Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's up, Gus?

We've been having such a good time over in our little neck of the woods lately, I haven't had time to write!  Well, we'll say that's what's happened, and ignore my very strong tendency to laziness and procrastination. ;)

play-dough time!
In all honesty, Gus has been a riot recently. We do have our moments of him not letting me move more than 6 inches away from his side (he likes to grab my hand, direct me to where I should be, and point to the exact spot on the floor where I should sit), but for the most part we have been having a lot of fun together. He loves to do anything that Jon and I do, so we take care of the baby doll a lot, feeding her, changing her diaper, cleaning her up. He will clean anything, actually. The moment he finds a scrap of cloth, he sets about scrubbing things down. I keep thinking about giving him a real cleaning cloth so he can help me with do the housework, but he is a bit erratic about what he cleans; he jumps from scrubbing the table, to the bottom of the shoes, to his hands, feet and face in the space of a minute.

playing with the balls and rainbow on the stairs
His brain seems to move just as quickly. Jon and I will  be talking and mention something--say a train--briefly, and Gus is off like a light to find his train and bring it to us. And he always knows where is toys are squirrelled away. Except for one bouncy ball that he loves to play with. The ball is clear with coloured stars suspended inside it, and we are forever losing that thing. Balls are one of his favourite toy at the moment. He's been throwing them down the stairs, bouncing them out in the back yard, and rolling them under the rainbow tunnels. The train and bus get plenty of time through the tunnels as well.

at the park
As always, Gus is still loving his animals. He seems to go through phases of what is his favourite. So for a week or two all I heard about was the chickens, then the cat, and now the pigs. He likes to look for these animals outside (well, we haven't found any pigs yet), play with the little animal toys and stuffed animals, and flip through books, searching for his favourite animals. He knows exactly which books have the animals he is looking for, and it seems like he even knows what page they are on!  (I was wondering the other day, what is the fascination of opening up the same book a hundred times in a row, always to flip to and stare at the same picture? I'd love to know what is going on in his brain!)

playing with ducks, distracted by an airplane
Gus is a real chatterbox at the moment, as well. I swear he learns new words every day, but, since he can only pronounce about half of any given word, and often with an incorrect sound thrown in, I am not sure that too many people can actually understand what he is saying. He can say a load of animal names and sounds, and mostly correctly! Cartoon-like animals can be tough, really, and I don't blame him when he thinks a drawing of a skunk is a dog or a Tigger stuffed animal is a monkey. He also loves vehicles of all sorts, so he can say (versions of) plane, car, truck, bus, and choo choo train.

Bedtime is one of our favourite times of the day at the moment. We usually have to read about fifty books, and it often takes longer than I would otherwise wish, but Gus makes up for it by giving Jon and me loads of hugs and kisses before finally settling down to sleep. Delaying tactic? Maybe. But also pretty much the sweetest thing in the world.

this way, Pa!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Making my virtual recipe box

I have heard that most people only have about 5 go-to recipes that they repeat week after week. Not me. I love food, and I love cooking all sorts of different meals. There are definitely a few things that I repeat pretty regularly, and some things that we'll eat every week for a month or two then forget about for 6 months. But mostly I like to mix it up, cook with the seasons, and regularly try a variety of new and forgotten recipes.

With that in mind, this week, I started organising my recipes.  Eep!  It's such a big job, but one I have been wanting to do for a very long time. I decided to use Evernote to do the organising. Jen at Conversion Diary mentioned ages ago that she uses it for her writing, but I thought it is exactly what I need for my recipes.

pile of cookbooks
photo by penguincakes on flickr
Basically, Evernote is a program that helps you organise your thoughts. I think it was originally developed for writers and researchers (I can imagine it would have been great when Jon was writing his PhD), but you can really do anything with it. You can write notes or save images or websites, then tag them with every conceivable attribute, allowing for easy categorisation and retrieval later. This was what I really wanted for my recipes. I hate it when I have a head of cabbage in the refrigerator (I always have cabbage in the fridge at the moment--thanks, winter!) and I want to do something different with it. I look at the index in my cookbooks, but I swear they don't have half the recipes listed. And any recipes I have written down, ripped out of a magazine, or saved on the internet have no index at all. It makes my life very difficult (woe is me!).

So, I have started on the recipes I have bookmarked online. I have so many recipes in my favourites, and most of them have been completely forgotten about and never even been tried. I am saving each one to Evernote, then tagging by type of meal, major ingredients, type of cuisine, whether we've eaten it before (sometimes you're just not up for trying something new, you know?), or any other special attributes. There is also space to write notes about any changes or additions I like to make, or side dishes that I think goes well with it. Next I am going to list all the random recipes I have saved from magazines and such. I won't type out the whole of these recipes, just the title and tag by ingredient. I'd like to do the same with my cookbooks, but that might take forever!  And do I include recipes that I have always wanted to try and not quite gotten around to yet, or only tried and tested ones?  The possibilities!

I am really excited to get this together and start using it to find long-lost recipes. I might even start doing weekly meal planning again. I feel like a whole world has opened up to me!

How do you organise your recipe collection and plan meals?

This post is obviously not sponsored or in any way related to Evernote, it's just a program that I am really excited to use.

Monday, February 6, 2012

random thoughts

I had a dream last night that I was doing some calculus. This, to me, was not a nightmare. It was more like a wish. I often wish that I had a reason to do mathematical calculations: calculus, algebra, geometry, whatever you've got. 


I'm reading a very amusing book called The Etymologicon. It is about where various words come from, making links between (seemingly) totally unconnected words. Definitely recommended for any logophiles out there!


Gus can finally say Pa!  Up to now he has had a hard time with the "p" sound; it usually came out like an "m". But yesterday, he said it load and clear. Jon was very happy :)


It snowed here on Saturday, but it is almost gone now. We went out for a walk today, and of course I forget to put Gus's waterproof trousers on him. The number of times I have put them on him when it is almost completely dry, and today, with all the puddles, snow, and mud, I forget. Oh well. He didn't seem to mind the soaked cuffs too much.


I loved this post by Teacher Tom about coloring within the lines. An excerpt:
The paintings on the wall, the test scores, the grades only measure how well a child manages to stay within the lines, which is, after all, at best, a limited grounds upon which to form judgments. It tells us nothing, for instance, about what happens along the way.

I would love to raise children that understand society well enough to know when they need to colour in the lines, but are comfortable enough with themselves and their passions to scribble all over the page if that is how they feel at any given moment. Easy peasy, right?


 It's so fascinating watching Gus imitate the adults around him. Right now he is sweeping my kitchen floor as I type this. What a sweetie!
Feeding baby doll a breadstick.
He made sure she had plenty of water as well