A day full of good

I had such a nice day yesterday – it really stuck out in a week of some less than fun other things like trips to the clinic, a broken dryer, and a smashed iPhone screen. And since it’s the weekend, the timing is great to stop and reflect for all the things I am thankful for – along with Lizzi and the gang!

Early morning cuddles on the couch. Even though I miss sleeping in, I’m getting used the early wake-up calls and have been enjoying some nice, quiet moments in the morning with milk and a snuggly warm boy on the couch. He’s always on the go during his waking hours now, so I hope these morning moments can linger on a bit longer.

Green smoothies. I have started making my trusty green smoothies again in the morning and they are so good and perfect for a breakfast skipper like myself.

green smoothie summer

Reading. Just this week, Baby J has started randomly bringing over a book, and settling down for me to read it to him. He never used to want to do that, but I guess he’s more ready now. I’ll make a reader out of him yet!

My little helper. Baby J is getting to be in a nice phase where he understands everything and wants to help. Putting things in the garbage, helping unload the dishwasher, ‘washing’ things like his high chair tray – which in turn allows me to get some cleaning and whatnot done in the morning, while hanging out with him, too.

dishwasher

Friendly strangers.
A random person stopping me to point out how cute Julian was in Starbucks. I know that I want him to be kind, thoughtful, and brave, and a good human. But I can’t help smiling to myself just a wee bit when someone tells me how cute he is (his hair! they usually say). I also love it when people are friendly to each other like that.

An amazing splash pad close by and days off. I went with my cousin to a splash pad/ playground yesterday and our little ones had such a fun time. I’m so thankful Baby J has a little cousin his age to play with and the weather was so perfect for it, sunny and clear.

splash pad

A good sleeper. Tuckered out from his fun morning, my wee one passed out in the car, and barely stirred while I took him out, removed shoes and hat, and put him down in his crib.

Sleepovers. I remember going on sleepovers at my grandparents as a child and I’m happy that we have such willing family to keep our kid overnight so that we can go out once in awhile! Tyler had the night off last night – this is very rare – and we dropped our little guy off around 6 so we could go for a nice dinner.

Splurging on fine dining. I chose an expensive and amazing restaurant for our night out – a place called Beckta that is known for elevating the cuisine here in Ottawa. We opted for the 5 course tasting menu – sampling interesting dishes like tuna sashimi with a hint of foie gras, crunchy goat-cheese stuffed peppers on a bed of cucumber tabbouleh, oxtail risotto with lily buds, and a main of duck, followed by a rhubarb crumble cake. It was rich and delicious and the time just slipped away as we talked and ate. Wonderful restaurant, perfect atmosphere and the food was divine.

A morning of quiet. Due to a noisy barking dog and a sore back this morning, I didn’t really sleep in much more than usual. I did creep downstairs to a sunny spot on the couch, though, and sipped coffee while finishing up “An Ocean at the End of the Lane” before it was time to collect my boy.

Wishing a wonderful, perfect day to all of you – these days, sprinkling in with the mundane and frustrating ones, make all the difference sometimes!

Ten

It’s a cottage life

I am so lucky. So, so lucky to have wonderful friends who not only bought a cottage last year, but also invited me up this past weekend – going so far as to pick up me and my 1 year old up, drive us there, cook us meals, and hang out with us all weekend.

It was lovely and just what I needed to wipe the slate in my mind clean.

Some of the moments from the weekend that will stick with me:

Catching up with my friend Laura (from high school!), and watching our boys – her Baby J is just 12 days younger than my Baby J – try to play together. It mostly consisted of taking the broom away from each other, dumping game pieces onto the floor and Julian hugging her little guy so enthusiastically that he dragged him right to the ground.

They only stayed for one night, but it was wonderful to see them after so long.

buckshot lake

In the late morning, after putting Baby J down for a sleep, just my friend Dawn and I dragged beach chairs onto the dock, and sat there, and talked and talked. We get each other, there’s always lots to catch up on and say, and we sat out there, legs turning rosy, just basking in the sun and good conversation.

The trampoline. Oh how Baby J loved the trampoline, running and falling and getting up and falling again as I bounced gently. We couldn’t walk past the trampoline without him pointing longingly at it. His second favourite thing was running up and down a paddleboard laying in the grass. Over, and over, and over. At least he’s easily entertained.

baby on trampoline

A dinner experiment: we mixed up 3 types of barbecue sauce, cooked each one, basted and grilled chicken and then dipped to determine the winner. All 3 were different and two were very good. One was a mustardy, spicy-smoky blend while the other good one had a sweeter flavour. I contributed my favourite roasted vegetable salad as a hearty side and it was good eating!

The gorgeous water, as clear and calm as you could ask for, sandy but with enough rocks to keep curious fingers happy. The sound of the water lapping against the shore makes me feel like I’ve stepped into a different place that’s relaxing and carefree; the sun on my face, my toes curled in the sand and the music of a lake in the summer soothing my ears. Magical.

in the water

splash in the water

We decided to watch a movie from the assortment of childhood classics and family favourites on the second night and chose So I Married An Axe Murderer. Trev, my friend’s husband, recited the words to his favourite scene (Charlie going to dinner at his parents house) then promptly fell asleep.

Getting Baby J out of his crib when he woke at 6:30am and the house was quiet, snuggling him into bed with me, nestled in the lower bunk of a pine-knotted rustic bed, wrapped by a handmade quilt, just the two of us together. He’s still my little baby, even if he is running, babbling and pretending to be a boy during the day, and we both fell back asleep, dreaming and happy.

baby in beach chair

I’m so grateful to have had this weekend away. It recharged my batteries and gave me renewed energy to tackle life, work, and mamahood in my everyday.

Balsamic chicken, banjos and beauty sleep

This week started out like a normal one. Got up early with the little fella, went for a walk, and even managed to clean up a bit before work. There’s nothing like proudly surveying properly nested bowls and neatly stacked tupperware with matching lids to make you feel like a real grownup.

We’d planned for a bit of a different evening n Monday though, and while I was finishing up at work, Baby J went to his grandparents to stay the night. Sleepover #3 for the little guy and he’s been fine every time, but I still have a hard time saying goodbye when he’s leaving. 346 kisses and hugs later, he was gone, and I had some time to make dinner.

I had a box of goodies waiting in the fridge for me – there is a new meal service in Ottawa called Chefx and the idea is that they deliver a package of food along with a recipe created by a chef from a local restaurant for you to cook. They sent me a box to try out, and it included ingredients to make Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper and Israli Couscous Salad along with step by step instructions. Sounds fancy? Oh yes, and delicious, too!

meal prep chefx

A couple of things I liked about this: they only send exactly what you need – so 3 cloves of garlic rather than a whole head, a little packet of brown sugar, fresh veggies. They try to source locally produced items, which appeals to me, and if they have leftover food after the week’s deliveries, they donate it to the Ottawa Food Bank.

couscous

The thing that’s been tripping me up with cooking lately is coming up with meal plans and then getting to the grocery store with a specific list (and a toddler in tow) to get everything. So it was nice to have it all in front of me, plus it made me cook something I’ve never tasted before – the side of Israli coucous salad. It was slightly chewy like pasta and with the burst of fresh basil and veggies, won us both over. I also rarely cook skin-on, bone-in chicken, and didn’t know you should sear, then bake, but the result was pretty flavourful and moist so it’s something I’ll have to repeat.

Chefx chicken and couscous

We enjoyed our meal a lot, and if Baby J was at home, I think there would have been enough for him to eat as well from the 2 serving option. I’d be curious to price out how much buying these ingredients straight from the store would cost compared to subscribing to the boxes on a weekly basis, but if it’s similar (adding in ease factor and local ingredients), I think I’d use Chefx again for the convenience and the chance to make an interesting recipe like this.

balsamic chicken

After our nice at-home dinner, we headed out to Pressed on Gladstone where they have a bluegrass band every Monday night. This week was The Monroe Sisters and they were so fantastic, strumming the banjo, plucking the mandolin, singing in gorgeous 3 part harmony. The upbeat songs brought a smile to my face.

Monroe Sisters Pressed

Monroe Sisters Ottawa

For his song of the day, Tyler got up to play and sing These Memories of You with the ladies (and one bass-playing gent). It went over pretty went well, with the addition of the accordion, the soaring fiddle notes interspersed throughout the melody, and everyone trading off parts in sync. I don’t usually listen to much bluegrass music but I couldn’t get enough: slowly sipping a cup of white wine while soaking in the heat of the evening and the energy of the performers.

The Monroe Sisters Ottawa

Best of all, the show didn’t go too late so I got to bed at a normal hour. This doesn’t seem like much until you start waking up with a teething one year old at 5:30am for a week straight. Then, sleeping in til 8am feels like bliss!

Hope you are all cooking delicious meals, listening to wonderful music, and taking time out to enjoy the summer as July creeps up on us.