May 21, 2015

April gardening work day

  Another normal day in April which could have been on the recent post concerning normal life in our family of late, but which was left out on account of the fact that it wasn't exactly home life per se, was a day in which we gardened for a couple of clients 
(if you understood that sentence then you are Intelligent)...
We garden for several people in these two areas semi-nearby but what made this day remarkable was: 
1. It was a.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y gorgeous weather!!!
2. I had a migraine-ish thingy in the head.
3. I rarely have migraines
4. I did not eat breakfast that day (as usual)
5. Or lunch
Vegan Dark Chocolate Bars with Almonds (12 bars per box): 3-Pack
6. Yet I survived on Chocolate- and not your ordinary chocolate, but Mercola's Vegan chocolate bar! (if you have any extra cash, I highly recommend investing it in these here bars)
We got a bunch free (yup-the magic word!) with recent orders.
You get to decide whether this blog post is a review on Mercola's chocolate bars or a personal entry about our life. 
But these here chocolate bars whisked my headache away (despite working the hot sun!) by supper time! Miraculous ;)

7. And when the gardening day was done (6 pm-ish), we all toted ourselves home and I made hamburgers for supper! 
 So it was an awesome day. :)
The kind after which you relax as a family and watch...oh yes! We watched this

First location: a beautifully-landscaped yard in ___City which needed some spring cleanup done. (pictures taken after the cleanup)

The woman who owned this place took landscaping at the Botanical Gardens. It was very tastefully done. (not easily shown in pics)

   If you are interested in the mundane ins-and-outs, it was Sam's day off so into his nice little care trooped Valerie, Jessie, Elodie and I. We zipped over and dropped Valerie off at her nanny-job-house, then Sam dropped we three girls at previously mentioned first gardening job. Sam then reluctantly ( ;P) went over to Forest Park (while we slaved away) and did his quiet time in the beautiful morning sunshine before heading over to an interview at someplace....
Front porch view: can you imagine seeing this every day? 
Like, if every home owner sat out on his front porch every evening...
or morning! even worse. 

   To continue the account, our Mum packed up the remainder of the fam and came by to pick us up to bring us to our second gardening job of the day.
Note: when I refer to gardening here, I don't mean sitting and looking at the roses.
Just wanted to clarify.
So happy Nikola joined us! Here she performs her incredible edging ;)

Our Mum took the younger sibs to the Zoo, where Sam joined them after his interview. 
Note that some of us continued to faithfully work in the now hot sun.
And also note that one of us had a headache.
And didn't get to see the red pandas at the zoo. 
(Insert pictures of red pandas at zoo)

Why it's me in the morning!

If you couldn't tell already by the look on Sam's face, they are at the penguin area

goodness- playing on stag beetles while your sibs are hard at work!

Alexandre also joined us and helped spread a mountain of mulch

Little miss stylish arrives!

By the time we were completing the job, our family pulled up and we enlisted the immediate help of the younger set in finishing the edging.

We should patent our technique. I body gardens like we do. :)

And it's always worth working in neighbourhoods like this!

A little garden fairy I found


A house across the road...I'll take it. ;)

May 20, 2015

Shen Yun contest May 2015

Hello readers!
  When our family hears about a contest involving artwork and such, we always begin contemplating a million ways we could enter...and win! (of course we rarely win, but it's still worth a try, right?)
 So it was with the Shen Yun company's recent  ''Inspired by Shen Yun contest'' which Jessie entered and placed in the top picks of the company! Now you get to help her win first (or second) place by LIKING her photo on facebook! 
To help her win, go to the original post and like the picture
Thank you so much!
If she wins first or second place, you'll be hearing about it on this blog! :)

May 12, 2015

At home in April....

    Time for some April 2015 posts, friends and foes! 
April was very full, very enjoyable, friendly....and busy! 
Very busy. 
As scientifically proven by the state of my room.

 I personally spend my time (and by the way if you're not a friend who is interested, don't read this and then assume I'm boasting 'cause I'm not and you're not nice if you think that I am)...Practicing driving by bringing Valerie to work (we're gone from 8 am to 9:45 because we like to take the long way(s) to avoid highways and give more driving practice ;P);
Cleaning a wedding venue on Mondays; Cleaning our own home;Cleaning another family's home on Wednesdays (yes, I kind of enjoy cleaning. I started when I was 7 and never stopped. Which can be taken as good or bad depending on where you stand);
 Cooking for our family (now that Valerie has her nanny job I get to do most of the cooking- yay but did you ever notice how quickly 5-ish pm comes when you're otherwise occupied?);Squeezing in time to write reviews on newly published books;
Serving and/or cooking at the afore-mentioned wedding venue on the weekends; etc.
 (and etc. usually encapsulates all those details which are much too mundane to mention here. Such as laundry.)
As for other  folks in the family:
Valerie is a wonderful nanny to two adorable and appreciative kiddies 5 days a week.
Nikola is doing a very interesting and helpful fashion design online course and in between times illustrates for author Rebekah Morris, helps with household stuff, serves at weddings as well, etc. etc. not to mention ''be's a sister to all of us!''
Sam is working for Lou Fusz Mitsubishi;
 Jessica is doing an online nutrition course as well as other things such as adorable and original artwork....
 and the other 4 are still safely and securely in that wonderful world of school. :) 
Where the biggest problem in life is figuring out whether 6 divided by 2 (2+1) equals 1 or 9. ;P
   Anyways, April was quite beautiful and busy as the following posts will try to prove....I organized our pictures into a couple of different posts and this one is the home-y one. :)
Enjoy, and attempt a comment or two! 

That awkward moment when you are the one who has to set up the camera and get back to your spot before...

     So glad you could come by when you were in the area, Andrew! 
We love every kind of visit- planned or impromptu, long or short!

 (*sits back and waits for friends to start flocking to our door*)

Little goats in the property behind us

We had to snap a picture of all four of us who are in braces!
Incredible, isn't it! But we are all very good patients....and Elodie has since lost her braces forever and ever! :) I'll have to take and share some portraits of her with her new smile! 

Some portraits I took one afternoon

The brother in his nice little car!

Matching sisters!
To appreciate this situation you have to realize that in our family...
1. Matching oneself is a feat worthy of mentioning
2. Matching another sibling is even more laudable!

Random apples to apples game (you can't get any more random than apples to apples, right?)
I introduced the idea of using the idea of compiling all won cards to reveal what one's future spouse would resemble and it was a big hit. We played about 10 rounds so we ended up with some very interesting characters. Surprisingly, Laura-Lise and Katia were the biggest fans of this game and are now looking forward to meeting their future husbands....some of us not so much considering the results we got. 

Sometime in the spring, our Dad and two of the girls got to use a Groupon for a Moroccan restaurant! 
They had fun talking with the owner of the place because Moroccan's speak French!
And so do we. :)

Now comes the intensely awkward portion of the post. 
Pictures of me. 
    Nikola did a whole photo shoot of me in a outfit as part of the her fashion course (for those interested, she had to do a mood bored of 3 different styles of skirts including a detailed drawing of the skirt... I got to wear the short skirt for this photo shoot). 

    Although I am relatively fond of my self, and have come to a victorious peace and submission regarding my earthly self,  I do not harbour a false illusion that the entire world desires to view a series of pictures of.... me. 
However, my severely practical side forces me to include these pictures because....
they happened
And as a part of our April 2015, it would be wrong to not post them. 
Like lying. 
You know? 

But if you are good and read until the end of the post, you can see an overwhelmingly adorable video of our young ducks swimming in our pond for their first time!

Below pictures taken by mostly Nikola, some Elodie and even Laura-Lise perhaps!
We trotted across our road to the school for this shoot.

making fun of the unreasonably popular stance featured in every women's fashion catalog available. (example to right)

Someone's always interrupting the photo shoots of celebrities!

Enough of me! 
Are you ready for some drama? 
Here, for the first time available to public eye....
the ducklings visit The Pond!
(and find it not to their satisfaction considering that Big Scary things may lurk beneath the surface and no Mama duck is available to scout out the unforeseen.)


May 8, 2015

Valerie's 1920's Cruise Ship birthday in March!

Valerie (October 2014)

In March, for Valerie's birthday we held a 1900's steam ship family party! If that title confuses you, I trust you will gain a better understanding of the setting and period expressed by this birthday as you scroll down through the pictures! I think the sisters (Nikola, Jessie) and our Mum did an amazing job representing the whole feel of the era! I mostly worked on food and dessert which unfortunately you cannot taste through pictures. The whole experience was lovely.
We played this lovely CD we have which always gives the perfect experience of the era.

This was one of my favourite birthdays yet! The whole dining experience was perfect.
And I really was impressed by how quickly my talented sisters set up this beautiful table! 

Jessica made portholes out of paper and a bit of paint to add to the look

Jessie, Valerie, our Mum and Dad

Elodie, Nikola, Laura-Lise and Katia
Sam worked late that night but joined us later :)

Inspiration for the name of the ship for this birthday came from the name of the ship on which our maternal grandparents emigrated from Scotland to Canada:
The RMS Aquatania

Our grandparents with the RMS Aquatania
(below: photos from Wikipedia of the Aquatania)

Twinkle lights make everything so lovely...

Our Grandma sends pieces of this set of china periodically
And as you are probably ready for some refreshments, allow me to present to you our meal....

                                       savory tarts

Alas! No good pictures of the chicken I made but let me tell you the whole experience was perfect. Slipping one's fork into slices of tender chicken breasts topped with tomatoes and olives and a browned-butter-wine sauce while listening to pleasant dining music and surrounded by twinkle lights and enjoyable company...

As for dessert: we had so many ideas we just did several of them and froze the extras :)
I tried petit-fours...below are both healthy and regular ones....It was fun to try fondant but I don't recommend attempting it for the first time 30 minutes before the birthday is meant to begin. ;)
Classic trifle...a must-have!

Ever since I saw a recipe for chocolate beet cupcakes in Pete Evan's Paleo Chef cookbook, I was eager to try them. This seemed like the perfect occasion and (although I didn't follow the recipe to a ''T'') they were perfect! Bonus: they freeze and thaw beautifully. Mazzou tip: Ice with chocolate whipped cream and drizzle with chocolate as shown.

   As for the was wonderful! It came from the Against The Grain cookbook and was entitled ''Italian Cream Cake''. We are not entirely gluten-free, so I did a mixture of whole wheat and buckwheat instead of what was called for in the recipe. The recipe also called for sugar so I used sucanat which gave the cake a pleasant brown speckling (suitable because the cake also has nuts throughout). Also had to substitute potato starch/arrowroot powder for tapioca short, I have no precise idea what I did but the cake turned out marvelous! Everyone loved it.

As for movies to go with the party, we got a few out and watched them throughout the upcoming weeks. 

If you are not a fan of mystery films, this one is the one to start with! (and work your way up from here) It's interesting yet not heart-attack inducing. ;) 

Our first Charlie Chan. 
Do forgive us- it came recommended. 
If you wish to have an argument on the topic, I'm open to it. 
In the end, we had fun watching the 2 Charlie Chan mysteries we have seen because 
1. They are mysteries
2. They are black and white mysteries
3. They are rather funny
Don't ask me why an typical American plays a Chinese detective....but it can be overlooked since the character is rather humorous yet smart. 

Captain's Courageous- a childhood favorite because of Spencer Tracy's role as a Portuguese fisherman. :)