Chocolate macaroons were one of the first recipes that I learned to make. Not the pillowy meringue kind from France but the humble, chocolate sticky kind that require little planning and only some patience while you wait for them to harden in the refrigerator. The kind where you scrap the pot with a wooden spoon to get that last bit of chocolatey sauce. The kind that if left in a warm spot, become a gooey mess and you’ll probably still eat them! Years ago, I started added Cadbury mini eggs (no other brand will suffice) to them at Easter and wham! They are an Easter classic at my house. The children love them and they also satisfy Easter cravings for those who are gluten-free.Read More
Welcome 2019! Happy belated New Year, readers!
It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through January. I’ve been taking my time to write this blog post because I’ve been focusing on planning and getting off to the right start for myself and my family. Also, my writing flow is rusty as it was put to the side too often in the second half of the past year.
Goodbye 2018. It was a year of intense and beautiful growth for my family. There were a lot of firsts, first steps, first piano lesson, first skate. It was the year that we turned our old house into our home. The year that I healed my knee and made small steps forward in my photography. I’ve written this before, but I find it difficult to move on when I’ve had an enjoyable time. There is so much to be thankful for and so many fleeting moments. I was the child who never wanted summer to end and as an adult, I want my vacations to last longer, to spend extra time with my kiddos as babes, toddlers and all of the wonderful childhood stages and also, to have that extra piece of pie and be the last person at my best friend’s party. 2018 was a wonderful year and in order to let it go, I’ve started something new. I recently went through a thorough reflection process for 2018. It occurred over the period of a week and involved pages and pages of writing in my black leather catchall book for recipes, dreams and plans. The writing process was both cathartic and served as a method to be accountable to myself. In retrospect, I should have been doing this for years, but I had to get over the hurdle of feeling like I was wasting time.
In reality, I have wasted time spinning my wheels. Being indecisive and uncertain. Afraid to make a mistake I suppose. In this state of unawareness, it is not fully possible to “live in the moment” as we’re encouraged to do. And really, I could continue on this way. It is easy to put off dreams for the future or to claim that now is not the right time especially in the throes of early motherhood. Being busy and tired does make it difficult to focus. I’ve finally realized, 6.5 years after becoming a mother for the first time, that it takes a different strategy to make things happen, it takes thoughtful planning.
I’ve been absent as of late. From a work perspective, I have focused on writing in both the technical and personal realm. In addition, I have been actively following my desire (need?) to further reduce my screen time and ultimately spend more one-on-one time with my children. I still love my little space in this growing community but have moved into a less prescriptive posting schedule (more on letting things go, here). I’m back today as I couldn’t miss the opportunity to write about Christmas cookies.
The first cookie recipe that I always bake during the lead-up to Christmas is shortbread. I consider the humble shortbread to be the most important cookie on the cookie tray. The buttery, crumbly texture as well as the not overly sweet taste make it an immensely satisfying cookie. I’ve graduated from decorating the cookies with sprinkles (sprinkles are for sugar cookies and party cakes) to simply sprinkling sugar on top and occasionally adding dried flowers. With so few ingredients in the recipe, it is essential to buy fresh ingredients. If you do not usually bake, do not use the flour that you bought last year at this time. Toss it and buy a fresh bag. It makes the world of a difference.Read More
Suddenly, we’re at the end of August and I'm nowhere near ready to give up the summer no-routine-routine. The long, warm and sunny days by the water. Treading lightly through the forest and looking closely at bugs and the smaller things that it seems only children can see. Or, just hanging out at the playground with the kids. We’ve been spending all of our days outdoors and have the mosquito bites and tan lines to prove it (despite protective clothing and sunscreen).
The ordinary days have been just as enjoyable as the days that we’ve gone on a family vacation or day trips. For me though, going camping has been a highlight of my summer (I’m not sure that my husband feels the same way). I haven’t camped since before I had my first child. The timing just never seemed right and I had a million excuses (mostly, fearing the lack of sleep) to remain in the comfort of my home. Finally, though, after years of staying home with the babies I decided to go. We loaded up the three kids, one family sized tent, a foldable cot for the baby and off we went. Not surprisingly, it was so much fun and I really don’t know what I was afraid of before!
For families, camping comes with a slightly different set of rules than at home. What chores are the children expected to do and what can the kids safely do on their own? Our most strict rules pertained to fire safety and always being with a parent at the lake. We were a lot more lax about our two girls wandering around together to explore the campground and meet our neighbours. Similarly, Cup of Jo recently, spurred by the New York Times article, Motherhood in the Age of Fear by Kim Brooks, posted about the age at which children are allowed to navigate small parts of their community alone or do a simple task on their own. The comments that this article generated were thought—provoking and insightful. They really hit the cultural heart of parenting. At the time of writing this, over 600 people around the world had chimed in to give their opinions. What do you let your kids do on their own and at what age?
While camping, it is a rite of passage to make a s’more over an open fire. Sandwiching a perfectly toasted marshmallow between two graham crackers while balancing a square of chocolate. The chocolate, slightly melty in the first bit. The graham cracker providing the crunch. The marshmallow squishing out the sides and binding everything together. I carefully watched my five year old toast her marshmallow and then helped her assemble the s’more and thankfully, my three year old understood that it wasn’t her time just yet.Read More
It’s been a week since my knee surgery. Reading has occupied my time during my… convalescence. Writing has not come easily as bodily discomfort frequently sidelines my thoughts. My world became smaller as I focused on healing, the people around me and the physical things that occupy the space in my house. Far from the distraction of the television (that is located on the first floor of the house and the stairs were too steep to manage in the beginning) and unable to spend much time on the laptop or cell phone (the bright screen causes nausea), I really have been able to read without feeling as though I need to produce something. Between reading children’s book during long cuddle sessions with the kids to reading I am a Truck by Michelle Winters to flipping through design and food magazines, I have had an opportunity to daydream. To genuinely feel excited about the future.
Of course, I’m making recovery from surgery sound comfortable and perhaps desirable (who doesn’t want more time to read for pure enjoyment?). There are lots of terrible and uncomfortable things that come with it as well. The first time I tried to get out of bed was one of the worst moments. The nausea and foggy head from pain medicine. Taking off the medical dressings and thinking “that is definitely not my leg” and then realizing “that is my leg!" and then, that sick-to-the-stomach feeling. Or the fact that night time can be a sleepless nightmare. As always though, there is something to learn and gratitude that comes.
Overall, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get the repair done. To live in a country where it is possible for anyone to have this surgery. I’m thankful for the tremendous care and talent of my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the nursing staff, orderlies, medical student and resident at the hospital. More so, I recognize that I wouldn’t have been able to do it without family and friends surrounding me with their support (kind of sounds like I just won an Oscar so I will stop now).
The future is bright, I think. In mine, I now see skiing, dancing, softball and just being silly with my kids.Read More
Lately, I’ve questioned why I blog. Why I create new recipes. Why I bother at all. Surely life could be a bit simpler if I wasn’t also blogging on the side? When I feel like this, I try to go back to the energy I felt when I started to blog. I was excited about sharing recipes and thoughts. About learning new things and joining a new community of creatives.
On reflection of work in general, it really comes down to the fact that I started on one career path and then, life happened. I had to give up the path that I thought was going to be in my life forever. (On a side note, it is funny how we tend to use the term “forever” more often when we’re young, “forever home” comes to mind). It was a path that I loved and that required all my time and energy. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms that there is not just one perfect career path for each person. At the same time, I still feel pangs of jealousy towards those people (for example, all of parent’s generation and many (but not all) of my friends) that have had one career that they love to pursue. Or, even if they don’t love their job, they receive great satisfaction from their contributions. Still, how do you know that a new path won’t end the same way the last one did?!
I chose to start blogging to practice my pastry skills and continue to develop them. Within this platform, I have done much more than just practice baking as there is a whole host of skills that I have had to learn (social media, writing, website development) and am still learning (social media and photography come to mind as top of the “needs improvement list”). Blogging is much more challenging and time consuming than I ever imagined it to be. Despite small, incremental improvements in these skills, I have also become a little disheartened. The blogging world is changing quickly. Some of the food bloggers that I have been following for years have expressed their dismay at the changes and how their world has shifted. Everything from the market being saturated to lack of inspiration. Long-form writing can neither capture nor maintain the short attention spans of readers these days. Social media seems to continually baffle even the seasoned bloggers with new algorithms and the follow/unfollow trend so common on Instagram.
As a person who has been blogging for less than a year, it is a bit of a struggle to figure out where to take my blog. I don’t lack recipe inspiration but I do lack time and don’t wish to participate in the follow/unfollow and other negative parts of social media. I guess I’m looking for the turning point where I wake up and think, this is worth it, this is exciting, I am contributing to others lives. Do you feel that way about your job? Am I asking for too much? Have you changed careers? I would love to hear your thoughts!!