Friday, January 31, 2014

Foodie Friday - Homemade Larabars

It's that time of the week again, where I share some fabulous thing I have made and you all drool and wish you were at my house. At least that's what I hope you feel come Friday on my blog.

Today I am sharing a recipe that my sister gave to me for homemade larabars and I hope you like them as much as I did. They were super easy to make, taste really good and are a relatively healthy snack option!

They only use four ingredients and all you have to do is push a button on a food processor, no heavy mixing involved. I'm telling you, this is my kind of snack.

And just a side note here, how has it taken me this long to discover Camino dark chocolate chips? Seriously, they are amazing and gluten/dairy free. I may have eaten a fair amount while making this recipe...

First up, you mix your almonds into a coarse crumble, then add the chocolate chips until they are mixed well. It should look something like this.

Next, dump that into a bowl and set aside, while using the now empty food processor for your dates. Be sure that you have removed the pits from them first though.

When mixing up the dates, be sure to hold your food processor still because it will shake like crazy! Oh, and add your peanut butter in before you mix the dates, so that it mixes nicely. Once the dates are smooshed up into a puree (which will be all globbed together in a ball), add your almond and chocolate mix back in and pulse until it sort of resembles gravel. It should look like this.

Dump it all out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and press it down until it's a nice rectangular shape. You choose how thick you want your bars, so use the size of cookie sheet you want. Mine were a little thin but I think that I will prefer them that way.

Once you have smooshed them into a nice giant bar, put the pan in the fridge for two hours to cool. Once they are nicely chilled, cut them into as many pieces as you want. I cut mine into sixteen but depending on what size bars you want, you could do more or less.

Even though these bars were ready right before supper and I didn't want to ruin my appetite, I couldn't resist taking a few bites of one. They are so good!

I was a little worried since the one time I tried an actual Larabar I gagged and couldn't finish the thing. So I was pleasantly surprised when I actually this one!

You should totally try making these yourself, so here is the recipe.

Homemade Larabars

1 c. almonds
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
2 c. pitted dated
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter

Mix almonds and chocolate chips in the food processor until coarse. Pour into bowl and set aside. Mix dates and peanut butter in food processor into thick paste, then add almonds and chocolate back in. Pulse until mixture resembles a fine gravel.

Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and press down until it forms a giant bar. Refrigerate for 2 hours, then cut into desired amount of pieces. Store bars in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to one month. 

Easy peasy, right? And oh so tasty.

Anyone else making any healthy snacks lately? Or not so healthy snacks?


Foodie Friday Mini Series

Week 1: Roast Chicken
Week 2: Gluten Free Bread
Week 3: Carrot Pineapple Muffins
Week 4: Homemade Larabars
Week 5: Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Week 6: Brazilian Rice & Beans 
Week 7: Sweet Potato Quinoa Stir Fry 
Week 8: Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday - January 30, 2014

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Vampire Appointment (A.K.A. Fertility Testing)

I apologize for the lack of post yesterday, but I have a good excuse. I was off in Toronto getting all the blood removed from my body.

Just kidding. Kind of.

Yesterday was our very first appointment at the fertility clinic and we have officially started down the road of testing to figure out why the heck my body can't keep a pregnancy. This first appointment was pretty basic, starting off with a quick physical exam and then going over our fertility history. But it ended with a bang.

And that bang would be me hitting the floor. Well, not actually but I came very close. You see, they need to test for a bunch of different things and in order to do so, they needed a lot of blood. Eighteen vials to be exact. <----- Yes you read that right.

They did it in two sessions and I did really well with the first 10, only getting a little dizzy and just resting for a minute while drinking some orange juice. But then when the next 8 happened, I nearly passed out. Like full out dizzy, world spinning, ringing in the ears, head between the knees and cold compresses on the neck and face. They then moved me to a bed where I proceeded to curl up and cry. It kind of really sucked.

It wasn't the pain, just the fact that my body is too small to give that much blood. Or I'm a wimp.

Dan was awesome though and held my hand and told me I was brave and that he loved me. Good thing I had him with me or else it may have gone a lot worse.

After the appointment, I was rewarded with some yummy New York Fries. Except I ate them all before thinking of taking a picture so here's me with an empty cup.

Our next steps are some more blood work (for both Dan and I) and I need to schedule a sonohysterogram. Once these tests are complete, we'll head back to the clinic for our follow up appointment on March 24th, where we will hopefully get some results and put a plan in place.

That about sums up our appointment, so now I can tell you about the exciting time BEFORE we ever got there.

Our original appointment date was February 26th but I was put on the cancellation list for an earlier one if possible. I got a phone call Tuesday morning asking if I would be able to come in on Wednesday at 8:45am. Of course I said yes. Unfortunately, we are about an hour and 45 minutes from the clinic and once you add in rush hour traffic, it takes almost twice as long. So we got up bright and early and were out the door by 6:00am. At about 7:00am, we got rear ended on the highway. Fun stuff.

That was about a 20 minute delay of talking with the police and exchanging insurance information, which put our arrival time a little later than I had planned. Needless to say, I was a little stressed the rest of the way. But all is good, we got there only a few minutes late, had a successful appointment and our car had no damage. Talk about a busy morning!

Now that you've heard my excuse for missing a post yesterday, do you forgive me?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

5th Anniversray Celebration

On December 14th, Dan and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. We had a romantic weekend getaway planned and booked, but then my Dad passed away and our plans changed, pushing them to a "sometime in the future" thing.

Well the "sometime in the future" was this past weekend and I am here to share pictures of a fabulous time away. We chose The Couples Resort near Algonquin Park and we couldn't have been happier with that decision. Seriously, it was awesome there and we plan on going back. So if you are looking for a nice time away, I would recommend going there.

This post will be mostly pictures, so sit back and enjoy!

We stayed in one of their exotic suites, Tanzania, hence the tribal decorations. It was super nice!

View of the room from the doorway

Bed, sitting area and jacuzzi tub

Real wood burning fireplace

Huge TV, dresser and table area

Bathroom (which included a steam shower)

Little closet kitchenette
We lazed about a lot watching TV, playing Monopoly Deal or reading our James Herriott book together, but we did make it outside for some good old winter fun like skating and snowshoeing.

Skating on the lake

The wind was brutal though
Snowshoeing through the woods

View from the "lookout"

We wrote our names in the box at the lookout

Don't I look good in my new jacket?
We also entertained ourselves in the resort's games room and played quite a few games of pool. I even beat Dan a couple times.

Showing off my moves

I totally won this game!

Looking good in a tie
But one of the very best parts of the weekend was the food. They cater to food allergies so I was actually able to eat while I was there! It was so amazing to be pampered like that and the staff were so good at adjusting dishes for me. We had two 5 course dinners and two breakfasts included with the price and it was totally worth every penny. We chose to have the breakfasts in our room but enjoyed dressing up for the dinners.

Outfit #1 for the first night
Outfit #2 for the second night (excuse the mess around us)

Pork ribs in a butternut squash puree

Angus steak served on mini potatoes with a side of broccoli

Dan's "amuse-bouche" of cream cheese and ham in a crescent roll

Chocolate fudge cake

My "amuse-bouche" of brandied strawberries with cracked pepper

My fabulous dessert fruit bowl

Candied beets with prosciutto

Breakfast in bed!
All in all, it was a wonderful anniversary celebration and we are already talking about going back for our 10th, but staying a week next time.

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Daddy

This post was really hard for me to write, but it was also very important for me to write. To my family who are reading this, it will probably make you cry, so I would recommend waiting until you are somewhere private and have Kleenex on hand. 

On Tuesday, December 10th, 2013, my Dad took his last breath and slipped away to heaven. He was surrounded by his family and we were all able to say our goodbyes, but it doesn't make it hurt any less.

Daddy and me (1990)
Dad's health had been declining for a while now and he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease a couple years back. It was hard on all of us to see his body failing him and to see him struggle with the changes this disease brought. But he was still very much my Dad. He was still thoughtful, hardworking, loving, caring and funny.

Thanksgiving 2012
He was admitted into the hospital with pneumonia on December 6th and we got the call the next day that he didn't want antibiotics and that we should come. While I knew that I would eventually get a call like that, nothing really actually prepares you for it. Dan and I were at a hockey game and I had left the arena to take the call, knowing deep down what my sister was going to say. Before I said goodbye, she held the phone up to Dad's ear and I got to tell him that I loved him. We were back home, packed and out the door in an hour flat. The seven hour drive to Quebec was a hard one but fortunately the roads were good and we made good time.

And so began the longest week of my life. Waiting for someone to die is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. Watching someone die is even harder. And after they are gone is a whole other ball game.

1992 (maybe)
We were so lucky to be surrounded by family and friends. Cards, meals and phone calls poured in that week and we could feel the love and prayers of many, close and far. We spent hours and hours going through photo albums, finding pictures of Dad for a slideshow at the funeral. It was a hard week but it was a good week.

The best Dad ever (1990)
His funeral was the perfect celebration of his life, with songs he loved, poems he always quoted and memories from many people he had impacted. We even ended it with a maple syrup toast while listening to Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash. It was very much "him".

Licking maple syrup off a spoon (1980)
It's strange to think that he is gone. I find I keep referring to him like he's still here, thinking of when we'll see him next, imagining him sitting in his wheelchair, asking for something sweet like chocolate or pie, telling me he loves me and is proud of me, making some joke that all of us kids laugh at while mom has no idea what is so funny. He lived a good full life and we miss him so much, but we know he is in a better place. And he finally got to meet four more of his precious grandchildren.

I love you Daddy.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Foodie Friday - Carrot Pineapple Muffins

Last Thursday, as I was making my gluten free bread for Foodie Friday, I asked my Facebook followers if they wanted to take any guesses on what I was baking. No one guessed bread but someone did ask if it was carrot cake. Which of course then got me thinking about how much I like carrot cake and I should probably make some.

But carrot cake without cream cheese icing... it just doesn't sound as good to me. And since I can't have cream cheese icing, I vetoed the carrot cake idea and went for a close second, carrot pineapple muffins.

This recipe is amazing and makes super addictive muffins. After losing Daylin in September, a friend made us some of these muffins and sent them over to us, including the recipe. She said she doesn't usually send recipes with foods since the recipient may not even like what was sent, but these muffins were just too good, she knew I would want to make them myself.

And she was totally right, I wanted to make them again. I just never got around to it, with how crazy the fall went, until this week. Best decision ever.

I may have eaten three of them, fresh out of the oven. Nothing beats a warm muffin.

Since I assume that you'll probably want to rush right out and make these yourself, I'm including the recipe. It's not my recipe but I'm not sure where my friend got it from either, so I can't tell you that. Just know that I'm not taking any credit for it.

Carrot Pineapple Muffins
Makes 2 dozen 

4 eggs                                                     
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil                              
2 c. sugar

2 c. flour 
1 tsp. baking soda 
2 tsp. baking powder 
1 tsp. cinnamon 
1/2 tsp. nutmeg 
1/2 tsp. salt                                             
8 oz crushed pineapple (drained)           
2 c. shredded carrot                              

Mix together wets and drys separately and then mix together. Then add pineapple and carrot. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes or until done.

Note: If making gluten-free, substitute the 2 cups of flour for a gluten-free mix. If your mix doesn't contain xantham gum, add 1/2 tsp.


Foodie Friday Mini Series

Week 1: Roast Chicken
Week 2: Gluten Free Bread
Week 3: Carrot Pineapple Muffins
Week 4: Homemade Larabars
Week 5: Cauliflower Pizza Crust 
Week 6: Brazilian Rice & Beans 
Week 7: Sweet Potato Quinoa Stir Fry 
Week 8: Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday - January 23, 2014

Tree Shadows
All hushed the trees are waiting,
On tiptoe for the sight 
Of moonrise shedding splendor
Across the dusk of night. 
Ah, now the moon is risen!
And lo, without a sound
The trees all write their welcome
Far along the ground.

I'm not sure who wrote this poem and a Google search didn't show up much, but it is a favourite of my mom's and the only poem that has ever stuck in my head. I memorized it as a teen and can still recite it word for word.


I did it! I joined a knitting group! As you may remember from my 14 Goals for 2014 post, this was something I wanted to do this year. But if I'm being completely honest, it's been on my to do list for a while now. I won't admit how long though, as it's kind of embarrassing.

But the important thing is, I actually took that initial scary step and went. Now that the first evening is out of the way, I'm hoping I'll be a little more comfortable going back.

It's a small group, called Purlez-Vous, that meets every Tuesday night at a fabulous little yarn shop in town. There were 12 of us there this week but I'm not sure if that is a normal number for them or not. They did all seem pretty familiar with each other though, so I'm betting it's the regular crowd. I felt a little out of place and I definitely felt like my knitting skills were lacking. There are some talented ladies in that group!

I didn't actually take any pictures while I was there, since I thought it might be awkward to just whip out my camera and start snapping pictures, so these are ones that I took at home, just to show you how much progress I have made on my sock. Pretty nice so far, eh?

I'm not sure how long I'll be a part of this group, but I do plan on going back a couple times more before deciding if it's a good fit or not. I did enjoy myself on Tuesday though, so I am hopeful.

I've started working on a few of my other goals too, just haven't been able to cross any off yet. How are you all doing with your New Year's goals? Anyone else joining any groups, knitting or otherwise?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Those Darn Scales

I figured it was probably time for another weight check, although it's mostly to let you know that I'm not doing that great. It's so frustrating to be constantly fighting to keep on the pounds and so discouraging when it doesn't work.

From my last post that I wrote about my weight, I told you all that I was sitting at a respectful 113lbs. That was in November though and now it is January. Right now, I'm sitting at 110lbs. I know three pounds may not seem like much to some people, but to me it's a huge deal.

I lost 4lbs around Dad's death and funeral and am really having a hard time gaining it back. Such is life I guess and the only thing I can do is keep trying. I ate almost an entire bag of Miss Vickie's chips last night to help me along...

Anyone else have any weight goals this year? How are you doing with them so far? I know that January is a month of resolutions and trying our best to meet them.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Guestroom...

So for those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may remember me posting about painting the ceiling in the guestroom and saying I hoped to do a 'big reveal' in January. Well, that isn't going to happen.

In early December, we were on a roll with the renovations and our timeline was being met. I finished painting the ceiling and we were ready to move onto the walls.

And then we got the call that my Dad was dying and we rushed to Quebec. The guestroom was put on hold (obviously) for a couple of weeks.

When we arrived back home right before Christmas, we put a huge rush on things so that the room would at least be semi finished and we could put the bed back in there. My sister and her family were coming for New Years and it we needed that room usable.

Miraculously, we finished it all in time. And boy did it feel good. I was thrilled with how it looked and couldn't wait to put the finishing touches on everything, mostly in the decorating.

My sister came, loved the room, left and we were about to start on some other small projects to complete before doing a big reveal when we discovered water. Again. The whole point to the huge makeover was because there was water and we discovered mold in there. So we basically gutted half the room and started over.

So now the guestroom looks like this.

And it will probably look that way for a while.

It's just so sad and discouraging. We thought we had figured out the problem but I guess not. So now we are going to have to dig down outside and reseal that part of the foundation which will hopefully fix it. If not, who knows what our next steps will be. Cry and then just move?

Anyone else ever been excited to finish something only to have it all fall apart in front of you? Any leaky basements out there?