Friday, January 27, 2012

National Chocolate Cake Day

What a great way to bright a January week. Melinda showed me this little clip yesterday in one of those locally printed "read me" things you fine in restaurants, waiting rooms and gas stations. It said that Jan 27 is National Chocolate Cake Day. I was tempted right away to make "THAT" Chocolate Cake that I discovered the recipe for way back in September. I would have to bring it to work to share with 40 staff.. because I just couldn't have that in our house for the whole weekend... Lord... I would explode.
But, the community was a buzz about the weather and the possibility of a storm coming.. and also a possibility of school cancelations. My luck would be to waste a whole evening making this glorious cake.. and then have to eat it all myself. I decided not to bother... and sure enough... school cancelations, and a little snow/freezing rain to rain storm arrived, right on schedule.
Even worksites were cancelled by 10am.. and I spent the day home puttering around, catching up on laundry, dusting, de-fridging and putting away odds and sods.
Terry napped this afternoon and I puttered...
and then, I thought of it...... National Chocolate Cake Day... and remembering a very easy and extremely yummy recipe I got from my sister in law, Kelly, when I was making things for Lyndsey's baby shower. I just happened to have all the millions of ingredients in the cupboard (sarcasm here).. so I made tiny little chocolate cakes for Terry and I.
I don't even know what they are called.... but you take one package of Betty Crocker Cookie Mix (Kelly recommended the peanut butter cookie package, but I can't find it at either of our grocery stores, so I bought chocolate chunk) and one package of Reese's Minis.

You follow the directions on the package which is 1/3 cup oil, 1 egg, and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix it in a bowl with the stuff in the package, spoon into mini muffin tins... bake for 8-10 minutes. When you take them out of the oven, you pop a reese's mini into each little chocolate muffin cake..... and tada.....
Imagine.. how much we celebrated National Chocolate Cake day.. with these mini chocolate cakes of sorts....

Monday, January 9, 2012

A homemade treasure!

A few years ago, I bought a fun little wooden frame from a discount bin for $5. It was a wide wooden frame with hearts in the corners. I really had no use for it, but I was intrigued by its simple design. This poor frame sat around my house for several years, hoping to have a purpose one day...
I was at a craft shop in Berwick one day and found a very sweet earring holder, made from an antique frame and chicken wire... and while it was a little to "rustic" for me... I did come up with an idea for my frame without a purpose. A bit of door screening, some fabric and fibrefill, some hooks and I made myself a pretty functional jewelry station in my bedroom.After success with my first one, I made one for my sister, one for my sister in law... both were fairly small like mine. But then my niece asked for one for Christmas but she wanted a BIG one. She said she had lots of jewelry and lots of wall space.. and she wanted it big.
Off I went to Michaels to look for a frame. Terry happened to come along with me and as we shopped through frames that were big enough, wooden and yet affordable, Terry found a clearance section and found a beautiful brown wooden frame for $8... can't get cheaper than that for a 22x20 frame. We were excited... and off we went to buy hooks from Grampie's Country Barn. I like these because they have that nice little hook at the end which makes them NON pointy and easier to hang necklaces off of.
With Terry's help, we covered wood with Fibrefill, then fabric and then door screening and stapled to the back.

popped it in the frame.....finished the back (which was way nicer than mine and my sisters!)

Then we hammered in the hooks along the bottom for necklaces and hooks along the sides for bracelets.
Terry put a pair of sturdy hooks on the back for hanging.. and it was done.

This Christmas, we decided to make one for Michelle for a Christmas gift.. and off to Michael's we went.. and again found a wonderful frame for $4. More screen, more fabric, more hooks... and
Michelle has a jewelry holder, nice and big to fill up a space on her wall and hold all her earrings, necklaces, bracelets... rings... whatever.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Art of Blogging

Why do people blog? I think about this question a lot. Why do I blog? Blogging is an art. It truly is, and I am amazed at how many blogs are out there, and the huge range of blog styles, and subject themes.
When Blogger first came out, I had already been blogging for 2 years through "My Space". I stopped for about 6 months, just like I did in 2011. Just couldn't blog for some reason.. blog block, you might say! When I started to use Blogger (the website I blog through), it was incredibly easy to use, and design to make you own, and it "manages" your blogs so well. I was totally hooked and happy to be blogging again.
Some little facts I have learned about my blog history. I have blogged 496 times since 2007 (not including My Space). I have had 29,123 page views in the past 4 years. In the past year (the year of the "not Blogging much"), I have 17 unfinished blogs. Each of those blogs are good and interesting blogs, but are off season, or out of sequence if I complete them. How does one deal with these. I have 5 great summer blogs about Grammie Camp, my garden, kayaking, camping and my kids. There are winter blogs about snow storms, curling events and holidays.
So here are my questions... do I finish these blogs... am I blogging for you?... or am I blogging for me.? I originally thought I might be blogging for me... a journal of sorts. A way to look back on my life with my family and friends. But, here's the kicker... I love to write about these things... for me... but I seem to worry more about what my readers will think if I blog about something that is out of season or that my blogs are boring for those reading them....
In trying to diagnose why I didn't blog much last year... I have come to some conclusions.... I lost my vision of why I blog. I am still not clear on it, actually, but in taking a break from it, I know I miss it, I realize I am blogging for me... and you guys are my bonus. Thank you for reading .... boring.. or not... your great friends.
Here's one little challenge with blogging.... pictures. I love taking pictures of mundane little events... things I want to remember. The problem is... I have so many cameras (big, little, iPhone, iPad) now, and they all take different methods to retrieve the pictures.. that I forget to down load them, or they download in the wrong place because the clock on the camera is wrong... or I just can't find a camera at the time.
I am trying to learn to manage this picture taking/retrieving thing a little better now, and I hope to wipe out THAT excuse for not blogging. That being said... here are a few things I DIDN'T take pictures of.. but are note worthy.

1. Our dishwasher broke on Dec 18th. I was home alone, and puttering in the kitchen when I started to smell burning rubber and the dishwasher sounded like it was grinding. I opened the door of the dishwasher to see what was stuck... and it kept running!!!! I freaked about a bit, and opened and shut the damn door 10 times before I figured out that I should unplug the stupid thing. Whew... my 10 year old workhorse of a Dishwasher is covered under my Sears Maintenance plan so I figured... call them.. they would be there with their superhero cape on to fix it before Xmas.... NOPE.... they couldn't even come to LOOK at it before December 28 and once he did, he determined it was the computer thingie in the door.. and "parts" needed to be ordered (that will be a couple of weeks)... Well, I was looking at a whole Christmas Season without a dishwasher.. When I whined about it on Facebook, I have several sympathizers, all boohooing with me. But my friend Kerry pointed out that she had several special memories of do dishes with all her family over Christmas and I got to thinking she was absolutely right. Washing dishes 3 to 5 times a day was sort like a drive in the car with your friends or one of your kids. You have them trapped for a bit, and you get talking and before you know it.. the dishes are done.. the kitchen is clean and you've heard all about a few things that there wouldn't have been time for telling if you were not trapped in the kitchen!!

One more noteworthy.. picture less event... I burned my face and inside my nose over
Xmas...How you wonder... you will never believe it!! My good friend "Pinterest" had this very simple but yummy looking sticky bun recipe on its website and I had been dying to try it. I waited until Boxing day to make it, because I had 8 staying for breakfast and I had Caleigh here, who loves to try this little projects with me. It required a bundt pan and I just happened to have one.. but its one of those spring form pan type things, and I figured it would be fine. We built this recipe without any problem and popped it in the oven and it was going to be ready in 30 minutes. Perfect timing to serve with all the other breakfast yummies I had put together.
5 minutes into the baking, Scott points out he can smell sugar burning, and I did too.. but I blew him off, saying its the sugar on the top of the buns. But after 10 minutes, it was getting stronger and stronger... and you know what I am going to say... right? The sugar leaked through the bundt pan edges on the bottom and was burning to the bottom of the oven. The stupid cake had like 20 more minutes to bake and the oven was FILLED with black smoke and every time I opened the oven, the house was blasted with smoke... I didn't want to ruin the cake... so I pour a few cups of water on the bottom of the oven to stop the burning put out any fire potential... I just needed 20 minutes. The water seemed to calm down the smoke and the smell for a few minutes. I waited another 10 minutes and when I opened the oven door to check on the cake... the STEAM from the water I pouring in... burst out the oven door and up my face, in my nose and across my lips and eyes too.
The searing pain was such a shock, I had no idea what just happened. I closed the oven door and stood there trying to assess what I had just done... and then the little nerves all over my face started to explode... PAIN PAIN PAIN... I quietly went to the bathroom and got a cold face cloth to put on my face and discretely fix the problem before anyone in the living room found out how stunned I just was...
When I looked in the mirror it was way too obvious I had burned my face... I looked like those people on "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" who had one half of their face burned by the space ships flying by". Anyway, I survived (my nose and lips took 5 days to recover) but the cake didn't. Someone took it out of the oven 10 minutes before it would have been cooked because the smell and the smoke was just too much to handle. It would have been delicious.. except it was just too doughy in the middle for my liking. I will make it again, mind you.. it was simple and pretty.... but I will get a better pan first... If you would like to try this fun little sticky bun recipe.. click here... and of course I don't need to tell you what NOT to do.

moments don't always get a picture... but sometimes you don't need a picture to visualize... like Lucy getting into the little green bin while we were away.. and spread around or ate all the month old soggy cranberries, the veggie ends from supper, the coffee grounds, the banana peels, the supper scrapings... and old hard marshmallows
I had dumped in there from the summer!
And imagine the site when I found Apollo behind the washing machine... massacring the catnip I hung near the furnace to dry last fall. I thought he was trapped under the dryer or something, the amount of thrashing I was hearing... it was him rolling in bliss at this amazing FIND.!!! Who has a camera for these moments... but again.. who needs one!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Filling my days.....

The last two weeks have been filled with family (and pets) and friends. I can't believe that Scott, Michelle and Jack have been at our house for just two weeks. Seems like they have always been here.. but then again, I can't believe that Christmas and New Years have come and gone either.

Its wonderful to sit around and snuggle with Jack, while spending time with the whole family. I can believe how much it brings me back to when I was a young mom and snuggled with my own little ones who are not 25 and 27. Geesh. One thing I remember from when they were babies.. is ... its never to early to start reading to your baby.
We thought the smile was just to please his mama who was taking his picture... but when he saw the big eyes on the Elephant ... his smile got even bigger...
We thought we might start him in is Bumbo... but maybe it is a little too early for that.. he was very confused by the whole thing... and didn't put up with this foreign position for very long.
Jack is two months old today.

He is smiling now, making eye contact, he is reaching for and grabbing his little mousie toy that his one of his best friends. He is following us with his eyes, standing up strong on his legs and cooing more and more each day. I am in awe of how much he is developing each day. He is awake and happy most of the day. He has lots of people to talk to and lots of people to be at his beck and call. Grampie's favourite thing is to tour him around the house, checking out lights, mirrors and windows.
Terry is constantly making farting noises with Jack.. which usually brings a big smile to his face.. or... he joins Terry in making those farting noises.. except out the other end!!
Scotts' grandparents in Trenton got a little Christmas chat in via Skype.. but Jack decided he had enough of being the centre of attention and promptly fell asleep during the conversation. They did get a good chat in the next day... so all was not lost!
Even Pika is enjoying all the sitting around.. because he loves a great lap to snuggle on, and he doesn't care if there is a baby already on that lap..

And if the baby can use the nursing pillow as a couch bed......
.. so can Pika (when Jack is not using it)!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Christmas Traditions are a funny thing. We all have them... whether they have come from our parents, or community, or we make them up ourselves. Traditions are made when you feel that you must do these same events each year. Sometimes we have traditions, we didn't even know we have until you stop doing them.
Now, the tough thing about traditions is..... things change from Christmas to Christmas. Your kids grow up, they move away, they come back, they bring babies... We have Christmas's through Skype and by phone. All these factors make Christmas traditions hard to keep going... and that's when your traditions start to become "memories" instead.
This Christmas, I found myself thinking a lot about my parents who laid a wonderful foundation for us kids, full of Christmas traditions and happy Christmas memories. Some of their traditions have long gone by the way side, but are fun memories. My mom cooked a big meal on Christmas Eve, usually AFTER midnight mass.. with some weird bird.. like duck, Cornish hens etc. Then a turkey on Christmas Day... what a pile of work, I didn't even appreciate what she did. We opened one gift on Christmas Eve and we selected it from the meagre spread of gifts under the tree, from the few relatives that sent us gifts... but there were no other gifts under the tree. But Christmas morning the tree would be fat with boxes and packages giving the illusion that Santa brought us all those gifts during the night. Eventually they had to change up their Christmas mornings when we all moved away, when we all had kids, when we started making our own traditions.

Last year, we spent Christmas in Fredericton with my whole family.... with my two girls and two son-in-laws... my sister and her whole family. This brand new experience was sprinkled with parts of our Christmas traditions, the Matheson's traditions and The Mitchell's. The joining of families also opens the door to new ideas.
This Christmas, Stephanie and Sean were in Korea, and Michelle and Scott, with baby Jack, came to our house.. and we spend Christmas here with a new baby. Stephanie's Christmas was 12 hours ahead of ours.. and that was fun through Skype.... We shared her Christmas and then 12 hours later.. she shared ours. So fun, but again... more changes. Somethings never change.. but almost everything else does!!

Traditions... like building a puzzle... new in the past few years.. but truly a fun one... carried on this Christmas.. This year... a CAT Puzzle... and the cats got into it... trouble makers!
Puzzles are an additive Christmas activity and no one can walk past it without trying to one or two pieces... and then before you know it... an hour has gone by.
Sometimes the colours and markings of the pieces all blur together and you need to change up your vantage point!!!
On several occasions we found on or more cats asleep on the puzzle and we also found a few pieces "mysteriously" scattered on the floor. Extra challenge..
But after 4 days of peck and search... it was done... and what a stunning puzzle it is.. it sits proudly on our coffee table covered in Plexiglas because no one has the heart to break it up yet.
We received a very cool Canada Flag puzzle as a Christmas gift from the Ottawa Mathesons. We are dying to break it open, but we are back to work .. and I am afraid it will have to wait until perhaps this weekend.!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The beginning.... 2012

I love January 1. Its the ultimate beginning of all that to begin. When I discuss this whole concept with others, some nod their head in agreement, while others roll eyes, raise eyebrows or do that all knowing tilt of the head, as if to say... you are cracked! But, to each his own, right?

New Years in our house was sort of typical. We usually stay home, with family or friends and do something like watch a movie, or play a game. With Jack being exactly 8 weeks old and a little too young for a movie... we decided to stay home and crack open this new game we received from Stephanie and Sean for Christmas. Its called "Ticket to Ride". At first glance, I assumed it was a game about Beatles trivia, to which I instantly gave up any hope of enjoying.. since I live with Mr. Beatles (or any music) trivia king. But on further inspection, we realized its about trains.. and not one bit about the John, Paul, Ringo and George.
We were all sort of intimidated by the colours, the roads, the little pieces and the millions of cards... and it just seemed like it would be impossible to follow... but alas... it was simple, fun and secretive..
We had to take a mid game break for Jack to have a little evening feeding, and Michelle snapped a picture of the rest of us studying our game...
For those of you who have experienced "Settlers of Catan" has a lot of the same characteristics... but a little more secretive.. and some fun strategy styles emerged over the two games we played... and the second game was a little more competitive than the first.. with all 4 of us.. neck in neck at the end of the game (as you can see, three of us were tied and the blue guy (Terry) was in the lead by one. You think your winning...until the final scoring happened... and then... there was a CLEAR winner... by miles.. but you just don't know it until you finish the game..

We had a midnight Skype Chat with Stephanie (although it was noon the next day for her). We kept her posted on the thrills of our game all evening.. but by 12:05.. after a few sips of Champagne... we were all off to bed.

Some of us got to sleep faster than the rest of us... because he had a head start!