Monday, May 31, 2010

Movie Night

We are off on a last minute date to the movies. What will it be?

Ironman 2
Robin Hood or
Shrek. Final Chapter


Which one do you think we will pick?

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Supernanny No Nos

We occasionally like to watch Supernanny.  It used to be because we wanted tips on parenting.  Now it seems because it makes us feel so much better about our own kids.  They just don't seem so bad after watching some of those holy terrors on television. 

We recently watched an episode wherein while I truly felt sorry for the family and what they were going through etc, it made me realize that K and I are not so far off the parenting path as we thought.  Here are a few examples of things that we are actually doing right:

1.  Our 6 year old child doesn't use sippy cups.  In fact, none of the kids do.  (Mind you O only gave up bottles completely a month before his 3rd birthday, a big Supernanny no no.)

2.  I don't wipe my children's bums.  Do I like cleaning poo stains out of their underwear? No, but they need to learn.  I don't like having to drop what I'm doing to wipe their butts either.  A verbal reminder is about all they are going to get from me.  I have done my time dealing with their poo.  No more. I am totally on board with Jo on this one.  (We're talking older children's bums here.  Obviously younger children may need help)

3.  I don't waffle.  If my daughter refuses to brush her teeth, I don't plead, beg, negotiate or stand around cajoling her to do so for an hour.  Her teeth get brushed.  I don't care if she cries, I don't care if I have to do it myself, it gets done.  Like the other day, hubs came down saying J refused to go potty.  I went up, picked her up, removed her pants and sat her on the toilet and guess what?  She peed. Job done.

Now if we could just stop the yelling and over explaining... we might actually get somewhere.

Still it made me feel just a wee bit better knowing that I'm doing something right.  ;)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Road - Released on DVD This week

Not exactly a box office phenomenon.  It grossed around 1 1/2 million the weekend it opened.  I expect that the reason most people went to this film was because of one of two things:

A.  They had read Cormac McCarthy's book and/or
B.  They are a Viggo Mortensen fan.
I had never heard of Cormac McCarthy and I am a Viggo Mortensen fan and when you add that to an intriguing trailer I pretty much had to watch this film.  I almost backed away from it when my husband informed me that apparently it's quite a sad film.  Great.  You all know how I detest sad films.

So I went online to IMDB determined to find a spoiler.  I figured if I knew what was coming up maybe I could still watch it and not get so sadded out.  I was out of luck.  Two pages of reviews and not a single spoiler to be found. 

Hubby and I made a deal.  We'd watch half the movie one night and then the rest the next night and watch a comedy or something light for a half hour after before we go to bed.  Okay, I could handle that and if it was too much, I could just not watch the rest, right? 

Talk about a gripping film.  It was nothing like I thought the movie was going to be about. It is basically based on post apocalyptic times, the earth seems like it's literally dying.  All crops and trees are gone along with animals and wildlife.  Which means one thing... man is starving.  And just what do men do when they are starving and there is no food source around?  Just talking about it is giving me chest pains. (anxiety) A man and his son are trying to get to the coast where they hope life will be better.  They have been living in these times long enough to know that you don't trust anyone.  

Don't get me wrong though, this is not a gore flick.  It actually manages to portray the ugliness of what's happening without rubbing our faces in it.  We ended up watching the movie almost to the end before turning it off and only did so because it was getting late.  Still all the next day I kept wondering how it was going to end.

I don't really want to spoil the film for you if you haven't seen it so I will try to keep my comments vague. It is definitely dreary. It has made me want to go out and get the book.  I had never heard of Cormac McCarthy which is hard to believe considering he's also the author of No Country for Old Men.  He obviously writes very dark books and doesn't believe in happy endings.  While I like dark apocalyptic story lines like the Road and say Stephen King's The Stand, I still would like for it to end on a somewhat of a lighter note, the possibility that things will get better if you know what I mean.

Still, definitely worth watching.  If you are at all squeamish, I'd say no.  It does deal with cannibalism although like I said it's not super gory but there is some. 

I was absolutely amazed at the transformation that Viggo Mortensen went through to play his role.  Apparently he practically starved himself.  I couldn't believe the contrast from the healthy, smooth and cleaned skin man of the interview to the emancipated, dirty and sickly hue of his character. 

I was disappointed that Robert Duval and Guy Pearce's appearances were so short in this film.  I've come to respect both of these actors' abilities and had looked forward to seeing them in the movie.  Like I said, it was far to short, especially Guy's.  I wonder what makes these actors take such short roles in films like this? 

I also appreciated that little of this movie was done with the whole blue screen, computer generated thing. The film crew actually went to places that have had disasters and filmed there... like Mt. St. Helens and New Orleans.  Sad to think those places are still so devastated. 

Have you watched the Road? What did you think? Did you wonder what it meant when the Woman said to the boy at the end  "We've been so worried about you?". Why were they so worried? 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Recipe Tuesday - Chicken Casserole a la Zeemaid

Recipe Tuesday Chicken Casserole a la Zeemaid

My children do not typically like their food mixed together so it was with some surprise that they actually ate this dish with gusto.  This is just your basic casserole dish and really, you can personalize it in so many different ways.  Like more spice?  Pepper away.  Less salt, more veg?  Go right ahead.  You know your family and you know their preferences.  This is what worked for my family.



Ingredients:

2 Cups Pasta noodles your choice
1 Can cream of chicken soup
1 Can of water
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp onion powder
1 package chicken stir fry, cubed or
1 package ground turkey or chicken
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Directions: 

Heat Oven to 350

1.  Prepare noodles according to package direction.

2.  Heat oil in pan over medium heat.

3.  Brown chicken or ground turkey etc, seasoning meat halfway through cooking with salt, pepper, garlic salt and onion powder.

4.   Add cream of chicken soup and one can of water and frozen peas.   Mix together and simmer over med-low heat until heated through.  You may be tempted to not add the whole can of water but trust me, the pasta absorbs all the excess water and if you add too little your dish will be dry.
5.  Once noodles are prepared, drain and pour into a casserole dish.


6.  Pour meat/sauce mixture over noodles and mix together.

7.  Mix approx half of the cheese mixture through the casserole and then spread the rest over the top.  Add more or less cheese if you like. 

8.  Take breadcrumbs and spread lightly over cheese mixture

9.  Bake in oven for approximately 20 - 30 minutes or until top is slightly browned and sauce is bubbling to the surface. 

Remove and serve.  I like serving a nice fresh salad with this.

Like I said you can add basically whatever you want to this.  I once added a couple of dashes of mild curry powder and my husband loved it.  Thought it was the tastiest dish ever.  Normally, I'd add mushrooms and onions because we are both partial to them but the kids aren't which is why I'm rather heavy on the onion powder. I just don't think you could ever add too much. ;)

Like I said, even my pickiest child will eat this casserole.  In fact it's not until they get to the end of their bowl that they suddenly tell me "I don't like this."  Yeah right.  That's why you've been silent for the last five minutes.  *L*

BTW doesn't it look just fabulous in my Rachael Ray cookware?  I'm still loving this blue dish.

Speaking of colour.... what colour do you think I should get my new kitchenaid in?  I'm having a tough time deciding.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pick Up Your Toys or I'll Throw Them in the Garbage!

Hands up.  How many of you recall your parents threatening you with throwing your toys in the garbage? 

Now, how many of you have actually said that to your own children despite the vows that you would never, ever would?   Quite a few of you, I am hoping.  Because my hand is up and it's waving high. 

One thing I have learned about parenting is that you need to be consistent.  I believe that both K and I have worked very hard on this.  Still, I am sure a passive observer, like the Supernanny, would probably still find areas where we cave that we just don't realize it.  After all, if K and I were the extremely consistent parents that we thought we were, why do our kids ignore our requests until we get to the shouting stage? 

I have tried my best to live by the adage:  Say what you mean, do what you say.  If I threaten to throw something in the garbage, I better be prepared to follow through with it.  This thought has often given me pause in my dealings with the kdis and that's a good thing.  If they aren't listening, am I prepared to follow through and not take them to Nana's that afternoon? Probably not, so I better think of something just as effective that I am prepared to follow through with. 

Still despite all of these efforts, I let the mess and the frustration of them throwing their things around get to me to the point that I hauled off 80% of their toys to the garage sale pile.  Remember my earlier post about Aunt Irma?  While I think this must have been a bona fide post Aunt Irma rage.  Cause I just hucked the crap down the stairs and then had to wade through the mess at the bottom to haul it off to the garage.  This all happened after about two hours of trying to get them to clean up.  I swore I wasn't going to do it because usually if I start to help them they just start slacking and playing while I do it all.  I just get so tired of the whole vicious cycle. 

Did the kids care?  Not really.  They just stood and watched their crazy mother throw toys down the stairs.  Later while I was hauling it out to the garage, I would catch them trying to sneak down the stairs and steal a toy or two back.  Yet, when I asked them if they were sad mommy was taking their toys away, they said no.

This completely flummoxed me since they had been complaining earlier this month about having to get rid of some of the more babyish toys. Still I guess I shouldn't be surprised because while they seemd to cling to their possessions, it seems they rarely play with any of it except to dump it out on the floor. 

To. Drive. Me. CRAZY.

What I have realized is that I need to tune into my kids' playing style.  While they may think they want a particular toy they see, really their interest only lasts for a week or so before they've outplayed it.  So what I need to do is break it down to what the kids seem to like to do and do consistently.  (Besides watching t.v.)

  • They love to play outside. 
  • They love to play with water and get dirty. 
  • They love to craft. 
  • They love to build things.
  • They love to sing, dance and dress up.
Are you seeing a pattern here? 

None of those things really involve toys except in a way that a toy can enhance that play.  Such as O racing his hot wheel through a muddy dirty pile or J using the plastic Dora to float in a boat in the water table. 

OMG we could have saved SOOOOO much money and SOOOO many headaches if only we had realized this sooner. 


So while I totally regret the episode in that my anger and frustrations got the best of me, I do not regret the self assessment and re-evaluation of the situation that ensued. 

I also don't regret how clean their play area looks and still looks two days later. 

Am I a completely mean mommy?  What is the one mean mommy incident that you regret?


*photo is mine from our previous house*

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ah Old Favourites - Books

Nothing has excited me more in the unpacking from our move than to open a box and discover it full of books.  Ah books.  My old friends.  It's my one true love affair.  *Shhh, don't tell my husband* 

I like, much to my mother's amazed wonder, to re-read my books and do so frequently.  Like old friends, I find comfort in their familiarity.  Even a novel re-read once too many times that may lose my interest, I hesitate over getting rid of it as a year or two down the road, I find myself often wishing I had kept that book. 

Often I will turn down the uncertainty of a new book for the familiar sense of an old one.  After all, I know how that one turns out (as far as I can recall) and as I tend not to keep overly sad or depressing tales on my shelf, I am fairly certain I am safe.  Not so with that unknown new book. 

So, what have I been reading these last several weeks:

  • The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King
  • The Hartfield Inheritance
  • My Side of the Mountain
  • Mariana (one of my favourites)
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • The Judas Strain
  • Cotillion
  • Venetia
  • A Quiet Gentleman
  • Arabella
  • The Bath Tangle
  • The Nonesuch
  • The Murder Book
  • Windfallen
  • Fairhaven
  • Lady of Quality
  • The Victorian Album
I think that's it.  I might have missed one or two.  I roughly average about 1 book every two days.  I read everything from regency romances to murder mysteries. 

These days I like light and airy chick lit more than anything since it's so easy to pick up and put down.  The more intense the book, the harder it is for me to put the book aside and focus on what needs tobe done around the home.  (Like listening to O have a hissy fit because his playdoh isn't molding into a shape right. Sigh).  I'll be glad when this three-ness is done with. 

Anyways, if you like Regency Romances two names I'd recommend are Georgette Heyer and Marion Chesney. 

If you like real high adventure type of series with historical facts threaded through out, then I'd recommend James Rollins (author of the Judas Strain).  Think of the National Treasure Type of Movies only with more spies.

Susanna Kearsley is an excellent contempary authoress.  In all her stories she manages to entwine the past with the present creating really excellent plots.   I only recently managed to get a hold of Mariana again and have read her more recent work, The Winter Sea.  I love all of her books.

Okay, I just did a quick search to find the name of one of her books that I'd like to reread if I can ever find it again (Splendour Falls) and came up with a Mariana trailer on youtube.  Turns out it's a book trailer.  Have you ever heard of this?  Why do books need trailers?  That just totally set me up hoping that they'd make a movie out of the book and bam... it's simply a trailer.  I guess to promote the book.  Only now I've got the imagery of the photos of manor houses and gardens now in my mind.  Glad I read the book first yikes.

So.... what do you think about book trailers and what are you reading?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - I Sad Mom

"I sad Mom. Take my picture"


*Added note:   I guess I should have explained the story behind this.  One time when he was pulling the old sad face on me, I tried joking him out of it by taking his picture.  It worked so well as a distraction that now I repeatedly get asked to take a picture of his sad face.  I have several of these photos on my camera now. *L*

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Recipe Tuesday - Beef Marinade

Do you know what the hardest thing to get my children to eat enough of?  If you guessed vegetables I wouldn't be surprised but you'd be wrong.  It's meat.  My kids love their veggies and generally love their carbs or starchy foods: rice, potatoes, and pasta.  But when it comes to meat, it's difficult to get more than a bite in. Sure they love my meatloaf and they like sausages but I can't serve that every day or even every week.  The more often they have something the quicker they get bored of it and refuse to eat it.

So it was with some surprise that they liked my Beef Stir Fry. Turns out the solution was in the marinade. I took a cheap package of pre-cut stir fry beef strips and marinaded it in a zip lock bag with... you guessed it Italian Salad Dressing.  I let it set for about two hours in the fridge, turning it over every so often and when it was cooked up, it was tender and tasty.  The kids loved it so much they asked for seconds... of meat!?!?   Even my husband kept saying how tasty the meat was. 

Best of all, it was a cheap meal.  The salad dressing is cheaper than those bottled marinades and unlike most instructions on the label, you don't need to add the whole bottle.  I only add enough to cover the meat and have even added so little that I had to repeatedly turn the bag just so both sides would get covered and it turned out great.  Obviously this is catching on because now Kraft is even advertising on their bottles that it's a dressing and a marinade.  Still, name doesn't matter.  I've used the name brand and the no named brand with the same success.  It is, after all, just a marinade so go for the cost savings by all means.

This is a pretty typical recipe.  I am sure all of you have made a beef stir fry in the past. Still I'll break it down for you so you can see the modifications I made to keep my children happy.

Ingredients:

1 package of stir fry beef (fed a family of 5, you judge what will feed your family and adjust accordingly)
1/4 cup of Italian Salad Dressing
2 TBS of Olive Oil

2 - 3 Cups of Cooked Vegetables of your choice:  Broccoli, Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms etc.

1 Pot of Cooked Rice

Directions:

Take beef and place in zip lock bag.  Add enough salad dressing to cover meat.  Marinade for at least two hours, turning over bag periodically. 

Cut and prepare vegetables of choice.  If your children are like mine they don't like their veggies with anything on it but butter and definitely not mixed in with something like meat or rice.  So I steam vegetables separately for the kids and set them aside.  I take our vegetable portion and set it aside to add to stir fry.

Place Olive Oil in large frying pan over medium heat.  Once oil is heated, add meat only, not the marinade, reserve marinade.  Brown meat.  Once meat is browned, add the marinade back to the pan if you'd like a sauce and heat through.  At this point I generally add a sprinkle of cornstarch to thicken up the sauce.  I also would add the vegetables I wish to be cooked with the stir fry. 

Continue cooking until meat appears to be cooked through as well as the vegetables to your taste.  Remove from pan to plate, serving over rice with sauce if desired.

For the children, I portion out their rice and vegetables separately and add just the meat from the stir fry cut up.

There you go.  I get a delicious stir fry with vegetables all bathed in flavours that I like and yet I have still kept the children happy with their preference of not having their food mixed together without any real extra work. 
Hope you like it and if you do try it, let me know how it turned out!

*Please note:  This is not a sponsored post in any way  I am not endorsing Kraft or any one product.  I am simply sharing with you the results of my own experiences cooking for my family.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Well Colour Me... RED!

We've been working on the backyard all day. We're making progress and I just know that it will look even better when K gets the chipper in. 

One of the things I don't like about living in the suburbs it that often you are sitting in your neighbour's laps.  In our last house, we were on the corner so we only had a neighbour behind and beside us.  What with trees and high fences though we almost never even noticed them. 

Here we've got neighbours all around us. What makes it awkward is when we discipline the kids.  I hate to admit but I'm a yeller and hubs can be too.  We both are working on calming ourselves down but there are times like today when it gets away from us and we wonder what the neighbours think. It can get kind of embarassing to think about.

Well we took that to a whole nother level today.  The kids were playing outside after supper, K was watering out front and I was on kp duty.  Suddenly, I hear the kids calling me to come quickly.  I come around the corner to see O outside in the backyard with rope around his neck.  HIS NECK.  I immediately run to the back darn saying "WHAT THE HELL". By the time I got there he had the rope off his neck but for a moment there, you could tell he was having a hard time getting it undone. There was a little mark on his throat.

When I ask how this happened they point to E and say she did it and E immediately says it was an accident.  DAddy overhears this and he says bullshit.   The kids have been repeatedly told they are not to play with ropes and nothing but nothing ever goes around their necks.  They USUALLY are pretty good about this.  THe only reason why we had rope in the back yard was because K had jimmied up a tarp between two trees so when he has the chipper running tomorrow it doesn't spray the chips all over the yard but sprays at the tarp and hopefully back down in a pile.  So we've told the kids to stay away from the left over rope, not to play with it etc. Like I said, usually not a problem.  They've always been pretty good following the rules about not putting things around their neck and they had stayed away from it.  Hands down it was our fault, we shouldn't have left the kids unsupervised.  I not only feel really bad this happened, but just about cried thinking about what could have happened.  Talk about some bad mommy moments.  It just goes to show it doesn't matter how smart you think your kids are... don't trust them.

But that's not the embarrassing part.  That's just the stupid part.  So we decide no more backyard today and I offer a bath to the two youngest.  While I'm up in J's room, I glance into the neighbours backyard and what do you know..... They are GETTING MARRIED!  Uh huh.  Their family and friend just got to hear us swear TWICE around our kids and may or may have not heard our raised voices as we assessed what happened.  Those poor people.  I'm just hoping that they hadn't started their wedding service until after we were all inside.  So talk about embarrassing.  Not only are we neglectful parents, but now the whole neighbourhood knows it too.

Do you think they were filming?  I'm just sure that will make a great soundtrack for their "memorable" day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Help, PMS after Aunt Irma visits?

I know PMS affects every woman differently.  From cramps to heavy bleeding, breast tenderness and moodiness.  It all varies.  Until I had my first baby, I never ever had experienced that level of breast tenderness.  If I hadn't been told that it was normal for my boobs to be tender, I would have thought I was dying.  It was that painful.  So now when I get it occasionally, it's not really a big surprise and I mark it down to my period coming. 

Too, I've been lucky on the whole PMS symptoms front.  Sure I might get a few cramps but nothing like it was when I was a kid when it was a day off of school and the whole day spent in bed in a tylenol induced coma.   Now the side effects tend to be fairly mild.  Except, of course, for the moodiness.  But when I combined the stress of my life all into it, some times it was hard to separate what was PMS related and what was just plain old me being miserable. 

Still when you get to recognize the symptoms and correlate that with the time of the month you do start to get into a rythm and with that comes understanding of your body and yourself.  However, it has been with some surprise that I have been noticing that my body or my brain has been getting it ass backwards.  I go through the whole routine, a little breast tenderness, the obligatory headache, a cramp or two and then when the whole thing is over, bam PMS moodiness.  I have been finding myself short-tempered and snapping at the kids, something which I had been making great strides with since we moved and now it's like every 3 weeks we're back to square one. 

Has anyone heard of this?  Or perhaps you've experienced this too?  Cause I'm thinking if I'm getting moody at the end of my period, there must be something I'm lacking, hormone wise. 

Do you have any tips for me to help with the moodiness?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Next I Will Be Drinking Beer!

Ahh power tools.  Men have always had a love affair with their tools. I think it was Tim the Tool Man Taylor who brought this love affair out in to the open with his catch phrase.. "RrrrRrrr". The more power a tool has, the more they drool, the more they want to buy it. 

We women go along with it, after all so little of the house is theirs really.  They may think the house is theirs, but come one ladies who really makes all the decisions about furniture, design and colors.  We do. And maybe... we just feel a little guilty that we get control of some 1800 square feet or so while they get ummmmmm the dingy garage.  So, they get tools.  Besides, we also get shoes!

And if it's not tools, it's techy gadgets.  However, I have to say I am a complete technogeek myself much to my husband's delight.  It's just so much easier to buy geek gifts for his wife than thinking up romantic ideas or better yet, picking out something that's more suitable for his mother.  Paiselys, honey?  I think not!

I was brought up in a very old fashioned home.  My mother did the inside work and my dad did the outside work plus repairs etc.  While my mother is very capable and was a linecook for many years and I can recall a few times that she's refinished furniture etc, I mostly saw her doing more "feminine" type things around the house.  Naturally I adopted some of these ideas and when I married, it was with some chagrin to find that my husband did not always share the "men always take out the garbage" view point.  Sure I believed in equality and that a man and woman should work together to make a family and build a home, share the work etc.  I believed that and that he's supposed to take out the garbage and mow the lawn.  *L*  Still almost 11 years later and we've settled into a routine pretty well.  Not that I am always happy with the balance of work around the house but we're working on it.  

So when it comes to the yard etc, it's pretty much in my capable husband's hands.  Our backyard, however, is a complete nightmare and my husband has big plans for it.  I'm just not sure how it's going to happen because I really can't see me out there picking up rocks and shunting dirt around etc. Not because I can't do it, but because I'm... well lazy.  I don't like picking up rocks.  I had enough of that in my childhood.  First we'd clear my parent's garden and then what do you know, we need to do my Oma's too.  Then the next year it would start all over again.  Where the hell did all the rocks come from.  Did they grow back? Then hubby works fulltime and it's a time consuming project.

One of the big projects to be done is our deck.  It needed to be moved.  For some reason the previous owners built it off to the side of the patio doors, so when we go out the doors, we have to step down into the yard, turn and step up onto the patio.  We would like to move the deck so we can walk right out onto it. 

This was our deck.


And this is our deck now. 



The astonishing fact is that I picked up a cordless drill and helped my husband to dismantle it.  I think my husband found it incredibly charming (and hopefully sexy) to find me wielding power tools.  He has mentioned it at least three times at how much he liked my helping him do the project.  Leave it to a man to go overboard. It's not like I haven't helped him with projects before.  I guess maybe to him though most of his yard work is pretty solitary, like mowing the lawn.

The other astonishing fact is that I rather enjoyed it.  Of course, I made some mistakes, stripped a few heads (which wasn't hard to do, half the screw heads were painted over or full of dirt) but I learned quickly and even managed to salvage a few of the tougher spots.  I am even disappointed that his dad is coming this afternoon to work on the rest of the deck while I'm out. I always knew I liked assembling things from instructions.  Total nerd, I know. I just didn't know I'd like handling power tools.

Just how thrilled do you think hubby would be if I asked him for my own drill?

Do they make drills in Pink? 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A different perspective

A quick post from in the trenches, the "movie trenches" that is. We've pleaded with the mil for a day of sitting so I can go to work and help hubby.

Only my idea and his ideas of what "helping is" is two different things. He wants me to help him decide what crap to throw away and I think I should be helping him get stuff into the computer. Does he really need me to help him decide whether or not to keep the boxes for tv series? The answer was no by the way, then yes and now it's definitely no, maybe. Now I'm here waiting for more instructions while he's helping a customer. Um that's what your employee is for!

Sigh. I could be home with the kids.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Recipe Tuesday - Cake Mix Cookies

Well since I am once more a fulltime stay-at-home mom, I figured it was time to bring back Recipe Tuesdays.  Especially since I am feeling much more motivated lately to try new things as I am no longer rushing off to work as soon as hubs gets home. Basically,  I will choose one recipe a week that I have tried and that has been kid approved. 

While my kids are pretty good at eating their fruits and vegetables, it can be a challenge to get them to try things cooked a different way.  Yet, even they get tired of having the same old grub day after day. 

I typically get most of my recipes from All Recipes.com and I will try my best to give credit where credit is due.

Today's Recipe - Cake Mix Cookies

Did you know that you can make cookies using Cake Mixes?  I didn't until recently I came across a plethora of recipe ideas across the internet.  There are all sorts of things you can make with Cake Mixes other than cakes.  Apparently you can use them as a base for a variety of bars.  From complex to simple, you decide.

(Image from Kids Cooking About.com)
I really loved the idea.  One of the things that turns me off of baking is the mess.  With one box, one bowl, one spoon and one measuring cup the clean up is easy. 


While there are a ton of recipes out there, the one I tried was from Stephanie Gallagher at About.Com.
For more instructions and other Kid Cooking ideas,visit Cake Mix Cookies.


  • 1 18.25 oz. devil's food cake mix

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/4 cup oil

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preparation:

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2.With an electric mixer, beat cake mix, eggs, oil and water until smooth.
3.Stir in macadamia nuts and chocolate chips.
4.Drop by rounded tablespoonsful onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 5 minutes. Switch cookie sheets (move the one on the top rack to the lower rack and the one on the lower rack to the top rack). Bake another 5-7 minutes until cookies are set.

I didn't have macadamia nuts hanging around and I don't typically put two cookies sheets in the oven at the same time so I just put one sheet of cookies in for 12 minutes.  I found it needed the full 12 but that's my oven.  I always recommend keeping a close watch on the first batch until you get an rough idea of how fast or slow they cook in your oven.  I figured the cookies were set when they didn't press down when you touched it and bounced back up.  One box of cake mix yielded around 36 cookies.

The Verdict?

Delicious! Obviously the kids were going to love them.  Unless they absolutely tasted like dried up burnt husks, there would be no complaints from the kids.  The real test is us adults.  I tend to be picky when it comes to taste, I can generally spot preservatives and odd tastes from a mile away.  Hence why I can't stand canned soup.   These cookies were very good.  So good, in fact, that two days later I was making another batch, this time for my mother for Mother's Day.  The double chocolate was the exact perfect chocolate fix.

I can't wait to try this out with a different cake mix. You can google all sorts of recipe ideas or just get creative on your own.  Apparently if you eliminate the water altogether the mix becomes more doughy and you can press it into the bottom of a cake pan and use it as a base for a bar. 

*not a sponsored post.  Purely my own creation and ideas.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

Well, I hope everyone had a lovely Mother's Day yesterday.

We certainly had a lovely day.  My husband made me breakfast and thanks to my little J's prompting the evening before for Daddy to take her out and get me something, I had lovely yellow carnations and an even lovelier box of Lindor chocolates waiting for me when I got downstairs.  In her excitement she had already showed me the little clay heart she had painted for me and wanted a new surprise for me to have on Mother's Day.  Plus E had a little seedling started for me in a cup and a lovely hand made tulip crafted for me.  O, thanks to pre-school, even had his own little clay heart on a string to give me along with a pretty tissue flower card.  My first crafted gifts from my little son. Sigh, what a big boy he is getting.

We had visited K's mom the Friday before and gave her a card and a gift so we could  got see my parents on the Sunday.  My parents purchased a new trailer (new to them anyways) and this was their first weekend up at the beach.  We told the kids we were going to see faraway Nana and Papa but not where they were.  So they were completely surprised and thrilled to arrive at the beach. Although it was very windy and we all got windburned cheeks, the kids had a marvelous time.  I was freezing cold and all I could think at one point was how much longer till we could leave.  *L*  But the wind died down and it started to warm up a bit so then it got better.  I love being at the beach but I wished I was dressed a little warmer.  Still, it was so nice getting into the sunwarmed van afterwards.  I didn't think I'd ever warm up.  We finished off with dinner at Smitty's and those nice ladies honoured all three of my kid's free meal tickets and so it wasn't quite so expensive for us afterall.

It really was a lovely day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Unpacking and Purging - Oh Such Fun

It has been a very busy week.  What with wrapping up my business, celebrating O's 3rd birthday last weekend, doing reviews and still trying to keep up with the every day tasks, I've barely room to breathe never mind post.  I feel terrible that I hadn't even posted anything special for O's birthday.

We did have a lovely time with my family and K's parents coming over Sunday afternoon.  It was the first time my brother and his family had been to our new house since they live over an hour away now so we were cleaning like mad the whole weekend.  I don't know why but it's important to me to have a spotless house when company comes.  I always feel embarrassed and then have to shrug it off when I get surprise visits.  Not that my house is that bad in between company, it's just full of the usual kid clutter and you just know your mother is going to pop by the day you procrastinated on loading the dishwasher and mopping the floors. 

It was a really nice afternoon.  One of the plus factors was that when my brother saw how bad our backyard is, he offered his small bobcat or digger (for the life of me I can no longer recall what the darn thing is called) and he has a guy who can run it for us.  All we will have to pay for is the guy to do it.  This way we can get all the stumps out, rocks out and the land levelled in one day.  My husband just about cried.  He had been feeling a lot of pressure to get the backyard done and knew it was going to be a lot of back-breaking labour. So as you can imagine his relief was major. Especially since we didn't even have to ask. 

Then we have the pressure of getting the rest of our stuff out of our friend's house.  They are doing their renovations soon and need the space.  It's probably a good thing because it's so easy to put it off without a deadline.  This way we have to deal with it.  I cannot believe the amount of crap we have.  I just found a set of beautiful cobalt blue glasses that my brother had given to me over 15 years ago, that I had packed and forgotten all about.  I loved those glasses.  They are no longer a complete set but they are still beautiful.  It reminds me that I have a set of 4 cobalt blue champagne flutes packed away somewhere.  It's amazing how you forget what you have.  It's almost like Christmas unpacking these things.

It's hard to believe that it's May and I'm still unpacking.  You would not believe how hard it is to unpack with the kids.  You would think at this age that they wouldn't need so much supervision.  Yesterday, I had just pulled in a box to go through when I heard screaming from outside.  J had thrown a rock at O and hit him in the head.  Yup, in the head.  You could tell she felt instantly bad and perhaps didn't really mean to hit him but O had a nice lump on his head already forming.  Half an hour later, snuggling a tearful O in my arms, applying ice to his bruise and supervising J's time-out and it was almost time to start making their lunch.  So much for unpacking.

Then I have to get motivated because unpacking a box means finding a place for it and right now, we are seriously having storage issues.  I don't even have a place for things like linens or the kid's crafts.  Like I said, I've got too much stuff.  Mainly we need to get shelving etc but there's really no money for it.  As it is we're tryhing to survive on one jug of milk for the rest of the weekend so we don't have to go grocery shopping.  With Tim Horton's renovating right in the plaza that my husband's store is in, it's gotten so bad that our sales are way down over last year.  So... it's tighten our belts time.  I really need to get back on track with menu planning and buying in bulk to cut down costs.  I just know when I buy big packs of meat that I don't like having to stop and separate it all into separate bags for serving portions.  By the time I'm done shopping and drive home and put the groceries away, I've pretty much had it with groceries.  And when hubby says he'll do it... don't count on it.  I had to stick a pack of legs in the freezer because we were getting to their best before date and I didn't have time to do it myself. 

I know I have money from my business selling but until we've got all the bills paid, I'm a little reluctant touching the money.  Besides, if we start using the money for everyday expenses it will be gone in a flash. There's just not that much of it.  As it is, I am sure the inlaws probably think we made a killing selling the business because they keep telling me how wonderful it must be for me and sooooo nice that I don't have to work anymore and it will take the pressure off poor K cause he's a man and it was hard for him to look after the children in the evenings by himself, men aren't cut out that way after all.  Yup that's what she told me. Like it was somehow my fault that K was losing it with the kids all the time because he could not manage the two hours between me leaving for work and them going to bed.  Not that K isn't good with the kids.  There is no one better to make sure they get fed and bathed etc but with all the other stress in his life he wasn't handling the general chaos that kids throw at you very well.  Besides that's a whole nother tangent there.

Once we've gotten everything sorted though, I am hoping to have one giant garage sale and it will feel oh so go to be able to open up our garage door without being embarrased. *L*


So what stupid things has your mother-in-law said to you?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Crayola Products Review - Fun Family Time

Last week I received the following three products from Crayola which was followed by a lot of extreme excitement by my children. 




Color Wonder Nemo:


An 18-page Nemo-themed Color Wonder colouring pad with 4 Color Wonder paint brushes and one Colour Wonder marker ($9.49)







Color Wonder Fairies Glitter Paint Set:

An 18 page Disney Fairies Color Wonder colouring pad with two Color Wonder twist up glitter paint brushes and Color Wonder markers ($10.49)







Chalk Maker Assortment:
Washable, the only customizable chalk set that allows children to personalize by creating their own colours or shapes! ($11.99)







The great thing about Color Wonder colouring sets is that the markers only work on the colour wonder pages.  An especially great idea for my 3 year old who is the only one of my children who likes to colour my walls.   This also makes it a perfect vehicle activity.  I just pop the markers in a ziploc baggie and each kid gets their own set with their own colouring book. 

While the colours are not always as bright as regular felts, the kids still love to see the colours appear on their picture and often there are little surprises built in.  Like in the Fairies book, as you colour hidden sparkles or flowers appear.   Also the markers are interchangable from book to book.  When the book is full I keep the markers to use with the next set.  It's nice having multiple colours which makes for less fighting over who gets what colour since I do have three children.  Also some sets come with different colours so keeping them gives the kids more options. 

Of course my girls absolutely loved the glitter twist up paint brushes for their fairies.  It's a clear gel like paint with gold or silver glitter in it.  You use this to add glitter to your pictures after colouring it in.  A word of caution though is that you want to supervise them when are using the pens.  Little hands delight in twisting, twisting and more twisting and if you are not careful all the paint will end up on one picture.  You do have to let the picture dry after the gel paint is on it.  This would not be a good item for the car unless your kids are older than mine.


The big hit though was the Color Wonder Chalk Maker.  "That's the one we saw on t.v." they squealed, followed by oohs and ahs and wows. 

It's fairly simple to do.  It comes with the molds and a mix of coloured chalk powder. Simply add water to the bottles of colour, shake and pour.  The instructions did say you  need to be fairly quick on the pouring because it sets fast.  I wasn't sure how fast it would set so we didn't spend a lot of time mixing up the colours.  My children didn't have the patience for that anyways.  We did one bottle at a time and they each chose a colour and got to pour it into the molds. 

It is best to do this activity outside in case there any spills.  With little hands into the mix, we all managed to get pretty chalky.  Of course, that's half the fun.  The neighbour's grandsons were outside when we came outside to make chalk and while older, they were completely thrilled to try out making chalk with us. 

I think the hardest part for the kids was waiting for it to set so it was fortunate that with the kids from next door, we spent the next 10 to 20 minutes chasing bubbles on the lawn.  They were, of course, very anxious to try out their chalk.  Once it was set they all had a lot of fun.  The nice thing about this chalk is that it has more of a pastel crayon feel to it than chalky and the colours were very bright. 

For all the fun that this created with the kids and neighbours etc, this is definitely an activity worth doing again.  The kids loved it.  I loved it.  We had a great time!


All of the products we received were just great and indeed it was funny to hear even  the 10 year old kids from next door say "gee Crayola always makes such good stuff". 

Check out Crayola.ca for printable colouring pages, make-your-own cards and activity ideas. 

Thanks to Crayola.ca for the opportunity to review this great products.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

The winner of the Perricone's Facial Moisturizer is Anne-Marie Tvete.  Thanks so much to all who entered.  Congratulations Anne-Marie!