Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie HEAVEN & My Favorite Trick

I LOVE treats.  You name it - I love it (and probably have a stash of it somewhere in my house).  I'm a sucker for caramel though.  Any kind.  It's the first thing to go from a box of chocolates and the sneaky late night steal from my kids' Halloween candy.

Imagine my delight, when I thought to chop up some Kraft Caramels and throw them in my very favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe!!!  SO yummy!  I'm sure it's been done a thousand times before, but I feel like I thought of it myself, and I'm going with it!!!

On a recent trip to the USA, scouring the grocery isles for "stuff you can't buy in Canada", I found these .  .  .  .  .  .  .

(If you CAN buy these in Canada, DON'T tell me.
They aren't doing my backside ANY favors!)

So here it is - My longtime favorite chewy, soft, Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe accompanied by the newest member of my pantry family!  And at the bottom is my favorite cookie-making tip of ALL time!

"Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies"

1 . 5 cups softened Butter or Margarine
3 cups Brown Sugar
4 Eggs
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons Salt
4 Cups Flour
Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Kraft Caramel Bits OR chopped caramels

Cream together butter/marg, brown sugar.
Add fork beaten eggs and vanilla and blend well.
**  I always add my chocolate/caramel bits now, but it's a matter of preference.
Mix dry ingredients together, add and stir well into mixture. 
Spoon onto parchment lined pan or ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake @350 degrees for 8-11 minutes.

My new favorite trick after making and baking a dozen or two cookies is to freeze the leftovers.  I roll the dough into one inch balls and flash freeze them on a pan in the freezer.  When they are firm, they can be thrown into a Ziploc bag and kept in the freezer.  It's super handy to have pre-made, HOME-MADE cookies ready to go for unexpected company, a quick treat or a surprise bedtime snack of milk and warm cookies!  
While your oven is preheating, have the frozen balls thawing on a pan (it doesn't take long at all)  Bake for maybe a minute or two longer than you normally would (incase they're still a bit frozen) and ENJOY!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spring Cleaning Extravaganza: Task #3

Another silly job, that you probably wouldn't associate with a Spring Clean is up next.  Again though -  quite necessary at my house.

All of us, at one point (I think), have a little pile of things to "return".  None of it is really a big deal, until your pile multiplies and ends up in almost every room of your house.

I personally have my entire family (on my husband's side too), living in the same town.  That adds up to a lot of cookie sheets, baby clothes, toys left behind and the promised returns of borrowed items.
I also have a couple of store bought purchases that I've been meaning to return.  Seems like a perfect time to do it all!

So tomorrow, I will fill up my perfectly clean, spit-polished and organized vehicle, drive from house to house and drop off these items that I have let accumulate and clutter my closets and garage.  Hasta la vista!

Photo credit: theunseensupernova.tumblr.com/

Wednesday TASK #3
  • Return items that have gathered in my home to the appropriate places. 
  • Return any items that need to go back to a store.
  • Don't return home until vehicle is EMPTY!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Spring Cleaning Extravaganza: Task #2

Day 2!  I'm feeling quite exhilarated already!  Is that weird - One job done, and planning a second?!

Here it goes... Again, not really a typical spring cleaning job, but once this is done it will add to my overall accomplished, organizational GLORY!

Welcome to 'Grey Gardens'.  Isn't that lovely?  My SUV was graciously nicknamed by my husband, after a hoarded mansion that belonged to the Aunt and cousin of Jacqui O..  I will NOT share a picture of my vehicle, but I will indulge you in an image of its' namesake.

Grey Gardens Dining Room circa 1971 via http://whitechocolatemess.blogspot.ca/ 

I admittedly have trouble keeping my vehicle clean and organized.  We live out on an acreage, so spend lots of time driving back and forth to town.  Trips are often jam packed, fast and furious, and push the limits of my kids.  By the time we get home, someone is usually crying or asleep, and I'm happy to get the milk in the fridge before it's warm.  Spilled snacks, thrown toys, flyers and errand leftovers usually get forgotten.  Oopsadilly.

Tuesday TASK #2: Vehicle
  • Clean out vehicle - glove compartments and all
  • Clean windows, wipe interior, vacuum and shampoo floors
  • Clean car seats and ensure they are properly installed on seats
  • Quick trip to the car wash for an exterior clean
  • Double check that your insurance/registration papers are up to date
  • Make a list of necessary vehicle maintenance - Book and/or plan appointments
  • Convince husband to be one of those guys that cleans his wife's vehicle on the weekend!

Join My Spring Cleaning Extravaganza!

Oh, it really is the little things these days, isn't it?  It's better late than never, as I start and share with you my spring cleaning list as it happens.  Hopefully, I can complete one task a day and be on the road to a better organized and functional home.  Hopefully.

I am drawing my inspiration for this post / cleaning bender from a fun blog, MrsJanuary.com..  She recently did a list full of things you may not normally think to include when spring cleaning, which sprung me into action.  That, and I'm 30 now and vowing to use my time more effectively and efficiently.  

We moved into this heavenly, storage filled house 2 years ago from our 900 hundred square foot first home, with one closet.  One.

So here are my excuses for the utterly unorganized chaos I have been living in.
  • We moved in on December 23 (highly UN-recommendable). Boxes were routed into basement, where they would await eager unpacking and new homes.
  • Days after Christmas, I learned I was expecting baby #2.  (Cue utter uselessness for 9 months)
  • Sweet baby girl born in the fall, which still puts everything ahead of unpacking/closet organization.
  • And then - what's the rush, right?!?!

And so tomorrow (Monday), it will begin with a task that I wouldn't normally associate with spring cleaning.  It has been on my list of things to do, but requires more time and know-how than I originally thought!  

Here's my "dirty little secret": My iPhone has 1700 pics/videos on it and needs to be transferred to the MacBook.  My MacBook's hard drive is FULL.  My camera is nearing a full smart card as well, and when that starts beeping at me, I will officially be over capacity!! Oy. 

Apparently, there is this 'thing'', in a box in my office called an "external hard drive".  Today I will attempt to learn how to use it and end my struggles with storage:)  

So here goes nothin' - Like this, I will tell you ahead of time each task at hand, and update you when I'm finished and moving onto the next one.  Wish me luck, and hopefully I can kick start a little extra organization in your lives --- and MINE!

TASK #1:
  • Organize computer, phone, and camera storage.  
  • Transfer important files and extra pictures/video onto external hard drive.
  • Delete old files and bad pics (closed eyes, etc..)
  • Empty / update iPhones/iPad.
  • Wipe & clean all devices and organize camera bag.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sugar, Spice, Frogs & Snails

"What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails,
And puppy-dogs tails;
That's what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And everything nice;
That's what little girls are made of."

No words have ever rang more true in this house!

It never mattered to me AT ALL - For real!

Boy or girl, anticipating the arrival of our first baby with neutral paint, white sleepers, a list of boy names and a list for girls was an experience I'll always hold dear.

"It's A BOY!" The walls almost instantly turned blue and we let the boy games begin.

There is nothing more fun for me than a clothing department filled with little mini-man clothes and I've always tried my best to be the coolest encourager of dirt, trucks, skateboards, cowboys, baseball & superheroes. 

Learnin' the ropes.
A real boys' boy,  it's never hard to find this little guy.  He takes his signature "growl"with him wherever he goes.  It's hilarious.  He does it when he's concentrating or playing with  toys trucks, excavating playdough, or digging a hole outside.  It's cute and handy, for as soon as there's quiet (literally), I know he's up to something or somewhere that he shouldn't be.

My little "Hockey Pwayer"
Growing up in a family of 3 girls, I admittedly am caught off guard sometimes.  It happened last night when I gasped in horror!  I turned around in the kitchen to find the most handsomely devilish grin staring up at me, hands held out in pure delight, cusping a very "wiggiwy fwog".  I award myself major points for playing it as cool as I did.  We got out the little plastic fish tank that housed last springs' creatures and "Hairy" now enjoys his new home on the kitchen island.

Behold... The FROG!
After 4 year of occupancy in 'Boy Town", we welcomed our Princess.  I had a burning desire to know ahead of time with her, and was tickled pink to hear I would have a tea-party partner.  I admittedly put her in one too many blue sleepers, but haved vowed to being a shopaholic of Princess Dresses - the really fancy ones - and we're off to a good start.

Princess Party!
She is a natural girly-girl already.  A hilarious, tutu wearing, chocolate loving, baby kissing, beholder of everything nice, and the Queen of our hearts.  She has inherited her brother's witty sense of humor and his great big, beautiful heart.  

First Mani/Pedi with Mom
It's impossible to list all of the things that I look forward to with my daughter...  Painting each others' nails, dance classes, tea parties, shopping, giggles and sharing secrets...  I am so anxiously interested to see the little lady she will become, and look forward to being her partner in crime.

Her smile is one in a million...
These two have completed our family like I never could have dreamed.  Pink or blue never mattered to me, but as we capture this years' first critter and I give the baby girl her first "express" mani/pedi,  I am reminded of the 2 healthy blessings in our life and the fun that lies ahead as we embrace the sugar, the spice and even the frogs.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Our Exciting TV Debut!

Well, it's official...
My kids are FAMOUS! (heehee)

My heart was instantly filled with pride, when Ryder was asked to be part of the Kinsmen Home Lotto Commercial for the Alberta Children's Hospital!  Cool, right?

My excitement probably FAR exceeded his, and he could have cared less about the brand new shoes, jeans, shirt and haircut that we "let" him get for the occasion, but it was a highly anticipated day for him.

He was a stud.

We arrived for the taping, and were already excited...
And then it happened -

"Look how CUTE your little girl is!
How would SHE like to be part of the commercial too!?!?!"

Aaaaaahh!  Instant excitement/mortified gasp!

My pretty little baby girl (20 months old and quite darling if I do say so myself), was a hot MESS!

Lunch on her face, beautiful barrette pulled out & tossed aside on the way there, dumb jeans that kept falling down, a silly hand me down shirt, car seat hair from a 2 hour drive/nap and a scowl on her face. 

"Seriously?!?!  Are you sure???  We would LOVE that!!!"

I was so excited, but couldn't help but daydream of how I would have dressed up my real life mini princess, had I known...  Or at least cleaned her face.

She never quite managed to crack a smile, and the blank stare that they managed to catch is quite hilarious, knowing her personality. 

(Note mini baby girl holding heart sign in video).

It was very sweet of them to include her.

Now it was Ryder's turn (handsome blonde in the red polo shirt).

Our little class clown managed to nail his directions after about 20 takes.

The giggles from the observers probably did the camera man no favors, as he realized how funny it was that he wasn't lowering his sign when he was supposed to.

It was a fun day, and Ryder happily shared the spotlight with his baby sister, Beau.

I am so proud of you both!  You are my little superstars... Although it's safe to say we won't be hitting Hollywood any time soon ;)

Love Mom

"Just Because You're Small, Doesn't Mean You Can't Do BIG Things!" 

This is the 2012 Kinsmen Home Lotto Commercial
benefitting our favorite place in the whole wide world,
the Alberta Children's Hospital.

Buy your tickets & check out amazing prizes @ www.homelotto.com
or call 1-888-531-2273

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Soon, I will share with you all of the fabulous details as to how Team Bumblebee came about.  Long story short - it was "founded" by Ryder, my miracle of a 5 year old son, who successfully raised almost $16,500- for the Alberta Children's Hospital back in February!  Needless to say we now have "the bug", and will continue to dream BIG of ways to 'Pay It Forward'.  (So stay tuned!!!)

For now though, I would like try my best to direct your attention to the importance of a new campaign coming to us through Twitter, called "#MiracleMoms".  10 Mommy Bloggers from Canada and the U.S. are introducing us to 10 amazing families, who have depended on our Children's Hospitals in great times of need.  These awesome Bloggers will bring us different stories of beautiful children, full of love and hope, all while raising awareness and funds for their hospitals.

As I've thought about writing this post, and the raw passion I feel for helping the ACHF, I think about how easily some people may shy away from such a campaign... scared to see pictures of gloom - children in pain, crying and sad.  I understand that.  I am the first to admit that I change the channel as fast as I can, when the music starts playing and the faces of sad, hungry, impoverished children in third world countries show up on my screen.  But as I write this, I vow to change that.  And I vow to try to help change the way you think about our own Children's Hospitals.

Of course the halls are brightly decorated - paintings by children, toys for all sizes and the smiling faces of nurses as they pass you in the halls.  That's a given.  But beyond that, it must all be sadness and tears?  Not as I see it, and I don't think that you'd meet a single person that would disagree with that.

Sure there are terribly sad things going on - things that should never happen to a child, let alone anyone else.  There are kids struggling in Intensive Care right now, children waiting for heart surgery, babies born too early to survive without assistance & kids fighting for their lives after unthinkable accidents.  There is Cancer and chemo, complications of Cystic Fibrosis and Diabetes, paralysis and Ventilators, birth defects and life support amongst conditions most of us have never heard of.

And that is why those precious kids are there, under the care of the best of the best.  These hospitals aren't just buildings that accommodate our children, they specialize in our kids, and know them darn near better they we do.

But it's not what you think - There is also a myriad of things that are going as thousands of children and families roam the halls every day... maybe for a follow up with their Cardiologist, an assessment for a developmental delay, an annual check up after a surgery done years ago, an ultrasound that requires a special machine or an eye appointment.  There are siblings visiting a little brother after his tonsils were removed, a past patient delivering teddy bears to present patients, volunteers there to cuddle little babies, a Mom headed back home after filling her little girls prescription at the pharmacy and a Dad returning a book to the Hospital library.  The halls are buzzing with hope and with love and with the wisdom that will care for our children for all the generations to come.

It wasn't until I walked through the doors of the Alberta Children's Hospital with my 2 day old son almost 6 years ago, that I knew anything about what went on inside.  I certainly had my own preconceived notions, but really never had any reason to think about it at all.  More than anything, I now know what is inside... love.

As I look at my 5 year old boy, I am constantly reminded of how lucky we all are to have such places so close to home.  Even if it's not as close as you'd like it to be... it's there.  The pure excitement and emotions that come to me when we get to go for a check up with our perfectly healthy son is a privately self professed quirk of mine.  The joy that fills my heart when we drive into the parkade is truly indescribable.  We have a dream team of specialists that follow our son, and greet us with equal excitement and love at every appointment.  We have friends, beautiful memories and a second family.  I thank God for all of these things every day.  I thank God that I am a #MiracleMom.

If you've ever had a sick child, you know "that feeling"...  Up all night, worrying about a fever that often comes with the territory of colds that seem to be never-ending.  Maybe it's wishing you could trade places with your little guy, who is sick with the flu for the first time or perhaps you've had to scoop up your little one in the middle of the night, for a trip to the emergency room, "just to be safe".

  • As Moms, we aren't meant to be walking/talking medical dictionaries - but #MiracleMoms are.
  • We aren't supposed to know how to insert a naso-gastric tube - but #MiracleMoms do.
  • We shouldn't know how to flush a line with saline or change an IV bag - #MiracleMoms do.
  • We should be looking forward to tomorrows' soccer game - #MiracleMoms are praying for tomorrows' test results.
And so here we are... Following the stories of some amazing kids through some fabulous bloggers that have committed their time to raising awareness to the importance of the hospitals that are dedicated to "our" children.  They are bringing to light the bravery of families, and the heroism and strength of kids up against all sorts of odds.  And in between that, they've each pledged to raise $1000.  (x10!)

And so a CHALLENGE is born!!!

I have taken the first step in this "Team Bumblebee CHALLENGE" for #MiracleMoms 
and made a donation of $50.

I CHALLENGE you to do the same.  I CHALLENGE you to meet that, beat that, 
or simply donate what you can.  Invite your girlfriends over for coffee 
and donate the $20 you may have spent going out.  
Use this as an opportunity to teach your fortunate children about what
Children's Hospitals are ask if they'd like to donate part of their allowance?
There are SO many ways that we can help and say thank you.
If you've been looking for a way to give back for incredible care you may
have received, now is that time!
An incredible way to unite and make a difference is to continue this CHALLENGE... 
Make a donation, shout it from the rooftops and reissue this special CHALLENGE
 to your own circle of friends and family!!!
Please use your social media powers to share, tweet and re-tweet your hearts out.
Let's continue to help make this exceptional care available to us.
I know this can work.

I think that we can knock the socks off of these big-hearted bloggers, plugging away to make a difference in the lives of our children and the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals 
that care for them with all they have!

Make sure to comment on these blogs and share what you are doing to help!

From the bottom of our Team Bumblebee hearts,
Thank you!

Check out #MiracleMoms on Twitter
and check out these wonderful blogs...