Apple strudel!

Apple strudel!

It is the perfect time of year to enjoy apples in Ontario. They are delicious and very affordable right now! 

John came home with a second bag of apples this week, when we haven’t eaten the first bag yet, so I thought it is a good time to do some baking! So I dug up our apple peeler…

And I peeled about a dozen, then cut them into slices…

It was then that I realized that I only had about 1/4 cup of bread crumbs left :( 

So I tossed some Graham Crackers into the food processor, and voila!  

But, first, the filling… I added about a teaspoon of cinnamon…

  A tablespoon of vanilla,
  About 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and a cup of quick cook oats. 
 To make the crust, I cracked open a box of phyllo pastry. And on the first layer, I melted some butter and used a BBQ brush to spread it around  

 Then I used some of my handy dandy Graham cracker crumbs to sprinkle between layers. I also sprinkled some white sugar. This makes the pastry fluffy and keeps each layer from sticking together . 

 i added 3-4 layers of Phyllo, butter, grahams cracker crumbs, and white sugar. Then I spooned the apple mixture in the middle. 

 Then folded over the sides, to tuck the pastry in.  

 The final step before putting the strudel in the oven was to add a wash of egg over the top. Crack a couple eggs, and use the pastry brush to cover the tops of the strudel in a generous layer of egg. The wash,  when cooked, makes the strudel shiny and golden brown.  

 I also cut slits into the top. I have found that the slits make it much easier to cut once it has cooked. The phyllo becomes very crumbly once it has cooked. 

I popped it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, then turned down the temperature to 325 degrees for another 10 minutes. Take a look at the final product!! 

 Wish I could give you a taste, because yes, they taste as good as they look!

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! 


My kids have been teaching me how to play Pokemon Go, and I have to say, the more I learn, the more I like it. It gets them outside, active, and actually wanting to walk places! I am just amazed at how everywhere we go, people are playing, I have never seen anything like it before! So, as a teacher, I really believe it is my responsibility to learn what is motivating to kids, and figure out how I can use that excitement and interest in the classroom. Plus, I am almost level 20 in Pokemon Go… I think that’s got to earn me some kind of respect and admiration from my students…. Right? 

Anyways, I came up with a reading program that hopefully will capture and channel all of their Poke-energy! It is called the Pokebook Reading challenge. Here is my listing on Teachers Pay Teachers…

The idea of the program is promote reading and to encourage kids to read for enjoyment. They track their reading using a Readingdex, and every book they read earns them BP (book power). If they earn 100 BP points, they level up, get a Bookmark Badge, and get their name displayed on my Pokewall in the library. 
Here is the link to the ad:

Link to the Pokebook Challenge
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let me know by commenting here or on my TPT page. I am always looking for ways to improve. 

In the next few days, I will also share my latest craft project…. How to make Pokeballs out of paper plates! Yay. 

“Adults Only” Gummy Bears! 

“Adults Only” Gummy Bears! 

I think I might have posted about this one before, but it is worth sharing again! Vodka soaked gummy bears….how can that not be a good idea?  I have made these a few times now, and even though they are pretty easy to make, I have learned a few tricks….

First, and most important, make sure they are clearly labelled, not for kids! They do have a strong vodka taste, so I can’t see kids eating a whole bowl of them, but keep them hidden in the back of the fridge clearly labelled that they are for adults only.

There are only two delicious  ingredients… Vodka and gummy bears. Start by putting the gummy bears into a non metal container, and pour enough vodka over them so they are covered.  If you use a metal container, they end up having a metallic sort of taste. Tupperware or ceramic works best. 

They need to be covered and refrigerated, and need at least a few days to absorb all of the vodka, just pour a little more on top each day as they absorb the vodka.  The plate below probably had at least a cup of vodka added.  I think the best way to tell if they are done is through a taste test. I recommend trying them a few at a time, just to be sure… Wink, wink. 

 Last tip, they must be kept in the fridge. If not, they end up looking kind of like the picture below. Still taste delicious, but not as yummy looking. Lol. I would also recommend giving them a quick stir every day until they are eaten, if they become too sticky, just add a couple tablespoons of vodka.  

I used a ceramic plate to spread them out, in the fridge and they didn’t stick together quite as much.  They do end up a little sticky and slimy, so I would serve them with toothpicks, or tongs, or in little serving cups. 

Last tip, I would suggest that if you are serving these while kids are around, have a separate bowl of regular gummy bears for kids, you know, so it isn’t “sooo unfair” (once again, speaking from experience) 

I would love to try other candies as well. I have seen people dissolving hard candy in vodka to give it a candy flavour too. Hmmm, so many possibilities!  Enjoy! 

Homemade Pesto

Homemade Pesto

 In my herb garden, basil has been growing like crazy! We use a little bit in salads and with tomatoes, but I was thinking that by the end of the season, I should make some pesto. 
 But then we were at a farmers market, and they were selling these huge bunches of basil for $3.00!  So I figured, why not make it now!  

I plucked and washed all of the leaves. 
 I wasn’t sure if the kids would like the strong basil taste, so I read online that you can make it a little milder by adding spinach, so I decided to try that. Also, I am not a big fan of pine nuts, so I left those out too. So, in our little blender, I put about 1/3 basil leaves and 2/3 spinach leaves. 

 I squeezed half a lemon… 

  Added a couple of cloves of garlic…  And about 1/2 cup of olive oil to start…
I also added a couple tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.


I had to add some more oil to get the blender going and get everything to blend properly, but once it was moving, I kept adding handfuls of spinach and basil. It doesn’t look like the most appetizing food I have ever made, but it smells and tastes fantastic! 
I searched and searched online to try to find a way to preserve pesto, or seal it in jars, but because it isn’t cooked, I couldn’t find any other way other than freezing it. It will keep about a week in the fridge, but the only way you can keep it for longer is to freeze it. 

So, I spooned it into little salad dressing containers, and sprinkled a bit of cheese on the top, and popped them into the freezer. 


Looks a little yummier with some Parmesan on top…  

We had it for lunch today, it was delicious!    

Rose Petal Jelly

Rose Petal Jelly

We have benefitted in the past from our neighbour’s green thumb… We enjoy the apples that hang over into our backyard every fall, and we enjoy the roses that grow through the cracks in our fence and end up blooming on our side. And, as you may know, I am a bit of a hoarder, so… I saved all of the petals from the roses and dried them… You never know when rose petals might come in handy! And, guess what I came across today? A recipe for rose petal jelly using dried rose petals! Perfect.

I started with about three cups of rose petals. I also had a few dried rosebuds I had left over from when I made tea…

The recipe said to use 3 1/2 cups of water and about a cup of rose petals. I had more than double that, so I made two batches, and I just dumped in the extra rose petals. I brought the water and rose petals to a rolling boil, and turned the heat off and let it steep for about 5-10 minutes.

  Look at how pretty the petals looked!  
By letting it steep for 10 minutes, the boiling water absorbs all of the flavour and colour of the petals.  I used my Teavana tea pot to strain all of the petals from the water, but for jelly making, most instructions say to use cheesecloth, but I figured this was much easier!    

I was a little disappointed that the colour of the water was a little brown. I divided the water into two pots so there was a little over three cups in each pot.


But, look what happened to the colour of the rose water when I added lemon juice!  The pot on the left has the lemon juice added… Cool eh? 

 I got so excited about the change in colour, I forgot to mention that after I squeezed the lemons, I strained the lemon juice to get rid of the seeds and pulp. 

Before starting with the rest of the jam I washed the jars, and put them, and the lids into the oven and turned the heat to 300 degrees. 

Then, to the rose water, I  added a few fresh rose petals, to leave in the jelly, and a box of powdered Certo (I am a very loyal customer…I love the Certo brand) 

And brought it to a rolling boil. Here is my free tip for the day: this is the most important step to making sure your jam or jelly sets, and thickens. Once you add the Certo, you have to be sure that the temperature is high enough that it is a true rolling boil. This means that the boiling doesn’t stop when you stir it, and it almost doubles in size because of all of the bubbles. The picture below is not quite a rolling boil. 

  This is a rolling boil! Now you can turn your timer on for 1-2 minutes and stir it, and let it boil away.  
Then, I added 4 cups of sugar to each pot…

 And brought it up to a rolling boil once again. At this point, I turned off the oven, so the jars and lids are hot and sterilized. Another tip is to half full each jar, and let the jelly/jam sit for five minutes before filling the rest of the bottle. Fruit (or petals in jams and jellies tends to float to the top, but if you let the jam thicken a little before filling, the fruit will be evenly distributed throughout the jar. 

After waiting a few minutes, I carefully filled each jar. Then, I put the filled jars back into the oven. The oven keeps the jars hot, and if you leave them in the oven until they are cool, they seal perfectly every time! I have bottles of jam from five years ago that are still perfectly sealed…

  Here is the finished product, you can see the petals floating in the middle.   
It thickened perfectly, ended up being a very pretty colour, and it is delicious on a cracker with a bit of cream cheese!

 I might have to actually plant some roses in our own backyard, because I don’t think there are any more roses poking through our fence! 

Have a great day! 



Sorry I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately, I have been so busy at work the past few months, I just haven’t had the time to make stuff and write about it… So I have a whole bunch of projects to catch up on sharing! Now that we are on summer break, I can finally take a step back and breathe, do some crafts, and then actually write about them. I love being a teacher, especially in July and August! 

Ok, I am the first one to admit that I am not a gardener! I basically buy a bunch of perennials I like in the spring, I plant them and keep my fingers crossed. Sometimes it grows, sometimes it doesn’t. Then, when stuff starts growing the next spring, I never know if I should pull it out, or let it grow… So I let it grow, as you can tell by this photo I took of our garden last fall (below), I should probably not do that. And, Yes, that is broccoli growing in the middle of the garden bed below! By the time I figured out it was broccoli, I figured I might as well let it grow…and maybe we could eat it.  

What a mess😦  I wish I could say that the rest of the backyard was way better, but nope. It was pretty overgrown too. 

So as you can see, everything had grown on top of everything else, and by the end, I had no idea what I had actually bought, and what was weeds. So, I decided to start from scratch this spring. I pulled everything out, except the plants I was sure about. I spread thing out so they have more room, and we unloaded a trunkful of topsoil a couple weeks ago. So, here’s what it looks like now…

  The ferns are from my grandmothers garden…and the forget me nots were so pretty, I decided to let them take over a little. 
Here is the side gardens in the backyard…it is not a good picture, but this garden is my favourite.


And here is the side garden.
 And the front of our house…
I even got my vegetable garden planted down the side pathway, in front of the arbour my brother made. John and I (and my younger brother and wife) were married under it. 


So, bring it on, I’m ready for summer, and I am ready to pull out whatever starts growing that I don’t recognize… Including broccoli! 

Here is a better pic of our whole backyard…


The picture below is what our backyard looked like when we first moved in…. It looks a lot different now!


And here is John and Dylan at the front of our house… It was pretty overgrown there too! 
Anyways, it has been a couple weeks since I have taken the photos, and I already notice a difference, but I am determined to keep things under control this year! I’ll keep you posted…

Easy treats!

Easy treats!

I have been busy gardening this week, and wouldn’t have dared to put my hands in any food because I have had the hands of a mechanic… Yup, that bad! But after soaking in the pool for a good hour, and a manicure, I can now do some baking! Btw, can’t wait to show off some garden pics! I’ll posted later this week, still have a couple beds to finish. 

So onto the good stuff…food! I have really been trying to reduce the amount of sugar I have been eating. But, I have to say that I have the willpower of a jellyfish (I don’t actually know if a jellyfish possesses enough brainpower to comprehend willpower….which is part of why I though it made a good comparison) Anyways, part of my twisted logic when it comes to eating sugar is that if you bake smaller cookies, you can eat more of them, and if you add good things like hemp hearts or wheat bran, the good balances out the bad… Right? Well, a good justification for being able to eat chocolate is to mix it with something not so bad, like rice crispies, so you can eat more. Makes total sense to me. 

I started by melting some chocolate….

   Then added a few handfuls of rice crispies, and some hemp hearts (you know, to make it healthy).


Gave it a good mix.


Spread it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and put it in the fridge for an hour or so.
Then, broke it into pieces! Voila. No measuring needed, just a handful of this and that… I thought of this afterwords, but next time I am going to add some cranberries! Mm mm

I’ll share some garden pics soon! Enjoy the hot weather! 

Can’t Take Credit for this One!

Can’t Take Credit for this One!

I can’t begin to say how excited I am to announce to you the new additions to our family! Nope, not my babies, but I am considering myself sort of a granny! Every friend I have seen in the last month, my whole family, neighbours, and everyone at work knows about my baby birds. If I have seen you in the last month, chances are you have seen photos already.  I think it’s finally time to make it public! I wish I could take some sort of credit for this, but other than hanging the planters, I can’t really credit for any of this, But I can share my excitement!

About a month ago, we noticed a bird sitting by our front door…. Not just close to our front door, or near the front of our house, this dumb bird was literally at eye level right beside the door.   

We thought it was a little strange, but we thought if it was nesting, it would be more aggressive. Every time we came out the front door, it would literally freeze. We had a robins nest by the back of our house, a couple of years ago, and if we even went close, they would be dive bombing us… Not this bird, it would barely blink.

Then, one morning as I was leaving for work, I finally saw inside the nest…. An egg!! I couldn’t believe our luck!  

So, I did some research online, and it is a morning dove. And, apparently morning doves take turns sitting on the nest, the male sits on it during the day, and the female sits at night time.  

I have to give Dylan credit for figuring that one out. He said there were two different birds, but I didn’t believe him until I googled it, and saw them both together.

  So we waited, and waited, and almost to the day, 14 days later, look what we saw! Not just one baby, but two!! They started out really ugly looking…   
But, after they dried, they became all fluffy and started looking a whole lot cuter!  Most of the time, all we could see what the male or female bird sitting on the babies, but a couple times a day, they would be left alone.


To get a better perspective on how close they nested to our front door, here is Dylan taking a picture…
We didn’t get to see them for a few days because as soon as we opened the door, mom would just sit on them. But it was amazing how fast they grew!

Here is a video of mom feeding. The mother eats, then regurgitates the food. But as you can see, the babies don’t sit quietly waiting for their turns.    
Here is what they looked like yesterday morning. I thought it was an appropriate post for Mother’s Day. 


As I said, I have been pretty excited about the whole process. Dylan even edited a video of the birds for me for Mother’s Day. The worst part is that It’s all happening so fast! Before I know it, they will be flying on their own, rolling their eyes at their parents, and ready to leave the nest… I might have a tough time with that…sniff sniff… It won’t be long before my nest is empty too. 

Happy belated Mother’s Day to everyone! And a special shout out to my mom…the most positive, inspiring, and generous person in the world. I feel so fortunate to have you in our lives, and to have such a great friend. I love you mom! And to my mother-in-law, the most energetic, happy, and helpful person ever! How lucky was I to benefit from all of your amazing parenting skills by marrying your son! You are both very special women who have been inspirational and irreplaceable parts of our family. Love you both!


Making pasta

Making pasta

Sometimes, it’s pretty cool to make things just to prove to yourself that you can do it. I see ideas and always think, “I can do that.” Guess what… With Youtube, Pinterest, and Google, you can. Everything you ever wanted to know how to do, learn, or make, is easy to find. Anyone can easily learn how to do anything from installing a toilet, to re-wiring a chandelier, to making pasta. The only thing holding people back is time! And, unfortunately sometimes energy… But, I have a growing list of things I want to do someday, and on some days, a little extra energy. So, today’s item crossed off of my bucket list is making pasta! 

I can’t believe how easy it is to do… Only two ingredients, flour and eggs. I also bought semolina flour, which is a courser flour used for pasta making, but from what I have read, you can just use all purpose flour, you don’t have to have semolina. My mother in law also sometimes uses whole wheat flower.


I had Sam helping me today because the boys were at another basketball tournament. We started by using a cup of all purpose flour, and we mixed in about 1/3 of a cup of semolina. Apparently the best way to mix the dough is with your hands on the countertop. So, we washed our hands and the counter top well before starting.  

We formed the four into a volcano shape with a crater in the middle, then we cracked three eggs into the middle.

Then came the messy part…. I wish I could share with you a special tip to reduce the amount of stickiness, and flour on the floor (other than avoiding help from an 11 year old) but I’m afraid you just have to get sticky and messy. Get your hands in there and start kneading!

 And kneading, and kneading…   

What we did find was that it was really lumpy and crumbly, and it didn’t look like the video we watched. So we watched another video where the person mixed it buy running it through that pasta roller… So we tried that, and after about 20 times through, we could see that worked a whole lot better. Here is what it looked like before….  

And after about 15-20 times through the roller… I could actually feel when it was ready because it became stretchy when you pulled it.   

 Once it is mixed enough that is has become stretchy, put it aside for at least 1/2 hour. We made three batches… I figured that once we had everything out and flour all over the place, we might as well get the most out of it… Go big or go home, right! I’m not quite sure why each batch looks slightly different colours at this stage, but by the time the pasta was finished, it all looked the same colour.    

You can kind of see in the picture below the dial on the side of the pasta machine. It has 7 different thicknesses. We started at 1, and rolled the dough through at least twice at each thickness. When the length of the sheets became too long, we cut it in half. So once again, a lot of rolling and rolling! Sam and I took turns, but the time we were finished, our arms were sore! My husband remembers that turning the crank for his mom, was his job as a child. Sam liked doing it, but it required a bit of strength until it thinned out.  

 Once we had it rolled out to the thinnest setting, we rolled it through the machine one last time through the cutter setting. 

   I dragged it through the flour…  
Then, laid it out on a cookie sheet. We made two batches of spaghetti…   
 And a batch of linguini…   
 The best part is that the pasta freezes beautifully. I just put the cookie sheets right into the freezer, and once they were frozen, I stacked them on top of each other in a Tupperware container.  
We were so excited about eating it, I totally forgot to take a picture, and it was all gone by the time I remembered!

 It only takes about 3-5 minutes to cook, and if it is frozen, put it right from the freezer to the boiling water. 

Overall, I don’t think I am going to give up using store bought pasta, but I definitely think I will make it again. It was a lot of work and muscle involved, but it would be a great idea to make for company because all the work can be done ahead of time. And, it really did taste far better than the store bought pasta. 

I’m working on making another video, so I’ll post the link when I finish it, and I will also update with a picture of the cooked pasta (if I remember to take a photo before it gets eaten again! Lol)

My You Tube Debut! 

My You Tube Debut! 

A friend of mine that is in advertising has been telling me that I should be making You Tube videos… (Thanks Mandip!) Blogs are out, and vlogs are in. Apparently kids today don’t want to read anymore, they just want to watch videos…can you imagine??  But, seriously, not surprising. And, I do have to admit that there is something cool about watching a craft project or recipe happen in a minute. 

Anyways, I thought I would give it a shot. So, here is my first attempt at a video… I had Dylan help me with the editing and technology part, and Sam did the voice over.

Here is the link to my Artzcool You Tube channel! 

Sequin Eggs Video

It is a video of one of my Easter craft projects. I have a couple more Easter projects to share… Hopefully I’ll get them posted by the summer. Lol.

These eggs are made the same way I have made Christmas ornaments, using sequins, beads, and straight pins. When I saw the styrofoam eggs in the dollar store, I thought eggs would be just as cute as ornaments.