Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Guest Post: Brandy-Son Zen Master Flash: DIY Holiday Treat Bags

I’m really excited for this post, as I believe it’s the first ever (non-baking related) tutorial on my blog! These look super fun and I think I may have to try them out and stuff them with cookies! Brandy is a newer blog friend of mine and she’s amazing, trust me.
Please click the pictures to make them bigger so that you can get better details.

Hello there! My name is Brandy I am guest posting for Angela today. I am pretty thrilled to be doing this because I love Craving Cupcakes and am so glad to have met and become friends with Angela. I write a blog called brandy-son Zen master flash and have an online store where I attempt to sell things I've handmade.

Here is a quick and easy tutorial on how to make your own holiday treat bags. I am subscribed to many magazines so they tend to pile up at my house and I have a hard time parting with them. I'm always trying to think up ways to re purpose them before I toss them in the recycle bin. I thought this would be perfect for anyone who wanted to try one of Angela's recipes and needed a cute package to put them in. They make great gift packaging.

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One magazine page




1. Choose a page that you like and cut it out. This is where you can get creative. I like to pick colorful pages but you could pick a black and white page and adorn it with a colorful tag or bow.

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2. Fold it in half with the outside facing in

3. Measure 1/2 inch in on all sides

4. Fold the inside crease over 1/2 inch and then back again

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5. To make a bendable accordion-like crease and then unfold

6. Fold both ends in twice the same size as the middle crease 1/2 inch

7. Take both ends and glue together just the first folds together. This will keep the width you need for the bag that will be just like the opposite side

8. Press and hold for a few minutes

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9. Almost done, both ends are open at this point

10. Keeping with the 1/2 inch theme fold up the end you want to be the bottom and glue

11. Keep the other end open

12. Done!

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Now you can adorn them with personalized tags from various pages in your magazine. Don't worry about being neat, just keep it creative and use your sloppy handwriting. This keeps it unique.

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Once the glue has set and your tags have been added you can start to fill them up. Fill them with any leftover Halloween candy (that's what I did), fresh baked cookies, candy canes or kippered snacks.

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There are so many things you can do with this tutorial. You could do it with a vintage children's Christmas book, a dictionary, coloring book or newspaper.

Hope you enjoyed this! Thanks for checking it out.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A (Surprise) Giveaway!

While making my way through my Google Reader, I stopped at a post by a food blogger. She said that she had contacted a company to ask about them sponsoring a giveaway on her blog. I had no idea that we could ask companies to sponsor giveaways! I always figured that I had to wait until companies approached me. I thought about companies that were relevant to the things that I like and blog about. I got into contact with them, and when they said yes, I figured it would be a fun way to kick off my week of guest posters. Don’t forget, I’m moving this week, so I’ve asked some friends to guest post for me from Tuesday-Friday. They’re all amazing posts, so I hope you’ll be back to read them. Now on to the giveaway…

Last year for Christmas, I knew that I had wanted to make homemade vanilla extract to give to my friends and family. It’s super easy to make, you basically take a few vanilla beans and place them in some vodka for several weeks. Everyone loved the gifts, and I love having my own steady supply of homemade vanilla extract. Buying vanilla beans at the grocery store can be expensive, so I turned to the internet to help me in a search for vanilla beans. I came across Vanilla Food Company, which is a Canadian company. I ordered a 1/4 lb. of Tahitian vanilla beans, and the service I received was fantastic. I loved using the extra vanilla beans that I had left over in my baked goods. There’s so many tempting things on the website; I’ve got my eye on some Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean paste. (Christmas present, anyone?)



Vanilla Food Company has very graciously offered to allow me to give away three prizes of 10 Madagascar Vanilla Beans. The winners will also have the choice of adding to their prize for free Canadian shipping.

They’ve also included a coupon code: Until December 31, 2010, or the first 20 bloggers (whichever comes first), please enter the coupon code iluvcupcakes at checkout to receive free standard shipping in Canada for purchases over $75.

Here’s the details on how to enter:

In order to enter, you must be a follower.
Head over to Vanilla Food Company and tell me one thing that you would buy.
For additional entries, tweet about the giveaway and leave a separate comment with a link to the tweet.
Please make sure that I have access to your email address. (Leave it in a comment if I can’t find it easily on your blog)
That’s it, easy as pie!

Please note that this contest is open from now until Sunday evening (December 5). I will be drawing a winner Sunday evening and posting the winner on Monday morning. I will then be emailing the winners to get their addresses, and I will email Michelle from Vanilla Food Company with them, as they will be shipping the prizes to the winners.
This contest is only open to Canadian shipping addresses. If you live elsewhere, you may enter and have the prize shipped to a Canadian friend.

Disclosure: I am not being compensated in any way for this post.

Friday, November 26, 2010

7 Quick Takes (Vol 22)

I hardly even know where to begin; it's been a whirlwind of a week.

1. Earlier this week, it was cold. Through a friend's blog, I found out that we were the second coldest place in the world. The coldest place? Antarctica. We hit a low of -36.5C. When I checked the weather on Tuesday morning, The Weather Network said that it felt like -41C with the wind chill. I will never get used to Calgary winters, no matter how long I live here.

2. Monday night, Stephen sprained his ankle walking home from work. Not only does it suck because he hurts so much and has to miss work, but it couldn't come at a worse time. We move next week you guys. Thankfully we have some people who have offered to help us out.

3. The packing seems to be coming along very slowly. I need to lock myself in the apartment this weekend and just get it done.

4. Speaking of packing, the boxes are taking over the apartment. There's barely even enough room for us to walk.

5. Next week is going to be a busy one for me, so when I put out a call for guest posters, a few friends stepped up to the plate for me. I hope you guys will be back next week to check their posts out, these are some of my closest blog friends and they're truly amazing. I've already received two of their posts and they don't disappoint.

6. On Monday, I have a little bit of a surprise for my Canadian readers. This one is really exciting for me, so hopefully you'll feel the same way.

7. I normally exchange Christmas cards with blog friends every year. If you want to receive a Christmas card from me, let me know! The only thing I ask is that you be someone I actually talk to, and not a random person I barely know. I don't want to hand out my address too freely.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Muffins

Our cupboards are all mostly packed away, which means that I’m left with nothing to bake with. It took three boxes to contain all of my baking stuff; a large box for the pans, a medium box for the ingredients (minus the all purpose flour and sugar) and a small box for the extracts, sprinkles and miscellaneous other baking supplies. I haven’t even packed up measuring spoons/cups and those sorts of things yet. When did I accumulate so much baking stuff? I hadn’t baked in nearly two weeks, but thankfully, I was able to bake at work earlier this week.
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When I got to work on Tuesday, I noticed a new recipe book laying out on the counter and couldn’t help but flip through it. It’s called Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood. Maybe I’m a little behind the times, but I’ve never had quinoa. After briefly looking at the recipes for meals, I flipped to the back and studied the dessert recipes. I found a muffin recipe that didn’t require quinoa flour (my nanny family didn’t have any), and I decided to give it a go. I started out by cooking the quinoa, and for those of you who may not know this, it cooks up just like rice. I was surprised at the taste of the muffins. They’re a departure from my usual sugar laden baked goods, but I still really liked them. I didn’t get a chance to feed them to my nanny boys, but their Mom said that she really liked them. I’ll definitely try these again when I’m looking for something a tad bit healthier.
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{Left: uncooked quinoa. Right: cooked quinoa}

Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Muffins
From Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

(Printable Recipe)

1/2 cup white or golden quinoa
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
3/4 cup white (or cane) sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
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1. Add the water and quinoa to a small pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the covered saucepan rest on the burner for an additional 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 400F and line or grease a muffin pan.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in lemon zest and 1 1/4 cups of the cooked quinoa.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and oil. Next, add in the sour cream, egg, lemon juice and vanilla, stirring until fully blended.

5. Stir the frozen blueberries into the flour mixture, and then fold the flour mixture into the sugar mixture. Fill up muffin cups and bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
(Note: The muffin liners I used were small, so I only needed to bake my muffins for 12 minutes.)
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{Love the color of the batter!}

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Women of Wonder: Mission #5


Rediscover Your Community

My fifth Women of Wonder mission was to rediscover my community through hosting a bake sale and donating all proceeds to a charity of my choice. When I first received the mission, I was excited, but also a bit apprehensive. It’s no secret that I like to bake, but I’ve never done it for money before. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to bake enough treats all by myself, and then I was worried that no one would come buy anything! I got to work right away and asked two friends to help out with the baking.

I had decided to host the bake sale within a week of receiving my mission. I couldn’t find a place to hold the bake sale (that I could afford), and I thought it would be too cold to hold it in a parking lot at a store, so I held it in my parent’s basement. Thankfully I decided to do it right away, because with the cold weather and the snow we’ve had the past week, I doubt anyone would have shown up.
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I spent the entire week baking and making posters to put up around my parent’s neighbourhood. I invited all of my friends, and asked them to invite theirs. I have to admit that I probably should have done a better job with the advertising. Despite the signs I put up, only people I knew showed up. That’s perfectly fine with me though, we still made a decent amount of money!
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Since my last mission involved shopping for and donating items to a charity in my community, I decided to go a little more international with my charity choice. The day that I had received my mission, I was at work when someone knocked on the door. It was someone representing Plan Canada, and he wanted me to adopt a child. I felt truly awful saying no. He showed me such beautiful pictures of the children, but I didn’t have any of the necessary stuff on me at work, so I asked him to give me the website so that I could look at it later. When I was trying to decide on a charity, I remembered the guy I had talked to earlier in the day and checked out the Plan Canada website. I stumbled upon the Food for Education Project in Sudan and was instantly hooked.
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The project provides students with one healthy meal a day, and they encourage school attendance from girls by providing them an extra take home portion of food. I love the fact that they’re planting school gardens so that children can have access to vegetables, and there are community awareness campaigns on nutrition, healthy hygiene habits and the importance of educating girls. The best part? For ever dollar that I would donate, the World Food Programme and Plan Sudan would match that with six dollars! I was sold.
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Despite the fact that this bake sale wasn’t affecting my immediate community, I realized that I was just as happy having my friends and family come together to support a greater cause. I’m always amazed at just how willing to give my friends and family are! Thanks to them, we raised $130, which means that once World Food Programme and Plan Sudan match my donations, we’ll have raised $780!

Below is a video I made during the bake sale. As you can see, we just enjoyed each other’s company for a few hours and had a whole bunch of laughs. Enjoy!

Women of Wonder

To see what the other Women of Wonder were up to, be sure to check out the WonderBra facebook page.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. What are your plans for the holidays? Do you travel at Thanksgiving? If you celebrate Christmas, do you travel then, too?
For Thanksgiving, family normally travels to us. The same usually goes for Christmas, but this year we'll be celebrating at my sister's place in Vulcan.

2. How do you make the plans for the holiday? If you have a significant other, how do you decide which family to visit?
Our plans for the holidays are normally pretty much the same every year. For 24 years, I have never been away from my family during Christmas. Now that I'm dating Stephen, and now that his Mom lives closer to us, we've tried to make plans to go visit her and his grandparents for Christmas, but those plans have yet to work out.

3. Do you have your Thanksgiving meal at lunch or later in the day?
We have it at dinner time. I never realized that some people have it at lunch!

4. Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving tradition?
I really don't think we have any traditions other than family getting together and eating a bug turkey dinner.

5. After a big meal do you lounge around or get up and take a walk?

We normally just lounge around, but if the weather is nice, then I wouldn't mind a walk.

6. Do you shop on “Black Friday” or do you avoid it?
We don't have Black Friday in Canada. I think the most similar day would be Boxing Day (day after Christmas) and we'll often go shopping together as a family. Do Americans have Boxing Day? I cant remember.

7. When do you usually finish your Christmas shopping?
A week or two before Christmas, depending on how organized I am. We've only bought three presents so far.

8. Do you and your significant other exchange gifts? Is there a budget?
The first year we were together, Stephen and I exchanged gifts. He went all out and spoiled me rotten. Last year, we bought a TV and called it our gift for each other. This year, I think we've decided that we'll pick something that we may not normally buy, and get it as a gift for ourselves. (Surround sound system, fancy new duvet and a shopping trip to a restaurant store are all in the running)

9. When do you decorate for the holidays?

Usually around the end of November. Since we're moving in December 1st, Christmas decorations will go up as I'm decorating the new place.

10. Do you go “all out” with the decor or do you keep it simple?
I grew up with a Mom who went all out with the decor, so I've really grown to love that. Stephen and I haven't really had the extra money to buy Christmas decorations thanks to moving just before Christmas for the second year in a row, so we've kept it simple so far.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Furniture Shopping

When I first met Stephen, he was living with his brother and his brother’s ex-girlfriend. (That was an awkward situation) They both moved out, leaving Stephen without any furniture. I took pity on him and gave him a green chair that was given to me and was sitting in my room. I figured one chair was better than nothing, right? After he got a roommate, they got lucky, because their sous-chef was moving to Vancouver and needed to get rid of his furniture. They ended up with a hideous green couch that wasn’t all that comfortable. You can’t complain when it’s free, right? I ended up living with that couch for several months, and it became clear just how much we all hated it. When Stephen and I moved out into our current apartment, we tossed the couch. We didn’t have very much money, so we searched on Kijiji for a new one. For around $60, we got the leather one we currently have. It’s too low to the ground, and when we first got it, had a small rip in the cushion. A year later, the rip spans the entire length of the cushion, and I feel like I have to apologize for it when people come over.

We’re going from a one bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom townhouse, which means we’re going to need quite a bit of furniture. At the top of our list was a new couch and a kitchen table. Our apartment is so small that we never had room for a table! Last Thursday evening, Stephen and I bundled up and made the trek to The Brick. We got lucky in terms of customer service, we had a guy around our age helping us out. We told him our budget, the things we needed, and he handled everything. We had seen a couch and loveseat online that we liked, and when we got to the store, we found out it was on sale due to a small rip. The guy helping us out let us know that they had the exact same couch and love seat in the clearance section, without any imperfections! We ended up buying both of them for around $200 cheaper.

Couchlove seat

They probably wouldn’t have been my first choice in terms of color, but the fact that they’re brand new and in our price range? I’m not complaining. Plus, they’re comfy. I promise you that in real life, they’re the exact same color.

I’ve been super excited about getting a table finally. Eating on our barstools at the counter wasn’t the most comfortable thing, and it’ll be nice to have somewhere to play board games.


We got lucky with the table as well. There was a sale that had ended 4 days before, but because they had left up the signs, we got the sale price!

The other furniture on our list of things to buy include a futon or sofa bed, coffee table, craft table, new bedframe, new computer desk and a bookshelf. It’ll take us a while to save up for these things, but I’d say that we’re making pretty good progress so far. Only a week until we move!

Friday, November 19, 2010

7 Quick Takes (Vol 21)

1. I didn’t post yesterday. I thought I would post using BlogPress, but it held  my post hostage, and I never got around to fixing that issue. It feels weird not posting. Then again, I haven’t really had the time to bake lately, so it wouldn’t have been a baking post anyway.

2. We went from Sunny and warm on Monday, to freezing cold with a side of blizzard on Tuesday. Taking buses this week has been a nightmare. Once it snows, everyone and their mother takes the bus, so we all have to cram on like sardines. I can’t wait to move, so that I’ll be taking the bus against rush hour traffic.

3. Speaking of moving, we move out in 11 days. Cue the stress.

4. I can’t wait  to decorate for Christmas. We’ll actually have the room for a full size tree this year! There’s a store close to our apartment that’s selling cupcake ornaments, so I’m trying to convince Stephen to let me buy some for the tree. Our tree last year was a tabletop tree, so we’ll need a few more ornaments to fill up a full size one.

5. We went furniture shopping last night and purchased three things. I’m thinking of blogging about it, so you’ll have to wait to hear what we bought.

6. I feel like I’ve lost my blogging mojo lately. It seems like the 30 Days of Me isn’t doing anything exciting to my blog, as evidenced by the fact that I only received comments on Tuesday. Maybe I’ll drop the project? We’ll see. I’ve been more of a homebody lately, and that doesn’t make for very exciting blog posts.

7. I’ve been thinking about having some guest posters during the week that I move. If you’re interested in writing a guest post for me, let me know! I’ve already had 2 offers, but wouldn’t mind 3 more.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day 7

A photo of your favorite place to eat

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Avenue Diner.

I’m not quite sure how we heard about it in the first place, but this restaurant has become a favorite of mine of Stephen’s, and we think of it as “ours”. My favorite thing to eat is the Avenue Stuffed French Toast (stuffed with smoked bacon, Brie, grilled apple and topped with home made apple syrup). I love the atmosphere, and the set up of the restaurant, it’s long and narrow. The place is always busy because the food is just that good. If I were to ever decide to have a (future) wedding reception in a restaurant, this would be the place. It would be limited to close family and friends though, because it’s just a little restaurant.

Come visit me in Calgary and I’ll take you to Avenue Diner!
Tell me, what's your favorite place to eat?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ten on Tuesday


1. What is your favorite breakfast pastry?
Danishes, yum!

2. Were you ever in a Thanksgiving or Christmas play?
Yes. When I was about 12, I was in the nativity play at church. I played a wiseman, and was even on the news (it was more of a brief glimpse of me).

3. What is your favorite clothing accessory?
I'm terrible at accessorizing for some reason, but I love scarves.

4. What is your favorite item of clothing?
My dark jeans. Dark jeans are always flattering if they fit right.

5. What is your favorite color and why?
Pink. I'm just drawn to how fun it is.

6. What is your favorite type of Christmas cookie?
My uncle makes these egg nog logs that are really yummy.

7. What is your favorite scent (food, perfume/lotion)
Not a whole lot beats the smell of baked goods in the oven. My Mom is convinced that I make everyone in our hallway jealous of the delicious smells that are always coming from our apartment.

8. What is your favorite household cleaner?
I don't have one. Maybe I should work on that.

9. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? And what did you actually grow up to be?
I wanted to be a teacher. I'm a nanny now,
so those plans didn't quite work out.

10. What is the last song or album you bought?

I believe it was a Sara Bareilles song.
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30 Days of Me: Day 6

When I first decided to do 30 Days of Me, it was honestly because I was having writer’s block. My life just hasn’t been too exciting lately (outside of the Women of Wonder project), so I had no idea what to write about on the days that don’t have set blogging themes (Ten on Tuesday, Baking With Angela, 7 Quick Takes). I found two different versions of the 30 Days of Me lists and figured I would just combine the best of both. I never actually made a “master list”, so now I’m confusing myself as to which day I’m working on. Sorry if it’s seemed all over the place. I’m going to make a master list soon, and then post it for you to be able to see where I’m headed with it.

Anyway, today it’s all about short term goals for the month:

1. Pack up the condo.
We move out at the end of the month.

2. Price out (and possibly buy) some new furniture.
Our couch is a $60 find off of Kijiji and has seen better days. We need a new bedframe, a kitchen table and a craft desk for me as well. There’s also a bunch of other things that we’ll need, but this stuff is all at the top of our list of things to get as soon as possible.

3. Make the time to finish my Christmas plate.
I started painting a ceramic Christmas plate with a friend at a pottery studio, and now I need to make the time to go back before Christmas gets here.

4. Buy a Christmas tree.
We’re actually going to have room for a full sized tree this year!

What are your goals for the month?

Friday, November 12, 2010

7 Quick Takes (Vol 20)

1. In case you missed the announcement on Twitter or Facebook, Stephen and I found a place to move into! We’ve signed a lease for a 3 bedroom townhouse, and we move on December 1st. Best part? It’s only $50 more than what we’re paying for our tiny little one bedroom condo! Oh, and there’s a washer and dryer, which possibly may be the best thing ever.

2. Now begins the packing. We picked up boxes this week, so all of my free time will be devoted to shoving my life into various sized boxes. I’ve already packed away my cookbooks, which means that my baking supplies aren’t that far behind. Sad day!

3. Our internet was down last night. When you combine no internet and no cable, that makes for a very dull night. Luckily, I had season two of Supernatural from the library to keep me company.

4. My next Women of Wonder mission is to hold a bake sale and donate all proceeds to charity. I’ll be holding one this Sunday from 12pm-4pm, so if there’s anyone from Calgary reading this that would like to come, let me know and I’ll email you the address.

5. We’re going to attempt our hot air balloon ride again tomorrow morning. Keep your fingers crossed for us that we’ll have nice weather. (Nice weather meaning that it won’t be too windy. We already went and bought new toques and mitts because of how cold it will be.)

6. My youngest sister is in Vancouver this week. I’m insanely jealous.

7. Baby C’s (one of the boys I nanny) Mom told me this week that I’m really good at getting him to fall asleep quickly, and at getting him to take long naps. She says that she can’t even do that! I just hope that when I have kids of my own someday, I’ll be that good with them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Funfetti Cupcakes

A few weeks ago, it was T’s birthday. (T is one of the boys that I nanny) I knew that I wanted something fun and easy to make for him, so I settled on funfetti cupcakes. If' you’ve never had funfetti, it’s basically just a white cake with sprinkles mixed into the batter. I started off trying to be sneaky, to see if I could get away with baking them without T knowing. That obviously didn’t happen, but it turns out that it was twice as fun having him help me. He was so excited for the sprinkles!

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I realized that I don’t have a go to recipe for simple buttercream, so I tried out the Magnolia version. While it was pretty good, I found it to be much too sweet, and I didn’t even add the recommended amount of icing sugar! Feel free to point me in the direction of your favorite buttercream recipe.

Funfetti Cupcakes
Adapted from Baking Bites

(Printable Recipe)

1/2 cup milk
3 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp room temperature butter
2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles

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1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
2. In a measuring cup, whisk together milk, egg whites and vanilla extract.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Beat in milk. Fold in sprinkles.
5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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Magnolia Buttercream Icing

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6-8 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla

1. Place butter in a large mixing bowl. Slowly beat in 4 cups of icing sugar and beat for 3-5 minutes.
2. Gradually add the remaining amount of icing sugar (beating well after each addition), until desired spreading consistency is achieved.
(Note: I added 5 cups of icing sugar, but didn’t find it thick enough to pipe onto the cupcakes.)

November 7 531 I didn’t have a chance to get some good pictures of the cupcakes, mostly because we were having too much fun decorating them. T had a friend over that afternoon, and I set up a decorating station for them:

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I’d say that they were a hit! The boys all asked for seconds.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day 5

A photo of the last item you purchased


This actually isn’t the last item that I purchased, but it’s the most exciting thing. (Groceries just aren’t that exciting.)
After listening to me talk incessantly about the Nespresso, and how much I wanted a fancier coffee maker, Stephen surprised me while we were out shopping and picked it up. I thought he was joking, but he was serious. I love it so much more than my cheap coffee maker from Superstore! The best part though? I no longer have to drink store brand coffee, I can switch back to the fancier stuff!
What’s the last thing you bought?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten on Tuesday


1. Who makes your Thanksgiving dinner?
My Dad makes the turkey and stuffing, and my Mom makes the rest. My great grandma and I do the baking.

2. What is your favorite recipe the includes pumpkin? (bonus points for including the recipe)
My great grandma’s pumpkin pie. The recipe will posted on here at some point!

3. What are 5 things you want for Christmas?
A bedspread, a crafting table, more craft supplies, and some new cookbooks. Cookbooks definitely counts as two things.

4. Does your family draw names or do you buy for everyone?
We buy for everyone. I suggested doing a Secret Santa this year and everyone quickly vetoed that idea.

5. How do you feel about motorcycles?
I love them! My grandpa owns a motorcycle, and I was often on it when I was a kid. One of my favorite memories is him coming to pick me up on his motorcycle and taking me to the movies.

6. What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy Saturday?
Bake! If there’s a thunderstorm, I like to throw on a scary movie.

7. What is the coolest thing to do in your city?
This may sound crazy, but I think the coolest thing about Calgary is it’s proximity to the mountains. I know that’s not in the city, but I’m in love with those mountains, and love catching glimpses of them when I’m at work in the NW part of the city.

8. Do you paint your fingernails?
Only for special occasions because I chip the paint much too easily. My toenails are almost always painted though.

9. Who is your favorite actor over the age of 50?
I love Meryl Streep.

10. Do you have a high school letter jacket?
No. I don’t even know if my high school did letter jackets, to be honest.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Women of Wonder: Mission #4


My mission for the week was to Rediscover My Happiness. I was supposed to spread the joy and volunteer at a children’s hospital. I was so excited for this one, but once I started looking into it, I realized that it could take a few weeks to become a volunteer, and with the time crunch, it wasn’t feasible at this time. I’m definitely keeping this in mind though, and plan on becoming a volunteer at the children’s hospital at another time!

After emailing back and forth with Danie (she’s the amazing woman who helps answer all of my questions), I was given some new options. I got into contact with a few other organizations who all rejected me because we couldn’t work something out to fit my time frame. When Danie suggested that I donate some warm clothes and food to a homeless person, I found myself on The Mustard Seed website, looking at their wish-list of things they’re always in need of. I rounded up my family, and we headed to Wal-Mart.

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We stocked up on some of the essentials: Toiletries (razors, shaving cream, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo and conditioner), food (pasta, pasta sauce, coffee, tea, crackers, soups, baby food, juice) and even a few towels and face cloths. It all adds up so quickly (price wise), but I didn’t want to leave anything out! While we were at the check out, I started getting nervous when I saw that the total started creeping above my budget. Luckily, my sister decided last minute to pitch in some money. Thanks, Jess!

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We grabbed our bags (which were heavy!) and then went and picked up my Mom. There was no way she was missing out on this. While we were in the car, Jessica was talking about how excited she was getting. There didn’t even seem to be a particular reason; we were all just happy to be spending our Saturday afternoon doing something for someone else. While we were at home, my Dad even got in the spirit and go out his hotel toiletries collection to donate! We were all impressed.

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After getting everything together, we drove downtown to The Mustard Seed. After stopping to make a brief video, we all walked over to drop off our donations. It wasn’t a big affair (not that I was expecting it to be), we just dropped off our bags by the donations shelves and filled out a form with our email addresses so we can be updated on what’s going on at The Mustard Seed. What really impacted me though was that as we were walking in, we passed by a group of a few men and a woman. The woman had a black eye and was talking about the things that had lead to her getting it. My heart went out to her. It made me feel better that I was doing this, and made me realize that a one time deal just isn’t enough. I think my family all agrees that we need to do this more often, so I’m hoping to get them together and do it again soon!

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I used to volunteer quite a bit in high school, but for whatever reason, I fell out of that habit. I used to volunteer every Saturday morning for the Calgary Special Olympics, getting up early to help the bowlers. It didn’t matter that I was giving up extra sleep, I was just happy to be there with the amazing men and women who all made me feel so welcome and were genuinely happy to see me every week. They’ve had a big impact on my life. This mission helped me to remember the sheer joy I would get out of volunteering my time to make someone else happy. I loved seeing how excited my family got to be there to make the donation with me! I’m definitely going to be looking into getting into volunteering again.

Here’s a little video recap of the mission. My family is a bunch of hams, so I had to cut out a few giggling fits, but I left in the peace sign my Dad gives the camera at the end. Enjoy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

7 Quick Takes (Vol 19)

1. My latest WonderBra mission is to Rediscover My Happiness by volunteering. I’ve been trying desperately to arrange something, but to get something together that falls within my timeline has been proving difficult. I have an idea in mind, and I’m just trying to rally a friend or two together to help me out with it. Stay tuned for that post, hopefully next week.

2. I never talked about what I did on Halloween! It was a relatively low key night for us; we invited my sister and our old roommate and his girlfriend over for a game night. No one dressed up, but I plan on having a party next year to make up for that fact.

3. When I got home from work Tuesday night, Stephen declared it date night. He wanted to go out for dinner and rent the movie Date Night. You see, it’s been on our Zip List, in the number one spot since we signed up for the site, but we still hadn’t received it. Stephen was finally desperate enough for it that he decided we would stop at Blockbuster and rent it. After going out for Mexican food, I checked my email to find that Zip sent me an email to say that they’ve shipped Date Night. After we had already rented it at Blockbuster. Just our luck. It was hilarious though, and definitely worth it.

4. I found Supernatural Season 1 at the library, and I’m now officially hooked on the show. We won’t talk about the fact that I managed to watch the entire season in one week, in order to get it back before the due date.

5. Stephen took down all of the pictures/art and the DVD shelves in our apartment. It feels naked now.

6. The landlord has been bringing people by to see the apartment, and I have to be here because he doesn’t have a key to the building. When the potential tenants start asking me questions, I feel like a have to lie about the bad stuff so I don’t mess things up for our landlord. It’s awkward.

7. Yesterday, I baked cupcakes at work. Then, I invited my nanny friend and her kids over, and we ate some. I wish I could do that every day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Birthday Cakes

Since I’ve started with my Tuesday, Thursday family, there has been two birthdays (the Mom’s and the Aunt’s). As a special little project, I helped the boys bake a cake to surprise them! I just went with a simple (but very yummy) yellow butter cake and chocolate frosting. Quickest way to win anyone over. I let the boys go to town with decorating, as evidenced by the overload of sprinkles on both cakes.

October 17 099

{The Aunt’s cake}

Note: I didn’t have cake flour, so I had to make a substitute. To make one cup of cake flour, place 2 tbsp cornstarch in a measuring cup, and fill it to the one cup mark with all purpose flour.

October 24 021{The Mom’s cake}

Yellow Butter Cake
From Annie’s Eats

(Printable Recipe)

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line two 9 inch cake pans.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
4. Alternate mixing in flour mixture and milk, making three additions of flour and two of milk.
5. Divide batter between two cake pans, and bake for 30-35 minutes. Once cool, top with frosting of choice.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day 4

I’m combining the prompts from both lists for this one: A picture of somewhere you have been to & A photo of you two years ago.

The last time I went on a vacation (that I had to take time off work for and actually left the province for), was nearly two years ago when Stephen and I went to Vancouver and Victoria two years ago. I can’t believe that it’s been so long! We went for our first anniversary, which means that we’re nearing our third anniversary. We both have family in Vancouver/Victoria, so we decided to take advantage of spending some time with them and combine that with some sight seeing. It was truly one of the best vacations that I have been on! We plan to (hopefully) go back to Victoria this summer so that we can attend our nephew’s first birthday!


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