Saturday, June 29, 2013

Busy Week

Well, the kids were at VBS, Monday through Friday, and they had a blast.

Brian has been working lots - his job has transitioned from Superintendent to Project Manager, and so he's bidding out jobs like crazy and even has his own office now. The company is getting work and making new connections, much in part to Brian's diligence there, which is a good thing. With an unsteady economy in the construction just never know. One thing we can count on though, it that God is faithful! Not always in the ways we think, but always. So we rest in that when the times seem more "lean" than plentiful. In any case, as seems to always be the case, Brian is swamped with work, however, he is really enjoying his position which makes any frustrations that arise easier to deal with on his part.

And me? Oh, I'm basically doing nothing at all. Blissful, right?!

This week, in our "spare time" - we put up a bamboo fence. It's just a little privacy shield - it's still kinda see-thru, but it helps and it's pretty much all we could afford to do, fencing wise, at this point.

We fenced in the trampoline side of the yard, so it doesn't seem like the kids are jumping "on public property". It's hard to convey in pictures I guess, but with the position of our house and yard, pretty much everything is visible from every angle on the street. You can do gates with a bamboo fence, you have to make "entryways" :-)

 Now we have a little boundary set up

When buying the bamboo fence, Brian saw flowering cherry and pear trees on sale - so he bought one for each of us, not including himself. We each have one to care for, he said:-)

We planted them today, and Brian really loves them. Because of our horrid pine trees, I am the opposite of a tree-hugger, I'm a tree they only make me very mildly pleased. But Brian loves them, so that is what counts:-)

Here's the other side of the house & fence. You maybe can't tell from the picture here, but they are not attached - 1 fence is in front of the other, and the overlap in the middle, giving an "entryway" appearance to it, you have to walk around a little s-curve to get in on that side.

Kitchen - Before

Alright, WELL!! I barely even know where to begin - I'll start with this - I saw printable picture on facebook this morning that said in pretty fonts "If your dreams don't scare you they're not big enough" - My first thought was this: If my reality scares me (to death) does that mean I'm living my dreams? LOL!! Lets just say there are lots of things in the works right now, and to me/us, they are fairly significant!! I know, suspense, right?! I don't want to falsely inflate hopes, but anyway, it's all good news, and you know I'll share the details when I can!

Ok, onto the project of summer, part one: The Kitchen. We've been waiting since March 22nd for our income tax refund, and it finally arrived yesterday! FINALLY! It is not a large refund at all - but we've been wanting to redo our kitchen, so watch for posts about the process. We will be redoing this thing on a shoestring budget, literally. We got estimates from all over the place and various companies and people - all will cost about $4000 - $7000, which is waaaaaaaay MORE than we have to spend, for cabinets only. We will not be replacing any appliances at this point. They don't "match" but they work, so we're keeping them. In order to meet the needs of our tiny budget, Brian will be building the cabinets himself. Praise the Lord for his skills. That man astonishes me on a daily basis. And usually in a good way;-)

It is very hard for me to even talk about my kitchen - because I love it so much, and at the same time, it's incredibly crappy. I just feel like saying XYZ & Z & Z & Z need replacing - makes me sound ungrateful for what I do have - which is sooo not the case. I am exceedingly glad for my house, and even this kitchen. In honest fact, it's probably needed replacing for 20 years, but we've babied it along. The kitchen is original to the house,'s 61 years old. I do realize it is exceedingly above what others in many countries have, and I am grateful for how useful it's been. I also realize that it's gross, and old, and definitely "sub par" for anyone living in this country:-) So please don't mistake my "this is whats wrong with it" for ungratefulness, at all. Just pointing out facts. I am both sad to see it go, and glad that we are able to improve our living conditions, and this old house that has been so good to us!

Ok, onto the pics!! I took WAY more pics than I am posting, but I thought they might be fairly boring to you all, so unless I get requests to see it aaaallll, I thought this hit the highlights pretty good:-)

A note also about the pictures - I did NOT clean up or tidy at ALL before I took them. I was 10 minutes away from packing everything into boxes, so it didn't seem worth my effort to clean and organize first. So these are very raw pics from the everyday existence of my kitchen.

I do not have a place to store these items anywhere else, so I keep them inside the oven, and put them all on the kitchen table when the oven is in use

The upper cabinets come down really low - so low in fact that my kitchen aid and my blender cannot fit under them, so they sit in front, and block the door from opening - I put less-used items behind that door, like the fancy glasses. The lower cabinets are also too small to fit the kitchen aid, so it sits out.
The top of my fridge pretty much always looks like this: I have a basket up there containing all the bits and bobs for the food processor, the kitchen aid, and the ever important Easy Bake:-), Cereal boxes, a basket containing candy/snacks the kids can't get into, chip bags, and Brian's lunch sacks. I don't love it, but lack another place to put those items

On the wall with the stove - there is a stove, no vent, no range hood etc, and then this old makeshift cabinet. It was here when we moved in, and has a piece of wood on the top, just balancing there. It's never had a bottom drawer.

Since I have no closets at all, other than 3 teeny ones (one in each bedroom), all my brooms and stuff go here.

Beside the fridge, there is nothing but a wall - so I have a utility rack set up as a pantry of sorts. For food and appliances and stuff

A normal view of the right side of the kitchen

A normal view of the left side

Last year we removed all the lower cabinet doors and replaced with fabric, because all the hinges and latches were broken, and none of them closed.
So I packed up all the upper stuff into boxes! And much of the lower stuff too, although won't demo that quite yet:-)
Bye bye uppers!

A new look - until the cabinets are built by the masterful Brian

checking out the header - there are no wires or pipes, so it's coming down! Yay!!
So the plan - ooooh the plan!! Well, we will be about tripling our cabinet space, getting a pantry, etc. Right now, it's kitchen across the back wall, with makeshift stand ins on either side, surrounding the fridge and stove. The new plan will give us a U shaped kitchen, having it wrap around both sides also, not just the back wall, as it is now, if that makes sense. The drawings look amazing:-)

It's been decided that while the lowers get demo'ed and built...I will move out! Canada here I come! I have lots of packing up to do before I can go, but when I'll be "ready enough" for me to use! (while chances are, not totally done, I won't be gone that long:-). While I'm gone, Brian will be eating a lot of sandwiches or things that can be made in a microwave, I guess...on disposable plates! Somehow I think that he will not be doing dishes in the bathtub - actually, how much do we want to bet he'll be at his sisters every night? Exciting times ahead!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Woodpecker

Well, Kenna's bird watching is still in full swing. She often takes my camera out, giving me tons of footage and pictures of nonsense. You would not believe all the birds that have apparently made a habitat in our yard. An eagle. A heron. A chickadee in the middle of summer...basically - "oh woooow, neat..." I don't believe a word they say. Of course the pics are so blurry - it could be Big Foot and you couldn't tell. Until yesterday - she found a woodpecker, and she can prove it.

I'll admit, even watching the ever-nauseating video, I doubted her claims. "It had a red head, Mom!" was likely a cardinal, honey...sure enough, if you watch at the 1:00-1:10 mark - there is in fact a woodpecker in our front Live Oak (the one that was hit by the truck). I guess I need to give a little more credence to her claims - maybe she DOES know what all these birds look like:-)

I included the rest of the video because her running commentary is too cute. If you are easily prone to motion sickness, watch it with your eyes closed. The only thing to see is that 10 second clip containing the woodpecker...don't believe me? See for yourself...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Splash Pad Fun

We are very blessed - basically right past the end of our street (the "dodgy end" as we call it) is a wonderful, FREE splash pad - open to the public. It opened last summer, and as far as I know of, it's the only free one in our city. Lucky right?! I saved some money by not renewing the botanical gardens membership - since we mostly only used it for the splash pad!
The other real blessing - our neighbourhood is perhaps well hidden? Nobody knows its there! It's very often completely empty. I am counting the minutes,'s only a matter of time before everyone knows about it, and it's super crowded.
But until then, we enjoy playing - mostly by ourselves.

Grey is the timid one, he doesn't like getting completely wet, but sticks to the perimeter and sticks his hand in on occasion.
Brooks asked if he could use Daddy's (awfully ugly) sunglasses to be a super spy. Sure! (and please loose them or break them:-) But...they do look pretty cute on him
Kenna and Brooks have been very dedicated to their spy missions recently:-)
I wonder if he will remain so well hidden, that no one will notice he put his shirt on inside out?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Piano Recital - Video

Yesterday was Kenna's first piano recital. She played This Little Light of Mine, and Theme from the London Symphony.

The program says "Kenna has been playing piano since she was five. In the following two years, she has progressed very well. Her knowledge of counting and familiarity of the music staff has increased steadily. Kenna's  lessons are characterized by music games that she and Katrina developed. Those games exhibit Kenna's joyful student's heart and sweetly playful spirit. Thus far, her favorite piece is "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" because she says she "can do it well a lot."

She did very well, although she did make a small mistake - I asked her on the way home, if she was nervous and she said, "not at all, but I did get really sweaty". Haha!!

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Who invented this new craze of "salted caramel" everything? Starbucks? Anyway, whoever you are, you are thanked. Yummy.

Yesterday was Kenna's piano recital (video coming soon!), and we were to bring something to snack seems about the only thing I can whip out with minimal mental effort is cupcakes:-)

I made some chocolate cupcakes from a Duncan Hines Fudge Chocolate (my fave!) mix! Although this flavour combo is exquisite, another yummy to try would be Duncan Hines Caramel Cake mix too - obviously it would be heavier on the caramel flavor and no chocolate at all - but I bet it would be good. 

This was an EASY one to do - I made a batch of my standard vanilla buttercream 

1/2 C butter, softened
4 C icing sugar (powdered sugar or confectioners sugar is the same thing)
1 t vanilla extract
3 T milk

beat all together until smooth, creamy and fluffy!

Oh yah, it was just as mouth watering good as it looks:-)
 To accomplish that salty caramel flavour, I didn't head to pinterest...I headed to my cupboards. It's salt and caramel. How hard can it be?
I drizzled this over the cupcakes

Then I added a pinch or two of coarse sea salt - you know, those big chunks that you grind normally in a grinder?  Well, I didn't grind them

Can you see the salt on there? ooooo baby!
 Have you ever wondered how to neatly eat the cupcakes these days - with so much icing on them, they tend to be top heavy. I saw this tip a long time ago on Cake Boss - how to eat a modern day cupcake. You can thank me later. This is seriously the best ever!!
Take the paper off, and then tear the bottom off the cupcake, and place it on the top. Then eat your cupcake sandwich! It distributes the flavour and the icing *just perfectly*. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer's Here!

You can tell by looking at my calendar - during the school year, it's empty! And the moment school lets out - we go full throttle on the fun! Well, mostly fun. So far this week we've had 2 dentists appointments (1 cleaning - Grey, and 1 cavity filled - me), and 1 doctor checkup - for Brian, in which the doctor called him an indestructible man who didn't need to be seen again until after 40, unless an issue arises. While encouraging news, I am not sure Brian needed to hear those words - lol. It's soooo hard to get him to go to a doctor! Now he's got an excuse - he's indestructible;-)

We cram all our fun into about 8 weeks! Next week - VBS!
We're praying our income tax refund comes SOON. We have plans for the summer that require it! This years taxes have been nothing short of a nightmare, really. Anyway, hoping we get the money sometime before NEXT year:-P

Sunday, June 16, 2013

About Daddy

I asked the kids a few questions for Fathers Day, just too see how well they know their Daddy:-)

What is the most important thing Dad has taught you?
K: How to ride a two wheeler bike
B: To obey your parents

What do you like best about Dad?
B: I like when he plays football with me
K: I like that he works for us
G: hugging

What is Dad's favourite food?
G: Chips!
B: Hamburgers
G: Flench fwies
K: Pizza
G: And he loves dwinks too!

What does Daddy do for his work?
B: I know! What was the question again?...oh! He gets paid money if he works very hard
K: He works so we won't get poor
G: He dis works

...ok, but what does he DO at work?
(B & G = clueless expressions)
K: he works with tools

What is Daddy's favourite colour?
B: Blue
K: Green
G: Gween

What kind of truck does Dad drive?
B: That's a tricky one...
K: a Chef? Is it a Chef?
B: I know it's a truck, it's grey, it's a rectangle on the trunk park, and the top is similar to a square

What is Daddy good at?
B: sports
G: Yah, he does spoy-ts, he does dat
K: working

What is Daddy bad at?
B: That is a tough one...
K: He's bad at finding hairbrushes

What is Dad's favourite sport?
B: football
K: hockey
G: numbers

Who is Daddy's best friend?
K: I think Josh Dufek

Where is Dad from?
B: the United States!

Grandma Kennedy

My Grandma, Mary Francis (Lehman) Kennedy, would have been 99 years old today, if she were still alive! She passed away in February of 2007 (I was expecting Brooks in April/May). She lived her whole life in the Markham/Stouffville area, and was a very sweet lady. She was not known for her great cooking per se (ahem, don't eat the meringue!...there's no sugar in it!), but there were a few recipes she is family-famous for, like her beef barley soup! She outlived her husband by 24 years, and after he passed away, she became quite the world traveler. She would buy a  silver or gold sugar spoon as a souvenir from the various places she visited, and I have a few of them, now that she is gone. She is dearly missed! Love you Grandma - {eating a ju-jube in rememberance;-)}
Here is Grandma Kennedy, with her Great-Granddaughter, Kennedy! Kenna was the  23rd great-grandchild, and since her, there have been 17 more born, with 2 more on the way, that I know of. I have a LOT of cousins!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ca'merican Art

Well, July is approaching, which means Canada Day and Independence Day are coming! Here are a few ideas for your patriotic decor this year...Since we are "Ca'merican", we mush all the patriotism together, of course:-)
I printed off the images at Costco (cheapest place to do so for prints, I think). For the American flag art, and the Liberty bell art, I made my own little "stand" for them. I adhered them to a thin chipboard - similar to a cereal box...and put a bend in this:
A quick easy way to display something like this - you don't need a frame or other ...great for items you aren't leaving out year around.
So, I couldn't really find any Canadian stuff that I loved, that was available to print for free from online (like the American stuff) - so I made my own! I printed mine in 11x14, but you can also do 8x10. I really really love it! Here is the image, contact me if you want me to email you the full file for the best printing.
My cute, happy little patriotic display only took minutes to throw together! Very red & white & red & white & blue:-)

Catch Up

A few random pics from this week...

Tired from last weekends Chincoteague adventure, Brooks fell asleep on the couch, with his football, of course.
The pic doesn't show it too well, I guess, but I got a little crispy on my face:-) No makeup other than eye stuff on...and lots of moisturizer...put I peeled a bit anyway.

Grey thought this was a caterpillar, and kept it as a pet for about 30 minutes. It was really part of a plant, but there was no convincing him of that.
We are done with Sonny & May for the summer!
Ready, set, RACE!
It's very fun to drive your own remote control car directly at yourself, and then jump over it
A dead snake in the road. A rat snake maybe? Based on the shape of the head, a poisonous one. EEEEWWWW. I did *NOT* let Grey touch this one!

Pretty Flowers

I don't know what is wrong with me, I am not a photographer, and I never used to give a second thought to flowers and such.

But as I age, I guess (we'll blame it on age!), I really am beginning to see the awesome beauty and unique weirdness in God's creation, specifically flowers and plants. So pretty. Here are a few pictures from my yard, this week
This is on a tree, which I *think* is called a Mimosa tree. It has the most unusual  fluffy, Horton Hears A Who-ish flowers on them.

Fragrant Chicken Curry - Recipe

A really yummy Thai dish - I don't make it often, as it calls for some ingredients that aren't on hand, always, and are kind of expensive. We love it though, so it was perfect to make for our anniversary dinner at home.
Fragrant Chicken Curry 
3 T oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cl garlic, crushed
1 T Red Thai Curry paste
4 oz creamed coconut
4 C coconut milk (about 2.5/3 cans worth)
2 lemon grass stalks (2 T of the crushed fresh lemon grass)
6 lime leaves (or lime zest of about 2 large-ish limes)
2/3 C plain greek yogurt (or regular plain yogurt)
2 T apricot jam
1 cooked chicken approx 3 - 3 1/2 lbs (or equivalent boneless skinless breasts, cooked)

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat for 5-10 mins until soft. Stir in the red curry paste. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Stir in the creamed coconut and coconut milk, then add lemon grass, lime, yogurt and apricot jam. Stir well, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and leave to cool slightly. Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and process until a smooth puree, then strain it back into the rinsed out pan, set aside while you prepare chicken.

Cut chicken into bite size pcs, and add to sauce, bring sauce to simmer again, and season with salt & Pepper. Garnish with lime leaves, shredded coconut and cilantro/coriander. Serve over Jasmice rice.
*Often, I prepare the chicken first, so all I have to do is make the sauce and add then the chicken at the end and warm it up. Also, often we put in julienne carrots and snow peas.

For our dessert, Kenna made us some Easy Bake brownies, all by herself:-) and they set us up a little table to eat at, complete with notecards full of math questions to answer. Just so we don't lose our mental edge, I guess. Nothing says a fun anniversary family dinner like doing math, right?!
 It was super cute and very sweet! We love those kids!!