Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Homemade Refrigerator Yum Yum Pickles

My Dad recently picked up like 50lbs of pickles (LOL re-read this and obviously this should read cucumbers) from the Hutterites to make his annual batch of extremely garlicky dill pickles.  I was lucky enough to get the damaged cucumbers.  Apparently no brown spots are allowed otherwise they will rot in the jar.  Not a problem for refrigerator pickles and less of a problem when I could cut them out while slicing for the yum yum style.  So I did a quick google search to find out if bread and butter pickles and yum yums were the same thing and there seems to be a bit of an argument on the forums but it looks to be just in the name...B&B - American and Yum Yums - Canadian.  Leave it to us Canadians to call pickles "Yum Yums", silly really but if I could describe them anyway it would have to be that. I followed this recipe exactly:

We all have our go to meals for those late dinners when we don't feel like cooking anything extrvagant or had a late lunch.  Mine are cereal, a fried egg sandwich with too much ketchup and "pickles, crackers, cheese and sausage" (and yes it's always a mouth full).  Another one is white rice with the left over pickle juice and a good amount of S&P.....call me crazy?!

After waiting the 24 hours for the pickles to pickle (umm?!?), the platter was prepared and ready for when Mr.Loonie got home from work.  But.......it ended up sitting in the fridge for 3 days! The first night we had takeout with my cousin who was in town, the next night I brought home leftover sushi from my dinner out with the girls (my 1st evening outing without Penny!) then the third night we went for dinner at my Dad's house.  At least you can say this platter can hold up in the fridge for awhile and if making for a party you can prepare way in advance.  So the truth is, I ended up packing most of it (what was left after random snacking) for Mr.Loonie's work lunch. Although delicious anywhere, I would still recommend enjoying these munchies on the couch watching True Blood on a Sunday evening.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Immunizations and one BIG Baby

Penny went in for her 2 month immunizations this past week at the public health unit.  She got shots for a shit load of things (see record below...too lazy to type them all out!) and man was it painful for her.  She had tears!!! It was heartbreaking, she was screaming and crying and after each needle (3 in total), it just got worse! I didn't know what to do, there was no consoling her so I whipped out my boob and nursed her.  The nurse actually commended me for doing so, she said that breast milk contains oxytocin which is a natural pain reliever.  It must be true because Penny seemed to feel instant relief but the rest of the day was rough.  To say she was fussy would be an understatement; if she wasn't nursing or in her carrier out on walks (Stryker was a happy boy with all the walks) she was crying! The only winks she got in was on our walks and didn't fall asleep till around 11pm.  The next morning was a different story as she was back to her happy smiling self, thank god!!

On our visit, the nurse also did Penny's weight, height and head circumference measurements.  What I found out is that Penny is one BIG baby!! She weight 13lbs14oz which is in the 99th percentile, this means that out of 100 two month old babies, there would only be one baby who weighed more than her!  For height, she was in the 62nd percentile growing 3 inches since birth from 19.5" to 22.5".  So overall, combining height and weight she is in the 98th percentile group meaning we got one big baby on our hands.  The nurse did inform us that it is normal for exclusively breastfed babies to gain a significant amount of weight in the first few months but will taper once she becomes mobile (rolling, crawling, jumping, etc.).  There is nothing to worry about as Penny is healthy and growing and that's all that matters. It makes me feel relieved too, all the worrying I did if Penny was getting enough milk was for nothing!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The "Breast" Pesto

In T-Minus 18 days I will be 30.  I thought I would be dreading the dirty thirties like I used to dread final exams in University. But really, I am looking forward to them.  I couldn't be at a happier time in my life, I get to spend the rest of my years watching my beautiful daughter grow up and hopefully bring another rug rat into this world.  This pesto was really born in preparation to forget about being a mom for one night and have some drinks (I am sure I will be loser pissed after 2 drinks) for my 30th birthday. To say it bluntly, I needed to PUMP! The first morning I tried I only got 2oz! To be honest I was pretty upset about it, what I later learned is that my body will start to produce more once it realizes I need those extra ounces in the morning.  Another way to increase production is through certain foods and herbs, the main one being fenugreek.  I picked up a bunch at the grocery store and whipped up this pesto.  The thing about pesto is that you can substitute any type of nuts and any fresh herbs that you have on hand. I had almonds, fenugreek, flat leaf parsley and a bit of basil so that's what I used.


1 Bunch of Fenugreek
1 Bunch of Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
10 or so Basil Leaves
1/3 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 large garlic cloves
1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Approximately 1/4 cup of olive oil or more until smooth
Salt and Pepper

1. Combine the herbs with the almonds, pulse a few times in a food processor. Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese, vinegar and sugar and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

The first night we used the pesto on spaghetti and the next we made pita pizzas with fresh bocconcini and cherry tomatoes cut in slices.

I will warn you...instead of my armpits smelling like B.O. it now smells like sweet garam masala - which is a good thing I guess? I am not exactly sure if it was the fenugreek or if it was my body adapting but after a few days of eating this pesto I was definitely more engorged in the morning and I was able to pump 4 oz even after nursing Penny.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Happy 2 Months Penny!

Who was I before Penny-kins? Or Pen-Pen as Mr.Loonie lovingly refers to her. It's funny...what nickname will stick with her as she grows older? What will her friends call her? "Pens" for short? P-ster? Penelope? Anyway.....I can't believe it has been a full two months already! I can't imagine my days without her smile or her snuggles.  I know I better appreciate these newborn snuggles because I heard they do not last.  Everyday is another day that she changes.  In just two months she has grown 6 inches longer; that's like her whole head length! Last week I had to run down town and buy 0-3 month sleepers as she has outgrown the newborns.  Not only is she longer, she is stronger! I am constantly working with her and encouraging her to work her little muscles.  She loves standing and can bear her weight on her legs for at least a minute before her knees buckle and needs a break but she is right back up again shortly after.  While standing, her head is up high and proud looking around but not long before it falls into a bob and weave.  Her little neck has come a long way though, when she is over my shoulder her head is always up looking around and when in a sitting position she does her damnedest to sit up straight and hold her head still.

Although tummy time is not Penny's favorite, it is important.  She spends a lot of the time face down crying into the mat out of frustration but I can see her determination to lift her head.  The past couple of weeks, she can get her head up for probably around 30sec for a good look before she slams her little nose back down on the mat.  Next step is the mini-push up and she is close, yesterday I saw her lift herself up on her elbows with her shoulders up off the mat.  Once the mini-push up comes, we will be in the roll-over stage and that means no more leaving her on the couch and walking away!!

The little milestones of her growth is so amazing! What I am really waiting for is to hear her little laugh?! My dad asked me today what I thought it would sound like.  Will it be raspy? squeely? grunty? girly? I think it will be a cross between screaming and snorting! My mom just gave me an old ukulele she was planning on selling in a garage sale and I plan to learn how to play maybe a few nursery rhymes.  Right now it doesn't matter cause Penny thinks I am a pretty good ukelelist already, she has been smiling away with some heavy breathing, almost snorting to the songs I have made up.  Oh man, if someone could hear me.....embarrassing! 

For the first month or so I struggled to decipher her cries, was she hungry, tired, gassy, poopy, too cold, too hot, what was it?!? I just went down the list until she was satisfied. It was usually hungry or wet so things weren't that stressful but I was longing for the day where I could understand and help her a little quicker.  Those days have finally come in the past couple of weeks which makes things a whole lot easier.  Not only does Penny communicate with her cries but she is starting with the gurgles, coos and woos...so adorable.  We have little conversations back and forth making eye contact almost the whole time with a few smiles mixed in.

So on to feeding and sleeping.  This past week marked a huge improvement in the sleeping department.  My sleep deprived days are almost over, so to you new Moms out there, it does get better.  Holy Hanna, I thought I would never know what sleep was again in the first month.  It went from getting up very two hours to feed throughout the night and sometimes up for a couple hours at a time trying to get her back down.  Then it went from every three hours to now four or five hours which is pretty bearable, actually it is awesome.  We usually go to bed around 11pm then up between 3:30am and 4am for a quick feed and diaper change then back to bed to be up again around 8am.  If we are being lazy, I can do another quick feed to go back to sleep till 10am.  Pretty sweet right? I can no longer complain, I am sleeping longer now then I ever did working! 
On to breastfeeding.....all I can say is thank god I decided to nurse! It is so easy! I think because I had such a rough and long painful labour (I am still writing my birth story, will post it soon) I was blessed with the ease of nursing.  It came natural for both Penny and I without any real complications or big learning curve.  I am planning to write a post just on breastfeeding, although the actual feeding part has been easy the social part has not always been.

I am also really looking forward to cloth diapering, the diapers I bought are good for 15-25lbs, so we are only a few pounds or months away.  I went with 24 of the form fitted flannelette type which is worn along with the diaper cover (I bought 4 of these).  The amount of garbage we have a week with the disposables is disgusting, not only are we throwing our money down the drain but we are contributing to the billions of diapers in landfills that will never bio-degrade! Also, I am sure Penny doesn't appreciate the diaper rash the chemicals are giving her.  In the end $240 is more than worth avoiding all these things and all the extra work meaning endless laundry!

So life with Penny is amazing but wow, what a change.  Motherhood is something you can never really prepare yourself for, you kinda just need to jump in with both feet and hope for the best.  Well really, it is try your best because although it has come pretty natural it is still a huge adjustment.  My brain went from composing technical letters to the government and writing environmental reports to singing songs on the ukulele and having one sided conversations with a baby, a dog and a cat!  For those who know me, please keep reminding me to get out and have a life outside my home! It will not only be important for me but for a healthy relationship with my daughter and hubby.

Now for the cutest Penny-kins picture ever!! :) Our little bee with Mr.Loonie's honey bee ordered in the 1980's from the Honey Nut Cheerios box.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Caching in the 'Zac

To commemorate International Geocaching Day (well actually it was a fluke), our friend Scouter Ron (view his blogs here and here) and the 1st Anzac Scout Group organized the 1st Annual GEOCACHE Community Event aptly named “Caching in the Zac” to take place during Anzac Daze.  Anzac is a hamlet located approximately 50km south of Fort McMurray and has been holding Anzac Daze annually for quite a few years at their community hall.

There were three traditional caches and one bonus multi-cache set up for this event all located within the hamlet.  The first cache was just down a path from the Willow Lake Community Garden, the second one was close to the Gregoire Lake shore, the third was in the Anzac Cemetery.  The multi-cache was located around the Anzac baseball diamonds; we found the coordinates hidden in a tree, when punched into our GPS we were lead into the trees behind the outfield.

Anzac Daze#1 - Anzac Gardens
Anzac Daze#2 - Rest in Peace
Anzac Daze#3 - Lakeview

 Anzac Daze#4 - BONUS - Multi Cache
Oops - forgot to take a pic of the cache!
We started at 10am and found them all with one "first to find" by 12pm.   It is super easy and fun for us to strap on Penny and get out of the house on these nice summer days especially when there is such great swag and prizes.  Scouter Ron and the Scout group held a prize draw in the afternoon for those participants who found all the caches.  I guess we showed up late and our prize was given to the kids which is totally fine by us, we got wicked thermoses instead. So in between caching and the prize draw we went down to the Gregoire Lake Anzac day use area and had ourselves a picnic.  We had tuna pitas, cherry tomatoes, jalapeno dip and left over teryaki pork patties....yum. More picnics are definitely in order for the the rest of the summer since it is so simple with a baby. We had a blanket laid out for Mr.Loonie, Penny and I to sit on and Stryker laid next to us like such a good boy.  So thanks to the Scouts for getting the 3Strykes family out to enjoy your community!
Make sure to check out Anzac Daze next year..if geogaching isn't your thang they have lots of other activites to offer such as a kids carnival and bike parade and beer gardens and a dance for the adults.

Ooh and what's really cool is that we got our International Geocaching Day Souvenir today since we logged a found cache today, the Second Annual International Geocaching Day. Yay Team 3Strykes!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cleaning the Microfiber Sofas

Look at those before pictures, pretty gross right? Well that is what our microfiber sofa looked like after 4 years of wear.  I have done some light spot scrubbing with a wet rag before but never a serious clean.  I kept seeing a pin on Pinterest popping up on how to clean a microfiber couch with isopropynol, sounds risky doesn't it?  I thought so, but after Penny was born I got desperate, I did not want her lying on this nasty couch of ours.  The pin linked to this blog.

While Penny was settled in her crib for a long nap, I quickly got to work since the blog warned that  the odour can be pretty intense but it doesn't linger long. So I just followed the instructions using a clean white sponge, isopropynol in a spray bottle and clean white bristle brush.  Oh, and I won't forget my hulk arm, holy shit..do you ever have to scrub long and hard.  This job was not easy, I was sweating up a storm.  I needed to take a few breaks to catch a breather from both the smell and the pain I was in!! 
The area which was really tough was the seams, I still don't think it came out perfect but still a whole lot better than it was.


After spraying and scrubbing, the areas still look wet but they dry up quick (which is the reason behind the isopropynol and not water).  After it dries, it's time for the bristle brush to smooth out and blend the areas which were cleaned.  I am not 100% satisfied with this method but it works good enough without paying for a steam cleaner, which I am not even sure would work.  I am already planning on doing another spot cleaning where Penny has had a few spit ups.


Make sure to refer to the original blog linked for the step by step procedure and FAQs.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Grayling Tree Swing

I always had a dream of a tree swing in my yard, it just seemed like such a magical thing.  Just some wood, rope and the perfect tree could have made me a very happy little girl.  Unfortunately, the perfect tree didn't exist on any properties where I have lived but........I did find one in the park down the street!! Grayling Terrace has a quiet little park with old trees, the Hangingstone River and the most beautiful view of a tar sandy cliff just within walking distance from all the residences.  I have been eying this one tree...THE tree for a couple of years now and mentioning to Mr.Loonie in passing, "Wouldn't that be the perfect tree.....?".  He would respond with a "Yes, dear" every time.  Well finally I had enough with the "Yes, dear"s, I wanted some action. What actually triggered the feat was finding a roll of rope and the exact size of board needed in my Auntie's shed while she was packing up to move (insert sad face to the moving part).

So after attaching two U-Bolts to the board, googling the right knots to use (we went with a bowline knot) to attach to the branch, using a rock to throw the ropes over the branch and then knotting the ropes to the U-Bolts, we were in business!! We did have to go back a week later after some use and raise the seat, as the rope must have stretched. 

On hot summer days we always end our walks in this park to allow Stryker a dip in the river.  So now while he does his business, I get to swing away with a smile on my face!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Geocaching - June 5, 2012

We picked up this set of caches just off hwy 36 on the way home from the lake.  The first cache on twp road 581 was located at the Celtic church which was in operation from 1928 until 1964. The second cache was only a kilometer down the road at the former Celtic School site. 

Weekend at the Lake in Instagram

In such a short amount of time, we have done more travelling since Penny came along than we were ever able to do before mostly in part to me not working.  Yay to summer's off! Mr. Loonie's work schedule is a 7 days/nights and 7 off cycle so in the past when I was working a 4 days and 3 off shift we would only have every second weekend off together, and only three days to do anything.  All of you who live in Fort McMurray know you need more time than that, since it takes five hours just to travel to the starting point (Edmonton) of most road trips.  So with seven days off together our destinations are endless...sort of.
The in-laws lake lot has been out prime location of vacation this year, if it wasn't Grandma Loonie would be in serious withdrawals from little miss Penny.  It works out for me too because I can have a little bit of freedom (except when Penny is hungry) to head out on the boat, sleep in and just relax!
I used my iPhone to snap away this past weekend to share this beautiful spot that Mr. Loonie has been lucky enough to spend his summers since he was a teenager.