The adventures of Hendrix and Bacon – Part 1

Hendrix is our 8-year old Yorkie Terrier who was given to me by my future mother-in-law, and Bacon is our 5-year old English Bulldog who was a birthday present for Cody. We brought Bacon home when Hendrix was three years old and his world was turned upside down – not only was he no longer an only dog, but the little brother we brought home was not so little.

Cody and I have always thought that Hendrix had some kind vendetta against Bacon, but we had no real proof. Until one fateful day during a midday nap when I caught Hendrix in the act of sabotage!

I had come home from work (this particular day I was only scheduled to work until 12:30 p.m.), I made myself a delicious sandwich with pickles. This sandwich was quite filling. As I finished the first half my eyes got heavy. I curled up in the corner of our sectional, pulled the blankets up and settled in for an afternoon nap – the kind of nap you dream about while sitting at your desk around 3 p.m….yeah, that kind of nap. My eyes started to shut when I heard the familiar clicking of nails on the floor.

Through the slits of my eyes, I watched as Hendrix jumped up on the coffee table.

He thought I was sleeping…

He cautiously maneuvered around the spare change and my earrings that I took off before I retreated to plush oasis, and made his way towards the plate with the remains of my lunch.

I have decided at this point to watch him – I know that if Cody were to walk in, Hendrix would quickly retreat under our bed, hiding until his indiscretion had been forgotten.

Hendrix quietly grabbed the leftover sandwich and proceeded to place it on the corner of the coffee table. Then, he licked his lips and waited. Waited for his victim to come and see what he is doing. Curiosity will be the demise of Bacon.

As Bacon came around the corner, he immediately spotted the sandwich within his reach and trotted over to it. With one swift move, Bacon’s clumsy head is on the coffee table as his mouth grabs towards the delicious treat, knocking around the plate. Hendrix sat back, watching Bacon as eats it and looking over to see if I have woken up from the clanging of the plate. I did not move for fear of ruining the amazing events that were unfolding in front of me! Hendrix’s plan had been foiled! Drat!

As Bacon licked his lips in pleasure, Hendrix was already devising another plan to inevitably bring down Bacon.

Pinky and the Brain

~ Jacqui

Third annual trimming of ye ol’ Christmas tree

On Saturday we celebrated Julia with some of her close friends. While we were sitting at the table, telling stories of the past, I observed Julia’s right ring finger. Placed there was a ring that our grandmother had passed down to her on her 30th birthday. This is a tradition she had with every grandchild – when they were born, she purchased a ring with their birthstone. It’s these traditions that make me want to make my own, our family’s own, as the years go on.

Since Cody and I have had our own house, the first weekend of December is always our time to get our tree. And for three years, my family has graciously, loudly and boisterously agreed to start a new tradition of trimming my tree, a tradition that will be continued throughout the years!

As my house started to fill with people, babies, and the delicious smell of breakfast, our chosen meal, it started to feel more and more like Christmas.

The first event of the day was the building of gingerbread houses! Two were purchased: one Frozen themed and the other just no-name. Julia and I set in for some intense construction; however,  what we found was a little disheartening.

We began to build Anna and Elsa’s castle and it was…how do I say this delicately…well, you are literally paying for ONLY the tiny cardboard cut out of the Frozen characters. Serves us right. The Our Compliments house was larger, with more candy AND the icing was superior…Julia even had to rebuild some of their Frozen castle with the Our Compliments icing to make sure that Santa’s sleigh didn’t fall apart. Seriously Disney…things have gone down hill since Walt was around!

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Sneaky mister WALKING around 🙂

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If you ask me, I think they look pretty amazing don’t you? I especially like the red snow on the rooftops, which Lillian put on herself…after getting it all over the table.  As you can see, the larger more traditional looking one is the Our Compliments, where as the two dimensional church is the Frozen one. Either way, the girls LOVED it! A success for Uncle Cody who purchased the houses!

Earlier in the day I had run some errands, as I wanted to add a little country to our tree. What better to do so than BURLAP ribbon? While I was out, I also found this great wrapping paper, so when all the presents are under the tree, our country Christmas will be complete!

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Can you see the mooses… the meeses?

After a quick walk around the pond (literally, we went for a little walk to get some of the sugar worked off that the girls snuck during our the building process), it was time to decorate the tree. Sophie was quick to gravitate to everything sparkly, whereas Lillian simply focused on creating clusters of balls on one side of the tree. Since they are still horizontally challenged, the rest of us had to fill in the top area. My tree is still a little lopsided, but that’s the fun of it!

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After all the lovely decorating, and trimming of the tree, we worked up quite an appetite, thus off to to the kitchen to make a fine feast! Julia made a delicious French toast casserole, I made home fries, Toni brought the bacon, the orange juice and the champagne, and mom brought the sausage!  YUM YUM YUM!

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The third annual trimming of the Christmas Tree was a success! Although we were missing an integral part of our  sisterhood, Andreah, due to a tire mishap the kick-off to the Christmas Season has begun!

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From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

~ Jacqui

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

An absolute favourite in our home, Spaghetti alla Carbonara originated in Italy – Rome to be specific and is a pasta dish traditionally consisting of egg, cheese and bacon.

I was first introduced to this recipe by Michael. It was his go-to dish to impress me with when we first started dating long before I knew how simple it was to whip together, as its richness in flavour would make you think it took ages to assemble. Over time it has become one of my personal favourites to whip up and Michael assures me that he’s met his match in the Carbonara game – an accolade I am proud to have earned.

Michael’s mom, Pina was the first to share with me the origins of the dish, explaining that the village would feed the Charcoal workers this hearty meal as it was filling,  easy to cook in large batches and fairly inexpensive to make as pork based meats, cheese and pasta are in abundance in Italy.

While there are many variations and versions of Carbonara – including the cream based sauce, chicken and garlic additions of the western world, and Michael’s and my very own mushroom and onion versions – the best in my opinion is the basic, traditional version.

To start you will need:

A good cut of bacon – if I’m not able to get to our local butcher, I prefer President’s Choice, naturally smoked bacon. You can also swap the bacon out for pancetta, or add in chicken breast in addition to the bacon.

Parmigiano Reggiano – not Kraft Parmesan (aka salt), REAL Parmigiano Reggiano, wax case and all. As this is a staple in our home, I usually buy a fair size piece and then grate it myself – however if I’m tight for time I cheat and buy the pre-grated container at the local butcher, Dipietros. You can also request to have it grated at most meat/deli counters in your local grocery store.

Parmigiano Regiano

Parmigiano Regiano

Eggs – the rule for quantity required is one egg per serving or person eating, plus one. So if I am making enough pasta for 4 people, I would need five eggs for the sauce base.

Pasta – traditionally a spaghetti dish, however many types of pasta can be used in this recipe and it works well with fettuccine or linguine. I however prefer tradition and usually use spaghetti.

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To begin, you will need to cut your bacon into roughly one inch chunks and then separate the slices onto a plate.

I use kitchen scissors as I find it a bit easier and faster

I use kitchen scissors as I find it a bit easier and faster

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Once this is complete, cook your bacon until it is the perfect texture of almost crunchy, but with a little bit of flex to it still. I use a deep pan for this to avoid splatter.

A tip for dealing with the bacon grease: line a bowl with tin foil and drain off the grease into the bowl. When the grease is cooled, you can wrap it up in the tinfoil and throw it away, minimizing the mess and clean up.

Mmmmm bacon

Mmmmm bacon

I drain off the grease as I go to avoid 'boiling' the bacon in its own fat and to cut down on splatter

I drain off the grease as I go to avoid ‘boiling’ the bacon in its own fat and to cut down on splatter

Perfect!

Perfect!

Once the bacon is done cooking, drain off any excess grease and pat dry with paper towel, setting it aside. This is where I start the pasta, bringing the water to a boil, adding in the spaghetti, a pinch of salt and about a teaspoon of olive oil to avoid sticky noodles.

Once the pasta is started, I grate the Parmigiano using a hand grater.

A gift from Piña, my favourite grater.

My favourite grater.

You will need enough cheese for the sauce - one scoop per serving - as well as to garnish/ taste once plated.

You will need enough cheese for the sauce – one scoop per serving – as well as to garnish/ taste once plated.

Now, for the base of the sauce! In a separate bowl, crack your eggs using the rule of one egg per person/serving, plus one.

A serving for four = five eggs

A serving for four = five eggs

To keep the eggs from congealing from the heat of the pasta, add a small splash of extra virgin olive oil – less than a teaspoon.

Just a splash!

Just a splash!

Using a fork, beat your eggs with the olive oil until combined.

The blur is my hand and the fork - I'm so fast!

The blur is my hand and the fork – I’m so fast!

Once the egg and olive oil is ready, add in your Parmigiano using the same rule as the egg. As I am a Parmigiano addict, I make sure mine are heaping scoops.

Mmmmm Parm...

Mmmmm Parm…

To finish the sauce, add in your bacon and stir.

Mmmmm bacon...

Mmmmm bacon…

Ready for the pasta

Ready for the pasta

When your pasta is ready, drain, rinse and return it to the pot. Pour in your sauce and stir – based on the type of pasta I use, I usually use a pair of tongs to turn over the noodles in the sauce to avoid ruining the integrity of the noodle. The heat of the noodle will slightly cook the eggs, with the oil keeping it creamy and rich.

Your pasta is now ready for plating! Be sure to garnish with a few more scoops of Parm and a bit of cracked pepper to taste.

Voila!

Buon appetito!

 

A day in the life: Jacqui edition

My morning starts with feeling Cody get out of bed. Some mornings it’s earlier than others, but on this particular morning it’s at 5:40 am. I hear him rummaging in our room which has not been cleaned in months due to work and life. Then he makes his way over to me and I get two kisses and an I love you before he leaves. Bacon then takes advantage of his warm spot and here is where the battle for me to get up begins.

Wake up....  notice it's dark out ... when did that happen?!

Wake up…notice it’s dark out…when did that happen?!

My alarm is set for 6:05 – I couldn’t tell you why I asked for the 5 extra minutes in the morning, but it doesn’t make a difference. I lie in bed with my two pups, Bacon and Hendrix, until the very last absolute second. They are such good cuddle buddies – it makes getting out of bed a lot harder.

Don't we look motivated

Don’t we look motivated?

More motivation

More motivation

When I get out of bed, it means outside time as the dogs don’t get up with Cody. I make my way downstairs and turn on the coffeemaker, make myself a delicious cup of “wake the hell up” and then me and the dogs head outside.  If I didn’t spend too much time procrastinating in bed and calculating my morning to leave me with JUSTTTTT enough time to get to work (most calculations fail as I am almost always late) , there may be a walk in the morning; however I am  not motivated in the mornings, and neither are they *thank god.*

Morning play time

Morning play time

After the morning stretch is done, it’s back inside to log on to work for a teensy bit and eat some breakfast. For the most part, it’s me looking at emails from the night before as the dogs lie underneath me trying to entice me to go back to bed – I must resist (I will probably fail horribly).

The morning continues with a shower and getting ready for work which normally includes me trying on 1000000 and one outfits and always settling on the first one I originally decided on only to notice I am now 5 minutes late for work. And here is the kicker -I live TWO…count ’em TWO…minutes from work. Literally.

I am standing out side my house - See where the light hits .... that is my work place.

I am standing out side my house. See where the light hits? That is my work place.

I am a Medical Review Officer Assistant at work, which means I get to talk to some pretty interesting people, but it’s the people I work with that make it a fantastic atmosphere. I have made some pretty life-lasting friendships. Ashley, who you all know, I met at work, and I also met Jessica, my pod-wife extraordinaire.

I took this picture without her knowing what was happening - this is my pod wife - ahaha love you Jess!

I took this picture without her knowing what was happening – this is my pod wife – ahaha love you Jess!

There are two areas in the department I am in and we are pretty secluded from the rest of the daily staff.  I specifically deal with people who have tested positive during their drug tests and are required to speak with the Medical Review Officer.

It can get pretty stressful at times, which is why I am so happy I have some pretty fantastic ladies who are there with a chocolate bar, a coffee, a hug and so much friggen support!

That's better!

That’s better! Jessica and Teresa! Two of the fantastic people I work with!

I work in a cubical – I have put in my request for an office with a view, but for now I guess this will do!

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My desk – nothing special, but I spend more time here than at home, or in my bed…that thought haunts me!

Once work is done, I go home to relax. It’s goose season, so it means that Cody won’t be home when I get there and it’s up to me to decide on dinner! I recently bought this amazing recipe book called Looney Spoons, so tonight, since I have the house to myself, I have decided to tackle a new recipe! Baked Fried Chicken! Seriously you should go and buy the book, it has so many fantastic recipes. I have already made three and Cody loved all of them!

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This chicken was fricken goooood.

Dinner is done just in time for the handsome fella to come home, which means dinner and couch time with our family to wind the day down.  Man I picked a good night to let you guys in on!  I know my life is pretty glamorous.

My family <3

My family ❤

And then off to bed we go, to do it all over again. Pretty fantastic huh? I live it and I love it.

~ Jacqui

House guest for the week

Cody and I are (at times) proud owners of two dogs: Hendrix and Bacon.

                Hendrix Bacon 

Bacon is an 4-year-old Olde English Bulldog, and Hendrix is a 6-year-old Yorkie Terrier, who most will tell you is cat-like. Bacon runs our house – we have spoiled him from the beginning and now we have to live with the monster that we have created. He is too strong for his own good, and is a bull in a china shop.

Hendrix too behaves poorly, but because he is so small he hardly gets noticed. He is epileptic (my seizure buddy), and has the worst breath you have ever come across. They both have HORRIBLE manners, they don’t listen very well – selective teenage hearing, if you will – but we love them!

                 Hendrix and Bacon

This week in our house we have a guest. She is the same age as Bacon, and in fact she came with us to pick up Bacon when we got him. She belongs to our very good friend Brandon, who is currently travelling in the UK. Her name is Billie-Jean!

The Beautiful Billie-Jean

Billie and Bacon’s track record has not always been the best. They have been known to run away together down the main street of our town – gallivanting around, wreaking havoc on all the unsuspecting citizens!

The first day with Billie was a restless one. Neither herself or Bacon knew what to do with each other – and Hendrix just tried to stay out of the way.

Intense stare down

Things have since settled down and Bacon has realized he now has a friend his size who won’t screech uncle every time he tries to play with them.

Previously to our puppy-sitting adventure, Cody has stated he would like to get another dog – another mouth to feed, more poop to clean up after, and someone else to take care of if they got sick. I have expressed my concerns; however, he was adamant that we could handle it, saying it wouldn’t be as bad. Although this week has been anything but ordinary, it has changed his mind about that third pup joining our homestead permanently…

…at least for now.

~ Jacqui

Momfessions

I am a stay-at-home mom. In another life, where I had time to straighten and then curl my hair, where I didn’t drink coffee because I didn’t need it, and where there was far less crazy around me, I was a professional corporate writer. Super sexy, I know.

Now, I wear jeans every day, except bad days or days when the laundry is waaaaay overdue, and then I wear yoga pants. Or pyjamas. All. Day. Long. (Living the dream, right here).

My standard hairdo is a messy bun that inevitably comes apart as I chase babies, sit on couches under babies, and change countless bums. Oh, the poop.

My fancy, or the bit of sparkle in my outfit, is found in the pearl earrings I wear and the eyeliner and mascara that I count as part of my daily uniform. Without these three things, I feel tired, depleted, and run over.

There is an underbelly to this super-relaxed-yet-never-relaxed lifestyle that I want to expose. Things that I feel kind of dirty about admitting. And things that I feel other moms or dads or people whose job it is to chase children will understand. Here are my Momfessions (mom+confessions = I’m super smart).

I brush my teeth in secret. Sometimes. Not all the time, because technically I’m supposed to get my babies to brush their teeth all the time too. But sometimes, when I just don’t feel like hauling out four different toothbrushes, two different toothpastes, and helping one daughter balance on the toilet while the other one hogs the sink, I sneak a teeth-brushing. It’s bad, I know. And kind of sad. But let me tell you – I LOVE brushing my teeth. It’s like a massage for my mouth, it makes me feel fresh and clean even if I can’t remember the last time I had a shower, and I hate having bad breath. Or worrying about having bad breath. So sometimes, I quietly uncap the toothpaste, slowly turn on the water, maybe flick on the bathroom fan to cover me, just so I can brush my teeth without having to help other people spit or clean up the spit that just didn’t make it into the sink.

I have admired Sophie’s hair while she was puking. Sophie, my oldest daughter, is a puker. Any car trip longer than 15 minutes can turn into a full exorcism of everything she’s ever eaten, ever. We have a stock of Gravol on hand and she has become quite adept at puking into a large plastic cup while we’re driving and not getting any on herself. One time, when she wasn’t carsick, just flu-sick, I was holding her hair back as she heaved over the toilet, I noticed the stunning, natural highlights in her hair, the way her hair beautifully gathered and fell in her own version of a messy bun, and how shiny and new it was. And then I got jealous. Of my daughter’s hair. While she was puking.

I can fit a whole Oreo in my mouth. And then chew it without giving myself away. There are moments when the chief cook-and-bottle-washer needs a little treat. And usually those moments require that I don’t share the treat…because who wants to give their kids sugar right before lunch or right before supper or in the middle of the afternoon or ever, really. This skill can be transferred to spoonfuls of peanut butter, handfuls of chocolate chips, or cold chicken wings leftover in the fridge.

I would rather keep driving than go home when the babies are asleep in the van. Waking up sleeping babies is against everything I believe in and the quiet that comes from babies asleep in a moving vehicle is like no other. I wish that gas were free so I could keep driving forever, so that they would be asleep for longer, and it would be quieter for just a few more moments.

I cherish the quiet outside of the van. In fact, it is one of my favourite moments in a day when we have appointments we have to drive to. Normally, Ben has the van and, as a one-vehicle family, we walk or stay put. But on days where wrangling everyone out of the door includes seats and buckles on top of the usual winter clothing and negotiations, my favourite time is when all the doors are closed, when the screaming is contained, and when all of them are strapped into their seats. There is nothing more peaceful than being by myself for a few seconds, no matter how fleeting.

My favourite day of the week is Thursday. And not because of the hot TV on at night (Grey’s and Scandal…SO good). But because of the flyers that come in the local free paper. I love flyer day. It’s the day that I get to sit down and find the best deals on groceries, dream about shopping at the local crafting store with the 40%- and 50%-off coupons, and then satisfyingly recycle all of it, clearing away a pile of paper and clutter. LOVE Thursdays.

I hate that the girls like bacon. There was a time, not so long ago, when both Sophie and Lillian couldn’t eat bacon. It was too chewy for them and either they would choke, or simply chew and chew and chew and then spit it out. So having bacon and eggs meant that Ben and I got some of the delicious salty pig and the kids did not. Now they are older and their eating is more sophisticated and skilled. And they actually like it. In fact, Sophie will often ask for more than one piece and with all of the fabulous counting skills she’s learning at school, she knows when it’s divvied up fairly or not. Hate that we have to share our bacon.

Momfessional over. I’m not sure if I feel better or not.

Anything you’d like to share?

~ Julia