New gifts and New cuteness...

I guess the Lola & Ellie's birthday is never going to ends!
They continue to receive such sweet and fun gifts!
GG and Great-Grandpa sent the perfect winter attire, it gives us every excuse to head back up to the snow!

I think the girls are waiting by the door in their gear to give us a hint that they might just want to go back to the snow, so they can sport their new fits!!
On the contrary, we received some gift cards from Grandma and Poppi and we were able to get a head start on summer shopping... summer never can come fast enough for mom... and the girls! They were so happy to get their suits on, just look at their smiles. They were ready to head out to the pool and jump right in.

(sorry a bit blurry, but too cute)

While modeling their suits, Lola stole daddy's mouth stick that he uses to operate his computer. It was so cute that Lola was trying to be like daddy and operate her computer the way he does.
I am a bit excited about these hats I found for the girls at a huge steal, of course the girls had to have the sunglasses too! I also posted this picture because I can actually see myself in Lola, for once I can say I think my daughter actually looks a bit like her me.
The girls also got a knew write and wipe arts and craft table that can fold up and go anywhere. They loved it!
I can officially say our girls are spoiled by all of our great family and friends!!!
Thank You, Thank You!

Oh, What a Little Sunshine Can Do

The temperatures outside may still be frigid

But when the sun shows her face

My heart flees the depths of Winter

And sings to the heartbeat of Spring

Casting shadows, large and small
Peeling back that flat paint of white and grey
Contrast is almost colour

The Earth warms
The snows curls in lazy ribbons off the barn rooves

The icicles, almost gone
Colour is unveiled 

The temperatures outside may still be frigid
But my heart is warm

Spinach and Ricotta Conchiglie -- Stuffed Shells

So good to be back! We had a huge ice storm last week and were out of power for about 4 days, thank goodness we have a small generator so we were able to heat our house, power the fridge and basement freezer, and have a light or two on, but no TV or computer so that was an adjustment. We opened up the curtains, enjoyed the beautiful sun shining on all of the ice and the kids and I played a ton of board games. No oven = no baking :( To make dinners we turned off the furnace for an hour or so (so we had enough power from the generator to use small kitchen appliances) and plugged in the griddle and had 'breakfast for dinner' one night, the other night we used the presto pizza pizzazz to cook a pizza, and the last night fired up the electric wok for some teriyaki noodles -- all cooked by candlelight since the generator could only power one kitchen appliance and the fridge at once. What a week, it almost was kind of fun, I know the kids had a blast, but I'm glad things are back to normal!

On to this dish, Spinach and Ricotta Conchiglie is my pick for My Kitchen My World -- Destination Italy. This recipe is from the cookbook, Pasta - irresistible recipes for perfect pasta, that I've had for years and only made one recipe from. The one recipe I tried was Macaroni and Blue Cheese -- I had completely forgotten I made that recipe -- but I had written down the date that I made it in the cookbook (what I used to do before starting a food blog), October 2006, and when I read that date, I remembered how my daughter -- who was 18 months old at the time -- loved the Macaroni and Blue Cheese just as much as mommy did, even though daddy was not a fan. It made me smile back then, thinking I may have a lil' foodie on my hands, and now that memory makes me smile even more. I love stuffed pasta shells and was happy to give this version a try. The photo in the book is so enticing, I love the addition of pine nuts sprinkled on top.

Spinach and Ricotta Conchiglie
slightly adapted from Pasta - irresistible recipes for perfect pasta

12 ounces large conchiglie (pasta shells)
1 and 3/4 cups strained tomatoes
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 thick slices white bread, crumbled
1/2 cup milk -- I used skim
3 tablespoons olive oil
9 ounces ricotta cheese -- about 1 and 1/4 cup
pinch of grated nutmeg
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water according to the directions on the package. Rinse under cold water, drain, and reserve until needed.

2. Place the bread, milk, and three tablespoons of olive oil into the bowl of a food processor or blender and process to combine. Add the spinach and ricotta cheese and season with salt (about 1/2 tsp kosher), pepper, and nutmeg (about 1/4 teaspoon).

3. Combine the strained tomatoes with the garlic and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Spread the sauce evenly over the bottom of a casserole -- I used a 9 by 13 pyrex glass baking dish.

4. Spoon the spinach mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large, plain tip and fill the pasta shapes (I used a ziplock bag with the corner cut off, worked great).

5. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top and grate some parmesan over the top, then bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the nuts and cheese have turned a light golden brown.

Buen Appetito! -- Enjoy your meal! Sorry for the lack of good photos on this one, I'm going to have to blame bad evening lighting :) This dish was great, it was pretty heavy on the spinach though, so make sure who ever you are serving this to is a spinach fan. To serve, I spooned some of the strained tomato sauce over the shells. I have a favorite non-traditional stuffed shells dish I make that has lots of cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta stuffed into the shells) and then is blanketed with sauteed mushrooms, homemade tomato sauce, and mozzarella before baking in the oven and I think that one is still my favorite. It was fun to try a more traditional Italian version of one of my favorite Italian-American dishes, and conchiglie is much more fun to say than plain 'ol stuffed shells. I did love the pine nuts on top and will have to incorporate those into my usual recipe :)

I had a lot of fun picking an Italian recipe to try (originally wanted to do a whole meal, but with the outage didn't have time to get it to it) and I have three *must make* Italian recipes from some of my cookbooks that are completely new to me, two breads, one dessert, so hopefully you'll be seeing those up here soon at Nummy Kitchen. Having the power outage meant lots of time for browsing through my cookbook collection, among other things, so I have a whole bunch of recipes mentally bookmarked that I have had on my shelf for years and never noticed before, kind of reminds me of time before the internet and before a quick jump on google or foodnetwork made it so easy to find a recipe that you actually had to page through a cookbook, miss those days.

I'm sending this dish along to Ruth at Once Upon A Feast, who is the creator of Presto Pasta Nights and hosting a 4th Birthday Bash for PPN #203, how fun!

New Car

Before we had kids Steve and I bought a minivan.  We had a large dog that we hauled around regularly and we knew children were in our future, so we figured that a van made sense.  And it has proven to be a useful vehicle.  But recently we discovered that the 10 year old van needed $1,000 in repairs.  It no longer seemed such a useful vehicle.  So we started car shopping.  Yesterday we took the van for one last ride and said goodbye.
We dropped the girls off at Aunt Robie's for the day and Steve and I spent the day car buying.  We came home last night with a Subaru Outback.  It's not as big as the van, but we really didn't need all the space.  We havn't learned all the little tricks of it yet ( it does have seat warmers!) but I think it will be a good car for us.  The girls, of course, are delighted.  As Rachel said, "New car!  New! NEW!"

Cyclopentolate induced beauty !

Little T has had to re-attend the opticians to have further eyetesting. In order to get a better look at her eyes, she needed eyedrops putting in (or fairy dust drops as we called them). After the initial stinging and few tears, she did very well.

Her blurry, yet sparkly vision lasted for the rest of the day.

What a lovely tea...

Mrs K/C/KC enjoyed her cream tea at Fortnum & Mason today for her birthday. She was also somewhat surprised when our friends from DC met us there and joined in the fun. It was hard to keep their visit a secret, but worth it for the look on her face in the lobby of the restaurant !

Despite the fact we took our camera, I was too distracted with the fantastic cakes (and trying to stop Little O destroy their pleasant china plates and teacups) to actually use it.

Happily, our friends took some snaps at the time and can be seen if you click here.

I laughed so much, my head fell off !

Sparkling Snowballs to Hang

 What with all the holidays over and Winter still hanging around, we wanted some more decorations to add some shine to our home. We made these shimmering string balls, (or "snowballs",) to hang from the light over our dining table.

You will need:

  • Kitchen Twine (or yarn, or even string...)
  • White Glue
  • Balloons
  • Glitter
  • Covered Work Surface (This gets pretty messy with a little one)
  • Tub for Glue (like an old margarine tub or tupperware)
  • Tray for glitter (paper plate, lid, etc...)
  • Thread to Hang With

Gather your supplies and blow up some balloons. I only blew ours up part way so that they stayed as round as possible, and tied the knot far back on the balloon to eliminate most of its taper. In a tub, mix the white glue with water and blend well. We went about half and half.

Cut lengths of twine and dip them in the watered down glue.

Start wrapping the gluey twine around your balloons. Criss-cross and go all the way around. It should be tacky enough that it is easy to pin down your ends by wrapping over the start and tucking in the last of the twine. Your twine should stay where you put it relatively easily. If you find you're having a lot of trouble, add more glue to your mixture and dunk the twine again.

We tried at first to sprinkle the glitter over the balloon on the tray, but ended up dumping the glitter in and rolling the balloon in it. That worked much better.

Let dry at least a day, or until the glue has completely hardened. Then *pop* the balloons! This is always Kaia's favourite part. They peeled away slowly from the glue in a way that Kaia found absolutely fascinating. They looked really pretty with the balloons still in, too. I very nearly kept them that way to see how long they would last. :)

Tie your thread on and hang where you please! 

Happy Birthday Mrs K/C/KC !

... for dinner !


Granny made Rachel a new dress.  It's pink, has kitties all over it, and has pockets.  This may make it the ultimate dress!  Rae had fun admiring herself in the bathroom mirror this morning.
Of course, if there's a morror, then you should try out all of your tricks!

Kaia's 3rd Birthday and Dinosaur Party

On the morning of Kaia's 3rd Birthday, she picked out her clothes, dressed herself and when she stepped out of our bedroom it was to find one shiny balloon and one shiny wrapped gift. She paid no mind to the gift, but was so instantly ecstatic about the balloon that Papa's 2:30am extra stop on his way home from work was immediately worth it. She stared in wonder for a moment, then ran to the stairs to shout to my Dad, (who was staying with us to help with reclaiming our basement after a flooding,) 

"Papy!! There's a balloon in our house!"
"Wow, who do you think it is for?"
"I don't know!!"
"I think it is for you for your Birthday."

Thus commences the running about, trailing a balloon and squealing happily in sheer joy until she decided she was hungry. What she wanted for breakfast was to make her own pancakes. Completely by herself. She usually helps cook, and she does quite a bit herself anyway, but this time she wanted absolutely no scooping, measuring, pouring, or stirring assistance. We told her things like, "2 cups of flour" and after 5 partially filled cups we would tell her that she probably had enough, but aside from that, she did every step of the process on her own. Because she is 3 now, and there is nothing she cannot do.

As the pan warmed up she eventually took notice of the gift on the table. 

"I wonder who that gift is for?"
"It's for you, Kaia, for your Birthday."
"I wonder if I can open it..."

So as the first pancake started cooking, we sat down in a rare February sunbeam in the living room to open her gift.

After opening her present, we all ate her pancakes, which were actually very good and not even lumpy. She had fun all day trying her best to distract Papy from getting any work done and had some sweet snuggles and reading time with him before saying goodbye. That night she had a special ice cream treat, covered in sprinkles that she put on herself, of course.

Then, happy and exhausted, she curled up in her chair with her balloon and fell asleep, face still covered with ice cream.

The following weekend was her Birthday party. Kaia wanted a dinosaur party. She wore the special skirt she'd picked out at the store and the shirt I made for her with a big number 3 on the front.

I semi-mentioned that the basement had flooded and was being worked on. Well, we managed to have almost everything done by her party, including getting our new carpet in (yay!) but our paint was held up, so the walls were prepped, but unpainted. The carpet is made out of corn sugar and it is so fantastic! 

Over the last month and a half, Kaia has helped me work on some dino decorations for her party. We had big long rolls of brown paper that came to us wrapping our dishes. I squirreled it away because it is coated and not recyclable, but it was so much paper, and in such long pieces! I didn't know what we'd use it for, but it had way too much potential to throw away. We used it to line the basement walls, taped two pieces together to make a volcano, and rolled a couple more pieces up to make tree trunks. We tore strips of (previously gifted to us,) tissue paper to make lava exploding from the volcano, and Kaia also gave it some flows of red glitter glue. I cut open a couple brown paper bags and Kaia painted them green for me to cut into the tree leaves. I sketched out a little triceratops, a pterodactyl and some grass tufts and Kaia helped me paint them. We left the center horn off the triceratops so that we could use it to play pin-the-horn-on-the-dinosaur, which is why it is covered in horns in these pictures.

Kaia's friends, (the ones that are kids, anyway,) range from 2 years old to 12 years old, so we went easy on organized games and tried to pick ones everyone would be able to play together. This is Kaia having the bandanna tied over her eyes and being spun by some of her friends to pin her horn on. 

The results of pin-the-horn-on-the-triceratops, I like the one on the grass!

We played two other games and the rest of the time they just had fun playing, I came out feeling that the "planned" activities were just right, woot! For one game, I handed them each a sheet of dinosaur stickers and the object was to get all your stickers on other kids while getting the least amount of stickers on yourself. They had a ton of fun with that, and a week later Kaia would still run around cheerfully shouting, "Oh, no! Stickers! Not stickers!" I also painted some spots on easter eggs to magically turn them into dinosaur eggs, (because everyone knows dinosaurs laid spotted eggs, right?) filled them with jelly beans, and hid them around the basement for everyone to hunt for.

 After games and play wound down Kaia opened her gifts.

The dinosaur cake pan was borrowed from my parents and is the same pan that was used for my older brother's dinosaur Birthday party 20 some years ago! Papa Juise's Mum kindly baked it for us and my Mum iced and decorated it, because we were crazy with everything else we had to do. Is it not so cute?

Kaia blew out her candles and I don't think anyone noticed they were eating a vegan cake, neither the kids nor the adults. :)

Kaia was overjoyed to have her friends that used to come to our house every day for daycare back in our home, and Miss Katalin was super excited about all the commotion and children everywhere. She had fun pitching her own squeals into the great ruckus. And balloons. She loved the balloons.

Kaia's cousin stayed the night and they played until very late. Neither of them wanted him to leave the next day and they were all sweet hugs. <3