Sunday, 24 June 2012

Summer is...

Well, we are finally having a wonderful weekend, as far as our weather goes, so we can finally venture to our camp.  I imagine we are over run by weeds, wild flowers, goose yukky, and hopefully not fallen trees and not too many branches.  My teenager wants to hang out with her friend, so that delays our departing somewhat, but we will get there at some point this afternoon.  I know I can expect that I will be working up a sweat as my other two splash and have fun in the water.  Every year I instruct them that our first trip to camp is about cleaning up and prepping for our summer time out there, and every year they end up in the lake before tackling any chores that are required.  I am not really angry about it as soon as I realize they are in the lake, I hear them laughing and splashing and getting along, and that is what it's all about.  Fun, fun, fun...
I was going thru my pictures of years past and decided to make a collage of all things summer for us, it brought back so many memories, and fun times, good weather and bad, we have done so many things, we truly are blessed.  It really brings a smile to my face!
I could have added so many more pics, choosing was tough, but you get the idea.  Most of the pics are from our camping spot.  We spend most of our time there in the summer.  We save up our holidays and spend as much time there as possible.  As simple as life is out there, with no hydro or real running water, we don't seem to suffer at all.  I ask the kids every year if they could live there and as they pause before they give me their answer is usually ends up as a "no".  They still want TV, computer and telephone.  Even though they have just had two months of practically none of that (except when we go home to do laundry and replenish the groceries) they insist they need to have it.  Luxuries like that are nice to have and I am thankful we can have those things, it is nice to see we really don't need those things to survive.   I also did up my own version of a word collage, as I have seen so many on line that I felt I should do one too, lol...
I will say that I love Picasa and play around making collages of photos and words all the time.  So creating these for summer was just fun to do.  I am sooo looking forward to the drive to camp today, I am not exactly excited to work up a sweat cutting the lawn weeds out there or all the work that needs to be done to open up, but the results after are heart warming, and worth it.  Everyone that ventures to our "Happy Place" can see why I call it that, and friends and family are always welcome, the sauna is fired up and ready, the lake is literally a hop, skip and a jump away, and we are almost always there during the summer months.  Wouldn't want it any other way.
Any special moments for you, any special places you like to be in the summer?  I would love to hear your stories, honestly I would.  My favourite season is the fall, but my most memorable times are during the summer.  Have fun everyone, play safe, use sunscreen (I fry if I don't)and smile, life is too short not to appreciate what you have.

Friday, 22 June 2012

TGIF...time for fun

Thank goodness it's Friday!!  The last two weeks have been on fast forward, I swear, yeesh.  It's the same thing every June around here.  School is crazy busy for the kids and myself, as I volunteer there quite a bit, and organize for the start of the next school year a little as well.  Fund raising ideas, hot lunch ideas, and our annual end of year June BBQ for the students and families.  I love our small rural school, such an awesome bunch of families.  My kids all did well at track and field this Tuesday past, and were rained out on Wednesday, post-poned for today, and a most sunny, beautiful day it looks to be.

So those are pics of my front driveway newly made pond, from the rain we had recently.  Yet again we were so very lucky here as that was the worst of it, for us anyway, Duluth, Minnesota got hit hard.  Our sister city to the south of us, received so very much rain in such a short time frame, their flooding was disaster like.  Roads, homes, businesses, destroyed.  The Zoo was flooded, and animals lost.  So sad, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all those that were affected in Northern Minnesota from all the rain.  Mother Nature can be cruel at times.   We did manage some sun here yesterday and a nice breeze to allow me to catch up on some laundry.  I am on the cheapo side and don't run my dryer if I don't need to, therefore sunny days are needed to dry my many loads of laundry that is a normal part of my life in this house.  You may also note in my pics the lack of real lawn in the front.  Well due to my hubby building his very manly garage man cave last fall, and digging trenches to run electrical from the house, the dirt/lawn/weeds/rocks is what I have to deal with at this time.  Boats and whatever else are a higher priority than the lawn kind of project I guess, lol....all in good time.  The sun is shining and I must get a move on to my kids Track and Field.  I will apply my sunscreen as I do not wish to fry myself into a Tomato like human form.  I may bring a blanket to sit on this time, as those bleachers are not most comfy, go figure that hours sitting on your butt on a flat piece of wood would not be comfortable, Ha!  Have my water bottle by my side and my voice tuned to cheer all the kids on from a distance, my fingers are limber so as to belt out a whistle or two and embarrass my own children as others think I'm cool that I can whistle so loudly like that, heehee.  I look forward to relaxing with my family this weekend, and may even venture out in hubby's boat for a cruise.
I am including a link to a favourite blogger of mine Diana at Our Vintage Home Love she inspires me and her ideas are amazing, a very warm welcoming home and she recently posted about a vintage window that she hung, I love the black and the size.  I too have an old window hung in my home.  Now I have to say, that took me some convincing my hubby that it would be a wonderful addition to our home, he always doubts my ideas, yeesh :)  So here is Diana's pic, followed by my pic.  I wish my window was the size of hers, but those are so very hard to find.  She really did score one there.

Happy Friday everyone, chat soon

Monday, 18 June 2012

June, going, going almost gone....

Well, this is where I haven't been in a while.  The month of June is going by a little too fast for my liking.  I've been having a roller coaster ride with my emotions lately, feeling a little overwhelmed to be honest.  And, with a few too hours in a day, and not being as organized as usual, I have been a little frustrated to say the least.  I don't even know where to begin.  My yard work has finally been completed, my parents returned from their UK adventure vacation with many great memories and new friends made, I am no longer dog sitting for them (and I'm a little sad about that) my kids activities and field trips, sports etc have increased for this month, as everything winds up until the next school year, my parents hit a deer and wrecked their vehicle on their drive home from here, so I ventured to go and retrieve them out the highway and they stayed one more night at my place while they picked up their rental vehicle and repacked it with their luggage, etc...(no one was hurt or injured, thank goodness) my hubby bought another new boat after selling his old/new boat which he bought only weeks ago. 

I guess that is where I will start.  On our adventure to pick up, yet another boat, we travelled to Northern Wisconsin.  The original plan was to leave after my husband finished work one day and stay overnight somewhere in the US to reduce how much we had to drive in one shot.  Well, who ever follows thru with the original plan, really?  I was packed and lunches and meals were arranged, things were organized, and my husband comes in the house, from doing what ever it was he was doing in his garage, around 8:00pm and says to me, because I'm looking anxious and ready to ride, you weren't thinking of leaving tonight were you?  Really?  Seriously?  What the...?!  Now here's the thing, when I travel anywhere, for any length of time, I organize over the top, I clean, and tidy up the house, so when I return I don't have to do any of that kind of thing.  My girls were staying home, and I gave my parents the run down, we were only going for one night, so they were good to look after themselves until we returned home.  Throw those plans out the window, sheesh.....He picked up the phone and called his sister to arrange for her to watch our girls overnight while we were away the next evening, and there I was left feeling frustrated, grrrr.  *breath*  The next morning after a quite evening at home, we were to set off on our adventure, the girls went off to school, we said good bye to my parents, yet again, as they drove off in their rental vehicle, and away we went.  Driving, driving, driving, my son was occupied with watching numerous episodes of the Amazing Race on the laptop,  I was busy noting places I wanted to stop at on our way home, and finished up reading the Fifty Shades Trilogy *sigh*.  My hubby was anxious to get to the boat.  We crossed Minnesota, Michigan and into  Wisconsin, finally our destination.  And it was not to disappoint.  The boat was great, the people were so very friendly, giving up a tour of their camp, offering us a beverage, and giving us more than just a boat, we got a tube, tow rope, water skis, and another pull behind inflatable.  What a deal :)  We then proceeded to drive a couple more hours back and find a hotel.  I was pooped, couldn't even add straight, I was having difficulty absorbing what the girl at the front desk was trying to tell me, yikes a tired blond moment, at least she laughed and didn't get angry with me, I could hardly see straight.  Anyway we got a room, the boys went for a quick swim and I crashed, can't even remember them coming back to the room.  I decided in the morning, that I quite liked Northern Wisconsin and would like to return soon and check it out further.  My breakfast was $1.99, and yummy, including Star Bucks Coffee, yum again.  We hit the road and stopped at a few of my noted stops, including a drive-in A&W, Yay!  My son thought it was quite cool
he had to have the tray on his window, in the back seat of the truck.  Probably his favourite part of the whole trip.  We carried on and stopped at some shops that I fell in love with.  Vintage, junky, antiquey, homemade goodness all in one.  One most awesome antique store outside some small town, that I didn't even attempt at haggling with his prices, I had a few moments that I thought I should pay him more money, but of course thought again, heehee.  I came away with a few great treasures and all for under $50.00.  Let's just say I plan on returning very soon, for some more. 
Just a sampling of some of my treasures I purchased.  Not my actual ones as they are already distributed in my home, and storage for future, so I clipped a few off Google just so you get the idea.  A few things are missing, and I can't believe I scored it all for such great price, my bestest trip in a long time. 
Hope everyone is doing great out there, and all are healthy.  Hope Father's day went well, I cooked our favourite, most yummy pasta dish and enjoyed cheesecake with the fam.  Another of hubby's faves.  Gotta get back on track and stop eating such yummy treats.
Will chat soon I promise.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

50 Shades of Grey...oh my

Well, I'm not sure how the days manage to fly by and I don't get anything accomplished.  I did not tackle my sewing projects like I intended, but did manage to get one thing finished, finally.  Back in March during my kids Spring Break I redo/refresh my girls room, this year, I actually split them up and they each have their own room now.  My youngest daughter needed a new duvet cover.  We had selected one from Ikea, but sadly we don't live near an Ikea, and I am too cheap to order and pay shipping.  I thought maybe we would travel near an Ikea, but sadly that did not happen.  Ikea just happens to be one of my favourite places to visit, so probably a good thing we never made it that led to my decision to make a duvet cover for her.  It only took me, almost, 3 months!  So here is the finished product, she has a passion for purple;
I still have a few things to add but it is so much closer to the finish line now.  Whew!!

Now back to the title of this post.  Really?  I have been wanting another book to read for quite some time.  I used to read way back before children, but time just isn't in my favour most of the time any more.  Occasionally I do pick up a book, and I have a few waiting to be opened and started, but when my girlfriends began reading Fifty Shades of Grey, that's all they could talk about.  Well, I should read it too of course.  Hmmm, well that is the explanation to my lack of getting things accomplished around the house.  Yikes!  Now I didn't really know what it was about when I began reading, I figured on some of the content, but not all...
Now I will admit that I find this a great read.  You can't help but get caught up in the book, hours pass, nothing has been done in the house... it goes on 1:30 am and the alarm is set for has consumed me, OK there I said it, and today, all I could think of was Christian Grey, honestly??  I went through the whole Edward / Jacob thing with the Twilight Series, and now onto Christian Grey?  I'm only human, don't judge me...please  :) Two days and I need the second book already.  It is a trilogy if you haven't heard anything of this book, you can click on the links and check it out.  Without the other books, I may just get some stuff done around here, fingers crossed.  Hubby returns tomorrow from his annual fishing derby, so hoping for some fresh pickerel for dinner.  The sun is shining here and I'm loving my coffee on the deck in the mornings, kids are crazy busy now that June is here, Three-pitch, track and field, class field trips, annual school BBQ.  School will be done at the end of June and relaxation can begin.  Ugh, I have flowers in my van for the school, I guess tomorrow I should plant those.  Oh and my parents return soon from their vacation abroad, I can't wait to see all their pictures, I may need to make a pot of tea for us to sip and chat about all their adventures.
Has anyone else read the book, or the trilogy?  Thoughts?  Any other books of interest?
Chat soon, thanks for stopping by

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Peanut Butter Cup Cake

Well, another Birthday promise I made months ago, what was I thinking, right?  My oldest turned 13 this year, like I have mentioned before and one day while filling my Pinterest habit I came across and Peanut Butter Cup Cake.  It is just a wee bit of an addiction in our household, those yummy peanut butter cup type thingies.  Reese's is a huge fave with my entire family, any size will do really, the 'Big Cup' is my #1, just in case you were wondering.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't turn down any Reese's, even those tiny mini ones :)  mmmmm.  OK, I'm losing track of my thought here.  So, searching Pinterest one day we find a cake, $75 and they ship, but $75 is still a little steep even for a favourite of mine.  I'm in Canada and would probably cost a fortune and they probably wouldn't ship to me, and I would never order a cake anyway, so that thought was dismissed quickly.  hmmmm how to make one myself.....I thought, and thought and thought, a couple of months actually, and the day finally arrived and I was only partly prepared.  I hadn't come up with a way to have the chocolate rippled on the outer part of the cake.  I had looked for something to make the edging, but nodda, zilcho, zip....The morning of the cake making I woke with a startle, and broke the light bulb above my head when I shot upwards in bed.  I got it, we had a CD holder from Ikea around here somewhere that was no longer in use, now where was it.  It was rubbery and had notches in it, and should work.....I think.  Found it, K, so it wasn't quite the way I had imagined (wishful thinking I think) but I could make it work.  Now onto the master piece.
Now keep in mind, when creating this wonderful bit of yumminess, one should not be in a hurry, should not have to pick up kids, drive kids, or help others during this process.  Just a suggestion is all.  I had a blond moment in my process as well, I am not afraid to admit to, and will get to that later on.  Here I go;
I started out by folding double layers of wax paper accordion style.
Then placed the wax paper into the notches on my CD holder.  You can see what I mean, not exactly what I imagined, they are square notches not V notches but thought if I used wax paper and folded it, it could do the trick.  I put a butter knife on top of the wax paper to hold it down, otherwise it would pop up before the chocolate was poured in.
I melted some good quality chocolate (Callebaut) in the microwave, and poured in down the centre.  It was melted enough to pour out, but not runny as to leak  toward the edges.  I spread it out with my spatula and let it cool.

About now I am getting busy at home.  I begin making the cake only to realize I don't have enough flour, grrrr.  So, I hop in the shower, because I have a funeral to go to and, well, I should shower of course.  I was going to shower while the cake baked, but, noooo, I guess not now.  So I put out all my ingredients I am going to need, other than the dang flour of course.  (I may have said more than dang at the time) (I'm pretty certain I said more than dang)  OK enough of that....I needed;
1/2 cup of butter, softened
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla (or so, I never measure)
2 eggs
1/2 - 3/4 cup of smooth peanut butter
1 & 1/2 cups of flour (um, when I get more)
1/2 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of milk (or so, I judge my batter, 1/2 cup for sure, maybe a splash more)
Let's just say I had the flour, I would begin beating the first 5 ingredients, one at a time, until nice and smooth, then add the flour slowly and the baking powder, then add the milk until the right consistency.
I was only making one 9" round cake pan, so that's why only these ingredients.  This is a filling cake and it is a bit on the rich side.  That's why only one cake pan.  I cut out a round of parchment paper for the bottom of my round pan and greased it, as well as the sides of the pan, poured the batter in, spread it out, tapped the pan on the counter to expel any unwanted air bubbles, and baked at 350 degrees for about a half an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Let cool completely.  Slice in half so as to have two layers, made out of only one cake.
I did not take pictures of this part, or the next part as this is when things were a bit hairy in my household.
Peanut Butter filling;
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2ish tablespoons of softened butter (sorry again, no measuring)
1/2 cup of icing sugar
1/4 cup(ish) of honey
mix well, until smooth, and this is what I put between the cut layers of cake.
I put one layer on the bottom of my cake plate, put my peanut butter filling down, placed the top cake layer on, and now the building process can begin.  And my family starts tugging at me in all directions.  Ugh....
So I removed my melted chocolate, notched CD holder from the fridge to let it warm up a bit, and it is looking perfect I must say.  As it reaches the temperature and softness I want, I decide it's time to cut it and get ready to 'glue it" around the edge.  I butter the outside edge of the cake round, and proceed to cut the chocolate down the centre as that looks to be a good size and will have two pieces to join together only.  So I get my big sharp Henkel knife and begin to cut slowly, really slowly as to not crack the most precious chocolate.  I get nothing, um it's not cutting, what? I press again, and then I put the tip of my knife in the chocolate and again not cutting, I push harder, and the chocolate begins to crack along the ridges....Have you guessed yet, I'm having a blond moment, and forgot to lift the wax paper out of my CD holder mold thingy.  Yeppers, way to go Sharon.  So now I have chocolate fingers, OK I can still make this work, *big sigh* Again, what was I thinking??  So now like a brick layer, I buttered the backs of the chocolate fingers and place them around the edge of the cake, looking good, all is going well, I realize that I should have chocolate icing as my mortar, since I am doing this piece by piece, and little bit of the white icing is showing, but oh well, can't go back now.  After the edging is complete, and looking kinda cool, I melt more chocolate for the top of the Peanut Butter Cup Cake.  Melted perfectly, I pour it on top and using my offset spatula I spread it around.  Now during all of this chocolate process my two youngest are at my sides, asking me questions, wanting a piece of the chocolate fingers, or any chocolate really, can I blame them, hello, it is chocolate :)  Can they lick the bowl, how about the knife, the spatula, please Mom just a little.....Done, the cake is done, in the fridge it goes. Whew, now hope it tastes good!!!
You can see some of the white icing peeking thru my chocolate fingers around the edge, and some of my chocolate fingers are not the same height, but at that point I just wanted the cake done.  My chocolate on top is still freshly melted in the pic, and hasn't cooled and hardened yet, that's why the colour difference from the edging.  If I hadn't had my blond moment and other factors causing me some grief, this cake really was easy to make.  And, it tastes good too, whew, relief.  My daughter's friends were impressed, and I was just so dang happy it was done, and it was edible.  Some helpful hints;  I should have made more of a ganache for the topping, that would have made it not quite so solid, although when you bite into a Reese's cup, the chocolate cracks and that's what I like.  My chocolate edging is rather thick, and I will still continue my search for something better to use for those ridges, cuz I think I would like to make this cake again....improve on it a little, now that I have one under my belt. and have learned a few things.  I would not spend $75 to order this cake, although I would spend maybe $30?  The good quality chocolate makes a difference.
I may have had a bite out of this piece before I thought to take a picture of it, oops, but you can see how it turned out.  the colour is pretty true in the pic, the peanut butter filling layer is almost like a Reese's Cup filling, mmmm and the cake has just a hint of peanut butter flavour, the chocolate it smooth, and a tad think in spots but oooo so deelish.  Hope I inspired you to take on this cake.  Honestly, it is quite simple, and you don't have to fuss over the ridges, you can have a smooth edge, use ganache and cover it all, let it run over the sides and cover the entire thing.  Done, and you have your own take on a most yummy Peanut Butter Cup Cake.
Now I'm hanging up my measuring cups for a while I think, gotta put a dent in my fabric pile.  I have a certain daughter with a passion for purple that needs a duvet cover....
Hope everyone is staying dry out there, no other flooding, we have recovered rather easily, others not so easily, and prayers to them all, hope for no other disasters happening, stay safe my friends, have fun, and see you soon.