Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Our Thanksgiving Weekend Here In Canada

Here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October.  Everyone gets the day off to relax, eat and drink with their families and loved ones. 
We enjoyed two Thanksgiving dinners this weekend, and had plenty of time leftover in which to enjoy the gorgeous weather and  the cosiness of our home. 
I took a ton of pictures as the 3 days went by and I'll use them today  in this post as a little photo essay of sorts, with little or no text to go along.
These vibrant, autumnal photos tell of journeys out and about and of ones that took place closer to home, and they all tell the story of how thankful I am for the  home, family and food that I enjoyed this weekend and throughout the rest of the year.




The Farmer's Market, the baking, walks in the conservation area and paper turkeys.
A boy and his dog, home d├ęcor and dinner preparation.
Chocolate Pumpkin Swirl Cake and stuffing like Grandma used to make.
Families gathered around the table, smiling from the pure joy of sharing a feast.
These are a few of my absolute favourite things...... and they all happened on a few fleeting days in October.
How did I get so lucky??
Have a wonderful week everyone!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Travel Plans for 2016: Four "Little" Trips

In our home, I am in charge of trip planning. My husband would gladly do it, but he knows I am a control freak and I would probably keep sticking my nose into his planning. SO he happily leaves it all to me!
This year we were lucky enough to put 3 international trips in our scrapbooks.  My daughter and I went to Great Britain back in March, my husband and I spent 10 whirlwind days in Italy in July and in August, my husband's family took him to Napa in California to celebrate his 40th birthday. 
As soon as we returned home, we began discussing our travel plans for 2016.  Because we have grand plans to take the whole family to Belgium and the Netherlands in 2017, we wanted to keep our travelling in 2016 small and inexpensive. 
Well, let's just say we're getting away a bit more than originally planned and the $$$$ are adding up, but in the end it will all be worth it!
Trip #1 - Costa Rica
Because our daughter had travelled earlier this year with me, it was one of our son's turns to go away this coming year.  Bryn, our oldest, is fascinated with all things "jungle" and requested that we fly him to South America as soon as possible.  Luckily, my sister recently moved to Costa Rica and Bryn decided that a trip to the jungles of Central America would fit the bill just fine, too.
So, my son and husband are flying from Toronto to Liberia in March and will spend 5 days visiting nature reserves in hopes of meeting some of the jungle's wildest creatures. 

As well, they will partake in a variety of "adventure" tours where they will hike a volcano, zip-line through the jungle and white-water raft down fast flowing rivers. 

 Sounds pretty awesome, doesn't it?  I am kind of jealous and would gladly go with my son, but it's my hubby's turn to have an adventure with one of our children!
Trip #2 - Florida
What will the 2 other kids and I be doing while the older boys are away in CR??
We are going to Florida!!

My mom has rented a cottage for the whole month of March  in a small city called Sebring and has invited us to stay with her for a week.  We'll fly down and spend one day at LEGOLAND and another day at Universal Studios (We want to see the Harry Potter adventure!)

The warmth of Florida will be a wonderful change from the cold temperatures we will be dealing with in Canada at that time of year!! 
Trip #3 - Portugal
After my husband's family took him to Napa for his 40th birthday, I joked with my mother and sisters about where they were going to take me for my 40th birthday next year.  They all just laughed it off.  Then a few days later my mother asked me where I would want to go for my 40th if I could choose. 
 I quickly said "PORTUGAL!"  
And she said, "Okay, let's go!"
So - we  (mom, my 2 sisters and I) are spending 7 days in this lovely AirBnB apartment in the historic centre of Lisbon. 
We plan on spend 3 or 4 days just getting to know the capital city, and the other days on day trips out to Sintra, Obidos and Nazare. 

My mother and 2 sisters and I have never travelled together just the 4 of us.  Obviously we did a lot of travelling together when we were growing up, but my father was always there.  I am sure we will mourn his loss several times on this vacation, but we know he will be there with us in spirit!!

Trip #4 - Philadelphia
This will be the only trip we take in 2016 with our  whole family of five and we hope to go in August.  We can drive to Philly in about 7 hours and we plan on staying in another AirBnB apartment while we are there.    

I was once to Philly when I was a teenager and I remember it being very historic and "pretty."  I look forward to checking out a few cool attractions like the Reading Market and the State Penitentiary and eating in some yummy restaurants.  
The kids would prefer that we were flying to the City of Brotherly Love, but we have promised some cool stops along the way, too.  One of the best parts of a trip  is getting there!!

Now that the destinations and travel dates have been decided the minute details like paying the $$$ have to be organized.  If I've planned our finances right, we'll be able to have these marvelous adventures in 2016 and still be able to take a BIG trip in 2017.

Perfect.  I can't wait!!

Thanks for popping by. I love to have visitors around here!

Hugs to all,



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Great British Bake-Along - A Chocolate Souffle

The semi-finals of the Great British Bakeoff are over and this week the 2015 Star Baker will be decided. It has been a very exciting season so far, and I'm sure this week's final will be a nail-biting affair.  I'll be truthful, I'm pulling for Nadiya.  I think she'll be the champion come Wednesday night!
I am joining in once again this week with  Amanda over at Rhyme and Ribbons for her weekly GBBO Bake-along. 

And this week I gave a good old Chocolate Souffle a try!
I went straight to Martha for my recipe.
And it goes as follows:
Unsalted butter, room temperature, for baking dish        
    1/4 cup sugar, plus more for baking dish           
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)           
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract           
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten, plus 4 large egg whites           
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 1 1/2-quart tall-sided baking dish. Coat with sugar, tapping out excess. Set dish on a rimmed baking sheet.
2.  In a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine chocolate, vanilla, and 1/4 cup water. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, 20 minutes.

3. Stir egg yolks into cooled chocolate mixture until well combined. Set souffle base aside.
4.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites on medium-high until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes (do not overbeat).

5.  In two additions, fold egg-white mixture into souffle base: With a rubber spatula, gently cut down through center and lift up some base from bottom of bowl. Turning bowl, steadily continue to cut down and lift up base until just combined.

6.  Transfer mixture to dish, taking care not to get batter on top edge of dish; smooth top. Bake souffle until puffed and set, 30 to 35 minutes. (Do not open oven during first 25 minutes of baking.) Serve immediately.

I used a 1.5 quart baking dish just as the recipe specified.  Did my souffle rise up out of the dish?
But, it was light and  fluffy, with a creamy texture under the crispy top. The chocolate flavour was rich and not too sweet. 
I sprinkled some icing sugar on top as Martha suggested. 

Did my family like it?  Oh yes! They all wished there was more after we devoured our servings fresh out of the oven. 
Thanksgiving is coming up this weekend here in Canada and I may try this again as an alternative for some of our dinner guests instead of pumpkin or apple pie (don't worry, I'll serve those too!)
The kids are all for it, that's for sure!!
Looking forward to checking everyone else's bakes this week.  I wonder if anyone made a chocolate peacock centrepiece? 
Buy for now.  Looking forward to Wednesday night's final!!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

An Apple Each Day....

With autumn arriving full-force this past week, of course it was time to hit the apple orchards and do some picking!
There are a vast number of orchards around our town, some are huge and have literally thousands of visitors each weekend, and others are small and family-run and you can basically have the place to yourself on a cool, October day 

When it was all said and done we chose Wheelbarrow Orchards for their selection of apple-types and the cute little food shop right in the premises.
 To begin, we entered the shop and purchased a "picking bag." They had 2 sizes available. Buy it (mine cost $18) and fill it with apples.  The farmer told me it would likely hold 30 apples.  I was sure we could fit in a few more than that!

Out into the orchard we went. We were very thankful that we had worn hats and gloves.  It was pretty cold out there in the exposed rural area. 
Look how heavily-laden the trees are.  Amazing! Nature at its best.

I think it took all of 38 seconds before Camden had bitten into a apple.  He chose a crunchy, green Mutsu. With a wiggly front tooth, he found it a bit of a challenge, but by the end of our picking time, he had eaten it to its core!

Afton prefers her apples red  and small.   Hers was gone in about 15 bites!

The kids wanted to buy our Hallowe'en pumpkins today, but I wasn't quite ready for that.  We've still got 3 weeks before that spooky event arrives and I figured we could save a pumpkin-patch outing for another weekend. 

After one last walk through the trees, we climbed back into the car for the short ride back to our home.  All agreed it had been a pleasant afternoon spent within the orchard.  It was cool, but it truly felt like autumn. 

And how may apples  did we manage to get into that "picking bag?"  Way more than 30!! We counted once we returned home and we had 38!!
Kevin and I also grabbed a big bottle of cider.  We love it mixed with caramel or maple vodka this time of year. Mmmmm.....is it too early for another one right now??
I hope you and your family are finding a few Fall adventures as yummy as ours. 
Have a wonderful week everyone!