Scraps of Me - Pretty Cake Bunting!

A new trend that I've seen making its way around blog-land is bunting.  I adored this Ten Minute Bunting Card that I saw at Trendy Treehouse, and whipped up several this week in festive fall colours.  Many posts on fall decorating have featured bunting on mantles, shelves, and windows, another idea I can't wait to try.  But one of my absolute favorite uses for bunting without a doubt, is Cake Bunting.

I've seen a lot of examples of cake bunting over the last few weeks.  You can purchase bunting ready made, but honestly, it couldn't be easier to make.  All you need are two bamboo skewers, some twine, and a few scraps of pretty paper.  Cut triangles out of your paper (they don't have to be perfect; bunting should have a sort of homespun charm to it), tie either end of your twine to a bamboo skewer, and glue the triangles to the twine.  I made two sets and arranged them so they were a little offset:

How cute is that?  I apologize for the picture; normally I try to avoid plugs, jacks, and empty frosting containers but I had to snap this picture quickly before the cake got consumed!  

This project literally took me ten minutes.  The great thing about the mini bunting projects (such as the card and the cake bunting) is that they are the perfect opportunity to use up leftover scraps of paper.  I used a few scraps of double sided Stampin' Up paper; what I really loved about this is that the bunting is pretty from any angle since the paper is double sided.  I had bamboo skewers, twine, and glue on hand so this project literally cost me nothing to make!

When I go to our local scrapbooking shop next week I am going to pick up some fun Fall and Halloween papers and make some garland bunting for my mantle.  Then I'll save the scraps and make some cake bunting for our Halloween celebrations! I can think of countless Christmas decorating ideas incorporating bunting...oh, the possibilities!

The next time you have something to celebrate (a birthday, a baby shower, or just a really great day!) fetch your stash and whip up some cake bunting!  It's fast and (practically) free Happy!

It (Finally) Feels Like Home...

Any of you who have relocated far away from all you knew well, held dear, and loved with all your heart, will understand my next statement:

Dorothy had it right; there's no place like home.

As most readers of this blog know by now, about a year and a half ago my husband and I relocated clear across Canada to our current place of residence - Kitimat, British Columbia. After many long hugs, tearful goodbyes, and "one last times," we packed up our Jeep with Molly and the cats and set off on a long drive across Canada.  Upon arrival in Kitimat, we resided temporarily in a local motel. Although the lodgings were comfortable and the staff friendly, nothing makes you feel more uprooted than living in a motel (and this was after 8 days of motels on the road).  After about a week, we found a nice house.   Two days later, our belongings arrived.  Once we were unpacked, (about a week later) I decided it was time for me to head out alone and check out my new town.

Kitimat is a very pedestrian friendly town, with a network of pathways and green-spaces.  However, on my Day of Bravery, I was still not familiar with any of these.  Nonplussed, I headed out with my shopping bag and basically followed, on foot, the same route my husband had taken us on wheels (No, I don't drive.).  I got myself to town all right, although I did head up a dirt road and got to see some very nice houses before I got myself turned around.  (To the locals who are reading this, do not even ask!  I've never been able to locate this dirt road again.  I personally believe that Kitimat has it's own version of the Bermuda Triangle.  And no, it wasn't Cran-, Blue-, or Strawberry Street.)  Once in the "City Center" I was OK; I went for a coffee, visited the post office, and picked up a few items at the grocery store.  Carrying the remainder of my Americano, I headed for home, feeling very much in control and enjoying the bright spring air.

This feeling did not last long.

I missed a turn.  As I walked by the soccer fields I felt my first stirrings of doubt.  Had I passed those before?  I kept going.  Hmmm. None of this looked familiar, and yet it did, as we had been taking a lot of drives around our new town.  I walked on.  Reasoning that I should just go strait (our town mainly consists of crescents and cul de sacs connected to main roadways), I plodded away, my Americano cold, my feet sore, and my spirits low, low, low.  Finally, I reached the end of the road, and saw a place that I definitely remembered from my husband's list of "Do Not Go" locations.  That was it.

I was lost.  I was lost, and I didn't know anybody, and I was never, ever, going to find my way home again.  In that moment, I hated my new town and wished desperately to be back in Sydney.  Whimpering, I turned around and headed back the way I came.  Desperate, I broke the first rule of being lost and left the "main trail" so to speak, and started roaming the crescents and cul de sacs.  At this point I didn't know if I'd even recognize my new house.  

Plum tuckered, I decided to sit down on a bench in a playground (we've got a lot of playgrounds, too.). As I crossed the grass, I looked up, and saw something I definitely recognized; the school that was across the street from our house!  There was hope!  Gathering what was left of my bearings, I headed back to the sidewalk, and, keeping one eye trained on the school, I slowly picked my way home.  Once in my house (yes, I recognized it!) I collapsed on the sofa with Molly and decided I would never, ever leave the house alone again.  At least not without a map.

Over the next few months, thanks to my husband and a few new friends, I learned the path system.  It turns out, the entire time I was wandering around lost, I was never more than 5 minutes from my front doorstep.  And the walk into town?  What took me half an hour is actually a 10 minute stroll.  With time and practice, I was soon zipping around town like I'd been here forever.  I fell in love with our new town.  The map got to stay home.  

By Fall I thought I was foolproof.  Last October I got my comeuppance when a some friends invited me to lunch at a local restaurant.  They offered to pick me up but I said that I would walk to get my exercise.  I headed out with plenty of time and enjoyed a brisk walk in the autumn air.  I kept my ears open and jingled my keys a lot, as there had been several bear sightings over the past week.  I reached the restaurant, sat down, and began to peruse the menu.  My friends had not yet arrived, but then, I was early.  Settling back in the booth, I glanced down at the table top. I noticed that the name of the restaurant was emblazoned on the tabletop...and it was not the name of the restaurant I was supposed to be sitting in.

Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no!!!!  Mumbling an incoherent explanation to the hostess, I stumbled out of the restaurant and took off running.  I checked my watch; I'd be late, but not too bad...if I took a certain path.  The path that the bears had been spotted on.

I approached the path and got out my keys.  Jingle jingle jingle.  In truth, bears are nocturnal and are rarely seen during the day, but rarely wasn't good enough for me.  I saw bears lurking behind cars and mailboxes, waving at me from windows, walking into stores.  Jingle jingle jingle, all the while jogging and leaping over honest to goodness bear scat.  Finally reaching the road the restaurant was on, my cell phone rang.  It was my friends.  I panted an explanation.  Listening to their reply, I realized that this lunch was quickly becoming a comedy of errors; the restaurant was closed.  They picked me up and we made our way back to the establishment I'd been at before my mad dash through the woods.  I gave the server my sanest smile (I think she thought I was drunk).

This all came back to me this evening.  I was out for a walk and I was zipping through the City Center.  My feet were on the path but my eyes were on the clouds swirling around the mountain tops.  I realized I'd reached a point where I didn't even need to think about the paths and roads.  I knew where I was.  It finally feels like home.

I've felt it other places, too.  A few weeks ago my husband and I went to the local coffee shop for a snack.  As we entered, he saw a group of people he knew, and I spotted a friend.  Chatting with her, I glanced across the room at my husband laughing with his friends, and I realized that this was something that happened back East all the time.  It was a familiarity of place that I had thought we might not experience again for a very long time.

There's other things, too.  When we arrived, we watched Maritime news, read the Cape Breton paper, and checked the regional headlines for Nova Scotia on CBC's website.  We knew little about BC politics and we really didn't care to.  But at some point, it changed.  Now, we wade into discussions about BC politics, events, and occurrences, and it's the "stuff" going on back East that we are less aware of (although we really do care to!).  

At first, when I realized that we were identifying BC as home, I felt guilty.  In time, I let the guilt go, realizing that to successfully relocate, you have to integrate.  So yes, while Dorothy may be right in that there's no place like home, home is indeed where you make it.  Confucius once said "Wherever you go, go with all your heart," and I think that's the trick.  Go with all your heart, and be there with all your heart.  

London Fog - At Last!

Fall has officially arrived and with it...the rain.

Kitimat receives a lot of rain.  Our first two summers here were, apparently, exceptionally dry and sunny.  However, both autumns have brought with them clouds, fog, and lots and lots of rain.  And that's perfectly alright with us.

Don't get me wrong.  I love picture perfect, bright sunny autumn days.  Cape Breton is blessed with glorious autumns and at times I do miss the autumn colours and warm weather.  However, cold, grey, rainy days have their charm, too, and I've had plenty of opportunity to test this theory since our arrival on the West Coast.

One of my Fall rituals is to get our espresso / cappuccino maker out of storage and dig out my coffee drink recipes.  I received this espresso maker for Christmas a few years ago, and after a few rocky starts (seriously, I thought it was going to blow up!) I was whipping up lattes and mochas like a barista!  We use the machine all winter, but once the warm weather strikes we put it away.  This keeps our cold weather coffee drink ritual special (and it makes room for our blender and yummy frozen drinks!).

Today was another drizzly, rainy day, so this afternoon I thought it would be the perfect day to take out the espresso maker for another season.  I'd been wanting to try a London Fog, and since our fog would give London's a run for it's money, it seemed like a great recipe to try.  I dug the machine out from its cupboard, wiped it down, and prepared to run a cycle of water through to clean it out.

  Last year I'd had to give it an extra thorough cleaning in order to get the steam nozzle to work, but after some coaxing it started frothing again and we enjoyed another winter's worth of coffee drinks.  As I ran the cycle of water through (to clean it out) I realized that it was going to do the same thing again this year.  Long story short, despite working on the machine for quite some time, it has run its course and I had to retire it today.

What to do?  I had found a great recipe for a London Fog at Brewed Daily and I really wanted to try it.  I'd even made the suggested homemade vanilla sauce (pictured at left). I remembered commenting on a blog last week that had posted on how to make lattes without a machine but for the life of me I couldn't remember which one (if you're reading this, please, remind me in the comments!) I consulted the recipe again; it said that you could heat the milk using a steam nozzle or in the microwave!

I was back in business!  I made the Earl Grey Tea and added vanilla sauce while the milk warmed in the microwave.  I took the milk out of the microwave and looked at it.  Without foam, it just didn't seem quite right.  Why oh why didn't I bookmark that blog post!?  Well, the recipe said that you could whisk the milk until it was frothy.  I got out my hand mixer (which has a tiny whisk attachment) and, very carefully, I frothed the milk with the whisk. Success!  I poured the milk into the tea and stood back to admire my freshly brewed London Fog Latte:

And yes, it tasted as good as it looked!

Blogland Creations - Bender Cake

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Another new post series that I am excited about launching is called "Blogland Creations."  This series will feature projects (recipes, crafts, etc) that I discovered on a blog and then attempted myself.  As most of you have probably noticed, there is some GREAT stuff out there, especially if you make the rounds of the blog hops! I've tried out quite a few ideas now, and I've been wanting to post about them.  However, I feel quite strongly about giving credit where it is due so I will be linking to the blog where I originally saw the project.  I know that some projects have been making the rounds of Blogland for a long time, and their origins are long forgotten, but I am going to do my part to acknowledge the truly talented people who create and blog about it!

The first project I'm featuring knocked my socks off in terms of how absolutely perfect it was.  A few weeks ago (OK, I think it's actually months now!) I was "hopping" one day and in the middle of all the thumbnails I saw a familiar face - Bender from Futurama!  Intrigued, I clicked on the link and was promptly led to the blog I Design.  Jackie, the author of this blog, had decided to host a "Booze and Cigar Party - Bender Style" for her boyfriend's birthday.  (Those of you familiar with Futurama will understand; for those of you who are not, Bender is a cigar and booze loving robot.  He's a hoot.)  The shape, detail, colour, everything about this cake was absolutely perfect.  In fact, it could be a model from the show.  Since my husband is a huge Futurama fan, I thought that I would like to attempt this cake for his upcoming birthday.  Luckily, this post appeared a few weeks prior to his birthday, so I had plenty of time to plan.

This was my first attempt at using rolled fondant, and I will admit that gave me pause.  Was this really the cake to start with?  Not only was it my first try at fondant, the fondant would need to be tinted silver, and the cake was quite big.  I hemmed and hawed; I didn't want to end up with a very expensive disaster on my hands, and no birthday cake to boot.  However, reasoning that fortune favours the brave, I plunged forward and made my plans.

Jackie gives some really good instructions (both in her post and in the related comments) about how she constructed her cake.  I decided to forgo having a perfectly shaped head and instead of making several little cakes as she did, I made four layer cakes (orange and chocolate) and layered them together with chocolate-orange buttercream to make a base.  Then, I took a small mixing bowl that was about the same size as my top layer and filled it with rice krispie treat mix.  This formed the dome of Bender's head.  I followed Jackie's technique of using Rice Krispie Treats to form Bender's eyes.  Rice Krispie treats are incredibly versatile!  Truth be told, I wasn't overly concerned about construction the actual cake; I had enough confidence in my abilities to pull that off.  What really had me concerned was the fondant...

After much deliberation, and consultation with actual cake decorators, I decided to use homemade marshmallow fondant.  All my worries had been in vain; this recipe was a dream and so fun to work with!  Mixing and colouring it was like Play-doh for grown-ups, except that it was DELICIOUS when you ate it!  I made a double batch and tinted one grey.  I discovered that there is no such thing as grey food colouring; I was advised to use a small bit of black paste food colouring, mix it well, and build from there.  Soon, I had perfect grey fondant.  I had been trying to figure out how to make it look like metal, so I picked up a tube of Wilton's Elegant Shimmer Dust in Silver.  Once I had my grey fondant draped over Bender's head, I took a clean artist's brush (only used for food) and lightly brushed the dust all over the cake.  I attached the eyes using bamboo skewers (next time I'll use the suggested lollypop sticks).  For the black detail, I just made a very thin black icing, kind of an edible paint.  I wanted one of those food dye markers but couldn't find one in time.  I found the suggested silver candles for his antenna, with a fondant detail.

Here is my completed interpretation of the I Design Bender cake:

Not too shabby, eh?  Not perfect, but all things considered, I was quite pleased with myself!  I am going to do a tutorial on making marshmallow fondant; I was so impressed with this recipe that I just have to share.  If you've eaten (or spent a fortune) on store bought fondant and been turned off by it, this just may be the recipe to change your mind!

Be sure to check out I Design to see the original (and perfectly amazing) version of this cake!  Thanks to Jackie, and all the other fabulously creative bloggers out there, for making Blogland such a fun place to hang out!

Have a wonderful weekend!  See you on Monday!

The Great Outdoors + A Blog Award!

Before I begin today's post, I just have to say how wonderful all your lovely comments were on Monday!  There is nothing more motivating to me than the knowledge that you enjoy my blog and my posts, and that you take the time to tell me so!  Among all the lovely comments was one from Kat of Kat's Confessions, telling me that there was an award waiting for me on her blog!  Awards are always a thrill, and this one especially so since I get to pass it along to ten lovely bloggers!  Before I can do that, however, I need to list 10 things I like in order to truly accept the award.  So here I go!
  1. My beautiful dogs, Molly and Tinkywink.
  2. Cape Breton Island (the "home of my heart" which I actually love)
  3. "Super, Natural British Columbia" (my current home)
  4. Knitting
  5. Scrap-booking
  6. Red wine
  7. Lazy Sunday mornings in my jammies with lots and lots of coffee
  8. Cooking up a storm!
  9. The first snowfall
  10. Blogging, and all the wonderful blogland friends I've met!
That was fun!  And now, here are the 10 blogs I'd like to share this award with:
  1. Pattycake Manners
  2. Housewife Bliss
  3. Beat Until Fluffy
  4. From the Kitchen of: Mrs. Bettie Rocker
  5. Making the World C.U.T.E.R.
  6. The Girl Creative
  7. Bubblegum and Duct Tape
  9. The Feminist Housewife
  10. Live, Love, Green
These are all fabulous blogs and I am delighted to be able to acknowledge them with this award.  Blogging is rewarding, but it is a lot of work.  I know that many of the authors of these blogs have very busy lives in addition to their blogging, and I so appreciate the work they put into their blogs.  Reading their blogs brings me a lot of joy, and I know you will enjoy them too, so I encourage you to hop over and visit them!  To my 10 recipients, in order to accept your award, you must:
  1. Post who it was that gave you the award.
  2. List 10 things that you like.
  3. Give this award to 10 other blogs and let them know with a comment!

Now then, back to our regularly scheduled program!

As some of you noticed, I was AWOL last Wednesday until the early afternoon.  At that time, I promised an explanation. We went for a campfire with some friends at one of the local "rec" camping sites.  Recreation Sites and Trails BC is a system of backcountry camping sites that are available for use free of charge (I believe they are all free of charge) for up to 14 consecutive days.  Great idea, eh?  It was a beautiful location by the river, and we had a lovely time visiting by the fire.  Before we knew it, it was after midnight and time to head back.  It was after 1:00 AM by the time we got home and clearly, if I started blogging at that point, half asleep and full of toasted marshmallows, well, the results might have been odd!  I reasoned that I promise new content "Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays" but I never specified what time (excuses, excuses, I know!) so I sensibly went to bed and waited until I was well-rested and caffeinated before composing Wednesday's post.

We've been blessed to have lived in two places that are full of breathtaking natural beauty.  Our home in Cape Breton ranges from wildly beautiful (rugged coasts, forests, and mountains) to heart achingly lovely (fields of wildflowers, sparkling lakes, and historical reproductions).  British Columbia, as the motto says, is "Super, Natural" and this week we experienced just how much so, as the "Nature" was practically on our front doorstep.

One night last week we decided to go for a late night drive. We bundled the dogs into the car and headed out.  Not far from our house, my husband slowed the car and pointed at a lamp post in  a church parking lot.  There it was, an owl.   I've always wanted to see an owl in the wild (as opposed to a wildlife park) so this was a thrill!  We parked, got out, and quietly made our way across the lot.  However, you can't be quiet enough for an owl, and soon an ear-piercing shriek filled the night air and the owl took off, showing it's dramatic wingspan.  Mentally crossing this item off my "bucket list" we headed back to the car and out of town to Hirsch Creek Park.  Hirsch Creek Park is a provincial picnic park, and it's a few miles outside of the town proper, on an extremely dark stretch of highway.  We pulled into the parking lot and my husband told me to get out, and I didn't waste any time finding his arm to hold onto!  What could he possibly have to show me in the middle of the night out here, I wondered, when he stopped and told me to look up.  A perfect, endless northern sky, absolutely glittering with stars, canopied the Northern woods.  We star-gazed for a few moments before my nervousness returned, and we headed back to the car and into town. 

Not long after we left the park, we passed another vehicle who flashed their lights at us.  Odd, we thought, we had turned our high-beams down as soon as we saw another car on the horizon.  We shortly discovered what it was they were alerting us to: a very large porcupine was slowly making his way across the dark highway, unconcerned with anything except making his way to his next snack.  I had always pictured porcupines as tiny little fellers, but this one was huge!  Once he was across the highway, we continued into town.  As we drove past the Golf Course, another giant porcupine was waddling along the side of the road!  Marveling at all the wonderful wildlife we had observed that evening, we headed for home, and on the main road, just before we turned off onto our street, we saw the piece de reisistance, a young grizzly bear frolicking in the night air.  At the sight of the car, he stumbled around in confusion for a few moments before running off down a walking path (this is how we knew he was young; an older bear wouldn't have been confused by the sight of a silly old Jeep).  Once we were sure he was off the road, we headed home and went to bed, millions of stars still sparkling in our heads when we closed our eyes.

It was a week for nature in our small town, as we had a very rare visitor, a Kermode Bear.  Kermode, or Spirit Bears, are a rare species of bear that live in Northern British Columbia.  Some, but not all of these bears are born completely white due to a recessive gene (there's a little trivia folks, not all Kermodes are white!).  For more information on the Kermode, please visit this link to Canadian Geographic.  However, it was a white Spirit Bear that made it's way to our town and for a few days he caused quite a bit of drama as sightings of the bear were reported.  It is important to remember that even though a white Kermode is rare and exciting, it is still a bear, and it was becoming frustrated with the amateur paparazzi that were following him around (NOT advisable!).  Conservation officers were able to lure the bear into a humane live trap, and the intrepid little (well, not so little!) traveler was relocated to a better location 100 kilometers away.  Now stay put, Mr. Bear!  We love you, so we want you to stay where you're safe!

To top things off in "Super, Natural British Columbia" this week, our next door neighbor, Alberta, got its first snow of the year!  And when Northern Alberta gets snow, Northern BC is just a hop, skip, and a jump behind!  According to Environment Canada, Canada will actually have a real winter this year (for my international followers, last winter was a joke by Canadian standards, with very little snow and balmy temperatures).  This year, however, things will be different, and you can read all about our upcoming "longer and more intense" winter here.

So there you have it!  Mother Nature in all her wonder, knocking on our door and breathing down our neck!  Time to make a list of winter supplies and get on it, even with our "milder" winter last year we still had lots of snow, and it started before Halloween!

Have a great day!  See you on Friday!

    Scraps of Me - Pickin' Pumpkins...But Where?

    As the weather cools down, the leaves begin to change, and a dusting of snow teases the very tips of the mountains that surround our town, my nesting instinct activates and I find myself obsessed with all things "home."  Cooking, cleaning, and crafting fill the quickly shortening days, and, admittedly, the evenings too.  I knew I'd been busy with the domestic arts when the PVR had a full week of my programs waiting to be watched and the most recent issue of "Canadian Scrapbooker" had barely been flipped through.  This was in large part due to the fact that I had actually been scrapbooking!

    I find scrapbooking to be one of those crafts that is seasonal in nature.   Oh, I enjoy the occasional crop or girl's scrapbook night during the summer months, but if the weather is fine, I'm probably not going to sit still at a table for hours with my trimmers, papers, and adhesives.  But come Fall and Winter, nothing contents me more than sitting at the drafting table in my craft room, a cup of tea (or wine) by my side, carefully piecing together a memory.

    The last year I had gone through a scrapbook "dry spell" of sorts.  I had made a few mini-albums for Christmas gifts, and of course I made lots and lots of cards, but as far as taking on a new album (or even finishing old ones) I hadn't been doing much.  This week, though, I found the perfect project to "kick start" me into scrapping again.  While browsing around a scrapbook store, I saw an adorable mini album adorned with pumpkins sitting on the counter.  A conversation with the sales associate revealed it to be the Fall CD Tin Accordion Album kit by Bo Bunny.  It was a project for a crop night that was going to held at the store, but they were also selling the kits (a smart move in a town that people often travel hours to shop in).  After a few short minutes of consideration, I decided to put back the mish-mash of items in my basket and instead purchase the kit.

    It was everything I needed to motivate me!  For the next few evenings, I measured (twice, and cut once!), glued, tied, trimmed, and assembled.  I tend to "freestyle" a lot when I scrapbook, but sometimes, it's good to go back to basics with a structured project.  I had been trying to figure out on my own how an accordion album went together and now I had instructions.  As well, I had forgotten how a little ink brushed along the edges of a page can really complete the look.  I had to get creative with this effect.  The instructions called for "brown ink chalk," which I didn't have, but I did have a set of Stampin' Up! Stampin' Write markers including one in Suede.  Using the brush end of the marker, I liberally applied ink to a cotton swab, blotted the swab on a piece of scrap paper, and then brushed the diluted colour onto the edges of my project.  Perfect!  I felt so creative, and my finished project looked beautiful without having to purchase an extra item. 

    I finished my project with the happy, delighted feeling that comes with completing something.  Well, almost completed, that is.  I still have to add some pictures!  The title of the album is "Pickin' Pumpkins," and it essentially gives you a themed album with spaces for pictures of your pumpkin picking adventures.  It even includes a cute poem:

    Gotta love a pumpkin poem!  There was no doubt about it, this album requires pumpkin pickin' pics!  Well, no worries, pumpkin pickin' is a favorite activity of ours, we do it every year.  Except, come to think of it, last year.  Last year we got our pumpkins at the local grocery store.  But surely that was because we were new to town, and hadn't yet discovered the local pumpkin patch.  Right?  Unfortunately, no.  Pumpkins apparently require a much longer growing season that our northern climate can guarantee, and it seems there is no farm to visit for pumpkin pickin'.  

    So, I'm going to have to be creative.  You're not allowed to take pictures at the grocery store, but I have plans.  There's no rule that says we can't take pictures in the parking lot of me and my dogs excitedly going to pick our pumpkin out of a bin!  Or of us walking back to the car, triumphantly holding our pumpkins aloft! (OK, I'll admit the dogs may have trouble with that one.  Also with getting into the grocery store.  Hmmm, looks like I'll be alone in a few of these pictures....)  Of course we'll take lots of pictures of the pumpkins once we free them from the confines of the supermarket...maybe I could take them around town and photograph them, in the tradition of the travelling garden gnome.  Maybe I could take a picture of the pumpkins with a garden gnome!

    And there, my friends, is the magic of scrapbooking; you complete one project and your imagination is off to the races! I can't wait to finish this album and add it to my collection of Fall decorations.  Luckily, I won't have to wait until the album is finished to display it; the reverse side proclaims "I Heart Fall" and will look just perfect on my mantel.  

    Having completed one adorable project, I'm itching to start another.  Hmmm, there was a cute Halloween Treat Bag album kit at the scrapbook store that I just may have to have!

    Have a wonderful week! See you on Wednesday!

    NB - Of course, I promise to post pictures of my pumpkin pickin' adventure, provided I don't get committed in the process!

    Today I am linking to:

    The Girl Creative

    I (Heart) Fall!!


    First and foremost, let me take a moment to express how grateful I am to all of you for choosing to follow Nesty.  When I started my wee blog back in February, I never thought that I would see 18 readers, let alone 83 beautiful people who took the time to officially follow me.  You are the juice that keeps the Nesty engine rolling, and your comments bring joy to my day.  I have found some truly great people out there in "Blogland" and I look forward to reading your posts and sharing your lives.  Thank you!!!!

    Now that I have the sap out of the way, it's time to share my excitement with you.  It's Fall!!!  Maybe not officially, but in my heart and all around, Fall is Here!!!  All throughout blogdom I have been reading posts about Autumn and it's just served to feed my personal love of this time of year!   For me, the best time of year starts in September, and the good times just keep rolling to the end of the year.  Personally, if we could just stop on Christmas Eve, roll back to September 1, and start it all again, that would be fine by me!  The build from September to December is a veritable festival, one that I live and prepare for all year long!  

    A few weeks ago I shared how to me, September is the spiritual start of my year, a time for new beginnings, new projects, and new resolve (not resolutions!).  To that end, I am embracing the season this year as a time to "re-energize" Nesty.  Oh, we've kept to our posting schedule (except for Wednesday, when we were a little late...sorry folks, more on that next week!) but lately we've been feeling a little faded and dusty.  So, I've relied a little bit more on "Wordless" posts.  I'm not getting rid of "Window to My World" (my wordless posts) but they won't be making weekly appearances.  Instead, I have been brainstorming up new post ideas, and ways to share them.  Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some of the following new ideas with you:
    • Housewife Confidential - The trials and tribulations of a not-so-traditional housewife.
    • Scraps of Me - Posts about my scrapbooking
    • In Stitches - Sewing projects
    • Recipe Challenge - Recipe development by moi!
    • I Feel Pretty - Posts about being fashionable and feminine in the house and out.
    • The Great Outdoors! - Our adventures in "Super, Natural British Columbia"
    • Links I Love - Links to some of my favorite blogs and websites
    • Christmas Countdown - A monthly "report card" on how my "homemade Christmas" progress is going!
    I'll fill in some more details as these posts make their debuts. In some cases, these posts are serving as motivation for me to keep creating; hobbies like scrapbooking and sewing can sometimes go by the wayside if you don't make time for them.  In addition, I'm very excited about December, when I'll be celebrating like mad with a Month Long Christmas Festival!  That's right, there will be posts every day in December leading up to Christmas!  I'm so excited to share my preparations for my favorite holiday with you!

    I'm also going to be making the rounds of the blog hops again.  I have my favorites that I visit every week but I feel it's time to get out there and mingle again!  If you know of any good new ones, please let me know.  I love to find new blogs and make new friends!  Here are some new hops I'm checking out this weekend:
    My Wee View


    Friendly Friday Button

    I'm so excited!  Have a wonderful weekend!  See you on Monday!

    Tiny Hats for Tiny People - Raising Awareness for the Period of PURPLE Crying

    Is there anything more adorable than a newborn baby wearing their first hat?  Nope, I couldn't think of anything, either!  So I am very excited to be knitting up a batch of those "first hats" for a meaningful awareness initiative that will be taking place this November in British Columbia.

    To coincide with Canada's National Child Day, many babies born in BC the week of November 15 will be given a hand-knit purple hat to take home from the hospital.  These hats are being knit by volunteers across the province to raise awareness of shaken baby syndrome and The Period of PURPLE Crying.  I have been reading mentions of this campaign throughout blogland for several months; then a few weeks ago my friend Tasha of Fiber Rox sent me an invitation to join the Facebook group for this event.  Her invite was just what I needed to get started on a new fall project, so I clicked "Attending," bought some purple baby yarn, and started knitting an itty bitty hat (thanks for the pattern, Tasha!).  This article from the Vancouver Mom website gives a great summary of the event as well as the address volunteers can send hats to. 

    Not being a parent (to a human, anyway) I hadn't heard of The Period of PURPLE Crying prior to the purple hat campaign.  I have since visited their website and it is a great resource not only for parents, but for anyone who wishes to understand what parents are going through when their new baby won't stop crying.  I encourage you to check it out  here.  PURPLE is an acronym for:

    P - Peak of Crying
    U -Unexpected
    R - Resists Soothing
    P - Pain-Like Face
    L - Long Lasting
    E - Evening

    In short, all babies experience the PURPLE crying period between the age of 2 weeks to 3 to 4 months.   During this time, a baby may cry inconsolably for hours at a time.  For many years this condition has been vaguely described as "colic" however the website stresses that this is a normal developmental phase that all babies go though, some more dramatically than others.  It also provides some great suggestions for coping.  

    Tonight, I finished my first wee purple hat!  I will continue working away on tiny purple hats until the end of October. It's going to be a great way to try out some patterns that I would otherwise not make, and I'm hoping to find a few fun, funky patterns to try. Hey, I'm giving someone their first accessory, it's got to be good!  If you knit or crochet and want to participate, I think that's great!  Regardless, check out The Period of PURPLE Crying website; you may learn something that could help you or someone you care about.

    Have a great day!  See you on Wednesday!

    Retro Recipes - Rice Krispie Squares

    Happy Friday, Everyone!  Whether you went back to school, sent kids back to school, or just dealt with everyone else going back to school (thanks to Facebook and Twitter) it's been a long, hard week!  And after a long hard week, you deserve a treat!  A Rice Krispie Treat, to be exact!

    Rice Krispie Treats were invented in 1939 by Kellogg's employee Mildred Day. Day, a Campfire Girls leader, was looking for an inexpensive fundraiser for the organization. She adapted the treat we know today from another recipe known as "puffed rice brittle," substituting Campfire Marshmallows for the molasses and vinegar the brittle recipe called for.  The sweeter treat was a huge success, and it wasn't long before Kellogg's began printing the recipe on Rice Krispie boxes.  (Source:

    Part of the real beauty of Rice Krispie squares is their simplicity. (If you've never made them read the official recipe for Rice Krispie Squares; you'll be amazed.)    I take it one step further and melt the butter, marshmallows and vanilla in the microwave (just keep an eye on it; as I discovered the other day it makes a fabulous mess if it overflows).  So for busy "back to school" households, this is a tasty treat that can be whipped up in a jiffy!  And yet, despite how easy they are to make, this humble treat still receives a hero's welcome any time it makes an appearance.  

    A few "field notes" if you will.  I have discovered over the years that it is best to use a good quality marshmallow so I use Jet-Puffed by Kraft as a general rule.  After reading an article recently that said that generic "Krispie" and "O" cereals are just as good as brand name versions, I decided to purchase generic krispies for a batch of squares that I made last week.  My verdict is that you should spring for the actual Kellogg's Rice Krispie's.  The generic brand I used were really, really sharp and were somewhat unpleasant to eat at times; treats shouldn't be painful, in my opinion!).  That being said, if you have a generic brand of marshmallows and krispies that are working for you, by all means, keep using them! And finally, you can add more cereal if you want a firmer square (I do this).

    Have a wonderful weekend full of happy memories and lots of treats (Krispie or otherwise!)

    Gone Hiking - North Cove Trail

    Today, we decided to pack up the dogs and head out to one of Kitimat's many hiking trails, the North Cove Trail.  This trail is rated easy to moderate, and it provides a little bit of everything.  Cathedral like calm in the woods, rugged coast, inclines and some uncomplicated climbing combine to make this a fun hike for just about everyone.  This link will take you to Tourism Kitimat's descriptions of the many trails in our area; at the bottom of the page is a link for a PDF file of their hiking trail booklet.

    It was raining today, and this made some parts of the hike a bit slippery, however, this was only on the beach and we could have skipped that part (but we didn't, 'cause we needed an ocean fix!)  I did, however, get a skinned knee!  It was a bit humbling to watch my pups charge down the slimy rocks ahead of me with nary a slip while I slid down knee first!

    This was Tinky's first hike (with us) and we set out unsure of how he would fare.  We were very impressed with how he made out.  Our rugged little Yorkie kept pace for the majority of the hike and only had to be carried over a few particularly rugged spots (he assured us he could handle it but we decided to err on the side of caution.  As a breed, the Yorkie's excessive confidence has landed them in trouble in the past!).  He did accept a ride on his dad's shoulder at the end on our walk to the Jeep, but he ran the last few meters on his own four legs. And Molly, an experienced hiker, put us all to shame with her natural athleticism.  She even charged into the choppy Douglas Channel for a quick swim in the Pacific Ocean!

    Tonight, we are all a bit sleepy, but in that good, "fresh air and exercise" kind of way.  Here's a few pictures from our adventure.  Enjoy!

    Dinner With Friends, Relax and Have Fun With It...

    I truly love nesting, and I adore entertaining.  I love planning menus, shopping for groceries, and cooking up a storm.  Setting the table, lighting the candles and pouring the wine thrill me.  But the best, the very best, part is watching all my guests have a wonderful time.

    However, sometimes I feel the pressure.  Not from my spouse, or from my friends, or anyone.  I feel the pressure that I put on myself.  I start to believe that if it's not a gourmet creation, it isn't worth serving.  And that's not good.  When this happens, it's just a slippery slope to culinary disaster.  So I have learned that when I'm veering into Stepford territory, it's usually a good time to kick it back a few notches.

    Take this week.  We were attending a potluck to which I had agreed to bring cupcakes.  And of course, because I'm me, I planned these cupcakes.  I decided on two flavours, two kinds of frosting, and hand made fondant decorations.  I purchased special jewel tones muffin liners.  On the day before (when I planned to bake and create fondant delights) I woke with a horrible pain in my back.  No matter, I baked up my two batches of cupcakes.  It was well into the evening when I took my package of homemade marshmallow fondant out of the refrigerator and placed it on the counter next to the new shade of paste icing colour I had purchased just for this occasion!  I sighed deeply and began to unwrap the fondant.  If you've never worked with fondant before, let me tell you just this: it requires kneading.  Lots of kneading.  Usually, this is the sort of task I live for, but tonight the thought of working that mass of sugar was making me weepy.  It was then that my dear husband pointed out that everyone at the pot luck would just be happy that there were cupcakes to eat, and wouldn't I rather relax and watch television with he and the dogs?  The decorations would be missed by no one but myself.  With grudging relief, I agreed with him.  (And hey, who eats the fondant decoration anyway?)

    It felt good to relax and have fun with it.  And he was right, everyone was happy with my "plain" little cupcakes with their simple chocolate rosettes frosted on top.  I felt so good about it that later that week, I decided to keep going with the laid back fun.  We were having our good friends and their children over for supper, and I was trying to decide what to make.  I often find that I miss out on the conversation and fun because I'm busy sauteeing, reducing, or grilling.  This time, instead of concocting a multi-course meal featuring the foods of distant lands, I turned to an old favorite, hot roast beef sandwiches and fries.  

    Folks, it was wonderful.  I threw the roast in the oven and then picked up my knitting and sat down with a cup of tea.  When the roast came out half an hour before our guests were due to arrive, I put in a tray of oven fries, put some corn niblets in the steamer, and made gravy.  I actually chatted with our guests as I arranged everything buffet style and put a second tray of fries in  the oven.  Everyone served themselves and we had a great time.

    Have I given up gourmet completely?  No, of course not. Cooking is my thing, it's what I do.  But every so often, it's perfectly alright to do things "homestyle."  After all, we gather to eat together as much for the friendship and laughter as for the food.

    Here's a few more tips for having friends over for dinner and living to tell the tale:
    • Graciously let them bring something if they offer. Of course, tell them they don't need to bring anything, but if they insist (especially if it's a good friend) give them something to bring.  Wine, dessert, whatever they offer.  The other night for dessert we had a wonderful fruit and cookies pizza that our friends brought, and last week we enjoyed a wonderful homemade apple wine when we grilled steaks for another friend. 
    • Pick one "Wow" item and go simple with the rest.  If you're making homemade lasagna from scratch, for example, feel free to use a kit for the Caesar salad, and everyone loves that garlic bread that comes in the foil bag.  Steamed frozen veggies, oven fries, and sauce mixes are other great ways to save time and stress.
    • Consider plastic. I know, it's not green, and it doesn't work for all events, but if you're having a big crowd or are serving something casual (like barbecue or corn on the cob) go for it.  Clean up will be a breeze.  Just make sure that the plate you pick out can stand up to the food it will be holding, or clean up will be a royal pain in the neck.
    • Self Serve.  Buffet or "family style" serving is great because people can take as much as they want of what they want.  Nothing's more awkward than watching someone try to choke down a food they hate or wade through a plate that's holding way more than they can consume.  It's not just limited to food, either; try a self serve bar or coffee and tea station at your next get together.  
    • Plan for your audience.  If you're having a family with kids, make the food kid-friendly.  I don't mean that you have to serve chicken nuggets, but perhaps leave the rare steaks and stinky cheeses for another time.  We had a build your own pizza night with some friends and their kids one night and it was a big success. 
    • Don't be a clean freak.  Get the dishes out of the way, but leave the actual washing up until later.  Your guests came to see you, not the sight of your back disappearing into the kitchen for the better part of an hour. I really love the "great room" style of our house, since I can be in the kitchen and still be a part of the conversation.
    • When necessary, use your space.  If you really need to keep people out of the kitchen, place a bowl of punch and / or some appies in the space where you want your guests to congregate.  It's hard to resist the appeal baked brie or a shrimp ring.  I like company when I cook, so it's not a big deal for me, I just pour them a glass of wine and give them something to do. 
    Do you have a great casual entertaining tip?  If so, please share in the comments.  Have a wonderful holiday weekend, and to those of you heading back to work or school next week, best wishes for a wonderful year! 

    See you on Monday!


    "You are never too old to set another goal
    or to dream a new dream."
                                                    -C.S. Lewis 

    To me, September is a magical time.  It was always the real beginning of the year.  The early fall holds so much possibility- it seems like anything could happen in the months ahead.

    The air has an energy, a charged quality, a life all its own.  It's a time for personal resolutions instead of the pompous public resolutions of January 1.

    It's a time of coming and going.  It's a time of looking ahead.  It's a time of anticipation, and a time of gathering.  It's a time that's full of life.

    In September, so much of the year has passed, yet so much is still to come...