Monthly Archives: January 2012

chocolate and peanut butter experiment

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chocolate and peanut butter experiment

For some reason, since our vacation, I’ve felt like baking, a lot.  Sometimes I go to Allrecipes.com and look up new recipes.  Lately, though, I also have another online interest…Pinterest!  I’m afraid that I’ve found it very addicting!  It’s like having bulletin boards for little photos and snips of all your to-do ideas and inspirations, but online.  So if you see a photo, quote, recipe, or anything at all that you like and want to remember or share, you “pin” it to your board.  Then you can share your cool stuff and check out other people’s cool stuff.  So goodbye magazine clippings!  Now all my cool ideas are online, stored in one place, with links to intructions, etc.  What fun!

The other night I saw a photo of these Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows on Pinterest, and then I couldn’t get it out of my mind…I love that combination!!!  So I clicked into the blogs full of recipes, read dozens of readers’ comments on the recipes, then opted for the one that had the easiest ingredients.  I realized afterwards that it’s a vegan recipe (that’s made without dairy and eggs), so for you dairy-free people, here’s a yummy recipe!  I later found another recipe called Magic in the Middle, that has lots of added animal ingredients and am thinking of trying that one out later.  I liked these ones a lot, but there was a slightly strange “healthy” aftertaste, like I had added some secret extra-healthy ingredient, which I didn’t!  Because of this hint of healthy, I may try the other, more rich sounding recipe another day!

For the recipe for these little pillows (well, mine didn’t look like pillows because I didn’t use all natural peanut butter and the dairy-free stuff, so mine just look like normal cookies), see here http://www.theppk.com/2009/03/peanut-butter-pillows/ (the Post Punk Kitchen blog)

Here are a few photos of my efforts:   First you make little peanut butter balls, that was easy and fun!

Then you make a chocolate dough, this was easy with ingredients that I had on hand, like canola oil….(I used milk instead of non-dairy milk).  No eggs or butter (which I didn’t happen to have).  It was all so quick and easy!  Then came the fiddly part: flattening chocolate balls, adding a peanut butter ball to the middle, then closing the flat chocolate tortilla around the middle filling and rolling it into a neat ball.  The photos I saw made it look so easy, but the chocolate dough had a strange texture, nice and greasy, but cracked easily.  So it took quite awhile to cover the little tan balls with the dark brown dough, making large ploppy mounds.

They baked up pretty nicely, making about 25 medium to large cookies.  The smell was wonderful while they baked! Straight out of the oven they were delicious!  When they cooled off they were still yummy, nice and crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with a nice strip of peanut butter in the middle!  For some reason, sometimes I still felt like they had some strange ingredient or smell, like ground flax….sometimes, then other times they were super.  Sometimes I add strange healthy ingredients, but not this time!  The kids really liked them, but they were almost too big, and not all the kids finished the cookie they took.  I don’t think Henry was too impressed, but he ate quite a few anyways, with several glasses of milk.  So I guess my experiment was a success..!?!  Here’s the finished product:

If you would like an invitation to join Pinterest, just let me know 🙂  it’s so much fun (if you like that kinda thing, and clicking around, and looking at photos, etc)

An unexpected purpose

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An unexpected purpose

Our vacation to Guatemala didn’t end up being exactly as we had planned.  There was an unexpected reason why we travelled down,  which  we wouldn’t find out until we were already there.  We thought we were just going to have fun and see the sights, and of course, to spend time with family.  It turned out that we couldn’t have guessed how important the time with family would be.  The day after we arrived, we found out that Henry’s Aunt had just been diagnosed with cancer.  Everyone agreed that she needed to be taken care of at home (Henry’s parents’ place).  It wasn’t in our minds at first, but it was terminal cancer.  The kids were able to meet their great Aunt and were aware that there was a sick person in the house who needed care and some quiet.  Keeping 8 kids even kind of  quiet can be tricky!  So the first 2 weeks of our stay were mainly dedicated to nursing.  I’m afraid that I’m not very good at that, so I mostly kept an eye on kids.  Henry’s mom hardly slept for taking care of her sister.  Both of my sister-in-laws were right there helping out in everything.  I just have to say how much I admire these ladies: my mother-in-law, and Henry’s sister and sister-in-law, they are amazing!!!

So Christmas day and New Years weren’t exactly the way we had imagined… yes we did some celebrating, but festivities weren’t the only thing on our minds.  We were able to give Henry’s Aunt her “Christmas hug” and “New Years hug” this year.  Those are special hugs in Latinamerica!  Usually hugged at midnight.  And she was able to eat a little of the traditional Christmas tamales.  It was a very bittersweet time.

To make a long story short, she passed away in January.  Henry’s dad was out of the city on business, so it was such a blessing that Henry was there, along with his siblings, to help his mom with all the arrangements of the day.  In Guatemala they do a “velorio” which I can only translate as a wake.  But more toned down from the pictures I get in my head when I hear the word “wake”.  And the next day, the kids and everyone went to the funeral home.

An interesting tidbit:  as we were walking into the funeral home, we walked past a couple of slightly distinguished-looking older men, and I noticed one with blue eyes…a few minutes later Henry mentions that he was the president of Guatemala from years ago.  Of course I recognized the name, but hadn’t recognized his face after so many years!!  You just never know who you will run into in Guatemala City!!! craziness!

I must say, the kids enjoyed the funeral home: cousins and food.  It was good to see and greet family members that we might not have otherwise seen.  I had no idea whether it was ok to take photos…I’ve been to uh, only a few, ok, maybe it was only 2 velorios in Guate.  I didn’t know if it was a good idea or not, and didn’t see anyone else with a camera or phone out.  So I just sneaked my camera out and took a couple blurry shots.

I would have liked some shots of  Henry’s dad leading the service, he did such a good job, and of the kids right up front there listening to their Abuelo.  But I have a fear of being too conspicuous sometimes, and especially in those close, emotional moments, just couldn’t bring myself to snap away.  So they will be filed with other “mental photos” I keep in my head.  Now comes the big adventure part:  the graveside service.

Maybe it was just a “big adventure” for myself and my kids.  Maybe “adventure” is the wrong word.  It was probably a totally normal, everyfuneral kind of experience for everyone else, but for us…well, lets just say we won’t be forgetting anytime in the near future.  After that build-up you’ll be expecting all the details, but to keep this story short, I’m just going to mention a few things.

It was a slightly windy, overcast day, which lent to the “movieness” of the whole experience.  Did I mention that it was like being in a movie?  It was. There was a solitary trumpet player, which I found cool, but the kids found eerie.  Graveyards are just different in other parts of the world….in North America they usually seem to be peaceful green parks, with little tufts of flowers popping up and some orderly marble markers and crosses….it’s not like this everywhere, just so you know.  In Latin America, graveyards tend to run to vaults and mausoleum-type structures.  This cemetery was mostly all cement…with a couple of trees, and big cement buildings or “casket condominiums”  almost 2 storeys high.  So it was very different looking.  And I realized that my kids have never been to a graveside service, ever.  The graveside experience was rather emotional and dramatic for me and the kids (probably the norm for everyone else).  So needless to say, as soon as I could, I took them back to the car for a de-briefing session.  I wish I had recorded myself.  I waxed eloquent, as the saying goes, in order to put my children’s minds at ease.  (modest cough).  It was a good moment, maybe not in their minds, but I was able to say a bunch of stuff (that doesn’t sound nearly as eloquent) that they needed to hear.  And it was a real-life moment.  One of those learning experiences.  So there.

A distant shot of the graveside….the trumpet player had already zoomed off on his motorbike.

We drove past this ostentatious tomb on the way out and just had to get a photo of it….who knows who’s buried there, we weren’t going to stop and find out!  But pretty fancy, eh?  The doors were copper. The garbage barrel kind of ruins the mighty effect though, ….typical…..

 In the background is another “casket condo”.  Seriously, they even had little “balconies” on the “condos” to put flowers in!

Leaving the cemetery.  Oh yeah, right inside the gate, there was a funny sign, that I wish I could have photographed, it said:  “It is not permitted to learn to drive a vehicle on these premises.”   

After all of this, we realized how very content we were to have been there with Henry’s family in the midst of this difficult time.  Unexpected, yes, but truly in God’s plans for us, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Aside
Some Culture…¡y qué cultura!

The ancient Mayan culture has left some interesting relics…I mostly enjoy seeing the pottery, and even more than that, finding my own bits of ancient pottery.  Didn’t have time for all that on this last trip, this was about all we had time for, check out the artifacts:

La antigua cultura maya nos ha dejado unos reliquias interesantes, disfruto de ver las cosas de barro y cerámica, pero más que nada me gusta encontrar mis propios pedacitos de barro antiguo.  Esta vez no tuvimos tiempo para todo eso…mira y verán lo que tuvimos tiempo de hacer:

We didn’t spend long looking at the pottery, because we had some other things to do here…..guess what and where we were!

No pasamos mucho tiempo viendo los artefactos porque tuvimos algunas otras cosas que hacer…..¡adivinan qué y donde estabamos!

I think you´ve guessed…….ya adivinaron, verdad?

Did you know that in Guate you can get any fast food you want delivered to your house?!  Free of charge.  I embarassed my kids by trying to get a photo of the McD’s delivery guy, just so you all would believe my incredible story!  Pharmacies also deliver medicines and school supplies to your home, nice, eh?

¿Sabian que en Guate se puede pedir cualquier comida rapida para entrega a domicilio gratis?  Les dió verguenza a mis hijos cuando estaba tratando de tomar esta foto de la moto para probar que lo que digo es cierto. ¡jaja!  Tambien las farmacias tienen entrega a domicilio para las medicinas y hasta útiles escolares, chilero, ¿no?

Some Culture…¡y qué cultura!

Those random little bits

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Those random little bits

There are all sorts of quotes about the little things that matter, the little moments…some of those quotes say that it’s these little bits that are so important….I don’t know if I agree or not, but I’ve found that I definitely have strange little memories, random little weird, vivid “mental photographs” of clips and bits of my childhood.  I don’t know if they are important or life-altering, probably not, but they stick nonetheless.  Dates, chronological events, even important dramatic ones, these I don’t usually remember.  Sad but true.  I remember the fabric of a dress my mom made for me when I was 4 years old; I remember making pretend tacos with the leaves from the rubber tree in my school yard; I remember the brown and orange shag rug in our home from when I was about 1-5; I remember playing with cacti at playschool and burying cactus spines in the dirt, hoping that my enemy would fall apon them after she slid down the slide…little stuff like that.

This past month was a fun time for my husband and I to show our kids places we grew up in, sights we saw, even smells and tastes that were parts of both of our childhoods.  We were driving down a deserted (but very nice) road close to a house that I used to live in, and I asked Henry if he’d stop for a moment so I could pick these flowers off a tree by the side of the road.  In the midst of all that was going on, the rushing, the waiting, the eating and visiting, the anxiety and excitement, I seized the moment and literally, seized the flowers!

These beautiful mauve (lilac, purple, pinkish, whatever) flowers are a part of my childhood.  I remember having a tree in our backyard, and my mom making a charcoal sketch of some of the flowers (which she said was nothing, but I thought was an amazing piece of art, which it was).  At school there were many of these trees, and they seemed to flower a lot.  I used to pick the flowers and their interesting, almost butterfly or clam-shaped leaves. Can’t tell you the name of them, or what seasons they bloom in, or whether they are part of the orchid family or not, I just remember them, they are just there, a part of me.

I wanted to share even this tiny random bit with my kids, so I ripped 4 flowers off the tree and some leaves, and gave them each one to look at while we drove off in the bright sunlight, on to our next errand or adventure, I don’t remember which (haha!)  They were sweet (the kids that is) and were appropriately admiring of my little memory. Sweeties!  I think Henry just smiled.  He wasn’t quite as understanding when another day (night) I ripped some eucalyptus leaves from a tree in the boulevard and gave them to the kids to bite on.  He thought that was too weird and who knows what pesticide those trees have been sprayed with!!!  “But that’s another one of my memories!” I cried! (not literally crying, it was more like a happy screech).  We used to pick the leaves and bite them, just to have a taste, I don’t think we actually chewed them up and swallowed them….who knows.  There was a gigantic old eucalyptus tree in our schoolyard, it was gorgeous, and the leaves were fabulously colored.  And I sometimes chewed on them.  I was horribly disappointed to find that that elegant old giant has been hewed down.  And sad to say that I took no photos of the leaves my children obediantly bit into.  They actually argued over who got the leaves and how many each, much to Henry’s chagrin.  (oh what a word! I just had to throw that in, I’ve been reading a English novel from the 1950’s today).  They decided that the leaves taste like Vicks Vaporub.  So, weird? yes. Will they remember it? probably! 😉

If anyone knows the name of these flowers, please let me know! Thanks!

Las Cabañuelas: some January trivia

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Las Cabañuelas: some January trivia

I was very interested to find out something new about January in Guatemala: Las Cabañuelas.  From what I understood, it´s a way to forecast the weather for the new year.  So on the first of January, the weather will be approximately what it will be like in the month of January of the new year.  January second will show what the weather will be like in February, January third will be March, etc. I´m not sure who all keeps up with this, or if anyone actually tracks it too see if it´s accurate, but I know I sure had fun envisioning each month on the first first days of January.  And was the weather ever varied!  Each day was different, some days were really windy, some cloudy, some chilly, even a few with a bit of drizzle.  One evening huge dark clouds came over us and it was really weird!  So it seemed to me to be an interesing way of explaining the varied weather!  I wish that I had written down each day’s weather to later keep track of each month’s  weather.

Me interesó mucho descubrir algo nuevo acerca del mes de enero en Guatemala y se llama Las Cabañuelas. Por lo que entendí, es una forma de pronósticar el clima por todo el año que viene.  Entonces el primer día de enero, el tiempo que hace va a ser aproximadamente lo que se va a ver en el mes de enero.  El segundo día de enero representa el tiempo del mes de febrero.  El tercer día de enero representa el tiempo en el mes de marzo, etc.  No sé exactamente quién apunta todo esto, o si alguien realmente rastrea estos pronósticos, !pero sé que a mi me interesó imaginar el tiempo de cada mes en los primeros días de enero!  ¡Y qué variedad de climas hubo!  Cada día el tiempo era diferente, unos días con mucho viento, un poco de friíto, días con muchos nubes, hasta un poco de llovisna. ¡Una tarde unos nubes enormes y negrisimos taparon el cielo, realmente fue raro verlo!  Por lo tanto, me parece una forma muy interesante de ver los tiempos.  ¡Hubiera apuntado el tiempo todos los días para ir viendo durante el año como es el tiempo de cada mes en Guate!

And after the first 12 days of January, which represent each month, there is another countdown, this time backwards, where each day represents the weather of 2 consecutive months.  So the 13th day of January would represent the weather for the months of December and November, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  The next day represents weather for October and September, etc.  I would love to know if anyone tracks this and how accurate it can be.  The kids asked me if we can do this in Canada….and I said, uh, no.  January is usually pretty straight up cold and snow…except for this year, seems the weather´s been pretty crazy, “warm”, then super below freezing cold!

But all of a sudden in the back of my mind, I seem to almost remember some nature show I watched and a First Nations man was explaining how you could tell what kind of a year you would have by looking at the signs in the forest even in winter, whether it would be a good spring or summer or how far away it would be….

I guess this is a traditional way of weather forecasting!   And it’s only new to me, haha!

Después de los primeros 12 días de enero, hay otra cuenta regresiva, empezando el 13 de enero, y cada día representa el tiempo de dos meses, uno en la mañana, y uno en la tarde.  Entonces el 13 representa los meses de diciembre y noviembre, y el 14 de enero representa los meses octubre y septiembre, etc.  Los nenes me preguntaron si podemos hacer esto en Canadá…y dije, eeehm, no.  Enero casi siempre es sencillamente frio y congelado y lleno de nieve…..bueno, excepto este año, como que ha estado bastante loco, “calido” y despues super congelado!  

Pero de repente, medio me estoy accordando de ver una programa acerca de la naturaleza y un señor de los Primeros Naciones (aborígeno de Canadá) estaba explicando algo similar, como aún en el invierno, uno podría ver los señales para ver cuando viene la primavera y si va a ser uno bueno, etc….

¡Supongo que es una forma tradicional de pronósticar el tiempo!  ¡Y solo es nuevo para mi, je je!

photos are SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) and all by Lyra except the last one.  And they were all taken in Antigua Guatemala. I couldn´t find the photo I took of the huge black clouds, maybe later! 🙂

I’m back!

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I’m back!

Hi everyone, I’m back! Maybe you didn’t even know I was away though…but I was, I just spent 4 weeks in Guatemala with family! 🙂  And now I’m back and trying to find all my photos and figure out how to get them on this computer so I can post a few for your viewing entertainment….and to make a few comments about out trip, oh, it was a good one!!  Maybe not the relaxing vacation (with lots of shopping) that we had first envisioned, but it was a wonderful life experience for all of us and super family time!  My photography wasn’t what I hoped, as far a taking lots of fabulous photos, or even taking all the family photos that I had planned, but I guess I did what I could for the moment, and will definitely need a trip back there rather soon to take all the photos I forgot to take!

¡Hola todos! Ya vine, pero tal vez ni se dieron cuenta que no estuve….pero es verdad, ¡acabo de pasar 4 semanas con mi familia en Guatemala!  Y ahora estoy de regreso y tratando de encontrar todas mis fotos e intentando ponerlas en este computadora para añadirlas aqui en mi blog para que los puedan disfrutar.  Y tambien hacer unos comentarios acerca de mi viaje ¡fue un viaje buenisimo!  Tal vez no fue tan relajante como primero pensamos (y lleno de ir de compras como yo pensé), pero fué una experiencia tremenda y maravillosa para todos nosotros y pasamos unos tiempos superísimos con nuestra familia.  No fuí tan buena fotógrafa como hubiera querido, asi como tomando miles de fotos fabulosas…ni tomé todas las fotos de familia que había pensado, pero bueno, hice lo que pude en el momento.  ¡Definitivamente necesito hacer otro viaje a Guate muy pronto para tomar todas las fotos que me faltaron!

(yo inventé la palabra superísima, ya que otra no venia a la mente)