Monday, December 24, 2012

This weekend I was wrapping like a mad-woman and re-organizing presents so they all fit nicely under the tree (I’m not OCD – everyone does that, right?) when I came upon this gift…

 

To Mom, From Son.  Hmmm. 
Hubby explained that when he and R were wrapping, R asked how to spell my real name.  When Hubby said, "M-O-M-M-Y", and told him that if he used my real name, he'd be in big trouble.  When Hubby checked after, this was the result.  Out of the mouth...er...pen of babes.
From my family to yours, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe, prosperous New Year.
Take Care, D

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter Solstice is the day that we have the least amount of sunlight all year.  Due to our position on the planet we are tilted the furthest from the sun around this time of year giving my community approximately six and a half hours of sunlight on this day.  Because of this, December 21st is often referred to as the “shortest day of the year”.  In reality there isn’t a time warp causing fewer hours in the day (though as I get older it seems every day has fewer hours in it), we just get less sun.  The good news…from now until the Summer Solstice – we continuously get more sun each day!  In about six months, there will only be about six hours of darkness each day!

With so much darkness around us, I like to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the coming of more sun.  Each year we do a little something to celebrate like crafts, baking, go sliding, just something.  Depending on our schedules, it could be a large celebration with friends and family, or something small with just the kids and I.  This year, we are making snow taffy and snowflake crafts!
Snow Taffy is a traditional French Canadian treat.  I remember doing this with my “Memere” (Grandmother) on warm winter days while we waited for the bread to rise.  I have so many fond memories in the kitchen with my Memere including Meat Pies – but I digress. 
We don’t have any maple trees around here so we don’t make Snow Taffy the traditional way which includes tapping a tree but it is good nonetheless.  It has been a few years since we’ve made Snow Taffy so it will be like new to R and I can’t wait to see his face when he tastes it – oh, and it’s gluten free!  If you would like to make it yourself but live in an area without snow, you can do this with crushed ice as well.

Photo Source: The Great Canadian Gift Company
Snow Taffy Syrup

Ingredients
1 cup Brown Sugar
¼ cup butter
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon vanilla
Popsicle sticks - optional

This part is for grown-ups and more experienced kitchen-helpers.  Place all the ingredients into a pot and boil it over medium-high heat.  Be careful, if this stuff splashes it burns fast and sticks to keep on burning.  Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a hard boil.  Still stirring, allow the hard boil for about 2 minutes. 

During this time, have the kids go outside and collect CLEAN snow in a cookie sheet.

After the 2 minute hard boil, drizzle a little of the syrup onto the snow.  If the syrup is absorbed into the snow, it’s not ready.  Keep boiling and stirring.  Keep testing it until the syrup turns into taffy (soft caramel-like consistency) on the snow.  Then drizzle it over various parts of the snow.  It is cooled nearly instantly so you can then pick it up and eat it, or roll it around a spoon.  We use popsicle sticks to roll the taffy around like a taffy pop.  It's very sticky so I recommend using a spoon on popsicle stick.

The taffy is best eaten fresh but if you made more than you can eat, roll up extra strips and put them onto wax paper then store in the fridge.  Remember, the colder it is kept, the harder consistency it will be so don't leave it too long.

Since this is a French Canadian tradition, perhaps I will take this opportunity to talk to the kids about “L’Hiver” (winter) and maybe we’ll learn a French winter song.  Snowflake crafts can be found all over the internet and we selected this one from Pinterest.
Photo Source: Tainted IrIs

Will you be celebrating the Winter Solstice?  Leave me some comments on your plans for celebrating and some ideas for future winter celebrations for us.

 Take Care, D

Monday, December 10, 2012

photo source: http://www.steeringyourhealth.com/2012/09/06/food-allergies/
This article from a Canadian Scouter truly reflects a lot of my feelings towards food allergies.  R is gluten intolerant and because it is not a “deadly” allergy, many people discount it as a problem.  Often, even at extended family gatherings, people don’t consider him.

An example of this was when we went out to visit members of our family who were camping.  We brought out our own food so that I could be sure that there would be something R could eat.  When I watched people serving, they often used the same spoon to scoop the regular pasta salad as the gluten free potato salad.  When I brought it to their attention that this cross contamination could cause R to have a reaction and he no longer could eat it, they didn’t seem to get it.  I got the “you’re over-reacting” look.  One person even commented that R would just get the runs for a while and that it wasn’t a serious reaction.  Anyone who suffers from gluten or lactose or other non-deadly allergies knows that it isn’t a minor reaction.  Often a lot of pain and discomfort is involved and it is even worse when you are at a function and can’t even suffer in your own home.

This is one of many examples that our own family doesn’t respect this disability.  If this is what we get from people who love us, how can we expect different from strangers?  We know there will be cross contamination at any restaurant, eating at a friend’s, school functions, etc.  It never ends.  R often says, “why can’t I just be normal?”.  We do our best to offer substitutions and R’s teacher is fantastic in letting me know when something is coming up so I can send in a substitution for R but this is when he doesn’t want to be “special”.

It is so nice to see that Scouts Canada has recognized disabilities and that this Scout Group is including food allergens as part of those disabilities so that the kids can be part of the group and be “special” by their accomplishments and character rather than by how they were born.  Way to go Scouts!

Take Care, D

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