Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baking Contest - The Results are in!

Drum roll please!

3rd Place - Uche's Banana Bread.... 

2nd Place - Grace's Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake.... 

1st Place - Neals's Carrot Cake.  

WHAT?!?  I didn't even make the top 3!?  I got beat by CARROT CAKE?  Who in their right mind puts vegetables in their cake?  Seriously!  And besides, it says 'moist' on top.  Moist!  Moist...  moist...  moist...  No matter how  you say it, it is the English language's worst word.  It's my personal most hated word ever.

Here are my loser cookies:

I even had a pretty name tag and laid them out so nicely on my fancy plate!  When all the points were tallied, I ended up coming in 5th place.  Down 3 spots from last year!  I do think there's something fishy going on, though.  Neal has won the past 3 baking contests, and no matter what anyone does, we can't seem to dethrone him.  It's a conspiracy, I'm sure of it!

Last year I was disappointed, but now I'm just mad.  I'm going to do everything in my power to knock Neal out of 1st place.  I've already started planning, and have even ordered some special supplies from Ebay.  They should be here any day now....

Neal had better watch out, because next year I'm coming full force with both barrels blazing!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My First Attempt at Quilting!

I found this placemat at a craft sale:

I thought it was cute and figured it couldn't be that hard to make.  But the thing is, I've never quilted before.  I called up my good pal Jessy Roos who is an expert quilter, and she agreed to help me out with it.  We went shopping one night to Fabricland to check out what they had to offer.  We started looking around at the blue Christmas fabrics, and had such a hard time finding any fabrics that I liked that looked good together.

I had seen some adorable red and green fabric that I loved, so we decided it would be best to switch the color from blue to red and green.  That opened up a lot more options, and we found some really cute fabrics!  Check out what we got:

My task before Sunday is to wash and iron the fabric.  Check back to see my progress!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Yesterday was Remembrance Day, and I had the day off.  When deciding what to do with my free day, I figured it should be something fun and frivolous.  So I decided to do some baking.  A few days ago Lowen bought me a Christmas Cookies magazine, and I picked my top 5 (hopefully soon-to-be) favorites to make.

#1 - Peppermint Sandwich Cremes

I was excited to make these because I love peppermint!  Both the cookie and the cream cheese filling had peppermint extract in them, and that combined with the crushed candy canes made these little sammies extra minty!  They were fairly easy to make, just time consuming and a bit labor intensive.  They will definitely go on my favorites list!

#2  Espresso Tarts

These ones were easy to make but very labor intensive.  First I had to make the dough and form it into little cups in mini muffin tins, then I had to make the filling on the stove and fill the cups.  After baking them, I made the ganache to top them off.  I haven't tried these ones yet, but they smell delightful!  Espresso, chocolate, and cinnamon!!

#3  Lavender - Vanilla Pillows

These were quick and easy!  The dough was a basic shortbread type dough with dried lavender added.  Once the dough was made, I smooshed little balls into the bottoms of mini muffin tins and baked them and then they were done!  Super simple!  The flavor is really subtle yet delightful!

#4 Linzer Pinwheels

These little monsters were a pain in the buttocks. First of all the dough was way to dry and crumby to roll out, so I added another egg which seemed to help.  Then I rolled out the dough and slathered the jam on it and started to roll, but the jam oozed out the edges, and the rolling action squeegeed most of the jam off the dough and I was left with a puddle of jam once everything else was in place.  The rolls of jam-y dough-y mess went into the freezer for a few hours until they were hard enough to cut.  Cutting them was another pain because the jam got everywhere and bits of dough kept breaking off.  But, after baking them I tried one, and it was soooo good.  Mind you I love raspberry, and you could probably slather raspberry jam on anything and I'd eat it.  Cleo even stole one of these cookies and dragged it onto the floor, and then Lowen stepped in it and got jam all over his sock.

#5  Easy White Citrus Fudge

I ran out of energy by the time I hit this one.  Maybe tomorrow?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

Lowen and I decided on what we were going to be for Halloween way back at the end of August, but then didn't actually start working on our costumes until October 28th.

Here's our inspiration:

Here's the story of how our costumes came together.  We started out by collecting boxes from Costco.  Just another reason why I love Costco!  

On Thursday night we went to Walmart to see what kind of things we could find for the little knobbies on the blocks.  We ended up deciding on Gladware containers.  They weren't exactly the right shape, but they were the best size for what we needed.  We also bought some tiny cups to use for Cleo's costume.  She wasn't invited to any parties, but still wanted a costume so she could feel like a part of the family.  Anyway, back to Walmart..... We bought some spray paint as well in our desired colors (Lowen - Red, Esther - Green) as well as some contact cement.  The rest of the evening was spent cutting holes into the boxes and gluing on the knobbies.

Friday afternoon and evening was spent putting a couple coats of spray paint on them.  Lowen was kind enough to do all the painting; spray paint scares me.  We had to put several coats on them because the paint we bought was cheap and the boxes soaked it up.  I even had to make another run to Walmart to buy another can of each color.

Lowen's fingers hurt for a few days after all that spray painting.  :(

We got to wear them to 2 parties, and they were a huge hit at both parties!  They were a lot of fun to make and to wear!

Not only were they stylish and comfortable, but they were practical as well.  They doubled as a handy drink/food table so I didn't have to always have my hands full.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Last Friday mom and I got to go see Cirque du Soleil's Kooza.

It was a phenomenal show!!  We saw 3 crazy bendy ladies who looked like they were made of rubber; a unicyclist who could lift up a girl and twirl her around while riding around the stage; tight rope walkers who jumped rope and rode bikes on a tiny wire waaaay up high; a lady who could spin 7 hoola hoops at once from her ankles, waist, and wrists; a man who could balance in seemingly impossible positions on top of a tower of chairs; and a pickpocket who stole a guy's tie without him even knowing.  My favorite part was the two guys on the Wheel of Death.

I sat on the edge of my seat through the whole act with my mouth hanging open.  Just when I thought they had done their craziest, most dangerous stunt, they did something even more crazy dangerous.  They seemed fearless as they ran around those wheels jumping and flying through the air.

The music was fantastic as well, and was perfectly matched to the acts that were happening on stage.  Some of the parts were performed by a live band with a live singer, which added to the excitement of the show.

The 3 hour show passed by in no time, and was one of the most exciting evenings I've had!

The cherry on the top was the water.  I went to the concession to buy water bottles for mom and I, and was shocked to see they were $6 each!  I was pleasantly surprised when the cashier handed me 2 nice, aluminum water bottles with Cirque du Soleil written on them.  What a nice souvenir!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Teal Ripple Afghan

A few weeks ago I finished an afghan I've been working on since the beginning of September.  This one was nice and quick, and the bulky yarn made it nice and cozy.  This color is my absolute favorite right now, and I am a little sad to have to give it up!  But it's going to a good home as a wedding gift, so that makes it a little easier to say good bye...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Baking Contest Ideas

Wilton Excelle Elite 6-Cup Mini Bundt Pan
I entered the Statoil Baking Contest last year, and was confident that I would win.  If you know anything about me, you know that I tend to throw myself into whatever I'm doing and give it my all.  I also don't lose... at least not very well.  

My plan was to make mini triple chocolate bundt cakes with chocolate ganache icing.  For the occasion, I went out and bought a mini bundt pan similar to the one on the left.  I baked the cakes a few days in advance, since they tend to taste better and are richer and more moist and dense after sitting for a few days.  Just a few minutes before the competition was to start, I drizzled them with the ganache, sprinkled them with a light dusting of icing sugar, and garnished them with Ovation sticks.  

Unfortunately I didn't think to take a good picture of them, but a coworker took one with her phone:

When I arrived at the contest location, I eyed up my competition and felt confident that mine would taste the best and look the nicest.  The judges did their judging based on presentation and taste, and then announced the results.  I was shocked when they announced that I had placed second.  Second?!?  WHAT?!?  I went in to the contest fully expecting to easily receive first and I got second.  I'm a very competitive person and I wear my emotions on my sleeve, so it took all I had to pretend be happy for the winner and not let it show how disappointed I was.  The fellow who organized the contest was the one who ended up winning, and I figure he must have bribed the judges or something.  At least that's the story I'm sticking to....

So, needless to say, my immense failure last year has made me even more intent on winning this year.  I need to go above and beyond what I did last year and make something truly spectacular.  I've already started to develop some ideas in my head and have done a bit of looking around for supplies and inspiration.

Without giving too much away, I was thinking along the lines of something like this:

cute food photos - Nearly Aquatic

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


A couple of weeks ago Lowen and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful colors and warm weather and go out to Kananaskis to see the sights and take some pictures.  After we took the turn off to Kananaskis we realized that the majority of the trees were coniferous and weren't changing colors.  But we still found a few yellow and red trees and had a good time.

Then a few days later we went out on a Sunday afternoon with our bikes.  We rode our bikes from close to the Kananaskis Village to a little pond.

Here is a little of what we saw:

Click here for the entire album.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Scared of Crows?

I finished another project!

This one I ordered from the Mary Maxim catalog a few weeks ago and was thrilled when it finally arrived in the mail!  It was a fairly easy project, just time consuming and detailed.  Here are some pictures:

Click here for the entire album.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Colors

Current Weather:  14 and partly cloudy.  Not a bad day!  After the miserable summer we had, today was a treat!  I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather while it lasted, so I took my bike out and rode around the neighbourhood and took pictures of all the beautiful colors!  I was glad to have an opportunity to use my bike - I got it last winter, and hardly had a chance to use it this summer with all the lame weather we had.  I also enjoyed exploring my new(ish) neighbourhood and looking at all the darling houses.  I saw some dark clouds forming above Nose Hill and started to head there to try and capture the darkening sky, but the wind picked up hard core and I was getting sand blasted, so I headed back home.  All in all it was a lovely time!  Here are some of my favorites:

Click here to see the entire album.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Guess what time it is?  Squash season!!  I love all kinds of squash - zucchini, spaghetti squash, butternut squash...

Yesterday Lowen bought a spaghetti squash and tonight we cooked up with some meat sauce.  I thought I'd try something new and roast the seeds.  It took some effort to get them ready.  I had to scrape them out, separate them from all the inside gunk, wash them, and dry them off.  I then added a little bit of olive oil, salt, and Cajun seasoning, and baked them at 350 for 5-6 minutes.  They turned out really well!!

Lowen gave them 5 stars, and they disappeared in a matter of minutes.  Yet another reason to love squash!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

I wanted to bake some cookies for a party tomorrow, and thought it would be fun to make some cookies suitable to the season.  Typing in 'fall cookies' into's seach field brought up over 200 cookies.  After weeding through all the different biscotti, squares, and cookies, I came up with a short list of 13, and from there picked the winner - Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies!  I love butterscotch, and I love gingerbread, so I thought they would be the perfect mix.

The recipe was easy to follow, and I had all the ingredients in my cupboards.  The only disappointing thing was that the dough was a little crumbly.  Instead of dropping the dough by spoonful onto the cookie sheet, I balled up handfuls of the dough to make it stick together and just set the balls on the cookie sheet.

Here's how they turned out:

I will admit they are very tasty!  They're quite sweet and butterscotch-y with subtle hints of the gingerbread.  I will definitely save this recipe to my recipe box and make them again!