Friday, 31 October 2014

Ooey Gooey Homemade Mac and Cheese

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So this week has been a bit of a blur. The flu has been running rampant through our house, knocking me right out, and knocking Mya out for a couple of days too. But she's now completely recovered, and I'm just on the mend. But Halloween comes whether we're sick or not.

Tonight is one of those nights that is fun, exciting, spooky and (my favourite part) will make memories for your kids that they just won't forget. But it's also a night that always feels a bit rushed, getting the kids home from school and daycare, getting dinner made and filling up their bellies with something other than candy before they go out and stock up on all the good stuff. So, I thought it was only appropriate to share a quick and easy dinner recipe that you could make before heading out to trick or treat tonight...and (the best part), your kids will actually eat it!    

It's Terry's mom's homemade mac and cheese.

We absolutely LOVE it.

And the great thing about mac and cheese is that the kids love it too. So I decided that it was about time to learn how to make her famous dish since I was trying to track down yummy, easy recipes that I could make large batches of and freeze. So, I thought it was only appropriate to share this delicious recipe, since I technically stole it myself.

So with Judy by my side the other week, she took me through each part of the recipe step by step, and we came away with the most delicious ooey, gooey mac and cheese that you'll ever taste. I promise. And (bonus!) it's not full of all of that bright powdered cheese that I usually use for the mac and cheese in this household.

So, if you want to try it yourself here is how you do it: *These measurements are all approximate, so if you want to add a little more or a little less it won't hurt!

1/4 cups melted butter
1 onion diced
salt and pepper to taste
approx  1/2 cup of flour (or until melted butter thickens up)
4-5 cups of milk
3 cups grated cheese (I used marble, but you can choose whatever you prefer)
4-5 cups of elbow noodles (or throw the whole bag in like I did and once you've made your sauce you can add however many noodles you want and just freeze the leftover noodles for an even quicker meal next time!)
Bread crumbs (as much or as little as you prefer as a topping)

Add butter and onions to large pot on stove and cook until onions are translucent and soft.

Then slowly add your flour, mixing until it looks like the picture below (where the moisture from the butter is soaked up and you have almost a paste surrounding your onions).

In a separate pot, boil your noddles until soft. Drain water and place to the side for later.

Shred your cheese and place to the side for later.

Pour milk SLOWLY into the pot with the onion and flour paste, keeping it on medium heat, stirring constantly. Then start adding your cheese slowly, stirring constantly.  

Once it starts to boil just a little and the cheese is melted, start slowly adding your noodles until it's as ooey gooey as you like it (I like a lot of sauce on my pasta, so I added less noodles).

Judy, the master mac and cheese expert, showing me how it's done. 

Keep stirring until completely mixed together.

Pour noodles into large baking dish

Pour a thick layer of bread crumbs over entire dish

Put in oven at 350 for approx 20-30 minutes. The sauce will get thick and ooey gooey as it cooks. Once cooked, let it sit for a few minutes on the counter to thicken up even more, then serve. I also sauteed up some green beans as a side dish, and voila--easy dinner!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Erica xo

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Loss and get aways

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I didn't even know how important this past week was until I started seeing Facebook posts, telling me that this particular day actually exists. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day was October 15th and as I scrolled through my Facebook feed and saw how many other people share a story similar to ours it brought me back to all of the same feelings of loss that we experienced not too long ago.

I couldn't figure out why I was so upset as September came to an end. I was extra emotional, finding myself wiping away tears in the silence of my car, waking up sad, going to bed sad, just feeling utter sadness. I remember feeling like my only real distraction from this dark space was going to work every day--being so incredibly distracted by the 27 little four and five year olds who needed every ounce of me that there was no time at all for my own thoughts anymore. But then the moment that I left, got into my car and back to reality I found myself upset and sad once again. What is happening to me?? I remember thinking to myself. I don't do this. I don't usually ever feel this way. And if I do, I'm usually able to quickly focus on something great and get over the hump. My family noticed it. Terry noticed it. And finally I confessed to Terry late one night what was going on.

My due date was quickly approaching--my OLD due date.

I wasn't expecting to have to go through mourning all over again at this point. I wasn't prepared for the flood of emotions to come creeping back into my life once again, as if we just lost the baby this week...not six months ago. But it's happening. And I debated about writing about it, but then decided that maybe it might be helpful to others who have experienced this same know and be prepared that this might happen to you too. Because I never expected it. But it's difficult, because you start to realize that at this point your hospital bags would have been packed, your belly would have been beautifully huge, your nursery would have been completely finished, and in a couple short weeks you would have been holding your precious little baby in your arms. And it hits you, hard.

I somehow expected too that since I'm pregnant again that it would ease those feelings. That it wouldn't feel so awful. That the sadness would be replaced by the fact that we're so so grateful to be carrying another child. That we know how lucky we are, so we would somehow then move on faster from the loss that we experienced before. But it's not true. Not true at all. We're beyond thrilled about this new pregnancy and so incredibly grateful...but still so sad thinking about the baby that we lost.

I haven't wanted to explain it or talk about it with anyone, including Terry and my own family, since if I talk about it it becomes real all over again and I knew a breakdown would be imminent. But a couple minutes ago, Terry came and hung over my shoulder and asked me what I was writing about...and the flood gates opened once again.  

So we're at Blue Mountain right now. Just Terry and I. Because when your daughter is a mess and you just don't know what to do, you quickly come up with a plan to send her and her hubby away, just the two of them. You book a beautiful chalet for them, book a couples massage and take their two sweet children for a weekend away at Nana and Papa's house (and you of course do the same for Jen and Jeff sometime, since everything is always always equal of course). You tell them to relax, sit by the fireplace, read a book, go for a swim, walk through the village hand in hand, eat out, order a drink other than water for dinner and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the quiet mountains.  

So that's exactly what we've been doing.

Our beautiful chalet that we're staying in...well, a section of it. 

I've been reading my trashy magazines, catching up on the latest celebrity gossip...

and we've made frequent visits to the hot tub, me sitting on the edge with my feet just dangling in (since over-heating this baby isn't exactly on the list of things to do this weekend) and Terry fully enjoying the blissful heat and relaxation...both options still wonderfully peaceful. We've walked through the village, indulging in delicious pieces of fudge and warm glasses of hot chocolate with whip cream. We've sat by the fireplace each morning, eating huge delicious breakfasts that we didn't have to make ourselves, while sipping on orange juice. We laid side by side for a couples massage at the spa and scoped out every possible fireplace in this place to sit by, because there is absolutely nothing more peaceful and relaxing than sitting by a roaring fire. And it doesn't even matter that the weather is frigidly cold and rainy, or that I have bronchitis and can't get through a few sentences without coughing up a lung--because we've been placed in this little paradise, and it's therefore hard to feel anything but happiness while here. Sometimes a break from reality is necessary to pull you out of grief and start fresh again.

Thank you mom and dad for such an amazing time away. We'll do the same for our kids one day when they really need it too--we promise.

Speaking of which, we're missing them like crazy...time to get packed up and head home to see those two sweet little faces.

Happy Sunday everyone, and love to all of those parents who have experienced loss and who are grieving (or who have grieved) the same way that we have.

Love Erica xo  


Saturday, 11 October 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

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Just in case you need a bit more food to fill up your belly this Thanksgiving weekend...I thought I'd share a recipe that is so darn delicious that you might not even mind that it's not pumpkin pie. 

They're called Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars...and they're so so good. 

 I found this recipe online and just had to try it...and I'm so glad that I did because they're super easy, super delicious...and full of chocolate peanut butter goodness.

Taste testers agree.

So, if you want to try them for you go.


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar 
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Then set aside for later. 

In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together sugars, peanut butter and butter until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated.

On low speed, add flour mixture and mix until flour is incorporated. 

Fold in peanut butter chips and chocolate chips by hand. 

Transfer mixture into a greased or foil-lined 9 by 13inch pan and press to an even layer.

Bake at 350 degrees for 16-20 minutes or until centre is set. 

Allow bars to cool completely before cutting into bars...then enjoy!!
Makes 24 delicious bars.  

 Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Erica xo

Saturday, 4 October 2014

From faint to dark

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It's taken me a lot to get to this point.

Over three months of panic, worry and completely trying to (unsuccessfully of course) detach myself from the feelings of complete and utter love and excitement that I undoubtedly feel...trying to avoid the possibility of terrible heartache once again.

Because...I'm pregnant.

It's taken me a lot of courage to even start telling people this time, because when you have a miscarriage (at least for me) it somehow feels like if you acknowledge the pregnancy, speak of it, or allow yourself to fall so completely in love with this little being as you always might be taken away from you again.

But I'm over three months pregnant now and after seeing our three month ultrasound and watching our sweet little baby bouncing around and watching that flicker of his/her heartbeat, I feel like I'm finally able to let my guard down now. I feel like I can breathe again. And I can't even begin to tell you how excited Terry and I are.

I still remember it like it was yesterday--the day that we found out.

We had just put the kids to bed, back at our old house, and I started to sneak back upstairs to quietly take another pregnancy test, when I heard Terry coming up the stairs behind me.

"I'm going to take another one" I said to him.

And I snuck into the bathroom, pretending that I was fine with whatever the test might say...preparing myself for another negative result.

So when I glared at that little stick, watching one line quickly appear...and then nothing else, I slumped myself over and took myself back downstairs, telling Terry that it was negative again. And he hugged me, reassured me that one day we'd see those two beautiful little lines and that we'll just have to be patient.

I hoped that he was right.

So I went back upstairs to throw the test in the garbage, but as I took one last look at that little line I thought I might actually be losing my mind--because I swear I might have seen an incredibly incredibly faint second line now.

"WHAT?!" I said right out loud.

And I grabbed that little test right off the bathroom counter and held it so close to my eyeballs that it started to go blurry. Then I held it up to the light---oh my gosh, still a very faint second line. So I ran into our bedroom, convincing myself that I might have actually just willed my eyes to see this extra line that I wanted to see so badly...and I held it up to our bedroom light and squinted my eyes, not believing what I was actually seeing.

A SECOND FAINT LINE. I'm not crazy.

So I ran downstairs, almost falling on the way down since my legs were moving faster than I could even keep up with...and I swung myself around the corner to the living room where Terry was, waving that little test above my head.

"There's a faint line!" I said. "I swear...I see it".

And I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him over to the light.

"Look!" I said,  "It's right there...squint your eyes, you'll see it too".

So he took that little test in his hands, and tried to see what I swear I saw.

He smiled for a second, then quickly got serious. "I don't know honey", he said, "I kind of see it I think, but I'm worried about getting too excited right now, because what if it's not actually positive? I don't want us to be disappointed if it's not true".

So I ran upstairs and took another one of course.

Same deal.

So we waited another day, and I think I took a million tests after that, each of them progressively getting darker and darker second lines.

So it was real. It was true.

And finally that last perfect little ultrasound proved it.

We're having another baby.

Erica xo

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