June 28, 2013

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

This recipe makes 24 deliciously moist cupcakes.


2 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup nearly boiling water
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
seeds from 2 vanilla beans


1.  Preheat oven to 325F.

2.  Sift together dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl or stand mixer.  

3.  Add oil, water and milk and mix for 1 minute at medium speed.  

4.  Add eggs, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds and mix together for another minute.  The batter will be thin.  

5.  Put cupcake liners into tin and fill about half full with mixture.  

6.  Bake for approximately 18 - 25 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

7.  Cool and decorate with your favourite vanilla buttercream.  

I cannot claim credit for this wonderful recipe. It comes from McKenna at    


June 27, 2013

Chores for Young Children

Miss S cleaning her bedroom window
Young children love to help with household chores.  They like to emulate mom and dad.  Chores are wonderful for teaching life skills, family responsibility and providing a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Here are a list of chores that my girls aged 7 and 3 do to help around the house.

1.  Make their bed.  Miss S does a lovely job at this and lines up all her cuddly toys neatly.  Miss C pulls up her cover.  At this stage, that is good enough.

2.  Pick up / put away toys.  They each have toy bins and drawers in their bedrooms where cuddly toys, art supplies, games/puzzles and other toys are expected to be kept.  Miss C has a toy box for her cuddly toys and a drawer for her other toys.  It is simple and makes clean up easy for her.  Miss S has a toy box and three other drawers where she keeps her other toys and art supplies.  She has a system and it works for her.  

3.  Put dirty clothes in the laundry hamper.  They each have a hamper in their room and are expected to put dirty clothes in it.  If the clothes are left on the floor and are therefore not in the hamper, they do not get washed.  

4.  Set and clear the dinner table.  Miss C helps put out the napkins.  Miss S puts out cutlery and condiments.  When dinner is done, Miss C helps carry items back to the kitchen.  Miss S scrapes plates and puts them in the dishwasher.  

5.  Collecting the mail.  Miss S puts the key in the mailbox.  Miss C turns it and opens the box.  Miss S collects the mail and then hands a flyer or other piece of junk mail to Miss C to help carry back home.  This way she is helping, but we do not mind if she loses the mail or drops it in mud or a puddle.  

6.  Watering the flowers and plants.  They each have a watering can and love to help water the flowers, although most of it ends up on themselves!

7.  Grocery shopping.  Both girls have to find certain items in the store.  When we return home, they help to put items away in the fridge and pantry.  

Other chores Miss S helps with:

Cleaning her bedroom.  She makes her bed, cleans the window, dusts the furniture and then I help her vacuum.

Feeding her fish every evening and then assisting me when I clean the fish tank.

Sweeping the floor after dinner around the dining room and kitchen.

Folding and putting away her clothes.  Miss C is not ready for this yet as she just bundles them into a big ball and stuffs them in the drawer!

Chores that we will start implementing over the summer are:

Taking out the recycling

Washing dishes (with supervision and starting with tupperware / non breakable items)

Helping with dinner prep


Other chores Miss C helps with:

Dusting the furniture in her room

Cleaning our patio window.  We use either all water or a mix of water and vinegar in a spray bottle, so it is safe for her to use.

Unloading the dishwasher.  She puts the spoons away and then hands me all the cups.  

Helping with the laundry.  She loves to put the wet clothes into the tumble dryer and is great at colour matching socks and folding washcloths/dishtowels (with a little help).

Chores that she will be learning over the summer are:

Sweeping (with a dustpan and brush)

Putting clean clothes away in her drawers

Setting the table (cutlery/condiments)

Remember not to expect too much from your child. Having a young child "help" takes much longer than you just doing the chore to your high standard.  The end goal is not just to accomplish the task, it is to teach them how to do the chore, to take responsibility as part of a team (your family) and setting them up with a great work ethic for when they are out on their own in the real world.   

June 25, 2013

Introducing the eBook Bundle of the Week - Health & Fitness, 5 eBooks for $7.40!
Are you looking to lose weight, take control of your health or get stronger? If so, this week’s bundle is for you! With 5 unique guides to health and fitness, you’ll discover recipes, exercise tips and motivation to make real, lasting changes in your life.
Get this bundle for more than 85% off this week only.
42 Days to Fit by Brandy Ferguson

42 Days to Fit is a 6-week diet and exercise challenge to help you take control of your weight and fitness. Each week includes a food challenge to help you make realistic dietary changes as well as a custom exercise plan from You’ll also find weekly sample menu plans, printable guides for each week’s challenges, running tips for beginners and healthy, homemade snack ideas.

In How to Love Your Waistline and Your Food, Jules introduces you to a new, simple way of eating. She shows you how to reach your ideal weight and stay there with more than 100 new delicious recipes for every meal of the day. Discover 12 common healthy eating mistakes and how to avoid them, 13 ways to beat sugar cravings, 6 steps to master the art of eating less, 2 ways to turn yourself into a lean, fat-burning machine and 3 ways to avoid temptation and social eating pressures!

Carla lost 35 pounds almost two decades ago and has kept it off by fueling her insides and exercising in a way that lets her live her life energetically and healthfully! In MizFit she shares her approach to health living — lots of research but ultimately constructing her own path — and offers you the tools to start creating your own path!

Happy, Healthy & Hot by Tony DiLorenzo & Dustin Riechmann

It’s time for you to regain control of your schedule, get back in shape and feel great about your body, and Happy, Healthy & Hot is the step-by-step lifestyle and fitness guide that will make it happen no matter how busy you are. By following the steps laid out in this ebook, you’ll discover the motivation to exercise & eat healthy, the time you need to take care of your needs, renewed energy & self-esteem and the simple tools you need to lose weight the right way & keep it off!

7 Day Goddess Juice Feast by Laura London

Laura’s 7 Day Goddess Juice Feast isn’t about fasting or depriving your body of calories, which wind up making you even hungrier!  Instead, it purifies, detoxifies, and rejuvenates your body as you lose weight, bringing your body back into balance and restoring your energy. In addition to the 7 day plan, you’ll find tips for maintaining a healthy diet once your feast is over, juicer recommendations, 10 tips to prepare for success and a produce guide!

The Health & Fitness bundle is only available through 8am EST on Monday, 7/1. Get yours today.

June 24, 2013

Happy Homemaker Monday - June 24, 2013

The weather...
Rain, thundershowers and sun.  High of 24C by the end of the week.

Right now I am...

About to clean up after snack time.


About the poor people that lost their homes over the last few days due to the flooding in my city. Thinking that I am very thankful that all my friends and family are safe.    

On my reading pile...

A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford

On the menu for this week...

Monday: Barbecue chicken with sweet potato and salad
Tuesday: Spaghetti bolognaise with salad
Wednesday: Chicken fajitas 
Thursday: Pork chops with pasta and green beans
Friday: Leftovers / buffet night
Saturday: Pizza and salad
Sunday: Roast beef with new potatoes and broccoli

On my to do list...

Laundry (as minimal as I can as we are under water restrictions right now)
Clean my fridge
Write grocery list
Change bed linens
Pay city taxes

What I am creating this week...

A summer calendar

Looking forward to this week...
Taking Miss S into her school on Thursday to say goodbye to her teacher who is retiring this year.  The schools are all closed in my city, but will open for a few hours on Thursday, so the children can collect their belongings and report cards.  

Looking around the house...
House to be cleaned.  Not much got done over the last few days.  

From the camera...
I have not taken any photos this week.  Instead I will share a drawing that Miss S did.

June 21, 2013


Today is Friday and I was going to post another recipe.  Instead I am going to ask for your thoughts and prayers.  My city is experiencing flooding.  My neighbourhood is unaffected (so far!), but many communities have been evacuated.  All schools are closed today.  Major highways are closed.   

Stampede Park

Macleod Trail and 17th Avenue  Photo credits: cbc calgary and ctv calgary 

Other communities have been harder hit.  

Bragg Creek
Photo credit: Huffington Post
Photo credit:
High River
Kevan Yaets swimming after his cat as flood waters sweep him downstream.  Photo credit: Calgary Herald

We are forecast even more rain over the weekend.  Please keep those affected by this devastation in your thoughts and prayers.

June 19, 2013

Weekly Menu Planner Printable

I thought I would share a simple printable menu planner that I use in my meal planning process.  I put this up on my fridge and it lets everyone know what is for dinner and reminds me to take meat out of the freezer the night before if needed. 

Benefits of planning your weekly menu are:

  • Using ingredients before they are out of date
  • Saving money on grocery store runs as you have an exact ingredient list for the week
  • The ability to have a quick meal planned for busy nights (instead of eating out)
  • Less stress 
Weekly Menu Planner Printable

Happy planning!

June 18, 2013

Introducing the eBook Bundle of the Week - Time Management for Families, 5 eBooks for $7.40!
Running a household, caring for children and still finding time to pursue your passions is not an easy order, but this week’s bundle is designed to give you the tools to make the most of the 24 hours you’re given each day. Discover tips for creating schedules and routines, the importance of rest, strategies to help you be on time and more!

Get this bundle for almost 60% off this week only.
Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews

Tell Your Time: How To Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free outlines Amy’s straightforward, step-by-step approach to controlling your schedule and ensuring the important things don’t fall through the cracks. It’s short and to the point with no fluff or filler. This little ebook will help you accomplish not only what’s on your to-do list today, but what’s on your to-do list for life.

Honoring the Rhythm of Rest by Daniele Evans

In a culture where many of us are simply moving too fast and pausing less often for a break, for time off or for intentional rest, Daniele offers a better way. Honoring the Rhythm of Rest will encourage and equip you to understand the meaning of true rest; to ask of yourself ,”Am I living intense, or intentional?”; to counteract the myth of doing it all; to consider 3 intentional ways to practice rest; and to journey back from burnout!

28 Days to Timeliness by Davonne Parks

Two years ago, Davonne began working on becoming more timely, and she decided then that if she could ever figure out how to be on time, she’d write a book about it.  Throughout her journey, she discovered what makes some people late, tips and tricks other people use to be on time and how to enjoy freedom and spontaneity within boundaries as she made significant progress in her own life. In 28 Days to Timeliness, she shares 28 short, easy-to-read segments that take just a few minutes to go over each day with a practical course of action to help you be on time.

Creating a Schedule That Works by Marlene Griffith

In Creating a Schedule That Works, Marlene offers you the tools to help you create and implement a schedule that works for you and your life. Her simple, straight-forward approach shows you how to break your day into bite-sized pieces by scheduling four blocks of time in your day to help you meet the demands of your day-to-day life.

With plenty of charts, printables, examples and links, The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule includes step-by-step instructions for creating the perfect homemaking schedule as well as a bonus section on creating the perfect homeschooling schedule. Amy shows you how to work with your unique family dynamics, how to make a schedule stick, how to delegate chores and more!

The Time Management for Families bundle is only available through 8am EST on Monday, 6/24. Get yours today.

June 17, 2013

Happy Homemaker Monday - June 17, 2013

Hello everyone.  I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend.  

The weather...
The same as last week.  A mix of sun and rain (and thunderstorms).    

Right now I am...

Eating my morning snack (strawberry smoothie) and planning my week.   


That I am ready for Miss S to finish school for the summer vacation.

On my reading pile...

The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry

On the menu for this week...

Monday: Chicken alfredo with salad
Tuesday: Roast beef with mashed potatoes and peas
Wednesday: Tacos 
Thursday: Sweet and sour chicken and rice
Friday: Pizza and salad
Saturday: Hamburgers with salad
Sunday: Baked salmon with green beans and rice pilaf

On my to do list...

Clean my fridge
Write grocery list
Change bed linens
Deliver end of year teacher and classmates gifts
Check first aid kit supplies and discard expired

What I am creating this week...

Nothing planned yet.

Looking forward to this week...
Starting to plan summer activities for the girls.

Looking around the house...
Kitchen to be cleaned, rugs to vacuum, veggies to be tended and the bottom of the ironing pile to be reached! 

From the camera...
Some images from Father's Day.  We had breakfast and DH opened his gifts.  Then we went for a lovely drive to Cochrane for a picnic lunch and soccer game and made our way to Kananaskis Country for a walk in the woods.

The gift Miss S made at school.  It's a CD case and she decorated the inside with clay.

June 14, 2013

Mini Banana Bread

Mini Banana Bread

This recipe makes 8 mini loaves.


1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 mashed bananas
1 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour


1.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

2.  Combine the oil, eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla and mashed bananas in a bowl.

3.  Add the baking soda and flour.

4.  Mix well together.

5.  Pour into a greased mini loaf pan and bake for approximately 30 - 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.


June 12, 2013

Eight Ways To Quickly Increase Your Energy

1.  Eat foods that will provide energy.  For example, yogurt with nuts or peanut butter on whole grain crackers.

2.  Laugh.  Levels of stress hormones decrease during bouts of laughter, it improves blood pressure and flow and it boosts your immune system.

3.  Go for a quick 10 minute walk outside.  Walking improves your mood and energy levels.

4.  Drink water.  Slight dehydration can leave you feeling lethargic.

5.  Do some stretches.  It increases energy by decreasing muscle discomfort.

6.  Deep breathing.  Breathing from the diaphragm gets blood pumping which also boosts energy.

7.  Listen to music or sing out loud.  Music can lift your spirits, reduce your stress and quickly energizes you.

8.  Try aromatherapy.  Citrus scents (such as lemons or grapefruit) are revitalizing as they trigger energy producing hormones in the body.

Photo credit:

June 11, 2013

Introducing the eBook Bundle of the Week - Paleo & Primal, 5 eBooks for $7.40!
This week’s bundle is the perfect companion for a paleo or primal lifestyle! Whether you’re just dipping your toes in or looking for more recipes to add to your rotation, this collection of ebooks is both inspiring and practical, with more than 200 recipes plus inspirational stories from people who have transformed their health through a paleo diet and tips for eating out without cheating.
Paleo ebooks can be expensive, but this week only you’ll get all 5 at a savings of more than 85% off, less than the cost of any one of the ebooks by itself!
The Paleo Miracle by Joe Salama and Christina Lianos
In The Paleo Miracle, Joe shares a compilation of stories from people who have undergone a miraculous transformation in their health thanks to the paleo diet. The people featured in this ebook have eliminated or dramatically improved their symptoms of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, ADHD, Crohn’s, and many others — and in most cases have become completely medication-free — by eating real food. And in the process, they’ve learned that when your body is healthy inside, it will automatically look healthier on the outside too — losing body fat in the process!

The Paleo Snack Recipe Book by Suzanne Crawt
For those times when you need a snack, Suz’s Paleo Snack Recipe Book has more than 75 paleo-compliant snack recipes to help you stick to a paleo diet when hunger strikes! Each recipe includes a full-color photo and step-by-step instructions, with plenty of ideas that don’t require any cooking!

In Eating Out and Traveling on the Paleo Diet, Aglaée shares tips and tools to help you avoid non-paleo ingredients away from home, so you can feel at your best at all times. You’ll find dozens of meal ideas, snack lists and recipes you can prepare on the road, as well as information about cross-contamination, the use of fasting as a tool while traveling, a paleo-friendly dessert guide and tips for explaining your food preferences in social settings, as well as various printables to help you simplify your travel diet.

Toadally Primal Smoothies by Primal Toad
In Toadally Primal Smoothies, Todd Dosenberry (aka the Primal Toad) shares more than 150 paleo and primal smoothie recipes, complete with substitution ideas and nutrition information! Discover tasty flavors like coconut egg nog and vanilla almond cappuccino and more.

Paleo Ice Cream by Ben Hirshberg
With 31 delicious, healthy and nutrient dense ice cream flavors, Paleo Ice Cream is your guilt-free ice cream handbook. Armed with a love of ice cream, Ben tested and created each flavor combination by replacing the problematic ingredients and chemicals found in conventional ice cream with healthier paleo-friendly options so that you can enjoy your dessert without feeling like you’re cheating!

The Paleo & Primal bundle is only available through 8am EST on Monday, 6/17. Get yours today.

June 10, 2013

Happy Homemaker Monday - June 10, 2013

The weather...
Mix of sun and rain this week.    

Right now I am...

Typing this post at the end of a very frustrating day.  Have you ever had a day where nothing you touch goes right?  I seriously thought about crawling back into bed and just waiting for Tuesday to arrive.  


that I have too much to do and not enough time.

On my reading pile...

Still reading Trim Healthy Mama by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison and trying to digest all the information.

On the menu for this week...

Monday: Red wine and herb pasta
Tuesday: Chicken fajitas
Wednesday: Barbecue pork chops with new potatoes and salad 
Thursday: Baked chicken and Spanish rice
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Pizza
Sunday: Roast beef with trimmings

On my to do list...

Clean my fridge
Write grocery list
Change bed linens
RSVP to a party invitation for Miss S

What I am creating this week...

End of year teacher's gift

Looking forward to this week...
Father's Day.  The girls have been working hard making pictures and "creations" for DH.  

Looking around the house...
A bit like a whirlwind hit after the weekend.  Lots of cleaning in store for me this week.  

From the camera...

June 07, 2013

Balsamic Baked Salmon

Balsamic Baked Salmon

This is a lovely way to enjoy salmon.  I don't really enjoy the taste of salmon, so I like to use balsamic vinegar or lemon to disguise the flavour.  This recipe uses both ingredients.


Salmon fillet
Sea salt
Lemon slices
Balsamic vinegar


Heat oven to 350F.

Place salmon fillet on a large piece of foil (on top of a baking sheet) and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

Place thin pieces of butter and lemon slices over the salmon.

Drizzle generously with balsamic vinegar.

Wrap salmon tightly in the foil, so the salmon can steam in the pouch.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes for thawed fish and approximately 40 minutes for frozen fish.


June 05, 2013

Homemade Shower Cleaner

Homemade Shower Cleaner

I have been experimenting with homemade cleaners over the last year, but I hadn't found a cleaner that would work on the soap scum in my shower.  I had seen this recipe on various blogs and thought I would give it a try.  

Here's a before photo of the glass...

and after.  Much better!

Here's a before photo of the hardware...

and after.  So much shinier (but not perfect!).

The recipe I used is 2 parts of white vinegar to 1 part of Dawn blue dish soap.  You can also just use equal parts of the white vinegar and dish soap, but I found this to be very sudsy and it took a great amount of rinsing off.  Also, be warned, this mixture smells quite strong.  Open a window, or use the bathroom fan while cleaning.

Overall, this mixture did a great job, but I do not like the smell.  I will experiment with using a few drops of the dish soap with warm vinegar and see if I like the results any better.  

Have you tried this?  Do you have a favourite homemade shower recipe you would like to share?

June 04, 2013

Introducing the eBook Bundle of the Week - Homesteading, 5 eBooks for $7.40!
Whether your goal is to save money, be self-sufficient, live a more sustainable lifestyle or all three, this week’s homesteading bundle includes everything from real food storage and emergency preparation to repurposing old clothes and rediscovering the lost skills of past generations. Get all 5 ebooks at a savings of more than 85% off this week only!
Pioneering Today by Melissa K. Norris
In Pioneering Today: Faith and Home the Old Fashioned Way, Melissa offers a practical and easy guide to cooking from scratch, gardening and preserving your own food. Learn to decrease your grocery and energy bills,  improve your family’s health (with over 40 delicious recipes!) and reduce your time in the kitchen without sacrificing taste and nutrition. Whether you live in the middle of the asphalt jungle or on the side of a mountain, you can start your homesteading journey today and discover a simpler life!

Your Custom Homestead by Jill Winger
Homesteading doesn’t only happen when you live on hundreds of acres with the perfect red barn and white picket fence, and in Your Custom Homestead, Jill takes you through a 21-day process to discover your motivations for homesteading, define what homesteading means and actually begin a homesteading lifestyle that will perfectly fit your unique situation.

In Real Food Storage, KerryAnn shares her family’s story of living off their food storage during 11 months of unemployment.  Geared toward traditional and real foodies, this preparedness ebook  shows you how to store real and traditional foods as food insurance for your family, with more than 200 recipes that can be made from your stockpile. In addition, you’ll find an online resources guide to help you save money on bulk purchases plus a master spreadsheet to help you plan and track your food storage plan.

Reuse, Refresh, Repurpose by The Frugal Girl
In Reuse, Refresh and Repurpose, The Frugal Girl offers 20 useful ideas to help you get the most out of your clothes. This practical guide includes step-by-step photos and instructions to help you make old clothes look new or turn them into something entirely new altogether. And the best part is many of the ideas don’t require any cutting or sewing; there’s something for everyone!

Getting Prepared by Robin Egerton and Angela England
Getting Prepared is a beginner’s manual to help prepare you for life’s unexpected happenings. Find step-by-step guidance for prioritizing your preparations, creating a 72-hour emergency kit, preparing for a month of survival with your family, including your family in emergency preparations and more. If you’ve thought about trying to get better prepared and develop an emergency plan, but aren’t sure where to start, this is the book for you!

The Homesteading bundle is only available through 8am EST on Monday, 6/10. Get yours today.

June 03, 2013

Happy Homemaker Monday - June 3, 2013

The weather...
Rain today with sun the rest of the week, reaching highs of 22C.  

Right now I am...

Typing this post as I wait for Miss C to settle down for her nap.  Then I'll go and clear up the dishes from lunch.  


about all the paperwork I have to complete for Miss S's school this week

On my reading pile...

Trim Healthy Mama by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison 

On the menu for this week...

Monday: Balsamic chicken with new potatoes and salad
Tuesday: Salmon burgers
Wednesday: Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans 
Thursday: Chicken stir fry
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Pizza
Sunday: Roast chicken with trimmings

On my to do list...

Clean my fridge
Write grocery list
Change bed linens

What I am creating this week...

A couple of projects with the girls for Father's Day

Looking forward to this week...
A quiet week, so I can complete my to-do list!

Looking around the house...
More decluttering to be done and a large ironing pile to be tackled.  

From the camera...

The results of the decluttering (so far).  12 bags full.  Some went to our local Goodwill this weekend.  The rest will be sold on Kijiji and baby clothes and toys have been passed down to friends with younger children.