Warm up on a Cold Day

8 Mar

It has been a hard winter here in Calgary this year. Lots of snow. Lots of cold, cold days. Staying housebound day after day starts to make you feel like this …

Last week Via and I made cookies to keep our sanity about us. For the last few months when she asks to make cookies I have been letting her choose a recipe from Martha Stewart’s COOKIES book.

image from http://www.randomhouse.ca

It has a great index of all the cookies with pictures at the front so it is easy for kids to flip through and decide what they want to make. I comply and hope they are good because we seem to always need to eat them all in 2 days LOL. I love that they always says that — all the recipes have to be stored in an air tight container with parchment paper between layers and eaten within 2 days … and the recipes makes up to 4 dozen … Yikes, here comes the sugar coma. Well, there are a few that will last a week or more but those are the “healthy” ones with dried cranberries in them etc that Liv would never pick. She goes through the pictures and always picks out something ooooey-gooey and chocolate. And I make them JUST to make her happy of course …

Friday was no exception. She chose Chocolate Surprise Cookies. Described as Hot Chocolate in cookie form these had everything you would want, including marshmallows!

I had my trusty helper make the decadently dark chocolate dough. She loves to add the dry ingredients to the mixer for me. She does a great job too.

Then once baked for 8 minutes half a marshmallow is pressed into the centre of each cookie and then baked an additional 2 minutes.

The hardest part of the whole process was convincing the 3 year old that the cookies had to cool completely before we could add the icing and eat them. Yes, I said icing! Not only is this a chocolate cookie with a marshmallow baked in, it is topped with fudgy chocolate icing. Yum!

Stay warm out there!



1 Mar

What little girl doesn’t love glitter? We have been glittering up a storm here the last three days.

Years ago, while in the height of my obsession with wooden toys for Olivia I bought a stack of wooden animal plaques at Michaels. Originally, I was going to paint them all pretty and she would play with them. Unfortunately, I only painted one … well half of it and the rest were shoved in a bag at the back of a cupboard. Lately, Olivia has been resistant to doing any drawing and painting on paper so I have been looking for alternatives … like the giant chalkboard (which is still capturing wonderful drawings from young and old around here and has inspired a blackboard making date with my sister for Sunday).

This past Sunday, faced with bored kids I had the eureka moment to drag out the wooden animals and have them paint and glitter their little hearts out. Most of the animals were around 80 cents a piece, so with the older crowd I am sure this is a cost effective craft, with Olivia, well, she painted 8 of them. But, with painting the front and back and adding glitter on both sides and with extended drying time due to thick paint, we have stretched the project over three days! So in the end, I think it was cost effective and also gave me some down time while she was totally engrossed in glittering. The secret to non-supervised glittering? Glitter glue. Kids can squeeze a little out onto their painting and brush it on with a paint brush. Way cleaner than having them dusting loose glitter all over your house and only sometimes on the painting! They were given instructions on washing their paint brush often, since otherwise the glue would ruin the brush and they did listen, even an almost 4 year old!

Meanwhile, while Mr. Somewhat shopped for dressier shoes for his new job last week I was distracted by glitter myself. Skechers has some ADORABLE little girls sneakers decked out with tatoo inspired images and plenty of glitter and even gems (think be-dazzler!). Too cute NOT to talk about. Aptly called “Twinkle Toes” this line is hard to resistant and I HAD to make Via put a pair on even though we are no way near sneaker wearing weather (it was -35 yesterday with the wind chill!). Of course, she is a size 10 and they don’t come in anything smaller than an 11, but I made her put them on anyway – not that it was a struggle … It went something like “Look at these pretty princess shoes Via!” and she begged to have them. Who wouldn’t? Look at them!

images from Yahoo Shopping

Glitter, hearts and unicorns? Skechers has hit a home-run! They were too big for her but she made her best effort to convince me they weren’t … like running in them … which almost convinced me and then she tripped and fell on her face. So we left without them even though I wish we hadn’t!

Dust it off

24 Feb

I have wanted a large chalkboard menu board in our house for awhile. When I started meal planning two weeks in advance I thought it would be fun to put up the weeks’ menu on it but I no longer meal plan … and after some browsing on the Artful Parent it became obvious to me that we need a big chalkboard at our house but it would not be a menu board … it would be a Via Art Board.

At the begining of the month I spotted a lone frame in the garbage garage (the shared garage in my townhouse complex where we put our garbage in dumpsters and the great people leave their junk and my future treasures off to the side) …

After buying a sheet of MDF, some chalkboard paint and some foam rollers it came together (primer and white paint was already owned).

I ended up doing three coats of blackboard paint because my primer was white, but a tinted primer would have solved that. The foam rollers were so great for giving a smooth surface as though it was sprayed. I have pretty much the whole can of blackboard paint left so there can be many more chalkboard projects in the works! I love the blackboard tabletops Miss Mustard Seed does, so I may tackle one of those eventually. I will need to buy low dust chalk though, the package I picked up at IKEA is pretty dusty, but it was cheap and comes in so many pretty colours.

We hung it up tonight on the wall opposite our kitchen and Via is in love. I drew a flower in the corner to show her how it worked and she took to it immediately.

I am still thinking about the tintable chalkboard paint Home Depot had as well. Wouldn’t a raspberry pink board be so much fun? For now this one is a hit.

I love how the white paint has brought this frame back to life and it still looks good even though it has little dusty finger prints all over it. I had my heart set on a black frame but I knew white was the smart choice. The chair in the photos was made for Olivia’s 3rd Birthday from Ana White’s plans.

We are off to bedtime tonight and hopefully we have more fun tomorrow with our new chalkboard.


I have linked up with Creating a House of Grace’s 39th Twice Owned Tuesday Party!

I have linked up with Funky Junk Interior’s Saturday Nite Special #70 – yay another Western Canadian!

I have linked up to the Chalkboard Linky Party at Freckled Laundry!

It’s Almost Party Time!

23 Feb

On March 15th my little girl is turning 4!

Yes, she is officially a kid now, not a toddler.

I am realizing that this month is dwindling away and party planning must commence!

For her first birthday there was only a cake. For her second birthdays (she got two parties when she was 2!) it was all about pink and yellow and flowers, not really any theme at all.

For her third birthday I realized that if I wanted to have the theme parties that I wanted to have I had better get on it because she is an opinionated little girl and time was a wasting. So last year I put together a Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday and it was a hit. Olivia’s favourite part, well, besides the cupcakes (she LOVES cupcakes) was picking out food from the book to blow up and hang on the walls. Thanks to http://www.blockposter.com you too can have quick and easy wall decorations for any occasion. We scanned the pictures straight out of the book for the best resolution, but you can always use images borrowed graciously from the internet if you want. You will use a lot of ink, but I think it is worth it. In the end I sold the posters to a dayhome that was having a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme month. So they were re-used, not tossed, which I think is great. Plus I recouped some of my ink money LOL. Genuine HP Printer Cartridges don’t come cheap, but I always buy them because I love that my printer actually thanks me for installing the proper cartridges, no lie, the little screen actually thanks me LOL.

The party was pretty easy to set up. I baked medium and small cupcakes and iced them green and yellow for the caterpillar’s body. Then I baked a larger cupcake in a ramekin and iced it with red. Put them all together and you get a caterpillar! I also ordered green helium balloons and one red balloon to make a floating caterpillar. My sister had a giant leaf from IKEA, so we borrowed that for decoration as well. Most of the snacks were my regular go tos. But for a special touch I made kabobs of green grapes with a strawberry at one end to mimic the caterpillar. For extra fun I took different coloured paper and brushed watercolour over them. Then I cut out haphazard pentagons and hexagons inspired by Eric Carle’s collage pieces in the book and scattered them over the cake table and snack bar. It went down without a hitch.

This year Olivia is asking for a fairy themed party. I know she is thinking Tinkerbell. I am thinking more generic fairy princess. Tonight I have bookmarked a few ideas from Amy Atlas and folks over at Ohdeedoh.
I am definitely making some sort of cake pops from Bakerella and probably some sugar cookies.

I want paper flowers and butterflies … and that is all I have so far!

Oh, and she has to wear a cutie-pie tutu and crown. Let the planning begin!


21 Feb

On the weekends Mr. Somewhat likes to indulge in some fast food for lunch. He is a “Meat & Potatoes” kind of guy for dinner which translates into burger and french fries for lunch. I like to stick to chicken burgers, but I am in – it is nice to have a meal out and skip the prep and clean up at home.

In December my sister introduced me to South St. Burger Co. which is only located in CrossIron Mills near Calgary right now and in Eastern Canada. It is an off-shoot of New York Fries and it is delicious. So this weekend while doing a tour through the mall when he said he was hungry I jumped at the chance to A) Avoid the over-crowded food court and B) Try out a new combo. I’m not talking about having onion rings instead of french fries with my burger and coke. I am talking about my condiment combo. At South St. Burger Co. they have 25 different toppings for your burgers! Yum! I LOVE selection.

This time I tried goat cheese with dijon horseradish and garlic mayo topped with tomato, lettuce, pickle and spanish onion. It was heavenly. But really, when hasn’t something with goat cheese on it been delicious? Mr. Somewhat stuck with plain old ketchup, mustard, barbeque sauce and specifically TWO pickles LOL. His reaction? He commented that is was a real burger right off the BBQ in the backyard. So I guess he is a fan. Check it out if you are in CrossIron Mills.

I still want to try Five Guys over by IKEA in Deerfoot Meadows but alas, how can I justify pricey hamburgers when I could have cheap IKEA fare over there!


17 Feb

Yes, I will admit, I love IKEA. I know it seems to be a dirty secret for many. But I will admit it.

When you think about it, what is not to love about IKEA?

Their furniture has a good warranty, it goes through rigorous testing, and I discovered last year that their cafeteria is GOOD and really, really CHEAP. So make a day of it! The things at IKEA that are pretty much unbeatable? Mattresses, down duvets, slipcovered furniture, lamps, curtains, wood dressers and wood tables/chairs. Oh, and on the cafeteria note their penne pasta with marinara for $1 is totally unbeatable!!!

I know people diss the “IKEA look” and say the stuff is cheap and falls apart. Well, okay, maybe sometimes this is true. These people are the ones buying the $5 stools and hoping they last 20 years … they won’t and yes, they will look cheap and like “classic IKEA.” But for people buying the middle of the road products you will find them happy with their purchase years later and you probably didn’t even notice that their furniture was from IKEA. Honest, you should check out the store with fresh eyes.

And the best part, when something does get broken or lost, go to the parts department and they will give you a replacement part, most times for FREE. Yes, I have been several times to get additional pieces that were lost in a move … or that were missing from a piece I bought second hand. And most of their products and assembly methods don’t change often, so you can come in LOOONG after you got your piece and still get help. I have been with a roommate of mine to recover a new bolt for a 15 year old Poang chair that his mom handed down to him and low and behold, they had it.

I’m not just talking here. I LIVE my love of IKEA LOL. Most of the furniture in my house is from IKEA. When Mr. Somewhat moved in with me we had conflicting decorating styles to say the least. I had a light and airy beach vibe going with light wood and white and beige … and he had an Asian inspired thing going on with dark wood and burgandy and golds and moss greens. So it got mashed all together. I did what I could to mesh everything but there were some things that just didn’t work out. And when it came time to move I decided that I was going to sell 90% of the furniture we had and start fresh. And that meant frequent trips to IKEA. I was on Maternity Leave then and I had lots of time at home to take photos and post on Kijiji. When Mr. Somewhat would come home from work at night I would shove a wad of $20s into his hand and tell him to “go to IKEA tomorrow and get blank and oh yeah, I sold blank and blank today …” All our bed frames and matresses are from Ikea. Our dresser. So is our TV stand, end tables and desk. Our dining set it also from Ikea. And most recently I have added the beloved Ektorp armchairs to our living room. I wasn’t prepared to pay full price for them and I have been stalking Kijiji for years hoping to grab some for cheap but I always missed out. I missed getting the four different free ones I have seen, I missed a few in the $40-60 range and a few around $100. Then I found out that the white slipcovers are now $24!!! What!? So I kicked it into high gear and got really aggressive and I GOT my chairs. How much you ask? I paid $25 each, plus $24 for the covers, so that is $49 each, when new they are $250 each! And they are as wonderful as I imagined they would be and I know they will live with us Happily Ever After for a very long time.

Triple Sick

7 Feb

Errrr … quadruple sick as of last week. Yes, I spent ALL of December being ill. Start off with a nice sinus cold which then added it’s friend the flu shortly after Olivia threw up on me … and then somehow the sinus cold morphed into a throat infection as the flu rolled off … I was miserable and tired and unproductive and then it was Christmas … Like actually Christmas Eve … or the morning of and I was hosting Christmas …

I had to clean my house and shop for Christmas presents all within a few hours. Oh, while still being sick. No wonder I spent 90% of Christmas morning sleeping on the couch LOL.

So my big plans for a homemade Christmas turned into a buy-your-gifts-at-the-last-second-at-the-grocery-store-Christmas … complete with frantic present wrapping after hours when the kids went to bed. It still turned out to be a good time though.

What is the aftermath of being sick for a whole month? Well, I let my Christmas tree dry out. It was a disaster to get through the door … I am still finding needles everywhere … I also neglected to water ANY plants and I have a lot of plants … well, I HAD a lot. Three survived. Surprisingly, they are the oldest, the Christmas Cactus, which I have had almost 10 years is looking like it might still try to off itself though. So my house is missing some much needed greenery. The absence of the Christmas tree is also being felt, mostly by the little one here. She knows the real tree had to go, but she keeps asking me to put up the fake tree she knows is in a box in the basement LOL. Darn her iron memory!

January was spent trying to clean-up and catch up. So much falls behind when you nap instead of doing anything else LOL. Now it is already February but we are into the projects. So far we have insulated and hung drywall on the basement ceiling and started a chalkboard project for the kitchen and a dresser make-over … In my last post I mentioned a drawer-less French Provincial dresser Mr. Somewhat drug home from the garbage garage over a year ago … well yesterday we cut out all the brackets and braces for the drawers that don’t exist and we are working on turning it into a stylish art storage shelf. And, on that note, part of our chalkboard was also drug home from the garbage garage as well LOL. Gotta love the end of the month purge … Stay tuned for some before and afters coming up!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year … and almost Valentines Day with some love from my little snow bunny …