Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Cupcake Shoppe - the best part of my walk to and from the subway

Or at least tied for first with Sugar Mountain....

The Cupcake shoppe is this little bakery on Yonge Street that makes the best looking cupcakes - and they taste as good as they look. The bakery itself also smells amazing. Walking past it early in the morning on my way to the hospital or work I'd get this wafting smell of baking and chocolate....*sigh*

I've made purchases there twice only. They're beautiful but it'll cost you. One cupcake will set you back $2.50 I believe. And a dozen are $25.

I got a dozen last year for two of my nursing friend's birthdays and had to put signs on the box telling John to keep his paws away from them. He was distressed. So I went back and bought him one.
See if you can resist the look of these cupcakes. Oh, the cupcakes also have names like "Yonge and Eligible"

Pictures mercilessly stolen from another blog that came up when I googled The Cupcake Shopper: Hope they don't mind!
Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I'll have more days off this week so I'll be posting more AND Tuesday is Dec. 1st so starting Tuesday (hopefully...I'm out of the house from 7 am-11:30 pm) I'll be posting everyday until Christmas!
No more Christmas Wednesdays - Christmas EVERYDAY!!!!! Dreams come trueeeee
Ok....and calm.
Hey one last bit of kind of neat info for yous guys: if the snow holds off until Tuesday, this will be the first November for Toronto since 1937 that there has been no snow on the ground. Kind of interesting, thought I'd mention it, since Mother Nature is denying my first snow fall "good thing" for November. I'm not complaining though. All I want is snow for Christmas then party done. Melt away!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Orange-Chocolate Cake

It's Friday!
The holidays - and my holidays from school - are fast approaching! Today was my last day in clinical so we wished our patients the best, said many a thank-you to the amazing nurses on the unit and cleaned out our lockers. I'll miss the Thursday-Friday routine but I will not miss waking up to see 5:30 am on my alarm clock.
Tonight I have the wildest plans. I'm going to come home from work around 7:30-8, run a bubble bath, put on my PJs and either watch a movie, do some baking, or just fall asleep early. John's doing a boys night tonight and I'm a little glad for the night of nada.
Speaking of baking, I made about 75 small gingerbread men on Wednesday night to give to the Thursday night instructional staff at the pool. They were gone in like 10 minutes. I will put up the recipe as one of my "25 posts 'til Christmas". They were good.
I also made a cake inspired by a Terry's Chocolate orange that my dad got me earlier in the week. I mixed up a store bought white cake mix and then cut it, filling the middle with a layer of chocolate jellow pudding that I added diced mandarin orange slices to. Then I iced the cake with cream cheese frosting and added the chocolate orange peices on top. I cannot wait to try it.

Yum yum yum. I love flavoured chocolate like orange and expecially mint. I bought some really good candy cane bark from Loblaws the other day....oh man it's tasty. I'm thinking of baking up vanilla cupcakes and then topping them with a peice of the bark.

okkkkk I gotta get ready to go to work.


Did you know I'm friends with celebrities? My friend Thomas' TV debut! Haha he's the best, this is why I love him.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas Wednesday - Week 5: Carol Quiz!

It's Wednesday!
Appologies for how late this post is but I was mixing up some gingerbread dough. And doing school work, natch.
Today I am straight-up stealing from the Martha website. This was too fun though. If you want, feel free to go here and do the quiz on the website. Otherwise I'll post the answers in the comment section.

1. "The Christmas Song" begins with which of the following lyrics?

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Oh, the weather outside is frightful

2. Finish these lyrics: "In the meadow we can build a snowman..."

then pretend that he is tall and brown
then pretend that he is parsley brown
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown

3. Finish these lyrics: "Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum..."

A new born King to see, pa rum pump um pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pump um pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pump um pum

4. Finish these lyrics: "Giddy-yap, giddy-yap, giddy-yap, it's grand just holding your hand..."

We're riding along with a song of a wintry wonderland
We're gliding along with a song of a wintry wonderland
We're gliding along with a song of a wintry fairy land

5. Finish these lyrics: "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, with every Christmas card I write..."

May your days be merry and white
May your days be merry and bright
May your nights be merry and bright

6. How does the song "Silver Bells" begin?

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style
City sidewalks, bustling sidewalks, dressed in holiday style
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed with holiday style

7. Finish these lyrics: "Rocking around the Christmas tree..."

At the Christmas party stop
At the Christmas party rock
At the Christmas party hop

8. Finish these lyrics: "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go..."

Take a look at the five in 10 glistening once again
Take a look in the five and 10 glistening once again
Take a look at the fighting hen listening once again

I got 8/8....just sayin'

One last thing before I call it a night and get back to my hot date with this laptop and my clinical self-assessment (which consists of having to answer - in depth - about 85 indicators...urgh):

I booked the Bad Sweater Party! Year 4...can't believe this will be the fourth year. Wow. It keeps getting better each year so here's hoping that this year trumps the success that was last year's party!

Merry Christmas Wednesday! 30 days to go before the actual holiday!
- Jamie

Monday, November 23, 2009


Not one post this weekend....I'm sorry.
In my defense I had a very busy weekend. I got my hair done on Saturday then was out for a birthday. I went Costco Christmas shopping with my mom on Sunday plus a trip to Dollarama, then wedding dress shopping with my friend (she found it!) and then was over for dinner at John's parents.
I thought I'd do a quick post this morning to make sure there's more to this blog than just Christmas least for another week-ish. Then it's Christmas 24/7.
Today I want to bring to your attentions what is perhaps my favourite winter/holiday spice: Cloves!
They may not look particularly pretty but you use ground cloves for baking and it's the smell that I love.
They are expensive, just a heads up. If you enjoy the smell though it's money well spent.
I put some cloves and cinnamon in my coffee this morning. Sprinkly it over the ground coffee before you turn the machine makes coffee sooooo good. I usually put nutmeg on there too when I'm going for the "holiday blend" but we're all out of nutmeg so I'll have to wait until I get a chance to hit the grocery store.
That's it for today! Back on Wednesday :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christmas Wednesday: Week 4

I'm babysitting my friend's 2 year old nephew and he's fast asleep in his stroller. I put on Treehouse (The Wiggles right now, waiting for the Backyardigans aka my favourite kids show....that I sometimes myself...) so that if he wakes up it might distract him and keep him from crying for his auntie. Oh my gosh he's cute.

John and I have/had all these big plans for him: we were going to make a pizza (I bought the dough, sauce, pepperoni) and take him swimming but my friend said there's a very real chance that he might nap straight through to 7:30 when he gets picked up.

Oh well....
Anyway - it's Wednesday! You know what that means.

Christmas Wednesday!

Today I though that since I've covered an ornament (the button one), wreaths, and gingerbread cookies, I'd pick a centerpeice option for this weeks entry. I think next week will be back to baking.
Today is Tree-Shaped Candles! Or any shaped candles, really.

I've wanted to make candles before but had trouble finding the stuff necessary.

You need beeswax sheets from a craft store as well as wicking so that you can actually light the candles. I'm going to google search the nearest Michael's to me...

Click on the link above to get the instructions. There's also a visual guide which is very helpful!

I've decided that come December 1st I am going to try and blog EVERYDAY until the 25th. It'll be my insane Christmas Countdown. My blog-vent calendar (like advent....get it?). I'll try and do a lot of recipes and maybe put up my attempts at the crafts I've been suggesting during these Christmas Wednesdays!

Well, I'm off to ogle an adorable sleeping child for a few hours.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sick Day

As much as I hate feeling sick, I love sick days. There's nothing better than lying in bed, all cozy, with a movie or daytime TV.
This morning I was checking my email before heading off to school when I got my pre-migraine blindspot. It's not a nice feeling. Imagine not being able to see anything in a certain area of your peripheral vision. The only good thing about it is that I get the blindspot about 15-30 mins before the actual migraine sets in so it gives me a chance to take some serious pain killers. I put my pj's back on and lay in bed with the curtains closed. I put on Monsters Inc and tried to sleep through the migraine. Mine usually last about 1-2 hours so I figure in the time it takes me to watch (sleep through) a movie, the migraine should run its course.
Here are my tips for surviving a migraine headache:
  1. Take painkillers! Tylenol, advil, whatever you've got. Even better if you've got ones specific to migrane pain. And take 2. Don't try to suffer through it. There's no shame in medicating yourself to sleep. There IS crying in this baseball.
  2. Get into bed and open a window. Feeling a little bit cold is much better. Cold compresses can help too as the blood vessels in your head are quite dilated - the cold will help them to constrict.
  3. Lie in the dark. I like to listen to movies or tv shows because then I don't think. I keep the volume low to keep my head from pounding though and I keep my eyes shut. Tight.
  4. Try to sleep. The longer you can sleep through a migraine, the less time you have to spend in agony.

That's it that's all!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quick &Easy Icing

Last night I went out for my friend birthday. I decided that I would also make a cake to bring to our pre-bar get together but we ended up going over with only about half an hour before our downtown departure time so I left the cake here. We now have a cake sitting in our fridge. Guess I could come up with some reason to celebrate.

Anyway, it's a pretty cute cake. I was feeling lazy and I only have about a cup of flour left so I used a cherry chip cake mix. I also used the store bought icing but gave it a little twist of my own. I added red food colouring which, contrary to it's name, did not turn the cake red. Oh no, no matter how many drops I added it just kept turning a deeper shade of pink. Whatever. I also mixed in some light ricotta cheese. It made it taste sooo good. And then I tossed a few handfuls of skittles on top for good measure.

In other news, I missed the Santa Claus parade :( It was this afternoon and I really wanted to go this year. It's my own fault though. I had to get up at 8 am to drive my cousin downtown to the bus terminal after only about 5-ish hours of sleep. They had the parade route all set up and no joke there were already people out with their folding chairs securing good seats.
3 hours prior.
See? There are people more fanatical about Christmas than me.
When I got back home at around 9:30, I jumped back into bed and slept soundly till almost 12:30. At which point the parade was probably well underway and Santa had most likely blessed the parade goers with his presence. Santaaaa! Next year. Next year we'll be together.

In better news the lovely holiday cups are out in full force at Starbucks! I love the red and the designs. I bought a travel mug with the design on it last year. Actually a guy I work with bought it for me, but that's an entirely different story.

That's it for today.
Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!

3 weeks to go before I'm on holidays (minus 4 days for exams)!

Friday, November 13, 2009

As an avid food network fan, it's pretty safe to say that I have watched at least one episode of every show. Even some of the more obscure ones like Big Daddy's House. I have favourites like Giada, Ina (pretentious and a butter/oil addict), Michael Smith, and Paula Deen (another butter enthusiast). But of them all I can only have one true favourite, and it is this sweet, adorable, pastry-loving woman:

Anna Olson!

She's on to her second show now with 'Fresh' but 'Sugar' will always be my favourite. It's 30 minutes of baked heaven. She's a pastry chef and she's just so darned adorable.

If you'd like to learn more about her you can visit her website here or you can go onto the food network website and look up recipes from either of her shows.

I thought that for today I would share with you a recipe for a variation on a desert close to my heart. As a young girl I loved Black Forest Cake. I asked for one for my birthday cake for a few years. They featured it in the window of the bakery near my house so it was hard not to want it. Anyway, this is Anna Olson's spin on the classic:

Black Forest Molten Cake

  • Simmer 1 cup of pitted sour cherries with 1/2 cup of sugar for 30 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 375. Butter 4 ramekins and coat with sugar.
  • Melt 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate in a pot over simmering water on the stove or in the microwave.
  • In a seperate bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter, 2/3 cup sugar, and 3 eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Then stir in melted chocolate and 1 tsp vanilla.
  • In a seperate bowl, sift together 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and a dash of salt. Stir this into the chocolate mixture.
  • Spoon the batter into the ramekins and spoon a generous amount of the cherry mixture into the center of each, leveling the top of the chocolate mixture after.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the top has lost its shine. Allow to cool. Butter a knife and run it around the rim of each ramekin to loosen the cake. Tip out of ramekin onto a plate.
  • For a brandied cherry sauce, simmer 2 cups of pitted sweet cherries with 1/ 2 cup of sugar and 1 cinnamon stick. Stir in 4 tbsp brandy.
  • Whisk 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch with 2 tbsp cold water and then add to the cherries.
  • Sauce can be served warm or cold over cakes.
I've yet to try this one out but I think I may have to at the next dinner party I have. I love ramekins because of their individual size so I'm always up for a desert that requires one.

Have a fun Friday night!
Weekend! Weekend! Weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Travelling is something I love to do and definitely something I want to do more of. I haven't gone anywhere too recently but in the past 5 years I've seen a whole lot. I'm going to give you a brief summary of some of the trips I've taken, starting with my whirl-wind European vacation!

John was away one summer on an archaeological dig in Jordan so we made plans to meet up in Paris in August. We did Paris-Verona-Venice-Florence-Rome-Pompeii-Santorini-Athens and then back to Paris before heading home. All of this is just over 2 weeks too. I'm so envious of Europeans and how easy it is for them to visit the other countries on their continent.

Excuse the fact that some of the pictures are bigger than the others...

Paris *sigh*

Verona - Juliet's Balcony

Venice - St. Mark's square aka Pigeon Land

Florence - the ponte vecchio

Rome - the Trevi Fountain

Pompeii - Mount Vesuvius looming impressively behind me

Santorini - getting lost and feeling illiterate

Athens - up at the Acropolis, in front of the Parthenon

It was such an amazing trip and I would love to go back and see some of those sites again. Especially France as I really only saw Paris and we planned a day out to Versailles but lo and behold it was a Monday and a lot of popular tourist attractions are closed on Mondays. Boo.

The next year my sister and I went to Ireland for our aunt and uncle's wedding. We decided, hey while we're there we might as well stop over in England for a few days. So we did! We saw a lot - all the popular London attractions like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's cathedral, Buckingham Palace, the London Tower, Tower bridge, went on the London eye, saw Sherlock Holmes' pad, etc. We did a walking tour of Jack the Ripper's London in the east end, and booked a day trip out to Bath, Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge. So much fun.

Stonehenge - recreating the dance of the little children of stonehenge a la the Spinal Tap song

Tower bridge - I loved the Tower of London. We saw the spot where Anne Boleyn was beheaded as well as where she is burried. I took a lot of photos in places it's not allowed. Like the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. And the statue of David in the Galleria d'Accademia in Florence. Whatever.

The statue of Molly Malone in Dublin. Didn't do too much sight seeing, more shopping and helping prepare for the wedding!

Two winters ago, during my lovely year off from school, my friends and I went to Cuba. It was wonderful. There are a ton of fun things to do in Cuba. We went on this insane adventure where we got a Jeep to go off-roading, went snorkeling on a coral reef AND in a flooded freshwater cave (creepy and amazing), went horseback riding at an old coffee plantation, and went seadooing (spelling...?) on a river. The next day we went into Havana for some sightseeing. Then we spent the rest of our days lounging poolside and by the ocean.

Havana, paying my respects to Che.
I have quite an extensive list of places I still need to see. Peru (the Nazca lines and Machu Pichu), Australia+New Zealand, Iceland, Germany, Egypt, Jordan (John talks about it all the time and I'm so curious especially about Petra as Indianna Jones was there), Morrocco, Kenya, Madagascar...the list goes on and on.
One day.
I'm going to start playing the lottery more often.
You gotta win eventually, right?.......Right?!
P.S. - I have the day off because my clinical instructor is sick so I got to catch this amazing event: Martha Stewart is on Rachael Ray. I'm kind of annoyed by Rachael Ray, especially her voice and her serious overuse of hand motions when talking about her 30 minute meals. C'mon. You know it's bad when I can do all the hand motions along with her and not mess up once. However, as much as she annoys me I still watch her show whenever it's on and I'm around for it. And I've bought her magazine. Several times. And enjoyed it. So maybe I'm a closet Rachael Ray fan. But it's MARTHA and she hasn't really ripped Rachael a new one yet so I'm both saddened by the lack of Rachael-directed put downs and excited to see what they do together!
Best day off ever!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Christmas - 44 days away!

I swear I do try to post on days other than Wednesday... I just work and have school so my moments of free time are few and far between.
But it's Christmas Wednesday so let us rejoice!
Today's topic: Gingerbread!
I absolutely love love love gingerbread. I used to always try to talk my mom into buying me the gingerbread characters (can't really say men as most were dogs, pigs, Ninja turtles, Kermit, etc) that some bakeries sell. So good.
In either last year's December issue of Martha or on her website - I forget - she had a recipe for a gingerbread cheesecake that was just too cute not to make. I made it for the Bad Christmas Sweater party and it was a hit. Just for fun, let's compare an amateur, Martha-wannabe's end product with that of the professional pastry chefs she employs:

Not bad, right? I mean....I think it's pretty obvious which one is mine but for a first try I give myself a pat on the back. It's easy to make but requires kind of a 2-step process as you have to make the gingerbread dough before hand for the crust. And for the decorative men. I skipped the part where she suggested doing the two different types of gingerbread dough cause I made the cake literally hours before the party so I didn't have that kind of time. But the different shaded men do look pretty on hers.
If you should decide to try this recipe for a holiday get-together this year you can find the recipe
I definitely still want to do something with gingerbread this year so I was thinking of taking an easier route and making this fantastic looking Cookie-Tree.

Plus that "snow" in between layers is cream cheese frosting and I loves me some cream cheese frosting.

Few things before I go help John finish dinner:

  • The wreath is gone. John took one look at it, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, "what is this? What are you doing?" Apparently my 'it's-still-bare-it's-not-decorated-yet' slash 'I-have-no-where-else-to-put-it' excuses fell on deaf ears. It's now hiding in my half of the bedroom closet. John - 1, Jamie+Christmas - 0
  • I put red candles on display that my grandmother gave me this past weekend. He accused me of decorating because of them. I blamed him of prejudice against red candles and the candles got to stay. John - 1, Jamie+Christmas - 1.
  • My Dad handed me my December 2009 issue of Martha last night! I'm going to wait until I can savour every page and bookmark every recipe I see.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go take the red peppers out of the oven so I can stuff 'em full of risotto.

Have a good night!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Make-it-yourself Gift Idea

The weekend always comes and goes so quickly.

I had a wonderful weekend in Ottawa with my family. My mom, sister, and I went down to spend some time with our grandmother. We took her out to do some shopping on Saturday and I bought the startings of my wreath!
I got all of the above supplies from Michael's - an amazing craft store I can't seem to locate in Toronto. I'll have to it and find the nearest one to me. I have the wreath hanging on the door but nothing's been put into it yet. It'll be a miracle if John doesn't scowl at it in all of it's naked pine glory so I won't push it too far just yet. The decorating will come in December.
This past Wednesday John asked me to bake some madeleine's for a girl that he works with as her birthday had been a few days before. She's a nice girl although I've never met her. She always takes my side (team "roommate"), even tried to convince John to get a cat. An unsuccessful endeavour as of yet but we're still working on it. So I was happy to bake her some cookies. I also thought it would be nicer to wrap them up rather than give them to her in a tupperware container. I have this problem where I keep gift a giant gift bag in my bedroom I found a box and put some gold wrapping paper on it, then tied a ribbon around it and added a bow. It looked nice in the end:

I was proud of my handiwork.

Anyway that's all for today. I have to go read some chapters for my test on Tuesday.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I forgot to mention this earlier -
If you are kind of Christmas-Crazy like myself, feel free to sign up for Martha's Christmas Workshop

Christmas Wednesday (week 2)

Merry Christmas......Wednesday!

As promised, here is your Wednesday craft/recipe/gift idea!

One thing I have always wanted to try making is a wreath. They are beautiful but soooo expensive to purchase. And rather than study for exams I will gladly spend an entire day putting one together.
I'm going to try to craft this one: The Silver Fir and Holly Wreath

I mean, just look at it! ... I'll be hitting up the dollar store for supplies and maybe my parent's trees. I'll have to brainstorm some ideas for the snow....white spakles of some sort I guess and glue. I'll be sure to line the floor with newspaper so as not to get any sparkles and pine needles on the floor. John already blames me for all of the dirt on the floor... but honestly, can he conclusively say that those are my blonde hairs? And is there a strong positive correlation between the dirtiness of my unstocking-ed feet and the state of the floor? I mean it all comes down to science right? Let's get a forensic team in here. Someone call Gil Grissom. Or H for some Miami heat. Heeeeyyyyyyy

Anyway, the point is I don't want to make the floor dirty. Anymore than I already do.

I'm done school (classes anyway) in 4-ish weeks so I will get on my crafting kick December 5th.

If you want to make a wreath for yourself, here are some more ideas:

Paper Wreath (an easier craft)

The Noble fir and Eucalyptus Wreath

Classical Column Window Frame (if you're feeling up to a more challenging task)


Sunday, November 1, 2009

"Good Things" for November

It's the first of the month so you know what that means -
Jamie's "Good Things" for November!

But first....

Did you guess who I was for Halloween?
Big blonde hair, sparkly outfit, cowboy boots, an ample chest....
Female Country Superstar.....

My costume isn't spot on but I thought it was pretty good!
John was Canadian rock legend Kim Mitchell. I mean, might as well go for a soda...

Halloween was so much fun. Lots of dancing, great costumes and good friends.

But now that it's over.....


Now back to November's "Good Things"
1. Poppies

For all us Canadians, November 11th is Rememberance day. The poppy is symbolic and we wear it in rememberance of all those who gave their lives and who fought to make our world a better place. Make sure you take a moment on Nov. 11 to pay respect to those who gave their lives so we could have better ones.

2. American Thanksgiving

American's celebrate Thanksgiving in November, a month later than we do. But being a lover of all things turkey, why not celebrate it again? Without all the hoopla it'd be easy to make turkey meatballs, turkey meatloaf, or roast some turkey legs. Be thankful for turkey!

3. Snow

The first snowfall of the year will likely happen this month. Some of you may not agree with me including this on the "good things" list but it's my list and I personally LOVE the first real snowfall of the fall/winter. When it stays on the ground and in the trees....just beautiful. Then after New Years I no longer like snow at all.

4. Fireplaces

There's nothing like cuddling up in a warm blanket in front of a fire when it's cold and windy outside. If you don't have a fireplace where you live, find a friend of family member who does and get yourself invited over! My parents have one so I will definitely be organizing a movie night at their place once the weather takes the cold plunge.

5. Soup

I love love love soup, no matter what the season. Soup is especially good when it's cold out. I'm going to try and make some homemade soups during the winter holidays this year. Like this one: a roasted sweet potato soup with curried apples. Looks good.

Well that's it for October. Let's hope November is as fun and exciting!