Thursday, February 28, 2013

Moments of Joy - Laundry Room

My husband and I bought our house from plans almost 12 years ago.  We knew what we wanted; only one dining area, a big kitchen, a nice view of something other than a neighbour's house, a southern exposure and a main floor laundry.  I wasn't hung up on the number of bedrooms or the size of the place, most new homes had the appropriate number of bathrooms and good flow, nice windows and space for a dishwasher.  We figured we could fix anything necessary over the years because our intention was always to stay for the long haul.  And when we saw the plans for our 1700 square foot bungalow, with its small but practical main floor laundry room, I was sold.  I have never regretted our decision in choosing this house.  And because our home is a bungalow we were able to create a lovely apartment for my mother in our basement, a space that has since morphed into our rec room and office, our old office becoming my business kitchen.  Lots of room for our family of four + poochie.

That beloved little laundry room is located right by the front door.  You can enter it from the front hall or the garage.  I'd like to call it a mudroom, but the truth is, there is no room for mud.  It is crammed full - our 15+ year old washer and dryer (well used and oft repaired), laundry sink and the smallest linen closet you have ever seen.  Within weeks of moving in I hung shelves and hooks in every spot possible and the room is a storage area for all my vases, rags, garbage bags, light bulbs, shoe care, cleaning supplies, extra sponges, clean laundry temporary storage, the never-empty-yet-to-be-sorted-clean-sock basket, boot and shoe overflow area, extra detergents, my gym bag, brooms and mops, heart-rate monitors, goggles and other sport gear, extra reusable grocery bags and our dog's food and water bowls as well as her treats.  I'm okay with all of that.  Everything has its place and when in its place, it is a very full yet organized room.

Unfortunately, when we have company coming, it is also the place for overflow, everything that needs to be out of the way gets dumped in there - unread newspapers, unwashed or unfolded laundry - which is soon mixed up and all deemed dirty again, recycling, recently three boxes filled with old dishes, all things that have been hanging around the house that don't have a home.  When the company arrives the door gets closed and no one knows what is hiding behind there.  But while the stuff goes in, it never really comes out again, and in all honesty, it had been months since I did something about it.  So, this past weekend I took the time to clean up.  It took half a day of sorting, tidying and throwing out, and things looked much, much worse before they got better and really, it's never going to be a beautiful room, but there a good feeling now when I step into this tidy little space.  Just like when I wash the windows or clean the fridge, I want to keep enjoying the new feeling of cleanliness.  To walk in without stumbling with a clear path right to Marley's food dish, to have access to the sink, to know where things are and be able to get at them, to be able to open the dryer door without bumping into something (although usually the dog is in the way, isn't she always?) even to be able to open the garage door without first having to move the boxes of dishes out of the way, it feels light and has brought me more than one moment of joy this week!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Curling Cookies

Heather's family loves curling and her boys are pretty sensational.  She wanted to celebrate her sons' team success with cookies, so I created these cookies for them.  One of the things that I really love about this profession is the amount of learning it requires.  In order to do these cookies justice, I found out about all about the sport of curling, despite the fact that I have never played it.  The circular target, represented here in cookie form, is called the house and the goal of the sport is to slide the polished granite stones, called the "rocks", towards the house.  Curling is game of strategy, aided by the skill of the curler sliding the stone in a curve and the sweepers using their brooms to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone.  This strategy and skill has earned curling the nickname "Chess on Ice".  

Well, these cookies certainly brought them some luck, because after winning the Regional Gore Mutual Schoolboy curling challenge, they went on to place 2nd in the provincials in Haliburton!  Read the full story here!

Congratulations Ian, Tyler, Connor and Jordan!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sweet Sixteen Birthday Cookies

After speaking with Sam's mom, who asked me to make cookies for Sam's sweet sixteen birthday, it was decided I would be the best person to secretly find out theme ideas for her "Sweet Sixteen Birthday Cookie" tray.  Yes, a top secret stealth operation would be required to get the details without giving away why I was trying to find out about her party.  Since I drive her and my oldest daughter to school every morning, I started out by casually asking about her upcoming birthday party.  She stopped me in my tracks to say - "I know you are making me cookies."  It looks like I don't have a future in private investigation after all, it's back to the kitchen with me!

Sam had a great time with her friends and these delicious cookies in her theme of hot pink, silver and black.  Happy, happy birthday Sam!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mickey Mouse Cookies

A sweet set of Mickey Mouse cookies for someone turning 1!

Moments of Joy - Seeing Light After the Darkness

Eleven months ago I received an unexpected phone call.  It brought shocking and devastating news - my dear friend of almost 30 years had died suddenly during an overnight visit to the hospital (for pneumonia).  Janis was only 43 years old, happily married, a loving mother of three boys aged 11, 8 and 5, a hugely successful career woman who had a life of travel and a huge network of family, friends and colleagues.  We were all unprepared and shocked by her sudden death.  Janis and I had met on the first day of high school and soon we were best friends, our high school days filled with sleepovers, school activities like music and yearbook and school council and fundraising and travel, talking about our future and our dreams.  One of our high school friends eventually became her husband, and he is also the friend who introduced me to the man who would become my husband, so lots of good times and good memories for all of us.   

We organized a dance-a-thon fundraiser at our local mall back in 1986.
Her death filled me with sadness and disbelief, feelings of helplessness and a loss of control filled my thoughts every day in the weeks and months following her death.  I needed to take more time to appreciate each day, I needed to find the joy in simple things and really learn to appreciate them.

A day together with our families in 2008.
The first time I consciously noticed something simple bringing me joy was a few months ago when I was in the car in a parking lot.  I took the keys out of the ignition and opened the door.  I had left the headlights on and as a warning, the car sang out the sweetest and gentlest song of reminder to me.  It filled me with a sense of happiness that I got to hear that song and thought it was a lovely way to give warning (why couldn't my alarm clock sing such a pretty song?)  I considered writing my feelings down at that moment to remember and appreciate how I felt, but, I didn't and I promptly forgot about it.  Then it happened again a few weeks later and I remembered the sound and the joy it brought me before.  I knew I had to write it down to truly appreciate it and I decided sharing those "Moments of Joy" could benefit more than just me, so I am sharing on this bigger platform with you, my fans and friends from the various corners of the world.  I think a weekly post will force me to look for those moments that bring me joy and I am happy to find moments like these in a world that is sometimes sad and dark.  I would also love to hear about what brings you joy.  There are days when I need all the help I can get!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lalaloopsy Cookies

Lalaloopsy is a line of rag dolls, popular since 2010.  Here is Crumbs Sugar Cookie in cookie form.  Her biography describes her as sugary sweet with a big heart.  She is well know and liked.  She likes to spend time baking and planning tea parties and inviting friends over for treats.  I had no idea we had so much in common when I baked and decorated her!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Family Day Cookies

In honour of family day, being celebrated today in numerous Canadian provinces, I offer my family cookie collage.  See if you can find the cheerleader, hockey player, dancer, musician and a mom-to-be as well as more moms, dads, grandparents and lots of happy kids.  Our families are all unique and special, and hopefully all filled with love!  Happy Family Day everyone!  (Thanks Jill and your funky cookie studio for your people inspiration!)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Triathlon Cookies

I am not sure how it all happened, but somehow I have become a part of a triathlon club at my town's local leisure centre (check out our beautiful facility here).  The club helps us to prepare for triathlon or duathlon type events.  During the winter months we are doing spinning classes, swimming in the pool and running outside (or inside on the track if the conditions are icy), and as the weather warms up we will be moving all the components outside.

Years ago I participated in a couple of duathlon events consisting of running and biking, but since then I have eliminated running from my life due to stiffness and pain.  When I learned about aquathon events that involve just biking and swimming, I figured I could consider participating in those.  First, I had to conquer my fears in the pool and learn the front crawl.  It was so bad, that at my first tri-club swim class I almost had a panic attack at the thought of putting my face in the water.  But in the months since then, I have spent many hours each week in the pool and I can now say I have conquered my fears and mastered the front crawl; in fact at yesterday's class I was timed doing 200 meters of front crawl.  It's not pretty and certainly not fast, but I am pretty proud of myself for accomplishing this at my age!

For me, one of the best parts of this club is the social aspect.  My husband, who is also my best friend, is in the club and he is really dedicated to fitness, so it ensures we never miss a class.  It's fun to be with him and all the other great triathletes in the class.  Recently we invited the whole team to our house for a post bike/run brunch.  We served coffee, tea and juices, delicious carrot cake muffins, fruit, veggies, a breakfast strata and triathlon cookies.  The brunch was lovely and the cookies were delicious!  Here's to a great summer of athletic success!

Birthday Hearts and Buttons Cookies

Hearts and buttons for my mom's Valentine birthday!  Happy birthday Moeder Miep!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chinese New Year Cookies

Today is Chinese New Year - Kung Hei Fat Choi!  Enjoy these beautiful cookies.  2013 is the Year of the Snake. Those born under this sign are sophisticated, analytical and wise!  A special thank you to Callye from Sweet Sugar Belle for her beautiful design ideas.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cookies Celebrating the Grammys

Do your Sunday night plans involve the Grammys?  While award shows are not that interesting to me, I love a good musical performance (I thought the Band Perry was outstanding last year) and the clothes sucker me in every time!  Personally I would like to see Mumford and Sons, Adele and Deadmau5 walk away winners tomorrow night, but I must admit I will probably PVR it and fast-forward through a number of the performances while nibbling on some snacks, including these yummy cookies!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sweater Cookies for National Sweater Day

My family really loves this earth and we do all we can to reduce our carbon footprints; we drive small cars, we use a clothesline, we purchase local whenever we can and we are Bullfrog Powered (learn more about this fabulous energy provider here).

Today is National Sweater Day (learn more about this WWF initiative here), where the idea is to lower the thermostat and put on a sweater.  This is the norm for us anyways, keeping the thermostat at 18.5°C (65°F) during the night and daytime, only raising the heat in the mornings for when we get out of bed and get ready for the day and around suppertime until bedtime.  It can be a challenge on cold days since both my husband and I work from home, but on baking days the oven helps me stay warm and sometimes my husband will sit near the fireplace, warming up only one room in the house.  Sweaters do help, and sometimes the warmth of the laptop is a delightful little treat!  Before long it will be hot again and we will long for the cold days of Canadian winters!

If you have not already, consider installing a programmable thermostat to lower temperatures when you are asleep or not home.  We have three in our house (one for the furnace, two for our gas fireplaces) and I installed them all myself in a matter of minutes.  According to the website, if every Canadian made the effort to lower the heat by 2°C this winter, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 4 Megatons!  I will get off my soap box now, but thank you for listening!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

“A Box of Chocolates” Cookies

These scrumptious all-butter sugar cookies are decorated with royal icing and are disguised to look like the best quality chocolates.  Boxed and completed with a beautiful ribbon, ready for giving to your sweetheart.  Thank you to Pam of Cookie Crazie for the inspiration for this sweet treat.  Box of 16 1.5” cookies for $30.  

Valentine Heart Cookies

Heavenly all-butter cookies in a variety of valentine colours.  $22 per dozen.

Rose Bouquet Cookies

This romantic set comes with 10 delightful cookies as shown (cookies range in size from 1” to 3”).  Win your lover’s heart with these delicious cookies for $18.

Be My Valentine Cookie Set

Perfect for a Valentine’s exchange, this delicious two cookie package of a heart and love letter is closed with a pink or red ribbon and custom tag.  $4 per package, minimum order 12 packages.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Birthday Bouquet Cookie

I created this birthday bouquet cookie for my sister-in-law, with royal icing ribbon roses. I wish I could have given it to her in person, alas she lives overseas in the Netherlands.  I love you, Ellen!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII

To the shame of many sport fans, the only thing that interests me about the Super Bowl is the halftime show.  I also like these cookies!  And if I had to pick a team, it would be the 49ers because their logo was the easier of the two to recreate on a cookie!

Groundhog Day Confusion

As a child, Groundhog Day was always a confusing time for me.  I know it sounds silly, but for some reason, I only ever heard "If the groundhog sees his shadow, there are six more weeks of winter."  I didn't understand what would happen if he didn't see it - according the calendar, winter is actually more than six weeks after Groundhog day, so why were people always so gloomy at the thought of him seeing his shadow?  It took years before I heard that the alternative was an early spring.

So, will it be six more weeks of winter?  Or - for those of you who don't know the alternative - an early spring?  We will find out tomorrow morning and I am hoping for an early spring.