Fish Tacos

August 29, 2014

This is one of our favourite summer recipes. Although it might sound complicated, it is super easy and SO tasty. We entertain friends with this recipe all the time and one of the best parts of it is there are hardly any dishes to do afterwards! It's all done on the BBQ!

Mr. Tweedle found the recipe online a few years ago and it is still the best one we have tried, even compared to most restaurants. It's a spicy marinated fish, paired with a southwest coleslaw and a lime cilantro sour cream dip. YUM!

Find the recipe HERE.


Weekly Nora

August 27, 2014

Our busy little monkey is getting closer to walking all the time, although she has to be SURE she can do something before she tries. I am learning this more and more about her personality, which is funny because both mine and Tom's parents said the same things about us as kids. I was extremely shy and self conscious as a child and Tom was cautious and a bit stubborn... some qualities we are learning might show up in Nora!

She will walk holding onto just one of our hands until she realizes it and then stops dead in her tracks screeching for the other hand. She is happy if we give it to her, and if not, she sits down. She does the same thing with her stroller walker. She will happily push it on her own with us near by until she realizes no one is helping and then she refuses to touch the thing!

However, she is pulling up and cruising on furniture like a maniac! She can even pull up to Nana's full sized piano, stand on her tippy toes and play a few keys!

It was a big week around here, because we THINK we have Nora's first official WORD! As you know, she has been saying Mama, Dada, Wawa, Pa, etc for a long time... but never super consistently or always appropriately. Well, she likes to "cheers" with our drinks at mealtimes and one night this week, she said "DGCHEEEESS!" several times while doing it and has been cheersing and saying it ever since! It's hilarious! I was drinking a coffee one morning and she came up to me and pretended to hold a cup with her thumb and finger pinched together and said "CHEEESSS!" She totally gets the context and knows the word! So exciting!

She has also figured out the word "funny" and whenever anyone says it, she laughs with this fake little laugh. I'll be talking on the phone and telling someone "It was so funny when..." and then I look over and she is laughing. Or anytime I say to her "is that funny?!" she will do it.

First time colouring!
She has also mastered a few more baby signs and loves showing them off. She made up one of her own too. I think it means "tasty" or "yummy"- she will take one pointer finger and pop it in her mouth and pull it out quickly again as if she is licking her finger and then she says "Mmmmmm!" She does that several times throughout the day and especially when she is eating. She always has a huge grin on her face after she does it and thinks she is pretty smart. I'll say "yummy? Is that yummy? Do you like that?" and then she does the licking thing!

She loves to "help" me in any way and she knows the words "help Mommy"-- when I say "come help Mommy," she scoots right over and waits for her instructions. She pretends to dump soap out of the bottle in the bath and then rubs herself as if she is washing. I give her a little bit of lotion after her bath and say "help rub it in!" and she rubs her hands all over her tummy and arms.

She has started one thing that is kind of frustrating, but probably more so for her. I know it is due to the fact that she wants to communicate so much more than she has the language for-- whenever she wants something or is trying to tell me something, she screeches at the top of her lungs repeatedly over and over! If I am the least bit impatient, or in the middle of something it can be annoying! But then I think about how annoying it is for her to want to tell me something and not be able to!

We went on a little whirlwind trip to my cousin's wedding in Saskatoon this weekend. Mr. Tweeds couldn't make it due to work, but Mama Tweedle, Nana Tweedle and Nora and I had a visit with some of our cousins and enjoyed a lovely wedding, too! As usual, Nora was a great little traveller and entertained the whole airport with her scooting!


Carrot Applesauce Toddler Muffins

August 25, 2014

I have Tweedlebud Megan to thank for this recipe! She found an awesome blog called 100 Days of Real Food which has hundreds of Nora friendly recipes. As you know, we are trying to avoid sugar and processed foods for Nora and as a result, we don't eat much of that stuff either.

I find snacks and breakfasts the hardest for her as crackers, cookies, cereals and spreads make easy snacks on the go. There are several muffin recipes on this blog and after trying a bunch of them, the Carrot Applesauce Muffins are our fave. Probably because they are the sweetest ;) (Only sweetened with honey!)

I make the muffins in mini Nora size- less of it gets crumbled on the floor that way and the recipe goes a long way. I get about 30-35 mini muffins out of one batch and I freeze half at a time. If your kids are off to school, these will make the perfect recess snack!

Let me know how you like them and if you try any others! 


Cheesecake, Berlin Style

August 22, 2014

My German Oma, who came all the way from Berlin for my sister Janine’s wedding, is a master pastry chef. Whenever she visits, she spends her time whipping up the most amazing German cakes.

This cheesecake (the German word is Kasekuchen, pronounced kay-zuh-kook-un, which is fun to say) is one of our family favourites. 

It is not quite as sweet as Canadian cheesecake, probably because Oma uses an ingredient called “Quark” instead of the typical Philadelphia cream cheese.

The German recipe uses grams instead of cups, but it’s pretty simple just to use your scale to weigh the four ingredients: flour, sugar, butter and Quark.

Oma usually accompanies the making of this cake with a lot of complaining about inferior Canadian ingredients . . . but it always tastes wonderful!

150 grams flour
3 egg yolks
120 grams sugar
Pinch of salt
100 grams cold butter
A sprinkle of flour for rolling out

75 grams raisins
4 tablespoons rum (more if desired)
500 grams Quark
100 grams butter
100 grams white sugar
Grated rind of one lemon
4 eggs

Place washed raisins to soak in rum and set aside.

To Make the Dough:
Dump flour onto cutting board.
Press a hole into the centre.
Add egg yolks into the hole.
Sprinkle sugar and salt over mixture.
Cut cold butter into pea-sized chunks and add into the hole.
Take a large knife and chop everything together, pulling the edges into the centre.
Mix ingredients together with cool hands. Work quickly so dough remains cool.

Form a ball of dough and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

To Make Filling:
Mix Quark with butter and sugar, then add eggs and lemon rind. Combine well. An electric hand mixer works well.

When the dough is chilled, roll it out with a rolling pin and press into the bottom and sides of a 10-inch round springform pan.

Coat the rum-soaked raisins with flour so they won’t sink to bottom.

Stir the filling once more and add the raisin mixture. Pour into the pan.

Bake on lower rack of oven at 360F for approximately 70 minutes. The top will turn dark but that doesn’t mean it is burned. Test the filling with a toothpick, which will come out clean if the cake is baked. The sides will pull away from the pan.

This "kay-zuh-kook-en" is delicious either warm or cold. Guten Appetit!


Weekly Nora

August 20, 2014

It has been a while since I've posted a Nora update with all the other festivities going on! Baby Tweedle is becoming a toddler before our eyes and isn't a baby anymore. So many changes have happened in the last 2 weeks- she turned one and she is acting more like a little girl now. She does so many cute and funny things that let us know how much is going on inside her noggin!

On her first birthday, she refused an afternoon nap for the first time and since then has done this several times! It is extremely frustrating as I know she is not ready to have just one nap a day-- she is a tired hot mess by supper time on days that she decided to skip naps! However, she also pulled herself up to standing in her crib on her first birthday, so that is a huge contributing factor to the lack of naps! For the longest time, we could just lay her down and she couldn't get up... now she can. It opens up a whole world of playtime in that boring old crib! You know me... I couldn't help but rush to the message boards and sleep books to see how to solve the problem! Sounds like its just another wave we have to ride and I'm going to keep trying to give her naps in the afternoon and if she cries and plays, at least she is having quiet alone time. 

She has become more attached to her two "lovies" in her crib lately too. We put a stuffed owl and a little security blankie cow toy in there early on-- both super soft and cuddly. She would always throw them around when she was falling asleep and then never care to play with them or hold them after that. Now she wants them out of the crib all the time and holds them up for me to give them hugs and kisses too. She likes it when I make the owl talk to her and she goes "ah ah ah" for "again!" We could play that game all day!

The way she has begun to make believe and play changes and advances so much by the day. She plays tea party with her toy teapot and cups, pouring the tea and pretending to drink from the cups. She even offers me a cup to drink from and we "cheers!" She got a baby doll for her birthday and she pulls it out of the doll stroller and lugs it around. She likes taking the headband off the doll a million times and making me put it back on. I show her how to cuddle and rock the baby and when I do, she watches intently and then rushes over and throws the doll aside and climbs into my lap instead. She is jealous! It's hilarious!

She understands so many simple commands now, too. I will say "put the baby in her stroller" and she does it. Or, "let's go get ready for the bath" and she tugs on her clothes and scoots to the bathroom. I'll say "time to put our shoes on!" and she rushes to the door and picks up the first pair she sees (mine, hers or Tom's!) and tries to put them on her feet. She does the baby signs for hungry, more and all done at every meal or throughout the day. It's the cutest thing to see her doing it without even a hint. 

She loves playing with the phones! I didn't even start the game or show her how... it's scary how much she has begun to imitate us. She pics up any phone- iPhone or house phone and puts it up to her ear and then my ear. I pretend to talk and then hand the phone to her and this goes on and on. She has figured out both buttons on my iPhone- she presses the home button to light up the screen and the top button to turn it off again. I just can't believe it! 

She did another astonishing thing the other day, too. We were grocery shopping and as I was unloading the groceries onto the counter, she was playing with my wallet. I turned around and looked over and she had my debit card out and was trying to put it in the machine! I have never let her do this before or showed her how to use my wallet. She has been watching me! The lady at the store said "oh yeah! A girl! She knows how to swipe that plastic!" Ha ha!

At 12 months, her favourite things are still reading and playing with books, playing in the laundry and throwing all the clothes over her shoulder, copying anything I do, swimming and water anywhere and animals. She just loves any animal that we see in real life or in pictures and points and squeals madly. 

She has become so much more mobile since awkwardly and shakily pulling up on her feet a couple of weeks ago. She now pops up to standing on ANYTHING including the backs of my legs while I'm in the kitchen! She has figured out how to get around our whole living room by standing at the coffee table and then cruising to the arm chair, the end table and then the TV stand. She loves pulling up on the TV stand and turning the volume button the stereo resulting in very loud music for a split second many times throughout the day! She understands what NO is, but choosing to comply is another story!

I go back to work in a week and I am beginning to feel more ready for it. The ideal situation would be for me to stay home, but that just isn't reality for us, and so, I am thinking positively about it and I'm not going to let myself get worked up over it. Nora is very independent and she loves her grandmothers and her Dada! They will all be fine without me! One of my favourite bloggers Emily Henderson put into words all the things I have been trying to write and formulate about my feelings for Nora in this post. She hit the nail right on the head! I just love her writing (and her style!)

I have decided that I will continue to write weekly updates about Nora. ( I won't count her age in weeks anymore though!) I enjoy doing it and it forces me to keep a record of all these little things that I would probably otherwise forget. And I don't want to forget a thing! I love to take in the smell of her hair and feel her head on my shoulder, watch her blue eyes dart around the room, see her cute little toes romping across the floor and listen to those adorable little baby babbles that won't last much longer! My little Baby Tweedle, I could squeeze her to death!


The Tweedle's Deck Makeover

August 18, 2014

Mr. Tweedle and I have a dream that one day we will have a lovely outdoor living space with huge umbrellas, awesome outdoor furniture and giant flower pots overflowing with well taken care of flowers and herbs. However, with limited resources at the moment, and the fact that we don't even own a house... we have to make do with what we have!

As you know, we live in Nana Tweedle's basement and we share the deck and yard with her. It's a pretty darn good deal, because she pretty much lets us do what we want with the yard, as she doesn't really garden anymore. We have a nice vegetable garden and lots of flowers planted as well as a pretty sweet little container herb garden on the deck.

This year, the deck chairs were on their last legs which you can read about in this post (recovering the fabric). I took care of that little job first, which was fairly quick and easy. We also painted the deck, which was also quite quick and easy- 2 coats, 2 days, 2 hours! The deck had been previously stained with a really ugly orangish colour and it was chipping and weathered. It probably should have been re-stained long ago, but until now we didn't really care! ;)

Here is the deck before, with the first coat of stain going on the railings. We chose a lighter beige paint colour as the deck gets afternoon sun and it gets quite hot back there. We couldn't go with a clear coat of wood stain as the old stain needed to be covered with a solid colour.

And here is the "after", although apparently all I do is take pictures of Nora (have you noticed?) so I don't have one of the whole picture. But you can catch the drift here....

As well as the chairs and the stain, we also redid an old patio table that was given to us by Tom's parents. It was pretty sad looking, although it had belonged to Tom's grandmother and it has some character, so we didn't want to get rid of it. A whole new patio set wasn't really in the budget either... The table top from the table was pretty well unusable as it was cracked and chipped. We decided to paint the wrought iron a bright and fun colour, recover the seats and Mr. Tweeds was going to build a wood top for the table.

We had to sand the metal before painting and we ended up using my fave turquoise colour. It doesn't really go with my fabric for the deck chairs, but we were going for the bright, colourful and eclectic look for the deck. 

I just used some plain yellow outdoor fabric for the seat cushions. I removed the old fabric, roughly cut a new circle to fit and stapled it tightly around the existing foam and seat. 

The tabletop ended up being a lot easier than we thought it was going to be! Both Mr. Tweedle and I spent a lot of time looking up how to build a wooden patio table and realized it was going to be a lot of work. There are many good tutorials on the web, but none that were an afternoon project for cheap. Thankfully, we ended up being given an old round kitchen table top for free that fit the table perfectly! I wish I had taken a picture of the before... Mr. Tweedle just unscrewed the edge pieces of the existing table top, sanded, varnished and drilled an umbrella hole in it and then reinforced the underside with some plywood we had laying around and voila! We have a really nice new wooden patio table top!

My only wish is that I would have bought a red umbrella instead of a blue one. I bought this umbrella at Superstore in the spring and they came in red, black and blue. I didn't have my deck chair fabric with me and thought the blue would match the deck chairs better, but it is the wrong colour. Oh well, like I said, we are going with the colourful eclectic look and I think we achieved it!

The last thing I bought for the deck was a small outdoor rug for Nora to play on. It has had a lot of use so far and it's nice because I don't have to worry about her catching her pants on a nail or getting a sliver. 

We love spending time out here, enjoying a cold one, BBQ'ing and hanging out! I'm happy with our small, colourful and comfortable outdoor living space!

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