And this is the vegetarian shepherd's pie I made for supper last night. It's one of our favourite dishes because it's relatively quick, easy, full of fibre and other good things, and it is delicious! It's not one of those vegetarian recipes which imitates meat, it just tastes fabulous. Here's the recipe (I copied it from a library book and forgot to write the book title and author - if anyone recognizes it, please let me know!) It's a perfect supper for a chilly winter evening.
Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie with Peppered Potato Topping
2 tsp oil (I use olive)
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup chopped onions
3/4 c chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups prepared tomato pasta sauce
1 cup canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I just use the whole can)
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I just use the whole can of these, too)
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water (I use water)
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
2 bay leaves
4 cups diced potatoes
1/2 cup milk (I use organic skim)
1/3 c light sour cream (can be omitted and it's still tasty)
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (I use a bit less)
3 tbsp grated parmesan
1. In a saucepan heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions and carrot; cook 4 minutes or until onion is softened. Stir in tomato sauce, beans, chickpeas, stock or water, basil and bay leaves; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaves. Transfer sauce to a food processor (I use a stick blender instead) and pulse until chunky. Spread over bottom of baking dish (no need to grease.)
2. Place potatoes in saucepan; add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes or until tender. Drain; mash with milk, sour cream and pepper. Spoon on top of sauce in baking dish (I use a casserole dish; 9x13 would work fine). Sprinkle with cheeses.
3. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.
Here's the paperwhites; I love the pot that came with them. As you can see in the first picture, it's translucent so you can see the roots as they grow. I LOVE that. I also love how beautiful flowers come from very humble looking bulbs, some soil, and water. Amazing.
I was browsing around online last night and found some interesting sites I thought I would share. Whipup.net (handcraft in a hectic world) is a very cool blog with all sorts of craft-y ideas, tutorials, information, etc. I especially like the iPod squid cozy.
Crafty Daisies seems to be a group of women who post all sorts of projects and craftiness. Lots of great ideas, including this tutorial for Quick and Easy CD Storage. I think I'll be making one of these very soon!
Make: technology on your time has how-to's on just about anything you can think of, from making coffee roasters to how to make your own thermometer (great science project for kids!) A good place to spend some time.
Thimble.ca, a self-proclaimed arts and crafts blog based in TO is another great place to peruse. There's tons of stuff there, so I won't even bother choosing. Well, since you asked, have a peek at the Button of the Month Club.
And this is just about the coolest thing I've seen in awhile. Simple idea, but so neat! Paint chip business card holders. Brilliant. Semi-useless, but still brilliant.
It has been very chilly today (-14, -25 with the wind chill) with snow and blowing snow. It's too cold for salt to work on keeping the roads clear, so the streets are snow covered and pretty messy. I love how the frost is forming on our front screen door. I cancelled my visits with students for the day and hunkered down in the office. Apparently even as close as Shelburne, the roads were clear, but down here it's been a mess.
My paperwhites have opened! Well, started to. I like how the picture above turned out. They smell very strong, but it's not an entirely bad scent. The amaryllis with the flower stalk is growing rapidly; no sign of flowers on the other two. No changes to report on the hyacinth in the cupboard.
I cleaned off my desk and hung some things on the walls in the now-shared office space upstairs after work this afternoon, and it feels very good to have a clean desk.
And in baby news (how could I not put something up about the baby?) we had a regular clinic checkup yesterday morning which was fine. I've gained 2.5 pounds (I think it's funny that they use pounds for all of these official medical records, while Canada has been on the metric system for a long time!) and we heard the baby's heartbeat again (still very regular and strong and lovely sounding). I'm 21 weeks pregnant today, and the baby is listening to what we say, weighs about 3/4 of a pound (imperial!) and is about 10.5 inches tall. My belly feels very big today... I expect it will only get more pronounced as time goes on! I also got some cloth diapers on ebay which I'm pretty excited about. I'll definitely post pics when they arrive!
A couple of baby bump pictures which Adam took at weeks 17 (top photo) and 20 (bottom photo taken this week). The second one was taken in the baby's room, which Adam has now begun peeling the wallpaper off of! (That last sentence was so awkward, I'll leave it as is just for entertainment.)
I scored a free diaper genie today from Freecycle, so that was pretty exciting. In case you haven't heard about it, it's an online local group (there are groups for pretty much everywhere) where people post things they have to give away and things they need. Someone posted a diaper genie this morning, and I snagged it! Very exciting (and free!) Much better than having things go to the garbage or sit around unused.
Also in interesting things as of late, I found some very nice curtains for baby's room at Frenchy's, and some more nice soft material for making portable change pads. And in the much-less-free realm of baby things, we ordered a perfect diaper bag (it's the large one in dark khaki) we both agree on from LL Bean today! I'm très excited for it to arrive. And I think it will definitely be worth it, not only because it will be used all the time, but after all of our babies are grown in a bazillion years, we'll still be able to use it for our stuff.
There, I think you're all saturated with baby news for now. I had an excellent day at work and got very many little niggling things done at the office, which always feels very satisfying. And I had two good visits with students, also satisfying. And I'm not even sleepy yet and it's almost 9:30! Yipeeeee!
We saw this very interesting stump,
posed for a picture (can you see why I hope our baby has Adam's eyes?),
and saw some fun fungi on a tree trunk. All in all, a very well spent morning. Carrot cake is now in the oven, laundry's on the go, and Adam's waiting for me to watch a movie with him. Happy Saturday!
and potential paperwhites! I think they look so sweet all wrapped up in there. I'm amazed at how much the amaryllis has grown in the past couple of days, and I can't wait to see which one it is when it blooms (silly Sherrie didn't label them after she planted them).
Item number one is a Baby Gap purse-y sort of thing. I couldn't give Adam a good answer when he asked "What's it for?" For toddlers to have a bag to carry around like mum, I guess. Regardless, when you look a bit closer, all of those little speckly things are:
TURTLES! Tiny, shiny, embroidered turtles! Painfully cute. I think she charged me 30 cents for it. If we don't have a girl, I'm sure I'll find someone to pass it along to. If I don't just keep it for its cuteness factor. And the inside is:
striped! With a handy dandy little secret pocket. Very cute.
Item number 2 is a pair of Old Navy maternity stretch pants, suitable for work. Not just any pants, but ones I DON'T NEED TO HEM. This is nearly unheard of. I'm 5 feet tall, so I have a sewing machine which is used pretty much every time I buy pants. These ones are the perfect length. Colour me delighted!
And lastly, stripes! This is a double sheet I found, which I love the pattern of. If we have a girl (I seem to be saying that a lot lately) I would love to make a sling out of this after she's born. My mother-in-law is coming for a visit in February, and we're going to work together to make a sling in a more gender-neutral pattern (this does have blue, but it's a little heavy on the pink. Not that I'm averse to boys wearing pink. Although I guess it would really be me or Adam wearing the sling...)
Speaking of slings, I have serious sling envy for this beauty. If we have a girl... I still won't be able to afford it! :) Lest I leave the impression that I would be in any way disappointed if we have a boy, let me assure you that is very much not the case. I'll just need to find some more things at Frenchy's!
Edit: Just had an idea for the striped material - if we were to make a reversible pouch sling and use a neutral colour (tan or chocolate or something) for the opposite side, it could be suitable for a boy or girl!
I'm still in awe about the ultrasound. I feel like it has changed everything, and now this baby is somehow more real and it means more to protect and love him/her than it did before. It's crazy what a change in perception can do to a person. I guess I can't really put it into words very well, but bursting into tears when I saw our baby moving around on the screen pretty much says it all. Or maybe it just says what the hormones are doing to me!
Speaking of the baby, I did manage to get the soon-to-be nursery cleaned out on my snow day the other day, yay! My office and Adam's are now happily co-existing, but there are still lots of things I have to sort and organize. But the room is ready to be attacked, so that's a great step forward.
In weather related interesting-ness, we have a wind warning and a rainfall warning in effect today. It is WILD outside, and I wish I could just curl up by the fire with a good book. (Speaking of which, I'm reading The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck these days. Good story!) Well, lunch is almost over, so I guess I should get back to work and forget about the cozy fire.
Yay! The first full snow day of the school year. And warranted - the streets are snow covered, snow is still falling and blowing around everywhere (a blowing snow warning and everything!), and it is -16 with a windchill of -28. A good day to stay inside for sure! Quite a contrast from the promise in this amaryllis bud. I've got two of them started, but there are only leaves and no bud on the other one yet. The fire is merrily blazing and the furnace is warming up the far corners of the house, and baby is doing somersaults as I type.
Speaking of buds, plans for today include some preparations for our bud's impending arrival. First on the list is moving the rest of non-baby stuff out of the baby's future room and setting up my office-y space in the room with Adam's. I'll post some before and after pictures when we get the room done. That will probably take up the bulk of the day, along with the regular cooking, dishes, and perhaps some laundry. Which I actually like doing, so it's not as dull a day as it sounds.
If you're looking for something to do today, here is a fabulous recipe for oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookies which Adam and I made the other evening. It's from an administrative assistant at one of the schools I work in. Mmmmmmm, they're the perfect texture and combination of tastes, and they take no time to whip up. I think they would be good with some coconut added. Here it is:
Maureen's Fabulous Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (I use one whole wheat and one white)
2 cups oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips or raisins
Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla until well combined. Mix together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture. Mix well, add in chocolate chips or raisins. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes. Makes a bunch... we started eating them before we counted!
One of the things I've been puttering with is a spreadsheet of things we need for baby. (Google spreadsheets is great! I can see a lot more (organized) lists in my future.) I've tried to keep it to a minimum - like with most things, you can go overboard with extras that aren't necessary. I'm trying to stick to pretty necessary things, and hopefully we can get some of them second hand or as gifts. I've also come up with a few storage solutions which I think will work in the tiny room that is to be the nursery. There's no closet, so that makes things a bit trickier, but definitely manageable. Now I'm really excited to get the room ready!
Google Desktop is another thing I've had fun with lately. It's one of those computer-y things that I'm sure my husband finds annoying and silly, but I've had fun with it. I especially love my little weather globe that is snowing when it's snowing, raining when it's raining, etc.
Diapers. Ah, diapers. If only babies didn't have to poop. I think we will do primarily cloth diapering, with some supplemental disposable diapering when we're not at home. I've been looking at a terrific Nova Scotia company called Valley Cloth Diapers who have lots of info and diaper selection on their site. It's hard to sort out exactly what works out to be the best for both price and sensible-ness. I think the easiest diapers are these adorable Kushies which you don't need covers for and which anyone can use without practice (especially good for babysitting grandparents and the like.) But prefolds are cheaper, even though you need covers. This is all new lingo for me, I'm just sounding like I know what I'm talking about. I just love the idea that I'm using the same diapers over and over and if we have more babies, they can use them, too. I'm much more comfortable with that choice than all disposables, all the time. Seventh Generation has some better alternatives to regular disposable diapers which are still thrown away but don't use many of the crazy chemicals in mainstream disposables. So much to think about!
Enough babbling for now. There will definitely be a post tomorrow with the ultrasound picture of our beautiful baby!
Also in exciting news, we had a new bird at our feeder today. Usual visitors include 6 cardinals, about 5 blue jays, piles of chickadees and little brown birds, goldfinches and housefinches. This guy (apologies for the low quality pics; Adam had to use optical zoom so you could actually see the bird) showed up today demonstrating great bravery (he scared away the blue jays, which is no small feat) and delightfully bright plumage. We don't know what he is, but we're hoping Josh might know. I'll keep you posted.
Update: The mystery has been solved (thanks, Josh!) It's a female Baltimore Oriole.
"The day you deliver, outside will be breezy. (We are in Yarmouth. It's ALWAYS breezy.) Your baby will arrive at night. (50/50 chance!)
After a labor lasting approximately 8 hours, (I hope!) your child, a girl, will be born. Your baby will weigh about 11 pounds, 10 ounces, (ACK!) and will be 19 inches long. This child will have light brown eyes (like Mama!) and be almost bald."
Even Madame Zaritska thinks that it will be a girl! And a hefty one, at that!
Speaking of bellies, there will be belly pics coming soon... I'm getting rather rotund. I love it! And my collection of maternity clothes is coming along nicely, so that makes it extra fun (although no one warned me about how droopy maternity pants can be). I've also been feeling the baby wiggling around fairly often (usually when I lay down, before falling asleep), so that makes it exciting, too. And I'm feeling good. And I love how people light up when they see that I'm pregnant - it makes me feel like I'm making the world a better place. Which is exactly what I need this week after some very sad news from both sides of our family.
I don't think I've mentioned that we have our first ultrasound next week; I'll be sure to post the picture as soon as possible. Hopefully everything will be fine and it will be all good news. And thanks to Ingrid for offering a lovely pink baby hat she knitted if it turns out to be a girl, as everyone suspects. We'll see!
The eventful part of the evening came when the firework we bought a few weeks ago (cleverly called "The Out of Space" (I think it was intended to be "Outer Space", kind of like the soap holder my sister bought my at a Chinese market in Ottawa that said "Happy and Enjoy") was lit in Matthew's back yard. It was one of those huge fireworks which sits on a nice level surface and has a whole bunch of different smaller fireworks within it, all lit by a single wick. Matthew lit the single wick, then came running across the lawn toward us to watch from a safe distance. There was a huge CRACK which made me jump and yell, and the above picture is the only one I got before I clued in that Adam was yelling to me to run away from the fireworks that were exploding straight toward us. Apparently what happened was that somehow, all of the smaller fireworks inside had lit at the same time, making the huge sounds and tipping it over for one extraordinary firework. We were kind of disappointed, but it definitely made for a memorable experience. Maybe I should have clued in from "The Out of Space" that it might not have been the greatest quality merchandise.