Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Pick-Up-And-Go Bag! Organizing the Car

YIPPEE!! This has been another big week in our house! I got a new car! Well, it’s new to me, and I L.O.V.E. it! I am absolutely determined to keep my new car squeaky clean and super organized (anyone who had ridden in the Green Machine knows that it wasn’t the tidiest vehicle…).
It’s also coming up to summer and we spend as much time as possible out and about in the summertime. We are always running off to the water park, swimming at Baba’s pool or to the beach. I love to be able to just pick up and go and not have to worry that we have forgotten something at home.
My plan today was to merry the hope to be organized and the need to be ready for anything. I gathered up all of the necessities: snacks, extra clothes, towels, a picnic blanket and sunscreen for the “Go-Bag.” I also gathered up a first aid kit, reusable shopping bags, and a cooler, plus a big basket to contain it all!
I like to have the “Go-Bag” filled up and ready to take to the park. The girls each have a whole bunch of bathing suits, so it’s convenient to keep one in the car so we can hit up the water park and run wild on hot days.
I keep a bottle of bubbles in the Go-Bag, just for fun. Who doesn’t love bubbles in the park?  I only pack one towel in the bag, since if I am really planning a trip to the water park, the kids will already be in their suits and can pack their own towels and gear.
Each year I also pick up a few new containers of sunscreen; one for the front stoop, one for the car, one for grandma’s house, etc.
For snacks, I try to pack things that won’t melt when in the car for long periods of time, plus bottled water. I always try to have a regular juice box in the car for emergencies. The girls have a little friend who is diabetic, and I know that in case Peyton has low blood sugar, full strength juice is something that can make a big difference.
Throw the picnic blanket on top and the Go-Bag is always packed up and ready to go!
I found an empty basket in the garage to contain the rest of the car necessities. 
I packed up the first aid kit and the wipes (for obvious reasons) and the kids extra clothes, packed in ziploc bags. 
You never know when someone might have an accident or a spill. Rather than just have a change of clothes in the Go-Bag, I wanted to have an actual emergency change of clothes to keep in the car. I went with leggings and a tshirt, so no matter what time of year the clothes would work in case they were needed.

I finished packing the shopping bags, and cooler bags in the basket, added the Go-Bag and the picnic blanket, and packed it up in the new car! 
Now we are ready for everything this summer can bring our way!
Are you ready for summer? How do you prepare to pick up and go?

I will be linking up to Delightful Order, A Bowl Full of Lemons, and Serenity Now. Check them out!

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Monday, 28 May 2012

A Peek at the Week!

Triple Chocolate Cake I made for my dad's birthday dinner this weekend...mmmmm
Well am I glad last week is OVER! After a pretty good week, Friday came along and knocked our house over with a wicked stomach virus! The hubs and I were home sick from work Friday and were still pretty shaky on Saturday.
I have been menu planning now for about five months, and have found it to be a great way to plan out the week for our little family. When I know what the activities are for the week, I can plan what meals we should make. On days where I have to drive to five different places in the afternoon, it’s pretty much a guarantee that we are having a quick-to-prepare easy meal that night!
Now that I am training for the Surrey Half Marathon in the fall, I downloaded a run training schedule that outlines how much and how often I need to run each week in order to prepare for the event. Between the three to four runs per week and the two times I plan to go to Boot Camp, and the kids with their scheduled activities, and the menu plan and the blog writing, I needed a place to plan out our week in its entirety.
Last week I took a turn around the internet, and stopped at my all-time-favourite organizing site, IHeartOrganizing and found how Jen organizes her family. I LOVE how Jen always make all of her labels and printables and things super bright and colourful!
I didn’t use a lot of color in my own version of the peek at the week, but since I don’t want to use up the tiny bit of color I had left in my printer, mine is just in black and white. I mount it on the fridge with a hot pink background for some extra pop!
I played around with a few different styles before I found one that worked for me, and here’s the result:
A row each for the weekly menu items, exercise schedule, family activities and planned blog posts for the week.
As you can see, this week is as busy as ever! For dinner this week we’ll be having:
Monday: Turkey Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and veggies (the last one in our freezer from my last freezer cook!)
Tuesday: Sticky Crockpot Chicken, Salad and fries for the kiddos - This is a new recipe for us, so if it's a hit, I'll post the recipe for you guys!
Wednesday: Teriyaki Chicken Stir-fry
Thursday: Beef Tacos and Cheese Quesadillas for the kids
Friday: Macaroni and Cheese from scratch – I don’t have a recipe for this yet, so if you have one, pass it on!
Saturday: BBQ at the Ranch! My dad will be cooking!
Sunday: Chicken burgers and roasted peppers on the BBQ
Hope you enjoyed our menu for the week! My brother told me yesterday he’s going to check out the menu and stop by when he sees one of his favourites on the menu that night!
I’ll be linking up to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, an awesome source for menu ideas and recipes. You should check it out!

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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Turtle Cupcakes

OK, let me warn you all, this is going to be a LONG post. But totally worth it, these cupcakes are more than amazing. They literally melt in your mouth, they make you drool when you see them, and they may actually change your life when you try them.
After my initial adventures on my Quest for the Perfect Cupcake (Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting and Red Velvet Cupcakes), I knew that I wanted to get back to my favorite base flavors: chocolate, caramel and nuts. I knew that I wanted something decadent, but not too sweet, and I think I found it.
After deciding that I wanted to turn a Turtle chocolate into a cupcake, I hit the Internet running and found a website that will make you DROOL. Like on the screen. At there are so many incredible recipes and tutorials on the site, you could literally spend hours finding your next baking adventure.
I had Kraft Caramel Bits on hand, so I decided to make the caramel sauce and caramel buttercream using these little dots of deliciousness. Other than that, I stuck pretty close to the recipe. Warning though – don’t start this recipe unless you have an entire evening free. There are four distinct parts to this recipe, and all four of them require cooking and then cooling the components for the cupcake: The cupcake, the caramel filling, caramel buttercream and the buttered pecans.
So, without further ado,

Turtle Cupcakes - adapted from
Chocolate cupcakes with caramel filling, topped with caramel buttercream and toasted, buttered pecans.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Caramel Sauce (to fill cupcake hole):
1 bag Kraft Caramel bits
2/3 cup whipping cream
Caramel Buttercream:
½ bag Kraft caramels
½ tsp salt
¼ cup whipping cream
¼ cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp dark rum
Brown Sugar Pecans:
1cup pecans
6 tablespoon butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line three 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Set aside.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat.
Bake for 20–25 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before filling with caramel.
 Caramel Sauce:
In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt caramel bits, and whipping cream. Using a wire whisk, gently stir until mixture is completely smooth.
Caramel Buttercream:
Make another batch of caramel sauce as in instructions above.
Whisk egg yolks, two tablespoons of sugar, and salt. Slowly add hot caramel while whisking mixture.
Pour combined mixture back into saucepan over medium low heat, stirring continuously until mixture coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the stand-mixer bowl. Beat the mixture with the wire whip at medium speed until it is light and cool. Make sure the mixture at this point is completely cool before adding the butter. Replace wire whip with the paddle attachment. 2 tablespoons at a time, beat in the softened butter at medium speed. When all of the butter has been incorporated, beat the buttercream on high until mixture is light and fluffy (approximately 1 minute). Reduce the speed and beat in the vanilla and rum. Increase the speed once again and beat the buttercream for another minute, until it’s light and creamy.
** Note, when I made this icing, I found it to be quite creamy and not stiff enough to pipe into a big, pretty pile of goodness on top of my cupcakes. In hindsight, I should have chilled the icing for about 20 minutes in the fridge and then whipped it again in the mixer. But by this stage it was 10:30pm and I was exhausted, so the icing went onto the cupcakes. Not tall and beautiful, but definitely creamy and tasty!!
Brown Sugar Pecans:
Line bake sheet with foil.
Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat; add brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir for one minute and remove from heat. Continue stirring until brown sugar dissolves.
Toss pecans in mixture and spread over baking sheet, making sure to break up any clumps that may have formed. Bake at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes, stirring half way through.
How to Bring It All Together:
Poke hole in top of cupcake and fill with caramel sauce.

Using a close star tip pipe top of cupcake, then drizzle chocolate sauce and caramel sauce and sprinkle brown sugar pecans on top.
Phew! That was a LONG post, I hope you’re still here! 
I will be linking this post to a couple of my favorite blog linky parties. Come check them out ~ A Bowl Full of Lemons, SerenityNowBlog, and Delightful Order, ~ There are SO many awesome links to visit!
If you like this recipe, I would love for you to Pin it!

I'm also linking up here: Somewhat Simple

Monday, 21 May 2012

Comfort Food is on the Menu This Week!

With the weather outside dark and dreary, and apparently going to remain this way all week, it looks like a week of comfort foods lie ahead in our menu plan this week!
After a weekend that started off with fantastic weather, sun shining, swimming with the kiddos and our first BBQ of the season, and a day yesterday full of purging, organizing, cleaning and staging (more on this later!) today it seems like a day for tea and a good book. The girls are having a playdate and playing board games and dressup all afternoon today.
One recipe that I made for the first time this week was a fresh pineapple salsa. It was so delicious! We had it with Lime-flavored chips when we sat out with the neighbours on Saturday night. It was so fresh and yummy! I'm going to bring the rest of the salsa (the recipe made a TON) to a potluck lunch at my work.
I'll also be making some interesting new cupcakes on my Quest for the Perfect Cupcake for the potluck, more on that later in the week!
This week, our menu will be....
Monday: Out to Eat! Dinner at the Neighbours
Tuesday: Comfort Food! Mashed Potatoes, Beans, Stuffing and Turkey Meatloaf
Wednesday: Lasagne Wednesday!
Thursday: Fish with Pineapple Salsa, Rice and mixed veggies
Friday: Ladies Night - appies and wine for dinner for me!
Saturday: Painting Day at our house - dinner will be nice and easy - BBQ burgers and corn on the cob!
Sunday: Family dinner for my Dad's Birthday!
What are you having for dinner this week? I'll be linking up to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday, come check it out!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Long Weekend Goals

Crazy children, playing a monkey game
This has been a BIG week! I haven’t had a spare minute to blog because I had so much going on this week!
Living Room In Progress!!
First, we finally got the last piece of furniture to complete our living room transformation. We still are likely going to paint, so the final pieces haven’t come together yet, but it’s looking amazing so far!
The weather this week has been fantastic! My girls have been enjoying slurpees and water fights, it’s been so much fun! This weekend a couple of us girls are getting together to help a friend with a big organizing project.
And the biggest news of all! We booked our first kid-free VACATION! We leave for Hawaii Sept 30, which just happens to be the same day that I am registered to run my very first HALF MARATHON!! 
It’s going to be a crazy haul leading up to the race and the vacation, but hopefully the thought of the run, plus the need to wear a bathing suit will keep me focused and determined through the summer!
My goals for the weekend include a long run (10-12 km), trying out a new recipe for pineapple salsa, taking the girls swimming before the rain starts on Sunday (BOOOO!), and taking a crack at cleaning out our garage! OrgJunkie is doing a big garage cleanout challenge, and I think I’d like to join in!
Do you have any big projects you want to tackle this weekend? Remember to try to break the projects down into smaller sections so they don’t seem unmanageable. Set goals, set a timer! Take of breaks – there is nothing worse than being too exhausted to finish a project. 

Finally, REWARD yourself! Once you get through part of the project, have a nice cup of tea and some cookies. Once you are done the project – break open the wine and celebrate! You deserve it!


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