November 22, 2010

Deck The House!

The Christmas bug hit me earlier than usual this year.  I couldn't wait to get everything up and looking like Christmas so that's just what I did last weekend! 

Here's 2010's tree;                        This year's tree topper creation;

Some of my favourite ornaments;

I love a mantle all decked out in holiday garb!  The warm glow of the fireplace, with stockings hung by the chimney with care...........I'm overcome with a sense of nostalgia!

The only concern I had with decking the house this year was our one cat, Stinkbum.  Priscilla wasn't a concern, but Stinkbum.....huge concern.  "Trouble" is this guys middle name.  I could go on and on about him, but that's a whole other post.  Surprisingly, he has been pretty well behaved, only knocking off the odd ornament and pulling the ribbon out every few days.  I'll take it, and won't complain.  I was seriously expecting much worse! 

Look at our pretty Christmas innocent...NOT!

Merry Christmas everyone and happy decorating! 

Don't forget your mistletoe.......

November 14, 2010

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'd like to preface this post by apologizing for the constant changing of my blog background  I'm new to blogging and as you can tell, I'm having a hard time choosing a template design.

With that said............... was the day I made my old faithful cookie recipe. 

Chewy, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are my favourite cookie of all time.  I have been using this recipe for many years.  It's tried and true and always delicious! 

Tracy's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup soft butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups quick rolled oats
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Incorporate well.

In large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars.  Beat in eggs, followed by milk and vanilla.  Blend well.

Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture.  Blend well.

Hand stir in oats and chocolate chips until incorporated.

Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-13 minutes.

Yields - 4 dozen (If you can keep your husband away from the batter!)

November 12, 2010

Pumpkin Dessert Recipes

I know my American friends are coming up on a very important holiday, Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving has already came and went for me here.  In Canada Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. 

We had an amazing dinner, the centerpiece being a 20 lb roasted turkey.  We also had mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, vegetable medley, cabbage salad, broccoli salad, cranberry sauce and fresh baked rolls.  Mmmmmm, so much to be thankful for!

My favourite part of the meal happens to be the desserts though.  I love all things pumpkin, so I decided to make a pumpkin cheesecake and a pumpkin roll.  Both were a.m.a.z.i.n.g.!

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/3 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Ground Pecans
2 Tablespoons White Sugar
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin
3 Egg Yolks
1 1/2 Teaspoons Pumpkin Spice (if you can't find pumpkin spice you can make yor own using 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp mace and 1/2 tsp ginger - I also increase ingredients to taste)
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon salt
3 (8 ounce) Packages Cream Cheese
3/8 cup White Sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk
2 Tablespoons Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Extract
1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 Cup Real Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2.Combine the graham cracker crumbs, ground pecans, 2 tablespoons white sugar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and the melted butter or margarine and mix well. Firmly press mixture into one 9 inch spring form pan.

3.Combine 3/4 cup of the white sugar, the pumpkin, 3 egg yolks, ground cinnamon and pumpkin spice in a medium bowl. Mix well, and set aside.

4.Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy; gradually add 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar and mix well. Add the whole egg, remaining egg yolk and the whipping cream, beating well. Add cornstarch and vanilla and lemon flavorings, beat batter until smooth. Add pumpkin mixture and mix well. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

5.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 50 to 55 minutes. I put a small oven safe dish with about 1-1/2 cups of water to keep moisture in the oven to prevent cracking.  Do not over bake.  Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. 

Topping.  Simmer whipping cream and maple syrup stove top for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in chopped pecans.  Chill.  Remove from fridge approximately 1/2 hour before ready to serve.  Spread in center of cheesecake and decoratively top with whipped cream if you so choose.

Pumpkin Roll
3 Eggs
1 Cup White Sugar
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2/3 Cup Pumpkin
3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
2 Tablespoons Butter, softened
3 Ounces Cream Cheese
1 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla
Confectioners Sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (190 degrees C). 

In medium bowl blend eggs, sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin.  In separate bowl, mix together flour and baking soda.  Add pumpkin mixture and blend until smooth.  Evenly spread the mixture onto greased jelly roll pan.

Bake 15-20 minutes.  Remove and cool just enough to handle.

Remove warm/hot cake from pan and place on tea towel (cotton).  Roll up the cake, rolling the towel inside of the cake.  Place seam side down to cool.

Prepare frosting by blending the butter, cream cheese, confectioners sugar and vanilla.

Once cake is completely cooled, unroll and spread cream cheese filling.  Roll up again without the towel.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Dust top with confectioners sugar.

A fellow destination bride and blogger shared this pumpkin roll recipe with me last year.  I have made it numerous times since and it is always a hit! Thanks Shelly!

November 10, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday...

My dear husband is originally from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  Unfortunately in the last 5 years, I've only been able to visit once but hope to get back soon.  Cape Breton is absolutely beautiful, in particular The Cabot Trail

I was just going through some pictures and was again reminded of exactly how beautiful it really is.  Here are a few I will share with you;

If you ever get a chance to visit Cape Breton, do it!  Relaxing and breathtaking!

November 8, 2010

Treasure Hunting

On the weekend, me and one of my bargain hunting friends went to an estate auction hosted by Lacasse Auctions.

Going to auctions is one of my favourite past-times.  I probably attended my first auction when I was four with my dad.  I loved hunting through boxes and boxes of junk miscellaneous items with hopes that I'd find that "special" something.  

I'm sure because I was introduced to auctions at such a young age, it most certainly has something to do with my overwhelming love for antiques.  I feel like antiques just have so much character and "soul". 

There are very few items in our house that haven't been purchased second hand.  I'm pretty sure that our mattress and box spring, flat screen TVs, couch, recliner and dining room table are the only things that were purchased new and unused. 

I did find a few items this weekend, and am very happy with my finds. 

I've been searching for a full length antique mirror for our bedroom now for......oh, probably about a year, and this weekend I got lucky!

I was able to score this solid wood beauty for $10.00!  I can't even buy a "cheapie" at Walmart for that!

I also found this other beauty....

A gold gilded mirror.  Drum roll for the price..........$5.00!  How could one turn that down!
I also found these unique little crafted shoes;

These are so unique and unusual and I am in total love with them. Someone spent a lot of time crafting these little works of art. The bottom of these little shoes have horse shoes bent to outline the bottom of the sole. I may have taken such a liking to them because my dad is a blacksmith and they tend to remind me of him when I look at them.
I'm glad I was able to score some great finds this passed weekend.  My next auction venture probably won't be until the New Year.  What will I find?  You just never know!

November 7, 2010

Banana Chocolate Cake

If you love chocolate and banana, this cake is a must.  What a wonderful marriage of flavour!  This is what we enjoyed this cool fall weekend.

2 Cups White Sugar
1-3/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Dark Cocoa Powder
1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana
1 Cup Warm Coffee (can substitute with water if you wish)
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1-1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a medium bowl incorporate dry ingredients well.

In separate large bowl beat eggs, then add bananas, coffee, milk, oil, and vanilla....mix well.

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet until well combined.  Batter will be rather thin.

Pour batter into greased 9 x 13 inch pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.  When completely cooled frost with favourite icing.


November 5, 2010

Weeping Madonna?

Well the story of the "Weeping Madonna" has now made national news.  When the story first made it to our newspapers last week, I really didn't give it much thought.  Could such a claim be true?  My first instinct was no, but who am I to say for sure.  I do know I had to do a "drive by" to get a look for myself. 

Easier said than done. 

There were easily a hundred people there last night at 8pm.  There were people directing traffic, parking enforcement smacking all the illegally parked cars with tickets and police just manning the situation. 

People taking pictures and video, some praying but all eager to get up close to the statue and take a look for themselves.

I wasn't able to get very close because of the crowd, so my feeling remains the same....I'm just not sure.  I know I definitely don't want to say "there's no way such a thing could be true" because I do know that I'm superstitious and I don't wish to bring any ill upon myself.

I snapped a few pictures myself and will post soon.  For now, here's a gallery of photos to view from The Windsor Star.

I've also realized that this is far from the first time such claims have been made.  Here's another Madonna statue that is claimed to have wept tears of blood.

What do you believe?  Could such a thing be true?

Here are the pictures I was able to snap....good thing......she has now been moved to an undisclosed location.

November 4, 2010

Home Maintenance

Today we are getting our ducts cleaned.  It is time.  Our house was built in 1912.  We have lived here for 8 years.  In the last 8 years we have done a lot of renovations, therefore I'm sure a tremendous amount of dust and debris have made it into our vents. 

I've heard people comment on the efficiency of duct cleaning or the lack there-of.  I have to believe it helps to some degree when it comes to air quality, reducing allergens and dust and creating better air flow.  What I do know though, is if they are "sucking" a crap load of crap out of my house I am happy.  Unfortunately I was at work while the ducts were being cleaning but my husband was very happy with the company. They fish a camera into your ducts so you can see the before and after and boy was there a difference! 

I found this to be a good read while doing my research.  I also called numerous other reputable companies in our area.  I do caution you to be weary of some, which I will refer to as the "fly by night" companies.  When it comes to all home maintenance and repairs do your research, if the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

November 3, 2010

Ahhh, the 80's!

Today was an AWESOME mail day for me!

Backstory. For over a year now, I have been tirelessly searching for some of my favourite movies from the 80's.....Pretty In Pink, Satisfaction and Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Well, these are clearly classics because nobody is donating or selling these babies!  Believe me, I have checked hundreds of yard sales not to mention countless trips to numerous thrift stores.....even in a different country. So I gave in and and ordered them from

I know what I'm doing this weekend, and I cannot wait!