Thursday, March 31, 2011

Challenging Fear

I have accepted many challenges this year.  One of the challenges from my New Year's Resolutions 2011 is:

7.  I resolve to try new things!  Things that make me uncomfortable or squeamish.  I've never tried sushi, (I don't like fish, somehow RAW fish doesn't sound better!!) or ran a 10k, or ... I don't know I'll have to see what I can come up with!!

So, I've been working on trying new things.  Things that make me uncomfortable.  It is in this spirit that I said yes to something that TERRIFIES me!

In the fall of 2009 I joined the Community Choir.  I like to sing.  I am not known for my singing abilities, but I figured, "In the choir, I can just... BLEND!"

photo of me "blending" with the choir last spring


Last week, our choir director decided we needed a soloist for one section of music.  It is ONLY 3 bars.  It is ONLY One sentence.  That doesn't sound bad, does it?  At the wrong moment I happened to look up and make eye contact!  (Note: NEVER MAKE EYE CONTACT IF YOU ARE TRYING TO AVOID SOMETHING!!!)

"Alice, how about you?" she said in her irresistible British accent.  As my face turns green, somehow I manage to exhale a reluctantly affirmative answer! OMG!  What was I getting myself into?

Lets get one thing straight.  I don't mind a spotlight, not horribly anyways.  I can speak to a group of people.  I even manage to seem somewhat relaxed when doing this.  BUT...

Singing in public???  That was already a VERY BIG stretch for me!  Now they want me to sing... ALL BY MYSELF!!!  (Excuse me for a moment while a blow into a paper bag, and try to inhale!)

But apparently some small, very small, somewhat crazy, part of myself figured this is something I can do... so here I go!  Now, I will practice like crazy, and do the best job that I possibly can.  If I manage to not turn into a pool of jelly, that will be quite the accomplishment!

And if you are sick and twisted, and want to see this torture in person, please... join me on April 30 for our Spring Concert!  We are performing a selection of pieces from Andrew Lloyd Webber.  The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Whitecourt United Church.

Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Menu Planning Week 13

Last week started out well, but then later in the week a few substitutions were made!  The roasted chicken ended up being roasted roosters! (see my Spring? and Population Control post if you are curious)  Naturally I made rooster soup next!  So this week I'll add the hamburger soup back onto my schedule!  Also, when I did my grocery shop last week I forgot my list in the car.  That wouldn't have been a problem, except that I was express shopping, in between activities! I only had 20 minutes to shop, and I didn't want to run back out to the car.  The only items I forgot were my pizza ingredients, so I did fairly well!

Wednesday- Meatloaf - Requested by Ryan

Thursday- Pea Soup

Friday- Homemade Pizza

Saturday- Gram's Chicken Pot Pie from

Sunday- Hamburger Soup - Recipe from The Big Cook Cookbook

Monday- Hamburger Soup Leftovers

Tuesday- Chicken and tortellini

Now, I'll make my grocery list and I'll be set for the week!  Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Barley Salad

There is no hidden meaning here!  This is not a post about beer!

I recently was inspired to try making a barley salad.  I love barley, and I have had it in a salad before, once, a long time ago.  This is not the usual salads in our house, but maybe now it will be!

My recipe was inspired by a couple of recipes I found online.  I combined the parts that sounded good.


1-1/2 cups dry Pot Barley
3 cups of water to cook barley

1 red pepper, diced
1 pkg. of grape tomatoes (I didn't have these today.)
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, finely chopped
1 cucumber, chopped (I didn't have this today.)
1 can of niblet corn, with the juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper

Cook barley in a similar fashion to rice.  It should absorb all of the water.
Cut/dice/slam chop all of your ingredients, and mix together with barley.

Substitute any vegetables that you like for ones that you don't.  If you think it might go, try it!  Judging from my boys' empty bowls, and Joe's second helping, my kids like it too!

Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hope for Japan

OUR HEARTS GO OUT TO THE VICTIMS OF THE EARTHQUAKE AND tsunami in Japan, and like so many of you, we’re eager to help. And helping has never been easier!
During April, purchase the exclusive “Hope for Japan” A-size stamp set for the special price of only $5 (retail value $8.75) and Close To My Heart will donate 100% of the profits to the American Red Cross efforts in Japan. This beautifully designed stamp set reminds us of how our hearts are hopeful for those who are in need.
Contact me today to get involved in this heart-worthy cause.

This stamp set is available until April 30, 2011.  Please contact me through my website: for any questions or to place an order.  Please note that I do not make commission on orders for these sets, as all the profits are being donated.  I will be happy to receive your order!

Have a whimsically wonderful day.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Deceptively Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today I would like to share a cookie recipe I like.  I have made these cookies twice, and I have been very happy with them both times.  
Jessica Seinfeld wrote a cookbook called Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.  The main secret in this book is to hide vegetables in otherwise fun foods that kids love.  I'm not about to make a bunch of purees to get my kids to eat healthier.  Luckily my kids are not that picky of eaters, and they like vegetables.  If this was a problem, maybe I would have a different attitude about making purees to hide vegetables!  

The "secret" ingredient in these cookies is Chickpeas, aka Garbanzo Beans.  Yes, REALLY!   And these cookies are delicious.

Deceptively Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup margarine
2 large egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla
1- 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups of flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray pan with cooking spray.

*Alice's edit to the recipe:  Puree the chickpeas, using the egg whites.  (the original recipe doesn't puree the chickpeas, but that wasn't attractive to me!)

Cream sugar and margarine.  Beat in vanilla, chickpeas (now mixed with egg whites) and chocolate chips.

Add flour, oats, baking soda and salt.  Mix until a thick dough is formed.

Drop onto baking sheet  by the tablespoonful.  Bake until the cookies are golden brown and just set, 11 to 13 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

I found a caloric breakdown online, click to enlarge:

These may not be the healthiest cookies, but they are COOKIES!  I find that the pureed chickpeas make them very soft, and they don't taste like chickpeas at all, they just taste great.  Enjoy!

I might try to make these cookies with less margarine, and I could definitely use fewer chocolate chips, this would help with the calorie count!  This batch is gone already... thankfully I had company and didn't eat them all myself!

Have a wonderfully whimsical day!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Project 365 Week 12

It's Saturday again, so it is time for the next instalment of my Project 365 photos!  If you missed the last one click the Project 365 tab at the top for a link to all of the posts. The goal of Project 365 is simple: take a candid photo every day for a year!  

The photos can be of anything, people, places, activities or objects.  The photos will tell a story about the interesting tidbits of your life for a whole year.  If this sounds like fun to you, join in!  This project does not need to be started on January 1, you can start any date, your birthday, anniversary or today!

I'm having some technical difficulties getting the photos off of my phone, so those are not available yet... I'll edit this post when I have everything working smoothly again.  For now, here is part of my week!

March 19 - My Shamrock I received from Joanne at our Progressive Dinner.
March 20 - The first day of Spring?
March 21 - Rooster population control.
March 23 - The boys have a tour of the RCMP station, including the squad car!
March 23 - (Bonus photo!)  Our little criminal!

I hope you have a whimsically wonderful day!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Trying New Things!

One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2011 was to try new things.  I'm proud to say that today I tried a new fruit.  It is called dragon fruit.

The fruit has the consistency of a kiwi, with a sweet but bland flavour.  The little black seeds crunch in your teeth the way kiwi seeds do.  It isn't my new favourite fruit, but it was okay.  I had some of it from a fruit tray, so I'm interested in how they look before they are cut open!  I'll have to get one so my boys can try it too!

Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Hairstyle: HELP!

It's been quite awhile since my last trip to the salon.  I am WAY overdue and I'm ready for a new look.  In order to plan for this new look I thought I would try out an online hairstyle selector.

I went to and uploaded this picture of me:

Then you simply choose the hairstyle you would like to try!  It was very easy!  Here's some of my results!

Reese Witherspoon hair, my face

Kim Cattrall hair, my face

Kim Cattrall hair, my face

Uma Thurman hair, my face

Uma Thurman hair, my face

Meg Ryan hair, my face

I think I'm going BLONDE!!!  Any favourites?  I could definitely use some advice!  My appointment is on April 1, so I have time to decide! 

Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Menu Planning Week 12

Here's my menu plan for this week!

Wednesday - left over Shepherd's Pie

Thursday - ham and scalloped potatoes

Friday - Roast Chicken and tortellini

Saturday - homemade pizza

Sunday - hamburger soup

Monday - left over hamburger soup

Tuesday - crock pot roast beef and vegetables

Have a wonderfully whimsical day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Personal Style Intervention Needed Again

After spending February working on my personal style with the 30 for 30 Challenge, I'm finding that March has been a lot more casual.  If you translate 'casual' into: laid back in my lulus and concert t-shirts you will understand what I mean!  YIKES!

It is time to get back on track, and work on that style.  I would like to find a couple items to add to my wardrobe.  I'd like to do this in a smart and calculated way, so first I'll be reviewing a few shopping strategies. 

Here are some handy links from  (a blog I have recently discovered!)

Back to Basics - The Rules

Pattern Mixing 101

Wardrobe Top 10 - Identifying Personal Style

I'll make up a wishlist of items that I could use in my wardrobe, and hopefully I'll get the opportunity to start the search this week!

Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring? and Population Control.

Yesterday was supposed to be the first day of Spring.  This is the weather we had yesterday...

So much for Spring!  The weather forecast shows that it will snow all week. Oh boy.

Yesterday was also the day our rooster population took a dive. The young roosters were picking on their poor old dad.  They had even kicked him out of the chicken coop! (I wouldn't want to live outside in this weather!!)  My boys said they would rather keep their old rooster, so the young ones had to go! The boys didn't have to butcher this time, but they did get to help pluck and clean. 

WARNING: This post contains photos of chickens being plucked/cleaned.  If you don't want to see this, don't scroll any further!


Guess who's having roast chicken this week?!!!

Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

April Challenge: Come Join Me!

2011 has been the Year of the Challenge for me!  This has been a wonderful experience for me and I'm truly enjoying myself.  In order to step up my game a bit I have found a new challenge for April, courtesy of Stuff Jewish Girls Like.

Jewish Girl is recommending Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, a workout DVD.  She has done this before and was thrilled with the results, so she's going to do it again and she invites everyone to join in the fun!

For more information about the Challenge go to the Jewish Girls post:  A Giveaway to Simultaneously Love and Hate.  There is also a give-away of everything you need to do the challenge!!

I'm taking the challenge, I hope you'll be inspired to join me in the fun!
Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Project 365 Week 11

It's Saturday again, so it is time for the next instalment of my Project 365 photos!  If you missed the last one click the Project 365 tab at the top for a link to all of the posts. The goal of Project 365 is simple: take a candid photo every day for a year!  

The photos can be of anything, people, places, activities or objects.  The photos will tell a story about the interesting tidbits of your life for a whole year.  If this sounds like fun to you, join in!  This project does not need to be started on January 1, you can start any date, your birthday, anniversary or today!

March 12 - Photo of my Mom and Nephew on his first birthday!  Permission to use photo requested.
March 13 - Venice scrapbook page from my Economical Scrapbook Class
March 14 - Me and Kim after Sorority at my house.
March 15 - No photo!
March 16 - Joe polishes his boots for cadets
March 17 - Green chicken for St. Patrick's Day!!!
March 18 - I wonder how big the bathtub for this rubber ducky is!!
March 18 - (Bonus photo for March 15) The boys get ready to load some groceries onto the Stuff a Bus for the local soup kitchen.

Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Fun Idea!

This year I have been trying all kinds of new challenges, and I just found a really fun idea!

Kaylah from The Dainty Squid posted about taking a photo every hour for one day.  I thought this was a very fun idea, so it is on my to-do list for the very near future!  

Would you like to document one day of your life?  I think I can manage to do this for ONE day, but I would never do it every day!

I hope you have a whimsically wonderful day!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  

The day where we all go GREEN and show our support for...


what IS this day all about?


I'll be wearing green, cooking green food, drinking green beverages and HAVING FUN!!


So a Happy St. Patrick's Day to you, and double that if you're Irish!

Photos of my "Green Day" to follow soon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Menu Planning Week 11

This past week was great.  Every meal went exactly as planned!  Here's my menu plan for this week.

Wednesday: Pulled pork, green beans and stuffing

Thursday:  GREEN supper for St. Patrick's Day... I'll try to post a photo of this one!!

Friday:  Stroganoff meatballs

Saturday:  Sorority Progressive Dinner:  I'll make a chicken dish.

Sunday:  Shepherd's Pie

Monday: Shepherd's Pie leftovers

Tuesday: Chicken and pasta

I hope you have a great week!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Economical Scrapbooking Class: Projects

Last week I posted a sneak peek of some photos that I was scrapbooking.  Now I will share my layouts!  They are from my Economical Scrapbooking Class held on Sunday, March 13, 2011.

All of the products used are available from Close to my Heart.  The paper line is called "Bliss".  I used photos from our trip to Venice.  I still have some finishing touches to do... mostly the journalling, but I thought I'd share the layouts now!

Have a wonderfully whimsical day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Laugh for You

I have a joke to share with you today!

A lot of folks can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in Canada.   

Well, there's a very simple answer,
Nobody bothered to check the oil.

We just didn't know we were getting low. 

The reason for this is purely geographical. 

Our Oil is located in:


Our DIPSTICKS are  located  in OTTAWA 

Any Questions ??? 
NO ?...  Didn't think so. 

I hope you have a wonderfully whimsical day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Homeschool Math: The Stock Market

Today Ryan came to me and told me he would like to buy some more stocks.   When he was a toddler he scribbled on a piece of paper and we entered it into the colouring contest at our bank.  He won!  The prize was 2 shares of The Walt Disney Company.  Since then Ryan receives a dividend cheque every year.  The cheque is for about 50 cents, but it makes Ryan think about the opportunities for making more money!  

Since he would like to buy more stocks I thought we should learn about investing, and dividend stocks.  There are some complicated ideas when it comes to investing, however, the idea of compound interest, and making passive income are two ideas that a kid can grasp very easily!

As we begin our study of this we are both learning a lot.  Ryan is quite content to listen to me read long passages about stocks, and dividends.  He is interested in the content, so that makes it easy.  If he wasn't interested this would not be so much fun.   This is one of the major benefits of homeschooling.  We can focus on the boys' interests, and show them that learning is not just something you do in school.

The math and formulas used in learning about investing are complementary to the math "schooling" we do.  Learning in this manner is a wonderful way to learn.  (Just like baking and comparison shopping are great complements to fractions.) 

When Ryan has finished his stock research I'll pass along his stock choices, and his reasons why he chose those stocks.  Perhaps I will create a series that tracks his financial progress.

I hope you let some learning into your life today!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Project 365 Week 10

It's Saturday again, so it is time for the next instalment of my Project 365 photos!  If you missed the last one click the Project 365 tab at the top for a link to all of the posts. The goal of Project 365 is simple: take a candid photo every day for a year!  The photos can be of anything, people, places, activities or objects.  The photos will tell a story about the interesting tidbits of your life for a whole year.  If this sounds like fun to you, join in!  This project does not need to be started on January 1, you can start any date, your birthday, anniversary or today!

March 5 - Scrapbooking at the Legion event in Mayerthorpe.
March 8 - Cookie does the pre-wash cycle.
March 9 - Joe 'On Parade' at cadets... first night in his uniform!
March 10 - Mmmm...
March 11 - Ryan gets dressed in the 'Bomb Jacket' at the army base.
March 11 - Joe tried out the 'Bomb Jacket' at the army base.  (Bonus photo for missing other days!)
March 11 - The kids thought the army vehicles were great... until they got to spin in the turret... then they were AWESOME!  (Bonus photo!)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sneak peek!

Would you like to know what I'm scrapbooking right now?  Here's a little sneak peek!

Do you know where we were?  (photos from November of 2009)
I'll post the very obvious answer with my scrapbook layouts next week!

Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cat Lover?

I'm not exactly a cat person.  When I was a kid we had some outside kitties, but we never had a house cat.  I did dream of having one of those adorable white fluffy kittens from the toilet paper commercial, but fortunately that dream was never realized.  

One of my favourite authors... possibly my favourite... depends on the day, is Jen Lancaster, author of Bitter is the New Black, (my review here) and some other awesome, amazingly fantastic books.  She has a blog called jennsylvania and she tends to post absolutely hilarious things about her life.  Jen loves dogs and cats, and has a few of each.  This is her most recent blog post.  I dare you to read this and try not to laugh!

The Drawer of Shame and Other Assorted Oddities

Have a wonderful, laughter-filled day!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Menu Planning Week 10

Another week of menu plans!  Here's what we'll be eating this week.  It is amazing how easy grocery shopping has become, now that I do this simple task of planning our weekly meals.

Wednesday - Corn Chowder

Thursday - Corn Chowder left overs!

Friday - Crock Pot Roast with vegetables

Saturday - Dinner at my nephew's first birthday

Sunday - Beef Stew

Monday - Sweet and Sour Meatballs and rice

Tuesday - Spaghetti and Meatballs

Have yourself a wonderfully whimsical day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Reading: Painless

Not too long ago I downloaded a free copy of Painless into my iBooks on my iPhone.  Painless is the first published novel by Derek Ciccone.  To purchase from Amazon there is a link at the bottom of this post.

I was fairly new to the iBook format, and in the 'free' section I mostly found classic stories, not much for modern fiction.  I downloaded Painless and didn't start reading it right away.  When I finally started reading, I was disappointed that I had waited so long!

Painless is the story of Billy Harper, a struggling writer, who rents a guest house from Chuck and Beth Whitcomb.  As part of the rental arrangements he agrees to babysit four-year-old Carolyn Whitcomb.  As Bill warms to "princess" Carolyn's winsome ways, he soon discovers that Carolyn is not your normal four-year-old little girl.

The plot is complicated by a covert military organization which takes an interest in Carolyn's interesting ability/disability.  Billy soon finds himself on the run, trying to protect Carolyn from this dangerous threat.

I found this story to be captivating right from the start.  The characters are interesting, and flawed, just like real people.  I found myself laughing at the cute things Carolyn said, and fascinated by Carolyn's special ability.  Carolyn's 'ability' became a major issue for contemplation while reading this book.  I found myself constantly trying to imagine what life would have been like for Carolyn, or for the people that love her.

I would highly recommend this book!  Painless by Derek Ciccone will keep you reading and get you thinking, and that makes a great book!

Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Flight Test

Today Jonas went for his Flight Test... his second last step on his way to getting his Private Pilot's License.  He did an awesome job!  He got 96%.  The examiner said that is the highest mark he has ever given out!  Congratulations Jonas, I'm so proud of you... I can't wait until you are finished and we can go flying!

Have a wonderfully whimsical day,

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Reading: The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a classic children's novel.  I'm not sure that I would have enjoyed this story as a child, however as an adult I found it a very captivating story. Some of the language, mainly the "York accent" would have been off-putting to me as a kid.  As an adult however, I found it intriguing.

I really enjoyed the way the secret of the garden captivates the imagination of all who hear about it.  I love the strong-willed little Mary, who does not understand how to "fit" into regular societal norms due to her unusual upbringing in India. 

I love how so many perceptions in the story are actually realized to be misperceptions.  I love how the garden is kept somewhat wild and unruly, while still tended with love.  I think this book has a lot to love. 

If you have never ready The Secret Garden I would definitely recommend it.  When you are done reading it, go straight into The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  (My review here.)  Having just read The Secret Garden, I realize how important it is to read before reading Kate Morton's wonderful book.  I wish I had read it first.  I might reread The Forgotten Garden now that I know this story.

Happy reading!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Project 365 Week 9

It's Saturday again, so it is time for the next instalment of my Project 365 photos!  If you missed the last one click the Project 365 tab at the top for a link to all of the posts. The goal of Project 365 is simple: take a candid photo every day for a year!  The photos can be of anything, people, places, activities or objects.  The photos will tell a story about the interesting tidbits of your life for a whole year.  If this sounds like fun to you, join in!  This project does not need to be started on January 1, you can start any date, your birthday, anniversary or today!

February 26 - The Red Velvet Cake I made for my dad's birthday.
February 27 - The beautiful bathroom in my scrapbook room.
February 28 - He sleeps.
March 1 - Joe tries to get Cookie to pose for a photo.
March 2 - Joe in his new Air Cadet uniform.
March 3 - Making brownies at midnight.

"Photo of my nephew chewing on a toy dino"
March 4 - Babysitting "Nephew" today was fun!
(photo withheld as permission has not been requested yet)

I am FINALLY catching up my scrapbook, so the update will come soon!

Have a whimsically wonderful day!

Friday, March 4, 2011

In Pursuit of Happiness

This weekend I plan to spend time doing things that I love.  Since this will be such a happy time for me I thought I would share some wonderful quotes about happiness.  My favourite part about these particular quotes is that they all depend on you.  Enjoy!

If you want to be happy, be.  ~Leo Tolstoy

Happiness is never stopping to think if you are.  ~Palmer Sondreal

Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad.  ~Norm Papernick

What a wonderful life I've had!  I only wish I'd realized it sooner.  ~Colette

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.  ~James Openheim

There are two things to aim at in life:  first, to get what you want; and after that, to enjoy it.  Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.  ~Logan Pearsall Smith, Afterthoughts, 1931

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to be so.  ~John Stuart Mill,Autobiography, 1873

If you are not happy here and now, you never will be.  ~Taisen Deshimaru

Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.  ~Joseph Addison

On the whole, the happiest people seem to be those who have no particular cause for being happy except that they are so.  ~William R. Inge

All quotes from:

I hope you have a happy, wonderful day!