Wordless Wednesday (Feb 29th)

We had S'more marshmallows on Saturday night and guess who loved them.

Sweet Sophie 

Of course !

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Shaw Gateway : Follow Up

I wrote this post in January and thought it would be good to do quick follow-up to it.  After having the initial Gateway installed I was still hearing rumblings about issues with performance so we hesitated giving up our old PVR's.  But after nearly a month with no issues we booked the appointment to have everything completely converted over to only portals.  I will say I was a tad bit nervous but I had faith that if it was not working Shaw would fix it.

We switched completely over at the first of February and have not had one issue thus far.  Every portal is working and the Gateway has not hiccuped once.  The only thing I find is the odd time when you turn the TV on initially it doesn't make the connection to the portal but I have found if you turn the TV off and hit the "live" button on the remote then turn the TV on it seems to correct itself.  You do have to remember it may not be quite as quick to change as your normal TV/PVR was so if you are a button pusher (as my kids were) you need to take it a little easier on the remote.

We have gotten more comfortable with the menus and the biggest highlight is being able to view all the PVR'd items from any TV in the house.  No more running to the basement to make sure that favorite show is set tape.

One thing to mention is that we have a newer home and when it was build my husband had it wired with Cat 5 wiring so I'm not sure if that has helped with the reliability and performance of the Gateway.  Shaw would probably say it shouldn't matter but I do know we have friends that have an older home and have had issues with their Gateway.

We had been loyal Bell customers for almost 15 years but do to a lack of customer service and no real incentive to stay with them we switched our cable service to Shaw last year.  Our phone and internet have been with them for almost 6 years so it only made sense to switch the last service there.   The employees we have dealt with have been knowledgeable & professional and after almost a year into this we have been very pleased.

I know that some would say the "wait time" to talk to a real person can seem like an eternity but they are making strides to improve that.  Did you know they are on Twitter ?  You can find them at @Shawhelp.   They resolved an issue we had with one of our old PVR's in less then 5 minutes so I know the service works.

All in all we have been really happy and glad we upgraded to the Gateway .

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Favorite Time

Favorite time in my day.....

Is eating my breakfast with this little princess when no one else is awake.

 I cherish these moments because she is growing up too quickly.

I love my sweet little Sophie !!

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Traveling a familiar road...

I haven't really discussed this on my blog yet but tonight Faruq and I filled out the paperwork to have Sophie's speech assessed.   It is one of my biggest fears coming true.  I had really hoped that we would not have to worry about this but sadly her speech is just not progressing the way a 2 year olds should be.

I will say I don't have the same fear that I had when we went through this with Laila.  I know the process now and what will happen.  I'm familiar with the terms the speech therapist will be throwing at me and what programs are available if help is requred.

Sophie is very different from Laila in many ways.  Her comprehension level is much great than Laila's was at 2 but the speecn is just not coming.  After meeting with our doctor he advised us to proceed with the speech assessment mainly because of the past history with Laila.

So we will go down the same path with Sophie and can only hope that we see the same amazing results we did with her sister.

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Wordless Wednesday (Feb 22nd)

Finally after months of debate I ordered a sewing machine !
Now I'm excited to get it and start creating.

I have already started a "sewing" board on Pinterest.

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Pork Tenderloin a Different Way

We love pork tenderloin in my house but I have been rather suck with using it in this recipe for the last year.  Don't get me wrong that is an amazing recipe and I highly recommend it but my family wanted something different.  So I started look around today to find that something different.

I finally found one that I figured everyone would enjoy and that I actually had all the ingredients for.

Part 1: Spice Rub

1 tsp of Salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Part 2: The Glaze:

1 cup of brown sugar (dark is better)
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp Tabasco
1 tbsp water

2 pork tenderloins (approx. 2.5 lbs total)  I buy the ones at Costco and two of those are just 2.5 lbs.
2 tbsp olive oil

How to prepare it :

Prepare the rub by mixing the salt, cumin, chili powder and cinnamon together.  Then coat the two tenderloins with the rub.  I stored them in a ziploc bag in the fridge until ready to cook.

Just before cooking the tenderloin mix your glaze together in a small bowl and set aside until the tenderloin is browned.  Warm oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in an overproof pan (I used my small dutch oven) on fairly high heat until it is just about to smoke.  Put tenderloin in the pan and brown each side - total time approx. 5 minutes.  Remove from the stove top but leave the meat in the bowl.

Now spread the glaze mixture on the two tenderloins and put the pan in the oven to bake.  The original recipe called for 20 minutes mine cooked for close to 35-40 minutes.  Once it has finished cooking remove from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes and cover it with foil.

Final verdict:  It was very tasty and everyone enjoyed it.  Honestly, I wasn't sure about the spice rub but it wasn't overpowering at all and the hint of cinnamon was lovely.  It will definitely be something we will add to the regular menu planning.

I had yummy beets and turnip with it but the kids & Faruq had Quinoa.

Original source : Pennies on a Platter

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Weekly Wrap -Up (February 21st)

It was a quiet weekend around here because the girls and I are suffering with head colds yet again.  We had planned to go to Edmonton this week as Faruq and Hayden were both off but we decided in the end to just hang around here.  So we had a staycation in Calgary !!

I had a lovely evening with some old and new friends on Friday evening.  It was nice to enjoy a hot meal and adult conversation.   I am really trying to get out a little more this year so this was a good start.

For dinner on Saturday night I tried a new chicken dish in the crockpot and all I can say is WOW !!  It was a total hit with everyone (even my picky kid).  Sorry I forgot to take a picture but you can find the recipe here.  It is called Honey Sesame Chicken !!  Now I did change a few things to suit us.

  •  I didn't pepper my chicken as the kids don't particularly like really hot/spicy foods.  
  • When it was done I added 1/2 cup of cashews and omitted the sesame seeds so I guess it's now just Honey Chicken.
  • Also I added some broccoli for the last few minutes.
  • To thicken the sauce I added flour but I'm sure the cornstarch would work just as well.
  • Watch it when you thicken the sauce as it happens very quickly so I removed it from the heat of the crockpot.
  • We served in on brown rice but noodles would be great as well.
  • My cooking time was only 2.5 hours on low so depending on your crockpot it might not be as long as they recommend.
Sunday I spent most of the day on the sofa trying to get rid of this cold.  I managed to pull myself together to make it to my Wilton class.  I'm glad I went and I can now totally understand why bakers charge so much for wedding cakes with hundreds of flowers on them.  This time around we are learning how to make those lovely flowers & greenery.   Now I love cake decorating but these are very labor intensive so I'm not sure it's worth it well maybe for very special family or friends.  So if you get a cake from me with flowers on it consider yourself special.

BTW : Did you know Michaels has an app for the Android and iPhones that you can download for free. On there you can get the weekly sales coupon and you know longer need to print it off.  How did I not know about this?  For the iPhone just go to iTune and search Michaels under the applications section.  

It was nice having Monday off as well.  We spent the day cleaning out the kids rooms and I have to say they look lovely now.  Hayden's was by far the worse and he really needed his bookcases purged.  He has so many books and a lot he had read so we just needed to sort them for donation.  He is slowing moving from Lego's to model plane building so we packed away the Lego's.  His closets didn't take long because frankly he doesn't have many clothes.  He wears a school uniform 5 days a week so doesn't need a lot of clothes for the weekends.   I can't wait to the girls start at his school and I will have 3 in uniforms all week.  

Today we all returned to our regular routines and I have to say it was nice to get back to it.  Don't get me wrong I love it when the boys are around but I tend to get lazy when they are.  I guess because I know someone is here to pick up the slack.  With this silly head cold it was definitely nice having the help during the days but I know every time Faruq is home for a week he always gets the itch to get back to work as he will openly admit he is not sure how SAHM's do it day in and day out.  

Even though we were all sick it was a great weekend of really doing nothing !

How was your weekend ?

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Valentine's Treats

Because baking is a passion I usually try to provide treats for Faruq and the kids to take to work & school.  This Valentine's I did cupcakes for Faruq and Marshmallow Pops for Laila's class. Hayden's school is currently on a weeks vacation so I will cover him off at Easter.  I tried a few new flavors of cupcakes for Faruq's office.

First up were Nutella cupcakes.  I found the recipe for the Nutella frosting on this site.

I use this recipe for my Vanilla cupcakes and they always turns out delicious.  

I used this recipe for the chocolate cupcakes.

Next up Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing.  I have tried the Red Velvet box mix from Presidents Choice and while it is okay I had issues with it's taste so I chose to go back to a from scratch recipe.

I know the picture looks like chocolate but trust me they were a nice deep red.  I used this recipe and will continue to use it as they were so delicious.   I also used the icing recipe that came with the cupcakes.  It   was super easy and tasted great.

For Laila's class I had originally thought about doing mini cupcakes but instead opted for chocolate covered marshmallows.  I have never made them but figured they had to be easier than cake pops which I totally can't make.

What you will need:

Candy sticks (Mine are Wilton's brand from Michaels)
Chocolate dipping Wafers - Michael's sell them but I don't like theirs.  I found Merken's at Bulk Barn and they are so much better to work with.  If you are only making white or chocolate you can get really good chocolate at Superstore.
Sprinkles and sugar crystals - I bought mine at Bulk Barn but you can get them at Michael's or grocery stores.
Floral foam - I it was great to put them on it after I dipped them but you can use parchment or wax paper as well.  I'm sure styrofoam would work as well.

How to make them:
  1. Put one marshmallows on the end of each of the sticks.
  2. Take a small amount of chocolate and melt in the microwave. (I use a microwavable cup big enough to dip the marshmallows completely in.)  Start with 30 seconds then stir it.  Continue to melt at 20 second intervals while stirring after each time.  You can add a small amount of shortening to thin the chocolate if needed.  It should be thin to ensure you can coat the marshmallow but then tap of the excess chocolate off.
  3. Take a marshmallow and dip it in the melted chocolate then gently tap the excess chocolate off.  You need to work fairly quickly as the chocolate dries fast.
  4. Take the covered marshmallow and dip in the sprinkles and sugar.
  5.  Lay it on either on the paper or put it in the foam to dry.
  6. I added a mini-cupcake liner to each pop but this isn't necessary. 

Here is the end result and I have to say we were pretty pleased !

Laila was so excited to take them into share with her classmates !

But before they went to school look who I caught going in for a little taste.  This kid is going to kill me !

I will definitely be making these again !  
Aren't they pretty ?

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Just A Few Words Wednesday (Feb 15th)

 I'm obsessed with cupcake liners and have been looking for a glass container to store them.

Look what I found at Winners for $12.
~ Total Score ~

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Valentine's Day

We don't do a big celebration for Valentine's Day but we do recognize it mainly because the major retailers start shoving it in our faces the day after Christmas.  The kids see it everywhere so we do little things for them.

I was in Walmart a few weeks ago and spotted Smarties on sale for $2 a box.  My kids love Smarties and would probably pick them over any other candy so it was an awesome deal because the boxes were huge.  Sophie couldn't actually lift hers but made a valiant effort to cart it around.

Hayden got his first model plane which just happened to be Star Wars themed so he was thrilled.  I also found a cute Angry Birds shirt in my travels at Walmart.

Laila had been asking for a new Dora game for her DSi so she was a happy camper.  (I know it's hard to tell from the picture.)

I had to post the next picture because I rarely get one with both kids smiling at the same time.

As for Sophie I'm going to share a little secret with you all.  I regifted her a a gift that she got for Christmas but we hadn't opened yet.  She is 2 so I really don't think much permanent damage was done with that sneaky move.  Without fail wherever we go if there is a doll stroller she will hunt it down and play with it for the whole time.  Our neighbors were so kind to give her one for Christmas but with all the excitement it got stored away and I just found it a few weeks ago.  So today she finally got her stroller and as I expected she has not let it go yet.  So huge hit on her Valentine's gift.

Hubby and I do not exchange gifts for Valentines and never really have. I am in the market for a sewing machine so hope to be gifting myself with that shortly.

I'm yet again suffering with another massive head cold so we didn't even go out for dinner this year instead opting to cook at home.  The kids were happy to just stay in and play with their new toys.

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentines day with the loved ones in your life.

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The Spank Debate

Last week I engaged in a conversation on Twitter with regards to spanking and agreed that I would share my personal thoughts on the subject.  I usually try very hard to keep this blog upbeat and light but this is a subject that is very personal for me.  The views that I will express in this post are mine and I'm really not looking for anyone to debate them with me.  I truly don't believe that you will ever change my position on this but as always I welcome your comments and will respect them.

I was a child of the 70's and things were different back then.  I'm not going to go into a lot of details but I will say that I was spanked.  I had 2 uncles that I was always scared of because of their tempers and the manner in which they dealt with their kids.  But it had a profound effect on me and the way I parent today.

My belief is you can discipline a child without spanking or hitting them.   I have been witness to scenes in public that quite frankly made be very uncomfortable.  If I see a parent visibly out of control in public I can only imagine what could be happening behind closed doors.  I get it we all get frustrated and start to lose control because our child isn't listening to us or not behaving the way we want them to.   But does that mean we should have to right to hit them.   I see adults acting out and misbehaving in public so should we spank them as well probably not  so why should kids be any different.

What I see when kids are spanked is fear and I don't want my children to fear me.   If kids can't trust and feel safe with their parents then I believe we have failed them.  Remember we are helping to mould and shape the leaders of the future.

So the challenge I present to all parents is...If you feel the need to spank your child step back for a moment and realize you are the one out of control.   Collect yourself and then deal with your child.  If that means picking them up and removing them from a situation then just do it.  I can remember a few trips to the mall, library or park that ended because my toddler was not listening or pitching a tantrum.

I'm not going to tell you what method to use to discipline your kids because you know your kids best  but I will plead with you not to hit or spank them.

Stepping off my soap box now !!

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Kijiji - What Works For Me !

What is Kijiji ?

From Wikipedia....Kijiji - is a centralized network of online urban communities for posting local online classified advertisements. It is a subsidiary of eBay launched in March 2005.  Kijiji websites are currently available in the Unite States, GermanyCanadaFranceItalyChinaIndiaTaiwanBelgiumSwitzerlandRussiaAustria, and Japan

So love it or hate it Kijiji is here to stay.  I definitely had my own reservations about trying to sell anything on there because everyone seems to have their own Kijiji horror story.  But a few summers ago after spending three days getting ready for a garage sale where I would end up making approx. $100 I just knew there had to be an easier way to move things.  So there started my adventure into the world of on-line selling (and now even the occasional buy).

Thrifting has become very popular.  I quite often frequent the Goodwill store in my area looking for those hidden treasures.  I was in heaven this past summer while visiting my parents as they have tons of little second hand shops.   But I digress so back to Kijiji.

You can be very successful when using Kijiji but I figured out a few things along the way.  Here's a some tips that might help you when trying to sell your items.

Your Ad:

  • List the ad in the proper category.  
  • Title description:  For Sale:  brief description of Item: Area of the city I'm located in.
  • Take the time to write a proper listing  
    • Be concise but thorough with the description - Don't ramble and bulletin points have worked the best for me.
    • Use keywords (manufactures names, model numbers, etc..) so if someone uses the search feature it will be found easily. 
    • Note the size and color if applicable.
    • Be honest with the condition of the item.  If its new great but if it has been used indicate that in the ad.  I use "New with Tags","Like New", "Gently Used", "Used".
    • If the item is missing pieces list that in your ad (I have in the past done research on what a replacement would cost for a specific part if it is missing).
  • Price - This can be tough because everyone thinks their stuff is worth more then most people are willing to pay.  You will do better than a garage sale but be realistic when pricing something.  I tend to use the 50% rule.  But when I list the price on the ad I always put the word "FIRM" behind it.  That should warn buyers you aren't willing to barter on the price.  I have only had one person ever try to talk me down on an already low priced item and I refused her offer politely.  Now I have had a few expensive baby items that I have listed for higher but they were in excellent condition when I went to sell them.  At best I think I may have recouped 75% of the original cost. I'm definitely not saying you can't ask more but your item may not move as quickly or at all.
  • List your location again - They don't always read it in the title.  I appreciate it when I'm looking to buy something because I can't be bothered going all the way across Calgary for a $10 item.
  • I also add "If the ad is up the item is still for sale".  It saves a lot of messages from people asking if the item is still for sale.  I have inquired about items for sale only to have the people respond back (most don't) with "Oh that sold last week and I didn't remove the ad". 
  • Pictures :  I can't stress how important this one is.  I have posted at least one if not more pictures of the item I have for sale.  Try to post an actual picture of the item not one from a manufactures website.
A few other helpful hints:
  • Do not post ads if you are not going to be available to respond to potential buyers inquiries.  Again, your goal is the sell the stuff quickly (at least that's my intention).
  • Be available for people to come and look at the items. I will put an item "On-hold" for up to 2 days but any longer you will lose other potential buyers.  If it's a "popular" item most will come within 24 hours and don't be afraid to tell them you have others in line for it.
  • Personally, I don't leave ads up for longer then 2 weeks.  By that time the ad is probably buried so far down on the page counts that people might not even see it. Almost everything I have  sold went within the first week of listing it.  Delete the ad and try again in a month or so.
  • I have never paid to promote an ad on the tops of their pages.  If it hasn't sold within in a few weeks it's probably not going to help to put it up there.  
  • I typically don't sell clothing on Kijiji unless it's snowsuits, jackets or maybe a fancy dress.  It's too labour intensive for me to list pages of things worth a buck or two each.  If possible donate them to someone you know or even to a women's shelter.
  • Watch the time of year you post items.  You most likely won't sell Halloween costumes in November.  I posted 3 in October and they sold within an hour of being listed.  
  • Try to have the item as clean as possible - This is another way to get top dollar for your item.
  • I personally only take cash when selling items.  I will that one up to you if you want to take the risk.
Overall, my experience with Kijiji has been a positive one.  I have probably sold 90% of what I have listed and for the price I listed it for.  I will never ever have another garage sale as it's just not worth my time and effort for such a small return.

I hope this helps you if you are trying to sell your treasures on Kijiji !! I'm sure I haven't covered everything here and I would love to hear your tips to be successful in selling.

Happy Listing !

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A few questions about me !!

Leslie at Ruffruminations  asked me to answer some questions about myself.  Some were easy but others a little tougher so here you go !!

1) Do you consider yourself a blogger, mom-blogger or hobby blogger? Do you wish you were more (or less one of those?)  I'm definitely a mom-blogger and no I really don't wish to be anything else (right now).  When I go back to work and build a new career I might have a site for that but this one will always be about my family and our lives.

2) Do you enjoy crafts or DIY? What is your favorite?  I love DIY stuff and I'm always looking for neat things to try (thank you Pinterest).  I love digital scrapbooking and I did a lot of "old school" paper scrapbooking at one point.  My goal this year is to learn to sew and knit.

3) If you had $50 million what would you do with it?  Start a charity of sometime and give lots of it away.   Personally, our family would buy a small island somewhere tropical then just live a quiet and happy life.

4) What are you reading right now?  The Steve Jobs biography, the Harry Potter series (with Hayden) and Charlotte's Web (with Laila).  We are a family of readers & I love it !!

5) What is your favorite thing the kids in your life do? (Be you a Mom, Aunt etc) - Hands down the hugs/kisses and the "I Love You Mommy".  

6) What was your biggest fashion mistake ever? (post a pic if you have one)  Leg warmers and Jelly shoes. (Not together thankfully)

7) If honesty was always appreciated what would you say to strangers? Definitely people need to be told that certain clothing choices are just not good for them.  A close second would be the color choices for their hair.

8) If you could spend unlimited money on only one room in your house which would it be and what would you do? Bedrooms - I would love to give each of my kids a bedroom like the show "Extreme Home Makeover" used to do.  I would have a beautiful master bedroom retreat for hubby and I.

9) What is your favorite part of yourself? What do you envy in other people? Tough question because right now I'm trying to improve lots of different parts of me.  But I would have to say my height.  I love being on the taller side.  I envy people with curly hair and  long legs.  (I will have neither)

10) Owls are really "in" right now, what do you think should be the next "it" animal and why?  Cats because they have always been my favorite animal.  I didn't know "Owls" were in.

Now a few simple questions I have for my friends are..
1. Do you like to cook or bake ? Both or neither.  What is your favorite recipe?
2. A place you would love to visit but have not yet ?
3. Favorite childhood book?
4. What restaurant do you like to take your kids (grandkids) to ?  Why ?
5.  Favorite flavor of ice cream ?
6. Are you a thrift store shopper?
7. Are you a sweet or salty lover ?
8. Favorite color ? 
9. Best movie you have ever seen ?
10. Winter or summer vacation ?

I'm tagging a few friends but anyone can play along I would love to read your answers.

Have fun !!

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Thank You

Last week was a particularly hard week for me (I seem to have one a month thanks to raging hormones) and when I wrote my last "Something I Miss" post I was probably at the lowest point.  So it was the best time for me to write it as I know I would have been more guarded with my feelings this week.   I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who left comments and emailed me personally.  I have comfort in knowing that I'm not alone with this.

I have said it before but it's worth repeating "This mommy job is the toughest job I will ever have".   But the end result will be worth every minute of loneliness I might have.

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Wordless Wednesday (Feb 1st)

Hard to believe this was a year ago !!

~ Disneyland - 2011 ~

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