December 30, 2011

Ring Her In

The New Year is upon us, waiting to be met with fresh and eager hearts.
Be sure to ring her in tomorrow with all you can muster.
As you do, count the blessings of the 365 days gone by
and present her with your dreams for days ahead.
For you'll never get what you don't ask for. 

It's been just about a year since I started blogging in earnest and, as the year comes to a close, I thank each and every one of you who returns to read what I have to say in this tiny space on the Internet. I value your time and comments with all my heart.

Happy New Year's my friends.
See you in 2012!

Image from

December 29, 2011

Guest Post: New Year's Resolution Success

With New Year's Eve coming our way, many of us are giving thought to New Year's Resolutions. I'm happy to have Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey, one of my bestest friends, offer up a guest post on this very topic and, hopefully, inspire you like she has me over the last year. Sandy and her husband Mark live in Mount Pearl, NL.  After her youngest child was born, she left the world of corporate communications and is now a stay-at-home mom to their three little boys, Alex 6, Liam 4 and Devon 21 months. She also provides childcare to two other children.  Her house is a busy one with lots of time for fun kiddy activities, but historically she`s put a low priority on time for herself. Throughout 2011 she made an attempt at changing this and started making time for herself, health and fitness. This year she has lost nearly 80lbs after sticking with this year`s New Year`s resolution!

New Year's Resolutions
by Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey

To some people New Year’s Resolutions bring great motivation, to others they bring dread and well others don’t give them a passing thought.

Historically, I was most often in that last group. I am not accustomed to making resolutions and even less accustomed to sticking with them, but when I rang in 2011 I vowed it would be different this year and approached it as a challenge that I wasn’t backing down from. My husband and I, as our resolution, wanted to start on a path to being a healthier and leaner couple and on January 2 joined with other family and friends in a two month biggest loser type challenge.

To back up a bit, at that time I had had three kids in just over four years and lost my mom in that time as well. I was tired, overweight and had not thought about scheduling time for me in a long time! 

So for the first two months in 2011, we were focused on us. We were going to succeed and we were held accountable by the weekly check ins that the competition provided.  He and I ended the challenge in third and first place respectively and we had set the foundation for success!

Fast forward to the end of 2011, we have lost a combined total of about 160lbs.  We have logged hundreds of kilometers, him running and me on the elliptical and most importantly become a healthier couple and better role models for our three little boys. Deciding to stick with this resolution was THE BEST DECISION I’ve made in quite a while! 

The easiest part is coming up with the resolution whether related to fitness and health, personal development, money management, philanthropy, or any part of your life you want to improve. The hardest part is seeing it through - believe me!  It has to be one that’s important to you and you have to REALLY want your end goal.

I like the sentiment, motivation and discipline that’s part of making a resolution, but I don’t have a cookie cutter plan for sticking with it (if I did I’d be pretty rich)! I do, however, think our success had a lot do to with our approach. So, what are our tricks to sticking with our resolution?

Make a plan including goals and time lines.  If it is weight loss, set a certain percentage by the end of the first month, by 3 months, by 6 months and the end of the year. This really kept me motivated! If it’s to read more, make a list of books you want to have read by the end of the year and pick a month for each one. You can make a plan for any resolution.
Find an easy way to stick with it to limit your chances of making excuses. If it’s an exercise based resolution, decide if you’ll be more likely to use a piece of equipment at home or at the gym or just getting outside.  Think about how exactly you’re going to most easily achieve your ultimate goal.  If you want to volunteer more, make a set commitment of a time and place to be each month.

Find support/partner and tell everyone!  I found this great for keeping myself accountable. The more people that know the more positive pressure you feel to stick with your resolution!

Celebrate milestone successes. Some resolutions may take a while to see the end results, but celebrate each step along the way.  Even small steps in the right direction are getting you closer!

Get motivated by making a resolution this year. We can all benefit from making one and positively changing our lives.

How do you plan to succeed?

December 28, 2011

An Old Christmas Card

It's the same every year. Starting in early December my house is filled with Christmas cards from family and friends near and far. I love checking the mail, reading the greetings, seeing the family photos, and hearing about how everyone's year has been. It is awesome. That is until I have to decide what to do with them once the New Year has begun. Sure, some cards are special and will end up in my pretty tied-up pile that comes out with the decorations each year, but the bulk of them need to go somewhere else and I simply hate for that to be in the trash can.

If you're like me and wondering what to do to with all those cards, consider reusing and recycling. I've rounded up a few fun ideas that should work for almost every crafty skill level:

Take all those photo cards from friends and fam and create a photo collage to be enjoyed year-round. Try framing a collage like this one made by or creating a scrapbook page like Ali Edwards often does. I'm planning on doing this for this year, as well as saving some of my favourites to add in as embellishments on other holiday scrapbook pages.

photo collage from

collage scrapbook page from
If you have kiddies (big or small) in the house, try creating your own advent calendar that uses bits and pieces of old cards behind the doors, like this one on the ever-crafty website:

Of course you can also use bits and pieces of those holiday cards to whip up gift tags to use next year, handmade ornaments such as this intricate 3D star, or this awesome little gift bag. I would love to get a little treat in one of these beauties, wouldn't you?

as seen on
The options for kid friendly crafts are endless too. You could sit them down with child-friendly scissors, glue or tape a guidelines for making coasters, bookmarks, tree ornaments, art pages, holiday magnets, puzzles, and more.

Or, if you consider yourself the non-crafty type, you can always donate those holiday cards to a program like the St. Jude's Ranch, which recycles old cards of all occasions into new cards through one of their programs. The old cards are made into new cards by removing the front and attaching a new back. The benefits are "two-fold in that customers can buy “green” holiday cards for use and the youth involved in the Ranch program receive payment for their work and learn the benefits and importance of “going green”. 

As you take down those card wreaths, garlands and mantle displays this year, take the time to give those old cards new life rather than just tossing them in the trash.

Do you have another fun way to use up old cards?

December 27, 2011

The Turkey Twist

We are in the midst of enjoying a very happy holiday season with family and friends, so this is just a quick post to give you some turkey tips should you need them. I know we enjoyed a large bird on Christmas Day followed by turkey sammies later that evening, turkey soup on Boxing Day, and still have leftovers to spare. If you're in the same boat, you might enjoy these twists on turkey leftovers.

For Breakfast or Brunch
Herbed Turkey + Waffles - courtesy of BHG

The Anything Frittata - also courtesy of BHG
For A Light Lunch or Side Dish

Leftover Turkey Spring Rolls - courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

Baked Turkey Croquettes - courtesy of Gina at

For A Something-Other-Than-Soup-n-Sammies Supper

Deep Dish Turkey Pot Pie - from Kraft Canada
Southwestern Turkey Pizza - from
Turkey Vegetable Biryani - also from

Hopefully something appeals to your turkey taste buds!

December 24, 2011

Merry + Bright

The nativity has been set,
The tree has been trimmed,
The cards sent far and near.
The stockings are hung with care.
The presents wrapped and ready,
Yes, Christmas is here for another year.

I am so looking forward to enjoying the peace, calm, magic, and joy of the holidays in the coming days, surrounded by the ones I love and hold dearest to my heart. I wish the same for each and every one of you.

May your days be merry + bright.

December 23, 2011

Guest Post: A Healthy Balance

Making Your Holiday Season a Healthy Balance!
by Tara Antle, BSc.AHN, RHN, RNCP

Here we are, amongst the holiday rush, getting things all done for Christmas.  It’s really important that we factor our health into the mix, so here are some tips to help you maintain your health during the holidays!

• Set realistic goals for a realistic time frame that work for YOU and your life. 
• Be prepared to fall off the wagon and get ready to jump back on track again.
• Allow yourself to eat regularly through out the day…never let yourself get hungry.
• Now…how about that treat, cheat or reward???  No need to waste it on food!
• Make every meal a healthy balance; Make sure you use a plate at social gatherings and stand/sit away from food covered tables.
• Chug – a – lug on water!
• Alcohol…enjoy in moderation…choose light beer, light coolers, dry red wine, vodka, gin (mixed with water or diet pop).
• Have fun with food - get the best value for your nutrient buck!
• Exercise regularly – get that body moving!
• Decrease stress levels, get plenty of rest, and maintain a positive attitude!

The lovely Tara @ home

Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy & safe holiday season!

From tomorrow through to New Year's Day, our lives will become a blur of family gatherings, parties, socials, and other holiday festivities. Here to help us find that healthy balance in the midst of delicious sweets, savoury treats, and alcoholic bevvies is my next guest blogger, Tara Antle. Tara, a long time friend, is a Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (RNCP) with a decade of experience helping hundreds of people reach their individual goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you want to learn more about living a healthy balanced life, you can find Tara at her own private nutrition consulting business, Healthy Balance, in St. John’s, NL.

December 22, 2011

Guest Post: Fabulous Festive Fimo

We have another guest blogger for you today, Miss Sarah Jones. Sarah takes up residence online at Half Sweet Vanilla where she showcases her love of design, illustration and inspiration. which she insists is best enjoyed with a coffee, tea, or latté. I can't say I disagree. Sarah is by far one of the most creative, artistic, and crafty people I know... as in she's even had demos featured on HGTV's website! I am very pleased to have her join us here with a great idea for a quick and easy craft you (and/or your kids!) can do before Christmas Day. Enjoy!

Fabulous Festive Fimo
by Sarah Jones

Looking for a fun and festive diy project that will add a personal touch to the top of your gifts this year? All you need is the classic sculpting clay; Fimo, an alphabet stamp set, a needle or straw [to make the hole for your ribbon] and an oven.
Unlike those sculpting clays that need to air dry, Fimo is baked. When you are happy with your creations place on a clean cookie tray and into an oven that has been pre-heated to 230F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool and voila! Add ribbon or garland and attached your tags to your gifts! [They are like little gifts in and unto themselves]
Fimo comes in a variety of colours and the options of what you can make are endless. Along with tags and garland try covering jar lids, make customized magnets or ornaments.
Get kids involved too! They will have just as much fun as you seeing their soft clay creations being put into the oven and coming out as hardened masterpieces!

Awesome right? Thanks Sarah!

December 21, 2011

Guest Post: Who Wants Candy?

Looking for a last minute gift or tasty treat for yourself? Allow me to introduce you to our next guest writer, Martha Muzychka, and her Almond Buttercrunch. Martha is a writer and consultant living in St. John’s, Newfoundland with her husband and son. Martha and I met through our profession several years ago and I have learned much from her over the years, both about communications and craft. When not working with words, Martha likes to be elbow deep in flour and sugar, mesmerized by threads and fabric, or captivated by paper and paint.

Close to 20 years ago, when the Internet was just a fledgling community, I came across a food recipe group. People posted their favourites to share, and the focus was on the easy, the unusual, and the tasty.

One day someone posted this knock off recipe for a well known candy delight -- almond roca. I immediately latched on to it, especially since it didn’t require a candy thermometer. I have lost count how often I have made this recipe, but with few exceptions, it has always turned out well.

I used to make about 400 pieces for an annual fundraiser, but now I make just a couple of batches for my child’s school Christmas bazaar and another couple of batches to eat and share at Christmas.  Just a couple of tips: do not double the recipe; use a commercial butter, and not a local dairy butter; and do not touch the candy while it is liquid. It is extremely hot.
Almond Buttercrunch**

2 cups white sugar
1 lb butter (use Lactantia)*
1/2 cup sliced almonds***
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Line a baking pan with foil. Do not use an insulated pan. Use the old rimmed cookie sheets for best results.

2. In a heavy pot, melt butter with the two cups of sugar over medium to medium high heat. Heat to boiling and keep stirring the sugar butter mixture with a wooden spoon. When the mix turns golden (light tea colour) add the sliced almonds. Keep stirring until the buttercrunch turns a deep amber.

3. If it starts to smoke, turn down the heat. DO NOT TOUCH THE CANDY! It is extremely hot. When it has turned the deep amber colour (or the colour of a nice deep honey), pour the candy into the foil lined pan and spread with the wooden spoon. Do NOT lick the spoon, just sayin'.

4. After five (5) minutes, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and let the heat melt the chocolate. Spread all over the candy. Let cool completely. Don't bother with a knife to cut this. Just snap it with your fingers into small pieces. Keep in an air tight tin.

* If you use a local butter, such as Spyglass, the candy will not work because it has a high water content and the candy will fail.

** I have made this without nuts for my son's school bazaar. One pan will make about two pounds of candy. I usually bag it up in four or six ounce lots. One year I found small take out containers on sale at Michael’s and they looked super cute hung on a tree.

***A friend with whom I shared the recipe told me she added a half cup of dried cranberries to the candy and that the results were delightful.

Thanks Martha! I can't wait to try these.

December 20, 2011

Guest Post: Getting Out & Active In the Winter

I'm happy to introduce another guest blogger for you today, Amelia Mayer. I guest posted for her a while back and have to again say how much I love their family policy of getting outside for at least 15 minutes every day. Amelia joins us today to share a few quick tips on getting out and being active in the cold of winter and the busy holiday season. Amelia loves adventuring with her husband and two young boys in the mountains of Wyoming. As a family they believe in the power of fresh air and hot chocolate.  Amelia blogs at

I admit it: Getting outside as a family for us is just easier in the winter. As weird as it sounds, we are not huge fans of the heat. We just perform better when the air is a bit cooler (and our attitudes are a lot better too!)  Plus, with Daddy being a wildland firefighter, summers are just CRAZY for us. We relish the winter months of being able to be together as a family.

However, like everyone with kids, it also means finding a way to keep everyone warm and happy.  We work hard to fit in adventures (which also translate into workouts for at least Mama and Daddy) nearly daily. Here are some of our tips for making it work:

Ways to get outside:

A little snow + a sled = family fun!
* Go sledding (with little kids this always turns into more work for Mama and Daddy, but the laughter is priceless!)
* Make a snowman
* Go biking (we tend to have less snow in town so this is possible for us.  We love Strider bikes for the kids and they work great in the snow too!)
* Make a fort (use snow, fallen sticks, old leaves, or firewood! :))
* Go skiing or ice skating even if you don’t know how or aren’t very good at it.  It is healthy for our children to see us learning too. And laugh at yourself (they will laugh too!)
* When all else fails, do a family “Chinese Fire Drill”.  Translation - throw on a pair of shoes/boots and run around the house 2 or 3 times (carry the little ones if needed!)  Your heart will be pumping, your blood flowing from the cold air and I guarantee you will be laughing (in fun AND possibly shock!) 

Ways to Keep Warm:
layers +layers+layers=warm!
* Layer, layer, layer!  Our kids almost always have a liner glove inside their mittens and numerous other layers depending on how cold it is. We love Icebreaker long underwear as a base layer.
* Along with layering, stay away from cotton.  Wool and synthetics will keep your  kids warmer longer (and KEEP them warm when they get wet...which inevitably happens...)
* Encourage them to keep moving by moving yourself!  Monkey see, monkey do!
* End the day/adventure with warm drinks.  Hot cider or hot chocolates are big winter treats around here!

“I am WAY too busy for that, especially around the Holidays!”
* Even 15 minutes outside (with or without your kids) makes for a happier and refreshed perspective.  I have learned over the years that there is a time for everything, but that “thing” I HAVE to do can wait for a few minutes of recharging in some fresh air.  Plus, everyone is in better spirits AND more productive after some time outside.
* Remember, that you are your children’s primary teacher. If they see you making a million excuses about why you don’t want to go outside, they will do the same. Hence the “indoor kid” epidemic/obesity epidemic. 
‘Tis the season for fun in the snow/wind/fresh air.  Don’t let it pass you by!  Get out there!

December 19, 2011

Guest Post: Mmmmm, Cake Pops!

I'm pleased to introduce you to another guest blogger, Jennifer Wellsman of Me, Myself and I. Jennifer is a wife and mama of two who, after the recent birth of her second child Harrison, loves the fact that life just got more interesting. Currently on maternity leave, when time allows, if she's not reading or listening to great music, she loves spending time in the kitchen cooking or baking up a storm, especially with her little girl Charlotte.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice
by Jennifer Wellsman

I started at the beginning of November thinking about some ideas for hostess gifts for the Christmas season. We have a number of family gatherings over the Christmas season and I wanted to bring something special. I had decisions to make. Should I buy a little token or make something? I decided it would be nice to make something. Being on maternity leave I have lots of spare time, right? Once I decided that I would make something, my next step was obviously what. I decided it would be some type of food item rather than a craft. I wanted it to be something that hopefully people would not only appreciate but enjoy eating. Being the Christmas season, I wanted it to be something that they probably wouldn't make themselves. In my research, I came upon cake pops.

Chocolate cake pops with Christmas sprinkles
The first time I saw them was this past summer at Starbucks. My little girl loves them. They are just enough to satisfy her sweet tooth. Apparently though, they've been popular for 3 or 4 years, who knew. Cake pops are relatively easy to make, but do take some time due to the freezing process. They are very versatile though and can be adapted to any occasion. You just have to change the toppings accordingly. New Years, Birthdays, Canada Day, Halloween, Christmas... these little guys will have you covered. And if you have kids, get them involved in helping you make them. My little girl loves to dip the balls in all the coatings!

1 Two-layer cake mix or cake recipe of your choice
2-5 tbsp icing (depending on desired consistency you may want to use less or more). I use the bought icing rather than making it as the quantities are quite small.
24 oz of melting chocolate (I use Wilton Candy melts - about 1 to 1-1/2 bags)
35-40 lollipop sticks
Toppings (crushed candy canes, chocolate or coloured sprinkles, coloured sugars. Bulk Barn has lots of options)
Floral foam

Directions:Bake the cake according to instructions. Let it cool and then break into pieces in a large bowl.

Break the cake into pieces
Add the icing sugar and mix on low until combined. If you want a cake-like consistency, use about 2-3 tbsps of icing. For a more truffle-like consistency, use more, around 4-5 tbsps.

Once the desired consistency is achieved, form balls (1 1/2" mound) using a teaspoon of the mixture and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Once all the balls are formed, put the cookie sheets in the freezer for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, melt a little bit of chocolate according to the instructions on the packet and dip the tips of each stick into the chocolate then stick into the balls. The chocolate on the sticks helps them stay in the cake balls. Return the balls to the freezer for at least 30-60 minutes. The more icing you use, the longer the balls will need to be frozen.

When the balls are ready, melt your chocolate and prepare your toppings by putting them in bowls for easy dipping.

Crushed Candy Cane
Dip each ball into the chocolate and turn to allow the access to drop off. Immediately dip the tops into desired toppings. 
Dipping the balls straight down into the toppings
Stick the pops into floral foam to allow to dry. This prevents one of the sides from being flat.

Using different toppings adds to the overall look & feel
Once the pops are dry and set (about 30 minutes), they can be packaged or put in a covered container layered between parchment paper. They can be stored in a fridge for up to 1 week or in a freezer for 1 month.

When packaging for a gift, use a decorative tin or mug. Place a piece of floral foam in the bottom to hold the pops. Then wrap using a plastic gift bag and ribbon.

The finished hostess gift
Makes about 35 - 40 depending on the size of the balls.

Of course, these cake pops make a nice alternative to cookies too. Why not keep some for yourself and impress your own guests?

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Thanks Jennifer - and as a lucky recipient of these cake pops I can vouch for their deliciousness!

December 16, 2011

Guest Post: Improve Your Holiday Photos

With the holidays just over a week away, I'm looking forward to spending a little quality (aka disconnected from the internet) with family and friends. While I will be dropping by my facebook page and the bloggo on occasion, I plan to lay low between now and early January. But fret not my faithful readers, starting today, I have a series of awesome guests posts (and a few pre-planned posts from yours truly) lined up to take you through the 2011 festive season. There'll be tips and tricks, recipes and crafts, family activities and even a little new year's mojo to keep you busy. So, between your socials and sociables, I hope you enjoy this holiday love from me and my friends right here on Us Everyday.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to my first guest blogger, the lovely and talented Brooke Armstrong. Brooke and I go waaaay back (now that we're old, I can actually say that and it's legit!), like to university days. Over the years, Brooke has honed her photography skills into nothing short of spectacular. She has this creative side that instinctively knows how to frame up that perfect shot and this techy side that has figured out the ins and outs of a digital camera. I am jealous on both counts as if I had half the talent she has, my bloggo would be rockin with phenomenal photos...alas I digress. Lucky for you, Brooke has graciously agreed to share with us her tips and tricks for capturing those elusive magical holiday photos.

Stepping Up Your Holiday Photos
by Brooke Armstrong

Christmas is right around the corner and flashes will be firing from the time the kids put out Santa's snack on Christmas Eve, right on through to the frenzy of Christmas morning. Here are a few tips and ideas to step up this year's holiday snapshots.

Get Closer
Closer is (almost) always better. Don't zoom. Move yourself -- and the camera -- closer. Frame your shots tighter to help emphasize the subject. The subject can often get lost in the clutter in shots taken at a wider angle. This is especially important in holiday photos because there's so much going on.

Re-direct Your Flash
A lot of Christmas shots can use a boost from a flash. Often, shots taken with direct flash give you harsh shadows and subjects that look like deer caught in the headlights. You can avoid that blown out look (and ever-present red eye) by using some kind of diffuser or reflector for your flash. If you're lucky enough to have an external flash, try bouncing it off something else, like a white ceiling or wall, to dial down the direct light.

Find One Point of Interest Per Shot
Every good shot should have a focal point that draws (and holds) the viewer's attention. With people, color, decorations, and food in nearly every holiday shot, there can often be too many things competing to be the centre of attention. Check out this post on minimalism for some tips on de-cluttering your images.

A White (Balance) Christmas
Christmas celebrations usually happen after dark -- in difficult and/or unnatural lighting conditions. Pay attention to what type of light you’re shooting in and set your white balance to match the situation. Bonus if you’ve got a camera that shoots in RAW mode -- you can snap away and fiddle with your white balance later during post production.

Capture the Lead Up
The actual Christmas meal or party is likely the highlight you're looking to record. It can be nice to capture food prep, decorating, wrapping gifts (before the pretty paper and ribbons are torn away), setting the table, etc. There are tons of options for unexpected angles and a fresh perspective.

Christmas Lights
Nice shots of Christmas lights can be very elusive. They're tricky, but oh so pretty when you get them right. Visit and check out David Hobby's tutorial on How to Photograph Christmas Lights for some pro tips.

This time of year, there's an almost unlimited number of photo ops around you. Carol services, houses covered in Christmas lights and decorations, malls bustling with hurried shoppers, and snow-covered everything. Get out, walk around, and capture it. It's a great time of year to practice your photo skills and push yourself -- and your camera -- to do things you didn't think possible. Have fun!

Thanks Brooke! If you're interested in seeing more of Brooke's photography, check out the Photo A Day project she did a while back here.

December 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Holiday Edition

The holidays are happier when we take a moment to appreciate the little and big things that make up our lives. A few things I am thankful for this holiday season are:

Abundance. Not of things, but of love, faith, spirit, family + friends, good health, and sweet baby smiles. We are surrounded by so much of all of this during the holidays and all through the year.

even covered in sweet potato, that face makes my heart full!

Time Together. We've been fortunate to have D home with us for a while now and have often commented on how lucky we've been to have such extended family time together. He's been able to enjoy many milestone moments that daddys often miss. That time together is coming to a close very early in 2012 as he  moves on to a new opportunity. We are making sure to really enjoy the remaining time together this Christmas.

out for lunch on a weekday afternoon

Giving. It is the season where gifts are plenty among our families and friends. Knowing this isn't the case for so many others among us, I am grateful for the ability to share my abundance with others through donations. Our home has shared with the Marguerite's Place holiday program in a joint effort coordinated by a very dear friend. Through her, we collectively helped four families have a little less stress and a little more happy this holiday season. Our home will also be donating diapers to the annual Waterwerks Diaper Drive. 1 in 5 moms have had to choose between food and diapers. I'm lucky to not have to make such a decision and want to help make sure other moms don't either. And of course, there will be more donations to the food bank, as the donations they receive now not only help with the holiday season, but also help sustain the food bank needs through the long winter months. If you have the ability to share your abundance, please do.

Another Year Passing + Another Year Ahead. I often lament at how fast time passes and how much faster that seems with each and every passing year. Truthfully though, I am thankful to have lived another year and enjoyed the memories it has given us, particularly this year with the addition of little HP to our family. As it wraps up, I am also thankful for the year ahead and all that it holds for us.

What about you, what are you thankful for this holiday season?

December 14, 2011

Holiday Recipe {Pin}spiration

Pinterest is such an awesome space. Whatever your bag, it's on there. I have a bunch of different boards that I refer to regularly, including In the Oven + On the Stove where I pin my "must try" recipes. Over the last few weeks I have tested out a few of my pinned treasures with marvelous success. There are a few we've enjoyed so much that I thought I'd pass them along in case you're searching for that perfect new recipe to try this holiday season.

If you're looking for a delicious pancake for that holiday brunch, I highly recommend this Gingerbread Pancake recipe. It's on the healthier side with it's greek yogurt and whole wheat flour, so you can guiltlessly ladle on a little extra syrup should your heart desire. It's also heartier and denser than your traditional pancake house stack, which we loved as it holds you over all morning long and then some - a pro if you've got last minute shopping, wrapping, and visiting to do! Give it a try, your tastebuds will thank you.

Whole Grain Gingerbread Pancakes from PBS
Perhaps you have a holiday coffee break with friends planned? If so, these gingerbread muffins are the perfect companion. Muffin-like in texture, gingerbread-like in taste, these are just spicy and sweet enough to balance out a nice medium-bodied coffee or holiday tea blend. I whipped these up in no time with ingredients I already had in the house and I swear they came out looking exactly like this. Love that!

Gingerbread + Pear Muffins from BHG
For fear you think this is the gingerbread special, let's serve up a platter of these fancy-shmancy sweet potato appys shall we? I made these for a book dinner/social club potluck and they were a huge hit - with recipe requests. I made the topping with vinaigrette the night before, leaving out the nuts (so they didn't lose crunch) and the cheese. I baked up the sweet potato just before I left, took them with me keeping them warm, and topped them off before serving. Even just warm and room temp, they were delish. If you're serving them at home hot, even better.

Sweet Potatoes with Pecans + Goat Cheese from Smitten Kitchen
Finally, a quick, easy main meal that everyone will love and a staple dish in our house: mac & cheese. This time I was looking to make the family favourite a little more grown-up, so I used this base recipe with it's mix of mild and sharp cheeses, adding in a few pantry favourites - oil-packed sun dried tomatoes and marinated artichokes - for extra punch. It was delish. Try making your dish with a twist ... maybe tossing in some chopped ham, or a handful of diced tomatoes, or a blend of your favourite cheeses? Or keep it classic. Whatever you choose it's sure to be comfort food that's good for the tummy and the soul on a chilly December day.

Penne + Cheese from Family Circle
Now I'm just hoping to try this fireside bevvy out sometime over the holidays. Perhaps if you do, you can let me know how it is!

Amaretto Eggnog Latte from Cassie at Back to Her Roots

December 13, 2011

Out of Season Scrapbook Share

Stressing over not having those holidays cards in the mail, the Christmas cookies baked, or those special seasonal crafts still sitting untouched? Let it go, look back on something you have already finished, and enjoy it. For me, as I give a passing thought to the few holiday scrapbook pages and craft projects I had planned on doing, I am happy to see this page in Hudson's scrapbook. The picture was taken on July 1, 2011 and the page put together in November. Love that it's done.

Happy Canada Day Holidays!

December 12, 2011

Our Weekend Lens

With Christmas just two weekends away, it's no surprise our weekend was jam-packed. There was lots of visiting and hanging close to home, errand running and road tripping, cleaning and organizing, and fun.

There was picking this sweet smiley face up from a nap two
Before: There was this mess...

After: A semi-organized scrapbook/Christmas wrapping/card signing station

There was some learning how to pick up cheerios..Mmmmm

Playing peek-a-boo with friends before dinner
There was a semi-yard sale ;)

and being mesmerized by lights and fans and hanging cords

and showing off some new holiday duds - thanks Grandma!

There was an impromptu road trip to Nanny's house
with a little red cup love + perfect oatmeal ... Mmmm
There was playtime with cousins and Aunties 
and a bath in the sink followed by big warm towel snuggles
Our little hat model. XOXO baby boy!
 Hope your weekend was just as fun! And think, two weeks from today we'll be all done with the Christmas wrap and stockings and ho ho ho-ing!