Friday, December 30, 2011

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Goodness!

Well, I finally made one of my favourite holiday (no calorie?) delicious peanut butter squares that I had only ever had at other peoples houses.  I found the original recipe here on the blog The Great Balancing Act.  Let me make a few comments here about this blog.  I was originally just going there to get the idea of the recipe when I started to read some of her other postings.  This woman is incredible!  She is only 25 years old, was diagnosed with cancer this year and is on her way to kicking it's butt!  She chronicles her journey in such a real yet positive and uplifting way that I couldn't stop reading.  You have to check out her blog...I'm sure you'll get hooked just as I did!  Click here to go to The Great Balancing Act.

Back to the recipe!  I changed it up a little.

There are only 4 ingredients: 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup of peanut butter, 300g bag of butterscotch chips and 250g bag of white mini marshmallows.

Melt the butter, peanut butter and butterscotch chips in a pot on low, stirring constantly.

 So glad the measurements are right on the butter package! (It's the little things!)

I used one of these measuring cups from the pampered chef for the peanut butter.  
They're awesome because it scrapes all the peanut butter out and nothing is wasted.

 This is my youngest, Matthew, pulled in by the delicious smell wafting from the kitchen! 

Everyone got in on the action, even my daughter's ventriloquist dummy (that's a whole other subject to blog about!) 

Once everything is smooth and melted, let it cool for about 10 minutes and then add the marshmallows and pour it into a dish.  Put it in the freezer for 1 hour to set, cut and serve (and devour!).  Enjoy!

My Art Closet - Before!

We have a closet by the front door of our house and since we always use our back door through our mud room, I decided to make it into an art closet.  My intentions were so good...I swear!  The kids and myself all love doing arts and crafts, so I thought this was a perfect idea!  It started out lovely and organized and slowly became a huge messy closet that all I wanted to do was keep closed so that I wouldn't have to stare at it!  THEN....I saw a photo over at the blog pink suede shoe which inspired me to properly organize my art closet.  It's not nearly as amazing as this...yet, but it's on it's way.  What would we do without other bloggers to inspire us?!  You have to check out her blog, here, it is one of my favourites to read.  Here's the photo that inspired, isn't it pretty!:

And now onto the not so inspiring mess of my art closet before:

First a photo of the door closed....isn't it nice? ha!

And now the door opened...deep gasp...I know!  Such a lot of wasted space.

Oh THAT's where my 5lb dumbells went!  Huh...who knew?!

The upper part of the closet is strictly my stuff, it's not as bad but I know it can be better! we're onto the organizing.  I bought 2 of these storage containers on sale for $19.99 at Canadian Tire.  Then I used my handy dandy label maker and labeled each drawer so that the kids (and myself) can easily find things and easily put things away in their proper places.

Here's a closeup of one of the drawer labels.  Did I really need to add this photo to 
make my point?  Probably not but I just love my label maker so if you could just 
"ooooh" and "ahhhh" over my label for a minute I would greatly appreciate it!

So this is where I'm at so far.  I haven't put the containers into the closet yet as I want to completely empty it and put in shelves.  Currently there is so much wasted space on the sides as I just had a small bookcase in the middle.  I will post more when the closet is complete.  It feels so good to get this started!
What do your art closets look like?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Organize Your Household Bills

One of my favourite blogs, Echoes of Laughter, has taught me a foul proof method of keeping track of my household bills.  I love the simplicity of it, I love that I am not wasting time looking for paperwork but most of all I love that it involves no filing!  Check out this link: Echoes of Laughter: The Absolute Easiest Way To Track, Pay & Organize Your Household Bills...No Filing Involved!

This idea is genius!  I don't know why I never thought of doing it this way!

No more of this when trying looking after my household finances:

Mango Pepper Jelly - a Homemade Gift for ANY Occasion.

Okay, so I realize now that I need to start taking photo's of each step in order to have a good visual for my blog.  From now on that's what I'll do!  But since this is only my SECOND post, I'm sure you'll forgive me...right?  RIGHT!?

My hubby LOVES this stuff! Eat it with brie cheese and crackers.  Not just a gift...make it for yourself too!

This year at my work Christmas Party I received an awesome gift from my Secret Santa.  It was a jar of homemade Mango Pepper Jelly, brie cheese and a box of Water Crackers.  I loved it and it was SO delicious that I thought, "Hey!  I should should give this as a gift too!"  So I immediately tracked down my "secret" Santa and got the recipe from her...thanks Mel!  The original recipe comes from Kraft Kitchens and was called Spicy Mango Salsa, however, my friend, Mel made a few adjustments and it is no longer "spicy" and she renamed it Mango Pepper Jelly as it is definitely more jelly than salsa.  Here's the recipe:

4 cups of peeled, finely chopped mango (I used frozen as I have never mastered the cutting of a mango!) 
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper
2 chopped garlic cloves
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (make sure to remove stems)
1/4 cup white vinegar

Grated rind and juice from 2 limes
7 cups of sugar
2 pouches of liquid fruit pectin

I threw the first 7 ingredients into food processor to do all the chopping, except for the red pepper which I did on it's own first because it gives off a lot of liquid, so I removed it from the food processor when done and drained off the liquid.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large saucepan.

Add lime zest, juice and sugar.  Mix Well.  Place saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Immediately stir in 2 pouches of liquid fruit pectin (I used CERTO).  Continue to stir and skim the foam for 5 minutes to prevent floating fruit and pour quickly into warm, sterilized jars filling up to 1/4 inch from rim.

Seal while hot with sterilized 2-piece lids with new centres.

I have linked up here:

My First Christmas without my Mom.

My mom and 3 of our 4 kids a few Christmases ago.

Have you ever experienced the feeling of let down after Christmas?  It usually happens to me, I love Christmas and the excitement would build and build all December and then SUDDENLY it's all over.  This year it didn't happen to me.  This year I am so content with how it all went, I was more organized than ever (and I attribute that to the inspiring blogs that I have been following) but also, I was not nearly as excited as I usually am.  You see, earlier this year my mom and my kids beloved Nana passed away from Breast Cancer.  My dad is quite lost without her, and I have been terribly worried about him and about how this Christmas was going to fly with no mom bringing our family together.  I have only brothers, so this responsibility was now passed on to me (If I ever DO come back...I want to come back as a man!).  Growing up, Christmas was a very big deal in our house and my mom brought out all the excitement.  She would bake Nanaimo Bar and Trifle and do a once a year big grocery shop where each of us kids got to pick one "treat" that she would buy.  I remember one year I chose nutella, and it is still one of my favourite Christmas treats.  Anyways, this year Christmas was at my home, and my dad stayed with us for 2 nights so that he was not alone and I have to say, it went so much better than I expected.  Yes...I did have tears streaming down my face at our Church's Christmas Eve service during 'Silent Night' (my mom's favourite Christmas song) and I broke down while wrapping presents when I realized I was not wrapping one for my mom, but other than that it was a peaceful, joyful Christmas.  I made the Nanaimo Bar (my base was crumbly...I'll work on that next year!) and I made the Trifle (Sans Sherry to my brothers disgust (next year HE can make it!).  So as I'm sad to see the holiday season come to an end and the inevitable taking down of the Christmas tree, I can look back on this Christmas and feel very blessed indeed.
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