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A Jaunt Between Countries: More Adventures in Immigration

This last week was more adventure in immigration, and it involved a relatively short speed walk between countries.  This jaunt is called “doing a flag pole” by immigration officials on both sides of the border and is now another thing to add to my list of accomplishments.  Please forgive the lack of images with this post, since they tend to frown upon camera usage at the border.

The back story is that I needed to get a work permit for an upcoming job that I’ll post about later this week.  So stay tuned for that.  🙂  Now back to our story…  For some reason that must have made sense at some point to someone, to get a work visa one must first walk from Canada to the States, “do the flag pole,” walk back to Canada, and apply for the permit.  Other than ensuring that a person has the stamina to travel by foot from one country to the next, or to reinforce your complete powerlessness as an immigrant and the need to dance like a monkey on command, I’m truly not sure why this was required.  But this is our saga of the flagpole…

It began with an early morning ferry ride to the mainland where the three of us were gratefully met my Dave’s mom, our fellow adventurer for the day.  Then we drove to the border.  This was the closest I’ve been to my home country in almost a year, and even though I wasn’t actually going to enter the States, it was fun to get close to it again.  As we got closer I also started to get a bit nervous about how this was all going to play out.  When one’s immigration status is in question it can be a bit nerve wracking to leave one country for the next for fear of not being allowed back in.  So I took a deep breath, clutched my passport a little bit tighter, and prepared to dance.  That’s when things got interesting.

Most visitors at the border are simply trying to get from one side to the other.  They’re not trying to find a place to park in order to ask how one legally walks across international boundaries.  Needless to say we missed the tiny sign showing us where to park and ended up stuck in about 20 minutes of stopped traffic on the way to the States.  At this point we realized that we were about a block away from the actual border and that there was no where to go but forward, meaning that we were driving into the States.  This is also the time when we realize that the only person in the car with a passport is me, and Little Man has no documentation at all.  Nervous laughter ripples through the car.  We luckily spotted a “hail Mary” turnaround spot for people like us that just happen to make a wrong turn that could lead them to a different country.

Now we were pointed back towards Canada, figured we had at least one satellite watching our car for the lovely u-turn maneuver, and had the pleasure of sitting in another 20 minutes of stopped traffic to get back to the Canadian border.  At the border station we were “greeted” by the surliest Canadian any of us (the Canadians included) have ever encountered, and told that I have to go back the way I’ve come, but that there are no side walks so I need to be careful of the cars.  Great…  So now I need to “do the flagpole” and avoid being run over by someone desperate to get to Trader Joe’s and who sees me as literally standing between themselves and their $2 Chuck.

So off I go, traipsing between cars with a backpack full of documents while my family plays in the park behind me.  I try to avoid eye contact with any of the drivers, only thinking what a strange sight I must make walking down the street to the border, and feeling rather pilgrim-like.  Nothing like a 10 minute speed walk while inhaling the exhaust of countless cars to make one feel ready for the task at hand.

Once at the U.S. border office I asked a border agent about which line I should be in since I’m not actually trying to enter the country, but just need a work permit.  He said that for “a flag pole” I needed the back line.  The back line was a row of bench seating along the wall that looked like it hadn’t moved in about an hour.  I got in line, and eventually realized that I’m not in line at all, but am sitting with other people from other lines that simply got tired and needed a seat.  Once I realized my error and got into my line, I was second in line and was eventually asked to hand over my passport and take a seat.  Fifteen minutes later I was given my passport back with a stamp and told to walk back to Canada.  Apparently my “flag pole” did not involve an actual flag pole, and I have to say I’m a bit disappointed in that.

However, not one to question border agents who are letting you go, I left the building and started to walk around it the other way to continue my circuit back to Canada.  Who else can get lost trying to walk back to Canada?  Is it possible to miss an entire country?  I ended up in the loading dock and had to turn around.  A passing border agent looked at me, shook his head, and pointed the other way back to Canada.  Perhaps if you can’t even figure out the direction to walk back to Canada, the States isn’t particularly sad to see you go.

Off I went again, this time swimming up current from the cars and on the side to Canada actually finding a sidewalk.  How civilized.  I should also point out that I hadn’t noticed the slight decline for my walk to the States, but the walk back to Canada was up hill all the way.  That’s when I started feeling all the sore muscles from the different yoga warrior positions, and the dolphins… those darn dolphins…

In about the same 10 minutes it took me to walk to the States, I walked back to Canada and was greeted again on the Canadian side by the same surly border agent as before.  This time he asked me more surly questions, scribbled something on a yellow ticket, told me to walk to the tree, turn left, enter the building and go to the second line.  While I may not have circled a flag pole in the States, I did circle a maple tree in Canada.  That somehow felt right.

It was on the Canadian side where things got interesting again.  They didn’t want to give me the permit since it was something I could get from an office on the island, even though there were no immigration offices on the island hence our ferry trip to the mainland, and I was missing some information they needed.  Specifically they needed the start and ending dates for my employment since the permit would only be good for that one job with that one employer.  The dates weren’t listed on my offer letter and I hadn’t come prepared to call the anthropology department, so I looked briefly at the offer letter’s letterhead and asked the border agent if I could call the office to get the dates.  I was given permission and dialed the number hoping the department secretary was not at lunch.  The person who answered the phone was not the department secretary, but instead the Department Chair who also just happened to be a former mentor of mine.  This is exactly the impression you want to give your future employer before you even start your job, that you are having immigration issues, and you need them to do write a memo and fax it to the border asap (please), and I look forward to seeing you again in the Fall.  Ugh.

The second issue that the border agent had with me was that she wanted to see my credentials that allowed me to do this job.  For this I was prepared.  I reached into my backpack, grasped the tome that is my dissertation and laid it down on the counter with a satisfying and resounding thunk.  Yes, it would have been easier to bring my diploma, but that is packed in on of the 20 boxes labeled “Office” while the dissertation was nicely displayed on my bookcase.  This is the most work my dissertation has had in years, being carted around from one country the next, and then placed with a pleasingly heavy thump on the border agent’s desk as evidence of my credentials.  Nerdishly satisfying.

In the end the fax came through, the dissertation was accepted, and the permit was awarded.  Little Man was given a paper Canadian flag, and off we went again with no sidewalks or crosswalks, trying to reach our car on the Canadian side so we could go home, dodging drivers anxious to leave the States with their Trader Joe’s bounty.

Later when we had reached Ruth and Joe’s home, had gotten Little Man down for a nap, and were all happily ensconced in the kitchen holding glasses of crimson refreshment, we regaled Joe with our adventures.  I had successfully power walked between countries, did “the flagpole” and am now one step closer to an upcoming job.  Just one more political hoop to jump through, but that’s an adventure for next week.  In the meantime, we’re enjoying the success of this initial foray, and hoping that I don’t have to do that particular immigration hoop again.  Please!

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A Sick Snow Day

This week dawned bright and sparkly on a few inches of unexpected (at least to us) snow.  These were the sights that greeted me when I stumbled out of the house on Monday morning with an old cardboard box to gather wood from our shed for the day’s fire.  I’d forgotten to tuck my pants legs into my sorely misused Uggs, and would have wet, cold ankles for a bit once I got back inside, but the beautiful pink light from the morning sun coming over the dusted pines made me forget about that.  The farmer’s dog hadn’t been let out yet, so our snow was still pristine, without dog footprints or other offerings.

Snow-frosted fencing curled up around the border of our back yard.  Just waiting for Spring so the garden beds and "real" fencing can be put in place.

Snow-frosted fencing curled up around the border of our back yard. Just waiting for Spring so the garden beds and “real” fencing can be put in place.

Unfortunately this was not just a snow day, but a sick day with our toddler totally knocked out with the flu.  It was almost with tears that we had to turn away the farmer’s daughter when she came to see if Little Man would like to go sledding.  He, of course, said “yes!” through a fit of fevered coughing, and almost succeeded in rolling off the couch towards the door.  We’ll have more chances for sledding later, once he’s fit as a fiddle again.

A view of our little summer "gazebo" bench, and the lone Canadian flag windsock.  A nice punch of color for our white and black landscape.

A view of our little summer “gazebo” bench, and the lone Canadian flag windsock. A nice punch of color for our white and black landscape.

In the meantime, when Little Man did have enough energy to roll off the couch he decided he wanted to “decorate the floor.”  He’s done smaller versions of this on the dining room and living room tables, but nothing quite to this extent before.  If anyone had the audacity to walk into the living room while he was working, they were greeted with a firmly outstretched toddler hand and a croaky “don’t step on my cars!” warning.  We’ll get back to practicing kind words later, but on this sick day we let the mini-artist have a bit more leeway as he looped and swirled his cars and other precious toys around the rug.

Little Man's rug "decoration."

Little Man’s rug “decoration.”

All in all, it was one of the best sick snow days I’ve had… especially since it wasn’t me being sick.  Now that we’re in February, we enter the anxious waiting period for Spring.  I know I can’t expect it to come too soon, but I keep waiting and plotting the things I want to plant in the garden this year.  Little Man has already requested that we plant carrots for his stuffed fox and Cheezies for his stuffed bear.  For some reason I think we’ll be more successful with one than the other.  I’m just trying to figure out something else we can plant that will get him excited to eat things from the garden, even if it won’t produce artificially cheese-flavored snack chips like he hopes.

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Making More Bath Soap

I hate it when this happens, but now I can’t find the original site where I got this idea from.  The idea is so awesome, however, that I have to share it.

I don’t know about the rest of you parents out there, but I feel like we go through Little Man’s foaming body wash and shampoo like mad.  Then I saw the post (which I cannot find… doh!) about how to more or less create your own foaming soap.  This is one case where I’m not going out and to get the raw ingredients I need to create something, but instead am just making something I already have stretch farther.  I love it!

All you need is an empty foaming soap dispenser and your favorite brand of non-foaming child’s body wash/shampoo.  Pour enough of the body wash into your empty container to fill it about 1/4 of the way full.  Then carefully fill the rest with cool water, leaving enough air at the top of the bottle so that the lid can be reinserted and the contents mixed without spilling.  Then reinsert and secure the lid, and gently tip the bottle up and down until the soap and the water are mixed together.  Resist the urge to shake the bottle as all you will do is make bubbles.  Then use your new foaming bath soap as normal.  Brilliant!  My heartfelt thanks go out to that mystery blogger who gave me this great, money saving idea!

And if you have any other cool ideas, please feel free to share.  I’m all for things that make life easier… and less expensive.

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Birthday Party Food for Kiddos… and Their Very Patient Parents

We are still relative newbies to the world of children’s birthday parties, and the terror that can be instilled in the heart of a parent when s/he sees a precious child return from a friend’s party with a goodie bag so chock full of candy that it rivals Halloween.  I cannot speak to how other people’s children act (well… actually I could, but that isn’t polite) when hopped up on that level of sugar and pizza-party junk food, but I can attest to how my lovely, precocious little boy turns into a whirlwind of high pitched cackles and rule breaking that I can only describe as temporary insanity for all involved.  As fellow parents, shouldn’t we want to set our own children, as well as their friends and parents, up for success?

I’m not suggesting that all birthday party food must be reduced to carrots and hummus (although that would be tasty!), but we can create amazing birthdays while still feeding people well… and inexpensively.  The food that I include here isn’t necessarily healthy.  This is celebration food, not something that you would include in your diet or eat on a daily basis.  Nor is it filled with preservatives or the nearly obscene amounts of sugar found in processed foods.  These are all dishes that can be made a couple days (or more) in advance so that the day of the party can be spent enjoying the birthday boy or girl, not panicking over the stove (I’ve been there too).  So let’s have a party, and not feel sick to our stomachs by the end of the feast.

The foods and drink that I am posting here are actually the same recipes that we’ve used for all of Little Man’s birthday parties so far and many of the recipes are not my own.  For those dishes I’ve included the links to the original sites, so all you have to do is click on the dish’s highlighted name and a window will open with that recipe from its original site.  It’s unlike me to recycle exact menus like this for recurring celebrations, but we’re still finding our way in how to throw great kid parties.  I wanted recipes that I knew would turn out great, that could be done in advance, and that wouldn’t break our bank account or my spirit to prepare.  I might break out and try something different next year, but then again if it isn’t broken…

So here’s the menu:

  • Rainbow Fruit Platter
  • Jungle Juice Punch
  • Amazing Mac n Cheese
  • Zebra Cake
  • Snacks and Goodie Bags

Rainbow Fruit Platter

Rainbow Fruit Platter served on a rectangular bamboo cutting board.

Rainbow Fruit Platter served on a rectangular bamboo cutting board.

One of the most commonly re-pinned items from my Pintrest boards is this Rainbow Fruit Platter.  The original site I pinned it from does not exist any more, but similar images have popped up across the internet.  I don’t know what it is about this simple dish (maybe the avoidance of the tasteless cantaloupe and honeydew melon that so often “graces” fruit plates), but every time I serve this at a child’s party it gets eaten up faster than anything else.  For best results, use fresh fruit.  It seems silly to state this for a fruit platter, but having lived in places where during the winter months you sit back and watch the price of fresh produce skyrocket it can be tempting to go for frozen.  To put it mildly, the texture would be a bummer.  It doesn’t matter what shape platter you use for this, I’ve used both rectangular (above) and circular (below).  Just be sure to give enough room for each color arc to be well represented.

Rainbow Fruit Platter (and Pooh Bear) at the party in 2012.

Rainbow Fruit Platter (and Pooh Bear) served on a circular metal platter.

You can use any combination of your favorite fruits, but here are the ones that I keep coming back to both for their great colors and taste.

Rainbow Fruit Platter

Ingredients

Red: Sliced Strawberries and fresh Raspberries

Orange: Mandarin Oranges, peeled and divided into segments

Yellow: Pineapple, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

Green: Green Grapes, halved

Blue/Indigo: Blueberries and/or Blackberries

Directions:

  1. Find a large serving platter and set it near your work station.  Depending on the platter’s material, you may want to cover it with plastic wrap before putting the fruit down.
  2. Prepare the different fruits and set them aside in individual bowls.
  3. Begin with the red (and largest) arc of your rainbow, and arrange the strawberries on the platter.
  4. Then fill in each succeeding arc with your chosen fruit.  You may need to adjust the size of your arcs as you go.
  5. Add the most delicate fruits, like the raspberries and blackberries (if using) last.
  6. Once the platter is complete, roll up a small paper towel and place it in the void between the blueberries or blackberries to preserve the arc’s shape.
  7. Cover the platter loosely with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until the party.  You can do this the night before, but I don’t suggest doing this too early since the texture of the cut fruit can get mushy.

Click here for a printable version of the Rainbow Fruit Platter recipe.

Jungle Juice Punch

Finding a drink that is both suitable for kids and enjoyed by adults can be tricky at parties.  For my part, I don’t allow Little Man to drink pop (or soda for those south of the border) or any of those popular punches made out of flavor packets that are little more than sugar and food coloring.  Instead I use one of the iced tea and fruit juice-based punches published by Giada De Laurentis on the Food Network website.  For kid-based parties my favorite is Giada’s Apple Mint Punch, which I call “Jungle Juice” for the parties because of its golden green color.  I make a double or triple batch and serve it in a large bee-hive shaped glass beverage carafe.  In Giada’s recipe she makes simple syrup with fresh mint as the sweetener.  It pains me to pay for fresh mint in the store (especially in winter), so I often use dried mint.  If you use dried herbs, just use half the quantity that the recipe specifies.  Dried herbs are much stronger than the fresh, so you don’t need quite as much.  If you are making this when your garden or local farmers market is full of fresh herbs, use whatever mixture of herbs you like best.  My favorite version of this was actually from last summer when my mint had been severely hacked back in a fit of mojito making, so instead I used fresh basil and tarragon.  The punch was delicious!

Amazing Mac n Cheese

Since Little Man still takes naps, I like to have his parties in the morning so that things are breaking up right around the time for him (and his friends) to settle down for nap time.  That means that I want the kiddos and their parents to have something good for lunch, so that they have energy to play, none of us are feeling sick from too much junk food, and the kids can leave feeling happy not completely pooped and grouchy from sugar crash.  My favorite dish for this is an amazing Mac n Cheese from the Pioneer Woman (aka Ree Drummond) also on Food Network.  I make a double batch of this in the morning, pile it into my largest lasagna pan and set it aside until I’m just about ready to serve lunch.  Then I top it liberally with grated, sharp cheddar cheese and broil the top until its melted and golden brown.  I’ve also made this the night before and reheated it for a party the next day.  Just be sure to give yourself ample time to rewarm the casserole in the oven, and hold off on adding the cheesy topping until you are just about ready to serve.  Every time I serve this I have parents’ asking me for the recipe.  Now you have it!

Zebra Cake

065Of course I forgot to take a picture of the inside of the cake, but if you want to see the cool, zebra-print pattern check out the link that follows with the cake’s name.  The first time I can across Zebra Cake was from the DIY Queen website.  The original post consists just of cool pictures of the process, but I found a number of other sites where the process is described in greater detail.  Check out Fae’s Twist & Tango for a great example with detailed explanation of the steps and sample cake recipes.  It’s astoundingly simple, and gravity does much of the work for you.  Simply choose your favorite white cake and chocolate cake recipes (or box mixes) and prepare the batters.  The batters need to be of pourable consistency, so if they are too thick you might need to thin them out a little.  Then you start by pouring a small scoop (about 1/3 of a cup) of the white batter in the middle of your prepared (butter and parchment paper) cake pan.  Then add a similarly sized scoop of the chocolate batter, and repeat.  Try to save the last scoop for the chocolate batter.  With each scoop, gravity will slowly push the other rings out towards the edges of the pan.  Then bake, cool and decorate as you would like.  Little Man’s party was animal-themed (hence the cake I chose), so we used a delicious chocolate frosting, simple candles, and a ring of non-toxic plastic animals for decoration.  Once the candles were blown out each child (birthday boy first) got to choose an animal to add to their goodie bag.

068Snacks and Goodie Bags

Beyond the Rainbow Fruit Platter and the Mac n Cheese, I like to keep the rest of the offerings simple.  For this birthday, Little Man’s sole request for food at his party was for Cheezies, a Canadian cheese-puff that is similar to the American Cheetos.  One word of advice, don’t start a discussion with a Canadian about which brand is better.  They are very passionate about their Cheezies…  So to honor Little Man’s one birthday request, and to celebrate our new Canadian home, a good sized bowl of Cheezies appeared next to the Mac n Cheese casserole at his party.

Little Man's sole request for food at his party was Cheezies.

Little Man’s sole request for food at his party was Cheezies.

The Goodie Bags for Little Man’s party were relatively simple in that there wasn’t a ton of stuff, and we tried to keep sugar to a minimum.  Each child got a small bag (gotta love the dollar stores) with their name in puffy paint.  Inside each bag was an animal foam magnate kit to do at home another time.  Then we’d also gotten animal-themed stickers and handed those out after the kids did a great dance party.  Each child also got a handmade animal mask (see next week’s post for more information on those), and two stacks of miniature homemade cookies (Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin).  We wanted the bags to be fun and special, but not filled with candy or expensive to make/buy.  They were also fun for me to work on over the week prior to Little Man’s Party.

A tray filled with the Goodie Bags and things to go in them.

A tray filled with the Goodie Bags and things to go in them.

On the whole, I think the party was a success.  For the next week Little Man kept asking to have his friends over for another dance party.  The streamers finally came down, and now we’re settling in to these new adventures with a little boy who is one more year older.  It’s fun to day dream about the new adventures we’ll have together over this next year… and what he’ll want for his next birthday party.

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A Season of Blackberries

OK, so it’s possible that I might have gone a little overboard with the blackberry love recently.  It’s hard not to on the island.  On Vancouver Island in August it is a common occurrence to see cars pulled over on the side of the highway, not because they are broken down or in need of assistance, but because people are out there picking blackberries.  Then you start to see people with ladders on the sidewalks to get to the higher branches, people buried in bushes at the back of supermarkets, people with berry buckets everywhere.  Once you can recognize what the bushes look like, you realize that the parts of the island that are not covered with forest are instead covered with blackberry bushes.  The bushes line the highways and roads, the train tracks, they pop up next to telephone poles, they grow beside bus stops, and they are all over Vancouver Island University campus.

Bushes 

I started jealously watching specific areas around town where I’d spotted the bushes, waiting for when the locals had decided that the berries were ready.  Then I would pounce… literally if I had to.  It wasn’t until after the family reunion that I started noticing people’s cars on the side of the road with people embedded and ensnared in the bushes greedily picking berries.  Then it took some time for us to be able to coordinate our schedules when all three of us could be out there harvesting.  While Little Man was willing, he is not actually much help picking blackberries… or picking anything for that matter.  When he has “helped” Mommy pick tomatoes in the farm garden he tends to use the precious fruit like a hard thrown bocce ball.  I have to move fast to get the fruit from his little hands into my basket.  And that is without the extra bonus of all the blackberry thorns.  So on each of our forays to pick berries Dave’s primary task has been keeping Little Man out of the road, out of the bushes and more or less out of trouble.  For Dave’s efforts he has been rewarded with blackberry scones, muffins, and yes, a blackberry cocktail.  I’m sharing the blackberry muffin recipe at the end of this post.  For the other two, you’ll just have to keep posted.  🙂

berries 

For our own harvesting, we first tried a spot along the road that takes us down into town.  The area is largely forest, but there is a little turn around area and I’d seen cars and berry pickers there in the past.  While we made a pretty good haul that day, it wasn’t quite what I had hoped since the people I had spied earlier did a good job of clearing out the berries.  Our next attempt was right outside of Dave’s building at VIU.  These bushes were full of gorgeous, bursting ripe blackberries.  So Dave chased Little Man who was chasing the bunnies, and I picked berries as fast as I could.  Blackberry harvesting is not without hazard, the bushes snagged my jeans, my sleeves and my hair.  I would bury myself deep into a particularly nice area of the bushes counting on my clothing to protect me (more or less) from the thorns, just to find that I couldn’t get out again.  But any scratches, and there were quite a few, were well worth it.

Dave

I have to admit that not only do I love picking and eating blackberries, but with every freezer bag I put away I feel like that’s also money in the bank.  Each bag that I freeze for future use is one more bag of berries that I don’t have to buy at the store, and as I mentioned above I use berries in everything from salads to pancakes to baked goods to drinks.  Did I mention that I love blackberries?  Normally this time of year would find me scowling at the stacks of beautiful fresh blackberries in the stores, priced at a level that was hard to justify in our grocery budget.  This year it found me ensnared in bushes, and I am still finding thorns in my jeans.  If you also find yourself in a place where blackberries do not grow wild (and free of cost) but still want to try out the muffin recipe below, please substitute the blackberries with any berry that you do have access to, frozen or fresh.  Blueberries or raspberries would be great in these muffins.  Speaking of blueberries, I’ve been told that they are just now coming into season here…

A couple notes about blackberry picking safety:

  • First, although the berries grow incredibly well along the train tracks, NEVER pick berries there.  Not only is it dangerous with the trains using the tracks, but the tracks are routinely sprayed with herbicide to keep plants from growing there.  That means that the berry bushes have been sprayed too.  Not good eats.
  • Second, although it is tempting, never pick berries low to the ground.  There are animals out and about that like to mark their territory.  Just imagine the height of a neighborhood dog’s hind quarters and remember that urine soaked berries are to be avoided.

Blackberry Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients:

1 ¾ c. whole wheat flour

¾ c. rolled oats (not quick cooking)

½ c. brown sugar, packed

1 tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 c. milk

1/3 c. plain yogurt

1 tbsp. canola oil

2 eggs

1 c. blackberries or other berry, frozen or fresh

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400º.  Line a muffin pan with papers or lightly oil it.

In a large bowl stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  In a small bowl whisk together the milk, yogurt, oil and eggs until well combined.  I tend to use good quality skim milk and fat free yogurt here.  The yogurt adds a richness to the muffins, and replaces the oil that would otherwise be required.

The dry ingredients.

The dry ingredients.

The dry ingredients combined.

The dry ingredients combined.

The wet ingredients.

The wet ingredients.

The wet ingredients combined.

The wet ingredients combined.

 Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just long enough to combine.  You do not want to over mix the batter since that results in tough muffins.  This batter will look a bit more wet than muffin batter usually does.  Don’t worry, it’s supposed to.  Let the batter sit for 20 minutes.  This will let the oats hydrate, soaking up some of the extra liquid.

Everything combined.  It will look too wet until after it has rested for 20 minutes.  My sushi timer is set, now the waiting begins.

Everything combined. It will look too wet until after it has rested for 20 minutes. My sushi timer is set, now the waiting begins.

 After the 20 minutes of resting, add the berries to the mixture and gently fold together.  Divide the batter amongst the muffin cups, and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean (except for any blackberry juices it might encounter).

After the batter has rested, add in the berries.  Now you are ready to go.

After the batter has rested, add in the berries. Now you are ready to go.

Tasty batter in the pan...

Tasty batter in the pan…

Tasty muffins out of the oven...

Tasty muffins out of the oven…

 Let the muffins rest in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then remove them to a rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

Cooling muffins on the rack.  This is when Little Man realizes a treat is coming.

Cooling muffins on the rack. This is when Little Man realizes a treat is coming.

Little Man in the background asking "'Nack time?"

Little Man in the background asking “‘Nack time?”

 Blackberry Oatmeal Muffins