton, NDP Leader

Hey Humble Readers...

Today is a sad day for those of us north of the 49th parallel.  Early this morning the Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the federal New Democrat Party and Leader of the Official Opposition, lost his battle with cancer. 

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer early last year and came through treatment well.  This past spring, when we had a federal election, he hit the campaign trail strong, even though he was recovering from hip surgery.  He led his party to a landmark victory, doubling the NDP seats in the House of Commons and becoming the second most popular party in the country... something that had never been done by the NDP before.  It was truly remarkable.

Less than one month ago, on July 25th, he held a press conference and, looking very gaunt and with a very hoarse voice, Mr. Layton announced that he was going to be taking the rest of the summer off to go through treatment for 'a new cancer' and that he was asking for his party to appoint an interim leader.  He said that he planned to be back by the time that the House of Commons reconvenes on September 19th. 

While I didn't agree with his politics on the whole, I appreciate what he brought to the table.  Any government is only as good as the opposition that keeps them honest, and Jack Layton was great at asking the hard questions. 

Apparently, a few days ago, he wrote a farewell letter, to his party, to his country.  It's a beautiful letter, and as I was reading it aloud to my Beloved, I just lost it.  I was bawling.  I hope that we can all take his final words to us to heart.

This incredibly charismatic, infectiously happy, genuine and wise man left this world a better place for his having been here. 

Rest in peace, Mr. Layton.  Your legacy will not be forgotten.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

August ICLW: Did You Know?

Hey Humble Readers!

For those of you who are new here or are visiting from ICLW, WELCOME!  For all my regular readers... thanks so much for stopping by today.  I hope you're all having a great Sunday.  I'm super stoked because my parents are going to be here for a quick visit (something that rarely ever happens, even tho my sister lives only 2 hours away... no, I'm not bitter). 

So, I bet you didn't know that your friendly neighbourhood hobbit is a trivia junkie.  Did you know that?  Huh?  Did ya?  :)  I love reading about stuff that I'm reading about.  For example, while I was reading Memoirs of a Geisha a couple of weeks ago, I looked up the term geisha on wikipedia and learned all kinds of things that I didn't know before.  I do the same while I watch tv and movies.  (I know, I'm a terminal geek)

For my intro this month, I thought I would share some of the completely random sh!t that lives in my brain

Did you know...
  • the original geishas were men?
  • the human body gives off as much heat as a 100 watt light bulb?
  • WD-40 dissolves cocaine? (no, I do not know this by personal experience)
  • the words vanilla and vagina have the same word origins?
  • ketchup was not always made from tomatoes?  Other variants include anchovy, lobster, lemon, and cucumber.
  • in the movie "Scarface" the f-bomb is dropped 207 times?  That averages out to once every 1.22 minutes.
  • guinnea pigs were originally domesticated as a food source?
  • natural red-heads make up only 2% of the world's population?
  • there is a law in California that makes it illegal to lick toads?
  • Canadians eat an average of 23.5 pounds of cheese a year.
What random sh!t do you have in your brain?

If you have the time, take a peak at my most recent Foodie Friday post.  It was a bit late (ok, a lot) going up, but I'd like to know what you think. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Foodie Friday: Overdue Saturday Edition

Hey Humble Readers...

What do you get when you combine cramps-from-hell, a teething baby girl, and a messy house?  No blogging, that's what you get.  I know I have a ton of posts to catch up on, so that's on my to-do list for tonight, after I share a couple of great recipes with you all.

I made these on Wednesday night and I have to say that I think they both turned out pretty well.  The original recipe for the quiche ended up making enough to fill one and a half nine inch pie shells, so I had to adjust a bit.  I'm just glad that I had bought a pack of two frozen pie shells (yeah, this hobbit has yet to figure out why I would mess with making my own pastry).  So, only plan on making this if you are going to be feeding an army (or a couple of teenagers), or like leftovers.  The salad is a cheapskate take on an Italian classic, and is super easy to multiply for larger groups. 

Sausage & Tomato Quiche

2 9inch pie shells
5 Eggs
3 links Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 Med Onion, diced
1 pint Grape Tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3/4 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup Milk
1 1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup Fresh Basil, chiffonade
Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Bake pie shells according to directions on the box, or however you do your pie crusts.  Like I said, this hobbit doesn't do scratch pastry.  (Important tip: Bake the pie shells on a baking tray with a lip, just in case of spills)  Brown and crumble sausage until no longer pink, add onion and saute until softened, then allow to cool slightly.  In a large bowl combine eggs, sour cream, and milk and whisk together.  Add tomatoes, cheddar, basil, pepper, and sausage mix.  Stir gently to until combined and divide between the two pie crusts.  Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 35-40 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving. 

Chopped Caprese Salad  (serves 2)

2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
1 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a medium bowl whisk together olive oil. vinegar, salt and pepper to make a vinaigrette.  Add tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella and toss gently in the dressing.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Serve chilled. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hobbit-ish Potpurri: Some Whining & A Jinx (?)

Hey Humble Readers...

I hope you're all having a nice evening. 

I'm procrastinating on cleaning my house, so I'm having a great night.  :)  My current thought process:  My MIL will be here Friday, and my parents will be here Sunday.  If I put off cleaning the house for another couple of days, then it should still be clean and relatively dust free when my parents get here.  A girl can dream

Today is CD2 and AF is kicking my ass.  Cramps and backache like crazy.  I feel like I'm 15 again, and not it a good way.  The only thing that's missing is the vomiting.  *sigh*  I know that pregnancy and giving birth can mess with my cycle, but the fact that I now spot for two days before the witch actually shows up is aggravating.  And considering my luteal phase issues in the past, this isn't a great way to get things going again.  Ugh.  Hopefully things will continue to adjust and maybe get back to the normal I know. 

One thing about being a plus sized lady that I strongly dislike is that I can't find hats that fit my big fat head and manage to look good.  As a result, when I spend a few hours outdoors at an event like the Taste of Cal.gary, I end up with a sunburned scalp.  Which ends up looking like I have terminal dandruff.  Nasty.  And oh, so attractive. 

My Beloved (for all his life) and I (for the last 4+ years) are die-hard Saskatchewan Rough Riders fans.  And for the last few years, the Roughies have been doing really well, ending up in the Grey Cup 3 times since we've been married.  They won in 2007, then lost due to a stupid mistake on the field in 2009.  The Grey Cup game in 2010 was their chance for redemption.  They were playing against the Montreal Allouettes again and this time we were sure we were going to win.  The Grey Cup game was on Nov 28, and as you can imagine, it was a bit challenging to watch seeing as our wee sweet girl made her appearance just the night before. 

We did manage to watch the last half of the game (once they hooked up the tv in my hospital room), but sadly the Roughies lost, badly.   Over the winter we joked about getting Ginny a little Riders cheerleader outfit (yes they make them in her size), but we never actually got around to it.  The season started last month, and, to put it mildly, the Roughies just suck.  They have lost all but one game.  Of course, we haven't actually seen this, because when we cut our cable services back, we lost the sports channel that airs all the CFL games.

So here's my question.  Is Ginny a jinx on our poor football team?  Or is it just that they're losing because their #1 fans haven't been watching?  Do we need to get that cheer leading outfit ASAP?

We may have to head down to Gramma's to catch a game sometime soon, just to see what happens. 

(And yes, that whole last section is ENTIRELY tongue-in-cheek)

Monday, August 15, 2011

If Only I'd Thought of This...

click for a larger view
... my battle with my weight would be soooo much easier!  Think they're still in business? ;)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Q & A: 500th Post Edition

Howdy Humble Readers...

Early on last week I asked for some questions as prompts because I had hit a bit of a wall when it was came to what to blog about.  The August heat has melted my brain, and hence any and all creativity has been blown out the windows by the continually oscilating fans.  You lovely ladies came through with some doozies for me.  And I had no idea until I just logged into blogger that this is my 500th post.  How is that possible?  Who knew I could babble on that much?

On to the answers...

Kristin asked a whole bunch of stuff. 
  1. How did you meet your beloved?  My Beloved and I were matched on eHarm.ony dot com on Valentine's Day 2006.  We went through their guided conversation process and then spent a couple of months just getting to know each other via email, instant message, and phone calls.  Due to some extenuating circumstances, we didn't actually meet face to face until June 12th.  We met in Banff for the day, which is sorta in between where we both lived (such a beautiful place for a first date), and I brought a couple of friends with me as back up, just in case.  My friend D later told me that he was just fine with my Beloved when my Beloved gave me a huge hug as soon as he saw me. 
  2. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?  This is something that I am still pondering.  It would have to combine cooking (without the angst of working for a professional chef), writing, and being able to be Ginny's primary caregiver.  Any thoughts?
  3. Do you support gay marriage?  This is a very hard question for me, without a clear answer.  Part of me wants to plead the fifth (except that won't work as I'm not American).  Is it possible for me to simply, respectfully say that I am still grappling with this?  My faith tells me one thing, and my heart tells me something else.  I realize that I am opening myself up for some potentially challenging responses here, but I am still struggling to reconcile the two.  At this point I'm going to say that if you want to continue this discussion, please email me.  I would just rather not do it here. 
  4. Would you classify yourself as liberal or conservative or something in between?  Wow... another hard one.  The difficulty here comes in how you define those terms.  I consider myself conservative, but not ultra conservative.  I find myself frustrated and offended by the extremes of both sides, but in general I find myself resonating more with the mid-right (if there is such a thing). 
  5. Where would your dream vacation be?  Autumn in New York.  A safari in Tanzania.  Summer in the UK.  A coast-to-coast-to-coast roadtrip across my beautiful country.  I'm not a 'lay on the beach' kinda gal, I prefer vacations where I'm doing and learning.  Something historical is preferred, but not necessary. 
  6. Who is your biggest celebrity crush?  Without a doubt, Donnie Wahlberg.  (excuse me as I wipe the drool from my chin just from thinking about him)  Man oh man, when he tore his shirt off at the NKOTBSB concert I was at last month... yum yum!  And he's been number one on my list for many MANY years.
Rain asked a great question.
  • If your could live in any time period in history (besides now), when would it be and why?  Just for the sheer romance of it all, I would have to say the Victorian era in England.  Of course, if I was to live in that time period, I would have to be someone with a fair bit of money (and also a heck of a lot thinner) so that I could wear the beautiful clothes.  But then, I have also really been intrigued with the early 20th century in both Europe and North America... the amazing leaps forward in science and technology, the Golden Era of North American culture, the clothes.  *sigh*
St. Elsewhere gave me a couple of great ones about Ginny.
  1. What are some of your favourite products for Ginny?  I adore her Sophie the Giraffe teething toy.  It's on the expensive side for a teething ring, but it was a gift, and with the way my wee girl gnaws on that thing, it was worth every penny.  I also love her high chair.  Because of the limited space in our home, we couldn't have a traditional high chair, so this one that straps onto one of our kitchen chairs is great.  Easy to set up and take down when we need to, and super easy to clean.  Lastly, we were given this body wash/shampoo as a gift, and I love it!  You don't need to use much at all (we're still on our first bottle) and it doesn't dry out the wee girl's skin.
  2. Pic was taken back in February
  3. If there was one thing of Ginny (a toy, clothes, blanket etc) that you would like to keep forever, what would that be? Just one!  Yikes... that's tough.  I would have to say her green blanket that I knitted while I was pregnant.  She's slept with it pretty much every night since she came home from the hospital.
Well, those are all the questions this time around.  If you didn't get your question in this time, leave it in the comments and I'll make a note of it for next time around.

And due to some unforseen circumstances, Kym of TheSmartness has allowed the sign ups for Sock it To Me to continue until the end of today!  If you haven't signed up for the coolest blogosphere gift exchange around, why the hell not?  Use that groovy button up at the top on the right to learn more!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Second Time Around

Hey Humble Readers...

I have struggled with this post for a few weeks, but I think I am ready to put this out there.

It isn't a secret that I thought I was ready to start ttc again pretty much right away after Ginny was born.  Given our history, I wanted to get right back at it.  I'm going to be 37 this fall, and my Beloved turns the big 4-0 in a matter of days now.  To that end, I started temping and charting again as soon as AF showed up the first time, at three months post partum. 

And it was right in that time frame that the dreaded PPD started it's beat down on me.  So, there I was, freaking out about wonky temps, my late O, and (omg is this for real??) 14 day luteal phase, while feeling like complete crap about myself.  And then the financial woes came on.  Oh, and how about that completely non-existent libido? 

Do you see the problem here?  I'm putting all kinds of pressure on myself to achieve something that it took 3 years to do the first time around, and I am in a piss poor emotional state and stressed to the max.  Not a great situation.

So, after some tearful discussions with my Beloved, I stopped temping, and put the thermometer away.  I stopped tracking my cycle entirely.  I put my FF account on hold. 

I'm sure that some of you understand this.  For someone who has spent the last 3 years being beyond intimately acquainted with the inner workings of her reproductive system, just allowing things to do what they will, without any sort of acknowledgement or critique, has driven me insane.  While I know it does nothing, tracking my cycle gave me a sense of direction, of having an element of control over something impossible to cognitively control.  The same questions roll through my head constantly.  When did AF start?  Did I O?  Has my LP gone back to 11-12 days?  Good God, am I pregnant? 

I wanted to tear my hair out.  I wanted to scream, 'WTF is going on?'.  I berated myself for not paying closer attention to the date (I tend to lose track of time now that I'm not working outside the home).  Phantom symptoms were just as bad as they were before Ginny.  And poor Kristin has had to put up with hopeful and sadly resigned emails from me every few weeks.  (Thank you, friend)

Yeah, the insanity is still there. 

And that makes me wonder, will it ever go away?  How in the world did I get through each cycle so nonchalantly before TTC entered my life? Will I ever be 'normal' again?

Not tracking my cycle was supposed to ease the stress, but instead, it's just added a whole new level of angst.  And then of course there's something akin to survivor's guilt that keeps me from wanting to talk about these frustrations here, the place that should be the safest.  The merry-go-round just keeps turning.

So, for good or ill, with my next cycle I will be back to tracking and temping.  I will be checking my cm and evaluating the minute twinges I feel.  We will officially be back into the world of ttc and, please God, may it not take as long or be as fraught with landmines as last time around. 

A hobbit can only take this level of insanity for so long.  The insanity you know is always better than that which you don't know, right?  It has to be. 

(Oh, I'm somewhere between 8-10dpo, I think.  Happy tww!)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Foodie Friday: Drunk Pork Chops & Watermelon Salad

Hey Humble Readers...

It's Friday night and that means it's time for some recipes!  And I have a couple of doozies for you tonight.  Brand new for us, and totally yummy, I really hope you're going to give these a try. 

I will say that the second one is a little different... it took a couple of bites to appreciate the combination of flavours, but I just kept going back for more.  My Beloved, who has a long history of not being a fan of watermelon actually liked it too. 

First up...

Drunk Pork Chops (brine is good for up to 8 thick cut pork chops)

1 12oz can of beer
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp dijon mustard
4 lg cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tsp ground sage
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 small onion, cut into thick slices
1 thick cut pork chop per person

Combine beer, syrup, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, sage, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl and whisk together.  Place pork chops into a large zip top bag, add in sliced onion, and pour in brine.  Seal bag, removing as much air as possible, and smoosh the contents around a bit.  Let stand in the fridge for at least 12 hours (I put mine in the fridge at 10pm last night, and cooked them up at 6pm today).  Take the pork chops from the fridge, and out of the brine, at least 20 minutes before cooking and allow to come to room temp.  I grilled these on our indoor grill, but you could also bake them in a 350F oven.  I served them with potatoes mashed with sour cream, horse rsdish, and chives. 

I have never had such juicy tender pork chops.  Seriously the best I have EVER tasted!  Soooo yummy!  I just had them for dinner tonight, and I'm already trying to figure out when I can make them again.

Next up...

Watermelon Salad

3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
1 english cucumber, chopped
1 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir gently.  Allow to stand in the fridge for 15 minutes.  I'm thinking next time I might add some fresh mint and/or cilantro. 

Like I said, it's a bit different, but soooo good.  A nice refreshing summer salad. 

As always, please let me know what you think if you try these.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Q & A: Summer Doldrums Edition

Hey Humble Readers...

We've hit that point in the summer where my brain has officially melted.  It honestly hasn't been that terribly hot here this year but the humidity has been more intense than normal. 

SO, in all honesty, even tho I do have a few things on my 'to blog about' list, I'm looking for some input. 

If you have any questions for me, be they mundane or sublime, fire them away and I'll post my answers on the weekend.  Come on, you know you want to...

And because I want to, here's a sweet pic of our wee girl...

Cousin Thor & Ginny.  Sooo cute!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Foodie Friday: Sesame Tilapia & Citrus Scented Rice

Hey Humble Readers...

I hope you have a great weekend planned... ours is going to be pretty quiet.  Groceries, church, and a trip down south to visit with my MIL.  I also have some editting to get finished that should have been done weeks ago!  (Sorry J!)

This week's recipe was new for us and I have to say it turned out pretty gosh darn good.  The Tilapia recipe is based on this recipe, and I made up the rice recipe based on what I had left over from the tilapia and what I had on hand.  (Tip: zest the orange before you cut it in half)

Sesame Tilapia

4 tilapia filets
1/3 cup orange juice (juice of about 1/2 a med naval orange)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp red chile flakes
3 green onions (greens only), sliced
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Combine orange juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and chile flakes, and stir until sugar disolves.  Pour over tilapia filets (I always do this in a zip-top bag) and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes, although it's better if you let it go for up to four hours.  Don't leave it overnight though, as the citrus will 'cook' the fish.  Remove fish and discard the marinade.  This can be grilled (on a well oiled, hot grill), baked (in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes)  or pan fried.  I chose to pan fry them in just a touch of olive oil.  No matter how you choose to cook them, be sure not to over-cook, or the fish will be tough.  Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.

(I'm planning on trying this recipe with chicken next week.  I think it will work well, but I will let the chicken marinate longer)

Citrus Scented Rice

1 cup* long grain white rice
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2/3 cup chicken stock
2/3 cup white wine
3 green onions (white parts only), sliced thin
1/2 tbsp butter
zest of one orange

In a medium saucepot, melt butter and saute the green onion for 2-3 minutes, until soft.  Add orange juice, chicken stock and white wine, and bring to a boil.  Stir in rice and orange zest, cover with a tight fitting lid, and reduce heat to low and allow to simmer slowly for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to stand for a few minutes.  Fluff with a fork, and serve. 

* Most recipes call for 1 part rice to 2 parts liquid, but I find that cutting back on the liquid by about 1/3 cup gives a fluffier, drier finished product.  If you want a stickier rice, simply increase the liquids slightly.  I have found that rice can be a bit finicky depending on elevation, so do what works best for you.

As always, if you try it, please let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On The Nightstand: Do You Wanna Join Me?

Hey Humble Readers...

How are things today?  It's been a challenging day here in the hobbit hole.  The poor wee girl is really hurting with her teeth today so there's been a lot of crying, screaming, whimpering, and thrashing about.  And she's been pretty sad, too.  (bah-dum-bum)

Last month I introduced the "On the Nightstand" feature, I honestly intended it to be a once a week thing.  That way I would be posting more (yay!), and I wouldn't be reviewing quite so many books at the same time (double yay!).  Well, things got away from me, and here we are a month later.  Oh well. 

Anyway, I have added a new element to these posts.  After a couple of requests, I have created a linky thing so if you want to join in the fun, then by all means please do!  Just post about what you've read recently and then come on back and link up. 

I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg *audio* (four out of five hairy hobbit toes) - We listened to this book on our trip out to K-town last month and I really enjoyed it.  The story of an aging former beauty queen who has decided that it's time for her to end it all.  She devises a thorough plan, including getting rid of all of her clothes, dishes and personal items, and closing down her bank account.  But every time she tries to put her plan in motion, something comes up to detain her.  And interwoven throughout is the mystery of the old mansion on the hill... Funny, heart-rending, and intriguing all at the same time.  The audio version is read by the author, and that's my favourite way to listen to a book.  The author always does the best job of it. 

The Physik Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe *audio* (four and a half out of five hairy hobbit toes) - We listened to most of this on our way back from K-town, and I actually just got around to finishing it yesterday.  I have to say I loved this book!  Set primarily in the early 1990s, it follows the story of Connie, a doctoral student studying colonial America, who is given the task to clean out her grandmother's old home so that it can be sold.  In the process of clearing out the old house, Connie comes across some interesting information that may point to the existance of a recipe book that could have belonged to one of the women convicted of witchcraft in Salem, MA.  An epic search entails, in which lives are threatened and romance is found.  I love stories that are set in multiple time frames, sometimes in the present and other times in the past.  The only thing I had against this book was that the actress who was doing the reading made half the characters sound like Audrey Hepburn. 

Standing In the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg - (four out of five hairy hobbit toes)  A funny collection of tales about a small town in Missouri, starting in 1946.  I really appreciated the quirky people in the town and how they all interacted.  The mom who hosts a daily raido program out of her living room, the family of touring gospel singers, the tractor salesman who dreams of being governor, and the children who grow up worried about bubble gum blowing contests and the senior prom.  This story is told in short little bites of chapters, and moves quickly.  I found myself smiling throughout, and I got seriously attached to one or two the characters.  It's one of those books that, when you get to the end, makes you want to know what comes next.

Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry (two out of five hairy hobbit toes)  I really was disappointed with this book, especially as it started out really well.  The story of Nellie Courtright, a young woman, orphaned with her younger brother in No Man's Land, in what will become part of Oklahoma, just after the Civil War.  Her younger brother, by sheer fluke, wins a gun battle with a known gang of outlaws, and soon both are on the road to fame.  Throughout the book Nellie meets every possible notable figure from the wild west (and has sex with about half of them).  She works for Wild Bill Cody, watches the shoot out at the OK Corral, and ends up writing scripts for the earliest moving picture shows.  It just really struck me as very contrived and Nellie ended up driving me crazy. 

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (five out of five hairy hobbit toes) - I have loved this book many times, and honestly I wasn't planning on reading it just now.  But the book that I want to read is very similar to the Physik Book of Deliverance Dane, and so I needed something different in between.  If you haven't read this one yet, you must!  An amazing tale of a young girl sold into slavery who becomes the most famous of all the geisha.  Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression and WWII.  The movie version was very well done, but nothing beats the book!

Waiting on the nightstand is "A Discovery Of Witches" and "Room".

So, what have you been reading lately?  Why don't you tell us about it?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hobbit-ish Potpurri: Heritage Day Edition

Howdy Humble Readers...

I hope you're all having a great Monday. 

It's Heritage Day here in Alberta, and it's kind of an odd holiday.  Most provinces have a holiday in August, but they all celebrate different things.  Basically, it's just so that every month in the summer has a long weekend. 

I did my first workout dvd today.  It totally kicked my a$$.  I only made it through 30 minutes of the 45 minute workout before I had to stop.  I also have to spend some more time watching the "Learn the Steps" dvd that came with the set, because I was terrible!  My Beloved was kind enough to vacate the premesis with the baby girl for a while so that I could embarass myself in privacy. 

Killer bonus after my workout... the bathtub drain decided to completely crap out (it's been slow for a few days) while my Beloved was in the shower, and so I wasn't able to take a shower.  Gross!  We finally got the drain unclogged this afternoon (yay us!).  The joys of home-ownership.

Ginny's new targets are my el-cheapo cork ikea coasters.  Apparently they make great teething toys.  Who knew?  (Yes, they're hidden away now)

We have baby proofed the house, as much as we're going to.  I have a baby gate in the hall for when I need to corral her for longer than a few minutes (she HATES the playpen now).  I put locks on the bathroom and kitchen cabinets, the dangerous ones anyway.  And we moved my Beloved's computer tower from the floor up to the desk.  The only thing I need to figure out is how to prevent her from opening the pocket door on our storage room off the kitchen.  Any suggestions?

I finally, FINALLY got around to updating the menu board on the right.  Tonight's dinner was great, and I'm looking forward to sharing the recipes with you all on Friday.