Wild Plum Chutney Recipe

>> Friday, July 31, 2009

my parents have a beautiful plum tree in their backyard. the tree is very tall but a little lopsided - it actually was "sick" when it was younger and we were convinced it was going to die. but it didn't, and now, every two years or so, it makes a bumper crop of wild plums! these plums have a tart skin, but a sweet, yellow inside that is amazing! my mom and i cooked up some chutney and i just had to post the recipe because it was sooo good! if you like sweet and sour, this one's for you!

bunch of plums - i probably used about 2 pounds - seeded and cut in half
2 cups sugar, maybe more, depending on how tart your plums are
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 - 6 allspice berries, soaked in water
teaspoon of red chili flakes - more if you like a little kick in your chutney!

put all the ingredients into a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. keep stirring to prevent burning. once it has boiled for 1 - 2 minutes, lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally. keep at a low simmer until thickened and reduced. pour into clean jars, put the lids on and let cool. (if you are an expert canner/preserve maker, please feel free to use proper canning technique!) it should keep in the fridge for a week or so - or longer in the freezer. we've eaten it with pork chops, roasted chicken and on toast. it's really awesome!
salt to taste

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cultural diversity... what does it mean?

>> Thursday, July 30, 2009

my family is canadian. however, "culturally", my husband is half French-Canadian, one quarter Scottish, and one quarter German. he is fluent in both english and french, loves poutine, Montreal hardcore, and Mitsou. i am of Chinese descent, born to parents who were born in Jamaica, but although we did not speak Chinese, patois was easily spoken and understood. the husband says that it really threw him for a loop to meet my cute little Chinese grandfather who spoke with a Bob Marley inflection - while at first i barely understood my father-in-law's heavy Quebecquois accent. together, we are a cultural melting pot.
so what does this make the mini? i wonder, if like her parents, she will identify with Canadian culture? or will she gravitate towards one part of her "cultural makeup" more than another? or will she embrace all of it? i am hoping that she will speak French like her father, and that she'll be able to whip up a mean pot of oxtail and rice and peas like her mommy. i'm hoping that she won't flinch at eating chicken feet while out for dim sum, and will love going to the cabane au sucre with her nana in Montreal.
when i was at work, our organization was in the midst of cultural diversity training with all staff teams. but what does that really mean? with so many people with rich, varied backgrounds like my mini, do we really need to learn to be accepting? people should be proud that they carry such diversity within themselves - and be excited to learn about the cultural histories of others. my wonderful mother-in-law (the mini's nana) has one basic mantra that i think sums it all up - "BE KIND". and seriously, do we really need training to embrace that?

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bumbo love & the fate of the pickle jar

>> Wednesday, July 29, 2009

the pickle jar became quite infamous in my family. true to form, while i was pregnant with the mini, i craved pickles. so, one day when the husband and i went to wal-mart, we bought a huge - and i mean HUGE - jar of vlasic pickles. it was on sale for $3.47 and i couldn't resist. however, it was so huge that i had to lower the top shelf in the fridge to store it. and then, of course, my craving went away.

fast forward to last weekend... and the pickles were finally finished!!!! and i was left with this ginormous jar, that, of course, i had grown attached to after having it in the fridge for months.

now, it's a beautiful vase, filled with hydrangeas and lavender from my garden. talk about recycling! :)

the mini loves her bumbo chair. she seems to have a very strong back and we had initally put her in it starting a couple of weeks ago. at first, she was so small that we had to stuff a towel around her waist and eventually she'd end up bowed over and would chew the middle piece. but this week, she's filled it out a little more and looks like a regular little archie bunker in her little chair! seriously, she looks so proud of herself, sitting up like a big girl! she really likes her independence and the bumbo helps immensely.

the only problem is, the way the bumbo positions her body sometimes results in - ahem - a poop blowout. i wonder if archie had the same problem.

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Tales from the Nursery!

>> Tuesday, July 28, 2009

NOTE: you can see the finished nursery here - http://muffintopdesigns.blogspot.com/2009/11/tales-from-nursery-part-two.html

as some of you know, i've been working
with my sister (who is a decorating
WHIZ - she makes me sick because she's so talented and colour-coordinated) to put together the mini's nursery. we've decided on a colour scheme - pinks, greens and whites - and i have all of the major furniture purchased. whoot whoot!

in all honesty, we do a lot over the internet. it is the smartest way for us to do it as busy mommies (i have the mini, she has two and one on the way) - we surf and look for ideas, usually together via the phone, then make our shopping list, then off we go, kids in tow. sometimes, i send her out to get the stuff for me if i'm stuck at home with the baby.

one of the BEST ideas came from tinydecor's blog. a fellow etsian, she and her partner showcase wickedly amazing modern nursery finds - and one of her posts was a tutorial to make an alphabet card display - click on the link for the complete instructions. using Jenn Ski's beautiful alphabet flash cards and a premade stretched canvas, you too can make this amazing wall art for your nursery! i have to admit that i did not follow tinydecor's instructions to the letter because i am so less coordinated than she is - and much more impatient - and i wanted it done NOW!!! i used spray adhesive to adhere the cards to the canvas and it turned out pretty well, if i do say so myself! just a side note - the adhesive i used was very very sticky and somewhat toxic. i did all the spraying outside but still managed to cover my entire left arm and hand with glue. that's partly why my version has such a carefree, quirky (read: not straight) vibe to it - it's hard to place anything straight when you're attached to it!

i can't WAIT to put it up. i can't WAIT for the nursery to be finished - it's been a little bit of a stretch for me to venture into the decorating realm - but i am thoroughly enjoying the process!

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