Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Hey guys! Did you miss me? Sorry I have been MIA for the past couple of weeks. Between getting ready for Christmas, the shopping, wrapping, card writing, baking, reading Christmas books, going to parties and of course our Advent calendar activities life has been super hectic. I usually work during the day and blog when the kids go to bed.
The bean making presents for her classmates:)
The past few weeks have been filled with advent activities that keep us up past bedtime and making for a super tired mama! Unfortunately when it comes to fitting in all of the activities for the kids, making time for the hubs and spending time with loved ones, something has to fall by the wayside, and for me, that’s my blogging time. 
Just SOME of the Christmas baking that went on in our house!
I have been pretty diligent about taking photos of our adventures and our baking fun so I can post them later. I am hoping to plan a Christmas in January to post all of the fun we have had in December!
In case I don’t have a chance to get back on here until after next week, Merry Christmas everyone! I hope God blesses you and your family with joy and peace this year. With all of the tragedy in the world, especially the senseless loss of lives in Connecticut two weeks ago, I want to encourage you to hold your children close. 
Spend as much time with your family as you can this Christmas. At the end of the day, no matter how hard you work or how much time you spend blogging or surfing the internet, nothing is as important as the time you spend making memories with family and friends.
Merry Christmas!!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Dec 17, 2012

In our jammies, hot chocolate in hand, heading out to check out the Christmas lights!!
Wow, am I ever behind today! I know I haven’t posted in a week, but we have been enjoying our Advent activities so much that by the time I have the girls home and in bed every night I’m pooped and heading to bed myself!

This weekend we only had two parties! It was awesome to be able to enjoy both events without having to rush off to make somewhere else before the next party started!! We made these adorable snowman cupcakes for the parties. The kids loved them, and the adults did too!

On the Menu This Week:

Monday: Leftovers from the delicious family dinner at my brother’s house! YUM!
Tuesday: Beer battered fish and chips
Wednesday: Turkey Burgers and salad
Thursday: Veggie Pizza and Salad
Friday: Turkey Tacos
Saturday: Perogies and farmer sausage
Sunday: Roasted turkey breast, mashed potatoes and veggies

I will be linking my menu plan to Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday – Check it out for hundreds of menus and meal ideas!!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Menu Plan Monday – Dec 10, 2012

Good morning everyone! Well, we survived the party weekend! Five parties in one weekend made for some chaos, but mostly a lot of fun! This weekend we only have two parties, so it should be much more relaxed!

On Sunday, I had ten lovely ladies over for my 7th Annual Cookie Exchange. I’ll be putting together a post on how to throw a successful (and delicious) cookie exchange, along with the recipe that I made for the party. 
This week’s menu is a mix of family favorites, and quick, easy meals. 
On the Menu This Week:
Monday: Guinness brats, scalloped potatoes and beans
Tuesday: Chicken Alfredo Pasta
Wednesday: Lasagne Wednesday
Thursday: Fish and Chips
Friday: Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry
Saturday: Neighbourhood Christmas dinner! We are bringing mashed and roast potatoes!
Sunday: Family dinner at my brother’s house! We are bringing some super cute cupcakes. I’ll share the recipe and how-to next week!

I will be linking my menu plan to Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday – Check it out for hundreds of menus and meal ideas!!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Dec 3, 2012

What a whirlwind! Another successful charity event for the ladies in my family! We all got together, had a fantastic potluck lunch and gathered up a HUGE pile of baby supplies for donation to our local children’s charity Basics for Babies. I’m so proud of the ladies in my family! They are certainly a beautiful and thoughtful bunch!
What a lovely bunch of ladies and a big pile of donations!!
We also had three other parties this weekend, and had a great time at all three! I’m almost glad to be back at work this week, almost! I’m counting down the days until Christmas vacation. Lucky for me, the girls are SUPER excited every morning to wake up and see what activities mommy and daddy have planned in the Advent calendar. So far we have seen a Christmas movie as a family (Rise of the Guardians, SO GOOD!) and put together a box of food for the food bank. Up tonight? Make a paper chain and a new ornament for the Christmas tree!

With five more events scheduled for this weekend, at least I know I won’t have to do a lot of cooking this week! In fact, with the prep work required for the cookie party this weekend, a lot of our dinners will be of the frozen variety! Sorry hubby!!
On the Menu This Week:
Monday: Garlic Bread Pizza
Tuesday: Teriyaki Salmon, with rice and veggies
Wednesday: Homemade beer battered fish and chips
Thursday:  Chicken and cheese calzone
Friday: Work Christmas Party #1
Saturday: Work Christmas Party #2
Sunday: Cookie Party Day!! Dinner will likely be the leftover appetizers and cookies!

I will be linking my menu plan to Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday – Check it out for hundreds of menus and meal ideas!!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Butter Chicken Lasagne

I have a fantastic recipe to share with you all today!!! Last week the hubs was watching Recipe to Riches and saw a chef making Butter Chicken Lasagne. He immediately called me and told me that I had to find that recipe and make it immediately.

I couldn’t find a recipe online on the Food Network, so I thought I better find my own! A little while ago I had purchased this Butter Chicken seasoning from Epicure Selections, but hadn’t had a chance to try it out. This was the perfect opportunity! It was super easy to put together, and the recipe came together seamlessly.
I planned to use the butter chicken in place of marinara sauce in a regular lasagne-style recipe. My husband said that it was one of the best things he had ever eaten, and he ate three huge pieces. I ran up to my local Indian shop and picked up samosas for a side dish – they made it the perfect meal!
Butter Chicken Lasagne
The ricotta cheese is totally missing from the photo!!
2 lbs chicken, cubed
1 large onion, diced
2 tbsp butter
1 pkg Epicure's What's For Dinner? Butter Chicken Recipe Seasoning Mix
1/2 cup (125 ml) crushed tomatoes
1 cup (250 ml) water
2 lbs (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup (125 ml) cream, sour cream, or thick yogurt (I used Greek Yogurt)
1 package oven ready lasagne noodles
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in large frying pan or skillet. Add onions and cook until lightly golden. Sprinkle contents of Butter Chicken Recipe Seasoning Mix over onions. Stir while cooking for 1 minute.

Stir in tomatoes and water and bring to a boil. Add chicken and simmer for 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked. Remove from heat. Stir in cream or yogurt and let cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, mix together ricotta cheese and shredded mozzarella. 
Layer three lasagne noodles in the bottom of your pan. Cover with 1/3 of the butter chicken and 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Repeat three times. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.
Loosely cover the pan with foil and bake at 375F for one hour, removing the foil for the last ten minutes to broil the cheese.

I will hopefully be linking this recipe up to A Bowl Full of Lemons, Delightful Order, Doodles and Stitches and Joyful Homemaking.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

A Countdown to Christmas, Part 2 (The Advent Calendar)

My family loves Christmas, and all of the fun and exciting activities that go along with this wonderfully festive season.  We have a few fun ways that we get together and celebrate our countdown to Christmas, check out my last post about our Christmas reading countdown.

In order to plan and make sure to fit all of these fun, exciting activities in the 24 short days before Christmas. Last year I put together an Advent activity calendar, and today I am going to share it with you!

I found a big old picture frame, removed the glass and matting and got to work! I sprayed the glass with some frost spray paint, and wrapped the frame backing with Christmas gift wrap. Putting the spray side on the inside of the glass, I put the glass back on the frame and added the activity envelopes to the front of the glass.

I used little tiny envelopes from the dollar store, put some red cardstock on the front, cut out some little trees, punched out some pretty blue snowflakes and glued them all together. Then I used some velcro strips, cut them into little squares and used them to affix the envelope to the glass. This way we can detach and reattach the envelopes every year.

We named our Advent calendar Our Extraordinary Merry Christmas Countdown (after our fave song from the Glee Christmas CD).

I asked the girls to sit with me and think of all the fun things we wanted to do this Christmas. I printed out their suggestions, and then I got out my calendar, plugged in the events that require driving somewhere, or that all family members be present, and then put the rest randomly in the envelopes.

Each morning, as the girls eat their Yummy Mummy Oatmeal (recipe to come next week!)they get to open the daily envelope and see what fun activity we have planned. Just a tip!

Make sure you write down what is planned for each day - otherwise you might pull "have hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles" and have neither hot chocolate nor marshmallows in the house!

Here are the plans for this year's Advent calendar - it's going to be fun, maybe you could join us for a date or two!

1. Go see a Christmas Movie together
2. Wrap up a new toy and gift it to charity
3. Make a paper chain and ornament for the Christmas Tree
4. Go to Starbucks for fancy hot chocolate
5. Make paper snowflakes and hang them in the window
6. Fill bags of food for the Christmas hamper


7. Have snowman pancakes for dinner
8. Take pictures with Santa
9. Go shopping for presents for each other
10. Elf Yourself day
11. Go to the Christmas train
12. Make a Christmas cookie tree
13. Drive around town in our jammies and check out the Christmas lights
14. Make a Christmas craft
15. Go to a Christmas party
16. Have hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles
17. Make a bow wreath
18. Bake treats for the neighbours


19. Deliver cards and gifts to the neighbours
20. New Christmas socks for everyone!
21. Make a card for Daddy's stocking
22. Christmas music dance party
23. Bake a birthday cake for Jesus
24. Put carrots out for the reindeer and chips and cheesy salsa for Santa (Miss A's request!!)
I hope you enjoyed this post - I know I had fun putting it together!  I will hopefully be linking this recipe up to A Bowl Full of Lemons, Delightful Order, Doodles and Stitches and Joyful Homemaking

A Bowl Full of Lemons

A Countdown to Christmas, Part One (Basket of Christmas Books)

I love Christmas. L.O.V.E. it. I can't wait to do the shopping, the baking, the wrapping, the visiting, the pictures with Santa, I love it all.
Last year I made a Advent Calendar for the kids, so that each day we could do something fun in the month leading up to Christmas. I am updating the advent calendar this week, when it's done, it will be Part Two in this Christmas Countdown post.

My girls love books, and we read three or four books every night before bed. We have a few Christmas/Winter books, but I needed a few more to finish this project. I ordered a ten pack of books through Miss E's school to round out the stack.
I asked my little sidekicks for help with the wrapping (which is hard for me... I can't handle it when the paper isn't crisp and the wrapping nice and neat...).

The girls picked two books each and wrapped them in last year's Christmas wrapping paper.

Each night before bed, one of the girls gets to go to the Christmas tree and pull a wrapped story book out from the basket. I have numbered the books 1-24 so they can pick the appropriate book each night. I made sure to have stories about the nativity and the First Christmas in the week before Christmas.
I hope the girls enjoy this new tradition as much as I have enjoyed putting it together for them.

I will hopefully be linking this recipe up to A Bowl Full of Lemons, Delightful Order, Doodles and Stitches and Joyful Homemaking

Gift Wrap Storage and Organization

Who is ready for Christmas?!? I can honestly say that I am! I may not have every last card written or every last cookie baked, but I have the toughest task of all completed.  Yup! With the exception of a few odds and ends and a few little stocking stuffers, I am FINISHED Christmas shopping!
Last week the hubs put up the Christmas lights outside and I assembled the tree and then together we decoarted with our favorite family ornaments.
Now it's time for the fun part - wrapping! Before I get started, I like to make sure I have all of the right tools to get the job done quickly and efficiently - especially because I have to wrap while tiny little prying eyes could peek around the corner!

To organize all of the gear needed for wrapping, I use a big under-the-bed bin and fill it with little boxes and baskets to help sort out the supplies. This way, I can grab one big bin and take it whereever in the house I will be wrapping.

Then comes the supplies:

Gift Wrap:  I start each wrapping season with a giant roll of double sided wrapping paper from Costco. They cost about $10, and are great quality, really thick paper. They also come in really cute patterns. I use the giant roll to wrap all of the gifts we buy for family and friends. I also pick up two smaller rolls of coordinating paper in other colors to wrap Miss A and Miss E's gifts. Rather than label them, each child gets their gifts wrapped in a specific paper, so they are easier to identify during the chaos of Christmas morning!
Boxes and Tissue Paper:  I keep some dollar store gift boxes that I wrap in my pretty paper for wrapping clothing and odd-shaped items, as well as tissue paper for filling in the space in the boxes.

Adhesives and Ribbon: Gather up some peel and stick gift labels (I get mine at Dollarama) and a whole bunch of scotch tape (don't want to run out halfway through wrapping). I also pick up some curling ribbon from the dollar store to hold multiple gifts together.

Cards: I keep a supply of regular gift tags and card in the wrapping bin. I use this setup year round, so there is a selection of blank and regular greeting cards, organized by occasion in one of the boxes in the big bin. I keep a couple of pens in the bin for card writing too!
Cutter: The most important tool in the entire wrapping paper bin is this little beauty. It is a magical wrapping paper cutter. There is a little blade inside the do-hickey that cuts the paper perfectly and makes the whole process so much quicker!
Well there you have it, my gift wrap organization and the tools needed for quick, pretty gift wrapping. Now if you haven't started your shopping, hop to it!!

I will hopefully be linking this recipe up to A Bowl Full of Lemons, Delightful Order, Doodles and Stitches and Joyful Homemaking

Leftover Chicken Pot Pie Recipe (and Freezer Meal!)

Who loves Chicken Pot Pie? We do!! One of my favorite things to do with the Thanksgiving leftovers is to mix them all up in a big dish, add some extras to bring it all together and then turn it all into Chicken Pot Pie filling.
I picked up a couple of rotisserie chickens when I was in Costco and after making dinner for the family from part of the first chicken, I used the rest of the chicken meat to create two delicious dinners!
The ingredients for this recipe are pretty flexible, I just use whatever leftovers I have on hand. If there isn't enough mashed potatoes, I may whip up a package of instant mashed potatoes, or make a box of stove top if I'm short on leftover stuffing.

The trick to this recipe is how to tie it all together. I use cream of chicken soup as the binding agent for this pie. It is super creamy and is like a super yummy gravy in the pot pie. I top it off with a store-bought pie crust, only on the top of the pie. I don't know why exactly, I just prefer to have a top crust on my pot pie!

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
This recipe will make enough chicken pot pie filling for two dinners.
4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 box stove top stuffing
2 cups vegetables (I usually use a frozen blend of peas, corn and carrots)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pie crust (store bought or homemade, you decide!)

In a really big bowl, mix together the chicken, potatoes, stuffing, and veggies. Stir in cream of chicken soup and mix until well combined. Scoop half of the pot pie filling mixture into your favorite pie dish. Cover with pie shell, pulling the crust to all of the edges of the pan. 
Scoop the remaining pie filling into a ziploc freezer bag, mark with its contents and freeze to enjoy for dinner another night.
Bake in a 400F oven for 40 minutes, or until the pie shell is golden on top.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! You will see it on our menu plan often! I'll hopefully be linking this recipe up to A Bowl Full Of Lemons, Delightful Order and Joyful Homemaking.


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