Cooking up and Chilling out

While there’s technically a few more weeks of summer left, and the sunny hot weather this week is nicely dragging it out, there’s still a chill creeping up in the evenings. Fall’s going to be upon us before we know it and I’m not quite ready. Because you see, I’ve been putting off my summer to do list something fierce!

One thing I’ve managed to keep up on is Masterchef – the only reality show I watch (I sometimes check out Survivor, but without cable I really have to seek out and remember to watch it each week) and the stunning, scrumptious dishes they keep cooking up call out to me each week. I love to cook. I love to eat. I’m not anywhere near a chef like those contestants and my phone screen protector gets a good run while I spatter it in oil trying to follow a recipe. But. I told myself I’d try at least 5 new recipes this summer and that’s one item on the list I’m making good on!

We had an enjoyable dinner the night I scrounged in the cupboards to make this Italian chicken and chickpea recipe, and I’d been meaning to try out cookie dough bars since someone brought them to our house concert earlier in June (so, so good – both the concert and the bars!)
This sweet broiled salmon recipe was pretty quick and pretty good, and we enjoyed these apple zucchini muffins last week, with a few lurking in the freezer still, so hopefully they thaw out and taste ok.

italian chicken chickpeas

cookie dough bar recipe

Tonight’s dinner blows it all away though! Baby J had some kind of weird neck/ headache today and was quieter than his usual self. He seemed ok – no fever, but was saying ow! and telling us that when he looked up, it hurt. I debated taking him in to the doctor and I will if he feels the same tomorrow, I think. He was happy enough to play at the park in the warm summer weather though.


And then, he watched cartoons with his Daddy as I whisked around the kitchen. Preparing a great meal is a nice dose of ‘alone’ time for me. I don’t know if it’s the focusing or the making but I just love it. Today’s new recipe was this Parmesan Garlic Quinoa (I found it just by Googling ‘quinoa side dish’) which went nicely with our steak, roasted tomatoes and asparagus. I wanted to try it since the recipe called for toasting the quinoa in garlic before cooking it.

The result? Pretty tangy and cheesy, garlicky and good. I recommend it! And mixing in the balsamic tomatoes on my plate was a good move too.

steak and sides

garlic quinoa parmesan

So full and so happy. What have you been cooking lately!?

Same old Sunday

I love Sundays – the only day of the week where nobody has to work! It’s been such a great summer with cottages and road trip visits that I’ve been out of town or had plans the last 4 Sundays in a row. Crazy! I have a lot of photos floating around on my computer waiting for recaps to be written.

But for today – back to normal. Baby J woke me up around 7:30am and we got ourselves ready to go to my mom’s for breakfast as per our normal routine. She’d made bacon and eggs, crispy sweet potatos, and jazzed up leftover mini croissants with blueberry chia seed jam. We spent the morning eating, colouring and playing, checking out the gravel piles and road rollers sitting outside her place. Her parking lot has been closed for construction, but on a Sunday morning it was a lovely wide open space to play some hockey with a stick and pinecone!

piano playing

Around noon we made our way home and spent some time watering the nice new garden my sister-in-law planted. We had our back fences fixed a couple of months ago and I moved some stones around to replace a rotted wooden vegetable box, creating a little space for plants. I don’t know much about planting this time of year (or any time, to be honest) but I sent a couple of pictures to my handy sister-in-law (who works at a Garden Centre) and she stopped by yesterday afternoon armed with plants, flowers, soil, and mulch. She weeded and laid out and planted in about an hour flat. It looks amazing!

summer garden

I was a bit worried that Baby J would stomp and tromp the new plants, but we showed him how to water them, and he did that very carefully. He also watered his feet for quite awhile before agreeing to come in and lay down for some quiet time. This turned into a late nap and some time for us to clean – Tyler’s tackling the garage and groceries, and I’m trying to take care of my brain a bit, doing some writing and thought organizing, then food prep.

Last night we went to the West End Food truck rally – 10 food trucks selling food and collecting a can for the local food cupboard, in a church parking lot within walking distance from our house. We decided on the Asian tacos, pork and chicken, and to be totally honest, I wasn’t a big fan. Should have gone with the fancy grilled cheese, but the line was long and patience was not looking likely. But we had fun walking around and checking stuff out, and there was dessert!

food trucks bells corners

The ice cream truck was sold out (much to Baby J’s disappointment) but we tried the churros and those were decent in their crunchy Beavertail-like chewiness (he loved the idea, but only had a bite or two before deciding he’d rather play at the park).

merry dairy


Recently we picked up an umbrella stroller for Julian, and he loves to push it himself – wheeling it as fast as he can and laughing all the way down the sidewalk. Last night a couple of older ladies were approaching and I asked J to stop. He did, eyeing our company, and then Tyler asking him to go around. Promptly, he started guiding the stroller around and around in circles while we all chuckled.

Tonight I’m hoping to make scallops and asparagus, some light summer fare to go with the scorching weather, and then we’ll take a trip to the indoor pool, which we also used to do every Sunday night. I’m glad and grateful that we’re able to take little trips and enjoy the summer weekends, but I like our little routines and things that make being at home the best place to be.

Toronto weekend

A few months back, we decided we should book of one weekend. Just one weekend where no one would be working, and we could hang out the whole time as a little family. After looking at the calendar, we decided on the July 25th weekend. We’d take a road trip to Toronto for my brother in law’s birthday!

So we did.

I had these grand ideas of taking the entire day and making lots of stops, checking out all the funny sounding places you see on the road signs along the way, but I ran out of time to research. So we just stopped at one, for lunch – a little place quite far off the beaten track called Hell Hole Nature trail. Intriguing, right?

401 wildflowers

hell holes nature trail

When we got there, we found out it was just a quiet picnic area with a playground, mini-golf, and a view. You could pay $7 each to walk down the trails, but it sounded too difficult and dangerous for a 2 year old. So we had lunch and a good long play at the park and around the golf holes.

hell holes mini golf

hell holes

hell holes park

Then we headed back towards the 401. It’s funny, before the trip one of the things I was looking forward to most was time in the car to actually talk and relax, but as the cars turned into a crawl, we realized something was wrong and it took us hours to find out what it was. We finally got off in Port Hope to find that the highway was closed, and we all had a good long stretch and some water. We got back on a ways down, and the normally 4 hour drive took us closer to 8 hours, maybe 9. Brutal!

But we made it, and it was great to see Ali and Justin and their new puppy Rupert! Baby J loves their cuddly cat, Fenton, and was obsessed with petting him all weekend.

Saturday was a day for playing at the park, for eating freshly baked cheese and chocolate croissants, for shopping on Yonge street, and walking and napping. We also took Baby J on the subway for the first time (he hated it and asked to get off at each stop) and then a barbecue. We made some new friends and celebrated the birthdays with cupcakes and a kiddie pool full of drinks. There was another 2 year old there to play with, a dinosaur hiding in the garden, dancing to do, and hot dogs to eat.


barbecue bday


pin the sticker

Sunday morning we decided to head over the Sherwood park and enjoy the weather. It’s got a great off-leash are for dogs who love to climb (steps and boardwalks) as well as a massive playground area, picnic tables, and water park with shower-like spray. Of course, all my little guy wanted to do was climb up and down these bars outside the washroom while softly singing “Spiderman” to himself. He did get on the teeter totter for awhile too, and check out the water briefly.

Sherwood rock

sherwood climbing

We had a quick lunch from Burger Priest before packing up to say goodbye. Toronto isn’t so far but it feels far when the time there flies by in an instant, when the tickles and barks and funny moments get tucked away again until the next time we can see each other in person.

The drive home was much more textbook, 4 hours of napping and talking, of watching a movie and thinking about the days and weeks ahead while also just feeling the warm breeze rush in through the windows on the open road.