Nov 112010

What makes them last minute? Me (of course)…and the fact that I got the “baking bug” at eight o’clock at night. What makes them easy? The fact that I had  all the ingredients on hand (seriously, how often does that happen?).

Halloween can be a hectic time: coordinating costumes, buying candy, carving pumpkins and decorating.
Even with all that going on, there’s nothing I like better then adding a little last minute baking stress to really get the blood pumping.

I was given a cute, mini pumpkin cake pan by Uncle Jim right before Halloween and decided to take it for a test drive. In addition to the standard baking staples, I always keep a white cake mix on hand and a block of cream cheese in the fridge. Philadelphia cream cheese seems to last forever, (it must be related to the Twinkie, because even when the date has passed, it’s always perfectly fine). When I found a can of pumpkin at the back of the cupboard mini pumpkin cakes with cream cheese frosting were born…wooohoo!!!!

They were easy, yummy, and festive (what more could you ask for?). I used some old icing pens to draw the features on the pumpkins (which explains why they looked like my 2 year old drew them). They were iced in record time and my goal was accomplished. It feels good to let go of the perfection (that’s the old me). Now it’s all about  the “doing”.  The mini-cakes were a  fun way to wind up our pumpkin carving party.

Note: The adults had more fun at the pumpkin carving party than the child did.

Another Note: If  you use a cake mix you are supposed to get 24-28 mini cakes out of this Wilton cake pan. Somehow, I got only 9 which made me laugh pretty hard. I used too much batter and really had to trim the heck out of the cakes. I’ll do better next time.

Pumpkin Cake Recipe

This nifty little recipes is probably more appreciated by the adults than the kiddies. You can use a spice cake mix and omit the pumpkin spice if you like. This is not a light and airy cake. It is heavy and moist and tastes similar to a pumpkin pie in flavor.

1 (18.25 ounce) package white or golden cake mix
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
2 eggs
2 tsp pumpkin spice mix


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, canned pumpkin, pumpkin spice mix and  eggs until well blended.
  4. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. 
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool and serve, or store in the refrigerator. This tastes even better the next day.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Yellow and red food coloring


  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy.
  2. Mix in the vanilla and food colouring.
  3. Gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar.
  4. Store in the refrigerator after use.
Oct 242010

On Saturday, I went to the York House School Fall Market and I have to say, “It’s about time”. Every autumn, for the past 10+ years, I have passed the fair signs, which line Granville Street, and wondered what the event was like.

Now that I have a child, I’m always on the look-out for deals on books, DVDs and toys. I finally got it through my head how ridiculous it is to pay full price for new toys when most toys are used for such a short time. The used toys I buy are like new and at his age, Caden, doesn’t understand “brand spankin new”. If it’s new to him, he considers it “new”.

The fall market was extremely well organized. The Attic Treasures, Fashion Accessories and Fashion Repeats were located in an underground parking lot that seemed to go on forever. A Buzz Lightyear hockey jersey from Disney, a Seattle Mariners jersey and two Mickey Mouse baseball caps sum up my purchases in that area. The total came to a whopping $2.50.

I’d hate to tell you what I spent on toys, books and DVDs, so I won’t. Let’s just say we are all Franklin, Bob the Builder, and Diego-ed out. Not to mention the golf clubs, toy cars, new Crayola finger paints, new Playdough fun factory and new (yes, new meaning unopened) Aquadoodle mat, I purchased. The new stuff has been put away for Christmas.

If you happen to have a girl, you would have been in heaven, I couldn’t help but stop in my tracks when I saw the brand new $6 Easy Bake oven…sniff…sniff…I LOVED my Easy Bake Oven as a kid in all it’s orange retro glory. I was so tempted, but somehow I couldn’t see my son baking little cakes so off I went in search of Hot Wheels…sigh.  In my travels, I spotted a pile of Groovy Girls dolls priced a $1 each. That’s just silly, they retail for $15….double sigh.

Those were the highlights of the market for me. Although there was much more to see and do (eg: silent auction, bottle booth, cakewalk, haunted house), I was loaded down and broke so off we went. Had I been there on my own (ie: without husband and my “cutie pah-tootie”), I could have killed a couple of hours shopping but it wasn’t really a great place for small kids and husbands (at least my husband). Maybe I’ll get a chance next year.

Oct 042010


My hubby celebrated his birthday today. Yesterday, he told me that he wanted to go to Denny’s for a free breakfast. Sad but true. Regardless, that got me thinking. Where else could we get our hands on free food? It became a bit of an obsession for me, as I scoured the Internet into the night, looking for leads.

The result: Darryl ate a 13 oz T-bone steak, 2 eggs, hash browns and 2 pieces of toast for breakfast at Denny’s. His meal was free (regular price around $19). That was followed by a free BBQ Burger (regular price $9) at Vera’s burger shack for lunch. Later that afternoon, he downed a free scoop of key lime ice cream with blueberries from the Cold Stone Creamery (regular price around $4).

Unfortunately (or you could say fortunately), we had a birthday dinner to attend that night or we would have continued on our free food quest. We were on a roll (no pun intended).  Thankfully, we still have a week to use the Baskin Robbins coupon. Whew!

Next year, we’ll be more organized, so watch out. We’ll start earlier, travel farther and eat more. Why not, your birthday only comes around once a year. As a friend of mine likes to remind me, “Free is the best price”.

Let me know if you come across any more deals in Metro Vancouver area, I’d love to add them to the list.

Free Food (on Your Birthday) Guide

Note: Some of these deals require you bring another person to dine. Others want you to sign up well before your birthday; so sign up earlier so you don’t get left out in the cold.  Also, be sure to bring picture ID with you, just in case.

  • Dairy Queen – Free Blizzard if you upload your photo onto their facebook page. BOGO (buy one, get one) coupon upon joining the Blizzard Club, plus an email coupon for a blizzard on your birthday
  • Baskin Robbins – Free 2.5 oz scoop or 3 oz soft serve cone
  • Denny’s Restuarant – Free Grand Slam breakfast if you are alone OR you can choose anything off the menu if you dine with someone that orders an entree
  • Pajos Fish and Chips – Free small fish and chips and drink OR a burger, fries and drink
  • Vera’s Burger Shack – $10 gift certificate which you can use towards anything on the menu
  • Red Robin Restaurant – Free burger
  • Boston Pizza – My “spidey sense” tells me they have something (appy or dessert thing) but I can’t find it on their website. Can anybody confirm this one?
  • Milestones Grill and Bar – Free dessert (just ask, at least we did) or go online to get a birthday coupon where you eat free as long as you bring 3 friends with you who buy entrees ( I use the word “free” lightly).
  • Boathouse Restaurant – $25 coupon (I have a feeling that they ask you to bring paying customers with you…I’ll look into it)
  • Cold Stone Creamery – Free scoop of ice cream with one mix-in