"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf -

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Banana Cake

I love bananas because they force me to bake something yummy once in a while (or I can throw them in the freezer until I'm ready to deal with them)!  This banana cake recipe came from my friend Tammy and I absolutely love it.  The cake is light and the icing is fabulous!
I also love the blue star plate that I got in Target a while back.  It's my tribute today to my American friends - Happy 4th of July!

So, do you want the recipe?

Banana Cake
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 4 tbsp hot water
1 cup mashed bananas (I use 3)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs.  Mix soda and water and add to mashed bananas.  Mix dry ingredients together.  Alternate dry and wet ingredients.  (Or if you're like me and have a Bosch, mix all your wet ingredients and then throw in all your dry ingredients.)
Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes in a 9x13 pan.

Icing  (I double it!)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
3/4 cup icing sugar

Melt butter - add sugar and milk.  Remove from heat and add sifted icing sugar.
Pour over your cake when it comes out of the oven.

Oh doesn't that look delicious?

I recently used the cake recipe without the icing and made it into banana bread.  I used two tin foil loaf pans and it worked wonderfully.  Loaves seem to cook more evenly when they're baked in tin foil pans - and it's so much easier to get the loaf out of the pan when your pan is flexible!  Next time I might throw in some chocolate chips, or chopped walnuts, or coconut too!
Yup, sure do love bananas!

Canada Day

Happy Canada Day!!!

July 1, 1867 - Canada got its start.
Sir John A. MacDonald played a major part!

So if we do the math, today is Canada's 144th Birthday!!!

One thing I admire about our neighbours to the south is how patriotic they are.  They LOVE the Fourth of July and go all out in decorating and partying to celebrate their Independence Day.  I don't think we do half as much celebrating as they do. 

I have a few Canadian decorations like this garden stake that sits in the garden all summer.

And I have this wooden flag on my porch.  The other side of the board is a little house with the words Simple Life on it.  I usually have that side showing all summer and then rotate it to the flag side for the holidays.

My porch animals keep moving - they're alive!!!

But one of my favourite sights on Canada Day is this . . .
. . . our Flag!

The youth in each ward in town have an annual fundraiser.  We pay $30 and they will put a flag up in our yard for every holiday from Victoria Day in May to Thanksgiving in October. 

I love to see all the flags flying around the neighbourhood on all the holidays, but they look especially grand today, on Canada's Birthday.

"God keep our land glorious and free,
O Canada we stand on guard for thee,
O Canada we stand on guard for thee."



Black Forest in a Bowl

This is one of our families all time favourite desserts.  And I love it because it's easy - kids can help!!!  And you can make it as big or small as you need so it's great for feeding a crowd.

 All you need are these four ingredients.
And you don't need this much whipping cream.  It was nearing expiry date and I needed to use it - so we just made our Black Forest a little more creamy than usual.

Bake your chocolate cake - we often do this the night before.  And you don't need to grease your pan or anything either.

Have one of your children rip apart the cooled cake into bite size chunks and line all the edges of your bowl.  We're using the lovely huge stainless steel bowl - the one that got dented when Carlee used it as a toboggan!

You'll notice we still have some cake left in the pan once all the bowl edges are lined.  We'll use that later, or eat it!!!

Make one package of instant chocolate pudding.

Have another kid whip up the whipping cream.

The first batch of chocolate pudding gets poured on top of all the chocolate cake.  I find it easier to pour in before the pudding has set too much.  Let it set in the pan between chunks of cake.

We put a layer of whipped cream over the pudding because we had all that whipping cream, but usually we don't - tastes great either way.  Now find another kid to spread the cherry pie filling over all the whipped cream.  (Carlee noticed that her dress matches the dessert!)

And find another kid to rip up the rest of the chocolate cake and throw it in on top of the cherries.

This helps fill up the hole in the middle of the bowl.

Now for the final package of chocolate pudding poured over top of the new layer of cake.

And the rest of the whipped cream goes on top.  We added a few chocolate shavings.  Cherries also look lovely on top.

We fed twelve people on Fathers' Day and used just over half the bowl - and they were pretty generous portions.  The leftovers tasted great the next day, so no worries!!!

We also love the vanilla version - white cake, vanilla pudding, banana slices, whipped cream and Skor bits.
Give them both a try - I dare ya!!! 

Chocolate Pretzel Treats

End of school rolls around and suddenly I have three kids who need treats for the parties they're having in their band classes.  Why couldn't they play the instruments that are assigned to bring a bag of chips?

Then, suddenly, I remembered something wonderful!!!  I remembered that I had pinned something on Pinterest (your online bulletin board for "pinning" things that interest you) that would be perfect for class parties.  You can check that post out here at How Does She.  And you really should check it out because she uses Rolos instead of Macaroons and has other yummy ideas too. 

The first step is to find a slave willing helper to place all the pretzels on the cookie sheet.

Next you'll want to give your baby a pretzel so she doesn't grab some from the perfectly placed pretzel platter.  (Skip this step if you don't have a baby.)

Then you place a chocolate of your choice on each pretzel.  Notice I have two different kinds of Macaroons.  The light coloured ones I bought but then ran out.  So I had to raid my food storage stash where I happen to have a case or two of Macaroons (must have comfort food in storage, and nothing is more comforting than chocolate and coconut!!!). 

Okay, this should be the first step - set your oven clock to 8:29 and your oven temperature to 350 degrees.  You're gonna pop these trays in the oven for about three minutes - just enough time to get the chocolate soft, but not completely melted.  To save energy, I suggest you might want to do this when you're baking something else, or you could put them out in the sun if it's hot out - hey, a new camping recipe!!!

Gather your slaves troops to press the peanut M&M's into the chocolate while it's all soft and pliable.

Work fast as they cool down pretty quickly. 
You could press anything on top - peanuts, almonds, skittles, smarties, gummy bears, radishes, jujubes, peas, marshmallows, etc.  Do specific colours to match special occasions (like Valentine colours Smarties for Valentines Day).  Oh the possibilities!!!

Aren't they cute?  And they're delicious eaten warm or cold.  I love the little bit of saltiness from the pretzels mixed with all the sweets.

Now I know what you're wondering:  how did the kids like them at the band parties?  Well, Carlee reported that they were the biggest hit at the grade 7 party.  Jas said the kids in the high school band would skeptically ask what they were.  After she explained and they tried one, they kept wanting more!

Now here is the rule:  You're welcome to make these for your kids' parties too unless I have a kid in your kids class.  If that's the case, sorry, but you'll have to come up with your own treat!!!

Now, once again, I know what you're wondering:  that's only two band parties, I thought you had three parties that needed treats?  Well you're right, but Jordyn needed a gluten free treat.  But not to worry - I had another pin on Pinterest!!!  This one was called Peanut Butter Corn Chip No Bake Cookies.  I forgot to take pictures but you can check that out here at Skip To My Lou.  Mmmm - so good!

Map of Canada Pillow

I home-school my kids from Kindergarten to Grade 3.  So, I like to have educational things around, but I don't want my house to look like a classroom (unless it's the actual "school room" like we had in one house).  But most of our learning seems to happen right on the couch so the the old teacher can be comfortable!!!  So, a Map of Canada Pillow seems like the perfect addition to our home school - comfort and education in one!!!

Somewhere in blogworld, I've seen two maps of the USA.  They were both wall hangings - one was fabric and one was paper.  (Sorry, this was before Pinterest so they were only "pinned" in my mind and I have no link to send you to!).  But they were my inspiration to make a map of Canada.  Let me just say that 10 provinces and 3 territories is just a wee bit easier than 50 states!!!

The first step is to find a map you like.  I found a ton on Google and any regular person could just print a map out.  I'm not a regular person and decided to make this project take a little longer by tracing a map off my daughters school agenda.
(Actually, I don't have a printer right now!)
Now, listen carefully:  I used Heat and Bond (my second favourite thing after Mod Podge!), and the image you trace on the Heat and Bond needs to be backwards.  So, I traced my map with a marker that went through the paper, so I had the reverse image on the back of the paper.  And then I copied it, but you don't need to do that.

You trace your reversed image onto the paper side of the Heat and Bond and then roughly cut it out.

I initialled the provinces because when they're backwards its easy to get mixed up.  These are all pressed now onto the wrong side of the fabric (follow the instructions on your Heat and Bond!)

Now you cut them out properly.

Place them in their proper spots.  I kept the little Prince Edward Island to the last because I didn't want to lose it.  I'd love to visit PEI someday (yes, I'm a big Anne fan!)

Once everything was placed in it's proper spot, I peeled the paper backing off the fabric and put the piece back in it's place.

I double checked the exact locations of those east coast provinces with my map.  Gotta teach my kids correct geography!  When everything was exactly right, I ironed it all on - again, be sure to follow the instructions on your package.  It's probably only for a few seconds and if you over iron, it won't stick.

My family likes to throw around pillows - crazy I know and they most certainly don't get that from me!  So I knew that I had to do some reinforcements to my pillow before it goes flying around the room.
I slow-ly stitched around a lot of the edges - not every edge, that would have driven me insane!!!

Each piece has enough stitching on it to securely hold it in place.  I even changed to blue thread to stitch around the Great Lakes!
Hey, that could be a new puzzle:  where did mom start sewing with the green thread, and how did she do it in one continuous line?

I sewed my blue piece to a green piece and sewed all that onto . . . a drop cloth!!!  Drop clothes are pretty amazing and can be used for a ton of things - like curtains and chair covers, or, even to throw on the ground to protect your floor while you paint!!!  Sorry, got distracted by drop clothes (the best is from Home Depot for around $15 - it is all one big piece with no seams).  Back to the pillow - I clipped the green and blue edges and sprayed them with water to rough them up - a rag look.

Looking good, but still a little wet!  The edges did curl up nicely.

Here's another distraction - a cute distraction, but still a distraction!!!
She has to be right in on all the action . . .

. . . and have the best view of everything!!!
Yeah, nap time is definitely craft time.  And now I'm often crafting on my bed because she can't climb up there yet!

Oh, look - it's my clipped and frayed edges.

To sew the pillow cover, I just did an envelope style.  I even used the finished edges of the drop cloth so I wouldn't need to finish any edges.  So easy!

And there is the finished back view!

And the finished front!!!

And yes, we've already had a geography lesson and I sewed everything in the proper place!!!

My Patriotic Pillow has now been packed in a box, waiting to make its debut in our new house, along with my quilted maple leaf wall hanging.  Next years Canada Day project will be a long wall plaque to hang over my maple leaf that says:
"God keep our land Glorious and Free".