Blueberry Muffins w/ Soph and Grammy.

We had our girl over the other weekend. This kid is getting huge! Yet she is but a wee four year old. How can that all be ? ­čÖé

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Growth mystery aside, we had fun with her. We went and saw a movie- Smallfoot.- where that kid ate her weight in popcorn, I swear. We hung around the house and played with some toys – Grammy and Grumpus ate A LOT of plasticine food on tiny Ikea plates.- We even made real food! Blueberry muffins, using my mother in law’s recipe.

 

We had some silly fun and ended up with a delicious treat. (I may or may not have added in some white chocolate chips )

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Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

  1.  2.5 cups flour
  2. 2.5 tsp baking powder
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 cup buttermilk
  5. 2 large eggs, well beaten
  6. 1/2 cup butter, melted
  7. 1.5 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen. Whatevs.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a well and add buttermilk,eggs and melted butter. Mix well, and fold in blueberries. Will well greased tins with batter and bake at 400 F for 20-25 min. Enjoy.

Sophia said the muffins tasted like ” rotten garbage” Ha Ha Ha! Little shit. They did not, I assure you. I think maybe they just weren’t cupcakes which is what she really wanted to make.

I learned a thing or two from this experience and as I am a child care professional – no really!- here are my tips for cooking with your grandbabies

  1. Make the things┬áthey want to make. Soph wanted cupcakes, I didn’t have the ingredients for those so we made muffins. She was happy to do┬ásomething with me, but cupcakes would have been a bigger hit. Give the kids the power of choice here.
  2. Make sure your grandchild is old enough to help you in the kitchen and make sure the thing you’re making and the tasks you give them are age appropriate. It saves on frustration all around AND ensures their safety. Are they stable enough to stand on a stool? Is the stool stable? How are their listening skills? Can they follow direction? What about their fine motor skills?
  3. Speaking of safety, don’t freak out too, too much about this. I let Soph lick the butter knife, she ate some batter (like I could stop her, ha) I’ve let her cut things up. With┬áattentive supervision all things are possible. Use your judgement, talk them through it and take a few reasonable risks.
  4. Tidy up the place a bit. Have all your ducks -ingredients- in a row. My kitchen was a train wreck and it made things a bit more challenging. But I’d already invited her in to help and she was eager to do so and didn’t want to wait for Grammy. Next time, I’ll make sure I keep my mouth shut til its clean and I’m organized.
  5. Have fun! You can still teach good hygiene and proper measuring techniques as you go but the real goal here is to spend time with your love, engaged and connected. Don’t worry too much about the mechanics of the thing. Enjoy your time together!

 

We’re having the younger one this weekend.

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OV is eight months old now and army crawling all over the place! Time to baby proof Grammy’s place. He’s going to be a helluva lot of work for the next little bit but boy is he ever cute. I suspect I’ll survive ­čśë

 

Isoitok Camp- Tanzania

We bumped along a dusty road heading toward the hills, passing by the occasional Maasai boma and groups of women and children. Smiles and two-handed waves all around. When the little girls we passed saw that we were a Land Cruiser full of women being driven by a woman, their faces lit up and their welcome was even more enthusiastic.

You could feel their surprise and delight. It was a tangible thing!

Would any of them grow up to be like Grace and break from their restrictive social norms?  Was Grace inspiring them to go their own way and chose for themselves, a different life?

Seeing their faces really brought home the full scope of the importance of what Grace was doing, just by being herself and doing what she loved. So.fucking.cool! And truly, a nice way to end the day. All day long our Grace had been shrugging off questions and dirty looks about what she was doing out ”there” with us, away from her family. “Who’s looking after your kids?!” ” What does your husband think of this?” It must have been so stressful for her. Yet she answered all queries in her quiet way and didn’t seem ruffled one bit. If I’d had to endure the stares and glares and questions and lectures the way she did…I probably wouldn’t have been so nice. DSC07500

 

Isoitok Camp was unassuming from the outside. Completely fenced within a perimeter of acacia thorns was the most interesting place!

Isoitok means many stones and so stones are used liberally throughout the camp to form pathways and other much more interesting structures to honour that. It was so interesting and pleasing to the eye. We were greeted and seated and offered juice and hot towels while our genial host told us all we needed to know about our new home.

 

Isoitok Camp has a partnership with the Maasai communities surrounding the camp through its African Roots Foundation. How cool is that?! They use the foundation as a platform to run small-scale, sustainable projects that seek to help improve the daily life of the communities surrounding the camp.

We freshened up and met back at the main tent to watch the evening show which for us that night consisted of watching the sun set , accompanied by the soothing sound of cow bells as the Maasai led their cattle back home for the night. When people say “More cow bell” I think of something else entirely now ­čÖé

Dinner was bloody fantastic!

Avocado Salad & Stuffed Eggplant, Chicken stuffed w/ veg then battered and fried, Stuffed tomato to mimic the chicken, only the tomato was roasted and all caramelized , Vegetable Gratin and Cheesecake for dessert!

We sat under the stars and enjoyed a fire until bed. Bed being real beds in canvass tents. So cool!

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We were up early the next morning to visit a Maasai family but first…

 

 

Coffee on my porch!

We spent the morning with a lovely family and were formally introduced to Maasai culture.

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Reuben leading the way.

We visited with one of the wives in her boma and had fun asking questions and answering hers in return about our daily life. She was so open and welcoming to us, interested in our lives as we were hers. Of course we all admired her children, an older daughter – about 5 or 6 – and a baby girl, probably about one years old, who was the most beautiful child I’d ever seen in my life. She had the brightest eyes and the longest eyelashes. She made us all gasp with astonishment. We were welcomed to take photos and we took some from a distance but it still felt wrong, so we refrained from close-ups. (That subject is a whole other post!) But we didn’t have any problems cuddling her when her mum plopped her in our laps ­čÖé

 

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It was an interesting experience. We were welcomed and the people we met were friendly and engaging. The money that comes from cultural tours help improve the lives of those in the community.

The idea of cultural tourism opened up questions for us about responsible tourism. This was a mild, gentle reciprocal experience. It felt respectful but we were still questioning ourselves and thinking about how tourism has an impact on the world around us…unknown to us at the time, even bigger questions, from an even bigger experience were just around the corner.

Up next, *Ngorongoro Crater.

( I totally spelled Ngorongoro right from memory. Go me! I’m so proud. )

 

Belgium Waffle Breakfast Sandwich Review.

So, Tim Horton’s (Or Tim Hotton’s, if you’re in India) has a new menu item that I was intrigued by: The Belgium Waffle Breakfast Sandwich.

We were out and about early to pick up the granddaughter so that’s what I chose for my breakfast!

This is what it looks like on their website:

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This is what it looked like in my lap while driving (sorry, its blurry) :

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Pretty much the same, right? Not a total lie like Amarula. 

The first thing we noticed as we (Hubs and I) unwrapped them, was the smell. Solid maple. Oooooh. Then we took our first bites.

Solid sugar! Which I guess is to be expected but I was a little confused because there was no real maple flavour.

Weird, but OK.

The next thing I tasted was that pepper. I think it comes from the sausage which other than the peppery tastes was pretty much non-existent flavour wise. The egg was also there but not there and thank Goddess for the cheese because I really think its fake salty creaminess cut through some of the sugar taste. I appreciated the cheese! The waffles themselves were not entirely crisp all the way through, only so at the cross hatches. I liked that, the hubs did not. It wasn’t falling apart soft, just sort of mushy in spots and the whole thing held together well. There was an over all texture of sugary graininess. It was like eating a breakfast sandwich made between two doughnuts. It was like someone had dipped the waffles in a grainy simple syrup.

In the end, the Hubs said ,

“It’s not horrible.┬á I imagine its hard to keep the waffles crisp when you’re cooking for so many customers”

I liked it. I’d eat it again, if for no other reason than to see if Tim’s is consistent. I wish it was less sweet and less peppery with a more savoury profile but I thought it was good. I really liked the crisp bits at the crosshatching and the way the cheese cut through the whole thing.

I kinda wanna make my own version. Maybe watch for that here!

A Lesson in Expectations. Amarula.

Watch my very first, very short, very goofy videos.

Amarula or Bailey’s?

 

 

Yes, clearly not a real rip off. BUT I felt ripped off. I was expecting to taste marula fruit not Bailey’s! Now I NEEEEED to know what marula fruit tastes like and I can’t just pick that up at the farmer’s market and I certainly cant afford to go fly off to S. Africa to get some and now this is a whole thing!

All silliness aside, I want to say this: Amarula tastes really nice. My Hubs says it’s almost like Bailey’s only tangy with more toffee and chocolate tones. I say its tastes like lies, but whatever.

Now I Am Masaai.

Our stay at Arumeru River Lodge was pleasant enough. The grounds of the place are lovely, with the rooms being individual cottages, scattered throughout the gardens. Service was fine….capable for sure but honestly it was the only place where I felt unwelcome. Our hosts were mostly civil, mostly. Some of them were down right surly. That was a surprise and it was most unusual compared to our treatment everywhere else. The animals were sure cute though!

 

 

We only stayed the one night and then we were off in our trusty stead:

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Our first stop was The Maasai Crafts Market where we visited some women, had a wander through and of course, bought some things!

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Grace and our new friend, just AFTER they were dancing and being silly. This woman was THE BEST! She has such a fun sense of humour and we just loved her.

I bought three pairs of earings, a necklace, two bracelets and some gemstones. It was really fun to engage with the ladies and playfully bargain back and forth. Crafy, crafty business women, these gals! I usually HATE doing that but I don’t know…these women were just a pure delight. I was all TAKE MY MONEY. The lady I bought a pair of carved giraffe earings from said “Now you are Maasai!“ and my silly heart went SQUEE.

We drove on further to visit another shop-The Tanzanite Experience-and holy crap! What a capitalistic delight that was. I had planned to buy a piece of Tanzanite jewellery but the prices at this place put me right off. A total tourist trap, which is fine. People gotta live! I did enjoy a wander through and they had lots of other things. I would have liked to rent a shipping container to bring it all home.

We were supposed to be visiting somewhere else but for some reason or another-we were never told why – plans changed so we visited these places instead, chosen for us based on our interests. It was all good! I know other people have complained that they were taken to places just to shop and then their guide got kick backs, that wasn’t happening here. I wanted to clarify that! Our trip was so jam-packed that if a person didn’t plan to stay an extra day, they wouldn’t have had a chance to pick up any souvenirs. We were all willing and appreciative that we had the chance.

We ate the first of our boxed lunches under some acacia trees. These lunches are a thing of beauty. Packed full of yum, they vary depending on who made them but it was always so fun to open up our boxes and marvel at what was inside. I didn’t take photos-this was before I developed an affection for them-but I do remember we enjoyed :a chicken drumstick, a hard-boiled egg, a jam sandwich, a juice box, two pieces of fruit, a package of cookies and a chocolate bar!

After lunch, Lake Manyara National Park!

 

 

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We were excited enough seeing the damn baboons, the elephants rendered us speechless. And teary. They have special meaning to me personally, but it was more than that. I felt so lucky to be in their presence while they calmly ate leaves and moved about the forest. I felt happy they were alive and well and not in a zoo. I felt humble and small and insignificant. I felt angry at humans and how we fuck things up for other beings.

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Do you see the lion?

 

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Zebra. These things are everywhere. So cool.

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Warthogs! See them kneeling to eat?

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Eagle

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Look at its little fists!

And then this happened:

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It seemed SO deliberate and SO cheeky that we all just roared with laughter. “Ladies…“

We left Lake Manyara feeling silly, happy and content. We drove to our next new home, silent and absorbing, thinking about the day. It was good to share such things with like-minded people who appreciated it all with the same reverence.

 

Winter Weather Survival Guide

I went from this:

 

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to this:

 

to this:

cleared road near trees and light post during nighttime

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

I’m having a hard time adjusting.

BUT in my 16 years of long, hard winter┬áhating living, I’ve learned a few things a person can do make the cold seasons, a little less shitty. Sadly, I don’t have a magic wand to make it ALL go away – you could move South?- but if you do a few of these things a day, you too can survive until Spring. (Spring, Spring. Not the date on the calendar. We all know Spring doesn’t really come to Edmonton until June. Ugh)

ANYWAY. Here we go!

  1. Ignore it. Seriously. Don’t look outside. Don’t watch weather reports.┬á Don’t complain about it. Don’t engage in conversation about it. Don’t even acknowledge the outside world. Pretend like it doesn’t exist. The weather is like a bad ex you see on the street. Avert your eyes and walk on by. You’re better than that! They don’t deserve your attention!
  2. We may be ignoring the -20c but we’re not stupid. Buy yourself some warm gear. Spend the money, if you can, on a good jacket. Buy those cute (warm) boots, buy a colourful scarf with hats and mitts to match. Hell, buy several! The dollar store is your friend here. The trick is to put as many warm things as you can between your skin and the asshole weather. I hear layering is a good thing. Do that!
  3. Remember the transition period is the hardest part. Once you acclimatize from Summer to Fall, you’ll feel better. Let yourself be grumpy. Take extra care of you during this time. Trust me, 5c is going to start feeling warm soon and then you’ll know you’ve made it! I’m only miserable for ten minutes until I warm up! Time how long it takes you to warm out and celebrate your success as week by week you acclimatize too!
  4. Drink warm liquids. Make an event out of it. Soups, teas, coffee, whatever. Add these into your day as a time just for you. Embrace the warmth of the cup, the flavours, the coziness of the break in your day. This is how we get by, sip by sip.
  5. Movies! Movies are your friend. Preferably in your own house so you don’t have to go outside. Movies are a great way to kill a few hours of yucky weather AND if you choose a documentary you’ll learn something too! You’re going to be a genius by the time this is over!
  6. Exercise. Yeah. Lame. I know. BUT exercise improves your mental health and in order to survive something challenging, we need good mental health. There are lots of things we can do indoors. Hell, sometimes on really cold days I just walk in circles in my home, like the caged animal I am. You could go to a mall or find a gym,or go online, or lift weights or do yoga or get yourself a treadmill…move that body. Your Spring self will thank you.
  7. Take advantage of the sun. No, no. I’m not asking you to go outside. All I’m saying is that IF the sun is shining, go get yourself some rays. Sit in the window. Let your body get some Vit. D. You may very well find yourself inspired to go outside. And that’s ok too! Just don’t become one of those smug assholes who does nothing but talk about how much they loooove winter while the rest of us sit there miserable. Gah.
  8. Don’t force yourself to go outside. Don’t force yourself to love Winter. You feel what you feel and that’s OK. You might even find once you stop shoulding on yourself you WANT to go out and do things. It could happen. Yesterday I chose to walk to the mall after choosing to hole up inside the day before. Balance people! Oh. And choice. You have free will. You don’t like the cold. That’s just fine. It doesn’t make you bad or negative. It’s just a preference and its yours. ignore those smug Winter lovers, I betcha they’re lying anyway.
  9. Have you heard of Hygge? It’s a whole thing about coziness and comfort and WARMTH and LIGHT and fun with an emphasis on well-being. It’s perfectly suited for the cold season. Go find out for yourself. And then hygge it up!
  10. Stay connected with the humans. It’s very tempting to isolate oneself ( I’m looking at you Lael) Resist the urge. It just makes these dark days all the darker. Get out there and be social. However that comfortably looks to you. Doing stuff with friends, even just coffee, makes the time go by faster. My friends are sometimes the ONLY reason I make it in a day and I love them for it. And hey! YOU could be the reason someone else makes it. You never know…Just get out there, at least twice a week and be social. You can be a hermit the other 5 days. Trust me, Winter will go by faster.
  11. Hang in there. Dec 21 is the Solstice AND the start of Winter. This used to depress me until I realized that on the Solstice, THE LIGHT COMES BACK! Sure, it’s still freezing ass cold but its on its way out. The light comes back and with the light comes more hours of sun. And with more hours of sun comes the heating. And with the heating comes the Spring. Before you know it, you’ll be saying “Winter? Did we even have a Winter?” Back in glorious denial but hopefully a little wiser than the year before and ready to face the cold weather once more. YOU CAN DO THIS.

F*ck Up Friday * Should Have Ordered Take Out.

Happy Friday!

If you’re new here, Fuck Up Friday was born out of a need to cringe less and love myself more. Instead of being ashamed and afraid of my screw ups and mistakes, I thought it’d be fun to share them, with you. and encourage you to share with me so that we could all see that mistakes are a part of life. Sometimes they can even be funny and most likely, you, me, WE are not alone.

High on my Pickle Pizza success, I thought I’d whip up my own half-assed version of a Margherita pizza. I was SURE it was going to be amazing!

I smeared on the oil and pressed the garlic. I sliced the mozzarella and hand squished my garden fresh tomatoes. I took a photo:

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And then I popped it under the broiler and, went and did my hair.

Friends! You’re intelligent humans. You know what happens next!

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Behold. A Photographic F*ck Up!

ARG! I was so mad and yet not surprised because this is what happens when you leave stuff under the broiler. So, I cut it into slices, rolled em up and ate it anyway. It didn’t taste too bad, if you didn’t have to look it…

Have you had any cooking Oops this week? Any other mistakes? Do share, so I feel less lame! Kthanxbye!