Wednesday, March 30, 2011

5 Dangerous Things You Should Allow Your Kids To Do

So, I just noticed on Wisdom of the Moon's latest post, the reference to Gever Tulley's video on TED. I thought it was pretty interesting and that it might encourage more adventurous parenting in our society which seems to be increasingly protective of our kids. What do you think?

TED is a new find for me and I can see myself spending quite a lot of time learning about other "Ideas Worth Spreading".

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Time Zone Confusion?

The other day Don found an interesting BBC News website about time zones. You can find it here. There is an interactive globe where you can see what strange things about time are happening in many countries around the world and the problems in vast countries such as Russia and China that expand across many time zones. The Communists, for example, decided that China would exist in only one time zone.

Other countries, such as Pakistan and Nepal have tailored their countries' time zones so that they are differentiated from India's.

There are other issues around the change to daylight saving time, with some countries opting in and others not. And even within some countries, some areas go with DST while neighbouring areas stay with standard time, creating confusion for inhabitants. Check out Australia and Indiana.

Newfoundland and Saskatchewan are not specifically mentioned, but most Canadians know, thanks to CBC Radio, that NFLD has its own time zone, half an hour ahead of Atlantic time or an hour and a half ahead of Eastern time. Meanwhile, Labrador uses Atlantic time with the exception of certain communities which align their time with Newfoundland. Saskatchewan chooses not to change to daylight time, so is out of sync, time-wise, with the rest of Canada between March and November.

By the way, for those of us who change our clocks twice a year, the dates to remember are the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November. Spring ahead and fall back!

Earth Hour tonight: I want to turn off not just lights, but all power sources in our house between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. I want to feel how millions of people experience night-time all the time. I'll think about those in Japan who have lost their homes and their familiar way of life and I will feel grateful for our comforts and convenience here in Canada.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Getting Nosy

Ever been tempted to read someone's private diary? Now you can read the Diary of William Steinway, of the famous piano company family. He started it in 1861, just as the Civil War was getting underway and 3 days before he was married to his first wife. The Diary Project is the result of thousands of hours of research by about 100 volunteers, one of which was Diary donor, Henry Ziegler Steinway, until his death in 2008.

The National Museum of American History has made availaable an annotated online edition of William Steinway's diary at this amazing website. Each of the 2500 handwritten pages has been scanned and there are transcriptions, family trees and information, and historical perspectives.

Even if you don't have much time to spend on stuff that doesn't pertain to your daily life, it's worth at least one visit.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kids' Car Seats

There are new recommendations for the use of kids' car seats. U.S. pediatricians are now advising that infants be left in backward-facing seats for up to 2 years. The experts feel that in spite of a perception that kids reach a milestone when they "graduate" to front-facing car seats, parents should be urged to keep infants rear-facing longer particularly to avoid serious neck injury.

These experts are also suggesting that older kids should be kept in car seats and booster seats longer than has previously been thought necessary.

More information can be found at The New York Times and The Globe and Mail.

This information makes me think that the ideal time span between two siblings might be at least two years, so that parents only have to buy one rear-facing seat.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

13 rue Thérèse

I have just finished reading this wonderful book:
13 rue Thérèse, by Elena Mauli Shapiro
Here is the lowdown directly from the author's website:

When I was a little girl growing up in Paris in the early eighties, an old woman who lived a few floors up from my apartment died alone.  Her name was Louise Brunet.  None of her remaining relatives came to fetch her belongings, so the landlord had to clear them all out.  He let the other tenants in the building scavenge through her stuff and take home silverware, jewelry, whatever they wanted.  My mother salvaged a small box filled with mementos: old love letters from WWI, mesh church gloves, dried flowers, a rosary—many objects worth nothing but memories.  This box is the sepulcher of Louise Brunet’s heart.  As I have carried it through life and across the world, I have always intended to write a book out of it.
This book, a novel titled 13 rue Therese, now exists, published by Little, Brown.  The central story concerns a fictionalized Louise Brunet, who is a married-but-childless piano teacher with a propensity for giving false confessions to priests and other small acts of mischief.  She lost her lover during WWI, and in an attempt to revive the excitement of that relationship, she is quite tempted to have an affair with a new man who moves into her building, named Xavier Langlais.  The narrative frame for the story is named Trevor Stratton, a contemporary American academic working in Paris who comes across Louise’s box of mementos.  Studying the objects has a strange effect on him, and in a fever he channels what may or may not be the life of Louise Brunet over a two-week time period in November of 1928.
The book is laid out around photographs (clues) of the various momentos and letters. We savour the mystery, gradually revealed. With sadness and passion and humour (I so much enjoyed the mischief wrought by Louise in the confessional) there is a merging of past and present, a blurring of the timeline that connects us with those long gone. We are aware that we are not so different from those who preceded us.

The website for the book is an adventure in itself, with photographs and videos and even a nudge in the direction of a recipe. Book and website: both highly recommended!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pot Barley or Pearl Barley?

Today I bought some barley at the bulk food store and I got to wondering about the difference between pot barley and pearl barley.

Barley is a grain, low on the glycemic index (so absorbed slowly, thus avoiding large fluctuations in blood sugar) and also low in gluten, but not gluten-free. It contains both soluble and insoluble fibre and is very nutritious. I use it most often in pilafs and soup, but it can also be used, in its flour formation, for baking. Nearly all beer is made using barley, though I'm not sure that the Iowa man who is going to live on beer alone for the 6-week period of Lent will succeed unscathed, since beer, while tasty, does not contain all the nutritional requirements that we need.

Barley kernels are polished to remove the fibrous husk. Pearl barley is more polished than pot barley and takes a bit less time to cook than pot barley, which takes about 40 minutes. When cooked, pearl barley kernels are smaller than pot barley kernels. The ratio of barley to cooking liquid is 1 part barley to 3 parts liquid (water or broth)

More information and recipes may be found at Hamilton's Barley, where barley is grown on a family farm in Alberta.

Monday, March 14, 2011

3:14 Happy π Day!

March 14 is Pi Day, celebrated mainly by mathematicians and other people who find facsination in numbers.

The day honours the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter and was first calculated in ancient times by Greek mathematician, Archimedes. The holiday was created in 1989 by physicist, Larry Shaw, in San Francisco.

Sometimes the day is celebrated at 1:59 p.m. on March 14, commonly known as the Pi Minute. If π is truncated to seven decimal places, it becomes 3.1415926, making March 14 at 1:59:26 the Pi Second.

Pi Approximation Day is held on July 22 (22/7) since the fraction 22/7 is a common approximation of π. This date is also referred to as "European Pi Appreciation Day" because of the European (and Canadian) practice of placing the day before the month.

In 2015, Pi Day will reflect five digits of pi (3.1415) as 3/14/15 in month/day/year date format. (Wikipedia)

The best way to celebrate Pi Day? Bake and/or eat some pie! And enjoy!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies: Two Recipes

Family Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies

(double batch)

Preheat oven to 350F.

1 cup shortening (Crisco)
1 cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla (pure or extract)
Mix these ingredients in large bowl of mixer until light and fluffy.

Stir in: 2 cups all-purpose flour
            1 tsp. Baking soda
            1 tsp. Salt
until blended.

Fold in about 2-3 cups of chocolate chips – you decide how many you want. You can add nuts too, it you like them. Drop by spoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheet. I line mine with foil. Modern cooks use parchment paper or Silpat liners/

Bake at 350F. for 7-8 min. Remove from oven when bottoms are just turning brown and tops still look uncooked. Let pan sit on rack to cool. Cookies will finish baking. Remove carefully when cool. Makes about 5 – 6 dozen, depending on how large you make them.

Karen’s note: play with the timing.  On my oven I do 9 minutes.  You want to under bake them a bit and then take them out and let them continue baking themselves while they cool.  Sooo delish!

Jean’s notes:
·       Instead of Crisco, use unsalted butter
·       To make cookies a little healthier, you can replace half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour and try cutting down on some of the sugar and salt
·       Use semi-sweet chocolate chips or just chop some semi-sweet chocolate
·       You can also add up to 2 cups rolled oats and raisins instead of or as well as chocolate chips
·       Good nuts to use, if you want them, are chopped walnuts or pecans
·       I bake the cookies at 375F, not 350F, as in Karen’s recipe
·       The cookies freeze very well

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Fred and Megan’s Wedding

½ cup Castor Sugar
½ cup packed Brown Sugar
115g cold Butter

1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½ teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda

1 ¼ cup all-purpose Flour
¼ tsp salt

1 ½ cup semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Walnuts or Pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 300F (150C)

Beat sugars and butter until smooth. Beat in egg, vanilla extract and bicarbonate of soda. Mix  the flour and salt together and add to the butter mixture.

Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Let the batter rest for about an hour, then scoop the dough into 2 tablespoon balls. Bake between 15 – 18 minutes (or until pale golden brown) in a 300F (150C) oven.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Do you degerm garlic before using it in recipes? There is an interesting post about garlic from Michael Ruhlman with many lively comments. Have you ever even heard about degerming garlic??

Friday, March 11, 2011

Picture of the Earthquake in Japan


Of course, the real picture is what's happening on the ground.

Two for One

Flower Power
In January I started a Dutch Belle Amaryllis which has now bloomed. There are 2 flower stalks, with the first one showing not one, not two, but four buds! It certainly cheers us up on a snowy March morning. In the photo, you can also see, on the right, a basil plant – the first time I’ve been able to over-winter basil and on the left is a bromeliad which is coming into flower, most likely thanks to a shot of fertilizer I gave it a while back. It’s the first time ever I’ve been able to get a bromeliad to flower again.
Phabulous Pho?
There is a wonderful feature at The Toronto Star called The Dish which does a weekly nutritional exposé of a favourite menu item from a local restaurant. Readers can suggest restaurants and dishes to be examined.
The dish analyzed today is the popular Vietnamese soup, pho. Usually we think of pho as being made of lots of healthy ingredients, with fresh toppings to add to it. Guess what! It’s also a veritable landmine of salt! One serving had the equivalent of one heaping teaspoon of salt. Eaters beware! Make your own at home and monitor the salt.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Shark Attack

On January 31 Nicole Moore was attacked by a shark while on holiday in Mexico. She is now blogging about her recovery. You can read her story and follow her blog here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oyster Shucking Now Easier

For all you oyster shuckers (Brad) here's an improved oyster knife
that might even be better and safer than the one from South Carolina.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

100th Anniversary of International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day

Here are 1o Influential Canadian Women from the past Century:
(Selected by the Toronto Star Editorial Board)

  1. Nettie McClung (1873-1951), suffragist
  2. Elizabeth Bagshaw (1881-1982), doctor
  3. Laura Sabia (1916-1996), feminist and social activist
  4. Doris Anderson (1921-2007), journalist, social activist
  5. June Callwood (1924-2007), journalist, healthcare activist
  6. Rosemary Brown (1930-2003), politician
  7. Buffy Sainte-Marie (1941- ), singer, painter, activist
  8. Nancy Greene Raine (1943- ), athlete
  9. Roberta Bondar (1945- ), astronaut
  10. Louise Arbour (1947- ), judge
I would also add:
  1. Jane Doe (?), legal activist
  2. Irshad Manji (1968- ), author, journalist, activist
There are many other Canadian women, not all necessarily famous, who could be on this list. Who would you add?
Great book: 100 Canadian Heroines, Merna Forster, 2004 (920.720971)

What's Happening in Ottawa?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Parenting Tips

Check out Simple Kids . There ideas for kids' activities, kid-friendly recipes and other parenting tips. I wish I'd had a resource like this 35 years ago!

Speaking of activities, Kris Abel has all sorts of ideas on his blog:
There's also Kris' Guide to 100 Websites for March Break. So many ideas!

I have mentioned these last two before, but they are worth a reminder.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Welcome To Some Favourite Things

Welcome to my new blog!

When I have things to share, I will leave them here (and attempt to organize them too).

I'm doing this so that you can all see (at your convenience) the interesting things I'd like to share with you. It will also be a place for me to store and organize all these wonderful things.

Here we go:

For starters, here's a link to a video about canine agility that may be of interest to Jacquie. The couple that own these dogs have an interesting website. Amanda recently underwent a weight loss and has some interesting tips to share. Amanda is some sort of computer whiz and has a link to free fonts on her blog.

Next, an intersting article on the way our language is going.

Finally, a Toronto mom of 2 girls about the ages of Kate, Clare, Emma and Oliver has created some stay-on mitts for kids.

I hope you will look at some of these links and I also hope they all work! Be sure to leave your comments and also, if you'd like to post a blog, I will soon figure out how that can easily be done.

This is a work in progress, so you can expect changes as we go along.

Lots of love to you all......