I’ve always thought those “chocolate bar cards” are kind of cool, but have never made one before. We had the best coaches and management for Shay’s hockey team this year and I thought it would be fun to make one for them.candygram

How to Create a “Candygram”:

  1. It was a bit tricky to know how to start, so I began by searching the web for samples. The samples provided me with ideas for how I would word my “candygram” and also gave me some ideas for what candy to buy. (Keep in mind that many of the images will be American and you may not be able to get the same candy/bars in Canada.)
  2. I made a list of candy and chocolate bars that I thought might work in my card.
  3. I then began to play with words and write my message. You really need to write your message before you go shopping otherwise you have no idea what to buy. There were a few phrases that I wrote two different ways as I wasn’t sure if I could find the candy I needed.
  4. Go shopping. The message can take up a lot of space, so keep that in mind. I ended up using two full sheets of bristol board. I did run into a few snags and had to change and delete a few phrases because I couldn’t find the candy I was looking for.
  5. I taped my bristol board together (similar to the spine of a book). I then used a ruler to measure out the spacing for my printing. I did all of the printing with pencil and placed the candy in the proper place in the “cloze”.
  6. I went over the penciled message in marker and used a combination of double-sided tape and staples to mount the candy on.
  7. I had planned to embellish it with some  “hockey” themed paper/images, but quite frankly, I just ran out of time.

I sometimes find males hard to buy for and yet want the coaches to know how much they were appreciated. This ended up being perfect because it was a nice addition to the “team” gift that was given.  Obviously, this is more about the fun and the thought, than the actual quality of the gift.


P90X Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

My hubby is on holidays right now and was looking for a healthy new soup to try. He found this recipe in our P90X Cookbook. This is only the second recipe we have ever made from the book, but the Island Pork Tenderloin is one of our favourites and this soup proved to be very tastey as well. I think we need to take a serious look at this book because both of the recipes we’ve tried have been both delicious and healthy.

P90X Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Although this recipe came from our P90X recipe book, I found this link for it on food.com. My husband had the soup  ready when I got home from work today. He sure knows how to make my day – love that!!


    • 2 cups white wine (added about 1/2 cup extra)
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 5 red peppers, roasted
    • 2 cups celery
    • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
    • 2 plum tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup tomato paste
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
    • Optional: Garnish with Parmesan Cheese, Sour Cream and/or chopped Green Onions


  1. Place peppers on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Give them a half turn and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Pull and discard the stems. (Don’t worry about removing the seeds.)
  2. While peppers are baking, chopped the vegetables for the soup.
  3. Heat wine in large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, red peppers, and celery. Cook and stir for 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Cook 2 more minutes, adding more wine if necessary.
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and broth, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Puree soup in a food processor. Return to pan, add seasonings, and heat through.
  6. Garnish as desired.

Book Display Upcycle #2: Pull-out Spice Rack

Book Display Shelf

Here is a “before” shot of the book display rack.

You may remember the book rack upcycle I did a few weeks back. I used an old book display rack and converted it into a pull-out pantry style shelf that sits between my fridge and the wall. It works really well and I am happy to say that the chalkboard art has stood up extremely well – in fact, better than I would have ever expected. Not a single image has been smudged and I have yet to touch-up anything. I can’t honestly say if this is because of the hair spray I top coated it with or if it is just because I only move it in and out using the handle.  Either way, it works well and I really do love it. However, when I was making it I knew that the empty space above the pull-out shelf would bug me. It just looks like something is missing. So, I decided that I would use the other half of the display rack and convert it into a spice rack.

Empty Space Beside the Fridge

Here you can see the empty space above the pull-out cabinet that I upcycled into a pantry.

Pull-out Spice Rack:

I began by taking the second panel of the book rack completely apart and then had to spend quite a bit of time thinking about how this would work. My plan was to create a spice rack using the existing wood from the display rack. The depth of the space would accommodate the full 24″ of shelving, but in order for it to fit between the cupboard support board and the wall, I would need to make the shelves narrower. I thought this seemed like a super easy project as the modifications were quite minimal. The issue was that there seemed to be lots of little details to think about: the thickness of the pegboard backing, whether to trim the back or front of the shelves, how to keep the little lip so the spice bottles won’t fall off, how far apart to make the shelves, how to make the cut shelves fit in the grooves they previously sat in, etc. I must say, I found it a bit hard to consider all of the details that perhaps wouldn’t even be considerations in a “new build”, but had to be accounted for because it was an upcycle. I got the boards cut and prepared to a point, but then had to ask my husband to help. The one and only tool that I’m not allowed to use is the table saw. I’m not exactly sure why, but Tim doesn’t feel that it’s very safe and at times I can be a bit careless. So, on Saturday I finally pinned him down and got the help I needed to do the final cuts. The new shelf is about 17″ high and 24″ long and should fit perfectly in the space, once the drawer runners are added. The front face of the shelf was not cut down as I wanted it to match the size of the bottom pull-out shelf. They won’t line-up perfectly because the bottom one is more centered in the space and the spice rack will end up sittng closer to the wall than the fridge. Keeping it the original 4″ width will also help to keep the contents of the rack somewhat hidden, as opposed to a more open look.

We got the boards cut and nailed the shelf together. I used the original top and bottom pieces from the rack and one of the shelves, but had to insert a second shelf in between so that the final spice rack would have a total of three shelves. My plan is to move all of my small spice bottles to this rack. It should be large enough to fit them all, so I will have some additional drawer space in the kitchen and perhaps some room on my pull-out rack as well. We filled all of the holes with wood filler and let it dry over night. I am out of time and weekend, so this is how it will stay until I can get back to it.

The next step is to sand and prime the shelf, so that it will be ready for painting. I can’t wait to get it mounted and see how it works!

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

This is a powerful video showing the interaction between an Alzheimer patient and the family dog. This video made me think about the therapy dogs that they used to bring to my Grandmother’s personal care home. I remember being intrigued by how the residents seemed to relax and “find” themselves when the dogs were there.

At my age, many of my friends and colleagues all seem to be entering that stage in life in which our parents are aging and in some cases are less able to care for themselves. My Grandmother lived to be well over 90 and I certainly observed her health failing over the last few years of her life. At times she wouldn’t recognize me and my presence often brought back memories of my mom who had passed away many years prior to my Grandma’s death. The conversation would often be very circular going from one topic to another and then repeating. She would ask the same questions over and over and would often become very emotional during our visits. I didn’t see my Grandma more than a time or two per year, but found our latter visits very difficult. I always felt that seeing me reminded her of my mom and upset her. It was difficult, especially for those closest to her who had to manage the stress of her failing health on a regular basis.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are terms that are often mistakenly used interchangeably. However, the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan defines Dementia as the term used to describe a variety of brain disorders with symptoms including loss of memory, judgement and reasoning, as well as significant changes in mood and behaviour. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of Dementia that is very difficult to diagnosis with 100% accuracy and the diagnosis is generally determined through a series of tests and a process of elimination. Alzheimer’s accounts for approximately 64% of all Dementia in Canada. The Alzheimer Society has developed a list of 10 Warning Signs to look for as your loved ones begin to age.

Early diagnosis is essential as some symptoms can be slowed down if the source of the dementia can be determined and a proper treatment plan put in place. If you know someone living with a form of dementia watch this incredible video that portrays how two healthy adults feel when exposed to a simulated experience of what living with Alzheimer’s Dementia might be like.

Although there is no known cure, many doctors and health care professionals are recognizing the connection between glutathione levels and optimal health. Glutathione is thought of as the master of all antioxidants and supplements that promote glutathione production in the body have been linked to symptom control for many patients suffering from numerous ailments. In Dr. Jimmy Gutman’s book called Glutathione Your Key to Health chapters 5 through 24 talk about the role of Glutathione in optimal health and healing. His book includes chapters on each of the following: cancer; aging; Parkinson’s; Alzheimer’s; heart disease, stroke and cholesterol; diabetes; the liver and hepatitis; Aids; Multiple Sclerosis; lung disease; digestive disease; kidney failure; ears, eyes, nose, throat and teeth; pregnancy, lactation and childbirth; trauma and burns; seizures; skin disorders; Autism and the role of glutathione and in males. The book is very informative and really describes how vital glutathione is to our over all health.

My dad is 78 and has taken Immunocal (a supplement that boosts your body’s production of glutathione) on a daily basis for several years now. He is in awesome health and had his first cold in decades this past winter. He takes no prescribed medication and continues to be extremely healthy. I too take the product and despite being exposed to a variety of illnesses at school on a daily basis, I’m rarely sick and can often “nip illness in the bud” by doubling up on my supplement and having a restful sleep.

If you are interested in learning more about Glutathione and/or Immunocal you can check out one of my previous posts on What is whey protein and why is Immunocal the best product on the market?” or visit the Immunotec website to check-out the products. There is nothing worse than watching the quality of life slip away from a loved one. I am so thankful that my dad is still so active and full of life at 78. He looks and feels great and claims that Immunocal is the key to his wellness!

Yummy Mexican Salad

Thursday was the staff appreciation lunch at my kid’s school and the PAC had planned a Mexican themed feast for all of the great staff in the school. I signed-up to bring a salad and of course, was looking for something that would fit with the theme. I came across this recipe on Divas Can Cook and it not only looked incredible, but had great reviews from their readers. I actually love both corn and black beans, but since going on The Plan have realized that neither would be considered “friendly foods” for me personally. Knowing my body and how it reacts to certain foods doesn’t mean I can’t eat them, it just means that I am aware and more mindful of what else I eat on the same day and the day after. So, you guessed it…..I made a double batch, one for the luncheon and one for dinner on Thursday night.

Let’s just say the Diva’s did not disappoint. I loved the vegetable combination and although I was a bit skeptical when making the dressing, it came together to make a really yummy dish. We ate it as a salad along side the Chicken Fajitas we had for dinner, but I can see it being a great topping on rice or even served over a chicken breast. I am sure it would make a great dip with nachos as well. Yummy!

Black Bean Corn Salad

This recipe was taken directly from the Divas Can Cook site and I followed it almost exactly. I did include the optional avocado and only used 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I also used freshly squeezed lime juice as the recipe suggests.


  • 11 oz sweet corn, drained (I used a can of Peaches & Cream)
  • 15 oz black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced (Not optional if you ask me – delicious!!)

Chili Lime Dressing:

  • 1½ Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (can add more)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cumin


  1. Combine the beans and chopped vegetables in a large bowl.
  2. Mix the Chili Lime Dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
  3. Add the dressing to salad and toss to combine.
  4. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

I let mine salad sit for several and it was still great! (However, I only added the avocado and tomatoes about an hour before serving time.)

Hard Boiled Eggs in the Oven?

If you frequent Pinterest, I’m sure you have seen the pins showing how to bake eggs in their shell instead of hard boiling them on the stove. If you read my Devilled Egg post back in the summer, you would understand why I jumped all over this idea. So, I decided to try this out for our Easter eggs.

Directions for Baking Eggs:

I basically did exactly what was suggested on the “pins”. I preheated my oven to 325 degrees. I placed my eggs in a muffin tin and baked them for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I removed them from the oven and transferred them to an ice bath.

The Good News:

The eggs cooked perfectly.

The Bad News:

Like some of the other pinners, my eggs ended up with brown spots on the shells and even some spots that looked a bit scorched. Decorating wasn’t high on my kids interest list, so we ended up peeling and eating some of the dozen that I baked.  All of the eggs had little brown/scorch marks on them in a place or two. It had no impact on the taste, but if presentation was of concern, I would not recommend this technique. I’m not sure what causes this, but I have to admit I did not turn the eggs during the 30 minute bake time. Some suggested turning them half way through the baking time and others didn’t, so of course I opted for the easier of the two and didn’t bother turning them. I’m not sure if turning would have prevented this or not. Although my muffin tin was clean, it is well used and “seasoned”. I’m not sure if this was the problem or not.

The Verdict:

This works well if you are making egg salad sandwiches for your family, but I wouldn’t recommend this method for devilled eggs you plan on serving to company or for decorating Easter eggs. Having said that, it didn’t really impact the few eggs we decorated this year. We just made sure to “colour” over the spots and you really couldn’t see the brown marks, but it would totally depend on how you were decorating your eggs. Based on my one experience with this cooking method, I think I’ll probably stick to the traditional method and just boil them. Cool idea though!

FYI They didn’t peel any easier either! 

Easy Banana Pudding Trifle

This is a first for me….this will be the third dessert I have made within 4 days…. two over Easter weekend and then one for our staff lunch on Tuesday. Fortunately, I’m sending a salad to the Staff Appreciation lunch at my kid’s school on Thursday, 4 desserts in a week would be a bit much! I had a “banana pudding” dessert several years ago and it was delicious. I actually got the recipe for it, but it was missing a step or two and I didn’t want to guess what to do. I ended up searching for a banana pudding recipe and although I found one that was very similar, I opted for this one instead. I must say I was intrigued by the 10 minute prep time and the inclusion of sour cream. I decided to wait and post this after the luncheon. I really enjoyed it and it got rave reviews from the staff as well! This was super easy to make and the taste did not disappoint!

This recipe was found on Divas Can Cook.  I have found several good recipes on their site, so I was pretty confident it would be a good one.

Easy Banana Pudding:


  • 3-6 bananas (I used 6 banana ~ 2 per layer)
  • 2 102g boxes instant Vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 box of Nilla Wafers (You’ll only need about 3/4 of a box)
  • 8 oz. container of Cool Whip (3 cups)
  • 1 cup sour cream


  1. Combine pudding and milk in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk until creamy.
  3. Add sour cream and 1 1/2 cups of Cool Whip.
  4. Stir until combined.
  5. In a dish, add a layer of chopped bananas and Nilla Wafers
  6. Spread approximately 1/3 of the pudding mixture on the wafers.
  7. Repeat the layering process two more times, ending with the pudding mixture.
  8. Spread on the remaining Cool Whip on top.
  9. Garnish with crushed wafers.
  10. Refrigerate for 3 hours.
  11. Serve cold.
I made this dessert the evening before and it kept very well. The author does not recommend using instant banana pudding in lieu of vanilla. This tasted great as is and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Sentimental Birthday Jar

My friend Michelle told me about this idea and the timing couldn’t have been better. As mentioned in an earlier post, my dad’s 78th birthday was on Easter weekend. I had planned on making him a card and then just giving him a gift card or some cash to go and buy himself some clothes. (He loves clothes and enjoys shopping, so I thought this would be good, but not very personal.)  Michelle’s birthday jar idea was a perfect addition to the card and cash.

Birthday Jar:


  • mason jar
  • adhesive (tape and/or glue)
  • coordinating scrapbooking paper
  • letters (I used my Cricut, but you could buy stickers)
  • ribbon

Using the metal circle from the lid as a tracer, I cut and insert a paper circle under the ring on the lid.  Using a long piece (about 3″ X 12″) of scrapbook paper, I wrapped the jar and secured the paper in place. I then made a label and added a few embellishments and a ribbon. It was super easy to make.

For the inside, I cut strips of coordinating paper (about 1/2″ X 12″). Each member of our family wrote down as many things as they could think of to describe why/how my dad was important to them. We started each strip with “YOU…..”. I had everyone leave a space and then begin a new phrase on the same strip. When they were done. We cut the strips, so that there was only one phrase per strip. I then used a pencil to curl the strips and put them in the jar.

I made the card so that it matched the jar. My dad absolutely loved the gift and I could tell he was very touched by the words as he read each strip out loud. I know that he will cherish this as I could see the joy that it brought him. Thanks for the awesome idea Michelle!

This is the perfect gift for someone who has everything. Everyone loves to hear how they have touched the lives of others!

Life Hacks I Love #8: How to Remove Sticky Adhesive

You may remember me posting about our ladybug invasion a few weeks back. Well, I was in a bit of a “state” and picked up a few sticky fly tape things thinking that the ladybugs would be attracted to them and stick to it. I never read the directions and if I would have I’m sure I would have learned that they don’t really work for ladybugs. I put up two of them and out of the hundreds invading our house, the traps caught 4. I did manage to “trap” my daughter though! She tried on her dance recital outfit and ignored my advice to take it off as soon as we knew it fit. The result was that she backed into the “fly trap” and got sticky residue all over the back of her brand new dance recital outfit. Ugh!

How to Remove Sticky Adhesive:

First of all, the adhesive was left untouched for days. This wasn’t so much part of the plan, but more about having no time to deal with the issue. I’m not sure if the exposure to air helped or not, but as I said it was left hanging up, completely untouched for several days before I attempted anything. My first thought was to try duct tape. I googled to see what others had to say about removing adhesive and there were many ideas and suggestions. Duct tape was actually on the list of ideas, so I decided to try that first. My thinking was that the risk of damaging the jacket would be minimal with the duct tape, so I went for it. All I did was cut a piece of tape slightly bigger than the sticky patch and pressed it on firmly, rubbing it into the adhesive. I slowly peeled it off and sure enough it removed most of it. I continued to press and peel with the tape until it didn’t seem to be taking any more off. I cut a second piece of tape and repeated the procedure. This took about 2 minutes in all and it removed virtually everything. I did think that it would be 100% with a good wash, but I didn’t want to take the chance of it fading or the colours running before the recital. I hung it back up and decided it was good enough. When I went to write this post, I realized I had forgotten to take an “after” photo. I took out the jacket to take a picture and couldn’t find the exact spot where the adhesive was. I actually can’t believe this looks as good as new. It was a major sticky mess when she first showed me it and I thought it might be ruined. So, if you find yourself in a similar situation, you might want to try to conquer sticky with sticky. You know what they say, when all else fails….use duct tape!

*I would suggest testing this method on an inconspicuous area of your fabric first. Although this method worked really well on Eden’s jacket, I’m sure that different types of fabric could react differently. I saw one post that said the duct tape left the article of clothing a bit “pilly”.

Lemon Trifle

This was the second dessert I prepared this weekend. I said I would bring something to Tim’s family’s Easter dinner and decided on a dessert. When I was young, my mom often had Angel Food Cake for dessert. She had a few variations of how she served it, but one of my favourites was with a lemon topping. Unfortunately, it was not one of the recipes I thought of asking her before she passed away, so I haven’t had it in decades. I thought that I might try a search and see what I could come up with. I really had no memory of how she made it, so this was pretty much a shot in the dark!

Lemon Trifle:

Basically, I pretty much made this up. I found a recipe that looked promising for my Mom’s lemon topping on Food.com.  I used the suggested ingredients and ratios to come up with this trifle. It was delicious, but I’d make a few modifications next time, more so for presentation than anything else.


  • 1 pouch of Sherrif lemon pie filling mix – prepared according to the instructions – Cooled completely.
  • 3/4 cup of whipping cream + 1 cup of whipping cream – whipped
  • vanilla sandwich cookies (I used a row of Girl Guide Cookies because I have an entire case on hand) Anyone want to buy cookies??
  • 2 angel food cakes (I bought one from the bakery and it wasn’t enough to fill my trifle bowl. I think a cake mix makes a larger angel cake and one mix would probably make enough, but the store bought ones seemed smaller and I would buy two next time or make my own.)
  • lemon rind


  1. Cook the lemon pie filling according to the directions and then cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, whip the cream. (If you wish, you can add a tablespoon of icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla to the whipped cream, but I didn’t). You can do this all at once and make an approximate division for the recipe or whip it in two batches. This isn’t rocket science and it will not make much difference if your whipping cream is a bit off. Both the lemon and whipping cream are delicious, the combination really just makes it creamier.
  3. Remove about 1/4 of the lemon pie filling and set aside. (I didn’t do this in my original attempt, but think the brighter yellow and stronger lemon would be a nice addition.)
  4. Take the remain lemon pie filling and fold in the 3/4 cup of cream that you previously whipped (if you mixed it in one batch, just take slightly less than half of the batch.)
  5. Chop 10 to 12 vanilla sandwich cookies (lemon would be good as well).
  6. Break the cake into small bit-sized chunks. Divide the cake into thirds.


  1. Place one third of the cake pieces on the bottom of the trifle bowl.
  2. Add 1/3 of the lemon cream filling.
  3. Add second layer of cake followed by 1/3 of the lemon cream filling.
  4. Add the reserved lemon curd. It will be a very thin layer.
  5. Top this with the crushed cookies and the final layer of cake.
  6. Add the remaining third of lemon cream.
  7. Top with the remaining (1 cup) of whipped cream.
  8. Garnish with lemon rind and/or additional cookie crumbs.

There really is no right or wrong way to do this, I made it up! As long as your whip cream whips properly, you’re good to go. I suppose you could even use Cool Whip in lieu of the whip cream, but I like the real thing. This sounds like lots of steps, but I literally whipped this up in about 30 minutes. It was delicious and light!