Marbled Chocolate Banana Loaf

I wanted to make banana bread since my freezer has more bananas in it than a Costa Rican market. I looked for a recipe to use, but I didn’t really find anything appealing, so I just made one up. It turned out surprisingly well. To make it special I melted a little chocolate and mixed that in. I tried to ‘marbelize’ it, but as you will see I didn’t do a very good job.

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Here’s the recipe:

Mix together:
3 ripe bananas, mashed well
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
splash of vanilla

Mix together:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup spelt flour (or other whole grain flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
sprinkle of salt

Mix the two together, just until combined.

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Melt some chocolate in a double boiler over water. I used a chunk of chocolate easter bunny, but use whatever you want. If you use really dark chocolate you may want to add some more sugar. I added a splash of milk to help it smooth out. You will want to end up with about half a cup of chocolate.

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Once the chocolate is melted, stir in about half of your batter.

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Pour the two batters into a greased loaf pan, and then run a butter knife through to (hopefully) achieve a marble effect. You may prefer to add spoonfuls of each batter to better marble them.

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Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Let it cool, then slice and eat!

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Very moist, and super delicious!

Chocolate Pudding

These days I don’t have much spare time to try new recipes, but this recipe is pretty quick and uses ingredients that we always have. I used 2% milk (from the freezer) instead of whole milk, I had to add about a tablespoon more cornstarch, though I’m not sure if this is related.

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The verdict? It was good, very creamy and smooth. I don’t think it’s as rich and chocolatey as the pudding I used to make (which I never used a recipe for), but some people like that.

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Pudding is such a great thing to make because it’s easy, quick and a crowd-pleaser. It’s one of those things, I think, that people don’t really make anymore since it’s so easy to buy. but it is so worth it to make your own.

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On Illness

This weekend I was struck down with my first and only sickness this school year. Not one cold, flu or bug afflicted me all through the long winter (which is a big deal to someone who works with children all day). But then Spring shows her face and bam, strep throat. Fever, aches, super sore throat, major headache and nausea were all suffered. But after a couple days of long naps, and lots of water I am already feeling better. Not one hundred percent, but just about. I think I must be doing something right, immune system wise. Or maybe after a few years of sneezing, coughing, nose running children, I’ve caught everything there is to catch!

I’m really hoping that this boasting about my run of health doesn’t jinx me, there is nothing worse than a long cold during Spring!

Hope everyone else out there is feeling well and enjoying lovely weather!

Spring Garden

That time of year I waited and waited for has finally arrived. The snow has melted (all but a stubborn bit of ice blocking access to our shed), the grass is starting to awaken and the sun beckons me to come outside.

There are no flowers yet, but our strawberry plants look very alive and the garlic I planted so long ago in the fall has little green shoots sticking up in rows. I don’t remember planted so many cloves. We even noticed that one of the elephant garlics we planted last spring shot up! Also our carrots from last summer finally grew, though the frost has since killed them. We are just no good with carrots.

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To speed things along we have started some seeds in the house. The tomatoes don’t seem to be doing anything, but everything else has little green stems. We even are trying to start some sweet potatoes. We stuck them in a jar with one end in water and there are now some little roots poking out!

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Our birch sap has started to run as well. Birch syrup and garlic for all!

It’s so nice to be back to the season of new life, rather than looking out to yet another snow storm. My heart goes out to my Mom. Her town is still buried under several feet of snow!

Ultimate Blog Party- 2014

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This year I’m participating in Ultimate Blog Party, which is a way to introduce people to bloggers and also, I think, a great way to build community among bloggers.

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So anyways, onto the introductions. My name is Christy, I live in Ontario with my husband and two cats. We try to live simply, frugally and sustainably. I enjoy crafting, cooking, travelling and being outside. Those are pretty much also the things I write about, with some cat pictures thrown in for good measure.

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So have a look around, if you find something you like let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for visiting!

April Goals

The day before April it was as if Spring just all of a sudden arrived (kind of). It’s warm enough for no winter coat now and I’m finally back in sneakers after the long months of boots. With the changing season comes some of my favourite things. Walks outside, eating breakfast beside a sunny window, Cadbury cream egg McFlurries, and some of my less favourite things; Homer meowing at the door for hours wanting to go outside, and mud.

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(That’s his eager, ‘take me outside to eat grass’ face)

This is kind of a crazy month for us. We have both been so busy lately. We are hosting Easter at our house and we have visitors coming this weekend so we are trying to finish painting the living room. This has made the house a disaster zone. Right now it looks like this:

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(No those aren’t spots on the camera, there were actually that many holes that had to be plastered, I think the previous owners practiced darts on every wall)

There is plaster dust everywhere.

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My goals for this month are fairly light because of the busyness and because I’m sure I will be doing a lot of backyard jobs.

1. Train/exercise 3 times per week. In May we are participating in the WWF CN Tour Climb. Where I will be, you guessed it, climbing the CN Tour, a total of 1 776 stairs. We definitely need to start training.

2. Finish my quilt. I’ve been working on a triangle quilt. I’m so sick of cutting triangles, but I only have 94 left to go. Then I can start the fun parts.

3. Clean up the garage. Since we moved we the garage has been a dumping ground. It is a huge mess! We will be having a garage sale at some point and getting rid of most of the junk (hopefully). Then we can create some organization systems for in there.

4. Clean up the yard. The winter wasn’t kind to our yard this year. Once the ground fully thaws I want to clean everything up and plant some flowers. Most of our vegetable seeds having already been started inside.

I know the month will go fast, so I’m just really hoping to get outside and enjoy it!

I really wanted to end this post with a picture of some beautiful Spring flowers for you, but alas all we have are tiny green stumps and garlic shoots. Not so pretty.

Road Trip Planning Tools

Two years ago we took a big trip West. We drove from Ontario, all the way to the coast. We were gone about three weeks, and drove through five provinces and six states. It took a lot of planning, but I honestly love planning trips. It is one of my favourite things to do.

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This summer we are planning another fairly big road trip. This one will be shorter, and cover much less geographic area. We are heading East, and will be gone for about two weeks. We will drive through Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, then take a ferry to Newfoundland. On the way back we might go through Maine, just to change things up.

This time around I have learned a few things and I thought I would detail my steps to planning a big trip.

The first thing is obviously to choose a destination. I don’t really have any strategies for this, since I don’t really know how we’ve chosen where to go for any of our trips. For Belize I think I searched something like ‘best places to see marine life’ and it was on the list. Random.

Anyways, once you know where you going, the next thing to do is check it out on a map (I used Google Maps). This is where I can see if there are any cool places along the way that I would like to build into the trip. I also plot all of the places I want to go to choose the smartest route.

At the same time I start researching the best things to see and do wherever I’m going. I used guide books from the library and internet searches for this. I find the TripAdvisor forums are great for this, because there are often people who provide there itineraries and what they loved or didn’t. Be sure to look off the beaten path as well. Some of the best places we’ve been to definitely weren’t common tourist attractions. We went to a National Park in Saskatchewan and I think we were the only people there, but it was stunning.

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On the same note, don’t be afraid to leave the highway (the literal beaten path). We drove up a twisty, narrow dirt road for about half and hour (and then back down) to get to this place:

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And it’s now one of our favourite places ever.

Before you get your heart set on a particular activity or location make sure to make it to make sure it isn’t too out of the way from your planned route.

Make sure to have lists of places to stay and eat, but also leave some room for flexibility.

Once you have your mapped out route, and a list (with addresses) of things to do, see and eat, the next step is budgeting.

On a road trip it is a lot harder to keep track of expenses, then if you were flying somewhere and staying in the same hotel the whole time.

I use a spreadsheet. Seriously. I have a column for accommodations, food, gas, and activities. A list would work fine too, but I like to be organized. Obviously it is just an educated guess. Having a strict budget would take some of the fun out of it, but at least this way you know the ball park cost. A really helpful website I recently found is Gasbuddy. You type in your car model and year, and then where you are going and it tells you how much it will cost for fuel. This is great if you are going somewhere where you may not know how much gas costs. Like this place, which was the only gas station in the boundaries of what is probably Canada’s most visited National Park, so they just charged whatever they wanted (which was A LOT!).

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So, that’s more or less what I do. It seems to have worked well so far. Kurt wants to drive to Alaska someday. I think that will be a true test of my trip planning abilities!