Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What is going on?

I've been saying that a lot lately.

I've started a new project at work, and haven't been posting lately.

Also, I noticed I was doing a lot of food posts.  Which is fun, and certainly gets site traffic, but has been tending toward "off message".  This is supposed to be a helpful blog with a health(ful) focus.

Cute food not so much.

So, I'm doing a little regrouping.  I plan to keep posting, but my schedule will change.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just a little lunch

Yesterday only Pumpkin required a packed lunch.  Since she wasn't able to finish Monday's lunch, she asked for less this time.

I thought the ham and tortilla wrap with broccoli and grapes looked a little sad, but Pumpkin said it was perfect.  It looks like smaller lunches will be in order for a bit.  Until the next growth spurt, anyway.

Yes, healthy snacks still get sent along too.

added to What's For Lunch Wednesday

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Only a test

Remember a while back I mentioned testing season?  It's over for this year.

I'm fine.

Except for the pinky toe on my left foot.  It didn't quite clear a door frame the other day.  At least it's not sandal weather.

Speaking of weather.....

Yes, we did have snow the other day.  Just like Cinnamon said.  No, I am not happy about it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Weather Forecast: More Rain

It's been a couple of cold, rainy days.  We had a nice weekend, which made going to the pumpkin patch a delightful experience.  But today?  Rain.  Yesterday?  Rain.  Tomorrow?  Also rain.

Rainy, grey fall days make me want to bake.

And what better than pumpkin scones!

Today the girls have Sesame Ginger Baked Chicken (leftover from last night), with brown rice.  Can you see it?  It's under there.  Cucumber slices help hold the rice in place,  red pepper slices add colour.  Steamed broccoli provides extra veg and fits in well between the cucumber and the red grapes.  The special treat Mini Pumpkin Scone with cinnamon glaze sits in a purple flower shaped cup.

It's cute, and the girls ate all of it over the course of the day.  But the biggest hit wasn't the scone.
The biggest hit (for Pumpkin, anyway) was this guy:

I wrapped the spoon and fork in a napkin and secured it with this festive little guy.

Added to What's For Lunch Wednesday

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Black Cat Pasta

Fall is here.  October.  A nifty month, full of rain and falling leaves and fog.  Towards the end there will be costumes and pumpkins.

I found this pasta on the weekend.  Black Cat pasta.  Little kitty faces and kitty paws, coloured with spinach.  I thought it would be fantastic for a Halloween themed lunch, especially since I had a few cute Halloween picks.  I suspected the vibrant colour would not hold through the cooking process.  I was right.  They are still pretty cute though, aren't they?

The pasta is not black.  It's a pale green.  Le sigh.  I've been spoiled by squid ink pasta.  And by other spinach pastas.  They've usually held their colour quite nicely.

The garlic and parmigiano-reggiano kitty pasta is sitting in a purple cabbage leaf and decorated with a little tomato.  (Both from our garden!  Yes, even still! ) 
Steamed carrots sit in a silicone cup.  The cucumber was unfortunately peeled before I could stop my kitchen helper, but  keeps the pasta separate from the grapes just the same.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I couldn't resist

This is Friday's lunch.  We were running behind schedule, so there was some dashing about in the kitchen.  I did have a much fancier looking lunch in mind, but when everyone overslept, that just wasn't going to happen.

The girls took the same lunch contents, but they were arranged differently.  Peanut's was more plain, as she is too old now for cutsey lunches.  Below is Pumpkin's lunch.  She's fine with the cutesy.

It started with just ham on tortillas, with grapes and blueberries in the silicone cups.  Then I thought, hey, the broccoli kinda looks like hair!  

So I added grapes for eyes and a blueberry nose.  I could not find the toothpicks anywhere, so they are held in place with short bits of whole-wheat spaghetti.  The face was taking shape, and screamed out for a mouth.   Pumpkin also got a yellow pepper ring cut in half for a smile. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Today the girls took something a little.....different.

Saturday is World Zombie Day.  Many cities are having celebrations, lots of them involving food drives to support local food banks.

The girls' school is having a food drive, but it is the annual Thanksgiving drive.  It has nothing to do with Zombies, but will have some links to Oktoberfest, which kicks off Friday.

What is the favourite food of zombies?  


Of course I couldn't send real brains to school!  These are maccaroni elbows with a little garlic and grana padana, shaped roughly into a brain (see the cleft?), with tomato paste dabbed on for blood.
The brains are held in place with cucumber slices. A silicone muffin cup holds the grapes.  Broccoli, red pepper slices and carrot slices  fill in gaps.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Garden - Week 20 - Frost Warnings

It's that time again.  Time for frost and frost warnings.  There was even (allegedly) had a dusting of snow over the weekend, just south of here.  I didn't see it myself, but the weather guys claim it happened.

Was my garden prepared?  Nope.

So, this week/weekend will see me apologizing to the bedraggled looking plants as I tidy them up.  Hopefully I will be able to plant some bulbs and top-dress some beds before we get truly bad weather. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Today I did something new.

Technically, I did two new things.  I went to a music shop with Evening Goose and Evening Goose's Sister, and I made a bento lunch for myself!


I know

The music shop was fantastic!  I bought ukulele music!  And a metronome!

The lunch was pretty darned good, too.

I packed it in my new LunchBot Uno.

(Which makes 3 new things.)

I had a ham and cheese tortilla, which was heated and cooled before packing.  Cucumber slices and baby carrots helped wedge the wrap in place, and separate it from the grapes and white fleshed plum.  That may not really have been necessary, since the grapes and plum slices were in red silicone cups.  Some snap peas were stuffed in to hold it all in place, and provide some more green. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Garden Week Something

It's well past Week 15, that's for sure.

The planter on the deck is well and truly finished now.  No more lettuce, no more peas.  One scraggly looking bean plant is holding out, but not for much longer.

Meanwhile, the raised bed is still producing cherry tomatoes.  And purple carrots.  I've even harvested some peppers in the last few days.  The cabbages have set their heads, and will be harvested and enjoyed.

Do you remember me telling you that the broccoli did nothing?
Look at this:

It's not a beautiful head, and it seems to have, erm, gotten old-ish while I wasn't paying attention.  But!  The broccoli did grow!

The cabbages look lovely:

It seems the cauliflower is not the variety we thought it was:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I think I wanna see 50/50

I had the opportunity to go to Toronto last week with my friend, Evening Goose.
We went during TIFF.
We did lots of cool things.
We did not see *any* of the movies. 
But we did look at the big ol board that listed what was showing where, when.  And ya know what?  I wanna see a couple of them.

Not a whole bunch of them, just a couple.

50/50 is one of them.

While I was Sherpa-ing, one of my big tasks (in terms of time) was the "Idle Banter About NOT Cancer".  Keeping it light was one of the more fun things. 

So I want to see this film.

I am hopeful that it is a more accurate portrayal of the cancer experience.  Since I'm not a male, 25 year-old comedy writer, I don't expect it to reflect very much of *my* cancer experience.   I still want to see it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Ahoy mateys!

D'ye know what day this be?  

Why, 'tis September the 19th!  If ye be wishin' to grow yer knowledge a bit, ye best click on this.

To celebrate the day, the girls took something with a bit o'flair:
Ham and lettuce in tortillas, sliced into rounds, and decked out with a pirate flag.  Some yellow pepper slices are contained in a silicone cup to prevent sogginess and to suggest a treasure chest.  Green seedless grapes and orange cherry tomatoes (from the garden!) are separated from the sandwich by pirate themed cupcake liners, folded to show the map and treasure.

 And what better to accompany than a pirate hat napkin!

(photographed on the table for better contrast)

Friday, September 16, 2011

5 Reasons Mammograms Are Not Really Scary

Really.  They aren't.  Honest.

Getting a mammogram is not my favourite way to spend an afternoon, but it is way less invasive and/or uncomfortable than many other medical tests.

So why do so many people put them off?  Is it because mammography is scary?

Then in the name of naming and exposing the monster under the bed (Geoff, and really just made of balled-up unwashed socks) to make it less frightening, here is a short list to de-scare-ify mammograms. 

1. There is no prep for a mammogram.
None.  At all.  OK, so you don’t wear deodorant/antiperspirant before the test.  It gets the plates all gunky and can be hard to clean off.  But still, this isn’t a prep kind of thing.  You don’t have to drink anything gross.  You don’t have to fast.  You just show up.

2. It is not invasive.
Let’s face it, the majority of people getting mammograms are women.  Ladies, this is nowhere near as invasive as the way, way more common cancer screen – the PAP smear. 
Yep, you have to have your top off.  However, you will probably have a gown to cover you, or some little jacket thing, depending on the place doing your test.  This is nothing like trying to arrange 2-3 pieces of paper to cover yourself.
For the gentlemen out there who will require this test (yes, men get breast cancer too) while you will probably get looks from the women (well, some of them), I've been told it's it’s not as bad as a prostate exam or hernia check.  Not that I’ve ever had either.  This is what I’ve heard from a friend-of-a-friend who is a male breast cancer survivor.  He’s also a veteran, and a grandfather.

3. It doesn’t hurt.
Seriously.  Your breasts are pretty malleable.  The mammography machine (let’s call it….Betty) has two plates.  You kind of lean into Betty, and the plates compress your breast tissue.  Yes, Betty does  squish your breasts fairly flattish. I would say it is more discomfort than actual pain.
Now, if you are having a mammogram and find yourself thinking “Jade lied!  This hurts!  Betty is evil!”, tell your technician.  You will probably need to describe the pain (Stabbing/throbbing/burning etc.)  It might be that you can be repositioned. Or maybe not, but it only takes a second for the “picture”, so it won't last long.

4.  A mammogram doesn’t take a long time.
When I had my first one, I figured it would take the whole afternoon.  It took less time than I expected.  It would fit into a lunch hour.  Now, there are exceptions to this, of course.  The center I go to has two mammogram suites, and other rooms just for ultrasound, biopsy, and consultation.  If you have to have extra images taken for what ever reason (like having dense breasts), it can take a little bit longer.  

5. It’s not really the test that worries you, is it?
It’s the possibility of the bad result. 

There have been lots of theories floated about why people don’t get checked.  I subscribe to the "If I don’t know, then I’m fine" theory of denial.  It’s a little like a small child covering his eyes and thinking you can't see him.  It also doesn’t work. 

Getting a bad result (or a diagnosis of cancer) doesn’t mean that in the second a Doctor says the Big C Word you’ve received a zott of deadliness. 


It has been there, lurking, undetected, for some time.  Kinda like The Silence. (For Dr. Who fans.  For everyone else, I’ll wait while you click this link.)  Every bit as creepy.  Every bit as malicious.

And the sooner you know, the more time you have to do something about it. 

But ignoring your own health? 

That's really scary.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

School's Back!

It is the second week, in fact.  Yay!  So, why no posts last week?  Because it was the first week of school. Yes, the children took lunches. I just didn't post any pictures.  Until now....

This was Friday's lunch. Some lovely green seedless grapes and red pepper slices, and curried chicken (left over from supper) decorated with thin red pepper slices approximating birds.  The brown rice (also from supper) is separated from the chicken by romaine lettuce, and decorated with a fresh-from-the-garden purple carrot.  

Friday, September 2, 2011


So, you may have noticed I've not done any health related or cancer focused posts lately.  That's because it's testing season, again.  Eventually I'll get all my assorted appointments coordinated so I can get them done inside the same month or two, but right now there are tests run in the spring, and more in late summer/early fall.

No, we are not going to worry.  I get to do these every year.   It's part of the life of a survivor.  That doesn't make it fun.  I have tests and exams, and then I wait.

The waiting is the worst.  It makes me feel like cat in a physicist's thought experiment.  You know the one.*  Inside the box, I'm both fine and not fine, until someone checks and reports the result.


*Schrödinger's cat,  this interpretation

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Delicious Dumplings

One week left!  School resumes next week!  Where did the time go?

The weather was lovely today, so we intended to have an outdoor lunch.  Then the bees showed up.  Wasps, mostly.  We do not like them.  We ate inside.

It was delicious.  All three lunches were identical; only one is shown.

Today we had seafood dumplings (kinda steamed, kinda pan fried) in our favourite, romaine lettuce.  The cherry tomatoes and purple carrots are fresh from the garden.  I steamed the broccoli today.  It seems to have made the colour more vibrant.  The orange bell pepper is not from the garden, but is local, and so are the free-stone peach slices.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Purple Carrots!

The days are getting cooler, the golden rod is getting more yellow.  This means school is approaching.

We still have about two weeks of summer vacation, though!
The girls are in a science and engineering camp this week.  They are learning new things, building and making stuff, and having a great time so far.

The girls' lunches today are meatballs in a lettuce nest with mini pitas, cucumber slices and green seedless grapes.  The grape tomatoes from Stella, and purple carrots from the raised bed were harvested by the girls this morning.

Here the purple carrots are sliced, showing their orange cores.

Pumpkin preferred her carrot whole:

She also requested fewer tomatoes, and more grapes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Garden Week 14

We are nearing the end of August.  The window box planter is pretty much done, now.
The last of the lettuces have gone to seed.  The beans in the box didn't produce very much of anything, I'm afraid.

The raised bed is a different story.  The beans continue to bear, as do the tomatoes.  We have pulled a few purple carrots, and even harvested peppers.  Of course the oregano is thriving.  It is trying to escape the bed now. 

The broccoli has produced nothing but leaves so far.  They look a little sad.  Tall, thin, leafy, with no indication of any intention of developing a head.  I don't know what their problem is.  The cabbage and cauliflower are quite happy.  My friend's broccoli has also done pretty much nothing.  Maybe it's the area?  The weather?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beach Umbrellas

I have no idea what to call this.  Pumpkin suggested Beach Umbrella Lunch.  Can you see it?  The sand?  The water?  People?

The girls really liked the little paper parasols last week, so they are back!
Hummus is stuffed into mini red bell peppers.  Grapes and blueberries are in silicone cups to prevent the mini pitas getting soggy.  The baby carrots were sliced to make biting easier, since some front teeth are still missing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Garden Week 13

I found the sunflowers!

Way back at the beginning of the summer, I planted sunflowers in the window box.  One of them even came up, a little.  Remember?  Since there was no sign of the others, I assumed the seeds were duds.

I was wrong.

My garden has been altered.  By (I think) a chipmunk.  Or possibly a squirrel.  We've seen several chipmunks eating the cherry tomatoes in the garden, and I've had some plants spring up where I didn't plant them before.  This time, the sunflowers are beside the driveway.  They look rather nice there.  Perhaps the mystery garden re-arranger had a good idea.

In other garden news, the peas are done, beans nearly finished, lettuces all gone to seed, basil flowering, mint trying to escape.  The cabbages are starting to form, the cauliflower is forming a teeny-tiny head, and the broccoli shows no sign of anything other than leaves.

The oregano continues to thrive.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rainy Day Smile

Today's lunch post was packed by Peanut.  After weeks of heat, we are getting rain!
So what better to brighten up a drab day than a cheerful umbrella?

Peanut made roast chicken and tortilla "rollie sandwiches", separated from the blueberries and mini red pepper by some parchment paper.  The blueberries are decorated (and skewered ) with a yellow paper parasol.  Peanut left the stem on the pepper because she liked the look and colour.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Garden Week 12

"....and it exploded!"
(One of my favourite lines from the movie Galaxy Quest, spoken by the character Teb.)

Well, Stella kinda has.  She has also produced an abundance of cherry tomatoes.  I think the oregano had something to do with it.

Yes, the oregano I've been whining about all this time.

I know.  Don't look at me like that.
The oregano has produced lots of flowers.  These have drawn all kinds of bees.  The bees are doing lots of pollination.  So, we have lots of tomatoes, and lots of beans.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Garden Week 10 &11

Hi there!  Did you miss the garden posts?

We were travelling last week, and part of this week.  Many thanks to EveningGoose and Sneopack for watering our plants while we were away! The planters lived! Yay!
I guess this region got not a lot of rain while we were camping.  We were in a tent, so of course it rained quite a bit where we were.  Peanut was delighted.  She got to show off the skills she'd acquired at camp.   She built a shelter with a tarp, and got to build and start the campfire.

The beans in the window box have even produced some slender green beans.  The buttercrunch lettuce is doing well.  The basils are doing well.  The romaine seems to have exploded over the past few days, and is now going to seed.
The pea plants in the windowbox have just about reached the end of their lives, I think.  Yesterday I scared a chipmunk who was trying to remove a peapod.  He managed to rip a section of vine off, and left it on the deck when he ran away.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Camp Lunch

It's still summer camp season!

Today's lunch has cold BBQ Chicken Thighs (boneless, left over from last night), green and yellow beans (fresh from the garden bed), local cherries, pita and grapes.
The pita was toasted, cooled and torn to bits.  Peanut reported that it did stay not soggy the last time we did this, so here's hoping it works again.  You can see the condensation that started forming on the grapes in the brief time they were out of the fridge.  Frozen juice boxes will hopefully help keep the lunch nice and cool.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Exactly how much sun screen do I need to use?

This is a question I ask myself a lot.  One year I slathered SPF 30 on, had lunch outside (45 min, tops) and came in with a lovely burn.

So, if sunscreen extends the time you can safely be in the sun before burning, I've got what, a little over a minute I can be in the sun at any one time?
My Darling Hubby bought me the "Keep out of direct sunlight" shirt from ThinkGeek for my birthday.

OK, but really.  How much?
According to this article, at least 2 Tablespoons for you body, and half a teaspoon for your face.  This other article says essentially the same thing.  Both of those talk about relative SPFs and have other tips.  I like the shadow rule myself:  If your shadow is shorter than you, head for cover.

But staying inside and/or out of the sun totally isn't going to cut it.  I want to be outside. (Maybe not so much this week.)  The other day I popped into a Dollar Store, and picked up a set of plastic measuring spoons:

Now I can squirt sunscreen into them, hand it to Peanut, and get her used to the volume that needs to be slathered on, and repeat as necessary. Pumpkin will still require some parental assistance, but still has a handy visual aid.  These things are going to live with the sunscreen bottles, and will be traveling to the beach with us this year, too.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Garden - Week 9

It's been hot here.  Hot, hot, hot.  How hot? Gabriel sums it up here:

The lettuces are still being harvested, and the beans in the raised bed have provided fresh veggies at three meals now.  The beans in the box on the deck are stunted.  They've been watered (with a watering can) in the morning every day, and I've tried to shade them from the sun at least a little to slow the waterloss a bit, but there just isn't any getting around it; that planter dries out fast. 

Stella the tomato plant and her friend are doing very well, and have provided tomatoes daily.   The oregano has begun flowering and is drawing lots and lots of big, fluffy, yellow bumble bees.  I'd go out there and try to take a picture, but it's too hot. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Whew, it's hot out there!

By the looks of the weather map, it's hot pretty much everywhere.  The news last night described a heat dome, and listed the cities under a heat advisory.

This week, Peanut is at a camp where there is forrest, and creeks, and swamp.  In fact, it's the one from last year, the one that started the whole litterless lunch quest!  Since it's (on average) 3 degrees cooler out there, plus there's water activities and lots more shade, I think this was a good week for her to go.  It can be hard to guess when you book these things in March.

Here is today's lunch:

Peanut has a mini yellow bell-pepper, stuffed with hummus.  I saved the 'lid', but things are packed so tightly there is very little chance of tipping or spilling anyway.  The pita was toasted and ripped into smallish pieces after it cooled.  Hopefully this will help prevent sogginess as the day goes on.  Lettuce (from the garden!) acts as a barrier between the pita and the veggies.  Green snap peas, some lovely grapes and local cherries round out today's lunch.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day Camp Lunch

Today's lunch was packed by Peanut and Pumpkin!

They wanted a lunch that would be easy to eat while at their day camp.  The girls like to eat part of their lunch at the designated lunch period, and save some for after swimming, when they are absolutely starving.

The lunches have mini pitas, ham, and red pepper from the grocery store.  They also have cherry tomatoes, peas and lettuce from our garden.  All picked this morning, by the girls.  OK, Mommy helped. ;-)

Peanut decided to make a sandwich with two red pepper slices, ham and lettuce.  She decorated her lunch with a message written in snap peas.  Pumpkin arranged her lunch components in a manner she found pleasing.

Added to What's For Lunch Wednesday

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


No, it's not made with bunnies!  George is fine, thank you.  See?  Here he is with a friend the girls have named Dandelion:

The bunwich was the girls' lunch on Friday.  I was feeling very, very guilty last week.  The girls are at a day camp, also attended by friend-of-the-blog Evening Goose's son, Name-to-follow.  He's chosen a cool alias, but alas I can't remember it right now.

Anyway, Darling Husband had been preparing the lunches last week.  Friday came and we realized he'd done all of them!  This was not fair!  Plus, I had no new food content for the blog...

It's a sandwich.  Yes, for the girls who don't like sandwiches.  But it's on a bun!  Yes, a sesame seed topped bun.  It may even have come out of a bag with the word "Hamburger" on it. 

The bunwich is made with ham and garden fresh lettuce, and accompanied by a garden-fresh tomato. (From Stella! Yay!)  The girls also have green seedless grapes and slices of yellow bell pepper.  While we do have wild grape vines in the yard, we won't be getting grapes from them ever.  I may be able to harvest some leaves from them next year, when the vines are a little larger.

Update - July 13, 2011
Evening Goose's son goes by Sneopack.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cute Culprit

Look at this guy:

Sweet, innocent little bunny-wunny, right?  A fluffy little bundle of Awwwwww?

Ha!  That's just what he wants you to think!

I was chopping some peppers for dinner the other night, and out of the corner of my eye, saw something brownish moving on the deck.  I startled it when I moved toward the door.  The soft brown thing bounded down the stairs and ducked around the yew tree.  I grabbed my camera, totally expecting to get absolutely nothing. 

Instead I found Mr. BigEyes here, pretending to be a bunny shaped statue near some clover.  Acting all innocent.  Like he knew nothing about the two (2!) Pea Knight plants that were now totally missing from the flower box on the deck.  Eaten all the way down!  GAH!

On the bright side, he doesn't like basil.  Or oregano.

(No, I don't know for sure if it's a boy bunny or a  girl bunny.)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Garden - Week 8

The lettuce are doing remarkably well.  We are still (!) able to harvest daily.  The second wave lettuce seeds are trying to sprout.  They grew 1 cm leaves, and stopped.

The Pea Knights have set their pods.  It looks like each vine will produce about two pods.  This is not a spectacular yield.  Then again, they are trying to grow in a window box.  The larger peas are also blossoming and setting pods.  Their average (so far) is three blossoms per vine, with hopefully all being pollinated and developing.  These vines are not quite to the three foot high mark,  so it's just as well we didn't staple the trellis all the way up.  I'm sure we would have infuriated more than one bird with it.

In other window box news, some of the bean plants are not doing well at all.  They've gone from green, to yellow-green, to pale yellow.  Definitely not happy.  Perhaps their roots are too hot?  Too dry? The other beans right beside them are happy, though.  I am perplexed. 
See what I mean?  This leaf is not the best example of pale yellow, but it is conveniently next to a healthier looking specimen.

The raised bed is performing quite well.  The tomato plants have lots of blossoms and a few green tomatoes.  The cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower are growing well, and the beans are recovering from what ever was eating the leaves. 

The oregano is continuing its path of garden domination.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Last Lunch of the School Year

[imaginary trumpet fanfare]

It's the last day of school!  Yippee!  The girls were up, dressed and ready to leave by 7:05 am.  This is astonishing.  They were ready a whole hour early!

Today's lunch is "Rollie Bread Sandwiches", otherwise known as ham and lettuce (from the garden) in a tortilla.  This time sliced and placed on end, separated from the fruit and veg by some parchment paper.  The cucumbers, peppers, grapes and blueberries developed a little condensation when they were taken from the fridge, so hopefully the parchment will prevent tortilla sogginess.

Edit July 6 - Added to What's For Lunch Wednesday.  The thumbnail title should read School's Out, but I didn't put quotes around the ' (like " ' ", or the whole phrase, for that matter), so it's truncated.  Sorry about that. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lunch - Packed by Peanut

School is almost over.  Just a two more days!  Then a long weekend!

Today's lunches were packed by.....Peanut!

Both girls have ham, rolled up deli-plate style, and held with grapes and blueberries on skewers, played here by toothpicks.  The mix of grapes and blueberries are kept away from the ham and from the pita wedges by lettuce, picked fresh from the containers moments before packing!  

Monday, June 27, 2011

Garden Week 7

Look!  We have PEAS!

Not very many, and maybe not quite ready to eat yet, but they are there!

Also?  The beans in the window box are starting to produce buds! Which is really surprising for me, considering how yellow the plants are, and how many leaves seem to have come off them.  But still!

The climbing peas continue to stretch toward the handrail on the deck.  They are about 60 cm (2 ft.) tall now, and some are starting to flower.
We are still harvesting lettuce and basil from the containers.  Another handful or so of lettuce seeds have been planted, in hopes of a summer full of salads.  The oregano in the garden is still thriving.  It must really love abuse.  We keep hacking at it, and it just comes back for more. 

I wonder if the girls' teachers would like some as end-of-year gifts. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

BBQ Chicken

One of the girls' favourites.  And since it's summer, finished on the actual BBQ!  Using a grill-buddy, since no one is a fan of char.

Each girl's lunch has two chicken legs, resting in lettuce fresh from the planter.  A row of cucumber slices separates the chicken from the grapes and cherries.  This time the blueberries are threaded on toothpicks.  For (I think) the first time, everything is packed in nice and tight, with no silicone to assist in separation. Yippee!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Math Salad

Today Pumpkin's class is having a Math Party.  I was volunteered to make a snack.  As soon as she heard party, Pumpkin shouted "My Mom can bake something!"

Her teacher said it would have to be healthy snacks only.  Pumpkin, slightly offended now, told the teacher "My Mom can totally make a healthy math snack, baking or not!"

And so today, I walked to school with a very proud Pumpkin, toting a pink soft-side cooler.  We were swarmed by first-graders.  Pumpkin was adamant there would be no peeking until Math Party time.

I was asked if I baked something, or bought something.  I told the children that I didn't bake it, but I did make it.  They cheered.  Pumpkin grinned. 

Here is Math Melon Salad:

Watermelon squares, rectangles and triangles (not seen because they are kinda on the bottom) with Honeydew and Cantaloupe numbers.

It was really easy to make.  The watermelon was sliced and cut into shapes with a knife.  The other melons were sliced between 1/4 and 1/8 in thick (yes, I know, a Canadian giving dimensions in Imperial), and the numbers punched out with cookie cutters.  The scraps and remnants are in the fridge, and will be consumed tonight.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Garden Week 6

Look!  Flowers!

Well, the beginning of flowers.  The prospect of flowers.

These beautiful buds are on the dwarf variety of peas (Pea Knights) planted in the front row of the window box.  The taller variety is in the back, and growing quite well.  Mostly up.  One of the bean plants is also in the picture.  If you look closely, you can see buds on it, too.

You don't have to look very closely at all to see the bean plant is a yellowish colour.  My first thought was too much water, but that can't be it.  Unless it's a delayed reaction kind of thing.  The box was quite soggy when we were getting lots of rain.  It has since dried out considerably.  The beans in the raised bed are catching up to the box planted ones.  Their leaves are a much deeper green, too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shan't do that again

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Today's lunches were looking a little plain.  Two "rolly-bread" sandwiches, sitting on fresh picked lettuce.  Blueberries in a red silicone cup, some green seedless grapes and two cherries added colour and fruit, but there seemed to be something...missing.  The sandwiches looked too plain. 

I had some little fondant flowers left over from a cupcake experiment.  I decided to put them on the sandwiches.  It would be a little surprise.  A little something from the not-healthy group.  A little pretty thing.

It was a surprise all right.

The girls were not fans.

The flowers didn't hold up well.  They got soft and gooey, and ruined part of the bread.  Plus, the girls thought it was weird.  They would rather have more fruit or berries, please and thank you.

So I've learned my lesson.  No more sugary things on lunches to add cuteness. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Garden Week 5

The peas have definitley found the lattice-web-thing, and are actively growing up it now.  We have harvested lettuce from the planters daily.  Happy Dance!
Look!  It's a photo taken with my camera!  I finally replaced the batteries!

The beans in the window box are doing remarkably better than the beans in the raised bed.  Only one of the basil plants is happy, and I've killed another lavender.  That makes me [checking notes] three for three on that one, almost tying with the poinsettia for most frequently killed plant. 

But the thistles are thriving!  They are in every bed, growing quickly and better than anything purposefully planted.  I think the finches are helping with the seed distribution.

I wonder if they could help with lavender...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Some Good News in the Fight Against Cancer

Pumpkin asked why I was slathering her face in sunscreen.  I've done it many, many times, but this was the first time she asked why.

"Because I want to help you not get cancer of the skin."  I answered.
"Oh.  How can you tell if someone has skin cancer?  Is it wrinkles?"

Clearly I need to explain this to her a little better, and a rushed discussion while she was putting her shoes on wasn't going to cut it.  Earlier in the week I read a CBC article about sunscreen.  Today I went to the Canadian Cancer Society's page for additional info, and came across something awesome. Sunscreen stuff will be a future post.

Beacuse there have been three (3!) breakthroughs in the fight against cancer announced THIS WEEK!

Are they in the news?  Well, not up here.  Today I've heard the 'hard news' about the storm in Eastern Ontario, the fires in the American South West, the Postal Worker's Strike, and the arrest of a singer.  And of course, the feel-good story of ducks in the road.  This time in Washington.  Oh, and Hugh Jackman coming to Toronto in July.

So, what's the exciting, science-y good news?
- Improvements in Preventing Breast Cancer (!) in women having an increased risk
- Revised Treatment of Breast Cancer, reducing risk of recurrance
- Revised Treatment of Prostate Cancer, with fewer side effects

Read all about it at cancer .ca

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

That's a lot of blueberries.

It didn't seem like that many when the girls were helping wash the berries, but when I look at the picture...there is a lot of blue there.

Yep, it's another cell-phone picture.  This is what happens when I forget to put batteries for my camera on the shopping list.  Sigh.

The meatballs are almost completely hidden by the fresh-from-the-planter lettuce.  Picking the lettuce fresh makes me so very, very happy.  Today the girls helped.  They were careful with their selections, and as gentle as possible when removing the leaves.

The steamed broccoli are in mini prep bowls, with blueberries perched on top.  Each lunch has two strawberries, with some blueberries snuggled in beside them, and some grapes, sprinkled with blueberries.  The mini-pitas are topped by a skewer of blueberries.

Check out other lunches at What's For Lunch Wednesday.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Garden Week 4

The lettuce and peas are doing really well.  Several leaves have been harvested from each of the lettuces, and none of the plants have died!  Well, none yet, anyway.

The beans in the planter box are doing much better than the beans in the raised bed.  I think it is the difference in rabbit access.  Selma has a friend in the garden, too.  The yet unnamed yellow cherry tomato plant was added on Saturday, along with some bell peppers.  The garden centre was out of red, yellow and orange bell pepper varieties.  They were running very low on green bell peppers, but we managed to find some.  We also selected a new (to us) kind that claims it will ripen to purple.  They had lots of those.  I guess no one wants a deep purple pepper?   

So, the Oregano Of Doom was hacked back (again) to make room for the tomato and a couple of marigolds.  The girls took turns making holes, gently removing plants from pots, sticking them in the soil and covering them with soil.  They were not allowed to water the plants.  The watering-can is very heavy when full, and can be tricky for small(ish) hands to control.  We could have given them each a smaller watering can (like the toys for the beach), but then they would have watered stuff that didn't require it.  Like the driveway, sidewalk and each other.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What you don’t know can kill you

Normally the Friday post is health related.  It usually has a cancer focus.  Not this week. 

I was reading the paper the other day, and I came across an article about strokes.   It’s available on-line here.    The full report is available on the website for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, here.

I was shocked to read how little women know about heart attacks and strokes. 

Especially Chinese and South Asian women.   

Which is really upsetting, considering they have the highest death rate. 

Apparently there are lots of emails circulating that share “tips” on what to do before, during and after a stroke.  The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends you do not follow or forward these things (Snopes.com has examples of the emails, if you are curious), but instead become familiar with the actual warning signs of stroke by visiting their website.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lettuce! From the garden!

Wow, it looks like summer hit suddenly.  It's a Hot, Hazy and Humid day.   How hot? The forecast says 40 °C with the Humidex.  That's 104 °F for folks visiting from the United States.

And so, a cool lunch for a hot day:

(Yes, the picture quality isn't that good.  I took this with my phone.)
Today the girls have dumplings (pork and veg) that I boiled in the microwave.  I do not want to add heat today.  And do you see that green, leafy stuff?  It's Buttercrunch lettuce.  Fresh.  Picked from the planter just a few minutes before the photo was taken.     Happy dance!

The girls also have snap peas (not from the garden - yet), yellow pepper (again, not yet from the garden), purple grapes, a strawberry and some blueberries.  Not pictured: large stainless steel water bottles and ice packs.

As much as I'd love to plant berries in the yard, I don't think it's going to happen.  We live very close to a pond, and get lots of wild visitors.  I doubt we'd ever harvest a single berry.  But that's OK.  We also live very close to an awesome Farmer's Market, and there are some local Farm Markets that should be opening in the next couple of weeks.

Added to What's For Lunch Wednesday

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lettuce and Peas, Week 3

Another week full of rain.  The ground is saturated, and low lying areas range from partially flooded to boggy.  This is nothing compared to what is happening in Quebec and Alberta.

So, how about something cheerful?

Week 3 of the experiment:

Look at them grow!  The peas are climbing!  Yippee!

The beans have sprouted and are pushing upwards as well.  One of the sunflowers is trying to grow.  Two leaves have emerged, and the stalk is almost 3 cm tall.

In the background of the photo you can just see Stella, right behind the oregano plant that is taking over the raised bed.  I'm thinking of pulling some of it out to use a a lawn-replacing ground cover.  It is just growing like crazy.  It's been cut in half three (yes, 3!) times so far this spring.    I guess oregano really likes the humid, wet weather.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Food Doesn’t Taste Right While On Chemotherapy

A while ago, I bumped into an old friend from University.  Not that she is old.  Or that I am old.  Well, maybe a little bit older than, say, new grads, but we aren’t up for CPP or anything yet. 

We were chatting about all kinds of stuff, and Cancer came up.  She was looking for advice for her Mom, who had started Chemotherapy, and was having food issues.  Specifically, it was hard to eat as much as she was supposed to because the food just didn’t taste right. 

Being a Cancer Sherpa, I promised I would ask around, and tell her what I found.  I sent her an email long ago, but still had the info on my desktop.  So why not share it?  That’s what this blog thing is for, right?

A summary of what I learned:
  1. I know an awful lot of people who either have cancer right now or have battled it at least once in their lives. 
  2. There is no one answer.  Unless you count “It depends.”  Everyone I spoke to had a different way of dealing with the food issues. 
The tips themselves:
  • Eat tiny portions.  One friend will eat only 2-3 tablespoons at any one time, to combat nausea.  It means he's pretty much constantly "snacking" on foods that are pretty much pureed, alternating with soda crackers.
  • Eat with plastic fork, knife and spoon.  One friend-of-a-friend can really taste the metal in foods, and stainless steel utensils make it worse.
  • Eat the food only when it is really hot.  One friend says the food doesn't taste right because the taste buds are formed by fast growing cells, so the chemo gets them, too.  She finds the food has a more natural taste if it is hotter.
  • Add more spice to the food.  This is another friend who follows the 'taste buds are dying' approach.  She uses a lot of spices (no salt!) in her food to make it more palatable.  Unfortunately, her family can't stand the extra, so she seasons her food separately.
  • Eat the food really cold.  Yet another friend (I told you I know a lot of people on chemo) prefers his food to be so cold it has no taste.  He lets his supper portion cool while the family eats, then puts it in the fridge for a bit (30 mins. or so) and eats it as cold as possible.
Other tips I received:
  • Eat the comfort food from your childhood; it will make you feel better.
  • Don't eat the comfort food from your childhood; it will ruin it forever. Clearly no winner on that one.
  • If you feel like eating something, eat it.
  • Eat when you feel like it, even if people look at you funny.
  • Suck on a mint or chew gum to get rid of dry mouth.
  • Never suck on a mint or chew gum to get rid of dry mouth. Again, this seems to be a contested, personal choice thing.
  • Magic Mouthwash will eliminate cottonmouth!  This was unanimous among those who'd tried it.  It's a prescription item, and you will have to ask your Oncologist or Oncological Pharmacist person about it.  I tried to get the actual name of the thing, but all anyone would say is "Magic Mouthwash".
And here’s a tip from me:
Contact your local chapter of the Cancer Society, or check it out on line.  There may be a survivor’s or living-with-cancer group in your area.  They may have some good resources available.    

If you have something to add to the list, let me know.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Towel Day 2011

Today, (May 25), is Towel Day!

I’m a Douglas Adams fan.  I watched the Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy TV series when I was little (check it out on NetFlix!), and have read the books of the trilogy in four parts (plus a bit) many times.  No, I haven’t heard the original-broadcast-radio series.

The girls have seen the Hitch Hiker’s Guide TV series, and the 2005 film.  While they really liked both, there are parts of the HHGTTG movie they like more.  Specifically the yarn bits and the voice of Marvin.

To celebrate Towel Day, I wanted to do something to let the girls know they are pretty hoopy froods. 

So, here we have:

So Long And Thanks For All the Fish Tuna Pasta Salad, topped with the answer to life, the universe and everything.  Yes it’s purple cabbage.  It’s fine.  It’s mostly harmless.  Purple is not mauve, and all the really dangerous things are mauve, right?

They also have a single strawberry, some yellow pepper slices, and some blueberries.

And what would towel day be without towels?  Here used as napkins, with a very important motto.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

They are growing! A Lettuce and Peas Update

The May 24 Weekend has ended.  It rained for part of every day.  The rest of the week promises lots of rain and continued warm temperatures, too.

As is the custom, we gardened.  Lots of weeding, mowing and cleaning was done.  Some beds were edged. We even planted a few things.  Mostly hardy-ish plants, like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.  And Selma.  She had set flowers, and was not going to get pollinated indoors.

Yes, I know colder weather is coming.  We are watching Selma, and the forecasts.

The exciting news is the peas and beans have sprouted! A few of them are beginning to climb the netting!  It’s working!  See?

Well, so far, anyway.  The lettuce looks much happier in the window box as well.  We planted up the rest of them in other containers sprinkled around the deck and yard.

No significant bunny sightings this weekend.  I didn’t see any earwigs, but I know they are out there.  We did see lots and lots of ants.  They have made hills in some of the flowerbeds and have killed at least one shrub for sure. 

The girls spotted this little guy, and named him Trevor. 

They found a larger toad a few days ago, and named him Nigel.  So far he has been camera shy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lonely Tomato

Poor, lonely tomato.
We were running a bit late today, so lunch was a little lacking in the colour department.

Today the girls have  raw green beans, between blueberries in a cup and roasted chicken in lettuce.  Mini pitas can be stuffed or eaten separately, as the girls desire.  A lone tomato provides a bit of bright colour.  Carrots were nixed ("Please not again"), and since we were behind schedule, no time to slice yellow pepper, either.

Check out What's For Lunch Wednesday

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lettuce and Peas Experiment

(or, Jade vs Ninja Bunnies of Doom)

Alright, I planted before we are really, truly past the last frost date.  
Don't make that face.  I told you I was weak.

My dear friend Kitch, wife of BFH, has an amazing garden.  Every year she produces lovely veg for her family, including lettuce.  Last year, I asked her for her secret.  She said 'lettuce box'.

Now, I have planted lettuce in the garden a time or two.  And what do you suppose happens?  Rabbits. We live near a pond.  These things happen.

I've hung shiny things.  Rabbits eat lettuce.  I've gathered hair from all our brushes, and wound it between the plants.  Rabbits eat lettuce.  I've visited the homes of friends with cats, and collected cat hair for between plants.  Rabbits eat lettuce.  I've stuck noisy things in garden.  Rabbits destroy the noisy things, eat lettuce.  Decoy food on other side of yard?  Eaten, along with lettuce.   Lettuce in planter at front of house.  Dessication.  But no rabbits.  

They ate the beans in the garden instead.  ALL OF THEM.

Ahem.  Sorry about that.

This year? This year will be different!  This year, I shall plant many numerous containers of lettuce, and also peas and beans.  Some of them will be on the back deck.  One is already planted:

Romaine lettuce at one end, Bibb at the other.  In the back are climbing peas, that will (allegedly) get up to six feet (nearly 2 meters) high.  In the front are shorter peas that may not actually sprout because the seeds are from last year.  In between are dwarf sunflowers, also from last year.  At the ends I've stuck bean seeds.  They are from this year, but I do not expect very much from them.

Climbing peas in a window box?
Am I off my nut? 
Quite possibly!  Ninja Bunnies of Doom will do that to you.

See that mesh-stuff?  It's a kind of trellis.  I intend to unroll it as the plants sprout, feeding out more line as required, until it is eventually stapled to the pergola above the deck.  I don't want to put it up too soon, as it almost clear when unrolled, and difficult to see.  It shows up nicely against the cedar post, but disappears against the glass.  We have a lot of birds visiting the yard.  Many of them seem not particularly bright to begin with, and having what seems to me far too much like a nearly-transparent gill net floating in their way is just wrong.

But this year, I want to get at least some lettuce.

Stoopid Ninja Bunnies of doom.

Friday, May 13, 2011

National Cancer Survivor's Day is June 5th

Hey!  Did you hear?  There is a National Cancer Survivor's Day!  And it's coming up!  Mark your calendars!

Why do I care?

When I went in for my most recent checkup, I met a lovely woman who had never met a cancer survivor.  Every one she knew who had cancer died.

And she was scared.

Because she had cancer.

And it's scary.

Now here's the thing; she is not the only person in this boat.

A little while ago, I attended a survivor's group with a friend.  She signed me up, actually.  She didn't want to go to the thing alone.  And, since I was her Sherpa, I went.

My friend (who shall henceforth be known as Madame President) introduces herself to people as the President of the Survivors' Club, and Chair of the Welcoming Committee For Cancer Survivors. She is a 30 year survivor.  Unfortunately, she put herself up for renewed membership 2 years ago.   That darn paperwork ;-)

But guess what?  She is still here!  And she's fine!

We hear the crappy news all the time.  It's easy to find, easy to print.  We need to hear the good sometimes, too.  Recognize that cancer doesn't always win.

So, let's get the word out, shall we?    If one in 4 people will have cancer in their lifetimes, odds are exceptionally good that you already know one person who has, will have, or has had the big CA.

Canada's Survivor Day is June 5th.

It looks like this was started in the US, and a few other countries have joined in.  See here for more info. 

I totally understand people not wanting to "Out" themselves as having had cancer.  You face an awful lot of negative attention.  You get blamed for having been sick.  You get accused of lying, because you aren't dead.  You will never be able to get insurance again.  You may not be able to get a job.  You may loose a job.  People treat you like you are contagious.

But honestly?  If we don't stand up, and stand together, then cancer wins.


And NOBODY wants that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Love Note

We eat a lot of chicken.  I hadn't noticed before.  Lots of rice, too.  Also lots of fish, but I'm not quite so sure about sending that to school in a lunchbox. 

Today's lunch:
Butter chicken (leftover from last night) and shaped brown rice.  Peanut had an eighth note, Pumpkin had a heart, each outlined in broccoli.  Grapes and sliced red peppers had mixed reviews. Time to change up the fruit and veg, I think.  They liked the shaped rice, though.

Check out What's For Lunch Wednesday

Bonus - Breaking News!
A follow up to the CyberKnife post:
BFH survived the procedure.  Yay!  No adverse effects!  Also Yay!
But the biggest Yay?  Of quite-some-if-not-all-time?


The CyberKnife killed the brain tumor!

There has been (and will continue to be) much rejoicing!

Now, BFH is not totally done fighting the war.  He still has lesions in his liver, and the possibility of others lurking, undetected elsewhere.

But Still!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Gardening Time

We are experiencing summer.  It will probably last 4 days.  I very much want to plant all the lovely little things.  But I know what will happen.

It will be great for 4 days.
We will have a massive cold front, followed closely by thunderstorms and damaging winds.
It will be nice again for 2 days.
We will have a massive frost.
Warm weather will return.  People will get very excited.  Camping will happen.
May 24th will be wet and cold.
There will be another frost.
All planting will have to be completed by June 2, or else!
OK, June 10th at the latest, really.

But I am weak.

Yesterday was Mother's Day.  My Darling Hubby gave me an envelope marked "Angry Mob Supplies".  It's part of a gag from Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.  He and the girls took me to a garden centre.  My favourite garden centre.

I got plants. A lovely false spirea for the shady part of the garden.  Some mint for the patch of ground by the garage where *nothing* grows.  Yes, it may take over.  I don't care.  It's not thistles.

We walked through the annuals section.  They were beautiful.  They called to me.  I had to be strong.  Only hardy-ish things today!  And maybe some herbs.  And some lettuce to put in a planter that I can coddle.  But nothing that can't take the cold I know is coming.

Did I mention I'm weak?

And that is why there is a tomato plant in my kitchen.

We're thinking of calling her Selma.