Thursday, December 31, 2009

12 Months

Happy New Years Eve everyone!

This will be my final entry for 2009. I can hardly believe it. Ringing in the new year sometimes makes me very sad. If I don't feel like I've accomplished anything in the last 12 months then I get depressed and feel useless. Then I sit down with my tattered agenda and start looking back into the stuff that actually did happen. Let me sum up my year for you.


Ryan and I took our very first trip together. We went to Jamaica! We went with a whole group of people for a wedding. We had a blast and didn't want the week to end!


A very special girl turned 2 in 2009. I can't believe how fast the time has gone!


After months of anticipation my niece Faith was born weighing in at 7lbs 7oz. She was the first baby on both sides of the family and she has been brightening up our lives ever since.


Ryan and I took a trip to Montreal for a weekend before the busy summer started. We had a relaxing time. We ate out, shopped, visited the Bio Dome and Olympic stadium.




The big house renovation of 2009. After my parents moved into their new home I was free to renovate. It caused so much stress in my life but it was all worth it in the end. I gutted and renovated the downstairs bathroom, kitchen, basement, upstairs floors, upstairs painting, new walk-in closet, and two bedrooms finished. There is still lot more to do but I'm looking forward to living in my home and feeling proud of all that I have accomplished in it.


In June Ryan and I hosted a pool party in honor of our friends Sara and Graham and their upcoming wedding. It was loads of fun having all of our friends over and in one place playing games, eating, drinking, and swimming.


In July good friends of Ryan and I were married. Priscilla and Chad were married on July 18 in a beautiful ceremony in Otter Lake and a fun reception in Portage. Look at that cake! Isn't the bride beautiful?


In August and throughout the whole year, once a month I began getting together with some friends from high school. We had lost touch over the years but have really made an effort to continue our once a month dinner date!


Sara and Graham were married on September 26. The beautiful bride walked down the aisle to her groom in a Norway Bay church and then we all partied all night at Pine Lodge Golf Course. It was a wonderful day!


In October a group of 12 friends embarked on a journey to a cabin that rested on the haunted Fiddler's Lake. Ha ha. It was a great weekend with lots of food, drinking, games and laughs!


Towards the end of November Ryan, myself, his parents and his nephew packed up the car and headed to Toronto. On the first night we had pizza and had a great visit with his Uncle Fabian. Saturday morning we woke up, ate breakfast then headed to Vaughan Mills Mall and Bass Pro Shop. We shopped till we dropped!


This month has been amazing! I have really enjoyed getting together with friends and family for Christmas celebrations. Decorating my own house for the holidays has been very fulfilling. My Christmas holidays were so fun and relaxing. On the Monday after Christmas Ryan and I did a little shopping in the city and then my Dad met us at the movie theatre to watch Avatar in 3D.

This year has really flown by. I am so blessed to be living where I am. I have amazing friends and family who make every month of my year special in some way or another. I live in a beautiful house and get to look out my front door to 400 acres of fields. It is so peaceful. Looking back at my year now I don't feel like I haven't accomplished anything. Infact, I'm ready for another year full of fun adventures. Don't worry, I'll fill you all in on all of them! :-)


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Was Santa good to you? I hope everyone had a safe, happy and relaxing Christmas. I know we did.

On Christmas Eve my family met at my house for Turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I had never before in my life cooked a dinner of this magnitude and I was nervous. Fortunately, everything came together without a hitch. And not to toot my own horn or anything but it was SOOOOO good! After supper and dessert we all opened gifts from under the tree. Then the family headed to Christmas Eve service where we all enjoyed our favorite rendition of "Silent Night" by Rolly. It was magical. Headed home to read "Twas The Night Before Christmas" (please see Dare #13) and then off to bed.

Jared, Holly and Faith coming over for Turkey.

Christmas Eve night I spent the night at Mom and Dads. On Christmas morning Ryan met us there and opened presents together. We had a huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, home fries, pancakes, and toast. We were stuffed but Ryan and I packed up and went to Norway Bay to wish his parents a Merry Christmas. Christmas Eve night Ryan and I headed to my parents for a "snack supper". There were so many treats!! Bacon bunnies, wings, spring rolls, spanikapita, miniature quiches, cheese sticks, nachos, chips and cookies. While the family munched on these we watched Ryan's new movie, The Ugly Truth and laughed our heads off. It was a great day!

Tucker and I with the Christmas Tree.

Boxing day started off really relaxing. We stayed in our PJ's all morning and played Ryan's new game, Guitar Hero. It is so addictive! Then we got ready and headed to Ryan's parents to have a great visit and supper with all of his parents, grandma, aunt's, uncles, and cousins. I was so stuffed and cozy but then had to head out to Gavan's for work. The night actually passed pretty fast which was nice.

Playing Guitar Hero

To sum it up it was a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Here is your dare this week:

Dare #14

Make a REASONABLE New Years resolution and let me know what it is! :-) Make a resolution you know you can keep!

Good Luck!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Philly Farmhouse Chicken

Here is one of mine and Ryan's favorite chicken recipes. It is super easy to make and if you have picky vegetable eaters the sauce really disguises them.

Philly Farmhouse Chicken

-2 chicken breasts
-¼ cup zesty Italian dressing
-1 cup of baby carrots
-1 can of chicken broth
-½ onion
-Rosemary and Garlic powder
-1 package Philly cream cheese

All of the ingredients


1.Heat dressing in frying pan than add chicken and onions. Cook until brown.

Cooking the chicken and onions

2. Add Chicken broth, carrots and a dash of rosemary and garlic. Cover, reduce heat to med-low and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Cooking in the broth.

3. Meanwhile, cook rice as directed.

4. Add cream cheese to skillet and cover again for 5 minutes. (This helps it to melt)

5. Turn up heat to med-high and mix sauce until it is all smooth and begins to thicken.

Thickening the sauce.

6. Serve chicken, vegetables and sauce over top of rice.


7. Enjoy! :-)

This recipe takes a little longer to make (40 minutes) than some of my other recipes but during the 20 minutes that it is covered and cooking I go ahead and make lunches or just relax and watch t.v. It isn't a very difficult recipe but tastes and looks like something gourmet. Plus the best part....under $10.00. Happy cooking everyone!

Chicken (2 breasts) - $6.10

Zesty Italian Dressing (1/4 cup) - $0.75 worth

Baby carrots (1 cup worth) - $0.40

Onion (1/2 of onion)- $0.45

Can of Chicken Broth- $0.99

Philly cream cheese- $1.29

Total: $9.98

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Goodbye Dear Friend...

Today is a sad day for my family and I. Today marks 3 years since my grandpa Hamilton has passed. Now today will mark another sad event in our lives.

This is Jake. A 14 year old golden retriever who came into our family. He was a birthday gift to my brother but little did everyone know how important this little puppy would be.

He was the runt of the litter and I remember the first night that he was with us. He must have been scared because all he did was cry all night long. I think my parents thought that becuase he was the runt of the litter that he would be a smaller adult but they were very wrong. Quickly Jake grew to be a very big dog.

Jake loved to eat. He would eat anything. In his puppy years he ate our neighbors Christmas lights, Toby's (employee of the farm) new helmet, numerous bowls that kept his food and many pesky groundhogs that dug up the field. Although he was a troublesome puppy he grew into a wise dog.

Travelling from home to work requires one to walk across the road. On Jake's way to work he would stop at the end of the walkway and look both ways before crossing the road. He knew what time the guys at the shop took break and would always make sure he was there to get their scraps. He had 400 acres to run around on, and his very own swimming pond but his most favorite thing to do was go on the harvester with Jared to go cut sod. He was a part of the team here at Mountainview.

Once Jake got a little older he started spending the cold winter nights in the house on his own blanket. On many Christmas' we would look up the stairs from the basement where we were opening presents and see him laying down at the top very content.

Today Jake needed to be put down. He wasn't able to walk or eat anymore. It makes today a sad day but he was a great companion to my family and everyone here on the farm. His presence will be missed.

Goodbye dear friend....


Monday, December 21, 2009

Dare #13

Wow! The week of Christmas! I can't believe it! It's so exciting. Everyday this week there is stuff going on that contributes to my Christmas. My presents are wrapped, the food is bought and the house is as clean as it's going to get.

Here is your dare this week:
Dare # 13

Read a Christmas book. Mine is going to be one of my old childhood favorites, Honey Bears Christmas. What one will you read?

Did everyone complete last week's dare? I was excited to do my dare this week. I usually don't send out Christmas cards in the first place but I had made these homemade Christmas cards in crafts that were just waiting to be mailed. I decided that I should send one to my Grandma Hamilton. She lives in Manotick, Ontario and so I don't get to see her very often but she has never forgotten my birthday or Christmas. I hope she likes her homemade card from me but I haven't heard if she has received it yet.

Have a great week!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Cake Mix Cookies

Tis' the season for endless baking, fa la la la la.....

Here is a quick and easy recipe for cookies. They have a quick prep time and once they are done they taste more like miniature cakes than cookies....yum!

Cake Mix Cookies

1 package of Yellow cake mix

1 cup of flour

½ cup of melted butter

¼ cup of honey

2 eggs

Sprinkles of your choice

All the ingredients

Preheat oven to 375 degrees lightly grease cookie sheets. Mix together cake mix, flour, melted butter, honey and eggs. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, cookie dough will be THICK.

Mixed together

Form into one inch balls and roll in sprinkles.

Ready to bake!

Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Enjoy!

For added fun immediately after baking insert a wooden craft stick halfway into each cookie. Now you have cookie pops! Great fun as party favors!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

27 Days of Christmas

Stolen from

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper for sure!! I don't mind getting gifts in a gift bag but I love wrapping presents. Nothing better than sitting down, with a Christmas movie on wrapping presents.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial. I don't like the mess of a real tree.

3. When do you put up the tree? This is my first year putting my own Christmas tree up but I put it up the day before December 1st. December the 1st is the "official" day that the lights get turned on outside the house.

4. When do you take the tree down? Shortly after New Years.

5. Do you like eggnog? I don't know. I don't think I have ever tried any. My family never had any when I was growing up so I never got to try it.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? The one that I remember the most was a trip to Disney when I was 8. Also, my dad made me a wooden bunk beds for my doll that I still have and cherish.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? I don't! I guess that's something to put on my list for next year.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My Dad. I guess being that I am a girl and he doesn't really have many hobbies it is hard to buy for him. If he see's something he usually goes out and gets it for himself. I usually end up getting him the same thing. Socks, underwear, Cologne, etc.

9. Easiest person to buy for? My brother. He likes all kinds of different things. He likes to read, watch movie, work out, wood work. He loves gadgets and games. So easy!

10. Worst Christmas gift ever received? My parents always do this thing at Christmas where they give us all the rest of our presents and then a "big" one right at the end. Well, one year when I was about 13 I was expecting my "big" gift to be something cool and grown up being that I was now a teenager. It turned out when I opened this big box it was a doll. A talking, eating, pooping robotic doll. I was so not impressed but they were looking at me with excited eyes so I smiled and acted excited.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? White Christmas, A Muppet Christmas Carol, Home Alone and The Grinch!

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually after Thanksgiving. I like to get all of my Christmas shopping finished by December.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I haven't. Well, not that I can remember.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Stuffing! I love stuffing!

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I always grew up with a tree that had colored lights but my Christmas tree this year has clear and I really like them.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Silent night. When sung and played by Rolly at the Christmas Eve service at church.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home but travel short distances to family.

19. Can you name Santa’s reindeer? I don't know....Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen.....No I can't.

20. Do you have an Angel on top or a star? I have a star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Usually just Christmas morning but this year we are starting a new tradition. Jared, Holly and the baby are coming over on Christmas Eve for turkey and gifts with them. All the other gifts on Christmas morning. We'll see how it goes.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The snow! And trying to navigate around a store that is filled with pushy, impatient people!

23. Ugliest Christmas Decoration ever invented? I can't think of one but I hate lights on a house that are half burnt out.

25. Which looks best theme trees or homey trees? Well if I was able too I would do both but right now just a homey tree with random ornaments that I've collected and made.

26. Gingerbread or sugar cookies? Sugar cookies for sure! Yum!

27. Do you like Fruitcake? Yuck!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Money Saving Christmas

It is so hard at this time of the year to go into a store and come out without buying something. When decorating your home there are many very nice things in the store to buy. However, when you are a young homeowner you need to purchase things slowly and over time in order to save money. Sometimes that leaves part of your house looking somewhat bare over the holidays. Here are a few ideas to decorate for the holidays without leaving your bank account empty.

1. Take old pictures/displays off of your wall and replace with another hanging just for the holidays. You can wrap a frame with Christmas themed wrapping paper or you can take an old Christmas card and frame it. Either way a new piece of art keeps things fresh and adds visual interest to your walls.

2. Put pine cones everywhere. Leave them plain or spray paint the ends of them white. Put them in a small vase or a bowl and display in various rooms of your house. Place them in your tree as a ornament.

3. Speaking of ornaments.....if your tree is looking bare but you don't have the money for store bought ornaments take the Christmas cards that you are receiving and display them on your tree. It makes the tree look very festive and you are still displaying those thoughtful cards.

Mine and Ryan's Christmas cards on display on our tree.

4. Do you have a friend who has a Christmas decoration that you love? Ask to switch! Switch one of your decorations with one from a friend. Adding something different to your home will help keep it from getting boring year after year.

5. Dollar store ornaments balls are great! Those colored glass ornaments can go anywhere! Stick them in a bowl or vase for a festive, colorful centre piece or sting them together and fasten above a window.

I found these at the dollar store for $2.00. I usually keep sea shells in this vase but for the holidays exchanged them for these ornaments.

6. Store bought flower arrangements are very pricey! Instead make your own arrangement using evergreen branches and adding a couple of fake flowers from the dollar store. It takes some work but the evergreen sent will even make your home smell like Christmas.

7. Do you have a Santa hat? Display it on your coat rack to make it look like Santa left it behind by accident.

Hope Santa remembers to pick up his hat at my house this year


8. Shop after the holidays. You don't need to head out on boxing day to grab those great deals. The week after Christmas stores are still stocked with great items that are 50%-80% marked down! My personal favorite...Micheal's craft store. They make the crafts there but after the holidays everything must go!

9. Finally, be creative! Get together with friends or family and make a Christmas craft together. (shout out craft night ladies!)Go to the dollar store for inexpensive staples (candles and gift wrap) and always keep an eye open at summer garage sales for some great finds that will look great in your home!


Dare #12

Today is DECEMBER 14th...OMG! 10 days till Christmas! I don't know about all of you but last week I thought I was thinking pretty highly of myself. I had bought and wrapped all the presents which are sitting underneath my decorated Christmas tree. The baking was finished and I thought all I had left to do was wait for St.Nick. Now at the beginning of this week I still feel like I have more to do. I need to get all the food for Christmas dinners, make my pies, get a couple more smaller gifts and of course there will be last minute cleaning to do being that Christmas dinner with my family is at my house this year. Aghhh!

Here is your dare this week:
Dare #12

Send a Christmas card to someone who least expects it. Maybe an old friend or neighbour. Someone who is not on your recipients list for Christmas cards.

Last weeks dare should have been completed by everyone being the we got a dumping of snow on Wednesday. Ryan lucked out and was not the victim to my snowball. I had visited the shop guys on Wednesday because one of them had made a special treat for everyone to try. I went back to the office and bragged to Jill and Mom how good it was and the three of us went back together for a sample. After our snack we were all leaving and Jill stepped out in front of me to in the direction of the office. I knew right away that this was my opportunity. I quickly bent down and formed a snowball. Just when I was pulling my arm back to shoot she looked back but it was too late, my snow ball landed on Jill's back. It was great fun playing and running in the snow, I felt like a kid again.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Gingerbread House

Above is a picture of mine and Ryan's Christmas gingerbread house. Aren't we talented? Ha ha. Sometimes on the weekends Ryan and I find ourselves looking for something to do. We had finished all of our Christmas shopping, done decorating, no house work and nothing was on T.V. We had picked up a gingerbread house kit a while back thinking that we might like to do one. However, it sat in the cupboard for about two weeks while we completed other "Pre-Christmas" activities.

Finally, last weekend we were sitting around twiddling our thumbs and decided to take out the box and start making our gingerbread house. We went at it thinking that it was going to be simple. WERE WE EVER WRONG!!! Neither of our hands were small enough to get at the windows and someone kept eating all of our decorating candy! At the end though it had four walls and a roof so our ginger people will be warm for the winter. :-)

Maybe with some practice our house next year will look like this :-)

Did you know.....

Ginger is a spice from Indo-Malaysia and not only tasty, but good for upset stomachs. Cakes, cookies, and candies made use of this spice for several thousand years. All types of gingerbread became popular in Europe, but tradition says the idea of a gingerbread house came from the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale written by the Grimm brothers.
This charming story about a brother and sister getting lost in the woods and finding a gingerbread house trimmed with candy caught the fancy of bakers everywhere. From that point on, these houses became traditions of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Super Easy Beef Stew

Being that I am FREEZING this morning because of this awful, cold, snowy weather I thought that an easy recipe would be nice to share with all of you.

Nothing warms you from head to toe like a hearty beef stew. When I was first on my own and learning how to cook I didn't even think about making a stew because I thought it would be a lot more complicated than it actually is.

Here are the ingredients:

- 1 cup of beef broth
- ¼ cup of zesty Italian dressing
- ¼ cup of BBQ sauce
- 1 tsp of dried oregano
- 1 lb of stewing beef
- 1 lb of potatoes
- Carrots cut into 1 inch thickness
- 1 onion cut into chunks
- 4 slices of bacon (I use ready-crisp)
- 3 tbspFlour and water

The flour and water I don't usually use myself because I like my stew to be more like a soup rather than having a gravy texture to it.

All of the ingredients


Mix broth, dressing, barbecue sauce and oregano in slow cooker.

Add all remaining ingredients except flour and water; toss to coat. Cover with lid. Cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours (or on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours).

All the ingredients in a crock pot

If you want a gravy like stew: transfer meat and vegetables to serving bowl with slotted spoon; cover with foil. Set aside. Mix flour and water until well blended. Stir into juices in slow cooker; cover. Cook on HIGH for 15 min. or until sauce is slightly thickened. Spoon over meat and vegetables.

After it is all cooked serve in a bowl with a bun or a slice of bread. It is so simple to throw everything in the crock pot the night before and then just plug it in the next morning. If you happen to have any leftovers it freezes very well and can be easily taken out for a quick lunch. Plus, the really great news, it's under $11.00 for the whole meal and with lots of leftovers. If you already have some of the staple ingredients (Zesty Italian dressing, BBQ sauce, etc.) it won't add costs to your grocery bill and you can use them for future recipes.

Stewing beef (small package): $4.35

Can of beef broth: $0.99

Zesty Italian Dressing: $0.75 worth

BBQ Sauce: $0.30 worth

Potatoes: $0.97 worth

Carrots: $0.50 worth

Onion: $0.74

Ready-Crisp Bacon: $ 1.19 worth

Pack of 6 buns, only 2 used: $0.99

Total: $10.78

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dare #11

Well there's no denying it now....Christmas is fast approaching. This morning I woke up to snow covering everywhere, yuck! I love Christmas but I really hate snow! I hate shoveling, the cold and being fearful every Christmas Eve that a member of my family is going to miss out on Christmas because they'll have to go snow plough. However, the snow is now here so I might as well embrace it. We are expecting 15-20 cm of snow on Wednesday so I think a snow related dare would be appropriate.


Do a snow related activity. Example: This week I'm going to head outside and throw a snow ball at Ryan....shhh...don't tell him. :-)

Have a great week everyone!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Japanese Meatballs

I don't know about you but some nights in the week I REALLY don't feel like getting home from a busy day at work and getting right back to work in the kitchen. Even though 30 minutes isn't a long time to spend on preparing food sometimes I just want a break! So I give myself a break using this recipe!

On Sunday night while I was waiting for another meal to finish in the oven I gathered up all my ingredients for Wednesdays night's supper.

Japanese meatballs have become a favorite for Ryan and I. Ryan refused to even try them when we first started dating. I actually had to win a game of cards and for the bet he had to try a meatball. Sneaky, sneaky! :-) Ever since then we haven't seen meatball leftovers. ha ha!

First start your oven at 350 degrees. Take the hamburger (I use a small package for just the two of us) and add 1 egg, 3 tablespoons of oatmeal and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce.

Using your hands or a pampered chef medium sized scoop form the hamburger mixture into balls. Place them on a cookie sheet. Place them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked. Tip: I always line my pan with aluminum foil so that it allows for easier clean up when they are done cooking.

Meanwhile while the meatballs are cooking mix together 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 ketchup and 1 tsp of ginger. I always go ahead and put all the ingredients right in the dish that the meatballs are going in, the less dishes the better!! Once the meatballs are done cooking add them to sauce mixture.

You can chose to eat them right away or freeze them till you need them.These meatballs freeze really well, not only do they not lose their shape but the sauce really marinates the meatballs. I chose to freeze mine till Wednesday, take them out the morning of the day we're eating them, and stick them in the oven until they are fully warm. Make some rice, a vegetable and enjoy a meal that is not only delisious but also under $10.00!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas in the Valley

Sleigh bells ringing in the snow,
Kissing beneath the mistletoe
Out in the barn the cattle low,
It's Christmas in the valley
And soon beneath the Christmas tree,
We'll gather with our family,
Love in perfect harmony,
It's Christmas in the valley

Tree before all the decorations

Oh the valley lights will shine so bright,
All the world will seem so right
Santa on his magic night comes to his children
There'll be sleigh bells ringing in the snow,
Kissing beneath the mistletoe,
Out in the barn the cattle low,
It's Christmas in the valley.

Christmas Tree all decorated

Candle light and hearts that glow,
The silent dance of falling snow,
Familiar songs on the radio,
It's Christmas in the valley.
In every town the church bells ring,
In every home a young child dreams,
In every heart the spirit sings,
It's Christmas in the valley.

Family Christmas Portrait, ha ha

There'll be sleigh bells ringing in the snow,
Kissing beneath the mistletoe,
Out in the barn the cattle low,
It's Christmas in the valley.