Tuesday, July 31, 2012

$100 Pampers Prize Pack GIVEAWAY - Online #babyshower

When I was pregnant with Little Girl my sister threw me a baby shower.  I got some fantastic items from experienced Moms, but by far the most practical thing we got was diapers.

It is amazing how many you go through with a new baby and if your children are like Little Girl and Little Boy, using diapers until almost 3 - that equals a number way higher than I want to count (let's just say it would more than pay for an all-inclusive at a 5 start resort).

But right now Pampers is giving away a prize pack of $100 worth of diapers and wipes (because you need something to clean those super cute bums with).  Please use the rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway runs from July 31 - Aug 24, 2012 and is open to Canada only.

Thank you to Kidsumers (http://www.kidsumers.ca/) for organizing this giveaway.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Guest Post by Alison - My Job

My guest poster today is Alison.  I know Alison because her husband is my brother's best friend but I have really gotten to know her through her blog, she is an avid blogger and very open and honest.
I asked her to blog about her job because I think she is truly amazing at what she does!

Hello Minivan Stiletto readers! I am pretty excited to be filling in for the awesome Jenny while she is off vacationing with her family in BC. I'm Alison and I blog over the Life and times of Alison & Justin. I mainly blog about my family, friends, my love for clothes, decorating, ice cream & sloths. A little random but it works. 

It's not that often I blog about work but it's a huge part of ME. I work for a private school for students on the autism spectrum (and those with similar learning styles) here in Calgary and I am proud to say that I truly love going to work each day. It doesn't bring in the big bucks but it fill my heart more than any other job could.

I was never one of those people who growing up knew exactly what they wanted to be. At one point I longed to be a Vet but after a couple years volunteering in our local vet office, sitting in on a few surgeries and helping out with a dog who had an encounter with a porcupine - I soon learned it was not for me.

 Then once I entered high school I found a classroom that changed ME. It was a classroom within our school full of amazing people that had varying disabilities. I spent a lot of time in that classroom - I would visit at lunch, instead of taking spares I took "special project" to work in within the class and even while in college I did practicums there - it was definitely my favorite "class" in high school.

Despite these students having a disability, they were by far the happiest students in the school and their energy and personalities just draw you in.

I went on to get a degree in Community Rehabilitation & Disability Studies and have spent the last 15 years working with mainly kids and teens with some sort of disability.

When people find out what I do, most people say something like "oh it takes a special person to do that" or "you must have a lot of patience"...sure - I do think it takes the RIGHT person to work in my field but I think it takes the right person for any job - I clearly could never be a Vet, teach Spanish, be a land man or nurse or do all the confusing stuff that my husband does on a computer. But I do believe I am perfect for MY job and I have the qualities I need to support those I work with. I enjoy the day to day challenges it brings and the way I see it, the amazing moments definitely out weigh the rough days. 

I laugh every day. I am enlightened every day. I am reminded of how lucky I am every day and the best part is - I know at the end of every day that we are making a difference in not only the lives of our students but their families too. And that to me is priceless.

The best part is, often my job becomes more than just a job. These people sometimes become family. They came to our wedding, they have sleep overs and their own room in our home, they call on a nightly basis, they add Cruz to their blessings each night - I would move mountains for these people and I can honestly say I am so grateful for what my job has taught me, given me and continues to teach me on a daily basis.

Thank you for having me Jenny!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

On Holidays

I am outta here!

So our family is heading to the lake / trailer for a week.

We'll be enjoying some beach time.

A campfire or two.

And maybe a few cocktails!

(Sorry no picture of the drinks - we are too busy drinking them to take pictures usually.)

I have a few people guest posting for me next week though, so check back to hear what they have to say!



Friday, July 27, 2012

Avent Sterilizer GIVEAWAY - Online #babyshower

Whatever way you choose to feed your baby, sometimes Mommy can’t be there and you need to use a bottle.
Take my word for it sterilizing is a huge pain and very time consuming.  I wish I had known about this handy little device from Avent when mine were babies; it would have saved tons of time and I could have been able to sleep more.

The Avent 3 in 1 Sterilizer

Remember, you don’t have to have a baby to enter, these make fantastic gifts for expecting parents.  Click here for more information about this product.

This giveaway is open to Canada only and runs from July 27th until August 24th, 2012.
To enter the contest, use the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Kidsumers (http://www.kidsumers.ca/) for organizing this giveaway.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Olympics

I love the Olympics!  I love the Summer Olympics and I love the Winter Olympics, I will watch any sport even if Canada is not competing, but I will enjoy it so much more if Canada is in contention for a medal.

A Canadian Moose outside the Canadian team residence in London
 I don’t know exactly when I fell in love with them, but I remember watching Olympic diving and swimming as a child, probably 1988.
I was visiting my Aunt and Uncle in Quebec in 1996 watching CBC in French when Donovan Bailey won his gold medal.

Every 2 years when the Olympics come around, I am tempted to book 2 weeks off work and do nothing all day but watch every sport I can; I have no idea why I love them – but I do. 

So tomorrow the Opening Ceremonies start at 4:00pm (MST); my PVR is set! 

Simon Whitfield - Canada's flag bearer
And then we go on holidays for a week, boooo, or yeah, I am not really sure how I feel – yeah I will be on holidays, at the lake not working, but at the same time we get no TV reception even though we do have a TV in the trailer.

But we are only gone a week, and then I am home and just in time to catch most of the finals and most of the medals!

And just because this picture has been flying around the internet in the past 2 days, I leave you with the Australian Men’s Swim team.


What about you?  Are you watching the Olympics?  And who are you cheering for?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mobi Prize Pack GIVEAWAY - Online #babyshower

Do you have small kids or know someone that does?  Check out what you could win!  

I have been given the opportunity to participate in this give-away that Mobi is doing and as fun as it is to participate, I am kind of bummed that I can’t win this stuff.  I know Little Girl and Little Boy would love the AnimaLamps and we could so use the Dual Scan ear and forehead thermometer.

$145 Mobi Prize Pack includes the following:
(I have linked all of the products to their website, click on the links to find out more information about each one.)

2 AnimaLamps: award-winning no-heat rechargeable, adjustable LED lights [1 Bunny, 1 Giraffe – one is for the nursery (late night changing/feeding) and one is for Mom’s use anywhere else.

1 WallMates: award-winning no heat color-changing plug-in night lights, safari characters. Auto on at dusk, auto off at dawn. 

DualScan Dual Ear or Forehead Thermometer

This giveaway is open to Canada only and runs from July 25th until August 24th, 2012.
Use the Rafflecopter below to enter and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Kidsumers (http://www.kidsumers.ca/) for hosting this giveaway.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rhubarb Snacking Cake

Remember how I got tons of rhubarb from my sister and I made a cake with some of it.  Well this is the second cake I made before I froze the rest for my upcoming jam making.
The first cake (found here), was not a sweet, the crust was more of a shortbread style.  This cake is much more cakey (is that a real word?).  It’s a bit sweeter and more what I was looking for, it also got a better rating by Hubby.

Rhubarb Snacking Cake

4 cups chopped (1/2 inch lengths) rhubarb
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ginger
1/3 cup sour cream

Crumb topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper, extending up 2 sides so you can easily pull the whole cake out.

Toss together the rhubarb, lemon juice and 2/3 cup sugar, set aside.

Using your stand mixer, beat together the remaining sugar, butter and lemon zest until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl each time.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger.  With the mixer on low add the flour mixture and the sour cream alternating between the two, starting and finishing with the flour; mix until just barely combined. 

Spread the batter into your prepared baking dish, making sure to spread it evenly into the edges and corners.  Top with rhubarb, spread evenly.

For the crumb topping, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt, then add in the melted butter and stir with a fork until combined.  Scatter on top of the rhubarb.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a tester comes out clean of cake batter. 
Cool and enjoy!

Source: Adapted slightly from Patent and the Pantry who adapted it from Smitten Kitchen.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Going Home for a Parade

I grew up in a small town just over an hour outside of Calgary called Three Hills (and yes, there are actually 3 hills there), my parents still live there so occasionally we head up to visit.  This weekend though, Three Hills was celebrating their centennial so we decided to spend some time with Grandma and Grandpa and also take the kids to the parade.

This was their first parade ever and the best part about small town parades besides the tractors is the candy!


My Dad is one of the Town Councillors - the kids were super excited that
Grandpa got to be in the parade and throw candy to them.

Check out the loot - we actually dumped the pails into grocery
bags and they filled them up again.

My kids are such city kids - in absolute awe of the big tractors.

Best friends from high school - Karalee and I

I asked the kids the next day what they liked best about the parade, here is what they said:

Little Boy: I liked the fire truck and the cement truck!
Little Girl: My favourite was the candy!
Little Boy: Oh, yeah, me too, my favourite was the candy!
Little Girl: I liked seeing Grandpa in the parade!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Looking for a Guest Poster

We are 1 week away from holidays! 
I can't wait, one week until we head back to the trailer and I can have Baileys in my coffee every morning, and there is a rule about needing a drink and book in hand no later than 2:00pm everyday!

But that also means I am going to be away from the Internet and my phone for a week, so I have a few posts that will be auto-posting, but I am looking for a guest post or two.  Anyone want to volunteer? 
Here are the topics your post could be:

  • Parenting / children
  • Food (recipe, cooking tip, etc)
  • Book review
Leave a comment if you want to guest post and we can chat from there.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Heritage Park Review

Swing on over to Family Fun Calgary where I have written up about our day at Heritage Park.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Perfect Iced Coffee

I love coffee.
I grind my own beans, prep my coffee the night before and set the timer.
Then I get out of bed before anyone else in the house in the morning, come downstairs and sit down with my cup and enjoy the quiet of the early morning.

The other cup of coffee I love is my mid-afternoon cup, usually around 2:00pm - it's really the perfect little break to the day - at work, well let's face it - we can all use a coffee break at 2, and at home on the weekends, well in all honesty that mid afternoon break might be the most important to my day to help us all survive until bedtime.

So when it gets hot outside, I still want my afternoon caffeine fix, but I don't carve the hot cup of coffee, so enter the iced coffee.

Everyone might have a secret or two up their sleeves for how to make a cup, but I thought I would share with you my little secret.

The first is to make extra coffee in the morning, now you can do 2 things: 1) leave it in the pot on the counter like I do, or 2) pour it into a pitcher and put it in the fridge.

Now, grab that martini shaker that is collecting dust in your cupboard; add some ice, cover with coffee - but make sure to only fill it 2/3 full.  Add whatever sugar you would normally drink your coffee with.
Put the top on and shake.  Shake it like a Polaroid picture (sorry, I couldn't help myself there).
Take the top off, add in a your cream, replace the top and shake a bit more - but not as much because now you have a much fuller martini shaker.

Pour into your glass and enjoy!

Trust me, it is perfection on a hot summer afternoon.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Minivan Stiletto Facebook Page

So I have finally jumped on the bandwagon and started a Facebook page for Minivan Stiletto.

When I first started blogging, it was only for friends and family to see pictures of the kids, but now I am trying to take my blogging to a new level, talking more about parent related stuff and of course throwing in my mix of book reviews and recipes too.

So as more and more of you readers are not friends with me on Facebook, I thought I would set up a page where you can see blog post updates and various other things - and of course this makes it easy for you to share the page with your friends.

Please head on over to Minivan Stiletto on Facebook and "like" me.

And to make this momentous occasion, I am doing my first ever give-away!

As soon as I get 50 Facebook likes, I will draw a winner to recieve this:

All homemade by me:
  • Apricot Reisling Jam (Summer 2011)
  • Epic Weekend Salsa (Fall 2011)
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (Summer 2012)

Friday, July 13, 2012

On My Nightstand - Outlander

Outlander – By Diana Gabaldon
Source: book I own (850 pages)

On the back cover:
In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dog the British Isles.  Suddenly she is a Sassenach – and ‘outlander’ – in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord… 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny is soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch.  She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairs and spies that may threaten her life… and shatter her heart.  For here, James Frazer, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire… and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

My thoughts:
I know I am really late to the game on this book, but better late than never right?
This is my mother-in-laws favourite book and she gave me a copy for Christmas years ago, but at the time I didn’t read as much as I do now, and I was not into historical fiction like I am now either.
So finally I got down to reading it, and guess what?  I really liked it.

Now, I am not in love with Jamie like so many women I talk to, but I did really like his character.
I thought Gabaldon did a great job in painting an accurate picture of how difficult it would have been for Claire to go from 1945 to 1743, I can’t imagine how much harder it would be if that happened to someone today – I would be lost without the internet, my cell phone and my blow dryer!

My one problem with this book was that it is huge – and normally I love a nice long book that I can sink my teeth into, but the book I was reading was a pocket book size – and it was really hard to hold and keep open as I do a huge portion of my reading in bed at night.
I think it I had been reading it on my Kobo I would have found it easier to read and possibly easier to get into at the beginning.

Anyway, as much as I did like the book, I am not racing out to buy the second book, I do want to read it eventually, but I am okay to wait a little while in-between books.

My rating: 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Birthday Cake

According to the kids and my husband, a birthday is just not a birthday without cake.

I believe in making my own cakes fron scratch as much as possible, and let me tell you - I must really love my husband because this required me to turn on the oven on Sunday (+29C) in Calgary, with no air conditioning!

I also try and make his a different type / flavour of cake each year, this year I got my insperation from Pinterest - a Mint Chocolate Chip "Ice Cream" Cake. 

First a few pictures and the recipe to follow.

The birthday boy and his cake.

So after dinner, someone comes to snuggle with her Daddy:

While someone else finishes my piece of cake:

I turn my head for a minute and look at what happens.  Oh, he is so his father's son!

The cake was delish.  The cake itself is a fantastic classic chocolate cake, but the icing tasted so much like the ice cream it is made to resemble.
Hubby, myself and the kids all gave it 2 thumbs up!
Mint Chocolate Chip "Ice Cream" Cake

David Lebovitz Devil's Food Cake

9 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup strong coffee (cold)
½ cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter two 9” round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, set aside.
Sift together, cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together for about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
Stir half the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, and then add the coffee and milk; continue stirring and then add the remaining half of the dry ingredients.
Divide the batter between the two pans, and bake for 25 minutes, or until done.
Cool completely before frosting.

Mint Chocolate Chip “Ice Cream” Icing
2 cups butter, at room temperature
6 cups icing sugar
2-3 teaspoons peppermint extract, adjust to taste
150g dark chocolate, very finely chopped
Green food colouring
Place the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer, beat on high with paddle attachment until fluffy and smooth.
Add the icing sugar one cup at a time (you might need slightly less or more), until you reach your desired icing consistency.
Add the peppermint extract to taste and the food colouring.  Gradually add the chocolate pieces.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to the best husband / partner in the world!

I can't tell you how old he is, but I can secretly tell you that next year I will be planning a big party to celebrate a birthday number that ends with a zero!  (I will let you figure that one out.)

We're having cake at our house tonight to celebrate - there's lots, so come by if you want.