Picnic Potato Salad

This homemade salad dressing was my Grandma Cooley’s. She used to make it and passed it along to my mom who used it as the base for her potato salad. It has great flavour, but I sometimes add extra spices and/or pickle juice for a little extra kick when making potato salad. Prepared mustard is also great for kicking up the flavour in the final stages if you feel you need to.

Grandma Cooley’s Homemade Dressing:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cream
  • 3/4 cup vinegar
  • To use for potato salad , you will need to add milk and either Miracle Whip or Mayo


Place all of the ingredients in a double-boiler. Stir and cook over boiling water until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and refrigerate. To use this dressing recipe for a potato salad, my mom would combine equal parts of the dressing with milk and either Miracle Whip or Mayo. She suggested using 1/3 of a cup of each. Mix to combine and stir into potato salad.

Potato Salad:

When making a potato salad, I generally make about 1 potato per person. I alter the additional items based on the number of potatoes I use in the salad. Although I don’t always use the same ingredients, this is what I generally add to the base salad.

        • Russet potatoes ~ peeled, boiled, chopped and cooled
        • chopped celery
        • chopped radish
        • diced red onion or sliced green onions
        • dill
        • salt and pepper to taste
        • chopped sweet or dill pickles
        • 4 to 8 hard boiled eggs (chopped in the salad and/or sliced to decorate the surface)
        • paprika sprinkled on top

If you’re are planning to serve a number of people and need to make a large salad, you may want to try this speedy method of removing the peels from all of those potatoes. Brilliant!

Manitoba Stay-cation: Entry #1 Canada Day

I have made it my mission to stay in Manitoba this summer… and enjoy it! That won’t be too difficult considering all there is to do in and around Winnipeg during the summer, but most of it is contingent on the weather. I’m all for a “stay-cation”, but would not be too happy if that meant staying indoors to avoid the rain! Hopefully the skies will clear and we’ll be able to enjoy the heat and sunshine that we are accustomed to as Manitobans.

Destination ~ Binscarth, MB:

Every year we head out to Binscarth, Manitoba to visit family and partake in their Canada Day celebrations. I grew up in Binscarth and have wonderful memories of my small town upbringing. Binscarth is a pretty little village located west of Winnipeg on the Yellowhead Highway (#16) just 12 km from the Saskatchewan border. This tiny town of approximately 425 people has many successes to be proud of including being named the “Best Place to Raise a Family” by Canadian Living Magazine in 1999. The town has also received  both provincial and national recognition for Communities in Bloom. Recognition trees have been planted in the community to mark the successes of many former “Binscarthians”. To check out the list of those who have had a tree planted in their honour, follow this link.

Besides being clean and well cared for, Binscarth has the largest outdoor heated pool along Hwy 16. The town pool is located in a beautiful valley just outside of town. The scenic park has a wonderful serviced campground and concession along with the swimming facilities. The Binscarth Park and Pool becomes the hub for socializing throughout the summer months and holds many great memories for all who grew up spending their summer days at the pool. If you are planning a camping trip or are looking for a great place to stop on a trip out west, this is it.

Binscarth, MB

Canada Day in Binscarth:

Like many years, Tim’s work schedule will not allow for him to join us, but tomorrow after church the kids and I will be heading out to “the country” to unwind. The forecast isn’t great, but I am expecting it will change as I honestly don’t ever remember having bad weather on Canada Day at Binscarth! The festivities always start on June 30th with a social at the town hall and then continue right through to almost midnight on July 1st.  Here is what a typical Canada Day at Binscarth entails:

  • Pancake Breakfast at the town hall ($3 to $5 per person)
  • Parade
  • Swimming at the Pool
  • Museum Luncheon (sandwiches and homemade pies)
  • Museum tours
  • Longest Golf Drive contest
  • Horseshoe Tournament
  • Cribbage Tournament
  • Cow Plop Drop – Guess where the cow poop is going to land, and win cash! (So Binscarthian!)
  • Kids Games and Races
  • BBQ Beef on a Bun Dinner
  • Wiener Roast and Canada Day Birthday cake
  • Fireworks – the display is always fabulous and people drive for miles to take in Binscarth’s great fireworks show

For the full list of events and times for Canada Day 2014, follow this link. The day is packed full of engaging activities for the whole family and the costs are really quite minimal considering the great food and entertainment. If you don’t already have plans, why not join us for some good down home Manitoba fun in Binscarth. Google maps says the drive is over 4 hours, but I generally do it in about 3 1/2. Here are some pictures from our previous Canada Day experiences!

I actually had a hard time finding appropriate photos that didn’t contain other kids. Lots of my photos from years ago are not on my computer anymore, so it was way too much work to dig through those, but it really is a great time. For us, most of the fun is being around people that we love very much! I cherish our visit home for Canada Day each year. If Binscarth seems like too far for you to go, perhaps this post will inspire you to take in some events closer to home.

Summer Screen Time

empowering parents

Click the image to find out how to tame technology and create balance in your home.

Of course, this type of post is not new for me. I am one of those parents who is very uptight when it comes to screen time. I hate what it is doing to our children and it has become a huge bone of contention in many families. I’m not even going to attempt to paraphrase this letter….you must read it in its entirety. Renee Robinson wrote this letter to her boys to explain to them why she restricts their screen time. I honestly have never read anything more in line with my beliefs about screen time. This letter is the perfect portrayal of what so many parents feel, but can’t seem to put into words. It’s easy to see why her post went viral.  Here is a short excerpt from her letter, but you really must read the whole thing.

Well, boys, it’s not you. It’s me. Me being selfish maybe. You see I can’t bear to miss a moment with you. Let me explain.

I want to talk to you when we are out to eat. I want to listen to your questions. I want to have training opportunities. I want to allow space for conversation that can take us deeper. And if you are always distracted with electronics, well… I might miss those moments.

I could give you all the statistics about how damaging it is to your development, your attention span, your ability to learn. While all of those are valid reasons to keep electronics away, that is not my primary reason why I say no to you so much. It’s more than that. Much more. I need you to understand this.

As we head into summer, please consider Renee’s letter and although it is much easier to give in, lets all make an effort to limit screen time, for all the right reasons!

Summer Stay-Cation

summerSummer vacation means different things to different families. Being a teacher, this is a very special time for our whole family. For two months, the entire atmosphere of our home changes. It becomes relaxed and schedule free. For me, it also means buckling down to get some DIY projects done around the house, but I absolutely love this kind of work and find it helps to recharge my batteries.

This year, we don’t have any big vacations plans. On the contrary, we are working towards creating a really fun and exciting “stay- cation”. My goal is to spend the summer connecting as a family while discovering some down home Manitoba Fun. I have spent the last few weeks checking out websites and asking friends and family about their favourite Manitoba summer fun spots/activities. I have found lots of great ideas and can’t wait to start our 2014 Stay-Cation. My hope is to take in festivals, scenic drives, leisure activities, and explore all that we can within the Manitoba limits. Hopefully, we can fit in one or two camping trips, but there will be no Rushing River for us this year…instead, I’m opting to find gems right here in our own province. Throughout the summer, I will be sharing our adventures and keeping you posted on the good, the bad and the ugly. I know that not everything will be a “first”, but I am hoping to have at least a few by the time the summer has ended.  Although I am not committing to a list, here are some of our ideas:

  1. Camping ~ in a tent of course.
  2. Fishing ~ some place new.
  3. Beach Days ~ new and old favourites.
  4. Fly a kite.
  5. Street Festivals.
  6. Small town fairs/festivals.
  7. Visit a small town museum.
  8. Roadside attractions.
  9. Scenic gems.
  10. An outdoor movie.
  11. A picnic.
  12. Biking on trails.
  13. Go hiking in a new location.
  14. Play miniature golf.
  15. Try new recipes.
  16. Assiniboine Park Zoo.
  17. Go berry picking.
  18. Visit friends and family.
  19. Explore downtown Winnipeg.
  20. Horseback riding.
  21. Road trips.
  22. Try a new food.
  23. Eat plenty of fresh, in season fruit ~ hurray for cherries, nectarines and peaches!
  24. Read! Read! Read!
  25. Visit Farmer’s Markets.

I asked the kids for ideas based on what they would like to do. Shay shared the 3 things he’d love to do this summer:

  1. Play street hockey.
  2. Play ball hockey.
  3. Play mini sticks.

So, let me get this straight….that’s HOCKEY! HOCKEY! and HOCKEY!  Seriously. I asked him to use his imagination and think of what he might like to do and this is what he came up with. I think these activities are pretty much a given for Shay and thus you’ll notice that his requests didn’t make the list.

This list won’t be a checklist, but more of a guide. I have lots of ideas and can’t wait to get started. Stay tuned to find out what we discover and our best finds. If you have any great ideas or favourite spots to share, please comment below as I would love to hear from you.

Roasted Rhubarb and Beet Salad

My friend Joan passed on this great article about rhubarb from Alive and it included this awesome recipe for a scrumptious summer salad. The article itself provided information on rhubarb and also highlighted some of its medicinal benefits. I made this for dinner on Sunday night and absolutely loved it. Tim thought is was very good, but he isn’t a lover of goat cheese and said he would substitute feta for it next time. I can’t say the kids loved it, but it is a little different than anything they’ve had before. For me, it was pure perfection…..loved the combination of flavours! This was a perfect dinner salad for our family, but would also be a  fabulous side dish to serve company.

Pamela Durkin’s Roasted Rhubarb and Beet Salad:


  • 4 medium beets
  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 1/2″ diagonal slices
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • soft goat cheese (or feta)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the washed beets in the oven to bake. Remove when they can be pierced easily with a knife or fork. (About 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size.). Set the roasted beets aside to cool. Peel and slice.
  2. Toss the rhubarb with the honey in the same measuring cup used to measure the rhubarb. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for about 6 to 10 minutes until tender, but not mushy. Set aside to cool.
  3. After emptying the rhubarb and honey onto a baking sheet, I used the same cup to make the dressing, so there was a bit of honey remaining from the original mixture. To the scant amount of remaining honey, add the oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk together.
  4. Toss the greens, beets and walnuts with the dressing to coat evenly. Divide evenly onto 4 salad plates and top with rhubarb and crumbled goat cheese.

Do-it-yourself Covered Wagon

Today marks a first for my blog and I am so excited to introduce my very first Guest Blogger! Kelli Stewart is a great friend and neighbour. Her idea for a DIY covered wagon is simply genius and she offered to share the steps with us. To find out how to make your own covered wagon to protect your little one from the sun…..check out her post!

A little less town, a little more country…


My prairie princess and her new covered wagon.

I made our Town and Country Radio Flyer into a covered wagon for $10! It’s great for keeping the sun off of little passengers and it’s a lot of fun– a play fort on wheels! Detachable covered wagon kits can be anywhere from $70 to $230, so before you hand over a wagon full of money, think about making one yourself!

Here’s how…


What’s a New Moon Party?

Several months ago, I posted a viral video from a helloflo.com. The first video “The Camp Gyno”  featured a young girl who got creative and started her own little business by providing her fellow summer campers with everything they needed when they started their periods at camp. It is super funny and I thought I would re-post for anyone who missed it the first round. 
The second video “New Moon Party” is also put out by Hello Flo and is just as funny. As the mother of a 12 year old, this somehow seems to be the type of humour I can relate to at this stage in my life.

In all honesty, I can’t even imagine looking forward to starting your period. I guess I was too young to have thought much about it before I was struck with the “curse”. Of course, this mother’s prank is way over the top, but pretty funny all the same. Enjoy!

Delicious Rhubarb Slush

If you’ve got a rhubarb patch and are looking for the perfect summer recipe to prevent your rhubarb from going to waste, this might be it. I got this recipe years ago, but only made it once as I don’t have access to my own patch.  I would love to make this again, but it requires lots of rhubarb.


rhubarb slush

Here is another rhubarb slush recipe from qwerkyqook.

  • 20 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 10 cups of water
  • 4-6 cups of sugar
  • 1 small package of Strawberry Jello
  • 12 1/2 oz. can frozen lemonade
  • 12 1/2 oz. can frozen orange juice

Boil the rhubarb and water in a large pot for 15 minutes. Do not stir. Place the mixture in a clean pillowcase and tie it onto a broom stick that is propped over two chairs for support.  Set it above a large bowl or pot. (Seriously, these directions are not a joke.) Let the mixture “strain” through the pillowcase overnight. Heat the juice and add 4 – 6 cups of sugar (I can’t remember how much I used, but I like the tart flavour, so I would suggest starting with 4 and doing a taste test.) Stir until dissolved. Add Strawberry Jello.  Stir and remove from heat.  Add frozen juices. Pour the mixture into an ice cream pail until it is 3/4 full and freeze. Makes 2 pails full. Serve with equal portions of slush and 7-up. Hope you enjoy this refreshing summer drink!

Rhubarb Muffins

rhubarb muffinsYahoo! Rhubarb is in season! I grew-up picking rhubarb fresh from the patch and then dipping the end in a bowl of sugar….so 70’s! I no longer do the sugar dipping thing, but I absolutely love rhubarb recipes. I don’t grow any (not sure why not), but a few ladies from work brought me in some fresh rhubarb and I’m totally going on a rhubarb rampage over the next few days, so brace yourself.  The first recipe is for delicious rhubarb muffins….mmm good.

Rhubarb Muffins:

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.


  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cups oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups of chopped fresh rhubarb

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Fold in the rhubarb. Grease muffin tins. Place the batter in muffin trays. This recipe makes 24 muffins.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon melted butter
  • Optional: candied pecans

Mix the ingredients together and sprinkle on top of the muffins. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.