Today marks the 700th post on the blog. I love celebrating these milestones. Sometimes I just can't believe the number is so high. It also makes me think about the coming years on the blog. I wonder if I will blog all the way to 1000?

Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 31, 2015 3 comments
Our favourite Chinese buffet is Mandarin. We affectionately call it Mandy, and a trip there means you don't have to eat for the next twenty hours or so. There are so many different and wonderful food items to choose from, and everything smells delicious. I have many favourite dishes there (I really enjoy the surimi salad from the salad bar), but I always need to save room for dessert. It's like being a kid in a candy store, there are so many options.

For the month of July, Mandarin celebrated Canada Day with some Canadian style dishes. Mom and I went to check them out and one of the dessert options was chocolate dipped bacon! I had never tried it before, and it was surprisingly good.

This photo depicts my dessert plate from our visit. If I remember all these wonderful flavours correctly, I had: chocolate dipped bacon, maple cheesecake, coconut cream pie (a must have), a honey twist, a bear paw (with added whipped cream and smarties), and a butter tart. Delicious.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, August 28, 2015 4 comments
I've been walking regularly, so throughout the summer I have seen the surrounding farmer's fields come to life. During the 30x30 challenge in May, I took a photo of a newly planted corn field. Now it's August and the corn is fully grown. Beautiful visual of the passage of time.



Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 26, 2015 4 comments

Simcoe County celebrated Pride Week from July 31- Aug 8th, with many municipalities raising the rainbow flag to celebrate. We live in Tiny Township, and even though Simcoe Pride has been around for a few years, this was the first time our municipality participated. We went over to the township office to watch them raise the Pride flag, and I was very proud that our small town was celebrating diversity.

A fair amount of people showed up for the event, which was wonderful to see, and I made and shared cupcakes with the crowd to celebrate.

Making rainbow cupcakes is one of my favourite things so I always love an opportunity to bake them. The recipe for rainbow cupcakes can be found here. I also made some rainbow cupcake toppers, which I have previously posted about here.

Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 24, 2015 4 comments
There's been a bit of heat wave here this week so oven cooking is off limits. BBQ only! We picked up some fresh farmer corn and new potatoes, and grilled them alongside some hamburgers and hot dogs. Love a good BBQ on a hot day. Wonderful!

Posted by Jen B On Friday, August 21, 2015 6 comments
My farmer brother raised chickens again this year, and last week we bought four of them. Each of the chickens weighed between five and five and a half pounds, so perfect for roasting. Even though roast chicken dinner is fantastic, I decided I wanted more meal options from all these birds. I took to Google and set out to learn how to cut up a whole chicken. It seemed easier than I thought, so I was really excited to try it.

I learned how to divide chicken by watching this short YouTube video. I watched it about five times before I took to work on my chickens.

On chicken day, I successfully parted three chickens. The first one took about twenty minutes (maybe longer), as I figured out how the joints worked and the correct angle for the knife. I had the YouTube video called up on my iPod, so I could learn step by step as I worked (while frequently washing my hands). My first attempt wasn't perfect, but it helped me learn for the next one. The second chicken was far easier to part, taking about half the time as I got the hang of it. By the third chicken I was full speed and the breast pieces looked like they were from the grocery store. I was so happy and so proud of myself! Kitchen skills!

From my three chickens I got the following for the freezer:

2-pack of chicken legs x 3

2-pack of chicken breasts x 3

12 (split) chicken wings

3 chicken backs for soup stock

I also kept one of my chickens whole, so we can have a roast chicken one night too. Very excited.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 19, 2015 7 comments
For the Civic Holiday weekend, Mom and Dad came up and we hit the Sales Barn looking for deals. The Sales Barn was really happening that day, and we had to park in a field, where we sort of made our own parking space. The place was full of vendors, regulars and new ones just for the long weekend. Dad got some DVD deals and I got book and salami deals. Mom got some Ontario veggies, and it was an all around great day.

Books were all $1.00 each, and I found the following books that day:

Cabal, The Damnation Game, Sacrament, The Great and Secret Show, all by Clive Barker.

Hearts in Atlantis, by Stephen King (a character from the Dark Tower is in this book).

The Bounty Hunters, by Elmore Leonard (his first novel).

The Silmarillian, by J.R.R. Tolkien (a nice soft cover to replace our beat up copy).

We also got some all beef salamis that we ate way too fast, and had to go back the following Sunday to get a few more. We love it!

We ended our fun get together with a trip to the fish and chip truck. It never disappoints.

All in all a great day of family, book deals, and great food!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 17, 2015 2 comments
There was vanilla ice cream in the freezer last week, and even though it is lovely on its own, I took it as an opportunity to make a fancy dessert at home. And fancy in this case is also easy, as I made a mug brownie in the microwave to go with it. There is something so simple and amazing about mixing a hot brownie with cold ice cream. The ice cream melts, the desserts blend... it is fantastic. It tasted like something I would order at a restaurant for $6. Love it.

The brownie takes no time to make, as I've memorized the recipe. (Dangerous).

I made this brownie before with coconut oil, and you can find that recipe here.

Mug brownie:
1 tbs margarine, melted
1 tbs water
splash vanilla
dash salt
1 tbs cocoa powder
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs flour

Method: Mix the melted margarine, water, vanilla, and salt in mug. Whisk in cocoa powder until fully combined. Add sugar; whisk to combine. Add flour, whisk to combine. Microwave for 1 minute.

Top with some vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Posted by Jen B On Friday, August 14, 2015 2 comments
One of the best things about summer is reading a great book outdoors, and I've found a nice new spot to do just that. There is a park that's a twenty minute walk from the house, and it is big, green, and beautiful. I've been down a few times since I discovered it and unless there is a day-camp full of kids, it is pretty much empty. A great place for reading and relaxing. In the evenings there are baseball games, and I had a fun time watching adult fastball one evening last week.

There is a big hill on the eastern side of the park that allows for some scenic views. The following three photos show the left, middle, and right sides of the park (view from the hill).

I found a shaded bench where I can relax and read or watch baseball if there's a game on. The following are some views from the bench.

And lastly, this is a photo of my new favourite bench. It has seen better days, I'm sure, but otherwise a great place to sit and enjoy the summer.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 12, 2015 4 comments
These are my new favourite cupcakes; chocolate small batch cupcakes from Celebrating Sweets. They are so easy and six is the perfect number of cupcakes to have when I'm craving them.

The first time I tried these I topped them with strawberry buttercream. This time out I made some vanilla buttercream and they tasted so good. Love chocolate and the sweet vanilla together.

I sprinkled a little cocoa powder onto the icing to give it a more festive look. This recipe calls for either 1/4 cup of hot water or 1/4 of coffee. I've made it both ways and highly recommend the coffee. It really enhances the chocolate flavour. So good!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 10, 2015 4 comments
This easy but oh so tasty salad is topped with boxed chicken fingers that were cooked and chopped. This is my new favourite at home salad, which I covered in creamy poppy seed dressing to give it some extra yum. This salad is fresh spinach, grated carrot, chopped purple onion, and cucumbers. The best!

Posted by Jen B On Friday, August 07, 2015 4 comments
I have a pair of shorts that go on super loose and then are tied to fasten them. It works fine most of the time but is total bullshit if the cloth tie breaks (which mine did). Without the tie you are left with a pair of shorts that are about ten sizes too big, which are only good for keeping your ankles warm.

I was thinking of what I could use as a replacement tie, and my knitters brain asked: "Would an I cord work?"

I refreshed my memory of I cords with a youtube tutorial and then proceeded to make one for my shorts.

It took two episodes of The Wire to get it to the right length, then I strung it through my shorts and now have a working garment again. Thanks knitting skills!

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 05, 2015 2 comments
I recently picked up a bag of 'ready for banana bread' bananas on the reduced produce shelf at the grocery store. The overripe bananas are roughly half price and they are immediately ready for baking. No waiting or accidentally forgetting the fresh and full priced bananas.

I got all these bananas for $1
These bananas made up two loaves of Mom's famous banana bread. I enjoy it served with a little butter or marganine and a cup of tea. Perfect afternoon treat.

Further Reading

Mom's Banana Bread Recipe

My version of Mom's Banana Bread recipe (as muffins)

Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 03, 2015 2 comments
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2015 Reading Challenge

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Jen has read 0 books toward her goal of 30 books.

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