Friday, December 24, 2010

All I want for Christmas is...

my husband home safe and for good.

After a six-month stint of working in Calgary, he flies home for the last time tonight. I get to keep him this time!

And now that I am closing in on the 8-months-pregnant mark, I will be even happier to have him around. I'm starting to worry about the baby coming early - four babies have already arrived in my online February birth club, and one more mama is in hospital trying to slow down her baby's impending early arrival.

I am, and am not ready - the nursery is pretty much ready (though she'll sleep in our room for the first few months), I have only finished three of the eight pregnancy books on my bedside table (I know, I know. But I like to be informed!), I am excited and terrified at the same time! I am confident that we can do this, and do it well - but I worry about how the lack of sleep is going to affect our coping ability in the first few months. The birth, I am not as worried about. I may be crazy, but having read so much and feeling good about going with a midwife whom I trust, has made me a little complacent about it.

Cadbury will also be a happier dog when my husband is home. He's gotten even needier than usual over the last few months (which has been really annoying), and that's got to stop - because we're soon going to have another priority over him. He's very well-behaved, but he can be incredibly demanding at times. So I guess I'm hoping for a more laid-back version of Captain C for Christmas, too.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season, and I hope all your Christmas wishes are granted!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tropical Traditions Coconut Flakes - Review & Giveaway!

***This giveaway is closed.***
Winner: Jennifer

I hope you like coconut! Tropical Traditions was kind enough to send me a GIANT bucket of their Organic Coconut Flakes to try out. I'm talking about 2 lbs of fluffy flaked coconut here!The coconut is dessicated, so 2 lbs is a lot! I can't wait to use it in lots of things from curries to cookies and bars. It comes in a 1 gallon pail that I admit I had a little trouble opening. It has a break-off tab, and you peel off a strip, and then bend back the tabs to open. But the tab that you pull the strip with broke off completely... Thanks to sharp scissors and determination, I did get it open. To close it I had to kneel on it! That tells you just how strong the seal is! I am sure that with more openings and closings it will become easier to do. Sometimes you just have to put your back into baking!

This arrived with perfect timing for that last minute holiday baking. But I've done a lot of that - I decided to make Oatmeal Energy Bars. I got the recipe from my Canadian Living Baking Book(which I recommend - lots of great recipes), but you can also find it here, at the Canadian Living website. (Of course, there are loads of recipes on the Tropical Traditions blog too - just search for "coconut flakes"!) And although I was planning for these to be lunch treats for my husband to take to work, they are so pretty and tasty that they're going in the holiday tins, too, cut small into bite-size pieces.Check out that big bucket of gorgeous coconut! I also used Tropical Traditions Organic Thick Rolled Oats in this recipe (you can read my previous review of those here). The coconut smelled wonderful as soon as I got that lid off. It's crispy and fresh-smelling. I like flakes better than shredded, because to me shredded coconut has a sawdusty texture. I'm weird, I know.I didn't have apricots for the recipe, so I substituted raisins. I would have used dates, only someone (okay, it's my husband) doesn't like them. Bah. And slivered almonds? I only had whole. So I whizzed them in my mini food processor to chop them up. You could really substitute anything for the dried fruits and nuts in this bar. I love dried cranberries, so those go in for sure! But you could go for variety by adding anything from desserty options like chocolate chips and mini marshmallows to pepitas and goji berries.

And here's what you do when the recipe calls for a 9x13" pan, but your 9x13" pan is in the fridge, full of a cashew and eggplant casserole - line a bigger pan with parchment paper, fold up an edge to approximate a 9x13"-ish size, and fill the rest of the pan with your pie weights (we use beans). Looks funny, works great.
Look how they turned out! Yum! If you wanted to get fancy, you could drizzle them with melted white chocolate or that "yogurt" coating stuff (aka partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, whey powder, yogurt powder and sugar... not healthy at all).

Tropical Traditions has generously offered one of my readers the chance to try the Organic Coconut Flakes for free!

The giveaway:
A 2 lb pail of Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Flakes!

How to enter: Head over to Tropical Traditions and let me know one other thing you'd like to try, OR one thing that you learned there. Make sure I've got a way to contact you if you're the winner!

Extra entries (please leave an extra comment for each):
  • Subscribe via email to the Tropical Traditions newsletter
  • Follow @troptraditions on Twitter (leave your Twitter name!)
  • Follow me on Twitter (leave your Twitter name!)
  • Tweet about this giveaway for ONE entry, this is not a daily! You can use this if you like:
    Win ~Organic Coconut Flakes~ from @TropTraditions at Emily's Latest @emilyisland US/CAN (Ends 1/6)
  • Follow my blog (publicly) – 2 entries, leave 2 comments
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  • Blog about this giveaway, linking back to this post and to Tropical Traditions – 2 entries, leave 2 comments and please include a link to your post
  • Let me know what you'll be making first with these if you win!
I will be verifying comments so please actually do the things you say you do ☺ If you already do any of these things, it still counts for entries!

Please be sure to include your email address if it’s not public in your blogger profile! Anonymous comments without a way to contact you will be rejected. Canadian or US mailing addresses only, please. Giveaway ends January 6th at 11:59 EST. A winner will be drawn the next day, announced here, in a separate post and emailed!

Prize will be shipped by sponsor. Note for Canadian entrants: Tropical Traditions is not responsible for customs or duties that Canada may charge if you decide to participate in this Tropical Traditions sponsored blog giveaway. (FYI - it's unlikely to have a charge, being well under the $60 that incurs duty charges. There was no extra charge on my shipment, which came to Canada quickly and packaged well.)

I received the product to review, but was not otherwise compensated for this review.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Easiest Fudge Ever, and No-Sew Tutu tips

Want an impressive, crowd-pleasing treat for the holidays in under 10 minutes? This is it... Great for holiday baking tins, after dinner with coffee, to take to or serve at parties, and so many variations!

Super Easy Microwave Fudge
  • 3 cups chocolate chips (any variety - dark or milk chocolate, peanut butter, mint chocolate, white chocolate, go crazy!)
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup of add-ins (mini marshmallows, chopped nuts, candied cherries, dried cranberries, white chocolate chips if using dark or vice versa, crushed candy cane, chopped candy bar, Skor bits, coconut flakes, anything goes!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Combine chips, milk and butter in a microwaveable bowl. Heat 3-5 minutes on 50% power, stirring every minute until chips are melted. Stir in vanilla and add-in ingredient (save some for sprinkling on top if you like!).
Line an 8x8" pan with foil and grease foil (if you forget, don't panic - it's just a little harder to peel off the foil later).
Pour the chocolate mix into the pan and refrigerate until set.
I used chocolate chips and chopped pecans - yum!
Makes 64 1" squares of deliciousness. They look great on a tray with cookies, or in a tin in those little paper candy cups. Some of the options that sound yummy to me:
  • white chocolate macadamia nut
  • white chocolate cranberry
  • milk chocolate Skor
  • milk chocolate with peanuts and raisins
  • dark chocolate cherry
  • peanut butter with white chocolate chips
  • any chocolate with rice krispies
  • mint chocolate chip with marshmallows
  • adding a little cinnamon or even hot pepper flakes would make an interesting change
You can divide it into smaller pans and make different batches, too (half chocolate-nut, half chocolate-cherry). So versatile! I love it.

In other news, I did end up making tutus for my nieces, and bought my tricky-to-buy-for eight year old nephew a children's cook book, which he actually seemed pretty excited about (we had the big family Christmas on the weekend).

Here is one of the no-sew tutus I made, generally following instructions I found online. It took about 6 yards of tulle, cut along the bolt fold and cut into 6" strips, per tutu. I used pink elastic at the waist, about 20" long with an inch overlap, sewn (the girls are 3 and 4 years old), and added a ribbon at the waist as well, so that they can tighten it for now and it still has room to flex later. The trick I discovered for tying the tulle is to lay the closed blades of a pair of scissors along the elastic & ribbon combo and tie the tulle around the whole thing. The blades of the scissors easily slide over to the next spot to tie, and it prevents the knot from being too tight around the elastic (if it's too tight, it won't stretch or will stay stretched out).

I will say that this took a lot longer than I had expected - it was not a quick project. I think it would be faster to make a sewn tutu! A little basting and elastic, voila. I guess I will know for next time, if I ever tackle a tutu again. For now, I am so over tulle!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winners - You! Lingerie

Here come some very lucky winners! The prize is a nursing bra and panty set from the new gorgeous You! Lingerie line. There were 208 eligible entries, and got busy and picked two winners:
and... Congrats, ladies!

For those of you who didn't win this time, don't forget that You! Lingerie is not only comfy and attractive, it's also affordable. I absolutely love my Isis Blue nursing bra, and a bunch of the ladies in my birth club online have already ordered from You! Lingerie and reported back that they also love what they got! If you are considering it, I'd say treat yourself - you won't regret it!