I eat a lot of ridiculous food this time of year.  The "joy of the season" is kind of like a green light for me to buy and consume all kinds of things that I wouldn't normally eat (smoked salmon, I'm looking at you!).  I don't actually discriminate this time of year to the degree of crazy shit I buy, neither do I limit the quantity that I eat.  December kinda rules, actually.

One of my extravagances this time of year is cheese.  All different kinds of fun and flavourful cheeses.  And I don't need company to pull it out either.  I can eat a whole wheel of brie by myself, thank you very much. This immaculate body is not going to maintain itself! ;)

Recently at the Superstore, there was a weird deal where if you bought one wheel of brie it was $6.99, but if you bought two, they were only $2.99 each.  What?  I bought four, obviously.  My friend Jen happened upon this awesome deal as well and we discussed the wonder of Brie at length at work.  Praise Cheeses!

Brown sugar baked brie.  Share only if necessary.

Yes, please.

Spread on a baguette.  FTW!

I also picked up some avocado and smoked salmon to add to my decadence.  All the flavours complimented each other quite nicely.

Presentation is everything - even if it is just for me.

I want to punch this photo it looks so good!

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, December 29, 2011 2 comments
Everywhere I look this time of year there are treats.  Each day leading up to my holidays, a new tray of cookies, squares, or chocolates appeared on the lunchroom table at work.  Treats are in abundance, and as both a lover of baking them and devouring them, I like to whip up a bunch of my own so I can contribute to being part of the problem (...wait...what problem?).

This year I planned all my Christmas baking for my first day of holidays.  I had all my ingredients and was ready to go, and my mother surprised me with an invite to use her kitchen.  Something clicked with her suggestion and what better way to kick off the holidays then in the loving embrace of my family.  My folks live in a 3-story apartment building where they occupy the middle floor, my grandparents reside on the ground floor, and my bro and bro-in-law live happily on the third floor.  Also, my aunt owns the building so it definitely a family affair.  Although I am just a guest when I visit, the bonus for me is that I can wear my PJs to any part of that building and help myself to cupboards and fridges, all without knocking first.  I live a charmed life!

I ensured all my ingredients would be available in my Mother's kitchen ("do you have 4 eggs?"), and trucked my caboose over there last Friday morning for some baking fun.  Baking alone in my kitchen has it's merits; I can blast the tunes, dance around, and lick all the spoons when no one is looking.  But baking at Mom's brought it's own amount of joy with it.  Any time waiting for cookies to bake, caramel to boil, or the timer to go, was spent with Dad showing me funny videos he taped off TV, or having funny conversations with my Bro-in-law as I chilled confectionaries in his fridge (Mom's fridge was beyond full that close to Christmas!).  All in all is was a great day, and I packed up all my baking into ten gifts bags for handing out to loved ones.  My Grandma applauded my efforts: "Homemade gifts are the best kind of gift!  They are from the heart". Thanks Grandma. From my heart to my recipients stomachs. I aim to please.

Round One: Haystacks.  For recipe click here.

My giant pile of treats to start the day off right!
Then bagged in holiday whimsy!

Round Two: Chocolate Mint Chip Chocolate Cookies.
In all their minty chocolate and chewy glory!
And then bagged for your eating pleasure!

Round Three: Peanut Butter Cups.  I got this recipe from my sister-in-law and it is spot on every time.
First make the peanut butter centers and chill for 2 hours!
Put melted chocolate in baking cups and add peanut butter piece.
Cover with more chocolate and chill.
Test them to make sure they are yummy.  This one was for sure.

Round Four: Carmel Popcorn with Peanuts and Pretzels.
A masterpiece as it cools.
Again, bagged for your pleasure.

The Completed Ensemble:
Treatie treat bags spreading holiday cheer!

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, December 29, 2011 No comments
To be fair, my Mom's caramel corn is pretty amazing.  Even Gary is getting in on the good stuff:

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, December 28, 2011 2 comments
We love nicknames in this family.  We have a thousand for Gary (the Bear, Gare-Bear, Squid, Squidly, Squiddle, Bearis, Lil' Boss, the Gerrorist, to name just a few).  We also have nicknames for each other. Sickly cute things like Baby, The Baby, Pants, The Pants, Baby-Pants, Bum, The Bum, and Bumble.

We were doing some pre-Christmas looking around the stores and found the following:

Cute right?  And then we noticed his name:

I've seen Rudolph a thousand times and didn't know his name was Bumble.  How adorable!  Before Christmas he was $5 and frugal me can't spend that much on something impractical just because it is cute.  But with 50% off boxing week sale, I now have my namesake sitting on my desk!  :)

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, December 28, 2011 2 comments
Christmas Cactus!!

I'm pretty sure every time this cactus makes flowers I will post a photo on the internet.

I love this plant. I love that it is 60+ years old.  I love that it is a survivor.  I love that it used hang in my Nanny's house and then in my family home growing up.  I love that it is a daily part of my life. I love how strong this plant is. It is bursting with new growth and is pretty much on schedule for it's Christmas blooms.  Blooming a week out of December? I would say this plant is right on time.  Way to go, buddy! xoxoxo

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, November 27, 2011 3 comments
I woke up today with one goal: finish Lego Harry Potter.  Done and Done.

Posted by Jen B On Saturday, November 26, 2011 1 comment
I did some baking for an event we are having at work later this week.  Called Haystacks, these are my favourite treats to make this time of year, as they are easy, tasty, and contain a weird combo of ingredients. Namely: chow mein noodles (the dark yellow/orange sticks that sometimes come with chinese food).  Really?  Really.

This recipe comes from my friend Heather, who made them for an event one night years ago when we worked together at university.  When I first tried them, the mixture of flavours and textures blew my mind.  With a combination of crunchy (chow mein noodles), sweet (butterscotch chips and peanut butter), and soft (mini marshmallows), the discovery of the ingredient list only added to my enjoyment as I couldn't understand why these things would be mixed together - and yet I never wanted them to be apart again.  These treats have weird-ingredient-combination bonus enjoyment.  Awesome!  Also, every time I make these I forget that the recipe makes a tonne of treats, but thankfully this year I am donating over half of them to work. My thighs thank me for being so generous.

2 cups butterscotch chips
1 cup smooth peanut butter
4 cups mini colourful marshmallows
3 cups chow mein noodles (I got mine at Bulk Barn)

Step 1:
Measure out mini marshmallows and chow mein noodles.  Set aside.
Anyone else questioning this combination of ingredients?
Step 2: 
Place butterscotch chips and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave to melt together, stirring often.  I put mine on for 30 seconds, stirred, 30 more seconds, stirred, and then 20 more seconds and it was thoroughly mixed.
I love everything about this photo.
Step 3.
Add marshmallows and chow mein noodles to the butterscotch/peanut butter mixture.  Stir.
Starting to mix...
Mixed thoroughly!
Step 4.
Drop by messy tablespoons onto wax paper lined cookie trays.  Avoid the temptation to lick your fingers after you drop each one.  This batch made about 40 treats, so be prepared to share them or gain weight if you make them.

Step 5.
A yummy treat!  

Posted by Jen B On Monday, November 21, 2011 3 comments
As mentioned earlier, I am pretty obsessed with the Lego series of games for the Wii.  Right now my focus is on Lego Harry Potter (I'm already about 60% done), but I had yet to complete Lego Batman (I was 99.4% finished when Harry Potter sucked me in).  This morning I successfully achieved the final 0.6% of the game, thus completing my Lego Batman mission.  100% feels nice and satisfying!!

100% - Batman approved!

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, October 16, 2011 2 comments
Over Thanksgiving weekend I had lunch with my friend Sarah at a diner in Craighurst called Loobies.  Serving diner classics, I ordered a triple decker grilled cheese that was made with a combination of mozzarella and cheddar cheese.  I liked it so much I picked up some good bread and John and I made our own decadent grilled cheeses at home.

Step 1: Use every kind of cheese you have on hand!  We had mozzarella, old cheddar, feta, and parmesan.

Step 2: Use real butter and fry the assorted cheeses between bread.  We used Villaggio Italian Style White Bread with sesame seeds.  Soooo thick and good...

Step 3: Enjoy!!  We indulged with a side of spicy fries!  Yum!

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, October 12, 2011 No comments
On a drive to Elmvale this evening I noticed the sign for the NDP candidate in my neighbouring riding of Simcoe-Grey:

Here's hoping he plays acoustic and sings eight minute power ballads!

Speaking of which, here is my favourite Dave Matthews songs lately:

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, October 04, 2011 1 comment
I just bought my fourth Lego based video game (thanks Amazon.ca!).  In 5-7 business days I will be the proud owner of Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4.  The second game in the series is being released in November, so I was able to score the old one for $19.99.  Seriously, I will buy almost any video game if it is under $20, but especially if it is Lego themed.   

I bought my Nintendo Wii in August and almost immediately got addicted to the Lego games.  It stated with Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (I'm about 25% finished), then I got thoroughly obsessed with Lego Batman (and still am - I'm over 90% finished and have over 3 billion studs!).  I haven't really gotten into Lego Indiana Jones yet (I need more vacation time!), and I just saw the deal Lego Harry Potter today, so I will be getting obsessed with that in the near future.  It is also already decided that whenever Lego Pirates of the Caribbean falls to the $19.99 mark, it will be added to the collection as well.

And because I am so into Lego right now, I google searched for this awesome website that lets you create your own Lego character.  So this is me if I was in a Lego game - my accessories are a lightsaber and a coffee!! Not sure what my ability would be, but I'm sure I'm super fun!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, October 03, 2011 2 comments
When John and I made the choice to get a pizza the other night, we had no idea that we were actually investing in Gary's happiness.  Not only did she make a bed out of the box, she also found herself a new treat dispenser.  Pretty much my cat's life goals are to sleep and eat, and this pizza box brought those two joys together beautifully.
I think there is bacon in there!

Yep, definitely bacon!

Mmmmm.... hunted bacon...

Pizza Cat!!

You can actually see her tongue in this one... Bear likes bacon.

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, October 02, 2011 No comments
Gary is a pro when it comes to finding weird places to sleep.  I often wonder what could be comfortable about certain places she chooses (for example: sleeping on John's multi-tracker).  Her most recent "bed" doesn't look comfy-cozy to me, but I can kinda see where she is going with it.  Being able to fall asleep bathed in pizza stink (bacon + sausage + cheese!), doesn't sound half bad.
Mmmm.... Pizza bed...

Awaiting dreams of meat and cheese...

New bed sprawl...

New bed = BLISS!

Guarding the new spot...

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, October 02, 2011 1 comment
Last night for a Friday night treat, we sprung for Really Good Bacon.  It was thick cut, peppercorn crusted, and hickory smoked.  It was almost $6 for a pound, but upon consumption, it was completely worth it.  Not to mention that I ate my slices atop of a beautifully cooked prime rib hamburger, sharing space with crumbled feta and jalapenos.  The whole meal could be classified as "too good".  And the added bonus?  When I awoke this morning the kitchen still smelled of glorious bacon.  Looks like I'll be going for round two today! :)

Posted by Jen B On Saturday, October 01, 2011 No comments
Time is moving so fast for me right now and I don't want to miss out on summer.  I almost had myself convinced that I couldn't do summer activities because I get home too late from work (6:00pm) and by the time I have dinner it is too late to do anything. Not true!! The weather has been so beautiful over the past three weeks and it has lasted well into the evening.  It is daylight until almost 10:00pm so I have time.  What I often lack is the 'get up and go' energy after being at work all day.

Wednesday night I knew I needed to get outside, but after dinner I felt tired, and the urge to do nothing started creeping in.  John encouraged me to go out on my bike anyway, which I slowly got ass my ass in gear to do, and I woke up in a big way.  It was only my second bike ride of the season so I wasn't sure how far I could go.  When I got on my bike, it just sort of drove itself to the beach.  Once there I kicked off my shoes and got almost knee deep in the beautiful, clear, warm, gorgeous water. The wind was blowing, so there were also big, beautiful waves that kept crashing into me. I didn't have my swimsuit with me, so I just enjoyed the water on my feet and the sights and sounds of the beach.  It was just lovely and I wholeheartedly agree that life is better at the beach.

The bike ride home is uphill the whole way and I really got a good work out doing it.  Halfway home, John met up with me in the car, to offer a ride if I was too tired to bike the whole way.  I was happy and energized and was more than able to make it home (up all the hills), but I find it sweet that he cares.

Thursday night we finally got a parking pass so we drove down to the beach for a quick swim.  I'm overjoyed that the water is not freezing at 8:00pm as I really want to spend as much time in the water as I can this summer, and after work is my prime time to enjoy it.  I will get to enjoy some daytime swims this summer too, as I had a day off yesterday and my Bro's came up and we spent three wonderful hours at the beach.  Looking forward to going back sometime this weekend and then every beautiful evening for the remainder of the summer.  Can't wait!

Posted by Jen B On Saturday, July 16, 2011 1 comment
It's Perfect.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, July 13, 2011 No comments
I've been craving a cold lunch for a while now, and since it is so fricken' hot out there today (feels like 33ÂșC), it was the perfect day to have one.  Having a cold lunch, cold plate, deli dinner (and various other names, I'm sure), allows for both yummy food and relief from the heat on a super hot day.  Plus it is an amazing excuse to make and eat deviled eggs without having to go to a pot luck!

There are loads of Deviled Egg recipes online (try All Recipes, and there's even DeviledEggs.com), and today's recipe is a mishmash from both those sites, plus a little added flare of my own.

Step 1. Hard boil 6 eggs and let them cool.  Peel and cut lengthwise and scoop out the yolks.

Step 2. Mix egg yolks, 4 tbsp mayo, 1/2 tsp dry hot mustard, 1/2 tsp vinegar, 1/8 tsp garlic salt, and pepper to taste.  Scoop the yolk mixture back into the eggs as equally as you can (I used a teaspoon but you can use an icing bag if you want to be fancy!).  Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

I ate mine with some store bought macaroni and potato salad (both sprinkled with shredded cheese).  It was super yummy and perfectly cold on this very hot day.  What are your favourite foods to eat when it's hot out?

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, July 10, 2011 No comments
This yummy cake and I would like to wish you a very Happy Canada Day!  Hope you're having a good one! :)

Posted by Jen B On Friday, July 01, 2011 3 comments
We couldn't get it together to plant our full garden this summer, but we have a few vegetables started and some flowers planted.  And of course by we, I mean John.  I have been really lost when it comes to doing anything lately, so kudos to John for having initiative.  But it's not like I did absolutely nothing - I did help to pick out the flower seeds and I took all the photos for this post! It was really the least (most) I could do. :)

In lieu of a full vegetable garden John made a vegetable box that he planted a few of our favourites into. We are kind of rocking the patio garden thing this year.
Vegetable box full view
Green Beans
Green Leaf Lettuce
Patio Habanero and Patio Tomato
There is also some unruly oregano that came up on its own
 where the herb garden was last year

We also planted some flower seeds that are just starting to sprout.  We have an area in the backyard that is the resting place of some pretty amazing pets that have passed on over the years.  John is making a rock/flower garden to honour them.  He planted all perennials, so hopefully it remains beautiful year after year.
Rock/Flower garden
A perennial flower sprouting
  How is your garden this year?

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, June 28, 2011 1 comment
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