Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dad's Eulogy

 Leigh wrote a wonderful Eulogy for my Dad... I had to share...

Eulogy for my Father in Law – June 18, 2010

Good Evening.  Thank you all for coming.  My name is Leigh Stang and I’m proud to say I am Contrad Hebert’s son in law.  My wife Danette and her mother Eileen asked me to say a few words over Con.  Not because I knew him the best, but because I look at things kinda sideways and they thought I might provide a different view of Con then would be expected.

As you may or may not know, Con suffered a heart attack two weeks ago.  So he’s lying in the hospital bed and the thoracic surgeon comes to speak to him.  He tells Con that they performed an angioplasty to clear a blocked artery.  He tells Con that if wants to live a little longer, he’s gonna have to change his life a bit.  He’s gonna need some more excersice, but not too much.  He’s gonna have to take blood thinners and beta blockers and 8 other mediations every day for the rest of his life.  Con says OK.  He’s gonna have to change his diet.  Alright.  No more salt.  Sure.  No more caffeine.  Makes sense.  But the final demand was too much for Con… The doctor said no more ice cream and he said that’s it, there’s no point now.  The prospect of no ice cream stopped his heart.

It’s ok to laugh at that, it’s kinda funny.  But at the same time it sums up the kind of man Con was.  A man who actually, ACTUALLY, did enjoy the little things in life.  Because, some time before I met him 16 years ago, he figured out that the little things are the big things.  That the best thing you could do for yourself every evening is to sit down and slowly savor a big old bowl of ice cream.  The slowness of it, the smoothness of it, the velvety, decadent luxuriousness of it, that there isn’t much in life that can’t be helped with a generous dollop of ice cream.

I thought about that on Tuesday as I drove to Edmonton to get my son Braedon and my nephew Scott from the airport.  I thought about all the lessons Con taught me over the years.  Always without saying anything.  He was riddled with arthritis.  Hips, knees, hands, back.  But the only time I heard him complain was when he said he didn’t want to take the medication because it made him feel out of sorts.  Fight through the pain.  It’ll go away eventually.  Ever notice that he smiled all the time?  No matter what was thrown at him?  The more he smiled, the lesser the problem seemed.  Never hears a cross-word.  Anger didn’t seem to have a point in Con’s life.  I dare anyone here tonight to think of a time when he spoke an unjustified word about a person, or a situation, or an event.

As I drove along the highway with the rising sun at my back, ruminating on my loss, I started to notice how green the surrounding countryside was… is.  That made me put something else together, that I never noticed until that day.  When I would go to Con and Eileen’s, and if I was in a bit of a snit, about whatever petty thing was bothering me that day, Con would amble over to where I would be brooding and take me into his garden.  HE never asked me what was bothering me, but instead showed me his giant tomoato plants.  He never prodded my problem out of me, but would talk about how those damn birds were eating all of his Saskatoon’s despite his most valiant efforts.  Then Danette would come out of the house and we would leave to do, whatever…and I always felt better.  Whatever I was stressing about would seem a little bit ridiculous and a lot less important.  These are all great lessons… great lessons.

Which got me thinking about great men. men that lead countries., men that have gone to the moon, men that have climbed Mount Everest.  Great men.  Not really.  Great achievements, certainly, but not necessarily great men.  Deeds don’t make men great.  It’s how they interact with their fellow man that shows who they truly are.  How they quietly and with momentous humility open their hearts to strangers and friends alike.  And Con did that.  Every day that he was on this planet he did that.  He didn’t have to be a President, or an author, or a captain of industry.  He wore many hats during his life. his last being a jeweler.  A humble job.  But think of all the lives he touched doing that.  Men buying rings to ask girlfriends to become wives, husbands buying wives anniversary presents, children choosing something for Mothers day, Father’s day, birthdays, holidays, retirements, celebrations… always.  A humble job, but massive impact.  And in the middle of it,  Con, with his immaculate suite and teddy bear charm.  He never tried to be more than he was.  A simple man, loving a simple life.  And in that humility he exceeded his restrictions and became a great man living a great life.

The simple man idea got me thinking about the Zen story of the old man of the mountain.  You know what I mean?  The really old guy that lives at the top of some mountain, and dispense wisdom to those worthy to hear it.  Well that’s Con.  He’s the old man on the mountain.  He’s the one with the answers that never offers his opinion.  Except in my story, he lives in a garden, not a mountain.  And some young fool, me, comes to seek the old master and after finally finding him in some secluded corner of this lush and vibrant place, tending to a little plant that everyone else would have given up on, the young fool asks.  Master Con, tell me, please, what is the answer to all the questions?”  And Master Con slowly straightens his creaking back, wraps his leathery gnarled fingers around the worked and smooth handle of his treasured dutch hoe… you know the hoe he’s had since 1958 or something like that, which is a lesson in itself… anyway, he leans on his hoe, lifts his face to the warm summer sun and is quiet for a long moment.  Then he lowers his face, looks directly at the young fool and says with solemnity “I don’t know, let’s go have some ice cream and think about it.”

Thank you Con for being in all our lives and for giving us the lesson of ice-cream.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gone, but never forgotten

Long time since my last post.

The last month has been full of emotion and it has been a month of immense change.  My Dad had a heart attack on June 4th, they fixed him up and he came home on June 11th, they were very optimistic, told him he was only 87 years old on paper, not physically.   Told him he had a lot of years ahead of him.  We were very happy.  He looked good, still had his tan, came home with 9 new medications, but he was doing well.   He spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday tired, napping, puttering around a bit in his garden, frustrated because he didn't do much, couldn't do much, I told him I'd come and weed for him. He even got a few games of cribbage in with my sister Danielle, his favorite game.   I spent the weekend getting my own house and yard in order, being at the hospital so much, we hadn't had time for it.  We thought we had time to take a break from heart attacks and hospitals, thought we could afford one weekend away from Dad to catch up. 

Monday morning, June 14th, Kennedy isn't feeling well.  Not sure if she had heat stroke, flu, or just needed a day.  Pretty sure she was meant to be at my parents that day.  I called Mom and Dad that Monday morning and asked if they were up for a day with Kennedy, a quiet day of her resting and recovering from whatever was going on.  They both said yes, they would love to have her.  We got there at about 8:45am, Dad was sitting in his new chair that Mom had bought him when he was in the hospital.  She didn't want him to be walking up and down the stairs so much to sit in his chair, she was going to go and get him a new flatscreen for upstairs too, but we hadn't gotten to Costco just yet.  Kennedy and I plopped down in front of Dad, me on the floor, her on the stool.  He had on his burgundy pajamas, a blanket around his legs and the heating pad on his lap.  He told me he was chilly, all the time it seemed.  I said it was probably because of the blood thinners.  Mom came around the corner, cup of coffee in her hand, in her housecoat, smile on her face, welcoming us and I could feel the peace they both felt, the peace in the air, having Dad back at home, he looked great, he was smiling... but chilly :).  I sat and talked for longer than my start time at work allowed, I was late getting in, but I was enjoying the morning and our visit so much, and I knew I would be forgiven.  I kissed my Mom goodbye and told her I loved her.  I kissed my Dad goodbye and told him I loved him, he kissed my cheek and held me tight and told me he loved me too, and as always, told me not to work too hard.  I gathered up my daughter in my arms, told her to rest, gave her a kiss and was out the door.  I got to work at about 9:30.

10:30, I am in a meeting in my office, informal but important.  My phone rings, it is not a direct call so I let it go through thinking that they will leave a message and I can call them back when I am done.  Two minutes later Melissa calls through again, I pick it up and it is Kennedy.  She is crying, she is telling me I have to come.  Grandpa has had another heart attack.

I can't find my keys.  Where are my keys.  I run to Mandy's office and she grabs hers and we are gone.  We race to Mom and Dad's house.  The ambulance is there.  Everyone is in front of the house.  Kennedy runs to me, I cling to her.  My Mom is there, I go to her.  She is going to drive with the EMT, not go in the ambulance.  She tells me that she is sure Dad is already dead.  The EMT tells me they will do everything they can.  I let my Mom go with her.  I tell her I am right behind them.  Alice stays with Kennedy, my Kennedy who watched her Grandpa have a heart attack, ran to get Alice while my Mom stayed with Dad, after she talked to him for almost an hour after I left, telling him everything that was going on in her life.  Grandpa listening with a smile on his face, Grandma listening with a smile on hers.  She is being strong, her breakdown comes later.

Mandy drives, I don't even remember getting there.  I call Leigh first, I don't have to say anything but "come".  I call my siblings and tell them to come.  They are crying, asking me questions, I just tell them to come. 

My Dad passed away on June 14th, 2010. 

They assure us he was in no pain.  It was quick... we know he died at home.  A good place to die, the place where you lived your life with a loving wife of 55 years, children that thought you were Superman, turning to you for your quiet advice, always wanting to be around you... grandchildren that adored you.  My Dad was the kind of person I strive to be... happy, happy in life, happy with all that life gave to him.  He truly did bring out the best in others, and gave the best of himself.  He had a wonderful 87 years, and he would have been the first one to tell you that  As we mourn for him, I can hear him saying, don't cry for me, I had everything in life that I ever wanted.  Remember me, but don't cry for me.  I try not to cry for you Dad, it is very hard, but I pull a memory out, a memory of you, and that helps. 

We will take care of Mom, she misses you very much.  We all miss you very much.  Thank you for being the person you were Dad, they don't make 'em like you anymore.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Yum Yum Yum - Tequilla Lime Chicken

I follow a blog/site called "The Pioneer Woman", that a girlfriend of mine turned me on to.  Love Ree!  She has some great recipes.  Last weekend I made Tequila Lime Chicken, with all the fixins!  It was amazing!!!!!  One word  of caution, I did mess up the rice :).  I overcooked it, I kept adding water, too much water... don't do that.  Just cook it very slowly, and add water slowly as needed.  It still tasted delicious, but wasn't quite right.

Tequilla Lime Chicken!!!  (A keeper)
  • 3 whole Limes, Juiced
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Peeled
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ½ cups Cilantro
  • ½ cups Tequila
  • 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
  • Pico De Gallo (OMG - perfect food)
  • Refried Pinto Or Black Beans
  • Mexican Rice
  • Sour Cream
  • Avocado Slices
  • Homemade Flour Tortillas (recipe is available thru link below)
Preparation Instructions
Combine lime juice, garlic cloves, sliced jalapeno, salt, cilantro, and tequila in a food processor or blender. Pulse until combined. Turn on the blender/food processor and drizzle in the olive oil until it’s all combined.

Slightly flatten chicken breasts with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Place in a plastic bag and pour in marinade. Seal bag and marinate for several hours or (preferably) overnight.

When ready to cook, remove chicken from bag and place on the grill. Cook until completely done. Toward the end of cooking, top chicken breasts with grated Monterey Jack and allow to melt. (You can also top chicken with cheese and melt under the broiler.)

Serve topped with pico de gallo or salsa, alongside refried black beans, Mexican rice, sour cream, avocado slices, fresh flour tortillas…and whatever other garnishes make you smile!

Check out the link for the full meal, it is so worth the effort!  The re-fried beans with the Pico De Gallo stirred in was pure heaven.  I made guacamole (and I am making it again this weekend) with a generous amount of Pico De Gallo, and it was amazing!   Had this meal with some Coronas... Grandpa Tarcy stopped over and joined us for dinner... it was a great evening. 

I need to learn to take pictures of my food, whenever I do it, my girls tease me :).    Leigh also advises that everything looks better on plain white plates, need to get me some of those!


Scary week... Lots of reflection

7am.   Friday, June 4th.  I get a call from my Mom.  Dad has had a heart attack.   Horrific, scary, emotional, have to get to the hospital.  My Dad doesn't get sick.  Besides being riddled with arthritis for most of his adult life, we are not used to him being in the hospital, not used to him "down".  Last year he scared us for the first time by ending up in the emergency room with ruptures on his intestine, they couldn't get the bleeding to stop, but then figured it out, clamped that all up and sent him home.  One year later, he is in emergency again, and then CCU, two stints in, blood thinners and closely monitored for days (great staff at the University Hospital, thanks guys).  He is at home now, with nine prescriptions (87-years old and my Dad has never had to take anything before this) and my Mom at his beck and call.  I'm going to make him some banana-raisin loaf this weekend.  He hated the hospital food.  Lost some weight and a lot of energy, but still cracked jokes and made me smile.  :)

I'm not ready for my parents to get old, seriously.  I've never viewed them like that before.  No thanks, don't want it.  Realistically?  I've watched my Dad age a LOT over the last two years, a lot.  Realistically?  this is a wake up call for his mortality as well as all of ours.  Anything can happen.   I am going to be 40 years old in October.  I am already feeling my body start to rebel.  Time to get that under control, for as long as I can.  Aging is such an invasive process.  We need to do everything we can to keep it at bay.  Even that doesn't guarantee anything, but it sure can't hurt to try. 

Love you Dad.  Love you Mom. 


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The boys are really moving!

Braedon has been away for 19 days.  They started their adventure in Manchester, then on to Birmingham, Paris, Berlin, Prague, Vienna... they don't like Vienna much, it's really overcast and not a lot that holds interest for them... next they move on to Venice! (so cool)  They only stay a few days in each place, preferring to travel overnight to save costs on hostels/hotels, pretty smart!!!  They've had some dreary weather and are steadily moving towards warmer climates.  They have done a lot in such a short time, they check out museums everywhere they stop, have toured castles and a church made out of bones, gone to a huge outdoor concert, gotten drunk and lost in Berlin, stayed in a variety of hostels and met a few people.  Braedon has started a blog and I hope he keeps it up!  He has outlined the first week of their trip, come on man, another post already! 

Braedon is all about trying out new foods, but my nephew is staying in his comfort zone, that's my boy Braed!  He's so cute, he told me he is going to try to bring me some cheese and wine from Italy back with him :)  We miss him, we are so proud of him and happy that he has this opportunity to travel and see what the World has to offer.   Braedon skyped us on Sunday and we talked to him for about an hour, I already hear the change in him, he was so excited to tell us every detail of what they've been doing... it was great! 

They don't expect to be gone for the full four months now, but are already planning a little jaunt to Hawaii later on in the year.  But let me tell you... Kennedy is so not going to want to move out of his room!!! :)


Friday, April 30, 2010

Best Pizza Dough Ever!!!!

I love pizza!  I love great pizza dough!  I have found the perfect recipe on, she got the recipe from The Joy of Cooking.  This dough is super easy to make, and the outcome is a perfect pizza crust!  I also use it for making buns, yummy!

My husband and I had an artichoke and basil pizza, no tomato sauce.  I pressed the dough into the pizza pan, brushed olive oil all over, some mozzarella cheese with some feta chunked in there, artichokes and basil, added a bit of chunky tomatoes, a bit more cheese... it was delicious!  The girls had triple cheese with a mild tomato sauce... so so good!  The crust itself rises to perfection, I always brush olive oil on my crust too, it just makes it that much better!  Try it!  It's so easy, and so rewarding!

Perfect Pizza Dough

You will need:
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 1/2 - 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs salt (Optional. I add a pinch of sea salt.)
1 tbs sugar (Optional. I usually make it without. Use sugar if you like a puffier crust.)

Combine the yeast and the warm water in a large bowl. Let stand for 5 - 10 minutes until yeast is dissolved and is starting to foam up.

Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Mix until it’s all holding together. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Don’t skimp on the kneading! The dough should be smooth and elastic, tacky, not sticky, when you’re done.

Transfer it over to a bowl that you’ve lightly coated with additional olive oil. Turn the dough over to coat completely. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean and floured dishtowel and let rise in a warm place. I like to put mine in the oven, which has been preheated for about a minute (then turned off). Keep it in there for about 90 minutes until it’s about doubled in volume.

Punch the dough down and divide it in half. At this point you can use all the dough to make one large thick-crust pizza, two smaller pizzas, or just use the one half to make one large thin crust pizza. (And freeze the other half for next time! This is my preference.)

Regardless of the path you have chosen, roll your dough into a ball and let it rest, loosely covered, for about 10-15 minutes. While it’s resting, preheat the oven to 450F. Grease and dust your baking stone or baking sheet with cornmeal (don’t skip this step!), flatten the dough and roll it out flat. Brave? Let your kids have a go. They might surprise you by not dropping it on the floor.

The dough will be fairly elastic, so you’ll have to stretch it out. Place the dough on your baking sheet. To prevent the toppings from making the crust soggy, brush the top of the dough with a bit of additional olive oil. Use your fingers to push dents into the surface of the dough. This will prevent air holes bubbling up as it bakes. Let it rest for 10 minutes while you prep your toppings.

When you’re ready, pop it in the oven. Depending on the thickness of your crust, it’ll take about 12 minutes (give or take) to bake. Broiling it for a couple minutes at the end will make your cheese nice and brown.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

I LOVE  Love her, love her.  She posts the most amazing recipes, I've tried many of them, and will try many more.  This weekend I am making Beef Empanadas!

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (about 1 large)
1 ½ lbs. ground beef (use 85% lean, not the super-lean)
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
1 cup pimento-filled green olives, sliced
1 cup golden raisins
2 tsp. honey
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
several dashes of hot sauce, to taste
3 large eggs, separated

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, at room temperature (don’t use low fat)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
1 tsp. kosher salt
lime wedges, for serving

1. Prepare the filling: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion & bell pepper and sauté 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Raise heat to high and add beef. Cook, stirring constantly, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Use a spoon to scoop out some of the liquid; discard. Stir in cumin, olives, raisins, honey, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Cook until the meat is golden brown, liquid has evaporated and flavors have blended, about 4 more minutes. Cool completely in the refrigerator. Stir in 3 egg whites when mixture is cool.

2. Prepare pastry: Process butter, cream cheese and cream in a food processor or electric mixer. Add flour and salt and mix just until combined and dough holds together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Divide into three pieces. Flatten into disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. If the dough is chilled overnight, take it out for about 15 minutes before rolling out.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter baking sheets or line with parchment.

4. Dust a rolling pin with flour. Working with one dough disk at a time, place the disk on a clean, well-floured surface (I use a silpat mat). Roll gently from the center of the dough to the top and bottom edges and from side to side. Reflour the work surface and/or rolling pin, as needed. You want the dough to be thin but not transparent.

5. Assemble the empanadas: Use an overturned bowl (about 4 inches across) to cut out circles. Gather scraps together, re-roll and cut more circles until you’ve used up all the dough. Scoop some filling into the center of the dough circle (about 2 Tbsp.). Wet the edge of the dough with water, using your finger to to rub. Fold the dough over to form a half-circle. Crimp edges with a fork, or fold over decoratively (using more water, as needed, to act as ‘glue.’) Repeat the process until all of the filling is used. The empanadas can be frozen at this point, or placed onto a baking sheet. If baking right away, chill the filled empanadas for a few minutes. Prick the top of each empanada twice with a fork. Beat 2 egg yolks with 2 Tbsp. water and brush egg wash over each empanada. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

6. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm with lime wedges.
Yield: 26 to 28 appetizer-sized empanadas

*Freeze leftover empanadas to reheat in the microwave.
*You’ll get a feel for how thin the dough should be rolled out and how much filling to use after you assemble your first couple of empanadas.
*Serving the empanadas with lime was a tip from my Peruvian friend. They’re delicious that way.

Seriously, she makes everything easy, truly easy.  Check out her blog for step by step instructions.  I pop my laptop up on the counter and she walks me through the whole recipe!  She understands what real food should taste like and how it should be prepared... easily!  How many people love to work with a finicky and convoluted recipe?  Not me!  Enjoy!  I know we will!

It's been busy :)

Since my last post, we've spent those three weeks getting Braedon ready for his trip to Europe!  He left on April 23rd, flew into Manchester, made his way to Edinburgh, and is now in London!  They plan on backpacking, busing, driving and flying around Europe, four months minimum, but they may stay until the end of the year.  If their money runs out, they will work for food and a bed!  hahaha  We had a Bon Voyage party for Braedon and my nephew Scott (his travel companion) on April 17th, the weather was gorgeous, the food was aplenty, and a good time was had by all.  It was nice to watch Braedon relaxing with his friends and family, and enjoy being in the spotlight!  :)  They boys have been texting me daily, thank gawd for technology!  This mama bear has never been away from her first born cub... it helps.  I did have a pang of loneliness for him yesterday, not sure why, just hit me that he was halfway across the planet.  This is a great experience for him, something we encourage him to do for as long as he can, before reality sticks it's ugly nose into his business!  I'll post regularly as their trip abroad unfolds!


Monday, April 5, 2010

Lemon Truffle Cake!

We went to my wonderful mother-in-law's for Easter dinner on Saturday, the food was, as usual, amazing!  The company wonderful, we talked, ate, relaxed, it was a thoroughly enjoyable time.  I brought Lemon Truffle Cake for dessert.  Kennedy was supposed to help me make it (budding baker) but she decided to have friends over instead... we will be making this again, because it was amazing!  It is a keeper!  I got the recipe from a blog I follow,  You should check it out, everything I've made from her site has been wonderful!

I let the truffle filling and lemon curd sit covered in the fridge overnight.  The lemon curd will remain easy to spread without softening, but take the truffle filling out of the fridge to sit at room temperature in the morning.    It worked well because it firmed up nicely to support the layers.


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup unsalted butter or white vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 large egg whites

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup water
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 cup (6 ounces) chopped white chocolate or vanilla baking chips
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

1 cup whipping cream
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

2. Prepare the cake: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, and butter or shortening. Blend until the butter is evenly mixed. Add the vanilla. Beat at low speed for 1 minute, then increase the speed to high and beat for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl constantly, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.

3. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Gently but thoroughly fold the whites into the cake batter. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.

4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cakes are no longer jiggly in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Split the cooled layers horizontally to make 4 layers in all. (I use a serrated knife… and gently saw around the center to cut even layers).

5. Prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in water until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork. Slowly stir about 1/4 cup of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, whisking quickly while adding the hot liquid. (You don’t want to create scrambled eggs, so be sure to add the hot mixture slowly, whisking it into the eggs as quickly as possible). Continue adding ¼ cups of the hot mixture to the eggs until you have warmed up the egg mixture. Whisk the egg yolk mixture back to the mixture in the saucepan. Cook over low heat until the mixture boils, whisking constantly, then continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring.

6. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice and zest. Transfer half of the hot filling to a small bowl and set aside to cool. Add the white chocolate to the hot filling in the saucepan and stir until the chocolate is melted; set aside. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the white chocolate mixture until light and smooth. At this point, you should have a small bowl of lemon curd and a bowl of white chocolate truffle filling.

7. Spread one third of the white chocolate filling over one layer of the cake. Top with a second cake layer, then spread with one third more of the filling; top with a third cake layer and spread the remaining filling over. Top with the last cake layer and spread reserved lemon curd. Refrigerate, uncovered, until the filling is set (2 to 3 hours).

8. Make the whipped cream: In another bowl, whip the cream and sweeten it with the confectioners’ sugar. Frost the sides of the cake with half of the whipped cream frosting. Put the remaining frosting into a pastry bag and pipe decoratively around the top and bottom edge of the cake. Refrigerate up to 8 hours before serving.

Serves: 16 (this is assuming everyone will have one piece, which they won't! :)

This cake is so satisfying to make.  It is decadent and delicious, my mother-in-law said it was "elegant" and she's right!  We topped it with a little nest made of whipped cream, mint leaves and mini-eggs for the Easter theme.  It is surprisingly easy to make and put together, give it a try!!!  It does help that I live with a journeyman chef, but I will say he was off riding his motorcycle when I made this!  He did cut the cakes evenly for me, he's had lots of practice, but next time I'll take a "stab" at it :)


Celebrate Life

We celebrated Easter with family and friends this weekend.   We are always happy to celebrate with those that are important in our life.   The Hebert-side get-togethers are getting to be very large with all the marriages and new arrivals,  we need to figure out a better plan for housing these increasing numbers for our family events.  But, it is always nice to be able to celebrate with your family and friends, in whatever dose that may be!

A time to celebrate life. 

As I near my fortieth birthday, I find myself celebrating life.  Not just once in a while, not just every year on my birthday, but every day, every hour, every minute.  I celebrate Monday morning, Wednesday afternoon, Thursday at 2pm, the anticipation of the weekend.  I celebrate the drive home and the 15 minutes I have to just be alone with my thoughts.  I celebrate parking in the front driveway, and knowing that as soon as I walk in the door I will be greeted by my family, my lovely husband and my amazing girls, I know my man-child Braedon will come down eventually and say "hey Mom"... and give me a smile... and I am filled with sunshine!  I celebrate a phone call from my sister, I celebrate talking with a friend, I celebrate getting cookbooks from the library, I celebrate trying those recipes and having a glass of red wine while I cook.  I celebrate slipping into a hot bath at the end of the day.  I celebrate getting my girls up in the morning and being able to deal with whatever they throw at me :). 

I celebrate that we will be out in the yard this weekend, raking out the flowerbeds, getting rid of all the wet leaves that accumulated before the first snow, getting the beds ready for the early tulips that will appear any day now.   I revel in jumping on the trampoline EVERY DAY with Julia, it's so much fun, and how she giggles, I celebrate those giggles!  Sidewalk chalk, coloring every inch of every sidewalk we have, new skipping ropes for Easter that we will be bringing out tonight... sitting in the sun on the deck with a glass of ice water with lemon, feeling that sun on my skin.  Celebrating Spring coming, celebrating the new season.  Celebrating these things with my husband and my kids.  Celebrating how fortunate we are in life! 

Celebrating family, celebrating friends, celebrating life. 

I've learned the importance of this.  The importance of celebrating each and every day.   It's strange what is happening to me, I feel it with every waking moment, I feel it each night as I am drifting off to sleep, I feel it when everything is peaceful, and I feel it in the midst of chaos.. and it feels good.  I've slowed my mind down and am really figuring out to just enjoy all the changes in life.   I deal with things so differently now.   In my 20's I really didn't have a clue :), in my 30's I could feel it coming, and now as I near my 40th year, it's like I'm on a train that I can't stop, and don't want to!!!  I survived a lot in my thirties, survived and am now celebrating the experience, because that's another thing I've learned.  You can't change what has happened.  You can't, it's that simple.  You can't make it disappear, you can pretend it didn't happen, but that is being untrue and unfair to yourself.  You survive it, you move on from it, and you embrace every experience that happens after it.  You deal with the bad, you celebrate the good, you become strong and sure of who you are.  And seriously, it is quite a feeling!   I  keep trying to put it into words, but I it's hard to transfer what I am feeling, into words.  It feels like... peace.  Peace.  Peace with who you are, peace with where you've been, and peace with where you are going.  There are bumps and setbacks along the way, yes.  But the peace is there, always... you can always find it, you just have to remember it's there, it doesn't go away.  It is so much easier to deal with things knowing you have that inside.  It's like a warm glow emanating from inside of me, it's happiness, just true and pure happiness. 

I'm not saying that I never have a bad day, or have bad experiences, but I've learned to turn them around a lot faster, and deal with them a lot quicker to get back where I want to be.    When I look at our life now, I am so in love with it!  And when I think about what is to come, I get more excited by the minute!  I don't lay in bed on a Sunday night, worrying about what the week will bring, I used to do that, I could never sleep on a Sunday night.  True, it is circumstance that affects that, but it really makes you think, why not change the circumstance?   If someone is not enhancing your life, why are they in it?  If you don't like what you do for a living, why are you doing it?  If something makes you unhappy, why do you allow it continue to do so?  We all have the power to change things so that we are in the best place we can be, we control that!   Our lives are way to short to live them by someone else's rules and standards.  We all need to figure out what we want, how we want our lives to be, and go for it, seize it!  Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something!  I will practice what I preach, every day I get closer and closer to where I want to be!   With the support and love I feel from the people I am important to... how in the world can I fail?


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Best Mom Ever

Last night, my babies, fresh out of the bath, teeth brushed, pj's on, winding down for the night... the girls and I are in my room, laying on the bed, playing the DS, I keep grabbing it and doing a level, and dying each time, they laugh at me every time... maniacally! :)  They say to me:

Julia:  "Mom, you are the best Mom ever"
Me:    "really?  Thanks!"
Ken:  "What do you mean really Mom, yes really!!!"
Julia:  "you take such good care of us Mom"
Me:  "awe, you guys are awesome" (hiding happy tears)

Made my night.   Made my week.  I adore my kids.  They make my life so perfect.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I had bronchitis for a week, and couldn't cook... couldn't do anything but cough and sleep.  I feel a lot better!!!!  And miss cooking! 

I am on a bread kick, I am going to master the art of breadmaking.  I make an awesome biscuit (no yeast), have finally perfected fluffy, juicy, moist cinnamon buns (yeast), and now will move on to this bun recipe I found, it sounds soooo good!  I love Rosemary!


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 ¼ tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 ¼ cups bread flour
1 ¾ teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
extra flour for dusting
½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
nonstick spray

1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and rosemary; let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Pour yeast into 1 cup of warm water (about 105 to 110 degrees… no warmer). Stir to dissolve the yeast and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Mixture should foam and bubble (a sign that the yeast is still good).

3. Insert paddle attachment into your stand mixer. Pour water/yeast mixture into the mixing bowl. Add ½ cup of flour and the salt and mix on low speed until incorporated. Keep adding ½ cups of flour until all flour is used up and incorporated. Remove the paddle attachment and replace it with a dough hook. Knead on low and slowly pour in the olive oil/rosemary. Increase to speed 3 and let the machine knead for about 2 minutes.

4. Remove the dough and shape quickly into a ball. Dust lightly with flour and place in a zip bag, pressing out air and sealing. Place on a cutting board and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size (about 1 hour). Punch down inside the bag and let rise again for an additional hour.

5. Punch the dough to deflate and let rest 10 minutes. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Divide dough into 12 equal-sized pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a ball and transfer to the prepared baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for about 1 hour (until almost doubled). They’ll continue to rise as they bake, so don’t worry too much if they don’t look large enough.

6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap and lightly brush each roll with melted butter. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until browned and hollow sounding when tapped. Remove to wire rack to cool.
Yield: 12

Cooking Tips:
*Use a candy thermometer or an instant-read meat thermometer to check for accurate water temperature.
*If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can always knead by hand instead. It’s just a little messy.
*Trick to dividing the dough into 12 equal pieces: Divide the dough in half, then in half again, then you can divide each of the four pieces into three equal dough balls.

I can already taste them!  Leigh's boss and his wife are coming for supper on Saturday, they will be my guinea pigs!   Saturday's menu will be:  barbecued strip loin with sauteed mushrooms and green onion (Leigh style, so so good), baby potatoes and carrots in butter/dill sauce, Caesar salad (Sharon's recipe, it is the best ever) and olive and rosemary rolls.  For dessert, hmmm... I'll have to think on that one. :)  I've been forcing myself to bake, and I am actually getting quite good at it!  It's the measuring and accuracy thing that turns me off :).  But since I started to do it more often, I actually find it quite therapeutic! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sensory Overload

I love Julia.  I love her more than life. 

She is my most challenging child.  She is my most sensory child.  Pretty sure she has Tactile Sensory issues.  The symptoms she exhibits:  avoids particular textures in food, clothes, or other substances, and dislikes wearing clothing, clothing tags, socks, and/or shoes.  Now, this could also be because she is four years old... but we consistently go through up and down periods, struggling with it, and have been doing it for a couple of years now.  It is frustrating, painful, exhausting. 

Julia has been sick for the last 3 1/2 weeks.  We've been to the doctor three times now, first she was treated for pink eye, one week later for bronchial pneumonia, and yesterday they decided to put her on a four week program with inhalers.  She is coughing up a storm, looks like she's been through one, and her moods are swinging out of control. 

This morning was not my finest moment.  Kennedy left for track, Leigh and Braedon left for work, and there I was, left with my (demon child) lovely Julia.  She got up fine this morning, after a very restless night of coughing and a slight fever, both me and her.  I have gotten sick in the three weeks she's been struggling through everything, we are both exhausted.  She got up this am, got dressed in green for St. Patty's day, asked for eggs and toast for breakfast... and then all hell broke loose.  All of a sudden, she's pulling on her clothes, she doesn't like the way they feel (she's worn them a hundred times before), but that's the thing, what feels okay to her today, doesn't tomorrow, doesn't half way through the day.  So after six outfit changes, yes six, searching for the only black pants that feel good to her when she is in this state, and not finding them... I threw up my hands and a whole bunch of rejected clothes, and left the room.  She screamed after me to help her pick out clothes, but I had had it.  I went back to the kitchen to make her "yolk" egg and toast.  She comes to the kitchen in her underwear.  Okay, one step at a time.  I get her to sit down and eat.  She tells me I burnt her toast and broke her egg.. and oh yeah, she wanted two eggs.  (yes, I did burn the toast a wee bit while trying to accomodate her little shopping spree in her drawers), but I sure didn't break that egg.  She proceeds to cut all of the egg around the yolk and eat it, and then ask me to puncture her egg for her.  I do that, she dips her toast, eats everything, drinks all her juice, washes her face... leaves the table to get dressed.  Sounds good, right, back on track?


She is mad again.  She is in her room looking for those black pants.  Inconsolable.  Nothing I say or do helps.  And I snap.  Again, not my best moment.  I yell at her.  I yell at my 32-pound little slip of a daughter and I give her a little swat on her underwear wearing behind.  I tell her that I can't do this all the time, she is making some terrible choices in her behaviour and she is hurting me and everyone around her.  Know what my little slip of a daughter does? She gets sarcastic.  She tells me "she can't help herself".  Seriously, do your 4-year old's tell you that?   That makes me even angrier, and I am feeling very "gotta get outta here" right about now.  

Anyway, the morning ended in a screaming match, her losing taking her bike to Auntie's for the day, and me telling her that I can't keep doing this with her... she gets really quiet, wants to hug me, telling me she's sorry (she just wants to win the bike back), I don't let her get to me.  I love her but I will not tolerate that kind of treatment, I can't!  .  She will not get rewarded for making our mornings insane, no way.   And, she's sooooo good at it!!!!!

But through it all, I love you Jules :)  (Bet you can't believe this looking at that angelic face, huh? :)


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Date Night

I need a date night!

Leigh and I have been doing "date night" for the past couple of years.  We never used to take the time to relax, unwind and enjoy each other without the kids running around.  We make sure we do now.  Not only does it strengthen our relationship and make us calmer and more effective parents, but it is a constant reminder that we are more than just parents, we are people, who love each other, who think it is very important to take the time to celebrate that.   We try to do it at least once a month, but it's been a busy 2010 so far and we haven't kept up our promise to each other.  So we are going to plan a date night.  Julia has bronchial pneumonia at the moment, so it'll have to wait till next weekend.  :)

A typical date night for us involves food and wine, of course!  Our favorite spot is McNally Robinson... we make a reservation at the Prairie Ink Restaurant, we get dressed up... Leigh always tries to order the fish feature, and they are always out :) (something about the fishery burning down... I don't know), but whatever we order is consistently good, they have a decent wine selection, and there is almost always an acoustical band playing on either Friday or Saturday night.  We get a frilly coffee afterward, they let you walk around with it, we look at books, we buy one or two... we go home and have another glass of wine, and talk, no interruptions, no sick kids, no-one but us.  It refreshing and re-charging and all couples need to do this on a regular basis. 

Don't forget about it, don't forget to celebrate your marriage every day. 

Don't forget to celebrate the life that you have and work everyday to make it the best life ever!!!!!


Monday, March 8, 2010

Buerre Blanc is a revelation!

Beurre Blanc.  Beurre Blanc... is perfection.  Beurre Blanc means "white butter" and is a rich, hot butter sauce made with a reduction of vinegar and white wine and shallots (onions) into which cold, whole butter is blended off the heat to prevent separation.  The result of which... is pure bliss!  Poured over fish it transforms the taste beyond anything I've every had!  It is heaven in the mouth.  You can thicken it with cream if you prefer, but we like it without.    You can use it with anything really, we've added over-top eggs, over pasta, chicken, any type of fish, vegetables... well really, it's butter, intensified, what could taste better? 

My lovely husband gave me Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", volumes 1 and 2, for valentines day.  We don't normally celebrate the Hallmark holiday, so after giving him a bit of heck, I burst into tears.  That man knows his way to my heart :)  The recipe as per Julia:

Yield: 1.25 cup
In small saucepan heat liquids to a boil, adding shallot and white pepper. Boil down to a syrupy glaze.
Remove pan from heat and whip in two lumps of butter, then two more.  Set pan over very low heat and continue to add butter as soon as the last lump has been absorbed.  It should be smooth like mayonnaise, and the butter should not melt.

Leftover sauce. It will congeal. Use like flavored butter, or heat it a little bit at a time, as for Hollandaise: …set a small saucepan in another sauce- pan of warm water, and stir the sauce by spoonfuls into the small pan, warming it a bit at a time.

It is soooooo easy to make, and so wonderful!  Try it, you will love it!!!!  


Friday, March 5, 2010

My Baby is Eleven!

Today is Kennedy's 11th birthday.  Leigh and I spent the morning time we had together reminiscing, we were sitting having a cup of coffee and remembering that we were doing that same thing 11 years ago, having some breakfast and getting ready to go to the hospital to get induced.  All my babies were induced, it is a very calm way to go into a birth.  It gives you time to prepare, well, not for the pain, but for the event itself.  We had to be at the hospital at 9:00 am, Leigh had a melt-down in the parking log (he does it with every baby) and we were on our way!  Ken was born at 11:37 pm, one push, adjust, one more and out she shot!  She couldn't wait to join the world and we couldn't wait to welcome her into it!  Big brother Braedon came the next morning, Leigh went to stay at my Mom's house that night, Braedon was already there, and the long awaited sibling was introduced to him.  Braedon was nine when she was born, sixteen when Julia was born, I like to rest in-between babies, what can I say!  :)

Kennedy continues to amaze us every day of her wonderful existence.  She is a joy to be around (okay, except first thing in the morning :), she has so much to tell us, teach us, share with us... she is a ray of light in our lives.   She is very easy to like, very talented and lovely to everyone around her.  Thank you for being a part of our lives baby, and Happy Birthday!


Monday, March 1, 2010

Sick House - Pink Eye

Sick is running through our house.   Actually, sick has been living here for a while, it takes a week or two vacation, but, then it's back, infecting one kid, two kids, or all five of us.  All at once, one at a time... but consistently there is something lurking around.

Julia has pink eye.   On top of that she has had a dry hacking cough, runny nose and low grade fever for the past week.  She woke up Sunday morning with one eye glued shut, screaming because she didn't know what was going on, nose running, coughing up a storm, she was a mess.  It does wonders for those lovely mood swings too :).  Off we go to the Gama Medical Clinic in Warman, I love it there.  The doctors are great with the kids. Dr. Franco saw Jules, confirmed my diagnosis and gave her viscous drops to treat the pink eye, and quarantined her at home until Tuesday (very contagious) so we could get a round of medication in her eyes.  Has anyone ever tried to give a sick, grumpy four-year old viscous drops in their eyes?  Well let me tell you, fun times!  I have to psych myself up as much as Julia to get her to stay still long enough to get them in there.  The "drop" comes out as a gelly type blop, it warms and turns to liquid.  I get it.  I understand the concept.  It makes sense.  Drop in the gel, it warms, melts and spreads to the eye.  Great for an adult.  For a four-year old?  Not so great.  Picture this, I lie Julia down on the bed, holding her there with my legs so she can't escape.  Feeling really good about this whole thing at this point.  She knows what's coming, I know what's coming.  I have to do both eyes (the other one is infected this morning as well).  She has to keep her eyes open, ha!  I have to hold her eye open and "drop" the gel into the pocket, ya right.  Julia is then supposed to gently close her eye, not touch it, not move while it warms and melts and spreads over the eye.  At this point I am holding Julia's arms to her chest because she wants to reach up and rub her eyes to get the "owie" out of them.   In reality, she slams that eye shut, crying and squirming, squeezing it together as hard as she can, asking me to make it better right now mommy, right now, please! (crack goes my heart) ... how much of that stuff is actually staying in there I wonder?  So viscous drops, no, I don't recommend that for a four-year old, the old fashioned run-everywhere type drop works better.  At least then you have a hope of getting them in there quickly, apply a kleenex to whatever is dripping and you are done.  Did I mention that the viscous doesn't melt right away?  It sits there, where it is dropped, and takes some time to melt.  All this with the squeezing, thrashing, crying, pleading... fun times.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bueno Vida - Good Life - first post and plunging into blogging

I did start another blog... quite some time ago... but procrastinated about it and was totally undisciplined about keeping it up. But, I didn't tell anyone about it, so chances are no-one even saw it and all is forgiven :)

On to a fresh new start!

Bueno Vida is Spanish for "Good Life". Something we work hard to achieve every day in our household. For too long, we've let the "need" for safety and security make us believe it hampers our ability to really pursue our dreams. Working full time parents, with a house to maintain, and three kids to feed, that was our first priority, and we don't regret it for one minute.

Well, the kids are getting older and things are changing! We want to teach our children about new adventures and taking chances to reap the rewards, we want them to be their own heroes. We want them to have a dream, and chase that dream until it is their reality. We have to lead by example, we will start small, make small mistakes (I am sure), but in the end, we will be living the life that we've always dreamed of, and show them that is attainable!

We live in a small town (recently promoted to City status, but I can't wrap my brain around that, so I will call it our town), 10 minutes from a not-too big City in Saskatchewan. Everything we might need is in the City, we work there, we take classes there, we shop there, we have family and friends there. We want our town to provide all the things we need, just like the City, only that means we can fully support the town we live in, that is why we chose to live here! There has been a staggering amount of growth here in the past 5 years, as there has been everywhere, but here, places that seemed so "far' from anything now hold whole new neighborhoods, streets, cul-de-sac's, townhouses... people! This kind of growth means we can support major and diverse business growth in our town!

The main strip of our town, where all the businesses, restaurants, grocery stores, etc., are housed, is directly opposite the highway. To be honest, it feels and looks like a truck stop. Our belief is that our town/city needs to re-zone existing lots/houses in the residential area to house small businesses. Like the one we dream of having. (More details to follow as the plans come to fruition :). I'm not talking about slapping a pub or a metal shop in the middle of someone's block, but adding the charm and character that our town so badly needs in the form of specialty shops, a small art gallery, a corner ice-cream parlour... you know what I'm talking about?

In the 13 years we've lived here, the town has been making improvements, but slowly. The neighboring towns are prettier than ours, dammit! We can get there, we just need a vision! We are going to start going to town meetings, learn about what the town's vision is. We can't very well just sit here and complain about it right? That doesn't do anything. Change begins in your own backyard.

And speaking about changing your own backyard, slowly but surely we have been doing just that. We don't talk to many people about it, because anyone that knows Leigh and I, knows that we are indecisive when it come to what we are going to do with our house, and what we are going to do with our careers. Not that we bounce around in our career lives mind you, but there's that whole "letting the need for safety and security make us believe it hampers our ability to really pursue our dreams" thing :) I have been in administrative and managerial positions my whole working life. It is a good, safe living... (yes, that is sarcasm you are hearing). Leigh was a cook for most of his working life (another safe living, everyone has to eat!), achieving his journeyman status and running a few kitchens as Sous Chef and Head Chef in his day. He switched to carpentry 3 years ago, and I've never seen him so happy, truly enjoying what he is doing, way to go babe!

Now there is me. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to cook. It takes up most of my "free" time. I use that word cautiously because I don't have a lot of that. :) But, my kids are absolutely wonderful. They give me so much joy! Daily they become more independent, develop more of their own interests and give me more of that time I need to pursue my dreams as well as support them in theirs. I want to cook. Plain and simple. Not a rushed, busy, commercial kitchen/restaurant kind-of-cook, but cook good quality slow food, using products from local vendors, and creating things that people can take home to make their home lives run just a little smoother. I want to develop strong, intimate and lasting relationships with my clients and with my suppliers. Start small remember? Make small mistakes. Love what you do.

And then there is wine. I LOVE LOVE LOVE wine. I want to educate people in wine. It's so fun and so easy! I want to give them the confidence to not be put off by "wine snobs" (I hate that) and make that kind of education affordable and fun. Armed with confidence, surging forward to experience new foods and new wines, and pairing those wines, and doing it somewhere where they feel warm and comfortable and... oh, I am rambling on, aren't I? It is my passion. My passion is strong. When I am alone inside my head, it is usually the topic of conversation. I guess I would be called a foodie. And a winey?

Leigh and I have lots of plans. Armed with a new attitude and a new outlook, we will succeed in achieving all that we want to do. People, we only live this life we are in once, after that, who knows what happens! Live it to the fullest! Don't let your dreams get pushed aside!

I am not going to call this blog a food blog, but I will talk about it a lot! I will let you know what we are cooking, what we are eating, what works and what doesn't. And about wine, a lot! I will let you in on new amazing bottles, and steer you away from the not so amazing ones. I will talk about my husband, my kids, and our life. All the ups, all the downs. My family and friends may be the only ones to read this, but that is okay! It is a great outlet for me to throw it all out there, keep people updated so they can rejoice with me with each success and each discovery!

Bueno Vida!