Friday, January 28, 2011

Challenge: Cooking Basics

I just finished reading a book S was given for Christmas. The book is Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain.

There is a chapter that makes an argument for the return of cooking lessons in school. Only that this time both boys and girls should be taught. The sad state of affairs in North America is that people's diets are full of processed food because almost no one has actually learned how to cook. Myself included.

I wish that they had taught cooking in school as I didn't know how to chop an onion or shop for produce, well, until a couple of years into university and even then it was dodgy at best. I had some pretty crummy meals my first year in residence. Tofu in tomato soup with raspberry beer anyone?

In Mr. Bourdain's perfect world everyone should know how to do the following:

1. Chop an onion. This requires basic knife skills as well as how to dice, mince and slice.

2. Make an omlet. It requires sensitivity and attentiveness to get it right.

3. Roast a chicken. And do it well.

4. Grill and rest a steak. I don't even know what he's talking about!

5. Cook vegetables. And not be overdone.

6. Make a standard vinaigrette.

7. Shop for fresh produce.

8. Buy fresh fish, clean and filet it.

9. Steam a lobster or crab.

10. Roast and mash potatoes.

11. Make rice: steamed and pilaf.

12. Braising fundamentals. Make a beef bourguignon.

13. How to make stock and soups.

14. Develop one's own modest yet unique repertoire.

I was going to challenge myself to attempt to acquire these skills by the end of the year, but that is not realistic.

I've never roasted a chicken. My vinaigrette needs a lot of improvement. What is pilaf? Is it a kind of rice or a method of cooking it? Clean a fish? You've got to be joking.

There is so much French terminology in cooking! I have to have a larousse next to me most of the time when reading a recipe.

This is his basic list?

Oh man. Oh boy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Trying New Things

Henry is an alcoholic.

More like a party animal.

Ok, I lie.

While he may not be into anything illicit, he has been experimenting and trying new things lately.

Firstly, he's been working on sitting up:

He still has a ways to go and will often tip over to the side or straight forward if there's something he's trying to pick up.

Today was the first time I went to the grocery store with Henry facing out in his baby bjorn. Once we got home, he had to check my face to make sure that it really was me that he was strapped into for all of that time, and since it was, he allowed a look of enjoyment to flash across his face.

Then, he tried out the back carrier (inside the house only!) and I toted him around behind me while he listed to one side. Not a peep though. He kept reaching forward and touching my hair or arm. Cute.

My mother and aunt visited over the weekend. We were eating sliced apple and when I offered a slice to Henry to smell, he started licking it, and then full-on sucking and gumming the apple slices. He would have eaten them all if he had teeth. Very exciting!

And finally, Henry has taken to Stephen's nose.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Operation Smile

It has been brought to my attention that Henry, now four months old, is a very serious baby. And then I thought about it. How many pictures do we have of Henry smiling? How often does he smile in general?

The first answer is not many.

The second answer is often. However, Henry is a very private and curious individual, which makes his smile difficult to capture.

So I set out on a mission today to get as many pictures of him smiling today as possible. From between the hours of 9am-1pm, here are the results:

On the changing table. Henry usually smiles and wriggles a lot. I thought Mr. Pickles would help, but the camera proved to be too interesting.

So then I resorted to hiding underneath the bar stool, readying the camera, popping up and saying "peek-a-boo!" before he had time to register what I was doing. Success!

Later on, I tried the same tactic while he played in his jumparoo. I missed the first attempt.

Then I missed the second...

And now the game is up.

One last attempt was made before the camera batteries ran out.

An almost smile is good enough for me!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Moment of the Day

After a bizarre weekend, Henry is back to his normal self. Starting Wednesday last week, Henry was in increasing amounts of discomfort due to teething. This time it's on the left side of his mouth. On Saturday, he was just miserable and was the recipient of regular doses of children's Tylenol. On Sunday he seemed to be feeling much better and managed to stay awake from 6:30am-1:00pm and then from 2:00-5:00pm whereupon he crashed out for the night. His sleeping had been fairly erratic up until last night and I'm happy to report he is back to his bright-eyed, napping self. And of course, as per usual, he threw up all over me to illustrate how tired he was, even though I had been trying to get him to sleep for 20 min. But otherwise, he's been quite affectionate.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Graphene is So Hot Right Now!

As mentioned in an earlier post, I will be highlighting all of the 2010 Nobel Prize winners throughout the following months. This entry is for Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov who jointly won the Physics prize for their isolation of graphene.

My own achievements in math and science ended in 8th grade. I was a chronic cheater throughout high school and never would have graduated otherwise.

So, this is my humble understanding of what these two men achieved.

In 2004 Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov took some scotch tape to graphite and became the first people to isolate a one-atom thick layer, which is called graphene.

Graphene is “a honeycomb sheet of carbon atoms just one atom thick….Thanks to its two-dimensionality and to the symmetry and strength of its lattice, graphene has a host of fascinating electronic properties.”

It is possible that it will replace silicon in order to create faster more powerful electronics.

Apparently it is a better conductor than copper and is stronger than diamonds.

Samsung has already plotted to make a flexible touch-screen with it.

It is a "micro-laboratory" for quantum physicists and will play an important part in our further understanding of the universe and in the development of technology.

And with that, my head is already hurting.

Click here to watch a video that shows the future with GRAPHENE!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Growth Spurt, Again?


"EEhh, ehhh, ehhhhm"

"EEhh, ehhh, ehhhhm"

"EEhh, ehhh, ehhhhm"

This is the 3rd day this week that Henry has woken up at 5:30am. Yesterday he woke up at 5:30am, ate and fell back asleep. The previous day he woke up just after 6:00am.

But last night, after going to bed at 8pm, he woke up at 10:30pm to eat. Growth spurt?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a rule that the day does not start before 6:00am. However, it seems no matter if he eats a lot before going to bed, or goes to bed late, it has not made an impact on what time he wakes up.

So today, I've let him stay up since 5:30am and will see what happens!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Rant on Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman argues against centralized power (i.e. a strong government).

"'If I do not like what my local community does, be it in sewage disposal, or zoning, or schools, I can move to another local community, and though few may take this step, the mere possibility acts as a check. If I do not like what my state does, I can move to another. If I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations." (from the Introduction of Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom)

I think this is a terrible way to behave as a human being.

And this coming from an economic prophet? It gives license to his devious disciples to be belligerent and distrustful.

Instead of running away from a problem, surely it is better to get involved and try to find a resolution? Is it really a desirable option to abandon a community just because it does not agree with you? Does that apply to a family, spouse, friend as well?

I believe there is a fundamental lack of substance to a person who will not compromise, or even concede other points of view are valid.

He seems to have missed the whole point of a democracy, where citizens should get involved to bring about the changes they want to see. If those changes don't suit the majority of the people, then the minority has to learn to live with it! Such is life. But all is cyclical and will come around again. Waves and rocks.

So far, I haven't read anything from Uncle Miltie that offers ideas or advice to improve the quality of life for the average person. It's all focused on how to protect one's own interests.

Uncle Miltie would be the neighbour who often throws loud parties late into the night, and when asked if he could keep the noise down, would refuse. He would tell his neighbours that if it really bothered them, they could just move somewhere else. I really don't see the difference between that and what he's saying about political power.

Selfish, selfish. Greedy, greedy. Well what's so wrong with that?

Moment of the Day


"EEhh, ehhh, ehhhhm"

"EEhh, ehhh, ehhhhm"

"EEhh, ehhh, ehhhhm"

I resolve to put him back to sleep no matter how long it takes. I have a rule that the day does NOT start before 6:00 am.

After feeding him, I took Henry to the basement and held him in different positions while he moaned and struggled. I only spoke to him occasionally and said something like "It is too early."

At 6:30 am, Henry was back to sleep for another hour.

Thank you Henry!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Jumparoo Jumparoo!

Henry is starting to enjoy his big Christmas present, the Jumparoo. The activity centre is suspended so a baby can jump up and down while playing with plastic corn and spinning ducks. The above photo shows Henry's first day in the activity centre. No matter what, those arms stayed spread out. Now, a few days later, he is particularly in love with the peekaboo horsie and likes to propel himself backwards. At least he's got something to grow into!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nobel Prizes

What is the Nobel Prize? (I'll explain later why I'm asking)

The extent of my knowledge of the Nobel Prize is derived almost purely from board games such as The Game of Life and Careers.

"Congratulations! You've made it to the top! Here's a Nobel prize $$$!"

So I've looked into the Nobel Prize a little and would like to share what I have found out. Perhaps this is all common knowledge, but if you're like me, perhaps some of this will be new to you too.

The Nobel Prizes

Medicine (or Physiology)
Economic Sciences (not technically a Nobel prize but is treated as such)

Every year a prize is awarded to a person(s) or organization who is deemed to have contributed the most to "mankind" in each of these fields within the previous year.

The small groups of people who make the selections are Swedish or Norwegian and tend to be Eurocentric in their decisions.

Looking at a list of Nobel laureates, how is it that the greatest contributors to humanity are so faceless and nameless to me? How are their achievements affecting the world?

2010 Winners

Physics: Andre Geim, Konstantin Novoselov
Chemistry: Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi, Akira Suzuki
Medicine: Robert G. Edwards
Literature: Mario Vargas Llosa
Peace: Liu Xiaobo
Economics: Peter A. Diamond, Dale T. Mortensen, Christopher A. Pissarides

I know nothing about any of the above and will post an entry on each one throughout 2011 as and when I have time.

So why do I suddenly care? I recently learned that Milton Friedman won a Nobel prize and that has not sat well with me.

"The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1976 was awarded to Milton Friedman "for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy." From nobelprize.org

My understanding of Milton Friedman's achievements:

-Creator of the powerful economic system that has made the rich richer and the poor poorer.

-Argues that corporations should not have any responsibility to society, only to shareholders.

-Against most government "interference" and taxation.

-His life work could quite possibly be the cause of the financial crisis of 2008 and the devastation of thousands of lives.

I'll stop there on Milton for now.

So I'm curious, what exactly does a Nobel prize mean, and how do they actually affect society? This is something I want to explore. I would be interested to hear other's opinions.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Moment of the Day

When Henry is expressing happiness, his mouth opens up wide and his eyes light up. Sometimes his shoulders hunch and his arms flail. This morning he was "standing" on my lap, facing me and was so happy his knees buckled and I couldn't stand him up again. If only S reacted to me like that whenever he comes home from work!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Today, I am once again home alone with Henry. Since December 18th we have had a constant stream of family and friends visiting and staying with us which came to a temporary end yesterday and will pick up again tomorrow when my mother arrives from Sweden for a couple of nights.

So quick recaps:


On Christmas Eve, Henry, S, me, my dad and S's mom all went to church. Henry was placid enough for us all to watch the children's Christmas pagent and sing some carols, and only near the end did I take Henry down to the nursery. We enjoyed a cheese plate, wine, chocolate and Christmas baking upon our return home and went to bed at a reasonable hour. Christmas morning Henry was the clear winner.

My brother Mark joined us for the turkey lunch and stayed for an afternoon Scrabble game and evening discussions around the table. Boxing Day was celebrated by joining my aunt, uncle and cousins in Richmond Hill. Lots of children, dogs, food and merriment.


It is incredible to think what changes have taken place since the last blog post until now. First of all, the whole issue with the finger suckling has disappeared. We ended up letting him suck on our finger again but then a week later he refused all offers. He's now chewing a lot on his thumb, knuckles, clothes, Mr. Pickles, nobly toys and naughtily on the bottle.

Three weeks ago he would not go to sleep if S put him to bed and he didn't like being held much by strangers. Now after the holidays, he has big smiles for his dad and will let him put him to sleep. And he doesn't mind as much being held by other people either.

I no longer wake him up from naps that go longer than 2 hours. While there hasn't been any change in his night sleeping, he will now sometimes have only 2 naps in the day instead of 3 or 4 short ones.

Teething. We think Henry is teething. The average teething age is 6-7 months, but Henry is exhibiting the following signs:

Lots of drooling (not just spit bubbles)
Red cheeks
Gnawing on fingers/ cloth/ toys etc...

and on New Years Day he was very fussy and wouldn't eat, instead sort of chewing on the bottle and eventually getting all out of sorts. His face was very unhappy and body lethargic. So we gave Henry a dose of baby Tylenol. He slept for 3 hours and woke up fresh as a daisy. We later found out that his cousin Emily teethed at 4 months. So we're staying on our toes!


Looking ahead at the year to come, I am more unsure than previous years about what to expect. It will be a year of many milestones for Henry. It is also the year I and many of my friends turn 30. We have Henry's christening on 1st of May and his 1st birthday in September to plan and look forward to. We may travel to Manitoulin Island this summer, and in an ideal world would find ourselves in England and Rome within the next 12 months.

While forward thinking is valuable, so is enjoying the present. For me, focusing on savouring each day with Henry is my goal. Each moment, whenever possible.