Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Banana Nut Bread.

The weather is cool and rainy. I am wearing jeans, but just barely, after eating this delicious banana bread. I got the recipe from a bread recipe booklet called, Quick and Delicious Breads by Johna Blinn, that I got at Value Village for 99 cents. I have a feeling I will be making a few of these recipes in the coming months. (I also scored both my fall and winter coats at their big 50% off sale, but that's another story.) This is an old favourite and this recipe was pretty standard. Of course, because I am the Queen of Substitution, my banana bread will never taste the same twice. It may not even contain bananas. I added 2tbsp of molasses because I was out of vanilla, and used ground up trail mix instead of walnuts. I used yogurt instead of sour cream. I also didn't bother separating the nuts and sugar mixture and pouring on top as it suggested in the recipe. Yes, I said 'suggested'. I am not a big rule follower in the kitchen; The fewer bowls to wash, the better, I say. Here is the recipe that I sort of used as a guide, but didn't really follow at all, now that I look at it more closely :

Vanilla Banana Bread
Makes one 9 inch loaf
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
10 tblsps butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup mashed ripe bananas, (2 or 3)
1/2 c dairy sour cream

There is a big long explanation that I won't bother to transcribe here. The scoop with quick breads is: Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another. Pour wet into dry and don't over mix. Pour into greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees. The pan that I used here took an hour to bake. See if you can wait until the next day to eat, banana bread always has more flavour the next day. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Living on a Prayer.

I don't usually talk about money. That's just how I was raised. We never had any money, so it was best not to talk about it, I guess. Today though, I will talk about money. I live in the now. I am not my past.
I have just been informed by ING Direct, that I am half way to my savings goal of an Emergency Fund! This is so motivating to me. Saving has not been so terribly difficult because I have kept my payments affordable and automatic. Still, there is a part of me that wants to shut me up, lest someone take my meagre stockpile away from me. I wish to be fantastically frugal and not merely miserly and it is my hope to repair my dysfunctional relationship with money and to speak more openly about it. I plan to keep this emergency fund for the next time we need a van repair, or another major expense comes up. They always seem to crop up at the worst possible moment and this time I want to look ahead, just a little. This will free me from having to use credit and thus, in the long run, save me some hefty interest charges. Once I have attained this fundamental step, I can begin to work on my other financial goals. This Emergency Fund is a biggie though, and I am half way there.
My Orange Key is 34802436S1. Just in case you want to start your own Emergency Fund with ING and be referred by me ;)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Butterscotch Parfait

I wish I had a photo of the dessert, but it is a testament to how delicious it was that I don't. Instead, you can all bask in my nephew wearing a Where's Waldo-esque tuque in August and riding a pink barbie bike. He sure makes an auntie proud!
Last night, we all had a hankering for something sweet, but here in the Okanagan, it is still too hot in the evening to turn on the oven. This limited my baking options, so I got out my new Magic Bullet (I love this thing) and ground up some graham crackers, about ten? I think. Then I melted a couple of tablespoons of butter and made a graham cracker crust in my 8 inch Pyrex cake dish. You can use whatever you have, I might do individual ones next time, in ramekins. I then made up a box of instant butterscotch pudding, with a bit less milk than called for to make it thicker. I poured that over the crust. Then I topped the pudding layer with 9 whole graham crackers and dispensed nine whipping cream flowers on top from the spray can. This was all that was left in the can after each of us, when no one was looking of course, sprayed mounds of whipping cream into our mouths while pretending to search for some other, healthy food in the fridge. I wrapped it up and let it chill for thirty minutes, because that was as long as we could wait, and then we enjoyed! Everyone wanted seconds, but since we have managed to score dessert twice this week, an abnormality in this house, I advised them to wait. This meant more for me when they went to school and work, ha ha. It's even better this morning!
Butterscotch Parfait.
You will need:
Graham crackers, most of a sleeve
Instant pudding, I used the four serving size, you could add layers of different flavours, too.
Butter, for what is a dessert without it?
Whipped Cream, Real only please. None of that edible oil product, yeesh. You don't have to use the spray can, you'd have more if you whip it up yourself. I just happened to have a little bit left over from our pie, which I also do not have a photo of.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

We all knew it couldn't last forever

Time sure flies when you're having fun and we've been having our share of it. Now, as the end of summer draws near, I am beginning to look forward to the upcoming autumn and thinking of some goals I would like to set for myself and my family. I wrote previously about beginning to prepare for Christmas and gathering supplies for Halloween.
As for the return of pencils, books and teacher's dirty looks, this reality is beginning to dawn on me as never before. I have purchased the school supplies and there they sit, in the same plastic bag as the day they were bought and plunked unceremoniously on the floor. At some point they will need to be opened, labelled and utilized. My child will need to be reigned in from weeks of late nights, unkempt hair and face washing being deemed optional. Popsicles can no longer pass as a snack. We need routine. In my realization of the impending end of our party time, I sent out a family memo. It read something to the effect of : Summer's almost over! Clean up your own damn messes, you hillbillies! I am not your maid! and so on...The memo, which was read in my absence and was left with sticky Popsicle fingerprints on it, was met with, well... apathy, frankly, but thankfully, no resistance. It was a response something along the lines of; "Meh." Some half hearted attempts have even been made to 1) aim, 2) put the lid down and 3) flush. For these things I am grateful. And yet, I yearn for more. It is my hope to reinstate some kind of order to this household, starting with good short haircuts all around. Well, not for me. I am not that militant. With proper menu planning, chore charts, budgeting and regular family meetings, we will begin to have some structure security, and less panic and low blood sugar at supper time.
These are not new concepts for us. I think the key will be consistency. I have learned much from my fellow bloggers and I continue with the heart of a new student to receive and pass on information I gather and what is useful to me. I will renew and redouble my efforts, taking what I have learned and putting more theories into practice.
Here are my 5 goals for the week:
1)Begin to pack away/donate some of the summer clothes
2) Make yogurt, fruit lax, muffins
3)Write up agenda for family meeting
4)Fill out chore charts
5)Make up a menu plan for September

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just droppin' in.

I'm taking another break. Living life in the fast lane, you know. Time to slow it down a bit and head out to the lake. Will catch you on the flip side. Peace out frugalistas.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year

to get ready for the holidays! This is the year, the year I will get all my ducks in a row well before the two weeks before Christmas. With the help of my husband, we have organized and stored the decorations in an accessible place and I have even begun my gift shopping. With all of the summer clearance sales, especially toys, I am picking up things here and there for Christmas. Today I bought a beautiful table cloth, as well as a pattern for Halloween capes. Since my son's birthday is done, and the back to school stuff is purchased, I can focus on fall and winter. Maybe this seems silly, but that time of year is so pressurized, I think the more prepared in advance, the better. I don't like feeling like I am not ready.

Don't worry, I still hate it so much when people ask, "So, you all ready for Christmas?" on, like, December 1st. Or, like when people say, in this weather, "Hot enough for ya?" and you just want to punch them in the mouth but then you remember you are a lady and ladies don't do such things, even when the heat and humidity make those ladies crazy. No, I just want to look those people straight in the eye and confidently reply, "I've been ready since August seventh" That ought to put a sock in their pie holes. Well, I am off to my air conditioned bedroom. I think that is best under the circumstances.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Good Bits

Well, it's hot. It's busy. I have so much to do. My life is chaotic. Is that enough excuses yet? I know my blog isn't getting the attention it deserves, but I am sure once the cool weather rolls around I will be back to my regular programming. For now though, I thought i would share the Good bits that other people are doing. This beautiful Hawaiian cake, made for her two year old princess, was made by lovinglifebabymama , a new/old friend of mine. New, in the sense that I just found out about her blog, and Old in the fact that we used to cruise the night clubs together in our high heels.

Our disco days behind us, we now focus on our little ones, spoiling them with handcrafted dolly cakes and the like. She gives a great description of how she made this amazing cake over on her blog, so check her out and follow her too. She's funny!

I am in the midst of mid summer re-organization. My apartment is in absolute chaos. The thrift shop is going to get a nice donation from me, I tell ya, just as soon as I can peel myself away from the monitor and keyboard. My old clunker of a computer has been serving me well for many years, even though my husband scoffs at me over the thin screen of his laptop, asking me to keep the tap tap tap of my old keyboard down. I quite like the sound, it reminds me of a simpler time. I envision myself as a fifties secretary, hammering out my correspondence in an efficient manner, in a plume of socially acceptable smoke, in the midst of a busy steno pool.

Except that I can't type, and I no longer smoke. Oh well.

I start my Vacation Part Deux in a week or so. Again, no plans to leave town, just to get ready for the start of school for my grade one-er. I got all of his supplies and I have been saving clothes for months, so if I buy anymore for him, it will just be excessive. Clearance sales are my best friend.

Well, I am back to sorting, sorting, sorting and purging. Until next time, here are sixty uses for baking soda!

Keep frugal my friends!