Birthday party

Hi again, It’s me Adrienne, here for another guest blog post!
Today I want to talk about planning a Birthday party…for yourself!
I used pinterest quite a bit to get ideas, I even made a Birthday board to keep things organized. So first thing when planning a party, when do you want it? Morning, afternoon, night? Then pick a date & a theme. Next step invitations. I just made a Facebook event which I know isn’t all that creative but it was the best & most efficient way to get all my friends together in one place. I picked a sunday afternoon to evening, 4pm-10pm. It was a Birthday BBQ where I requested all guests attending to bring a dish of their choice, so a potluck. I supplied burgers, hot dogs, chips, ice cream cake, spinach dip (made by my lovely boyfriend Dustin) & beverages. Make sure that you find out in advance what your guests are bringing so you can prepare accordingly. You don’t want 6 people all bringing cheese bread. Or no one bringing a veggie tray. Or whatever it is that you have on your menu.

I hosted the party in my parents backyard. My best friend, Jenna let me borrow her small tent to provide cover over a banquet table that I set out. I decorated my table with a plastic tiffany blue table cloth from Party City, then cut a strip of burlap to make a table runner (burlap also supplied by Jenna) & a sparkly ribbon down the centre of that. I then sprinkled these pretty fake gems on the burlap to make it look a little glam. My boyfriend’s friend was kind enough to bring me flowers as a gift so I popped those on the centre of the table & it looked great. I did make a birthday banner for myself. I found the “Happy Birthday” off a free printables site but then cut out triangles for each letter. I glued each letter onto the triangles with a hot glue gun so it would stick really well & dry quickly. Then because I like a little sparkle on things I used mod podge on the top of 1/2 of them (I did every second triangle) & dusted loose glitter on top. I always recommend covering your working space in newspaper so you can tidy up easily & don’t get glitter on absolutely everything. On the other half of the triangles I used pretty trim stickers. I’ll make sure to include a photo so you can understand better. I then used a single hole punch on the tops of the triangles & strung a white thin ribbon through, I used scrapbooking paper for my triangles so they were nice & stiff & not flimsy (just a tip). My Dad & I hung the banner from the front of the tent. It was perfect I was so proud of it! It didn’t take too long to make either. So if you can’t find one you like at the store you can always make one like I did. IMG_0549.JPG


Something I thought would be fun was to make a wish jar. A wish jar is a jar decorated or not that you ask people to leave wishes in for you. I opted to decorate mine so pulling out the mod podge & glitter, I went to work. I used a small sponge brush to apply the glue & just sprinkled the glitter onto the jar. There was lots of excess glitter that fell onto my newspaper work space so I folded the paper in half & sort of funnelled as much as I could back into the glitter container. I used expensive glitter from Michael’s but you can always get cheaper stuff from the dollar store. It’s all about how much you want to spend & how much effort you want to put in. You can still have a gorgeous party using less expensive things, however in this case I wanted the expensive stuff. I used a hot glue gun to attach the “Birthday Wishes” lettering, which were also from Michael’s, as well as the jar itself because I wanted a big jar. I did look at the dollar store first, they didn’t have any in the size I wanted BUT they did have small mason jars 3 for $2. I bought 15 jars total to be used as drinking glasses. I was estimating 18-20 people to attend my party. From Michael’s, I also bought pink & white striped paper straws & chalkboard stickers to put on the jars! They were a huge success & to be honest I copied this idea from my friend Keltyn (she’s super clever & artistic). In the wish jar I put a pretty piece of tissue paper & glued a bow on the top. It was beautiful!
Now, why is a wish jar important to me? It’s important because when you’re having a glum day or not feeling like yourself you can pop open your wish jar & read all the kind, sweet (or funny) things that your friends have left for you. They are like tiny presents. I am so happy I made one for my party.



A tasty recipe for punch I found on pinterest I have to share with you because it’s so easy & delicious: 1 can of frozen lemonade, a big bottle of sprite, orange juice & cranberry cocktail. That’s it! So easy! I used the entire can of lemonade, the entire bottle of sprite, 1/2 the carton of orange juice & 1/2 the container of cranberry cocktail. Just taste test along the way. I also meant to put slices of orange & lemon for colour but I forgot but that would be pretty too. Oh & don’t forget to throw in the ice, keep it cold. I told all my guests that they could bring alcohol but to please be responsible, no drinking & driving. Everyone was respectful & responsible. Thank you friends!

I kept all the food (minus the burgers & hot dogs) & drinks inside the house to keep the bugs away & keep things organized. I made sure to hang a garbage bag outside for easy cleanup. A party always needs music so we popped some on. Also balloons! I bought a tank of helium at party city as well as white & Tiffany blue balloons. I had two of my boyfriend’s friends fill them up & gently let them float to the ceiling in the kitchen they looked really festive. This was Dustin’s idea.

Since I was going to be having all different people at my party from lots of different places, it was important to me to play an ice breaker game. I should mention I usually can’t stand playing most games, but this one was played right off the bat & it was speedy. I used a site called to design a bingo game. I basically found a blank bingo sheet online & used that. Each box you had to write someone’s name. Whoever finished it the quickest won a prize, the prize was a $10 Starbucks gift card. This was fun it got everyone buzzing & excited. I’m so glad I went ahead with making it. Everyone was a good sport about it to. It can be hard sometimes to mingle with people you don’t know.

After the ice breaker game, Dustin & I decided it was time for people to eat. He fired up the grill for me & took care of the bbqing. Everyone had lots to eat I always make sure there is too much food because you never want to run out. For beverages other then my punch, I had icy lemon water outside, ginger ale & coke in a cooler inside & sparkling apple juice, a choice for everyone! Once everyone was stuffed I got to open presents! I can’t believe how spoiled I am! I didn’t request gifts but I got so many & wonderful, beautiful things! Thank you to all my friends, boyfriend & family for all the amazing things you all are so kind


Now for my favourite part of my party! The piñata! I bought one of those colorful donkey piñatas & filled it full to the brim with sweets from the bulk barn, plus three $5 gift cards to Starbucks because I thought that might be a fun little surprise. However there was a twist, because grown adults could easily smash down a piñata with a stick, I had Dustin & his friend go around my house & find things to hit it with. I got stuck with a plunger! So just imagine me violently swinging a plunger in a party dress while blind folded, too hilarious! I must put a disclaimer though..there was a retractable snow brush in the mix & my poor friend Sarah thought she was good to go but 1/2 of it went flying off into the guests!! Oh dear! Luckily no one was hurt & nothing broke. So we all had a huge laugh about that. Jenna had a whisk, Leah had a cookie sheet. Dustin wrote all the items on paper & we put them in a bowl to pick. I went first & after that we just picked who would be next, it was a laugh riot!



Once the piñata was smashed & the candy exploded everywhere it was time for cake! Dustin brought out the cake & everyone sang Happy Birthday. I felt so special & lucky at that moment! Everyone had come to my house to celebrate my birthday with me & that truly was the most special gift of all.



Now, I had bought a bunch of things to make s’mores with on our outdoor fireplace but everyone was too full. So since I have so many s’more supplies I might try & create a s’mores Rice Krispie treat because why not! Dustin brought a game called cards against humanity. It’s rude & crude but hilarious. I don’t recommend it if you’re easily offended; it’s politically incorrect. Maybe go for the family friendly version apples to apples which is also fun.

Guests trickled out between 9 & 10 & everyone was gone by 11:15 pm. It was a huge success! All my planning & pinteresting had paid off! I wrote up thank you cards to all my guests & sent them off in the mail. My party wouldn’t have been complete without all my friends.

So quick recap here for party planning 101 with Adrienne
1. Pick a date & time
2. Location
3. Invitations
4. Food
5. Decoration & set up
6.Party games or activities
It’s not hard to throw a party you just have to be organized. Thank you again to everyone who did attend my Birthday, it meant the world to me that you were there. I hope this helps you for organizing your next party. Make sure to look on Pinterest for great party ideas & more!


Baked Coconut shrimp

Coconut shrimp is one of my favorite things! Yum! So, when I saw a recipe for coconut shrimp from skinny taste, I knew I wanted to make it.
The steps are pretty simple. First, you assemble all the dishes for coating the shrimp. The coconut flakes, panko and salt are combined in a bowl. I put the flour on a small plate. And I whisked the egg in a small bowl.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have uncooked shrimp, so I had to use cooked shrimp instead. I dipped the shrimp in the flour, making sure it was coated, then I dipped it into the egg and dropped it into the coconut mixture.

Once all the shrimp were done, they baked in an oven for 10 minutes on one side, and about 6 on the other.


For the dipping sauce, the recipe called for apricot preserves, rice wine vinegar and red pepper flakes. But, in my fridge, I already had apricot chili jam. So, I added a bit of rice wine vinegar to it and used it as the sauce.


The dipping sauce was okay. I prefer store bought sweet chili sauce over this dipping sauce though. A piña colada sauce would go great with this shrimp as well!

Counting with coins

In Chloe’s room, we keep a piggy bank. And when we have leftover coins, we put them in together. She gets so excited for it.
Chloe is a pretty good counter considering she just turned 2 in July. She can count to about 12, although she often forgets 8. I decided a good way to practice counting while learning new words would be by counting up her coins.

I dumped out her coins onto the floor and let her touch them all.

Then, we started sorting the coins. I told her the names : nickels, dimes and quarters.
We laid the dimes in rows of 10, so we had to practice counting to 10 several times.

We rolled up the coins so that we can go take them into the bank. Chloe needed to help at that part too.

In the end, we rolled $17 worth of coins.

I’ll have to keep putting coins in her piggy bank because she loved this activity and will be excited to do it again!

Crock pot beef and pasta

I was planning on making this dish when I found out our friends with 3 kids were going to be in town and having dinner with us. This seemed like a perfect dish to make!
The day before I made it, I browned the beef with onions and garlic, and put it into the fridge overnight.


The next morning, I added the beef, stewed tomatoes, 2 cans of tomato sauce and a few fresh cherry tomatoes into my crock pot. Also thrown in was oregano, basil, salt and pepper.


After being in the crockpot on low for about 7 hours, I cooked two bags of bow tie pasta, and got some fresh spinach from my garden. Unfortunately, my garden didn’t have too much in the way of spinach this time.
Once the pasta was cooked, I added it along with the spinach, Parmesan and the mozzarella (along with some cheddar since I ran out of mozzarella!) to the crockpot.

After mixing and letting it sit for about 20 minutes on high, I dished out the pasta for us and our guests.

The verdict? Well, most if not all the kids had seconds. I think one even had thirds… So I guess it went over well!
Personally, it was not my favorite dish. BUT, if I can sneak tomatoes and even more spinach in, then I will be serving this again!

Kale frittata

Once again we opted to have breakfast for dinner. This time we decided to try a kale frittata. It was another recipe you just need to throw together and let it cook. Just my style!

It starts with the onions and oil in a pot.


While the onions cook, the eggs are whisked together with salt, pepper and Parmesan.


Once the onions are cooked, the coarsely chopped kale is added and wilted in 3 batches.


Next, the salami is added into the pot.

After about a minute, the egg mixture is poured in. Then the frittata is left to cook.

The recipe suggests cooking the frittata for about 4 minutes. I found that mine took a few more minutes.
Then, it is put in the oven on broil. Once again, the recipe suggests a minute on broil, but mine needed about 5-7 to fully cook.

My husband thought this was pretty good. Personally, I found there to be a bit too much kale. It was tasty but I would have preferred less kale. Chloe seemed to think the frittata was okay. She had about half of her piece. To be honest, that’s more than I thought she would eat.

Get rid of smelly towels

Every six months or so, I start noticing that our clean towels start to smell bad. Last year, I went to pinterest to solve this problem.
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I put all my towels into my front loading washing machine. For the first load, I mixed one cup of water and one cup of vinegar and poured it over the towels. Then I started the machine on a regular cycle with no detergent.
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Once the load is done, I mixed a cup of water with half a cup of baking soda and poured it over the towels in the washing machine. The same thing as before, start the washer on a regular cycle with no detergent.
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After a quick spin in the dryer, your towels should come out smelling nice. No more mildew smell!

For the original post , and to see other helpful cleaning tips, click here.

Mini cheesecakes

I’ve never been big into cheesecake. Some people love it, but I’ve never been too excited about it.
Since I’ve started making it at home for other people, I’ve starts to quite enjoy cheesecake.
This recipe is one I tried a few months back for a friends birthday. I couldn’t find Nila cookies so I used a graham cracker as the base. This time, I decided to make my own base from graham crumbs, sugar and butter. I used a cup of graham crumbs, two teaspoons of sugar and a little bit too much melted butter (probably around 5 tablespoons). IMG_8263.JPG


The bases baked in the oven for 3 minutes on 350 degrees.

On to the cheesecake recipe! I put the cream cheese, egg, vanilla and sugar into a mixing bowl and mixed it all together.

Then I put the cream cheese mixture on top of the crusts and baked them in the oven for 25 minutes on 325 degrees.

After the cheesecakes cooled down, I topped them with cherry pie filling.

These are super easy, delicious and a hit when brought to functions! Or given as gifts.

Strawberry basil iced tea

A few weeks ago, when I was at the Yellowknife farmers market, I had an iced tea from a vendor that was selling very interesting sounding iced tea. I had a peach rosemary iced tea.

So, I started thinking I could try making my own since I’m no longer in Yellowknife. The combination of strawberry and basil is something I quite enjoy, so I searched that on Pinterest. I found a recipe from Martha Stewart.

The very first thing I did was boil water and steep the tea. I used 4 tea bags and about 7 cups of water. While the tea steeped, I cut up some strawberries and placed them in a large bowl.

Next, I boiled a cup of water with 3/4 cup sugar. I was skeptical of using that much sugar. I ALMOST used 1/2 a cup. And of course, I think the tea is a bit too sweet…!


Once the mixture boiled, I turned the heat off and my helper added the basil.



Once the basil syrup steeps for 10 minutes, the basil is ready to be removed and the mixture is poured over the strawberries.

And finally, the strawberry and syrup mixture is added to the tea.

This tea was quite tasty, although a bit on the sweet side. I think 1/2 cup of sugar would be sufficient next time. The tea was even better after spending a night in the fridge.

My assistant sure enjoyed it!

Water play: dishes

Lately I’ve been picking activities that Chloe can do outside. Might as well take advantage of the beautiful weather! For this activity, I filled up a tub with warm water and soap and put it on our deck.

Chloe and I used her shopping cart and found all the plastic dishes for her play kitchen and brought it outside. We put some into the tub and some stayed in the cart until there was room.
I also filled up another tub with cool water for rinsing. And I laid a towel down for the dishes to dry in the sun.

I chose a scrub brush, sponge and wash cloth for us to use. Chloe opted to use the scrub brush only.
I would hold the dish and Chloe would scrub each one. We would put the dish into the rinsing water and then on to the towel to dry.
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At first, I wasn’t sure how much Chloe was enjoying herself. She washed the dishes but didn’t seem too into it. But after we finished, I walked away to do other work outside, and Chloe continued to play in the water. She was using the dishes, pouring water and scrubbing dishes. After that, she moved on to scrubbing parts of the deck and patio furniture. Total, I figure she played with this set up for about 45 minutes. And the only reason she stopped was because I told her it was time to clean up. So I guess you could say she enjoyed herself!

Vegetable soup

As I was going through my fridge, I was noticing there were a bunch of vegetables that needed to be eaten. Recently, I had seen a pin for vegetable soup and decided to create my own.

The first thing I did was dice up a small onion and cooked them in some butter for about 5 minutes. Next, I added the chopped carrots. While the carrots cooked, I started chopping up the rest of the vegetables and adding them to the pot. I added broccoli, a red pepper, a russet potato, frozen corn, canned diced tomatoes and frozen green beans.

After all of the vegetables were in the pot, I added in about 7 cups of my homemade vegetable stock. I also added salt, pepper, 2 small bay leaves and some dried basil. I let it all sit together over low heat for about an hour and a half. Chloe and I had it for lunch and she loved it. She only are certain vegetables but that’s ok with me!

This was a really good way to use up vegetables that were just sitting in the fridge. It would be a good one to make and freeze for the winter. I’ll probably do that come fall.