Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Seating cards favours!!!

It's about time these got a FULL post. 

One week before the wedding, Mom and I decided to tackle a HUGE task, which I was dying to do.  I wanted so many special, original and creative aspects for the wedding, most of which were actually accomplished.  One I REALLY wanted to do, was make cookie seating cards for our guests, instead of a normal paper seating chart.  When googling original seating cards ideas, I saw these AWESOME seating card cookies, actually done by a girl in Toronto.  I knew they'd be a lot of work, but if I could accomplish it, SO WORTH IT.

Even up to the moment of buying all of the ingredients for this endeavour, I was unsure as to whether I would have enough time, patience, ability to tackle 110 home made cookies, hand decorated, hand rolled, hand iced cookies!  With Mom encouraging me all the way, and offering to help, I felt a lot better!

I wish I has pictures of just how much stuff I had to buy to tackle this project, but I forgot.  Hate that.  In the end the major stuff that was required, was needed in MASS amounts:

8 lbs of butter
4 pounds of flour
1 pound of sugar
1/2 a LARGE bottle of vanilla
2 dozen eggs

Thank goodness for my Mom!  Seriously.  I never would have done this without her!  She was an amazing help at making the dough, rolling it out with me, cutting 110 cookies, baking them alongside me, helping pipe and flood the base and just encouraging me about how great they will look.  I ended up hand addressing each on of them on my own, which made more sense so that they would all look uniform(ish), and all in all, the whole process took around 26 hours (from store, to make, to refrigerate, to cut, to bake, to pipe and flood, to hand address).  Some of this time was of course drying time, but none the less, it was a long, tiring, but well worth it few days!

I can't write this post without a HUGE shout out to the couples from Ancaster CRC that bought us the most perfect gift for this task, with the most perfect timing!  If this didn't arrive at our house with Mom and Dad before the wedding, we never could have accomplished making everything as quickly without your kind, generous gift I have ALWAYS dreamed of.  Yes, I frequently have had dreams about....

A KITCHEN AID STAND MIXER!  I was SO thrilled when we opened this gift, looking at Graham and FULLY claiming it to be mine!  I couldn't wait to use it that night, the night Mom and I were due to start our cookie making!  Thank you so much Mr. and Mrs. Breimer, Mr. and Mrs. Visser, Mr. and Mrs. Visser, Mr. and Mrs. Voorberg and Mr. and Mrs. Bosma!!!

I don't know how long this task would have taken, if we had to do it all by hand, but I am VERY grateful that I didn't have to find out! 

Thank you so much everyone, and especially to my Mom!  I hope that you enjoyed your cookies (we continue to hear that everyone did)!  Graham has since asked me to make these again (or at least something with the dough, but a different shape), as he said, "they were the best homemade cookies he has ever eaten"!  WOW!

Mom and I ready to get started!

As you can see here, I don't have a rolling pin!  I actually do have one now, but I stil prefer to use a wine bottle, as the weight of it, really helps for an even roll!

Pre baking!  I LOVE the cookie cutter shape!  I found it at St. Lawrence Market in hopes to find either a wedding cake, or wedding bells, this one was just perfect!  It also happened to be on clearance for $1.00!  SCORE!

Mom and I in action!

The whole kitchen, every bit of counter space and the entire kitchen table was covered in cookie stuff!  Graham was not happy he had to wait till the last cookies were made to have a cookie, but we didn't want to risk having to make yet another batch if we didn't have enough (we had to do 11 batches in the end!). 

Baked!  They smelled so good, they were hard to resist!

Day 2 of cookie making!  My beauty hard at work, making royal icing!

Time to pipe and flood!

It's really ANNOYING when your royal icing starts to harden around your piping tip.  Best solution: put the tip on the outside of the bag so that you can easily unscrew it, clean it and put it back to work!

Flooded cookies waiting to dry!

Popping the air bubbles after flooding, so there is a perfect finish and shine, with no holes later on!

That was the end of day 2.  Mom and I had piped and flooded all 110 of the cookies before she needed to head home on the train.  I never could have done it without you, MOM!  Thank you so much!

Now it was onto day 3.  I had to wait for the cookies to dry before I could hand address them, as I didn't want anything to smudge.  It was a lot of hours and work to start rushing things for no reason!  That and I ran out of meringue powder for the royal icing and needed to make 2 more batches still!!!

It took me 9 hours to address all of these.  Trust me, having arthritic hands doesn't help!  The purple colour we wanted turned out so bright and fun, it was perfect!

It's hard to take action photos of yourself when you are home alone!

Some of the overflow that couldn't fit on the kitchen table, a lot of them were just "testers" to see how they tasted and how I wanted to write on them.

Yes, I was VERY proud!  It was a lot of hard work! There are 50 more in the kitchen, so it ended up being a kitchen full of baked goods for 3.5 days!

There we are!  The bride and the groom!  Head Table here we come!

Now onto day 4!  I had to wait for the writing to dry before I could bag them!  The next morning, they were all ready to be bagged, tied and ribbons to be curled!  That alone, took another whole day (cutting ribbon, tying it and curling 110 bags of cookies was not easy!)!  They turned out exactly how I wanted them in the end!

Half are bagged, now to tie and curl!

Here they are in all their glory!

Only 4 more days till Graham and I get to celebrate!

All boxed up and ready to go!!!!!!!!!

Thank you so much Mom and Ancaster CRC couples!  They turned out perfectly and everyone really seemed to enjoy them!  What a fun extra part of our wedding that I will remember forever!

Monday, May 30, 2011


To me, cars have always been a luxury.  Something that I am VERY grateful to have when I have one.  After communting by carpool in England, then finally getting a car, then having to sell it and commute again, I learned quickly how nice it was to have a car.  I was VERY lucky to have a car for some of the time I was in was in University (thanks Mom and Dad- Thelma did me good!), but even more blessed to have a best friend (thanks Jesse!) who let me borrow his car if I needed to do groceries or do some shopping that was too much for me to walk home with (living in Shawnee, Oklahoma, taxis were just not an option!).  I have always been thankful for my own car.

I lost my car to Graham when we moevd to T.O, so I was now commuting by streetcar, subway, subway and then walking to work at the other end.  I LOVED the days that I had a car, but hated that it was because Graham was usually gone for X amount of time.

Today I had to take our car in for LONG overdue check up and diagnosis for why our car was wheezing when you turned the a/c on, clunking over bumps, chugging gas, and grinding when you tried to brake.  I had a feeling the $40 oil change would turn into at least $1,000 worth of work, which Graham and I were prepared for...knowing it might be MUCH worse as the a/c doesn't blow ANY cold air.

Since moving, we have had no idea where to take the car, so I decided to take it for a few quotes before agreeing to get any work done.  I started with Canadian Tire (I had no idea if this was a good idea, but it was somewhere to start) and then was planning on going to a friend's cousins garage in Whitby.

Umm...that would have been the ideal plan if Canadian Tire wasn't the most outrageous experience I have ever come across.

Here's how my day went in short.

I showed up at 9am to get the car DIAGNOSED.  I agreed and signed to an air conditioning check ($40) and a front end check ($37) and the rest of the inspection (brakes) was free.  IF and I mean, IF I decided to get the work done their tomorrow, then I also needed an oil change which could be factored into the quote.  They told me it would be an hour, hour and a half at TOPS.  I told them I would pop over to wal-mart, get a drink and magazine and would wait it out in the waiting room for them to call me over when they were done.

2 hours later, I went to the desk to ask what was going on.  They said that they were just starting the a/c check, but wanted to show me what work needed to get done with the brakes and stabilizers.  I went over, they blah, blah, blah'ed me a bunch of stuff I knew was going to be MEGA $$$$$, and felt skeptical.  I KNEW the stablizers needed to be done, as the front end noise was HORRENDOUS over bumps and the alignment was WAY off because of whatever issue there was.  The stablizer arms were missing the bolt to keep the ball and arm together.  However, they gave me some schpeel about the brakes which didn't add up.

They did the air conditioning check, saying it would be 15 mins and then they would give me a quote and I could pay the $80 or so for the diagnostics.  45 mins later, I was annoyed and went back to the desk to ask them what was taking so long, and was unhappy with them telling me a time and NOT remotely sticking to it (there were only 2 cars in the shop and 8 mechanics, so come on!).  They told me 5 more mins, which turned into 15, which by that point I was PISSED.  I asked the girl behind the desk to get the manager and get me my car and bill. She came back 5 mins later and said it would be another 5 mins.  I demanded my car back and when I looked through the window, I noticed they were putting it on the block and draining the oil!  WHAT?  I asked her to tell them to get my car down IMMEDIATELY and fill it with oil, give me my keys and the bill and my estimate.  She said they couldn't do that and that I owed them for a oil change I "agreed" to.  WHAT? 

The manager finally graced me with his presence (after chewing out another customer about him asking why they said his car was going to take 1 hour and it took 3, and the customer furious that he was being "schooled" like a child), and told me that my ccar would be ready in 10 mins.  I started raising my voice at the desk, asking for my car back immediately, told them I didn't approve an oil change or work, wanted my keys and quote and REFUSED to pay for the oil change.  He gave me a bullshit story, couldn't still give me my keys back, so I threatened to call the police.  They asked me to come into the office to discuss this, and I refused to allow other customers to be shielded from the disaster that happened.  Two customers left, one lady DEMANDED her keys back immediately and the other customer that got "schooled", was at this point, yelling REALLY loudly by the desk that this is "bleeping" (substituted by me- pg blog) outrageous. 

Somehow, my car was immediately taken down, oil change completed, bill fixed and ready with an estimate, a $2,800 estimate.  They tried to sweet talk me while I paid, and finished with:

"We'll see you tomorrow morning to get your work done, here's your estimate.  The air conditioning and new brakes are the most expensive, sorry for the bad news".  I told them they MUST be kidding, and I will be reporting them with my estimate and a secondary estimate (once completed) both to the papers and the Better Business Bureau. They were PISSED.  I however, didn't care.  I had already waited 5.5 HOURS to get the bum's rush today, there was NO WAY that I was going to ever go back there again!

So, off I went to FORD to take my car for an estimate.  Graham had already called to warn them of the disaster and what they said needed to be done according to Canadian Tire.  They gave him a quote for $1,500 less than what CT quoted, so I went straight there.  They were appauled by what happened, and said although it was too late now to finish the car today, they'd have it done mid morning tomorrow (5 hours of labour vs. the 13.75 CT quoted). 

Final tally from FORD and repairs needed were SUBSTANTIALLY less than CT ($600) and they were BRUTALLY honest with what needed to be done on the car.

Lesson, screw wasting almost 6 hours ANYWHERE.  Just take your car to the brand dealership your car is, get warrantied parts, and a brutally honest service!

Are you kidding me these people can still be in business?!?!  It seems like this is common practice for 2 customers in a row to be dealing with this crap!


Argh!  So tired!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I LOVE to cook!

Seriously, if the hours weren't so long, and the job such crappy pay, I would go back to school to train as a chef/pastry chef and then open a kick ass diner (old school southern style with a twist) or a bakery full of everything and anything I could come up with and customers could suggest.  Oh man!  Some days I literally have all night dreams about this.

I therefore, take every opportunity to cook for friends, family, Graham and I, or bring meals to people that need them for various reasons.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE to bake and bring them to people who I know don't bake often and will really appreciate it!  That and I love to bake ALOT, but don't usually eat much of it, so it's a win-win situation.

Tonight I made dinner and after Graham had a bite of each part of it, and a sip of the sangria I made, he said that it was the best meal I have ever made him!  It is quite nice that he says that quite often, but he couldn't stop talking about it the whole time he ate, so I guess it was good!  Makes me feel so excited!!!

As the sun was shining through the house and we had a break in rain, I decided to pick a summer menu.  Enjoy these photos and explanations!  If you want a recipe, leave me a comment and let me know!

Parmesan panko pork with homemade french fries ("chips") and a dark cherry port chutney.

White wine and bourbon Sangria, with oranges, apples, berries and fresh mint.

Watermelon, feta and mint salad with a homemade lime vinaigrette.

The entire table spread!  Delicious!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What? The sun shone for once?

This kid, has the BEST faces!!!  The poor guy had been playing with me in the livingroom before his nap and kept looking at the window and then at me, going, "Yah"?  As it was surprisingly (HA) raining AGAIN, I hated to have to tell him that it was raining so we played inside.


When he woke up from his nap, the sun came out for a short while and we joined Graham in the backyard while he worked. 

Brayden LOVES Graham.  When I say LOVES him, I mean, anytime I am near him when Graham's around, he starts making his way towards Graham thinking I am going to steal him from him or something.  If Graham is around, he wants to be held by him, and if Graham is not around, he looks for him!  So cute!

I took Brayden outside and man, was he happy to be in the garden watching Graham weed and plant!  It is hard to take photos of a child on your phone, when all they want to do is grab it, but I think these turned out amazing!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Kids make life WAY more fun!

First I have to start with...I have now seen Julie and Mat's baby Jack twice and forgot to take my camera or a picture both times!  What's wrong with me?!?!??!  He's the cutest!  Next time I see this beautiful family, it's picture time!

Kathryn dropped off Brayden for me at Mom and Dad's as we are having him overnight so that they can pack.  We LOVE having our friends kids over, and love it even more when we can have them for a night or a whole weekend!  It's good practice, a lot of fun and I really see a fun side of Graham that I don't get to see very often!  And what's better than being able to help out friends or give them some time to just enjoy a night off/time with their other friends or loved ones?!?!

Brayden got to our house and we had already dumped all the toys on the floor, set up the new high chair that we got that hooks to the table, and went for a big walk once the rain stopped!  What a fun night!  (we will ignore the 2 hours of sleep we lost, that ended with Brayden only settling because GRAHAM came in and held him instead of me!).

Look how happy he looks, chilling with his back against the high chair and being able to swing his legs!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm becoming a LAZY blogger!

Oh man, I am having a hard time blogging some days!  Some days because I am bored and don't have any inspiration, and some days because my hands are not feeling up to it.

This weekend should bring a lot of good blogging, as we have a fun weekend packed ahead.

Two fun things I did do today was see a few of the ladies from CAS and have lunch with them, and stop in at CAS, something I didn't think I would do or ever be able to do again.  It was nerve wracking, but good to do.  Thanks ladies for lunch!

Then I went to Mom and Dad's overnight!  It was so nice to be treated to dinner made by Mom (and not me for once) and sit on the porch till it got really dark and a bit chilly!

Of course, no stop to Mom and Dad's is without a stop to HEWITT'S DAIRY!  YUM!

Kernals Peanut Butter Ice Cream?!  Umm, YES PLEASE!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I LOVE iced coffee, even if it has to be decaf!

I am allergic to caffiene.  Yup.  I would say it sucks, but breaking out in head to toe hives and itching like crazy, sucks even more.  Thank goodness there's decaf!

I used to dislike coffee so much, I couldn't even stand the smell of it brewing!  However, working in Scotland, Oklahoma and Canadian coffee shops, that had to quickly was an easy job to get when you're younger or in school, so I had to learn to at least stand the smell. (I still swear that one of the worst smells when recovering from a hangover, is coffee and NOT bacon!)

Over the last few years, I have come to introduce coffee to myself, as Graham is a HUGELY particular cappuccino drinker.  He likes his VERY dry, with the thickest, most fluffy white foam ever, such little milk, and decaf as well.  I usually drrink a latte with whatever flavour I can get that will drown out the coffee, or if in Crete, I will get the most milky, delicious frappe's you will EVER see/taste.  And I don't mean frappe's as in blended ones, but hand shaken, over ice, with crunchy demerara sugar at the bottom!

I haven't drank much coffee lately, until we went to Thailand.  I was so jet lagged, and although decaf, I still like coffee drinks to "wake me up" sometimes- silly I know, as there isn't any caffiene, but it's a mind over matter thing!  Well, Thailand had these little stands, almost like lemonade stands all over the place, which served iced coffee.  As English isn't a language commonly spoken there, especially with street vendors, I had no idea what I would order, how strong it would be and if there would be any chance of it being decaf....

I had one, in the middle of a 40 degree day, while touring a gorgeous temple and I was HOOKED!  I mean HOOKED!  I had never had anything so strong tasting, but so lightly milky, and only moderately sweet!  Usually all the things that I didn't like about coffee.  It was shaken, poured over so much ice and the most amazing drink I have ever had!  Problem being, 30 minutes later, I started to itch worse than I have ever itched before.  Shortly after that, I had bumps all over my arms, legs and inside my mouth.  You'd think I would have stopped drinking it, but it was SO good and I was already covered in hives, so why not have another???  SO I DID.

Two weeks in Thailand and MANY iced coffees later, I learned to take anti-histamines (had to anyways, and the chilis were causing MAJOR hives and canker sores- allergic, but everytime I would say no, just the juice/seeds from the last dish they made in a pestle and mortar or wok would get into my dish and I'd have hives...the price your body pays for foreign food and being exposed to issues in another country you can't really avoid).  It didn't always help, but it made it more tolerable, and I would usually drink a lot of water after, so it was worth it.

One of my favourite memories of Thailand, was revisiting the lady who made us our first iced coffees and trying to get her to show us how to make them at home- all without her understanding any English!

I wrote down the recipe in the little journal I carried, and I make it DECAF at home, trying to limit myself, as finding the nescafe mix here is REALLY hard, and we only flew 50 home with us!  It seems complicated, but once you have the ingredients and make it once a week or more, it gets so quick and easy!  My sister-in-law Stephanie, loved enjoying one when we had everyone over for wedding brunch, and it was nice to share a new joy with friends and family!


Come on over, and I'll make you one!  I will NOT however, send any supplies home with you :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where did the last 3 years go???

I don't know how it's happened, but I have been home 3 years today!  Time has flown by like crazy (well, apart from the time when Graham and I were doing long distance!), and so much has changed!  I never thought I would ever come home to live again, after emigrating to England, but life changes and so do the circumstances surrounding them!

I am so happy 3 years later to have my HUSBAND by my side, enjoying life together, and making a HOME for ourselves.  We both have not known where home really is for the majority of our relationship, but now that we have a place that we can freely make our own, we know we are where we should be!

3 years ago, was one of the hardest days of my life.  I had to say good-bye to Graham, not knowing if we would survive long distance again, when I would be back, when he would emigrate, if he did want to in the end, and what I would do once I was home.  I was happy to see my family once I got through the arrival gate, but I felt so alone as well.  It is hard to describe to anyone what it was like, unless they have experienced it themself.

So, here's to the last 3 years!  We both now feel like we are HOME.  Enjoy this photo, one of the last photos I have with Graham before I came back to Canada!  Celebrating his birthday just days before I came home!  WOW, life changes!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy Birthday to one of the best friends a girl can have!

Kathryn and I met 2 years ago, working at Children's Aid.  It was an amazing friendship from the start, not only at work, but outside of work as well.  We have shared so many memories together, just the two of us, and now with our husbands and their son as well.  We have all had our good times and bad, and have really learned to trust eachother and lean on one other.  It is a very unique friendship amongst the 5 of us, and one we wouldn't change for the world.

Kathryn, happy birthday!!!  Every year since we've met something changes shortly before/after your birthday!  The first year, you got engaged, last year, Brayden was born and this year, you're moving into your new house!  Your first house!  Those are hard things to beat!  Next year has a lot of living up to do!!!

Thanks for being such an incredible friend!  You are an amazing mother, wife and Social Worker.  May this year bless you even more than the last!    

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hiking...walking...limping...whatever you want to call it! I'm having a hard time.

This is a hard blog for me to write.  Not hard because I am opening myself up for the whole world to see, but hard because it means that I am writing something that I have only shared with my closest friends and family and something that causes me a lot of sadness.  Something that when I have to talk about it, or admit it, it makes me cry, it makes me angry and it makes me worry about our future, something I don't like to worry about.

I LOVE walking.  I literally could walk for hours and hours.  In fact, when I was nannying, I used to take the kids for these marathon walks that even I was surprised I could do pushing 50+ pounds in a stroller up and down hills/through snow etc!  On my days off, or on weekends, I would sometimes take the streetcar, or the subway to a stop an hour or so walk from home, and get a drink and take the longest way home possible, walking and discovering new neighbourhoods everytime.

One thing that I don't like to talk about, which might be surprising, as I usually am pretty open about my life (otherwise, why would I have started this blog!), is that I have arthritis.  I got diagnosed with it when I was quite young and while it affected my ability to keep playing sports (basketball mostly), I usually didn't let it get me down. It was mostly in my knees, and my back would be affected because of this.  Until recently, I didn't have to acknowledge that it affected any other part of my body. As long as I can walk and not be affected, I knew I would always be okay with it, or at least as okay as you can be...

I have managed it without medication (other than anti inflammatories when I can't sleep due to swelling) regularly for the last 2 years.  I occasionally have to take a string of medication if I have a flare up (had been rare, maybe 1-2 times per year after a really stressful time), but I hadn't had to do that in over a year, pretty much since Graham emigrated (and we've had a lot of stress in the last year, so I thought I was scott free).

However, things took a really bad turn for the worse after the wedding, specifically by the middle of our honeymoon.  I lost COMPLETE sight of my ankles, developing HEFTY cankles, had quite bad shoulder pain if I went from air conditioning to extreme heat (it was 41 degrees celcius on the coldest day!), and noticed that I was starting to struggle with walking- thought that was due to my cankles.  Worst of all, 1 week after being married, I couldn't fit my wedding band or engagement ring on.  Graham and I both assumed that was because of the heat, but it didn't truly come to light until we came back home.

It was truly so bad when I came home, that I couldn't walk without a limp (which you can only try to hide from people for so long without it causing more pain), couldn't even squeeze my rings on and one morning I cried trying to get out of bed.  I think that day, it hurt my heart and soul more than it hurt my body.  I booked myself a Doctor's app't, trying to get into a specialist ASAP that same week.  I felt encouraged, getting a prescription for a new string of medication I haven't tried (but honestly I am still struggling to decide to take, for some specific reasons, I don't care to go into), and the Doctor telling me he'd rush the referral in.  Two days later, when they called and said I got an app't for the end of August, I wanted to hibernate.  Graham has been amazingly encouraging with it, but I have my good days and bad days.  The worst part, is I could deal with it being in my back and knees, which I have been for years, but now my right shoulder, hips and hands can get so bad, it's a constant frustration.  Part of the reason, I am sadly having to blog in stages and have been getting badly behind.

My walking has improved and I can go out for an easy walk (read: no hills, rough terrain or uneven ground) for sometimes up to an hour if I make many stops.  It's something that I cannot grasp, and have to stop learning to push myself to do better, as I "recover" too long after I push too hard.  It's hard to admit, imagine and talk about how last month I could walk a marathon, but now, I have to think about how much I can handle or a plan in case I start my walk and just can't make the walk back.  It's hard to explain how to feel, when the other half of your life, namely your husband, is one of the most active people you've ever met.  It's hard to say, "No, I CAN'T go for a walk today, not I don't WANT to", so I usually say yes, and try not to show him how bad it feels later.  I just want to enjoy life with him, without having to feel upset when he doesn't understand.

Sometimes though, the walk is SO gorgeous, so refreshing, I put my shoes on and pray that God will make my day, the discomfort and the effort worth it.  Sometimes I pray he'll just put a smile back on my face that makes me feel like my body is a part of myself again.

Today, we went for a walk/hike/hobble while camping, and were met with hills, rough terrain, and off the beaten path moments.  Graham enjoyed it so much, I didn't want any of it to be ruined, so I pushed through, knowing I could deal with whatever would come later.  We were half way through the walk, when I was starting to feel discouraged, and after stopping so Graham could take a few pictures, I looked ahead and just took a deep breath, enjoying these views and these moments:

I might feel like I have no control over my body, the things I love to do, or how I feel everyday, but I know that God is trying to make me see the sunshine through the rain.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

5th year of NON TRADITIONAL birthday cakes for Mr. Clarke!

Happy Birthday to my amazing husband, provider and love of my life, Graham!  He loves to refer to himself as my "boy toy", as I am older than him.  Until he hits 30, I have promised him, he can keep living in denial about actually being a boy or a man!

Every year since I have met Graham, we have spent his birthday together.  We call ourselves pretty lucky, as for 2 out of the 5 years we have been together, we had a long distance in Canada, him in the UK, both of us in the UK, but living 2 hours apart, then me back to Canada and him in the UK again.  How we've been lucky enough to spend every one of his birthdays together, is down to the fact that we have spent 3 of my birthdays apart.  It's too cold to do anything in March, so we usually missed out on celebrating my birthday together and opted for better weather for his.  I am so grateful for these times together!

This year, as it's been tradition for the last 2 years, we went camping for Graham's birthday!  What makes it even better, is that his birthday ALWAYS falls over the May "twofour" long weekend, so he not only gets to go camping, but gets an extra long birthday weekend as well!!!  I wish!

I have come up with some creative creations for Graham's birthday cake, as I am NOT a cake person (I love a good cupcake, but it has to be REALLY good!)  I think it had to be from all the icing I used to eat as a kid, when my amazing Mom of many trades was a cake decorator!  I have made him a fresh fruit pavlova (HUGE MERINGUE) for his first birthday with us as a couple, a dark chocolate raspberry flourless torte with raspberry ganache, which he ate in 2 days!!!, the same for his next birthday, as it was all he wished for, a GIANT custard filled doughnut last year (it was all I could find at the grocery store last year while camping), which he loved, and this year, it was the most GINORMOUS s'mores with the most decadent chocolate you could ever want in a s'more!  TIP: the best chocolate for s'mores is GREEN AND BLACK'S: Butterscotch- English milk chocolate, with little butterscotch bits, the perfect bit of crunch and the chocolate melts to perfection! 

I am so glad that one half of this relationship has no care in the world and if God blesses us with children one day, will fit right in with them!  Enjoy this next selection of photos, they are so true to Graham's personality and ability to have fun anywhere, and his "sometimes you need to have no care in the world" attitude, which I need more of in my life!

Seriously, can you see how HUGE these new marshmallows really are?!?!?!?!?

This face of Graham's says it all!!!!


This is where is starts getting VERY messy and VERY gooey!!!

This is by FAR one of my most favourite faces Graham made!

If you know Graham at all, this is his "What?" innocent and childlike when he is having fun!

"Is something on my face?"

I tend to HATE getting food on my face when I eat.  Graham is the complete opposite.  He likes to dive right in and deal with whatever is on his face after he has thoroughly enjoyed what's in front of him.  I HATE (I know it's a strong word, but I mean it!) getting dirty most times, unless for some reason it involves jumping in puddles, dealing with a child I am looking after's mess (it usually means we're all having fun, so why care about a mess?!), or when I am baking.  Cooking mess and eating mess on myself, I am just not a fan of, yet I do a lot of it. 

When it comes to marshmallows, you would think there is NO way to stay clean, or not get sticky, but I have perfected it!  I am going to brag, something I don't do often, that I am the BEST even marshmallow roaster!  I can even toast the top and bottom of the marshmallow after the sides are toasted, without the marshmallow falling off.  Something I am very proud of, and Graham laughs at, but secretly loves!  I thought that I met my match with these ginormous marshmallows, but I found a way to balance them in a way that I could get the middle completely melted- not easy, the most lightly brown "crust" ALL the way around- top and bottom included and prove they were done by the way they drooped on the roaster.

*YES, I am THAT serious about roating myself the PERFECT marshmallow as I usually only have 1 or 2*.

Feel free to come camping with us ANYTIME and I will roast you a marshmallow you will NEVER forget!  And you won't even need to touch that pack of wet wipes!  I'll even let you in on my little secret of how to stay clean and still enjoy EVERY SECOND!

Going in for the first bite!  Break the "crust" and have the perfect first bite!

Suck out the middle part of the marshmallow, where it gets the most GOOEY. (oh dear, this is sounding a bit non-PG :)

Take another tester bite to see if there's too much goo still...

If you can bite down and get chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker, you're good to go!

Or maybe, as Graham says, "You're mouth is HUGE, no wonder you stay clean and I don't, I never had a chance".  In my defense, my mouth was really little before braces, but I now have enough room in my mouth to fit in 17 green grapes (yes, last time we were camping, Graham made me try, AND I COULD STILL CHEW THEM AND EAT THEM WITHOUT SPITTING THEM OUT!), and Graham's mouth is TINY!

READY TO COME CAMPING WITH US YET???  There's more to come!  One thing we make sure we do, NEVER compromise your meals just because you're camping.  We have steak, potatoes, cooked breakfast, pizza, pie iron cheesecake, chili and anything else in between!