Friday, July 29, 2011

7 Quick Takes (Vol 49)

1. It was a short work week for me since I only worked three days. I was originally supposed to have a 5 day weekend (Thursday through Monday off), but I ended up filling Thursday and Monday with more work.

2. Speaking of work, things are changing around here yet again. If you remember, Mondays and Wednesdays I worked with Baby E. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I worked with two brothers and a cousin. Well, my Tuesday/Thursday family is currently away on vacation for the month of August, and when they come back, my hours would be cut since the youngest will be starting kindergarten. Luckily, my Monday/Wednesday family offered to take me on 4 days a week. At the last minute, my Tuesday/Thursday family offered me Fridays. I’m so glad that it’s all working out in my favor and I don’t have to take a pay cut!

3. I plan to spend my long weekend baking and even dabbling with canning some fruit. Hi, I just turned 80.

4. I ordered a new pair of glasses at the beginning of the month, and they finally came in the mail yesterday. I’m still not 100% sold on them, but Stephen thinks they look really good on me. I’ll wear them to my parents house tonight and get some more opinions. Maybe I just need to get used to them, as they are quite different than my last pair. I’ll write about them some more if I decide to keep them.

5.  When we got home from Edmonton on Monday, I arrived to a big box of coffee that I had ordered from Keurig. This may sound silly, but that made me so happy!

6. I’ve been slacking a little bit on my summer list. I’m going to have to take a look at it and try and accomplish some stuff this weekend. Do you have a summer list? How’s it coming along?

7. Despite the fact that I decided to pick up work on Monday, I’m so glad that it’s a long weekend. Is it a long weekend where you are? What are your plans?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

I’ve developed this mentality where I refuse to bake anything from a mix. Ever since I learned how to bake, I’ve been completely spoiled with how good homemade treats taste. To me, there’s something almost therapeutic about the process of mixing together the ingredients for a dish. Whenever I read a blog post about a recipe someone has made, I read through the list of ingredients. If I see something like cake mix in there, then I skip past the entry.

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Then came along Pinterest, showing off these cake batter rice krispie treats. I wrote them off at first because they use a cake mix. After seeing them a few more times, I started consulting Google to see if I could find a homemade version of cake mix. I couldn’t; you just can’t replicate the taste of store bought cake mix at home. I finally just gave in, because I was curious how these tasted. I figured that since you just mix in a little bit of the cake mix and don’t actually turn it into a batter, it should be ok. While these rice krispie treats were delicious, Stephen and I concluded that they just didn’t have enough of a cake batter taste to them. I had already upped the amount of mix, but it just didn’t seem to be enough. Read through the comments on the post I’m linking you to in the recipe so that you can decide for yourself just how much cake mix to add. I somehow managed to run out of sprinkles (how does that even happen?), so my treats are loaded with them. They’ve just got a fine dusting.

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven

3 tbsp butter
40 large marshmallows (approximately)
1/3 cup yellow cake mix
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 small container of sprinkles

1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add in marshmallows.
2. While stirring marshmallows, add in the cake mix one spoonful at a time until fully combined.
3. Once marshmallows have melted, stir in the cereal, mixing well. Add in half the sprinkles while mixing.
4. Press into a well greased baking dish, then top with remaining sprinkles. Let sit for at least half hour before serving.


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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We Went to the Zoo.

Do you know what I love about my job? Going to the zoo. Getting outside of the house and seeing cute animals? Most definitely encouraged. When family is in town and want to do a zoo trip, I can plan to go on a work day so that I can bring my nanny boys. I love that it’s perfectly ok with my nanny family to do things like that.

Stephen’s brother’s girlfriend Sharon (that’s a mouthful) was in Calgary last week to pick me up so that we could drive to Edmonton together. She had my nephew Kolton with her and was dying to go to the zoo, so I arranged to head there on Friday with my nanny kids in tow. The weather didn’t seem like it would cooperate with us, but it turns out my favorite days to visit are overcast and slightly rainy days. My nanny boys had so much fun (as evidenced by the ridiculously adorable pictures I have of them) and the best part? Getting in a little bit of time with Kolton. He seemed to love all of the animals, and wanted to be right up and every fence checking them out.

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Sharon thinks his favorite animals were the elephants. They were pretty amazing, and were out so close to the fence this time around.

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Apparently, I spent most of my time taking pictures of the kids this time around. I’ve been to the Calgary Zoo dozens of times, so I guess that was bound to happen eventually! I’m thinking it might almost be time for me to invest in a zoo pass.

Do you like going to the zoo? What’s your favorite animal to see?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

TenOnTuesday#90 at Roots and Rings

I spent the weekend with Stephen and his family in Edmonton. Sunday afternoon, we were presented with the last minute opportunity to extend our stay by a day, so we took that offer up. That’s why there was no blog post yesterday, I was laptop-less! I’ll write more about my weekend tomorrow.

1. What colour are your toenails painted?
They’re currently pink. I don’t remember what brand it is or what the color name is though.

2. What colour are your fingernails painted?
They’re not painted. I chip my fingernail polish much too easily, so I just don’t bother painting them since I don’t have the patience to keep them looking nice.

3. What is your favourite brand of nail polish?
I don’t really buy nail polish from a particular brand, I just buy what I think looks pretty. If I had to pick one I favor out of the ones that I on, it would probably be OPI. I have been wanting to try Essie because I keep hearing great things about it.

4. As the norm, do you DIY your nails or get mani/pedis?
I do my own nails. I’ve only ever had one manicure (for my high school grad), and I’ve never had a pedicure.

5. Have you ever had a gel mani? Do you recommend it?
I’ve never had one.

6. What is the last movie you watched on television? (TV, Netflix, Redbox, etc.)
Arthur. I really enjoyed it.

7. What is the last movie you watched in the cinema?
I think Bridesmaids was the last movie I saw in the theatre.

8. Is there a movie that everyone talks about as if it is a classic but you haven’t seen?
I have a giant list of movies that I’ve never seen that are supposed to be classics. Gone With the Wind is one of them.

9. What is your favourite movie soundtrack?
I love all of the Harry Potter soundtracks.

10. Have you ever seen a movie and thought it was better than the book it was based on?
I don’t think that I ever seen a movie that’s better than the book.

Friday, July 22, 2011

7 Quick Takes (Vol 48)

1. It’s been a long week. On Monday night, Stephen’s Mom went to the hospital. Tuesday evening, Stephen went to Edmonton to be with her. (She’s doing well.) It’s been a lonely week for me.

2. I’ll be heading up to Edmonton tonight after work, then coming back on Sunday. My sister will be housesitting, so don’t bother coming to rob us. Not the way I envisioned spending my weekend, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

3. If all goes well, I’ll be at the zoo today. The older boy I nanny for was a bit under the weather (and sore from a fall) yesterday, but I’m hoping that he’s better so we can spend the day out of the house.

4. Stephen and I had spent some of his Scene points to see a sneak preview of Captain America last night, except he wasn’t here for it. It was all under his name, so I couldn’t even go. I’m sad that we’re out 1000 points.

5. My tomato plant is growing out of control and is taking over my balcony. I think it’s time to trim it down. We’ve got a bunch of ripe cherry tomatoes on it though!

6. The weather in Calgary this week is ridiculous. Monday was 30+C, and today it’s not supposed to get much warmer than 11C. What’s up with that?

7. Not much else has happened this week. I’ve been consumed by work and finding out what’s happening with Stephen’s Mom. So, it’s your turn. How was your week?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lemon Bars

I find that lemon bars are one of those desserts that are really easy to make, yet still rather impressive. Last weekend, we had our old roommate over for dinner. We were going to BBQ the biggest steaks I have ever seen, so I knew that I wanted dessert to be quick and light. Enter the lemon bars! Prep time with these guys are so minimal that I’m honestly still amazed at how well they turned out. I made these in between marinating the steaks and cleaning my kitchen.

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Lemon Bars
From Baking Bites

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup room temperature butter

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9x9” pan with tin foil.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and lemon zest. Cut butter into chunks, then blend into the flour mixture until it forms coarse sandy crumbs.
3. Pour into the pan and press down with your fingertips. Bake for 15-19 minute, or until lightly browned around the edges. (Be sure not to over bake, as the crust will become tough to cut!)

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.


4 eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (for me, that equalled about 6 lemons)

1. Whisk together eggs, sugar and lemon juice.
2. Once the crust is finished baking, immediately pour filling over top and return to the oven.
3. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the filling is no longer jiggly when the pan is gently shaken.
4. Top with icing sugar before serving.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rocco’s Dinner Party

More often than not, when someone emails me asking to write about them or their business on their blog, I ignore it. I received an email earlier this week that caught my attention though. The only reason that I am writing about this here is because it’s something that interests me, and I’ll be watching the show myself tonight.

Do you know Chef Rocco DiSpirito? Well, he’s got a new show called Rocco’s Dinner Party. Tonight’s guest will be blogger/author Julie Powell. I’ve mention previously here that I love Julie Powell. I first watched the movie Julie & Julia, then moved on to two of her books. Loved all of them. I can relate on some level with Julie Powell, since I’m a blogger who bakes! Julie will be helping Chef Rocco and some other celebrity guests judge two French style dinner parties. I’m a sucker for shows like this, so it’s right up my alley.

Best part of this? There’s a Watch & Win contest going on over on Chef Rocco’s facebook page. You could win a trip for two to meet him and assist him at the October 2011 NYC Wine & Food Festival! The prize incudes airfare for 2, a 2 night stay at a NYC hotel and tickets to the Wine & Food Festival. Um, how amazing would that be? You’ll need to answer three weekly questions pertaining to that week’s episode. Find out more information on his facebook page.

The next Rocco’s Dinner Party airs tonight at 10pm/9C on Bravo. (The Watch & Win contest goes live at 9pm ET)

Once again, I promise that I wouldn’t write about something like this unless I was interested in it myself. I’ll be watching it tonight and I’ll let you know what I thought of the show in my post on Friday! Are you going to watch it?

Nanny Fun

The past two days that I worked with my older boys has been a bit challenging. Trying to find something that appeals to both boys (4 and 7) and doesn’t create chaos can be tough to figure out. These two painting projects were short and sweet, but the boys both seemed to really like them.

Spray Bottle Painting

We mixed some paint with water and stuck it in a spray bottle. We started off spraying some paper I had taped to the fence, but that didn’t hold their interest for very long. I decided to take them on a walk up and down the alley behind their house and let them go wild spraying whatever they wanted. They had fun spraying rocks, bits of garbage and some leaves. We hit the jackpot when we came upon a patch of daisies growing behind someone’s garbage cans. They had so much fun spraying the daisies! We even picked a few to bring back to their Mom.

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Ice cube painting

I’m so glad that I saved this project for a really hot day like yesterday. When I got to work, I mixed together some water and food coloring. I stuck with just four colors, since I wanted it done fast. I poured the colored water into ice cube trays and popped them in the freezer. After lunch, I set up a station outside at the picnic table. I spread out some paper and stuck the ice cubes into bowls.

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The boys were hesitant at first, but quickly got into spreading them around on the paper. Stephen happened to be with us yesterday, and even he got in on the action.

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You can use the ice cubes to make some art work (that’s mine above), but the boys lost interest fast. Once the ice cubes started melting, they were more into playing table top hockey with them. T even tried eating a few of the ice cubes! The best part was at the end of our art time. I told them that it was time to clean up, and all they had to do was toss the ice cubes in the grass. That entertained them for another 10 minutes! It was a fun little activity that cooled us off for a bit.

When’s the last time that you painted something?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ten on Tuesday


#89 at Roots and Rings

1. What is your favorite zoo to visit?
The Toronto Zoo. I just love how big it is!

2. Do you visit a zoo very often?
Since I became a nanny, I’ve gone to the zoo a lot more often than I used to. We have a pretty awesome zoo in Calgary, so I never get bored of going.

3. Do you have a membership to a zoo?
I don’t.

4. When you visit a zoo, do you stay all day or just an hour or two?
If I have to pay for admission, then I try to make the most out of it by staying for a good portion of the day. I used to work for a family that all had zoo passes and a guest pass for me, so I never felt bad about going for just a couple of hours. Those kids went to the zoo almost weekly.

5. Do you buy food at the zoo or pack a picnic lunch?
Usually a combination of both. Zoo food is expensive, so I try to pack the majority of our lunch and just buy some treats while we’re there.

6. What is you favorite animal to see at the zoo?
I have a couple: giraffes, hippos, and elephants.

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7. What is your least favorite animal to see at the zoo?
I have to admit that I often skip the Canadian Wilds section of our zoo as a lot of the animals there are ones I’ve seen in the wild. I’m due for a visit there though.

8. What is your favorite memory of going to the zoo as a kid?
I actually don’t have a lot of memories of visiting the zoo as a kid. I just don’t think we visited it that often, as it was a bit far from us.

9. Do you visit the gift shop when you go to the zoo?
I’d say that I go into the gift shop about 50% of the time, but I rarely buy anything. I do own some Toronto Zoo pens and a Calgary Zoo magnet.

10. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best and 1 being the worst) how nice is your city’s zoo?
I’d say about 9. There have been a couple of problems here and there with our zoo, but I still love it.

I’m visiting the zoo this weekend with family, so there may be a post about it in the near future!

(Turns out most of my zoo pictures are on the laptop I can’t access, so just one picture will have to do.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Calgary Stampede

For 10 days during July every year, The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth descends upon Calgary, consuming the entire city with cowboy culture. Everywhere you look, people bring out the Western wear. If you’ve lived in Calgary for a number of years, The Stampede can begin to lose its appeal. Every year, I swear that I won’t go, as it’s just the same year after year. Every year, about halfway through, I suddenly have an overwhelming urge to go. Such is life, I suppose.

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This year, I had two missions in mind: see The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and try some new food. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has my favorite song ever (Fishing in the Dark), so that was an easy task as they were performing at the Coca Cola Stage. Free concert with admission! They played my song and all was right in the world. Funny thing is, Country music isn’t even my preferred genre of music, yet two of my all time favorite songs are Country.

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Stephen and I tried three new foods. First up: deep fried pop tarts.

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They were delicious. I love that they came with whipped cream for dipping! I was left wanting more, and kind of wish that I didn’t have to split it with Stephen.

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Next up was  the doughnut burger. It came with a maple glaze and we opted to top it with bacon and cheese. It sounded extremely weird, so I made Stephen split it with me. By the end of it, I was tempted to go back and grab another because it was so dang good! The flavors definitely worked well together.

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In not so strange food, we had a blooming onion. It was nice lounging on the grass in the shade with this.

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During the concert, I snacked on a deep fried Snickers bar. Something that was a little more common, yet I had never tried it before this year. The melty, gooey insides were divine. Truly.

I left the Stampede that night with a bit of a tummy ache, but it was worth it. I certainly don’t eat this way any other time of year, so I think it’s ok during The Stampede. What’s the best deep fried food you’ve ever tried? How about the strangest? For me, the best has to be a tie between deep fried Oreos (that I had last year) and the deep fried Snickers bar. I haven’t tried any strange deep fried foods though.

Friday, July 15, 2011

7 Quick Takes (Vol 47)

1. Ever feel like you have a week where everything is happening all at once? Like your days are filled and you’re going nonstop? This has been one of those weeks.

2. Monday night, after work, I babysat at a wedding reception with my sister. There were five kids we looked after that were an absolute handful. Add to it the fact that I was exhausted from working a full day, and we’ll just say that it was a rough night. I didn’t get home until late that night.

3. On Wednesday, I had to work 11 hours. In the afternoon, a friend contacted me last minute asking if I could bake her a cake (for money!).  I came home from work and after a late dinner, set about getting the cake baked. I was up until nearly midnight waiting for cake layers to cool.

4. Yesterday, I rushed home from work to finish off this cake. Stephen had iced it for me, but I had to make chocolate covered strawberries. We then headed to my parent’s house for dinner, and rushed home once again so that I could make the ganache for the top of the cake. My friend then came and picked up the cake.

5. Today consists of more work, then heading out to dinner with Stephen’s Dad who is in town briefly. Tomorrow, we’re all heading down to the Stampede and Sunday, we’re having our old roommate over for dinner. I am more than ready to have a day where I can catch up on my sleep. Let’s hope my body lets me sleep in past 8am.

6. I took my Nanny boys to a Stampede breakfast on Thursday morning. After standing in a long line to get some pancakes, then spending about 1o minutes eating them, I was more than ready to check out the other cool stuff (army trucks, pony rides, mini petting zoo, etc…), but my boys didn’t want to do any of it. They just wanted to go into Walmart to look at toys! I’m struggling lately with the fact that they don’t want to do much other than buy slurpees and watch TV. I’m dying to take them to a wading pool, but they just don’t want to leave the house!

7. Have you had a busy week? What are your plans for the weekend?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Apple Braid

On Saturday, I was feeling a little bit domestic. I cooked a pretty yummy dinner (ok, so I only marinated the chicken and then made Stephen BBQ it, but the baked broccoli was all me), and even got started on some dessert. While we were waiting for the broccoli to bake, Stephen turned to me and asked, “What’s for dessert?” I asked what would even make him think that there would be dessert, and he said that “we’re dessert people”. I guess we sort of are. I mean, I bake. It’s just what I do. Birthday coming up? I’ll bake! Just passed your driver’s test? I’ll bake! Been feeling under the weather lately? I’ll bake! As you can see, we’re dessert people. Luckily for Stephen, I had spent the afternoon on Pinterest (why must I be so addicted?) and found a recipe for this apple braid. Pinterest also happens to be where I found my recipes for the chicken and broccoli. So actually, my afternoon on Pinterest was productive. Yay!

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My intentions were to prep the apple braid before dinner, right up to the point where you throw it in the oven, so that after dinner, I could bake it and we could have fresh out of the oven apple braid. However, the dough was stubborn. It came together easily, but when it came to the point here you’re supposed to turn it out on the counter and knead it, it just wasn’t cooperating. The dough was extremely tough, so I couldn’t roll it out. After a few choice words and a lot of frustration, I discovered the problem; the dough just needed time to rise. The recipe I used didn’t call for this, but that’s all it took to get my dough to cooperate. I let it rise while we were eating, then proceeded with the recipe. Worked like a charm! I’ve added the rising time to the recipe below, but you can always leave that out if your dough is soft and c0mpliant.

Apple Braid
Adapted from La Fuji Mama via Eat, Live, Run!

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp instant yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp vegetable oil

1. Whisk together bread flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Mix in water and oil.
2. Using the dough hook on a stand mixer, mix for about 6 minutes.
3. Turn out the dough onto a well greased surface and knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Let rise for about an hour.

Just before the dough has finished rising, prepare the filling.

3 Granny Smith Apples
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Mix together with cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice, then place in a baking dish.
3. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and set aside. Keep oven on.

Once the dough has finished rising, Roll it out into large rectangle, 12”x16”. Place on a greased baking sheet.
Using a pizza cutter, cut each side into strips approximately 1” wide. Leave the middle third of the dough intact.

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Spread the apple filling along the middle of the dough.

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Fold the strips of dough crisscross the filling by alternating strips from each side, making sure to press the ends down to seal.

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Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

1/3 cup icing sugar
5 tsp whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of nutmeg

1. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.
2. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the top of the apple braid. Let cool before serving.


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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Iced Coffee: The Right Way

Back when I first moved in with Stephen (at the beginning of July, about 2 years ago), I developed an iced coffee habit. You see, I moved into a downtown apartment that had two Starbucks stores at the end of the block. For a Starbucks lover like me? It was heaven. I had a couple of weeks off work, so I had a lot of time to fill. I’d often get out of the apartment to run various errands, and as I came back home, I’d stop at Starbucks for an iced coffee. Occasionally, I’d stop there twice a day, just as an excuse to get out of the house. We also happened to have a large balcony that just begged for someone to read a book on it while sipping iced coffee. This little iced coffee habit got expensive after a while, so I had to quit, cold turkey. Thankfully, at around the same time, I ran across this blog post by Smitten Kitchen. Once I tried it out, I was hooked, and made iced coffee at home for much cheaper. It also happened to be much tastier.
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The past couple of weeks, I’ve seen a few blog posts floating around about making iced coffee this way. I wasn’t going to post about it myself, but I kept reading comments from people saying that they just brew a pot of coffee and throw it in the fridge. Trust me when I say this: You’re doing it wrong. I find coffee made that way to get bitter after a while. After all, once my hot coffee gets cold, I’ll no longer drink it. I have a Keurig, and they sell iced coffee K-cups. The problem with that is you brew it hot and then throw it in the fridge. Still not working for me; I’ve gone back to making my iced coffee this way. Try it out, even if just once. You’ll thank me. My favorite way to drink iced coffee? With a splash of vanilla syrup and some milk. Yum!

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Iced Coffee
From Smitten Kitchen via NY Times

1/3 coarse ground coffee
1 1/2 cups water

1. Mix together coffee and water. Cover, and refrigerate for 12 hours.
2. Strain coffee through a fine mesh sieve; discard grounds.

How many times did I say iced coffee in this post?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ten on Tuesday


#88 @Roots and Rings

1. When you are on a plane and the kid behind you is kicking your seat, what do you do?
Luckily, I’ve never had this problem. It would depend on how hard the kid is kicking my seat. If it’s just a little bit here and there, then I can deal with it. If the kid is full on kicking my seat, nonstop, then I’d mention something to the parents. I’m pretty patient when it comes to kids (I am a nanny after all), so it would take a lot to get me to talk to the parents.

2. What food that you KNOW is bad for you and you shouldn’t have, but you love/eat it anyway?
Pretty much everything that I bake. I’ve got a major sweet tooth.

3. What is your favorite book of all time?
The Velveteen Rabbit. It’s a kids book, but I think it’s sweet.

4. If I came to visit you in your town, where would we eat?
Stephen and I would cook you a fancy meal. We know how to take care of our guests! If you wanted to eat out though, I’d suggest eating at my favorite breakfast place, Avenue Diner.

5. You have 500 dollars and 40 minutes to spend it at any store you want. Where do you go?
Probably Michael’s. It’s the only place that I could spend that much money that quickly.

6. What blog do you read every day/the most often?
I read all of my blogs through Google Reader using the Next Button, so I get whatever blog updated the most recently. I do have a group of “every day blogs”, that include the people that I like to think are my blogging friends.

7. What’s the longest you’ve ever been stuck at an airport?
I’ve never been stuck at an airport. Then again, I’ve only flown somewhere a handful of times. Actually, every single time was between Calgary and Toronto.

8. What’s your daily makeup/face/cleansing routine?
Cleansing routine
Wash my face in the shower, and exfoliate. I then use Oxy cleansing pads and some moisturizer.
Makeup routine:
Cover up, foundation and some sort of pressed powder.

9. Where is your farthest away friend?
My farthest away friend just moved from Abu Dhabi to New York.

10. Where is your favorite place to go hiking (or to enjoy nature)?
There's a place in Banff that I love to go called Johnson's Canyon. Theres two sets of waterfalls that you can hike to!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Work Survival Kit

I work with a 6 month old baby. While he’s incredibly adorable, there are times that I find myself with nothing to do. While lugging around my backpack this morning on my commute, I thought it would be fun to show you guys the things I need to survive my day at work. (I forgot to grab my camera cord, so you’ll have to excuse the iPhone pictures.)


I started off carrying a large purse to work, but then found I was trying to shove too much stuff in it and was starting to wreck my purses. The straps of my current purse are coming undone at the seams, and they have bits of fabric poking out. That was my cue to switch to a backpack.


This is the day to day stuff that I need, which requires little explanation. See Lightning McQueen up there? He’s my nanny family’s house keys.


My food for the day. I’m not much of a breakfast when I first wake up kind of person, but by the time I get to work, I’m starving. The easiest solution was just to bring breakfast to work. (Crumpets, yogurt, and strawberries.) Lunch consists of a frozen meal when last night’s dinner didn’t leave me with leftovers, and some fruit and a granola bar.


This one actually isn’t typical for me. I’ll be going straight from work today to a wedding this evening to babysit, so I needed clothes and shoes for that. I also threw in flip flops since I wore runners to work this morning. I hate wearing runners in the summer, so I’ll switch at the first sign of sun.


Laptop and iPhone cord. Once I’ve done my daily “chores” and the Baby is asleep, things can get boring rather quick. The TV can’t hold my interest all day, so I’ve started bringing my laptop to get some blogging done. Just in case you were wondering, Baby always comes first and there are days when I barely open my laptop. I know my priorities.

Normally, there’s a book thrown in there, but I actually had no room for one today! Once Baby E gets a bit older, my work survival kit will probably go back to being able to fit inside my purse.
Do you have a work survival kit? What’s in it?

Friday, July 8, 2011

7 Quick Takes (Vol 46)

1. Another week come and gone. It was a short one for me as I only worked three days. I was trying to get over that nasty cold though, so it was a long three days for me. (Aren’t they always?)

2. I had recently reconnected with a friend and found out she lives quite close to my Monday/Wednesday family. She takes her daughter to a park halfway between the two houses, so we decided to meet up for a “play date”. Our kids aren’t the same ages and Baby E is still too young to play at the park, so it was really just for us to catch up. We spent a good two hours there Wednesday morning and it was just so nice! It helped my morning fly by.

3. Big Brother started up again last night. It’s my biggest guilty pleasure in terms of reality TV, so I’m pretty excited to have it back in my life! The houseguests seem like an interesting bunch.

4. Speaking of TV, Stephen and I started Friday Night Lights. We’re 5 episodes in, and I think it’s safe to say that I’m officially hooked.

5. It’s been a hot week. I’ve just been trying to hide out inside near a fan, but the truth is, we desperately need an air conditioner. Our bedroom is in the basement, but even our basement is hot. That’s ridiculous!

6. I’ve finally gone through my Google Reader and organized it all. Have you ever heard of the “Next” button? I reorganized my reader and categorized the blogs I read (every day blogs, food blogs, design, etc…) and stuck a Next button for each category in my toolbar. I feel like keeping up with my blog reading is so much more manageable now! Best decision I’ve made in a while.

7. I ordered a brand new pair of glasses this week, and they were free! There’s a Canadian company that routinely gives away free glasses, so I jumped on the chance to get some. I paid for shipping and some extra upgrades to my lenses, but for $34, I’m not complaining one bit. I wish they would just hurry up and get here though!

What’s the last thing you got for free?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Buster Bar Dessert

Stephen is obsessed with Buster Bars from Dairy Queen. He’s been pestering me for weeks now to make him some sort of copycat version of it. Actually, he just wanted me to layer ice cream, chocolate sauce and peanuts in a trifle bowl. I didn’t agree with that, so I turned to Google to see if someone else had made something similar. Of course they have!

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I pulled this recipe off of All Recipes and it was a major hit. Ever had a Dairy Queen cake before? We found this crust to be so similar to theirs, along with the chocolate fudge sauce. I could have sworn that I was sitting in Dairy Queen, eating a treat. Stephen told me that it tasted like a store bought dessert, and this is the one time that I’ll accept that as a compliment! I did have to use Cool Whip though, which is normally a big no-no for me. There’s just no way that homemade whipped cream would have worked here.

Buster Bar Dessert
Slightly adapted from All Recipes

1 pound Fudgee-O cookies (pulsed in the food processor until coarse crumbs are formed)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 gallon softened vanilla ice cream (homemade is perfect here!)
1 1/2 cups peanuts
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 12oz container of Cool Whip

1. Mix together cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan and freeze until firm.
2. Spread softened ice cream overtop of the crust. Freeze until firm.
3. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together evaporated milk, butter, chocolate chips and icing sugar. Bring to a boil, then let cook for 8 minutes. Cool thoroughly.
4. Spread the cooled fudge sauce over the ice cream layer, then sprinkle with peanuts. Freeze until firm.
5. For the last layer, spread the Cool Whip over the top. Garnish with crushed Fudgee-O cookies. Freeze until firm.


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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Perks of Being a Nanny

Have I mentioned lately just how much I love my job? I really do. One of the perks of being a nanny is all of the play time. K (the 7 year old boy I look after) once asked me what my job is. Since he’s used to his Mom and Dad leaving the house to go to work, he didn’t understand why I didn’t leave the house to work as well. I explained to him that coming to his house is my job. My job is to take care of his brother, cousin and him. His response? He thinks that I have a cool job because I get to stay home and play all day. While I do have a few other things that I have to do, he’s exactly right. My favorite part of my job is getting to come up with creative ways to play!

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With the boys out of school for the summer, I need to be extra creative with how to fill our days. Thanks to the internet, I’ve got an entire folder in my bookmarks dedicated to awesome play ideas. I’m hoping to share a few of the things that I’ve done in order to give you guys a glimpse into my work life, and to help inspire anyone else out there dealing with kids. Just a side note: I won’t be showing pictures of any of my nanny kids on here. As much as I want to show off how cute they are, I want to respect their privacy.

First up in our summer of fun: homemade Angry Birds! These boys are surrounded by iPhones, so naturally, they’ve played Angry Birds. T (the 4 year old) would often grab various items from around the house and use them to play an imaginative game of Angry Birds with me. I thought it would be fun to come up with some sort of physical replica of the Angry Birds characters for us all to play with. After a quick Google search, I found these printables. I printed them off, took them to work and got crafting!

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I just used what I had on hand. I glued the cut outs to manilla folders for extra reinforcement. I just used some tape to hold it all together. Some of the birds were missing some head pieces, but the boys preferred them not to have them anyway. They certainly weren’t perfect, but I didn’t let that bother me because I knew that the boys would be bashing them around.

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What’s your favorite Angry Bird? Do you have any super awesome summer time activities that you think I should try out with my boys? Feel free to leave me links to ideas in my comments!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

TenOnTuesday#86 @ Roots and Rings

Since I don’t live in the States, I’m going to change the applicable questions to Canada Day.

1. What do you traditionally do for 4th of July?
I don’t normally do a whole lot for Canada Day. This year however, we did host a small BBQ at our place. It was nice having Canada Day on a Friday.

2. Did you follow your tradition this year? How did you celebrate yesterday?
We don’t have a tradition. Like I said in the last question, we celebrated by having a BBQ.

3. What's the best fireworks show you've ever seen?
We used to go to the horse track a lot when I was a kid, and they had awesome Canada Day fireworks. One of the best shows I can remember seeing.

4. Have you ever been injured by a firecracker?

5. Burger, Brat, or Hot Dog?
Burger. I’m not a big fan of hot dogs and brats.

6. Do you sport red, white and blue on our Independence Day?
I don’t generally wear red and white on Canada Day. (Or red, white and blue on Independence Day for that matter.)

7. If you had to be from any country other than the USA, what country would it be?
Canada. I can answer this question as written since I was born in Georgia.

8. Charcoal or gas?
I don’t do the barbecuing at our place, so I don’t have much a preference. We do have propane though.

9. What's your favorite thing about this fair country of ours?
My favorite thing about Canada is all of the beautiful nature right at our fingertips. I love that I live so close to the mountains! The people are pretty awesome as well.

10. God Bless the USA, My Country Tis of Thee, or the Star Spangled Banner?
None of the above; O Canada.
(It’s not all about the States, you know.)

Monday, July 4, 2011

An Under the Weather Weekend.

After 2 out of 3 days of my long weekend confined to the couch and my bed due to a nasty cold, I don’t have too many exciting things to blog about. Stephen bought me Super Mario Galaxy 2, so I’ve spent more time than I have in ages playing video games than I care to admit. I’ve never been much of a gamer, but I seem to enjoy Super Mario Galaxy.

We did have a few people over for a Canada Day BBQ on Friday. We served hot dogs and hamburgers topped with bacon jam. (Find that recipe here.) I have to admit that the bacon jam was rather amazing! We also had some potato salad made with our home grown dill,  bacon wrapped pineapple bites and I made a dessert that tasted like a cross of a Buster Bar and a Dairy Queen ice cream cake. (Recipe for that to hopefully come on Thursday.)

We’ve also been cat sitting since Thursday night. Casey is a rather easy cat to deal with, except for the fact that she’s turned into my little shadow. She insists on sitting on my shoulder, which I wouldn’t mind so much if she would just sit still.

Now I’m attempting to survive another work week without letting this cold get the better of me.
How did you celebrate Canada Day? And to my American readers, happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

7 Quick Takes (Vol 45)

1. First up, the winner of the postcard giveaway! Well, the winner by default is familymusings since that was my only entry. I guess no one was interested in winning postcards. Congrats familymusings! I’ll pass along your email address and you’ll hear about the postcards within 30 days (although, hopefully it’s much sooner than that.)

2. Today is Canada Day, so I’ve got the day off. I’ll spend a good portion of my day cleaning up the house and baking/cooking, because we’re having a BBQ tonight! Most of the people who we invited couldn’t make it, so it’ll just be a small BBQ. Oh well, it’ll still be fun!

3. We’re cat sitting for the weekend for my nanny family. The Mom forgot to make arrangements for Casey while they’re away, so I offered to take her. Too bad I forgot that my Mom’s allergic to cats and she’s coming to the BBQ tonight…guess I’ll have to meet her with an allergy pill at the door.

4. I got my iPhone replaced last week. The vibrate button had become too loose and was no longer working, so I took my phone to the Genius Bar to get looked at and walked out with a new one. Thankfully I still had about 50 days left on my warranty.

5. It’s been a relatively easy week at work. I worked three days in a row with Baby E, and working with a 5 month old who is generally a happy baby was pretty easy. Yesterday was my first summer day with my older boys, and I have to admit that it was a bit rougher as the boys spent a lot of time fighting. The cousin left for the summer though, so I’ll just have the brothers which will make things easier.

6. I put out a bag of clothes for donation yesterday. The Diabetes Association was supposed to come pick them up, but never came. Maybe they had trouble finding our place, no one can ever seem to find it. Google Maps and GPS always tells people to turn on the wrong street.

7. That’s all I’ve got for this week. So now it’s your turn. What are your plans for Canada Day? And if you’re not Canadian, what are your plans for July 4th?

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