Monday, September 15, 2014

Activity-filled Weekend

Our weekend was filled with activity!  

On Saturday morning, my husband was supposed to go biking.  He woke up feeling sick (he caught the family cold) so he stayed home.  I had a morning of activities planned for the kids so I continued with the plan even though my husband was home.

The kids finished their homework for the weekend after breakfast and then we did a craft.  The kids painted "monograms" - cardboard letters in the shape of their initials that I picked up when I was at my sewing class on Friday night.  The letters looked great but the mess they left me was shocking!

Next, Big Boy and I stuffed an owl pillow he has been working on for a while.  He sewed this pillow using a kit and he did a great job!  His stitches are even and there are no real errors.  My stuffing job did not do this project justice.

Then the kids and I baked a "made up" recipe that I have been wanting to try for a while.  Basically it is cinnamon buns with pizza toppings in them....I was thinking the kids could take them to school for lunch.  The buns tasted good but they were way too big to bake properly.  They got really sloppy and didn't look great.  I will keep trying.


We ate pizza buns for lunch and then had a lazy afternoon.  We spent part of the afternoon geocaching but we didn't make a find.

On Sunday we went to Discovery Green, an inner city park that I haven't been to before.  The playground and water area at this park is amazing!  UNfortunately it was way too cold to use the water features. We also had 2 unsuccessful geocache hunts here.  We must be the worst geocachers ever!

After Discovery Green we spent the rest of the day on errands and chores.

This is a giant water feature.  The mist is actually a thin stream of water spraying from the top!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Popcorn Balls and Sewing Class

Yesterday I woke up with a summer cold (yech!) but I ended up having a good day.  I spent the morning cleaning and buying groceries and glasses shopping....boring....but the glasses shopping was interesting (as always) with Baby Boy along.  

On the way home we got stuck in a huge rainstorm on the freeway.  The storm came up suddenly and, inexplicably, all of the cars on the freeway just stopped for a few moments.  Then everyone started driving again.  Maybe they needed to get their bearings?

After a nice long nap we drove to pick up the bigger boys from school.  It was raining, but I would have preferred walking in the rain to sitting in the carpool line!  The carpool line for Big Boy's school actually ran in front of our house yesterday and the postman had to direct traffic so that I could get off our driveway (I was blocked in).  Then I simply placed my car in line in front of my driveway.  I guess I cut the queue but it made more sense than squeezing through the cars and driving down the block to get in line.

Once the boys were home from school we made popcorn balls.  Yum!


My husband came home from work a bit early so that I could leave for my sewing class.  I even had some extra time to shop before the class started!

The class was great - it was a beginner class that laid the foundation for good sewing skills and habits.  The instructor was a dynamic seamstress with a portfolio of extremely impressive clients.  She lead us around the store that hosted the class and showed us how the various notions worked and then helped us to use our machines.  All I "made" was a folded over fabric with a bunch of parallel lines sewn on it but I learned so much!  I have been doing so many things wrong for years.  Also...I learned that I may soon need a new sewing machine.

My friend met me for the class and after we went out for some food and a girly chat.  Overall it was a lovely evening and we have committed to more classes.

Friday, September 12, 2014 Jack-in-the-Box

I'm not usually like this, but there is a commercial for "Jack-in-the-Box" (a fast food chain) on HuluPlus right now that I find really offensive.  For some reason, every time I watch the television this advert seems to play a couple of times (at least!).  

The advert is for a breakfast burrito and the voiceover claims that the burrito is now so big it makes everything else look small.  The video playing on the screen shows a group of little people sitting around a board room table holding breakfast burritos.

I don't know if it is the intention of the advert, but it seems to me that it is "teasing" or "mocking" the little people based purely on their physical attributes.  I am uncomfortable watching the commercial - it seems so inappropriate!  I would not want my boys seeing it.  It gives the message that it's acceptable to make fun of people based on how they look.  It's not - and I hope we can all remember that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


So far this week I have seen more hummingbirds than in my entire life.  The topic of Tyke Hike at the arboretum was "Hummingbirds" and Baby Boy and I saw a few hummingbirds right after the story.  The feeders were full of them!

Later, when we picked up Little Boy from school, Big Boy and I saw a hummingbird at the feeder there.

They are beautiful little birds but they seem to avoid my camera!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Another Busy Weekend...Home Depot Workshop, double Arboretum, friends, and hockey!

We had a crazy-busy weekend!  

Our Friday night was relaxing and then Saturday was spent rushing around.  At 9:00 my husband took the two older boys to The Home Depot for a building workshop.  This month they built Wizard of Oz themed bird houses.  I thought it was a bit of an odd theme....but the legs are so cute!  I took some pictures of the houses - the green one is the one Big Boy made and Little Boy made the brown and one.  Here are some photos:

At 11:00 my husband took Little Boy to the Arboretum for a Tadpole Troopers class about birds.  According to my husband, Little Boy had fun but the class was too long for him.  They learned about feathers and made some field glasses.  They also had a walk outdoors and it was too hot!

At 1:00, I took Big Boy to the Arboretum and we participated in a class called Geocaching 101.  It was good fun and you can read all about it in my blog here:

After geocaching we took showers (we were filthy and sweaty) and then our friends came over for supper.  We had a lovely evening and the kids even managed to play together nicely.

It was a long day!

On Sunday morning we decided it should be a relaxing day.  It was going to get very hot and then start raining so we decided to go out early in the morning to get some exercise.  We grabbed our ball hockey sets (yes, we have 2 sets plus sticks from another ball hockey set...that's what happens in a Canadian family with 3 boys) and stuck them in my truck.  We drove over to a local park with a covered paved area and set up our game.  We all had a great time playing 2 on 2 1/2 hockey.  We had the outdoors to ourselves!  You can see a picture below.

After our hockey game we ran some errands and did a few chores but generally relaxed. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Geocaching 101

This weekend, Big Boy and I attended a course at the Arboretum called "Geocaching 101".  It was great fun!  I signed us up a while ago and I was really looking forward to it.  I have been wanting to try geocaching as a way to spice up our family hikes.

Saturday was very hot and I was shocked at how many mosquitoes we managed to find at the arboretum.  We met friends at the class - thankfully they brought bug spray!

After a short introductory lesson about geocaching (what it is, the rules, and how to do it...) they gave each parent/child set a GPS and set us all off to find the same cache.  Between us and our friends we had 3 GPS units and 2 had trouble finding satellites.  We followed the one that worked and it had the wrong co-ordinates!  Eventually we found the cache (after everyone else) when the other 2 units got online.

The second cache was one buried deep in the woods.  Big Boy was (by a long distance) the first from our entire class to reach it.  His face was so victorious when he pulled out the ammo box!  Despite a few bug bite and scratches and a lot of sweat, he wanted to go on.

We found a third cache with help from our instructor.  It was right under our nose in a place I would never have looked.  We were standing right on top of it and didn't see it.

When we got home I loaded the (free) app onto my phone and logged our finds.  I can't wait to take all my kids out to try to find some more caches near our home.  I was shocked to see how many urban caches there are.  We will try to find a bunch around our house as an exercise to see if we like the sport.  If we do, we may invest in a GPS unit so that we could take on some rural geocaching.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Fire Station Coffee Cake

When we toured the fire station on Friday, we all brought baked goods for the firemen.  I took the opportunity to try a new coffee cake recipe - I found it on the back of a packet of Kroger brand Self Rising Flour.  I bought the flour to make a different cake that I didn't really like, so I was happy to try this new recipe and use up the flour.

I really like this coffee cake.  It is a plain coffee cake that is layered with a cinnamon mixture (almost the same as the mixture in cinnamon buns).  I didn't read the instructions fully before I started making the cake and I goofed up so my cake ended up being more of a "cinnamon swirl" cake than a layered cake (I used all of the cinnamon mixture in the middle so I swirled around the top cake layer so some of the cinnamon mixture would brown in the oven).  The kids and I sampled a corner piece before we packed it up for the firemen and it was delicious!  All of my favourite flavours.

I had all of the ingredients to make this cake in the house and the only ingredient that I don't normally stock in my pantry is the self-rising flour.

The best thing about this cake was that it was so fast and easy to make.  I turned on my oven and I was done making the cake before it heated up - even with my goof-up.  Next time I will be much quicker!

If you are interested in the recipe I have replicated it below.  On the packet Kroger calls it "Quick Coffee Cake" but I am renaming it "Fire Station Coffee Cake".

The cake was "taller" than it looks in this picture...the angle of my photo flattened the look of the slices.

Fire Station Coffee Cake 
(a.k.a. Quick Coffee Cake from the back of the Kroger brand Self-Rising Flour packet)

Prep time:  10 minutes
Total time:  45 minutes
Serves:  9

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp cinnamon


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Beat together granulated sugar, butter/margarine, and egg until light and fluffy.

3.  Blend in milk and vanilla.  (Mixture will look curdled.)  Stir in self rising flour.

4.  Spread half of the batter in a well greased 9X9X2 inch pan.

5.  Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle half over batter.  Top with remaining batter and sprinkle with rest of brown sugar mixture.

6.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve warm. Store in tightly covered container.