Monday, December 7, 2009

A couple of recipes as requested

We are well into December and we have snow actually sticking on the ground here. I had to find my winter driving skills today driving to karate and horseback, some wicked black ice out there.

On Facebook today I mentioned that I was making Guinness Stew and Candy Cane Brownies for dinner tonight and I had a lot of requests for the recipes. Here they are, enjoy!!!!

Guinness Stew (I call it this, but the recipe is actually called Deep Dish Pub Pies, I got it years ago from

2 lbs (1 kg) boneless lade, cross-rib or round steak or stewing beef, cubed
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups beef broth (I use the VE Beef Bouillon)
1 can of Guinness
1 cup plain tomato sauce (I use V8 for added flavour)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
2 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, diced
3/4 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cups small mushroom, halved

1 (about 14 0z/400 g) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg lightly beaten

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Add beef and shake to coat with flour. Reserve remaining flour. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large, heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Brown beef cubes in batches, adding more oil as needed. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened. Add broth, beer, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, stirring well to scrape brown bits from bottom of pan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until meat is nearly tender. Add carrots, potatoes and celery, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, then add mushrooms and simmer for 15 minutes longer or until meat and vegetables are tender.

Mix reserved flour mixture with a little cold water until smooth. Stir into beef mixture and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning. Divide beef mixture between 8 individual casseroles (each about 10 oz/300 mil or 4 inches in diameter) Cover with foil.

Make -Ahead: Beef mixture may be refrigerated before or after filling casseroles, for up to 2 days)


Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll out pastry to 1/8 inch (3 cm) thickness and cut into 8 round that are the same diameter as the casserole dishes (pastries will puff up during baking and shrink slightly in diameter) Place on large baking sheet.

Chill until pastry is cold, about 15 minutes. Brush with lightly beaten egg. Bake in preheated oven for about 12 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Reserve

Make Ahead: Pastries may be made up to a day ahead. Cover with a tea towel and store at room temperature)

Bake foil-topped casseroles in 400F oven for 15 min or until bubbling hot. Remove foil, top each with reserved puff pastry rounds and return to oven for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

If you like beer, have a can of Guinness while eating the stew/pies.

I normally don't make this into pies, I don't always have the time. I skip the pastry part and just eat the stew part. You can also add dumplings to the stew the last 15 minutes or so of cooking.

I have also made this stew in the slow cooker. Brown the beef and add to the slow cooker. Use the beer and some of the broth in the pan that you browned the beef in, scraping up the bits and add this to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients, mix well and cook on low for about 8-10 hours.

Now for dessert:

Candy Cane Brownies

This recipe is from Canadian Living Holiday Best 2002

2/3 cup butter
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

1/2 cup crushed candy canes
2/3 cups mini chocolate chips

Line a 13 x 9 inch metal cake pan with parchment paper, set aside.

In saucepan over medium-low heat, melt together butter and semisweet and unsweetened chocolates. Let cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Using wooden spoon, stir in flour and salt. Scrape into prepared pan.

Bake in 350 F oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging, 25 to 30 minutes.

TOPPING: Sprinkle with candy canes, then chocolate chips; return to oven for 30 seconds (do not let topping melt). Let cool in pan on rack. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. Cut into bars. Makes about 40 bars

I use a whole package of candy canes (i think there are about 12 or so candy canes per pkg). I can't be bothered measuring crushed candy canes. I put the unwrapped candy canes in a large Ziploc baggie, seal the baggie and beat the crap out of them with a rolling pin. It is a great stress reliever. I also just eyeball the chocolate chips on top as well, in my world you can never have too much chocolate.

We also say screw it to refrigerating the bars for 1 hour. After a couple of hours I remove the brownies from the pan, and cut into squares while the chocolate chips are still ooey and gooey and oh so good and you end up with chocolate all over your hands and face. Yummy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Scrapping Turtle is Having a Spooktacular On-Line Crop

At the Scrapping Turtle Forum, one of the forums I like to hang out at, is having a "Spooktacular On-Line Crop" beginning Nov. 13. There will be challenges and ballots given to win some awesome prizes, don't know what the prizes are, but knowing the Turtle they will be awesome. If you are new to the forum, go and register, tell them I sent you, complete at least 2 of the challenges from the on-line crop (it will be fun, trust me) and you and I will each win some ballots.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gotta Love Halloween

I love Halloween. I love decorating, getting the costumes figured out, picking out pumpkins and raiding the kids treat bag (my hips and stomach don't appreciate that part though)

It is a yearly tradition in our house that I take a picture of all three kids with their pumpkins after we carved them and are waiting for the pumpkin seeds to finish cooking. Of all the pictures I took that night, I like this one the best, it shows all three of them laughing, shows them as I see them and why I love my three babies (yes Laura, you maybe 14 but you will ALWAYS be my baby). Why are they laughing? That splash of white in the left hand side of the picture is a clue. That would be Dalwhinnie who decided that with me sitting on the floor with a camera sticking out of my face, it would be a good time to jump on me and lick my ear, ewwwwww!! Nothing like dog licks in the ear.

This year for Halloween it was just Daniel and Amanda who went Trick or Treating with their friends, Laura opted to stay home and hand out candy, I think she realized it was more work than she expected. Of course I have to take some pictures before they head out. Daniel was walking death, again, and Amanda was an enchantress with a purple and black wig that lasted about 3-5 houses.

When I look at this picture it makes me giggle. Daniel had his toy sword with "blood" (ya gotta love boys) and was swinging it at our Pirate, Mr. Doomsday, who is trying to get out of his grave, except it looks like he is ready to take Amanda down who is smiling sweetly, without a care in the world. She doesn't see her brother who appears ready to slash his sister down into oblivion, but she is an enchantress, she will use her magical powers to deflect him. Daniel has been foiled again. Bwahahaha!!!!

And finally, here is our house with the decorations. My favourite would be the giant spiderweb and spider. And we can't forget Mr. Doomsday. Poor Mr. Doomsday who will be stuck half in and half out of his grave forever......well right now he is in storage in my basement.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A couple of cards

I have been busy making a couple of cards. This first one is to welcome my new niece. We haven't had a chance to actually meet her yet because we have had the flu in the house, she is about a month old already, hopefully we will be able to see her very soon. Kathy, if you see this, you didn't see this, right?

The stamp is Geordie The Giraffe, it was in my loot bag from Crop for the Cure (thanks Tracey) and I colored him in with Copic markers, the words "little one" is a Close to my Heart stamp. Patterned paper is Basic Grey (sprinkles), ribbon I am not sure, got it in a grab bowl at Scrapfest, cardstock is Stampin Up, the Threading Water Stamp from Fiskars was used to give the scalloped edge at the bottom of the pattern paper.

This card I made just because. I will probably give it to one of my girls at some point. Patterned paper is from Stemma, stamped image and wording is Close To My Heart, flower rub ons and bling is from Bazzill and again I used the Threading Water punch from Fiskars.

That is my three posts for today, to make up what I missed posting yesterday and Sunday. We shall see if I can blog everyday this month for National Blog Writing Month. I think if I do I need to treat myself to something scrappy, maybe a Quickutz die, or new Cricut cartridge, or more paper because lord knows I don't have enough paper!!!

Jessica Sprague has a new free class

Just got an e-mail yesterday from Jessica Sprague that she has a free online class and that registration is now open. It is called Holidays In Hand. I have taken one of her classes before and she is a fabulous teacher for adobe and digital scrap booking. And as with all of her classes you get free downloads. Check it out here and register if you can. And the best part is you don't have to "keep up" with the classes. You can work at your own pace, so if you have a crazy busy week and can't get to the lesson right away, you do it 1, 2 or 3 weeks later or even 1 year later.

Double Ginger Crackle Top Cookies

We have had the stomach flu come through this house for about the past week. Daniel started last Wednesday, Dave and Laura kicked in Saturday night. Today, everyone is back to school and work. Woohoo!!!!!!!

We have had a month of at least once a week someone gets sick in this house except for me, I have just kept going, didn't have time to get sick I suppose, having to take care of my bubonics. Also, yesterday my mom fell and broke her wrist so I will have to be zipping out to Woodstock to get her a few groceries and such.

The other day, with Dave and Laura comatose on the couches, Amanda still having her lingering cough and Daniel still complaining of a stomach ache, I decided I had enough. I tried to raise some money for my "Ria is sick and tired of taking care of sick children and Dave and needs a vacation preferably to the Caribbean and/or Hawaii" fund. I didn't get too far. Denise and Marissa and Lisa offered to come with me, they are such good friends that they would be willing to make such a big sacrifice for me. We decided on Hawaii. But the only cash I got was some Canadian Tire money from Lisa, she said I could buy some bungee cords with them. Maybe I could stowaway on a plane and bungee myself out when we are over Hawaii?

I read on one of the blogs that I follow that November is suppose to be National Blog Writing Month and that you are suppose to try and blog everyday. Huh? I am lucky to blog once a month sometimes. It is now November 3, I think I am about two days behind already, what if I post three posts today, would that count?

Now for the recipe. With people's stomach acting up, I decided to make some Double Ginger Crackle Top Cookies. Boy did my house smell amazing last night. It is a recipe I use from Epicure and it calls for their Crystallized Ginger. I love their Crystallized Ginger. Usually the grocery store kind of crystallized ginger tends to be pale in colour and small, and when you read the ingredients they add some other stuff besides ginger and sugar, to prolong the shelf life. Last year I got my first can of VE Crystallized Ginger, opened it up and the smell was AMAZING!!!! The ginger was a nice dark color, moist and chewy and I was able to eat it right out of the container with no funny aftertaste. I read the ingredients which are as follows: ginger, sugar. THAT IS IT!!! Pure ginger with sugar, and the container I opened last year is still good, almost gone, but still good. This crystallized ginger is fabulous dipped in melted dark chocolate.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp VE Ginger
1/2 tsp VE Cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup finely chopped VE Crystallized Ginger
3/4 cup shortening (I use butter to eliminate the trans fats which are a lot worse than saturated fats for your heart)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar, reserve 1/2 cup for rolling
1 egg
2 tbsp Molasses
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 350 F

2. Whisk together first 6 ingredients and set aside

3. Cream shortening (butter), brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Beat in egg, molasses, and lemon zest.

5. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating well after each addition.

6. Place 1/4 cup white sugar in a shallow bowl. Form dough into 1" balls, roll in white sugar and place on a parchment line baking sheet 2" apart (I just used my pampered chef stone ware, greased)

7. Bake for 10 minutes or until "crackled" on top. Cool before storing.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Catching up and a recipe

I admit it , I am a terrible blogger. I see it has been over a month since I lost posted. Yikes!!!!

For the last three weeks we have had a flu bug in this house. I have been lucky in that it didn't strike me down, but it got everybody else here. According to the Board of Health, if you have the flu, chances are it is H1N1, so I assume that is what we had. We ended up spending Thanksgiving here at home and missed out on seeing our brand new niece, but we are planning to go down to Sarnia this Sunday and meet Brianna. I am so excited, charging my camera batteries right now.

I have used this morning so far to catch up on my internet world. Went over to Two Peas and watched their weekly Video Warehouse Walk. I so want to work there, I think it would be fun if Denise, Marissa and myself had jobs in their warehouse, Dave thinks nothing would get done if we were there. I wonder why he would think that?!?!?! I also watched their Finally Friday Video with Kristian Werner. She showed how to make the cutest card using Basic Grey's Nook and Pantry paper line and stamps. Love it. You should check it out.

Today is a cloudy, cold, and rainy day so I am dressed in comfy sweatpants and sweater, sitting here in my craft room and hope to get some scrap booking done. I have to make a card for my niece to welcome her to this fabulous world and finish the mystery kit I picked up at the Scrapping Turtle for this month. Hopefully I will get around to posting pics later of those projects.

Last weekend Marissa and I held an Epicure open house here at my home. We had a fabulous turnout and everything we made was given two thumbs up. We had Spinach Dip, Crab Dip, layered Nacho Cheese Dip. Shortbread with dark chocolate for dipping, vanilla spritz cookies, chai and Christmas Tea with an amazing gingerbread syrup, baked brie with Red Pepper Jelly and Pinoit Noir Wine Jelly. We also made a fabulous gingerbread cake using the new Gingerbread Spice blend and served it with Vanilla Creme Anglaise. Here is the recipe. I would post pictures, but we ate all and it was delicious.



3 eggs beaten
1 cup white Sugar
1 cup molasses
3/4 melted butter
1 tbsp VE Gingerbread Spices
2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C)
2. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" (23 cm x 33 cm) baking pan. Lightly dust with flour, tapping out the excess. Set aside.
3. Beat eggs, sugar, molasses, butter and VE Gingerbread Spices in a mixing bowl.
4. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Stir into egg mixture.
5. Stir flour into mixture until batter is smooth.
6. Add boiling water and mix well. Pour into prepared pan.
7. Bake for 45 minutes.

Marissa and I found this cake reminds us of Koek, which is a Dutch cake we used to eat growing up. Adding some chopped apple and/or raisins would also be a nice addition to this cake.


1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 VE Vanilla Bean
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp granulated sugar

1. Place whipping cream, milk, and VE Vanilla Bean in top of double boiler over medium heat. Stir frequently for approximately 3 minutes, or until mixture begins to heat and small bubbles form at edge of bowl.
2. Remove VE Vanilla Bean, split lengthwise with a small knife and scrape out seeds. Add seeds to mixture. Rinse pod and set aside to be reused.
3. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl. Slowly add heated milk mixture in a steady stream, whisking constantly.
4. Return mixture to the top of the double boiler. With heat at a slow simmer, stir with a spatula for approximately 3-4 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly.

Serve with warm gingerbread cake. Yummy!!! Especially for a day like today.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September Quickutz Class

This past Saturday Denise and I (Marissa wasn't able to make it) went to our monthly Quickutz class at The Scrapping Turtle. And Lori did it again by designing an amazing class.

First here is the September pages to go in our calendar binder. We used alcohol inks on Quickutz self-adhesive clear plastic and then cut out leaves and the scroll frame. I loved the final look. I see some money being spent on alcohol inks now.

Next was this card. We used the silhouette of the tree from the Recycle kit. With some ribbon of course and finished off with a hat pin, the point safely tuck behind the tree and frame, so people like me don't poke their finger and draw blood.

Finally is the layout. We used some of the nesting dies to make some of the trees/flowers and with a brown distress ink, stamped script on the letters for the title. I love the blues, green and browns together.

Once again Lori, thank you sooo much for an awesome class.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First post in a long time with a kick butt recipe

I know, I know. It has been a long long long time since I lasted posted. August was a whirlwind around here. A brief summary of our August goes like this: We went to the ROM with Dave's sister Mary, her husband John and two of their offspring, Rachel and Even. We saw the Dead Sea Scrolls and excerpts of the Egyptian Book of The Dead. Fed stingrays and got mooned by an organutan at the Toronto Zoo. I turned 41 and got a brand new, absolutely fabulous Canon Rebel. Three days later the brand new camera and I came crashing down when Dalwhinnie (my normally lovable dog) tripped me up while we were doing a light jog to get some shots of a hot air balloon landing in a nearby field. I think the whole village of Ayr heard me curse and swear at the dog. The camera survived the fall with only a few minor scratches on the body. Me, I scraped up my left knee and wrist a little bit, and took a nice big chunk out of my elbow, it has been over three weeks and I am still healing. Laura turned 14 and had an amazing sleepover with some of her friends. We met family of Scott and Marissa's from England, their little guy got along so well with Daniel, it was like they were always friends. Had to say goodbye to my nieces, Angela and Heather, who flew back to B.C. to be with their mom. During their last few days in Ontario they stayed with us and we all had a blast, water gun fights and roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire pit. Did some major back to school shopping and got Laura ready for her first day at high school, can't get over how much my baby girl is growing up, I am so proud of her.

And that folks, is just the tip of the iceberg of what happened in August. I haven't had a chance to do any scrapbooking during August, but I hope to start back up again now that the kids are back to school and we are starting to settle into a routine.

Now for the recipe. I am a member at Pioneer Woman's new cooking website, Tasty Kitchen, and in my list of friends is a lovely woman and amazing cook by the name of Paula Jones who also shares recipes on her blog bell' alimento. I have read a number of her recipes and oohed and ahhed over the pictures. Tonight I made her Rum Chicken and it was a big hit!!!! Even Daniel, who normally we have to fight with to eat, had two servings!!!!! Here is the recipe below and when you have a chance check out Paula's recipes. They are fabulous!!!!! Enjoy

What you’ll need:
4 large chicken thighs
3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 fresh sage leaves
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup Rum
large pinch of Nutmeg

What to do:
Pat your chicken thighs dry with a paper towel & season well with s/p on all sides & set aside. Place your chicken fryer/skillet over med-high heat. Once your pan is hot, add in your butter.

Once the butter is melted, add in your sage leaves & then your chicken thighs. Sprinkle thighs with your Nutmeg. Cook your thighs until they are browned on all sides. Turning as necessary.

Once the chicken is browned, add in your chicken stock and cook for approximately 5-6 minutes. Lower the heat to simmer/low & add in the rum. Cover your pan with a lid and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until your chicken is cooked through. Turning every so often.

Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lake Huron at Sunset

We have had a very busy week here at our house. Laura, Amanda, and Daniel spent the week at Dave's parent's for Camp Jenkins. While they were gone, Dave and I managed to get a lot of purging, cleaning, and sorting done. We also enjoyed sleeping in, lazy mornings, slow breakfasts, went to see a movie one night, went out for sushi another night. It was nice. Sunday, was off to Bright's Grove to celebrate my father in law's 70th birthday and my Sister in Law's 45th.

My in-law's have a wonderful house right on Lake Huron. Just walk across the street and you are at the beach. While there, all the grandkids were at the beach pretty much everyday, thank goodness the weather actually co-operated this week. Sunday we spent the afternoon hanging out on the beach, eating, laughing, drinking, and catching up with family and friends we don't get to see too often. After we were full of all kinds of yummy food including cake and pie (really good pie cousins from Michigan brought over) we sat on the porch to enjoy a beautiful sunset. After awhile some of us wandered to the beach to watch the sunset from the breakers. It was a beautiful night. The temperature was just right, the beach was pretty much empty of people except for us.

Here is the group watching the sunset. I couldn't resist taking a couple of pictures.

I think we would make this a daily ritual if we could.

Of course here is the sunset. The beautiful sunset. Some days I wished I lived here, just for the sunsets.

A perfect way to end a perfect day.
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Bella Bvld is doing another give away!!!

Just got back from popping into Bella Blvd's blog and they are doing another giveaway. It is paper packs from the new lines they released at CHA along with embellishments to got with them. Fabulous. Go to Bella Blvd and check it out and enter for your chance to win!!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009


On one of the message boards that I sometimes visit, someone posted a video link that has been making the rounds about a couple's non-traditional walk down the wedding aisle. I watched it and I found myself immediately smiling, laughing, and crying. It was fabulous. They were celebrating what is suppose to be a milestone day in a person's life. They were celebrating their love for each other and life.

Watching this video made me think back to my own wedding and my serious walk down the aisle. Dave and I have talked and we both agree if we were to do our wedding all over again, we would keep the reception, that was so much fun, but the ceremony, we would change. We wouldn't do the big serious church ceremony and all the pomp and circumstance that goes with it. Don't get me wrong, I loved my wedding day, I loved my dress and feeling like a princess for a day, but the church ceremony, that is not me anymore. If Dave and I were to get married today, I would like the ceremony to be a celebration of our love and commitment to each other and our lives together, and we would want our friends and family to celebrate and laugh with us.

Below is a link to the video. Enjoy. I hope it puts a smile and laugh into your day like it did mine.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jessica Sprague Lesson 2- Brushes

I managed to get Jessica Sprague's Lesson 2 - Brushes done. WOW!!!! Super super easy or what and after exploring her site and being linked to all kinds of websites that offer free brushes, I am sooo excited. It has opened all new world to me.

Anyways, here is my completed assignment from Lesson 2. Not bad if I do say so myself. Need to experiment a bit more, but I think I got it. Woohoo!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bella Blvd

My good friend Heather introduced me to Bella Blvd, I hadn't heard of them before, but after checking out their stuff I don't know why. Oh my goodness!!! Their stuff is absolutely freakin' fabulous!!!!! I love love what they have in their idea gallery and then today on their blog they posted sneek peaks of their new lines coming out soon. I want it ALL!!!!!!

If you love to scrapbook or are new to scrapbooking you have to go and see what I am talking about at Bella Blvd and check them out, you will be glad you did.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

July Quickutz class

Once a month I go with Marissa and Denise to the Scrapping Turtle for their Quickutz Class. Quickutz is a product line of die cutting machines and die cuts used in paper crafting, to learn more check out their website here. We are members of the Quickutz club at The Turtle which give us a discount on Quickutz products, special deals and a monthly class where we make some projects designed by the incredibly talented Lori.

The July class was Christmas in July where we made a fabulous two page layout for Christmas pictures. Once again Lori outdid herself, we always joke about wanting to be inside her head when she is creating the projects because they are always fabulous. Below is the completed two page layout, ignore the crooked trees on page one, I didn't realize they were falling off until I loaded the pictures. Whoops!!!!

Close up of the first page, notice all the layering, love it. Used pop dots to make some of the elements "Pop".

Here is the second page.

The second project was another calendar page and photo page to go into the calendar album we are making. I loved the swimsuits hanging on the clothes line. Too stinkin' cute.

Touched by An Angel Hair Pasta

Thursday I went with Daniel and Laura to the St. Jacob's Farmers Market. I love going there, seeing the rows of stalls full of fresh produce and being able to buy directly from the farmer. The colors of all the blueberries, raspberries, peppers, tomatoes, carrots etc. It is a feast for the senses to be there. At the end of the day we came home with a cooler full of fresh produce that I couldn't wait to use in making dinner. I decided to make an Angel hair pasta dish with roasted peppers and pesto, it is a tried and true recipe from my Eat, Shrink and By Merry cookbook. The original recipe called for fresh basil, but I forgot to pick some up, even though there were stalls with fresh picked and potted basil. I guess I was too distracted by everything else going around me. Instead I used some of the Epicure Pesto Herb mix and it worked out perfectly.

I rounded off the meal with fresh corn on the cob with fresh watermelon and raspberries for dessert. It was delicious and everyone (except for Daniel) cleaned off their plates.

Here is a picture of the main course of the meal, yummy. Dave was looking at me kind of funny while I was taking pictures of my dinner. I told him it was for my blog and don't worry, I won't getting any more nuts on him than I already am.

Here is the orignal recipe along with my tweaking:

2 large red bell peppers
1 large yellow bell pepper
1 large orange bell pepper
1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (I used 1- 1 1.2 tsp or so of Epicure Pesto Herb Mix)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic (approx. 2-3 cloves of minced fresh garlic based on how garlic you want it)
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz (227 g) uncooked angel hair pasta (capelli d'angelo)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (you can get this in the deli section of grocery stores, don't get the powdery not real Parmesan but we will call it Parmesan cheese that you usually find next to the pastas and sauces in the main part of the grocery store, just not the same as the real stuff)
freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Preheat broiler. Halve red, yellow, and orange peppers. Remove stems and seeds. Place peppers cut-side down on non-stick baking sheet. Broil until blistered and charred. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand for 15 minutes. Peel off skins. Set 1 red pepper half aside. Cut remaining peppers into thin strips. Set aside.

In food processor, puree reserved red pepper half, basil (or pesto herb mix), olive oil, garlic, and salt until smooth.

Cook pasta according to package directions until tender but firm. Drain and return to pot. Add pepper strips and basil puree. Toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Figuring out photoshop

I picked up Photoshop Elements 7 as a really good deal at Costco a while ago, but haven't been able to figure out how to actually use the program. Adobe has a good thing going when they charge you close $100.00 for the program (with my Costoc coupon I got it for a lot less!!!! I love good deals) but no instructions on how to use it unless you spend another $60.00 at Chapters on the manual.....I don't think so. Thanks goodness for Jessica Sprague!!!! I have started Jessica Sprague's free photoshop course and after looking at the first couple of lessons, the course is FABULOUS and she is such an amazing teacher!!! She explains everything on the videos clearly and walks you through it all step by step.

The lessons started last week, but I was too busy last week with company and birthdays to start. Since the course is online, I can start anytime I want, perfect for people like me. Tonight, I completed Lesson 1, PNG Frames and Word Art, below is my finished project.

I am so excited at being able to actually figure out photoshop. Also check out her website for lots of free tutorials and links to more free stuff. I love free stuff!!!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

100 Mile Diet

The other day on the Food Network I watched an episode of the 100 Mile Challenge. The show follows a number of families from a B.C. town as they attempt to eat only food that grows within 161 Km of their homes. The challenge is based on a book called the 100 Mile Diet written by James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith which chronicles a year of them eating only food grown and raised within 100 miles (161 km) of their home.

Anyways, back to the show. It was fascinating watching these families struggle the first week or so of not having a morning cup of coffee or tea for example. No oranges, lemons, olive oil, salt etc. It was interesting watching them clean out their pantries and fridge of foods that were not local. The families consisted of foodies that already cooked food from fresh and used very limited prepackaged foods to families that exist on prepackaged foods and are looking to improve their health and well being by feeding their families wholesome real food. Also trying to lessen their footprint on the earth's climate.

Now there is a local 100 Mile Diet Challenge going on right now here in Waterloo Region. The challenge is coming from The Healing Path Natural Centre for Naturopathic Medicine. Our local newspaper will be following some of the families and I am going to check out Healing Path's blog to see how these families are doing.

Watching these people undertake what I think is a difficult path of only eating food grown or raised within 100 miles of their home, made me think of what is in my cupboards, fridge and freezers. What more could I do to lessen my impact on the earth and make healthier choices for my family? I pride myself in buying as much of my food locally as I think I could. I like to know where my food comes from as much as possible. I don't always get to the market, I probably could try a little harder. I get my milk, eggs and meats from Oakridge Acres just outside of town, Cindy and Mark who run the farm and store know me as one of their first customers when they were selling just their beef out of the freezer of their home. Yet I know I have dates from Iran in my fridge, coffee from South America, tea from lord knows where. I probably could do better but being human laziness gets the better of me at times.

I think of Amanda, who can't have dairy or wheat, her Rice Milk comes from the west coast, the rice flour comes packed from the States but where is it actually grown, possibly China? What could she have that is within 161 km of our home for her milk and wheat substitutes?

I applaud these families for stepping up to the challenge, I am not sure if I could. Could you?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Daniel's Birthday Invitations

Daniel has his 9th birthday coming up and he is going to have a sleepover with three of his friends. Since his birthday is right at the beginning of summer holidays it kind of sneeks up on me and I end up scrambling the week before to get invites made and sent out and all the planning done.

This year Daniel decided to help with making the invites. I have a couple of sets of Stampendous stamps that I picked up at Scrapfest just for him. The first set is a mixture of different robot parts that you can mix and match to make your own unique robot. Daniel had fun making a different robot for each of his guests. I finished off the cards using stamps from the galaxy stamp set.

Here is Daniel sneaking into the picture of his robotic creations. Crazy kid.

This is the inside of the invites. I just had to use the galaxy stamp that came with the set. I used the Star Wars font that I picked up somewhere for the inside as well.

Since Daniel was helping I kept the design super simple. Basic black cardstock and silver ink and printed the info off of the computer just using regular printer paper. That is it. And Daniel was more than proud to hand them out to his friends.

Next step is getting the decorations, food, baking the cake, and gear up for a night of little to no sleep.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pioneer Woman is doing a giveaway!!!!

Another one of my fav websites, Pioneer Woman, is doing a giveaway as well. She is giving away a really really sweet Nikon camera. I of course entered and hope to win, the question was what everyone was doing during the 4th of July weekend. On the 4th of July Dave and I will be celebrating our 17th anniversary. I think based on that fact alone I should win, and that I need a new camera badly, one that takes decent pictures. Keeping my fingers crossed.


SEI is doing a 100th post giveaway. They are giving away a sweet sweet paperpack. But then again anything from SEI is sweet!!!

Go on over and check it out at the SEI website.

Friday, June 26, 2009

You Have to Check Out This Video

While visiting the forum at Two Peas I came across this link to YouTube featuring two musicians, Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson performing a piece that blended the two songs Love Story by Taylor Swift and Viva La Vida by Coldplay. Both songs are quite good; the pianist Jon took both pieces of music and made something all his own, and I think he and Steven have done an amazing job making beautiful music.


Sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Laura Graduated From Grade 8 Tonight!!!!!

Tonight was Laura's Grade 8 Graduation. She looked fabulous!!!!! The dress, shoes and jewellery were all picked out weeks ago. She had her hair and makeup done today. She was so excited to be graduating today I don' t think she hardly slept last night.

Here she is receiving her diploma from her home room teacher Mr. Mckay.

Some pics with Dave and I after the ceremony.

Having the first dance with her dad. Afterwards we family and guests left so the grads could dance away the next couple of hours.

Starting in September Laura will be attending the International Baccalaureate Program at Cameron Heights in Kitchener. I am excited and also nervous for her.

Way to go Laura!!! We are all so proud of you.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dance Recital

This past weekend Amanda had her Dance Recital. She takes Irish Soft Shoe along with Marissa's two daughters Ahleigha and Alexa. The dress rehearsal was Friday night, followed by ragging of hair. Her is Amanda Saturday just before I took the rags out. It was a lot of work to put them in and even more to take them out. But they do look rather Medusa like I think.

Of course it is pretty darn boring and painful to have the rags taken out. My mom help by splitting the ringlets up so Amanda had a head full of Irish curls.

Once we got the theatre at Laurier and finished their hair and make up the girls had a whack of nervous energy to let out. Oh my goodness were they wired.
Even Marissa got wired, Marissa wired? Snort. I tried to get a shot of Amanda and Alexa and this is what I got. Looks like you are trying to slap my girl Marissa. LOL

Finally a decent shot. Gee, I think it must have taken about 1/2 an hour to get one.

All in all it was an excellent performance, we weren't allowed to take pictures during the performance, you have to take my word for it and when I get a DVD you more than welcome to come over and watch our three dancing beauties perform.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It has been a crazy busy time, now I am exhausted.

I know it has been far too long since I posted. The last couple of weeks have been super, crazy busy around the Jenkins household.

Two weeks ago Dave went to Shouldice in Thornhill and had his hernia repaired. He was suppose to come home the Friday, but Thursday at 8 a.m. I got a phone call from Dave to come and get him, they were kicking him out because they needed the bed. Yikes!!! Rearranged my schedule, got the kids off to school, and headed out to Thornhill. He was not feeling too good and was walking like there was a watermelon between his legs. He is still sore at times, especially at night, but overall is recovering quite nicely and is now working from home.

June 6th I attended Crop for the Cure in St. Jacob's. Had a fabulous fabulous time. Couldn't believe all the freebies I got and I made a couple of awesome Make n' Takes. It is run by my friend Tracey from the Scrapping Turtle, her mom and sisters. All the money raised went to Breast Cancer research. Amazing time, if you scrapbook and love to go to crops, I highly recommend this one.

Also on June 6th Daniel and Amanda did their Canadian Conservatory Recital Exams. I was so proud of them!!! They worked hard on preparing for the exam and though they were nervous they did awesome!!!!!

With the month of June a lot of the activites start to wind down. Daniel and Amanda got their swimming report cards on Friday and they both passed!!!! Woohoo!!! Daniel is now a Dolphin and Amanda is in Star 3.

This past weekend we had both Grandmothers over for a couple of recitals. Amanda had her dance dress rehearsal Friday night, followed by the actual recital Saturday (I will post pics later when I download them). All the girls did awesome and everyone had a blast performing.

On Sunday Daniel and Amanda had their piano recital and once again played amazingly!!!!!

Laura had her final horseback riding lesson for the school year, she will contine with lessons in September.

Now I am in the midst of doing laundry, laundry and more laundry. Ugh!!!! Laura leaves tomorrow morning for her Quebec trip, she will be gone till Friday. We have Father's Day, Daniel and Amanda's year end field trips, and then Laura's graduation on June 24. I can't believe my baby girl will be graduating from grade 8 next week. WOW!!!! Time flies.

Once all that stuff is done then it is time for Summer Holidays!!!!! I can't wait, and neither can the kids.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Scrapbooks and Skype

As many of you know, I love Scrap booking.  My two favourite places to shop is the Scrapping Turtle and of course Lasting Impressions which is owned by my in-laws and can't forgot my sister in law Kathryn who designs and manufactures her own line of acrylic stamps, you can find her creations at the Lasting Impressions store in Sarnia or at her own website Willowgrove Stamps.

Sometimes I like to go to crops and have a few drinks and some laughs with my friend (note:  sometimes alcoholic beverages and scrap booking don't mix, but that is a whole other story)   This weekend I was able to crop with my best friends Denise and Marissa all from the comfort of our individual homes.   We Scrap booked and Skyped.  Skype?????  You are probably wondering what the heck is Skype.  Skype is a program you can download which allows you to talk to your friends through your computer.  It is fabulous.   I was able to crop with my friends and still have all my supplies and tools at hand in my room.   

I finished a number of layouts that I had already started for my Disney Trip album.  We went to Disney World back in 2006 and I am finally finishing it.  Almost done.   Some of this posts will be going onto the forum  at the Turtle Soup as part of the Git R Done club I am a part of.  I hope to get these layouts and more on the forum sometime in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ear Infections and vet visits

We have had our fair share of ear infections in our house, especially with Amanda. When she was a toddler until she about 6 years of age we were regulars at the Doctor's office with ear infections. She even had tubes put in her ears when she was 2 years old which helped a fair bit until they fell out.

Monday morning she woke up with ear pain, and it was a holiday Monday of course. By Monday night after dance she was in severe pain with the flushed cheeks and everything. She usually doesn't complain about ear pain, the girl has had her ear drum rupture a few times with no complaint other than a crusty ear. Kept her home yesterday from school, took her to the Doctor and sure enough she has a roaring ear infection. Poor baby. Needless to say she is home today and possibly the rest of the week. Contacted my good friend Jennifer who does reflexogy and recommended some pressure points and an ear drop solution of water and vinegar (which is the same solution recommended by Amanda's ENT awhile ago I just forgot the ratios, thanks Jenn!!). Amanda is starting to feel better though she says her ear feels "full" and "stuffy", but hey the pain has subsided at least and she has started her antibiotics which should kick in tonight.

Now we have to get Dave repaired. Less than two weeks until his hernia operation, and he can't wait, it is getting uncomfortable for him.

On a lighter note, I took Dalwhinnie for her yearly Vet visit. She was all excited about going for a car ride. She had a great time hanging her head out the wind, her ears flapping in the breeze, and all those neat country smells. We pulled up to the vet's building, she thought all the smells she was picking up were AMAZING!!!! Then I opened the door and she got the smell of the vet's office, she stopped dead in her tracks and tried pulling me back to the van. "Come on let's go back to the van!!! Please don't make me go in there!! He pokes me with needles and sticks a thermometer up my butt!!!! How would you like a thermometer up your butt?!?!?!" Sorry mutt, in you go. Of course her anxiety kicks in with the rapid breathing and the pacing towards the exit. Another dog finished with the vet and got to leave, Dalwhinnie wanted to leave with them. The vet opened the exam room for us to come in Dalwhinnie sat on her hind end and pulled back with all her might "NOOOOOO!!!!!! I DON"T WANT TO GO IN THERE WITH HIM!!!!!" Unfortunately for Dalwhinnie she is helpless against the Halti. Managed to get her on the table, she buried her face in my chest while he gave her the needles, he managed to get nose drops in her, take her temperature, and take some vials for bloodwork while she shook, panted and tried to escape. She got off that table and out the door soo fast. While I am paying the bill (which was incredibly painful for me) she kept pulling me "Come on let's go!!!! Get me out of this horrible torture chamber. I can't believe you let him do those things to me. The agony and pain it causes me. I THOUGHT YOU LOOOOVED ME?!?!?!" Gee that dog has a flair for drama :)

She curled up on the front seat on the way home and wouldn't pop up to hang her head out the window until we were almost home. Now she is exhausted and is sleeping in the front bay window hoping not to experience anything like that anytime soon.............little does she realize I plan to take her to the groomer's next week. Bwhahahahaha!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I am a Killer

A dandelion killer that is.

When I started this blog I thought what would blog about. I don't lead an exciting life like a lot of other bloggers out there. I don't have cows poking their heads into my living room window like Pioneer Woman does, nor do I get myself locked up in a chicken coop with a crazed rooster like April from Coal Creek Farm does. So I must make up my own excitement.

Yesterday for excitement I decided to whack the heads of dandelions off with the lawnmower. Dave and I are natural lawn care kind of people, with three kids and a dog we are not about to spray our lawn with chemical pesticides and herbicides therefore we have a gorgeous lawn of yellow flowers in the backyard. Amanda likes picking them, and Dalwhinnie likes to roll in them because they make her fur highlighted with yellow streaks.

As pretty as those yellow flowers are, I needed to cut the grass and since Dave is unable to since I broke him a few months ago (we hope to have him repaired in the first week of June) it is my job to cut the large piece of suburban property we have. Here is a pic of our backyard just before the massacre began. The pretty happy yellow flowers were enjoying their day being pollinated by the bumble bees and just soaking up the fertilizer I spread last week. Then the horrendous sound of the lawn mower kicked in, fortunately I couldn't hear their cries for mercy over the sound of the mower and my manical laughter as I showed no mercy (the manical laugh might explain why I didn't see any neighbours that morning). I did have a couple of bumble bees dive bomb me a few times though as I disturbed their pollination, but that didn't stop me in my rampage of death and destruction. Dalwhinnie, my accomplice, stood guard making sure no one would disturb me.

After about 4-5 hours of lawn mower work and whipper snippering my job was complete (as I said before we have a rather large piece of propery and just an electric lawn mower). There were a few whimpers here and there from those that survived the wrath of my blade but they soon quieted down. Here is a pic later in the afternoon when every thing was done. Looks more green now doesn't it?
As you can tell in the picture Dalhwinnie was enjoying the quiet time of a temporarily dandelion free yard chewing on a bone she dug up after it has fermented in the ground for a couple of weeks. The dirt must make them extra tasty.

Unfortunately, the dandelions used the quiet of the night to rally their troops and this morning their yellow heads were seen popping up again. I have lost this battle........for now.
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Monday, March 23, 2009

My first blog post

This is my very first blog post. I have officially entered the blogging world!!!!! March break has come to an end at the Jenkins household. We had a round of colds come through during the March break and now everyone is healthy and off to work and school. Dalwhinnie is pouting away in the front window waiting for everyone to come home and amuse her, while I continue to nurse my stuffy nose while trying to catch up on chores around here.

Now I have to figure out downloading pics and videos. Hopefully everyone will see more exciting posts from me in the future.