You all know how much I like making cake. And soup. But I'm not about to start a soup site (...or maybe I should?) so I started a cake site!! It's called Sudbury Vegan Sweets
I've been very busy over the last few weeks getting it all together. And busy in the meantime making a few more cakes. I made another suitcase cake for a retirement party. But this time, I hand painted stickers on the cake instead of flags, using edible ink markers.
Then my little middle guy turned 6! SIX!!!! Craziness... He insisted on a vanilla flavoured Angry Birds cake, so that's what he got. Oh, and you know my friend Brandon? He shall henceforth be known as sous-chef Brandon! That's right, I got me a sous-chef. He's pretty talented. He made those little green piggies right there.
Then my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, to be, hosted their Stag 'n Doe, casino style! I asked them if I could make them a cake for it and they chose a design on-line for me to replicate, with a few adjustments. The playing cards are made with fondant. Once again, I whipped out my seldom-used drawing skills and used edible ink markers to free-hand the designs on them. That's right, I eye-balled that shit. (Poker chips courtesy of sous-chef Brandon)
At the Stag 'n Doe, I was told that someone, sadly, dropped their piece of cake. But, since it was SO good, they ate it off the floor! Ha!
Of course, I've been busy making cupcakes and non-fondant cakes too...
So check out the new site
, and don't forget to go like the Facebook
page! I will have a giveaway once I reach 100 likes. And even if you are not from the Sudbury area, like the page anyway so that you can see more photos of work in progress and completed treats to use for inspiration or just to ogle.
We have this thing at work where we have lunch together every Thursday, and we order in. Every week, it's someone else's turn to pick the restaurant we order from (we're only about 7 people so you don't have to wait FOREVER for your turn to come around again). When it's someone's birthday week, the person who had their birthday last is responsible for bringing cake for the person whose birthday we're celebrating.
So on Wednesday this week, I was looking at our big 3 month calendar where I include the staff's birthdates among other things, and was discussing with Nathan (my friend we like to prank
) that he'd have to bring in something for the next birthday celebrator on Thursday May 2nd. We realized then, that we'd hired a new employee in January and hadn't asked when his birthday was! So I sent the new employee a message asking him this information. He replies: April 18th, 1966, just before Star Trek aired). Then Nathan and I thought: Darn! We missed his birthday, we'll have to bring in double the cake on May 2nd and celebrate two birthdays together. It wasn't until 10 minutes before closing time, that April 18th was the next day! AND, that the next day happened to be a Thursday! I decided right away that I would make cupcakes to bring in. And for a fellow Star Trek lover, why not take this opportunity to pay homage? (This is the guy who signed my fake going away card with a picture of Spock, and commented on my near-Vulcan logic and efficiency
for my fake going away slide show, so he totally deserved these cupcakes.)
This is a very hearty cabbage soup with tons of...you guessed: cabbage! It makes a LOT so make sure you take out the big pot for this one.
MAKES: about 20 cups!!
TIME: 45 - 60 minutes
1 lrg onion, chopped (approx. 2 cups)
4 stalks of celery, chopped (approx. 1 cup)
2 carrots, peeled & chopped (approx. 1 cup)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 head of green cabbage, roughly chopped (about 2lbs)
1 lrg zucchini, washed and chopped (with skin on)
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes, NOT drained
1 19oz can of white kidney beans (cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
10 cups of vegetable broth
1 tbsp Bragg's liquid aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)
2 tsps of apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
Optional: 1/8 - 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
1. In a large pot, water sauté the onions, celery and carrots for a couple of minutes until they start to turn clear (add about 1/4 cup of water - instead of oil - in with the onions over medium heat).
2. Add in the garlic and ginger, stir and cook for a few minutes more (add a bit more water if needed) until the onions are clear, the carrots and celery are fork tender and the aromas of the garlic and ginger are filling you kitchen.
3. Add all remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
NOTE: I added 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper and it gave it quite the kick, so if you're not used to heat, I would suggest 1/8 of a tsp if you do choose to use it!
per 2 cup serving
Calories 131, Total Fat 0.2g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 811mg, Total Carbs 27.4g, Fiber 9.5g, Sugars 10.5g, Protein 6g, Vit A 68%, Vit C 66%, Calcium 14%, Iron 10%
So the past few weeks have been absolutely crazy around here!! It all started on March 9th when Señor decided to propose! That's right, there's my finger. He put a ring on it.
What made him choose March 9th? Well, Blissful Bridal Boutique
was having a HUGE sample sale on their wedding gowns that day. I had heard of the sale about a month before it happened. It was all over the radio. Knowing that sometime in the next few years a wedding was likely in the cards for us, I thought to myself: Hmmm, 75% off a designer gown? Is that really a sale that I can pass up? So not wanting to seem like a crazy person, I casually mentioned the sale to Señor and asked him what he thought. To my surprise, he agreed it was a logical thing to attend and encouraged me to get there as early as possible. He also told me not to worry, that he would take the kids to their sports that morning.
I felt really awkward asking people to come with me to shop for a wedding gown when I wasn't even engaged. But I really wanted someone there with me. Well I ended up with three people: my mom, my future sister-in-law turned bridesmaid, Melyssa, and my friend Mel turned maid-of-honour (or matron of honour? I hate the word matron...). The sale was from 9am - 4pm. Señor said I needed to get there as early as possible to get the best selection so we lined up at 7:30am. In the freezing cold.
All I kept thinking of was the episode from Friends when Monica shops for her dress and pretty much assaults other crazy frantic women to get it. This is what I thought I was in for. When we got there, there were about 5 "brides" ahead of us. (I use quotations here because I think it's fair to assume that not every person buying a dress that day was actually a bride...ahem.) We waited outside for about 45 minutes until they let us inside the building to wait some more. To get in to the boutique, there was a long, narrow stairwell that lead to it. All of the "brides" along with their entourage were sitting and standing in the stairs, waiting. Then 5 minutes before 9am, one of the store employees explained to us that only 10 "brides" along with the people they brought with them would be allowed on the floor at a time. They could choose 3 dresses to try on. First to arrive at the dressing rooms (there are only 2) first serve. If you didn't find your dress out of the 3 you tried on, and you wanted to look some more, you had to go to the back of the line. By this time, the line was trailing into the parking lot...To keep track of the "brides", we were all given numbers from 1 to 10. I was number 5 and we were lucky to be in the first round on the floor. We split up and found 3 dresses that we decided I should try on. I was the third person to arrive at the dressing room. (Which was a miracle, since those women were absolutely insane. I was being shoved and blocked and given the nastiest looks. It was kind of funny actually.) When it was my turn to go in, I was accompanied by the seamstress that works there. She tied me into the first dress and instructed me to lift the front of it, then she would open the curtain for me and I could go out to show my mother. So I reached down, picked up the front of the dress, and as she opened the curtain of the dressing room, I took one step out and nearly tripped over Señor, who was right in front of me, on one knee, in a suit, holding a ring.
Now, Señor is a shy person. So for him to be proposing in public was HUGE. I looked up at my mom and bridesmaids and they were smiling in a way that told me they were all in on it. Then I looked around the room and noticed that all the crazy ladies had stopped rifling through the gowns and were looking at us. Then all at once (it seemed) they said: awwwwwwww!! Then as the people waiting in the stairs wanted to know what was going on, and someone explained it to them, we heard another wave of awwwwwww!! It was pretty great.
So obviously, I said yes. And luckily, the gown I came out in when Señor was down one knee is not the one I bought. I did find a dress that day though. But you can't see it. Not till after the wedding :P
(I did ask Señor what he'd done with the children, as he obviously didn't have them with him, turns out he left them with his brother who had instruction on when and where to take the kids for their sports if Señor hadn't made it back in time...which he did.)
The week following the proposal, I was less than 2 weeks away from a craft show, less than one week away from our St. Patty's Day party and had Señor's brother and my future sister-in-law Melyssa staying with us for the week. They are getting married in August and Señor and I are both standing in their wedding. So needless to say, very little craft show prep happened, less than desired St. Patty's Day prep happened and A LOT of wedding planning occurred!
Finally, those first few days of "bride brain" passed, and I was finally able to focus on becoming Irish for a day.
After the party, it was go-time. I had less than a week to prepare for the Sudbury Keepsakes Spring Craft Show and I was nowhere near ready. But of course, I worked it out like I always do and even found time to train my little helper!!
The show went well and I am looking forward to the next show in October. In the midst of the craft show craziness, I had a cake to make - another retirement cake for a co-worker! This time, though, I had some help. My friend Brandon promised to come help me out on the Sunday night, to have the cake ready for a surprise lunch last Monday. All I had to do was bake the actual cake on the Saturday night. But, after coming home from the craft show that day, spending some time with the kids and then sitting down to relax (before heading back to the craft show the next morning), I completely forgot! That is until Brandon texted me on the Saturday around 9pm to tell me that he'd remembered to pick up the fondant and that he got it on sale! Well! Trust me when I say I've never baked a cake faster in my life. And it turned out great.
Then on Sunday, Brandon arrived at my house and we got to work. (I'm determined to teach him everything I know about decorating cakes and cookies for some reason.) We didn't really come up with this design ourselves. We Googled the idea and came up with this combination of a bunch of our findings. And as you can see, we chose the most difficult flags to replicate :P
For the distressed look of the suitcase, we coloured the base fondant a tan colour and covered the cake. Then before putting the straps and flags on it, we put some globs of brown gel food colouring in random spots on the cake and then with paper towels, we spread the food colouring around, making sure to keep some areas darker than others. It was super easy and we're kind of geniuses :P Oh, and the retiree's reaction to the cake went smashingly.
After the cake making, all I had left for the month of March was to organize and prepare for my family's Easter dinner, which I host as a potluck every year. Of course, working full-time, prepping and doing the craft show, and returning to work full-time made me sick, actually sick, so all this prep was done with a fever behind my eyes. Miraculously, everything went great, I felt much better by the weekend and everyone left my house happy with their bellies full of food.
So the craft show is done. Easter is over. I recently finished a course in creative writing. With a hall & dj and other major things already booked for my summer 2014 nuptials, the wedding planning can be put on the backburner for a while. I should feel like I have nothing to do right now, right? Wrong. With an application to prepare and send in by the April 10th deadline for the Sudbury Keepsakes Christmas Art & Craft Show
in October, and a shop to set up on Etsy.com, I still feel pretty busy. To top it off, I figured that since I just finished a class, I should take another one!! But what, oh what should it be!? Well, with my job being safe for now
, but certainly not forever, my fiancé thought it would be a good idea to take some courses that would allow me to qualify for a wider spectrum of positions within my workplace. Logically, I just couldn't argue this. So I signed myself up for the first course of the Bookkeeping Certificate Program: Introduction to Accounting. After getting my books:
I immediately regretted my decision. There are 5 workbooks there. Five. For one class. And it's accounting. Accounting.
My accountant brother seemed pretty excited about the news. At least I'll be able to ask him, or my other accountant brother (they seriously both work in accounting) for help if I get stuck. I'm choosing to block out the pain and float through this course as quickly and efficiently as possible. And luckily it's through Independent Learning so I can work on it around my current schedule.
And so, while I should be reading the first pages of my course book, adding items to my newly established Etsy shop
, preparing my next craft show application or even making items to be sold, instead I've chosen to alternate between writing this post and reading Batman: Arkham City
. I'm totally off to a great start :/ Batman rocks.
Guess what? Winter is NOT over :( So how about another soup? As a leftover, this soup thickens quite a bit because of the rice. So if you REALLY don't like thick soups (which I love!) then put in a little less rice.
Winter is kind of, finally, sort of, winding down over here...maybe. We always seem to get a final attack from mother nature near the end of March...and sometimes in April. So how about one more soup to go with it?
In May of 2012 there was a huge batch of layoffs at my workplace. We have a union and a bumping system in place that allows for people with more seniority who are getting laid off, to bump into the position of a person with less seniority; making the person with less seniority the one who has to go. It's fair enough, I guess, but in May of 2012, I had only been working there for a year and a half so it wasn't very likely that i'd be keeping my job. I found out on June 12th last summer that my last day of work would be August 17th, 2012.
I got a call about a week before my layoff date to tell me that the person who was bumping me, had accepted a 6 month contract in another area of the company. This meant that my layoff date was extended to February 15th, 2013.
Then, on December 19th, 2012, the day before I left for a 2 week holiday, I got a call from Human Resources to tell me that the person who was bumping me, took another full-time contract within the company. This meant that my job was safe!! (For now, Ha!)
Being so close to x-mas, a lot of people were out of the office (the department I work in is quite small and isolated from the rest of the company, we're about ten people in all) so there were only 3 of us, including myself, at work that day. The other two working were my manager and Brandon, a friend of mine (the guy who got married in this post
Now, another one of our co-workers, Nathan, is a close friend of ours. We all have a tendency to poke fun at each other throughout the day. With this new knowledge of my not being laid-off, we decided it could be fun to keep it quiet and play a little prank on Nathan. Because we have another co-worker who just can't keep a secret, we decided it was best to not tell anyone
that my job was safe. So up until last Wednesday, ALL of my other co-workers thought I was leaving! (hehehe)
To pull off the prank, last Monday, Brandon broke the news to the staff that I would indeed be leaving via email, asking them to all send him a little blurb saying what they will miss most about me. He took all of the things that people sent him and made a Top Ten power point presentation that he would "surprise" me with at lunch on the Wednesday of that week. He also passed around a "going away" card that he printed off to have everyone sign (Nathan was actually pissed at Brandon at this point because he thought the card was too cheap!) My manager well, she just had to play along, and me? I acted pissed off (which isn't that hard when you work a desk job!).
By Wednesday, Nathan (and everybody else) was well aware that I was leaving and Nathan especially was really pissed off about it! That day, I took my time getting my stuff together before lunch and slowly headed over to the boardroom, where we have our weekly lunches. As I walked in, I saw this Top Ten presentation ready on the smartboard. As I passed it, I put a confused expression on my face and asked "what's that?" Brandon said "you'll see!", as everyone either made a little smirk or looked at my sympathetically.
As we were all finishing our lunches Brandon passed me the card he'd made and said that they had prepared something special for my departure. I played along and read what everyone wrote (it was actually quite touching). Here is my favourite message:
Then, Brandon went over to the smart board and began the power point presentation. The things people would miss about me included: "her unique sense of humour", "how she picks on Nathan", "how she buys too many bananas so she makes cupcakes out of them that her coworkers have to eat", "her Honey Boo Boo impressions", "her near-Vulcan logic and efficiency" and " her incessant need to compare her coworkers to different band members". (I have a co-worker who VERY closely resembles Liam from One Direction.)
Finally, as the last slide, with one click, the line: What is Krystel going to miss about us? With a second click came this picture of me pointing and laughing and the caption: Pranking Nathan!!!! (and as a result, everyone else!!!!!)
Faces = priceless. I wish I had it on camera, I really do. The whole thing just played out beautifully! So to make the "prankees" feel a little better about being duped, I brought, of course, cupcakes!!
To make these black forest cake inspired cupcakes, start off with a batch of chocolate cupcakes. Then carve a hole into the top-centre. I used one of those grapefruit spoons for this part and it worked wonderfully.
Fill each cupcake with some cherry pie filling, then pipe (or scoop) a good amount of coconut whipped cream
onto each one.
Top with sprinkles and serve to "prankees".
Nothing like adding a little humour to the workplace...and topping it with sprinkles. Oh and my fabulous "going away" card? It's hanging over my desk :)
The first time I tasted a leek, I was working at a produce market in high school. Between the bakery and deli, there was a table with two huge cauldrons on it. Every day there was hot soup and that is what I normally bought for my lunch break. My absolute favourite was the potato leek soup. I would often buy extra so that I could take some home. Here is my take on it:
MAKES: approx. 11 cups
TIME: 45 minutes
I make lists for everything, at work and at home. My main list is simply titled "To do" and is always saved on my little R2-D2 usb drive. I often add timelines to certain tasks, and sometimes make a separate to-do list of things that need to be done that week. One thing that has been on my list since November was to organize my yarn. Well, I finally did it.
I wish I had taken more photos of my yarn in its disorganized state to show you as before pictures, but all I have is this snapshot (right) of a very tiny portion of it. The rest was in boxes and bins, in the bottom of closets, in cupboards in my laundry room, even in my garage. There was no organization to it at all, so you can imagine my frustration when I would be looking for a certain type, knowing that I must have it, but simply unable to find it.
I knew what I had to do. I just didn't know how long it would take. I knew I had to do it when the kids weren't around because this wouldn't be the type of project you can put on pause once you've started.
So on Sunday, 2 weeks ago, after the kids left for their dad's place, I gathered up all my yarn and lugged it upstairs to my living room. I found myself a spot in the middle of it all, put some original series Star Trek on the tube, and got to it.
On Day 3 of Operation: Yarn, I finally saw hope. The end was near. I had first separated all of my yarn by weight: fine, worsted & bulky (I wasn't about to go into categories like sport, dk, super bulky, etc.). Then for each weight of yarn, I sorted it all by colour. This left for many small piles all over the living room. (Many of which are behind where Señor was standing to take the photo picture above.)
In a separate pile, I had all of the balls of yarn that I am keeping for larger or special projects. This included the more pricey skeins and anything that I had A LOT of in the exact same colour/dye lot.
It was finally time to box everything up. I found boxes and bins and pails and I stored all of my wonderfully organized yarn in them keeping them separated by weight & colour. They now all fit neatly stacked in the closet of my spare room, adorned with ugly but very practical masking tape labels :) Mission: complete.
During this time, Señor was busy doing prep work and correction for his classes so he pretty much stayed in the bedroom the whole first night.
On Day 2 of Operation: Yarn, Señor ventured out of the bedroom to find me sitting in the middle of a few piles (pictured: left). He burst out laughing and ran to get the camera, which is the only reason why I have a photo of the "in progress" to show you. I was so determined to finish on Day 2, there was no way I was stopping to pick up my camera. (Yes, that's a bowl of candy canes on the coffee table. I'll stop for a candy cane...)
It's cold. It's cold outside, and it's cold in my office. What better way to warm up than with a warm bowl of delicious, spicy soup?
MAKES: 6 servings of just over 2 cups each (approx 13 cups)
TIME: 45 minutes