Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas Cards


Elf on the Shelf Good or Bad?

The new sensation/holiday tradition of Elf on the Shelf can add to the excitement of Christmas but can also add some negative experiences for both children and adults alike.

As my kids are now past the Santa Claus stage, I was not aware of the Elf on the Shelf until this holiday season.  I have to  admit that he is a little bit "creepy" looking and had me thinking I met this guy before, lol. Well it turns out I have, the mid-century decor elves look the same as the Elf on the Shelf, or should I say the Elf on the Shelf looks like the mid-century elves.  So, because of this, the Elf offered me a little childhood nostalgia.  I love mid-century decor and the ornaments of the 1950's, 60's and 70's are elegant and classy.

The idea of an Elf on the Shelf is cute but the work and discipline that goes into maintaining the facade and the anxiety it can offer some children is not always worth it.  You have to move the Elf around to make the kids think that it has flow back to Santa's workshop/North Pole to report on their good/bad behaviour.  Of course there can be a little blackmail going on with parents saying, "If you don't behave, the Elf will tell Santa...."  Parents for generations have used the threat of Santa knowing if you are bad or good as a way of maintaining good behaviour, but now, there is a messenger of Santa that they can actually see--they are not allowed to touch the Elf--but they can see him and watch where he shows up next.

The internet has also used the Elf on the Shelf in negative ways--I saw one incidence where he was filming a bunch of naked Barbie dolls bathing in the bathroom sink.  Although I was amused at this, the chance of kids seeing this type of thing is not good at all!  Also once you start the tradition you are obligated to maintain it, at least until the kids let you know they are in on it!

What do you think of the Elf on the Shelf--smart marketing/money maker for the creators (based on a book by mother and daughter team, Carol Aebersold and daughters Chanda Bell and Christa Pitts) but is it a tradition worth having in your home? 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Christmas holiday decor

fade psd frame


winter sky



tubes noel enfants

tubes chats

tubes paysages

tubes pere noel

Fêtes Noël - (page 2) -


tubes noel




Monday, 30 September 2013

Apple Bundt Cake

This is a moist and delicious apple cake that you will be making for years to come
Enjoy this fabulous moist and delicious Apple Bundt Cake.  It may look like the batter is mostly apples when you spoon it into the prepared bundt pan, but when it bakes the cake puffs up around the batter.  This is the kind of cake you will want to make right after picking your own apples fresh from your local orchard.


1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used Canola oil)
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups of flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
4 very large apples chopped (about 4 cups).  Use more apples if they are not large


Beat oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla with a hand whisk.  Sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the moist ingredients whisking and stirring until well combined--batter will be dense.

Add your peeled and chopped apples to the batter and continue to fold the apples around the batter until well mixed.

Spoon the thick apple batter into a prepared bundt pan (spray cooking oil or butter on the bundt pan).

Place cake in a 350 degree F oven for approximately one hour.  Top will be golden brown and knife will come out clean when inserted.  Loosen the cake with knife around the edges and let cool slightly before removing.

You will be making this recipe for years to come--it is the best with a great big mug of coffee.  Enjoy!

This is how the batter looks just before you bake the cake

Adapted from:  My Favourite Fresh Apple Bundt Cake

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Jennifer Aniston - Life of Crime Red Carpet TIFF

My Red Carpet Experience with Jennifer Aniston

A photo of Jennifer Aniston Speaking to Media at the TIFF Red Carpet of Life of Crime taken by DanB (my husband)
Last night, Saturday, September 14, 2013, I finally got to "meet" Jennifer Aniston at the Premiere of her new movie Life of Crime at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Getting a photo of Jennifer when she arrived was difficult but my husband managed to snap some photos of her speaking to media on the way into the screening room.

We arrived at Roy Thompson Hall in downtown Toronto at 6 p.m. to find that the gated red carpet area was already lined with faithful Jennifer Aniston fans.  I started to try to find a choice spot but knew that wherever I stood I still would have to try to look over and in between a few people to see Jennifer when she arrived--some people brought step stools! 

Shortly after I arrived, I was approached by a Bell TIFF employee who encouraged us to go over to the Bell TIFF viewing platform.  She explained that where we presently stood was not a good spot, we would not see Jennifer--having never gone to a red carpet before and wanting so much to see Jennifer Aniston--I proceeded to the Blue Bell platform area.  

As I waited for Jennifer's arrival I chatted with the fans around me.  I "heard" from a media report that Jennifer had been spotted having dinner with her fiance Justin Theroux at the Ritz-Charlton Hotel the night before but I did not know where the hotel was located, so I inquired.  The person next to me said it's right there and pointed to a very tall full glass building to my left--literally walking distance from the red carpet; although, I knew Jennifer Aniston would not be walking to the Red Carpet.  Could you imagine the chaos if she walked from the hotel to the red carpet!  So thinking that Jennifer could possibly be watching us from her glass tower I waved frantically to the building to my left, lol!  Did you see me Jen!

Every time an Audi SUV with TIFF VIP would drive up the paved gated area, the crowd would get their cameras and positions ready.  Well after several "false alarms" of Jennifer's arrival, Jennifer Aniston finally arrived.  Her SUV zoomed up and out popped Jen wearing a beautiful grey blue Vivienne Westwood strapless dress.  I didn't know what to do--I wanted photos of Jennifer and I wanted an autograph.  So, making a quick decision, I handed my husband the camera and told him to keep taking photographs and I raced for the gate as Jennifer was on our side.  

Jennifer Aniston was signing autographs non-stop to anyone who could get their photo/notepad to her.  So I pleaded with the lucky people in front of me to please hand her my Hello magazine with the photo of Jennifer and Justin leaving on vacation to Cabo.  A nice guy took my magazine and waved it forward yelling Jen! Jen! But then, Jennifer moved across to the other side--I was SOOOOO close to getting that autograph, but it was not to be!  However, all was not lost, I actually got to see Jennifer Aniston's face close up when trying to get that autograph, Wow! That image will be embellished in my mind forever. Jen had light blue eye shadow on and she wore her hair parted in the middle and straight down.  
Cast of Life of Crime from Bell Media Screen--photo taken by ChristineB (me)

TIFF Media interviews--taken by DanB (my husband)

Tall Building in the middle is the Ritz-Charlton Hotel where Jennifer and Justin were spotted!--photo taken by ChristineB (me)

Jennifer Aniston's beautiful smile (photo taken by DanB)

Crowd anxiously awaiting Jennifer Aniston's arrival holding cameras and magazine photos to be autographed by Jen!

The area in between the two crowds is where the SUV's drove up dropping off cast, producers and, finally, Jennifer Aniston!  (Photo taken by me (ChristineB)
Photos cannot be reproduced or copied unless I give you permission to!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

This cake is so easy to make and is great for any summer party!


A box of 24 ice cream sandwiches
Chocolate fudge sauce
A large tub of any flavour ice cream (you may have to use two smaller tubs)


Place a large spring form pan in the freezer for about 20 minutes or more to get it good and cold so that the ice cream will not stick to bottom and sides.

Leave ice cream out until slightly softened.

Cut ice cream sandwiches to the size of the edge of the spring form pan and place around the entire circumference of the pan --save the smaller pieces to be used in the center of the cake.

Stir the softened ice cream and place half of ice cream in between the ice cream sandwiches.

Take the smaller ice cream sandwich pieces that were cut off and place them over the ice cream as a middle layer for the cake.  Squirt some fudge sauce on the ice cream sandwich layer.

Add remainder of ice cream and place any remaining ice cream sandwiches and pieces on the top of cake. Add more fudge sauce.

Place in freezer until set--then Enjoy!

Friday, 3 May 2013


Will Jodi Arias get the ultimate punishment for killing Travis Alexander?  The jury is now deliberating in this Phoenix, Arizona murder trial.
The Jodi Arias trial has been sensationalized in the media because of the shocking way she killed Travis Alexander a former boyfriend who was still part of her life.

The horrific way that Jodi Arias claims that she acted in self-defense has drawn many people to this case.  Jodi admits to shooting Travis Alexander in the face as self defense but says she can't remember stabbing him 29 times which includes fatally wounding him by stabbing him in the heart and cutting his throat ear to ear.

Jodi was hooked on Travis; although she is minimizing her infatuation on the witness stand.  Travis was about to go to Cancun with another woman.  Travis told Jodi that he thought this woman would be his future wife--that God had sent him a message. Yet, days before his trip, Jodi drives thousands of miles to have sex with Travis who continued to text Jodi and have phone sex with her even as he openly courted prospective suitable wives. This trip obviously turned out to be a deadly one for Travis as Jodi "allegedly" got her revenge.  Theories and evidence suggest Jodi decided she would take matters into her own deadly hands by stopping Travis from being with another woman.

Travis knew Jodi was crazy jealous of his dating since, in the past, she slashed his tires and that of his dates and sent an anonymous email to his date telling her to stop her bad behaviour.  Friends of Travis say they warned him to get away from her.  He told his friends that he couldn't get rid of her--yet they didn't know that he was still using her for sex.

Unfortunately for Travis this was the perfect storm--a woman who was infatuated with him who had the internal rage, psychopathic and other tendencies that brought her to end his life.

After her crime, Jodi travel directly to the home of another prospective boyfriend for the day.  No one around her that day or in the days to come would be any the wiser as she continued her life as if nothing happened, until Travis' body was found and friends pointed police directly to her.

Jodi lied about not being at Travis' home and even left messages on his phone right after her crime.  Jodi went to Travis' memorial service and even sent flowers to his grandmother.  Then when her bloody hand print was found on Travis' bedroom hall wall she changed her story to a home-invasion gone wrong where she was spared and Travis was murdered.  Finally, Jodi decided, for her trial, she would say that she was defending herself against Travis' rage--conveniently having a gun and knife at her disposal.

Seems like a slam-dunk trial to me; but, will they give her the death penalty?  And will there be a sympathetic juror who either is afraid to convict for 1st degree murder because of the death penalty or who believes Jodi is a victim of domestic violence.  What do you think?

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Taralli di Pasqua (Italian Easter Cookies)

Italian Easter Cookies - Taralli

Ingredients for dough:

5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
6 eggs
1 cup of  granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

3 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
multi-colored nonpareils

Wisk eggs until fluffy.  Add sugar a little at a time whisking after each addition.  Whisk vigorously for about 3 minutes, then add the melted butter and vanilla.  Continue to whisk vigorously until thick and fluffy.

In a large bowl combine the flour and baking powder.
Fold egg mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until a firm dough forms.

Knead the dough lightly in the bowl.  Break off one-inch balls of dough and roll with hands to form a five inch rope.   Pinch the ends together to form a circle and place on prepared pans about 1-inch apart.
Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until taralli are golden brown.  Let cook completely before icing.

For the icing:
Heat all ingredients for icing in a pot until lukewarm.  Dip tops of cookies into the icing mixture or brush on, sprinkle with colourful cake decorations (nonpareils) 

 Adapted from:

Monday, 25 March 2013


This is an Italian-style Bundt cake that is a staple in households in Italy.  My mother has been making it for years and I have tried to duplicate it for years. The success of a great Ciambellone is the method.  I have used these ingredients before but have not paid attention to the method and the cake wouldn't rise very high, even when I used more baking powder. This is the right way to make a great Ciambellone. In this version, I have mixed two cups of the batter with cocoa and swirled it into the remaining batter.  Enjoy!


4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 scant teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
1 cup of milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
4-5 tablespoons of cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray 10 inch Bundt pan with cooking spray.

With whisk beaters, use electric hand mixer or stand mixer to beat eggs on high until well combined.  Slowly add sugar to eggs while beating and continue to beat sugar and eggs for about 8 or more minutes.  You want the eggs and sugar to be a firm mixture.

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Add the flour mixture slowly to the thick egg mixture, folding the flour gently into the egg mixture.  I used a rubber spatula to do this in order to keep the mixture light.

Stir in the oil until well combined.

Mix milk with vanilla in a cup and then add the milk/vanilla liquid into the batter.  Stir until you have a thick, dense, uniform batter--do not over stir.

Pour all batter, except two cups full into the Bundt pan.  Mix cocoa into the remaining batter until well combined and uniformly dark.

With a spoon, drop cocoa batter into the white cake batter around the cake, then swirl with a knife to give a marble effect.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until cake is firm and knife etc. comes out clean when inserted in cake.

Cool cake, then remove onto serving dish.

Success! At last I have mastered the Italian tradition.  Please let me know how your Ciambellone turns out.

Variations to this recipe are not including the cocoa and making a plain vanilla Ciambellone or you can mix mini chocolate chips into the mix.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Grammy's

The 2013 Grammy awards were in a word "entertaining".  Taylor swift opens with an Alice in Wonderland performance of "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together". 

Speaking of performances, Justin Timberlake was phenomenal in his Grammy comeback where he apologized "I must confess it's been a while and for that I must apologize".  Did Justin ever make it a big bang or should I say a big band experience  Justin took us back to the big band days with his new single "Suit and Tie" being joined by Jay-Z for part of the performance. He followed "Suit and Tie" with another song from his album The 20/20 Experience (being released in March), "Pusher Love Girl".

Here are The 55th Annual Grammy Award Winners.

The fashions this year were dictated by a "strict" dress code for the ladies.  The Grammy's of years past have had some pretty skin- baring fashions on the red carpet from Rihanna's white dress with fur strips hitting and missing body parts to JLo's plunging green sheer dress of the past.  Most of the artists did modify their style by wearing dresses that covered up the necessary parts.

JLo actually made a comment about the list of requirements for what to cover up being something she could not even read to her children (buttocks, breasts and "other" parts had to be covered).  JLo was covered up for the most part in a black gown; however her left leg was totally exposed a la Angelina Jolie.  Rihanna's criss-cross halter top sheer red dress this year seemed in theory to cover all from head to toe, except she kind of broke the rules with the sheer part showing a little too much on top, take a look here--no surprise there.  And speaking of Rihanna's wardrobe, she was wearing Chris Brown quite well also--the couple were not hiding that they are back together with Rihanna posing with her head against Chris Brown who had his arm around her--here we go again! I'm sure twitter was ablaze about this reunion. 

Like Rihanna, Katy Perry is known for her risque outfits.  Last night was no exception in her fitted mint green Gucci gown with a keyhole neckline that showed cleavage and breasts galore.  Then there was Adele who wore a short dress with red floral appliques all over it that reminded me of poppies.  Why didn't Adele wear a longer, slimmer gown in a solid colour with maybe a little sparkle like she did last year?--a worst dress nominee this year from me (I wonder what Joan Rivers will say about this).  Then there was Beyonce who wore a pant suit with what looked to me like leggings--leggings at the Grammy's?  At least she was well-covered.  I liked Taylor Swift's J. Mendel gown which was a white Grecian style.  Her look was complete with the goddess/Heidi type wrap around the head braid which kept her look young.

Check out all the Grammy Fashions at the MTV site.

Which fashions did you enjoy?

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bake Some Love for Valentine's Day....

Preheated Oven:  375 Degrees F
Bake:  8 minutes per batch


3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup of shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-3 cups chocolate chips

How to:

Beat softened butter and shortening together with electric mixer until combined.  

Add brown sugar, granulated sugar baking soda and salt.  Beat until well combined.  Scrape the sides of bowl with spatula occasionally.

Beat in eggs and vanilla. 

Add flour a bit at a time until mixture gets too thick to mix with electric mixer (for those using a hand-held electric mixer don't mix when dough gets really thick or you will burn out the motor).  Stir in any remaining flour that could not be mixed.

Stir in chocolate chips

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet (about 2 inches apart).  I flatten the dough for a traditional flat chocolate chip cookie (see my photo of baked cookies).  

Bake for about 8 minutes in 375 degree F oven or until the edges start to turn brown.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Adapted from 100 Best Cookies, Better Homes and Gardens

Friday, 25 January 2013

Congratulations to Jimmy Kimmel, You're a Star!

This is the tweet from Jimmy Kimmel's twitter site.
And Apologies to Matt Damon....

Actually no.  No apologies to Matt Damon.  Where's Jimmy?  Did you let him go?  He gets his star today Matt!--January 25, 2013.  Don't be jealous you already have one.  Do you have to take everything away from our poor Jimmy?

If Matt let him go, Jimmy will be getting a star right in front of the El Capitan Theater and I hear the public can watch--I wish I could fly over from Toronto, sorry Jimmy.  But I will be watching the ceremony for Jimmy on where it will be live streamed for anyone in the WORLD to watch.

ABC gave you their confidence after ten years and moved you up to 11:35 p.m.  I loved your reasons why they did it--one being that "We're trying to capture that all-important still awake demographic". I think the real reason they moved you is because they value you and want to advance your career.

For those who didn't watch Jimmy Kimmel Live last night Matt Damon kidnapped Jimmy and tied him up with duct tape.  Matt took over the show and brought in his own guests while Jimmy looked on, unable to speak because he was gagged with his tie. Watch how Matt Damon hijacks Jimmy Kimmel's show.

I have to apologize to Jimmy though because I fell asleep before his show last night. Honestly Jimmy, I told my husband to wake me up so I could watch your show but when he tried to wake me up, sleep won out.  Please forgive me and Congratulations on your star--you deserve it!

You can watch Jimmy Kimmel every weeknight at 11:35 p.m. ET on ABC.