Tuesday, 2 June 2015

End of the Year Teacher Presents - S'mores Gifts!

Hello friends!! I hope you all are having a fantastic day! It’s been a while since I checked in, but as we get closer to the end of the school year, it was time to put together some awesome gifties for some pretty amazing people.

My girls are blessed to have some pretty amazing teachers and leaders. This year the girls came so far in school and in dance and that can be attributed to their awesome teachers. The girls also both started in girl guiding (Miss E in Sparks and Miss A in Brownies) and had an absolute blast. I wanted say thanks to their school and dance teachers and their guiding leaders in a special way.

One of our favorite treats in the summertime are s’mores. We camp a lot, and we often make s’more-gasboards with fun ingredients to up our s’mores game! So we decided to make s’mores gift baskets for our special teachers. I hit up my local dollar store and found small cooler bags to use as my “baskets” and got to work filling them up.

We picked up marshmallow roasting sticks, marshmallows, graham crackers (the necessities), and then got a couple of types of chocolate (one with caramel, of course!!). I just printed a cute little tag for the front of the gift and tied it up with the cooler bag straps! Easy peasy!

For the tags, I made a few different types:
• School was s’more fun because you were my teacher!
• Dance was s’more fun because you were my teacher!
• Brownies was s’more fun because you were my leader!



Even though my sister says all teachers actually want is a gift certificate to Starbucks or some wine, I’d like to think that our teachers will like these gifties!

Thanks so much for stopping by, I hope I’ve inspired you today!!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Menu Plan Monday - March 30, 2015

Happy Monday my friends! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! If you live out here on the Wet (I mean West) Coast, I hope you managed to stay dry! We had a pretty low-key weekend, which almost never happens, but it gave us the opportunity to re-try a cookie recipe that failed for us a few weeks ago. Did you see it? We made Super Amazing Giant Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies!!

Belle at the World Irish Dance Championships!!
Our schedule is a little all over the map this week. We have a week off from dance, as our teachers at the Steel School of Irish Dance are accompanying some of our dancers to the World Irish Dancing Championships in Montreal!! Here is a photo of the dancer who inspires my girls to dance - her name is Belle and she is amazing!! 11 years old and dancing on a World Stage!!!

Since we'll be home Monday and Tuesday, we expand our dinner options! Normally we only have an hour between activities to prep/cook/eat dinner, so this week we'll be able to have a proper dinner. Also this week, my lovely husband and I are heading out to a fancy award dinner. My husband is up for an award at work, and I can't be more proud.

On the menu this week:

Monday: New recipe! Spicy smoked sausage alfredo bake
Tuesday: Smashed potatoes, turkey meatballs and veggies
Wednesday: Mom and Dad having dinner out!
Thursday: Mac n cheese
Friday: Salmon, rice and steamed asparagus
Saturday: Cheeseburgers and fries
Sunday: Easter Dinner with family

I'll be linking up with OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday - you should check it out!!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Super Amazing Giant Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Rainy Sundays in our house mean one thing - time to bake!! After another busy week, and some sleepless nights with a certain 8 year old, it was nice to come home from church today and have absolutely nothing to do. The hubs headed off to work and the girls and I decided to retry a recipe that completely failed a few weeks ago!

My first attempt at these cookies - FAIL!!
I found this recipe in HGTV Magazine and made a few tweaks to accommodate a few ingredients I didn't have on hand. After following the actual baking directions this time, these cookies turned out soft, chewy and gigantic!! The first time I made these cookies, I just used my regular cookie scoop and placed them "normally" on the cookie sheet for baking. Had I read the full baking instructions, I would have noticed that this recipe makes "big, bakery-size, gooey cookies."


Super Amazing Giant Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from HGTV Magazine

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups rolled oats

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat the butter and sugar together for two minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until just incorporated. Scrape the edge of the bowl and mix again to make sure it all comes together.
Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until combined. Next, stir in the chocolate chips and rolled oats.

Form the dough into balls of about 4 tbsp each (for me, this meant a heaping scoop of my large cookie scoop). Arrange the dough onto the parchment lined baking sheets approximately 2 inches apart. *** This is the most important step!! These cookies spread out a LOT, so make sure to space them well. I used a large cookie sheet and only had 14 cookies on each sheet.

Bake until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges, approximately 15 minutes. Let cool for for two minutes then remove to baking rack to cool completely.

I hope you all love these cookies as much as the girls and I do!! Thanks for stopping by, I hope I have inspired you today!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Menu Plan Monday - March 23, 2015

Happy Monday! Well it looks like we are back to real life today. I’m back to work, the kids are back to school, all of our activities are back on the calendar. Although I’m happy that we are back to a semblance of normalcy, it was nice to have a little bit of downtime last week in the evenings.

Our spring break was filled with accordion music, wigs, buns and dance shoes. The girls danced in twelve shows over the span of three days and had an absolute blast. Although it was a lot of work for the girls, they had a great time, and their dancing was an amazing treat for the seniors for whom they danced.

Last week I made Twix Shortbread Cookies! They were super delicious and I think you should definitely make a batch!!

On the menu this week:
Monday: Tortellini alfredo with prawns
Tuesday: Chicken fajitas
Wednesday: Kid’s cooking night! Fish and chips & salad
Thursday: Perogies, turkey meatloaf and balsamic glazed carrots
Friday: Date night! The kids are sleeping over with their Auntie!
Saturday: Miss A & Mommy night out, Miss E is going to the Whitecaps game with Daddy
Sunday: Kung pao chicken and rice
I’ll be linking my menu plan up to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday – check it out!!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Twix Shortbread Cookies

What an amazing week!! Our littles were on spring break for the past two weeks, and while I would like to say that we had a restful relaxing couple of weeks, the total chaos that we did have was a ton of fun!

The girls Irish danced in twelve shows over the course of last week and although we had a wig catasrophe, both girls had a ball dancing their Irish hearts out for people.

This week at work we had our annual Bake Off. Each of the participating bakers had to bring in their favorite recipe, with servings for 100 people, plus 3 judges. I decided to make these yummy cookies I found on Pinterest. I cut them in half so that the public would each get a serving, and then brought full sized cookies for the judges. I ended up making the recipe 3 times to have enough for all the servings I needed, plus a tray for our house!!

Although I didn't win (that honour went to a ridiculously amazing cheesecake) I got a ton of positive feedback on the cookies I brought!

Twix Shortbread Cookies
Recipe adapted from here
Ingredients
2/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour

Toppings:
3/4 cup caramel sauce
6 ounces chocolate wafers, melted

Instructions

To make the cookie layer, preheat the oven to 375F. In the bowl of your mixer, combine 2/3 cup butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla. Combine ingredients until the butter is creamy, scraping the edges of the bowl. Add the flour and mix at low speed until well combined. Cover and refrigerate dough for an hour, until firm.

Shape the dough into 1" balls. Place dough 2" apart on cookie sheets. Make an indentation in the cookie balls with the back of a wooden spoon. Bake 8-10 minutes until the edges are start to golden.

Remove from the oven and place cookie sheets on a wire rack to cool completely.

After the cookies have had a chance to cool completely. Put the caramel sauce into a piping bag and lightly pipe caramel into the indentations. While the caramel is settling into the indentations, melt the chocolate wafers using a double boiler.

Using a fork, drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookies. Refrigerate for ten minutes, to allow the chocolate to harden over the cookies.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! I know that the cookies I tried to keep at our house were gone in about ten minutes!!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

400 Item Purge Complete!!

Well, we did it!! Our family set out to purge 400 items from our home last weekend and we accomplished that feat!!

First, we made a plan! In order to make this an easy job for my kids (and husband, who is really like a third kid) we planned to purge areas where we could get the most bang for our buck. In our house, that meant clothes and books!

I knew that both girls had an overabundance of shirts and sweaters in their drawers, to the point where Miss A could barely close her drawer! My mom is a serial shopper and if she gets a great deal, my lucky girls get new outfits… sometimes three or four at a time!

Miss A got right into the project – we emptied her three (yes, three!) drawers containing shirts and sweaters and let her pick choose which to keep and which to purge. I can proudly say that she managed to let go of 45 tops!! And she still has a ton of clothes left!

Miss E was too busy playing outside with her little friends to help out at the beginning, so I meandered through her tops and found about 25 that she could let go.

Since Miss A was on such a tear, she went next to her (massive) stuffy collection that was living in the corner of her closet. After sorting through her beloved Beanie Boo’s and Webkinz and other items she couldn’t bear to part with, she managed to find over 30 stuffies to send on to loving homes. Miss E also pulled out 20 stuffies to add to the pile! Unfortunately for the neighbors she brought the pile downstairs and let the kids next door have first dibs!!

The girls also agreed to part with over 30 coloring books, and 60 books! We passed our favorite books down to my niece and nephews and donated the rest of the books.

Not to be outdone, the hubs finally managed to part with about 15 shirts (hardly 100 items from him, but it’s better than nothing!!). He also promised to filter through the kids dvd collection and pull out anything that they have grown out of… maybe… next weekend…

At this point, even though we had made great progress, our purge total was only at 225 items! My turn!! A quick purge of my drawers and closet found 74 items that found their way to better homes, 12 holiday themed towels that I didn’t even bring out this past Christmas, a box of wine glasses, almost all of my cookie cutters, some pillows, six coats and some more toys – 402!!

You would think after a purge this size I’d be super excited with our progress and have a ton of new space? Nope. Now I have stacks and bags of stuff to be donated, I have a pile of empty containers from clearing out closets and bins and I have a million ideas of ways to get back to my minimalish path!

We are off for a few days next week. Hopefully I’ll be able to put the plan into action!! Thanks for stopping by; I hope I have managed to inspire you today!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Menu Plan Monday - March 9, 2015

Hello all! I hope you had a fantastic week! We had the most beautiful weather this weekend. The kids played outside from morning until night all weekend long. It was so lovely to be unscheduled and unrushed and just chilled out.

Our weekend purge project went really well! Miss A got right into it, Miss E and the hubs took a little more convincing, but we were successful! More on this project, and how we made it happen later on this week.

The girls are on spring break from school this week, so we have fewer activities on the calendar for the next two weeks (yay!!). I’m hoping that the girls will be able to help with dinner since they will be home. They love helping out, and I love it too – when they help out with a recipe, they are much more likely to actually eat the meal!

On the menu this week:
Monday: Spaghetti with turkey meatballs
Tuesday: Chicken fajitas
Wednesday: Pizza and salad
Thursday: Perogies, fish and steamed veggies
Friday: Brinner! Breakfast for dinner – eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and pancakes
Saturday: Birthday party! Dinner out
Sunday: Kung pao chicken and rice
I’ll be linking my menu plan up to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday – check it out!!

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