Catching up...

We are still alive !! it is just a busy time of the year around here.  This is by far my most favorite time of the year and since having kids it has brought on a whole new level of excitement.   I'm so badly wanting to decorate for the holidays but after having Laila a few years ago we decided to always wait until after her birthday on December 5th before we pulled all the decorations out.  So I will wait until next Monday.  But I have been sneaking a few new things though....

My friend Amber @ Monster Cookies  posted this adorable nativity set on her Facebook page the other day and I knew it would be ideal for the kids.  I have been wanting to get a set but with the little people in our house being so small I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something that potentially could get broken. Well this is a win/win  it is an adorable set which is reasonably priced and is very kid friendly.
It's made by Fisher Price and retails for around $40 but we got our's for $28 when it was on sale at Zellers (thanks again Amber).  Laila and I have been learning a little everyday about baby Jesus.   This set makes it so much more relatable to a 2 year old.  Sophie for now just likes to eat the people and animals but she will learn the true meaning when she gets a little older as well.

I hosted a cookie exchange for one of the Mom's groups I belong to last week and it was so much fun.  I'm fairly new to this group so it was really nice to get a chance to chat with these ladies.  All the goodies were so delicious and the whole family have been enjoying them.

Because the dreaded baking funk continues I made a few types of fudge and added some of my Yummies to my contribution.  One fudge was candy cane peppermint flavor while the other was a creamy Caramilk.  The recipe for the 2nd one was found here.  I will post the other when I find the recipe.  I found the 2nd fudge was really almost to rich for me but the first one was good.

Will post more a little later...the babies are up and need a little mama attention !

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Sweet and Spicy Cashew Chicken

Every time we go to Earl's my husband orders the Chili Chicken without fail so when I found this recipe in The Complete Best of Bridge Cookbook (Volume 2) I knew I had to try it.  We had company arriving late last night so thought this would be quick to whip up when they arrived. I made the sauce, cut up the chicken and veggies in the afternoon.

What you need :

The Sauce:

1/2 cup ketchup
4 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth

The Rest

2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp minced gingerroot
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 small onion (chopped)
2 Red bell peppers, cut into strips (I used a red and yellow)
2 carrots, Thinly sliced on diagonal
2 cups of snow peas
1 1/2 cups cashews (we used peanuts as I forgot to buy cashews and it was still really good)
sprinkling of sesame seeds, toasted

How's it's made:

  1. Combine sauce ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine cornstarch , sugar and salt.
  3. Add chicken and toss.
  4. Heat wok or frying pan to highest heat and add oil. Heat to hot, not smoking.
  5. Add chicken, ginger, garlic and onion.
  6. Stir chicken to opaque (about 1 minute).
  7. Add peppers and carrots - stir 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Add peas and sauce. Cook until sauce comes to a boil.
  9. Add cashews and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve immediately and enjoy !

It was a huge hit at our house and we hardly had any leftovers.  While it doesn't have the same crunchiness as Earl's Chili Chicken (that is deep fried first ) it has the same spicy taste in the end and it's probably a little better for you. It' is a definite keeper for our family !

(photo snagged from The Best of Bridge website but the cover has the Sweet and Spicy Cashew Chicken recipe on the cover)

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Shaping up to be a great weekend !!

  • 3 kids with runny noses, coughs and two running slight fevers.....Check
  • Hubby who is suppose to be on vacation but has been working from home pretty much the whole time......Check
  • Crappy weather with lots of snow and cold temperatures.....Check
  • iMac broken and the Apple store can't seem to decide whether it's a big or small repair.....Check
  • Company scheduled to arrive later tonight for 3 days....Check
  • Baking funk continues (and I really need to get some stuff done before next week).....Check
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend !!

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Wordless Wednesday - November 17th

~  We see more and more of this now a days ~
I love that they have each other !
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Do you RSVP ?

I have another question....Do people know what it means to RSVP to an invitation when they receive one. My first thought is "NO".    When you are trying to organize a party it is really nice to know the number of guests you are looking at attending.  It seems pretty simple to me that when you receive an invitation you reply to the host whether you are coming or not.   We get lots and lots in a year and I really do try to respond to most in a timely manner.

I have found this very annoying when trying to plan Hayden's birthday parties for the last 5 years or so.  If you read my "Disappointment" post this does not mix well with my "A" type personality.   This coming year we have decided to only invite specific kids to the party and I will correspond with the parents directly vs. a whole class invitation.

I was chatting with a friend last night and her daughter's party is on Sunday but only half the parents in the class have responded to the invites that went out 2 weeks ago but most of the kids are saying they are coming.  She is beyond frustrated because she is trying to organize the food, loot bags and the venue location.   I offered to send a follow-up email to the parents but she wisely declined.  :}  I can only sympathize with her problems.

So if you receive an invitation to a party make sure you RSVP as soon as possible !  It really is the polite thing to do !

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Christmas Gift...

I'm super excited for Christmas morning as Laila and Sophie are getting this.... a very thoughtful friend managed to snag one of these little babies while she was in Great Fall last week.

Thank you Farah I'm sure the girls will love it !

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What do you do when something doesn't quite work out the way you envision it to? Are you disappointed or angry.  Do you let it just roll off your back or stew about it.  I'm a bit of both really but it has taken years to get to that point.

I'm the first to admit I'm a total "A" type personality when it comes to most things.   I love order and strive to make sure things are planned and organized.  Even before kids I was that way but I find now with three ones and a hubby with a demanding work schedule planning and organizing is even more important.  I live by the motto "why put it off to tomorrow when I can get it done today" and I'm sure they may stress out people who are more laid back.

Almost all of my close friends are "A's" as well so we have had complete harmony in our friendships.  I have been testing new waters lately and have to say I'm more then a little frustrated at times.  But as a dear wise friend said "maybe it's time to jump ship" and I tend to think she is right.  I have to come to realize that everyone you meet is not meant to be your friend and I'm okay with that.

Pity post over...back to happy stuff !!

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It's beginning to look "a little" like Christmas...

I'm sorry to my dear American friends because I know you have not even celebrated Thanksgiving yet and I'm already talking about Christmas but we Canadians have given thanks a few weeks ago and are ramping up to Santa's arrival in a mere 39 days.

I went out on my own for a couple of hours last week and found a few new Christmas treasures to add to our collection.

Santa now proudly stands by front door as a very big reminder of how many days I actually have to get all my crap done before the big day.

I couldn't resist these lovely blocks and have found the perfect place for them.

Are these just so sweet...the picture doesn't do them justice they are much cuter IRL.

I'm seriously having a desire to pull out our Christmas stuff and decorate this weekend but we have made the decision to wait until after Laila's birthday so I will put it off for a few weeks if I can.

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Mama's Weekly Wrap-Up (November 15th)

Gosh we have had a lot going on the last few weeks so I have taken a little break from the computer.  I do it a few times year whether I need it or not and find it rather refreshing when I return.  Here's a few things going on !!

  • I have been baking lots for the upcoming holidays...I have two cookie exchanges that I'm making different things for.  One is pretty casual but the other have a real group of "sweet" foodies in it so I have been testing new ideas.  I will post what I'm taking when I decide.
  • Trying to a menu for our annual Christmas party.  It's so much work but we all really enjoy it so it is worth the effort.
  • I'm all but finished my Christmas shopping for the kids.  I need to purchase Hayden's "Santa" gift but he has been with me lately on my travels so I have to get it one of these days he is in school.  Both girls are done so now it's just to wrap the stuff and not forget about it. 
  • I still need to get Faruq a few things but honestly don't know what yet.  I need some ideas !!! 
  • At one point this weekend I actually had three dollhouses for Laila for Christmas.  We had bought one a few weeks back but I felt it was just too young for her so I bought the next stage house.  Then discovered that Toys R Us actually sells the "mega" size to the second one I bought and it came with furniture so it was a better deal in the end. So I picked that one up.  I'm happy to report I now only have the last one in my possession.  The first one a friend bought for her daughter and the second was retuned to Wal-Mart last night.
  • I finished a study that was put on by the University of Calgary regarding the use of fiber in your diet.  While I didn't lose any weight I have maintained during the last 12 weeks which for me is good.  One of the main reasons I signed up originally was that each participant would receive a full body scan that would tell you multiple things.  One of the biggest was bone density and I was thrilled to find out that my numbers were very high for this so apparently I'm doing something right.  We receive a ton of data from the scans and other blood work that was done so I'm going back to discuss it  all with the facilitator in the coming weeks.
  • Hayden is doing so well with skating and is looking forward to going back in the new year.  We are adding swimming back in January so with those two and choir he will be busy until the spring.
  • We are still loving NetFlix and have decided to keep it.  We have put our regular cable on hold for 4 months to see if we really miss it.  I watch everything on the internet now so very seldom have the TV on.  Because we can stream Netflix through the Wii we can still watch shows/movies on the TV.    Our kids are not huge TV watchers which is great so I doubt they will miss it.  
  • I figured out the hard way that Hayden shouldn't  watch NetFlix on my iPhone.  While we were out this weekend I got an email from Telus saying I have used 75% of monthly data plan....Ooops!  Lesson hard learnt.
  • I finally ordered what I hope is the right rug for the living room.  After 3 others I'm hoping this will be the right size and color as I'm getting tired of wasting energy on this.
  • Made this a couple of times in the last few and it is a new family favorite.  The only change I made was after frying the beef I put in all in the slower cooker and let it bake there for 4 hours on low.  I also used Flank steak as I had no stewing beef on hand and it was just as tender.  Everyone ate it so it's a hit for us.
  • Faruq is off starting Wednesday for a week and we are thrilled about this.  He has been very busy at work so the break will do him some good.
  • I have started to design Laila birthday cake for her upcoming 3rd birthday as well have started to think about Sophie's at the end of December.  
  • So thrilled for a friend who has been trying for many years to conceive and is now pregnant with twins.  I wish her a healthy and uneventful 9 months.
  • Thinking of another friend who is awaiting test results for her wee baby that could be life changing.  Sending positive vibes and praying so hard that it turns out to be negative.
  • Lastly, I'm truly baffled by some parents and their idea's for disciplining their children.  I have never believed that it is overly effective to try to break a child's spirit and that's what I really think is happening in the few cases I have recently read about.  But this is really a whole new topic on itself.
Have a great week !!

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Princess Time

I find it funny how little girls seem to gravitate to princess and Barbie type items even when their Mama is not a "girly" girl and has not promoted these toys at all.   I guess Hayden did the same thing when he was her age only but with Thomas the Train.

Right now my little Laila is in full on operation "anything pink and frilly" mode.  She has managed to acquire a few barbie movies in the last few months (that we have watched at least once a day for the same amount of time).  She has a few Barbie dolls as well that she continuously plays with and I often hear her making up little stories while she is playing.

For christmas Santa is bringing her this...

Secretly, I have to admit I'm just a little excited to see her open it.  Growing up I played with Barbies for a few years and remember having hours of fun with them.    I originally purchased "My First Dollhouse" but we got thinking that she was a bit beyond that one and I'm so glad we decided to go with the bigger one.  I even managed to snag furniture for 4 of the rooms which I guess is fairly hard to get.

The other great find was at Wal-Mart the other day.  It was a little fairy outfit for $5. It comes with wings, a little skirt, wand, bracelet, ring and hair clip.  I bought a few thinking I might do Laila's birthday party in a "fairy" theme and these would be adorable for the little girls.  Here is a picture of her from the back sorry the little devil wouldn't turn around for a front on view but honestly the back is cuter.

She even got her little sister in on the act for a few minutes.

So I have a feeling I might as well embrace the "Pink and Frilly" stage as I think it will be around for a few more years.

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Making fudge with a little something extra !!

I'm getting ready for the first of two cookie exchanges I'm participating in this year.  I found a very yummy fudge recipe by Anna Olson (Find it here !)  I will be using for the first one but with one change.  Instead of putting in Irish Cream liqueur I'm going to use this...Hello friend !!

Caramilk is one of my favorite chocolate bars and I didn't even realize they made a liqueur flavor.  I did a test run the other night and have to say it is super yummy !  I even let Hayden have a tiny piece and he loved it.

I love fudge and would love to  have any of your favorite recipes.

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Show us where you live Friday - "Bathroom" Edition

"Show us where you live Friday - Bathroom Edition"
Hosted by Kelly @   Kelly's Korner 

We have a total of 4 bathrooms in our house.  There are two on the 2nd floor, 1/2 on the main and a guest bathroom in the basement.  I think my favorites are our master bath or guest bathroom in the basement.  I love the master bathroom because of it's size and that it has become more like the family bathroom. 

The tub is nice and big for the kid's nightly baths.  I love that both hubby and I have our own vanities.  (He can be a little messy ! :}) 

 We have a great shower, walk-in closet and a separate toilet area.

The only real complaint I have with this bathroom is that it is off our master bedroom and doesn't have a door.  I will never have another design like this especially when you have a hubby that gets up at 5 every morning and I don't get up until around 8 !  He has gotten really good at shaving in almost total darkness !!  :}

The other bathroom on the 2nd floor is designated as the kid's bathroom but really the only thing that happens there is teeth brushing at night.  I'm sure they will use it when they get older.

The bathroom on our main level is a smaller 1/2 bath that is used by guests.   It's pretty plain but I would love to put a splash of red in there but just haven't found the right color yet.  (Any suggestions?)
My other favorite bathroom is the one we created in the basement for guests.  I love the colors we picked and all the the little extras we added.  

We put an extra large shower with a 9 foot ceiling.  I hate that feeling of being cramped in a shower.  We selected the full glass door instead of the framed one again making it look larger.  

We weren't able to find the granite that was used upstairs so we needed to select something as nice.  After searching a few thousands samples I found this granite that actually looks like leather.  The top coat has been stripped off to give it the leather feeling.   I love it !!

We did custom cabinets to match exactly what was upstairs so were able to get a nice size cabinet built for towels/toiletries.  

Lastly, we added a heated slate floor to the bathroom and wetbar area.

Well that's our bathrooms - I hope you enjoyed the tour !

If you want to see more great bathrooms stop by Kelly's Korner !!!

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Taking a break

I'm just taking a little blog break.  I like to disconnect a few times a year to just recharge and regroup.  We are busy at home starting birthday preparations for Laila then Sophie plus trying to get a good start on Christmas.  I'm doing a little reading and baking but mainly playing lots with my two lovely little princesses as they have been craving some mama attention.

Chow for now !

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mama's Weekly Wrap-Up (October 31)

This past week was just one big blur for about overextending myself.

  1. I was really missing my family this past week...I would have moved back east in a heartbeat.  This week is better.
  2. I baked and decorated almost 250 sugar cookies for Hayden's school.  Learnt a few more things along that journey so the next big batch should be a snap.
  3. Baked and decorated 100 cupcakes for various parties we had for Halloween - super easy and tasted yummy.
  4. Finally finished the cake classes at Michaels....Yay to having my Thursday nights back.
  5. Found a really cute table and chairs on Kijiji for the kids to use in the basement only to discover it was my next door neighbor selling it.
  6. Our other neighbors were so nice and brought the kids a huge bag of Halloween candy as they weren't home the night of Halloween.  Of course, first to dig in the bag was Laila only to bring me the candy after a small bite.  They must have thrown in some candy's for Faruq and I because they were filled with liqueur.  Maybe I should have let the kids have them it could have been a very quiet night for us.
  7. I have discovered my new favorite fruit - Japanese Kaki or Persimmon fruit. If you have not tried this fruit you really must.  Our Japanese friends brought some over this weekend and first I was a little sceptical about it but honestly I can't believe I have never had them before.  You must buy some when you spot them at the grocery store.  I don't even know the right words to describe them...sweet and juicy kind of tasting like an apple and melon. 
  8. I have been testing a few new recipes this week for Christmas this year.  A few really good ones and one or two flops.
  9. I can't wait until this Thursday nights episode of Private Practice.  It should be very emotional and I already have the tissues ready.
  10. Still trying to decide whether to have a little party for Laila birthday at the first of December.  It might just be family and close friends again.  I'm not even sure what to do for her cake best get on that one.
  11. I have started my "sugar" detox and it is brutal.  I have a huge headache and pretty much feel miserable.  Thankfully this only lasts a few days then you start feeling better.
  12. We have the gala at Hayden's school this weekend.  I'm wearing the same dress as last year.  Think anyone will notice?
  13. We have 5 birthday parties the next 3 weekends.  Slightly over scheduled until December which I hate.
  14. Hayden brought his school pictures home and it looks like crap.  I have a cute kid and the picture was still terrible.   Really poor photography so he will be getting the retake done.
  15. I have been reviewing our Christmas card goal is to get it to around 75 this year and we are thinking it maybe our last year for a card, letter and picture.  We might even go electronically next year.  It is so bloody expensive to send them now.
  16. I have to get the stuff together to get the teachers gifts done.  They are super cute and pretty inexpensive.
     Here is a picture of what the fruit looks like...I'm sure you are like me and are saying "Hmmmmm I have seen those at the store but never tried them".

    Have a great week !!

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