Nine Months: S'not Always Fun and Somersaults

We've been sniffing and sneezing for nearly a month here - a month! It's been rather annoying, I must say, because September is such a fun time of year and I hate to miss out on activities or limit them due to runny noses, watery eyes and the works. But it hasn't been just all fall colds here either. Ben actually developed a low grade fever this past month (when he cut his second tooth) and it was a huge challenge for us all considering it was the first fever we've experienced. Poor boy was absolutely wiped out, sweating, whimpering and only wanted to lie on my chest. Did I mention that this kid is NOT a cuddler? It was so sad but also reminded me how grateful I am to have a normally healthy child. What we experienced those few days doesn't even compare to what a lot of people have to face (and worse). So snot and sniffles, coughing, projectile vomit and multiple wake-ups at night for a few weeks is okay - we'll survive it and it will go away eventually.

We've been introducing Ben to a variety of new foods and textures - not just the strained stuff anymore.  We don't push anything too hard but want to expose him to a few different flavours (this coming from a girl who ordered chicken fingers and fries at nearly every eating establishment that was frequented from age 6-12). I love watching Ben's facial expressions whenever he tries something new - usually a look of disgust followed by 'more' 'more' or 'I refuse to open my mouth ever again'. He's now happy eating rice crackers, puffs, small pieces of bread and soft fruit bits. He loves feeding himself and almost always tries to grab the spoon from us when he can. Not surprisingly, it's a bit messier around here at dinner time.

My workout regime has also increased this month. It's nearly impossible to keep up to this boy. I've got to watch him like a hawk because he gets into absolutely everything and at lightning speed. So much for sitting on the floor and quietly playing with a toy while I shower. Nope, he's pulling to stand on most surfaces he deems suitable and is wanting to make his way around the room. Time for the serious baby-proofing. He also loves riding on top of Danny's shoulders and bounces up and down with enthusiasm when its time to 'giddy up'. Don't even get me started on Ben's game of launching himself off the bed  into Danny's arms and finishing with a summersault. I have to close my eyes.

Feeling like we're settling into a bit more of a routine now that the hustle and bustle of summer has quieted down a bit. I've been loving this unseasonably warm weather lately so we've been making more walks around the neighbourhood, at the zoo, around the reservoir and through rainy mountain towns. We hosted a few dinners and had play dates with some old friends but are mostly at home practicing how to wave/say hi (he totally gets it now) and clapping our snotty hands together. You're welcome.

Off to rub some Baby Vaporub on my congested boy!


Apple Crisp

Everyone knows it is apple season so I thought I'd share a recipe for apple crisp I made last week. I was actually in the process of of making it when some unexpected company stopped by (score 1 point for my inner domestic goddess). Ended up being such a hit that I had to wash the baking dish that night too. Read: We ate it ALL.

Modify as you wish...

4 large granny smith apples - peeled and sliced
1 1/2 C brown sugar - packed
1 c flour
1 c oats - I used a bit more
1 1/2 sticks soft butter
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375'F
Place sliced apples on the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish
Combine sugar, flour, oats, butter and cinnamon (should be a coarse meal)
Sprinkle on top of apples
Bake for 30min

Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

We ate this up so quickly I didn't even have a chance to take a proper photo but it looked a lot like this one from Eco Chef.


Toronto Condo Tour

When we moved to Toronto last year we knew it would be temporary. We knew it would be a year to 'soak it all up and enjoy it while it lasts' or 'suffer through it and count down the days until we're back home'. It was probably a healthy combination of the two, to be completely honest, but even with that approach in mind, I didn't want to live in flux either. I feel so strongly that a home has to be a space where you feel grounded, settled and calm...something that would prove to be a challenge for me but a welcome one.

When selecting a place to live we had two main search criteria; (1) that it be close to where Danny worked to cut down on his commute time and (2) that it fit my taste seeing as I would spend a significant portion of my day there. It was definitely a stressful process to find accommodations in an already tight market, not to mention we were moving during peak season. Fortunately we found a two bedroom unit that fit the bill. Not only was it located literally across from the hospital parkade but it was brand-spanking new and had never been lived in. Score!

I was so thrilled that we had found the space but the new challenge was how to transform it into our home, or at least a place where we could eat and sleep. The first option (which was not even a 'real' option) was to find a furnished place to rent... but being the first tenants in the unit and all, this obviously wasn't going to happen. Alternatively, we could purchase all new furniture, appliances, kitchen supplies etc. and start from scratch but that would limit us to fairly inexpensive (read; cheap quality) options and although I do like a good deal, I don't like to live entirely surrounded by cookie cutter self-assembled furniture from a big box store. Plus my craftsmanship is probably pretty shoddy at best. Additionally, if we went with this route, we would still have to figure out where to store all my existing furniture. So in the end we ended up picking out the essentials from my existing furniture, shipping it across country and storing the remainder in a basement.

So there we were in a new condo and trying to furnish it with the bare essentials. Danny was really great and didn't complain too much when I would pick up a few little accessories here and there over the next few months - fully realizing that whatever we brought in was temporary and would still need to be shipped back home at the end of his Fellowship term. We were fortunate to have huge windows with wonderful views of the city, sky and water so in essence that was our 'real' decor. It was a work in progress and I'm happy to say we made this little temporary space our home for 12 short months.

So without further delay - here's a little tour of our downtown Toronto condo!

Our living room faced East and had floor to ceiling windows that bathed the room in wonderful light. I liked the hardwood floors as they reflected said light and were really easy to clean. For the first time in my life my houseplants thrived! Too bad we couldn't bring them back with us. This was also the best room to watch the reflection of the sunset on the windows across the street.

The kitchen was galley style and a dream compared to my dated kitchen in my previous place. I liked the granite countertops and two-toned cupboards although I have no idea how someone of a shorter stature could function in that space. I'm over 6 feet tall and would still have to pull up a chair to get to those top cupboards! 

See that long dark column on the far right? That is the world's smallest refrigerator and freezer. They definitely taught us to become very economic with our space. I guess most people who live downtown eat out a lot?

Our bedroom was located just behind a sliding glass panel (North East Corner) and showcased the best view of the whole suite. I loved laying in bed at night looking down Bay St. at City Hall, numerous skyscrapers and the waterfront. Again, this room was flooded with beautiful light in the morning (which I liked but Danny didn't so much).

Looking back towards the living room and mini dining room area leads us into Ben's nursery. Even though he would only be living there for six months, I really wanted to make a special space for our first born child - something where I could retreat to in the middle of the night and rock him to sleep. As it turns out he stayed next to us in a little bassinet at night, but I still loved having a separate space for our little boy. Danny and I painted that back wall a soft grey - a challenging feat  involving a seven month pregnant lady balancing on her man's shoulder's and barely managing to tape/paint a border around the top of a 10 foot tall wall. Yes, it was a bit ridiculous, and I realize I should have just asked maintenance for a proper ladder - but I was determined and we all know not to argue with a pregnant lady.

We kept the furnishings really minimal (plenty of baby junk to fill up the space when he gets older) and just added a few little pieces here and there. Again, we took advantage of the marvellous view out of his South facing window, a window which provided a lot of great light for his monthly photo shoots!

The bathrooms and office den were also pretty sleek and minimal but I didn't get around to photographing them because (a) who needs to look at another person's toilet and (b) we were really pressed for time in the last few weeks.

So here you have it! Not a perfectly staged magazine portrayal but hopefully a glimpse into our little 800sq ft home in the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto for twelve months. It served its purpose well and will be a chapter we can look back on with fond memories.

Oh, and that view?...

Man I sure miss it some days.