January 31, 2011

It's a Baby Shower (a.k.a. I'm gonna be an Auntie again!)

Yesterday was a celebration day!

The younger sister of He-of-the-good-ideas is due to have her second baby, due the 17th of February, and a whole bunch of ladies got together to celebrate her and her soon to be born baby girl (yep, they found out the gender of this baby, bring on the pink!)

I decided I didn't want a storebought card, so I broke out the scrapbooking supplies (no, I don't actually scrapbook, but I love all the supplies!) and made a card!

The moment I saw this outfit I HAD to buy it for the future niece. And come on... polka dotted outfit and polka dotted card? Cute, yes?! :) Oh, and a Care Bear. Remember Care Bears? She needed a Care Bear. This generation NEEDS to know Care Bears! (sing it with me... "Who's that coming, from somewhere up in the sky?")

So I packed up my camera (50mm lens love!) and hit the road! It is no secret that I am not the main driver in my relationship and I am mostly a happy passenger, but with He-of-the-good-ideas gone for the weekend I hopped in my little car and struck out for an hour long jaunt on the highway. That little tin can isn't the smoothest ride but it got me there and home. It didn't even bat an eye at the snow I drove through on the way home, though I had and extra tight grip on the wheel for a bit.

Every guest received a candy pacifier (don't eat, they're glued together, bummer) to wear and if you crossed you legs/ankles another observant guest could take it! The girl who took mine collected 5 others. She was very observant and was happy when the game was over and could cross her legs when she sat!

And then there was the food. Oh my, the food. I actually took multiple pictures of the food and ate more platefuls than I care to admit but here is a picture of a small portion of what was offered (there were two more tables full!)

And my SIL got a heap of beautiful PINK presents for the new bambina!!

Now all we have to do is wait a few weeks to meet her! 


January 27, 2011

One of these days I’ll have to get in by crawling through the hatch

To say that my car is vintage would be nice, and you might think I have some groovy old stylish character car. In reality, the car I putt around in is a 1994 Firefly. It is as basic as they come. Two door, hatchback, 3 cylinders. No power anything! It has Armstrong Steering*, crank handle windows and all 3 cylinders sing a song of urgency when I’m whipping down the highway. It does have one creature comfort though; two winters ago my friend Glenn installed a car starter in it, which is just lovely on very cold days!

It is a good little car though, and I can tuck it into pretty much any parking space when I venture out into the big-wide-world. When I got it a couple years ago, it had just under 77,000km on it. It was literally driven by a little old lady on Sundays… my Grandma! She had always said when she was done driving; she would give me her car. As she is a sprightly elderly woman, I didn’t have any idea when that would be. But a couple years ago, she called up and said she was done driving and her car was mine if I wanted it. So off we went to the DMV, signed some papers and I came home with The SuperFly!

But now, it is 2011 and the car is getting a bit aged and things are starting to go. Most notably: the window seals which give me frost on the INSIDE of the windows on cold days (let me tell you, THAT is a bitch to scrape), and the door locks. When I went to go out last night I put my lock in the driver’s side door and tried to turn… nothing. Went to the passenger side, same story. Back to the driver’s side with some prayer and a few choice cuss words on my lips and by some stroke of luck the lock popped.

A few hours later when I went to get in my car to go home, same story. Now, it has been pretty cold lately, and standing outside at night in a parking lot monkeying with my key in the door lock is not high on my list of things to do, especially in winter! As I stood there praying (ahem, cussing) that the door lock would decide to unlock itself I looked back at the hatch. That lock always works. The car gods were smiling on me though, and I got in through the door. However I am not looking forward to the day that the door locks give up on my completely and I am left to get into my car by crawling in through the hatch. I just hope I’m not wearing a skirt at the time…

*Armstrong Steering = me making my noodle arms use great effort to turn the steering wheel, especially when it is cold outside!


January 23, 2011

The Scoop on Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone needs a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. Something that is easy to make, yet tastes like you are a Martha Stewart protégé. I’ve been making the same chocolate chip cookie recipe for years (these are “Big 6 cookies” for those that know my baking repertoire and I will post them sometime, promise!), yet after the purchase of my new cookie scoop I decided that I needed to find myself a perfect cookie recipe to use it on.

I cobbled one together, so now I am sharing with you. They are simple and delicious and make me think of being a little girl waiting for cookies to come out of the oven.

Anyhow, before I share the recipe, we need to talk about butter. It seems that as far back as I can remember, there has always been debate amongst my culinary influences about butter vs. margarine... block vs. soft. But here’s the deal, this recipe calls for two very specific items, butter AND soft margarine.

Seriously, this is what makes these cookies outstanding. You are more than welcome to use whatever combination of butter/margarine that floats your boat, but the specific types/amounts that are in this recipe will make your cookies turn out like little bites of heaven. Seriously.

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know, get to it already.  

The Recipe:
½ cup butter, softened (yep, real buttah, the good stuff)
½ cup TUB Margarine (think Becel)
¾ cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs (large)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour (I used 1 cup w/w and 2 cups white for this batch)
¾ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. baking soda
1 12-oz. bag chocolate chips (minus the small handful you ate while making the dough)

The method: 

Cream together butter, margarine, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. After 2.5 years of using it, I still look forward to bringing it out every time.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Yeah, I said sift. It’s an extra step, I know. And it’s an extra thing to wash when you’re done, I know that too... BUT there is just something lovely about using sifted ingredients. They blend better, totally not my imagination. Use your mesh strainer if that’s what you have, but if you’re okay with spending about another $5 on kitchen goodies, get thee to Walmart and get a sifter with a squeeze handle. You’ll thank me.

My apologies for the water spots... I believe in air-drying :)
Add the sifted ingredients to creamed mixture at a low speed (this is an important tidbit... nobody likes cleaning up after a flour tornado has swept through), in small increments and beat well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pinch off a bit of the dough. Pop it in your mouth. Yeah... that’s it. Good isn’t it? Just wait till it is in actual cookie form. Giggety.

Scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheets with your handy dandy cookie scoop! Or, if you're thumbing your nose at this awesome tool and going old school, make the amount of dough per cookie equal to 1 tablespoon. But if your use the scoop, they'll be perfect and uniform. Come on... that just screams Virgo-happy-place!

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Keep an eye on them, especially the first time you make them though, since every oven is different. 

Allow to cool for a few minutes on the pan and then transfer to a wire cooling rack. But eat one (or 5) while they are still warm from the oven because let’s face it, that is when they are at their prime. Then share with them with a friend!

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

OMG meltey chocolate chips <3 


January 22, 2011

A fabric giveaway is just SEW nice!

No, it isn't me giving this away, but a lovely and talented fabric designer doing a fabulous fabric giveaway!

Visit the Lila Tueller Designs site and you could win this totally gorgeous fabric! But if I end up being the lucky winner, be prepared to see various seweing projects on here using these gorgeous fat quarters, layer cakes and charm packs!


January 21, 2011

Things I Love #1

Sometimes I feel compelled to share with others things that I like, make me smile, make me roll my eyes or laugh out loud in the hopes that it can brighten their day. So here is the first thing I'm sharing with you.

This falls into the category of One of My Favourite Bands and One of My Favourite Songs...
Weezer's Island in the Sun. Love! Watch the video and try to keep from smiling, I dare ya!

Happy Friday night! It's been a messy (read: flurries/SNOW/rain(WTF)/crazy wind) day here in NS and I hope wherever you are it is warm and dry and cozy!

January 20, 2011

Open Letter to a Headache

Dear Headache,

Yeah you, the one stabbing relentlessly against the side of my skull and boring up into my eyes. I haven’t got time to deal with you today. There just isn’t a time/place to lay down with my eyes covered today unless I pull a George Costanza and take a siesta and curl up under my desk at work, so please respond to the Advil I took (and am likely to take again before too long) and calm the eff down. I am quietly trying to ignore you as the remainder of my lunch break ticks away but if you stick around to the point of following me home tonight, I will lay down somewhere dark and quiet and try to placate you. However for now I need to be functional and I require all the brain power you are currently zapping.

Lovingly yours,

January 18, 2011

For the love of Frittata

I love breakfast... to say it is one of the most important meals of the day is something I wholeheartedly believe. If I don’t eat before work I am a surly bear who gets wild headaches, and on weekends I love the opportunity to eat more than a bagel/toast/cereal.
When I knew my mom was going to be with us for breakfast on Christmas morning, I knew I wanted something more than just bacon and eggs so I picked up one of our local grocery store flyers and saw a recipe for a frittata. Hmmm I thought, He-of-the-good-ideas doesn’t eat eggs (super picky, it’s crazy) and Santa was bringing him a griddle for pancakes anyhow, so I was sold on the idea of a frittata. Then as luck would have it, my friend Stacey posted a recipe for a frittata on her blog and I liked it even better than the one I had. But since I can’t leave anything alone, I tweaked the recipe to suit my tastes. It turned out AWESOME!
So this past Sunday, I decided to make the frittata again and this time I have leftovers for breakfast for the rest of the week!
For my fritatta you'll need: 4 eggs, 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 cup milk, an onion (that I only use about a quarter of), about a cup of cheese (who am I kidding, more than that!), 2 cups frozen hash browns, around a cup of ham from the deli, salt and pepper to taste

First thing you'll want to do is grease the dish you'll be baking the frittata in. You may notice, I forgot this step. I was awfully eager to get started and get nomming!

Crack your eggs into the dish...

Pretend they're whisked, this is the "before" shot

Whisk them with a fork and add in the milk and mayo and chopped onion

Best measuring device ever!!

Pretend this is minced... my eyes were tearing too bad to take a picture

Add in the ham

At this point in the process, the mixture looks pretty gross... no pictures!

But now add in your 2 cups of frozen hash browns

Mix together well! At this point, you can bake it now or you can cover the dish with plastic wrap (unless you're lucky and have one of those casserole dishes with the matching cover) and pop it in your fridge overnight for tomorrow's breakfast.

Smother it in cheese, I happened to pinch a few nibbles of cheese to satisfy my lurve of cheese!

If it will fit, I bake most everything in my toaster oven... its a lovely Black & Decker Convection toaster oven that will eaily bake a 12" pizza. Oh, and I apologise for the crumbs/smudges on my toaster oven, it is a well used appliance!

 Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes

Let sit for about 10 minutes on the counter or place on a cooling rack, it makes it easier to cut. It makes about 6 ideal servings

 Now tell me that doesn't look delicious!

As always, feel free to tweak the recipe to suit your own taste. Sausage, bacon, chopped tomatoes, green/red peppers, spinach could all be good ingredients... the options are endless. And with a belly full of protien and nutrients, you'll be ready to tackle the day!

I've been heating up the leftovers for breakfast at work each morning so far this week, so running a bit behind is no reason to avoid eating breakfast!

January 8, 2011

Looking Back - 2010 in Photos

So at the end of each calendar year, all over the internet, there are various lists of things to look back on and remember. There are news items, celebrity happenings, tragedies, celebrations and countless others. Just this morning I came across the following on

"2010 in Photos: As the year 2010 approaches its last few days, it's time to look back on the previous 12 months. In the last third of 2010, Wikileaks released hundreds of classified diplomatic cables, 33 men were rescued from a mine after being trapped for 10 weeks, protesters took to the streets all over the world, and so much more. Each photo tells its own tale, weaving together into the larger story of 2010. This is a multi-entry story, 120 photographs over three days."

A statue and a torn Thai national flag remain in front of Bangkok's Central World shopping mall, which was gutted by fire after army soldiers advanced towards an encampment of thousands of "Red Shirt" protesters who had been occupying parts of Bangkok on May 19, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

Now, disclosure. Some of the images are hard to look at. The ones that offer a disclaimer, deserve it but they also deserve to be seen. Some images are terrible (in content, not skill) and some incredible. So take a deep breat, and take a look back.

PART 1 *

** PART 2 **

*** PART 3 ***

I wonder what inspirational/awful things there will be to look back on at the end of this year...

January 7, 2011

I'll have some beer in that pizza please

We are a household that likes pizza.

We have ordered pizza from every spot in our town in the almost 5 years we’ve lived here. We have a favourite place that we order from, but not long ago I decided I wanted to try my hand at making a homemade pizza from the crust up. By some miracle, he-of-the-good-ideas was on board. Since we recently rediscovered our love for our breadmaker to prepare the dough for rolls, I decided to try out the pizza dough setting. Some time ago I heard something about using beer in bread dough and I was intrigued.
First of all, is beer selection. He-of-the-good-ideas drinks Coors Light (pfft... can you even really call that beer?) and there was no way I was using that for pizza crust. For my first attempt, I chose Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale. This is my one of my favourite choices for local beer, I like it with chips, nachos and hamburgers but as I learned, it’s not all that fabulous for pizza crust. It wasn’t bad but I knew there were better options out there, so for the pizza dough I wanted to make tonight, off to the LC I went...
I wandered through the international beer section and read all labels on the shelves and just when I thought I had picked something half decent, someone who worked there asked me if I needed his help. I happily accepted, and ended up coming home with a French beer called  Boris Beer - The Alsatian Flask with a better description go here. I am really happy with the flavour of the crust provided by this beer! If you aren’t sure what to choose on the shelves of your LC, just look for an employee, they’ll likely be more than happy to give you a hand.
First things first, dust off that bread maker you have hiding in a cupboard somewhere and identify the pizza dough setting.

In the ORDER GIVEN (this is key) put the following ingredients in the bucket of the bread machine:

1 cup of flat beer (so just pour off the cup you’ll need for the recipe to let it get flat, and drink the rest)
2 tablespoons of butter ( I used soft margarine because it was there, but some pre-softened real butter would probably be nice)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 ½ flour (I might try a combination of white/whole wheat flour for some future pizza)
2 ¼ teaspoons of instant yeast

Put bucket back in bread machine. Choose the pizza dough setting. Press Start.

Let cycle run through (mine is 50 minutes. With about 20 minutes left, put the pizza stone (if you’re using one) in the cold oven, and preheat to 400.
Slice/shred/prepare your toppings...

Once the dough cycle is done, remove bucket from the bread machine and roll or press (whichever you find easier, I did both) to cover a prepared pizza pan or ceramic pizza stone. Make sure you put your pizza stone on a hot mat or something to protect your counter top while you put the pizza together.

I also like to brush my stone with olive oil before I roll out the dough, but that’s just personal preference. When the dough was all rolled/pressed onto the stone, I formed a nice thick crust around the perimeter and then brushed the whole thing with more olive oil. Then it’s time to dress the pizza...
Sauce (one small can did 2 pizzas)

Pizza pepperoni from the deli at my grocery store

Sliced green pepper

Sliced tomato

Bacon (2 slices of low sodium, chopped and pan fried till about ¾ cooked)

Mozzarella cheese

More cheese (can you tell which side is mine? Hint, I heart cheese)
Place in oven and cook for about 24 minutes... just keep an eye on it. This time works for my oven but yours might be different! When done, let it sit out of the oven for about 5 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

So so so so good... and since there are only 2 of us, I always have leftovers for the next day that is best reheated in the toaster oven!
Sometime down the road, I look forward to making myself a chicken, dried cranberry and feta cheese pizza. Maybe broccoli. Doesn’t that sound yummy? Mmmm pizza!
What are your favourite/ideal pizza toppings?