Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Children's Television

So, television.  In general, on the internet, television for young children can be a contentious issue.

That being said, most parents I know (including myself!) appreciate the brief periods of quiet that a television program can bring to one's household.  Sometimes a parent just needs two minutes of blessed quiet to maintain their sanity for the rest of the day.

My munchkin is still pretty little (toddler/preschool age), so while we don't watch a lot of television, there are extra levels of crazy in the programming designed for kids in that age range.  Seriously, sometimes you wonder where the writers and animators are getting their drugs.

TV Shows that Munchkin Seems to Enjoy and Don't Make Me Completely Nutso:

  • Octonauts
    This is a BBC series about a crew of animals who travel Earth's oceans in their crazy underwater living quarters/ship, helping ocean creatures.  They end every episode by singing a song with facts about the creature they helped, with video of the real life animal in the background.  It is cute without being saccharine and educational without beating you about the head.  My only issue with this show is that while there are two female crew members (one of whom is the ship's mechanic/fix it lady) the show mostly revolves around three male crew members.  It would have been awesome to have more episodes featuring Dashi & Twig in more central roles.
  • Bubble Guppies
    A Nickelodeon show featuring 6 little mermaid kindergarten children (or guppies).  Each episode they learn about something which is triggered by what the guppies see on their way to school (eg. running into a friend who falls and breaks their tail leads to a whole episode about doctors and medical related things).  I love that all 6 guppies seem to get equal face/air time, in addition to having an even gender split in the characters (the three girls are Molly, Deema and Oona, and the three boys are Gil, Goby & Nonny).  The songs are really catchy, and my only real beef with the show is that there are so many freaking nautical puns.
  • Peg + Cat
    This is a joint Canadian-American production.  The main point of the show is to demonstrate mathematical concepts to little ones, but does so fairly subtly (the characters ask viewers to help with counting, finding shapes, or doing simple addition or subtraction problems - in order to solve a dilemma in the show).  A fair amount of singing is involved, and I love that the show is presented so that it looks like everything is drawn on graph paper.
  • Zack & Quack
    The whole thing is based in a world that is essentially a giant pop-up book.  Zack, a little boy, and his friend Quack, a duck, are theoretically the show's heroes, but they rely heavily on next door neighbour Kira, who carries a paper fixing kit with her wherever she goes.  This show is seriously adorable.
  • Fraggle Rock
    I know, I know, this show has not had a new episode since 1987, but it is readily available on DVD or Blue-Ray (we have the first two seasons on disk).  It started in Canada with the Jim Henson company, and translates better than some other stuff from that era, since it was intended for international audiences right from the beginning.
    It is just as good as you remembering it being when you were little.  The only thing that doesn't hold up as well is the green screen effects and some of the out in the real world scenes (whoa, the early 80s!), but everything else is still pretty awesome.  You get the lovely nostalgia factor, and your kid gets to watch high quality programming.  
TV Shows that Munchkin Seems to Enjoy that Hurt My Brain
  • Toopy & Binoo
    This is a Canadian series about a cat (who doesn't talk) and a rat (who doesn't freaking shut up) and their adventures in their 'whimsical' world.
    The writers of this show have smoked ALL the drugs.  It was nominated for a Gemini award, but I can only imagine it was because the show's staff shared their stash of the good stuff.  Seriously, this show is all kinds of WTF.
  • Mike the Knight
    This Canadian show means well, and some of it is cute.  That being said, Mike is a bossy, know-it-all little brat who doesn't ask for help until everything is about to bite him in the butt.  He's mean to his sister because she is a wizard and not a knight.  He treats his dragon buddies like slaves.  He is bossy at his other friends, unless he needs something from them.  In short, Mike sucks.
  • Thomas and Friends
    This is not the Thomas the Tank Engine of years past.  Thomas in his 2010's incarnation is similar to Mike the Knight - the trains are whiny, selfish little bastards.  You will watch this and yearn for drunk Ringo or George Carlin from the 90s to return and kick their annoying train butts.  Kids, unfortunately, love them because trains.
  • Trucktown
    Much like teenagers boarding a bus in threes, I can't even with this show.  It is full of terrible stereotypes (especially gender related, especially on the rare occasions that the show's lone female character is allowed to make an appearance - boys like to smash! And play rough!).  I don't understand how an award winning children's author is behind this mess.  Seriously, dude wrote The Stinky Cheese Man and is now doing THIS?? 
If you have any recommendations for keeping a small child entertained for a few moments so that the parent in the house can get things done without said small person underfoot, shout them out in the comments!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Random Thoughts From A Two-Year-Old

Small children are wonderful, terrifying, strange little creatures.
Here is a short and random sampling of things that our resident tiny human has said and/or done in the last few days.

In the middle of bed-time stories (David's Father by Robert Munsch), she looks over at partner, who is fully clothed at the time and says "Papa, your armpits are hairy."

*Fart noises* *laughs hysterically*
Later, in a conspiratorial whisper: "Papa, I like farting on Mama"

Insists Papa has to shave, so that she can grow a beard herself.

"What did you do at daycare today?"
Proudly: "I bite [other kid at daycare]!"


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recent Food Stuff Ending in Crock-Pot Potato Soup


This is the last really big haul I did from the garden at the end of August.  I've since brought in even more tomatoes and quite a few carrots.  The carrots are still going strong, so we bring some into the house every few days.  The Lipstick peppers were super-flavourful, and I'm sad I couldn't encourage the plant to put out any more of them before the weather turned.


This is the result of our most recent visit to the local farmer's market.  Clockwise, from left to right we have eggplants, cheese & herb sourdough bread, nectarines, eggs, sweet long peppers, artisan pork sausages, wild blueberries and strawberries.

In addition to this, we are still receiving our local produce delivery basket.  In short, we are still drowning in produce, even though it is now fall.   Root veggies are starting to appear as well, and we have had a surplus of potatoes.  I haven't even bothered to dig any of the potatoes I planted earlier this year, since we've been getting so many in our deliveries, although I'm going to have to do it soon.

Combine the abundance of potatoes in our life with the fact that both partner & I have managed to get ourselves the first colds of the season at the same time, and the end result is crock-pot potato soup.  I did not take any photos, because I didn't think to do so before dinner, and there was none left afterward.

To make some yourself, you will need:
3-4 large potatoes, washed & cubed
1 large carrot, diced
1 medium handful of chives, finely chopped
1 vegetable bouillion cube
1/2 tsp ground rosemary
salt & pepper to taste
milk (approximately 1-2 cups)
sour cream & more chives to garnish, should you so desire

Put everything in the crock-pot except for the milk.  Add enough water to cover the vegetables, turn the crock-pot to low, and walk away.
When you return home from work/errands/lounging on the couch/etc, 6-8 hours later, blend the soup up (I have an immersion blender.  If you are using a regular blender, be sure to do it in batches and keep an eye & a hand on the lid).  Add milk until you get the consistency you like.  If necessary, warm gently until heated back to your desired temperature.
Serve with the garnishes of your choice.

I know it is similar to the potato & leek soup I've posted previously, but this version requires so much less effort.  I hope you enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Random Internet Amusements - Sept 2014

I realized today that it has been five WEEKS since I lasted posted anything.  I haven't even been really updating my Facebook feed that much.

The killer thing is that I haven't been doing a lot (with a few exceptions, including attending a lovely wedding).  My life lately has mostly just the routine items needed to keep things going generally smoothly.

I have, however, found a few things on the internet that have kept me amused, so I thought I would share a few links with you (keeping in mind, that these websites have no idea who I am, I just think they are neat).

A Mighty Girl - this website is full of awesome, kick-ass things.  Tons of books and movies with strong, female characters, and a great assortment of clothing in all sizes.  The clothing includes super-hero items in the colours the superhero wears in the comics/movies/other media (anyone who has stood in a store/looked at an e-store and yelled something along the lines of "BUT BATGIRL DOESN'T WEAR PINK!" will get me on this one).  I have yet to purchase anything from this site, but only through an effort of will.

In a similar vein, Her Universe is a clothing website for those of the female persuasion who appreciate some of the more major fandoms.  Currently, they are carrying items for Star Wars, Star Trek, Walking Dead, Marvel, Dr. Who, and Transformers.  I have also not purchased anything from this site, largely because of the shipping to Canada costs, but the Han Solo dress looks amaze-balls.

The food blog Amuse Your Bouche has a ton of vegetarian recipes, with Pinterest worthy photography.  Most of it sounds and looks really, really delicious.

Lastly, this video made me laugh really hard.  At work.  Fortunately, it was my lunch hour.



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

2014 Garden Update: August Tomatoes

Well, it is a new month, and I thought I'd give a garden update.  I'm only going to talk about my tomatoes though, because reasons.

The Mountain Princess beefsteak tomato plant has not loved life.  It caught some sort of tomato plant disease and mostly turned yellow & withered up.  It was very sad.  I did get a handful of fruit from it before it gave up the ghost.  They were tasty, but not special tasty.  I don't think this is a variety I'll grow again.

On the other hand, the Isis Candy cherry tomato plant is growing like mad and starting to take over the raised bed.  The tomatoes themselves are really sweet & have a lovely variegated red-orange-yellow hue.  See?  Cute AND tasty!


The nasturtiums are also growing like crazy, and have managed to avoid aphids so far.  They got planted near the onions and escaped spearmint, which helps I think, since bugs generally don't like mint or alliums.

Oh, and I am finally getting sunflowers!  They are a lovely pale lemon yellow colour - almost the same colour as my kitchen.  Since the pack was a variety pack, I can't wait until the rest of the blossoms open so that I can see their different colours.

How are your gardens doing?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Banana Pear Bread

So far, today has been a lovely day.  There is a nice breeze keeping it from being too hot & sticky outside, I got up in time to have breakfast (which partner cooked) before going to yoga class, and I may have treated myself to a tiramisu gelato on my way home from said class.

Then I noticed that there were 4 overripe bananas & 2 overripe pears sitting in the fruit basket.  This immediately led to the decision to make banana-pear bread.  It turned out pretty awesome.


You will need:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs
4-5 medium ripe or overripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vanilla or plain yogurt (about 1 single serving container)
1/4 cup cooking oil or melted butter
2 medium ripe pears, finely diced

Preheat oven to 350F, and grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, except the sugar.
In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and pears.  Make sure they are well mixed.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened (it is supposed to be lumpy).
Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a wooden tooth pick inserted near the top centre comes out clean.
Now, the hardest step:  cool 5-10 minutes before attempting to slice.  I lasted 3 and got slightly burned fingers for my efforts.

I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Grilled Garlic Scape Pesto

Our produce delivery has been really lovely the last while.  Part of that, I'm sure, is that things are coming into season here, so we're getting lots of super-fresh, local items!

Not too many baskets ago, we received a pile of garlic scapes.  For a long time, people thought of them as compost, since you need to snip them if you want nice, fat garlic bulbs.  However, in the last few years, they've come back into fashion, which means that they are often quite expensive at the farmer's markets!  It was lovely to get some in our basket at no extra charge.

We weren't quite sure what to do with the scapes, and since we were planning on barbecuing the following day, we decided to toss them on the grill too.  We tossed them in a tiny amount of olive oil, with just a light sprinkling of salt & pepper to season and grilled them for 2-3 minutes.
They were not too shabby prepared that way, but we could only eat about one each with all the other items we had grilled.  So I made them into pesto!  (I love pesto, if you had not yet guessed from all the other pesto recipes in this blog)
I think grilling them gave them a softer flavour than if I had just made the pesto straight.

Here is what you need:


A blender
About a dozen grilled garlic scapes
parmesan cheese
olive oil
hulled pistachios (I got mine at the bulk food store)
salt & pepper to taste
maybe some water, depending

Roughly chop your garlic scapes and toss them in the blender (I did not do this, and it took forever to blend everything down.  Don't be like me, and chop your's first!).  Add in 1/4-1/2 cup pistachios (I didn't measure, I just tossed in 4-5 handfuls).  Give a good solid few shakes of parmesan, a little salt & pepper, and pour in 1/2 cup of oil to start.
Pulse away, and add more oil as needed.  I think I ended up using about 1 cup of olive oil, but I also added about a cup of water to mine, to make it more sauce-like.

If you are not using it right away, you can pour it into an ice cube tray to freeze, or stick it in the fridge for a bit.  I had so much, I managed to have a full ice cube tray and a 250ml jar full!


I used some of the jar in tonight's lasagna, and it was quite tasty.
If you find some garlic scapes for a good price and decide to try this recipe, I hope you enjoy it!