How to Get Your Non-Christmasey Hubby into Christmas ;)

A simply fun post for your Friday, aka ‘weekend-eve’.

I love Christmas. I love decorating for it. I love the specials on TV (Rudolph remains my fave) and I love the calm that always happens between present opening and breakfast. It’s something I cherish.

Hubby is trying as it isn’t his thing as much as mine and every year I put in a special effort for him. We have started a new tradition, it qualifies because we’ve now done it 2 years in a row, and that is to have our picture taken with the big guy, Santa himself.

‎How did I accomplish this feat? Bribery! Hubby-style! 😉

Step 1: Get him interested in decorating‎. How did I accomplish this? I found ornaments just for him. He is a big Rocket Raccoon fan, also Groot, so I found them as ornaments :).

Step 2:‎ Get him involved with ‘the big guy’. We went to visit Santa at Bass Pro Shops. Win for the wife!

I got to be a big kid and go through Santa-land and get into the fun with the families in line with us (so much fun!), and he got to shop for bbq and smoker accessories and items after.

Step 3: Then, I found the crown jewel of my plan. A definite hubby friendly way to celebrate the day. His very own Santa hat! Styled according to what he would actually wear too, in camo!
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Step 4: Christmas Eve. I’ve informed him we’re watching my favourites on tv/Netflix: Rudolph, The Polar Express, Santa Claus is Coming to Town (I love Topper the penguin) and Frosty.

I’m also hoping to go for a drive and see all the lights :).

We’ll see how this goes. So far, so good.
Muwahaha!

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Holiday Baking Fun with Becel

The holidays and baking go hand-in-hand and I know every year I try to come up with a fun new recipe to try out, I try to top myself and usually when I start doing my recipe searches I get intimidated and can’t get over the amazing creations others come up with.

Here’s where Becel’s ‘Anything Goes’ Cookie Dough recipe comes in. It’s a lovely basic dough and you can add all sorts of things to it without having to find a whole new recipe (but your cookie-eating friends likely won’t notice –wink wink).

Deciding what to bake each holiday season can cause stress, but with this recipe you can do a half-batch one style, and the other another. Definitely a way to get more out of your dough ;).

And, just in time for the holidays for the baker in your life, Becel is having a fantastic contest! Read on for the details!

I’m thinking of adding some of the leftover Halloween candy to make my dough and cookies more fun! How yummy does crushed up peanut butter cups sound? Or Reese’s Pieces? Mmmm!

BECEL ANYTHING GOES COOKIE DOUGH RECIPE

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups  all-purpose flour

1 tsp.  baking soda

1/2 tsp.  salt

1 cup  Becel® Buttery Taste margarine

1 cup  firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 Naturegg Omega 3 eggs (where available – otherwise, please use your preferred brand)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F (190° C). Combine flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl; set aside. Beat Becel® Buttery Taste margarine with sugars in large bowl using electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla until blended. Gradually add in flour mixture; beat just until blended. Add your choice of mix-ins (i.e. chocolate chip, dried fruit, seeds, toffee bits, etc.). Drop by tablespoonfuls on ungreased baking sheets, 2-inches (5 cm) apart. Bake 7 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool 2 minutes on wire rack; remove cookies from sheets and cool completely.

About the contest:

Get into the holiday spirit by #BakingWithBecel!

Share a photo of your Anything Goes Cookie Dough creation with Becel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest and be entered for your chance to win 1 of 4 baking prize packages valued at $625! See below for additional details, and be sure to visit becel.ca for the full rules and regulations, or click here.

Contest Entry Dates:

Monday, November 16 to Sunday, December 13

How to Enter:

Get creative! Add your favourite ingredients and/or mix-ins to the Becel Anything Goes Cookie Dough recipe (included below) and share a photo of your #BakingWithBecel creation alongside a tub of Becel Buttery Taste margarine in one of the following ways:

  • Instagram:  To enter via Instagram, log in to your public Instagram Account and post a photo of your cookie creation using the hashtags #BakingWithBecel and #Contest and an explanation of your suggested added ingredients to the Becel Anything Goes Cookie Dough Recipe
  • Twitter:  To enter via Twitter, log in to your public Twitter Account and tweet a photo of your cookie creation using the hashtags #BakingWithBecel and #Contest and an explanation of your suggested added ingredients to the Becel Anything Goes Cookie Dough Recipe
  • Facebook:  To enter via Facebook, log in to your Facebook Account and post a photo of your cookie creation to the Becel Facebook Page Wall using the hashtags #BakingWithBecel and #Contest and an explanation of your suggested added ingredients to the Becel Anything Goes Cookie Dough Recipe
  • Pinterest: To enter via Pinterest, log in to your public Pinterest Account and create a Pinterest board with the title #BakingWithBecel and pin your Photo to that board, including the hashtags #BakingWithBecel and #Contest , the date, and your added ingredients to the Becel Anything Goes Cookie Dough recipe in the Pin description

To enter, participants must post a photo of their baked-with-Becel creation alongside a Becel tub to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest using the hashtag #BakingWithBecel and tagging Becel’s pages where appropriate.

Prizing:

Each week, one winner will be drawn to win a #BakingWithBecel baking prize pack valued at $625.

Baking prize packs include a 5.5 quart stand mixer, baking sheet and set of measuring cups and spoons from Cuisinart Canada, four packages of HERSHEY’S CHIPITS Baking Chips and product coupons from Burnbrae Farms (outside Atlantic Canada) and Becel!

Prizing Eligibility:

To be eligible to enter the contest, an individual must be a resident of Canada (excluding Quebec) and have reached the legal age of majority in his/her province or territory of residence.

Happy Baking to all!
This post was sponsored by Becel, however, all opinions are my own 🙂

Adventures in Babysitting…Nonmom style!

Yes you read that right, plus, it remains one of my favourite movies to this day.

I was asked to babysit my adorable neice and nephew (he’s my mini-me I swear), and overall I’m pretty pleased at how it went.

I adore them, however I don’t see them as much as I’d like as my schedule doesn’t match up with theirs as often as we’d all like. But I assure you, I adore them.

Now, it is important to note that in my teen years I did a lot of babysitting, like A LOT a lot of babysitting. I loved it. I had a couple of regulars and I was known for my grilled cheese sammiches and also my love of crafting, board games and Disney movies.

But it’s been a while. And I admit, I was a little bit nervous. So, I decided on a plan, my nephew has been wanting me to teach him how to knit so I took along my loom (I taught myself for him as I’m a crocheter) and some yarn and he and I had a blast.

My neice is younger (he’s 5, she’s 2) so was understandably a little confused when I arrived to get her from her nap instead of her regular sitter, or her mommy or daddy, or, my mom or dad.

It took a bit of explanation (no no, mommy at work, so is daddy, you have Aunty Amy today), but she relented and even let me change her pull-up.

And here’s where I had a refresher of sorts. When I took the post-nap one off I noticed it worked just like a diaper on the sides. So I didn’t worry when the sides came loose when I put the new one on. The tabs stuck, it stayed on, but apparently (thank you Jackie!!!) it really is supposed to pull-on. I’m still taking it as a win, it totally stayed on. 😉

The kids played, and nephew-kins knitted with me (we traded off rows on the loom) and then the giggling started as the kids warmed up and indeed perked up around me. We were all giggling before long and the neice and I happily played with Mr. Potato Head while nephew-kins did some extra rows all by himself. Hashtag #ProudAunty on that one :).

We laughed, we smiled, they loved being called Goofball 1 and Goofball 2 and when their daddy came home I was admittedly a little sad as we had been having such a fun time.

All in all, a success. Babysitting skills somewhat updated (we’ll tackle a meal next time), happy munchkins and very happy Aunty:).

Get Your Family Game On with Hasbro

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As my regular readers and friends know, in
our house, board games and games in general are always fun and special shared time.

So many memories of family time involve board games (Monopoly, Life, and Clue to name a few) and now with my husband and our friends we’ve built upon that with Taboo, Funny or Die and the classic and oh-so-fun Twister!

Going out is indeed great fun with friends, but staying in and playing some classic (and trying some new) board games is always a fun time.

How do the best games nights go? Well, as much as hubby and I enjoy actually playing against each other, having friends over definitely adds to the fun.

Our ingredients for a Great Games Night:
Invite some great friends (or of course, have the family over)
Plan some yummy snacks (see the book in the picture for tips)
Pick some great games
Let the fun begin!

Games where teams form are always fun, but so are board games, it all depends on the group at the time. A few favourite board games of ours are Clue, Minion Operation and of course Monopoly. And a new couple favourites for even more fun are Funny or Die and Taboo. Hubby and I admit, Taboo when we tried it out was immediately acquired.

The last long-weekend of the summer is upon us, and what better time to have your own games night than this.

Which games will you choose? What’s your favourite party snack? I’m thinking outdoor Twister followed by some Funny or Die and Taboo with ‘Itty Bitty BLT’s’ :).

Like, comment and share and you may just win a fantastic ‘Get Your Game On’ prize pack ;). ***Canada Only

Spring Cleaning your Palate with Becel

Spring and Cleaning usually mean vaccuuming, dusting, sorting and tossing right? Well, it’s also a great time to try out new recipes and foods. I have noticed a distinct change in my palate for sure and am back to my yummy salads and fresh veggies, and I’m all over trying out some new recipes to keep me on-track and healthy.

I run, though I still find the title of ‘runner’ hard to get my head around some days. In order to be successful in my time and distance goals I am learning more and more about eating right, but also enjoying my food and its fresh flavours.

My friends at Becel Canada have given me some great tips, and recipes to try out to help me and to share with all of you too! Check the Facebook page too for the recipes. Yumminess may ensue ;).

Good Fats

The unsaturated fats in Becel® margarine are good fats – which can also be found in avocados, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and fish. Becel® margarine is a source of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from vegetable oils helps lower cholesterol.

Shake the Salt

As part of an overall healthy diet, nix that salt shaker. How, you ask?

  • Cook from scratch to control the amount of salt and sodium in your meals.
  • Experiment with salt-free seasonings. (Ginger, garlic, black pepper, lemon juice, herbs and spices are tastier anyway.)
  • Check Nutrition Facts tables on similar products and opt for the one with the lowest amount of sodium.

Get Your Vegetables On

Head to your nearest farmers’ market and load up on fresh veg!

  • Artichokes offer fibre and potassium, make for a great pizza topping, and always pair well with chicken.
  • Asparagus is jam-packed with nutrients including potassium, magnesium, selenium and iron. Roasted or steamed, it’s delicious in an omelet or a standalone side dish.
  • Kale is an excellent source of Vitamin C and is filled with beta carotene – both can help you maintain a healthy diet this spring.

Smart Snacking

It’s simple, really:

  1. Limit saturated fat and eliminate trans fat from your diet.
  2. Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit with no added salt, sugar or fats.
  3. Increase the amount of fibre in your diet — especially soluble fibre!

Happy Heart Healthy Spring Eating 🙂

What munchkin time means to me as a Non

I am ‘Aunty’ to many and actual Aunt to a few and it is a title I cherish.

Last year my darling wonderful niece and nephew (aka my BFF’s kids) moved to another province and as my BFF knows all too well, I was brokenhearted. I managed to say goodbye to Miss (and cried the entire way home after), but I couldn’t hold it together to say goodbye to Mister so I begged her to say goodbye for me (thank goodness he was 4 at the time so to him it wasn’t as big of a deal LOL).

I got to see all of them again a couple of weeks ago and I was beyond elated. So was Miss, and then Mister once he remembered me again.

We arrived late so didn’t get to see everyone until the morning, but it was all I could do to stay in bed and not run out and hug them all once morning came. To me it was like the feeling I got as a child on Christmas morning all over again. And when I did sneak out to surprise Miss and my BFF, it was beyond fantastic.

A full-week of my BFF and the kids, I was ready and enjoyed every single moment I assure you. Hugs every morning and lots of quality fun time with all, yup, it really was like Christmas for me (and I hope them too a bit). We went on day trips, we sat and snuggled. My BFF and I caught up and on our day to ourselves, it was like time had stood still and the nuttiness picked up right where we left off. This is the power of this friendship and my adoration for my niece and nephew.

JA

My BFF and I: Reunited!

When you see that I have their pictures up at work and at home you can be assured I look at them often, these are things I cherish. I have them with my actual niece and nephews pictures too, the kids in my life matter to me, all of the munchkins in my life matter to me.

When I’m given a picture they’ve coloured (even some of my Sparks girls give me artwork) I save it and I do show it off. I think that surprises people, but for me, since I don’t get that everyday, I adore it.

This time I managed to hold myself together to say goodbye to my BFF and the kids (I know she’s proud of that) and after SEVERAL hugs and starting the countdown to next time, they left.

I miss them terribly, but I have the pictures and the memories…and there’s always Skype too ;).

Reclaiming my Bookworm Status

When I was a kid I was easy to spot, I always had my nose in a book. My parents, and my school librarian, were constantly trying to find me new books to read and I went through a few series as a kid. I have fond memories of the Madeline books, my beloved Nancy Drew’s (my dad got me hooked on those) and of course my mom’s old Trixie Belden’s. I also cherish to this day my mom’s copy of Scarlet Royal.

I graduated pretty quickly into sci-fi and was also a big fan of John Grisham and in middle school I was reading Tom Clancy too.

I never did get to read the classics in high school, and didn’t have time in University, but almost the moment I graduated I became a regular at the bookstore and was reading voraciously again. I finally got to read Jane Austen’s works (and love them) and my favourite, Jane Eyre.

I read all (I think) of Maeve Binchy’s books and even manged to acquire a signed copy of Whitethorn Woods, a precious thing to me for sure.IMG_20150315_201248_edit

My tastes have ranged over the years, and at the moment, fuelled by a trip this past fall back to my beloved London, I’m back to my love of history. I’ve been reading non-stop British monarchy pieces and I am simply loving them all.

I’m so happy to have returned to my former Bookworm-self…it’s all I can do to put the books down at night…and I can truly hardly wait to pick them up again as soon as possible so I can start the next one in the growing pile on my nightstand.

Are you an avid reader too? What is your favourite genre?