Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ten years ago today...

Today is the 10th anniversary of my father's passing. It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed already, and although my grief is more bearable today than it was in the first years following his untimely death, my heart still aches for him many days.

I wish he could have met his grandkids. He would have loved to see how smart and cheeky they are. I think of his stern face and how mine must look when I discipline my kids. And I remember the special and unforgettable moments that still make me smile, and hope to create similar ones for my children, for it is those memories that live vividly in my heart.

My dad comes to me in my dreams quite often, and he is always smiling. It's as if to reassure me for the guilt I feel when I think of how much more I could have done for him in his lifetime, especially as an adult. I wasn't the easiest child to raise, and quite often it was his stern and severe side that I would see growing up. Once his job of raising me was done, though, he turned into a real teddy bear. :)

Here is the last photo taken of our little family, all together. This was in the summer of 1998:

I miss you, Papa, and I thank you for your wisdom, your strength, and your charisma. Thanks to you, a fiery temper, a big laugh, and musicianship will continue along for generations to come!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kira Kira, Ballerina

Before I gave birth to Kira, I always imagined having a little girl who was a little bit of a tomboy. I'd put her in soccer and hockey. She'd always be dressed sporty with pigtails and her ball throw would be the envy of all girls. Well, Kira was born dainty and has remained wired with "girly" from a young age. We knew this from the first time she closed her eyes and dodged a ball, despite our efforts at every opportunity to get her engaged more in sports. She's always been cautious, artistic, and dainty. And so in the great Nature vs. Nurture debate, I must say that in Kira's case there seems to be a big argument for the Nature side...

Kira started to show an interest in ballet most recently, and having placed her in part-time preschool for the past year, I felt she would be ready to take a class without mommy present. She loved her costume from the moment we bought it. All pink, including the tutu.

Her teacher Megan is young and full of energy and enthusiasm. The classes are 45 minutes long, and there are 5 children in this pre-dance class.

Most recently, we were invited to attend Kira's dance class open house, where we could see how they had progressed from the beginning to year's end. Grandma, Grandpa, Mommy, Daddy and Calvin all went to cheer her on! Here is Kira stepping across the room in great form:

And a few more photos from the open house:

It was such a joy to see Kira with her classmates in this little presentation. We're so proud of our daughter, and if she decides to pursue ballet or any other girl-associated discipline or sport, so be it. What is most important is that whatever she does, makes her smile and have fun.

Friday, December 11, 2009

mmm, apple butter

Whenever I'm in the kitchen Kira asks me if she can help. There was a frantic week recently when I wouldn't let her near me as I worked hard on preparations for an Epicure demonstration (see 2 posts ago) a cookie exchange, and to get some goodies ready for her preschool fundraiser. However, I caved at the end as I made apple butter, since I was using the apples she and Calvin picked earlier in the fall and that I had kept for this purpose.

Once a year, the apple peeler comes out and Kira helps me turn the crank on the peeler to get the apples ready for 3 hours of simmering with some yummy spices. Here's Kira with a peel taller than her!

And our delicious apple butter. This batch made 8 jars which apparently, were sold very quickly at the preschool bake sale. :) They raised $1500 in 2 days - awesome!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

First snow

Well, I don't think it was actually the first snowfall of the year, but at the end of November we woke up to a wintery-white ground outside. It quickly melted, but it put Kira in such a great and happy mood that morning when I took her to school. All she wanted to do was touch it and play with it.

I took Calvin out to play with the snow as well, but he wanted nothing to do with it. "CO-O-OLD!" was all he could say as he shivered and whined. Just wait. He'll be on a toboggan and featured in one of my posts soon! :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Spices and cookware, anyone? Selling Epicure Selections

I've saved this post for quite some time, mostly for lack of photos. I always try to have photos to illustrate my posts! :)

My days and nights are full as a stay-at-home mommy and while I don't have the urgent need to make a salary, I felt that I should keep busy with something that is just for me, and that could reap a little financial reward to boot. This also saves me from having to pay for Mark's gifts on his credit card, haha!

I had researched several options and even tried a couple of ventures in the past couple of years, including a stamping supplies business (retail), and a line of botanically based beauty / health products. Neither was a match to my lifestyle or expectations.

In January of this year, I decided upon Epicure Selections. I had been a customer of the product line for a couple of years and enjoyed what it represented: a woman-owned, family-operated, Canadian business selling spice blends that are without preservatives, low-sodium, and with a full range of products and resources for healthy living. The product line is sold through home parties or catalogue orders placed by individuals / groups. And, I'm happy to say that it is good quality stuff, that my family uses it all the time, and that I've received positive feedback from so many customers already!

To date, I haven't demonstrated at many home parties. I've focused on open houses at my own home (where I feel I have the freedom to prepare more than the average demonstration), and have taken batches of goodies to the various social groups I belong to. A few individuals have been kind enough to accept samples to pass along in their office lunch room / cafeteria. I've also had the opportunity to participate with several other Consultants at the Montreal Women's Show, a huge venue with thousands of passersby.

This Christmas I made a few gift baskets using the Epicure products. Sorry, this photo is a bit dark...

Most recently, I had a table of my own at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal's annual Craft & Bake Sale. I spent a week preparing for it, and here are the results in pictures. Thanks Martin, for taking these pics!
What do you think? Anyone up to hosting a tasting party? I'll make it worth your while, and I'll be so thankful to you for giving me a bit of time out of the house.