Monday, May 25, 2009

A Visitor

We planted some pepper plants. While watering them one morning, this was what we found ... a caterpillar! The kids loved holding the stick and letting the caterpillar crawled on it. No, we didn't kill the caterpillar. We left it on a big tree that was a distance from our apartment. 

These pepper plants look like they are growing well. Hope they fruit. 
I am looking forward to eating peppers growing on these plants. Oh yes, tomatoes too, since we planted some. Picked some coriander for dinner last night, from the "bushy" bunch of coriander we planted. It was good! 
Will post photograph of the coriander plant next time =)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Community Garden

There is a community garden near the apartment where we stay. 

Anyone interested in getting a plot in the garden can apply in February each year. The planting season starts sometime in April/May, after the frost is gone. 

Some people, like our Russian neighbour, starts his planting in Winter. 
He keeps his "baby" plants inside his house, as it was too cold to leave them outside. The warmth in the house (the heater is still on in February) helps the seeds to germinate, and the plants to grow. He moves these "baby" plants to his garden plot in April/May. 

We do not have a garden plot. 
Instead, we have pots of plants (peppers, tomatoes, coriander) outside our apartment. Since the planting season has already started, it is interesting and educational for us and the kids, to check out the garden on this sunny Sunday afternoon. 

We saw some plots with lovely green vegetables. 
We saw some with pretty flowers : violet, red, orange and white flowers. 

We saw milk containers stuck into the ground : to keep the warmth in and help the seeds to germinate. 

We saw black plastic sheets covering some plots : to keep the rain from "drowning" the seeds.

We saw wire mesh in the plot, all ready for the creeper plants, like cucumber, to crawl up. 

In all, it was an interesting tour for us. The kids were restless after a while, and they ran off to the playground nearby to play instead. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

From the Garden

It's almost summer, and some vegetables in the garden are ready for picking. These radish are given to us by our Russian neighbour ... fresh from his garden. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Looking through the lens ... a little boy's view.

How do you like the photographs?
What will you take if you are the photographer?

Kids can be very observant. 
They look at things from a different angle. 
The above photographs are taken by darling son KW. 
The camera which he uses is a birthday gift from us, for his 5th birthday. 
I like the photographs ... I think he has an eye for details =)

Note : The above photographs were taken on a weekend when we went walking, from our apartment through the woods, and to the boathouse. Darling son went there for a field trip and was eager to bring us there. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


It was another sunny afternoon. Birds were chirping happily on the tree branches. It was time to go and pick darling son up from school. It was just another school day for him, or so I thought ....

The dismissal bell came.
An announcement came shortly ... 
"All students, please go home immediately after school. Do not stay in school. Go home immediately"

Why? Hmmm  .... It definitely didn't sound good to me. 
Maybe the police was looking for some criminal?
Maybe someone hurt some kids in the neighbourhood, and so the kids were asked to go home?
There were so many possibilities .... I did let the kids play outside our apartment, since our neighbours' kids were out too. I informed their parents about the announcement made by the school even though I did not know the reason for it. I warned the kids not to be out of sight and to keep a lookout for strangers. 

So what exactly happened?
In today's news .... from the website Channel 3000 .... 

The man was armed. He shot his ex-wife and fled the murder scene. No wonder the school asked the kids to go home immediately. Although the park which the man was found was a 15-minute drive to the school area, it was a safety precaution well taken. I was so relieved after reading the article this morning, knowing that the man was found.

One mom from the school told me that there was a case where another wanted man hid in the community garden next to the lake. Yet another case of a man hiding in the basement where the laundry room is located. Cases of strange man exposing themselves to kids at the playground, strange man standing and laughing hysterically on the swing where the kids play .... 

It was all to much for me to stomach. I had no appetite for lunch today. 
I stood outside the whole time while the kids were playing .. under the hot sun, dealing with not only my two boys, but another two boys and a girl from two other neighbours ... no wonder my body ached so badly now .... 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quack, Quack!

Each season in the woods, we see something special ...

Summer ... Fireflies! 
Tiny little flashlight in the dark =)

Fall ... Chipmunks and squirrels. 
These little fellows were busy collecting food and getting ready for winter.

Winter ... A family of three turkeys.
They went walking around the neighbourhood when the sun was out, leaving their "claw-prints" in the snow.

Spring ... Two ducks!
They were "sun-bathing" in the warm morning sun.

Like the family of turkeys, these two ducks didn't move an inch when I tried moving nearer to them to take a photograph of them. The brown one just gave me a lazy stare.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I Love Spring!

I'm in love with Spring ... 

Look at the leaves sprouting from the branches of trees!
Red maple leaves, green maple leaves, pine-cones ... the trees look "alive" now, with a mop of light green swaying gently as the wind blows ... 

Look at these lovely colourful flowers! 
I see many trees as I walk darling son to school every morning. 
After a long "white" winter, I really can't recall the colours of the different flowers growing on the trees and in the ground! Like what dear hubby said  ... you appreciate Spring more, after Winter! 

I really enjoy watching the leaves and flowers grow, as I walk past them every morning! Although the yellow flowers above are considered weeds, they brighten up the grass area outside my apartment! It is a sea of green, yellow and purple. It brings on a smile each time I look out of the window, especially on a sunny, cloudless day! But weeds are weeds ... the lawn mower came yesterday, and they were 'wiped out' ... sadly. But hey, these are strong-willed flowers! After two days, they are back! The grass area is again, covered by a sea of yellow and purple dots! Lovely! 

Friday, May 8, 2009

Teacher Appreciation Week

It is Teacher Appreciation Week, May 4-8.

Unlike back home, where we celebrate Teachers' Day for only a day in September, it's a whole week for the students to thank their teachers. The school management makes arrangements for appreciation lunch and tea for their staff. Parent representative from each class coordinate the appreciation gifts for the class teachers.

Some suggestions for KW's class ... a card from each student, showing how the student enjoyed the teacher's class, students to bake cookies/cakes/pastries, a scrapebook (each student to submit to parent representative a page with their picture on it, and framing their picture with drawings, or cut out objects, quotes, etc).

KW's home class teacher, Mrs M, takes him for social studies and science. The "Thank You" card for Mrs M shows KW and Mrs M at the park near the school. We also bake some pineapple tarts for Mrs M. Darling sons help out in baking the pineapple tarts.

The above card is for Mrs L, who takes KW for Math and English. She is a part time teacher with the school, with no home class. So I bake a yogurt cake for her. It was so sweet of her to give us a "Thank you" card in return ... for the lovely cake and card.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

An Evening Walk - In Spring!

I have been admiring, from my kitchen window, these 'pink-top' trees growing in the little open grass area across my apartment. They stand out brightly and boldly, in the lushly green neighbourhood. I have wanted to go check out the trees each time I make my way to pick darling son up from school. Somehow, I never manage to make that 'detour'. 

After dinner this evening, I brought dear hubby to the kitchen window and showed him the "pink-top" trees. 

"Why not walk there to check it out now, since we finished dinner early!"  said my hubby.

The boys were excited! They wanted to bike there instead of walking, even though it was just across the carpark. Ok, they cycled, we walked.

And guess what they found when we reached the tree?
A toy sports car! 

The "pink-top" tree is pink, as it has many pretty, fragrant pink flowers! 
While hubby and I admired the flowers, the two boys were busy 'driving' the sports car!

We could hear the buzzing of many bees when we stood under the tree. 
The bees were huge! We stayed for a short while only, as it was getting colder. The many busy bees seemed to be telling us "go home" with their loud humming. 

I enjoyed the walk, and I enjoyed looking at the flowers with hubby dear. The boys enjoyed their rides, as well as their discovery - the toy sports car! They couldn't get enough of it, and the next day after school, they requested going for a sports-car ride!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Banana-Honey Cake

I had two over-riped bananas sitting on my dinning table.
Flipped through my newly bought baking book ... Food Made Fast, Williams-Sonoma, Baking ... and found the perfect recipe for using up the over-riped bananas!

I halved the recipe. Instead of using entirely flour, I added 1/8 cup of wholemeal flour. Instead of the electric mixer, I used a mixing spoon.

The cake didn't turn out as dry as I thought, as with most cake with wholemeal flour. I was worried that the cake would be too sweet, since sugar, honey and bananas were added. But it wasn't as sweet as I thought! It was moist and soft. A little crumbly, probably due to the wholemeal flour added. It had a subtle nutty flavor, and the almonds added a nice crunch to the bite!

Ingredients : Makes one 9-inch square cake

2 1/4 cups Flour ( I replaced 1/4 cup flour with wholemeal flour)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
10 tbsp Unsalted Butter (approximately 140g)
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar (firmly packed)
1/2 cup Honey
2 Eggs
2 Bananas (mashed)
2/3 cup Walnuts or almonds (optional)

  1. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
  3. In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and brown sugar until creamy.
  5. Add the honey and beat until blended.
  6. Add the eggs, increase the speed to medium-high, and beat until smooth.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 2 additions, alternating with the mashed bananas and beating on medium speed after each addition until smooth.
  8. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  9. Sprinkle evenly with nuts if using.
  10. Baked the cake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  11. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
  12. Sprinkle with icing sugar if necessary.

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