Sunday, July 29, 2012

Easy Creamy Cookie Stack

Summertime and the living is easy!

The first month of summer vacation is coming to an end but I dare say we have packed a lot into it!! And to think -we have 5 more weeks before we all return to school - hubby and I to teach and ALL THREE kids become students again (even my baby who starts JK in September!).

The other day we popped by the Mill Pond here in our little town.  The kids love it here. Ducks, fish, bridges, rocks, bugs and converted railway trestles - all ready for a few hours of play! 
And the weather was perfect! We have been experiencing wicked-hot weather here in Ontario - 35 degrees ++ Celsius with horrible humidity.  On this particular day there was a cool breeze, light wispy clouds and a temperature of 24 degrees. A flawless day for a walk around the pond.  

Now for the recipe I promised in my title:

And it really couldn't be any easier!!

1.) Bake (or buy like I did!) 25 cookies.  

2.) Whip 500ml of whipping cream into fluffy peaks.  Stir in 1/2 cup icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla.

3.) Begin stacking the cookies on top of cakestand  or plate.  The bottom tier is a  circle of 5 cookies with one in the middle.  

4.) Dollop  3/4 cup of whipped cream on top of the cookies, spreading it so that oozes between the cookies. 

5.) Continue stacking the cookies, overlapping them on the spaces in the previous tier.  Add more cream between the layers.  

6.) After all of the cookies have been placed, add more cream and then pile sliced strawberries on top.

7.) For extra decadence, drizzle the stack with chocolate sauce.


And what did my dinner guests think?  I think these photos speak for themselves!
Ethan gives it the "finger-lickin" thumbs up!

Pregnant Tamara couldn't wait  to jump in!
And my oldest son was willing to put down his LEGO Hero long enough
 to eat two servings!

I am sure you'll find this recipe well worth all the time it takes to make (which is approximately 15 minutes at the most!!)
To speed the process up even more you could substitute a tub of Cool Whip in place of the whipping cream.  


Thursday, July 26, 2012

A "Farm Fresh" Baby Quilt

October Afternoon is a scrapbooking paper company that I have loved for years.  I usually buy all of their products whenever I can get my hands on them!  So when I saw that October Afternoon had partnered with
Riley Blake Designs to turn their gorgeous paper patterns into cotton quilting fabric, I was over the moon!!

As soon as it was available I bought a charm pack of  "Farm Fresh."
Aren't these the cutest prints?

What goes best with sheep, horses, cows and fresh vegetables?  
RED  and WHITE  GINGHAM of course!!
I turned my charm pack squares into a checkerboard quilt top. This one turned out baby-sized - perfect for the crib, the pack'n'play or as a play mat on the floor or grass.  

Here is my first baby (who is already 7 and a half!!) modelling my latest creation.  He doesn't often volunteer to be part of my crafty photo shoots, so when he stepped up, I shot as many pics as I could!!

Looks cozy, doesn't it??

Here she is in all her  glory:

I bought some additional yardage in a matching print to add a  border around the checkerboard to  make the quilt slightly larger.  

Some white ric-rac adds a row of interest between the squares and the border, too.  

And here is the lucky  mommy-to-be, Andrea.  Baby Eastman is scheduled to arrive in less than 2 weeks.  

If I was wagering a guess, I am predicting a boy for this dear friend.  I guess time will tell......

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Freshening Up the Porch

Okay.  I'll be honest.  My front porch was looking mighty rough.  The spring pansies had seen their day, there were leaves gathering in piles in all of the nooks and crannies and there was a dusty film on everything.  Ugh.  Talk about un-loved and under-used!!

(Even my youngest son looks unhappy there!)

I knew the porch needed a makeover but I didn't want to spend ANY $$$$ - and I wanted it done fast! That meant shopping the house for decor and using fabrics that I already had.  

And the colour scheme? Taken directly from our front door colour.  I had painted it this lovely Midnight Blue colour at the end of last summer and I knew I had lots of items that could go easily with it.  

First, the doormat got a sweeping and rinsing.  Clean and fresh again.  

I pulled this blue, green and turquoise fabric out of my stash and whipped-up a couple of pillows in no time.  
Ah yes! The colour-story grows...
 One pillow went on the Muskoka chair, along with a lime green-patterned one I had lying around....

.....and the other landed on the cute little rocker I bought last summer at a yard sale for  next-to-nothing.

To add a bit more colourful zing to each chair I used some turquoise napkins as seat covers.  A little stick-tack holds them in place!!

Now on the tray table in the middle?  A blue serving tray and a divided wooden box that has been in every room in our home but makes its first appearance on the porch!

In it went a tall glass jar full of daisies. 

Well -FAKE daisies, but they are just as pretty and last MUCH longer!

In the other corner of the box went a large canning jar full of my daughter's sidewalk chalk.  It has to be close at hand at all times.  You never know when inspiration may hit and "Craftin' Afton" will be on  the pavement and creating a masterpiece!!

I debated a long time about using white votives or these pink  ones.  The white would have blended in more but I decided these pink ones reflected the colour of all of the flowers in the hanging baskets that flank the front of the porch.  


I am so pleased with how this turned out.  Even the electrician that came to work on our house the other day commented on how lovely it looked.  Hubby has spent a ton of time out here reading and playing his guitar.  I guess it was well worth the time and effort!

It's the perfect place for  a icy chai latte and my favourite magazine.  In fact I think I'll head out there now...... 

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Pretty Wall of Plates

For almost 3 years now there has been some brownish, historical looking canvases hanging in the corner of our Living Room.  I love them, but it was time for a change!

Right now I am in the mood for a lightening and brightening throughout our whole home.  I've been painting furniture, changing drapes and selecting new accessories (More on that in the next few posts!).

Today I took this plain-looking corner as my latest "fix'er up" challenge:

Boring isn't it??!!

Well guess what?? Discount decor store to the rescue!!

My daughter has been taking part in "Craft Camp" at our local Michaels store so I have had plenty of time to peek around the shops in the area.  I found all of these plates within minutes of each other and I didn't pay more that $4.00 each for them.   Score! They were exactly what I needed to add some zest to the ho-hum corner of the Living Room.

To figure out the placement of my 6 plates, I laid them out on the hardwood floor (Hubby installed my floor.  Isn't it lovely??)

Once it was perfect I began adding the nails to the wall and the plate-hangers to the plates.  And up they went.

What a pretty mix, eh?  I love the  little spot of chartreuse mixed in with the deep rose and pale aqua. 

Oh! I am in LOVE with this little area of my home now!! Plates, pillows, butterflies, flowers and my reading lamp.  Could this get any better??

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Greek Salad On a Stick

This past weekend I was in charge of bringing an appetizer to my hubby's family reunion in a nearby town.  I wanted to make something easy, elegant and portable.  

One of my favourite websites, Cooking With My Kid, has a ton of yummy pre-dinner treats and I picked one involving these ingredients:

Yessirreee - Greek Salad on a Stick!
To make everything fit on a standard toothpick, I found I had  to cut each item to a certain size.

1.) Grape tomatoes need to be cut in half.

2.) An English cucumber has to but cut into slices no thicker than 1/3" and then cut into half circles.

3.) Slice your feta cheese into rectangles 1/3" thick and approximately the same size as your cucumber slices. 

4.)  Start stacking!!

Cucumber + Feta

Cucumber + Feta+ Grape Tomato

Cucumber + Feta + Grape Tomato + Whole Black Olive


Now wasn't that easy? 

 I think the rather large tray I made for the party lasted approximately 5 minutes!! In fact-  they never even made it outside - they were consumed quickly in the kitchen!!

My original plan was to drizzle some Greek dressing over the tray before they were served. However, the guests at the party found it just as easy to dip the sticks in the bowl of dressing left near the serving tray!!

I am definitely going to make these again!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Allie's Apron

My daughter was recently invited to one of her little friend's 5th birthday party.  I had plans to run out and buy something cute to give to Allie, but my daughter had other plans.
"Mom? Can you make something for Allie?" 
"Like what, Afton?"
"Can we sew something?"  (I like how she said "we." Little lady can't sew yet - what she really meant was, "Can I pick out the pretty stuff and you put it together?")

So we searched through my recently reorganized stash and came up with these materials.  Not a bad mix, eh?  

After cutting out the ONE pattern piece, I added some red ric rac trim near the bottom edge.  

On went some more ric rac around our pre-cut gingham heart. It's a nice edging between the 2 fabric patterns.   

Next step:  Binding trim around the whole thing.

Here's where we used the polka-dot ribbon - one tie on each side and 2 at the top.  


Allie is now the proud owner of a Bronwyn & Afton Original Apron! 
Isn't it darling??
Now Allie can bake up a storm with Mommy-  and feel pretty doing it.

When we wrapped the apron we added a box of cake mix, sprinkles and some pretty cupcake liners.  Afton said Allie was ecstatic at receiving this baking-themed gift.  I'll have to keep this gift idea in mind for other little girls in our life.

Thanks for popping by!

P.S. Have you seen our New York City trip pictures yet?  If not,  you can find them here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The One About New York City...

Hey there.  We've been home from NYC for a couple of days now but we all needed a lot of rest to catch  up from the lack of sleep and tons of walking we did.   

We had a great time and filled our 3 days with lots of "New York Minutes."   

All three kids slept in the same bed at the hotel in Buffalo where we stayed  before our 6am flight to NYC.  
"There were 3 in the bed and the little one said...."

The kids are experienced travellers now.  They are more than happy to kill time in the airport.  Here Afton creates "Airport Art,"

and Camden  keeps off the 5am sun (??) and hits the technology.

After dropping our bags off at the hotel we visited the Central Park Zoo.

Then onto Times Square where we met....


After a yummy supper at Applebees we hit the HUGE M&M store for dessert.  

How long does it take for a family of five to eat $30 worth of M&Ms??  Answer - A LOT less time then you think!!
For breakfast each morning we enjoyed muffins, croissants and bagels from a local bakery right near our 74th Street hotel. Mmmmm....

After breakfast on Day 2 we took the subway down to the Chelsea District and walked the High Line Park.  Here is our first view of the railway line turned tree-lined park:
Afton enjoys a snack of fresh raspberries before she....

... runs freely through an outdoor theatre in  the park.  

For lunch we walked to Greenwich and enjoyed food from PB &Co.  Everything they serve contains peanut butter.  Here Afton enjoys her "Fluffernutter" sandwich - PB and marshmallow fluff.  

Once lunch was done we took a taxi down to the South Street Seaport to catch a 1-hour boat cruise around Manhattan island.  

Work continues on the new World Trade Center.  

And of course, this fine lady stood watch as we floated by:

We took this family trip to NYC on request of our oldest son, Bryn.  He has faced some gigantic health issues in the last 18 months and we always try to remind him  that everyday is a gift. We have no way of knowing if his issues will return so we try to spend as much time together as a family, living every day to the fullest.  We were so glad to able to do this trip with our happy, healthy 7-year-old boy.  

On the last morning of trip, we visited the New York City Museum.  Frankly, it stunk!!  But I did manage to capture a few artsy pictures of its interiors.  

Before heading for the airport, we spent some additional time in another area of Central Park.    The kids ran around, climbing rocks and chasing birds while I snapped a few more pictures.

Overall, the trip was a great success.  Our older two children have fond memories of the Times Square and the Statue of Liberty.  Our youngest may have been too young to really absorb all of the things  he saw and did, but I think he enjoyed the time with his family.  
Kevin and I are pleased with how well our kids travel.  In fact people are always telling us that they are impressed with our kids at hotels, in restaurants  and in airports.  I guess we are raising them well - they grow in patience, goodness and curiosity everyday.