Fun things to do with a baby #1

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Dress in a matching fashion!

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reading list

Sometimes I feel like I my life has been quite insignificant and perhaps my love of reading memoirs and biographies has a part in that. I always shared the opinion that real life was stranger than fiction and that I had a lot to learn from people who lead interesting lives. The latest biography that has had the most impact on me was Infidel. This book has especially left me feeling especially inadequate, but I can’t recommend it enough. It is the story of an immigrant and the changes she has made in the country she finally settled in. I come from a relatively privileged background and have immigrated to a few different countries. I haven’t done 1% of what she was able to do. Shame on me. Enlightened, I move forward and maybe, somehow I can make a difference in the lives of immigrants to my home country of Canada.

Obviously reading inspires me, and It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time was a perfect light read I just picked up from the library. It mixed travel with cooking, eating and writing! It even had recipes. In a crazy late night reading haze I decided that I had the ingredients and guts to try making a savoury cheese soufflé. I’m glad I did, because it turned out beautifully and I plan to make another shortly. However, if I had read this post by a talented blogger, whose simple recipes always leave me wanting to try them, I don’t think I would have attempted such a finicky dish.

So here it is:

I made a loaf of bread to go with:

With these ingredients:

(garlic, celery seed, chives, sun-dried tomatoes and rosemary)

And of course a salad, with fresh green kale from a farmer’s market:

Oh, it was good. And you can probably tell what is plentiful in my garden right now: chives!

The only thing missing from our meal was a French cheese. 😦

I am always looking for book suggestions. Have you read anything good lately?

our homes through the years

I can’t believe it. I am sitting in our house. That’s OUR house in case you missed it. J and I have lived in houses all around the world and have enjoyed the features of each and every one.

Our first apartment in Calgary had an indoor pool / sauna / tv room, etc. It was perfect for two newlyweds like us:

Our second place in Calgary was a home built in 1912. It was comfortable and homey. We loved our time in that neighbourhood:

In Conil we had a view of Africa:

(ok you can’t actually see it in that photo, but that sunset is remarkable, no?)
here was our kitchen:

In Lucena we lived in a converted palace, in the attic (here is the shared open air courtyard):

In Cordoba, well we were only there for two months, but damn we had a great housewarming party:

In Stockholm (Lille Essingen) we had the smallest apartment yet, but the design was so creative it felt ten times bigger:

Our second apartment in Stockholm was centrally located near Birger Jarlsgatan (THE street in Stockholm). We also had some fun times there too:

After we left Stockholm we moved to Lyon’s 1st arrondissement. Everything was in walking distance. I’m not sure what year our apartment building was built, but it was old and interesting:

When the time came to leave France we decided on making our future in Calgary. It took some time and a pretty crazy real estate adventure, but we have finally found a cute little home that more than meets our requirements. I can’t wait to use elements of all the places we’ve lived it to make this place truly ours.

(ok, the photos are all jumbled, but I don’t have time to fix them)

mango

First click for the recommended background music:
Underneath the Mango Tree, Dr. No

Growing up in Canada I didn’t eat a lot of tropical fruit. I love apples. They are almost a comfort food for me, maybe because they were always readily available, sweet and delicious to crunch into. I also have a deep affinity to berries, fruit of the forest as they say in Spain.

When I was 16 I had the opportunity to go help out in a developing country, the Dominican Republic. At our ‘camp’ we would eat almost ‘al fresco’ with nothing but a roof to shade us from the elements. There were large trees right near the kitchen and one day during breakfast a friend and I noticed a long pole with a basket of picks at the end. It was for collecting mangos! So we tried it out and finally succeeded. Soon sweet mango juice was running down our forearms. We had no idea of how to cut into it, mangled as it was it was delicious.

This weekend my mother and I took a Thai cooking course at a local SW Calgary retail outlet, Kulinary Kids with a Red Seal Chef. I believe their business idea is ingenious, check them out! Let me just take a moment and say how much I appreciate being close to my mom to be able to do activities like this :). Anyway, they night was delicious, inspirational and informative. We made pineapple seafood skewers, green curried chicken and a coconut rice pudding with fresh mango for dessert, all lubricated with a refreshing mango cocktail. Oh, it was fun.

I think the thing I am most grateful to have walked away with most from that night is how to peel a mango. Basically, with a large knife you cut the mango vertically down through the seed crosswise. I wish I could find a video for you. It is a great method. It would have saved me from having to shower after eating that mango in the Dominican. And yesterday, when I saw a box of mangos on sale at my supermarket, I didn’t hesitate to pick them up. Baby and I enjoyed a sweet mango breakfast today, looking at the freshly fallen snow.

I have decided to make a video about the best way to peel and seed a mango (hey, I got time!). I felt the internet was lacking in this department. It is my first video, un-edited, so be warned! It is about 5 minutes long, full of bad knife skills and quite boring. But, if you suffer through it, you will learn and interesting way to get the most out of your mango! ps. put a wet rag underneath your cutting board, it’ll keep it from sliding around like mine did.

Mango Video

This is what I made with my mango:

Ingredients
150 grams Vodka Beet Smoked Salmon
1/2 Fennel bulb
1 cubed mango
cracked pepper to your taste
(optional) red pepper flakes
extra virgin olive oil to mix together

served on a generous bed of quinoa

Our casa, sweet casa

So we finally found it, a place we will call home! It only took like 3 months, probably over 50 home visits, and about ten 2nd visits (most of those I dragged my poor father into), two house inspections, one deal down the drain due to paperwork and two multiple bidding wars – the second of which we won! Our realtor says we have earned our honorary real estate licences due to everything we’ve been through, especially being first time buyers. Was it worth it? I think so! This time last week I was freaking out over getting last minute paperwork to our lender, shingles and choosing life insurance. This week I started a herb garden, bought some more picture frames and the IKEA Data cutlery that will make our place feel like home (having used it in the majority of our previous homes). Slightly more zen, eh?

Small from the outside, it opens up nicely on the inside with vaulted ceilings:


vaulted ceilings w/ skylights

It has a large enough kitchen that will shine once we add our touch. There is a wood burning fireplace too! There is a family room downstairs for a tv / playroom, ect. And with four bedrooms, there is lots of space for guests *hint, hint.*

I might not have got the older character home I originally desired, but this is actually a house that could not be beat. The location is perfect for both my longing to meander about town and it’s a quick commute for J to get to work!

In two weeks yesterday we get the keys to our first home. I couldn’t be more excited.