Working on My Resolutions

So, I haven't been doing great so far with my resolutions. We haven't taken the juicer out of the box yet. I didn't pick up any knitting supplies. And, I've yet to start reading a novel. But, that's because I got two new Nora books and a Diane Keaton memoir, so I really have no other option but to read those first, obviously.

I have, however, been in front of the camera, if only slightly more. I gave the camera to Matt during Max's party so that I could be in a few and kept the the sneaky pictures the kids take of me with the iPad.

and bathroom selfies, naturally.

The most important resolution on my list was getting Max involved in something. I didn't have much luck finding a class or program for him because January is a weird, in between time to sign up for things. But, I found a free library drop in, twice a week and Ellie can go as well. We went to our first one on Saturday, it's only half an hour long and right up the street from out house so it couldn't be more perfect. It's not terribly structured and because it's free, we don't feel bad if we miss a session.
Both babes seemed to really like it, so we'll definitely be going back.

The actual program calls for all of us to sit in a circle, listen to a story and sing kumbaya. Max wasn't having any of that, so we opted to stay in the kids section, with the books and toys and just play. There were tons of kids there, which is what we were looking for. Both babes had fun and willingly left at lunch time because they were hungry. I was fearful there'd be tears when it came time to leave, but little rumbly bellies worked in my favour, this time.

As far as weekly meal planning goes, I'm still working on it. I make a list each monday morning of things I'd like to/think I could make that week, tack the list up on the fridge and cross one off each day. I'd like to get a bit more organized than that but for now, it's working.

One slight problem though, I'm a rotten cook. Only know a handful of decent recipes and we're all a bit bored with dinner time. Pinterest is my usual go-to source for new ideas but lately it's been a bust. Matt got a new Michael Smith cookbook for Christmas, so  might try a few recipes from there.

So almost a month and only a few things crossed off my list, but they were the most important things, so at least I have my priorities straight.

And a couple of random pictures, just 'cause...


Our Weekend 008

You guys can just skip this post, because we did bupkiss all weekend. There was nothing happening to attend, no pressing matters, no errands to run, nada.

We got outside for a little bit, these babies are so spoiled when it comes to winter. We don't have a yard and the playgrounds near by have been covered in snow for weeks so they haven't really had a chance to get out and play in the white stuff. So, when they do, oh boy, it's hilarious. Max just wants to hit people with snowballs and E's confused by the whole concept. She does't understand why we're standing around in the cold. She's a smart lady.

Lil snow bunnies
and that pink nose, I mean...
yes, we're playing in a bus shelter. city kids.
We baked lots of banana bread and made some "Welcome Home" cookies for Daddy (not a type of cookie, just what we call whatever cookies we make before Matt comes home).

You're welcome, Matt :)

I spent most of the weekend playing email tag with people from Kijiji. I bought some new cabinet type things, that aren't here yet and we needed to make room for them all, four in total. Cue me selling all of our belongings on Kijiji. We had been meaning to get rid of these things anyway, so this was the kick in the pants we I needed to just do it already. I sold all three pieces over the weekend, so I may have a future in sales... if I can do it in my jams via email. Or not.

Anywho, that was our weekend, still with me? Just as bored as we were? Thought so.


Artsy Afternoon

Last week we had brunch with friends, we brought waffles and ate our weight in bacon. Oy. Bacon. We don't buy bacon for that very reason. That's what friends are for though. To feed you bacon. Anyway, we had our favourite meal with our favourite people and instead of slipping into a bacon induced coma, we ventured out.

We hit up the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, it was kids day so the babes were free and all us adults were half price, I think? Either way, sweet deal. Even though my antisocial child (ahem - Max) wouldn't participate in any of the kids activities, kids day was kind of the perfect time to go. The thing is, I'm always afraid that I look like I don't belong somewhere, it's a weird and constant fear. But, on kids day at the gallery we didn't have to worry about being too noisy or rambunctious or if I wasn't dressed appropriately (not in a scantily clad way, like how do you dress at an art gallery?) because, I looked like all the other frazzled Moms there. All the kids were running around, touching everything and behaving like children, naturally.

Unlike my cultured littles, I wasn't that impressed. Maybe the babes liked it because it looked as if they had made it? There were a few pieces that were pretty neat, like the Maude Lewis exhibit. Crazy little old lady who painted flowers on her house and everything in it. The actual house was part of the exhibit!

Spending an afternoon not on the couch or at Target was a huge step for us so even if I wasn't that blown away by the art, it a nice experience. I'm waiting for the Annie Leibovitz exhibit to get up and running. That is worth full admission price, and I won't be taking the littles with me.

Anyway, here are a bunch of pictures from our day, if you're interested...

Max is now on permanent display a la Tilda Swinton.

Maude Lewis' House!

Yeah, totally not an art savant, but this was a pretty cool afternoon.

*Sorry these pictures are crap, I will get a real camera soon. Fingers crossed.*


Party Like You're Four

Max had the best day. The party went smoothly, it was the biggest group we've ever hosted and I was stressed just thinking about twenty people in my house. But it was so, so good. I stayed up late the night before, decorating so Max could wake up to it all. Matt stayed up late making pizza dough and Ellie stayed up to be in the way, mostly.

The next morning we all got into Max's bed to open presents and have a balloon fight.

From Momma and Daddy, he got the usual clothes and little toys but the main event was his new scooter.

Gram watched Ellie for the morning so we could take Max out on his own for a few hours before the party. He loves space, comic books, super heroes and all that jazz so the logical place to take him was Strange Adventures. We let him pick out one thing as a bonus gift.

After that, we went for lunch at Smoke's Poutinerie, because naturally that's his favourite food. I'm fairly certain he had the time of his life. After our bellies were full of poutine, we came home and got everything ready for the party.

Matt cooked ten (!!) pizzas, my Mum made a pasta salad and I fininshed the two cakes I had made earlier that morning. Max is such an easy kid, he only wanted a chocolate cake, with frosting in the middle. I made an extra with frosting for everyone else. Just box cake, I can only do so much when there are ten pizzas being made in my kitchen.

We had Grandparents, great grandparents and friends here from out of town, that boy is loved no doubtHe got so many wonderful presents and ate his weight in sugar, as only you can on your birthday.

The Goose was so thrilled with everything that staying up late, stressing out and planning beyond reason felt totally worth it. He loved every bit of it and then some and I'd do it all again in heartbeat. He's so worth every new gray hair I have. I'll probably get a lot more of those now that he has a scooter.

A few more pictures of the party, after the jump...


Our Weekend 007

Most of our weekend was spent showering the Goose with love, in between snuggle fests we entertained family from to of town. My grandparents and great aunt, Nonna, came up for Max's birthday and treated him to a day out. A trip to the arcade and the movies with lots of sugary treats that only grandparents give kids.

Captain America goes to the movies

Since we had the day to ourselves (and Ellie Boop too) we deep cleaned from the night before and gave E her own little movie experience. We watched the original Doctor Dolittle and ate some snacks. Then we had a mini tournament with Max's new Star Wars Operation game. E's not very good, yet.

The party was a huge success, but more on that another day. Matt had a few extra days off to extend the birthday celebrations so we treated the weekend like a long one, still going actually! Hope you all had a good weekend.

*Today is Aunt Anna's 15th Birthday!! Happy Happy Birthday Anna, thank you for making incredible toys for my babes and teaching them to use their imaginations. I am so impressed with you for your ability to see things the way no one else can. We love you.*


Happy Birthday Goose!

Today is Max's birthday, he turns four. Four years ago, at 12:51 a.m. this little lovey made me a Momma. He's positively the sweetest, coolest, best dressed member of our family. Kids so hip, he doesn't even know. We're lucky ducks to have him.

Last night we all snuggled in Max's bed and told him about the night he was born. Then we read the story On the Night You Were Born and gave him all the love we had in us before we said goodnight.

Happiest of birthdays, sweet Goose, we love the jeebers out of ya! XO

* each picture was taken on his birthday every year, I plan to keep this tradition going, as long as he'll let me. *


On turning Four

Because turning four is kind of a big deal - you only get to do it once - and it's such a funny age, lots of talking, conversing even, I thought I'd interview Max on how he feels about his upcoming birthday...

Q. What are you looking forward to being able to do, once you're four?

A. Lifting big things, like boulders. I can't wait to be big and tall!

Q. What is the most important thing you've learned so far?

A. Sommersaults and flips. Like acrobat Robin.

Q. Do you feel older and wiser?

A. Yup. Like an owl.

Q. What will you miss about being three?

A. Ellie won't be able to call me a baby anymore. That's all though.

As much as he loves to talk, I thought maybe four questions would be enough to keep his interest and it is in honour of his birthday. I think I might do these every year from now on, increasing the hard hitting questions by one, each year. Might be fun, as long as he still wants to do it.

Four is going to be a good year, I can feel it.


Our Weekend 006

This weekend marked a milestone for our Goose. He went to a friend's birthday party. We only know childless couples here in the city, and since Max isn't in daycare or anything of the sort, he really only has one friend. Sad, I know. It's something I always feel guilty about. Especially when I'm trying to plan a birthday party for him, with 12 adults and one kid, besides his sister. Poor guy. But anyway, he was SO excited for this party, even if he did have to take Ellie and I with him. He picked out a gift, talked ad nauseum about what you do at parties and made the card himself.

We never get a chance to dress the babes up and take pictures for any reason other than our own entertainment so this was kind of nice.

In non-little related news, I finally went to the Forever 21 that opened here months ago. And, Holy Hannah, it's just as intimidating as I thought it would be. I get the vapours just online shopping there, in store it's a whole other experience. It's not as other-worldly as Holister with their dark, loud stores pumped full of musk and patchouli, but it's something. I did take home a shrug, giant scarf and really cute earrings thanks to a gift card from Christmas.

Besides the shopping, I got to have a whole baby free afternoon with the best friend a girl could ask for. Shopping, coffee and silly good conversation, I am now ready for birthday week.

Some outtakes of the babes after the jump...


Pizza Party

We had an impromptu pizza party, our best friends came over with Christmas gifts for the littles so Matt made the most delicious pizzas, like crazy good. He even made his own sausage. Go big or go home, right? I think that's his life motto because he never does the bare minimum, always over the top. I'm thankful because I get to eat all the crazy, complicated food he comes up with.

Anyway, here is his recipe if you ever feel like making too many pizzas on a random monday night...

The sauce, start it before the dough, it needs time to simmer


1 medium-large onion, sliced.
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped.
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped.
2 ribs celery, chopped.
1 can san marzano tomatoes.
Small handful dried basil.
Small handful dried oregano.
Generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper.
Olive oil.
Salt to taste.


Heat a couple of good glugs of oil in a medium saucepan. Add onions, carrots, and celery.  Cook until carrots begin to soften.

Add garlic, pepper, and dried herbs.  Cook until everything is soft and onions are golden. Add tomatoes.  I use whole tomatoes and break them into chunks after they're in the pan.  Use a wooden spoon or similar implement. Cook a few minutes, then puree with immersion blender.

Lower heat to simmer, and allow to reduce until very thick. 2 hours or so.  Long enough to make the dough.



2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 t yeast
Good glug olive oil
kosher salt
1 1/3 cup water


Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer, mix on lowest speed.

When the dough forms a ball, turn speed to next highest setting.

Divide dough in half, cover and let stand for an hour/until doubled.

Once the dough has risen, form it into your pizza shape. Sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet, then place dough on sheet.  Top as desired.

Bake at 500° for 5-7 minutes

* Adapted from this recipe

Once the sauce and the dough are ready, add any topping you'd like. We used (pre cooked) sausage, peppers, homemade mozzarella, mushrooms and cracked an egg on top. We can't wait to try out different combinations though, you could even make personal sized pizza crusts and set up a build your own pizza bar. Could be fun for a party!

And a brownie recipe (if after all that pizza you have room for dessert)...


1 cup chocolate chips                                                 *for the peanut butter swirl*
1/2 cup butter (salted)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour                                                         2T butter
1/2 t baking powder                                                        1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 t salt                                                                           1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder                                                           1/4 t nutmeg
2 eggs (beaten)                                                                     1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 T vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350° and grease two 8" cake pans

Melt the chocolate chips and butter on the stove top or in the microwave

Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl

When chocolate is melted, add eggs, sugar and vanilla to mixture 

Add chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients 

Pour batter into both cake pans, until they're half way filled

Mix all ingredients for the peanut butter swirl together 

Drop small spoonfuls of peanut butter mixture to the top of the brownie batter 

Use a skewer to create the swirls

Bake for 30 minutes or until firm

*Adapted from this recipe


A few of our favourite books

You were supposed to read that to the tune of "These are a few of my favourite things". Anyway, on our drive to Cape Breton we were listening to CBC radio (we always do). They were having a discussion about the most popular kids books right now and had listeners call in with their recommendations. Not one of the books we read on repeat were mentioned, but I did get a few ideas  to add to our collection.

Over Christmas collectively I think the Brown family received no less than thirty new books. We take reading seriously. They're stacked all over the house, crammed onto bookshelves and we all have a few piled up on our nightstands. Even though there's an entire library to choose from we always come back to the same ones.

In no particular order I give you...

Max's picks :

+ The Duckling Gets a Cookie by Mo Willem

+ The Incredible Book Eating Boy &The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers

+ Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

+ Mad About Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

+ All by Myself by Mercer Mayer

Ellies favourites :

+ Eloise by Kay Thompson

+ Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

+ Olivia by Ian Falconer

+ The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch

+ Splat The Cat by Rob Scotton

I'm really lucky my kids have somewhat decent taste in books, because they have a lot that are just insufferable and it's nice to wind down before bed with a book everyone enjoys. The babes get to pick their own bedtime stories but sometimes Matt and I pick one or two, just because we really like them.

So, this is what we'd pick every night, if we could :

+ The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

+ Pierre by Maurice Sendak

+ I Have to Go by Robert Munsch

+ Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James

+The Kings Stilts by Dr. Suess

* I Have to Go is missing from the picture. I later found it in the bathroom. Almost too perfect.*

Did we miss any good ones?


Our Weekend 005

I took a couple weeks off of "Our Weekend" because, well mostly because all the days ran together and I kept thinking everyday was the weekend. Isn't that the best though?

This past weekend Matt went back to work- in the city though (!!) - so he was home for dinner every night. My Mum is in town for a few weeks so the kids have completely forgotten I exist. There's been undecorating, organizing and purging in all the rooms and closets. I hate taking Christmas decorations down, it always feels so bare and unwelcoming without all those soft, white lights. Takes me a few weeks to adjust. But, I only have an undecorated house until the 17th. Max's birthday. So, that should help, except I'll be crying over the fact that I have a four year old. Not entirely sure how or when that happened.

It was Grammie Brown's birthday on Saturday. A big one. Grammie and Grampie and all the kids came up to the city for a party at Matt's sister, Beth's place. All of the "big kids" chipped in and got her a beautiful bag made from a ship's sail. We ate pizza and salads and the girls made her a lovely cake (which I wish I had taken a picture of) but it had a big pink flower made of sugar on top, is what. Happy birthday Grammie, we sure do love you lots.

The next night was the last night Matt was home before an eight day stint away in Cape Breton for work. We had a date night which we don't really get to do often enough, was much needed and as always, we ate. That's what all of our "dates" consist of, going to a restaurant we can't take the littles to, mostly. Eating food that neither of us has to/can make is a special treat, even if that's all we do before we rush home from missing our babes. Old folks, is what we are. Coming home in time to read stories and love up on the babes before bedtime is what we do best on date nights. Best part of the night. Hands down.

Fantastic weekend overall, including the snowstorm that kicked it off. Sad to see Matt go but we did get him mostly to ourselves for three weeks so one can't be too greedy, I guess. Cape Breton is lucky to have him for a week.

And because this post felt silly without pictures...

This is what happens if you try to sneak a nap.
Mission Accomplished.



With 2013 behind us I'm looking forward to making a few changes in the new year. It's a fresh start and I have big plans. With Matt working away, Ellie not on a proper sleep schedule and family coming to stay from out of town, life was hectic here. No routines were kept, not that I didn't try but it's so easy to slip up once and ruin the whole thing.

So, this is what I plan to do differently in 2014 :

+ Juice every morning - Matt and I got a juicer for Christmas from my Dad and I really want to use it everyday, not just to be healthier. I don't eat breakfast and I'm tired all the time. I'm hoping this will change things.

+ Plan weekly meals - I always struggle every single day at dinner time. I never know what to make or I haven't defrosted anything so it's noodles and butter again. I want to plan cook and freeze meals for the week ahead of time. I feel like this is why Martha has so much time to craft, she only cooks one day a week (or she pays people to cook for her).

+ Play school for Max - Max has one friend outside of his family and he only sees him once every few months. I figure a program or play school would be good for him, make some friends, learn to socialize (and share!) and learn new skills that I can't teach him. I didn't do this last year and I've been beating myself up over it. It's happening this time around.

+ Learn How to do one new thing - I bake moderately well. I have no other discernible skills. I'd like to have at least two things on my list. I'm thinking knitting? Maybe?

+ Read more/ Watch less - This one isn't just for me, Max watches entirely too much T.V. it's ridiculous. He's on his way to learning to read now so he'll be able to read by himself, and I haven't read a full novel since the babes were born. Biographies, essays and short stories I can do. Anything with a long complicated (or even simple) plot with more than one character? I get distracted and don't pick it up again for weeks, then I've forgotten everything I've already read. Fixing that.

+ Be in more pictures with my kids - I have a zillion pictures of the babes (duh) and half as many with Matt and the babes... and maybe a dozen with me. I'm the one behind the camera usually or I don't look presentable enough to be in the picture or a million other excuses. I want to be able to look back at pictures of all of us, even if I don't look my best. Ever since reading this article it's completely changed my outlook. Get ready for more pictures of me, World.

I'm sure I'll add to the list every other day but this is it for now, I figure since they are pretty simple I should be able to do at least half for at least a couple of months. Baby Steps. I don't have big expectations but at least I made a list this year so that's progress.

Have any New Years resolutions of your own?

Good start. 


Happy New Year

Image via

Wahoo! We made it through another year. It was a fantastic one, personally speaking. Sure, Matt worked away for most of it and the littles are at that age, but still pretty awesome. Ellie turned one, Max can write his name, Matt's learning fiddle and I'm lucky to have them all.

We had a babysitter (thanks Gram!) so we celebrated, sans babies, with friends. The best kind of celebration, chinese food, wine and movies. The trifecta of New Years, round these parts. It was so refreshing to be out, just the two of us, to ring in a new year. First time in... four years? Not that we didn't miss the littles, I obsessively checked my phone every ten minutes until we came home. It's good to have a few moments here and there though, just us. I'm looking forward to a million more moments like those and two million more with the babes, this year.

Here's to 2014, bring it on, I'm ready.