Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

"Outdoor Santa" at the mall.  My son insisted that Daddy sit with him for the photo.  At least he's not crying, like last year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2011 Goals Update

This month has been action packed with work, work, and more work!  Budget meetings, teaching an after school class, handling extra curricular activities and just the daily routine have kept me busy most nights after school as well as weekends.  I'm hoping that things will begin to wind down at work in December, when the holiday social calendar begins to heat up!

I did find time to catch up on some of my goals for the year this month, including spending some quality time with family.  December should have plenty more where that came from, which I'm looking forward to. 

While I haven't found time for the fitness program I was hoping to start, I have been trying to eat healthier, and I've maintained my weight despite the long hours in front of the computer working, so I'm happy about that. 

One of the big goals this year was to make some of the rooms in our house more functional, after a long stretch of neglecting those areas.  We've improved our family room, set up an office area for me in the basement and sketched out the changes we want to make to the common area downstairs. 

As for the thesis that I've been working on forever, I'm scheduled to hand in my revised draft to my supervisor this Friday afternoon.  If the committee are satisfied with it, then they will send it to an outside reader and hopefully schedule a thesis defense for sometime in the new year.  I can't tell you how ready I am to be finished with this!  I really enjoyed the process, but now that the end is in sight, I'm anxious to cross the finish line!!!

So bear with me for the rest of the week.  I'll be posting everyday, but it won't be until the weekend that the holiday tips and recipes will start coming.  I'm throwing a few holiday parties at my house this year, so I'll be passing on my tips to throwing a gluten-free friendly gathering, even when it's a potluck and not all the dishes will be gluten free.  Can't wait!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Monday: Baked Garlicky Fish and Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday: Tuna Patties with Vegetables

Wednesday: Butter Chicken with Steamed Peas and Carrots

 Thursday: Homemade Hamburgers   

Friday: A risotto with Mediterranean flavours

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Few Thoughts on a Saturday

I feel as though I'm beginning to catch up to civilization a little bit today, as my husband picked up the new iPhone for each of us.  It's been years (I'm serious) since I've updated my cell phone, and now all of a sudden I can do more things on my phone than I would have ever imagined! 

I've spent the last half hour just checking out all the features that come with the phone, and I've already browsed through hundreds of free books that I want to download. 

So excuse me if tonight's post is really, really, short.  I have to figure out how to post from my new phone.

Menu plan goes up tomorrow, and since this is my weekend to finally finish my thesis draft, my husband's doing the cooking.  Let's see what he comes up with! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Five List

1- Today is my brother-in-law Carlos' birthday.  He's 23 years old, which I'm sure seems very old to him.  Feliz Cumpleaños Carlos!

2- Toronto broke weather records today.  15.7C!  Hot, sunny and a beautiful day to be outside. 
3- The weather made up for the 45 minutes spent on a broken down bus waiting to go to the ROM this morning.
4- I'm really hoping to spend a date day checking out the special Mayan exhibit before it's over.
5- The countdown is on, 4 more weeks 'till Christmas!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving South of the Border

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends!  I was thinking of all the turkey and football I was missing while at work today.

I hope you had a chance to slow down, relax and enjoy time with family and friends.


Now get some rest before Black Friday... 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Redux

I wrote all about my Thanksgiving in October, since that's when we celebrate here in Canada.  The big day is fast approaching for those of you in the US, so if you're looking for some gluten free menu ideas, fun activities for the kids, or what to do with all that leftover turkey, be sure to check out these posts:

Recipe: Homemade Gluten Free Cranberry Sauce
Recipe: Homemade Apple Sauce
Recipe: Autumn Harvest Soup
My Gluten Free Thanksgiving Menu
Hosting a Stress Free Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Dinner Roundup
Healthy Top Whipped Topping

Monday, November 21, 2011

Putting Up the Christmas Tree!

It's a tradition in my house to put up my Christmas tree the day of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade.  It may be a little early for those of you in the United States, who still have Thanksgiving to celebrate, but for me in Canada, Thanksgiving was a month ago and there's only one month to go before Christmas!

I like having the date put aside each year because I make a point to not make any other plans that day, and instead we spend it at home, listening to holiday songs while we decorate the house and put up the tree, until finally relaxing on the couch while we watch the parade on t.v.

This year my son was old enough to be interested in the process, although I don't know how much actual "help" he provided!  We didn't get all the decorations done, but the stockings are hung, the lights are strung outside, and the tree is trimmed.  There are a few more candy canes that I think need to go on it, but it looks finished enough.  Just a few more indoor decorations, and I'll be ready to finish my shopping and start wrapping gifts!

December is coming soon, and we're already almost all booked up for the month!  As for the blog, I'm looking forward to posting my party planning tips, more holiday recipes and gift ideas for the newly gluten free!  Oh yeah, and my one year blog anniversary is coming up soon!

Here are a few photos of our tree!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Monday: Chicken Parmesan with Mushrooms and GF Pasta  (I've prepared the chicken and sauce separately.  I'll cook up the pasta tomorrow and bake the chicken with sauce and cheese tomorrow, or it will go soggy).  This time I used rice crumbs, but I prefer the Nut'N Gluten brand of bread crumbs better.

Tuesday: Jamie's Char Grilled Squid, Rustic Guacamole & Antipasto Salad

Wednesday: Cream of Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
(Goat's milk instead of cream for the soup, GF bread and Goat Milk Mozzarella for the Sandwiches.  Comfort food!)

Thursday: Fritatta and Caesar Salad

Friday: Tacos

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Recipe: Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

I've been working all week on tweaking the shortbread cookie recipe that fell a bit short last week in my shortbread taste test.  Click HERE to see the results of a taste test between 4 kinds of gluten free shortbread cookies.  I wanted to have an original recipe to pass down to my son, so that he can enjoy shortbread during the holidays the way I did growing up.  I think I've succeeded!  The batch I made last night is almost gone, and I've only had one (maybe two). 

This recipe makes a traditional, flaky shortbread with a hint of vanilla flavour.  I know that it's a keeper because I have been thinking all night about variations I can do with this recipe.  For me, I'll use this as the basic recipe that can be modified to make a variety of different shortbread cookies. 

This recipe makes approx. 12 shortbread bars about 1/4-1/2 inch thick, or about 24 thinner cookies.  


1 1/3 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour (not baking mix)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
1- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I like my cookies really vanilla-y, so I use 2)
3/4 cup butter (I use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks because my son can't have real butter.  If using unsalted regular butter, add a pinch of kosher salt to recipe.)

Preheat oven to 300F.  I use an 8x8 non-stick brownie pan with edges.  My mom uses a cake pan. 

1- Mix rice flour, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder and xanthan gum in a bowl.  Stir until completely mixed.

2- In a separate mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla (and salt, if adding). 

3- Add dry mix to butter and sugar in small batches, mixing as you go.  Mix until completely incorporated.  It should form a ball if pressed together, but it won't automatically make a dough while mixing. 

4- Gather into a ball, kneading just long enough for the dough to stick together.  Press dough into baking pan until it is evenly distributed and pushed right into the sides. 

5- Cut into desired bar sizes, and prick holes into each bar with a fork.  Chill for 10 minutes before placing in oven to bake.  * See below for cookie cutter instructions.

6- Place into preheated oven uncovered.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until edges are golden and cookies are cooked through. 

7- Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Run a knife along pre-cut edges and then allow to cool completely before removing from pan.

*If making cookies with a cookie cutter, place dough on a sheet of parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap.  Roll out dough and use cookie cutters to create desired shapes.  Place cookies on a cookie sheet, and check cookies after 25-30 minutes.  

If you want them a little less dry, they could probably handle up to another 1/4 cup of butter.  I like mine borderline dry but not crumbly, so 3/4 cup works for me.

My husband and son have been gobbling these up all day.  I'm looking forward to trying these out in different incarnations- adding cinnamon instead of vanilla, maybe some cocoa powder, or cranberries and orange....mmmmm.  I've always loved holiday baking, and now I can love doing it gluten free!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Taste Test: Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

Last weekend, on the day of the Santa Claus parade, I invited my family to participate in a taste test.  Christmas is coming, and my mom would make homemade shortbread cookies every year.  Since my son can't eat traditional shortbread cookies, I decided that I would find a delicious gluten free substitute so that we can carry on the tradition. 

I decided to compare 4 different shortbread cookies and have my taste testers write their opinions of each cookie as we went along.  I offered 2 store bought brands, one made from a mix, and one baked from a recipe.  The taste testers ranged in age from my sister in her late twenties, to my dad in his early sixties. 

The contenders:  Little B's Bakery Shortbread Cookies, Biscottea Blueberry Tea Shortbread, Bob's Red Mill Shortbread Cookie Mix, and a homemade shortbread cookie from a recipe I created. 


Little B's:  We started with this brand.  The company is based in Ontario, and specializes in gluten free baked goods.  Products are available in a small number of stores, mostly local. 

The cookies were round and light, but extremely crumbly. My father liked the flavour, but my mom and sister found them a bit bland.  I found the flavour delicate, but nice. 

The biggest drawback to these cookies is their consistency.  They were dry and extremely crumbly, making them difficult to eat without having them crumble into powder.  Shortbread is not traditionally a moist cookie, but these were too dry for our taste.  They were still a pretty good cookie, just not the substitute we were looking for.

Biscottea Blueberry Tea Shortbread:  These cookies come in a lovely package, and state that they are made with all natural ingredients.  The package states that they are gluten free, but they are produced on shared equipment in a facility that uses wheat.  This alone makes me unwilling to serve them to my son, because the potential for cross-contamination is too great. 

These cookies are a nice size, but their colour and consistency didn't remind any of us of traditional shortbread.  The cookies were a medium brown colour, and very, very tough.  They smelled wonderful though, the blueberry aroma was evident from the minute I opened the package. 

Unfortunately, these cookies smelled much better than they tasted.  Despite the strong blueberry smell, they didn't actually taste like blueberry, and they had a strange aftertaste.  Not one taste tester liked this cookie.

Bob's Red Mill:  I bought this mix when I was in the United States this summer.  I've looked in Canada, but have yet to find it here.  This mix was straightforward to make, with minimal additional ingredients required.  I found it interesting that it called for the addition of an egg yolk, but the egg was undetectable in the final product.  What I liked about the mix was that it made a lot of cookies, and the dough was easy to work with.

These cookies looked like a traditional shortbread cookie.  The flavour was very delicate, and if I were to make them again I'd add vanilla to the mix.  The biggest drawback to these cookies was that they broke very easily.  They didn't crumble to a powder like the first brand, but they easily broke when they were picked up, making it difficult to pile them on a plate.  If I made the cookies thicker, that problem might be taken care of. 

Homemade:  I made these cookies from a recipe I created, after scouring online suggestions.  I took the advice of many bakers and greased the cookie sheet so that the shortbread wouldn't stick.  The recipe itself was straightforward, and the cookies baked up easily.  I baked mine as one large cookie, cutting them into bars.  I used a butter substitute so that my son could eat them, as well as plain granulated sugar.

The finished product looked like a traditional shortbread cookie from the top, but the greased pan had resulted in the bottom of the cookies being a bit too chewy to be a real shortbread.  Once they were completely cooled the consistency improved, but they were still a bit chewy.  The vanilla flavour was nice, but the granulated sugar really stood out.  To be honest, I think it would make a great sugar cookie!

The Verdict:  The Bob's Red Mill got top marks from my mom and sister as the closest in consistency and taste to a traditional shortbread.  It lost points for breaking too easily, but they're simple to make and taste good.  They would taste even better with some added vanilla.  They are the perfect choice for the baker who may not be ready to bake from scratch, but wants something more personal than store-bought.

My attempt at homemade cookies came in second.  The taste of the sugar and the chewy bottoms were what pushed it into second place. 

Little B's cookies came in 3rd.  I feel that straight from the oven, these cookies are probably fantastic.  However, they were too dry and crumbly to be at the top of our list. 

The Biscottea cookies were the overall loser.  No one liked them, and the package has been sitting on my counter, untouched, for the last week.

Still, I wanted to create a simple, yet authentic recipe that I could pass down to my own grandchildren someday, so I've been working on how to modify my own recipe to improve the texture.  Tonight, I think I succeeded!

I'll be posting the recipe and pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Different Type of Dreaded Phone Call...

When my son was at his old daycare, I wrote this post about why I always answered their calls with dread.  He was cross-contaminated a lot there, and they usually called to tell me he had eaten something with gluten in it.

Today I received the type of phone call that my mom used get- my son had fallen down and hurt himself at daycare.  I was always getting hurt as a kid.  I have a scar on my head from running into the back of a pick-up truck (don't ask), another on my hand where I accidentally stabbed myself while cutting a rice krispie square (I'm serious), a broken toe from tobogganing, and on and on and on.  Let's just say I was accident prone.  I have the feeling my son might be like me...

When I picked up the phone at work this afternoon to hear the daycare on the other end, I knew something was wrong.  Since his food at the daycare is catered, and they've been fantastic about keeping his food separate, I knew he was either sick, or hurt. 

Turns out he was hurt. 

He had been running with two of his friends when he tripped, and landed chin first.  Thankfully he didn't put a tooth through his lip or bite through his tongue, but he did split his chin open enough that the daycare workers were afraid it might need stitches. 

Now I appreciate what my mother must have gone through every time she received one of these phone calls.  And believe me, she received them often. 

First, I go into fact-finding mode.  What happened?  When?  How?

Then, I go into practical, business-like mode.  Bag packed, check,  Purse, check. Quickest route to the daycare, check.

Once I'm actually in the car and on the road, I go into panicked mommy mode.  Images of huge gaping wounds flood my mind, accompanied by flashes of my son's tear-streaked face. 

Finally, I go into mommy mode when I actually arrive at the daycare and see my son, standing by the door with the daycare worker, his little girlfriend by his side.  This is the girl he talks about non-stop when he's at home.

Before I even get to him, his little friend (who is maybe 3?) steps in front of me to give me the rundown.  No full sentences, just random word like "running" and "fall down" and "boo boo".  All very helpful, only all I want to do is see my son and give him a big hug. 

When I finally gather him up in my arms and I see that his wound is not nearly as bad as I imagined, my muscles unclench and I can finally take a deep breath. 

His chin was definitely split open, but he wasn't crying, and he looked fine otherwise.  The doctor checked him for loose teeth and dislocated jaw, but decided he didn't need stitches.  He'll probably be bruised tomorrow and I'll be keeping an eye on him tonight, but thankfully the injury wasn't as bad as it could have been.

But now I know why my mom always told me she had earned every grey hair.  I know I earned a few today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vaughan Santa Claus Parade

Sunday was our local Santa Claus parade.  We missed it the first year we moved in, but went last year because my in-laws were here from El Salvador, and they'd never been to a Santa Claus parade before.  It was so much fun, we've decided to make it an annual event. 

It's just a short walk from our house to the parade route, so we bundled up my son and my niece and headed out.  Thankfully, it was warmer this year than last, but the clouds moved in and the wind picked up near the end.  I like supporting local events, and this parade reminds me of the small parade I used to watch as a kid growing up in Bolton, Ontario.  I have great family memories from those parades, and I want my son to have good memories too. 

It lasted a good hour and a half, and by the end my son had consumed enough candy canes to decorate an entire Christmas tree.  Thank goodness they're gluten free!

It wasn't raining, but his rain boots are the only footwear he'll wear these days

My son and his cousin waved at the parade participants the whole time, except when they were too busy stuffing their faces with candy.  Some of the floats were really quite good!

This was my son's favourite!

It was fun to watch the parade through my son's eyes.  He loved every minute of it, especially the time spent on grandpa's shoulders!

After the chilly walk back home, we warmed up with some hot chocolate and gluten free shortbread cookies.  I'm just tweaking the homemade recipe, and I hope to post it this week.  The taste test results will be posted this week as well.  Now I've really caught the Christmas spirit!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chestnuts Roasting....In the oven

I bought some raw chestnuts on a whim the other day.  I couldn't resist filling a small bag with them at my local grocery store, since they were on sale.  Many people don't like chestnuts, but I love them and sometimes buy them already roasted and peeled, but it's not the same. 

They remind me of my year in Paris, where street vendors would sell them hot from the fire in little paper bags.  Since no one in my neighbourhood sells them on the street corner, I decided to give it a try myself.

Post-roasting (excuse the ugly cookie sheets)

Ready to peel and eat!

The process itself is quite simple, and the results were delicious! 

Want to try it yourself? 

Oven Roasted Chestnuts Recipe

1- Preheat oven to 425F. 
2- Cut an X into each chestnut, piercing through the skin.  This allows steam to escape, preventing the chestnuts from exploding in your oven.  It also makes peeling easy. 
3- Lay the chestnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer, X side facing up.  Roast for 20-30 minutes.  When the X has split open and curled back and the inside has a light brown colour, they're done. 
4- Remove from oven and peel as soon as they're cool enough to handle. 

They're yummy eaten on their own as a snack, or crumbled into soups and salads.  They add extra flavour to recipes with turkey, and can be crumbled into pie crusts.  As a dessert, they're excellent dipped in chocolate, or prepared "marrons glaçés" style, dipped in a liquid sugar mixture that leaves them looking crystallized.  Delicious!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekly Gluten Free Menu Plan

Monday: Gluten Pasta with Green Peas and Pancetta 

Tuesday: Moroccan Style Chicken in a Tagine Sauce with Red Onion, Carrots and Peppers

Wednesday: Vegetable Soup with Beans

Thursday: Tortilla Pie with Rice Tortillas, Refried Beans, Ground Beef, Cheddar and a Ranchera Sauce

Friday: Asian Style Hot Pot (This I'll make later in the week so the veggies stay nice and crisp)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Seven Things on a Saturday

1- I have no problem with people bringing their children to factory toy sales.  But when your kid has been screaming for 15 minutes straight, rather than ignoring them like they'll somehow stop crying on their own, maybe it's time to go home.

2- When I asked my son what he wanted for Christmas this year he said "I just want a guitar and a violin,  thanks."  He's 2 and half years old.  Can Santa come up with a violin for a 2 year old? 

3- My son thinks that every blow up snowman or Santa outside of a big box store deserves a hug.  I can't wait until he runs into a "real" Santa.  This is what happened when he met Santa last year:
Note the finger pointing blame at his evil mother for putting him on that guy's knee.

  4- Tomorrow is the Santa Claus parade in my neighbourhood.  I think we're going to have to write Santa a letter after it's over.  Here in Canada, he writes back!

5- Tomorrow is the shortbread cookie bake-off at my house.  You know, after the weekly cooking, finishing putting the fireplace together for the basement, and the Santa Claus parade.  I'll be doing a taste test and I'll post about the results here.

6- It's clementine season!  I wait all year for this short period of citrus-y goodness. 

7- I think it's time for the Christmas lights to go up.  Last year my brother-in-law was here to help.  Looks like this year I'll have to stand out there in the cold and feed strings of lights to my husband.  Where are you when we need you Jaime????

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, where we remember those who sacrificed (and continue to sacrifice) their lives so that we can live in a peaceful and free society. 

Both of my grandfathers fought in WWII, and although both have since passed, I love that there is a day to honour their service.  I don't have any family members who currently serve in the Armed Forces, so it's easy for me to forget sometimes that thousands of families in Canada do have relatives who are on active duty.  They certainly deserve our thanks on more than just one day each year. 

Thank you for your bravery, dedication and sacrifice.  My son is safer because of you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why is Every Late Night at Work a Thursday?

Tonight was Parent's Night, so I was at work late.  It dawned on me as I rushed home in time to catch the Vampire Diaries that late nights at work seem to fall regularly on Thursdays.

I have two more late nights this month, both Thursdays.  I think it's a conspiracy against my desire to feed my addiction to Thursday night TV. 

The only night of the week that I actually have shows that I try not to miss.

Thank goodness for time shifting!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to try and digest the mid-season finale.   Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Countdown To Christmas Is On!

Some people get annoyed when they hear Christmas ads at the beginning of November, but not me!  I'm not a crazy, Christmas in July kinda gal, but I find that if I wait too long to start preparing for Christmas, the season practically passes me by.  This year, I work right up until December 23rd, so I know I'll be busy right up to the last minute.  Since Etienne is now old enough to begin to understand it, I want to make sure that we enjoy every minute. 
Last year.  Still figuring out gluten free living

It's only November and already our calendar is filling up: Two Santa Claus parades this month, a kids Christmas party and my department party.  Not to mention my mom's birthday.  And Christmas shopping.  And decorations.  Oh, and how about the REAL reason for the holiday.  Right.  Gotta get on that.

I have some big plans for this holiday season.  Most of it revolves around spending time with family and friends.  That also means providing YOU with some ideas for not just surviving the holidays gluten free, but for enjoying them with delicious, gluten free food that everyone will love.  Last year, it was the baking that tripped me up the most.  Our house had only been gluten free for a short period of time, so my options were limited.  This year I'm looking forward to trying new recipes and sharing them on the blog.

Last year's gluten free baking: Sugar Cookies.      
First up, shortbread cookies.  My mom makes them every year, so I need to find a gluten free version that passes the taste test.  I'll keep you posted! 

The holidays are fleeting.  Enjoy every moment!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thank Goodness For Goat's Milk Yogurt

We eat a lot of yogurt in this house- especially plain yogurt or honey yogurt.  All that fruit on the bottom stuff is OK sometimes, but I'd rather add my own fresh fruit to a bowl of yogurt than eat the over-sweet, mushy stuff that's so often found at the bottom of a fruit yogurt cup. 

My son has always loved yogurt too, and even as a baby would eat it plain, no sweetener required.  Once he was taken off dairy, we experimented with soy yogurt, but after a while he began rejecting it.  For a long time, he went without. 

Then, I discovered  Liberté Goat Yogourt.  The company is based in Quebec, Canada, and make a wide range of products.  Click on the link above to learn more. 

So far, I've only found it in plain, but that's ok by me.  The goat's milk we buy is from the same company, so I knew the quality would be good. It's 2.7% Milk Fat, which is actually good for a child my son's age. 

The consistency is nice and thick, almost like a Greek-style yogurt, so it would make a perfect substitute in recipes for sour cream.  Unlike some yogurts that are runny, this product has a nice texture.  I like to use it in smoothies to thicken them up.

The flavour is comparable to a regular yogurt, with just a bit more tang.  My son loves it and will eat it plain.  I like to add some dried cranberries, some chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey.  MMMM!

This is a product that I would recommend to anyone.  It makes a nice change from regular yogurt, and has a great flavour and consistency.  Most important, it's another product my son no longer has to miss out on! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

My husband did a fantastic job of cooking the meals, but I've been remiss in not taking photos.  Too much to do!  Here's what we're eating at our house this week:

Monday: Baked Tilapia with Steamed Veggies

Tuesday: Broccoli and Cheddar Soup with Caesar Salad

Wednesday: Lemon Rosemary Chicken Breast with Quinoa Tabbouleh and Mediterranean Dips

Thursday: Meatloaf and Spanish Rice

Friday: Eating out! 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

I've been trying to get the revisions to my thesis done since mid-September, but re-adjusting to a full-time job that involves lots of at home work as well has left me with little time to write.  Add to that family responsibilities, spending time with my husband and son, and just life in general, and, well, the thesis has moved down to the bottom of the to-do list.  Actually, it just keeps getting shifted from one to do list to another, never to actually be tackled, but always present so that I don't feel like I've forgotten about it. 

So I took matters into my own hands this weekend, and booked myself into a hotel for tonight, so that I can work undisturbed, guilt free, and without that nagging feeling that I really should be doing something else around the house instead.  I probably won't finish the changes tonight (it's not even really a 24 our stay, check-in was at 3pm and check-out is at noon), but I hope to get a nice chunk done.  I'll figure out a strategy for the rest later!

On top of all this, my husband and I finally got our act together and called a cleaning service.  YAY!  Today my house was cleaned from top to bottom and I didn't have to help.  Sigh.  It was so worth the money.  Normally that's how we spend our Saturdays, but not any more.  We're going to set up a regular cleaning schedule, and just do the in-between maintenance.  Maybe this way I'll have a bit more time to write and more time to spend with my family that doesn't involve scrubbing.  I'd really like to get this thesis done and defended soon. 

I feel much lighter and almost stress free (except for the damn thesis).  Speaking of which....I need to get on that.

Menu plan is going up as usual tomorrow.  I left my husband in charge of the cooking, and I'll take the photos and post them when I get home in the early afternoon. 

Have a wonderful Saturday night! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Goodbye to a Special Lady

My husband grew up with a live-in nanny in his native country.  Actually, his nanny was his father's nanny when he was a boy too.  She joined the family as a teenager and lived with them for the rest of her life.  This is something I didn't experience growing up in Canada.  She stayed with my husband's family long after she was able to work, effectively becoming a member of their family.  I visited with her on several occasions when I stayed with my in-laws in El Salvador and listened to her many stories. 

She passed away this week, and I know it will be a great loss for my husband and his entire family.  I'm so happy that she got the chance to meet our son.  My father in law told my husband that they found a photo of her holding our son framed in her bedroom after she passed.  My son took to her immediately, looking for her every morning and practicing his Spanish with her.  I'm happy he spent time with someone so important to my husband before she died.  May she rest in peace. 

2009.  She had taken a bad fall and was still recovering

2011: My son would look for her every morning