Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The first 15 weeks of my pregnancy

I know it wasn't nice of me to keep all of you out of the loop for so long, so I will try to make it up by filling in the gaps! Aside from a few vague-book updates, I tried to keep it on the down-low until we got some confirmation of a (hopefully) good outcome.

5 weeks
I frankly "knew" I was pregnant very very early. When I became pregnant with Evie, it was the only time in my life I have ever had spotting, I did not have any with this baby, but for two days I was very crampy. Because I love to count on my little fingers I had a pretty good guess what was going on and then almost immediately the nausea began! With my previous pregnancy I had a little bit but nothing compared to this time.  By three and a half weeks I was getting nauseous everyday, and I knew what was going on. I had all the symptoms and was driving myself nuts as it took a full week longer to get a positive test.

I spent then next three weeks trying to pretend I was not feeling sick and wearing gigantic clothes to cover up my massive bloat! My belly was ridiculously big for 4 weeks! Fortunately it went down quite a bit and we were able to make it to our family announcement at 7 weeks without too many people guessing.

The nausea persisted until just a couple weeks ago, fortunately I was luck enough to never actually be sick, but a couple times I wasn't quite sure! I acknowledged that it was definitely worse when I was forgetting to eat, but it is very difficult to get those first couple bites in when you are already nauseated.

12 weeks
Really I am blessed to have had no other difficult symptoms. I mean, there was the typical tiredness, and general discomfort, but though this pregnancy was more difficult than my last in the beginning, it was still pretty easy! Now being into my second trimester I feel pretty good and pretty normal again.

I was planning to tell you all at around 12 weeks, along with the rest of the online world, but we had a couple scary weeks. From week 11 until 15 we were unable to detect the baby's heartbeat. There was a host of good reasons why we might not be able to track the little wiggler down, but it planted a scary moment of doubt in my heart. This is went my blogging went south and I sent out those vague book updates. My mind was consumed and I had little motivation to write about anything else. Almost two weeks ago, I was able to fleetingly hear a heartbeat for a couple seconds, so that provided a bit of reassurance. We had an ultrasound last Thursday and I was able to see the baby was alive and literally kicking, so I was very comforted and ready to share our news.

At out ultrasound they bumped by due date back by a week, I was pleased by this result as it made more sense with my own calculations. My GP did not agree than even intensive charting could prove a change in conception date, and that all pregnancies should be exclusively calculated by LMP, so I am pleased to be right ;) . I actually think that a full week move is a little large, but I would rather this baby come a little "early" than end up being pressured into an early induction.

Well, I hope that kind of sums things up for you, please feel free to ask any questions here on on FB and I will try to answer them. I promise to keep you better informed from now on. In a few short weeks we will be finding out the sex of this baby, so I know you will all be waiting with baited breath!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

My sweet husband has been on a cookies and cream kick lately, so when he asked for cookies and cream for his birthday cake, I had to get creative. Because it was only the three of us I decided to do cupcakes instead of a big cake, but for all the effort that went into these little sugar bombs, I could have just made a cake! These cupcakes have not 1, but 2 sweet little hidden treasures in them! So if you have a cookie lover in your family, or you just need a serious hit of sugar, this is the recipe for you!

Cake batter:

3 oz chocolate
6 TBSP vegetable oil
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup hot water
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
oreo cookies

1.Preheat oven to 350 and oil a 12 well cupcake pan
2.Melt the chocolate in the oil in the microwave
3.Mix all the dry ingredients.
4.Mix in wet ingredients.
5. drop an oreo in the bottom of each well
6. fill 3/4 full (I overfilled each and ended up with 10 very large cupcakes)
7. Bake for 18 minutes
8. Let cupcakes cool

Homemade marshmallow fluff

3 egg white
a pinch of cream of tarter
simple syrup
vanilla to taste

1.Beat your eggs and cream of tarter until they form  stiff peaks. Once set add vanilla and simple syrup until you get the desired texture
2. Using a large filling tip pipe marshmallow into the cupcake until it overflows

Marshmallow icing

oreo crumbs
icing sugar
remainder of marshmallow fluff

1.Add icing sugar and oreo crumbs until desired texture is achieved
2.pipe onto cakes, being respectful of the edge as it will run a bit and smooth out.


I was really pleased with how the recipe turned out, though I would like to learn the secret of keeping oreo icing white and speckled! Mine just immediately turned chocolate.




Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Big Reveal!

Yes I know my lovely readers, I have been keeping secrets from you! But now I will make up for it I hope. Here you go our big secret is out!


Yes, in October, we will be a family of 4! Hmmmm maybe I am going to need to rename the blog...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Disney Animator Collection Dolls

I think it is pretty fair to say you all know I might have a bit of a collecting bug, however I seem to
only collect things that are "for" my daughter! Her "favourite" collection is her Disney Animators Collection Dolls. They are the sweetest little dolls! The animators of each movie re-drew the characters as toddlers and the wonderful people at the Disney Store translated these drawings into sweet little chubby bellied darlings.






Our collection was started by Disney Movie Rewards, when they listed the Jasmine and Mulan dolls as rewards. I had enough points saved up for about a Doll and a half, when one of my university friends came to the rescue and sent me a whole bunch of points so I could order both! I had been previously sort of aware of the dolls, and was so excited to get two for free! When they arrived I was hooked, so insanely adorable. Hubster was pleased that we now had a Jasmine doll, as she is his favourite princess and underrepresented in the toy market. My plan then became to get each of our favourites in doll form and leave it at that, bahahahahaha!








A couple of my AppleCheeks buddies were bit by the bug about the same time as me, but were lucky enough to live near a Disney Store (it is a 16 hour trip for me!). I was perusing the website regularly, and suddenly Ariel disappeared! One of my friends was making a trip to the store for her own stock-up and offered to ship me an Ariel, as they were still available in store for market price (as opposed to the mark-up on amazon etc.). So I quickly learned my lesson and the day I noticed Briar Rose (my favourite) sell out online, I snapped her up on amazon for retail price.

By then I had pretty much blown my budget on the collection. When I happened into a paid university survey I jumped at the opportunity. They paid in Amazon cards, so I obviously bought more Animator Dolls! So that is how Rapunzel and Merida came to live with us at Christmas time.

See the problem is I am a bit of a Animators collection snob! In the second run of the dolls they changed the outfits. Instead of having unique clothing they were all dressed in their ball gowns. Of course this is silly! Why would a toddler have a copy of a dress they were to wear in adulthood (yes I have way over thought this!). The easiest way to tell is that first generation dolls come with a cute stuffed animal friend, which was removed in subsequent generations. Some dolls remained virtually the same (Ariel, Pocahontas) but many were now less cute. So that of course means if I want to collect Tiana, Snow White, Cinderella or Belle, I am going to have to pay the mark-up, sigh.

When the Frozen dolls were issued, I though they were cute (well the girls anyway, I can't really get into the Kristoff doll) and I was super pleased to see them in their toddler clothing. I did not initially NEED them, but once we finally saw the movie, that changed. I am pretty sure toddler Anna is the cutest kid ever put on screen, I just want to squish her! So of course I needed a little version of her. But apparently everyone else felt the same way, they have been sold out for ages! Well one again the same AC mama tipped me off that the Calgary store just might have some. I made the fateful call and indeed the cast member confirmed  "We have 1". Ok, great send it my way "No, we have just 1, was that all you wanted?" Yikes, ship that baby pronto! So long story short she made the cross country journey to arrive in Evie's Easter basket. Next on my list is Elsa, but I don't have the same desire for her as sweet Anna

Now I am sure you look at these and see decoration dolls. It is true that they live far out of the reach of little hands. However she does get to play with them sometimes. I obviously want to keep them in nice condition for her when she is old enough to appreciate them so she gets supervised play.  Basically that means she has to ask for them and sit and play with one of us. Luckily her favourite activity is changing out all their shoes, so we often have a little shoe party.

Wow, that turned into a very long blog about dolls! But we all need a little whimsy in our lives right?

-By Erin Smith

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our Easter

We had a fun low key Easter at our house this year. We spent it with our immediate and church family and just enjoying some quiet time. We enjoyed celebrating the true spirit of Easter and sharing the joy with those we love.

 For us Easter begins the evening before when, we attend The Great Vigil service each year. The highlight of this service was the moment of welcoming Easter. Our Minister gave a funny little speech, before we began, about trying not to be polite New Brunswicker's in church, and to outwardly express joy. At the beginning of the designated song, DH noticed him bringing out a conch from under the alter, so we knew it was about to get interesting. At the designated moment he began to sound the conch, but was quickly in competition with a member of the praise band who had brought a hockey horn. They continued in a war of sound for several minutes, which left us all in stitches, and with no clear winner. I think I will remember the redness of effort on the Minister's face for a very long time!

Sunday Morning started off slowly, the bunny did not visit overnight, as I was able to sleep in a little bit, but didn't want to miss it her joy. But at the right time the baskets appeared! My lovely husband for sure overbought for me, but I know that it is secretly to keep him from having to do evening chocolate runs in the near future. Evie was unsure what she liked most, but at least half of the Sophia stickers were already gone before we left for church, and a sheet of Frozen stickers was held in her hot little hand for the entire church service. She enjoyed her rare indulgence of chocolate and chowed down a bit yesterday morning, but seems to have forgotten about it since.

Yes, Evie's basket is quite sparse. We knew she would receive gifts from her grandparents on top of what she received from us. Also, it is not Christmas! I was honestly blown away by many of the "baskets" I saw on my feed this Easter. The gifts that were given would absolutely never fit in any basket, they would barely fit on a kitchen table! I am puzzled by this excess, why do children "need" all that stuff and when did Easter become a "present" holiday?

 We of course headed to our Sunday Morning service and had a great time fellowshipping with our church family. I was surprised to see very few new people there, but it was nice to see everyone else there at once.

Easter proceeded in chaos as hubster and I prepared a good old fashioned Easter meal. I made my best rendition of my Dad's famous ham to date! It is a very vintage style family recipe, but is always amazing. But sorry, I am not going to share it with you, that is a family secret!

 My best trick was the carrot cupcakes. I was sure I was inspired by a pin, but I cannot find it now of course! Honestly my motivation was simply finding something simple and super cute. The decorating probably took me 10 minutes flat, and was finished just as my ILs came through the door. When I offered them as "Carrot" cupcakes everyone was completely perplexed. My MIL thought they were "Carob" but once they were cut, everyone let out a simultaneous "ooooohhhhh". They were for sure a hit!

Overall I think we had a great Easter! We had fun with our friends and our family and got to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. I hope that you also had a great weekend and were able to share you time with some special people.


Now I get to tease you all! You should keep an eye on the blog in the next few days, there is going to be a very exciting announcement near the end of the week and you will not want to miss it!

Friday, April 18, 2014

T-shirt hacking

With the release of the new AppleCheeks t-shirts, interest has been renewed in my previous AC t-shirt hack. So ask and you shall receive!

My project began out of necessity. I misread the ordering instructions and ended up with a unisex shirt much too large for me. Now I am not a t-shirt person anyway (something about those collars makes me feel confined) so I decided to mix it up. I headed over to Pinterest and scoped out some ideas.


Step one was to lay out on top of it a women's cut t-shirt that I knew was a good fit. I cut the sides down using it as an example, while leaving a couple inches for the seams. I also cut off the sleeves.

Next I started experimenting with this cool braiding technique I found. Basically you cut small vertical slits and then thread one loop through the next hole. This creates the illusion of a braid. The further apart you make the slits the more gathering will occur and the thicker your braid will be. I used a very small braid on the neck and a medium on the shoulders to create this look. This technique also causes the salvage to roll over and "finishes" the garment. I love the way the shoulders look with the braid on either side, it created a subtle gather that looks so girly.

As a last minute addition I created a scabby-chic flower to go on the shoulder. These are also super simple to make. Take a long strip of fabric, fold it in two lengthwise and run a hand gathering stitch all the way along. Then pull the string tight the gather it. It will naturally form a swirl and you just need to finesse it a bit to get the look you like and sew it together.




Here is my entire t-shirt hack pintrest board, I encourage you to check it out see if you find any inspiration there for yourself. Please share your final creations with me, so we can all be inspired by each other!


Monday, April 14, 2014

The Great Canadian Cloth Diaper Hop and AppleCheeks Giveaway!

Welcome to the Great Canadian Cloth Diaper Hop, hosted by

Each amazing Canadian blogger participating has a great cloth diaper prize for you to win, worth at least $20, so after you enter mine, be sure to hop around to all the others in the linky! Don’t forget to enter to win the GRAND PRIZE for the event! To coincide with both Earth Day and the Great Cloth Diaper Change I have signed up with several other blogs for a fun blog hop! The Great Canadian Cloth Diaper Hop is hosted by Cloth Diaper Contests & Giveaways and runs from April 14th - April 29th

AppleCheeks is, as I am absolutely sure you all know, my favourite cloth diaper brand (and very possibly my favourite brand ever overall!). They have agreed to give one lucky winner one of their fabulous Bamboo little bundles. That means you get one cover and one amazingly soft bamboo insert. Beware winner: this is for sure enough to get you absolutely addicted to their cloth diaper system!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure:

Cloth Diaper Contests & Giveaways and the Great Canadian Cloth Diaper Hop participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.


Linky: The Great Canadian Cloth Diaper Hop is hosted by Cloth Diaper Contests & Giveaways and runs from April 14th - April 29th

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How I tortured a lovey (or my ingenious new wash routine)

Sometimes I have genius moments, not that often, but sometimes. Growing up my Mom washed and dried my stuffed animals weekly to clear the allergens. Needless to say they soon became kind of beat-up looking.  Evie is in love with her penguins and they are so nice and soft I didn't want to see them ruined. The other day one of them suddenly needed a bath, so I tried to improvise.  I gave her a gentle hand washing in the sink with lingerie detergent and left her to drip dry. Well that was a no-go, when I came the next morning she was just as wet as the night before, I needed a new plan!





















That is when genius struck! We have a dehumidifier which has been sitting unloved all winter, it was time to put that sucker to work! I elevated the penguin and tented her to keep the moisture level high and the sensors on.  When I came back in a couple hours and she was already drying out quite a bit,  was pretty much dry by nap time and completely dry by supper. I gave her a quick fluff with the baby brush and she was as good as new. OK maybe not as new, but she was whiter than before!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

City grips and City hooks review

Choppie was nice enough to send me some of their stroller accessories, and are even more generous in offering some to you as well!

CityGrips are simple handle covers for your stroller, which are available in two models at the moment: single bar, and double handle. They provide a bit of cushion and style for your stroller and are available in numerous colour and pattern options, so you are sure to be able to match your stroller.  They are easy to apply and adjust with a velcro strip fastener running the length of the grip. The bar on my stroller is already padded so I didn't notice a great difference in comfort, but they sure do look cute!

CityHooks allow you to attach your baby bag right to the back of your stroller so you have easy access.  They come two in a pack to support a large diaper bag, but I used a single one to hold a smaller diaper clutch. They are basically a plastic hook attached to a ring of velcro. I do like that they were an open hook, which allowed me quicker access than a closed clip. However I find the hook itself to be a little clunky, and well, plastic. So overall all the points for usefulness, not so many for style.


 Now it is your turn! Please enter to win a set of each for your stroller!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The perfect chocolate cake

Ok, this isn't a true recipe post, but rather a recommendation post. I know the struggle in finding the perfect cake recipe, and a few years ago I found my favourite and go-to chocolate cake recipe (though I am still looking for THE white cake recipe, please shout me out you favourite). But since they are clearly not my original recipes, I will simply point you to them with my highest recommendations.
Pardon the sloppy frosting job, this cake was about the taste not the look!


My favourite chocolate cake recipe is, surprise, surprise, a Martha recipe. It is rather large and makes two generous 8 inch pans. My only modification is that I never bother with any of the pan flouring etc. Just pam those babies well, and it still slides right out!

Martha's moist devil's food cake

This whipped frosting is frankly my favourite casual frosting recipe, period, you can make it chocolate or vanilla either is super yummy.  However this is not a typical frosting recipe, it is one of those mythical flour based recipes, but I swear this one actually turns out! It obviously is not appropriate for any kind of fancy decorating, but is just right for an informal cake. My husband always says how much he appreciates that it is less sweet than a conventional buttercream frosting.  

Whipped Frosting

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why you won't see any Easter decorations at my house

If you came to my house now, or anytime in the coming weeks, you will not see a single bunny rabbit, fluffy chick or painted egg. Well now, don't I sound like the Easter Scrooge?! Nope I love Easter, it is one of the most meaningful and celebratory holidays of the year and we will celebrate it joyously, however between now and then there is one important barrier; Lent.

From Ash Wednesday through until Holy Saurday, we observe Lent. I admit we are not the most stringent observers. We do not abide by any special dietary or conduct rules. We do however try to be mediative and conscious of the time of trials we are remembering. I wish to be a more deep observer of this time, but unfortunately the chaotic life with a toddler often gets in the way.

However one thing I can do is save the celebration of Easter for it's own special moment. We will not be dying eggs, decorating our easter tree or putting up window clings (ok never mind I would never use them anyway!) until sunset on Easter Sunday. Easter is a triumph over death and sin, but how affecting can this celebration be if we dilute it with a slow and gaudy introduction. Contrast is the essence of the effect of the Easter season. The trepidation of Maundy Thursday, followed by the despair of Good Friday and the waiting of Holy Saturday all build to create the adoration and exultation which we need for a true appreciation of Easter.