The Boy is back! p.s. While you were gone…

It is so good to have my Boy back.  So incredibly good. 

3 weeks was the longest we have ever gone being apart, but we got through, and are enjoying being in one another’s presence again.  Though we both have a lot on our plate these days as far as work and school go, it has been ever-so tempting to spend the evenings chatting away.  Evidently, there has been much to catch up on.

Brendon came bearing a suitcase of gifts from loved ones back home.  Pretty much all for me.  It was an awesome, heartwarming surprise!   It felt like Christmas, although much better than vege-box Christmas.  Thank you SO MUCH to all who slipped little packages and cards in Brendon’s suitcase.  I definitely felt the love.

In the days preceding Brendon’s return, I was madly trying to tie up all the loose ends on projects I had started during the holidays.  Since I hadn’t done much to personalize our little place yet, I thought it would be the opportune time to do a bit of decorating, and a fun surprise for Brendon to come home to. 

Being a fairly indecisive person when it comes to home decor, let me tell you that it takes long time for me to actually get anything up on walls.  I usually rely on the keen decorative sense of my sister, Alli, or sister-in-law Nicole, but in their absence, I had to make all the calls myself. 

In my decorating pursuit, I was really missing my favorite scapbook paper store back home, Treasured Memories.  Luckily, I was thinking ahead and brought  few pieces with me for decorating purposes, and was able to round up a couple more at a local craft store, although the selection was incomparable.

Here’s a little peak at the projects that finally worked their way up onto the walls of our home:

A few covered canvases in the dining area

And this tiled canvas for the living room.

With the addition of a few throw pillows, a clock, a lamp, and a forlorn tree branch I snagged after a recent storm, our place is really starting to feel quite homey.

Some photos of loved ones  on these magnet boards I painted helped too.

On a different note, Kiwis don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.  Come to think of it, they don’t really get into many holidays, with the exception of Christmas.  While Brendon was able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with my family, the best thing I could pump out in honor of the Canadian harvest holiday of thankfulness was pumpkin muffins.   I call them “October Muffins” because I find they are just perfect for the month of October in Canada.  They’ve got all the wonderful flavors of fall, and jam-packed with nutrients and fibre.  I made one batch on Thanksgiving weekend, and another one for Brendon’s return.  This was the first time I had made them here in New Zealand, using real pumpkin instead of the canned variety.  They turned out just as good- moist and flavorful.  Here’s the recipe for those of you who are keen to make a batch yourself:

October Muffins (Moist Pumpkin Bran Muffins)

Those of you who are into “whole foods” will especially enjoy this recipe.  Instead of sugar, this recipe calls for honey to give it just a subtle sweetness.  The pumpkin puree and apple sauce give the muffins their soft, moist texture, without added fat.  The flax seeds offers loads of Omega-3, and from the pumpkin seeds, iron and zinc to help boost immune function.  These muffins make a hearty, nutritious, delicious treat, especially when served warm on a cool October day.

1 ½ cups Whole Wheat Flour (180g)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

¾ cup Wheat Bran (45g)

½ cup flax seeds, ground

½ cup pumpkin seeds

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cloves                                                                                                               

½ tsp all spice

1 tsp nutmeg

1 15oz can of pumpkin (or the equivalent amount of fresh pumpkin roasted and pureed)

1/3 cup honey

2 eggs

¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup non-fat unflavored yogurt

¾ cup raisins

rolled oats for topping

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Combine flour, bk soda, bk powder, salt, ground flax, bran, and spices in a medium-sized bowl.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, honey, apple sauce, and yogurt.

4.  Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture.  Add in the raisins and pumpkin seeds.  Stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.

5.  Spray 2 muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.  Evenly distribute batter over 24 muffin cups.  Sprinkle with a bit of oats and a dusting of cinnamon.  Bake for about 20 minutes.

(For an indulget variation, substitute a bar of chopped dark chocolate for the raisins!)

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