Monday, April 30, 2012


The other day I started a new Facebook page. It's basically a forum for people to talk about food & swap recipes. I wasn't sure it would be successful, I am part of at least 12 Facebook groups were nothing ever happens. But so far the reaction has been great. Anyway, one of the ladies posted a picture of her dinner which she called a "Mexican Pizza". I know it as a Toastada and I love them... but somewhere along the way I had forgotten about them. Anyway, I made one for dinner tonight, so happy to have them back on our table.

Basically a tortilla (although in the past I have used thin crust pizza shells), salsa, onions (caramelized), chicken with Epazote spice (pre-cooked), and sharp cheddar (just a little). Pop it into the oven for about 10 minutes until everything is melted. Then top with lettuce & a bit of ranch. You can also crumble taco chips over it for some added crunch (we didn't).

Not super healthy, but not the worst meal I can think of... we had chicken tonight, which is rare for us. Next time I might try & find some beans to replace it.

Now my kids are running rampant & Brian is watching the hockey game. I might just sit & scrapbook...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Goats Cheese, Mint + Orange Zest

I love food. Obviously. And so it goes without saying that I love doughnuts. So when my favourite doughnut shoppe, Jelly Modern Doughnuts, had a contest to celebrate their 1 year anniversary, I was all over it. It took me a while to think of the perfect flavour to enter in their "create your own doughnut" contest. The stakes were high (at least they would have been if my life were a sitcom, but it isn't, so really the stakes weren't that high). I read through the list of all of the other flavours, considering each one. And then, on the final day for submissions, I committed to my single entry. 
Goats Cheese, Mint + Orange Zest.

And then, with the help of my friends, the OMC (an online mommy group that I am a part of) and my family, we voted. And voted. And voted. And it turns out, I made the top two!

The top four entries were invited to create their doughnut with Chef Grayson at the 1st Birthday party that was held on Saturday. I was up against some stiff competition: Dark Chocolate Chilli, Vanilla Almond & Cappuccino Crunch (mmmm). I honestly didn't think that my "under-dog" doughnut would win. Especially when comments like "gross" were being Tweeted in reply to the announcement of my doughnut. I had to laugh, but also wondered if I would be the only person in the world who would appreciate a Goats Cheese, Mint + Orange Zest doughnut.

I was nervous (I hate being in front of people, I prefer to be behind a keyboard) and beet red. Or is it beat red. Anyway, I was red. My Mother-In-Law and Father-In-Law showed up to sit front & centre... and we took Miles along for the day*. Turns out, once I got past my nerves, I had a great time & learned a lot about doughnuts... and candied Orange Mint.

Four fabulous local celebs tried the doughnuts & I came out on top. Which was cool, but being a big fan of John Gilchrist, it was really only his 'approval' on my combination that I was looking for (Umm, sounds like I have father issues?). I got it. His review was amazing & the look on his face was satisfying. I also fell in love (platonically...or....?) with Gwendolyn Richards, a food writer for the Calgary Herald.

I didn't know there was a prize. Ranny had asked me & I told him that for a chubby girl, having your doughnut made WAS the prize. But it turns out there was, and I was wrong, a ONE YEAR SUPPLY OF FREE DOUGHNUTS (yep, that deserved to be all in caps) was the prize. Rock on.

For a stay at home mom, who's highlight of her day is cooking dinner...this was heaven. Not the prize, not the doughnuts, the day. The day was so much fun. And I am in love with Jelly Modern Doughnuts more now than I was before.

*Miles ate 5 doughnuts. Oh shut up! Don't you judge me. He had a pink anniversary doughnut, a maple bacon doughnut, a creamsicle doughnut, a handful of samples and a doughnut that he decorated himself (And it was a freakin' work of art if I may say so). I could actually see the rise.....and then the dramatic crash & burn that was followed by a sugar induced coma.

642 - Vol IV

"Two dollars isn't a lot of money, unless..."

You are in a candy store in 1996. That was the year the Canadian 'toonie' was released. And I remember it. Well, not really. I was 16 then and already $2 wasn't much money. But I do remember when it was. When I was little, and we stayed at my Grandmas house, I would get a two-dollar bill from my Dad and go down the street to Gene & Ernie's corner store. We would all go. My cousins and I. And on most occasions that meant the store was filled with at least 9 Hopaluks (although there were more of us). I remember buying Garbage Pail candies. They were my favourite, they were little hard candies, shaped as fish bones, shoes or tin cans. And they came in a little garbage can. I loved them.

One of the trips that I remember the most was also one of the most brilliant 'cons' that us Hopaluk kids ever pulled off. There were a lot of us that day: Myself, Kendra, Carmelle, Keray, Paul, Jenna, Lacee, Leya, Brittany, Melissa, Tyler, Joelle, Ryan, Dana and the boy who lived next door to Grandma. What was his name? He had a really great sandbox... Anyway, the con came about accidentally. I was voted to be the one to ask my Dad for money to go to G&E's. So I did, and he gave me $50. Enough for all of us!!! I was excited. That was more candy than any one kid could ever even imagine. But at the same time that I was asking my dad, Jenna was asking her dad, Uncle Casey. He forked over come cash as well. When we realized what had happened....well, that's when the con started. Leya asked Uncle Neil & Dana asked Uncle Don. The cash was rolling in... And I was the oldest (next to Joelle), or maybe just bossiest, so I carried it all, naturally. We had close to $100. And off we went. And we spent every last cent of it. I remember the bags & bags of 5 cent gummies. I remember Big League Chew, Bubble Tape (in grape & bubblegum flavour) & other 'expensive' candies. I remember Popeye Cigarettes (back then they were still called cigarettes & had red tips), sour soothers, Lik-em-aid, Pop Rocks, BottleCaps & Ring Pops. We were stacked. But no matter how bossy I was, there was no way that my cousins were letting me carry the whole stash. So after arguing for a block or two we stopped at a park (the one by the campground) and dumped out the bag. $100 worth of candy. I still remember it. And we ate it all (we had to, or we might get caught) right then & there in that park.
 Well done Hopaluk kids. Well done!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I love Dyson...

I love my Dyson vacuum.
It starred in a blog post of mine three years ago.....

It is worth every penny. And that was the consensus amongst most of the moms on a web forum I was on the other day. No one had a bad thing to say about them. So I love my vacuum, what could be better than that? I'll tell you what? Knowing what an awesome company it comes from.

Today my son came home from preschool with a toy Dyson (pictured above) and a note that explained why. His preschool teacher sent a letter to Dyson requesting a catalog for the kids to look at... one of the kids had been eyeing their new Dyson vacuum and she wanted to have something more for him to look at (She does stuff like that. Miles is really into animals so she got special animal books for him at the library.). Anyway, Dyson wrote her back

Dear ______

Thanks so much for contacting Dyson Canada and letting us know about the budding engineer at ______ Nursery School! He sounds like of the the world's nest promising inventors - he's got such a great start at such a young age! Only four!

The James Dyson Foundation (JDF) encourages young people to think differently, make mistakes and invent. We would love it if your students, their parents and their teacher explored our JDF Science World site to discover design heroes, find out how to design things that work and use out resources in the classroom or at home. Here is the link for you and your community to enjoy:

In the meantime, we have a little something for this budding inventor and his classmates coming your way!

Best Wishes. ____________

And Miles was lucky enough to be one of those classmates. We checked out the website & it is cool. I pulled it up on the iPad and Miles has been playing since we got home, there's a pretty cool game that he caught onto quickly (which works out well for Molly since she wanted to her get hands on the toy vacuum).

Thanks Dyson. It's so freakin' (yep, I said freakin') cool when a company invests in it's youth. Maybe someday Miles will invent a new vacuum for Dyson, or maybe he will just be the proud owner of one, like we are.

Monday, April 23, 2012

642 Vol. III

"Write down everything you can remember about your algebra teacher."

His name was Mr.Harter. Dennis Harter. He was a pretty young teacher (I mean, I don't remember thinking he was old and I thought all adults were old.) and I remember some of the girls had a crush on him. I didn't. But I didn't have a crush on him because he taught Math... and who in their right mind would teach math? Math. Math? Really? Math sucks (though I will never tell my kids that....). And I don't care how good-looking you are (were), I didn't ever look forward to Math class. Everything about algebra annoyed me. That you had to "show your work" so you couldn't just guess (my Plan B.), that there was only one correct answer & that I was terrible at it. I do remember that Mr. Harter once made us a multiple choice test, after we begged him to, thinking it would be easier. It wasn't. Instead it just made you question your answer even more (I was confident the answer was 2 until I saw that -2 was an option). Well played Mr. Harter, well played.

But even the subject matter didn't make me dislike him. I remember he was patient and funny. And he didn't says MathS with and 'S' like some of the Australian teachers did. For the record, I would have sat through a million of Mr.Harter's algebra lessons if it meant I could skip ONE of Ibu Fatmawati's Bahasa classes (That I learned to speak Bahasa is an even bigger miracle than that I passed Math.).

A couple of years later, in Mrs.Wilson's Math class (in a public school in Canada), a guy named Darryl picked up his desk and threw it across the room in frustration. I was shocked (that things like that actually happen in public schools....) but I didn't blame him. I could relate. In my mind, I had been throwing desks across the Math classroom for years.

Little known fact: In 2012, I love day-to-day math. I love calculating interest rates. I love finding percentages & averages. And I love teaching my kids to count & add. Let's give Mr.Harter some credit for that. 


Miles & I celebrated Spring by finger painting outside today. I would never let my kids finger paint inside (Paint? Yes. Finger Paint? Heck no.) so it was nice to be able to go outside.

Thanks to Pinterest, I am sure I will be able to find loads of messy projects for us to do outside... I saw these super cute yarn covered balloons I am hoping to make if the weather holds up.

But then again, it is Canada. And it is April.

These exist?

Amazing! I didn't even know that Mint Chocolate Chips existed. And even better, they were 50% off. I am going to bake cookies with them & then make those home-made ice cream sandwiches. Mmmm. Getting hungry.

 I went into Bulk barn today (My second biggest weakness, the first is Chapters). I love Bulk Barn. I have no self-control when I am in there... none whatsoever.

I also got some pizza dough mix, which I have actually made before, but someone was talking about it online & it reminded me how much the kids loved making their own pizzas. The mix is great but I add some garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil & pepper to make it "focaccia-ish". And if you want to great really fancy (and why wouldn't you?) throw some caramelized onions into the crust. Soooo good.

Today when I was putting away my purchases (I also got veggie bullion cubes and for some weird reason that makes me so happy.) it started to bug me that none of my jars & labels match. I always see people with these gorgeous pantries online & feel jealous. I want all my stuff to be all matchy-matchy and not look like some sort of Hippie or Witch Doctors potion closet. Martha Stewart has a line of labels for Avery that are available at Staples. I am going to go check them out tonight. Even if the jars don't match, at least the labels could... it's bugging me.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

642 - Vol II

"Your favourite tree"

Cutting down trees for development at our cabin at Turtle Lake has always been a sore spot for me. My Mom (and I) can vividly remember a time when my dad fired up his chainsaw to cut down a dead tree & my sister Kendra & I sat crying and pleading for him to stop. It's no surprise that when I was in grade six I wrote a sequel to The Lorax as my year-end project for my Environmental Studies class (which I nailed!).  

Nothing makes me more angry than when I ride my bike past a lot at the lake that someone has stripped. Every last tree is gone so that they can bring in their stupid pre-fab cabin. I want to scream. But I won't  go into that (because that entry would be too long & too intense). What I will say is that one of my favourite trees is the one that my dad built the deck around at the cabin. Every time I see it, it makes me smile. And for my wedding my mom wrapped little twinkle lights around it & some of the other trees at the cabin. I love what that tree represents. It shows the respect that the Hopaluk family feels towards our surroundings. It shows that we value the trees for the life they house, the beauty they possess, the privacy they bring & the clean Turtle Lake air they create. And that we can live & play in harmony with those trees.

And if that didn't make me sound like a Hippie, I don't know what would. 


Everything seems better in the Spring. Even my laundry seems more tolerable when the windows are open & the sun is out. It doesn't bother me when the dishes pile up a little bit more... We even wear our shoes in the house & I don't feel like I need to clean the floors right away. 

I have a chilli cheese dip in the Crock Pot and I am waiting for Brian to get home (he is at a coaching meeting for Miles soccer). We are going to have a fire in the backyard tonight & BBQ steaks for dinner. 

I really mean it, everything is better in the spring.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

642 - Vol I

'Your most transcendent Ice Cream experience.'

When I was about 12 we stayed at Club Med Bali. My most favourite memory from this trip was of me putting flippers on my feet and dancing around the pool while my mom laughed. I guess I've always liked making people laugh. I also remember using the sewing kit from our room to string together Frangipani flowers and make necklaces. For the record, this is a terrible idea. Frangipani flowers often let out a milky fluid that is highly irritant. It will cause a rash. It will itch. You will be uncomfortable.

Anyway, on that same trip I was old enough to finally have the freedom to go & get ice cream from the "bar" at the hotel on my own (it was all-inclusive). I was allowed to do a lot of things on my own that year, and I walked around the hotel a lot, hoping people (boys?) would look at me and think "Wow, look at that lady, she looks beautiful & independent, she is definitely here on her own & is going to have some very glamorous adventures." I also pictured the ocean wind blowing through my hair and thought that my linen bathing suit pullover (with giant tie-dyed rings) was the coolest. So I stood at the end of the bar & the man read aloud the list of flavours & I oh-so-cooly tried not to flinch when he said Rum Raisin. Had he just offered me liquor???? I am sure I said something like "Hmmm Chocolate or Rum Raisin?" to feign disinterested. And then, in my most aloof voice, I probably said "I guess I'll have the Rum Raisin..." and then hoped & prayed he wouldn't question my selection. It wasn't until I was halfway to the beach that I stopped, feeling secure that no one would run up behind me demanding to see my I.D. And that is when I first tried Rum Raisin ice cream, 100% convinced that it was chalk full of rum. And it was delicious. And I have loved it since. 

Rum Raisin ice cream still feels like "The Ice Cream Of Grown-Ups" and even though my husband scoffs at the idea of raisins, it is my favourite. 

Rum Raisin Forever.

About Nothing.

Writing. I love having a blog where I can come & put nonsense like this down 'on paper'. Today at Chapters I bought this great book & I am going to randomly select a topic once I am done this entry. I am so excited for this. I. Am. Nerdy.

Time to make an iced Strawberry Ginger tea & get typing.

Please Vote For Me!

My favourite doughnut shop Jelly Modern Doughnuts (below...mmmmmm...) is having a contest. And I entered. My doughnut creation is Goats Cheese, Mint + Orange Zest.

Please click on the link to vote for my flavour (I am getting pulverized by Vanilla Almond!). 
Voting is open until midnight tonight.

ps. I just found out that the top 4 doughnuts have to make their creation for a celebrity panel. I am dying inside. I hate speaking in public. Or baking in public. Or being looked at. Yikes! * But I still want to win...why???

Friday, April 20, 2012

4 Quick Things.

1. I've been working for my dad the last couple weeks. Twice I found found myself at the dump. The dump is gross. And that's not all.... humans are gross. There is so much there could have been recycled if someone had only made an extra effort. Everyone should make a trip to the dump every once in a while to remind themselves to go the extra mile and make sure things are ending up in the right place. Gross.

2. No one needs to consume that much. I get having 'stuff'. I love 'stuff'. But today when I was looking at some of the monstrous houses around me I couldn't help but think it was over-kill. Maybe they deserve it, maybe they earned it, surely they want it, but do they really need it? Is there any situation in which a family of four needs 5,000 square feet of living space? And for once I can honestly say that this doesn't come from jealously. It's too much. Too much. There is such a thing. And I can't help but think that it's a bit insulting to everyone else (especially outside of North America) who isn't consuming as much. What gives people the right to consume more of the earth & it's resources than is theirs?

* I am going to do some research & find out exactly how much of this world could be considered "our share".

3. My dad is the hardest worker I know. Always has been, and proving that he always will be. They just don't make them like my dad anymore.

4. It feels insanely good to earn money again. And I thought it would be hard for me to put my money towards our car repairs... I was wrong. It felt good. Insanely good. Funny how doing 'the right thing' feels good at the age of 30. I mean, I should be use to doing it. It should be standard practise. Not always.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

1 Day At A Time.

This is a picture of underneath my bed. It wasn't always this way. It wasn't even this way at 8 am this morning. That's when I started working on cleaning it out. I couldn't see from one side through to the other. I was worried I might find something dead or on a better note, something valuable. But I didn't find anything dead or valuable.... all I found is junk. Junk that is leaving my house, one box at a time.

Its not easy to change a lifestyle that is on the road to Hoardersville (so not a real place, I checked). There are still days when I bring more into our home than I take out. But since we decided to make the move into the city, and thereby sacrifice the size of our house, I am committed to making this work for us. I still look at things & see value in them (when there is none or only sentimental value). My first impulse is still to hold on. Just in case...

But I know that our new, simplified (?) life won't allow for those things. And I am weirdly grateful for that. It's like there is someone standing over me (I picture Matt from the show Hoarders) telling me I can't fit all this stuff into my new apartment. And I know deep down he is right. I am right. It must go. 

Yesterday the kids & I rode my bike to the grocery store. I've done it before, lots. But now I am trying to do it with a  different frame of mind. What if we didn't have two vehicles? Could I work & live within my community? Do I need to use 1/2 a tank of gas each day to get done what needs to be done? Can I handle the limitations of the urban life we are chasing? Truth be told... I'm not sure.

But if practise makes perfect then I am by all means going to practise simplifying.

Yesterday I cleaned out the bathroom. Not a big job, right? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I finished with a full garbage bag & half a box of stuff donate. From a bathroom. That's embarrassing.

Today I tackled under the bed. And I was in The Groove. I pulled out a box of recycle, a box of donations & a bag of trash. It felt so good. When I was done, I just laid on the floor next to the bed for a while. Molly laid on my belly.

Then I did the closet (my side only.). Two garbage bags there, one to donate, one to drop off at the consignment store. 

1 Day At A Time.

And I should be ready by the summer.


How adorable are these little Easter M&M's? I ate an entire bag last night.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Layout 276

Materials: Cardstock: Bazzill Basics; Patterend Paper: Making Memories; Ribbon & Brad: BoBunny; Bingo Card: Jenni Bowlin; Alphabet Stickers: American Crafts; Rub-Ons: Making Memories.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chocolate Easter Nests

I make little chocolate nests every Easter, but this year I showed Miles a picture (on Pinterest) and he was excited to help. Finally yesterday, Molly went down for a nap & we had a chance to make them.  

Miles took his job of pulling apart cupcake wrappers and dropping in the eggs very seriously. He is so funny, the whole time we were making these he kept says "Good job Mommy!" and "That looks great Mommy." and I almost died when he said "Don't worry Mommy you doin' a will good job." I guess because I always try to encourage him, it has rubbed off a little. Now if only he could do that more often with his sister.

Here are our finished eggs. We made the nests from Fiddle Diddles (with walnuts & coconuts) instead of the chow main noodles (although next year I would like to give the peanut butter version a try). 

Now, just like the Easter Bunny, we are off to deliver them to friends (and don't worry friends, we meticulously washed our hands, even Miles.)

Happy Easter Everyone!

Buy This

I bought this cookbook at Costco (for only $13.49). It looks amazing. And while we have cut a lot of meat out of our diet, when we do have it, it will be nice to try something new. Also, there are waaay more vegetarian options that I first saw when I had a flip through in the store. The asiago and sage acorn squash looks mouth-watering. There are even some awesome grilled desserts. 

18 days.

And I caved. I am back on Facebook.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I believe that kids of any age can have responsibilities. And Miles has had some for quite some time. He was the one who started it, before I even thought it possible, he began to help me sort recycling. And then there was cleaning up his toys & throwing wrappers in the garbage.... But it wasn't until January that he was given a list of daily responsibilities and a weekly reward for completing them.

Throughout the day Miles earns Happy Faces and when Sunday evening rolls around & he has a completed week with very few missed happy faces, then he can pick an activity to do (He usually picks walking to the store to get a Slurpee, even in the cold weather.). Tonight, before bedtime, we changed his list of responsibilities to include some new ones that he hasn't had before. I find that before bedtime is a great time to talk about his achievements of the day (Miles, you did a great job wiping down the table today!). He said he was excited to earn his Happy Faces tomorrow.... funny kid.

The board we bought is from Melissa & Doug and has many different "responsibilities" you can choose from. It is suitable for any age because they range from "Keeping Your Hands To Yourself" to "Unloading the Dishwasher" ( Personally, I can't wait for that one!).

Here is his list of responsibilities for the week. We took out "Clear The Table" (which he will still do, but the focus will move onto something new) and added "Make Bed" (which I will teach him to do this week) (And yes, that will mean I will have to let go of the high bed-making standards I have). 

I just thought I should blog about this because it makes me proud to see my children doing things for themselves and for our family. I like knowing that I am raising children who will someday be self-sufficient (because there really are so many who are not). And contrary to some moms beliefs, I don't think that they can be 'too young' for chores, you just need to find the right ones. I try not to think of these chores as punishment but rather accomplishments, and you are never too young for that. Plus I hope that by starting young, the concept of contributing to things around the house will become natural to them.

Layout 275

This is probably my favourite layout from the weekend (and the only other single page layout I did). One of the older ladies who was at the retreat said that all kids do this, hunker down in the fridge. It must be a right of passage. Today was such a beautiful day (though not hot enough to sit in the fridge). We took the kids out to ride their bike & I took more pictures. It's official: I will never catch up :)

Layout 274

I spent the weekend away on a retreat with some friends. I had a great time. I managed to get 18 layouts done (but not journaled so I won't be posting them today) so overall it was a pretty productive weekend. It made me realize how much I miss scrapbooking, I really never scrapbook anymore because I no longer have the space. But I will take what I can get... 

Here's a layout of my son, who next thing I know, will be going away to college and getting married. Stop growing!!!