Browsing the blog archives for July, 2010.

Marriage Challenge #5

Churchy, Marriage

This week’s marriage challenge from Women Living Well is talking about time management in your marriage.

We were to make a list of (what we feel are) the top 5 things we do and ask our husband to prioritize them according to how important he feels they are.

This was my list, ordered under the importance I thought he’d place on them. So here’s the list I thought he’d write:

1. A clean and tidy home/laundry up to date
2. A home cooked meal every night
3. Listening
4. Sex
5. Being mindful of money

I was off. This was the list he gave me:

1. Health, happiness and well-being of our family
2. Honesty and integrity
3. Being supportive and providing quality input
4. Household work (ie: cleanliness of house/yard, laundry, dishes)
5. Sticking to budgets, and saving money

Interesting list for a man to have written, yes? I really love this challenge because I love you all getting a little glimpse of my husband.

1. Health, happiness and well-being of our family
The first item on his list covers quite a bit. The health part includes healthy, well balanced meals every day, and being up to date on doctor, dentist and optometrist visits for all of us. Our family’s happiness includes things like daily outdoor play, trips to the playground and time with all of our friends. As far as well being goes, this is mainly me working on ensuring that everyone’s overall needs are met and being aware of not raising my voice at the children and ensuring things like sunscreen, hats and bicycle helmets are not forgotten.

2. Honesty and integrity
I LOVE that he put honesty and integrity on his list. In terms of honesty, aside from the obvious never lying to him and teaching the children the importance of honesty, things like always following through on promises, no matter who they are made to, fit in this category as well. To be known overall as an honest person, as that reflects back on our family. Also situations like enforcing house rules with friends (both kids and adults), to generally be on our best behavior and aim to be upstanding people.

3. Being supportive and providing quality input
My husband has big dreams, and that’s one of the things I love so much about him! He has clear ideas of how to get to where he wants to be, and while there are some stumbles along the way and occasionally a decision that forces us to take a few steps backwards, I trust him and his decisions. No one is perfect, and I respect that things are going to come up and then more than ever, I need to be supportive regardless of what choices are made. I have to work on providing quality input though – especially if it’s an area I’m unfamiliar with or an idea I’m a little resistant to. Even if I don’t necessarily agree with a decision doesn’t mean I shouldn’t help formulate a plan if he asks me.

4. Household work (ie: cleanliness of house/yard, laundry, dishes)
My husband is such a neat freak I thought for sure this would be at the top of his list. The overall sense of calm and order everyone gets from a clean and orderly home is one reason for this item, but he also says he wants that for his children. For all of them to know where all of their toys and books are, to be able to find whatever they happen to be looking for when they need it. It’s also a nice gift to myself to not ever have a pile of laundry or a whole sink full of dishes to do. We both love a tidy and well maintained yard, and really making sure the outside of your house doesn’t look like an eyesore is being a good neighbor.

5. Sticking to budgets, and saving money
This and cleaning were the only two out of five I got right! No matter how much money we have, there is always something else to pay for, and there is always something important to save for. Car emergencies, dental emergencies, vacations, holidays, birthday parties, and onto the serious, like a corner house with a huge driveway and a cute cottage in Wasaga. Or you know, our RRSPs and savings for the kids education and the girls’ weddings. We are tracking all of our money in jars, Till Debt Do Us Part style and that helps to keep both of us on track.

Please note that sex is not on it at all. If I had written this list for myself, sex would be on it, for sure. I know some of you are rolling your eyes and either assuming that he’s just being polite, or that I’m not being entirely honest. In the interest of full disclosure, I wish it was on his list! 😉 Of course I asked him about it! He had two thoughts on the subject, the first was that he knows I’ll never say no to it so it doesn’t need to be on the list (blush), and (yes, I swear he said this) ‘there are other more important things in life, don’t you think?’

There are two benefits to this challenge. The first, of course, is knowing exactly what your husband is hoping for, in his own words! The second is the conversation that will end up happening as a result of asking for his input. <3


Last Day of School Treats!

Domestic, Kids

Yes, this happened two weeks ago, but it was a great day and the treats were really fun to make and turned out exactly as I had hoped. There are other fun creative domestic adventures that have happened even before the last day of school, but I really wanted to share these photos first.

I plunked down with the wee ones and the laptop and they picked what they wanted to bring to their last day of school parties. Wee one #1 picked Barerella’s Oreo Truffles and Wee One #2 picked Bakerella’s Candy Apple Pops. I love that they both picked from the same site, even with all their other options!

Oreo Truffles – from

1 package Oreo cookies (divided, but use the creamy filling too)
1 8oz. package softened cream cheese
white chocolate (or whatever you like)
Oreo crumbs (optional)

1. Crush about 7 cookies and keep them for topping the truffles, or use a box of Oreo crumbs.

2. Crush the rest of the cookies and mash the cookies and cream cheese together. Bakerella suggested using the back of a spoon for the mashing, and it was a great help – so use the back of a spoon!

Oreo Truffles in progress Oreo Truffles in progress

3. Roll the mix into 1″ balls and line up on wax paper covered cookie sheets.

4. Pop them in the fridge as you melt the chocolate to make it a little easier on yourself. Coat in chocolate, sprinkle some of the crushed cookies crumbs on top and transfer back to wax paper. Sprinkle with the cookie crumbs and let them dry. Pop them back in the fridge for a few to set up – don’t eat them yet!!

Oreo Truffles

The recipe used white chocolate, and the look that gives is way more visually appealing than milk chocolate. It just looks more Oreoy, you know? However, wee one #1 and his friends are not fond of white chocolate, and they were the ones eating them, so milk chocolate it was.

Once the chocolate has set up and hardened in the fridge, they are amazing. They’re amazing even before they go in the fridge, but if you wait till they’ve been in the fridge for a few hours, they have a perfect little crackle when you bite into the hardened chocolate. Mmmm.

Apparently, these went very fast at his school party and all of his friends asked him to bring them to school parties next year! A few of them even asked

Candy Apple Pops – from

1 batch of cake pops
Red candy melts
Pretzel sticks
Green candies (I used green apple licorice)

My husband does all of the grocery shopping and errand running around here – which I am eternally grateful for – and this list was no exception. He knows that school treats are a big deal around here and rightly assumed that meant that last day of school treats would be a very big deal. He must have called me 10 times during that shopping trip with thoughtful questions!

Regular pretzels or pretzel sticks?
Is a pound of candy melts enough?
What kind of green candy? I’ll get green apple flavour for the apples!
Do you need packaging for them?
Can I eat one?

green apple licorice melted red candy melts

So first, make your cake pops. Either while the cake is baking or cooling, gather your leaves and stems. I cut up the green licorice leaves and I broke up the pretzel sticks. Set up a little assembly line to make putting them together go faster and smoother.

Once they’ve chilled and are ready to be coated in chocolate, melt down the red candy melts. I prefer the double boiler method, but you can just as easily use the microwave if you’d rather that or don’t have a double boiler. I always dip my cake pop stick in the melted chocolate/candy first so it sticks to the inside of the pop better. Then I use a soup spoon to coat it evenly and set it on it’s head to dry. In retrospect, I should have let them dry standing, in the contraption I fashioned to assemble them (I poked holes in a small cake board and balanced it over two tall glasses).

Candy Apple Pops

Poke the pretzel stem into the top of the apple pop, if you’ve let them dry first just dip the bottom of the pretzel in a little melted candy and poke it in. Same goes for the green candy leaves. They go from being a red cake pop to an apple cake pop in no time!

These were a serious hit at school, all of the kids loved them and almost all of the parents who saw them commented on them. They were very, very fun to make. My husband came into the kitchen and helped out with assembling them all and it was hilarious. He is very detail oriented and wanted to place each leaf just so.

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks

After school, we had a little ‘Yay Summer’ picnic on the porch and this is one of the wee treats I made for them. We had so many pretzel sticks left over, and I always have about a ton of chocolate in the pantry, so I made some chocolate covered pretzel sticks. I also saved some Oreo Truffles and Candy Apple Pops for them to share with the kids on our street. I’ve got big plans for a Yay Summer party next year now!


Marriage Challenge, Week #4

Churchy, Marriage

This week’s marriage challenge from Women Living Well was to list 10 things we admire about our husbands – and to show it to them. The premise is that while we may think our husbands know we admire them, we can’t really know for sure unless we actually tell them. I say all the time I’ve been with my husband for 11 years and I still have a major crush on him, so this list will be fun.

1. He is so smart it’s creepy. Obviously, he’s brilliant in his field and it’s amazing how often this sort of knowledge comes in handy, and I’d like to add here that he is 100% self taught! Aside from that, he’s got this overall level of awareness and smarts over the most random, and thankfully very useful, subjects!

2. He is a very goal oriented hard worker. Clearly, he works his butt off for his family and we are all very appreciative of that. He has since before we were even a family, when it was just the two of us before we got married. His work ethic and drive have brought us so far! Most couples do not recover financially to the place we are in after having their first child at 19 (and two more before 30)!

3. He is a very, very moral person. He always takes the high road – always. Sometimes it’s a little amazing, especially when a friend who doesn’t know him well sees it come out. I know how lucky I am to be with someone who ‘thinks with his big head’, you know? 😉

4. He is outrageously silly! Sometimes, if he hears me coming, he’ll hide behind the kitchen counter, or under my desk and jump out and scare me. I love it. Or when I’m taking food photos for the blog, he’ll get in there and make it silly and fun. We’ll stay up into the wee hours of the morning watching back to back episodes of the Simpsons laughing our heads off.


5. He is also such a grown up. He’s miles ahead of me, he can look at serious grown up stuff, like mortgages and taxes and health insurance and calmly formulate a plan. Or call our financial planner, which is also a pretty grown up thing to do, yes?

6. He is a serious family guy. Given the money and time and space, I’m sure he’d want some TLC-style big family. He is a sucker for babies and is the most protective father of an infant I have ever seen – even on this third time! Whenever he plans a weekend or day trip, it’s geared for the wee ones and all the major decisions are made with them in mind.

7. He’s a great husband – he’s a great husband when it really matters. When I was terrified and in labor for the first time at 19, he really stepped up. He was amazing. Even more amazing 5 years later when we did it again, and by the third time around, we could have done it ourselves in a cabin in the woods – now that’s a partner. 😉 And really, who gets a girl pregnant at 21 and actually marries her and lives happily ever after? He does! <3

8. He’s my biggest fan. 😛 The ways he supports my efforts all across my life, my friendships and my hobbies inspires me to always be supportive! He holds me to an ever-higher standard, which just pushes me to get better at all the things I do.

9. He is a genuine person. He just is who he is all the time with no excuses and I loooooove that about him. From the silly things, like a real love for bad movies to lifestyle things like how we run our family.

10. He has big dreams – and the drive to go after them. He inspires me to set new goals for myself every time I achieve something.

I hope it doesn’t sound too cheesy, but he’s a rad guy so it’s all true! Now, off to show this to him. <3


LOST Birthday Fete

Crafty, Domestic

If you’re not obsessed with Lost, this post can still be useful – I made the Classic Snowball Cake, which is something I think all domestic goddesses should know how to make. 😉 I have been hooked on Lost for a couple of years, I started watching all the episodes in order after the show had already been on the air for 3 or 4 seasons. Being able to watch so much of the show at once, it was pretty easy to develop an unhealthy obsession. I owed my friend Romi a birthday fete and she’s just as crazy for Lost as I am (and arguably more die hard, as she’s been loyal since ep 1, season 1), so I ran with it and her 2*th birthday was all about Lost. 😀

Dharma Chocolate Bars

The Dharma labels are all courtesy of Max Pictures, who clearly also has a serious love for the show. Dharma chocolate bars were necessary, as Miss Romi loves chocolate. She’s also fond of red wine, so we needed to Dharamize that as well. We all had personalized boarding passes from Oceanic flight 815, except ours were all leaving Sydney and arriving in Toronto – don’t worry, we know the level of geeky we’ve risen to. What’s with the Dharma evaporated milk? Well, I am a baker you know, I always have to have this sort of thing on hand…

Dharma Evaporated Milk  Dharma Red Wine

Instead of talking about the cake first, I’m going to go on about the icing, because the construction of the cake itself will likely steal the show. It’s one of those very simple, but very good (good in this instance refers to deliciousness, not good as in ‘good for you’, just to be clear) quick recipe from Kraft. It is just five horribly indulgent ingredients and takes maybe five minutes to pull together.

Snowball Frosting (I omitted the coconut)
1 pkg. (4-serving size) Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 cup cold milk
2 cups thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping
1 cup flaked coconut

Snowball Frosting

The cake itself is actually a plain chocolate cake, the recipe used a devil’s food cake mix but you can use your favourite chocolate cake recipe of course! For the snowball effect, the cake is made in an oven safe glass bowl.

Snowball Chocolate Cake (I omitted the coconut)
1 chocolate cake, uncooked
1 pkg. (250 g) Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese, softened
1 egg
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Essentially, you whip up a chocolate cake and pour the batter into an oven safe bowl. Mix the cream cheese, egg and sugar, and put that on top of the cake batter. It’ll sink a bit as it bakes. Mine was still visible after it baked, so next time I will knock it down a bit. My concern was that knocking the bowl would make it sink too far but that doesn’t seem likely now.

Snowball Batter  Snowball Cake

The video was helpful when putting this cake together, the only thing I didn’t do the same was sprinkle coconut on top because my sister hates coconut with the burning passion of 1000 suns, and naturally she was on the guest list. The candles are sparkly and have wee stars on them, because grown ups or not, birthdays are for being a little silly. Which is also why there are mini M&Ms on top!

The texture of this cake was amazing, I used my usual chocolate cake which is already pretty fantastic, but made so much better with this cream cheesy center! It’s not overpowering and just sweet enough. It’s two years in a row that I’ve made a cake with both vanilla and chocolate in it. We call it our ‘racial harmony’ cakes. 😉

Snowball Birthday Cake

I also made Salsa Roll Ups, another quickie from Kraft. I end up with a very long ‘must try’ list after trolling that site for too long. I also made turkey-chicken meat balls, but I’ll save that recipe (courtesy of my Dad) for another post.

Salsa Roll Ups
(1/2 of 250-g pkg.) cream cheese spread, softened
3 Tbsp. salsa
2 spinach-flavoured tortillas or wraps (10 inch)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
chili powder

Mix the cream cheese with the salsa and spread onto the tortillas, then sprinkle on shredded cheese. Roll up the tortilla tightly.

Cut the logs into whatever length works for you, you may have to use toothpicks to keep the rolls secure.

Snowball Batter  Salsa Roll Ups

So happy 2*th birthday, Romi!! I’m already plotting next year’s cake (and theme, hmmm). <3

Snowball Batter  Dharam