Friday, December 30, 2011

Queso Fundido Canadiana

 The death cold is still upon us.  No one sleeps at night due to excessive hacking and the level of phlem is high.   Chicken is past being sick but isn't healthy.  Any mom knows that means he's the grumpest child who EVER LIVED.  If you are the praying type, please pray for us.  If you aren't that type maybe come save us?  Anyways, the point of all my whining is that I'm too sick and tired to really put an effort into posting.  So I'm going to post all my favorite appetizers from now until New Years in honor of our anual appetizer dinner celebration at my parents' acreage.  Today's recipe:

 Queso Fundido Canadiana
It's a combination of a few internet recipes I found and some of my own tinkering.  It's a hit around here.  A great appy or a full meal pared with some soup or a salad!  

1 - small onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 to 1lb precooked sausage (we like ham but turkey or kielbasa would do well), split in half and sliced
1 pkg (170grams) baby spinach leaves
1 small package goat cheese, chopped into small chunks
1 loaf french bread, sliced
Preheat your oven to 350
saute your onions and sausage until onions are soft (about 10 minutes).

 Chop up your spinach and throw it into the pan.  Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes until spinach is full wilted.

Add the goat cheese and stir until melted and fully incorporated.
Transfer the mixture to a pie plate and bake for 10 minutes.  
Serve with the bread - SO good and so easy!    

We love this recipe and eat it often.  It's a great way to get my kids to eat spinach and onions and it is so quick and easy to make.  What are some of your favorite appetizers?  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Recap

How were your holidays? Christmas was a little rough here due to sickness and chaos but we are all on the mend. Well, except for the man who just got his cold today. I've had it for 6 days now, Chicken for 5 and Little Bear for 2. We have all managed to live through it but the man is clearly dying. Is there anything worse than a man cold?

But no, other than the fact I haven't slept in SIX days I'm great. I got an Aerogarden from my mom and sister (no, we don't usually buy big ticket items for each other like that but it was a combined 30th birthday and Christmas gift). It's about the coolest thing ever. I've planted lettuce and today there is a sprout from one of the pods (in TWO DAYS)! I can't wait to try the tomatoes and then later herbs!
Hopefully mine will look like this soon.!
Chicken got a Remote Control McQueen from Santa (which he calls a Remokery Controll McQueen) and he drives it all around the house, not stopping for walls or corners ever!  The baby got a new blankie (he's old enough now to sleep with a blankie) and he loves to snuggle with it.  Although clearly not enough because he's taken to waking up at night again.  

And the best gift of all is the TV M bought both of us for our bedroom.  Yes, really!  It was wrapped under the tree to both of us from him.  Merry Christmas - I get the gift of no more romance.  Ah, I'm so lucky!  It's something I've been firmly against since, well... forever and yet he was still thoughtful enough to buy it for me FOR CHRISTMAS.  Next year I'll be sure to get him some size medium panties (or large if I continue to eat 5000 Christmas treats a day)  and a new Louis Vuitton handbag!  No, I'm only being a little bit sarcastic...  generally he got me some wonderful and thoughtful things and he promised he shopped the sales and didn't blow the budget (which, of course, I believe because, you know, he's the one who makes the budget).
The TV is still in the box but I'm pretty sure it will hang on the wall as soon as he gets over his death cold.  It may be months!

And how was your Christmas?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS from my babies to yours! 

Chicken @ 8 months
Little Bear @ 12 months

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

  1. I'm just about ready for Christmas!
  2. Okay, I'm totally not.  Lots of baking and some wrapping left to do and M and I still have to put together two grandparent gifts.  But, by tomorrow at 3 I better be ready because that is when it all starts here!
  3. The baby had a RAST test for allergies the other day.  They took four vials of blood from him and he didn't even cry.  In fact, he smiled for most of the time and even laughed.  Best baby ever!
  4. I'm fighting a cold and I'm doing a 24 hour detox (I'm so hungry) to get ready for Christmas dinner(s).  There are tons out there on the internet but the one that was my favorite said "if you feel faint drink a glass of water and lay down for 15 minutes.  If you still feel faint call 911.  Haha, I didn't choose that one!
  5. The boys are beyond excited for Christmas.  Well the big one anyways.  All we talk about is Santa and Christmas.  He now believes that if you don't have Christmas lights on your house Santa won't be able to find you.  He's got tons of anxiety about some of our neighbors.
  6. All I want for Christmas is?  200 followers.  I'm 8 away, which, actually, still amazes me.  Every time someone new follows the blog I think "wow, people actually read this crap"!
More FNL?  GO HERE to visit our lovely hostess.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Method - The People Against Dirty

That is the best slogan ever isn't it!  The people against dirty - it makes me laugh every time I hear it!  The good people at Method sent me some dish and hand soap recently.  And I was totally in need because I've been using cheap stuff that doesn't lather.  And I was kinda fooling myself saying "it's the same as the name brands", etc.  Guess what?  It's totally, 100% NOT the same!

The biggest difference for me is the environmental thing.  Turns out the crap I was using was HORRIBLE for our planet.  Ack!  I feel awful now.  The Candy Cane Dish Pump Method sent me (yeah, seriously, my dishes smell like candy canes - how awesome is that) is naturally derived and biodegradable.  That makes me feel good about using it.  Also, I love that it comes in a pump.  You would not think it would be a big deal but it's super handy!  So knowing how fancy this soap looks and smells and how good it is for the environment I was actually really surprised at the price.  It's $3.99 for a HUGE bottle and was even cheaper than that at my local grocery store (shh, don't tell the website people)!

They also sent me some Gel Hand Wash in Frosted Fir.  Again, wicked smells and I like that it's a good for the environment product!  Both soaps come in regular, holiday and seasonal scents and are available in stores or on the website.

And Method has lot of great products that I love.  Especially the granite cleaner.  It's the only product I've found that left my granite looking shiny without leaving a weird greasy residue and, again, it's chemical free!

So check out Method today if you care about the environment and still want really great products that clean well!

*Method provided CanadianMama and the Just Another Mom Blog a bottle of Candy Cane Dish Soap and Frosted Fir Gel Hand Soap in exchange for an HONEST review.  


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Ignorance

This year I joined the Lionesses.  I quickly learned it's an amazing ALL FEMALE group that helps out the community in so many ways.  We fund-raise and volunteer our time and resources all year round (I'm volunteering to help out at our local blood drive in January even).  But our biggest event is the Christmas Hamper Program.    This year was a record year and we donated 285 hampers!  I was proud to be a part of something so wonderful and I was amazed to see how many lovely women, men and kids helped to organize the hampers.  And I was especially proud to see how many businesses, families and individuals from our community donated!  Seeing it all made me so proud to live in my community!

And then I logged into facebook yesterday to see two people trashing the program.  I'm not surprised.  I have worked for non-for-profit agencies all my career and they really bring out the best, and the worst in people!  And normally I'm not offended by someone else's ignorance.  Except this time it really hit me because one of these women really spread her ignorance.

This woman has about a million facebook "friends", so when she trashed our program it reached pretty far.  I've seen her trash lots of things before; she trashed Samaritan's Purse just last week (yeah, all those kids with shoe boxes of gifts on Christmas, she somehow managed to see the bad in that program too).  And to be honest she didn't even trash our program but EVERY hamper program out there!  And when people questioned her (all of them being much more respectful than she was) she had an "answer" to everything.  She clearly wasn't interested in hearing about the true nature of hamper programs.  She simply wanted to bitch about something and I guess hamper programs were her target for that day.  Whatever, like I said: this is a negative person who trashes things a lot.

But what got to me is that her worshipers friends started to agree.  I started to see comments like: "yeah, I'm glad I don't participate in hampers at all " or "that is disappointing", "that bothers me",etc.  And that is the problem with trashing something you know NOTHING about!  Is that you spread your nasty attitude.  And the more you say something the more it becomes true.  And so now all those people who have read her post believe that the hampers have a poor vet system and are letting people abuse the system.  Which, anyone with any common sense would know that a large program like ours is not like that.

There are always going to be some who abuse the system but should we let the other 99% suffer because of it?  Should we expect things in return or just give for the sake of helping others?  Should we stop caring for those who live in Canada because they "don't truly need it"?  My answer is no!  And I hope that this Christmas you believe in helping others too without judging them or putting expectations on your charity.  And I especially hope you believe in charities to do the right thing.  If you are ever concerned ask where your money is going and who will be receiving it.  Any good charity worth their weight will disclose all this information to you!  And also, I hope that you realize that trashing a charity and all the hundreds of people who helped out cheapens everything they have done!

So I'm spreading Christmas cheer this season instead of ignorance and I hope you do too!

End of rant, whew!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sun-Maid Recipes

The other day the good people at Sun-Maid Fedex'd me a loaf of Sun-Maid® Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread (no, they really did)!  And it was so fresh it was amazing!  Raisin bread (and french bread) is something I cannot make myself.  Every single time I've tried I have failed (burnt raisins on the bottom of the pan,  super heavy dense bread, etc) and yet it's something my family LOVES (especially my dad - he was so happy to see real raisin bread at our house).  So this was a treat!

And if you are like us, the Sun-Maid Raisin Cinnamon bread will get eaten toasted with a bit of butter.  And it will go fast!  BUT, thankfully they sent me some coupons to use because I had to try out the Apple Crisp recipe.  It reminded me of the bread pudding my mom used to make when I was a kid.  But (no offence Mom) a thousand times better!

Doesn't it look wicked!  It was eaten pretty fast by all the boys (okay, and maybe me too.  Shh, don't tell my diet).  And I didn't know it but Sun-Maid has a YouTube Channel and they have some wicked recipes on there.  Like a twist on waffles and strata and even this fancy appetizer (it's Crostinin with Tomato-Basil Salsa YUMMY):

And here is what I like about all the recipes, they are so fast and quick.  Who would have thought Raisin bread could turn into such yummy and sophisticated recipes that take almost no time to prepare!  

So yeah, check out Sun-Maid out on YouTube for all their great recipes and take a look at some of their vintage videos too (hilarious)!

*CanadianMama and the Just Another Mom Blog was given a loaf of Sun-Maid Raisin Swirl Bread and coupons in exchange for an HONEST review.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: My Baby Is ONE!

These were taken by my friend Janna!  She is new to photography (and blogging - check her out HERE) but you would never know it!  I'm so grateful to her for these beautiful memories!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tell Me Tuesday

Tell Me Tuesday with Canadian Mama

So this week's question is all about office politics.  Which is funny because I don't work in an office anymore.  So, let's say this post isn't about me at all.  Let's say it's about my friend.  Yeah, my friend!  We will call my Friend Lola and we will call her husband Mork.  

So here's the story:
Lola and Mork go to Mork's office Christmas Party.  It's at a beautiful venue in downtown Calgary.  The food is amazing and the music is great.  Lola never really has a great time at these parties because her husband is a senior executive and he's at the highest level of his company in the Calgary office.  Therefore she can't really "let loose" because she is the boss's wife.  Often the other wives try to suck up to her, or ignore her completely and talk about how wonderful their husband is the whole night, and she's not really the kind of person who enjoys that.  Also, the company gives away wonderful prizes (like $50.00 gift cards to popular malls, ipods and ipads) but it would be inappropriate for Lola and Mork to accept so they can't even have fun and try to win a prize. But, it's a night without children and so that is fun.  
And then the dinner and prize part is over and the dancing begins.  By this point much alcohol has been consumed and some of the women are having fun.  This is normally when Lola and Mork would leave as it would be really inappropriate for Mork to "party" with his employees, especially when they are clearly intoxicated and could potentially say inappropriate things.  Except as they are gathering their things they notice a group of women on the dance floor acting like idiots having tons of fun!  And they stop to stare and laugh for a bit.  
And during that time a woman comes over to talk to Mork, we will call her Cindy.  Cindy is wearing the shortest skirt known to man and a bustier type top that is clearly upside down.  She continually tries to pull her top up, to no avail.  During the conversation she speaks a lot about her 9 year old daughter and how wonderful it is she is so independent and she can stay out late and get wasted as her daughter will let her sleep in and nap.  Oh wow!  And then, at the end of the "conversation" she hugs Mork.  It's a bit of an awkward hug as he tries to get out of it and it ends up being a side thing but yeah, it's a hug.  Lola is shocked - "wow, a woman just hugged my husband" she is thinking.  And when she gets home she learns that Cindy is Mork's new secretary.  

And so my question to you today (good God, there is a point to all of this I swear): 
Is it inappropriate to hug your boss (who you started working for two week ago) at the company Christmas party?  

Okay, you wanna play along?  It's super easy.  Grab the code below and paste it into the HTML section of your post.  Then come back and tell me you are playing so I can answer your question!

Here's the code:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Scentsy Giveaway - Winner

Wow, this was a super popular contest.  I got tons of entries on Saturday and Sunday that I had to delete because the contest closed on Friday night.  I would have posted the winner sooner but our weekend looked like this:
Friday night - M comes home at midnight from Alaska.  Oh no wait.  His flights are all messed up and he is stranded in Portland and then again in Vancouver.  He gets three hours of sleep and is eventually on the first flight home.
Saturday - Take Chicken to swimming lessons, M home, take kids to M's work Christmas party at Heritage Park, go to my niece's 2nd birthday at Gymboree, both kids have meltdowns...
Sunday - Wake up super early to a baby with the poops, oh great I have it too.  Baby is fine by noon and I am not.  Go to family dinner.  Stay too late because kids having fun.  Baby cries the whole way home.  Chicken cries for a good 10 minutes straight when he finds out he can't have a bath.  Continue to have tummy cramps and a fever the whole night (and as a side note, I have the best husband ever.  Not only did he single parent all day Sunday while I slept he even cleaned up the kitchen and checked on me lots.  And, he's hot to boot!!)

And so now that you're all caught up on my weekend, here is the winner:

Crystal Marie

Congrats I will message you today!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

  1. First of all THANK YOU SO MUCH!  to everyone who has blogged about my new home!  I am slowly finding some of my old readers (you have no idea how nice it is to hear people actually 1) realized I was gone and 2) actually missed me) and I'm even getting new readers.  Somehow I've gotten 11 new followers in the last two weeks.  That is more than I would normally get in a couple of months!  And it's all because of you guys.  Really, it's so nice that you would take the time to blog about me and I really appreciate it!  Also, if you ever need anything, like for me to link to you, vote for you in a contest, etc I'm your woman!!
  2. I need some help re-working some of my buttons and also some of my headers on the blog.  I've got no skills so I'm happy to pay someone.  Anyone out there good with this kinda stuff?
  3. I found this neat blog where she links to current blog giveaways and contests.  It's HERE if you are a contest enterer (that's not a word actually but you get the idea).  I used to enter contests all the time before kids.  I won a lot of stuff and it was super fun.  I wish I had more time to do it again because if you set aside just a little time every day then slowly you will find you win more and more!
  4. I am getting interviewed by the news today about CardSwap.  I've bought some Christmas presents on there lately but I'm trying to save my money for after Christmas.  That is usually when the most cards are available and for the best prices.  Last year I got an Ikea gift card for almost half off!
  5. I went and saw Breaking Dawn last night in the theater.  A friend had passes so I was her date.  The company was great but the movie kinda sucked.  Actually?  Really sucked.  We both agreed that all the movies have sucked but because we loved the books so much we feel compelled to watch them.  
  6. Speaking of reading I have a few good books on the go and I haven't read in over a month.  This is an all time record for me, and it's horrible.  I'm really busy with work right now and SUPER busy with the vinyl.  Everyone wants vinyl for Christmas!  M and I are going to Whitefish for a few days (with no kids - eek) next week so I'm hoping to relax and really make up for it all.
  7. I have two giveaways on the go right now: THIS ONE for a Scentsy Buddy and today is the LAST day to enter.  And THIS ONE for a free photo shoot with CODIO Photography.  
  8. The grade 7 and 8 kids at Chicken's school (he only goes to preschool but it's attached to the whole Ecole Francophone) slept in cardboard boxes in the parking lot last night.  They did it all to raise money for out local food bank and to give the kids an idea of what it is like to be cold and hungry (ie. homeless).  I think it's amazing the school put it together and I especially think the kids are AMAZING for doing that!!  The best part is the were having a blast when I saw them!  Playing in the snow, yelling and smiling.  Kids are so resilient and strong hey!  You can read more about it HERE
  9. Am I the only person in the world who likes Calliou?  I am thinking of doing a post just to publicly defend him because everyone hates him so much.   Tell me, why do you hate him so much?  
Want more leftovers?  Go HERE and visit our wonderful host!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

CODIO Photography Giveaway (FREE PHOTO SHOOT)

CODIO photography is giving away a free mini session (and yeah, that is my little man in the top picture) to one lucky reader:
*the session includes a designed Christmas card by Rafael who is also a graphic designer.  It can be used for anything though such as: birth announcement, birthday announcement, thank you card, save the date, etc.  
And now I'm going to tell you all about why I LOVE CODIO Photography!

First of all it's a husband and wife team and Charlene and Rafael work really well together.  One will hold the lights, while the other shoots, or arranges your kids, etc.  Speaking of kids: they have three so they are well versed in getting kids to sit for a picture.  It was seriously impressive!  Honestly, they managed to wrangle a crawling and busy baby and a super hyper 3 year old (he was having a rough day).  
The other thing I love is their studio.  They have props galore and some fancy backgrounds.  Their pictures look different and unique and I'm thrilled with how our holiday pictures turned out.
And, of course, their pricing is wonderful.  For two professional photographers, with tons of experience, you would expect to pay thousands of dollars.  Turns out?  They are beyond affordable (all of their pricing is available on their website).  

Really, if you want beautiful pictures that don't look like everyone else's, CODIO Photography is for you:

*CODIO offered CanadianMama and the Just Another Mom Blog NO compensation for this review/giveaway.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Little Bear

Dear Little Bear,
One year ago today, at exactly 1:07am you came into this world.  You blessed me with your birth and you have been a dream ever since.  I have been thinking so much lately about the last year with you.  About how since you were four months I've wished I could stop time.  How you are just so sweet and wonderful.  You really are my best friend.  I thank God all the time for you!

At a year old you love the following: food, snuggles and me.  If you are fed and I'm holding you, you are the happiest baby in the world.  Actually, you are happy most of the time.  Sometimes you cry but it's rare.  It almost always has to do with being hungry or your brother hurting you.  And you are so snuggly.  You aren't needy but you often crawl over to me and lay your head on me.  You love to just sit there and rock and eventually craw off to play for a bit.  It's amazing; please never stop doing this!  

At a year old you continue to be super fat.  You wear 12 and 18 months clothes and size 4 diapers. - insert stats here once back from the doctor -  I don't know what your shoe size is because you don't walk yet.  You do pull yourself up onto furniture but don't cruise.  You have no interest in the stairs (you may have fallen down them once... maybe)  You have no teeth which keeps your baby look so I'm thrilled about that.  Despite having no teeth you gum everything and can eat almost everything (that is lactose free).  We switched you to milk yesterday and you seem fine so far.  We suspect an egg and nut allergy - fingers crossed you grow out of it.

You can say: Mama, Dada, (and also variations of those like Mommy and Dad, etc), hi, baba and your absolute most favorite word in the whole world uh-oh.  Oh yes, you love to drop things just to say it.  You can clap and if someone says hi you frantically wave.    

Your favorite activities are walker toys and books.  You will actually sit for a book most of the time.  You are starting to get a bit naughty and will play in the fireplace and try to stand up in the tub.  When I get upset with you and say "no" in my ultra stern voice you cry your deep, sad baby cry.

And I can't believe a whole year has gone by already.  I'm so thankful for you, my fat, sweet baby.  I love all your snuggles and your sweet nature.  I love seeing you explore and learn new things.  I love watching you sleep.  I just honestly love you so much.  It's amazing how complete you've made our family!  We are all lucky to have you.  Happy 1st Birthday Sweet Boy!

The last picture I have of me at almost 41 weeks pregnant.  This was right before we went to the hospital.

Sweet, fat, wonderful!  

This is you at one week!  All you did was sleep!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mmm, It's Monday: Christmas Baking Recipes

Last week was our 2nd annual Christmas Baking Exchange.  We call it the Good Cooks Baking Exchange, because, well, we are all awesome!  The group was created from the frustration with crappy baking (could there be anything worse).  The first baking exchange I was ever a part of was horrible.  I got things that were rock hard, puffed wheat squares, flat cookies, etc.  Someone even gave a box of Oreos!  I had made Almond Roca.  It was full of butter, almonds and chocolate.  It was a time consuming recipe and expensive.  I was pretty pissed!  When talking to my friend (and wicked baker) Raelene she mentioned she had the same worries, and so did some other friends.  And so our group was born.  We keep it small and the deal is it needs to be something that requires effort and is yummy!

This year I got some amazing things.  Like fudge, and peanut brittle, and sausage rolls (just to name a few, honestly everything was wicked).  Oh yum!  And when I posted the Red Velvet cookies I made on facebook I got lots of requests for the recipe.  So here are a few of my favorite, no fail Christmas treats!

Red Velvet, White Chocolate Dips

2 Cups butter (room temperature - this is important)
1 Cup powdered sugar
1/2 Cup cornstarch
1/3 Cup cocoa powder
3 Cups Flour
1 - 2 Tablespoons red food coloring (depending on how red you like them)
Bernard Callebaut white chocolate (don't cheap out here.  You can find it in the bulk bins at Superstore, Sobeys, etc.  If you can't find this brand make sure it's a good quality chocolate and not the melts)
Gold Sugar (I get this at Williams Sonoma but you could use good quality sprinkles too)

Preheat oven to 375.
Whip butter until light and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes).  
Sift together sugar, cornstarch and cocoa powder and add to the butter.  
Add food coloring.
Whip on low for 1 minute and high for 2 minutes.
Cover and chill in the fridge for about 3-4 hours or overnight.
Roll cookies into a ball and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment (work quickly here because if your dough softens it's impossible to roll).
 Press flat with the middle of your palm.
Bake 8-10 minutes (8 was perfect in my oven which runs a bit hot); do NOT overcook.
Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a minimum of 5 minutes (Do not skip this step, trust me).
Transfer to a rack until completely cool (these guys break apart easily so be gentle).
In a double boiler melt your chocolate and remove from heat when melted.  
Dip your cookies in, shake off excess chocolate and lay on wax paper.
Quickly sprinkle with gold sugar (make sure to do this about every 12 cookies or so as the chocolate will harden quickly).  

Tips: These cookies are so crumbly and delicate the first day; they also don't taste awesome (a bit dry and powdery).  The next day?  OMG, they are wicked!  Melty and delicious!  I froze my cookies after they were cooled and then did the chocolate part the next day.  They were much easier to work with!  So far they've gotten me tons of compliments!  They are best served a bit chilled from the fridge or freezer.  This is a bit of a testy recipe so if you are a new baker you may want to skip it.  If you are an experienced baker give them a try.  Lots of work but well worth it!

Almond Roca 

1 C. Almonds
2 C. Sugar
2C. Butter (don't buy cheap butter.  It separates and does weird things)
2 Tbsp. Corn Syrup
3 Tbsp. Boiling Water
½ C. Chocolate Chips

Toast almonds on cookie sheet, in a 325 oven for about 5-10 minutes (check as they burn fast).
Combine butter and sugar in a large pot on medium heat and stir until dissolved.
Stir in corn syrup and water.  Boil on medium heat without stirring until it reaches hard crack stage on a candy thermometer. 
Spread over almonds (work quickly this hardens fast).
Spread chocolate chips over the Roca.  Wait about 30 seconds to a minute and spread on the roca.  
Refrigerate until cool and then break into pieces. 
  •  Make sure you are patient with your Roca as it will burn if the temperature is up too high. 
  • Yields aprox 2lbs of candy.  

Note: Don't be scared by the Candy Thermometer.  This is an easy recipe (although a bit time consuming) and it's SO SO SO amazing!  You can buy a candy thermometer anywhere (Safeway, Walmart, etc) and make sure you get one that clips onto your pot.

What are your favorite Christmas Baking recipes?  Please share, I'm always on the hunt for new and great recipes!