Hoppy Easter!

 

Hoppy Easter!

My absolute favourite thing about Easter is the abundance of chocolate.

I REALLY hope you’re in agreement, otherwise, we simply cannot be friends.

Did you know chocolate is actually a salad? Yup, you heard it here first!

Chocolate comes from cocoa, which is a tree. That makes it a plant. Hail salad!

I knew this guy at work, before he deserted us for another job, and he would have a large chocolate milk and a chocolate bar for lunch, nearly every day. I would try to disguise my drool as I ate my healthy vegetables (the non-cocoa ones). And the guy was skinny as a rake, probably because of all the running around he did at work. Yup.. jealous!

But today, choco-holic friends, I bring you instructions for making these phen-OM-inal cupcakes, complete with a mini-Cadbury Creme egg on top.

You’re welcome.

Start off with chocolate cake mix (duh, of course) of your choice. Most cake mixes make 24 cupcakes, so that means 18 for you, and maybe 6 for the kids, if they don’t sniff them out before you can hide them, but good luck, because if they are anything at all like my own kids, they are like BLOODHOUNDS when the oven goes on.

So bake and cool your cupcakes, and whip up this amazing batch of buttercream icing:

1 cup white vegetable shortening (do NOT use lard or golden shortening!!!)
1 tbsp. meringue powder (Bulk Barn carries this, or a health food store)
1 tsp. vanilla (I advise you to use the clear vanilla, otherwise it won’t be white)
4 cups icing/confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tbsp. water (start with two, but add until you like the consistency, it should be firm but not stiff, and not all brands of icing sugar are the same – with tonight’s batch, I had to use 5 tbsps. water)

I beat the shortening first, adding the vanilla, and meringue powder. Then I gradually add the sugar, incorporating it fully before adding more. Make sure to stir it up from the bottom, otherwise you will have unblended shortening.

Use a large round tip (Wilton 2D) and a large icing bag, plastic or reuseable, doesn’t matter.

You can work in batches of two if you find it easier to handle the icing bag this way. I won’t judge you. Promise. (I do that myself!)

Fill the large icing bag about half full with plain white icing, and you want to pipe a somewhat fat circle around the top outside of the cupcakes, leaving the center bare. Repeat with all of the cupcakes that you haven’t eaten so far. Good job!

So now you should have some icing left, and bare centers on all of your cupcakes.

Squeeze all of the icing out into a small bowl and add some yellow food colouring to it. Start with tiny additions if you are using Wilton gel colours. You can always add more, you can’t take it away. Add a touch of orange if you want it to look like authentic Cadbury filling. Blend well with a flexible spatula. You don’t want any streaks.

Using the same tip (just clean it under some hot soapy water before reusing), and a fresh icing bag, fill with the yellow. You will be holding the bag vertically over the cupcake at a 90 degree angle, piping it VERY close to the actual cupcake, to make it smooth as you pipe in a circular motion.

Pipe the centers with yellow to fill. If there are a few gaps, no problem. Using a butter knife or icing spatula later can smooth it out.

So, what you have now may, or may not, resemble a fried egg on top of a cupcake. Neat huh? You still have a couple of cupcakes left at this point?

Time for the Pièce De Résistance… the Cadbury Creme eggs.

You COULD, hypothetically, have a child unwrap them for you so you don’t have to waste time on such menial tasks, but then they will want to EAT some, and we’re not sure about our feelings on that, are we? Or, if the bloodhounds haven’t sniffed you out by this time, they will catch on when you ask for help, and demand some sort of reimbursement for their time!

Nope. Better to just do it yourself.

Place the unwrapped eggs on top, and it’s COME TO MAMA time!

Enjoy, friends!

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter, no matter how you celebrate it!

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Earth Hour

Earth Hour


Do you and your family do anything special for Earth Hour?

I know it’s not a holiday, and it’s only for an hour, so time is limited, but I just wondered if anyone else out there has any traditions for this day.

Our family does.

We began this little tradition when Earth Hour began in 2007, and the kids still enjoy it to this day:

We shut off as much as possible. Electronics, computers, lights, we go dark. We light a whole lot of candles, use flashlights if necessary, and we even have a wind-up radio (a bit of a pain if you ask me but whatever!).

Then we pull out a board game or two and set it up in our candle-lit kitchen and we play together, as a family.

Often, we go over the hour because we are having so much fun, and it’s almost a shame to turn the lights back on again, but we thoroughly enjoy the time together.

As kids get older, though, it’s tougher and tougher for them to put the electronics down on the best of days, much less on the day of Earth Hour, but they do know there is a greater purpose, so we usually don’t have too many problems with getting them to give it up for one tiny little hour.

What I do NOT recommend is playing a game like Monopoly (that game is NEVER a short one) or PayDay (which is a game we love but have given up for the reason I’m about to explain)…

Board games that deal with handling play money, or writing anything down, or hundreds of tiny game pieces, none of that works very well in dimly lit situations… make a Family Game Night and play those more in-depth games then.

Aim for simplicity in your game choice. For example, for us tonight, it will be Uno or Sorry…

Another plus for your Earth Hour evening: SNACKS! Everything is better with snacks!

Little kids will LOVE this, because it’s almost like a party, and kids LOVE parties! Make it as festive and exciting as possible, and if you DO have small children, skip the real candles and go for flameless candles. Keep those little fingers and faces safe! Have some flashlights and fresh batteries ready!

Lastly, make sure to mark it on your calendar, and remind that kids that Earth Hour is coming up. It builds the excitement if they’ve experienced a fun Earth Hour evening in the past.

I’d love to hear YOUR ideas for making Earth Hour a special occasion!

Our Ring Story

Our Ring

My husband, Devin, and I met in 1993. It seems like eons ago, but at times, it seems like yesterday.

You can read about our first date here: It’s quite a story!

So we officially met in January of 1993, but nothing really came of it until April of the same year. We began officially dating (going steady) on May 17th, 1993. I remember a week later, celebrating Victoria Day with fireworks all around us and we were attached at the lips for the entire time… lol.

We were hanging out in his room one evening, a few months later, probably listening to Guns and Roses or Metallica (his thing, not necessarily mine, but I knew the music fairly well nevertheless). I’m sure he was out of the room when I came across a journal of his, and one of his entries stated, plain as day, “Propose to Denise”. ACK!

Most girls would be excited, ecstatic and thrilled.

I wasn’t.

I was surprised. Extremely shocked. How on earth did he know he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me? We’d only known each other for a few months! It was too soon.

This was serious, not something I could pretend I hadn’t seen. We needed to discuss it. So I asked him about it. “How do you know I’m THE ONE?”

He shrugged, and told me he didn’t know how he knew, he just did. It was a gut feeling.

I was still not convinced. I had no such feeling. I mean, not yet. Sure, that’s the goal when you’re dating someone. You hope that it progresses to the point where you just know and you go out and get married. It’s entirely the whole point of dating: finding that special someone who knows all the good, all the bad, is amused by your quirks and oddities, and loves you to the moon and back anyway.

How come I wasn’t as sure as he was?

The question itself wasn’t popped until about a year later, and by then, I was ready. We knew each other better. We were totally in love with one another.

And one day, he decided to take me ring shopping, to show him the kind of ring I liked.

It was a traditional one-diamond, gold band ring. Simple. Shiny. Beautiful. Full of promise.

I was never a big fan of huge engagement rings… I know some ladies are, but it was never me. I don’t need the bling when I have the love.

And then the big day came.

December 10th, 1995.

We were going for a walk near the escarpment we lived by. We spent a lot of time with friends in that forest area, just hanging out, when there was no where else to hang out.

It was dark outside, and snowing. Oh, the snow was so beautiful.

Humongous, fat flakes fell silently to the ground. There was no breeze, it was just so pretty. It was almost like confetti.

Devin swung around in front of me, and bent to one knee.

Then the waterworks began as I started to cry, realizing what was about to happen. He asked me to be his wife, as I continued to cry, and his knee began to freeze in the snow.

“Yes!”

We were married just under two years later, on December 7th, 1997, and have been at each other’s side, ever since. We look forward to renewing our vows in front of all of our friends in two years, celebrating twenty years of marriage.

Family Camping: Where The Heck Do I Start?

Family Camping-Where The Heck Do I


Have you toyed with the idea of going on a family camping vacation, but you have no idea where to begin?


Anyone can call and book reservations to a resort, and book a flight (but wow, the $$$ involved). Even with discounts and last minute bookings, it’s still pricey!


A GREAT vacation does not have to be that expensive!


Sure, planning a camping trip is a little more work, requires a little planning, forethought and some physical labour when packing up that vehicle, but nothing will bring your family together, and sync your internal system better than a trip to the great outdoors.


The first question is when to begin?


That’s an easy one. Begin NOW.


In MANY parts of Canada (and the northern U.S.), there is still snow on the ground. Weather is still unpredictable in March, and kids are still going on ski trips in the great northern part of our fabulous country. Doesn’t matter. Start now. The sooner you book, the sooner you have it out of the way and can begin planning everything.


Where to start?


Location, location, location. Book the venue. But don’t book until you’ve done some research.


First time campers, or even campers who just haven’t done this very often, they need to see what’s out there. You need to find out WHERE to camp.


Questions to ask yourself:


Do we want to be a fair drive away from home? (best option for seeing some wildlife you haven’t seen before)


Do we want to camp closer to home? (best option for those with little kids, you’ll just feel safer knowing you’re not 6 hours away from the closest hospital – JUST IN CASE)


What kinds of facilities will make our trip the most enjoyable?


Do the campgrounds we’re interested in have ratings or reviews?


Do the campgrounds we’re interested in have activities our family will be interested in?


What are the policies and rules of campgrounds we’re interested in?


These answers will help you decide on your best options. When you narrow it down to two or three campgrounds, it can be difficult to make that final cut. So how can you decide?


Ask friends and family if they’ve ever been. Ask around at work. If they’ve been there, what did they think?


If you’re still undecided after all of this, a simple eenie, meenie, miney, moe will do the trick. Pick one and go for it. BUT, before you do that, see if you can look at a campground map. Look for washrooms, other facilities, the beach, high-traffic areas (avoid if possible), and pick a few campsites you might be interested in.


And finally, have your credit card ready and pick up the phone to make your reservation.


Once that confirmation email comes through, you’ve cleared the first hurdle. Congratulations, you’ve just booked your family’s camping trip!

Catching Up

Catching Up


Hello friends!


I feel so guilty about neglecting my blog, and I really, really miss it. Even if no one reads it, I still like to share what’s going on in our lives.


I am very proud to share that our oldest son, Tyler, was selected to participate in a program called, The Legislative Assembly of Ontario Model Parliament, held in Toronto, last week. It was a program he talked about for quite awhile before it actually took place. He needed to write an essay and submit it for a chance to be selected to participate.


He submitted his essay and was so excited when he was selected! Being only the third annual Model Parliament, and being accepted was a great achievement for him. Tyler has been interested in politics for a very long time (and gets easily irritated by our negative comments about politicians and the way the system doesn’t work, but we’re definitely jaded). His career goals include being in the Navy, and he’d like to follow that up by being in politics. A mom doesn’t become much more proud than I am, honestly.


So, the program helps to arrange temporary housing for the duration of the event, and when his first hosts fell through, he was able to connect with someone else in a neighbouring city and took the train out and back every day from there. Thank goodness his trips to Kingston every summer have broken me in, it’s pretty tough to be without him at home 😦


He called us every night during his three-day program, and it really made my day to hear the happiness in his voice, as he talked about which politicians he met, and what party he was with (Liberals, FYI), and the friends he’d made during his time there. He’d been conversing with a lot of the other teens in the program through Facebook for quite some time, and it was nice to see them all get along so well.


They were split up into three major parties, Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP. Each party had a bill they were trying to pass, so they needed to come up with issues, arguments, challenges, amendments, pros and cons of the solutions that went with them, and then the vote needed to take place. And can I just say, the leader of Tyler’s party definitely had Justin Trudeau’s hairdo going on! I even asked if they picked him for that role based on his hair 🙂


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Parents were allowed to watch them in action on the final day. I was so pumped to go and see him. I know from personal, first-hand experience that my teenager can definitely argue, so I wanted to see how he did in this setting!


I had never been to Queen’s Park before, I had no idea where it was or what it looked like inside, but after we passed security, it was something to see. The building was completed in 1893, and was built using Canadian-made materials wherever possible. It’s lined with dark wood paneling, marble walls (NOT good for wi-fi, just throwing that out there!), and hand-laid tiles in various designs. Stained glass windows, and even one on the roof that acts as a sky light, are part of the amazing features of this historic building.


The Legislative Chamber is HUGE… with multi-leveled seating along all four inside walls, which are NEVER shown on television. There are cameras all over the place (with screens for people in the leveled seating areas to view what’s going on in the middle). The dark wood was also inside the Chamber as paneling and seating, and it’s decked out in plush, green carpeting.


I found the seating area to be quite narrow, and the benches we were in had really high backs, and next to nothing in front. I was really afraid of falling over, because of the narrowness, and the lack of a higher railing in the front. But, no one died, or even fell over, so I guess it’s all good lol!


We had to be on the guest list and wear special badges in order to be there. I gotta be honest, I kinda felt how Garth in Wayne’s World must have felt with his all-access Alice Cooper backstage pass, flashing my special badge. I wonder why security was smiling so much? LOL!


In the end, Tyler’s party won (darn those Liberals and how they always win lol) They only won because they had the majority of seats, and they tried to make people who had to use the washroom wait, so they would have the numbers they needed to pass the bills.


It made for very interesting conversation on the drive home from Toronto… he had such a great time, and while he missed being home, he also wished the experience was longer. Unfortunately, he can only be accepted into the program once, to give other students a chance.


I’m thrilled that my son enjoyed this experience so much, and that he learned as much as he did. A little taste of what could be in his very promising future.


How could any mama not be proud?

All Hot Guys Are Straight

All Hot GuysAre Straight

It’s my new mantra.

To catch you up to speed, my son came out to us last August. You can read about it here.

Since then, it’s like I’m suddenly hyper-aware of other gay young men. I hope this hyper-awareness doesn’t last forever, because it doesn’t matter, right? I know this… but for some reason, I notice it. I liken it to seeing pregnant women EVERYWHERE when my husband and I were trying to conceive. Or, just before we bought our 2014 Dodge Journey. Everyone was driving them. Now it’s like, “OMG, I know someone who is gay too!” It’s like I’m suddenly part of some elite club or something…

So we’re at this restaurant back in November, the four of us. We were having a great time together, I was enjoying some white wine and chatting with Tyler, while my husband was entertaining Caleb.

Then these two guys were seated next to us, Tyler and I were facing them.

Me: “Two of your people are next to us.”

Him: “My people?”

Me: *laughing* “I’m so clueless as to how to say it without sounding rude.”

Him: *laughing now too* “Mom, you can call them gay, it’s not an insult if they really are.”

Whew. Okay. That’s out of the way.

We continued with our conversation, and I noticed he kept staring, and I called him out on it.

I can’t help it, mom! They’re so hot!”

Me: “Pretty sure you don’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell with either one of them, because you’re a little young, first of all, and second, they kinda look like their together!”

My husband only caught the tail-end of the conversation and decided he really didn’t want to know what we were talking about.

I’m swilling wine at this point, because it’s truly a conversation I never imagined having with my son. I definitely imagined having it with a daughter though! Okay… so that’s another adjustment I need to make. I often think of that fun evening we had out as a family. Even though it felt weird to me to be chatting about ogling guys while we were ogling guys, with a guy… wow… I’m just so glad it didn’t LOOK weird (if you ask my husband though, I’m pretty sure we looked weird to him, hence why he didn’t want to know!).

Time passed and I was watching a movie with my husband, when Tyler came downstairs and kinda got interested in it too. I made a very slightly suggestive comment about Chris Evans, who happened to be in the movie. He agreed. A little too quickly. I can’t remember if I said anything to him or not (I’m sure he’ll refresh my memory after I post this lol), but I felt a little defensive. Um, I thought he was hot first, kiddo!

What’s next? He’s going to start drooling over Channing? Paws off, son! I’ll be the only one in this household drooling over that unattainable man who doesn’t even know, nor will he ever know, of my existence, like I would ever have a shot in hell with him, even if I wasn’t married, and neither was he! Paws off, I say!

So again… my mantra is now, “All hot guys are straight.” 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentines Day!

Hello friends!

It’s that kinda lovely, kinda dreaded time of year, where everything is all hearts and flowers and chocolate. Mmm. Chocolate.

If you are like me, you prefer to stay in rather than go out anywhere. Avoid the crowds! Why go out when everyone else seems to be doing the same thing? I think romance shouldn’t be forced, and it should be all year long, rather than just on one day.

When my husband and I were dating, it seemed like a big deal. That was probably because we were so used to NOT having valentines, it was super special for us to have one in each other 🙂 So we used to do the whole dinner and a movie thing, but as the years go by, we do less because jockeying for a table in a crowded restaurant, or trying to find two seats together in a busy movie theatre doesn’t exactly scream “romance”. That’s just us, though. To each, their own!

If you’re staying in this year, or you want to make something sweet for your valentine, I’ve got an easy-peasy recipe for you! We’re whipping up cookies!

This recipe is awesome because it’s minimal ingredients and it’s an easy recipe to alter to suit your tastes!


chocochipcookiesrecipecard

cookiedough

These are perfect with a cup of coffee spiked with some Bailey’s for a cozy night in!

cookies

Enjoy, friends! I hope you have a great day with your loved one(s)!