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  • Lemon Tarts

    2014 - 10.20

    By David

    One of Karin’s favourite treats at Farmer’s Markets is lemon tarts by Sweet Thea, so for her birthday I decided that I’d make her some lemon tarts. Problem is, I don’t like lemons, so not really in my cooking wheelhouse, nor do I really want to taste as I go along, because I won’t be able to tell if it’s good, because I wouldn’t expect to like it.

    The tarts Karin likes are 4″ tarts I believe and they go for about $4/each, so the goal was to beat that, and aim for similar quality/taste. We already had a bag of lemons from Costco because Karin was thinking of making lemon cordial but hadn’t gotten around to it yet (approx value $6-7 for ~11 lemons). I found this recipe for lemon curd and thought it sounded reasonable, it’s an Ina Garten recipe (Barefoot Contessa).

    I bought 120 3″ tart shells from Costco (~$11 on coupon), and ended up pre-baking one package of them (30).  Used 4 lemons as suggested in the recipe, which resulted in 3/4 cups of juice instead of 1/2 cup (I added it all anyway). Instead of using a food processor, I just added the zest and the sugar to the mixer and let them mix together for a bit.

    The end result is that it’s the right amount of lemon curd to fill the 30 shells.  If you haven’t made lemon curd before, it’s actually pretty easy, the one thing to be aware of is that after you’ve finished the mixing but before you’ve gone through the heating/cooking portion it’s going to look like it’s been ruined, the slow heating melds everything together again and it turns beautifully smooth.

    Now if I need to make Karin some tarts in the future, I’ll be able to find the recipe again.

    Deer Lake 5K Run/Walk

    2014 - 05.01

    By David

    We’re thinking of maybe doing this, it’s not until May 31st.  Anyone else interested in doing it?

    Events Calendar - Deer Lake Run

    Month 12 Letter-Dec. 15-Jan. 15

    2014 - 01.31

    By Karin

    Dear Nadia,

    This month was your last month of “first” calendar days in your year. I hope that makes sense…I’m a little sleep deprived. Let’s try that again. You’ve now been in the world for a whole year, and have thus experienced all of the calendar days for the first time.

    Wait. Except Leap Year.

    Never mind.

    You’re growing like crazy! You love the world around you and the world loves you back. You’re an incredibly charming kid and like to wave at people. You are especially interested in younger kids and babies, but will smile for pretty much anyone.

    You have learned to climb up onto the couch and our Ikea chair. It’s a good thing Dad taught you how to get down as well, or else you’d be stuck! When you get down, you like to let us know by saying “go go go go go!” as you slide off the couch or bed, feet first. We aren’t sure exactly where you picked that up, because we don’t remember teaching it to you. Our best guess is that we often say “Where are you going?” or something along those lines, and you picked up “go!” from that.

    You don’t really seem to show a lot of interest in walking, although on your birthday you used a rolling walking toy for the first time. You will stand for a few seconds at a time, but I like to compare you to Wile E. Coyote. As soon as you realize you’re not being supported by anything, BOOM, down you go. :)

    You like to help us get you dressed, but only shirts. When we put one around you, you help by putting your arms through the sleeves, but you think it’s the funniest thing to crawl at top speed away from us when we’re trying to put pants or socks onto you.

    We’ve been doing a lot of signing to you, but you don’t seem super interested, unless you’re highly motivated. It took you less than a day of me signing “please” before you got any milk for you to start signing your version of it for us. You definitely understand cause and effect when it comes to milk!

    You’ve been trying all sorts of new food. Whenever Dad takes you to Costco, it’s almost always  “eat your way around the store” day! Sometimes you get extra lucky and it’s cheese sample day. Cheese is probably one of your favourite foods, except for your fruit and veggie pouches, crackers, grapes, pear, bread, beef, rice, chicken, oranges, peas…ok, I guess you don’t really have a FAVOURITE food. You’re a really healthy eater, and love pretty much all the food we’ve given you, although you will sometimes take a couple tries before you’re convinced.

    Avocado is still RIGHT out.

    You’ve still got 12 teeth, so only eight more to go. With all of the different foods you eat, you wouldn’t know that there were still some teeth that need to come in. We’re just waiting on your eye teeth (the pointy ones) and your second set of molars (which I’m really not looking forward to, on your behalf, and mine! You were pretty miserable with the first set that came in.)

    You had your first Christmas! It was really busy, and we got to see lots of people. We went to Oma and Grandad’s for Christmas Eve, Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas morning and both sides of cousins Christmas night. Unfortunately, we were both sick, but we still had a lot of fun. Because we felt so yucky, we didn’t have our Cowbel family Christmas until three or four days later!

    New Years Eve was a lot of fun as well! We went over to the Greer’s house and played board games. Well, the grownups played board games, and you tried to eat all the pieces, as well as the snacks. And Quinn’s toys. And the cat.

    The next special day was your Dad’s birthday. He turned very old. Much older than me. ;) You bought him a pretty delicious cake and a decoy bookmark with shiny beads on the tassel. That way, he can put it in his book away from his real, boring bookmark because you love to pull it out and lose his place. He’s currently reading a series where the books are hundreds and hundreds of pages, so it works better if he doesn’t have to search through them all to figure out where he left off.

    Your birthday was fantastic. We had Oma, Grandad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Jen, Uncle Rob and Auntie Munira over for pizza and cupcakes. You had your own individual pizza and you LOVED it. Most kids would want just a cheese pizza or something really simple, but you had chicken, mushroom and black olives on yours. Yum! You also had a whole cupcake to yourself. You weren’t really sure about it at first, but once you figured out that it was food, and not just a toy (icing feels cool when it squishes), you were really happy. And pretty messy! We also planned another birthday party for the weekend after your actual birthday, but I’ll write about that in the next letter.

    I took the day off work so that we could spend your first birthday together. Best investment I’ve made for a long time.

    Love,
    Mum (to a one year old!!!!)

    Surviving Nadia’s Birthday Week

    2014 - 01.20

    By David

    Nadia is now one year old, which feels like quite the accomplishment as a parent.  There must have only been about an infinite number of opportunities for her to die in her first year, but she didn’t even come remotely close.  Bully for us.

    We didn’t put undue pressure on ourselves with her birthday, not trying to accomplish “the perfect” birthday and I think that worked really well for us.  We did a small family party on her actual birthday and then a larger everyone welcome party on the weekend.  Both events went smoothly and Nadia really seemed to enjoy herself.

    Month 11 Letter (Nov 15-Dec 15)

    2014 - 01.16

    By Karin

    Dear Nadia,

    This month you became quite the techno-kid. You’ve learned that the home button on iPhones and iPads usually do something interesting, so you like pushing it and seeing what happens. You also learned how to swipe open my iPhone, and before I set it to need a password immediately after locking, you managed to open up Groupon and you almost bought a scenic bus tour to Whistler. I knew you liked it up there, but I didn’t think that you wanted to go up there by yourself! After I set it so that it would immediately need a password, I thought I’d be safe. Nope. You managed to call Grandad using the voice recognition system. Apparently “gah dah!” is close enough to “call dad” to trick Siri.

    Your first four molars came in between November 29-December 8. You were pretty miserable…which for you meant that you only giggled and smiled every hour instead of every five minutes. You were a real trouper, and we were all VERY relieved when all those teeth finally made it in. Your timing was pretty great too, because I went back to work a few weeks early, and your last molar came in on the morning before I went back to work, so you weren’t up most of the night.

    So, yep. I went back to work. I’m in a really fun kindergarten class. It blows my mind that in four years you will be in kindergarten! AHHHH! I can’t think of that right now. I’m still getting over the fact that I’m writing your 11 month letter. Our schedule is pretty much like this: Dad brings you in to me when you wake up and we cuddle and nurse, then I get ready, give you a kiss goodbye and sneak out while you’re asleep. (the second day, you really wanted me to stay and got upset, then I got upset, then Dad drove us both to work so I could have a bit of extra snuggle time with you.) I go to school while Dad stays home and has Nadia-duty. He sends me lots of pictures through the day so I can follow your adventures while I’m not there. When I get home, you immediately crawl and climb so that you can see me coming up the stairs and start laughing and clapping. I love how excited you are to see me.

    On the night before you were born, it started snowing, and there was a little bit of snow on the ground when we left the hospital, but I think that was the last snowfall until this season. The day that I went back to work, it snowed, so Dad and I took you out in the front yard in your new snowsuit that Dad bought for you. You weren’t too impressed with it, especially since the snowsuit made things so slippery that you couldn’t really crawl. You fell forward into the snow and were very unhappy with this cold stuff on your face. I picked you up and let you taste some snow, but you didn’t like that either. Maybe you just aren’t old enough to like it yet. ;)

    We finished your swimming lessons and you can join a new level the next time we sign you up. You got pretty cold in that pool, so I think we’re going to try and find one that’s a bit warmer, at least until you are able to move around a bit more on your own.

    Dad and I took you to Gardenworks to pick out a Christmas tree, but you fell asleep in the car, so we just scouted it out and went back a week later with Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Jen. You also went Christmas shopping with Oma and me one night.

    Overall, you had a really fun month and you’ve been a champion with all the changes that have been happening lately.

    Love,
    Mum

    Month 10 Letter (Oct 15-Nov 15)

    2013 - 12.16

    By Karin

    Dear Nadia,

    It’s been a busy month for you! You went to Edmonton again to visit with your Urli and cousins, and had your first night away from me when I went to a writing conference. I wasn’t very far away (about fifteen minutes) and Dad brought you to me for both nights to visit, but one of those nights you went home with him so I could have a good sleep.

    You had your first Arroroot cookie, which is pretty standard for babies, but you also had some of the peach/mango salsa I made this summer. You thought it was pretty awesome.

    You’re starting to only stick unfamiliar things in your mouth, and for just a moment, which is a big change from chewing on everything, although every so often you’ll still have a big chewing session.

    You had your first Halloween! That’s one of my favourite holidays, so I was really excited to share that with you. Your Dad and I took you on a trip to the pumpkin patch where we picked out a huge pumpkin and took pictures of you sitting and standing inside the pumpkin. A lot of babies don’t like that particular photo shoot, but you liked it, because you got to eat your prop! If you look closely at some of the later photos in that session, you can actually see the tooth marks where you were scraping away the pumpkin and eating it. You and I dressed up and went to visit my kindergarten class. You were an adorable green and blue dragon (in a costume that your Oma and I made!) and I was the paperbag princess from the book by Robert Munsch. You continue your literary geek indoctrination at a rapid clip. ;)

    When you’re  in the living room, you love playing on the BOSU (a funny half ball thing with a platform on the other side), with a cool  piano and stuffed dragon your Oma got you. The first time you were playing with them both, you dragged the dragon over and set it up beside the piano while you played. It was like Snoopy and Schroeder from Peanuts. :) You also love playing on a  musical instrument set at Grandma and Grandpa’s. It used to be your aunt’s and dad’s.

    While you were visiting the Surrey International Writers Conference, I’m pretty sure you said “book”, which was really cool considering what conference we were at. You’re showing a huge interest in books now that Dad and I are reading again…we slowed down a lot but now we have more time because you’re very good at entertaining yourself.

    Your sleep habits are still pretty erratic. You’re excellent at napping, but you like to nap all through the night, instead of having a long sleep. We’re trying our best though!

    You like helping me write! When I’m typing on the laptop, you will almost immediately stop what you’re doing, crawl over and start banging on the number pad. :) You may not know exactly what a computer is or what it does, but you sure know what you’re supposed to do with it.

    You have a bunch of awesome hats and hair bands, and you don’t like wearing any of them. I think the record of having one on was about five minutes, and that was because you were asleep for part of that time. You do, however, tolerate hoods, which is good because the weather is cooling off. You have a super cute Canada hoody that is very similar to one that I like wearing. I like it when we both wear them and are twins. :)

    You’ve started holding something while crawling (a smarties box) and can move really quickly. We have to be really careful now to make sure you don’t take a tumble down the stairs. You’ve also started letting go of things while standing and clapping…it won’t be long now until you’re walking!

    You have been responding to your name for a while now, but now you will clap when we ask you to without us clapping first. You will also applaud when people on TV do, even if you just hear it and don’t see it. You’re also signing “dog” without other signs or a dog present, just when we say the word.

    I knit you a pumpkin toque that you will wear for seconds at a time. I’ve also started knitting you a sweater that I hope to finish before Christmas. It’s a very pretty green, blue and purple yarn.

    You had your first bath in the big bathtub. Your little tub has gotten too small for you! We put a laundry basket into the tub so that you and your toys wouldn’t float away from each other.

    You may be getting big, but you’re still my little baby. :)

    Love,
    Mum

    Christmas Card?

    2013 - 11.19

    By David

    We haven’t in the past sent out Christmas cards.  We’re thinking about doing it this year.  Mostly because of Nadia.  So, are people actually interested in getting or exchanging Christmas cards or is that something that our generation doesn’t do?

    If you’re interested in getting one, let us know and make sure we have your current address.

    Month 9 Letter (Sept 15-Oct 15)

    2013 - 11.06

    By Karin

    Dear Nadia,

    You continue to be quite a little charmer! Smiles for everyone, reaching out to me and your dad and your grandparents to be held, waving hello and goodbye! I love watching you interact with the world. Whenever we’re out, people compliment you on a few things: your big blue eyes, your giant smile and how sweetly you behave. We’re so lucky with you…I can’t believe how fortunate we’ve been with such a chill kid. The only things we really have to complain about are you not being interested in solid food (which has been thoroughly solved!) and not sleeping through the night (which I’ll tell you about in a little while).

    You’ve begun to have really good object permanence. It used to be that we could hide something and you’d know it was there, or we would go into a different room and you would watch for a few moments after we disappeared, but now you have a strong memory of where something is supposed to be. For example, if Dad has gone out, you will stand on the couch and look toward the door even after you’ve gone to do something else, and when you hear the key in the lock you get really excited. Also, when you’re hungry, you’ll come up to me and start grabbing at my shirt.

    I’m constantly amazed by your ability to find the single solitary not-toy in the entire room. You can be surrounded by stuffies, balls, books, toys that beep, rattles, etc. and you will make a beeline to the sock that fell off the laundry basket when we were folding clothes. Or my purse. Or the empty pop bottle we haven’t taken to the kitchen yet. You’re also immediately drawn to the most dangerous thing around. Cords. A mug of hot tea. Electrical outlets. The sharp, stone corner of the fireplace. It’s amazing how perceptive you can be when it comes to stuff that can injure you; I wish you would use your powers for good. :/ It doesn’t help that it seems like you grow an inch overnight sometimes. Your arm length (or as I call it, your wingspan) is super long and you can reach things that I’m positive are way out of your range. You enjoy proving me wrong.

    Teeth number seven and eight have now come in. You have four teeth on top and four on the bottom. Thank you for not biting me nearly as often when we’re nursing. For a while, I was thinking I was going to have to wean you!

    Things you’ve learned to do this month

    • you can now go from your hands and knees to sitting up by yourself. I love that you can do that because it means that you can move to a spot on the floor by a toy and sit up to start playing by yourself.
    • you’ve started clapping! It’s super cute and you love when you clap and everyone else does it back at you.
    • you can use a sippy cup! The ones with the handles are pretty easy for you now, and you mostly don’t drown yourself when you drink your water out of them, which is nice for all of us. We mostly stick with water in your cup and you only get a little bit of it when you’re having a meal.
    • sign language you use: more (clapping), dog. You used to sign “change” and “milk” but your Dad and I got kind of lazy and stopped signing to you as much, so you have forgotten those signs for now.

    I promised I’d talk about your sleeping habits. Well…you kind of don’t have many. When you were 2 months old, you started sleeping about 8 hours straight, and I was smug. Ohhhhh how I was smug. Then, around 4 months (not so coincidentally, around the time you started teething) your sleep-through-the-night habit vanished. Poof. Completely shot. You basically wake up every 2-3 hours all night, every night. We try different things, but nothing seems to keep you asleep. The thing we’re really thankful for though is that when you’re awake, you’re still pretty happy. You have the “MOM AND DAD COME AND GET ME NOOOOWWWWWWW!” yell, but once we’re there, you’re all, “Hey guys, good to see you. Could I get some milk? Maybe a snuggle? Oh, and I can’t find my soother either. Little help?” and then you go back to sleep for another couple hours. Our goal over the next few months is to teach you how to fall back asleep on your own and get you on a bit more of a schedule so that you take a few naps, sleep well at night and get up reasonably early.

    Your Dad started a disc golf retail business this month! So far it’s been going pretty well. You like to visit him in the garage and check out the colourful discs and help him do inventory. You also like going to the disc golf courses when he’s selling and seeing all of the people.

    You had your first Thanksgiving dinners this month, so you tried pretty much everything! Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, Brussell sprouts, potatoes, other veggies…you loved it all! And the thing I’m most thankful for this year is what I’ve been thankful for the last 9 months…a healthy, happy, curious little baby.

    Love,
    Mum

    Flickr uploads

    2013 - 10.18

    By David

    Not something that was on my To Do list while Karin and Nadia are in Edmonton, but it’s been happening anyway.  Catching up on some of the photos that I should have already uploaded to Flickr.  Karin’s much better at keeping Flickr up to date than I am.

    Anyway, as a reminder when we upload photos that include Nadia we restrict them to people who are designated as Friends or Family on Flickr, which means you need to have a free Flickr account, and then get us to add you as a Friend or Family.  So if you’re interested in seeing any of those pictures, let us know.

    And if your Flickr account doesn’t include your real name, send us an email letting us know it’s you.

    On Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/randomsynapses/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/dcowley/

    Metric Ton of Ginger?

    2013 - 10.16

    By David

    Not everyone may know that I’ve started a Disc Golf business (retail), but I have.  As part of that I’m learning about the world of import/export and international trade.  To go with the whole international trade thing I’ve been using the website alibaba.com

    Just like Costco, you can find things which are pretty hilarious on the website.  For example:

     

    Fresh Ginger in Jinxiang China

    US$ 600.00 / Metric Ton  (seems like it could be a good price… for people who like ginger), here’s the kicker though:

    Minimum Order: 24 Metric Tons!

     

    That’s right, you too could own 24,000 KG of ginger for the low low price of US$14,400…