Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: Revisited

Well, here we are at the end of 2012.  I was hoping to do a "year in review" type of blog today but believe me I can berely remember what I did this morning, let alone all year long so this will be a quick post!  Ha!

I was hoping to have a drama free 2012 but leave it to the people who are closest to you to dump their drama at your door, ring the bell, and run away! 

sigh...


So here's the year 2012 in quick review:

  • began the year looking forward to a mid spring vacation
  • suffered an allergic reaction while on vacation but enjoyed myself nonetheless
  • shovelled some drama BS off my doorstep because I chose to be drama free
  • enjoyed fellowship at church
  • bar-b-q
  • read more books
  • listened to more ebooks
  • watched less television programs other than news
  • read more news
  • read more magazines
  • relaxed more
  • saved more
  • laughed a whole lot more
  • cried a whole lot less
  • took my health more seriously and lost 20 pounds!
  • shovelled even more drama BS off my doorstep, she really should just give up trying
  • had lots of laughs on facebook even though some probably weren't ment to be jokes HA!
  • reconnected with highschool friends on facebook - that made me really happy!
  • won a contest
  • joined instagram
  • joined tumblr
  • offered encouragement to friends in need
  • prayed more
  • gave thanks more
  • tried not to complain so much over things I have no control over
  • realized life is short so if someone wants to play the fool, I let them play all by themself.
  • the world ended
  • got buried in 46 centimeters of snow a week after the world ended.

The new year will bring new challenges.  I won't call them resolutions but challenges. 

And there you have it!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Family Cookie Tins

 
This is a photo of my kitchen table covered in cookie containers... can't really call them cookie tins because only a few ofthem are tins and the rest are greedy size tupperware. 
 
I took this photo on December 17th so they weren't quite full since I still had a few more recipes to bake and add to them. 
 
The recipients of these containers were:
  1. My eldest sister Shirl shared a plastic container with her son
  2. My older sister Sandra shared a plastic container with her spouse
  3. My brother Ken shared a plastic conatiner with his wife and son :-)
  4. My mom got a large round tin for herself
  5. My dad got a large square tin for himself
  6. My best friend got a medium size tin to share with her three kids
  7. My adopted family at work shared a plastic container with her four kids (I hope she shared it!!)
  8. My coworker Amel got a small tin to share with her kids but I doubt she shared them!
  9. My brother-in-law's three kids shared one large plastic container
  10. My sister-in-law's three kids shared one large plastic container
  11. My other sister-in-law's three kids shared one large plastic container
  12. My other sister-in-law's two kids shared one large plastic container
  13. My mother-in-law got a large square tin for herself
  14. My nephew in Ontario was sent a medium size tin
  15. My stepdaughter has a large plastic tin to share with her cousins
two extra containers were left, one was shared between all the containers and the second one was given to my niece & nephews to share before Christmas because they gave me puppy eyes that I couldn't resist. 
 
I love baking for "my kids"
 
I've still got quite a bit of ingredients left over so I will be baking more for the first week of January.  While the adults will be complaining that they need to lose weight, the kids will be scarfing down more cookies!  I just can't keep the extra ingredients in the house to spoil, and there are still a few new recipes I really wanted to try out so I may as well bake them and get it over with. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cookie #14 Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie # 14 Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

This cookie is pretty simple, and like with most recipes I like, I just vary it up a bit.  That's what I really like about some of the recipes I've discovered, the ability to substitute one thing for another...

First I start with the Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe. Click that link and you will find the recipe.

Now, usually when I make the simple chocolate chip cookies with this recipe I adjust it by adding some cinnamon and cloves to the batter to flavor it up a bit but not for the Mint Chocolate Chip cookies.  I follow the Nestle recipe all the way except that I add mint extract instead of vanilla and when it asks for chocolate chips & nuts, simply replace both item quantities with Andes mint chips (or other broken up mint chocolates like After Eight or Junior Mints.)

You may want to be creative and add some green food colouring before the addition of the chocolate but I've never did that to the batter prior to adding the chocolate it does provide an added festive touch, I just find it extra work to do... sad but true!

These cookies are pretty minty and chocolatey..  Yum!

Cookie #13 Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie # 13 Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is the usual recipe I always use for Chocolate Chip cookies... it's from the Nestlé Toll House cookie recipe but with a few minor adjustments:

  • added a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • added half a teaspoon of cloves,
  • removed the cup of nuts and replace with additional cup of chocolate chips.

I'm not a big fan of nuts in my chocolate chip cookies, and I also bake them for kids with nut allergies so I just don't bother with the nuts in pretty much most of the cookie recipes I make.

Personally I find the addition of the cinnamon and cloves gives the cookie a spicy flavor but only slightly otherwise it's kind of a bland cookie if you aren't using milk chocolate chips.  Most of the time I use semi sweet chips and without the recipe adjustment the cookie tastes like something's missing.

The orginal recipe for Nestlé Toll House cookies can be found by clicking here.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cookie #12 Spice Snaps

Cookie # 12 Spice Snaps

I'm really not sure what to call them but "Spice Snaps" works well so that's what we'll call them.

Once again we started this recipe with a Duncan Hines cake mix... the Spice cake mix to be exact.   Following the recipe for the Red Velvet cookies found HERE at the Duncan Hines website.... just replace the Red Velvet cake mix with the Spice cake mix and add a half a teaspoon of cloves to give them a little kick.

I baked them a minute or two longer than the recipe called for so they'd become crispy.  I liked these!!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cookie #11 Red Velvet Cookies

Cookie # 11 Red Velvet Cookies

Not to be confused with the Red Velvet Thumbprint cookies I made earlier, that tasted alright but was close to a nightmare to mix the red food colouring in.  These are just Red Velvet cookies plain and simple and fast to make too! Ha!

Once again I shall redirect to the recipe which can be found on the Duncan Hines web site. Click the link and it will direct you straight to the recipe I used. If while there, you can scroll down and read the comments there is another recipe for a different red velvet cookies but I didn't use that one.

These were very easy to make, naturally because it all begins with a box of cake mix! Dumping everything in one bowl and mixing it was not only a breeze but an added bonus!!

They baked up pretty quick and tasted like nothing... that's right, they had no taste to them at all and I didn't have a cold, nor did I eat anything prior to tasting this cookie.  I found it just didn't have any taste to it at all.  My niece test tasted it for me and she agreed, but for some reason my nephew said they were his favorite... hmm... go figure! 


If I make these again I'd add white chocolate chips in these so they wouldn't look so plain and so they'd have a bit of a chocolate taste to them.  Which leaves me to wonder .... if the cookies are tasteless, what does the cake mix made as a cake taste like?  ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cookie #10 Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Cookie # 10 Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I love this oatmeal raisin cookie recipe from Grandma's Kitchen. Click the link for the recipe on Grandma's website.

The recipe is quite simple to follow, it also provides the recipe for the glaze that drizzles on top of the cookies but I never bother with the glaze though it does make the cookie look cute.  I've never adjusted this recipe ever (except maybe the cooking time when we got a new stove).  It's most likely that you already have all the ingredients to this recipe in your fridge and pantry so why not whip up a batch tonight? 

This cookie finds its way into the Christmas cookie tins for distribution to family members every December.  And I must confess, it's also a cookie I make at least twice throughout the year because it's just so darn good!  You just have to make sure not to over bake them or they'll be tough on the teeth.  I usually bake them for 2 or 3 minutes less then just let them sit that long on the counter on the hot cookie sheet and let the sugar do the rest and voila, a nice soft chewy oatmeal raisin cookie.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Cookie #9 Cherry Chip Confetti Cookie

Cookie # 9 was the Cherry Chip Confetti Cookie. 

This was also a very easy recipe to make and it came out with so much flavor I had to taste another, and another just to be sure my tastebuds weren't playing games with me.

Seriously!!

I used the same recipe I did for the Confetti Cookies which can be found by at Sally's Baking Addiction but I used a Betty Crocker Cherry Chip cake mix as my base mix.  The rest of the recipe I followed as listed on Sally's Baking Addiction.

Once again the recipe was easy, fast, and so darn full of flavor!  The cherry flavor burst in my mouth like wow!  And since we now have a new love of sprinkles.....  

Cherry Chip Confetti Cookies anyone??

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cookie #8 Cranberry Shortbread

Cookie #8 is also one I make on a yearly basis.... and with the same recipe!  Hey, if it ain't broke, why fix it eh?!

A few years back I stumbled on a recipe for Shortbread Cookies on the Robin Hood Flour web page.  I gave it a try and the kids loved it!  So it has made it's way into my Cookie Book (which is a binder full of my favorite cookie recipes whereas Mitt Romney has a binder full of women)

First of all this recipe only requires four ingredients.... all of which can be found at the Robin Hood flour website. Click the link for the recipe and directions. 

Follow the directions of the shortbread cookie recipe and then just add chopped dried cranberries to the batter. 

Easy peasy!! 

I usually add about two cups.  I don't bother with rolling out the dough on a floured surface because I did that once and not only did the dough still stick to the counter top, but it stuck to my cheap rolling pin too! 

Can you picture how angry I was after that? Smiley 

Let's just say that adding more flour to that already floured surface gave me a major migraine, how about that.

Anyway, I separate the dough into two batches and wrap them in plastic wrap, place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour to make the dough a bit more firm for rolling and shape cutting.... then I cut a heavy duty plastic freezer bag in two (separating the front piece from the back piece completely) and use it to roll the dough between!  Some people roll the dough between two pieces of wax paper, well this has the same effect.  No flour mess on the counter, no sticky dough mucking up the cheap rolling pin.  And for those of us who have a marble rolling pin; no sticky mess on that there either!

Now, once the dough is rolled out, take the cookie cutter and cut the cookies.  Bake according to the recipe - again, time depends on the size of the cookie so keep an eye on them otherwise you will need to eat the over cooked ones so that nobody knows it ever happened. 





Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cookie #7 Holiday M&M Cookies

Cookie # 7 Holiday M&M Cookies. 

For this recipe I used the Nestlé Tollhouse Cookie recipe with a few minor adjustments: 



  • added a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • added half a teaspoon of cloves,
  • removed the cup of nuts
  • substituted the 2 cups of chocolate chips for 2 cups of holiday plain M&Ms.
That's a pretty easy recipe to follow and quick too. 



These cookies always taste great.  You may want to leave the nuts in the recipe but I'm baking for kids that have a nut allergy so it's seriously out of the recipe for me!! 

I make these every year that's how great they are!  The kids love them because they have candy inside.  I have one more bag of M&Ms so I'll be making another batch of these later on.  Heaven's forbid I keep M&Ms in the house, greedy me may eat the whole bag!
 


Friday, December 14, 2012

Cookie #6 Confetti Cookie

Cookie #6 was the Confetti Cookie.  I found this recipe while pinning on Pinterest and just had to add it to my list of cookies to bake this year!

This recipe was alright, not super great but not bad either.  The cookies were very vanilla-eeee.   I was left wondering why the recipe called for vanilla flavoring when we were using a vanilla cake mix to start with.Smiley    But since I'm no great baker... I followed the directions.

The recipe was for Holiday Confetti Cake Batter Cookies and you can find the recipe over at Sally's Baking Addiction.   Click the link for the recipe, and while you're at it, surf her blog for more recipes. 

The cookies were soft and somewhat chewy.  Very vanilla-eee.  And they looked cute with all the sprinkles considering I only had half a cup of sprinkles.  After seeing the finished baked cookie and tasting it, I'm rather relieved I'd only had half a cup of sprinkles!!! 

I enjoyed these cookies and will definitely make them again but in the future I'll start by using a confetti cake mix and leave out the vanilla flavoring.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cookie #5 Grinch Cookies ?

Cookie # 5... I'll just call them Grinch Cookies... because mixing them made me grumpy... ha!

In keeping with the Christmas colours like in that previous post on the Red Velvet Thumbprint cookies, I swapped out the red food colouring for green!


Pretty genius if you ask me! Ha! 

 


The recipe for this cookie can be found BY CLICKING HERE but just substitute the red food colouring for green, and be sure to have extra green because you'll need it!

As I mentioned in the previous post about the Red Velvet Thumbprint cookie, the recipe is quite easy but mixing in the cocoa evenly throughout the dough took a little doing.  Then adding the green food colouring to the now funky brown cookie dough was definitely an experience.   An experience you may not want to subject yourself to if you are already stressed from holiday preparations.   I used extra green food colouring and the cookies came out nice and green-ish.  Poured the melted white chocolate into the dents and sprinkled green sugar on the melted chocolate before refrigerating.

The cookie, a buttery flavor, nice and tasty but again, nothing worth bragging about and I have no intention of making these for Easter with purple, yellow and pink food colouring as pretty and festive as they may seem because mixing that food colour in is just too much work!
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cookie #4 Red Velvet Thumbprints

Cookie # 4 was something new to me.  I'd only made a type of thumbprint cookie once, but it was nothing like this.

While surfing the internet for a "magical Christmas cookie", I stumbled on the Red Velvet Thumbprint by Betty Crocker.  For recipe, please click the link.  I found the recipe to be very easy to follow.  I had all the ingredients already in the pantry - including the red food colouring from when I made the red velvet cake a while back!   So off I went to make the cute little cookies!!


 





As I mentioned, the recipe was quite easy but I found it took a lot of elbow grease to mix the cocoa into the cookie dough evenly. phew!  Perhaps if Santa would bring me a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer in any shade of green it would have been easier.  The addition of the red food colour after mixing in the cocoa was a trip. I had to use more red than called for to get the cookie red (because the cocoa made it a funky shade of brown - to put it nicely)

I baked the cookies and poured the melted white chocolate into the thumb dents and then to add a colourful holiday touch, sprinkled red sugar on the white chocolate before cooling.  I even rolled some of the red cookies in coloured sprinkles before baking, just because I had sprinkles!!  Hee! hee!!

I found the cookies to be buttery - like a butter cookie with a hint of chocolate taste. Pretty good and tasty, but nothing worth bragging about but definitely a cookie I'd make again.



Monday, December 3, 2012

Cookie #3: Smores Cups?

Christmas baking cookie #3... I'm not sure what to call these... Smores Cups?  Ok sure, we'll call 'em Smores Cups.

These were baked in a mini muffin tin.  I fumbled a bit on the first batch because I sprayed the muffin tin with cooking spray so they won't stick but then realized I had a non-stick tin! 

DUH!!!

For this recipe I used pre made Pillsbury Chocolate Chip cookie dough so there really isn't any recipe to list.

Basically I rolled the dough into small balls and put one in each cup of the mini muffin tin.  With my finger, I pressed a small indent into the ball then put the tin in the oven and baked it for about 10-12 minutes on 350*F.  (don't quote me on that because I think I may have taken them out sooner because they weren't quite ready.)  Once I removed them from the oven - when they were ready - I put three mini marshmallows inside each indented cookie cup and put them back in the oven for 2 minutes to puff up the mallows.  Once baked and removed from the oven I let them sit in the tin to cool off because the one I tried to free from the tin broke apart and had to be eaten quickly! 

While they were cooling, I put some chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a zip lock sandwich bag and put the bag in a cup of hot water to melt the chips.  I could have put them in the microwave but they'd have been too melty (is that a word?) I wanted the chocolate to be melted but thick not too thin.  I poked a hole in the corner of the bag and drizzled them over the now cooled and sitting on a wire rack cookies.  Then finally I transferred the cookies onto a plate and popped them in the fridge to solidify the chocolate before putting them in a cookie tin in the fridge.

They taste pretty good too.  Kind of sweet but kids like sweets so that's a good thing.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cookie #2: Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies

Day two of Christmas cookie baking.  Actually, I should just say Cookie Number Two because I won't be baking every day. These were baked on Thursday November 29th by the way.  Like I said, I'm just slow to the blogging of it.

Ok, so cookie number two was the Chocolate Chip Oreo cookie.  I got the recipe from Lovin' From The Oven<-Click the link, check out the recipe there so no need to post it here and not because I'm lazy or exhausted from baking or stuffed up from sampling said cookies I baked, but because lets give credit where credit is due, besides, she's got some great recipes over there you may just want to follow her blog too eh!  I put the link to the cookie recipe just to make it easier but still, check out the other recipes she's got going on over there.  Trust me you won't regret the click, she's baking every single day!

Anyway, moving it along... 

I doubled up the recipe because I needed a big batch as I'm baking to fill more cookie tins that I care to count. 

The cookies came out awesome. 

NO...

They were better than awesome!! 

They were super-amazing-yummy-mmm-mmm-good!!!!!

The directions were very easy to follow and not rocket science like some of Martha Stewart's recipes (no offence Martha, I still love you!).

And apparently I'm no photographer either, but this is my shot of the cookies just before I ate them.

FYI:  I did extra time walking to burn off the extra calories.







Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cookie #1: Molasses Cookies

 I've finally begun baking the Christmas cookies for my kids.  Now when I say "my kids", I'm referring to nieces, nephews and my friends' kids.  As you well know, kids like cookies as much as Santa does, if not more!  I suspect more!!

Cookie #1:  Molasses Cookies.

Molasses Cookies were the cookie of the day.  The day being Wednesday November 29th, I'm just late posting this.


I found the recipe on the side of the container of Grandma's Molasses.  It sounded easy enough and called for shortening and not soft butter so I was able to throw them together quickly since I didn't need to bring any cold butter to room temperature.  The dough needed to be refrigerated for at least two hours because it's quite sticky but once baked the cookies were quite tasty!  And the good thing is I only sampled ONE cookie.  I know, I can't believe it either especially knowing how greedy I am when it comes to sweets but I'm watching what I eat so as to drop another 10 pounds before Christmas so wish me luck!

Here's the recipe for the Molasses Cookies I made with a slight variation from the original.

Ingredients: 


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (orignal recipe didn't ask for nutmeg)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar (orignal recipe asked for white/granulated sugar)
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions: 
  • Heat oven to 360*F
  • Mix all dry ingredients in small bowl and set aside
  • In a large bowl mix shortening with sugar until fluffy, add egg and mix well, then add molasses and mix well.
  • Combine dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well,
  • Cover or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2hrs
  • Roll cookie dough into balls about the size of a walnut then roll in white sugar to coat.
  • Place on greased or non stick cookie sheet, flatten cookie with bottom of glass
  • Bake 5-7 minutes, remove and let cool 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 4dz


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rerun: Ice Skating

We use to love ice skating outdoors in the winter.  Nowadays most folks go to an indoor arena. 

Not the same! 

See me there in my watermellon winter hat and matching scarf ... ya that was a christmas gift from uncle L.  That photo goes back to somewhere in the early 1980s.  My cheeks look like a chipmunk!

Ice skating outdoors in the winter with the cold brisk air on your face.  Bundled up in an ugly hat and warm mittens.  The winter scenery as a backdrop.  Can't get more beautiful than that. 

Mom used to take us when we were wee snot nose brats to the outdoor rink in the local park.  She used to skate with us too until it became too dangerous for her, you know, the falling part, heaven's forbid she put her back out or break a hip.  I skated on my ankles so falling was not an issue!  My brother was like those hockey players!  He wizzed by far enough not to touch you but close enough to make you nervous so you fell down!

Mount royal freezes it's lake in the winter to become a pretty large skating rink.  Not as large as the Ottawa Rideau Canal though.  That there is a photo of Mount Royal in Montreal that I found online.  Pretty backdrop don't you think, with the snow covered trees!  There's a chalet nearby to get warmed up and have some coffee or hot chocolate. 

Once when we were kids, my sister and I went skating, we were making like we were the Rockettes you know, kicking our leg out as we skated along arm in arm.  We ended up on our backs on the ice staring up at the night sky with our arms still linked in one another.  We had no clue when we fell backwards, just lay there confused then cracked up laughing.  That would have made for an awsome funny home video!



*Rerun note: this blog orginally posted December 17, 2010


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mrs. Beasley

Remember Mrs. Beasley? 

If you're in your 40s you remember her so stop pretending!!

I used to have a Mrs. Beasley doll when I was a kid.  I loved her!!!  I never called her Mrs. Beasley though, probably because it was to difficult to say.  I called her Mumz. 

Did I mention that I loved her?

I thought she was an awesome doll.  I don't remember if I got her for Christmas or my birthday or for just being the good little girl I was....  what?  I was a good little girl when I wasn't harassing my siblings

Mrs. Beasley had a plastic head and hands but the rest of her was made of soft filled fabric so she was like a squeezable pillow.  Then somewhere along the way I grew out of her.  The last time I recall seeing her she was in the toy box in the bedroom closet.... and I was about thirty something years younger than I am now!! 

How is it that our mothers know exactly when and how to recycle our favorite toys without us ever knowing?  When I think about Mrs. Beasley I have to wonder when she got recycled.  Seriously!  The only way I can pinpoint the timeline as to when I last saw her is by the location of where we lived.  Strange, I know, but when we were at home number one, I put Mrs. Beasley in the toy box in the closet.  When we moved to home number two, she was not in the toy box and neither were a few of my other favorite toys.  Mom was sneaky like that, I give her credit, she knew to recycle my toys when I wasn't paying attention.  That's a smart move, must be a super power that mothers miraculously gain when they have children. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

POM No More!

The past couple times I've been in a grocery store doing some shopping, I find myself stopping in front of the shelf containing the holiday fruitcakes, similar to the ones in this photograph.  I stand there in front of the shelf staring in disbelief.  People walking up the aisle stare at me probably thinking I look like I'm about to drool over that cake, like I'm falling in cakelove or something like that. 

Highly unlikely though!

Truth be told I'm wondering how I ever ate that store bought stuff!  Seriously!  I know when it came to buying holiday fruitcake I always went with the same brand name.  POM Bakers made, what I considered to be at the time the best fruitcake.  Whenever I went shopping for fruitcake I'd only buy the POM brand and no other.  

Since then I've been corrected.  POM Bakers do NOT make the best fruitcake because I DO!   Yes, that's right, not tooting my own horn or nothing, just stating the facts as I see 'em.  Fruitcake season approacheth and I've already begun purchasing the ingredients.  But seriously, after looking at the cakes like the ones in that photograph there, it's no wonder people dislike fruitcake.  If someone laid a slice of that out for me, I wouldn't want to eat it either!  Even the POM Bakers fruitcake don't look THAT bad.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where Are U Christmas?


So the other day while in a conversation with a friend, the topic of blogging came up.  We chuckled at the realization that we'd been blogging for about six or so years! 

Wow how time flies! 

I got my start in blogging over on the Yahoo 360* site which was pretty cool.  I liked the layout of it and it was pretty user friendly until Yahoo decided to let that ship sink a slow death and I abandoned ship but lost all the blogs I did over there.  Shortly thereafter I landed over on Multiply but then they decided to put excessive advertisements on the blogs unless you paid to have them removed.  Of course I like free, so I deleted those blogs and landed here at Blogspot... and fell in love with the old dashboard, this new one not so much.... I have a love hate relationship with it so there's hope yet.  Ha!

Anyway, my friend had asked if I'd be blogging about Christmas being as it was pretty much that time of year and I've always done an all Christmas blog throughout November & December.  She nicely reminded me that we are well into the month of November and I have yet to really blog about Christmas.  Well, I certainly will post some Christmas blogs but the bulk of them will be retro throwback flashback reruns from yesteryear with the occasional newbie added in. I've got some ideas up my sleeve for how I intend this year's Christmas blogging to be done so all should turn out well.   So, there you have it.  I'm sure she'll comment about how happy this will make her *grins & giggles*.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Commercial Changes


There's something that just occurred to me. If memory serves me right, last year when I went into the pharmacy just around Halloween time, they had their Halloween merchandise displayed nicely until a day or so before October 31st when they shoved everything over just a tad and put the Christmas merchandise on display. Sure it was a sight to see both Halloween ghoules and Christmas elves seated on the same shelf with sales tags hanging off them but that's just how stores do things I suppose.

This year however, I noticed that wasn't the case, only Halloween items were displayed. As soon as November 1st arrived, out came the Christmas displays. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's too soon for Christmas displays because some of the best sales take place the minute these items hit the shelves. I'm just glad I wasn't subjected to the horror of seeing both holidays displayed on the same shelf at the same time even if it would only be for a day or two.

So speaking of Christmas merchandise, now is the time I go hunting for cookie tins at the dollar store. This is also the perfect time to buy all the boxes, bags and Christmas wrap because not only is the stock in excess, most of the time it's last years stock stores want to get rid of before the new stuff comes on display. Doesn't make any difference to me, but to them, well, last season may have been all about silver and blue, whereby this season is all about red and white.

Ya, I know, I'm shaking my head at that too.

Anyway, when it concerns the boxes and bags for packaging up the gifts, getting them early is a surefire way to ensure you have something to pack that gift in! Last year I was short two boxes but when I got to the stores to buy them, SOLD OUT. Bags are the best because no matter how big or small the gift is, it'll fit inside the bag easily (in most cases anyway) so I usually go for the middle size bag since I already have a good idea as to what I intend to buy to put in it. AND...not all dollar stores price things the same. Strange but true. Unlike the Dollar Tree in the USA where everything is $1. The Dollarama in Montreal, everything USED TO BE $1, now prices range from $1 - $2 so the bags they know you really want will cost more than $1 for sure! BUT if you go early, say, like the beginning of November, the price is $1. Not sure why that is but could honestly care less because I'm getting the bags we need early!!!


*note: photo in this post curtesy of Digital Journal


 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Shoe Box Gift

We're a bit behind this year but we still have one week left to fill our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

As per usual, we fill 6 boxes, one for each gender in each age group.  Personally I really enjoy doing this.  The feeling of knowing that at Christmas a little kid somewhere will be opening a gift with dolls, cars, balls, and candy!  Just imagining the smiles on their little faces and the joy in their hearts.  One small box makes all the difference to a child.  By now we're usually done shopping and packing the boxes for return to our church but this year we're a little slow.  The good thing is we have until Sunday to return the boxes so we'll get shopping this week without further delay!!

I'd only found out about Operation Christmas Child back in 2001 when we started going church.  One of our members had mentioned it to me and I instantly thought it was an amazing idea.  Prior to this I'd never knew it existed!  Had wondered why I'd never heard of it before!  Don't recall noticing any advertisements on the radio or in magazines or on television for it either.

Still wonder why I never hear anyone like Oprah or Ellen mention it on their talk shows knowing they have "followers" who will jump when they say jump, just a five minute segment on their show could get this program further recognition.  Ok I'm not going to get on a rant here about that but you know where I'm coming from right... I mean Oprah's getting ready to do her favorite things and one of them should be Operation Christmas Child, in my opinion anyway... ok not going to rant... not going to rant!!

I hope our boxes fill a child with joy, if even for a short while.... because the world isn't an easy place to live, we should thank God daily for what we have because it could always be worse...




Friday, November 2, 2012

It's Cookie Season!

Cookie season approacheth.

Yup.  It's pretty much this close to cookie season.  I've been scouring all the major grocery chains for sales on baking items.  I'll never understand how the Canadian dollar is at par with the American dollar but a 2kg (5lb) bag of flour costs $0.89 in the USA and $4.99 in Montreal. 

I know, highway robbery eh!!

I've got thirteen 4litre containers to fill with cookies for my kids.  Yup.  MY KIDS.  Ok so techinically I don't have kids, I have nieces and nephews but they're mine so that makes them my kids right. RIGHT!  I fill one container per household for family and friends who I consider family.  This year I'm really excited about it, unlike last year for some reason I wasn't as excited as I am now but that was then and it's a done deal.

I'll be going through my cookie recipe book soon enough and pulling out the usual ones to bake and adding some new ones that I want to try.  I'll still be baking "nut-free" as I've got a niece & nephew with peanut allergies and we want them to survive Christmas. 



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Zombie Activity

The odd thing I noticed about this Halloween is the increase in zombie activity. 

o_O 

Ok that statement didn't sound right did it? 

What I mean is, the increase in ..... making like a zombie... *shrugs shoulders*  Ok we'll just stick to the first statement then.

I've been around the internet and noticed so many zombie walks or what ever they're being called.  Some even send out a huge tweet or facebook message for a "flash zombie mob".  All in all I think it's pretty cute, with it being Halloween, these zombie mobs around the city every weekend in October are a cute way to get involved with the creepiness.  The participants go all out in perfecting their zombie appearance.  I could only assume they've watched Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, or Sean Of The Dead??  However, I'm just terribly afraid I'll come across a zombie mob when I least expect it.  I'll even confess that I've been avoiding an area in my neighbourhood because a few of the young folks there have what I refer to as "zombie-love".  I'm sure these kids see me jogging by or stopping to take a photo of the autumn beauty, and that they probably orchestrated a zombie mob to be hiding in the bushes for the unsuspecting fraidycat jogger.  I honestly don't know what my reaction would be if that were to happen, I mean peeing my pants and screaming like a girl are a natural given, but would I be too scared stiff and just stand there frozen in time or would I run like an athlete on steroids, or would I lash out and "fight back to save my brain from being eaten".  I guess it would depend on how much coffee I've consumed.  Too much caffeine would most certainly mean I'd pee my pants then punch the zombie in the head before I run like the wind to save my life.

Seriously...  I'm so paranoid these days it's not funny.  I'm so glad that technically Halloween is over, ok sure there's likely to be at least a couple more parties on Friday & Saturday night but aside from that, is it safe for a chicken me to walk the streets in my neighbourhood again?


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Carrot Cake In Autumn

For all the baking I've done over the past little while, believe it or not, I've never made a carrot cake!  With it being autumn, and the farmers market is pretty much giving away bags of carrots at ridiculously low prices, I figured why not make a carrot cake, not like I didn't have the perfect recipe anyway!

A couple of years back, my sister-in-law gave me her secret family recipe for carrot cake.  She always made the cake when the family gathered and naturally I fell in foodlove with it!  One time she even made a cake just for me!  Well actually I was supposed to share it with my husband but being greedy like I tend to be sometimes, it wasn't really shared, more like he got a small sliver of a sample of it and I ate the rest.

Anyway, I got out my cheese shredder or whatever the thing is called, and went to town on the carrots.  I had no idea shredding carrots required so much elbow grease!  I did learn that I desperately need a new shredder because though the one I have is perfect for shredding cheese on lasagna, it's a whole 'nother story when it comes to carrots!!  (it looks like the one in that photo over there, good for cheese, but carrots, not so much!)

After following the directions carefully - and yes I was fully awake and clear headed so no baking mishaps this time - the batter was poured into the bundt pan .... rather, the NEW bundt pan that I finally got around to buying!!!  Truth be told, I really wanted to break that pan in! 

While the cake was in the oven I cleaned up the ultimate mess I made.  I had cake batter everywhere on the counter, on the coffee pot, ON THE TOASTER!!!

Sigh...

Sure, I was nervous during baking.  I know my track record with first-time-recipes.  But when the toothpick came out clean, and the cake was done, and it came safely out of the pan and onto the plate...  I used some of the creamy cream cheese icing I won on the top of the cake.  Just put a bit on the hot cake so it drizzled down the side and made more like a glaze effect. 

Then when it was cool, I had a small piece.  Ya, that's right ... a SMALL piece.  I'm trying not to over due the snacks since I'm still losing weight.  Bottom line is, the cake didn't last long because the husband loved it!  Gave some to my Mom and to my Mother-in-law to sample as well.  I"ll pick up a new shredder this week and make another cake, but until then, no more shredding carrots with that el-cheap-o shredder!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I Won!!

When I checked the mail yesterday, I received a notice to pick up a package from the post office.  It drove me nuts trying to figure out what the package was since I couldn't remember if I'd ordered anything on ebay or etsy.  It wasn't any special occasion for anyone to be sending me anything either so I was completely baffled.

Then it came to me.  Not quite sure what jogged my memory but I did recall entering my info for a chance to win a cake pack.  Could that have been it?

I wasn't sure but I thought, hey could I really be one of the 100 winners of the Duncan Hines contest?  It really seemed too good to be true so I wasn't about to get my hopes up and have the package turn out to be something else.

I picked up the box today and opened it and oh how happy I was!!!  It was like Christmas almost but not quite.

I don't usually enter contests but I figured what the heck in this case.  The contest listed the prize as a cake mix and a limited edition cake server so not a big deal if I didn't win right.  

It was just a simple Duncan Hines contest that didn't require me to bake anything. All I had to do was simply like their page on Facebook and then jot down how I'd use the new Duncan Hines Red Velvet cake mix (because the purpose of the contest was to promote their red velvet box mix).  

Now I can't for the likes of me recall what I wrote but it must have been good enough for me to be one of the 100 winners of a gift pack that consisted of two red velvet cake mixes, two whipped creamy cream cheese icing, a cake server that says Duncan Hines Red Velvet on the handle, a red apron with the words Duncan Hines across the front and three coupons for free cake mixes! 

I know it may not sound like much to some folks but to me - a first time contest winner - it's the mother load!! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thankful

Oh the delight of a Thanksgiving dinner.

So Yesterday was the Canadian Thanksgiving and as per usual, dinner was divine!  The most wonderful aspect of it all is that our Mom's are great chefs!  Hey what were you expecting me to say with all that food between the two of them over the course of the long weekend.

We ate an abundance of:
  • turkey
  • chicken
  • stuffing
  • curried beef
  • rice
  • mashed potatoes
  • fresh vegetables
  • macaroni pie
  • fish
  • potato salad
  • green salad
  • can you say CHEESE CAKE and APPLE PIE!!!
I may have forgotten something but that's pretty much what I put into this belly of mine over the course of the weekend.  Many thanks to our Moms for their culinary skills.  Much appreciated especially since my culinary skills are somewhat lacking in the "skill" department.

I'm thankful that I have family to share love (and good food) with.  I'm thankful for the simple everyday things like our warm home, food in our cupboards, a soft bed to rest my head on each night, clothes to wear especially now that the temperature is dropping, our jobs that pay our bills, our good health, friends (and internet so I can keep in contact with those who are too busy to speak on the phone)... for our Lord Jesus Christ who loves me just as I am (which really blows me away sometimes because I'm a major work in progress)... for Gods Grace...  I can go on and on because I AM THANKFUL.

1 Thessalonians 5 14-18 KJV

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.   15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.   16 Rejoice evermore.   17 Pray without ceasing.   18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Autumn Apple Butter

Ever since I started dropping the pounds and exercising regularly, I've been in the kitchen baking up a storm! 

Strange but true!

I usually don't like cooking but I don't mind baking... probably because baking yields some pretty good desserts!

 
Last week I tried my hand at making apple butter in the slow cooker.  Now I've always wondered why it's called "butter" when it's more like a "jam" but anyway, it tasted pretty good.  While surfing the net for a recipe, I stumbled on Sweet and Savory by Sarah's recipe for apple butter in a crock pot. (click the link for the recipe and while you're there, surf her blog, she's got some pretty good recipes up in there!).  I followed her crock pot apple butter recipe almost exactly.  I say almost because I used one and a half of each type of apples I found at the outdoor market to jazz up the flavor.  When the pot still had room for more apples, I just diced up some Lobo apples that I had in a bag in the fridge from before.  My only issue with the recipe is it never tells you when to keep the lid off the pot once you've added the sugar and spices.  I had the first batch cooking for a while when I noticed the steam was causing the juice to build up so I got clued in and removed the lid and then finally it cooked down to a thick apple sauce type of jam (but not a smooth buttery butter).  My second batch came out just as good and slightly lumpy so I was a bit worried and googled up a Martha Stewart video that pretty much told me that was as good as my apple butter was going to get (though her recipe is different the outcome is the same in my opinion and I really enjoyed Sarah's recipe). 

The first sample of the "jam" I had on a piece of toast and it was marvelous.  Eventually I baked a small batch of biscuits.  It's safe to say I'll be making another batch in a few weeks because my jar is almost done!!

Next up is pumpkin butter which I never heard of but since I stumbled on a recipe somewhere I may as well give it a try. (will post the link to the recipe when I blog it's results).


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Good Grief- It's the Hodgepodge-Vol 96

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer the questions provided by From This Side Of The Pond on your own blog then link up with the whole big wide world.  Or small wide world.  However you see it is fine.

Click on the link, join the fun, blog hop.

Here are my answers to this week's questions-



1. It's a brand new month...share one thing you're looking forward to in October.


Leaves changing colours! I enjoy watching the leaves change colours, then fall to the ground all over the place (my husband hates that they all seem to fall on his car). I enjoy how some homes decorate outrageously for Halloween. I just enjoy the whole season of autumn and it seems that October is synonymous for autumn in my book!

2. Is chivalry dead? Explain.
 
Maybe not dead but definitely on life support! I just don't see too many people going out of their way to help others in need of assistance.

3. On October 2, 1950 the Peanuts comic strip made its debut. Which character is your favorite? Which character is most like you? (Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Shroeder, Snoopy, Woodstock, or Pig Pen) If you need a description click
here .


My favorite Peanuts character is Pig Pen. This dude doesn't seem to care what other's think of his appearance, he's the master of self confidence if anything. The character most like myself would be Charlie Brown... I just can't seem to get a break!

4. What's something you're competitive about?

I'm not competitive at all. I just do my own thing without competition, win or lose cést la vie.

5. October is National Popcorn Popping Month...are you a fan? How do you like your popcorn?

Popcorn is awesome. I like plain popcorn, no salt, no butter. I know that sounds bland but I got used to eating it that way.

6. When did you first realize the world is small?

I can't say this was when I first realized the world was small but it comes pretty close. When I started dating Tony (who is now my husband), he brought me to meet his family, turns out I went to school with one of his sisters!

7. In terms of architecture, what's the most beautiful building you've seen up close and in person?

I'd have to say St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal.  click here for Wikipedia.
She's a beauty! If ever you're in Montreal, be sure to put that on your list of places to see!!!

























8. Insert your own random thought here.

Brain's been busy all week giving me a headache thinking too much about nonsense. Tell me to insert random thought here and brain suddenly shuts down. Go figure!


 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fright Night Again

I finally forced myself to watch the Fright Night remake that starred Colin Farrell and it wasn't easy to watch quietly either.  Oh no, I wasn't screaming scared, I was annoyed and criticizing the film!  Sad but true!

I always wondered why they would remake that movie.  Wondered why they would put Colin Farrell as the vampire!  At first I thought perhaps with new video technology and animation the film would be amazing, except for the addition of Colin Farrell, but I just refused to pay megabucks in the cinema to see it.  Sure, I went to the cinema to see the original way back in the 80s with my Mom.  Since that day I will forever call Fright Night "Mom's Scary Movie" because she watched most of the movie from behind her hands that were covering her eyes.  *giggles*

While surfing around Youtube I came across the remake in full.  Would you believe that even with the possibility of watching the film for free, I still was reluctant to fork over my time!

AND RIGHTFULLY SO!!! 

But in the end, I gave in to my curiosity and watched it.

The vampire in the 1985 version was sexy, the story was fairly interesting and it also starred Roddy McDowall, remember him from The Cat From Outer Space?  While the Fright Night remake tried to stick to the 1985 version, it sometimes went off in it's own direction.  And since when do vampires become "normal humans" again once the major vampire is killed?  Ok sure that happened in the first one too come to think of it but isn't that theory only for werewolves?   At least Colin Farrell didn't sparkle when the sun hit him like the Twilight vampires, instead he morphed into some real bad CGI vampire that somewhat resembled the one from the Van Helsing movie that Wolverine Hugh Jackman starred in, and turned to dust.