Behind starburst eyes

Herb and Garlic Bread

With 7 people in our home we go through at least one loaf a day, but we too are trying to limit trips to a store as many are most likely doing as well during this time; so our family has been making our own bread. This herb and garlic bread gets gobbled up super fast!!!


7 cups of flour
2 1/4 teaspoon of quick rise yeast
2 1/4 cups of warm water
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
3 tablespoons of olive oil
6 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons of Italian Spice blend


1) In a large mixing bowl add warm water, then sprinkle yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Leave until the yeast has become frothy on top (about 10 minutes)
2) While yeast is activating chop 6 cloves of garlic, add to a small bowl with oil and Italian seasoning blend.
3) In a separate bowl mix 6 cups of flour, salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
4) Add oil, garlic and spice blend to water and mix.
5) Add flour to water and mix.
6) Gradually add the last cup of flour until the dough is no longer sticky. (Depending on the humidity you might be closer to 1/2 cup not a whole cup)
7) Knead the dough until soft.
8) Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise for an hour.
9) Punch down, then separate into either fist sized balls on a greased baking sheet or 2 loaf pans and let rise once more.
10) Preheat oven to 350F and bake until golden brown (buns take approximately 20-30min, bread takes approximately 45-60min).

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as our family does!

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Cream puffs and Cannoli’s

While nowadays it’s common advice for a husband to NOT give his wife kitchen appliances for special occasions, in my house that advice is false. Here, I love to cook and bake, and adore all the gadgets out there that help to make it easier to make even more creations. To that end my husband bought me a deep fryer this past week and I LOVE it. I’ve made far too many deep fried foods and had a blast doing it!

One of the best parts about my gift is that I am not the only one that adores using it. My kids are all interested in cooking and baking and I encourage them all to learn such a valuable life skill as culinary skills are! While I realize that knowing how to make perfect cannoli’s or cream puffs or even breaded deep fried stuffing patties are not essential to their lives, it certainly doesn’t hurt to know how 🙂 I know my eldest loves to bake more than cook, so he’s been thrilled with the baking we’ve doing, (as well as his new camouflage print apron I made him for Yule and his own set of piping tools.)

Me, while I love the baking, it’s the memories we make together, and the conversations we have as we go that I love the most. For example, I’d never made cannoli’s before, and so while I’d found a recipe online I didn’t have cannoli tubes, so I improvised. Some of my ideas were great and worked wonderfully, if a little large, but others were disasters. As Mr. C was trying so hard to make me feel better with encouraging words about how they weren’t “that bad” and that they “looked great!” I smiled and let him in on a secret. I don’t mind that they weren’t perfect from the start. I only mind if I give up before I get the hang of it. I believe that with enough effort and attempts, with perseverance I’ll succeed. He looked at me with surprise and asked “But aren’t you mad that you didn’t make them right, right away? Doesn’t it make you upset that one’s burnt, and that one’s totally flat?” and so I told him “No, I know that cannoli’s are said to be tricky, and even if they were thought of as easy I’d still be okay with needing time to master them. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to mess up and have terrible results, as long as you don’t give up, as long as you don’t quit.”

I wanted him to know that it’s okay to mess up, we all do, at least if we’re really living we do. When we’re fully immersed in life, in our life, it’s a messy, convoluted, upside down, right side out tilt a whirl experience. I don’t want him to be afraid to fully live because he thinks he’ll get it wrong, I want him to smile and learn from his mistakes cause eventually the cannoli’s will turn out great 😉



P.S The recipe I used for the cannoli’s was: 

The cream puffs:

However the breaded deep fried stuffing patties was all my idea 🙂 I used a half bread half potato stuffing as that is what I had on had as it’s the only stuffing any of my family ever makes. Our grandpa used it, and our parents all learnt it and used it and now my brother and even some of our cousins still use this one recipe for stuffing. I think a bread only stuffing wouldn’t have held together as well in the deep fryer as well as one that was thicker from the potatoes added, so be careful what recipe you choose if you’re going to make those 🙂

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Top 6 Ways To Spend Less while Giving MORE!

As most of you dear readers know:

1) Between my husband and myself we have 5 children.

2) Our 2 boys are Autistic and behavioral therapy is NOT cheap.

So how do I make sure that there are presents under the Christmas tree? I’m going to tell you my favorite ways to make sure each child (and the adults near and dear to my heart) receives wonderful gifts they love without spending a fortune.

1) I make a lot of gifts for everyone.

From knitting hats and mittens in funky colors, to making purses, stuffed animals, quilts, hair accessories (such as headbands, and decorative clips) fabric books, skirts, pajamas, tutus, slippers, hot/cold packs, jams, candles, cookies, festive colored pastas and canned spaghetti sauces, chili, chocolates (with cream filled centres), paintings and more I really mean it when I say I make a lot of what I give each year. To help with that, I buy supplies throughout the year as they’re on sale and I TRY to start making things ahead of time so I’m not in a rush come the festive season (typically, I fail at starting early and so I am mostly just sleep deprived as I stay up late every night creating in the few weeks before Yule lol)

2) I price match everything I can, and when I can’t I buy in bulk!

I know, it sucks being behind the person with a ton of flyers who’s price matching when you yourself have a ton of things still to do in the day, but when I can get really great quality thread that sews denim for less than half price, I’m totally going to take the time to do so! Then there’s the buying in bulk aspect. Yes you really do spend less if you buy a larger quantity at a time, and that is wonderful news if you’re going to make a lot of one item. Such as buying take out containers from a restaurant wholesaler, decorating the lids with the kids and volia, lovely containers filled with delicious baked goods for various people.

3) I utilize groups like Freecycle.

Freecycle is one of the most wonderful things to happen to the internet! I know people have been swapping for countless years but still I really love the ease with which I can post what I have that I don’t need anymore and someone will come to my house to take it for themselves. I also love that I can in turn do the same! I once saw a posting for a block of candle wax and I thought, hmm I’ve never tried to make candles, but I’d love to do so! So I responded and I was gifted with 50lbs of paraffin wax! (A 10lb slab is $73.99 at our local craft store!) Then I borrowed some books from the library on candle making and ta da! I had lovely presents for those I cared for! (Well the adults at least)

4) I’m not afraid to try new things, even if it means messing up.

The first stuffed animal I made for my daughter was terrible. The head was lopsided (it was a horse, and it honestly looked like it had a stroke) the hooves were crooked, I’d forgotten to sew the ears inside the seam at the top so they were really odd and floppy, more like a bunny’s. But I laughed at this terrible creation and then looked carefully at where I’d gone wrong and how I could correct it for my next one. My first dress was all kinds of wrong as well! And of course there’s the incident my own mother still likes to remind me of when I tried a 1920’s recipe for cream centres for chocolates, and it didn’t harden and so instead it slowly leaked all over my balcony and made the biggest, gooey mess I’d every seen! (I’d put it on the balcony to cool faster, and it did, it froze in fact, but not before it was everywhere) Again I laughed as I cleaned, and as I made the next batch. (I went on to nailing that recipe, but it took time and practice)

5) I utilize reward points, free discount cards and the like.

I use Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum points, Air miles, plum rewards, husky points etc. One of my personal favorites is I use their search engine instead of google and some searches mearly return my search results, others garner me “swag bucks” which I use to redeem for online gift certificates for places like So far in this last year I’ve earned $60 in Amazon gift certificates which I use to buy the kids books they love 😀

6) I shop online as well as in store.

Why, well there’s the gas it saves, but also because I can shop from more places (which often means better prices as long as you know the “average” price an identical item would typically cost) One of the places I love is I love the auctions, and I always bid the highest amount I’m willing to spend on that specific item at the start. Then if it goes over that, I refuse to bid again. Sometimes I get them, sometimes I don’t. But I do it early enough in the year to not worry if I don’t get all of the items I’ve bid on. Plus you can get some really, and I mean REALLY amazing things on there. I recently found a pair of cufflinks that were identical to the ones my deceased father had on the day he married my mother from the same jeweler in England that I was able to snag for my brother for this coming Christmas. (Don’t worry, while his charming wife reads my blog he doesn’t so he won’t know about them lol)

So those are my top 6 ways for creating special holiday gifts. What are your top ways?


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Their Passions

I love treats, as do the kids, but I don’t like giving them foods filled with preservatives so I bake most of their treats myself from scratch. Today N helped me bake and wow!
While I could speak of how adorable he was wearing one of my aprons, but what really got me was how much he focused on our task together. He was totally present in the moment the whole time with me. He wasn’t in his own world as I’d seen him be so many times every day. He watched as each ingredient was put on the counter, he helped with mixing and adding of each one. He stood patiently watching on his stool when I was doing things like cracking the eggs or as I was showing him how much cookie dough to grab with the spoon and where to put it on the tray. It was amazing to watch how intently he focused, it was like watching C with his breakdancing.
Watching my boys with their passions is amazing, and a wonderful blessing for me. When they look at me when their doing them I see their intent focus and their whole faces light up with happiness, joy and a unique sense of rightness I find difficult to define. But watching them both find their passions at such young ages is a gift I treasure, and being able to interact with N with his passion, seeing him be so present in the moment with me, sharing those experiences with him, let me tell you dear readers that a whole lotta baking is going to be happening on a regular basis 😉

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Baking with Besan Flour Part 1: Cookies

So dear readers in an effort to stick to the gluten-free foods I have tried to make gluten-free cookies. I’ve read about Besan flour and how it can be used as a straight equal substitute for wheat flour, so I took my favorite cookie recipe and substituted the wheat flour for Besan flour. WOW!!! They are delicious!!!
The full recipe is:
cappuccino Chocolate Chip Cookies:
2 1/2 cups of Besan flour
1 1/2 cups of dark brown sugar
1 cup of Chocolate Chips
1 cup of Butter
2 Eggs
1 tsp of Salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup of cappuccino powder
3-4 cappuccino flavored candy canes
2 tbsp. of coffee

Preheat oven to 375F
Cream butter and sugar together in a blender
Add eggs, cappuccino mix, coffee, candy canes, salt, and baking powder together and mix the blender (this crushes up the candy canes)
Sift Besan flour into a separate bowl.
Pour liquid mixture and chocolate chips into flour and mix by hand with a large wooden spoon.
Drop SMALL spoonfuls onto a buttered cookie tray and bake for 7 min or until golden edges appear.

The cookies WILL spread quite wide on the tray as they cook, and will not rise super high. They tend to be fairly thin height wise, but the taste, OH MY!!! SOOOO GOOD 😀 And of course completely gluten-free!!!

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Chocolate Transforms Chickpeas!

So dear readers I’m sitting here eating my second cupcake, knowing that I won’t be sick from it because it’s gluten free (it’s also dairy free) as I was making a tester batch of cupcakes for a friend’s upcoming handfasting that are both gluten free and dairy free, to ensure that some of the guests can still enjoy them as well. I topped them with a chocolate hummus instead of icing to continue the dairy free theme, and fresh cut strawberries. SO GOOD!!!

Let me tell you, these are without a doubt the BEST cupcakes I have ever had in my life, and trust me, I did NOT get this curvy from avoiding delicious baked goods 😉

While I’m posting a link to the recipe, please note that I did make a few changes for mine:
1) I used applesauce instead of oil
2) I forgot the water
3) I used soy milk instead of cow’s milk.

I started with the chocolate hummus recipe found at the bottom of that same page, but made changes, I added about 2tsp more cocoa powder as I like a really rich taste, I added a 1/4 cup of coconut milk powder, and I used pure cocoa powder (from before they add milk ingredients to it) instead of nut butter.

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Two Seagulls, a payphone operator & chick peas

 “I’m not laughing at him, just the fact that you can’t make shit like that up!” ~ My husband after I was finished telling him the craziness of my afternoon with the boys.

It all started out innocently enough, G was napping and so I took the two boys to the YMCA for Family Gym time. They had a blast, as they always do 🙂 Well there was a bake sale helping to raise money for a local school to buy new sports equipment, and the boys wanted a cupcake each. Totally reasonable, only I didn’t think when I used all my change to donate for the cupcakes that I still had to call home when we were done to be picked up.

We go to the payphone and I realize, I just spent all of the cash I had on me so I tried to call collect, it wouldn’t let me, got an operator on the line and was told my number was blocked from accepting collect calls. SO I tried to do a third-party billing first to my home phone and she wouldn’t let me do it cause it was the same number for billing as calling so I tried to call my sister-in-law with my number as the one to pay the charges only to be told her number doesn’t exist. I beg to differ, I call her every day of course her number exists!






MH900227656So fine, we’ll walk home I decide since I can’t call home to get a ride. We get outside, N starts to run, wipes out on his head, his cupcake goes flying, two seagulls swoop down from nowhere and gobble up his cupcake, and while I’m trying to deal with the scrapes on his head he’s bawling “cake, cake, no bid no!” (Bid is his version of bird right now) Back into the YMCA we go, and I tell the receptionist what happened, she sees his head and kindly lets me call home. My mom brings $5 for me to donate for the new cupcake I get N.


imagesCAM66FYAWhile getting N’s I see a sign in front of some chocolate cupcakes that says gluten-free. SO deciding I need a treat as well I grab one, the guy tells me they’re made from chick peas. Now my darling, lovely, wonderful husband has made me food with chick peas in it before and to be polite we’ll just go with “its not to my taste” so privately I’m thinking I am going to totally NOT enjoy this cupcake now, but being polite I smile and say “oh wow, that’s fantastic!” and then I ate it. OH MY GODS! Whoever made those was a culinary GENIUS! They were the most delicious chocolate fudge cupcakes I have ever had in my life! And let’s be honest dear readers, these curves aren’t ONLY from pregnancy, they’re also from a deeply committed relationship with chocolatey goodness 😉 Now I am on the hunt for chick pea chocolate cupcake recipes because those will be the new chocolate cake/cupcakes that are made in this house!
If any of you happen to have a recipe for gluten-free deliciousness please pass them along 😀

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Organizing Foods

MH900430659 N gets very excited by how foods are presented in bakeries, delicatessens, and the like.   He’s happy to try many different foods from these places, but when presented with these same foods at home he is unwilling to eat them. I was speaking with a friend who asked me an absolutely brilliant question about it. She asked me if I thought it was because of how visual he is and how neat and organized the foods are in those types of places that he preferred them. She asked me if I’d put his food into lines on his plate before and if so what did he do. To be honest I hadn’t done it before. I’ve made pictures with his food (happy faces or cutting roasted potatoes in the shape of cars) but I hadn’t actually taken his foods and made lines on his plate with them. With how much he loves organization, and lines in general I am actually quite hopeful that this just might work to help him eat better/more. Considering he’s currently on supplementations of various vitamins as well as a meal replacement drink due to his lack of current food intake I’m totally excited at trying something that just might make a positive difference in the amount of healthy foods I am able to get him to eat and enjoy! Wish me luck dear readers, this momma’s about to get the mandolin out to make some super organized veggie and fruit lines 😀


Workshop: Informing The Village

Informing the VillageMy workshop “Informing the Village: A How To Guide On Informing Others About Your Child’s Autism” is in 10 days! I can’t wait to help other parents learn various ways to talk about their child’s diagnosis, and what it means specifically for their child with the different people in their child’s life. I’m really excited about it. I’ve gotten all of the handouts and samples ready to go!

It’s being hosted by Lindsay Asperger Autism Support and is being held at the Loblaw’s Community Room (located upstairs) at 400 Kent Street Lindsay Ontario.

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Autism is NOT a death sentence

Just over a month ago C and I made cookies for his home school group at the YMCA to help promote Autism Acceptance. With how positive of a reaction we received from them I asked one of the people who helps to coordinate the Orientation for Parents of Children Recently Diagnosed with Autism at Grandview Children’s Center if they would be interested in having some at their next orientation. She spoke with the her colleagues and they said yes. So today I went and got more business cards for the packages I’ll be dropping off Saturday morning. I’m happy that they said yes to them as I feel they do have a positive message to them. So often I hear of parents being absolutely desolate about their child’s diagnosis, and I think our perception as a society needs to change about that.

Last year on C’s 8th birthday his father and I were not with him. The night before, I called everyone that was supposed to come and told them that we had to post-pone his birthday party. Why? He’d done NOTHING wrong. We had to cancel his party and leave him with his Nana because we had a funeral to attend. A close friend’s 23 month old daughter had passed away. Now that was something to be absolutely desolate about. Her’s is a place that will forever be empty at their table, the memories of that beautiful precious little girl are what her parents get to hold instead of her. That is a truly devastating loss. One that those two parents must bear.

But to perceive a diagnosis of Autism as the same level of tragedy as the loss those parents deal with every single day is in my mind an insult to both the little girl who will never have a second birthday, as well as to the child diagnosed! It is NOT a tragedy that one’s child has been diagnosed with Autism, it is not something they will die from. Will there be some areas of their lives that are more challenging because of how their neuro-pathways work? Yes. But that’s what parents are for, to help their children to thrive to the best of the child’s abilities. Now I understand that some people would argue that a child classified as “Classic Autism” or as “Low-Functioning” does not have the same level of abilities to function as a child that is classified as “High-Functioning” I’m not arguing levels of abilities, but I am arguing that Autism is not a death sentence and should not be approached as one.  Yes there will be times that are hard for both parent and child. There will be times when as a parent you might not be sure how best to help your child. There will be times when they are judged negatively by others, when your parenting choices will be called into question by others, but all of those statements are true for parenting of any child!!!

To mourn the loss of the child you thought you had, the one that won’t _______ because they have Autism is unfair to your child. They are still the same child as they were prior to a diagnosis. They still have feelings, thoughts, dreams, wishes, fears, hopes just like any other child. Will they need different kinds of help or parenting than you originally thought you’d have to provide when you learnt you were going to become a parent, perhaps yes. But our job as parents is NOT to dictate what they need, but to observe them and their ways of communication to understand what each unique child needs us to provide them with and help them with.

These children can and do go on to lead lives that are happy and fulfilling for them, perhaps it’s not your definition of happiness and that’s okay because it’s not your life, it’s theirs. As long as your child is alive, and happy what on earth do you have to mourn???


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