It doesn’t matter if it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or Canada Day, those family get togethers wouldn’t be quite the same without the food. Each Holiday has something to look forward to in the kitchen department, and it just isn’t quite the same without that special something. In our house Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving without a turkey, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Eggs Benedict for breakfast, and Canada Day just isn’t Canada Day without a big family BBQ (although, this year we will be trading our BBQ tongs for fine china because my baby sister is getting MARRIED!).
For me, Christmas Eve isn’t Christmas Eve without ham. My Mum makes the most amazing ham on Christmas Eve and I look forward to it even more than the turkey. You walk into the house on Christmas Eve afternoon and you can just smell that amazing ham smell and you just know that Christmas is here. The smell transports me to my childhood home and my childhood Christmases every single time. It’s magic. Don’t you just love those moments?
BUT. This last Christmas Eve was without that wonderful meal. And I really missed it. My Christmas Eve wasn’t the same without it. Especially as I knew my family was enjoying my favourite Holiday meal without me. We started a new tradition of alternating Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our parents so that each could spend quality with us and Liam instead of squeezing all our visiting into one day. We had a wonderful, special day with my Husbands family with plenty of all the good stuff- food, gifts and lots of love. No complaints there.. but.. I didn’t even get a ham care package. Just saying.
So. Happy Easter! Easter is a bit of a wildcard when it comes to the family meal. Obviously the food association here is chocolate. Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without a few bags of Mini Eggs! When it comes to the family meal it is a bit of a wildcard. Turkey, roast beef, roast chicken and lamb have all made an appearance over the years. I have the pleasure of hosting Easter dinner today and alongside the Mini Eggs I will be serving HAM. Christmas Eve ham. Complete with mashed potatoes, asparagus casserole, and the most important part of the ensemble: ham sauce. What is hamsauce, you ask? It’s sweet. It’s smoky. It’s saucy. You’ll love it. You’ll wonder where it’s been all your life. You’ll never eat ham without it again.
1 Cup Heinz 57
1 Cup Liquid Honey
10 Dashes Tobasco
Add ingredients to mason jar.
Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Note: Continues to keep very well in fridge
This sauce is also delicious on BBQ ribs or pulled pork.
We celebrated our Little Man’s first birthday last weekend! We hosted an afternoon full of food, friends, family, and a few mustaches. You can check out all the party highlights on the party post.
Fitting with the Little Man theme I whipped up a batch of sugar cookies and cut them using a mustache cookie cutter. They were adorable! More importantly they were delicious and our guests really enjoyed them. In fact, It’s a good thing I taste-tested at least 10 cookies while I was baking and decorating because there were NONE left at the end of the party!
I am not the worlds greatest cookie baker. I’ve always struggled getting a great batch of cookies to come together no matter how closely I follow the recipe. I really needed success this time so I consulted my wonderful friend Nikita for a fool proof cookie dough recipe. She suggested her sugar cookie recipe and I gave it a try.
This will now be my go-to cookie recipe forever and ever. I halved the original recipe and made one teeny tiny ingredient adjustment. I had to sub almond extract in place of the vanilla as I didn’t realize I was all out of vanilla extract until I had started making the dough. Almond had to suffice this time but no qualms about that here. The outcome was superbly delicious. I can’t wait to have a need to make cookies again 🙂
After the cookies were cooled I made a simple icing glaze with just icing sugar and water and about two thirds of the cookies. The first third I sprinkled with chocolate sprinkles for a fuzzy mustache look while the glaze was still wet. The remaining cookies I decorated with the left over buttercream from the cupcakes. How cute are they?!
Thank you for saving me from my cookie slump Mrs McElgunn! You can find the original recipe HERE.
We’d been out and about picking up some renovation supplies and we shopped right through dinner. We were famished and decided to pick up some A&W on our way home. I was dreaming of a Teen Burger or Chubby Chicken Burger but rolling up to the drive through the Hubs noticed that Papa burgers were on special 2 for $7. I’d actually never had a Papa Burger so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. By the time we left the drive through we had an order of 2 Papa Burgers, 2 Chubby Buddy Burgers (mini burgers.. because I still wanted chicken) and an apple pie (because what is life without dessert?). They say “don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry”… Perhaps we should add “don’t drive-through when you’re hungry” to those words of wisdom.
We got home and I unwrapped my very first Papa Burger. 2 Thick beef patties in one bun. My starving self had a hard time getting through that much meat… I almost didn’t make it. But, once finished I still wanted that chicken so I ditched the second bun and just ate the delicious crispy fillet. Then, when I really shouldn’t have eaten anything more, I remembered the apple pie.
Commence tummy ache.
And the tummy ache continued until bedtime, the following morning, and well into the afternoon.
Dinner last night required the opposite of the night before. Salad for dinner was all I was in the mood for. One problem, my husband wouldn’t exactly agree! We have this continual problem that about an hour after dinner I am faced with “I’m still hungry” just about every night. If I was going to serve a salad it needed to be seriously filling.
The Hubs named this salad “Eggs & Bacon Salad” because it has eggs and bacon in it (original, right?!). Despite it being a “salad” he has never grumbled about it because it is fully of really tasty ingredients and is a full-meal-deal in the dinner department. Whenever I make it, it’s never exactly the same twice. It’s a great clean-out-the-fridge dinner and you can add what you love and leave out what you don’t.
EGGS & BACON SALAD
2 Grilled Chicken Breasts. Cooled. Thinly sliced.
2 Hardboiled eggs. Cooled. Thinly sliced.
4 Strips Crispy Bacon. Crumbed.
1/2 CUP Ham. Diced.
1/4 CUP Cooked Quinoa. Cooled.
Half green leaf lettuce. Rinsed and chopped.
Half English Cucumber. Chopped.
8 Cherry Tomatoes. Quartered.
1/2 CUP Corn.
2 TBSP Hemp Hearts.
Your favourite salad dressing.
Arrange half of each of the ingredients onto 2 plates.
Top with a drizzle of your favourite salad dressing.
Note: Serve with a side of grilled naan bread for extra tastiness.
We are buried under inches upon inches of the white stuff! The snow started to fall on Friday evening and it hasn’t stopped since. Thankfully the roads are highways are well maintained in this part of the world and getting around hasn’t been too hindered. However, we are taking full advantage of some quality hibernation time and enjoying a quiet weekend at home.
To cut down on grocery costs this month I am really trying to use what I have in the pantry and freezer. The grocery bill got a little out of hand last month so I’m making a commitment to be more conscious of grocery costs and recover from some of the (unfortunately necessary) over spending. I like to keep a well stocked panty and freezer so with some more effort for planning ahead this task shouldn’t be too difficult.
I was debating making a dessert to go along with the roast beef I made for dinner last night (funny story about that roast beef coming up later this week- stay tuned, friends!). I could eat warm, comforting desserts every single day at the moment. It’s a winter thing. After some thought about what I was in the mood for, and what I had on hand, I spied some past-their-best buns in the bread bin. I had whipped up some home made buns to go with the pulled pork I made on Thursday. I should have frozen what was left over- If you’ve made bread before then you know that it goes stale very quickly. But, instead of preserving their freshness safely in my deep freeze, there they were, getting hard as a rock, on my kitchen counter. How do you save stale bread? You make bread pudding! And, what’s better than bread pudding for dessert? Bread pudding for Sunday Snow Day Brunch.
In the spirit of using up some of what was on hand I pulled out of the freezer some of the pumpkin I pureed after Halloween, and found an open carton of almond milk in the fridge that needed to be used up. I cubed the buns and left the pieces, uncovered, to dry out for about an hour before continuing the prepare the rest. Then, in a large bowl, I whisked the eggs, sugar, almond milk, pumpkin puree and spices together. The bread cubes got tossed with some melted butter and put in a large, buttered casserole dish, and then the liquid mixture was poured over the top. As this recipe was a first time experiment I had an “Oh, goodness. I think I have way too much liquid here” moment. But, it was the perfect amount. By the time I got my camera ready to take the photo it had already started to absorb into the bread. By this morning it was fully absorbed. So, don’t be alarmed.. lots of liquid is a good thing! I then covered the casserole dish with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge overnight to allow the rest of the magic to happen.
My Mother-In-Law always stops in for lunch on her way home from church and this would be a tasty warm lunch to serve on a snowy Sunday. About an hour before she arrived I topped the pudding with a sprinkle of brown sugar, cinnamon and some chopped almonds, and popped it in the oven. The house smelled amazing! I served it up with a drizzle of syrup and a side of coffee and baileys. It was a hit! Even the baby devoured it (minus the coffee and baileys, of course!). Aside from all the eggy, pumpkin, sweet bready goodness in this dish… It is also Mother-In-Law approved!
PUMPKIN BREAD PUDDING
4 as a main dish
6 as an accompaniment
Ingredients: 7 stale bread buns (approx. 8 cups) 1 tbsp softened butter (for buttering casserole dish) 1/4 cup melted butter 3 eggs 1/2 cup white sugar 1 1/2 cups almond milk 1 3/4 cups pure pumpkin puree 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp nutmeg For topping: 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup sliced or chopped almonds 1 tsp cinnamon
1. Cube bread and set aside for 30 minutes to dry out. 2. In a large bowl beat eggs. Add sugar, almond milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well to combine. 3. Butter a large casserole dish. 4. Toss butter and bread cubes to coat. Transfer to the casserole dish. 5. Cover bread with the liquid mixture. 6. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight is best. 7. When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350. 8. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with brown sugar, cinnamon and almonds. 9. Bake for 50 minutes. When casserole has “puffed up” and top is toasty brown it is ready. 10. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Delicious served with a drizzle of syrup!
Enjoy as a main dish or a side to your breakfast favourites.
What do you think, friends? I’d love to hear if you tried this recipe! Comments always welcome.
Well, here we are. Hello THIRTY! I must say, I have been dreading today for.. Well, if I’m being really honest, the last fifteen years. I remember very well that on my fifteenth birthday I had an emotional breakdown over the idea that I was halfway to thirty. My mid twenties were full of anxieties over “What if I’m not married by the time I’m thirty…. What if I’m not a mother by the time I’m thirty… What if I don’t have a career by the time I’m thirty…”. I was consumed by these ideas. In fact, I was under the impression that I would be considered a failure if I did not check all of these boxes by the time I was thirty. What nonsense! Who is society to tell me that I am, or I am not, enough.
Yet, the last few days I have to admit I have been mopey. I’d like to blame it on the lovely winter weather we’ve been having, my tired haze thanks to the 5:30am wake ups we’ve had for the past few weeks, or lack of caffeine due to the fact that we have been hibernating and I haven’t visited a coffee shop in at least a week. Yesterday I just couldn’t shake it. I was treating the last few days as if they were a funeral- An ode to the death of my days as a twenty-something. Last night, after baby was in bed, I ran myself a bubble bath, poured myself a glass of bubbly, and settled into the tub for a much needed dose of reflection. Did I check all the boxes? Did I fulfill the dreams the twenty year old me had hoped for by now? Well, you know what? The last ten years have held some of the most important and defining moments of my life. My life has been bigger and better than my dreams ever would have thought it could be, at twenty. In fact, regardless of what society may have expected from me by today, I can hold my head high and know that my twenties have been the very best years of my life and I am proud to be the woman I am today.
THE TOP TEN EXPERIENCES OF MY TWENTIES
I Am Canadian
My family moved to Canada when I was 14. Ten years later, in 2011, we were officially sworn in as Canadian Citizens. This was one of the most memorable and special days of my life! I am so proud to belong to this great nation.
The Day I Was Debt Free
When I was twenty I bought a brand new condo. Yes, me. I worked for barely more than minimum wage and somehow qualified for a mortgage. In the beginning it was all rainbows and butterflies, but when the keys became mine I was in for a reality check. Unanticipated expenses quickly started coming in. I had no savings behind me. My monthly expenses suddenly exceeded my income. I started to fall behind on bills, I couldn’t afford groceries, and I missed out on all the fun my friends were having. I started to live on my credit card just to be able to buy food and gas for my car. I drowned in this financial nightmare for a couple of years thinking there was no way out. At rock bottom I decided to rent a room for some extra income to start digging myself out of the hole. One room rented then became two rooms rented and I finally was getting somewhere. Did I want to share my home with strangers? No. But, it was my only choice. A choice that I did not regret, either. I made some life long friends in the process! It took me an awful lot longer to get out of the debt pit than it did to get into it, but little by little I got there. It took a LOT of financial discipline in both paying down the debt and building up savings. The day that I made the last payments and owed nothing (other than my mortgage, of course) was freeing. What a relief. I once again had control over my income. No one was ready to take it before my paycheck had even been deposited.
Committed To Community
I started volunteering when I was twenty one. I had been interested in the Big Sister program and decided that I wanted to invest some time into this. I was matched with a Little Sister and we started spending time together. When we met she was only six and I have had the pleasure of watching her grow into the feisty fourteen year old she is today. We are truly sisters by heart.
A few years after I started volunteering I had the chance to apply for a once in a lifetime opportunity. My volunteer experience matched the “Committed To Community Award” criteria and I eagerly applied for the chance to travel to India to work with Free The Children building a school. On a December morning in 2013 I got the surprise of my life.. I was chosen as the award winner! I was an overwhelming honor.
I spent ten days submersed in the rich Indian culture. It was the trip of a lifetime.I learned to lay brick at the school site and now the smell of wet cement fills me with nostalgia!
My Wedding Day
My Husband and I met in High School. We’ve certainly had our fair share of ups and downs over the years. In fact, at times we barely made it through the growing pains. People often have this idea that if you’re High School Sweethearts then life will be magical for you. That is far from true. Just like all relationships, it takes hard work to stay together. After a ten year journey together he finally proposed and we were married in 2014. As it should be, our wedding day was one of the most memorable of our lives. In every way it was perfect. We exchanged vows in the park that was our special place back in the early days. I wore my Grandmother’s lace wedding dress (circa 1954). We had our very closest friends beside us. I even surprised my groom with a Lego themed wedding cake. I never thought I would be so lucky to have such a perfect day.
My Retail Career
I do not have a formal post high school education.I am the classic example of not being able to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up and then got too comfortable in real life to do anything about it. I have passionately worked in customer service since before I graduated high school. I’ve had the pleasure of working for a wonderful company that has allowed me to build a career in the retail world. I have been given many opportunities to develop my leadership skills. I have been lucky to travel to new store openings and assist in the development of management teams in other locations. At home in my own store I’ve not only sold clothes but confidence and self-love to women. I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing some lovely young ladies along their life journey.
So many times I have encountered the opinion of “Oh, so you just work at a store?”. No, I do not just work at a store.
The Test Was Positive
I always wanted to be a Mother. Always. There has never been a doubt about that. We had made the choice to leave it in God’s hands and trust that he would know when the time was right. The morning I took the test I entirely expected it to be negative. I was really taking it to assure myself that I was imagining things. I held the stick as it did its magic… first line appeared- ok it’s working… a SECOND line appeared.. WAIT, WHAT?! The world, including my heart and lungs, stopped. “No, no. I must have read the instructions wrong” I thought and read through them again. All the little pictures showed that two lines was positive. The test was positive. THE TEST WAS POSITIVE! I couldn’t believe it. I had never felt such overwhelming joy. I took a second test just to be sure. Then I went and purchased a third test from a different brand just to make sure that the first two weren’t just a fluke. We were going to have a baby!
I was blessed with a great pregnancy and enjoyed every minute of carrying my baby boy.
I Can’t Wait To Meet You, Grandma!
Telling my Mama that she was going to be a Grandma was absolutely priceless. At the time she was six months into cancer treatment and I knew this news was just what she needed to hear. I had just returned from a long weekend in New York so I whipped up a pretend souvenir mug that said “I had a great time in New York with Mommy… And now I can’t wait to meet you Grandma! See you in March 2016”. She kept reading out the first side of the mug and saying “But, I wasn’t with you in New York”. When she finally turned the mug around and read the rest there was hysterical joy filled tears. I have it on video. A moment I will always treasure.
Becoming A Mother
The day my son was born. I can’t put this experience into words.
Seeing The World
I have been so lucky to have had opportunities to travel. I have also been very lucky to have wonderful people to travel with. My BFF, April, has been my travel partner in crime and we have been all over the place together.
A few highlights of my travels include…
Dipping my toes in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean sea. Snorkeling (not well) for the very first time in The Bahamas. White water rafting in Glacier National Park, Montana. Standing on top of The Space Needle in Seattle, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and The Rockefeller Center in New York. Witnessing my husband seeing a real sandy beach and seashells for the very first time. Shopping at a market in Udaipur, India. Enjoyed a Chai Tea Latte from the original Starbucks in Seattle. Snow tubing at Mount Norquay in Banff. Seeing the Statue of Liberty in both New York and Paris. Hiking to Cameron Falls, North West Territories. Watching Chicago and Phantom Of The Opera in New York and Once in London. I ate a toxic hotdog in a baguette in Paris and got terrible food poisoning. Experiencing Old Delhi, India. Dancing my heart out to Taylor Swift on the 1989 Tour in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Discovering airport spa’s in Amsterdam. Enjoying a $38 glass of sangria 38 floors above Times Square, New York. Riding a sea-doo in Antigua. Laid bricks at a school being built by Free The Children in Rajasthan, India. Walking across The Brooklyn Bridge (desperately needing to pee!) in New York.
… I could go on and on! I have had some amazing experiences in the world. I value each and every one of them.
The Eiffel Tower. Paris 2010
The Rockefeller Centre. New York City 2015
St Paul’s Cathedral. London 2011
Ready to snorkel! The Bahamas 2012.
I can’t wait to see what the thirties will bring for me.
With little man keeping us on our toes, right now our days are filled with little day to day treasures. I wish I could bottle these precious memories all up!
I’m sure you will agree that the years fly by faster and faster these days. Some of those great everyday moments are lost as our minds are filled with tasks on that never ending to-do list.
In an effort to combat the memory loss I have made a memory jar that I intend to stash all “The Best Bits” into throughout the year. Such a simple craft project! I used a large mason jar and decorated it with some stickers from my craft supply stash. Easy peasy. And, I squeezed it easily into naptime today as it only took me about 5 minutes from start to finish.
I can’t wait to read through the moments at the end of the year. I think this will be a new family tradition in our home.
How do you keep the memories alive in your family?
Doesn’t the first day of the year just make you feel like anything is possible? You’re looking at a squeaky clean slate with 365 fresh new days ahead of you to make your mark on.
I am much more of a bucket list gal than a resolution lady. I like to sit down, usually on New Year’s Eve with a friend and a nice coffee shop mug of deliciousness, and write a list of goals and things to accomplish over the next twelve months. The scope of the list has evolved as I’ve grown up. In my early twenties the points would be more geared to figuring out this whole being-an-adult business. When I was more established in my mid twenties it was more about making the most of life
This month I turn the big 3-0 and I am in a much different personal place than any other year so far. My husband and I welcomed our first born this past spring so 2016 has been full of figuring out this “being-a-parent” world. So far it has been the greatest adventure and I absolutely cannot wait to see where this journey takes us. That being said, I have written my list in three categories this year to compliment where I am in life right now.
Some of us think of our finances daily and others of us like to avoid it at all costs. No matter what camp you fall under the start of a new year is a good time to evaluate your current financial situation and look at where you would like to be this time next year. Would you like to pay off some debt? Increase your savings? Buy a house? Make a goal and then more importantly MAKE A PLAN! How will you be successful in achieving this? The saying goes “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail” and when it comes to finances this couldn’t be more true. I have found that breaking the big goal down into achievable monthly goals is a great way to keep myself on track. If you don’t know how to get to where you want to end up then meeting with a financial advisor is an excellent place to start.
I started 2016 credit card debt FREE and one my financial goals was to continue to use my card for the travel points but to pay off purchases immediately and avoid paying any interest. I succeeded! I plan to continue with this goal for the coming year.
What would you love to achieve or experience as a family or a couple? We have been working hard at renovating our home so we can move this coming year. We’ve had some wonderful times here at this house but we have outgrown it and we are ready to move on. A family goal we have this year is to move into a home that our children can grow in. We also plan to take a family trip to England to visit my 93 year old grandmother so that she can meet her great grandson.
Self development is important for our evolution as individuals. Challenge yourself to grow! What skill have you wanted to learn? What have you been longing to experience? Choose goals that you can get passionate about and plan to make them happen.
Some of my personal goals over the last few years have included: Host Thanksgiving Dinner, learn to make bread, try skiing, and travel to the longest list of places. I find that my list in this category is long and I know that I won’t be able to accomplish all of them. Again, the goals you are really serious about need to have a get-it-done plan attached to them or the year will pass by and they won’t have happened. For me, this category usually turns into more of an “I would love to” instead of a this is all going to happen” list. But hey, don’t dream too small! Firstly, you can always carry over incomplete items to the following year, and secondly, you never know when an opportunity may arise. Visiting New York City appeared on my list for years and I was unable to make it happen because of the finances and not enough annual vacation time from work. In 2015 I had a five day weekend booked for July and my friend and I had planned to take a road trip to Mount Rushmore (another reoccurring bucket list item). A couple of weeks before we were set to depart we debated finding a last minute travel deal to somewhere random and have an unplanned adventure instead. We found an insanely good flight and hotel deal in New York, snapped it up, and THEN found tickets to the Taylor Swift 1989 tour happening while we were there. It was the most amazing trip and it was so unexpected. #lifemade
How do you prepare for the year ahead? Do you make resolutions or goals, or do you just wing it?