Thursday, August 30, 2012

Camp Woodchuck 2012

So. We went on our first camping trip ever, my girls and I. For some reason, I decided that not only should we go camping, but that we should go to "Camp".

The decision to make it  "Camp" necessitated the design of a logo. And then I had to make things with the logo on them to give the girls. Because that's just how I roll.

Welcome to "Camp Woodchuck".

On the first night, we sat down for our very first campfire. While the marshmallows were not a hit, Beege seemed to have a lot of fun wondering what would happen to various things if you threw them in the fire. "What about this leaf? What would happen to this leaf?" "It would burn up, Honey." "What about this brick? Can I put this brick in the fire?" "It would get really hot. And no."

Their first campfire.

When they woke up in the morning, they were each given a canvas bag with a notebook, a bookmark, a button, some crayons, a t-shirt, and a flashlight. You know, like at Camp.

Beege colouring the logo on the front of her notebook.

On our first day, we went for a nature walk, had a scavenger hunt, decorated the canvas bags, and roasted hot dogs on sticks.

This one is Beege's.

On the second day, we painted some picture frames, made gimp bracelets and tie-dyed our t-shirts. (Yes, I did make myself a dorky t-shirt with a woodchuck on it. I even wore it. I was the Leader, you know. )

I had such high hopes for those t-shirts. We had been collecting blackberries in our garden for a couple of weeks, and I'd been putting all the yucky, overly squishy ones in a bag in the freezer for a surprise.

Sadly, despite the beautiful colour we got at first, after we rinsed them (cold water, no soap), it turned a faded murky brown*. Not so pretty.

Before rinsing - mine's the big one.

On day three, we spent most of the day lolling around reading. Kee yanked a bunch of rocks out of the garden to arrange as a doll house. I couldn't tell which ones were supposed to be the "dolls" and which ones were the "couches", so I was banned from playing with her. 

On the whole, it was a great experience; we got to hang out with my mum and dad, we got to sleep on the ground, and I learned some important lessons for when we really go camping.

1. No one likes marshmallows.
2. Food cooked on a stick (except marshmallows) tastes better.
3. I don't need to pack so much for Kee, since she would rather wear the same outfit every single day.
4. If you leave the stupid drain hole in the cooler open, the ice melts faster.
5. My air mattress does not insulate me from the cold ground.
6. They are capable of being still for an hour while I read to them. (The Secret Garden, in case you were wondering.)
7. Kee should not be in charge of the lantern.
8. That a campfire is just not the same without Husband to hold hands with.

*Despite an hour of boiling the shirts in a vinegar solution (which is supposed to make the colour brighter)before dying, boiling them for an hour with the berries, and sitting for a while in a cold salt bath (which is supposed to set the colour). If anyone knows of a sure fire way to dye cotton t-shirts with natural dyes, can you let me know?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wish Me Luck!

When I was a kid, I went camping. A lot. I loved it.

My husband on the other hand; not really a camping guy.

We went camping together once, on the May long weekend; it was at a music festival that Husband was playing at, on a friends' farm, about a three hour drive away.

When we arrived, about ten o'clock at night, it was pitch black and pouring rain. We couldn't set up our tent, so had to sleep in the back of our rented PT Cruiser. The air mattress fit, so we blew it up.

That turned out to be a mistake, since it put our faces about a foot from the roof of the car. I woke up in the middle of the night, screaming, from a dream that I'd been buried alive.

The rest of the trip, it both rained and SNOWED. A lot of people were staying up all night and sleeping during the day because it was too damn cold to sleep at night. My toes still hurt when it gets cold.

Needless to say, it was not exactly my favourite camping trip ever.

That was over ten years ago, and we have not been camping since.

Which brings me to today: Today, I will be embarking on a three day camping trip with the girls. Husband will not be joining us. (More because he has to work than because he hates camping. I think.)

I have to admit though, that it's not actually "camping", as I would define it. We're setting up a tent in my parents' backyard. We will have access to running water, a refrigerator, and a barbecue.

It's more of a "practice" camping trip, to see how the girls do, because Husband has promised me a proper camping trip next summer.

(And if it goes anything like that trip with Husband, we can always pack up and slink into the house.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Overheard While Doing Dishes

Beege: That's a great picture Kee!
Kee: *grunt*
Beege: No really! I like the symmetry.
Kee: I didn't draw any simmy trees.
Vitruvian Man - Leonardo Da Vinci
Beege: Ha ha ha. No, silly. Not "simmy trees", SYMMETRY. Now what, you may be wondering, is symmetry?
Kee: Okay, what's a sim-a-tree?
Beege: Well, Kee. Symmetry is when two things look the same on both sides. The middle is called the "line of symmetry".
Kee: Okay.
Beege: A lot of things have lines of symmetry. Take you, for example. You have a line of symmetry. It goes right down your whole body.
Kee: ...
Beege: Really! You have two eyes, two ears, two arms, two legs, and there's a line all the way down the middle!
Kee: But I don't have two bums! Or belly buttons!

For some reason, that was really upsetting, and yelling ensued. On the upside, if we ever decide to homeschool, maybe Beege can handle the lessons.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Quilts at the Creek!

I have always loved Black Creek Pioneer Village*. I love the feeling of timelessness and the quiet. I like watching the demonstrations of bread making, and spinning, and getting inspiration from the crafts, and the quilts on the beds...

Speaking of quilts:

Last weekend, there was an event at Black Creek Pioneer Village called "Quilts at the Creek", that I was lucky enough to go to. (Thanks, Mum!)

There were more than a hundred quilts strung up for display throughout the village. And no two were the same. If it hadn't been so freaking hot, it would have been my idea of heaven.

There were some incredibly intricate quilts, like this appliqued scenic quilt:

"Trains and Seasons" by Joan Lester

There were also some beautiful traditional designs like these:

"Nine Patch Squared" by Shirley Dawson
"Civil War Fun" by Cock-a-Doodle Quilts
"Sister Stars" by Kay Phillips

There were also some fairly simple designs that gave me hope that I might be able to make more than one quilt in my life time.

"Primitive Logs" by Sandy Lindal

"Quilts of Valour Canada" by Pat Castonguay

And I bought some raffle tickets to win a Janome Horizon 7700**... which would increase the chances of my making more than one quilt in my lifetime. I don't think I'll be going to the 2012 Waterloo Region Plowing Match (which actually looks more interesting than it sounds), but I'll be crossing my fingers from home.

*Also a lovely place to get married, in case you were wondering - my sister got married there, and it was beautiful.
**The reviews aren't awesome, but I'm sure it would be worth the ten dollars I spent on raffle tickets.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Blissdom Canada 2012: I'm Going.

Yes. I am going. To Blissdom Canada. It's going to be weird.

Especially since I feel like I know some of these people through their blogs, but I'm pretty sure they have no idea who I am. It's going to be like when you meet someone ten years after you took a class with them, and you knew who they were, and went over and cheerfully said "hi" only to find out that even though you'd interacted on several occasions, and even lent them a pen, they have absolutely no idea who you are.

I'm already nervous. Actually, I was already nervous before I'd even decided to go for sure. Will I find someone to talk to? Will I trip and fall on my face? Will I remember to bring my ticket? Will I ramble the way I am now and sound like an idiot?

I'm not the very best at meeting new people. But I am extremely good at being neurotic.

It's not for 75 days. That's quite a while to build up some crazy.

But, despite the nervousness, I'm really excited about the prospect of meeting some people who might be able to explain Twitter to me.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Super Easy Teriyaki Tofu

 Lately, I've been experimenting with some new things, cooking-wise. Tofu, for instance.

When I use tofu, it's usually "dessert" tofu. I like to put it in smoothies or use it instead of yogurt in some recipes. I have used regular "main course" type tofu before*, but it's been a long time, so I decided to give it another go.

I'm pleased to say that it went surprisingly well.

So, on to the recipe part:

Super Easy Teriyaki Tofu
(Makes 2 generous servings)

Red peppers are camera shy.
 Bottled Teriyaki sauce (I used VH)
1/2 a package of extra firm tofu, sliced
1-2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
10-15 baby carrots, thinly sliced (or one or two big ones)
1/4 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 red pepper, thinly sliced (notice a theme?)
Small head of broccoli, separated
1/2 can miniature/baby corn
2-3 baby bok choi (is that the plural of bok choi?)
A couple of handfuls of small button mushrooms
A bit of chicken or vegetable stock (optional)
A little bit of flour (if you're going to use the stock)
I'm pretty sure my husband got that corn for the "M'Lord"
1/4 (or so) package of Vermicelli rice noodles
Soy Sauce (optional)

1. Marinate the tofu overnight in the teriyaki sauce. (This is a very important step, considering tofu doesn't really taste like anything left to it's own devices.)
2. In a small pan, (the next day), fry the tofu in a bit of vegetable oil. Check it every once in a while and turn it over now and then.
3. Put a bit of vegetable oil in a frying pan. When it's hot, add the garlic, onion, carrots, celery and broccoli.
4. Put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles.
5. After a few minutes, Add the bok choi and mushrooms. Add in the chicken stock and flour (or corn starch - if using starch, either mix it with a little bit of cold water, or right into your stock if it's been refrigerated, before you add it to the pan.) You may also want to add a bit of teriyaki sauce to the mix at this point (especially if you've opted not to use the stock). These only need to cook for a few minutes, as you don't want your veggies to be soggy.
6. Now would be the time to cook the noodles. They only take three or four minutes once they're in the water. Add a bit of soy sauce to the water for some extra flavour for the noodles.
7. Seriously, the noodles cook fast. Drain and place in bowls. Place some Tofu and veggies on top. Sit down, stir it up, and eat. Yum!

Yummy. I know the tofu looks a little burned - it was more like "caramelized".

*I tried to make a curried tofu dish. It was disgusting and that, along with the rubbery floppy kind you get sometimes in Chinese food, totally put me off the stuff.