Happy Halloween!! I hope you are having a great one!

I made a batch of double chocolate cookies earlier this week and then kicked myself for not making them Halloween themed somehow. But the moment I got the idea, I knew I could correct it. All I needed was a little icing sugar and some orange food colour and Halloween cookies came to life.

So these are my afterthought Halloween Jack o' Lantern double chocolate cookies! Happy Halloween everyone!

Posted by Jen B On Friday, October 31, 2014 4 comments
The County of Simcoe is collecting used disposable batteries next week as part of the regular curb side collection. They mailed out battery collection bags a few weeks ago, and all we have to do is fill them with dead batteries and put them out at the side of the road. I love when they make it easy for people to do the right thing.
Battery Collection Bag
The waste management program in Simcoe County is already really good at diverting materials out of the landfill, as there are lots of items that can be dropped off at the local dump for free. Last year we did a big clean out of our garage and dropped off a few carloads of old paint cans, half full cans of various chemicals, car batteries, and scrap metal, all for free. It makes me feel good that I can help the environment and still get rid of the things I need to dispose of.

So I have happily filled my battery bag and I'm glad this new program is here to keep these items out of the landfill.
Batteries ready for pick up
Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, October 29, 2014 6 comments
Over the weekend I made some homemade chicken soup and some homemade buns for soup and sandwich night. I've posted about the soup here, and I thought it was about time I posted my bun recipe. Using my hand-me-down and awesome bread maker, these buns are so easy to make and a weekly staple in our house. I've also used this bun recipe many times for dinner rolls, making 24 rolls instead of 12 buns.

Home Made Buns (adapted from Sanyo's The Home Bakery Book, 1988)

4 cups all purpose flour
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
2 tbs milk
2 eggs, each added with water to measure 3/4 cups (or use yolk only, if desired)
2 tsp active dry yeast

1. Place ingredients in bread machine pot in order listed. Let stand 5 minutes. Use DOUGH setting and press start. Dough will be complete in 1 hour 15 minutes.

2. Remove dough from bread maker and place in a greased bowl, turning to coat.

3. Let rise 20-30 minutes.

4. Punch down dough and shape into 12 buns. I like to use a scale to get them all about the same size.

5. Let rise 20-30 minutes.

6. Bake at 375°F for 10-13 minutes.

Enjoy as part of a soup and sandwich combo for maximum enjoyment.

Posted by Jen B On Monday, October 27, 2014 9 comments
The past few weeks have been very rainy, cloudy, and miserable outside. It got to the point where I was starting to feel rainy, cloudy, and miserable too. It reached a head on Monday, when I realized I was having a "case of the Mondays". I knew baking wasn't going to cure it, so I went and got my favourite order of take out sushi to wash away my Monday blues.

This take out meal consists of Spicy Tuna Rolls, Avocado Rolls, and Yam Tempura. This is the same order I get almost every time, and whenever I'm done eating it, I always wonder why I didn't order twice as much. Yum!

Posted by Jen B On Friday, October 24, 2014 9 comments
As of last week, the Ontario Fire Code changed to make Carbon Monoxide Detectors mandatory in Ontario homes that have a fuel burning appliance (furnace, wood stove, etc), or an attached garage. We didn't have any CO detectors in our home, and I'm glad the Fire Code changed, otherwise I never would have thought to install them. Better safe than sorry.

But this blog post isn't really about the fire code or carbon monoxide. It's about the Amazon box that the detectors came in that Gary decided was her new hang out (even though the box was clearly too small for her to be comfortable).

My cat is the best!

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, October 23, 2014 8 comments
We started adding dried chives to our meals earlier this year, enhancing mac n' cheese, dressing up baked potatoes, and seasoning many other dishes. We realized we loved them in anything and everything and added them to our weekly grocery list.

We bought the store brand bag of chives, which were only $0.79 per bag and so easy to just throw into the cart. We'd pick up two or three bags at a time, as it seemed like a good deal.

I was at Bulk Barn a few weeks ago and decided to see how much bulk chives cost. They were $5.29 for 100g, which I initially thought was expensive because I'd been getting a whole bag of them for only $0.79. When I got home, I was surprised to realize that the bags I'd been buying were only 5.5g. Which meant that 100g of those chives actually worked out to $14.36! I'm so happy I looked into it, because it turns out I've been overspending on chives.

So I went back to the Bulk Barn and picked up 100g (...I got exactly 100g too, because my bulk measuring skills are awesome, apparently).

My giant bag of chives is equivalent to 18 bags of the ones I used to get. So we currently have ALL the chives and can now have as many fancy baked potatoes as we want.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, October 22, 2014 10 comments
As I mentioned last week, one my favourite things about October is pumpkin spice. I love trying the new treats and bevys that restaurants come up with, as well as making some recipes at home. I recently indulged in some of the pumpkin spice offerings from Tim Hortons and really enjoyed them.

Pumpkin Pie Doughnut - includes pie crust crumble and pumpkin pie filling.

Pumpkin Spice Muffin - includes pumpkin seeds on top and icing in the middle.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, October 17, 2014 9 comments
I'm currently reading my 30th book of the year and am about 200 pages away from hitting my Goodreads reading challenge goal. There are still a few months left in the year and I'm excited to see how many more books I can read. I love books!

Part of the joy of reading is getting a good book deal, and I got plenty of them this summer/fall. I previously posted about picking up some books at the Elmvale Sales Barn, and I found many more there over the summer. We also went to some used bookstores in Barrie yesterday with the hope of finding some Stephen King so I could complete my Dark Tower collection. We did pretty well too! 

The following is the complete list of used books I've collected over the past four months:

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, trade paperback, found at the Sales Barn for $5.00

On the Road by Jack Kerouac, paperback, found at the Sales Barn for $1.00

Wizard and Glass by Stephen King, mass market paperback, found at the Sales Barn for $1.66

Flashfire by Richard Stark, paperback, found at the Sales Barn for $0.50

Firebreak by Richard Stark, paperback, found at the Sales Barn for $0.50

Neuromancer by William Gibson, paperback, found at the Sales Barn for $1.00

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, paperback, found at the Sales Barn for $1.00

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, found at the Sales Barn for $1.66

Lightning by Dean Koontz, mass market paperback, found at my friend's bookstore for no charge!

Wizard and Glass by Stephen King, trade paperback, found at the library book sale for $1.00

Song of Susannah by Stephen King, mass market paperback, found at the library book sale, $1.00

Pagan Babies by Elmore Leonard, mass market paperback, found at the library book sale for $1.00

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Wilson and Shea, paperback, found at Kerry's Bookstore for $7.50

The Dark Tower by Stephen King, trade paperback, found at Rivendell Books for $10.00

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King, mass market paperback, Rivendell Books,$6.00

The Stand by Stephen King, paperback, found at Rivendell Books for $4.00

16 used books found their way into my life since June, purchased for a grand total of $42.82.
Averaged out, each book was: $2.68

I bought Wizard and Glass twice because I couldn't leave the beautiful trade paperback I found at the library book sale, since it was only $1.00.

With the books we got at Rivendell Books yesterday, My Dark Tower series is almost complete. I'm still on the lookout for Wolves of the Calla (book #5).

I already had a copy of HP and the Half Blood Prince, but for $1.66 I got a copy that matched the rest of the books I have in the series. That kind of stuff normally doesn't matter to me, but for $1.66 I thought, what the hell.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, October 15, 2014 6 comments
I love this time of year and no matter what is going on in life, there is always so much to be thankful for. I do a lot of celebrating on Thanksgiving weekend (mostly in the form of eating wonderful food) and I have many reasons to celebrate.

This weekend we celebrated with a 7 lb chicken that my brother raised. We feasted yesterday and are having leftovers tonight. Very thankful to be able to cook and enjoy such wonderful food.

We also celebrated our car-niversary this weekend. We've had our little baby car for four years now. She still gets us where we're going and without too much complaining either. Very thankful she is still going strong.

Thanksgiving weekend is also the anniversary of when I met John. So another excuse to have a big dinner and celebrate all we are thankful for. Also a great excuse to bake something. I made some plain butter tarts and we ate them cold from the fridge. Pecan butter tarts are great, but these plain ones were fantastic.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, October 13, 2014 10 comments
It's harvest time so there have been some cheap deals on potatoes. I usually get mine for free from my farmer brother, but he decided not to plant them this year. Brothers, eh? (haha!) I already miss his potatoes - 50lbs of his are just perfect for the winter. Luckily I was able to pick some up cheap from the grocery store.

We've actually gone through 20lbs so far and have another 20lbs on deck in the porch. We recently made some into deep fried home fries. They are incredibly delicious and the house always smells like a fair when we're cooking them. We served them with pan fried chicken and gravy and were full and happy for the night.

Chicken and home fries served plain (no gravy):

Chicken and home fries with pan gravy:

Serve with a salad and it's a complete meal!

Posted by Jen B On Friday, October 10, 2014 6 comments
I got pretty interested in Major League Baseball this year. My hometown team is The Toronto Blue Jays and I had a lot of fun watching them this season. Even though they didn't make the playoffs, they had a lot of great games and moments and I was happy to be watching. I also got into live-tweeting games (which I'm still doing for the postseason), as it adds an extra element of fun and community to the game.

My awesome friend Bryan is also really into baseball and he recently found some Blue Jays items in his closet that he thought would fit me. It was such a wonderful surprise and I absolutely love them.

Bryan awesomely gave me two jerseys:

And two t-shirts:

Even though the Jays season is over, I'm going to be wearing these all winter long. I already had some Jays talk with a nice old man in a waiting room last week, who looked at my jersey and said "I like your shirt - but what happened?" Our conversation ended with hopes that 2015 will be a postseason year.

A million thanks to Bryan for these awesome additions to my wardrobe!

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, October 08, 2014 7 comments
I love the autumn months but I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that they are here. I'm so shocked that it's October that I didn't get it together to change my calendar over until yesterday. And when I flipped it, it said October and not June. I know I lived it, but I'm not sure summer really happened.

But here we are in October. A month I actually really love so I'd like to point out some of the things I love about it. Kick off the month with all the little joys this season has to offer.

Pumpkin Spice. I love pumpkin spice drinks (latte, tea), and pumpkin spice baked goods (pie, doughnuts, muffins). I love that so many people get into it this time of year.

Autumn Leaves. I have fond memories of returning home from university for Thanksgiving, and seeing the trees that lined our country road changed to so many different colours. October always feels like a homecoming for me.

Sweaters. I love sweaters. Besides socks and undies, this is the clothing item I have the most of. A wonderful bonus is that Gary (the cat) also loves sweaters. So this time of year cat cuddles increase exponentially.

Thanksgiving. Turkey. All the fixins. Baked goods. It's a beautiful time of year.

Halloween. Especially Halloween Simpsons episodes and fun sized chocolate bars. Also love seeing what my nieces and nephews dress up as. Always the cutest!

MLB Postseason. I have always loved baseball but this was my first year of really following MLB as an adult. And what a year to get into it! The postseason has been incredible so far, with so many of the the games going into extra innings. Lots of fun!

What are some of the things you love about October?

Posted by Jen B On Monday, October 06, 2014 11 comments
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